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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pirates on the Prairie

Pirates on the Prairie by Eric Bergeson

The 1952 Pirates are legends in Halstad, Minnesota.

This small group of high school guys, led by Coach Ray Kerrigan, not only worked their way up to third place in the state basketball championship, but they also unexpectedly won the state baseball championship that same year.

If you're from a small town, you know this is a big deal.

Going to state gives small-town residents hope for an end to their anonymity...If you are from a small town, such recognition is priceless...It is the difference between being a nobody, a complete hick, and being from someplace that matters.

Eric Bergeson writes the story of the Pirates and does a great job showing the relevance of the setting and how the time and place contributed to the community's excitement about the team's triumphs. He also has some insightful commentary about overall social issues of the time, and he never drops the pace when describing the games themselves.

This would actually be a great young adult book--perfect for those teenage guys who so often aren't huge reading fans. However, for younger readers, the language could be problematic. There were only a few instances of profanity, and I'm normally pretty accepting of that when it occurs in literature. But my main complaint here is that they were unwarranted each time--always in direct quotes and not at all central to the story or even the emotion of the moment. Each time the language could have been omitted, but because it was included, I would hesitate before recommending it to, say, a 10 or 12-year-old.

Otherwise, though, it's a great story about small towns, sports and the stuff of life. And bonus! If you're a Prairie Home Companion fan, you'll hear Garrison Keillor's voice in your head while you're reading.

Meanwhile, can't get enough of the Pirates? Check out the book's website.

Other favorite quotes...

Although the old country school is the subject of much romance and sentiment having to do with breaking the ice in the water pail during winter and dipping ponytails in inkwells, the quality of the instruction was pretty spotty...If you had a kind and competent teacher, things could be wonderful...But if you had a sour teacher with a chip on his or her shoulder and a quick willow switch, an entire generation of kids in a neighborhood might go sour as well.

To be described as having an air about you is not a compliment in a stoic Norwegian farm town. To stand out from others in any way--whether by being loud, or by excelling, or by not excelling, or by talking too much--is to invite stares, comments and, at worst, the silent treatment.

That love and respect arose because underneath it all, under the roughness and toughness and behind the clouds of cigarette smoke, people correctly sensed that Ray Kerrigan cared about every student in his school, every player on his teams, and every person he ran into on the streets of Halstad.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Laughs in Flowers...'09 Version

We left the museums on Wednesday and headed to pick up my dad at the airport. Dinner that night was at one of our Fort Worth favorites (melt in my mouth catfish and the only pork bbq Jason can find out here). Then Thursday, we headed to the Botanic Garden. I love that place, and we need to go more often. Great photo ops, and it's free. What more do you want? :)

My dad and me...

Jason took several of us walking away. This angle does not work well for me, but the picture was otherwise good, so there you go. Pride sacrificed for the sake of photography...

Jason trying out photo techniques...

He got some great shots of a hummingbird. I couldn't believe how close we got to it...

Several others had the same idea. It was crowded but not too bad...

Loved this tree!

This was fun...Can you see Karma Kameleon? (Hint: He's brown.)

Now see him? (Suddenly, he's green.) You come and come and go-whoa-oh...

Resting my tired tootsies after a lot of walking...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Getting Culture-Fied

It turns out we have a TON of pictures from Spring Break, so I thought I'd share in smaller chunks instead of in one giant post. You're welcome. :)

On Wednesday of that week, we had planned to go to Fort Worth's zoo because it's half-price on Wednesdays. It's also supposed to be a great zoo, but we just haven't gotten around to going yet. Well...we got close and decided against it. Here's why.

So, we had a quick lunch at Panera (across the street from the zoo) and checked out the cultural district instead. We intended to go to all three museums, the Amon Carter, the Kimbell and the Modern but ran out of time (catch ya next time, Amon Carter). The Kimbell and the Modern are fantastic, though!

We only got one picture outside of the Kimbell...

But several from the Modern...
This was taken from inside of a sculpture that's outside of the kind of have to be there to appreciate that one...but the sound effects were cool...

This is actually not grass, but it looked a lot like it. It's a bunch of those little spearmint candies all spread out to look like a lawn. I wanted to eat one, but Jason thought we should save that for our second visit...

This is a really tall ladder. I couldn't get it all in the shot, in fact. It reminded me of something from a Dr. Seuss book...

We absorbed a lot of culture during these two visits, but I'm ready to go back and check out some of the special exhibits and get more photos! I was overwhelmed by photo opportunities!

Next up will be our visit to the Botanic Garden!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Have you ever broken up with someone--a high school sweetheart perhaps--and they swore they would never stop loving you? There would be no one for them but you? They would never ever ever get over the pain of your breaking their heart? High drama, right?

Meet Florentino Ariza.

