Princess Katherine

Finally found the tiara.

Book Review: Crossing the Tracks

Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber

So it turns out that despite my big! ideas! to the contrary! I haaaaate writing book reviews.  It feels like school, and that’s not really what I’m after on a day to day basis, returning to high school (shudder).  Or else I write something bitchy and then the AUTHOR EMAILS ME and I DIE OF SHAME.  Or I write something bitchy and people who loved the book leave me nasty comments.  Or I love the book but I don’t want to oversell it because I feel like maybe it was just me.  Maybe it wasn’t that great?  So basically I never do it because I feel self conscious and weird about it.

Probably right now this is where I would say something like “But I am making this ONE exception because THIS book was SO great!” but I am too nervous to do that! What if you hate this book?  GAWD.  But it’s just sitting here on my desk and I have to blog about SOMETHING and I really want to tell people to read this, so here goes nothing.

Anyway, I just read Crossing the Tracks, and I really liked it.  You might not like it, but you should try reading it too.  It’s one of those books that reminds me of simpler YAF, if that makes any sense. I assumed it would be similar to that boring Calpurnia Tate where nothing actually happens and you’re just supposed to be filled the wonder of reading about some spunky! girl! do! spunky! things! even! though! you’re! bored! senseless! But no, this is not like that.

The book starts off with Iris being hired out to help a doctor’s family in a far away town in rural Missouri by her father, and right away you assume that the doctor and his mother are going to be crusty and curmudgeonly and she’s going to have to learn to love them and they’ll grow to love her and blah blah blah life lesson learned and instead, nope, they’re just really lovely and funny and smart and wonderful right from the get go, and you get to watch Iris become someone wonderful as well.  Or her friend Leroy, who she leaves behind, and who is writing her letters, you assume that something strange is going on there and instead you get to watch their peaceful sweet story unfold.  And I have to tell you that I will say – can you imagine how difficult it must be to write YAF love scenes?  What’s too dirty? What’s too boring?  Where do you draw the line?  The scenes between Iris and Leroy were some of the most wonderfully written passages I have read in a long time. Fresh and lovely and perfect.

I totally think you should read this.  I really don’t think you’ll hate it.  I went into it thinking it was going to be boring and uninteresting and another sort of nothing happens historical dull fest, and it was one of my favorite things I’ve read in a long time.

Also, it was a finalist for some award I have never heard of, the William C. Morris Debut Award from the ALA.  Well done, William C. Morris. I am in agreement with your selection.

Dear Internet, I Have a Question

So for absolutely ages we’ve had either patio furniture or 2. ghetto patio furniture from Walmart. Last year when our backyard got all fixed  up, we bought a new patio set from IKEA…which you can see here:

And we did use that furniture a lot, to eat at.  But it turned out to be the kind of thing that was great for sitting at while eating dinner and not so great for lounging on and reading a book.  Our house is tiny and our summers are hot and I want to spend as much time lying around my backyard as I possibly can.  So I decided that I not only needed backyard DINING furniture, but I also needed backyard LOUNGING furniture.

So this spring Mr. E and I spent a surprisingly cantankerous weekend plopping our kiesters down on every set of outdoor lounge furniture available for purchase in the tri state area.  Because I don’t wish to pay more for lounging furniture than I would for a used car, I selected this set of faux wickeresque stuff from OSH and now I am just waiting for it to go on sale so I can start some quality lounging and gin and tonic drinking.

But THEN! This set of chairs showed up on Craigslist.  Someone is selling four of these for a measly 20 dollars (for all  four) right around the corner from my house.  They are currently green powder coated metal, btw.

And I’m just wondering…with some (black? oil rubbed bronze?) spray paint and some red cushions?  Maybe?  Yes? Or no? I could add a cheap little coffee table and then I could STILL buy some loungers to throw somewhere else in the backyard.   I am conflicted about this, though, because maybe these chairs are terrible no matter what and I should just leave well enough alone and continue waiting for OSH to make some markdowns.

Please do advise, internet.

This May Be the Ugliest/Creepiest Thing I’ve Ever Made

Seriously, this is why I can’t be left home alone with no car and six packages of Peeps.

Things I’d Save In A Fire*: My Velvet Painting

I grew up all the way across the country from my maternal grandparents.  They lived on a dairy farm and I lived in a subdivision, but every summer we would go visit them, and those three weeks were some of my very happiest times.  Vermont seemed like a paradise of dusty roads and clear lakes and root beer floats, and the old farmhouse that my mother grew up in and that my parents were married in and that my cousin was born in was always the same, and there was something so very reassuring about the set of Time Life books lining the staircase and the chest of drawers full of board games in the dining room and the bush beans in the garden next to the house.

