Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lane Bryant-ing

This weekend, I sat by the pool, listening to the soothing sounds of water...margarita in one hand and book in the other.

Now birthday-pool reading has special requirements. Just any old book will not do. Fluff is a must.

Sunday I read a book called the Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer. The book is about 3 good friends who meet for lunch as often as they can. They have a favorite restaurant and a favorite table...right in front of the main window. On this particular day though, the new management has decided that table is reserved and instead puts them in the to the kitchen door. The women call the manager on it. : It's because we're fat, isn't it?

At this point the women decide to make a pact. They will...for once and for all....lose their excess weight and change their lives.

As the story evolves, each woman takes a different approach to their pact and uncoveres different truths about themselves and the world around them.

I would like to call this chick lit with an interesting message.

Now...the fact that they each transformed themselves in 6 mos is a little far fetched, as anyone who has ever struggled with weight will tell you. The thing I do like about the book is that there were some ugly truths included and while the main character did have an almost cinderella ending, she confesses that losing weight did not make all the problems in her life disappear, just the one...the weight.

Oh...this is turning into a book review isn't it? I will have to cross post it then.

I did want to tell you about this one funny thing.

The women as a way of encouragement along their journey, would go "Lane Bryant-ing." For anyone who doesn't know, this is a store for plus sized women. The characters in the book would go to Lane Bryant, find their smallest size (a 14) go to the dressing room to try it on and when it proved to be too big, would ask the sales woman for the next smaller size...only to be told that the pants *are* the smallest size in the store.

That just cracked me up!!!!

I would recommend this book for what it is. Decently written Chick Lit...good for birthday pool reading.

Monday, August 3, 2009

State of the Marianne Address

So I was thinking...why haven't I had time to blog lately?

There are many answers.

  1. The upstairs computer is broken so I have to share my laptop with 4 people instead of just Fred!
  2. It's summer and the kids are cranky and tired of each I typically get a headache within 5 minutes of coming home
  3. I think I am a wee bit depressed that the summer is over and it really didn't feel like summer ....the pool has been icky most of the time...we haven't been out on the boat as much...I only got to spend a few days on vacation (vacation blog still coming btw)
  4. I have been spending too much time on Facebook
  5. I have been spending too much time reading (as if you can do such a thing)
  6. I have been busy with my new job.

Have I mentioned how much I love my new job? Let me do so now.

  1. I work with great people who care about the public we serve.
  2. I get to express myself, even if it is not always what people want to hear. My opinions and concerns matter, or are at least allowed to be aired.
  3. I get to work on things besides Storytime. Now you know I love storytime...but that is not the be all and end all of the life of a children's librarian.
  4. I am busy and challenged. Right now I have two largish projects looming and following those there will be more. Again...the projects have nothing to do with storytime.

Thanks for thinking of me...more soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cake tasting

Growing up we had a snack called Tastykake. It is like Little Debbie...only better.

At least I thought they were.

Fred brought home some Butterscotch Krimpets, TandyKakes, Blueberry Pies and Chocolate Cupcakes.

I had some for breakfast.

I don't feel really too guilty about this, since they will be gone soon and I won't be able to eat them until next year. I have to confess they are not as good as I remembered, but that is another blog.

So...after a nutritious breakfast of Tastykake Chocolate Cupcakes, what did I eat next? Some of the 144 soft pretzels Fred brought back with him? No...

I went wedding cake tasting with my friend Tiffany and her fiance Eric.

I had some vanilla, almond, praline, lemon-blueberry and chocolate Bourbon cakes....with various icings for dipping and mixing.


They weren't bad, but they didn't knock my socks off. And I really didn't like the woman who made them. I felt that we were inconveniencing her. She also didn't have official forms. She did her math on a large legal tablet and ripped a page out to hand it to the groom. Maybe it's me, but I would have expected more professional behavior.

I was also expecting champagne.

