Thursday, August 30, 2007

The State of The Book in The US

I came across this article on CNN. When I first read it, I thought, not too surpising. But thought later...no wonder illiteracy (and just plain disinterest) is so high in this country when we got Britney Spears, Branjelina, reality T.V. shows (have you ever seen Beauty and the Geek? Jesus!) spreading like bacteria in the brain.

One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year -- half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

"I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas, Texas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool.



Hey, I know fiction has been on the downside for a bit, in a bit of a slump, but reading only four books in a year? That seems incomprehensible to me.


"Fiction just doesn't interest me," said Bob Ryan, 41, who works for a construction company in Guntersville, Alabama. "If I'm going to get a story, I'll get a movie."




Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Misaligned Day

Are the stars misaligned, or something? Is Saturn setting its planetary heaviness on everyone and everything, making everyone moody and irritable?

What?? What is going on?

All day today nothing went right. A certain someone has been screechy beyond anything, way beyond her usual characteristic moods. Woke up in a funk, groaning in severe discontent. The constant dreariness of the day surely did not help the heavy feeling already present. Only added to it.

The only thing that did go right today was cutting back what remains of the Tiger Lilies.

I guess some days are like that.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Spotlight: The Love and Tea Company

The Love and Tea Company hand crafts their own tea right here in Vermont. It's all organically grown in small batches rather than bigger ones to preserve flavor and freshness. All their teas are incredibly yummy and very potent.

They specialize in women and children's teas as well as several common blends such as Green Mountain Mint, Lovin' Lemon and Chai of Evolution.

For all you mamas (and mamas to be) , there are such blends as Mellow Mama-a personal favorite of mine-thus highly recommended, Pregnacy Tea and Mama's Milk.

You can order directly from their site and find it locally at Hunger Mountain Co-op and Capitol Grounds in Montpelier

This is what they say:
(from their site)

Love & Tea Company blends herbal infusions ~ organic, completely natural and health promoting tea blends for the health of all. From women throughout the stages of pregnancy and beyond, to children growing through the stages, to everyone in between!


This is a company worth supporting!

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Review: Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued, Susan O'Doherty

Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Woman's Guide To Unblocking Creativity, Susan O'Doherty

First thing I noticed about this book is how it is laid out-generous spacing and margins for my own notations and underlining.
I tend to ‘mark up’ my books in such a way. I’ve always done so.

There were many anecdotes, passages that stood out to me, that I could relate to personally, or just see the truth of the statement. For example, ‘Don’t force anything’ (p19). It sounds like the easiest thing in the world. But many of us do it anyway and we come out with something way below our standards.

The author also talks of the creative process as healer, almost as a survival mechanism. Most of us write and create to stay sane, to stay in touch with ourselves so as not to get lost in the drudgery of life.

I think this is especially true with women when motherhood enters the picture. We need to keep in touch with our creative selves. O’Doherty devotes an entire chapter to this subject-‘The Impossible Position: Managing Motherhood With Creativity.’

It is amazing what we, as women, absorb and internalize-messages from our families, society telling us it’s not okay, or downright unacceptable, to do this or that-and how it truly affects us to the point where we don’t write, compose, create because we feel we aren’t good enough; even if it means it is a way for us to feel alive and connected.

‘…the culture supports our denial…’ (p.21)


Aside from the anecdotes and the chapter on motherhood, there is an excellent ‘further reading’ list in the back of the book as well as interesting and inspiring exercises dispersed throughout it leaning more towards the psychological than creative. Although, that is the main focus of the book: the psychological aspect of creativity.

There were certain aspects of the book I liked, but overall, this wasn't my cup of tea as a book. Although, I know of quite a few women who would enjoy this thoroughly.


*For more information on the author, visit her website and drop by at her weekly advice column, MJ Rose’s Buzz, Balls & Hype.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The New MotherVerse Blog

MotherVerse has launched a brand new blog to accompany the magazine. I'll be posting there pretty regularly. I am, of course, excited and honored to be a part of it.

