Book Corner 2021.24

by Beverly Cleary

Given what I just named my new baby goat, and that I came across this paperback in one of those little free libraries just a few weeks after she was born, it seemed it was meant to be: time for a re-read after 40 long years.

Yes, Beverly Cleary deserves to be remembered and read and re-read after all these years. Her Ramona is so very real, it was kind of a difficult read. After all, it’s largely about her frustrations.

Real things:
– What it’s like having a sibling 5 years older (yup)
– The details, like the kindergarten being in a ‘temporary building’
– The little (used to be called normal-sized) house where everyone can hear everything; Beezus is constantly butting in
– Beezus being older but not so much older that she can’t join in late night sessions of sisters scaring each other

The illustrations have evolved several times over the long, long shelf life of the Cleary books. This edition I happened to score is not the most modern – I see some actually have some stills from a movie that got made around 2010 – I disapprove wholeheartedly; Beezus looks to be cast way too old. But it’s not exactly the edition that I read as a kid in grammar school, either. Ramona was cuter then, and in the older ones. I have to find those.

And indeed now I must, as they say, “collect them all.” Ramona the Pest. Ramona Forever. Ramona forever, indeed!! Loving my little goat name even more. (  )

Actually I think this is the one I read in grammar school:

Book Corner 2021.23

by Michaeleen Doucleff

I really can’t say why I wanted to read this book nor why I loved it, considering I am not a parent, have never been a parent, have never in my adult life wanted to be a parent, am definitely not a regular reader of parenting books, and skip just about anything related to parenting in all other media as well.

But this was a book about culture. The insane author takes her three-year-old to three different destinations around the world, each wilder than the last, to learn what the cultures there can teach her about parenting and her troubles with Rosy.

From the Maya of Yucatan, she learned about ‘acomodido’ – how children learn to be accommodating, to help without being asked, to know what help is needed without being told. From the Inuit of Baffin Island, she learned how to be calm, and raise a calmer child. From the Hadzabe of Tanzania, she learned about autonomy, how children can be independent yet still taught that they must be a help to their family and tribe.

Some might say she idealizes these other cultures. Sometimes yes, it is hard to believe everything is always as smooth and beautiful as she describes. But it’s meant to be a kind of self-help book. There’s lots of repetition of the lessons of each section, literal repetition – I always hate summary pages that tell me what I just read; I read for a story, and they interrupt the flow.

Nevertheless, none of this detracted for me from the fun of visiting with these families around the world, and seeing how different family life can be from what we are used to here. As for the author and her trouble child, I really enjoyed spending time with them, too. Rosy’s tantrums can be hysterical, when enjoyed from my safe distance. Hearing how well new methods worked to calm her down was rewarding. In the end, I’m sad tonight that I’m done with the book and won’t have any time with Rosy and Michaeleen anymore. That’s at least a four star book right there. (  )

I’m Blithe Enough

I’m giving a book away, and want to save my favorite quotes from it before I do.

“Man likes any work that helps him forget his ghost’s bound to his body by a thread.”

“I thought me the qualm was a tale… I ne thought me the world would end in summer, under the sun in a clear sky, with the leaves new and the birds in song and a loving-Andrew in the hedgerow.”

“Otherwise I’m blithe enough. I’ve a full belly, and a roof over my head, and I’m heal. I have love now, and mayn’t do aught today to shield myself of death tomorrow.”

Noodle’s Playroom

I pulled the plug on a piece of beadwork that I’d been at for a long time. I kept running out of white beads, and ordering just one more packet… I finally had to stop the silliness, considering I think the beads were coming all the way from China or Japan, and either buy a ton of them, or just declare the piece finished. I’m trying it out as an arty piece of window trim for my playroom. I used to call this room my office, then my office/studio, then my studio/office; now I just call it my playroom, because it has all my toys.

Book Corner 2021.22

by Michael Moss

[Not to be confused with Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, or Animal, Vegetable, Junk, or Hunt, Gather, Parent… I think I’m forgetting another one – but it seems to be modern times’ replacement for “My Year of…”]

A bit rudimentary and repetitive. The subject here is Big Processed Food. They make stuff that’s really bad for you. If one company tries to do the right thing and stop selling such salt-sugar-fat-laden bombs, they will simply lose market share to other companies that still sell the junk. The prevailing attitude is, therefore, that they offer healthy options alongside the traditional bombs; the consumer may pick what she likes; and people like the bombs. So whaddaya gonna do?

