Friday, March 23, 2007

Book Meme

This is Mimi's fault.

1. Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? Um. Was I supposed to be paying attention to more than just the story?

2. Amazon or brick and mortar? Half-Price Books.

3. Barnes & Noble or Borders? There's a difference? I have yet to use up the gift certificates (not cards, even) which I got for my high school graduation ... about 9 years ago. I mean to, of course. But, well, new books seem rather expensive (see above).

4. Bookmark or dogear? *gasp* Bookmark, of course. Working in the ND Rare Books and Special Collections Department just emphasized that idea, but also put me onto book snakes and cradles. (I keep meaning to make a book snake, as I think it would be particularly effective at the chant stand.)

5. Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? Right now they are in several caches of various size around the apartment. Once we get a more permanent place, though, I hope to have some sort of order, most likely by genre, then author.

6. Keep, throw away, or sell? Keeep.

7. Keep dust jacket or toss it? Keeep.

8. Read with dust jacket or remove it? No, no. Keeep.

9. Short story or novel? Yes. I usually gravitate towards novels, because if I like them, there's more reading in there, so I can keep going.

10. Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Um. It doesn't make much difference to me, as long as I like the author (for a collection) or the editor (for an anthology). Also, this was the first I'd heard of the particular difference in usage of "collection" and "anthology."

11. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? I seem to have run out of each, so: yes, please.

12. Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? No! Or rather, I am to stop reading when I'm supposed to, but that time always gets pushed back to "the end of this chapter" ... which is not necessarily good, because I can't always mentally register the chapter breaks themselves. When I'm being good, I put my finger or a bookmark at the next chapter, so I can remember to stop. When I'm really tired, though, I'll just close the book mid-sentence (hopefully, but not always, with the bookmark inside).

13. “It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”? "Once upon a time," most of the time.

14. Buy or Borrow? Borrow first! I love my library, and what I can't find there (even through interlibrary loan) I look for online: sometimes the eBooks are available for free; there's also google's "find in a library" search: use that phrase in quotation marks with the title of your book and you can go to the entry at worldcat libraries, and you can see what libraries around you have copies of the book (like university libraries, or other places you wouldn't think to look at first). If it's really only available for sale, I stick it on my wishlist and wait for my mother to think it's a good idea. I mean, there are other books in the meantime.

15. New or used? Used. (How do I love thee, Half-Price Books? Let me count the pennies... )

16.Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? What's the difference between book reviews and recommendations? Someone liked the book and informed you about it, right? I like going with that, especially from Mimi and Miriam, although I recently found the Daisy Dalrymple series (like Miss Marple, but not) by Carola Dunn through browsing the mystery section.

17. Tidy ending or cliffhanger? Tidy ending, although mid-series cliffhangers are okay because there's another book coming along. Another reason to read older authors.

18. Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? I prefer to avoid mornings in toto, but Saturday afternoons curled up in the comfy chair with a good book are yummy. Most of my reading is between "in bed" and "lights out."

19. Stand-alone or series? I prefer series: they're good enough that the publisher keeps going, the author usually has more of a reputation, etc. On the other hand, they ought to be good enough on their own. Picking up a stand-alone is much riskier.

20. Favorite series? This is a hard one. I like the Miles Vorkosigan books (Lois McMaster Bujold), and Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie... oh, and the Goose Girl / Enna Burning books by Shannon Hale

21. Favorite children’s book? When I was a child or now? I still wouldn't know. Gah. I give up.

22. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? The Blue Window by Temple Bailey

23. Favorite books read last year? Um. Between April and September last year I have 96 books and I haven't even bothered finishing that post's reviews. So I don't think I'll go into that. I did like Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, North by Donna Jo Napoli, and everyone seems to like The Time Traveler's Wife as well, but I'll add it and be redundant. The King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith; the Homecoming series by Cynthia Voigt (even though I had to read it in middle school); 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanf; Briar Rose by Jane Yolen; the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold; The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo.... I guess I did "go into that" ... but not going into much of the unreviewed books.

24. Favorite books of all time?
1. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
2. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
3. The Blue Window by Temple Bailey
— I swear I didn't mean to! I can't think of any others which would so definitively be dear to my heart, unless it's more of the same authors. Although M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions is up there far enough I can notice it. (How's that for mixing metaphors. Or maybe I just have my heart on a high shelf. Betcha didn't think of that. Not that you should, of course. Closing parenthesis now.)

