Nominations will be accepted Feb. 1 through 7. Then the voting begins. More info here.
Your mission is to scour the mommy blogosphere for hidden treasure. Read through archives, visit new blogs and find that well-written gem. This can come from a favorite blog which you already read or a blog you've discovered during the treasure hunt. But, the idea is to find well-written posts which are off the beaten path.
The categories are: Children & Family, Faith, Marriage, Motherhood, Homemaking, Humor, Current Events and Life. No profanity, questionable or offensive material is permitted...
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
My copy is on a DVD I don't see listed for sale online (it's one of those clearance-priced four-movie-pack specials, selected out of a larger collection, I think), so I've linked to one that supposedly has both the colorized version and the black and white. (I always choose the original black and white, given a chance on old movies. But to each his own on that.) I understand there was a David Niven 'remake' in the 1950s, with an altered plotline. No thanks. Powell is the perfect Godfrey.
Add the novel the movie was based on to your treasure hunting list. It seems to be scarce enough to have sent some copies into the several hundred dollar range. The author is Eric Hatch. If you find a hardback first edition with a dust jacket, well, now you're talking four figures, probably, depending on condition. At first glance at the markets, I'm guessing at this point that the true first edition was published 1935 by Little, Brown, and Company of Boston (which is funny, given the skewering the Eastern upper crust crowd gets in the movie), with a Grosset & Dunlap edition out later the same year.
Update: The Common Room lists other fun movies.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Three cheers for Batya Feigenbaum and the people who didn't give up on her.
But this turns out to be one of the harder to find books by the prolific author Augusta Huiell Seaman (1879-1950), once quite popular with kids and teens, and now apparently popular with collectors. Even "reading copies" (i.e., ugly but all there) are selling for $25 and up. Hmmm. That's a nice surprise, from a seller's point of view.
I did a quick look around and it looks like several of her titles are scarce, well worth keeping your eye out for when you're at garage sales and thrift stores, etc.
For a lengthy article on the author and her work, plus a bibliography, see Nancy Drew for Smart Kids: Mysteries by Augusta Huiell Seaman by Christine M. Volk.
The city water supply is temporarily toast, but (the mayor explained live) there was one citizen inside the city limits with a private well who was providing water to everyone, as were a few citizens outside the city limits with wells.
The mayor also assured everyone that there was a back-up plan should the community suffer a fire before the water lines were back in service. He declined to give even an outline of that back-up plan. (Not that I particularly wanted one. I'm a big fan of not letting bad guys know how cities are set up to deal with things like compromised water systems.)
The hope is that city water will be restored sometime today. In the meantime, hooray for the maverick with an in-town well.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
See, for instance, the vintage postcard collection...
Monday, January 22, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Let's see, if you count 15-year-olds as women, and exclude husbands in the military, and... (Updated)
From Journalistic Malpractice in "Marriage is Dead" Report by Michael Medved:
On Tuesday, January 16th, 2007, the American people awoke to startling and disturbing news: for the first time ever, the majority of women in the country were living without a husband.
All the TV networks, radio news broadcasts, pundits, talk show hosts and leading newspapers reported on the devastating milestone, and saw it as yet another indication of the ongoing collapse of the traditional family. Some commentators hailed this development as an encouraging sign of newfound freedom, while others decried it as a reflection of decadence and dysfunction.
With all the debate and pontification about the new minority status of married women, it’s just too bad that no significant media outlet (beyond this writer, on my nationally syndicated radio show) made the single most important and salient observation about the big news--
That is, it’s not true.
According to Medved, you have to include "some 10,154,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19" in the pool of "women" before you can approach the figure used by reporter Sam Roberts in the article run in the New York Times.
(Personally, I hope most "women" in the middle of adolescence are still single. Silly me.)
It gets worse:
Yet even the ridiculous inclusion of his ten million unmarried teenagers couldn’t give Sam Roberts the story he wanted to report – that most American “women” are now unmarried. As a matter of fact, the Census Bureau shows that among all females above 15 the majority (51%!) are still classified as “married.”
