21 June 2011

Summer Solstice

and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin',
cotton is high
Your daddy's rich,
and your momma's good-lookin'
So hush, little baby,
don't you cry

I always feel like I should celebrate the solstice by being up in time to watch the sunrise. That would mean getting up before 5 a.m., but considering that for years – decades – I got up at 5:30 every morning to go to work, it shouldn't be that big a deal. Still, I haven't managed it yet, and didn't do it this morning.

I can probably still be up to watch the sunset at 9:10 p.m. That will have to do.

Kind of thin, as celebrations go, but from here on in, the days are getting shorter. Why would I want to celebrate that?

Today is very nice, though. Blue skies, 68°, lunch outside on the deck with a really good book about the Canadian frontier and the last brownie left from a mini-late-birthday visit with a friend last weekend.


18 June 2011

The e-Library

The thing I really like about checking an ebook out of the library is that when it's due, it just goes away. No pestering Scarecrow to return it, no overdue fines, nothing like that. I'm ashamed to admit that it's saved me a chunk of change. This is a very fine thing.

The thing I really don't like about checking an ebook out of the library is that when it's due, it just goes away. Even if I'm part way through and really want to finish it and I can't renew it because I know there are holds on it so I know this is evil but I want to just pay the fine and hang onto it for an extra day. Or maybe two. But I can't. When it's due, it just goes away. I have to put another hold on it and get back in line. By the time I can check it out again, I'll have forgotten where I left off.

On the bright side, if you'd call it that, by the time I can check it out again, it'll be like a brand-new book. I must've liked it, because I wanted to finish it. So there's that. I don't know that my pathetic reading retention is an MS thing. I'm more inclined to think it's an easily distracted old lady thing. In either event, I can reread my favorite books, and enjoy them all over again. I can even reread mysteries, and not remember who done it. It's a silver lining type of thing.

Also, getting back to ebooks, the whippets have yet to come up with a way to chew them up. It's not that they're all that bad about chewing up books. They've only totally decimated one hardback, and nibbled around the edges of a couple of paperbacks. The commute to Scarecrow's new job way down at the other end of town makes for a long day for them to be all alone, poor dears. Of course the paperbacks were ours. The hardback was a library book.

Where was I going with this?

In a comment on an earlier post, which I know I should respond to but rarely do, Donna at Arranging Shoes wanted to know how I manage the reading thing anyway. Here's the scoop.

I used to use the eraser end of a pencil to turn pages on a real paper book. Sometimes, at a good time, on a good day, with a cooperative book, I can still do that. Sometimes I have to ask Scarecrow to turn pages for me, and amazingly, sometimes he's willing to interrupt what he's doing every minute and a half to do that. I've got to say that struggling to turn a page, or having to ask someone to turn it for me and waiting while they do that, does not do good things for my reading comprehension. Yeah I know, excuses, excuses. But some books just aren't available in a digital format, and won't be anytime soon. You do what you gotta do.

For digital books, I really like the whole eReader idea. Books and gadgets – what's not to like? I wish I still had enough manual dexterity to hold one and make it go, but I don't.

Audio books can be nice, especially when they're read by somebody good. My problem with them is that when I'm distracted, or stop paying attention, or fall asleep, the reader goes merrily on without me. Finding where I left off has not been easy. With a real paper book, or even an ebook, I can always pick it up where I stopped turning pages.

So mostly I read ebooks on my laptop. And wait to get to the top of the library hold queue.

15 June 2011

Three O'clocks

Must be a good day for bugs. Or maybe a bad day, I guess, if you're a bug. A brown creeper and a red-breasted sapsucker have been working over the tree trunk in front of my window. There were showers last night and it's still damp outside. Bareit's head was all wet when he came in from the yard. I wonder what he was doing out there.

What is it about three o'clock, anyway? At three o'clock in the afternoon, I can barely keep my eyes open. Not that it matters – one of the few cool things about not having a day job is that if I fall asleep at my desk, nobody cares. It's more of a problem at three o'clock in the morning, when I'm wide awake. And thinking about, you know, stuff.

Getting up is not an option. I'd have to wake Scarecrow up to do that, and he does have a day job. It's bad enough that I wake him up a couple of times a night to turn me over; let's not make it any worse. Since I can't toss and turn, I'm not going to wake him up doing that. So I'll just think about stuff.

