Articles by " Odana"
28 Apr

April 28th is Harper Lee’s Birthday and No I Won’t Talk About Go Set a Watchman

My dog’s name is Scout. My roommate’s girlfriend’s cat is Atticus. I had an old flame who lived with a cat named Boo Radley-- but I never saw him. My oldest nephew just told me last month that he had read To Kill a Mockingbird in class, and that he had really liked it. He told me it’s not like other books, and he’s right.

I know of nothing that my generation, this wayward centennial generation, is more obsessed with than Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, so on this day I choose to celebrate her birth as if it were my own. Today Harper Lee turns 89.

Harper Lee Smokes

Lee is a Pulitzer Prize winner. She holds the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of the Arts, and my whole entire heart. You see, even though I’m a Kards Unlimited and Pittsburgh expat-- I’m really not much more than a little country girl. I’m sitting cross-legged and barefoot on my porch as I write this post. That’s exactly how I picture her, actually. Cross-legged and barefoot, sitting in a tiny New York City apartment, plodding through draft after draft after draft of what eventually became To Kill a Mockingbird. Her friends guiding this quiet, strong Alabama girl through the world of publishing, supporting her financially because she was building something that the knew even in those early days would stand, perhaps, forever. (I suggest reading Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields, by the way, it is the most dynamic piece of writing on a single person I think I have ever stumbled upon.)

HL 4

Though she has but one novel published, to date, with her name on it, her hand is not invisible in the literary world. Her voice has always been timid in the public eye, a soft and thoughtful letter here, a luncheon with students there… This prudence is exactly what she brought to Kansas with her when helping Truman Capote research the truths in the true crime novel In Cold Blood, and what many say saved it from Capote’s somewhat irritable and brash nature (of course this coarseness is understandable, given the juxtaposition of his flamboyant and liberal ideals and the tiny, conservative town in which they embedded themselves for the project).

Harper Lee

This quiet woman who shied so aggressively from the public eye is perhaps the strongest voice that my generation clings to as we wade through our own personal Monroevilles, navigating the racism new and old that still exists today, the all-encompassing roles that class and gender play in our lives, our loss of innocence, and how all of these things push and pull on one another.

So here’s to you, Nelle. You wrote the book that I swear upon, even though the cover is long gone and the pages are tattered. Wherever this day finds you, I hope it’s full of birdsong.

HL 33

“Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

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1 Mar


March 2nd is Dr. Seuss Day!

This one is pretty self-explanatory. IF by chance you are unfamiliar with Dr. Seuss, you can kindly show yourself out.

But really.


A lot of people will tell you that, as an adult, you should use this day to 'get back in touch' with your childhood, your youth-- that adults are merely obsolete children. I say this is a big fat pile of BULL POOPY. Adults, especially here at KU, are merely children who can get into bars legally. So, na na na na boo boo, the joke's on you.

Seriously though, today is important. Not only is it Theodor Suess Geisel's birthday, but it also was adopted by the National Education Association as Read Across America DayIf you have people in your life to celebrate this day of action with, please do! Seriously, it's awesome. Pick up some new books (like the Wrinkle in Time series or anything from this list!), read together before bedtime, all that jazz.

If you're more along the lines of a child-with-a-drinking-license then by all means check out this ridiculousness: Dr. Seuss's WWII-era political cartoons and Maguyver this children's recipe into a JELLO SHOT RECIPE HELL YEAH.

The man, the myth, the cat behind the Cat in the Hat.

Happy birthday, bro.

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1 Mar

Today is an important day. Today is Pig Day.

Fact: pig don't care 'bout your opinions

I know that teacup and miniature pigs are really trendy, but I really just love pigs en général.

It's no secret here at KU that I grew up in a small town in West Virginia: a lot of my childhood stories involve fishing with my dad; when I'm drunk I sometimes slur in a few "ya'lls" and "I once seen it;"  and I once had a pet pig named Wally.

Thus, here is an ode to Wally on this most sacred day:

While I'm from a small town (think: no-stoplight, not one-stoplight small), it wasn't exactly farm country. We occasionally had chickens, other neighbors did as well. There was a man further out the creek (yes, creek) who had a couple of horses and a tobacco field or two... but no real farm-age. A few towns over, though, my maternal aunt and uncle had a pig farm. They did not live at this property, though there was a house, so I suppose it was an auxillary pig farm. Because those are things where I'm from.

