Monthly Archives: January 2009

My non-existent experience with Updike

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I’ve only read one book by John Updike, and one short story. The book was The Witches of Eastwick and I read it after seeing the movie twice. I saw the movie twice by accident — sort of. Dean and I saw it and then some friends wanted to see it so we saw it again. So I read the book — but I don’t recall why.  Perhaps so I could say I read a book by John Updike?

The short story I read was A&P. I remember liking it. I read it in college, I think. My son recently had to read in for his high school freshman English class.

I knew about Updike from a young age, however. My mom had a book of his called Couples. It had sex in it and I’d skim the book to find the parts with sex. I tried to read it from the beginning, but it was boring to me otherwise. (this may have been after sixth grade though)

When I was in the sixth grade an author came to our class to tell us about being an author. His name is Larry Woiwode. (his sister was my student teacher that year). I’ve not read any of his books either, although I have most of them. He called John Updike his friend when he visited our class. I knew who Updike was by then, but perhaps Woiwode’s mentioning him made me more aware of him. [Although now that I think about it I was in 6th grade in 1968 when Couples was published — but perhaps I’d heard of the author before somehow.]

A friend of mine really liked John Updike. She liked his Rabbit novels. I didn’t even try to like them.

So. Perhaps I’ll try to read another book by Updike in honor of his passing. Or perhaps I’ll read a Woiwode book instead.

Oh wait — Updike wrote a sequel to The Witches of Eastwick. There. Decision made.

January 30, 1972

Bloody Sunday victims

Bloody Sunday (Irish: Domhnach na Fola) is the term used to describe an incident in Derry, Northern Ireland, on 30 January 1972 in which 27 civil rights protesters were shot by members of the 1st Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march in the Bogside area of the city. Thirteen people, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately, while the death of another person 4½ months later has been attributed to the injuries he received on the day. Two protesters were injured when they were run down by army vehicles. Many witnesses, including bystanders and journalists, testify that all those shot were unarmed. Five of those wounded were shot in the back. [from Wikipedia] 

Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book wins Newbery Medal

My adoration for most things Gaiman is probably known by folks who read this blog. I happened to be reading his tweets today when I saw this:


I’m delighted. He’s such an accessible author — he wrote in his journal about writing this book — and kept us updated on its progress. Clare and I bought it at the National Book Festival a few days before its release. You should read it — it’s very good.

Inaugural Ball

In 1997 my friend and colleague, Joan, whose mother went to college in Illinois and who knew I was from Illinois, wondered if I’d be interested in going to an unofficial Inaugural Ball which was being hosted by some Illinois organization. I said yes, and asked my mom and aunt if they’d like to go too. They did and flew out from Illinois a few days before the event.

There were seven of us all together — Joan and her mom, our friend Carolyn and her daughter Sarah and my mom, my aunt Ginny and me. The actual ball was not exactly wonderful — boring actually — but getting ready for it was a lot of fun. And afterward we could say that we’d been to an Inaugural Ball.

A lot has happened in the twelve years since that ball — both with our country and in the personal lives of the seven women who attended. In fact a variety of books (war, romance, medical, to name a few genres) could be written about all the events that transpired since 1997.

This year I didn’t have a posse of friends with whom to attend a ball. If someone had suggested it, perhaps I might have done so, but it didn’t happen so Dean and I decided to hold our own Inaugural Ball.

Dean invited a few friends from work, some neighbors and friends we’ve made through our children and I invited a couple of people I knew through the Internet (the ones Dean refers to as my imaginary friends).

Our invitation was based on one I found online.

We chose a Chicago style menu of Italian Beef, Chicago style Hot Dogs, jello salad, & potato salad with mustard. We also had Old Style beer on hand (plus some from Wisconsin).

Dean gathered dance music for the “ballroom”. (but no one danced — it seems the music stopped after a while and we forgot to start it up again)

The party was a lot of fun — it was great having folks from various parts of our lives in the same place at the same time (sort of like Facebook). I wish I could have talked to more people in depth, but I was pretty busy bringing out the different courses.

I think I got to talk to everyone, at least for a few minutes. Dean and I decided, however, to not have two parties* so close to each other again. Maybe one in the winter and one in the spring or autumn.

Continue reading Inaugural Ball

The Steam Cleaning Demon

So a month or so before Christmas I called my mom and told her that if she wondered what to get us for Christmas, she could get us a steam cleaner for our carpets. We only have two rooms with wall-to-wall carpeting, but they are both light colored and get things spilled on them a lot. Mom said that she had a steam cleaner that she never used and now that she had mostly hardwood floors had no need for it. We were welcome to take it.

Dean loves the steam cleaner. He uses it every opportunity he can. It also washes floors so I’m often awakened to the sound of the steam cleaner. He steam cleaned the basement carpeting a few days after we got the cleaner. He washed the kitchen floor the day we got the cleaner. This morning he steam cleaned THE CONCRETE FLOOR IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM.

If you have something that needs to be steam cleaned, please call him. He’s a man obssessed. I fully expect him to steam clean the sidewalks in the neighborhood soon.