pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (library stairs)
My Dad's Saturday routine includes going to the Westside branch of the El Paso Public Library, where he enjoys researching investments. This routine had been interrupted by my brother's death, but last Saturday we were able to follow the routine. The last time I went to the library with him, probably twenty years ago, his research was conducted with print materials, but now he logs onto Value Line, to which the library has a subscription. I suspect, but don't know for sure, that he was reading a print version of Value Line two decades ago.

Wanting access to the computers, as well as to the books, I spoke with one of the librarians about my situation and was granted a library card, even though I didn't have any local IDs. Hooray! for a system that works on a human basis and doesn't throw bureaucratic rules in the way.

The first thing I did with my new card was to sign up for a computer and, once I'd dealt with my email, to visit LiveJournal. My Saturday post (sorry, currently friends-locked) was made from the library. When my hour was up, all too quickly, I wandered the shelves in search of new reading material, having completed everything I brought with me, either on the train trip here, or in the all-too-limited bedtime reading I manage before I fall asleep. I could have perused the home library, but there's something alluring about a public library whose shelves you haven't wandered in decades.

I wound up checking out two books. The first was White Night by Jim Butcher. Jim Butcher and his wife, Shannon, will be co-Guests of Honor at TusCon, this year, so this seemed like a good time to reacquaint myself with his work. Besides, my eldest son and a number of his friends are huge Dresden Files fans, and my son has been at me for years to read more of his work. (I'd only read the first in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front, and while it was fun enough I hadn't kept up with the series. I enjoyed White Night and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I'd retained enough of the first book that there was a sense of continuity. I was also pleased that I didn't feel that picking up a book mid-series was a problem, as any references to prior events were handled so that they left me neither confused, nor feeling that the story had been interrupted for an infodump of the backstory. I read the first half of the book that evening, in the living room of some of my dad's friends, while he and they played Bridge. Most of the rest of it I finished Sunday morning, while my dad slept in. I really needed the relaxation and I was very grateful to have something to keep me happily occupied while I relaxed.

The other book I picked up was the second edition of The Annotated Wizard of Oz. (The cover isn't as decorated as the one on GoogleBooks, but it's still a very attractive book.) I've been enjoying it immensely, although I doubt I'll finish it before I return to Tucson.

In the Introduction—which may just be the longest introduction I've ever read, finishing on page cii (102) and including a brief biography of Baum, a history of his many publications with an emphasis on the Oz books, and a discussion of criticism of the Oz books— the editor Michael Patrick Hearn writes, "Of course, fairy tales and especially American fairy tales are not for everyone, for, as E. M. Forster wrote, 'Fantasy asks us to pay something extra.'"[Emphasis ] [1], [2].

As a reader and writer of fantasy, I found that line intriguing. Intriguing enough to write this long essay, as much to be able to mention the extra cost or effort required of fantasy readers, as to share with you the events leading up to that mention. It seems to me, that if fantasy (and its close cousin science fiction) requires greater effort upon the part of readers, that readers would read such works only if they feel they get something more from fantasy or science fiction.




1. Hearn, Michael Patrick. Introduction. The Annotated Wizard of Oz. By Baum. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. xcix-c. Print.
2. Hearn's footnote for the Forster quotation, 38. on page c: "In Aspects of the Novel (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1927), p. 109." You can see the quote in context in the electronic version on Google Books.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (seahorse girl)
[livejournal.com profile] asakiyume recently posted some lovely pictures from her trip to Alabama. In her post she also mentioned the oil spill and some of the economic impact it's having on Gulf Coast residents.

I have family in Mobile who have been affected by the disaster: One of my cousin L--'s sons, E---, owns a fishing boat and makes his living taking tourists out for deep sea fishing. Shortly before the oil spill he was in a car accident and there was concern that he would never walk again, but I learned a couple of months ago that he was back on his feet and delivering supplies and first aid to the BP clean-up crew. Many of the boats doing the clean up have no air conditioning and BP was not offering the workers masks to protect them from the fumes. It's dangerous, grueling work and many of the workers fall ill. My cousin's boat is bigger and has air conditioning, so he was able to offer shelter for those who needed to recuperate from the heat and fumes.

