Archive for October, 2011

Thoughts on the New Google Reader

October 31, 2011 @ 2:35 pm | Filed under: Social Media

Posted the following to Google+ but I like to archive things on my own site.

So. New Reader.

Like:

• Share-to-Google+ is easy and convenient. Which is, of course, what Google is angling for: driving my sharing activity to this platform. Which makes this actually a dislike, because it feels like I’m being manipulated.

Dislike:

• All the white space at the top—ordinarily I’m a fan of white space (I love the clean look of G+, for example), but in New Reader’s case, it serves to push the post text a good bit farther down the page. Means more scrolling, plus I like to start reading near the top of the screen, not a third of the way down. This layout is totally unworkable for smaller screens. (more…)

The Sisters Have Spoken

October 31, 2011 @ 9:17 am | Filed under: Family, Huck, Photos

They think he should be the Little Prince for Halloween. Does this mean I need to come up with that amazing coat??

Hallowhat?

October 31, 2011 @ 6:31 am | Filed under: Holidays

Last year’s Halloween post catalogued my history of gripey Halloween posts—or none at all. I’ve been up for almost two hours today and IT ONLY JUST HIT ME that oh yeah, today is Halloween. Of course it was just about all anybody in this house thought about yesterday. (Well, besides Scott. He’s got a deadline.) Beanie was unable to locate yellow pants for her long-planned Pokemon costume (because, well, YELLOW PANTS), so she and Rose came up with a last-minute costume change: Bean will be a werewolf tonight. We’ve worked out a way to make some pretty fabulous wolf ears out of her own hair (gelled, twisted, pinned), so now everyone including the Halloween-Scrooge mother is pretty darn excited.

Rose, the world’s most ardent Warriors fan, is going to be a cat. Rilla’s a sparkly pink-and-purple unicorn. Jane’s still deciding, I think, and as for my boys, I think Wonderboy will wear the knight costume he so enjoys, and Huck has informed us he is Roary the Racing Car. Okay then. Guess I’ll be working on some wheels today.

Last year I was rejoicing that Halloween fell on a Sunday, since that meant Scott would be home to take the kids trick-or-treating while I manned the candy station here at home. This year, it’s Sunday every day. Have I mentioned how much I love having him be freelance again?

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October Garden Notes

October 25, 2011 @ 4:59 pm | Filed under: Gardening

We’ve just passed the five-year anniversary of our arrival in San Diego. We were going to commemorate it last week with a trip to a favorite park, but the three youngest kids have taken turns with a lovely little virus, so we’ve postponed.

After five years, you’d think I’d be used to the strange seasons here, but a Southern California October still feels novel to me. My garden dries up in August, goes dormant almost, unless I’m willing to douse it with gallons of water daily. (I’m not.) Now, after a week of wonderfully cool(ish) weather—why, the mornings have been almost brisk!—and sheltering clouds, things are perking back up a bit. Suddenly the roses are blooming. Up and down the block, my neighbors’ rosebushes look like the end of The Blue Castle. The cape honeysuckle is magnificent, swarming with bees. Geranium, lantana, plumbago, and morning glory: everywhere I look is color. Red, pink, orange, sky blue, violet.

We planted lettuce starts and peas this weekend. There’s one melon ripening on the cantaloupe vine, and the watermelon I planted over the summer is finally thinking about blossoming. Will it produce? We shall see.

(My garden attracts all sorts of critters.)

Google Reader’s About to Change

October 24, 2011 @ 10:19 am | Filed under: Social Media

…and I will miss your Shared Items sidebar widgets.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Google is shifting Reader toward a format more integrated with Google+:

As a result of these changes, we also think it’s important to clean things up a bit. Many of Reader’s social features will soon be available via Google+, so in a week’s time we’ll be retiring things like friending, following and shared link blogs inside of Reader.

(Sorry if this was confusing earlier—I forgot to blockquote the above.)

Well, dadgummit. I really like Google+, and I’m all for change if it makes things more convenient, but I have loved Reader’s sharing function. I especially love the “people you follow” part. Scott (among others I follow) routinely shares highly interesting items from his massive daily blogreading. Convenience is key: currently it requires no more effort on his part than clicking that Share button. I hope the new method is as easy—on both the sharing and reading ends.

Here’s a link to a Google+ sidebar widget. I’ll probably replace my “Made Me Click” sidebar widget with it.

Vocabulary Lesson

October 18, 2011 @ 9:59 am | Filed under: These People Crack Me Up

Beanie: “Rose, look at that mutiliated worm!”

Me: “I think you mean ‘mutilated.'”

Rose: “No, ‘mutiliated’ is a word we invented. It means when something is smushed in the middle.”

Beanie: “Yeah, where the utility belt goes.”

