Sunday, December 20, 2015


     So, friends, last Thanksgiving I posted here about my guilt over not having instilled much of a sense of family tradition in either of my kids, and my delight that we've begun a new Thanksgiving  one of our own: during dessert, everyone at the table takes turns reading aloud from that literary classic, Walter the Farting Dog.  Of course, we honored our tradition this year too, as expected.  But what I did not expect was for Walter to be referenced on my birthday, which was last week.  Obviously, I grossly underestimated my husband.  He must have known of my lingering doubts about my ability to transmit beloved traditions to the next generation.  Because I am now the extremely proud owner of

MY VERY OWN WALTER!!  Okay, he's only about six inches long, which is why he fits so comfortably on the windowsill above my kitchen sink, but guess what he does!!  Come on, guess!  Wow, you're good.  Yes, he FARTS!  In fact, he alternates between two different fart sounds, one slightly wetter than the other, but both deeply impressive.
     You know how some people add a new ornament to their Christmas tree every year?  Well.  Not only will Walter himself be enfolded into our annual tradition, but there's something else almost as good.  My husband has told me that the Walter book we own is, in fact, one of a SERIES!!  I can hardly wait until it's Thanksgiving again.  And neither can Walter.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


     As for my giveaway contest: the only commenter who expressed a real love for Katherine Paterson, or at least for one of her books, was Yvonne Ventresca.  So Yvonne, if you read this, shoot me an email and the book is yours!!!

     On a completely different subject: sometimes I just think about weird shit, you know?  Like this weekend, for instance.  For no discernible reason, I've been musing about the ways in which most  common Anglo-Saxon names tell us about what life was like in medieval England.
     Start with building a house, for instance.

     To construct the frame, you would need a Carpenter, also known as a Sawyer.  You'd need a Mason for the brick foundation, and a Joyner to make the door and window frames.  Then a Glazer would install the windows, a Painter would do the whitewash, and a Thatcher would add your thatched roof.  Or, if you were too fancy-pants for thatch, then you'd need a Slater, right?
     Once your house was built, you would have to hire a Porter or a Carter to bring over all your belongings from your old home.  Then, if you had some extra cash left over, you might hire a Gardner to tend your flower and vegetable beds.  You wouldn't be able to afford a Cook or a Butler, but you would probably know the people who did those jobs up at the manor house.  A Farrier would shoe your horses, and a Shepherd would watch your flock.  You would need transportation for various reasons, which would require the  services of a Wag(o)ner and/or a Cartwright.  There are lots of different kinds of Smiths and lots of different Wrights, each with their own specialty crafts.
     And you would have to eat.  Your town would have Hunters to go out in the woods to kill animals for their meat, Fowlers to do the same with birds, and Fishers for fish.  The livelihood of the Hunters and Fowlers, of course, would depend on the products of the local Fletcher (arrowmaker) and Bowman.  The meat would be delivered to the Butcher, who would cut it up and sell it to you.  Meanwhile, Farmers and Grangers (synonymous) would be out in their fields harvesting grain

 which would be brought to the Miller, ground into flour, and sold to the Baker to make your daily bread.

     But you would need the services of many of your other neighbors too.  The Collier would bring you coal to heat your house.  The Tanner (also known as a Currier) would prepare leather and sell it to the Shoemaker who would make your shoes.  The Weaver would make fabric and sell it to the Mercer, who would have the Dyer dye it, and would then cut it into lengths and sell it to you to either make your own clothes or have the Taylor do it.  The Barber would cut your hair or pull your decayed tooth.  You would go to the Chandler for your candles, the Cutler for your knives, the Cooper for your storage barrels, and the Carver for your walking sticks, and the Tinker would stop at your house periodically to fix the things that got broken.
     What an interdependent community.  Everyone's wellbeing depends on everyone else getting their job done, and your doing the same.  And on the rare occasions when there was a festival and you could all cut loose, you would gather in the square to listen to the music of the Harper and the Piper and the voices of the Singers, and everyone would dance.

     Okay, so what kind of weird stuff do you think about in your spare time?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


     It's one thing to have only three people enter your book giveaway contest, but it's an entirely different and much suckier thing to have the person you declared the winner NOT EVEN SHOW UP TO CLAIM THE PRIZE.  I have two words for you people: Katherine. Paterson.  How could anyone not want to read her memoir, let alone acquire it for free?  The woman is a god. 
     This is ridiculous.  I'm reopening the contest for as long as I feel like reopening it.  Your job is to post a comment.  Don't make me come after you.  I repeat:  Katherine. Paterson.  The one.  The only.  Leave a comment or I will tear this book by my most beloved author into teensy little pieces and then throw the pieces onto a bonfire.  It will feel to me as if I were burning KP herself, but don't think I won't do it if you force me into it.  I DON'T PLAY.