Dandelion Cottage and other books

the real Dandelion Cottage

Just finished Dandelion Cottage, by Carroll Watson Rankin. 1904, middle-grade by today’s categories: four girls get to use a delapidated cottage, owned by the church on their block, as a summer play-house. I checked it out because Beverly Cleary mentioned in A Girl from Yamhill that it was a childhood favorite of hers. (And I see, browsing Goodreads, that I’m not the only one who read it for that reason.) There is lots of housecleaning! And entertaining a real live boarder for three weeks, and a culminating dinner party for the kindly landlord and favorite neighbor.

One thing stood out compared to contemporary books: the rotten new girl who steals, wrecks stuff, and otherwise makes things no fun doesn’t get the note of sympathy or redemption that would be required now. Laura’s parents are mean and negligent, and although the four Dandelion Cottage girls keep reminding each other not to sink to her level, no adult or narrator points out that Laura hasn’t really had friends before, has a tough family life, et cetera. I wonder when sympathy for bullies and “bad kids” became de rigueur– sometime before Mary Stolz’ A Dog on Barkam Street led to The Bully of Barkham Street in 1963?

There are two brief mentions of playing Indian, early in the book. No other content warnings that I can recall.

Dandelion Cottage would make a lovely pair with Elizabeth Enright’s 1958 Gone-Away Lake. And it has a school-story sequel called Girls of Highland Hall, which I have snagged to read on my phone.

The rest of my current reads:

  • The Swan and the Seal, by Kristi Lee. She went indie with her sequel to the m/m novella Surprised At Nothing and changed the point of view to my favorite character!
  • The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud. Audiobook. I like the relatively subtle questioning of right-and-wrong, and Simon Jones does a wonderful sardonic Bartimeus! The disappointment is that I was sure Martha Underwood would turn out to be sneaky and powerful. She got Nathan’s real name out of him in the first five minutes! She walked right in on her husband’s meeting with Lovelace! But no, apparently not. :(
  • The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds. He has such a strong, easy prose style. It makes me feel like I know the characters, like we hang out all the time.
  • Year of the Griffin, by Diana Wynne Jones. I think I’ll always have a book of hers at hand for odd moments, because something interesting happens on every single page. Moment-to-moment interestingness.

Monday links

Sometimes I am unobservant. Sunflowers don’t track the sun across the sky! They mostly face east. Via Pam Rentz.

More deets about Post-Apocalyptic Little Women. The girls aren’t Marmee’s? WHERE IS MARMEE.

Though I find it sad, and I don’t necessarily agree that Schultz should have done what Watterson did, I agree with this run-down of Peanuts over the years. I’m glad the early collections were part of my childhood, at garage sales and my dad’s office. How Snoopy Killed Peanuts. Via Jeff.

Flügtag Freudenschade

I have an irrational dislike of Red Bull’s Flügtag event. I even have a trunked story (that will probably never be published for other reasons) where I air these feelings:

“Hey,” I say suddenly. “If we go over the Hawthorne Bridge, we can see Flügtag. They started setting up yesterday.”
“It means Flying Day.” Dennis makes an impatient noise like he shouldn’t even have to say he already knows this, and I roll my eyes but he doesn’t see me. “People build giant sculptures and try to fly them off a big ramp over the river. Down by the waterfront.”
“Flügtag was an air show disaster,” Dennis says. “At a base in Germany in the eighties. Seventy-some people were killed.”
“God, Whitman. How do you even know that?”
He shrugs again. We’ve come down Clay Street to the riverfront and start climbing along the bike path that leads to the bridge. A couple of cyclists zip past. We reach the bridge’s crest and I can see the Flügtag machines below us. There’s a big toaster, a fish, and some airplaney things.
“They won’t fly,” Dennis says.
“Well, some of them. But–”
“None of them.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I’m an engineer,” Dennis says like it’s a fatal disease.
“Well…well, the bumblebee flies anyway,” I announce, and stomp ahead of him. But the closer I get, the more, I don’t know, corporate it looks. Sponsorship signs all over, and those giant black towers of speakers. Dennis is right. They’re not even trying. The flying machines are going to tumble right off the end of the ramp as people watch from the beer tent. People suck.

Hence my UNATTRACTIVE GLEE today when Red Bull completely failed to keep the river clear for traffic, the Portland Spirit plowed through clueless spectators, and the Coast Guard shut it all down. BYE!

bus stop

bus stop with homemade purple bench, water fountain, and raspberry canes
This is the second-closest bus stop to my house. Don’t you think the owners/tenants must be lovely people? They provide not only a bench but a water fountain and fresh raspberries! There are more raspberry canes planted in the square of dirt around the bus stop sign.

The first-closest bus stop to my house features a mini Australian Shepherd whose human successfully trained him not to bark at the people waiting right outside his fence, so that’s pretty impressive too.


wall of foliage

hiding from Google Street View

I’ve been hearing this sound like maybe a tree bough is rubbing against the house, intermittently when a breeze picks up. I went outside and tried to spot where it might be, but the shrubbery and spiderwebs got the better of me. I decided it would be better to get up on the roof and look for it from above, so that’s what I did Saturday morning.

I hauled loppers up there with me, and a sweatshirt to kneel on because the shingle was already painfully hot. There were four or five big trees encroaching on the roof in various places. One bay tree, two maples, plus some hazelnut and walnut all threaded together with clematis vine. And a cedar that’s maybe getting ideas.

I snipped and lopped and heaped the branches on the roof until I’d made enough progress that maybe the roof won’t be such an ideal freeway interchange for rodents– my other objective. Then there was the problem of where to throw it all off the roof– in most places, it would get caught in other greenery long before hitting the ground. I pretty much pitched half of it down from above the back door, and half of it down from above the front entrance to the porch. (Later when Sanguinity went to cut it up, there was way too much for the yard debris bin, so a big pile is waiting for next week.)

I liked the diagonal view across my block from the roof– all the other roofs plus antennae and outbuildings and a jumble of fences, like a Miyazaki cityscape.

Of course, the sound I’d been worrying about is still there, exactly the same as before.


pink rose

backyard rose

Sanguinity and I caught the bus to happy hour at The Delta after work yesterday. They’re in a sweet spot lately. After the incredible early nineties (oh, the biscuits, oh, the breakfasts, but the cook would literally sit and read a book until he felt like cooking), they got really popular, and dropped some of the best things off their menu, and better not even think about going there on weekends. Now when I say I’m going to the Delta, my co-workers look puzzled and say, “oh, is that on…Mississippi?” It’s still doing fine, they just have time to do things right again. When the waitress overheard that it was my birthday, she brought house-made ice cream and a cookie. We were so full for the walk home and the rest of the night.