Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Like Mommy

OK, I have to admit that I stole this, but it was too good not to pass along:

A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for her homework assignment.

The teacher graded it and the child brought it home.

She returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis,

I want to be perfectly clear on my child’s homework illustration.
It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint surrounded by male customers with money.
I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm.
This drawing is of me selling a shovel.

Mrs. Harrington

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


And, now, the long-awaited after pictures. I'm really pleased with how it all turned out. It's warmer, cozier, more welcoming. I'm tired, sore, and earned a few mysterious bruises, but hey!--I didn't have to write a check for $5000 to the painter-guy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Booking It--Reviewed

Do you read book reviews? Do you let them change your mind about reading/not reading a particular book?

I do read book reviews, but only after I've read a book. They often contain spoilers, and that makes me really ANGRY. Also, no matter how hard I try to have an open mind, if I've already read a book review, it shapes the way I experience a book. I expect it to be like the reviewer said, and I miss my own experience of the book.

By the way, haven't they asked this question before??!??

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Scary Part

I decided to start with the easy parts--the places I could reach with my husband's 9-ft ladder. That got me pretty far, but didn't do the whole job. So, once that much was done, my husband rented me a scaffold and a beam to use with one of his ladders so that I could work on the wall above the stair case. Here's what I was working on:

The bad part about the scaffold is that it wasn't tall enough, so you see that step stool up there? I had to stand up on it to reach the very top. It wasn't toooo bad when I was in the center of the scaffold, but getting close to the edges made my stomach feel really funny.

Yes, I had to walk out on that thing. And, yes, it shook. A little. But a little feels like a lot when you're about twelve feet above the floor. I just kept telling myself, "$5000, $5000, . . . "

The afters are coming next week.

Friday, June 25, 2010


OK, here are the befores. I didn't give you every angle, and it's not like it looks awful or anything, but you have to admit that it's kinda blah. The walls are so light that they blend right into the ceiling. Plus there's very little contrast between the walls and the white trim. It's just not very warm and inviting.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer 2010 DIY Project #2

I told you we were do-it-yourself-ers. I also told you that we follow a pattern:

1. Decide to have something done.

2. Get a professional estimate.

3. Be shocked at the exorbitantly high quoted price.

4. Decide to do it ourselves.

Well, we did it again.

When we built our house about seven years ago, by the time we got to the painting stage I was too stressed out to choose paint colors. So, I took the safe way out. I chose a nice beige, which we used throughout the whole house.

Now, the beige did its job. It covered the walls, let us move in, and matched all our stuff. However, it didn't take long for us to become bored with the lack of color. So for a couple of years, I'd choose one room each summer to paint. Then came classes at Ole Miss, comprehensive exams, and dissertation writing. The painting was put on hold.

But this year, we said, "It's time!" We really wanted to paint the main living area of our house. Our kitchen and living room are connected in such a way that you can't paint one without painting the other, and you can see the upstairs sitting room from downstairs, so it probably should be painted too, we decided. The problem? Vaulted ceilings. About 18 feet tall in places.

We'd painted the whole house ourselves when we first built, but it's a lot different painting with no flooring down. Then, you can nail blocks of wood right into the floor to brace ladders. Plus, there's no furniture to spill paint on and no stuff on the wall to take down.

So, although I'd done the other repainting, I suggested that we get an estimate for this job. My husband agreed. And so we did.

We called the paint store and got the name of a painter to call. We called him. He came. The verdict? $5000. Yes, that's right. $5000. Plus, he said it would take him and his assistant two weeks to do the job. Two weeks? Really? I didn't want two strange guys hanging around my house for two weeks!

Soooooo . . . . guess who decided that she could do this job? Right again. Me.

[To be continued . . .]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

"What does it mean to come home?" In one way or another, every character in Home is searching for that answer. Glory Boughton, now 38 and lovelorn, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Her wayward brother Jack also finds his way back, though his is an uneasy homecoming, reverberating with the scandal that drove him away twenty years earlier. Glory and Jack unravel their stories slowly, speaking to each other more in movements than in words--a careful glance here, a chair pulled out from the table there--against a domestic backdrop so richly imagined you may be fooled into believing their house is your own. Meanwhile, their father, whose ebullient love for his children is a welcome counterpoint to Glory and Jack's conflicted emotions, experiences his own kind of reckoning as he yearns to understand his troubled son. There is a simplicity to this story that belies the complexity of its characters--they are bound together by a profound capacity for love and by an equally powerful sense of private conviction that tries the ties that bind, but never breaks them. It's a delicate sort of tension that you think would resist exposition--and in fact these characters seem to want nothing more than, as Glory says, to treat "one another's deceptions like truth"--but Marilynne Robinson's fine, tender prose imbues this family's secrets with an overwhelming grace. --Anne Bartholomew

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Princess Camp? Really?