So the New York Times required yet another sneaky distortion to shave off that last 2% from the married majority, though this bit of statistical sleight-of-hand Sam Roberts had the decency to acknowledge. “In a relatively small number of cases, the living arrangement is temporary, because the husbands are working out of town, are in the military, or are institutionalized,” he writes. In other words, in his brave new majority of “women” without spouses, he includes all those thousands upon thousands of wives and mothers who are waiting and praying at home for the return of their husbands from Iraq or Afghanistan. By arbitrarily removing this 2% of all females (2,400,000 individuals) who are classified as “married/spouse absent” from the ranks of the married, and then designating as “unmarried” his millions of middle school and high school girls who are living with their parents, together with some 9 million elderly widows who have devoted much of their lives to marriage and husbands (42% of all women over 65 are widows), Roberts can finally arrive at his desired but meaningless conclusion that “most women” now “are living without a husbands.” Eureka!
Full Medved article
hat tip: The Alliance Alert
Update: Michael Novak also runs the numbers (Married Women and the New York Times, First Things, Feb. 7, 2008):
...An impressive 58 percent of white non-Hispanic women were married with husbands present.
Looking at these numbers another way, add to the 58 percent of white non-Hispanic women with husbands present, the 12 percent that had been divorced as of 2005, and the fewer than 2 percent separated, plus the 1 percent married but with husbands absent. Also add another 11 percent who were, not by choice, living as widows. Therefore, the total of white non-Hispanic women over twenty who were or had been married was 85 percent. It is obvious that, in that year, marriage was the overwhelmingly preferred choice of American white women over the age of twenty. In addition, a significant proportion of the not-yet-married women over twenty will also enter into marriage in the future. The proportion choosing marriage, then, easily exceeds 90 percent.
Because these numbers do not include black, Hispanic, and Asian women, they do not give an accurate picture of the whole U.S. female population. But they do give a clear picture of the largest culture, as a point of comparison...
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
As always, we're not going to completely pin you down on what this means. It could be the daily made sacred (like Andre Dubus) or the sacred explored in terms of daily life (as Marilynne Robinson does so eloquently in Gilead...
Monday, January 15, 2007
My understanding is that the encyclopedias don't need to be Catholic, per se. What's wanted is something that presents knowledge without undermining morals.
Kathryn, this article is timely. But such an insane practice has been standard in some libraries for at least the last decade. One librarian and I shared a laugh. She and others would 'check out' books essential to the library just to save them from the clutches of the library director, who was determined to turn the public library into a computer only center. That one check out would preserve the book until the next purge! Believe it.
We commiserated with another librarian. Hers was a newly opened public facility. The only books in the Young Adult section were recent publications, and a large number of them were objectionable to many parents. If there were classics, we didn't see them. Hers was a collection not usable for many families.
The holding of that which is good and beautiful, and necessary for civilisation--certainly a noble goal for our public libraries. And a lost role for many.
I have to admit that I feel rather silly for not having thought to suggest this before, but, really, it wouldn't take very many of us going to libraries and checking out books we don't want lost to the community, to save quite a few books worth saving.
Spread the word, eh?
Thanks, johng, and please thank those librarian friends of yours who battle for a good, healthy selection of books in their libraries.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Update: West Coast & Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (Event maps)
Update: Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
I'm also a great fan of commercial seed companies that have managed to develop plants that do well under a variety of conditions and/or that hold up well for shipment to distant markets.
And, no, I don't see a contradiction there. I think we need good commercial varieties, and I think we're far better off in both the long and short terms if we have great regional or niche varieties, too. I think we're better off from a safety standpoint if we don't become overly reliant on too few varieties or depend too much on a just a handful of seed sources. I know we're better off from the standpoints of taste and beauty and experience if we don't let our food and surroundings become too much of a sameness, so to speak.
All of which is prelude to saying that I am having a wonderful time reading the Seed Savers 2007 Catalog which came in the mail. I think my favorite info snippet this year so far is "Found growing in a street crack at 56th and College in Indianapolis, Indiana. First offered by SSE member John Hartman."
Oh, wait... you didn't think you had to be some sort of specialist or have membership in some sort of fraternity to help save and share great and/or interesting flowers and vegetables with the rest of the world, did you? You thought you had to have a horde of seeds from plants originally brought to America by your great-great-great-grandparents and zealously cultivated by your family ever since?
Think again. Those who stumble across plants worth propagating also play their part. The catalog is full of stories like that. Found in a market in Russia (or India, or wherever). Found growing at an abandoned farm. That sort of thing.
This is, as I understand it, in keeping with how many of the world's best loved flowers and food crops got established. Someone found them somewhere, and took them somewhere else where they might be appreciated or studied or improved. I have books on my bookshelf featuring stories of men risking their lives to acquire exotic plant specimens to take to collectors in fad-hungry Europe, for instance. More on that someday, when I've got more time.
