Monday, August 31, 2009

Pretty Lady: Regency Romance Series

It's another dose of the regency series:
* Starting off
* Meet the man

The Heroine

Alongside such a strong hero, it's very possible for the woman of a Regency Romance to be overwhelmed. Still, it takes a lot to wrangle these guys into a marriage and so most of these girls need a spine. It's when they're really insipid that one needs an even larger leap of romantic faith. Really? A dynamic worldly 35 year old and an waifish 18 year old virgin...uh huh. But let's lay the ground rules of our leading ladies:

Your heroine is beautiful but not always the most beautiful woman in the room (except, of course, eventually to the hero). She's unusual, different, unique. The reigning beauties may look pale, washed out, dull in comparison, etc next to her. That's one take, another is that she's very attractive but in the shadows, waiting for some man to discover her and shine the limelight upon her. Blond is the most preferred hair color, though any myriad version of that shade will do (Golden, honey, white blond, etc). But even with this pale hair color, make sure her eyebrows and lashes are naturally much darker. Red hair also shows up with alarming regularity. Strawberry blond is the best of both worlds. If her hair has to be brown it must be chestnut and only on rare occasions where someone had a gypsy ancestor does black hair show up. Her face, if you're following the Barbara Cartland tradition, is heart-shaped. Eyes are large and luminous (belladonna applications anyone?), pools of color to be fallen into. Again, brown eyes not so much, we really prefer a crisp green or blue or, randomly, violet. I've never met anyone with purple eyes, but apparently they were all over the place in the Regency.

Height is either unusually tiny, where she doesn't come up to his shoulder, or she's unusually tall and is the same height or taller than most of the men. ***If I seem to use "unusual" overmuch, it's because some authors do.*** But then, with all those taller-than-everyone-else-men, it helps to have a girl who measures vertically up to them. Figures are at most full. She might have an impressive bosom but earthy figures are left to older women or those of a less moral nature. Often she's not incredibly endowed but has a wonderful figure, slim and healthy, that doesn't really ever need a corset. So ideally we're going for curvy but slim. Got that?

Your heroine generally gets one of two personalities: the self-sufficient feisty girl or the delicate flower who needs someone to build her a backbone. The first is getting to be far more popular, probably because too many readers were getting sick of these wistful waifs who couldn't say boo to their husbands. Backbone, willingness to work hard and possibly break a few rules, and generally having spunk is a good thing. Still, she should at all times also be incredibly well mannered, kind to small children, animals, and old servants, and beloved by all but the inconvenient family members who mistreat her. (More on those relatives in later posts.)

Whatever it is she's done or doing, she's doing or has done it well. Whether that be singing (golden songbird), dancing (no stomping on toes here), drawing or painting, raising her eight siblings after both parents died, speaking Latin, preserving her virtue, or dealing with some sort of weaponry, she's awfully good at it. Occasionally, you find the rare girl who admits an inability to sing/play well, when others around her are virtuosos, but more likely while she might not play perfectly, she plays with so much more emotion that everyone has to stop and take notice.

Your heroine really should be from a good family. It is slightly less imperative that she be born aristocracy than it is with the guys, but not by much. She still needs to come from a good family: gentry and aristocracy preferable, if her family is merchant, then she should have been raised and educated as a lady so she'll at least fit in neatly. Even if she has been demoted Cinderella style to servitude, she was brought up well and that always shines through when it needs to.

Yes, many of them have a Cinderella complex. Either personality, or evil family, or whatever....she's waiting for Prince Charming to take her away from her life of servitude and shower her with wealth, security, children, and the greatest opportunity of her life: being his wife. She's amazingly self-effacing in all this too. Yes, I know, options for women were rather more limited than they are now, but seriously.

What's her view on marriage? She wants to be married a fair portion of the time, though not always to the hero. She has idealized the boy next door (who, if he's not the hero, is totally unacceptable). You could go with the idea that she doesn't want to marry so she can take care of siblings, relatives, etc etc. There's the rare gem of a heroine who doesn't want to lose herself in marriage, worried she'll lose herself, but the hero always sweeps past this. Oh, and yes, occasionally she's a widow. But with the exception of one of the Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn (and it's a lovely book), I can't come up with very many where it was a happy marriage. Usually the first husband was a profligate and subjugated her personality, was manic-depressive, left debts, and may have abused her. And if that doesn't make one just want to RUSH right into a second marriage :-p

So there's your lady. Go forth and make a lady, countess, or other title of her.