While this is not directly connected to the oil spill, E---'s mom, L--, works for the SBA. She processes loans to people in disaster areas, so they can rebuild. Although she never finished college, she's been doing this for many years and worked her way up to a position with a fairly high level of authority. She's been responsible for helping many people obtain loans, in part because she's willing to put in the research time to understand and validate the very complex situations that business owners face after a disaster. She reports that some people with similar positions having more education and less experience often feel overwhelmed and will simply deny loans, rather than do the research required to grant them.

The SBA (maybe all federal government departments???) requires that the employees re-apply for their jobs every four years. The supervisor for her department didn't communicate a change in the rules about how their very complex resumes are supposed to be written, and now she and everyone else in her department may be out of a job because they were following the old format. This is sad, not just for the SBA loan officers, but for the many people they might otherwise be able to help, who will be at the mercy of new hires.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Aw Shucks)
I hope all of you, around the world, have had a wonderful Valentine's Day, full of love.

My husband and I had a quiet Valentine's Day celebration. Karl's been hit by a terrible stomach flu; he's on the mend, but still not quite up to par, so we spent the evening at home. Yet, he still managed to get out of bed early, leaving me slumbering peacefully, to sneak out to buy me a beautiful red rose.

Also, inspired by the etchings and other art prints he's been selling, he made me this beautiful card:



The etching is on 100% rag, acid-free, archival-quality paper, with deckled edges, printed using oil-based ink. You can't see it in the scanned version, but below the picture he hand-wrote, "This print, like you, is one of one. Happy Valentine's Day. Karl Feb 14 2010."

I also made a gift for him, which I haven't scanned. A hand-drawn Valentine's Day picture full of hearts.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (read or die)
I've just discovered a cool website on education, The Daily Riff, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I love the way it's organized into topics like, "People, Politics, & Business," "Global," "Learning, Innovation, & Tech," etc.

I've barely had a chance to explore it, but here's one article that caught my eye: Three Great Books to Read Aloud to Your Tweens & Teens (Yes, you heard right). The author tells us that she reads aloud for about fifteen minutes a day to her daughter (who presumably falls within the specified age range). It's one of her daughter's favorite activities.

This afternoon, while driving around town, when I saw a billboard admonishing parents to read aloud for fifteen minutes to their children (illustrated by a photo of a man reading to a cute little girl of about five or six), my reaction was to think to myself that fifteen minutes was way too short. (But, then, I'm a mom who started reading to her children before they could walk or talk. By the time my first son was a year old, I could read to him for an hour and he'd cry when I stopped.) Then I reflected that if the goal was to get parents who weren't already reading to their kids to start, it was better not to overwhelm them with a more extensive time span.

But, to get back to the article, and the idea of reading to tweens and teens, how many of you do, or did, this? How many of you had parents that did this? If so, did a specific time limit apply? Were you consistent, trying to read every night, or for a certain number of nights a week? Was this a one parent-one child phenomenon, or did the whole family participate? Do you think the way you were read to contributed to your current attitudes about books? Do you think the way you're reading to your child(ren) has contributed to their attitudes about books? Does reading books together help to form a bond between parents and their children?

Here are my answers )
pameladlloyd: Fairy with dice, children's book illustration by Christian Martin Weiss (Gambling Fairy)
Echoed manually, and on time, for once, from http://pdlloyd.livejournal.com/83328.html.

I've just discovered a cool website on education, The Daily Riff, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I love the way it's organized into topics like, "People, Politics, & Business," "Global," "Learning, Innovation, & Tech," etc.

I've barely had a chance to explore it, but here's one article that caught my eye: Three Great Books to Read Aloud to Your Tweens & Teens (Yes, you heard right). The author tells us that she reads aloud for about fifteen minutes a day to her daughter (who presumably falls within the specified age range). It's one of her daughter's favorite activities.