For now, though, I just wanted to alert you to the catalog before too many of the offerings sell out.
Well, that, and I want to publicly thank those families that have quietly and patiently and doggedly saved the vegetables and flowers grown by their ancestors instead of letting them be lost to us. I haven't learned the art of saving seeds properly. But I admire those who have.
A note: Introducing plants from one part of the world to another has been known to unleash some awful pests in the new place. (Some parts of Oregon, Washington and California are horribly infested with Scotch broom, for instance, to the detriment of practically everything else in the vicinity.) Please, please, exercise some caution and common sense when importing plants, and keep an eye out for anything that unexpectedly looks to be on the verge of rampaging off your place. Thanks. I feel pretty safe promoting the Seed Savers stuff, because most of what they offer requires cultivation to survive, but, still, do keep an eye out, won't you?
P.S. The Seed Savers catalog also features a selection of books that's well worth a look.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
100 PIECE JUVENILE
GREAT ASSORTMENT OF PETS
The accompanying picture shows a puzzle featuring dinosaurs.
She has, you see, been battling heart failure, and it had caused terrific swelling, and she'd been looking in the mirror and seeing what she called a pumpkin instead of her own face.
Being able to see your wrinkles is good.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
It's a fair question, I think, although I'd like to invite Mr. Miller to check out bookstores like ours if he thinks bookstores only cater to the latest fad. For that matter, we generally sell quite a few classics over the course of any given year, often to people who made it through a public school education and/or college without being exposed to much Western Civ and who wonder what they've missed. Heh.
A J Cronin, the creator of "Doctor Finlay", was born today in 1896 at Cardross near Dumbarton. After completing his medical studies, Cronin became a Navy surgeon. He then settled in a mining area of South Wales, which was used as the setting for his novel "The Citadel", said to have been one of the inspirations for the setting up of the UK's post-war National Health Service. Other popular works were "Hatter's Castle", "The Stars Look Down" and "Keys to the Kingdom". Cronin died in 1981. To read about other famous Scots, visit heritage.scotsman.com
I decided that since I'm the only person around here who eats pie crust, and I'm not crazy wild about it myself unless it's really, really good (which it rarely is), I decided to skip the crust and make something akin to a pumpkin custard instead of a pumpkin pie. I bought a can of Libby's Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix. I mixed it with eggs and evaporated milk as called for, but poured it into a casserole dish instead of a pie pan. (What? Custard cups? Who has that many custard cups? Who wants to bother with that many custard cups?) Then I went to bake it just like a pie.
Then I reconsidered. Probably having a starting temp of 425 for 15 minutes was to cook the crust, of which I didn't have any. Probably without a crust the higher temp was a bad idea. As if on cue, I started getting wafts of browning smells from the oven. Oops. I pulled the casserole dish out of the oven until I could get the heat down a bit.
My husband wandered through and mentioned his grandmother always used water baths for custard. Well, I almost always do too, but in the press of getting several things done at once I'd forgotten. It's not like I cook a lot of custard. (I should change that. We like custard, and it's relatively easy to make. But I digress.)
I did not have a big enough pan to put the casserole dish in a proper water bath, so I used a broiling pan and got water up almost halfway to the top. This is not at all as high as it should be, but did I mention I didn't have a big enough pan to do any better?
So, I put it back in the oven, this time at 350 degrees, in its half-bath, and cooked it until it was done. I can't tell you how long that was, because I just kept checking and adding time, but not keeping track.
But here's the kicker. It came out wonderful (if I do say so myself). It was light and moist and creamy and when you added a bit of Cool Whip it was one of the best desserts we've ever had around here. Forget trying to get pie pieces just the right size, too. With this stuff, in a casserole dish, you just scoop out as much or as little as you want. How easy can it get?
So.... do I have to do all that early-too-hot, water-bath-late-and-low stuff or can I get the same results by sticking it in the oven in a more or less proper water bath at 350 from the get-go? I'm going to try the easy way next time, in part because I'm not at all sure I could replicate the sequence-that-worked if I tried.
If you're wondering about my title: my neighbors in Wisconsin, back when I worked there, called cooking by the seat of your pants "by guess and by gosh" cooking. I hear it's a term commonly used in the Midwest. At any rate, that's definitely what this effort was.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
That story almost sounds too good to be true... (Pause while your hostess googles...)