Next up? Meet the in-laws.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who's Your Hero: Regency Romance Series

If you're just joining us,
*Starting Off

Every good regency needs a hero. The brooding type tends to be popular. Occasionally one sees the perky one but lethargy and brooding tend to rule the day.

Things to remember about your hero:

He is always handsome and most of the time he's a brunette. I'm not sure why this is particularly appealing, but it seems the vast majority have gorgeous dark locks to be played with. There are a few blonds in the mix. Red hair is an extreme rarity. Make sure he's tall, usually taller than everyone else and has piercing eyes. I don't go for the angelic type, but apparently some do, for there are many who get described as angelic. Though, more often than not, it's a dark angel.

He's from a good family. With exceptions that I can count on one hand and have fingers left over, he's from the aristocracy. He doesn't have to be titled, there are those occasional spare brothers floating around, but most likely he's got at least one or two titles. Some families seemed to have enough for everyone so no boy had to be a mere mister. Those rare exceptions probably have some kind of gentry in the past, even if he is a *gasp* merchant or *the horror* estate manager.

Your hero must be an exceptional rider, driver, dancer and fighter. He alone can handle the horses no one else can and is never thrown. He's always exceedingly kind to them and they never lose shoes. He beats regularly the times others have set on various road races. Within the ballroom he never ever steps on a ladies feet and always in charge when dancing. (Would that all modern men could lead with such panache and confidence!) And no matter what he's handed: pistol, sword, or knife, or if he's just using bare fists, he is one of the undefeated at them. Along that fisticuff line, he has a "punishing" hook and usually trains with Gentleman Jackson himself. It's a nice way to let the hero go blow off some steam, bond with other men, or attribute why he's so amazing at everything he does.

The hero has quite the active night life, but amazingly shows no sign of the dissipation. He drinks, gambles, smokes and carouses with the demi-monde until wee hours. He sleeps until noon and is quite often hauled out of bed with a thick head. (Assuming of course that alcohol affects him, there are a number of heroes who seem to be able to imbibe vast quantities without every having a bad morning afterwards.) But none of these cause pudginess, gout, diabetes, red noses, and amazingly, despite having biblically known quite a number of women, none of these men have contracted sexually transmitted diseases.

Speaking of the time he's spent with the demi-monde: your hero has a past with the ladies. He's had any number of mistresses (often a "really big number of them" that shocks nice ladies). These ladies are always acknowledged courtesans, dancers, and widows. It's amazing how he finds all these women with loose morals, the ladies of the evening never seem to have any problems with the fact they've turned to the oldest of professions. If the hero finds the heroine in a brothel, he must of course spirit her out of there post-haste because she's a nice girl who would never do that. If he finds anyone else, apparently she's excited about her profession and the chance to entertain him. There were an amazing number of lusty bar wenches. There are also an amazing number of wives who cheat on their husbands, though of course the hero and heroine never would cheat on each other. A surprising number of these adulterous wives are happy to set up their lovers with girls who turn out to be the wife of his chaste and monogamous dreams. Who knew?

War heroes are convenient to have around, so consider making your hero a former (in his past) or recent (just coming home from the wars now) soldier. If he fought in the war, he was mentioned in the dispatches, so everyone knows what a hero he was and how he sacrificed himself for others. Despite the sacrifice, he usually comes home in one piece, despite the French soldiers and horrible surgeons best and worst efforts. Often, regret and reflection is alluded too, along with nightmares. I appreciate this, actually, it makes the men more human to realize that they fought and took lives and had friends lose their lives. Much more realistic than shoving it down with a "doing one's duty" and being perfectly able to resume civilian life.

The hero generally has one of two approaches to marriage: he has to for purposes of having an heir, saving his fortune, meeting a parental requirement, winning a bet, etc OR he's completely against it, plans never to marry, thinks all women are beneath him (insert double entendre here), so on and so forth. It seems to be one or the other, rarely is he just casually interested in women (Austen's Captain Wentworth in Persuasion is a rare example where he's open to the idea of marriage without it being forced upon him.)

We've met our hero, now on to our leading lady.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wool: You Know You Want It (Donate to the LFPL)

We're down to the last week of Steve's goal of gathering 5K for Louisville Free Public Library. Which means, we're down to the last week of the enter to win really awesome wool and/or me knitting it into something for you!

