Category Archives: Books

New Week; New Book

Chew: Taster's Choice

I freaked Kevin out yesterday.  He came home and found me reading.  Now, that in an of itself is not odd.  What caused him to do a double take was the fact that I was reading a graphic novel.  That tends to be Kevin’s home turf, not mine.  But my hold list at the library is deep and wide so I really never know what will pop up on the shelf for me.  Sometime in the murky past someone recommended this book to me and it finally found it’s way into my hands.   And although it is rather gruesome, it is also rather delightful.

My experience with graphic novels is pretty grim.  Mostly spandex clad muscle me and frighteningly busty women all deeply conflicted and trying to “Do Right.”  The pictures are circus color bright and the writing full of exclamation marks and sounds like “SPLAT!” or “K-THUNK!”  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of escapism as much as the next girl but most super hero comic books just don’t butter my biscuit.

However, I should also confess that as a young kid I adored Mad Magazine.  I loved the goofy drawings and all the little funny jokes hidden in the background of each page.  I even remember playing Mad the board game and loving it.  Alfred E. Newman.  Ha!  Perhaps that is why I liked Chew.  The drawings are Mad-esque and there are funny little scribbles hidden throughout.  I actually found myself scouring each picture looking for the joke.  The story itself is strange and slightly disgusting.  Our hero has the ability to see the past of everything he eats.  This poses difficulties for him when trying to enjoy a nice pork roast but also leads him to join the FDA where he takes bites out of corpses, dead pets and severed fingers to find out the identity of bad guys.  Gross, right?  But also funny, dark, and strangely addictive.  I’m actually going to put the next volume on my hold list.  Not for the squeamish or the very young, but perfect for the odd duck.

The Tea Ritual

The tea ritual:
such a precise repetition of the same gestures
and the same tastes;

accesion to simple,
and refined sensations,

a license given to all,
at little cost,
to become aristocrats of taste,

because tea is the beverage of the wealthy
and of the poor;

the tea ritual, therefore, has the extraordinary virtue of introducing
into the absurdity of our lives
an aperture of serene harmony.

Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness,
lost souls mourn beauty,
insignificance surrounds us.

Then let us drink a cup of tea.

Silence descends,
one hears the wind outside,
autumn leaves rustle and take flight,
the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light.


with each swallow,

time is sublimed.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Joy of Books

Leina loves books.  Loves them!  She’s finally reached the stage where she can move beyond picture books which is very exciting.  She still likes a nice illustration or two but it’s all about the story now.  As I read, I like to sneak peaks at her face.  Usually, she’s staring off into space, her eyes unfocused, and I can just see the wheels in her head turning as she changes the words I read into pictures in her mind.  I love it!

Milly Molly Mandy

 Leina is drawn to stories about old-fashioned girls doing everyday tasks.  I think she imagines herself in their shoes, sharing their adventures.  Her current favorite is Milly Molly Mandy.  I have never read these stories so they are new to me as well but oh are they sweet!   Milly-Molly-Mandy wanders about her little town having the simplest fun with her little friends.  There are no real morals to the stories and there is no drama.  No bad-guys or scary bits.  Just a sweet little girl going about her everyday life.   There are so many formulaic books out there for little girls and they are so dreadfully boring!  The whole fairy series makes my teeth grind every time I read one.  They are just plug and chug novels with a very slight twist done over and over and over.  Substitute colors for jewels for pets for flowers for instruments and print.  Ugh.  I can’t stand reading these books.  There is no charm and I am very, very big on charm.  Milly-Molly-Mandy?  Charm to spare baby!

Now I just need to find more old-fashioned stories for me old-fashioned girl.  Faires, you can rest in peace.

Banned Books

Unfortunately, there are some books I should never be allowed to read but I just can’t help myself.  These are any type of memoir that involves a city girl moving to the country where she plants a garden and raises chickens.  Chickens….my dream bird.  I suppose, like my unfounded love of West Virginia, chickens are really messy, stinky birds that require tons of work for a couple of meager eggs.  Fortunately, I am not one to let reality interfere with my dreams and I do dream of chickens.

