Monday, December 12, 2005

What a Christmas Concert we went to last night at the Reichhold Center for the Arts outdoor theater on the University of the Virgin Islands campus. It was the Rising Stars - a 150+ member steel pan group that is sponsored by the Virgin Islands Superior Court, where Steve works. These young people were incredible! They played everything from classical, to hymns, to delightful Christmas music. During the intermission Santa and Mrs. Claus appeared and handed out gifts to the little ones in the audience. The Rising Stars and their young conductor were a joy to watch. The only disappointment is that the theater was not full - these young musicians need support all year, not just during Carnival.

Celebrating the Holidays in the islands is certainly different from where I grew up - Upper Michigan. I miss seeing all the Christmas lights and the Santa's sleighs on the roof, actually in snow. So it isn't surprising that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Will Weaver's Full Service. It may take place during the summer of 1965, but it is set in rural Minnesota, very much like Upper Michigan with the lakes and summer tourists who come from Lower Michigan and Chicago. Paul is the only son in a farm family who are part of a fundamentalist religious group similar to the Quakers or Amish. They gather for services in each other homes and join together to harvest their crops. So it is no surprise that the other young men are more than put out when Paul's mother insists he learn about the outside world and takes him into town (Hawk Bend, popular 1,750) to get a summer job. While pumping gas at the Shell station Paul learns many of the residents' secrets and finds reasons for a few of his own, especially in relation to Janet, the daughter of the hippie couple living on their farm until they can get their van fixed. They are on the farm because Paul saw one of the other station workers tamper with the van, causing the oil to drain out. Paul is questioning his family's way of life after being exposed to retired gangsters, pretty school band leaders who aren't who they seem to be, and to a family of pot smoking hippies. A well written, poignantly funny coming-of-age story. A must have for all YA collections. I enjoyed this book so much I am tempted to find my copies of Weaver's Billy Baggs' baseball books, Hard Ball, Striking Out, and Farm Team, and read them again.

Winter time, even while living in the tropics, has me in the needlework mood. I am working on Christmas stocking at the moment, but am looking through the projects in Shannon Okey's knitgrrl. This Watson-Guptill title has color photographs of the finished projects and easy to ready directions. One of them is a bag for an Ipod, with a spot for speakers too! Remember Olivia Newton John bouncing around getting physical in her legwarmers? Well, you can knit your own set of legwarmers too. :-) My favorite is the fuzzy yarn soda cozy. With all the knitting groups for teens being formed this is a great addition to a YA collection.

That's it for day. Only 12 days until Christmas! Those online orders had better get here in time.