Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Book Week

September 27 - October 4

I was reading Vicki Lane's blog, and she talked about Banned Books Week. So, I decided to check it out and get more info. It really amazes me how some people think they should be allowed to tell everyone else what they can and cannot read.

Searching the internet, I found the American Library Association's list of the top ten books challenged in 2007. (According to the website, a challenge is a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school asking that the book be removed.)

1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

3. Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes

4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark

6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle

8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

9. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Doesn't it seem surprising that in this day and age, Huckleberry Finn still gets challenged? And this is only the top 10 list for that year. More research reveals many more books. Lists from other years as well are available, and it is staggering the books that constantly get challenged. Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Blubber. (I was a big Judy Blume fan as a kid, so that one really amazes me. I don't know what I would have done without Blume's books.)

I agree with the notion that it is up to parents to control what their children read, and that they should make an informed decision by reading the books themselves. But they shouldn't try to control what others read. It's called having an open mind. We all need more of that.

And don't forget to read a banned book this week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Paul Newman

Paul Newman passed away Friday at the age of 83. This news made me, and millions of others, very sad. Not only was he one of the best actors to ever grace the stage and screen, but he was also a great humanitarian. And those piercing blue eyes...OUCH! He once joked "If my eyes should ever turn brown, my career is shot to hell."

When I was in the 10th grade, Mr. Marshall (my English teacher) liked to show movies as part of the class. One I will never forget is Hombre. I consider this one of Newman's best. It really touched me and made me a fan for life.

And of course there is the most famous movie pairing in Hollywood. Newman only made two movies with Robert Redford, The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but it grew into a legendary partnership and friendship. Hearing of his friend's death, Redford released a statement saying "There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life - and this country - is better for his being in it."

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward celebrated their 50th anniversary on February 2, 2008. He was once asked why he never strayed and his reply was "Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?" Woodward was once quoted as saying "Sexiness wears thin after awhile and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat!" (The top photo was taken in January, 1958. Don't have the date for the bottom one.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

National Punctuation Day/Book Recommendation

Today is National Punctuation Day. What? You've ever heard of it? Well, neither have I. But, there's a website and everything. (http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/) I clicked through this site a bit and it has some pretty good info. Plus it's kind of fun. The idea of the "holiday" is to "remind corporations and professional people of the importance of proper punctuation." We could all use that reminder once in a while. (I get a reminder every time I read the local paper. Jeez.)

I read many different types of books: fiction, non-fiction, biographies, horror, mystery. Lately though, I've been pretty picky. I've tried so many books, and so many I have given up on and just tossed into the donation pile. (I'm collecting paperbacks to send to troops overseas. But, that's another story.) The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one exception. Wow, what a read. I was really impressed by this one, and recommend it to anyone who will listen. This is one of the few I will keep to read again later.

One thing worries me. A movie based on this book is scheduled to be released later this year. I just don't think any movie can do it justice.

Well, that's it for today, I reckon. I'm off to work on a short story......

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clotheslines and Stuff

I finally bought a retractable clothesline and got the hubby to put it up for me. (I tried. Just not good at some things I reckon.) I've used it twice so far (yesterday and today) and love it. Hanging clothes out is almost therapeutic as well. And the smell...heaven. Of course, with no rain in the forecast, as soon as I hung out this load today it started getting cloudy. (If you ever want rain, hang out some clothes I guess.) Next year I'm buying a four-line retractable clothesline. For now, this will do.

And yet another picture of the ever-present Muffin. Over the summer, she would follow at my heels around the yard as I picked blackberries. Now she's taken to following me to the clothes line. When it was first put up, she just lay in the grass staring up at it like she was trying to figure out how to get up there. Hopefully she's given up on that idea. I have this mental image of looking out my back window to see her hanging off one of my bathtowels.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sad Note

I am currently finishing up my Criminal Justice certificate at Mayland Community College, where my husband works in the IT department. Today the Criminal Justice/Basic Law Enforcement Training department lost instructor Tim Duncan in a sad accident. He was helping his father move a camper when it rolled over on him. Tim was killed and his father suffered a heart attack and was taken to the hospital.
Even though Tim was my teacher this semester, I am taking the classes online so have never actually met him face to face. I have enjoyed his emails and the comments he left on the papers he has graded, though. My husband says he was a really nice guy: always friendly and smiling.

My thoughts go out to Tim's friends and family. He will be missed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nine Years and Counting

Nine years ago today, we brought six little kittens in from under our back porch. We found them a few days before, and kept a close eye out as their mother went back and forth taking care of them. Then, she disappeared. We jumped in, pulled the little guys out and brought them in. (We figured they were about 2.5 - 3 weeks old.) What followed is sometimes a blur in my memory: warming goat's milk for feedings every 4 hours, helping them use the bathroom (didn't know they couldn't do this on their own that young), nearly crying when they stood up on wobbly little legs for the first time, trying to wean them off the bottles, etc. It's like everything you deal with the first few years raising kids crammed weeks.

