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good stuff

July 31st, 2010 — 12:55pm

I’ve not been feeling well for the last couple of weeks, not sick, just really tired all the time, low energy, kinda down. But I’ve been entertaining myself with a variety of fun books/tv shows/podcasts/etc. Let me tell you about them.

The Cazalets
Grandma recommended a BBC miniseries called “The Cazalets”, so I got the first disk from Netflix and just loved it. Did a little research and found that it was based on The Cazalet Chronicles, a four-book series by Elizabeth Jane Howard. The books in order are: The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, and Casting Off.

Lucky for me, the main library owns all four books and sent them to my local branch for me, and I devoured them. I tried to make the final book last a while, but I just couldn’t slow down. Marvelous. The setting is pre-, mid- and post-WWII England, and the books tell the many and varied stories of all the members of the large extended Cazalet family. The author writes from the point of view of dozens of characters, so the reader sees events from many angles, which is lots of fun, and I was also really impressed by her ability to write realistic children and teenagers.

If you like books in which nothing really exciting happens but are all about people and the things that matter to them and how they relate to each other, I can’t recommend the Cazalets highly enough.

The Archers
A twitter friend said something a few weeks ago about how she had just discovered The Archers, a BBC radio soap, and was enthralled because someone was making meat pies… sounded like my kind of thing so I did a little searching and found The Archers is a radio drama that has been playing since 1950. It was originally partly educational, as the producer hoped that farmers would tune in for entertainment and “pick up messages that would help them feed a Britain still subject to food rationing.”

Anyhow, I subscribed to the podcast right away and have been a passionately loyal listener ever since. I get the emailed synopses, which are helpful because they provide names for the voices I’ve come to recognize, and then I can look those names up in the Who’s Who on the BBC site, and try to figure out how everyone is related. There’s going to be a sheep-shearing contest soon, so you’d better tune in.

The BBC (oh how I love the BBC) has created a modern Sherlock Holmes series:
The first episode aired last Sunday, and I watched it once with Henry and then again with Dan a couple days later. I loved it the first time, and loved it even more the second time, believe it or not. It’s fast-paced, witty, and suspenseful, and the casting is excellent; I am particularly impressed by Martin Freeman’s “Dr John Watson”. Watson is a tricky character to get right, but this Watson is perfect; a bit damaged and very intelligent. And Sherlock couldn’t be better.

My only criticism is that, well, ahem, you don’t want to look at the actual plot too carefully. ;-) But that’s ok, in the original stories you didn’t always want to look at the plot too carefully either. Dad would have enjoyed this show so very much. I’ll be thinking of him every time I watch.

Um, that’s enough for now. The family wants feeding. More later.

1 comment » | Blog

Fargo visit

July 31st, 2010 — 12:12pm

I think I forgot to mention that Fargo stayed with us for five days in the middle of July! He and Henry have been best friends since they met when they were about 7 and 8 and we lived in the same apartment complex, and they have stayed friends even now that Fargo lives in Arizona. Fargo is a quiet, pleasant, intelligent boy and a tremendous reader. The boys spent hours kicking balls around in the yard, talking, and reading, and we introduced Fargo to Mad Men, A Fish Called Wanda, and This Is Spinal Tap. It was a joy to have him stay with us, and we hope he can come back again soon.

Here are those handsome boys!

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1 comment » | Blog

This Country of Ours

July 27th, 2010 — 12:11pm

Catching up on “This Country of Ours”:

23 The Founding of Massachusetts – 00:08:25
24 The Story of Harry Vane – 00:05:41
25 The Story of Anne Hutchinson and the Founding of Rhode Island – 00:05:11
26 The Founding of Harvard – 00:04:36

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Absolute Zero

July 27th, 2010 — 12:05pm

Sorry, I’ve been under the weather. Here are the chapters that have posted to the podcast feed recently:

Episode 26: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 8, part 2:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 8, Part 2 (8:12)
Episode 27: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 9, part 1:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 9, Part 1 (9:36)
Episode 28: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 9, part 2:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 9, Part 2 (9:10)
Episode 29: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 10, part 1:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 10, Part 1 (9:47)
Episode 30: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 10, part 2:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 10, Part 2 (13:00)
Episode 31: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 11, part 1:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 11, Part 1 (9:27)

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hilarious Beethoven piano parody

July 21st, 2010 — 2:57pm

This makes me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. It reminds me of listening to P.D.Q. Bach records with my parents when I was little. Thanks for the link, Chris :)

3 comments » | Blog


July 16th, 2010 — 3:38pm

Henry and I went to the Tool concert last night! Tool is one of his favorite bands in the whole world, and it was a real dream come true to get to see them.

