Oh The Holidays of April…

April 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

4-20, Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, Spring Equinox, Earth Day (on the 22nd)… so many things to celebrate.  Today, we hid from them all and took to the woods after doing some spring cleaning and moving of furniture.

So as we practiced the catechism (“Who made you?” “God made me.” “What else did God make?” “All things.”  And so on), we gathered wildflowers in an ‘Easter’ basket and frolicked in the sunshine.

It looked a bit like this:

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This time in the woods was refreshing, as always.  And much needed after the exciting week we had.  All day yesterday I was out celebrating Earth Day with S. Smith on her last day in Houston, while kiddo was with her Grandmom dyeing Easter eggs (a tradition I can only get behind because I love eating hard boiled eggs).

Below are pictures from the Earth Day Celebration Seed Savers Signings at HPB Humble and then HPB Montrose.

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There’s more celebrating to be had.  S.Smith will be touring San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas before she heads back to Oregon; and HPB Humble will be giving away reusable bags to the first 25 customers Tuesday morning.  Next Saturday (HPB Humble) there will also be a seed presentation by the Mercer Arboretum volunteers!

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The Name of the Rose Readathon

April 11, 2012 at 4:34 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Disclaimer: This is not the guest blogger post previously mentioned.  Caro’s review of this book can be found here.

I first read The Name of the Rose about four years ago.  I was just hired at Half Price Books in Humble as a bookseller and was totally stoked over my employee discount and having the opportunity to spend forty hours a week basking in the glory of the literature section.  I say basking, but in reality I was frantically shelving books completely convinced that this dream job would get yanked right from under my feet – something like too good to be true shock.

My sister had read Umberto Eco’s work when she was in college, I always imagine it was one of the last books she read on her own before before she started to have problems with her vision, but that could be a complete fabrication of my own mind.  She loved it and was excited to hear that I had stumbled across the book and felt the pull of intrigue on my soul.  You know that feeling when you first find something or someone you know you will fall in love with but you don’t know when or why, you just know its going to happen?  That’s the feeling I got the moment Eco’s book first hit my hands.

And I did fall in love.  The Name of the Rose is genius, Umberto Eco is a genius.  I eagerly read through each line, so excited about what would come next, thrilled to pieces at the idea of a library being a labyrinth in a spooky monestery.  I was in love page after page until I settled on the very last line with a deep sigh at its ending “stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.” I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that upon first reading, that last line’s deep sigh wasn’t just a lament over the ending of the book, it was also one of complete puzzlement and disastifaction in not fully understanding the meaning behind that last line, but knowing that of course there must be one.  Insert googling the quote, briefly reading a few things, being sad over the fact that I didn’t catch a literary reference on the first try because I’d never been exposed to Bernard whoever in my life, therefore wouldn’t have caught the reference the first time through, regardless of my intelligence level, and now you have a full visual of that deep sigh.  I haven’t read Bernard of Cluny’s (or is it Morlay, I find multiple references naming the author as Morlay instead of Cluny – clearly I need to brush up on my Medieval History) De Contemptu Mundi, but seeing how Eco wrote his very own ode to the concept behind the work (corruption of institutions, religion, and humanity), I’m dying to give it a try.

After reading The Name of the Rose, I devoured Foucault’s Pendulum, and began collecting everything Eco had ever penned.  Not long after, I sat down with Baudolino and Six Walks in the Fictional Woods.  So clearly, when a twitter follower mentioned doing a readathon of The Name of the Rose over the Easter holidays in 2012, I jumped at the chance to meander through the work that first introduced me to an author I will cherish for a lifetime.

Because I had already read The Name of the Rose before, I decided that this time I would read through my copy of The Key to The Name of the Rose, a handy dandy guide to all the references and phrases that I didn’t have the first time around.  I stumbled across it while shelving Literary Criticism about two years after my first dive into Eco.  In the introduction of this little guide, the authors recommend reading through the book in seven consecutive nights, taking an evening to read each day that passes in the adventure of William and Adso.  I don’t remember how long it took me to read through The Name of the Rose the first time (probably awhile, spending half the time refreshing my high school Latin), but as I re-read it for the readathon over the course of 2-3 days, I agree that there are some lovely benefits to reading it all at once.

For starters, the story stays really fresh and you don’t have to back peddle at all.  No double checking to see if that part you read two nights ago is still there. (You know you do that too sometimes, even though the book is clearly the same size it was before, has the same number of pages, sometimes you feel the need to breeze through the parts you already read to make sure you didn’t dream something up in the interem.)  You don’t feel as inclined to re-check any translations you did, its fresh, its right, you only have so long to read this next portion, so get on with the story.

