Thursday, January 30, 2014

currently reading

"They had not passed another living soul since they left the Jintas and the world seemed something silent and wide, belonging only to them."
Ann Patchett, State of Wonder

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

sue monk kidd at sixth & i


Last week I found myself on a Monday night with a few different choices for the evening (always a good place to find yourself).  After a quick game of "eeny-meeny-minee-mo," I decided to trek out to a book reading event for Sue Monk Kidd's new book, The Invention of Wings, held at a historic synagogue I'd been meaning to check out, hosted by a bookstore I've been meaning to go to. I'd read The Secret Life of Bees in college and loved it, and thought, "What a lucky coincidence that all three things I like have come together in a single event!" and so off I went.

I love going to book readings with author Q&A's because I love hearing about the process - coming up with an idea, how the research went, what obstacles they had to confront, what the final result looks like from an author's perspective - and this event fit the bill.  After a quick introduction, Ms. Kidd got up and spoke about how her interest was sparked at the Brooklyn Museum, by a list of names.  She came across two that she had never seen before: two sisters who had come from Charleston, South Carolina and worked towards the emancipation of slaves in the United States during the 19th century.

The synagogue itself is a really lovely building, founded in the early 20th century as a place for the community to come and worship.  I decided to buy a copy of the book at the door, without having so much as read a blurb about it, and then plopped myself down on a pew between two women I didn't know, cracked open the spine and started to read before the event began.

Here's the skinny:

Basic plot:
Two women find their way in life on the opposite sides of slavery - Sarah, a free white girl, is presented with a slave girl, Hetty "Handful," at her eleventh birthday.  Both have dreams and aspirations; the story straddles the two as they struggle and grow up.

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing:
1.  Slavery is a major topic in this book, but the primary focus is on the main characters and the scope of their lives.  Violence is not described in gruesome detail.

Memories from reading:
This was a weekend and at-breakfast kind of book for me.  I spent most of Saturday with it, and then, when I could, read bits in the morning while I ate.  It was a book I wanted to finish. 

Sarah's mother.  I think there were so many missed opportunities to talk about why she was the way she was, instead of leaving her as an impenetrable wall of obnoxiousness.

Favorite relationships:
Handful and her mother, Charlotte.  Those were the passages I could imagine most vividly in my mind.

Weapon of Choice:
Hardcover, physical book.  Not one I would carry around in my bag on the subway.

Other titles by this author:
The Secret Life of Bees
The Mermaid Chair
Traveling with Pomegranates
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter
When the Heart Waits

Have you read The Invention of Wings? What did you think?

Friday, January 24, 2014

happy friday!

This is what my view looks like today - lots of snow and frigid temperatures, and...beagle feet.  Tomorrow's plans include reading and taking a nap.  Anything else is strictly optional.

Here are some fantastic links floating around to take you into your weekend:

First, watch this interview with Mandy Patinkin.  It's probably the best thing you'll see all week.

Check out the tortoiseshell cat at Samantha and Courtney's blog, brightly & free.  Sheba's cousin-friend? Hmmm - yes. Yes, I think so.

I love this post about The Goldfinch by Joanna at A Cup of Jo because it sent me to so many cool book links.  Have you heard of the Underground New York Public Library?

Belinda has fantastic news on her blog, in addition to her usual Friday Starbucks selfie.  I don't actually know her in real life, but her blog is so great and never fails to make me smile.  Send some of that juju my way, Belinda!

Do you like Scandinavian crime writers? Mysteries? Check out this post by the New York Public Library that explains why so many of us race through them faster than a pack of M&M's - plus, they give some good recommendations if you're looking for a new book.

How about you - seen anything lately on the internet that's too good not to share?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

currently reading

"Mayor Orden switched on a lamp that made only a little circle of light.  He switched it off again and said, 'A light in the daytime is a lonely thing.'"
John Steinbeck, The Moon is Down

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Traveling With a Kitten

Sheba the Destroyer (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view of this blog) is taking a kitten-cation with some family while I get settled - causing a general ruckus, exploring the back of the refrigerator, discovering stairs for the first time, trying to climb up pant legs, and so on and so forth.  In the meantime, I thought I'd put a post out there about traveling with kittens (on airplanes) for those brave souls among you who enjoy that sort of thing.  Or, you know, have to do that sort of thing.