Here's the kick off post .

Here's how to play the game (one more time):

1) Donate to LFPL either by mailing them a check or contributing via Paypal to the Library Society of the World fund. He's already sent one check when we hit the half way point and it has been received.
  • The Library Foundation
    Attn: Flood
    301 York St.
    Louisville, KY 40203
    (502) 574-1709
2) Email me/Facebook me/Direct Message me on Twitter or Friendfeed or Plurk and let me know either a) you donated (for one chance) or b) how much you donated for one chance per $5 donated. My email is on the blog homepage if anyone needs it.

I'll be doing the drawing on September 2, 2009, results to be posted shortly thereafter.

Come's Malabrigo. And it's going to a good cause!! Help Steve Lawson and the LSW make the five thousand dollar goal!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to Write a Regency Romance: A Tongue in Cheek Series

It's become too serious of late, so it's time for some frivolity. This will be a multi-part blog series over the next few weeks.

I now offer you, based on my years and years experience reading historical romance novels, suggestions on how to write one.* I'll mostly be focusing on so-called "regency romances." Many of these suggestions, though, play over nicely into modern/paranormal/etc etc etc. I make these points not to insult the authors, whose books I read, suggest, buy, pass to friends, etc.; nay, friends, I come only to amuse.

Let us begin.

We'll start with something easy--the Top Five Things You Should Mention in your Regency Romance (RR). This way you can plan to build your story around them.

  1. Tea : Everyone drinks it, everyone offers it, there's always a fresh pot around somewhere.
  2. Almacks: The ton revolved around it, who was invited, who was going, who wasn't going, which rake showed up there, who was banned, and the Patronesses.
  3. Ankles: Apparently they were the height of sexy, since bosoms were exposed by evening wear. Make sure there are nicely turned ones. (Turned, not sprained)
  4. Napoleon and the war: Half pay officers, wounded soldiers returning, soldiers dying, someone leaving to war, getting a commission, the escape from Elba, heros. TONS of possibilities here.
  5. Cravats: No nice man is without them. They're used to promote the hero, bind wounds, point out the silliness of brothers, and so on and so forth.
Next we'll be exploring your hero.

*Please note, these suggestions are not intended as practical advice. I have neither written nor published a regency romance, though the Incredibly-Patient-Mother has suggested that perhaps I should.

Hedgehogs in the News: Joke

My-Friend-the-Lawyer spotted this early this morning and sent it on. We both agree it's not the funniest joke we've ever heard.

Hedgehog joke wins comedy prize.

Happy Monday all...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mid-Week Brain Break

I'm blaming MLx from Friendfeed for this one.

Pop Words.

I will not apologize for spreading the addiction.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Making Soggy Memories

When I was very young, it was extremely normal for family gatherings to occur regularly. We got together for holidays, birthdays, any excuse to gather for a meal was a good one. I am one of eleven cousins on that side of the family, and these events brought together any number of us to swing on Grandma's front porch, play rounds of Euchre, swim in the lake, ice skate on that same lake, sing and tell stories. I'm the youngest of the girls and the oldest of the boys is still renowned for making everyone at the kids table laugh. And even as adults, we of the "kid" generation still often end up at a "kid" table, while our parents and grandmother are together and now, all of their children are grouped.

Cousins, as all children do, grow up and we split out across the country. And across the world. At one point there were cousins both in Germany and Japan, and while at the moment we're all back in the general midwest region, I doubt that will last a lifetime and it's still a stretch to get together.

So when the opportunity arose to spend a weekend across the state with two cousins and their families, it was time to pack up and look for directions.

Incidentally, Highway 21 is a long drive across the state. Lovely and peaceful, but one definitely slips into a state of "I can't remember anything I've seen in the past thirty minutes, where am I?"

It was incredibly normal, after somewhere around six years (there are three more children since last time I saw this set of cousins), to step back into the familiarity of cousins. Some life stories, some family news, plans for the next year, adventures taken, all shared in a kitchen, or over food. There was an adult table and a kid table, and though it shouldn't have surprised me, it was strange to sit down with my cousins and know WE were the adults. But a long history of shared times immediately filled the gap of a half dozen years apart.

And then, there was the water balloon fight. I wasn't sure it was going to be warm enough, but a half hour or so of playing catcher for three boys batting a foam ball warmed me up enough. I was also reminded that I am not particularly blessed with a throwing arm.