Well, tomorrow Tiffany may be checking out Joe T. Garcia's (restaurant) for a location for her bridal portraits. We may have to tag along to offer our opinions. And sample the margaritas.

I think I am about ready to go into a diabetic coma. Either that or take a nap. Or eat some salt water taffy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria

Translated by Elisa Amado. Initially published in Mexico and 2007 winner of the Bologna International Book Fair's BolognaRagazzi New Horizons Award.

Chances are if you are reading this, you have the gift of sight. While we all understand how different and difficult our lives would be without sight, there are some finer points of this gift that a new book for children addresses.

The Black Book of Colors talks about color, but in a way that, honestly, never occurred to me before. What do un-sighted people think of when they think of color?

The book is physically interesting and I confess, when I saw it on a cart of new books, I furrowed my brow.* “Did I order this book? Why did I order this book?”

The book is long and narrow, with a black cover skimpily embellished with grey etched lines. Not the first book a child might want to pick up.

And this is an interesting thing to note.

1) Not all picture books are created with child appeal in mind
2) Children that can read independently can still read a picture book…

Choosing to write a picture book is choosing a format. This format choice works really well for this message.

The pages within the book are thick glossy pages of black. The illustrations are done in raised and textured black ink. Because of the contrast in texture, the sighted can angle the book and “see” the illustrations. The unsighted can participate to by feeling the illustrations.

The text on each page is done in both contrasting white type and above that, in Braille. A Braille alphabet is included at the back of the book, to give readers an idea of what it might be like to learn a new alphabet…one that can’t be seen, but felt.

Now that I have gone on about the mechanics of the book, let’s talk about the message. While part of this message is conveyed through the mechanics of the book, the rest is done through beautiful imagery that conveys the spirit of color…while not being able to rely on the visualization itself. For example:

“Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is a soft as a baby chick’s feathers.”
“Brown crunches under his feat like fall leaves. Sometimes it smells like chocolate, and other times it stinks. “

The author manages to convey all of the things that can be associated with a color, using descriptive language and every sense, but sight. We know what yellow tastes like…and how it feels. We know how brown sounds and smells.

While this may not be the first book that gets picked up by a toddler, this book has a place on library shelves. I would consider using this book to talk about descriptive language, as a poem, or as a discussion point for differently abled people.

If you see this odd little book, please pick it up and check it out. I hope you are as impressed with its beautiful language and meaningful message as I am.

*Please remember that while I ordered the book, I order lots of books…and have slept since then.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dorothy Parker Quote and Laundry

I have a quote hanging over my desk that I found in a magazine last summer. I am not sure if it was Oprah or Real Simple…but it moved me. I cut it out and laminated it and have been staring at it for almost a year now.

The quote, written under a still life, is from Dorothy Parker and reads:

“It’s not the tragedies that kill us, it’s the messes.”

This quote struck me today as I cleaned up the house.

You may recall, I was out of town last week, which meant that the kids and Fred were home alone. For the whole week. Fred was on vacation that week as well, and had his list of things he wanted to accomplish all written out. I confess, several of the items on the list were my additions.

I came home to a mess.

Oh, it wasn’t too bad. It was mostly laundry. You already know about me and laundry, and I will touch on the topic again later in this blog.

But what I would like to address here is the messes that we encounter in our lives and how they have the power to grind you down.

Fred and I have been married for 22 years now. We have endured hardships of every kind. We have faced poverty, unemployment (mine…three times); a cross country move, leaving tearful family members in our wake, and illnesses, not the least of which, Fred’s cancer.

Fred and I are always good in the face of hardship. During times of trial and difficulty it is remarkably clear why we are still together. We are great team, Fred and I and I love him with all my heart. I am thankful to have such a strong partner.

So our hardships have only served to make us a better team. But what about the messes?

Take laundry, for example. The photo editor of this magazine knew exactly what she was doing, placing this quote under an ironing board. And yes, I would be willing to bet money I can't afford to lose, that a woman put this quote and photo together.

