Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reading a Memoir

Yesterday I finished reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.  I picked it up at the church book sale a few weeks ago and just got around to reading it this week.  It's not my usual reading, since it's memoir, not fiction, but it's one of those titles that I'd obviously heard of, and I think everyone reads.

And there's a good reason everyone reads it, it's quite good.

It's the story of Frank's childhood in Ireland (though it does start in the US) in extreme poverty.  He loses siblings, his father is an alcoholic, he nearly died of Typhoid, etc...  It's a pretty dreary story, but told so well through the eyes of a child that it's filled with humor and innocence.  And the best part, it reads like poetry. 

When I started it, I thought to myself "man, this reads like James Joyce, only it makes sense."  When I read one of the reviews on the back it said nearly the same thing.  James Joyce wrote with beautiful rhythm and really captured the sounds of the Irish language.  Unfortunately, James Joyce also wrote in a style that was way before his time, and the current time even, making it necessary to read his books with a second book that explains what you are reading in the first book.  (Seriously, Ulysses is 643 pages and Ulysses Annotated is 643 pages, you have to read them both or you aren't going to have a clue what you are reading.)

So I thoroughly enjoyed Angela's Ashes and I thank Mr. McCourt for writing so beautifully. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


So, have you seen the episode of Family Guy where Stewie is bugging Lois by repeating "Mumma, Mumma, mom, mom, mommy, mama, mama..." for about five minutes and when she finally snaps and yells "WHAT?" he says, "Hi" and runs off giggling....well that's my life right about now.

I wake up to "Mumma, Mumma.....Mumma, Mumma.....MUMMA" on the baby monitor.  We come downstairs and it's "Mumma...ball?  Mumma...ball?  MUMMMMMMAAAAAA BALLLLLLLL" because apparently he has spotted a ball that has rolled under a bookcase and there can be no peace in the house until I am on my hands and knees digging under furniture unearthing any number of disgusting toys and stuff to locate the one ball that Ben has his eye on.

Then he will play and if I'm in the other room I always hear a questioning "Mumma?" until I reassure him that I have not, in fact, run off and left him alone in the house.  Then he will get himself all wound up and he'll come running at me "MUMMMA, MUMMA, MUMMMMA" until I say "WHAT?" and then he will put his hands on his hips, lean towards me and pucker up and make kissy faces at me until I laugh and then race back to the other side of the house laughing at himself.  Does he have to be so dang cute all the time??


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Three Things I Learned at the Highland Games:

1.  My son NEEDS to take Scottish Dancing Lessons.

2.  The guy that can heave a ball of hay 35 feet in the air with a pitchfork is equally as awesome as the guy that can launch a 17 foot tree end-over-end.

3.  Kilts can make any man look amazing.  Add bagpipes and he's downright sexy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vocabulary Check!

I wonder sometimes why "vocabulary" was only important in elementary school.  I'm sure I learned definitions of words then, but I don't remember them.  Or if I do, they were simple words whose definitions are now so ingrained in my daily speech that I don't even realize there was a time that I didn't know what the words meant.  But I digress, my point is, I don't know what the word verisimilitude means.  I've seen it written places, I can generally come up with a basic definition in the context of the sentence, but I haven't a clue what the word really means.  I see that as a problem if I ever work past this writers block and want to write something.  Not that I'll ever use the word verisimilitude in anything I write, ever, but there are about a zillion words I don't know the meaning of.  How can I write well if my tools are so limited?

The only vocabulary I remember studying in school, and has been useful to me at times, was in my sophomore English class when we had vocabulary words on the board every day that we had to write down both the word and definition of, and then were quizzed on every quarter.  I learned useful words, like capitulate, gambol, cacophony.  And I still remember what they mean.

I guess my point is that I should be forcing myself to look up the meaning of words I only think I know.  Perhaps one day, one word will get my thoughts unstuck and I can write something creative for a change.

veri·si·mil·i·tude  noun

1: the quality or state of being verisimilar
2: something verisimilar

veri·sim·i·lar adj

1: having the appearance of truth : probable
2: depicting realism (as in art or literature)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just A Quiet Wednesday...

Don and Marcus have gone camping for a few days, which leaves Ben and I home alone.  And I have zero plans and nothing major to do.  Ahhhhhh, relaxing.  I decided that maybe I would finally start writing some fiction.

Easier said than done.  I got one page written and it was like pulling teeth.  I'm not even happy with the results.  Bleck.  I decided I'd better take a break.  So I read for a few minutes.  Which then began to irritate me because the book I REALLY want to be reading right now is on the hold shelf at the Portland Library, where I have been forbidden to go.  (Something about a ridiculous waste of gas to go to Portland for one stupid book.)  So I figured if I can't write fiction right now, maybe I could do a little blogging. 

I've been thinking for a long time that I need to join a bookclub.  But I'm not sure where I could find one.  I also know that I'm painfully shy around strangers so I don't think I would contribute much to a group of people I don't know.  In my mind I've been trying to devise a way to make a facebook bookclub.  I'm about 99.9% positive that I could do it.  My question is...who would join it?  So, if anyone out there reading my blog might be interesting in reading books and discussing them with me online, (I promise I wouldn't make you read at the same pace I do, and I promise they would be books easily available at the library or in paperback) please let me know.  If I could get a small group together to try it, I think it might be fun.  And it would give me a nice little hobby to justify my current hobby of reading too damn much....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rehab for Nerds?

Hi, my name is Kyla and I'm addicted to books.