25. Least favorite book you finished last year? Ugh. (I'm going through my book journal on lj.) The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce. I didn't realize it was mid-series when I picked it up, and my comment from the book journal sums it up: "I just wanted everyone to die immediately." Tangentially, I've noticed that when there's a "church" in the book, be it fantasy or historical fiction, I absolutely hate it when the main characters are against the church, or the church (at least in historical fiction) is portrayed as mostly evil.

26. What are you reading right now? The first Daisy Dalrymple: Death at Wentwater Court, by Carola Dunn. I recently finished The Geographer's Library which was disappointing in its ending, rather like House of Leaves (not House of Grass, House of Leaves): it seemed really cool ... and then fizzled.

27. What are you reading next? That depends on what is due soonest at the library at this point. I am trying to read as many as I can and, alas, wean myself from my beloved library. Not that I don't have several scores of books which I own ... there's the pile on the bookcase by Dn. Virgil's side of the bed, the pile behind the library books on the bookshelf, the piles in the bag from Emily, the pile on my bedside chair, the two giant ones I got from my mother, the dozen or so I got from my mother and shoved into a bookcase, and who knows what else she sent for my birthday. (Telling her not to send me more stuff which I'll have to pack doesn't seem to have much effect, does it, now?)

Addenda: I have to thank Mary Beth (HC, not ND) for giving me the "Books to Read" notebook. I have started writing down the books I "mean to" read, and thus actually remembering what they are when I bring the notebook to the library. Even when I don't bring it with me, I have developed the habit of keeping track of them as an event on my google calendar (which event also has all the current due dates of library materials I have outstanding). I am so ready to quit my job and run home and just read and read and read. I've already added several of Mimi's titles to my "to read" list. :)


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Once upon a time, a man and a woman loved each other very much, so they got married. Then they decided they would like to have a baby to love. So they prayed and prayed. And God said, "Yes."

And that was me!

— adapted from my parents' traditional birthday story, with me piping in at the end
Today was better than I could have imagined. Last night, two neighbors and I went out to dinner. I didn't know I was helping them buy ingredients for my own surprise birthday dinner! I thought I would just be invited over to dinner with the one neighbor. Evidently, she's sneakier than that. There were candles, placemats, napkin-holders, and a half-dozen smiling friends: the most welcoming sight.

Earlier, at Presanctified Liturgy, I was at the chant stand and had the four little girls in front (two of the triplets, a toddler, and one whom I'm convinced is an angel) come up and snuggle up to me out of the blue.

I'm getting to the point where it feels like God took Dn. Virgil away for the week so He could show me the other blessings he has for me. I kinda get distracted being wifely (either accommodating or demanding) when my husband's around.

Well, I was planning on writing my thank-you notes, but what with Ladies' Night Out (which I enjoyed: part one of the Twelve Great Feasts), my sister calling, and talking to Dn. Virgil online, I just have enough time to creep into bed. (And try not to stay up late and read like I've been doing the past couple of nights, using the excuse that my contacts are out so I can't see the numbers on the clock so I can read another chapter even though I know full well that I brought my Lego watch into bed with me so I can see when I should go to bed!)

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Prayer Requests

Please pray for my grandmother, Mary Catherine, who was taken to the hospital in an ambulance (after just having gotten home from the rehab place she was in for a couple of months). Please also pray for Catherine and Theodore.



Dn. Virgil is gone to New York this week for a senior trip to the Archdiocese.

Tomorrow, as previously noted, is my birthday. My birthday is forever doomed going to occur in Lent. The past two years he has made me a birthday cake from scratch. Last year's was all crumbly and lumpy, like a chocolate volcano. I was so disappointed to find out I wasn't "allowed" to come on the trip, so disappointed to realize that he was going to be away on "my" day, that I started missing him early. And very emotionally.

I realize that it's over-emotional, but that doesn't mean that I've been able to stop. It's a good thing I have tasks to accomplish to take my mind off the fact that there's a husband-sized hole in my life right now. I am beset with thoughts and images telling me that he'll be in an accident and I'll never see him again, but I don't think those are from God, so I am doing my best to pray hard to dispel these thoughts. I still tear up, like a giant baby, about once an hour at work.