If Fred and the kids would only learn how to do would be golden. hard is this?

Dirty laundry goes into the hamper. It then gets moved to the washing machine, followed by the dryer and finally get folded and put away. There's the rub. The putting away. Like I said, Fred had attempted laundry while I was gone but the rule in our house is it doesn't count unless I can't see it. That means hung up or in drawers. I am such a slave driver, aren't I?

But laundry is really only a metaphor for the things in our daily life that pile up, get underfoot and stink up our life. There are countless other things that get in the way of seeing what we really need to pay attention to...those we love, the beauty of creation, friends.

So I am trying to keep laundry in its place and not let it blind me of the great things in my life. Why should it take a tragedy for us to notice them?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

That's our boy....

Fred has had a rough week at work and has ended up staying late these last three nights. I worked Tuesday at the library and tonight I taught class.

I tell you this, to explain why Fred, Owen and I are up at 10 pm finishing up the 3-D model of an animal cell.

While we are hot-glueing and cutting fun foam up in the living room, Dinner Impossible is on the background.

Tonight's challenge is to create an Irish-Asian fusion menu for a wedding. The bride is of Chinese/Japanese heritage and the groom Irish.

As the challenge draws to a close, the bride is walked down the aisle. Robert Irvine does a voice over saying "It's every fathers dream to walk his daughter down the aisle in a white dress!"

Without missing a beat Owen chimes in: "Well, that all depends on who she is walking down the aisle to..."

We are sooo proud!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stupid Starbucks

Really? Is this what I need first thing in the morning?

starbucks mean

Stupid, mean Starbucks!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The problem with Facebook part 1

I have recently been spending time with Facebook. I know, I know. You can't really blog on Facebook, so why am I there? Well, Facebook works for me. I am the sort of person that sends Christmas cards to people I knew in High School, even if they don't send me one in return. I don't like letting people as you can imagine, Facebook has my number.

I have encountered problems with Facebook.

I was already unfriended! Can you imagine? Me! I offended someone!

I am really not all that sad about the event, more amused. The person was someone I knew from church about 10 years ago. She was very CAPITAL C "CHRISTIAN." I am not mocking, I consider myself a Christian, but also think that not everyone else in the world is wrong for not being one. Everyone is entitled to worship as they wish BUT, don't look down on me for not drinking the Kool-Aid.

Anyway...I blogged about this before but she posted her status as being stuck in traffic on a major highway near us. I commented back, quite wittily I thought: "Someone was probably updating their Facebook status while driving and got into a wreck. Hang Up!"


Some people have no sense of humor. Doesn't she know Sarcasm is my Superpower? I even have flair to prove it!

I have "found" a lot of old friends...and some have found me as well!

Someone I knew from grade school found me recently. After we went through the usual "where are you, what are you doing" greeting some time went by. I looked at his status and would comment from time to time. Then I got an email from him.

Before I tell you about the email, I need to tell you about myself growing up. I was a social outcast in grade school....which in my case went up to grade 8. I left grade school and went to High School. Our family moved to the area when I was in 5th grade. People don't move much in Philadelphia, so all of the tight friendships had already been formed. I was a loose end. Add this to the fact that our family was on the low end of the socio-economic spectrum and things were not looking good. To add insult to injury, I hit puberty early. Trifecta! I was the perfect target! It didn't help that I was a very internal child. I read and lived in my head. No wonder, huh?

I will give my classmates credit though...they were very creative in their insults. I was called "hairless monkey," "monkey face" , "MVP" (most valuable pimple) and "girl in the plastic pimple" (ala 70s John Travolta Movie).

Well, this very sweet guy's email said "I know that people were really mean to you in school and I think I participated once or twice. I have always felt bad about that and wanted to say I am sorry."

Well...on one hand, how sweet! On the other hand...I had kind of forgotten (blocked out) this part of my life. Oh, but now I remember.