This afternoon, while driving around town, when I saw a billboard admonishing parents to read aloud for fifteen minutes to their children (illustrated by a photo of a man reading to a cute little girl of about five or six), my reaction was to think to myself that fifteen minutes was way too short. (But, then, I'm a mom who started reading to her children before they could walk or talk. By the time my first son was a year old, I could read to him for an hour and he'd cry when I stopped.) Then I reflected that if the goal was to get parents who weren't already reading to their kids to start, it was better not to overwhelm them with a more extensive time span.

But, to get back to the article, and the idea of reading to tweens and teens, how many of you do, or did, this? How many of you had parents that did this? If so, did a specific time limit apply? Were you consistent, trying to read every night, or for a certain number of nights a week? Was this a one parent-one child phenomenon, or did the whole family participate? Do you think the way you were read to contributed to your current attitudes about books? Do you think the way you're reading to your child(ren) has contributed to their attitudes about books? Does reading books together help to form a bond between parents and their children?

Here are my answers )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Kitty Call Out)
My husband has just started his very first blog, Scratch Vegetarian, and it's all about food. He'll be sharing recipes and tips for preparing healthy vegetarian meals on a budget. His first entry tells about how to make your own fresh ricotta cheese for a fraction of the cost of store bought.

If you like to cook, or just like food, even if you don't plan to start making your own cheese, you're invited to drop by and check it out. I hope you'll find something to enjoy there.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Alya)
My new job has meant that Karl and I have less time to spend with each other, so we've renewed our commitment to going on regular dates away from home. This evening, we decided to have a romantic picnic in Himmel Park. Our busy schedules meant we started our trip with errands, but not too many, and we enjoyed spending the extra time with each other. Our first stop was the library and we decided to drop by the Eckstrom-Columbus Branch Library, as it was on our route, rather than by the main branch (Joel D. Valdez Main Library), where we usually stop. (We couldn't use the Himmel branch, because it would be closed by the time we got to the park.) The Eckstrom-Columbus branch has a much smaller selection of books than the main branch, but we were each able to find plenty to read, so that worked out fine. Next on our trip was romantic Wal-Mart, where I purchased a few items I needed and got my glasses fixed. Hooray! Not only will I be able to see better, but these are vastly more in style than the ancient pair I've been making do with. Then, on to Trader Joe's, where we purchased a selection of delectable items, some of which were picnic fare, and some of which we brought home for the family to share.

We had everything timed just right, so the sun had just sunk below the horizon, leaving the temperatures balmy (probably mid-80s) with a gentle breeze (and occasional gusts) to cool us off. We noticed a group of people and dogs engaged in a dog-training class, and settled at a nearby picnic table to watch. As it turned out, the class was nearing its end, but several people stayed behind to chat while their dogs played, so we still had entertainment.

It was lovely and peaceful, sitting beside my husband, a smorgasbord of foods to choose from—breads, cheeses, fruit, veggie-sushi, and more—as the sky darkened and the park slowly quieted.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (feelings)
This has got to be one of the most heart-warming stories I've read in a long time: WWdN: In Exile: of angels and angles
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (gingerbread house love)
Life is busy. I'm applying for jobs, juggling multiple projects (if only a few of them paid!), trying to squeeze some writing in, dealing with car repairs, and trying to keep from falling too far behind on housework. (I'm very bad at meeting that last goal. Do you think this might have anything to do with the fact that it's the last thing on my list?) On top of that, today was my youngest stepson's birthday. He is now seventeen.

We had a wonderful family get-together, with all our sons hanging out and talking computer games and such like. Franz' choices for dinner were Ten Thousand Golden Dragons of Happiness Mushroom Soup (which is what our family now calls Karl's attempt at a vegetarian bouillabaisse: three kinds of mushrooms, tofu, leeks, several different types of sea vegetables, tomato, saffron, grated orange peel, onion, and garlic), souffle, asparagus with hollandaise, fresh baked bread (we cheated by baking pre-made dough this time), and for desert a gingerbread and orange marmalade trifle.

