Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hey, This is Fun!

After a typical mixed Washington summer weekend- one day cold and rainy, one day cold-ish and sunny) I'm discovering that this blogging thing is fun. So, moving on to today's fun:

Today's Book:

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

This novel tells the haunting story of two generations of a Wisconsin family brought together and torn apart by the lake adjacent to the family home. Focused on four women, sisters of two generations, the novel develops around the sisters' relationship with the lake, and the tragedy that ensues when it claims one of their lives. Much of the book is spent untangling the secrets which led to the drowning, and working out the complicated problems which arise from the family's attempts to keep these secrets. Scwartz's story jumps back and forth across time, from past to present and back again. This means that the story develops piece by piece, and this is what makes it something of a mystery. I found the plot development to be one of the more satisfying parts of this book, seeing the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. I enjoyed the developments leading up to Scwartz's telling of what actually happened the night of the tragedy. After that point, however, I found the plot to be something of a let-down. The conclusion seemed a bit too neat, and a bit forced. The most enjoyable part of this book to me was the way in which Scwartz set the scene- the way in which she managed to capture the sense of a time and place. The novel is set in the Wisconsin countryside in the first half of the twentieth century, with most of the action focusing on the last years of WWI, and the 1920s. Scwartz offers a convincing portrait of Wisconsin farm country in the late-1910s and early 1920s. Her descriptions are vivid, without being overstated, and her story intersects with several significant historical events, including WWI and the influenza epidemic. Scwartz gives her readers a strong sense of connection to the seasons, the land, the lake. I really did feel like I was part of the world about which she wrote. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. The development of the plot engaged me, and the scenery captivated me. I was a bit disappointed by the ending, but my reading was by and large time well spent.

Today's Smelly Thing:

Frolic by Origins

Origins released Frolic as their spring scent in 2003, and sadly its time on their shelves was not long. I'm pretty sure Frolic was gone by the end of that year. And that, gentle readers, is a shame, because Frolic, in my humble opinion, was one of the best scents Origins ever produced. Frolic is an intensely springy, mixed-floral fragrance. They described the scent as:

folkloric Linden Blossom, radiant Rose, mystical Muguet de Mai and a
hint of Honeysuckle all in one joyous scent

Joyous indeed, this is a very happy scent. The spring of 2003 was an incrediably lousy one in Virginia. It was cold, it rained almost every day. It was kind of like living in Washington. Little did I know... But I digress. It was a rough spring for me dissertation-wise and life-wise, and Frolic made me happy. Frolic came in a beautiful frosted purple bottle, same shape as the Ginger Essence bottle. I swear, I must be the only person who likes this stuff because it's impossible to find anywhere. No half-used bottles on ebay. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I am hoarding my bottle like mad, though I did put some on to write this review. In the next year or so Origins released Spring Fever, and I have to wonder if that's similar. If I'm lucky, maybe it's just Frolic repackaged. (Note to self, make sure to test Spring Fever at some point). If you are so lucky as to get your hands on a bottle of this stuff love it. If you don't love it, stick it up on Ebay; I bet you'll make a killing.

Today's Pretty Thing:

The Lucy Bag in Blue Peony by The Funky Bag Lady

Now that it is summer(ish), I have the pleasure of pulling out my favorite summer purse, one I purchased last year after discovering Etsy in a biiiiiig way. My love of Etsy is going to have to be a whole other post, but now, I want to talk all about my purse. It's a fabric bag, made out of lovely blue and green print fabrics. It holds quite a bit, including a small paperback book, and a bottle of water, if I want, and it's perfectly sewn. I've been lusting after some more bags from The Funky Bag Lady. I'd love to get one with brown tones and one with red and/or black tones. I'll be watching. I stalked Ms. Bag Lady's website for about three weeks until she posted one in this particular fabric combo. LOVE the purse.

Blast from My Past: (an occasional look into things that have amused me in the past)

Subway from Sesame Street

I am a huge fan of Sesame Street. Sesame Street captured my attention from a very young age. My mom reports that at 18 months I would sit rapt in front of the Street. Note: To all those concerned about children's television watching- I watched Sesame Street religiously during my youth and turned into a book-loving, reads all the time academic, who still has 20/20 vision. It's not all terrible! Sesame Street taught me a good amount of Spanish vocabulary, a fair bit of English vocabulary too. It introduced me to life in New York City, which was quite different from the rural area where I lived. It also taught me how peanut butter and crayons were made. Sesame Street was officially the bomb. I recently caught up on an episode of Sesame Street when I was home sick, and I have to say, it has changed, and not for the better. Sesame Street appears to now be at least 1/2 Elmo's World, which is a sorry excuse for the real intellectual content they used to offer. It appears that most of the classic skits, and many of the classic characters, no longer get any viewing. That's a shame. Thankfully, for nostalgic adults like me, many of them are now on Youtube, which allows me to bring you, here, a few of my favorites. Today's is one of my all-time favorites: Subway.

See it here: (I think there's a way to embed videos, but I'm a technological imbecile, and new at this).

This skit involved a large group of muppets and monsters taking the NYC subway. They crowded on and sang about all the trials and travails of public transit. They mention that it's hot, it's crowded, but it will take you where you want to go, yeah! My very, very favorite line, which I can't believe more people don't fixate on, is when the old lady sings:

You could lose your purse or you could lose something worse on the subway,
She might actually be saying 'you could lose your purse or you could be doing something worse'; it's hard to tell. Either way, it's kind of sketchy, even a little racy. But it's such a great sketch! I worry that if I have kids all the good stuff that used to be on public tv will be totally gone. I wouldn't want my kids to grow up without the experience of public tv. The old Sesame, Square One, 321 Contact- that was quality stuff, and it was no Barney, that's for sure.

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