Check back often to see what everyone has to say as well as general updates, calls for submissions and other great stuff.

And, if you like what you see, consider subscribing to the blog!

Friday, August 10, 2007

In Praise of Half-Finished Books

Last June, I made a ‘To Read’ list, composed of five novels-Mozart’s Women: His Family, Friends, His Music by Jane Glover; Hot and Bothered, Annie Downey; Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T.S. Eliot by Carole Seymore-Jones; and Howard’s End, E.M. Forster-to be finished within a year. Pretty ambitious, considering the proposed books are all within the 200-300 page range, one at nearly 700+ pages. Some would say, that doesn’t sound ambitious at all!
It is when there is a toddler running around the house.

These days, I rarely have the time or the brain power to actually sit down and read a book all the way through. Not unless you count Miss Spider’s Tea Party, The Cat in the Hat, and the entire Madeline series-all favorites in the household and all of which I can fully recite by heart.

I made the list as a challenge to myself, knowing I would finish at least two of the books within a year. I surprised myself and finished two as well as delving half way into two others on the list.

Mozart’s Women was easy to read for a biography and fascinating, a hard combination to come by in that genre, although, this one took me three or four months to read.
In stark contrast, I finished Hot and Bothered during one night, in a fit of restless insomnia. This was an extreme rarity. Just about any woman who has kids could relate to the main character. It was the language/dialogue that caught my ear with particular story, as is the case most of the time.

Of the two I turned half-way into, one happens to be the longest and more difficult, yet intriguing, of the bunch: the Vivienne Eliot book. This is a heavy book to read, both in language and content: immense amounts of background information on both Vivienne and T.S. Eliot, did I mention it’s nearly 700 + pages? It’s been sitting on the shelf, on and off, since about March or April, a bookmark is tucked deep within the book (page 116, hardly cracking the surface, actually), and is likely to stay there for a bit longer.

I began Howard’s End a little over a year ago, fully intending to finish it, spurred on by the thought of how the movie compared to the book and the language of the story. Yet it remains on my shelf today, page 71 crisply dog-eared, half- finished, waiting to be picked up again.

The other, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, currently remains on the list, unread.

I’ve always been an avid reader and don’t want to lose that just because I had a child. My love of words is something that keeps me alive, makes me feel alive. Surely there is room in the heart and mind for all that keeps one alive?

My mother once told me she didn’t read any books for two years while my siblings and I were very young. I can understand this, but I just don’t know if I could do that. I need to have words: words to be read, words to be written, words to keep me sane. I’d rather have my nose in a hundred books, even if they remain half-read, than not read at all.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Baby Einstein Recognized For The Evil It Is

Well, it's not too surprising, really.

From Machinist: Tech Blog, @ Salon.com

"Babies who watch the videos are less verbally proficient than those who do not; researchers found that for every hour that an infant between 8 to 16 months old spends watching a brain DVD, he understands, on average, 6 to 8 fewer words than a kid who didn't do Einstein."

From Time Magazine

"Previous studies have shown, for example, that babies learn faster and better from a native speaker of a language when they are interacting with that speaker instead of watching the same speaker talk on a video screen. "Even watching a live person speak to you via television is not the same thing as having that person in front of you," says Christakis."




I will admit, my child did watch some of it, but at some point early on-probably when I realized- Holy shit! This is like sedative drugs for babies!!!!-those DVDs never entered our house again. And have not since.



What really struck me was when Pres. Bush upheld this company as a great example of American Social Entrepreneur at January's State Of The Union Address:


"After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children's videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born, and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others -- producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: "I believe it's the most important thing that I have ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe." And so tonight, we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur -- Julie Aigner-Clark. (Applause.)"


Evil paired with more Evil!- Einstein and Disney!!! Well, I guess that says alot about America in itself.

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