We'd only planned on keeping one of the kittens, but I talked Chris into two. Then one turned a bit scrawny and sickly looking, almost unadoptable, so we kept him. (Fooled us. Major is now 18 pounds of cat.) When they were about 3 months old, we took the other three (Face, Buster and Rusty) to the local shelter. Two days later, we got a phone call from the shelter saying they couldn't handle Face, that she was vicious. (Hissed when they tried to take her out of the cage.) They were talking about putting her to sleep. We told them not to touch her and immediately went to pick her up. When I opened the cage, she walked right out into my arms. (She's a Tortie, and I'm told they have bad attitudes. Maybe she was just living up to that.)

Blondie used to be my little athlete. He would run around the house, jump all over things. He still likes to run around sometimes, but not quite like he used to, so he's put on a few pounds of course. We named him Blondie because we couldn't think of anything else. He didn't stand out like the others as a kitten; was quiet and just liked to play on his own. If we'd been thinking, we would have named him Lambert after an old cartoon we like. Alas, we weren't thinking and he was stuck with a girl's name.

Eddie was the first one named. The day we brought them in, she looked like Eddie Munster. She was a cutie, but ended up being the one who worried us the most. At one point, she lost all her fur except the bit on her face. (Will have to find and post a photo of that.) When it finally grew back, she ended up being the only long-haired cat in the lot. She's also the only living thing in this house who is at her ideal weight. What an oddball.

This is Major, the big baby. He likes to go to sleep while sucking on the tip of his tail. There was a time when the other kittens would be running around playing, and he would sit on Chris' lap meowing over and over again, so we decided he was a major pain...Major. (We found out later on that he has a detached retina and that could be what the problem was. That's a pretty painful thing when that happens.) One day I'll post one of his "skinny" pictures. What a difference.

This is Her Majesty, the ever elegant, Face. Not her best picture, but the only one I can find right now. We thought she was a boy since she was the biggest in the litter at the time. (Yes, Torties are girls, but she wasn't showing Tortie colors then.) Face and Major used to be twins. The only way we could tell them apart was by the red on her nose. We named her Face Man after the guy on A-Team. Then, the red filled in all over and we found out she was a girl. She already knew her name, so we just called her Face. She is Blondie's best friend.
And here they all are. Eddie does not like the others around her when she's sacked out, or most other times actually. She would have been a good "only cat" for someone I guess. It's rare to have all four of them in the same photo, but I managed it this time, barely. (Note the difference in Face and Major. Like I said, they used to be twins.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nature Stuff

(Too long without a post. Life interrupts sometimes I reckon.)

Isn't nature interesting. I sat on the deck reading for about 2 hours the other day, all the while keeping an eye on a spider as it built a web. It was neat to watch, and some of the questions I had about how they did certain things with the web are now answered. The next day, I took a photo of the spider sitting on the tomato post. Check this thing out. It's back looks like a face. How cool is that.

And I guess all that rain we finally got brought these to the yard. (Are these mushrooms or toadstools?) There's a nice trail going from my yard right up into the neighbor's. Never had mushrooms growing in the yard before.

Here is my first full-size tomato. It came off the container plant. Don't know why it split a bit at the top like that, but it was still good. Used it on the hubby's sandwiches.

And every morning, with the exception of the day after mowing, my yard is filled in spots with morning glories. There are white ones, purple ones and every shade of blue. In all that, this is my favorite one. I have yet to find another vine with this combination on it. This has been moved to a spot near my deck in the hopes it will grow up the post.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gadget Corner

Most of us know all about USB drives by now. They are little, very portable drives that plug into the USB port of your computer, and store so much more information than any disc or CD. I have one on my keychain and it goes every where I do. But now, thanks to my hubby, I have found something even better.

This is the SD card I use in my digital camera. 2GB of storage in such an itty bitty thing. (Some computers don't have that much storage space.) I'm still amazed when I think about it. I've started using these cards for more than just photos. But, my one issue with them was the need of a portable card reader for use in computers that don't have ports for these. (Some do have memory card slots, but many do not.) The hubby rescues me again. (There are other kinds besides SD, that just happens to be what my camera uses.)

This little do-diddy is a USB drive for memory cards. You plug your card into it, then it plugs into the USB port of your computer. I love this. And if you're worried about losing these little cards, which is pretty easy to do since they are so small, just go to Google and search for a memory card holder or wallet. There are many different sizes and styles out there.

Now, I'm not a big computer person. That's my husband's area. But I guess I'm moving up in the world a bit. I've finally gotten into the blogging thing, and every once in a while a computer gadget comes along that I get excited about. Maybe I'm more of a computer person than I thought.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Smoky Mountain Inspiration

I went up to the Parkway this morning and stopped off at an overlook above The Orchard at Altapass. I love this view. The clouds were passing over the mountains in the distance, then this line of clouds/mist started gliding down the mountain. It was so neat looking, and even inspired the start of a poem.

Clouds like smoke
pouring over the mountain.
A thick white mist
enveloping in its chill.
I watch it come
creeping ever closer to me.
It surrounds me
closing me off from the world.

Not much I know, but like I said, it's the start of a poem. It'll be way different once I get it done. Especially since on the way home I heard the song Big Country (Remember that from the 80's?) and that inspired more lines to add in and work on. Oh how I miss the days when I could write a poem in one sitting and be satisfied that it was finished "as is." Now they seem to take so much work. If I again ever hear anyone say writing isn't hard work...