A Day Devoted to Reading — Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

Dewey's Read-a-Thon buttonThis month’s Dewey’s Read-a-Thon, a week from Saturday, falls on the perfect day for me this year — the day after a family wedding. I won’t want to do anything but read! I probably won’t be up bright and early at 7AM, however.

I signed up to be a cheerleader, too. In my experience, reading and cheering together make for the most fun Read-a-Thon. Join us at the cheerleader recruitment post.

Will you be participating in Dewey’s Read-a-Thon on April 26?

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Iambic Pentameter and Other Terms #WondrousWordsWednesday

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

My way of celebrating National Poetry Month

For National Poetry Month, I’m reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver and finding some delightful words to share for Wondrous Words Wednesday. Last week, the words were about the sounds that letters make. This week, I learned (and re-learned) the words that describe the rhythm of a poem.

I remember the term iambic pentameter but wouldn’t have done well if requested to supply a definition. First, we need to understand the words foot and feet. A line of metrical verse is divided into feet depending on how the stresses fall. One common foot in English, the iamb, is a light stress followed by a heavy stress.

The length of the line determines how many feet will fit. In the case of iambic pentameter, there are five feet. So in a pure line of iambic pentameter, there are ten syllables. The first syllable has a light stress and the second a heavy one and that pattern continues through the whole line.

Why is iambic pentameter so common in English? The pentameter’s line…

…length matches the breath capacity of our lungs. The iambic foot has wide currency for a similar “natural” reason. It is the paramount sound in any string of English words, thus it is the most fluid, the most uncontrived sounding meter. Phrases falling naturally into the iambic pattern are noticeable in every kind of writing. Compared to it, any other meter, in fact, sounds “composed”–not unlike one of those snapping flourishes of the drums. (p. 47)

If I ever learned the names for the other types of feet, I long since forgot them. Here they are:

trochee: two syllables, first heavy and second light. Here’s a whole line of trochee feet from Shakespeare’s MacBeth:
Double, double, toil and trouble.

dactyl: three syllables, first heavy and two light. Some words that are natural dactyls: happiness, beautiful, elephant.

anapest: three syllables, two light and last heavy. A famous example comes from Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabel Lee:
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee
So, even though I said that beautiful was a dactyl, the way it’s placed in this line changes it. The first syllable of beautiful is the heavy stress at the end of the first anapest foot. The second two syllables are the light stresses at the beginning of the second foot.

spondee: two equal stresses. Compound words often form a spondee foot (sometimes in an otherwise iambic line) — think chalkboard or bookcase.

Did you remember these terms? Or ever learn them in the first place?

button for Wondrous Words Wednesday memeWondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

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My Bookish Wish List — Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic at The Broke and The Bookish:  The top 10 bookish things (that aren’t books) that I would like to own. This seemed to be begging for a Pinterest board rather than a post, so here’s my list: Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books). I may keep adding to it, but for now there are ten.

Happy Tuesday!

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Exercise with Power Equipment — Readers’ Workouts

logo for Readers' WorkoutsWelcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

My most unusual workout last week was running the power cultivator through my vegetable garden. In my marriage, it’s almost embarrassing how much the chores are split along traditional gender lines. Rick is in charge of power tools. But, sometimes, his schedule doesn’t correspond well with the garden’s schedule.

So, I ran the cultivator this year. After some instruction and practice, I was able to let the engine handle forward movement while I used my back and legs, more than my arms, to keep the whole thing under control. I went over the garden three times, raking it out in between. A good workout!

Talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

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TransAtlantic flight over Quicksilver — Monday Reading

Last week was busy on my blog!

St. Louis 250th Birthday Cake at The Muny

The Muny

We had another week of great posts for British Isles Friday — it seems there was some pent-up energy for posts about Great Britain and Ireland in the book blogging community. Don’t miss Becca’s post with a link to a very short video that covers all the accents. Quite astounding.

Lots of great book suggestions appeared for the Top Ten Tuesday topic of unique books. My list included Chaucer and Code Name Verity.