I didn't have anything monumental, or even all that interesting, to think about. I usually don't. We recently watched The Triplets of Belleville, which is a French animated feature. No subtitles required, even for those of us whose French aspires to inadequacy – there's no dialogue. A synopsis of the plot sounds pretty wacky: a woman helps her grandson grow up to be a bicycle racer. When he is kidnapped, she rescues him with the help of his dog and three women she meets. It's about family and friendship, and what people will do for those they love, and all that stuff. And it has the coolest soundtrack ever! We watched it twice before we returned it, but I want to watch it again. Maybe I'll get it for Scarecrow for Father's Day.

I'm bad that way. I admit it. On festive occasions, Scarecrow usually gets gifts that I want myself. I was going to get him a coffee roaster, but decided that was a little obvious since he doesn't really drink coffee. Ditto the birdfeeder, since he's not much into birds. The DVD I think I can get away with.

I could think about something to scribble on my blog. I could write about waking up at three o'clock in the morning; the implications of having my circadian rhythm reversed, because I'm asleep at the one in the afternoon and wide-awake at the one in the morning. That's the kind of idea that seems pretty clever at three o'clock in the morning.

Later in the day I find it doesn't seem nearly so promising.

07 June 2011

The Odd-Fish

"As an Odd-Fish, it is not my job to be right", said Sir Oort. "It is my job to be wrong in new and exciting ways."
-- James Kennedy, The Order of Odd-Fish
I need to read this book. I don't know anything else about it, but I obviously need to read it. I mean, really, how could I not? I've never heard of an Odd-Fish, but Sir Oort is obviously talking about me.

So many books, so little time.

The problem with sites like goodreads.com, and with the King County Library System online catalog for that matter, is that there are so many books! I can spend hours browsing, hopelessly adding even more books to my already hopelessly long list of things to read, using time I could spend reading to make an already hopeless problem even worse. Clever, no?

So I have a gloomy afternoon with nothing much else going on. I think I'll spend it making my Books to Read list a few pages shorter.

04 June 2011

Stalking Dead People

I was wrong. I don't often admit my mistakes – I'm kind of bad that way – but I was wrong, and Uncle Al was right. My attempt in an earlier post to assign a different gender to my Aunt Ginny was pretty much a total failure. My cousin said Aunt Virginia, who is his godmother and whom he has known well all his life, is definitely the third urchin from the right in the photograph, and definitely a girl.

My cousin sent along another photo, which was obviously taken the same time, at the same place, of the same kids.

In this one, the child in question is standing up. She's still wearing shorts and my cousin admits she still looks like a boy, but he says he's seen many pictures of Virginia as a youngster, and that's definitely her. Hard to say. Kids that age are kind of androgynous-looking. But I'll take his word for it.

A picture of some of the same kids, cleaned up and dressed up, taken a couple of days later, is a little more convincing, although I can't help but wonder how long it took to get them cleaned up and how long they stayed that way.

This one, just so you know, is my mom, Aunt Virginia, and Aunt Alma. Uncle Chuck, the oldest of the kids, is sitting in a chair on the porch.

It turns out Uncle Al had an advantage when it came to dating the photographs; my cousin said the date was on the back. Duh.

I've been kind of obsessed with old family stuff lately. It started as a half-assed interest in constructing a family tree. When I knew I was going to have to retire from my day job, I started putting together a list of things I could do to keep busy if I got bored. Really, it was no stupider than a lot of other things on that list. Then, because I'm lazy and it was easy, I followed my mother's family back to 17th-century Québec. And got stuck there. Not so much who is related to who, but what was life like in New France in 1650? What did they do? Where did they live? What did they eat? What did they wear? Why would anybody in old France want to go there?

Tuffy calls it Stalking Dead People.

For example, the Louis Badaillac dit Laplante mentioned on this marker is our seventh great grand uncle. He must've been quite a character. In February 1701 he was banned from Montréal for six months and had to pay 200 livres fine for selling liquor to the Iroquois. In 1703, he and his brother (Gilles, our seventh great-grandfather) were in court again for the same thing.

I know. I really need to get out more.