I guess what I am saying is two fold:

1) Not all trips down memory lane are good for all involved in the tour. It was sweet that he wanted to say sorry...and it does my heart a bit of good to know that someone thought of me and was empathetic, but I really didn't need to relive that.

2) People change. At the time our lives intersected we were each someone else. I am no longer that child, although part of her never leaves me. It gets my back up a bit that he still sees me in that role. But what other role could he see me in? That is all he knows of me.

I wrote the guy and told him that yes, it was a HIDEOUS time in my life, but that I got over it, had a great high school experience and a rockin good time in college. I gave him what he needed...and told him I had no memory of him ever being part of my torture. (and I don't)

So, while I like reconnecting with people, sometimes I wonder if we are reconnecting with old parts of ourselves, more than the people we "friend."


Athletic Shorts*

Lately I have been spending more time at the gym and have a couple of stories for you.

Here is today's installment:

What is it with personal trainers? Our gym, 24 Hour Fitness, works with the Biggest Loser television show and promote it heavily. "Sign up now and be part of our biggest loser program!"

It must work, because I have noticed a trend lately. Bigger people at the gym. I think we can all agree that this is a good thing. I need to lose some weight but before returning to the gym, worried that I would be self conscious exercising among the super toned suburban women who work out and shop as a career.

I worried for nothing. Oh, the superfit are still there, but there are some very large people there as well.

I notice that people new to the gym tend to like working out with a trainer. What's not to like? One on one attention is a great thing...especially if you can afford it.

Fred's very good friend, Michael, and I had a conversation about trainers the other week. "What's up with gym newbies working with trainers doing weird things? That is more for the people like me, who have been working out forever and now need something new and different to put them over the break through a plateau...not for people just starting out. They should be on the treadmill and the Nautilus machines so they won't get hurt.

Prime example this morning: I watch as a trainer sets up the group exercise room. They arranged "steps" and hoops in a sort of obstacle course. As I continued my workout, the client arrived. She was a woman in her early 50s who needed to lose a good 100 lbs. The trainer had her run laps around the gym; followed by the obstacle course which consisted of 12 feet of "up and overs" on the steps (left foot up on the step, right foot up on the step, left foot down on the ground, right foot down on the ground...kind of a duck march); the next step was to do a vertical hop onto the step, followed by a hop down (x6); she then did deep knee lunges around the room, followed by running tippy-toed through little hoops that were placed on the floor.

Now, I am NOT a personal trainer...but I can tell you that I would know better than to have a woman whose weight is pushing 300 "jumping" and doing lunges. Can you imagine the impact her knees are sustaining with every leap? At the tippy toed thing? I would be willing to bet money that they woman is doubled over right now, crippled from shin splints and knee pain.

I need to find out what level of training these people have because this is not right.

The cynical side of me wonders if this is all part of the great gym conspiracy. Sign people up, give them impossible goals and then collect their monthly gym membership payments when they sheepishly don't return to further their workouts.

*I am stealing the title of my blog from a book by Chris Crutcher. He is a wonderful young adult author and has a great teen male voice. If you have male teenagers in your life, you may want to suggest this author. Oh. Mr. Crutcher tends to be edgy and many of his books have been challenged in libraries. This is one of the many reasons why I would recommend him. When people get pissed off at what you write, it usually means you have struck a nerve.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What would your Album Cover be?

Got this from Facebook...but I thought it was entertaining, so I thought I would share...

Here's what you do:

1) Go to Wikipedia and click on Random Article, or you can just click "here." The first article you get to will be the name of your band.

2) Go to "this link" for random quotations. Use the last 3-5 words of the last quote on the page as the title of your album.

3) Finally, for your album cover art, got to "Flickr's Interesting in the last 7 days" link and use the third matter what it is!

4) Finally, use PhotoShop or Flick's Picnik etc to add text to you Album Cover.