I showed off my drawers (in the kitchen) for Weekend Cooking and displayed the results of my scavenger hunt in Forest Park for the birthday cakes celebrating St. Louis’ 250th birthday.

Yesterday, I accepted my second Liebster Blog Award for this blog, this time with a new twist — interview questions! Commenters were most surprised by my responses about  invisible friends and comfortable shoes. The Award is making the rounds of writing blogs, right now, but I shot it off toward two book blogs I love — check them out!


I reviewed three books!

Two books ended up in the same post because I read them back to back and it felt almost like reading one book:  Curtsies & Conspiracies and Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger. They were so much fun!

Finishing School series by Gail Carriger

The third book was The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters, a fun English country house mystery about a group of historians who would like to prove Richard III’s innocence of murdering the Princes in the Tower.


TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

April selection for our Diversity Book Club

For National Poetry Month, I’m dipping into A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. I got my Wondrous Words Wednesday post from that about words to describe the sounds that letters make. I have another word post from that book drafted in my head for this Wednesday.

I’m still reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson, but I got another post from it this week — a great description of the Palace of Versailles during the reign of the Sun King for Dreaming of France this morning.

Quicksilver is on hold, temporarily, while I read TransAtlantic by Colum McCann for our book club meeting on Thursday. That book is going quickly, so I’ll get back to Quicksilver earlier than expected.

I’m still working through The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff and it’s helping me make some helpful changes to the way I eat.

Will Read

I mentioned this last week, but didn’t get to it yet — Gail Carriger’s series, The Parasol Protectorate, that begins with the book Soulless.

What are you reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Meme Graphic

It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Be sure to check out her post today to see her selections and the list of links to all the other participating bloggers.

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Letters from Versailles — Dreaming of France

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

Quiicksilver means mercury.

I’m reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson as part of my Anglophile year, but it’s a wide-ranging book (and over 900 pages) covering two continents and parts of two centuries. So, this is the second time I’ve managed to pull a Dreaming of France post from it. Last time, it was a lusty look at Les Halles.

This time, a character has become a lesser person in the Court at the Palace of Versailles at the time of the Sun King, Louis XIV. The whole chapter is written as letters from her to a couple of men that she has business interests with. This passage describing Versailles is from a letter to Dr. Leibniz, one of many historical figures in this book. Leibniz is famous for developing calculus and being in dispute with Newton about who did it first and better.

To describe this place in words is hopeless. Indeed I believe it was meant to be so, for then anyone who wants to know it must come here in person, and that is how the King wants it. Suffice it to say that here, every dram of water, every leaf and petal, every square inch of wall, floor, and ceiling, bear the signature of Man; all have been thought about by superior intellects, nothing is accidental. The place is pregnant with Intention and wherever you look you see the gaze of the architects–and by extension, Louis–staring back at you. I am contrasting this to blocks of stone and beams of wood that occur in Nature and, in most places, are merely harvested and shaped a bit by artisans. Nothing of that sort is to be found at Versailles. (p. 640)

photo of Eiffel tower with words Dreaming of FranceThis is my post for Dreaming of France, a Monday meme at An Accidental Blog.

If you also write posts about the British Isles, join us on Fridays for a meme modeled on Dreaming of France called British Isles Fridays.

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The View from my Desk & other little known facts — Liebster Award

Liebster Blog Award logo

The widely-traveled blog game

The Liebster Award is making the rounds again and this time with a new twist. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure I got one of these back when I had a library blog. Every time I see it, it’s just a little different, like the Telephone Game. The logo hasn’t changed since I last encountered the Liebster Blog Heart in 2012.

The addition, this round, is questions. Carol Early Cooney answered questions that were asked by the person who nominated her. In turn, she posed questions to me as her nomination of Joy’s Book Blog. Thanks, Carol — I’m honored!

1. What is your favorite holiday and why?

I love themes, so I have to go with Christmas — a whole month of events, decorations, music, movies, and food all devoted to bringing more light to the shortest days of the year.