Being at work is good, except that I'm getting to the part of my to-do list that I've been putting off (it's not important, but I should still do it) for a couple of months now. It's a little weird not to be putting out fires, but I'm pretty sure this is only a brief reprieve, so I should make good use of this time. In the evenings, I've been making plans to go to the gym (last night), and go grocery shopping and have dinner with a neighbor (whose husband is also on the trip), and attend the choir rehearsals. There's also quite a bit of administrative stuff for the concert to prepare for: getting a hold of Fr. Alexios for information about St. Mark's and whether he'd be able to say a few words during the concert; getting together with Diana to go over solo pieces; getting binders and music and information to people who need them; and getting the program finalized and printed out. And I need to schedule a confession, always a difficult task. I came too late to chapel last night to find a priest to ask.

Last night, as I was going into the gym, I was chatting with a student coming out. He remarked that my being away from Virgil and missing him so much sounded like another form of fasting. Reading this post on fasting also helped me take a step back and evaluate how what I was feeling was dominating how I thought and what I did.

I have been leaning too hard on my husband. Yes, he can take it, and gracefully, but it's not good for either of us. I look to him for reassurance on everything. This morning, I got up on the third snooze (not the fifth or the sixth, as usual) and was out the door with time to get fuel and still be early to work (not five minutes late, or just barely on time). I even had to make all of my own lunch. I haven't sliced bread in months, much less had to get the loaf out of the machine.

I know comparisons are odious, but I look around at my peers and I see adults: one has a little baby and another on the way* and is going to Ethiopia to see whether their family has a calling to missions; another has a baby with one on the way* and is struggling to cope with being a stay-at-home mother and writer while her husband is gone much of the time; another is expecting,* with her husband gone, and yet extends the hand of friendship to me, inviting me over for dinner tomorrow night. I struggle for half an hour to reply to an email from the last of these, stressed because I have to make decisions about what I will do in the next two evenings, without any feedback from my husband about what I do or how I phrase things in the email.

*I don't mean to say that the only people I admire are pregnant, or that it's all I think about, but I am especially impressed with people who not only have things together to the extent of being able to handle (not just physically) the demands of being responsible for life besides their own, but are expanding in other realms of their lives as well as being gracious and hospitable. Writing out a list of these three, however, has made me realize that God has given them to me as icons, holding out a hopeful picture of the strengths he would like to share with me if I choose to keep working on myself.

Oh, it hurts to grow, but how little and small and ugly I am now! Pray for me, a sinner.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007


"Ordinary" comes from the Latin ordinarius meaning "customary, regular, usual, orderly." —"Ordinary People," Boundless, Roberto Rivera y Carlo

I finished the scarf I had been knitting for Dn. Virgil. I didn't really want to, since I hadn't finished the skein, but the sky dumped a lot of snow on us yesterday (enough for boots), he's going to New York next week, and it's long enough (longer than he wanted, which I thought was too short).

It curls, so I blocked it. Who says my college calculus book isn't still useful? (Along with four other math and computer science books from my husband's previous academic life, that is.) Then I went online, since it was still curling, and found out that knitted stitches are smaller than purled stitches, so stockinette stitch (where one side is all knit-stitched and the other all purl-stitch) is physically bound to curl. :( But I also found some patterns for simple scarves so I can try something else (like just plain knitting for both sides, for instance) for the next scarf. I think I will keep my eye open for natural fabrics (not terribly happy with the whole "acrylic" thing) which are multi-colored and purple.

I've also been trying to get things in order for his trip to New York. Last night (amid basketball watching, natch), we put together a list of things for him to take on the trip. We can't start packing yet because we can't get to our things in storage, despite having spoken to our neighbor and the Housing director guy. This is the latest in a long-standing series of problems in terms of the storage area in the basement and our being (un)able to access our pallet, but this is the worst: there's no space in the middle of the floor, so all I can do is turn on the light, turn it out, and let my husband know. I distracted him with Victor Borge, because he's getting a bit fed up with this, too.

So I put together a binder for him with choir music and solo (and duet) music for next Saturday's concert.

