Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What a weekend it was. You know how things come in threes - both bad and good. Well, when I pulled the muscle moving I figured I was in for a couple of more "incidents." I wasn't wrong. Sunday we were in KMart and while Steve was looking at electronic "stuff" I was over looking at toys for when MJ and Ally get here. There were a group of boys chasing each other around in the toy section and I don't mean little ones - big ones. I came around the end of an aisle and got hit in the face with one of those hard rubber balls. It knocked me right on the floor. Thought I was "skinned" on the left side of my face but it was just red and I had a headache the rest of the day. So there was two. I was hoping the huge bruise on my lower leg from whapping myself with a chair while moving was the third. No such luck - last night we ate dinner on the porch and I got strung three times by a wasp. I thought they could only sting once, but not this one. Talk about hurt and swell up. So that had better be three - I am almost afraid to go to work today!
I actually read an adult book this weekend - a mystery no less. Okay, I will admit the title is what got me - Mistletoe Murder. Me and my Christmas addiction. Leslie Meier writes a whole series of mysteries with holiday titles. Felt like I was reading about Angela Lansbury in her 40s. Set in a small Maine town and the sleuth works in a L.L. Bean type place taking phone orders. The owner gets murdered and she figures out who the murderer is - of course. Not sure I will read any more of them, but who knows.
Off to work.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

My computer is still in pieces on the floor so I am using Steve's laptop while he is working - at least I think that is where he is - he was gone when I got up. Sleeping here is a delight - it is so quiet! About all you hear is a few birds. I fell asleep with a pillow over my head though as the owner had a party for his summer institute students and they had a talent show with very loud music. We went up to say hello but didn't stay long. I pulled a muscle while carrying boxes and I am still not moving too quickly. I don't do anything to moderation, including trying to carry boxes that are too heavy! OUCH!!
So, I spent a couple of days taking it easy and read a MS mystery I absolutely loved. Couldn't put it down until I found out what the final riddle was. It is Christine Morton-Shaw's The Riddles of Epsilon - a HarperCollins title that came out in April. Like I said in an earlier posting, I am not a big mystery fan, but this is a fantasy mystery so I was intrigued as I love fantasy. Jess and her parents move to small island off of England where her mom inherited the old family home, much in need of work. Jess has the entire attic to herself and discovers a thirteen year old boy lived in the same room a hundred years before and he is trying to warn her of what is about to happen to her mother. Jess finds a small cottage that belongs to a ghost like presence - Epsilon. Epsilon gives her riddles to solve as her father is engrossed in his photography and her mother becomes obsessed with picking shells from the beach and drawing a woman's sad and haunting face. Jess is scared silly but she feels she has no choice but to save her mother.
All for now - need to get the next load of clothes in the washer and see what type of beautiful boat is either powering or sailing by.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Can you hear me muttering across the Internet? We just finished moving all of our stuff over from the Freydenhoj apt. and my desk top computer is in pieces. So I am using Steve's laptop with our phone line connection to the Internet and it has gone down three times while I was trying to log in to my blog. I was having Internet withdrawal big time - two days without checking email, etc. Before that I was working like a pack horse to get things moved. We moved as much as we could with trips in my RAV4 and the rest the movers picked up yesterday. Cell phones attached to their ears as they moved things - GRRRR!! I think I shamed them into putting the cell phones away for a bit as I was lugging arm loads of stuff past them to put in the car. They couldn't be out done by a woman. :-)

Our new apt. above Frenchman's Bay on the South side of the island, is fantastic! We have a view to die for and it is so quiet. I am in heaven - other than the fact that I have to put all this stuff away now! I woke up on my own this a.m. - no bleating goats, no roosters, no blaring horns, no fart mobiles. :-) And, we have a great wooden deck for MJ to run toy trucks on when he and Mary get here next month. We are about a 1/2 mile from the beach so if we want to tire him out we can walk down there. No fears of being attacked by a rooster, goat, or run over by a souped up Honda.
Haven't had much time to read but I finished Peter Abrahams' Echo Falls Mystery Down the Rabbit Hole. I grabbed the ARC (a HarperCollins title, due out June 12) after I saw that it is on the BBYA nominations list. I think it is a good middle school mystery for those who like Sherlock Holmes and the elements of a mystery. Ingrid is approaching the murder of Cracked Up Katie - an eccentric town resident and once a promising actress - using Holmes type techniques, even accepting one of her suspects as a red herring. My problem is I had a very difficult time suspending my disbelief that a girl as young as Ingrid would do the things she did - break into Katie's house, take her grandfather's caddie to visit Katie's grandmother (after he conveniently teaches her to drive his tractor), etc. But, I have to admit I am not a big mystery fan and don't care for Sherlock Holmes so my preconceived notions about this book is coloring my experience with it. I would certainly recommend it to middle school mystery readers and already have it on my to order list for Montessori.
On to days worth of emails.

Friday, May 20, 2005

What a morning so far! Woke up out of a sound sleep to yowling right outside our bedroom door at 5 a.m. That's where Sophie's food dish is and one of the bush cats came in through the window and was eating her food. Well, she didn't like that and they got into a fight. There was fur all over and a poor Sophie has a bare raw spot on her front leg. Add my running over her tail with my desk chair the other day and this poor cat should be hiding under the bed, but she is such a sweetie she is keeping Steve company as he gets ready for work.

