Sunday, December 31, 2006

Spam poetry? Really?

I get a fair amount of spam, and some of the subject lines are funny. Sometimes I send them to amuse TeaBird. She had a brilliant suggestion: collect spam subject lines and arrange them into poetry! I decided to make them into spamkus, that is, spam haikus. Here, Dear Reader, is my first effort, a poem which is fitting for New Year's Day.
"Look at this. Throw down
your doubts and fast join us. Pray
thee, scale greater heights."
Watch this space for more spamkus.
May you be blessed with all you need and lots of what you want this New Year.
(Moon Rani)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Thanks to blog reader, Jenny, who told me about It looks like another good site for us tea-lovers. I haven't ordered anything from there, but I recommend you visit the site now while its snowflakes still flutter and while a darling gift set is still featured.

(Moon Rani)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The gifts the "Gift-Tea" gi'e us!

A friend of a friend enjoys tea. Last year my friend gave his friend a box of English Breakfast tea, brand unknown. His friend was delighted enough to hint about this year's Christmas gift. My friend asked my advice. Naturally I was flattered, and sought to deliver my best recommendation.
I learned that the recipient did not know much about tea. I took this as a good sign, as was his pleasure with last year's gift. I had a vague idea of his taste, and I could assume he was open to new ideas. Only see what I suggested because you, too, may have a lovely gift tea to try or to give.
Since the gift recipient liked English Breakfast tea, I suggested blends of black teas known to be sturdy standbys. The first is loved tea-dom, PG Tips. It is hearty, bold and unassuming, takes well to milk or cream should you desire, and also has enough heart to accept honey or sugar. The second tea is Yorkshire Gold, which was, several years ago, named the best-tasting tea in Great Britain. It has similar properties to PG Tips while standing on its own for taste. It has a pretty box, too. I know that last sounds silly, but I think eye-appeal is part of a gift.
I took the liberty of ordering the tea, and I used The ordering was easy, the shipping was a lightning-stroke of rapidity, and the prices were so reasonable that I won't go anywhere else from here on. Ah, and there was a bonus: my friend told me to pick something for myself in payment for my help!
Here is another recommendation, and this one is for a honey that is copacetic with tea. Here I am with a few work holidays, so of course I also have another nasty cold. Today I am drinking a cuppa PG Tips (my "payment" tea mentioned above) sweetened with blueberry blossom honey. This honey is produced by Laney Family Honey, Inc., and was at my grocer. I find it congenial in my comfort tea. It was absolutely perfect during one of my spasms of health-seeking, when I bought Celestial Seasonings' Blueberry Breeze green tea. In fact, it was just what was needed to give the tea a blueberry taste.
(Moon Rani)

Super-Size, please

This is not a book review. It's not a tea review. It's a recommendation for a font size. I am so pleased with an early Christmas gift that I wanted to let others know about it in case they are in need of the same thing.
A friend and I agreed to exchange one Christmas gift apiece. We kept it inexpensive, and each specified the gift desired. My request was for a giant-print Bible. Illness and presbyopia combined to make my ordinary Bible harder and harder to read. In fact, I avoided reading it at all, of late. I buy large-print Reader's Digests and devotional books, and it occurred to me that there must surely be a large-print Bible, too.
What I found was that the "large-print" Bibles could be printed in fonts as small as ten-point. That's not very large. But a "giant-print" had thirteen- or fourteen-point fonts. It makes all the difference in the world! My thoughtful friend decided to give my Christmas present early because he said that no one should have to wait to read a Bible, so I can offer you this modest review.
Perhaps you or someone you know has trouble with ordinary size fonts. Now you know to look for GIANT-PRINT wherever the option is available. If it is a Bible you want, be sure to look at it before you purchase; this is one time when an online purchase might not be the best idea. The thin pages do not bother me, but I can see where they would make reading hard for people who are bothered by the print's showing through from the pages' other sides.
I keep learning how to make reading more accessible to people. Learning to read was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I have tried, in small ways, to help others enjoy reading, too. I used to read aloud on radio stations to blind and visually-impaired and physically disabled people. I used to tutor small children in reading-readiness. Now I am learning about giant-print and thin pages. I offer this information to others in case they don't know such things exist. These innovations might allow others to continue to enjoy reading.
This is an appropriate day to publish this post, as I look at the date. It was my late mother's birthday. Illness and age affected her reading pleasure, too, and I remember how thrilled she was when she discovered large-print books at the library. It was like watching someone learn to read, just seeing her excitement and pleasure when books were, once again, accessible to her.
Remember: if reading is hard for you, make an effort to find a way to work around your difficulties. Don't quit reading. Never quit reading!
(Moon Rani)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Slammerkin - "From the Stacks Winter Challenge"

Slammerkin - Emma Donoghue

I never leave the house without a red ribbon.

Mary Saunders, the focus of Slammerkin, is thrown out
of her house
after being raped for her desire for a red ribbon.

Does the red ribbon establish a kinship between Mary and
Perhaps. Lacking a common desire or situation, the
reader may have
difficulty opening herself to a character
– in my case, the relationship
between a middle-aged
librarian and a doomed teenaged prostitute.

Slammerkin places a very young woman in a desperately
household, where she is neither loved nor consulted
about how her life
will unfold.

All evidence points to a miserable and colorless
continuation of her mother’s life of poverty, drudgery,
subjugation that was sealed when her father
was killed in a misguided protest
by men who believed that
they were going to lose, literally lose,
eleven days of their
lives when the government changed to the
calendar in 1752 -that they would lose time.

I was fascinated by the subjective inconstancy of Mary’s
perception of
time. In her mother’s house, time is nearly a
solid mass, changing
only by suffering and the family’s
heartless response to Mary’s
pregnancy. This response, a
product of the times, is doled out without

How could the family understand the depth of Mary’s need
escape the faded beige of their lives, or the magical hope
by that red ribbon? And yet, how could a mother
cast out her raped,
pregnant daughter?

(As I write, I realize that Mary’s mother is the only truly
unforgivable character in the book. Perhaps my modern-time
sensibility intrudes. All of the subsequent damage and
tragedy that
defined Mary’s brief time, and all of the bitter
focus on the actual
material that she craved in this world,
began with this primal betrayal.
If she was not loved for
what was within, she could, at least, adorn
herself with the transitory beauty of clothes.)

Time, and the times, were different when Mary fled
to London. London
was fast-paced, and the woman who
accepted her into the sisterhood
of prostitutes were fast.
Doll’s love and practical
guidance showed Mary that society
can tolerate – even require –
actions and beliefs far larger
than she had ever imagined. Through
prostitution, Mary
acquired financial independence and freedom to see
some of
thewonders of her modern world. Likethe fireworks over
she and her sisters of the night were brief flashes
of beauty, dressed
in their colorful slammerkins (loose
dresses) and masked behind their

Mary’s sudden need to escape a street thug impelled her
to Magdalene
Hospital, a residence founded to purge the
evil from the street-wise
women. Time was suspended there,
with silence, blandness,
and time to think without fearing
starvation or death in the freezing
streets. With Doll’s death,
Mary realizes that she has to leave London,
and her
retreat ends in a desperate flight from the sanctuary
to the
town where her mother had grown up. Glimpses
of the possibilities
there almost melt her cynicism, but
her nature has been formed, and
she can not escape.

This novel is based, loosely, on the actual life of a Mary
Saunders who
was executed for murder in 1764. From the
beginning of the novel,
when Mary is 13, to her death by
hanging at age 16, Mary passes
through more lifetimes
than many experience in ten times the years.

How many such lifetimes can a child endure? For Mary is a
child, and
my working-class perception of childhood
makes me ache for this young
girl, whose only
transgression was the love of a piece of red ribbon.

How does the red ribbon bind me to Mary’s life? For both the
18th -
century child and the 21st century woman, the red
ribbon symbolizes
hope. Mary’s hope for a better life is
destroyed, but the
hopes of my Eastern European Jewish
ancestors for the children who would be born in the new
world, and would escape the Evil Eye of the old. have
realized. After reading Slammerkin, I realize anew
that I am, indeed,


Thank you, Stephanie, for giving me this book!