The real James Bond was born today in 1900. No, not the super-spy, but the American ornithologist whose name was borrowed by author Ian Fleming for his best-selling novels. Whilst living in Jamaica, Fleming (who was a keen bird-watcher) had a copy of Bond's "Birds of the West Indies" and took his name for the spy since he considered it a "brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name that] was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born." To read more about a real Scottish hero from the world of espionage, visit heritage.scotsman.com
Well, my goodness. Over at Barnes and Noble I see that A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies has James Bond as a co-author along with Roger Tory Peterson, and I see Wikipedia has an entry on that book, saying it has become a collector's item among Bond fans. It also has an entry on James Bond the ornithologist. It mentions that the 20th Bond film (do I want to know how many there are?) has the spy James Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, examining the book in a scene set in Havana.
I haven't found a link for it at Barnes & Noble yet, but elsewhere on the internet I see that there's also a Collins Field Guide/Birds of the West Indies, 5th Revised Edition, 2002, that lists James Bond as author, with no mention of Peterson.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
But the judge at the administrative tribunal in Paris decided that as there was no evidence the SDF [Solidarité des Français] had refused to serve Jews and Muslims, who do not eat pork for religious reasons, it could not be accused of discriminating against them. The city's police prefecture was ordered to pay €1,000 (£670) in costs to the group.
In a statement, Roger Bonnivard, the group's president, said: "After weeks of dirty manoeuvres, intimidation, harassment, all kinds of pressure, and despite a new ban, the Paris police authorities now have to adhere to the decision. There are no legal grounds allowing anyone to ban pig soup."
hat tip: It Shines For All
Nah. I couldn't have heard that right. And if I did, it sounds like urban folklore to me.
Still... I'm not a crash dieter, but I've known a few... it seems possible... especially since New Year's resolutions have just kicked in and some people are not known for being intelligent about New Year's resolutions....
Hats off to The New York Times for publishing Calame's column on this.
hat tip: ProLifeBlogs.com (of which I'm a member)
The difficulty in the book is the oceanic prose; sometimes, quite frankly, it's hard to follow the plot through the scrim of Proust's often labyrinthine sentences. But for me it was worth it. After making my way through the seven volumes I felt as if I had glimpsed an entire age, seen into a specific man's soul. It took me over a year of disciplined reading, and I actually plan on doing it again.
The very best book to help you get through the seven volumes is: Roger Shattuck's Proust's Way: A Field Guide to In Search of Lost Time. It is essential, and without it I might have given up any number of times.
Here's one of my favorite quotes from Proust: "We believe we can change things according to our wishes because that's the only happy solution we can see. We don't think of what usually happens and what is also a happy solution; things don't change, but by and by our wishes change."
I haven't read the book and don't know anything about it except what Mr. Avrech tells us in his post, but I couldn't resist noting a post about a book that took more a year to read with the help of a field guide, and was still deemed worth the effort. Besides, I love the Proust quote.
Monday, January 01, 2007
And so, if you had asked me up until this afternoon what the chances were that I'd write a post thanking Art Bell (a major UFO cheerleader) for anything I'd have said none. No chance whatsoever. End of story.
Allow me to eat a very small crow, here. A friend of mine who does listen to the show, I hope for entertainment purposes, told me that Art Bell waxed eloquently pro-life on his show last night, at some length. It seems Mr. Bell and his wife recently discovered that she was pregnant, and before taking an airplane trip they went in for a medical check-up. Mr. Bell was, I'm told, astonished by what he saw on the ultrasound. He had no idea you could see a heartbeat so early...
I guess he stated emphatically that no one was ever going to be able to convince him now that life doesn't begin at conception.
Gotta love those ultrasounds.
My friend says that some of Mr. Bell's callers were urging him to pick up the banner and lead the pro-life movement. Heaven spare us. (Not that any one person or group can "lead" a movement as big and broad as the pro-life movement.) On the other hand, he's definitely in a position to reach a few thousand people who otherwise might never hear a word in favor of treating unborn babies as fully human and worthy of protection.
The universe moves in strange ways.
Thank you, Mr. Bell, for standing up for the most defenseless among us. I'll bet you saved a young life or two last night, just by making some people stop and take a fresh look at what pregnancy means. Here's hoping that particular seed you planted grows in a few hearts over the years to come.