This is front page news in Searcy, AR:

"Princess Camp Teaches Etiquette"

Searcy's younger generation is learning to compose themselves like royalty, thanks to Planned to Perfection's Princess Camp. [ . . . ] Two different classes were offered, one for princess ages 4-6, held in the morning, and one for ages 7-9, held in the afternoon.

Girls were able to construct their own tutus and wands and were crowned during the climactic tea party. The older group composed their own princess song that they sang to their family. [ . . .]

Some of the etiquette campers learned included: yes sir, no sir; don't talk with mouth full; no slurping; no elbows on the table; and how to sneeze like a princess.

Princess Camp gave all finishing girls a diploma with the declaration: "This princess is not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside too. This royal princess is polite, knows her manners, has good self esteem, and knows how to be a good friend."

I don't even know where to begin . . .

Monday, June 21, 2010

Booking It--Now or Then

Do you prefer reading current books? Or older ones? Or outright old ones? (As in, yes, there’s a difference between a book from 10 years ago and, say, Charles Dickens or Plato.)



Saturday, June 19, 2010

Smart Girls at the Party

Amy Poehler, Meredith Walker and Amy Miles celebrate girls who are changing the world by being themselves. Check it out here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My New Listen

You may wonder why I've got two back-to-back audiobooks listed here. Well, it's because I'm in the middle of another do-it-yourself project, and audiobooks are helping me get through it. You know, of course, that you'll be treated to before and after pictures as soon as the project's completed.


Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Narrated by Kristoffer Tabori
Macmillan Audio
20 hrs. 58 mins.

Publisher's SummaryI

In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blonde classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them - along with Callie's failure to develop physically - leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

The explanation for this shocking state of affairs is a rare genetic mutation - and a guilty secret - that have followed Callie's grandparents from the crumbling Ottoman Empire to Prohibition-era Detroit and beyond, outlasting the glory days of the Motor City, the race riots of 1967, and the family's second migration, into the foreign country known as suburbia. Thanks to the gene, Callie is part girl, part boy. And even though the gene's epic travels have ended, her own odyssey has only begun.

Spanning eight decades - and one unusually awkward adolescence - Jeffrey Eugenides' long-awaited second novel is a grand, original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire.

What the Critics Say

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner, Fiction, 2003
  • Audie Award Winner, Fiction (Unabridged), 2003

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Last Listen

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Narrated by Cynthia Nixon
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Length:10 hrs 18 minutes

Publisher's Summary

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother's warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie - a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance - and even, to some degree, friendships - believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cougar Approval

Last week, I did a post called "Beauty Bias," which led to a discussion with JGR about the Cougar phenomenon and his assertion that reactions are also negative to mixed-age relationships when the older person is male. I don't doubt that negative reactions to both types of relationships exist, but our conversation reminded me of a funny event, and you know us bloggers--we're always looking for something to write about.

Before we moved to Searcy, my oldest son and I were both active in community theater. Leading up to one production, he and I would often stop in at a local sandwich shop before practices. Some time later, my husband and I stopped for lunch at the same sandwich shop, and the woman behind the counter just kept smiling at me. I mean really smiling. I smiled back, but I couldn't quite figure out her ear-to-ear grin. Then, when my husband left the counter to go get our drinks, the woman nodded and winked at me. And I got it. She could tell that this guy was probably my husband and thought she was in on the secret that I'd been cheating on him with a younger guy.

The real fun started when, a week or so later, I came in with both my husband and my son. Her eyes were big as saucers, then.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Booking It--Signature

Do signed copies excite you? Tempt you? Delight you? Or does it not matter to you?

Of course, signed copies are nice to own, and I have a few I'm proud of. I've got an autographed volume of Billy Collins' poetry, for instance, and an signed copy of Barbara Kingsolver's latest novel. If I have a choice between a signed copy (that I can afford) and an unsigned one, I'll take the autographed one any time. That's one neat thing about Square Books in Oxford. Signed editions by notable authors are often available, at no extra charge. You can be browsing the shelves and, all of a sudden, run across one. But I don't purchase a book for a signature alone. I wouldn't care about a signed copy if I didn't already want the book and/or admire the author.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

Sarah Waters (The Night Watch) reflects on the collapse of the British class system after WWII in a stunning haunted house tale whose ghosts are as horrifying as any in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Doctor Faraday, a lonely bachelor, first visited Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked as a parlor maid, at age 10 in 1919. When Faraday returns 30 years later to treat a servant, he becomes obsessed with Hundreds's elegant owner, Mrs. Ayres; her 24-year-old son, Roderick, an RAF airman wounded during the war who now oversees the family farm; and her slightly older daughter, Caroline, considered a natural spinster by the locals, for whom the doctor develops a particular fondness. Supernatural trouble kicks in after Caroline's mild-mannered black Lab, Gyp, attacks a visiting child. A damaging fire, a suicide and worse follow. Faraday, one of literature's more unreliable narrators, carries the reader swiftly along to the devastating conclusion.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Beauty Bias