I was, of course, the novel target. One can hit one's dad, aunt, uncle or siblings with a squirt gun or water balloon anytime. Cousin Abigail? Not so much. I did put two parameters in place--no balloons directly in my face, please, and when I had the camera, I had technological device immunity. But I certainly ended up drenched and, despite eventually being armed only with a watering can, I managed to inflict my share of sogginess. The boys complained it wasn't fair, me with a watering can, I argued that I only had arms reach to dump water on them, while they were planning distract and conquer tactics and lobbying balloons at me from some yards away. They play baseball and there was some decent pitching going on, trust me.

Arguing over the hose---note the child in the background who is ENTIRELY off the ground. Apparently S is capable of hovering and no one warned me about that trait in the extended family.

A mad dash after catching his aunt with a squirt gun.

Getting the adults with the hose.

A pair of soaked cousins. Trust me, I'd just wrung out my shirt.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Book Review: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Sworn to Silence
Linda Castillo

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. Early Reviewers get copies of books from publishers in exchange for reading and providing an honest review on LibraryThing.

Castillo presents a thriller mystery when a serial killer re-appears after an absence of sixteen years to start murdering young women in a small town with a large Amish community.

Kate Burkholder has returned to her childhood hometown as the chief of police, bringing a history of growing up Amish and larger city police experience. When a serial killer returns and begins to escalate after an absence of sixteen years, Burkholder is caught between attempting to do her job and trying to deal with her own past. For, we learn, she believes she killed the Slaughterhouse Killer as a young woman, an act that caused her to leave the Amish community and become an outsider to her immediate family. Now, with a burnt out former rogue state officer sent to help out, she has to juggle local politicians, other law enforcement departments, and the unknown of whether the killer is back or if she has a new problem to deal with.

Castillo does an admirable job of setting up a town with believable politics, history and personality. I particularly liked the night dispatcher, whose obsession with current crime scene television shows is treated with a gentle humor and teasing of readers who are similarly interested. Her scenic descriptions are distinct enough to give a clear image, though she makes the ones involving the victims sparse enough to keep the stomach from churning. She provides interesting insight into the Amish community and their behavior towards Kate, showing believe instances where love for family takes precendence over cultural rules.

Tomasetti, the rogue cop in state agency sent to help, was stereotypical--rugged, good looking, has a tragic background. They never send the happily married average looking guy. And of course there was the seeming obligatory romantic angle. I was a little disappointed that two people had to fall into bed together. Yes, traumatic situation and all sparking romance and celebration of life, but it didn't add anything for me.

Overall, it was well done. I probably should have figured out the killer a little earlier, but I didn't mind that I hadn't. And it was nice to see more realistic time lines (something will take 2-3 days to get, etc). Thrillers aren't a genre I read often, but I recommend Sworn to Silence for someone who likes to watch Bones, CSI, Criminal, etc.

And it's apparently going to be part of a series, about which I feel ambivalent.

Cross posted to my account on LibraryThing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Review: Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan

It will come as no surprise that this is a zombie book. And it put me in mind, a bit, of M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village."

Small enclosed town, threat of the Unconsecrated in the forest, and a girl who dreams of freedom. A girl has three options upon coming of age: get married, stay with your family, or join the mysterious "Sisterhood" who are the governing force. Mary, orphaned and rejected by her older brother, is caught between marrying a best friend she doesn't love, suffering from unrequited love of her best friend's little brother, and not wanting to believe in God or the Sisterhood.


When the zombies, sorry, Unconsecrated attack, Mary, her betrothed, her brother and his wife, and her love interest and HIS betrothed and a child retreat into a path that takes them out of the village. Only, they seem to have never learned of Roman numerals and the paths lead them mostly to death and dead ends.

I couldn't empathize with Mary as she waffled between the boy she was betrothed to (who was in love with her but also her best friend) and the boy she "loved" (though he was also waffling between the two girls). The history of the Sisterhood and the development of the village was never explained, and by the end I just didn't care.

The ending sets up, of course, for a sequel, but I think I'll pass.

Half-Way Reminder

We're halfway through the time for the LFPL Malabrigo Giveaway! A reminder that if you've donated to LFPL, please send me an email to be entered either for Malabrigo Yarn or me making you something out of Malabrigo. I will also suggest that you probably have someone in your family who would REALLY enjoy getting something handmade and woolly as a holiday gift. Details here.