His young dreams of love and happiness dashed by Fermina Daza, he devotes himself not to getting over her and enjoying his independence but to loving her from afar and scheming to one day get her back. He finds time for other pleasures in life--a career, other women--but he never gets over Fermina.

Initially, I found him kind of disgusting, and I had a bit of a crush on the man Fermina does marry--Dr. Juvenal Urbino. But Florentino Ariza's story got under my skin, and he began to interest me, and, once I was interested, I began to see some of his admirable qualities. The question was...would the same thing happen for Fermina Daza?

I'm certainly not going to tell you the answer, but it's worth reading to find out.

Love in the Time of Cholera was written in 1985, but it seems older. It's set around the turn of the century, and Marquez's writing style reminded me a bit of Fitzgerald and others from that time, making the story seem authentic, even charmingly vintage. His descriptions are fantastic, and his observations about love and marriage are poignant.

I was actually skeptical when I started reading this book because I had read 100 Years of Solitude several years ago and just didn't like it at all. If you have the same hesitation, ignore it, and give Marquez another shot! You might never ever ever get over it if you don't.

Favorite quotes...

Only a person without principles could be so complaisant toward grief.

Throughout the house one could detect the good sense and care of a woman whose feet were planted firmly on the ground.

Life would have been quite another matter for them both if they had learned in time that it was easier to avoid great matrimonial catastrophes than trivial everyday miseries.

I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant.

The person who ran it for him was a lean, one-eyed little man with a polished head and a heart so kind that no one understood how he could be such a good manager.

He made no distinctions: he read whatever came his way, as if it had been ordained by fate.

He was still too young to know that the heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.

Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

He drank black coffee at any hour, anywhere, under any circumstances, as many as 30 little cups a day: a brew like crude oil which he preferred to prepare himself and which he always kept near at hand in a thermos.

Nothing in this world was more difficult than love.

Men blossomed in a kind of autumnal youth, they seemed more dignified with their first gray hairs, they became witty and seductive, above all in the eyes of young women, while their withered wives had to clutch at their arms so as not to trip over their own shadows. A few years later, however, the husbands fell without warning down the precipice of a humiliating aging in body and soul, and then it was their wives who recovered and had to lead them by the arm as if they were blind men on charity, whispering in their ear, in order not to wound their masculine pride.

She wanted to be herself again, to recover all that she had been obliged to give up in half a century of servitude that had doubtless made her happy but which, once her husband was dead, did not leave her even the vestiges of her identity.

She could not conceive of a husband better than hers had been, and yet when she recalled their life she found more difficulties than pleasures, too many mutual misunderstandings, useless arguments, unresolved angers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Break Has Sprung!

We are officially back from Spring Break...back in the good ol' swing of things of work, school, running, etc.

But it was nice while it lasted. Oh-so-nice.

My house is very, very clean. We had quality time with Dad. We got culture-fied at Fort Worth's museums and nature-fied at the Botanic Garden. Slept late, read many books, saw many book stores, drank many cups of coffee, took afternoon naps.

Heavenly. Totally worth half my vacation.

Pictures coming soon! Just wanted to say hi. :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

All About Archives

In good archives news...

Huntsville archivists work to preserve the Von Braun legacy

UCLA will get Aldous Huxley's archives (Side note...anyone read Brave New World? It wasn't a favorite for me.)

Very cool Shakespeare portrait found

In not-so-good archives news...

Arizona State's archives are shutting down...thanks, economy. Boo.

An archives in Germany faces catastrophe.

Meanwhile...Spring Break is bound to include lots of reading, so look for reviews soon! Happy weekend, everyone!

It's been a bad day...please don't take a picture

It's been the busiest of busies here in my little world lately. As a result, we've been eating out for dinner more than I'd care to admit, making pots of coffee late at night and dozing on the couch instead of going to bed at our normal time...only to wake up and clean the kitchen at 2 a.m. Craziness!

Thankfully, I'm about to deal with all of that by relaxing on Spring Vacation. Yes, I'm old, so this is no longer the "Spring Break-Woohoo!" so well-described on this episode of Friends.

Obviously, a vacation (or stay-cation in our case this year) is the best cure for a busy, bad day.

But how do you deal with the bad day until then?
In case you can't vacate or stay-cate next week, I'll pass along what works for me...

  • My favorite PJs...Nick & soft...three-quarter length top and bottom. Perfect material, perfect fit. All-around perfect.

  • Drinking grape juice or lemonade out of my favorite glass. I have no idea where this came from or how long I've had it. Like the pajamas, it is the perfect size, and seeing the old-school SEC logos just makes me smile.

  • My bad-day iPod mix, with titles including Bad Day by R.E.M. (hence the post title), Ooh Child by The Five Stairsteps, Bubbly by Colbie Caillat and You Can't Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones. (And you can tell I've had a rough day in that picture, but it's the only one I had with my iPod.)