In this week's edition of Newsweek, columnist Dahlia Lithwick discusses the "massive social problem" of "appearance bias." Her column begins:

"If you are anything like me, you left the theater after Sex and the City 2 and thought, there ought to be a law against a looks-based culture in which the only way for 40-year-old actresses to be compensated like 40-year-old actors is to have them look and dress like the teenage daughters of 40-year-old actors. You can't even look at Sarah Jessica Parker without longing to feed her croissants."

Well, I've never longed to feed SJP anything, but I'm on board for the rest of her claim. Ageism is alive and well at the movies. When Catherine Zeta Jones plays the love interest of an almost 70-year-old Sean Connery or Maggie Gyllenhall is paired with an aging Jeff Bridges, no one blinks an eye. But switch it around to an older woman/younger man scenario, and she's disparagingly referred to as a "cougar," and the relationship becomes the stuff of comedy.

But it's not simply ageism. My dissertation dealt with beauty theory, and I find it fascinating. There's no denying that humans (all ages, both genders) are drawn to beauty. I remember watching a segment of some news show in which they'd trained two kindergarten teachers--one very pretty, one not-so-attractive--to teach the same lesson in exactly the same way. After the two teachers taught, the reporter asked the children, "Which teacher is the best teacher?" The answer? You guessed it--the pretty one won out, every time. Psychologist Nancy Etcoff argues that beauty preference is biological--we can't help it. It represents health, the survival of our species,and even the survival of our own genes.

However, feminists like Naomi Wolf argue that it's more than a natural preference for facial symmetry, the proper layout of features, good proportion, and a straight profile. She sees beauty expectations as coercive, sexist power-plays, and historian Arthur Marwick warns that any beauty theory that leaves out the power of sexual desire is incomplete.

In Lithwick's Newsweek article, she talks about a new book by Deborah Rhode, a professor of law at Stanford, called The Beauty Bias, in which she "proposes a legal regime in which discrimination on the basis of looks is as serious as discrimination based on gender or race." Very interesting. But is that even possible? I've already ordered the book, so I'll give you an update on it after it comes in and I've read it. I'm pretty sure it'll move to the top of my to-read list.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Movie Day Book Club

This past Spring, a good friend and I started what we hope will be a new tradition for us--a monthly Movie Day. Actually, we could call it our Movie Day Book Club. We choose a book that we both want to read. Then, once a month, we go to Little Rock, discussing the book we read on the drive there and during a nice lunch. Then, we see a movie at Market Street and discuss it on the way home. (Sometime during the day, we usually manage to drop by a bookstore or two and visit Whole Foods.) You're jealous now, aren't you?

Part I:
This month's novel was Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. We both had a love/hate relationship with the book. We thought it was well-written, loved the literary allusions, and liked the questions it raised. However, we found the novel somewhat depressing, the mixture of relatively current real-life events and fiction troubling at times, the PhD thesis interpolation interesting but distracting, and sometimes we just didn't like the main character very much. But overall we were pleased with our choice--lots to think about and to discuss. This next month, we're going to read Marilynne Robinson's Home.

Part II:
Independently, we check out the movie schedule before we go, and, so far, it's been kind of funny--we've each settled on the same movie before we even discuss it. Is this a great friendship, or what? This week we saw City Island. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that it's a really good movie. It made me sad, but at the same time, I couldn't stop laughing. Out loud. The movie explores how hard it is to be real with the people we know and love best and how our actions are like stones thrown into a pond--they plunk down into our own lives, changing them forever, and they ripple out and touch the lives of our family and friends. Yet the film also affirms the power of love. It's not a depressing movie; it's a life-affirming one. Two thumbs up. Or maybe I should say four.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

National Audiobook Month

June is National Audiobook Month.

To celebrate, the Get Caught Listening group over at will feature six free audiobook segments every Tuesday in June.

As part of NAM, The Audio Publishing Association is organizing an effort to get more than 100 authors to discuss audiobooks on their respective websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter. Look for those to appear throughout the month of June.