Just a trifle )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Blodeudd)
Having stayed up much too late last night (no big party, just a touch of insomnia after a midnight supper at home with my family), I got up rather later than I like. I had a list of several projects I was hoping to either complete or make progress on, but before I'd hardly gotten started, one thing after another intervened.

First, there was cleaning the kitchen I'd left undone the night before, as there were more dishes than could easily fit in the dishwasher and doing more than one load after midnight was not anything I had any interest in doing. Then, there was the notice in my email that led me to a blog post elsewhere, about which I plan to post a separate entry, and the start I made on that post. Followed by a reminder from Karl of a project we're working on together, with a request that I get some notes to him. Then, the call around 1 p.m. notifying me of a New Year's Day party to start at 3 p.m.: a potluck, bring food. Then, the party itself, from which I've only recently returned.

So, all the projects I'd wanted to work on? Well, one or two might get some work this evening. Still, all in all, I'd say it was a good day. Productive, if not necessarily in the ways I'd planned, and I got to spend time with friends, which is always a good thing.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Horn of Plenty)
When I visited my dad at Thanksgiving, there was a new kitten in the house. The kitten's name is Vinton.

I've tucked a few photos of my dad and the kitten under the cut... )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (washing dishes)
My Thanksgiving holiday has been spent washing dishes and cooking at my dad's house. My dad's dishwasher broke more than a month ago and my dad, rather than replace it or get a repair person in, intends to dismantle it with the intension of fixing it himself. When this will actually happen is anyone's guess. So, prior to being able to start cooking, I had to wash the accumulated dishes that my dad and my youngest brother (who lives with him) had let pile up.

Then, we cooked. This involved a turkey, which my dad was in charge of; mashed potatoes; giblet gravy; two varieties of dressing, because we like oysters and mushrooms in ours and I wasn't certain our guests would (I was right); black-eyed peas; corn on the cob; and two pumpkin pies, one regular, and one low-fat and sugar-free.

It was a nice meal and we had way too much food.

I'll be turning the leftovers into gumbo (with oysters and shrimp, filé, and okra) and turkey pot pie. One of the graduate students at the university where my dad is a professor emeritus, along with her husband, will be joining us for the meal and Scrabble. We anticipate their winning, since we don't often play.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Blodeudd)
Yesterday our family celebrated my eldest step-son's birthday. He's just nine days younger than my youngest, so he's gone from being the eldest of three to being the middle of five. Fortunately, since my boys live on their own, this hasn't been as dramatic a change as it might have been.

We had another of our wonderful homemade meals, featuring all Klaus' favorite foods (macaroni and cheese, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, beet and spinach greens, and gnocchi with marinara sauce, with an apple trifle for dessert). Everyone came away from the table stuffed.

Politics dominated the dinner conversation and we're very lucky that to be able to share the same joys and sadnesses about the recent election, since we're all excited and hopeful about President-elect Obama's win and disappointed by the passing of Arizona's Proposition 102 and similar measures elsewhere.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (gingerbread house love)
This evening we celebrated my youngest son's twenty-third birthday with a wonderful feast: vegetarian "cutlets" (about which all I know is the main ingredient is walnuts), mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, potato pancakes with sour cream and homemade applesauce, carrots, peas, broccoli with hollandaise sauce, and a peach pie for desert--all of it homemade. We love having the whole family together like this; our busy lives mean that even though we all live in the same town, we don't get together as often as we'd like.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (gingerbread house love)
We just finished celebrating Ian's birthday. Karl baked a huge mushroom lasagna and made creamed spinach and carrots vichy, plus we had a huge salad. Everyone was stuffed, and then we brought out the gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting. It was all wonderful. And wonderful to have all seven of us sitting at the table together. That doesn't happen nearly often enough.

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