Your turn! How do you deal with a bad day, and what are your plans for Spring Vacation (Or Spring Break-Whoohoo!)?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Rich Is a Religion

Rich Is a Religion by Mark Stevens

If you are broke, Mark Stevens can help. If you have just enough, but you're living paycheck-to-paycheck, Mark Stevens can help. If you are wildly wealthy, Mark Stevens can help you as well.

Stevens has consolidated what he has learned about making and keeping money into a quick, but worthwhile, read. He has a few key principles, including: be thrifty, work for a non-hourly salary, invest wisely. And he tops off the book with his "best of" blog posts.

Stevens grew up poor; his father died when he was young, leaving only $84 for his family--virtually no savings or assets. That experience has stuck with him and makes him take money seriously--religiously, even. I can't imagine how an experience like that would affect me.

However, while he has some great thoughts and advice, at times, Stevens seems a bit too intense concerning money. But that's just me, and I follow a different religion--one that says "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."

I'm still working on that! But I'll be working on some of Stevens's helpful principles as well now.

Favorite quotes...

To the members of the religion of the rich, money is the currency of life. It is not to be saved, every penny, for the sake of thrift, but instead to be earned and invested and allocated to fund a particular lifestyle.

When I say atheists of the religion of the rich, it is a figure of speech. They are not Godless. They are not immoral, uncivilized or criminal. In fact, they may be devoutly religious and have deep faith in God. I simply mean that when it comes to money, they have no genuine respect for it, except for what it can buy. They lack discipline, control and with it a sense of fiduciary responsibility for protecting what they have earned.

As wise and creative as he [President Obama] may prove to be, he will likely tackle it [the recession] the wrong way: the economists' way, with all kinds of technical maneuvers that five people in the Monetary Brain Trust pretend to understand. They will jiggle the discount rate and manipulate the money supply and create guaranteed mortgages and dole out health insurance and play 101 Washington games that completely avoid why we got into this morass in the first place and why we will do it again and again and again and again.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Funny Fred

I was loading the dishwasher one night this week when I left the kitchen for approximately 30 seconds and returned to find...

Don't worry--the dishes were dirty (and promptly washed). And, try as he might, Fred has never made it onto the kitchen counter.

Looking For Quick Links

Looking for listservs? I couldn't make it through the day without my SLIS updates and Flylady thoughts, but that's plenty, thank you. :)

Looking for fellow book lovers?

Looking for librarian movies?

Looking for (a little) economic relief?

Looking for headlines?

Looking for librarian standards?

Looking for a review? I'll have one (or two!) next week. Librarian's honor.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Confessions of a Grouchy Librarian

I have a vacation coming up (Spring Break--week after next). Truthfully, I had not intended to take a vacation this early in the year, but I don't have much choice--the library is going to be closed. :) However, God might actually be helping me out on this one. It seems that it's time for a break because...

I've been grouchy.

Uncharacteristic for me, I'd like to think.

How so?
  • I love to read, but I've been approaching my books as if they are to-dos to check off my list. Just plowing through them instead of savoring the writing and letting my imagination take off into the plot.
  • I love to see a crowded public library, but I find myself griping when my choices are checked out or when I have to wait for someone else to move before I can browse in a certain section.
  • I love to blog, but I've been viewing it as an obligation, not an exercise in creativity.
  • I love taking classes, but I've been stressing more about completing the assignments than really learning and absorbing the information.
  • I love to introduce people to our library and help them out around here, but I've been expecting them to know our policies and procedures the first time they walk in the door. Crazy!
Basically, I've been reacting, rather than acting. Spreading myself too thin. Hesitating to cut myself and others a little slack when times get stressful or situations get tense. Nit-picking, frowning, terse and overly time-sensitive. Just plain grouchy.

So, welcome vacation! Hopefully the anticipation of a week-long break will make me a little nicer next week, thus sparing those who have to live and work with me from even further grouchiness.


Jason and I were strolling around our favorite bookstore on Friday night, perusing the latest offerings in the half-half-price section when I rounded a corner and glanced over to the reading table (in the middle of this busy store) to see a woman nursing her child.

No cover.

Just bustin' out (forgive the pun) there for all the world to see.

Now, apparently, this is a big controversy. Who knew? (Well, Jason did because he warned me about this before I posted.) Anyway, I'd like to go on the record as saying that I fully support women who nurse their children in public. I'm not asking them to use a bottle or go to a restroom, but I do think it's acceptable to ask them to be as modest as the rest of us.

I don't walk around topless (or even semi-topless), so why should it be OK for someone else to do so? Just because there happens to be a baby in the vicinity?

I know I've not yet experienced this nursing thing (at least from the nurser end-ha). So, moms out there? Am I off-base on this one?

Read from the beginning...