2. Describe your favorite place and tell us why it is your favorite place.

My desk and chair because it’s where I feel most creative and connected.

3. Which is your dream – city living or country living?

For a couple of decades, we planned to move to the country but when we finally moved…we stayed in the same inner suburb. So the dream might be country-living, but it turns out the pleasures of well-stocked libraries, fine restaurants, and closely-spaced friends were too hard to give up.

4. When you look up from your computer what do you see?

One of the odd bits of architecture in our house. I look out a sliding glass door that used to open up to an outdoor 2nd-story deck. But at some point, that got enveloped by a two-story sunroom. So, I see the balcony rail and the view of the backyard out the sunroom windows.

Back yard

Balcony, a slice of the sunroom, and the backyard are what I view from my desk.

5. What TV show do you watch but you don’t admit that you watch it?

When Rick turns on the news in the morning, I sneak out of my office to catch “Your World in 90 Seconds,” the first bit of CBS This Morning that features all the photos in the news and the best joke or two from late night television.

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

Quiicksilver means mercury.

6. What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is always the one I’m reading. I’m lucky at the moment to be reading a 900-page book, which means I’ve had the same favorite book for weeks: Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson.

7. Did you have an invisible friend when you were young?

Why waste invisible friends on the young? I’m much better at inventing them now. I appoint whole committees of invisible friends to help on my most important projects.

8. What is your most comfortable pair of shoes?

Asics tennis shoes. Size 11 1/2. That size limits my choices.

Asics Gel-Express

Zappos changed my life. Imagine shoes that fit! And an actual selection of them!

9. You can have as much ice cream in any flavor. How much would you have and what flavor or flavors?

One scoop of mint chocolate chip in a cup, please.

10. Let’s say you are having trouble sleeping. What do you do? Get up or stay in bed? If you get up, what do you do? If you stay in bed, do you just lay there?

I had something of a break-through on sleep a few months ago when I realized that I sleep better when I go to bed earlier. I used to believe that staying up late would make me sleepier. But, it just made me more tense and made my nights even shorter. An earlier bedtime is not a miracle cure to sleeplessness (especially with hot flashes), but it’s been a definite improvement.

Lately, I’ve had good luck thinking “cozy” thoughts when I’m awake in bed. After seeing the tiny hotel rooms in London designed for solo business travelers, I’ve been designing my own. Or, last night, someone had puppies on Facebook, so I thought about puppies and drifted off to sleep that way.

During hot flashes, I get up for a few minutes, but sit on the floor next to the bed and read an e-book on my phone until it passes.

Um. I guess you can tell I’ve had some experience with this.

11. I will scream when I see a mouse. I don’t know why but I will scream without even thinking about it. How about you? Is there anything that you react to without thinking?

I always look up at sirens, even if it means getting up to go to a window. Fortunately, the new house isn’t on the direct route for ambulances and fire trucks, so I’m not interrupted as often as I used to be.

So, now I need to choose two bloggers and pose questions for them. As I did the last time I played the Liebster Award game, I’ll use this as an opportunity to introduce writer friends (the circle where the Liebster Award is currently circulating) to book blogger friends. Further, I’ll choose newer book bloggers because the more experienced ones stake their blogs as “Award Free Zones.”

Here are two blogs I love and my nominees for the Liebster Blog Award:

Here are my questions for April and Shannon:

  1. What place is on the top of your vacation wish list and why?
  2. Where did you grow up? How has that influenced who you are today?
  3. What song do you listen to most frequently or put on the most playlists?
  4. What’s your favorite television show?
  5. What was the last movie you watched? Did you like it? Were you at home or in a theater?
  6. When did you start your book blog and why?
  7. What’s your favorite post, ever, on your blog?
  8. What author would you most like to have a cup of tea with? What would you talk about?
  9. What book do you wish everyone would read?
  10. How do Advanced Review Copies of books end up in your hands?
  11. Print books? E-books? Audio books? Or some combination thereof?

I hope those are fun questions for you because I would love to read the answers!