The velvet painting of redwoods hung over my grandparents bed for as long as I can remember.  When I was little and before I knew that velvet paintings didn’t hang in the Louvre, I admired it longingly, noting the way that the velvet made the light come streaming through the trees.  When I was older and it still hung there and because I was older and so much wiser I knew it wasn’t what one might call fine art, and I think I made some flippant or teasing remark about it to my grandmother, and she said “Oh, I know it’s just terrible.  But it was the first thing we ever bought together, your grandfather and I, when we went on our honeymoon to California and we saw the redwoods.  We just had to have it, because of how it captured the light streaming through the trees.”

And can’t you just see them?  Over half century ago now?  Two just married Vermonters, on their honeymoon in California, standing close, gazing up at the tallest trees in the world.

I treasure that image more than I can say.

The dates merge a bit in my head, but after I heard the story, and when we knew my grandmother was dying, and when people were having “conversations” over who would get the silver candlesticks and the dining room table and the embroidered sampler from the 1800’s, I only wanted the velvet painting of the trees.  It was easier somehow, to let go of the rest of those things, to know that although I would lose my grandmother,  I’d have something of value to me, that was once something of value to her, even if it wasn’t worth much of anything to anyone else.

My parents packaged it up in many layers of bubble wrap and cardboard, as you’d pack something of great worth.  It arrived in perfect condition, and since I first received it, people have laughed at it, or tried to buy it, or simply asked about it, and I love those moments, because it means I get to tell the story again, of my grandparents, before those things we all go through eventually, the nursing homes and the petty betrayals and the depression and the strokes, gazing up, holding hands, young and in love, and buying bad art.

And now I am here.  The painting hangs on my wall, in my bedroom.  I have seen those same trees myself, and gazed up at them,  and my velvet painting does indeed capture the light streaming through them like nothing else ever could.

*with the obvious understanding that all people and animals were out safe and unharmed, etc.

My Tomatoes

Likely of general interest to no one on earth, but thrilling to me.  Here’s the tomatoes in my garden this year:

Brandywines (my favorite)

Early Girl. Nothing special, but they’re early, so you gotta have em. 

Yellow Pear. I love these.

Rutgers Tomato. New this year. Planted because I’ve always heard they grow a mean tomato in Jersey.

Green Zebra. For some reason, I don’t have high hopes for this bad boy, but I figured why the heck not?

Cherokee Purple.  I am ridiculously excited about this tomato. I mean, read that description, who wouldn’t be?


Pineapple.  A yellow striped tomato. Super cool.

Ruby Gold. Another one I am very excited about. This is a terrible picture, but they’re pretty gorgeous in person.

Banana Legs. I don’t even care if this tomato is good, it has the best name ever.

Carmello.  I love the tomatoes that come from Italy, because they seem cooler.  Also, this tomato is now named Carmello Anthony in our garden, obviously. This listing claiims it’s from France, my tag says Italy, so there.

Jaune Flamme.  If that’s not the best name ever, I don’t know what is. I might have another kid just so I can name it Jaune Flamme.

Sweet Tangerine. We grew these last year and they were the bomb diggety.

Super Sweet 100 Red Cherry.  I hope these grow. Last year they fell victim to Turf Wars.

Heat Wave.  I swear, that’s what these are called, but I can’t find them anywhere.  Chances are this is due to extreme lameness. I just grow them because it’s so damn hot here, and rumor has it that above 95 degrees tomatoes will stop growing.  Whatever.

And now I’m stressed I don’t have enough tomatoes.  So obviously 2011 won’t be the year I stop with the over the top tomato neurosis.

(Seriously, no lie, there are 45 tomato plants in my backyard.  I  have issues.)

The Infamous Wax Paper Chandelier

Not sure how I feel about it yet. Opinions?






































P.S. What’s under there is a boob light, so keeping that’s not an option, obvs.  If I shitcan the wax paper, which is unlikely considering that it was a GIANT PAIN IN THE ASS, I would probably replace it with some old fashionedy looking thing that Lowe’s ripped off from Rejuvenation.

P.P.S. Please ignore that giant ladder. I may never be able to get it out of my room.  In which case I’ll just spray paint it white and display decorative objects on it.

P.P.P.S. Oddly I like the stupid thing better in pictures than I do in person.  Blargh.