On top of that, while reading it all at once, I noticed how familiar William of Baskerville is to me.  Maybe I’ve just been saturated with Agatha Christie this year, but I never noticed before how much William is a little bit Sherlock Holmes, a little bit Hercule Poirot, and all those fabulous sleuths we’ve enjoyed with over the years.  William is prone to shouting things like “Fantastic! More and more interesting!” before chasing after some unknown clatter and stumbling across Indiana Jones-like puzzles to be deciphered with the help of his sidekick.  (Ok, so Adso doesn’t resemble the asian kid Short Round at all, but you gotta admit he is a little bit like Arthur Hastings all the way down to his distraction when it comes to the ladies.)

All in all, I enjoy The Name of the Rose every time I read it.  I can’t wait to see what Carolina Cuicci has to say in her guest blog post and I hope you’ll come and read through her post with me.  And maybe, when we have a readathon for The Island of the Day Before, you’ll join us.

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Weekly Low Down on Kids Books – Easter

April 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

With Easter this past weekend, we spent the week with Betty Bunny.

(Fellow Christians, please don’t harass me about how Easter is not about bunnies, but our Lord Jesus Christ because Easter is actually a celebration of the goddess Oestre and fertility and the spring equinox and all that and we Christians kinda sharked the holiday for our own purposes.  We celebrate Christ’s resurrection separate from Easter in our house.  Pagans and lovers of Mother Earth please don’t harass me about Betty Bunny not having anything to do with celebrating nature, I know, I know.)

Betty Bunny, a character created by Michael Kaplan and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch, is adorable, fun, and an absolute brat.  I have mixed feelings about reading these stories over and over with Ayla.  The same mixed feelings I have about Curious George.  Betty Bunny is an often confused child/bunny who does inappropriate things often in an undisciplined fashion.  Her parents are sweet, and wise and try to show her the right way to handle life’s situations.  The end result always brings on a snicker, because like George the Monkey, she inadvertently does or says something clever, but like George, I never feel like a lesson has truly been learned.  I do recommend that you try them out for yourself, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake and Betty Bunny Wants Everything were the two we read this week.  We enjoyed both, multiple times, and if I see more titles I’ll definitely check them out at the library.  I don’t believe I would purchase these until Ayla is older and at an age when we can have a proper discussion about Betty Bunny’s actions and what is right and what is wrong.

We also read If Beaver Had a Fever by Helen Kettemen this week.  This was really cute.  My view on this book is majorly biased, since Ayla was super snuggly and curled up in my lap for this one and hugged me the whole time I read it.  We had the windows open, there was a cool breeze blowing into my library and the jasmine out front was blooming and wafting into our nostrils as we read together in the glider.  The whole scenario was perfect and beautiful.  Afterwards she pulled out our Edna St. Vincent Millay collection and had me read a few poems from that, which means she found If Beaver Had a Fever incredibly soothing.  Kettemen’s book is a perfect winding down picture book for an almost 18 month old.

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All this Easter business

April 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm (The Whim) (, , , , )

This is an ode to Interested, as this post is actually a comment I made on her blog. I wanted to share it with my personal readers.

As a Christian who some people would call “religious” I have to say: I don’t think Easter should be the most celebrated Christian holiday.

Celebrating the Resurrection is quite different (in my book) from celebrating Easter. Easter, by name, is a celebration of the Spring Equinox.

The ancient Saxons in Northern Europe worshiped the Goddess Oestre at the time of the Spring Equinox. The Goddess Easter represents the sunrise, spring-time and fertility, the renewal of life. Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings of colored eggs to her at the Vernal Equinox, putting them at graves. Some people believe that the Egyptians and Greeks did this as well.

“Christians” used the name later and morphed their religion onto a pagan celebration so that new converts wouldn’t find the transition intimidating… and/or new “converts” kept celebrating their old traditions because rather than actually converting they added Jesus to one of the many gods they already worshiped. (I’ve seen the history written both ways, and both is equally believable.)

I would never prohibit a child from attending an Easter Egg hunt, because its now a fun tradition that many people participate in – but I also will never tell my kid that its an important Christian holiday or make up any kind of “Christian” symbolism about the eggs. In my book, the Resurrection celebration and the Easter celebration should be considered separate holidays, but they have been merged for so long people can’t remember the difference

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