We had great seats, dead center and only 18 rows up from floor level. We got there nice and early. The opening band was, er, not too impressive but Tool was GREAT. Interesting music, fabulous musicianship, and no stupid “guitar god” posing like the opening band. They just played their music and rocked hard for two solid hours.

I really enjoyed most of the projections on the giant screens behind the band. Some of it was beautiful patterns and colors and shapes, really spectacular.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Tool lately in preparation for the show. Henry made me playlist of the songs that were likely to be played at the show, and there are several that I like a lot, so it was really exciting to hear them live!

Here are a couple of photos, one of the stage right when we got there (so you can see our view) and one of the band playing, which I cropped a bit.

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IMG_0893 - Version 2

If there’s anything better than taking your teenage son to hear a band that he loves, I don’t know what it is, and all three of Henry’s parent-type people get to take him to wonderful shows this year! His dad took him to OK Go, I took him to Tool, and Dan will take him to Rush next month :) We’re so lucky!

3 comments » | Blog

Absolute Zero

July 9th, 2010 — 10:10am

Episode 22: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 6, part 2:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 6, Part 2 (6:19)

Episode 23: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 7, part 1:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 7, Part 1 (9:49)

Episode 24: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 7, part 2:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 7, Part 2 (11:50)

Episode 25: Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, Chapter 8, part 1:
Absolute Zero, Chapter 8, Part 1 (9:59)

4 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

July 8th, 2010 — 4:20pm

My sister Kathy and her husband Scott are in town! They’re staying with his relatives and have a very full schedule, but I met them at the fair on Monday (the last day of the fair). There was a one-day Favorite Apron contest that day, so I entered the apron that I just made for Chloe and took 3rd place in the “classy” division :) Kathy and Scott sat with me during the judging and we could hardly keep straight faces; it was so totally the epitome of the old-fashioned County Fair experience!

Here it is, modeled by the elegant Chloe:
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And we looked at the woodworking and the Home and Hobby stuff together, and then my feet got tired so I left them at the fair and came home to grill a nice dinner. They came to our house after they were done at the fair, and Mom and Chloe and Bob and Henry and Dan were all there, too, so it was a jolly family gathering and we had a great time talking and eating for hours. After a bit, I got my camera, Dan and Mom got theirs, and Chloe and Scott whipped out their camera-phones — we were all snapping away at each other like paparazzi. It was hilarious, and we were laughing so hard it was difficult to take pictures.

Here are Chloe, Henry, me, Mom, and Kathy:

And here’s a nice candid shot of Kathy, Scott, and Chloe on the couch with Mom in the background.
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I have the very best family in the world! I wish my other sister, Kirsten, and my brother, Ken, could have been here too, but oh well, maybe someday. (In case you’re wondering, Ken and Kathy are actually my half-siblings but I never think of them that way.)

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Sidewalk Stompers

July 5th, 2010 — 8:59am

Oh! I forgot to say that on Friday we saw the Sidewalk Stompers Marching Band at the fair!

I love marching bands!

2 comments » | Blog

Happy Fourth!

July 5th, 2010 — 8:11am

Henry and I went up on the roof last night to see if any of the fireworks were visible from there. We were able to see about ten different displays going off in the distance! Lots of them were partly obscured by trees, but we had a clear view of several, way off in the distance to the south. That was fun!

On Friday Chloe went with me to the fairgrounds for the Home and Hobby awards ceremony, which was adorable. It’s held in the Turf Club up in the top of the grandstands at the fairground. They serve lemonade and cookies, and the dear sweet Home and Hobby women read off the names of the winners, who then run up to the front and get their certificates. This year they showed pictures of the winning entries on a big screen. We recognized nearly all of the items, so it was fun to know which person made them. I got three certificates — a Best of Division and two Donated Awards, all for the fingerless mittens. Here’s what the room looks like:

And then Chloe and Bob came back to our house and we all watched Toy Story 2 and WALL-E. Great movies.

Oh, yesterday I finished my recording of Through the Looking-Glass. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Alice, but it was still fun. It felt more self-conscious than Alice, and less fresh. Still, a classic! Download it here: or you can always wait till I push it through my podcast feed in a few weeks.

4 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

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