When I first really looked into the logistical side of taking a kitten with me on an airplane, I laughed the hollow laugh of the doomed.  Looking back, however, it was not bad at all.

To begin with, I was nervous about how Sheba would react.  The most she had traveled was the trip back to my apartment from the SPCA and several one-block trips to the vet's office.  I assumed that since I would be feeling nervous, so would she.  Here's my two cents, from what I learned along the way:

Consider getting a soft-sided pet carrier and a kitten/cat harness and leash.  I knew I had to have a carrier within certain measurements, in order for it to fit underneath the seat in front of me during the flight.  I'd already gotten a hard plastic one which Sheba loved hated, and was wary of buying something expensive that would be the wrong size and possibly prevent us from boarding our flight.  This Sherpa website was extremely helpful, with information about sizing and different airline regulations.  They even have a certificate called "Guaranteed on Board," which you can print out and have signed by someone from the airline if you're not allowed to board because of problems with a Sherpa carrier.  If you get it signed, you can be reimbursed for the cost of your carrier (I had no problems with my carrier and airline).  I got a plain black carrier on Amazon, though you can buy them at places like PetCo and PetSmart as well.  Kitten harnesses and leashes: They seem like the most ridiculous things ever, but spending like ten bucks to make sure she didn't leap to her death trying to escape my clutches? No brainer.  My vet suggested it, Sheba didn't mind it, and I felt better knowing I had something that might keep her safer while we were going through security.

Get a health certificate from your vet.  Most airlines require proof that an animal is old enough and healthy enough to travel, usually dated within 10 days of your travel date.  The vet checked Sheba out (healthy!), printed a health certificate (proof!), gave me medication to give to her before traveling, with instructions, and told me everything would be fine.  (Side note: If you do medicate your pet before flying, please please please follow the instructions of your vet.  Don't give them more than prescribed, even if you think they need more - this can cause serious respiratory problems.)

Call your airline.  After making my flight reservation, I called my airline and informed them that I would be traveling with my pet, since only a certain number are allowed on board/in the cabin per flight.  This was relatively straightforward.  If you do this, don't forget to ask for a confirmation number.  Also, many airlines consider your pet carrier as one of your carry-on bags and charge a fee. Bummer, but it is what it is.

Then the question is: how do you go through security with a cat? The TSA website and blog were helpful, in that they described how that happens.  Ok, so - here's the deal:

1. You take your cat out of its crate. 

2. You walk it through a metal detector, and then

3. You put it back in the crate. 

Which sounds totally reasonable, except to anyone who has ever owned or lived with a cat in the history of the world.

You want me to take my cat out of its crate? And then...put it back in the crate?

Sheba was a real trouper.  I got there early so I'd have time to get to my flight even if there was a problem getting through security (a.k.a. in case Sheba made a run for it and I had to follow, chasing her through every terminal, a.k.a. my worst nightmare).  Since my flight left at around eight in the morning, I ended up going through security at a quarter to six, when only military personnel and the elderly seemed to be around.  The TSA officers were exceptionally kind, respectful, and understanding, which made the whole thing relatively stress-free. 

I first got myself ready, then put Sheba's carrier in front of my things, and then took her out of her carrier (that way, when I was finished walking through with her, the carrier was the first thing out).  I walked through with Sheba, they then swabbed my hands, and I put her back in the crate.  She was more than happy to go back in and never ever ever come back out.  I consider this a minor miracle, and was anticipating deep scratch marks in my arms.  If you think your cat will freak out, you can ask for your cat to be screened in another room (with you).

We waited for our flight to be called, I brought her with me on board, pushed her crate under my seat, and that was that.

Friends who are traveling with dogs, check out Melyssa's post on traveling with her adorable corgi, Monja.  She was far braver than I and traveled with her pet internationally, all the way from Japan! I was such a nervous ninny I read it too, even though I was traveling domestically with a kitten.

Good luck, and let me know in the comments what your experiences have been like.  Any advice for fellow travelers-with-pets?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hello again!

Hi!  How the heck are you? How were your holidays? Did you survive the weather-pocalypses? Did you watch the Golden Globes?

This is just a quick post to say hi, hello, hey, howdy.  I'll be back to posting regularly next week and look forward to getting back into the swing of things.  Thanks for sticking around, and see you soon!

Cornelia and the Sheebster