Steve Lawson posted on Thursday that he's nearly to the $3000 of his $5000 goal! Hooray! They've updated their losses to nearly five million dollars and while insurance will hopefully be taking care of a lot of that, we all know that insurance will probably take a while and may not cover everything.

And in the interim over the weekend, I expect to be surrounded by 2 first cousins, 2 cousin-in-laws, and 5 1st cousins once removed having a water balloon fight. Pictures to follow, water balloon fight and weather permitting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Did Going to Conference Matter?

I inflicted upon you long details of my racketing around Chicago, meeting people, shaking hands, eating, causing trouble.

So what? Why does it matter?

Unlike my first trip to ALA, a self-funded trip where I worked in publishing and knew only a former grad school cohort, this time I went in knowing people. And while last year's day trip to PLA was pretty cool, this time I could breathe and take in the entire conference.

I communicate with librarians across the globe in a sometimes ridiculous number of ways: Listservs (9 that I can think of), Friendfeed, Plurk, Blogs, Linked In, ALA Connect, Meebo, Facebook, Email, and Phone. Eighteen (at least) different ways. And each has its place, its time and its uses.

But there is something to be said for putting a bunch of people in the same room to actually talk about things. So much happens online that a lot goes to the periphery. We're aware of it but perhaps not as focused as we'd like to be. Then, in a fifteen minute presentation, it's brought to the foreground, allowing us to ask questions, find out the details, share troubles and actually start to make plans.

It lets us be inspired. I sat in the back of a room crammed full of school media specialists, children's and teen librarians, and other people who have enjoyed the works of Anderson, Sitomer, and Woodson, and we were captivated. They believed in us. Anderson pointed out how much mail she receives from kids, many of whom were introduced to her work by librarians. She gave us relevance. Well known award winning authors spoke in praise of us and the work we do. It was humbling.

It shows us what is passe. Though I wish we were living a closer to Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson) kind of world, Second Life ain't it for me.

It helps us make contacts. I had a rollicking conversation during lunch at Unconference with a librarian in South Carolina--about funding, politicians, developing our careers. I was aware of most of the people who were coming to dinner on Saturday, but I met people I didn't know or saw only here and there on other people's comments. I would return to introduce Sibling-the-Elder via email to the Business Librarian at Champaign Public so they could discuss business resources.

I walked the exhibits, partially to grab snacks, but to affirm to myself that what they were pushing the hardest--I was aware of. I skipped a few booths--one can only look at some many ILS's before is blue in the face and I'm not on the committee selecting the new one anyway--but I got to talk to some vendors face to face, on my terms. I got to see what books are coming and know that, yes, I think I'm ordering the stuff that's going to be big. Circulation rates for my chapter books collection is up, which I'm gloating about all over the place, but it's good to know what's coming. (I kept hitting booths going "I have that, that, that, that's on order, that, that, that...)

It reminds us that we are scholars and researchers and teachers of each other and ourselves, not just the people ordering the latest in horse-themed books and Disney releases. We participate in committees to recognize what others are doing, shine light on what is working, and hopefully, come away with ideas.

It gives us a chance to step back from everyday and look at what's around us. When immersed in what we're doing every day, it's often hard to pause, think about being a librarian as a profession (tho not necessarily a calling) on a grander scale. What do these new tools mean, is there something a public library can grab from an academic and vice versa. There certainly is segregation, snobbery, condescension, and creative assumptions--and that can be worse in person than when we're hanging out on our lists and social networks at home, surrounded by our own kind. But this time around, people seemed slightly less inclined to write me off instantly for being a children's librarian at a public library. I found people who could see the value in what I do and how I fit into the profession.

And I got to share my Moo cards around, grab some books to review, and spend a weekend in Chicago.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review: Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede

Thirteenth Child
Patricia Wrede

Lan is the 7th son of a 7th son. Of course, he's also the 14th child in the family. And his twin, Eff, is the unlucky 13th child. In an alternative history of the United States, where steam dragons exist, magic is used for everyday chores, and Lewis and Clark never made it back, Eff is growing up with the knowledge that she is cursed and expected to become evil.

Wrede provides an interesting premise, an alternate United States where magic, but she's done this before, with the letter series she did with Carol Stevenson. And the setting, though with much potential, was lacking. I wanted to know more about the amazing creatures that were supposedly beyond the barriers and the lack of information about a steamdragon, why it was called that, what it actually looked like, etc was annoying. It felt jumbled mixing mythical creatures plus those extinct in our present day.