Dump Truck Huck

October 17, 2011 @ 7:32 pm | Filed under: Books, Huck, Picture Book Spotlight

Tom Lichtenheld is one of my favorite illustrators. I discovered his work—how was I missing it??—in the wonderful Chris Barton picture book, Shark Vs. Train, that you’ve heard me rave about so many times before. Tom’s bold, energetic style crackles with humor and appeal. My kids are all drawn to his work; his illustrations are the kind you pore over, giggling at the details.

I went on a binge last week and ordered all the Lichtenheld our library system could muster. (The entire second row pictured in this link is sitting on my bed right this minute.) The resulting reading pile is a Rillabooks post-in-progress, but I could not resist interrupting myself to write about one particular book from that pile, the one that has completely enchanted my two-year-old son.

Huck’s a truck kid, through and through. Trucks, cars, and trains. Preferably half-buried in dirt. He has staked a claim on a corner of my veggie garden: it’s where the trucks grow. When I saw that Tom Lichtenheld is the illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, I knew I’d pretty much found Huck’s dream book.

I underestimated. He is CRAZY about this book, carries it everywhere, begs for it a dozen times a day or more. It’s his Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel (you Ramona fans know what I mean), but I’m not in a Beezus place yet because when I read it to him, he is SO. DARN. CUTE.

It’s a bedtime book set in a construction site. Are you thinking: that’s brilliant? Because the moment I saw it, I thought, that’s brilliant. Five big rough, tough construction vehicles finish their day’s work and get ready for bed, one by one. I wish I could show you every page of the art. If you click on the title above, you can view some images from the book. There’s a book trailer there, too, which HUCK MUST NOT SEE or I’ll never pry him away from the computer ever again.

Besides, I’m greedy for the cuddles this book gets me. My busy boy climbs into my lap and more or less acts out the book—raising an arm high when the crane truck lifts one last beam, whirling his hands when the cement mixer mixes a final load—and when the excavator snuggles into its dirt bed, Huck hugs me tight: “Now we ’nuggle, Mommy.” Ridiculously cute, right?

The best part is right in the middle when the dump truck appears. “Dat me!” he says every time.

“You’re the dump truck?”

“Yes.”

Shh…goodnight, Dump Truck, goodnight.

Sunday morning pajama post

October 16, 2011 @ 7:42 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Author stuff

Another quiet week here on the blog. I don’t think I’ve had a week so light on Bonny Glen posts since my Lilting House days! This field has been fallow because all my writing energies have gone elsewhere, and that’s a good thing, of course.

My garden has been neglected, too. Took me all week to remember to prop up the flopping morning glories. And I hadn’t noticed the yellow rose is blooming. Two great big blossoms had gone brown at the edges before I even noticed they existed. And my front yard looks like every spider in Southern California decided to decorate our place for Halloween. I need to go out there with a broom, but the thought makes me feel like Aunt Sponge. Or is it Aunt Spiker?

I’m still enjoying Glitch. When I’m working, the repetitive tedium of mining occupies the fussy part of my brain while the thinky part works on a tricky bit of dialogue, or a thorny pacing issue. When I’m not working, I enjoy the quests and—amusingly—the cooking. If real-life cookery were as simple as clicking on a pot, I’d be a regular Paula Deen.

I have lots of books to write about! A big Rillabooks post in the making. Maybe this evening, depending on the direction the day goes. I’m taking a computer break for most of today…got a hot date with a bunch of Cybils graphic novel nominees.

In fun booksy news, I got a peek at cover sketches for two of my upcoming books this week! One is a beginning reader, and I wish I had a photo of Rilla’s face when the sketch loaded on my screen. Big wide delighted smile, big gasp. “Oh, Mommy, they’re DORABLE!” she cried, referring to the characters. And this was before she puzzled out the title and realized it was Mommy’s book. She was this story’s first audience, and it’s been source of great joy to me that sometimes when I ask what book she’d like me to read her, she’ll ask for “the one that’s on your computer.”

Just hanging out

October 12, 2011 @ 6:12 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

My internet thinks it’s being cute. Look, you’re connected—psych! I keep having to go down the hall and stand right next to the modem. In the laundry room. This is not a good long-term solution. But at least it behaved itself long enough for me to enjoy the first-ever GeekMom writers’ video hangout yesterday. So much fun to put faces to voices I’ve come to admire and enjoy on the blog. And then OH YES THAT’S RIGHT Felicia Day dropped in! I tried not to go all fangirl on her but dialing back the enthusiasm is not exactly my strong suit.

The Google+ Hangout feature is great. I’ve done smaller hangouts with one or two friends; this was my first time in a full room. You can have up to ten people video-chatting at once.  This would be a great way to do author visits with small groups like book clubs…I’m seeing lots of possibilities.

My first batch of Cybils graphic novel nominees has rolled in from the library. Of course my kids keep swiping them off the pile! Looking forward to a nice fat reading binge. Got a bunch of recent Rillabooks to post about too. If my internet connection permits it! OH THE IRONY: I clicked publish and got a “you are not connected to the network” message. Blerg.