As is oft to happen at pig farms: a boar from the surrounding woods got into one of the sow pens and a surprise! half-wild-boar farrow (or: litter) was born one summer. Cutest little things, a smattering of fur and stripes down their spines with spots on their little tushes. And the noses! Wet, pink noses! Be still my heart! Wally was the smallest, spottiest, stripiest of the bunch: which is to say he was the runt.

My aunt, a happy, plump woman a good fifteenish years older than my mother plucked Wally up and brought him to visit in a cardboard box the next weekend when she went to see my grandfather. I, of course, only lived a few houses down from my grandfather. I, of course, plucked Wally up myself and declared him my own to bottle feed and cherish and love and squeal over. He eventually got a little too big and my Siberian Husky enjoyed chasing him too much-- she was fast and he was slow. So he went to farm.

I don't know if you folks know what "went to farm," means... but it's not pretty.

Okay. It's gorgeous.


I truly thought this is what had happened for years. I was in college when my aunt, one visit home, excitedly told me that she had photos of Wally from the family that took over the pig farm after her husband passed away. Uhm. Excuse me?

What Wally actually did.

Turns out Wally went to THE farm. Articles are important, people. Enunciate. Especially if you've got a thick West Virginia-bordering-Kentucky accent.


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25 Jan

But, isn’t that every day?

I hope you're not lactose intolerant, folks-- 'cause it's about to get REAL cheesy up in here. Think Velveeta shells, like. For real. The Kraft powdery nonsense doesn't even come close to the amount of dairy that's going to be inundating your eyeballs.

Onward, onward into the fog.

Today, January 25, is Have Fun at Work Day. But what does that MEAN? We don't know how not to have fun here at Kards, seriously. Even that time that I shattered a register and took out half the front counter ringing out the very first customer on Black Friday (true story), we still laughed. A lot. I mean, I mainly laughed because hey, what a way to get fired! You broke the store! Bye!


We're very sorry, but we're gonna have to let you go. As a rule, breaking the store is frowned upon.

Even our "normal" days are fun, though. You never know when you'll get a text from your boss asking if you could pretty, pretty please dress up as a pirate  the next day. Plus there was that whole calendar thing, which I know I will carry with me to my highlight reel if the whole Soylent Green thing ends up happening, after all.


^What this post makes you think we do at work all day.

We do have a lot of fun here, though, both behind the scenes and in front of your lovely faces. We all have our favorite products, favorite customers, favorite songs on the cable radio (Donde Esta Santa Claus), songs that make us weep hysterically (okay, maybe that's just me). I'm sure you guys have those things at your job, too, though, right? Right. If not, I mean... We've got these super cool products by Knock Knock for your office that will make it, uh, bearable? I've kind of suppressed the memories from the few months that I worked in PR so it CAN be made better, right? Is that a thing? For your sake, I hope so.


^What we actually do at work all day.

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29 Nov

In Which I Get Weepy Over Madeleine L’Engle’s 94th Birthday

Happy birthday, Madeleine.

You taught us little girls about a lot of things when we were growing up-- but predominately about ourselves. It wasn't Meg Murray that we were reading about in A Wrinkle in Time, it wasn't her freckled face and bespectacled eyes that handsome Calvin found appealing even before the lot of them were swept off into time and space and wonderment. It was very much our own awkwardness that we were devouring on your pages-- that we were learning to wield like a sword against the darkness of our own world.

Thank you for taking us across the universe and back and showing us that the evil is just a room without any lights on, and that we have the power to change that. You taught us about worldly morals, your own Christian ideals guiding us with human morality through adventures and a world of science that was both fantastical and factual.

You followed the O'Keefe lineage after Meg and Calvin married with your prolific body of work, series of series. Aunt Beast never let anyone down-- and neither did you.

So, Madeleine. You earned more than just a Newbery, more than the National Book Award. You've earned the respect and deep, quiet love of a million and more little kids; little kids who now work in book stores, in science laboratories, in places that make this world function and go and continue on. You've earned the love of generations of men and women who now read to their own little Margarets and Charles Wallaces every night before bed.