This is what I got....

album cover

Friday, January 30, 2009

Amy's* 2009 Christmas Present

I was reading wrtier Libba Bray's blog and laughed at her posting a link to this book:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:

The Classic Regency Romance—Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
Quirk Books
By Jane Austen
and Seth Grahame-Smith

From Chronicle Books Website:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies -- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Complete with 20 illustrations in the style of C. E. Brock (the original illustrator of Pride and Prejudice), this insanely funny expanded edition will introduce Jane Austen's classic novel to new legions of fans.

Jane Austen is the author of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and other masterpieces of English literature.

If you feel the need to order this:,book-info/store,books/products_id,7847/title,Pride-and-Prejudice-and-Zombies/

*Amy is the good friend who got the light up Jesus this year!

Early to bed, early to rise....

makes Marianne fall asleep while reading at night.

Seriously. Madelaine and I have been going to the gym around 5 in the morning. Ok…well at 5, one of us calls the other, and then we stumble around getting dressed and drive in semi-dazed silence to the gym, where we usually arrive around 5:20-5:30.

Once we get there, we do about 30-45 mins on the Elliptical machine and mock the people in the group exercise class.

Today there was a woman who was doing over/unders on the exercise “step” at double the time of everyone else in the class. Mad looked at me, and I looked at her and we simultaneous announced that she needed to be smacked. Ah, mother-daughter bonding!

Then, depending on time, we stop at Starbucks (saying hello to Lisa DeW while there) and then head home.

The great thing about our new, two-week old routine is that I am awake at 6:00 am. I typically do a load of laundry, make the boys lunches and breakfasts. I have even run the vacuum.

The bad news is….around 10:00 pm, I turn into a pumpkin.

I have been trying to read “Scarpetta” for the past couple of weeks. Ok. I have borrowed it from the library and it is now overdue, so I figured if I am paying for it, I better finish it.

I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the last Kay Scarpetta title: "Book of the Dead". Maybe that has put me in a more negative frame of mind; I don’t know. But every time I pick up the book (500 pages, btw) I fall asleep!

I just checked the library’s catalog and 20 people are waiting to read this book. Granted they own 6 copies, but still. I am depriving someone else of a riveting (according to the reviews, not my state of mind) read.

From what I remember of my half conscious readings, it isn’t a bad book….I just can’t keep my eyes open.

In “Poor Richard’s Almanack (sic),” Ben Franklin wrote “Early to bed, early to rise; makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Well, I guess I am getting healthier by going to the gym. I will keep you posted on the wealth…but what will happen to my brain without my reading time?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pictures to Words

My friend Heather, from Picture Perfect, has taken over a new venture. I had seen a few blogs with this title and even posted one or two, but plan on being more active in participating in Pictures to Words (link) . Each week a photo will be posted and bloggers are encouraged to create text to set the stage, strike a chord, or poke some fun. The object is to be creative, express yourself and have fun.

This week's entry and my contribution:

The Wall - A Monologue

What the…?

How did that wall get here…again?!?

I don’t understand. Every day I leave my house at the same time. I take the same path and each and every day I run into the same wall….

It just doesn’t make any sense!

What am I supposed to do with this wall blocking my path?

(looks left, looks right)

Who knows how far this wall goes either way. So it’s not like I am going to find a way around it. That would be just silly!

(hands on hips, lips out in a pout while assessing the height of the wall)

And it’s not like I am going to bring tools to scale this puppy either.

Maybe I don’t really want what is on the other side of this anyway.

(Trudges off back the way she came…)

Maybe tomorrow it won’t be there.

Friday, January 2, 2009

That's my Alma Mater!

Taken from

Or Dead-- Whichever

Elevator repair man: Hey, I got a call that someone was stuck in the elevator.
Security guard: Yeah, but I haven't heard any more noise from her in like four hours, so I guess she's fine.

Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania