Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where does one buy time?

Read on for your chance to win Lucky (old issues of the magazine, which are better than Star, the magazine).
This semester brings more work responsibilities, and more pay, than I had planned for (I had planned for few of the former and none of the latter, as was the case when Dianthus was Aster's age). Except for the one evening class I am teaching, most of the work can be done at home (except for the greenhouse management, herbarium management, advising, committee meetings and creation of a plant collection, all of which I tend to ignore when making plans), but home is where I need to be available to feed, change and walk cranky baby on a moment's notice, where I'd really like to take a nap, where I need to spend time with Dianthus in the evenings and where I have a regular home life (laundry, garden, house, bills and husband) to attend to.
So, like working mothers everywhere (and, quite frankly, most anyone else I know), I need more time. They say that time equals money. I have more income than I expected. I'm willing to use some to buy time; I just don't know how to shop for it.
Win old issues of Lucky, the Magazine of Shopping and Style, by recommending reasonable time savers for my life. Keep in mind that I live in a small town in Western Oklahoma; local services do not good options for take-out Thai food, babysitting pools or diaper services. The best suggestions will not be too costly on the environment or the pocket book.
Some ideas I've considered so far:
Hire someone to clean: Good idea, but the time gained is near zero-- it's not like I'm scrubbing the tub when I could be developing curricula.
Quit clipping coupons: time saved 5 min./week. Money spent- probably nothing. It's not like I use most of the coupons I clip.
Sub-contract my work: fortunately, my work responsibilities are not

Aaaah. I've been trying to post this for two weeks. I'm just going to give up adding anything and post it now. Easy dinner ideas count as good ideas.

Also, if you are underemployed or have vacation or a weekend and would like to spend some time in Western Oklahoma, are willing to spend some of that time walking a baby and/or playing with a toddler, talk to me to find out if I can buy you a plane ticket and get you here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wherein Star beats Lucky and Lucky beats Star

Star by Danielle Steel is better than Jackie Collin's Lucky.
Considering how little I appreciated Lucky, (which I reviewed almost three years ago to the day) that's not saying much. Star, my very first Danielle Steel and selected only because the title fits my theme, is full of one-dimensional characters, way, way way too much ethereal beauty, heavy-handed drama and repetitive descriptions. At page 300 I almost gave it up because we'd already had rape, murder, love at first sight, fleeting stardom, marriage to the wrong person and two wars and I really didn't care how much more these two characters were going to have to go through to get together (because of course they were). It turns out it required an Academy Award, an illegitimate child, false accusations of murder, and Kennedy's assassination, among other things. Star is probably exactly what I would have expected of Danielle Steel if I hadn't read the much-worse Lucky first. Having read Lucky, my expectations were so low that Star was surprisingly good; still for crazy romantic drama, (based on having read one book each) Barbara Delinsky is much better than Danielle Steel.
Lucky the magazine way out-classes Star the magazine. Neither are exactly my cup of tea. But my baby is awake, I'll have to tell you why later. . . .

Friday, August 12, 2011

Austen Light for August

It's hot. School is re-starting. Your to-be-read pile is huge and deep. What to do? Skip the pile and read Jane Austen in Boca or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or watch Clueless or Bridgett Jones's Diary and join us for the Austen (Light) in August* discussion.
There is no formal STIR selection for August (which is probably good, as I am still trying to coordinate discussions of Secret Eleanor and The Heart of the Matter with Jennifer and Janet). I have found myself reading a great deal of "chick lit" of late (including Jane Austen in Boca, Jane Austen in Scarsdale [both by Paula Marantz Cohen], Cotillion [Georgette Heyer], Second Thyme Around [Katie Fforde] and Persuasion [Jane Austen]) and have loved it.
So, find yourself something that was inspired by Jane Austen and read it. Very highly recommended are the Paula Marantz Cohen's retellings of P+P and Persuasion (Jane Austen in Boca and Jane Austen in Scarsdale, respectively). Both are hilarious in their own right (dealing with Jewish widows looking for husbands and the sad times of a high school guidance counselor) and as clever re-makes of Austen's plots (an accident in Lyme is replaced with Lyme disease, for instance). Amateur Reader, not normally big into chick lit, says good things about them here . Highly recommended are the regency romances of Georgette Heyer (not directly retellings of Austen, but some of the best representatives of a whole genre inspired by Austen, raych reviews one here), I Capture the Castle (by Dodie Smith, which directly references both Jane Austen and Jane Eyre), and Bridget Jones's Diary (movie and book version reference P+P quite differently). I haven't read P+P and Zombies or any of the Elizabeth and Darcy mysteries, but if they might be your thing, read away. Of course, if you're not up for reading a whole book (after all this is Austen Light) watch Clueless or the A+E version of Emma or the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma or Bridget Jones or any of the (some fantastic, some less so) movie versions of P+P (the six hour BBC version with Colin Firth is by far the best, and makes the casting of Bridget Jones make sense).
If, perchance, you are contemplating joining the Austen (Light) in August discussions but have not read Pride and Prejudice, by all means, read it. (Nobody is stopping you from reading Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park or Emma, either). Remember, as you do so, that Austen is not taking all her characters seriously, you do not need to either.

*Nothing intended about Faulkner's Light in August. If you read it, I'll find someone for you to discuss it with, but it won't be me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dianthus and his unnamed brother

Dianthus a day before his life changed and when his mother left for the hospital:

Dianthus's life-changer who doesn't yet have a blog name pictured below. If he'd turned out female, I had picked out Stella in keeping with this year's theme, or Arachne. We have considered the alternative spellings of his name, AnDru Mykall, or just sticking with Rutherford, but neither feels quite right. Suggestions for the cute little guy's name?

Dianthus learns that good things happen, even after the baby has come home: grandparents and birthdays.

Oh, and here's the molting image that makes this earlier post make sense. It was really weird that four days before giving birth, the skin on both of my hands started peeling off.