So, you, reader. Go pick up A Wrinkle in Time, go take some time to yourself and work your way through the world she built just for you.

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2 Nov

An epitaph is kind of like your final tweet, right?

November 2 is both the Day of the Dead as well as National Plan Your Epitaph Day. I personally am a fan of both, but let's talk about the shiny new Epitaph Day!

We love fake holidays here at Kards, and we celebrate most of them accordingly. They are, usually, a happy! and! cheery! sort of thing-- not quite as grave of a matter as this national fête. Let's take a moment, though, and wonder why we should give a damn about all this business. Who cares what our gravestone says? The entire holiday is based on the famous premise that to have a forgettable tombstone is a worse fate than to have died at all. That's a philosophy that I think I can get behind. If W.C. Fields had been a better or more thoughtful sort of person, I think we all know that "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." would read a little differently.

The Encyclopedia Brittanica  gives us a glimpse at just HOW great great epitaphs and last words can be if you put even the most minascule amount of forethought into them. Such great lines can be found among us normal-types who have passed on, as well.

So what would your tombstone say? "Beloved Mother, Devoted Wife?" How boring and grossly patriarchal. (FREE PUSSY RIOT)  I have a feeling that mine would go along the lines of  "Smoked Too Many Cigarettes, Drank Too Much Bourbon, People Loved Her Anyway."

Though, there's also a huge chance that it will merely read: "Well, I always did love napping."

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17 Oct

Baking Month Books
AKA Nigella Lawson is a Babe.

Some people recognize October to be National Breast Cancer Month. Some people recognize Nigella Laweson to be much babelier than Susan G. Komen. Thusly, we here at Kards Unlimited choose to recognize (celebrate) October to be National Baking Month-- it's both more cheery AND delicious. Since the beginning of October I've been spending a lot of my shifts in the cooking corner of the book aisle here in the shop "straightening up." I suspect by the end of the month that the wall across from the front register will become immaculate in a sudden and similiar fashion as I decide which of the weird/cool/gross/adorable silicon ice trays will make nice baking tins. Swing by and we can discuss the merits of cupcake tin alternatives TOGETHER.

Hand-Forged Doughnuts: I don't need to say anything about this. Look at that cover. Look at those doughnuts. LOOK AT THEM. This one gets a very wet, saliva-y vote from yours truly.


The Gourmet Cookie Book: A book that is about cookies that are gourmet. I am twenty-two and consider gourmet to be the day of the week that I let myself put some crushed red pepper in my Beef-flavored Cup of Noodles, so I'm not entirely sure what that entails. They all look delicious, and incredibly doable, nevertheless. This one gets a cute little vote from me.


Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: This one is just as sexy as Hand-Forged Doughnuts. I'm particularly fond of how the book is organized by cookie texture. I declare myself to have a thumbs up and a watering mouth.

And now, the piece de resistance, the creme de la creme, the belle of the ball, the Kat Dennings of the food aisles: Nigella Lawson. I'm admittedly not the most seasoned employee in the store (first blog post, WUT WUT), but I am already well-known to be a Nigella fan. Total Baberaham Lincoln. If you've ever seen her eponymous program, Nigella Feasts, then you know exactly where I'm going with this. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and check her out. She's charming, a lovely mother, and has a penchant for wine and chocolate. Her entire series of cook books are phenomenal and have the MOST decadent desserts and baking projects that I have ever had the pleasure of attempting to make.

That is, except for my mother's Peach Sweet Pie. Don't tell her I'm posting this here, guys. It's been a deeply-kept family secret since before the Depression-- and was actually reinvented DURING the depression, due to hard times n'at.

-1 Stick Butter    -13x9 inch cake pan -1 large can raggedy peaches (undrained) -1c self-rising flour -1c milk -1tsp vanilla

-Melt the entire stick of butter in a cake pan as oven heats to 350*
-Mix flour, sugar, vanilla, milk together in a largish bowl
-Pour the entire can of peaches (and juice!) into the cake pan overtop the melted butter
-randomly pour/dollop the batter over the peaches BUT DO NOT STIR
-bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden, but not brown
-serve sprinkled with your choices of sugar, cinnamon, brandy, or milk.

Now go get fat yawl.


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