Eff's family relocates from their hometown to a Western post so her father can become a teacher of a magic university. All of the children learn magic at school, though mostly only a Avrupan (European) style of spell casting. An unorthodox day school teacher also introduces Eff and a few other kids to Asian and Aphrikan (African) styles. Her older sister runs off to marry into a group who believe magic is a crutch, but is shown to still be using basic spells, so there's not much of a sense of life in that community without magic.

Though I felt like I captured Wrede's intention, overall I was disappointed. Things split off in too many directions: animals, characters, and nothing felt fully developed. Years of time passed quickly and, while more realistic than total self realization in a week at the beach, the whole thing felt awkward.

It was, at best, okay.

Not a Book Review

I picked up Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200 by Lisa Lillien. I thought it would have some fun quick recipes.

I paged through it and started to be a little alarmed. So I went back to the beginning. And there were the "staple ingredients"--the majority of which I don't consider to be actual food products. Noodle Substitute and Margarine Spray are not ever going to be staples in my diet.

I'm not hugely in love with food, but I do like to eat actual food. This one is going onwards to the next person on the holds list.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Louisville Free Public Library and a Giveaway

Louisville Free Public saw an excessive amount of rain yesterday---over six inches in three hours, and the Main Library was hit with flash flooding of water and sewage that knocked out their computer systems, their book mobiles, the processing area holding all the incoming books, and at least 40 new computers that were slated to go to community branches. We followed along yesterday as Greg Schwartz posted tweets and pics. Early estimated damage is at least a million dollars and that's a low estimate.

They're in today, pumping out water and seeing the damage, and there's a lot of work to do.

But at least we can help.

A disaster recovery fund has been established; donations (by check) can be mailed to:
The Library Foundation
Attn: Flood Recovery
301 York Street
Louisville, KY 40203

Steve Lawson, one of my Library Society of the World Fellows, has set up an online way to donate. He's set up a Paypal account and is collecting money that will be donated to the library under the LSW heading. Please check out his post and (eta), yes, I trust him that the money will get to LFPL.

The Giveaway Part:

To thank you for your generosity to LFPL:

If you're a knitter, you've probably heard of Malabrigo. It's amazingly soft wool yarn out of Uruguay, some of the most luscious stuff to knit and wear.

I'm offering three skeins of Black Forest Malabrigo, which is a rich dark grey/brown with slight green undertones. These have been kept in my apt which is non-smoking and pet free. I'll pack these up and send them off to you for your knitting or other crafting pleasure.

But, Abigail, you say, I don't knit. Yes, I know there are a few of you who don't and while I'd be happy to teach you, I can understand how it's not everyone's craft. So I'll make this offer instead--I'll knit that yarn into a hat and scarf set for you. Or mittens and cowl (cowl can also mean really short scarf that buttons around your neck and doesn't mess up your hair). Or some other reasonable three skeins of Malabrigo project. The Blonde can attest to Malabrigo fingerless mitts being warm and yummy.

How to enter:

1) Donate money to the cause, either via mail or through Steve's link.

2) Email me at my gmail address (see blog homepage) to let me know how much you donated. For every five dollars you donate, I'll put your name onto the spreadsheet once. So $20 is 4 chances etc. etc. Though I'll alert Steve that I'm posting this, he is not responsible for telling me if you donated. YOU MUST EMAIL ME to be entered. **ETA: If you would like to be in the raffle but don't feel like sharing how much you donated, you can just send me an "I donated" email. I'll put you on the raffle once for that**

3) Tell other people, pass this on.

4) On Sept 2, I will use a random number generator to select a recipient and will contact them about preference for yarn or knitted thing.

A Gentle Reminder

Please don't send Louisville Free Public books. They have a lot of cleaning and discarding to do and need to figure out what has been lost. They do have an Amazon wish list, which I imagine will grow as they determine what it is that has been destroyed. WHEN they are ready, please order from there. Greg Schwartz will keep us all up to speed.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I Miss Barbie.....

There are days when the ultra-pink, super frilly, princess fairy-ness of it all gets to be too much. Today might be one of them, but we'll set aside the flower pet tiara princess fairy with winged horses portion to focus on a standard.