I use For a small monthly fee, you get one download a month, and often they offer specials and discounted audiobooks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Academic Freedom

A friend sent me this on FaceBook, and I thought it was worth posting here, especially since Lipscomb was the host of the Christian Scholars Conference that I enjoyed so much last week. This article talks about the freedom to discuss God and a Christian worldview, but the academic freedom at the Christian Scholar's Conference goes even beyond that--people are allowed to speak freely about their faith and/or doubt, to make assertions, to disagree with the status quo, to ask questions. In other words, they are allowed to be real, to admit that they are humans with limitations and may not have all the answers. And the audiences (at least those that I was a part of) were willing to listen, to entertain other points of view, to engage in respectful dialogues, whether or not they agreed. It's exhilarating and faith-building to be with people like that, especially when you're singing the hallelujah chorus.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Booking It--Long and Short

Which do you prefer? Short stories? Or full-length novels?

Nothing against short stories--I've read some really great ones, but I'm a lover of novels. The longer, the better. There's nothing like entering a tale and becoming completely immersed in the world the author has created. If a novel is really long and exceptionally well-written, sometimes it can be almost disorienting to finish it. I don't quite know what to do with myself for a while. It almost feels as if the story is so "true" it must be continuing somewhere, but I'm no longer allowed to be a part of it. Nerdy, I know.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Night Fun

The Tokens Show

A slice of Nashville. Where Bill Moyers meets Prairie Home Companionin a most exquisite intersection of faith, fine arts, and scholarship.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Tonight, we get to see a presentation of John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt and afterwards participate in a group discussion led by the playwright himself.

John Patrick Shanley's DOUBT

At the Christian Scholars' Conference

It's 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx. A charismatic priest, Father Flynn, is trying to upend the schools' strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the iron-gloved Principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. The winds of political change are sweeping through the community, and indeed, the school has just accepted its first black student, Donald Miller. But when Sister James, a hopeful innocent, shares with Sister Aloysius her guilt-inducing suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much personal attention to Donald, Sister Aloysius sets off on a personal crusade to unearth the truth and to expunge Flynn from the school. Now, without a shred of proof besides her moral certainty, Sister Aloysius locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn which threatens to tear apart the community with irrevocable consequences.

Directed by Mike Fernandez, Chair of Lipscomb University's Theater Department

John Patrick Shanley's plays include Defiance, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Savage in Limbo, the dreamer examines his pillow, Beggars in the House of Poverty, Welcome to the Moon, Four Dogs and a Bone, Italian American Reconciliation, The Big Funk, Where's My Money, Dirty Story,Sailor's Song, and Romantic Poetry (a musical). His play Doubt was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play. In the arena of film, Mr. Shanley has had four spec screenplays produced: Five Corners, Moonstruck, The January Man, and Joe Versus the Volcano. Five Corners won the Special Jury Prize for its screenplay at the Barcelona Theatre Festival. For Moonstruck, Shanley received both the Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay. He also did the film adaptations ofAlive and Congo, as well as Live From Baghdad for HBO. Mr. Shanley directs in both theatre and film. In 2009, Shanley's adaptation of DOUBT, which he directed, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis, each of whom were nominated for Academy Awards for outstanding performance.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pre-Conference Event

One of the really nice things about the Christian Scholars Conference, in addition to the well-known plenary speakers and the excellent cross-disciplinary panel presentations, is the entertaining and thought-provoking extra events. Here's tonights': (don't know why the picture's so dark--blame the CSC website)


Ward Hall, Lipscomb University

Wednesday, June 2 • 7 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

Interfaith panel discussion with Lipscomb faculty and leaders of the Nashville Buddhist community to follow.

BURMA VJ is the crowning film in Lipscomb's 2009-2010 HumanDocs social-justice documentary series, which included Garbage Dreams, Made in L.A.,The Age of Stupid, Greensboro: Closer to the Truth, and Freedom Riders. The aim of the series is to stimulate reflection about and encourage action around key issues such as economic inequality, workplace injustice, racism, and climate change – areas of particular concern given Lipscomb's roots in the prophetic tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures and the ethical teachings of Jesus.

HumanDocs is a presentation of the School of the Humanities within the College of Arts and Sciences and the Lipscomb Center for International Peace and Justice, in cooperation with the Nashville Film Festival.

In addition to the public Pre-event featuring Burma VJ Wednesday night, the film screens Friday morning 8:45-10:15 during the Christian Scholars' Conference, followed by a 90-minute discussion, "Burma VJ: Documentary Film as Art, Truth-Telling, and Call to Faithful Action." For more information, visit, "Paper and Panel Sessions."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My New Listen

This should make the six-hour drive to Nashville for the CSC a little more interesting:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Steig Larsson
Publisher: Books on Tape
Narrated by Simon Vance
Length: 16 hours 19 minutes

Publisher's Summary

A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue....

It's about the disappearance 40 years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden...and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It's about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance...and about Lisbeth Salander, a 24-year-old, pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age, who assists Blomkvist with the investigation.

This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism - and an unexpected connection between themselves.