These memoirs are like waking  dreams for me.  Someone actually did it!  Moved to the edge of a forest, the foot of a mountain or the middle of the prairie and planted their dream garden and built a chicken coop.  I can’t get enough!  I just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and will have to add it to my list of banned chicken dream books.  I loved it.  The author and her family decided, after moving to a farm, to eat locally for one year.  All their food had to come from within 100 miles of their home.  Talk about adventurous!  Do you have any idea of what is in season during the month of Feb?  Nothing good I can tell you.  But they did it and they liked it.  While I have no intention of trying to eat locally all the time, I am inspired to do it more of the time.  I live in the middle of the Willamette Valley and we are surrounded by great produce all spring and summer long.  So as spring approaches, I think I’m going to try and use our local farmer’s market instead of Safeway to supply our fruits and vegetables.  In fact, as I was walking through Safeway yesterday, I found grapes from Chile, strawberries from Mexico and bananas from Ecuador.  I’m guessing it took a lot of energy to get those items here for me.  More energy than I am worth to be honest.  So even though Leina wanted a peach, we contented ourselves with raisins.  I discouraged the watermelon whining and instead grabbed some fresh asparagus.

Isn’t it odd how we forget our childhood lessons?  In my opinion, one of my biggest responsibilities as a parent is teaching my children they can’t have everything they want.  I have to show them that there is a vast difference between “what is good for you” and “what you want”.  This involves saving their quarters instead of buying everything they covet.  It involves learning one scoop of ice cream is enough even if four sounds delicious.  It encompasses the art of waiting their turn and sharing with others.  And then we go to the grocery store and all these lessons get thrown out the window.

Want a peach in December?  No problem.  Craving watermelon on a cold March day?  Got that too.  Corn on the cob can be had any day of the week in November.  I am quite convinced that my girls believe that strawberries grow year round on any farm.  When it comes to fresh food, we have reverted to preschoolers.  We no longer wait for things to come into season.  If we want it, we get it with no thought to how it happens or what it really costs.  So I’m going to try and teach myself as well as my kids a bit more.  I’m going to take the time to read where my produce is coming from.  I’m going to remember that patience is a virtue and that it is worth waiting for some things.  Not just for my health but the health of  this planet too.

And did I mention the chickens?  Someday….. Someday…….

Wait, Seriously?

I went to the library today to check out some books and the librarian told me they were due back in December.  


How is that possible?  December is, like, weeks and weeks away, right?


Oh man, I am in so much trouble…..

Stuck on Books

I’m a book binger.  I’ll admit it.  If I find an author I like, I plow through everything they write all in a row.  If I’m not stuck on an author, I’ll hit a genre and ride if for weeks.  For a while, I was all Fantasy, then Sci-Fi, then historical romance, then mystery, then non-fiction environmental, and now, memoirs.  But not famous people or historical memoirs.  More like fish out of water.  Random adventures of otherwise normal people in foreign lands.

I’ve been hooked on an English family transplanted to the Greek isle of Korfu, a sheep sheerer who moves to the hills of Spain, or a man trying to revive a neglected English garden after the war. Right now, I’ve pouring through a Thoreau-like memoir of a man who buries himself beside the Rogue River here in Oregon for a few months to wrestle some demons and I’m totally hooked.  I find myself day dreaming about escaping to a cabin somewhere out in the wild where I could roam the hills and fish for wild salmon with the bears.  Yeah, it’s pretty crazy.  When I told Kevin this, he looked at me oddly.  He could see maybe staying alone for a few weeks but for months and months?  No thank you.  I’m thinking once I finish this book I may have to pick up the source book of On Walden Pond and really immerse myself in some good old escape-to-nature reading.

As much as I love these types of books, I don’t have much luck finding them.  There are some that everyone recommends – A Year in Provence or Under the Tuscan Sun – but after you mine the obvious ores, where to go next?  I have had some blind luck in just wandering the non-fiction section of the library and grabbing arbitrary books but I’d like to find something a bit more focused.  Let’s face it, the odds of me moving to the Rogue or raising sheep in Andalusia are slim to none at the best so a good book really is my only hope!  But where to look….

Unless, of course, you could recommend something….eh?