I'm mildly embarrassed to be writing this today, and I think my husband is secretly looking for rehab centers for me.

A few weeks ago I went to a booksale.  This is an annual sale that I go to so I can stock up on books.  Paperback are 50 cents and hardcovers $1.  You can see how this would be appealing to me.  I bought seven books.  That very same week I needed to order vacuum cleaner bags on Amazon.  I was $8 short of the free shipping so I had to buy a few books to get the free shipping.  I HAD to.  Needless to say, between the booksale, the Amazon books, and the books I had on reserve at the library, I have been non-stop reading for the past two weeks.  What's new about that? you might be saying, she's always reading.  Well, I think I have finally disgusted myself.  On Friday I began The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I knew I shouldn't start it until I had the time to devote to a series, since I hadn't finished the last novel in the Wilderness series I'm reading.  But that stupid book was just calling my name from the bookshelf.  And when Ben brought it to me repeatedly, I just knew I needed to read it.  It was a sign.  So Friday I gave in.  Friday night Don picked up the last of the Wilderness books from the library.  I finished The Hunger Games Saturday and started in on The Endless Forest.  I finished it Monday.  Monday afternoon.  But The Hunger Games just wouldn't get out of my head.  So I google up the Waterboro library and found they had book two, in the library.  I needed to go.  But I didn't have a car.  So I got snappy, and grumpy, and I was having withdrawals.

Finally Don came home, we get Ben fed, and I take off to the library.  At 7:30.  PM.  In the rain.

And this is where it gets hard to talk about.

I finished the book this morning at 10:30.

I know, I know, I have a serious problem.  No one should read like this.  How can someone like myself even function in society??  I need some serious help.

But not until I've read book three.  Which I have on reserve at the Portland library. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Little Time to Think

I am back from a quick little trip to the island, just Ben and I this time.  I really had a great time, though Benjamin completely wore me out.  I don't think I've ever seen him quite so wound up...yikes!  I had plenty of time to think, on the long drive there and back, and the trips up and down island and the quiet times while I was putting Ben to sleep.  All the thinking led me to things I wanted to blog about, and so here I am, rejuvenated, and mildly inspired.  I had every intention of writing while I was there, but it didn't quite pan out, but now that I'm home I'm going to see what I can do.

Lately I have been thinking about my grandmother a lot.  She passed away somewhere around eight years ago, I think.  (If I really tried I could figure it out exactly, but I think eight is close enough.)  Anyway, when she died, I missed her a lot and I thought time would eventually make that go away.  That has not been the case.  I find that as years pass I am wishing I could share things with her.  At first I was sad that she missed my wedding and never got a chance to meet my husband.  But now that I have my son I find that I would give anything to have had her meet him.  She would have adored him.  She loved babies.

I also find that I have a million questions for her.  How did you meet my grandfather?  Do you have Great-Grandma Grispi's spaghetti sauce recipe?  What was it again that you would curse in Italian whenever the phone rang?  And many, many more.  But there's no one to answer them now, and I find that frustrating.

This weekend, on the island, I got a special treat.  One of my grandmother's dear friends was up visiting from Connecticut.  I've known her my entire life and I know she and my grandmother used to sit together and day dream about my sister and I growing up.  I've seen her several times since my grandmother died, but this time was the first time she got to meet my son.  She fell instantly into the roll of doting great-grandmother and I am very grateful for her for filling in, however briefly, for my grandmother in showering him with kisses and praises.  It was good for Ben and I to experience that, and I know my grandmother would feel the same way.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I had my blog post today all planned out.  It was going to look like this:

A Love Poem

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us judge all the rumors of the old men
to be worth just one penny!
The suns are able to fall and rise:
When that brief light has fallen for us,
we must sleep a never ending night.
Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then yet another thousand more, then another hundred.
Then, when we have made many thousands,
we will mix them all up so that we don't know,
and so that no one can be jealous of us when he finds out
how many kisses we have shared.

Happy Anniversary!  I love you!

That's what it was going to look like.  But my husband found a copy of the poem and said:

"Is it about Lesbians?  No?  I think it's dumb."

And so now my plan for a romantic blog post to my husband is ruined.  Oh well.

Happy Anniversary anyway Don, I love you just the same.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

That Bug is Stalking Me.

Last night, while sitting on the couch reading, of course, I heard perhaps the loudest most obnoxious bug noise ever.  It didn't even seem natural.  When I leaned over to ask my husband if it was really indeed a bug, or a malfunction in the television, I noticed he had fallen asleep.  Which of course distracted me as I laughed at him and pestered him to go to bed.

At 1:30 in the morning I woke up hearing that bug again.  Outside my upstairs bedroom window.  Annoyed, I rolled over, buried my head in the pillow and thought, "well, it's a good thing it can't get in the bedroom."

At 4:30 I woke up to the damn bug IN my bedroom making the loudest most ridiculous bug noises ever.  Which, of course, my husband was sleeping through.  Wide awake, I began staring at the walls waiting for the bug to make an appearance.  Which it did.  Much to my husbands surprise, I flicked on the lights and slammed a shoe at it.  I do not think I killed it, but it would appear I maimed it enough to shut it up for the night.  With luck it perished during the day and I don't have to hunt it down tonight in the middle of the night.  And no, clearly I don't have sympathy for insects.  Gross.

What was it you ask??  Well it was dark, but it appeared to look something like this.  A giant mutant LOUD grasshopper.  Ewwwww