I grew up with Barbie dolls, and had hours of dress up and make believe with them with Sibling-the-Elder. I still have a number of my Barbie dolls, though they don't get quite the playing time they did twenty years ago. My favorite was Betty, probably named after Rosemary Clooney's character in White Christmas because they both had shoulder length blond hair. A discriminating four year old, that was me.

Betty was an astronaut. She had a purple lame spacesuit and tall white heeled boots. She was going to go to the moon.

Though many times Barbie and her friends were off to parties, or riding around on the horse, or being dressed, redressed, and hair done a million ways, she had all kinds of jobs. She could do anything, be anyone. I loved it. You could be beautiful, talented, and you could wear high heels on the moon.

I think we've lost some of that.

Patron Age Almost 4 came in and grabbed some Barbie books this morning, in addition to her usual pile of whichever picture books appeal to her today. She loves Barbie, much the way I did at her age. But she has Barbie in Fairytopia and Barbie and the Diamond Castle. These movies and movie-tie-in books and games, it's all either about Barbie as Fairy or Barbie as Princess. Where's Barbie as Astronaut or Barbie as Secretary of State?? Barbie could still travel, still meet interesting people, still save the world in under 30 minutes, and you could throw in some sparkly Martains with wings for good measure.

I don't have an issue with pink, most of the time. I don't take issue to princess and fairies, usually.

But I wish they'd do something with those movies that didn't only relegate Barbie to an incredibly pink princess or fairy. Barbie's had so many jobs over the years, why are we restricting her to only those imaginary ones? There aren't that many unmarried princes running about Europe (Harry and William aside) and while I'd love to believe in a Dish Fairy, the closest I get to come is the dishwasher.

I'm going to go find Betty.... Might as well shoot for the moon, right?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Of Yarn and Photography

I took a furlough day the other day (ours are voluntary, this year at least, and only one day makes the damage to the paycheck manageable) and Sibling-the-Elder and I went to a yarn festival.

I was less than thrilled by the festival. I'd signed up for email notifications, arranged a hotel, all sorts of things. Upon arriving at the location of the festival I was told, in stringent tones, there was a $10 entry fee and they only accepted cash at the gate. (Please note--the entry fee was never mentioned in the emails, I went back and looked.) Okay, fine, point me to an ATM. There was one inside but they weren't going to let me go in because people were cheats and liars and didn't come back to pay the entry fee. Yes, that's really what I was told. Nothing like being accused of being a cheat upon arrival. Finally, it was determined that another worker could walk me to/from the ATM. Considering that all I was getting for my really high entry fee was a walk through the vendors, I was disgruntled.

Once we achieved the vendors, who were sprawled out across a huge building in a seeming haphazard manner, I looked, but didn't buy. Can you believe I was actually not in a mood to buy yarn? I was nearly shaken out of it when we reached a vendor selling Blue Moon Fiber Arts Yarns. BMFA is on the west coast and I've never been in a shop that carried it. (The Master Sergeant and I have discussed a west coast trip for fishing and BMFA reasons.) Tina, the BMFA color-mistress, came up with a cool process of infusing black and white with hints of color and I wanted some of those yarns. Only, the vendor was complaining that they'd had inadequate time to set up and refused to let me in the booth to those yarns. Four hours to set up the day before, and it was nearly noon when I got to the booth. Disgruntled was deteriorating into peevish.

Ultimately I bought one skein of yarn, some beautiful green wool from New Zealand. And truly, most of the vendors were lovely, but I felt really turned off overall.

When we adjourned to the outside, there was good Polish food!! Despite my braces having been freshly tightened, Sibling-the-Elder and I packed away blini, potato pancakes, sausage and applesauce and loads of sour cream.

And then we adjourned to out front of the community college--to take pictures.

Sibling-the-Elder is quite a photographer and it had been nearly ten years since she'd last done a full shoot of me. Usually being in different states, if not continents, tends to do that. Here are a few of the pictures, we took over 400 and edited heavily. The yarn is the one skein I acquired that day.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Writing 15 Minutes A Day

I'm taking Laurie Halse Anderson's challenge to write 15 minutes a day during the month of August. Call it ramping up for NaNoWriMo. I missed yesterdays kick off--having gone from work and creating website content here all day to home and seeing whether or not I could make up for another week of insomnia filled nights by falling into bed at a rather early hour. I suppose I do have to sleep occasionally.

But here I go, back to my pen and paper. Though I compose often and at length on screen, I really do enjoy longhand.