None of this is earth-shattering, so Moss bases his book on the quality of his reporting and the stories he unearths. My favorites are about instant pudding and Cheez Whiz. Instant pudding: I always pass this in the supermarket aisle and think to myself “maybe I want to make pudding sometime.” I know instant pudding isn’t a nutritional powerhouse, but it’s always felt to me like pudding mix, cake mix, etc. were one cut better than buying products already pre-made. At least you’re making the thing. You have a bit more control and knowledge about its inputs and freshness. OK, so maybe the kind of pudding you cook has something going for it in that regard, but when I read Moss’ historical bit about instant pudding, and about the chemicals they have to add to allow milk to turn into pudding without applying heat, I was entirely put off forever.

Cheez Whiz: created in the 1950s, Moss interviewed one of its creators, who has stayed a lifelong fan – almost. He and his wife would put it on everything, often ending the day with a glass of wine and a few crackers slathered in Cheez Whiz. One day this gentleman opened a new jar to make one of his usual Whizzy snacks, and pthththt! It tasted like axle grease! What had they done to it? He scanned the ingredients list, no mean feat, as the Whiz had always sported something like 27 different ingredients, and then discovered, they had taken the dang cheese out! Yes, Cheez Whiz originally could legally have gone by the name of Cheese Whiz, because it actually used to have cheese. Now… just whiz.

Moss explains everything and gets a bit too rudimentary at times, as noted. For example, in the salt chapter, we get a brief introduction to the history of salt, and as I quickly read through it, I thought, “I sure hope he doesn’t tell us how golly gee whiz did you know Romans were paid in salt and that’s where the word salary comes from??” D’oh! Yes, he did feel obliged to inform us of that.

And repetitive. Those 100-calorie snack packs of Bad Foods like chips & cookies – they don’t work! People just open more packs! We had to hear about this multiple times. I think this is a bit of a sweeping condemnation, by the way. For all the people who litter the ground with multiple wrappers of 100-calorie packs, I’m sure many instead have benefited greatly from being able to indulge in moderation. I’m a big fan of moderation myself.

I’m still giving this three stars, cause hell, who doesn’t like to curl up with some good food readin’. (  )

That’s a Load Off My Mind

I can’t wait to go shopping. Wherever I want. Slowly.

I know, everyone else be all like, “I can’t wait to hug people!” And I’m all, “I can’t wait to shop somewhere with a better selection of whole wheat pasta.”

BECAUSE I’M A BAD PERSON, OK? We knew that, from a long time ago – I have the merit badge right here. And the business card.

I had actually been meditating on the following for some time before coming across the pointer to this research paper. I like to visualize the broad swaths of the planets where humans don’t live or else constitute a mere blip. Mountains, hills, deserts, national parks, tundra, HUGE tracts of land… Imagine the trees, the mountains, the photosynthesizing biosphere as the default, and us as the exception, a small collection of nattering primates that the great ancients suffer to live out our brief puny lives here and there among the constantly growing and shifting greenery.

Now here’s some figures to help you.

Fry: It’s no use. I wanna cry but I’m just too macho.
Bender: I’ll make you cry, buddy! You’re a pimple on society’s ass and you’ll never amount to anything.
Fry: What do you mean? I was Emperor of a whole planet.
Bender: Good point. But here’s a disturbing reminder; everyone you knew or loved in the 20th century is dead.
Fry: These things happen.
Bender: Okay, Fry, grab a Kleenex for this one, ’cause there’s no God and your idiotic human ideals are laughable!
Fry: Phew! That’s a load off my mind.


This was “emerald” from my birthstone series of dyeing last year.

I’m not going to take them all out of the drawer again. Trust me, it’s 16. I’m going to have quite a collection to sell at the probably-non-existent fair this year.

Noodle’s Blog Post Explodes with Color!

So, the Greener Shades dyes that I like to use have this big color card PDF, which is organized horrendously, sometimes with as few as 5 colors on a page. Unnumbered. I was always constantly flipping pages around, saying, well, do I like THIS one or THAT one – where was that one again?? Then of course I had to study the formula and translate it to a pound of mohair and hope I didn’t make a mistake, which I tended to do more often than not.

So I snipped all the colors and fit them all into two screen shots, and numbered them. Now I can see them all at once across my two screens. And, I typed all the formulas into Excel, with calculations to tell me exactly how many grams of each color to use to dye one pound of mohair! Now I can just look across my two screens, compare colors, and say, I want #142! Look it up in my spreadsheet, and say, why yes, #142 is .9 grams of Coral Reef Aqua, an excellent choice, madam.