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Watching for Hail — #SundaySalon

logo for The Sunday SalonGood morning!

Time: // 8:19 am.

The scene: // We had some lovely days in the last week. But that’s over now. Back to rainy and cool reading days instead of warm and pretty gardening days.

Listening to: // The weather radio. The blares just sounded to warn us of a severe thunderstorm with hail.

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

April selection for our Diversity Book Club

Reading: // I put Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson on hold again to read this week’s book club selection, TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. Fortunately, it’s a fast-paced book that I should have no trouble completing by Thursday.

Blogging about: // Words to describe poetry for National Poetry Month. I have more for this Wednesday.

Participating in// Once Upon a Time VIII (with the first two books in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series) and British Isles Friday (with the Carriger books and an Elizabeth Peters mystery).

I’m so pleased that British Isles Friday draws from an untapped well of content that bloggers are eager to share. Check out this week’s links for posts about trip photos and videos, the England of Indian immigrants, Downton Abbey, English accents, and book reviews.

What are you up to this fine Sunday?

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Cakewalk in Forest Park #SaturdaySnapshots

As I mentioned in my Readers’ Workouts post on Tuesday, I took a long walk in Forest Park last weekend. St. Louis is celebrating its 250th birthday this year with programs, events, and birthday cakes! With 250 cakes scattered around the region, I knew there would be several in Forest Park, so I went on a scavenger hunt.

St. Louis 250th birthday cake in front of the Missouri History Museum

Missouri History Museum

St. Louis 250th Birthday Cake in front of the Forest Park Visitor's Center

Forest Park Visitor’s Center (where the cake doubled as playground equipment)

Bandstand in Forest Park

Not a cake. But bandstands kind of look a little like cakes, don’t they?

St. Louis 250th Birthday Cake at The Muny

The Muny

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, or know me personally, you might remember that my summer job in college was in the concession stand at The Muny.

St. Louis 250th Birthday Cake at the Jewel Box

The Jewel Box

St. Louis 250th Birthday Cake at the St. Louis Art Musuem

St. Louis Art Museum motto on a 250th Birthday Cake

I’ve always loved the motto carved in the front of the St. Louis Art Museum. In college, I had a tee shirt that said “Dedicated to Art” on the front and “And Free to All” on the back.

This last was my favorite photo of the day. The boy was looking at the cake when I walked up and I worried that he was going to get in the way of my shot. I took the above photo of the top of the cake while I was waiting to see what he did. What he did was climb up on the wall, giving me a great scene to shoot.

St. Louis 250th Birthday Cake at the St. Louis Art Museum

St. Louis Art Museum

Saturday Snapshots logoSaturday Snapshot is hosted each week by Melinda of West Metro Mommy Reads. Check out her post this weekend for lots of great photos around the web.

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Show Me Your Drawers! for #WeekendCooking

When we moved to our house over 7 years ago, I made a good stab at organizing the kitchen tools into one long drawer. I always meant to make another pass at it after I learned how we used the kitchen. Seven years later, with never another attempt, this drawer is a jumble.

Jumbled kitchen drawer

The “Before” picture

“Clean the kitchen tools drawer” has been on my spring cleaning list for weeks, but I finally got it done when I realized I could write a Weekend Cooking post about it.

I hoped that it was just an organization problem. I laid everything out on the counter organized by size and figured it would all come together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Kitchen tools on counter

The “During” picture

As usual with these sorts of things, however, the problem wasn’t organization — it was too many things in too small of a space. I threw out a number of duplicates and unused tools and moved a few things to a less-accessible drawer across the kitchen. That helped.

organized kitchen tools drawer

The “After” picture

But there were still things on the counter. I decided a nearby drawer was being under-utilized. It’s the drawer that is supposed to hold our folded napkins. All well and good if, in fact, we folded napkins. Instead, we fetch them from the laundry basket. That drawer is prime space — no use reserving it for a fantasy.

Two organized kitchen drawers

The other “After” picture

How do you store your kitchen tools?

new Weekend Cooking logoBeth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog hop of food posts.

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