You are cordially invited to the campus of Hellenic College / Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology for a concert by the "Deacon's Singers" at Maliotis Cultural Center on March 24, 2007, at 7:00 pm, with proceeds to benefit the St. Mark's Orthodox School in Kenya.

Tickets are $5, and I think you get them at the door. We still need to talk to Fr. Alexios, who is a student here and who started St. Mark's school, about offering some comments during the concert.

We have all the choir pieces pretty much together, but there are lots of last-minute things to take care of, making sure everyone has everything in order for this concert, has a binder, etc. I'm getting frustrated with the people in the choir and my own inability to figure things out. It's also difficult to figure out what I'm singing (soprano line v. alto line). I'm tired of my husband (and my, but mostly his) hard work going unappreciated. Simple things like not telling him (although he asks every week) that someone's not going to be at rehearsal.

Anyhow. Going back to the "my hard work" things, I've put together a first draft of the program for the concert. You know, notes about the pieces, a la Dan Stowe, paragon of choir directors. I'll need to cut it down, since it's seven pages (for ten pieces, not including anything about the solos and duets which haven't yet been decided upon. Solos and duets: Dn. Virgil has a couple of short solos picked out (German and English), I have an Italian aria, we're thinking about a couple of duets (Loch Lomond - English, and Dunque Io Son - Italian), Mari has a couple of English pieces in mind, and Vinnie might do some. Diana is an angel to even consider all that accompaniment. It sounds pretty exciting to me. I don't know my choir pieces well enough to be happy about them, it's been years since I've done Una Voce Poco Fa (although when I was at ND, I downloaded 27 different versions so I could study what different singers had done with it: Marilyn Horne and Victoria de los Angeles were my two favorites), and I've never actually looked at the Dunque Io Son piece.

This morning while Dn. Virgil was at the senior retreat (to which I made him wear his "Irish By Marriage" pin, provided by my mother in years past), I slept in. Then I cleaned house - it had gotten pretty messy in days previous, when we were trying to find the Dunque Io Son piece. We never did, but Dn. V went to the library and got the opera score (Barber of Seville) and scanned in the piece and I printed out copies at work.

I'm still upset that he will be gone next week. It's bad enough that he'll be gone for five days in a row—we've never really slept apart—but he'll be gone for my birthday. I refuse to open any presents early, and I don't want to open them on my birthday (how depressing would that be? opening presents all. by. myself.), so I'm saving them for after he comes back.

Nine more weeks, right?

P.S. I do mean to respond to comments... more than just in my head, that is.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Sore Throat

Yesterday I missed church and today I missed work, due to a sore throat which added some congestiony things. I had forgotten what it was like to be sick, so it took me a while to get back in the hang of treating symptoms.

Last night, after a day with no congestion, I started getting completely congested and then I remembered Tylenol Cold. Within half an hour, I was asleep. What bliss!

Yesterday and today I tried to eat things with mustard in them. And, of course, tried to eat vitamins and drink fluids, especially orange juice.

But this evening, I remembered my secret weapon: garlic. Just a section of a clove, eaten after a while. I feel (and smell) powerful.

Maybe this is what I need to have on hand to help me set boundaries with people at work. Unless they like garlic as much as my husband does. :)

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday: eleven more weeks

Today was fun. I got to sleep in. I succeeded in eating less (than everything, which is how much I usually want to eat, but still) and drinking more water. I played on orthodoxwiki which I hadn't in a while. I edited some of the ethics assignments which have been posted, made a couple of new pages for saints, and put some links between the Romanian and English pages, until the wiki broke, at least.

We also got out of the house today. The reason? To get soybeans. I asked Virgil what I should wear. He asked me whether I had any jeans that fit. So we went to Savers instead of getting soybeans. (Also, I tried on all my pants and skirts and packed up several items with the half-a-box of VHS tapes and took an entire box to Savers! One less to pack!) We bought wooden hangers (6), a picture frame, a sweater, a shirt, two dresses, and a pair of jeans. I didn't even need to look at the books because I had received a giant bagful from Emily last week, and I'm happily reading a historical fiction trilogy by Pamela Kaufman.

We had Fr. Kahaber over for dinner, and he played the guitar for us afterwards.


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