My Montessori guys are going to love The Hoopster by Alan Lawrence Sitomer. It's a Hyperion title that came out last month. Andre is the Hoopster and the Writer in his group of friends. His best friend Shawn is the white guy in the group and his cousin Cedric is the mouthy comedian. The antics of these three guys are sometimes gross (farting, picking noses, etc.) and sometimes down right funny. Shawn's consumption of vast amounts of food reminds me of growing up with three older brothers! Andre's life looks pretty good - a girlfriend and an internship at a small magazine. To top that off his article on prejudice has great reader support. But, not everyone is happy with Andre's article and he is viciously beaten up in the parking garage. Will this change how Andre views the world or will he keep the positive outlook he has always had? It is obvious from his adept character development of these teenage friends that Sitomer has experience working with urban teens - he is an English teacher in an inner city school in LA. Great guy book. Would love to use this one with a reading group.

Off to work.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

It is a beautiful sunny day after days of clouds and rain. At least the cisterns around the island should be full again. The first hurricane of the season, Adrian, is at 40 mph and headed for the Bahamas so we are safe from this one. I want to get moved in to the new apt. before we have major hurricane warnings and torrential rain. Last year I missed the worst storm as I was in Houston when it hit and came home to road with potholes big enough to swallow a small car.

I just finished the coolest book! I love Sleator's creepy books anyway. The House of Stairs will always be my favorite, but I loved The Boy Who Couldn't Die because of the moral - immortality does have it's drawbacks! The arrogant teenage protagonist got what he was bargaining for and then some. But, Sleator's new one The Last Universe just blew me away with its creepiness. I am glad I was reading it during the day with the sun shining. Just the idea that I could wake up in an alternate universe where the people I love could have changed and so could have I. Susan's brother Gary is ill and in a wheelchair and loves to go out into the creepy family garden. Susan hates it because of the way it creeps her out - especially the opium poppies growing near the old outhouse and the lotuses growing in the pond. This can't happen in the world as we know it as they are tropical plants and this is Massachusetts. Their father tries to pass it off as seeds in the wind but their Cambodian gardener and his cat know better. On Gary's insistence the brother and sister start exploring more of the garden and discover that it is a quantum garden and entering and leaving alternate universes is possible. The ending had the hair raised on my arms! The Publisher's Weekly review refers to it as "an overall sophisticated horror story" but I think it is incredibly well written science fiction. There is no bad magic here - just the weirdness of quantum physics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hurricane/Storm Season has hit early. We usually don't get down pours like we had yesterday until starting in June. It was raining so hard when I left Montessori at the end of the school day that I had to walk in ankle deep running water to get to my car. I wasn't too upset about my clothes since I had already been nailed by a car going by at lunch time - with the contents of a mud puddle. Thank goodness for heaters in cars - I dried myself off on the way to Subway in Red Hook. After school I drove through the rain to get to UVI to pick up a box of books and watched the poor tourists making their way back to the cruise ships from downtown Charlotte Amalie. The drains couldn't handle the water and the side of the street they were on was so full of water it was lapping up onto the sidewalks. One poor lady lost her flip-flop in the water that was running across the street as she waded through ankle deep. While I was at UVI Mrs. Rymer, one of the women I worked with in the library and who has lived here all her adult life, said we are in for a bad hurricane season this year. I pray she is wrong, but signs do indicate that is true.

It is fitting that I read a book about oceans with the weather like it is. I didn't pick it up because of the title, No More Pranks, but for the cover. It shows the front of a kayak from a paddler's position, with another kayaker in the distance. I have always wanted to try kayaking so I thought - why not, it is an Orca Soundings title and they are a quick read - intended for reluctant readers. 100 pages later I was satiated with a credible, though a bit didactic, tale by Monique Polak about a teenager who is sent to spend the summer with his uncle after having pulled a nasty prank on the vice principal. He pretended to by the vp and called into one of those sex therapist phone lines and said he had a foot fetish (the vp measures the girl's platform shoes with a ruler!). The cool part of the book was the information about the whales and the kayak tours to see them in their natural habitat.

The Orca Soundings books are great additions to any YA collection that has a need for quick easy reads - isn't that every one of them? Orca is my favorite Canadian publisher and I have been enjoying their books for years. Alone at Ninety Foot by Katherine Holubitsky is my favorite of the Orca novels. I think her newest one is The Mountain That Walked, but didn't get a review copy of it so I haven't read it yet.

Monday, May 16, 2005

It has been overcast and relatively cool all weekend. It was wonderful! Yesterday was one of those days where you just wanted to curl up and read or watch old movies and I did just that. Read in the a.m. and watched old movies and worked on needlework in the p.m. Steve has been teasing me that we will need two Christmas trees for all of the ornaments that I have been making. We watched Saturday Night Live's Christmas Special yesterday - YUCK!! I don't like the nasty take on Christmas that they do at all. I love the sentimental "schmaltzy" type of Christmas specials.

Saturday night we went to see the Lily Cai Chinese dance group at the Reinholt Center on the University of the Virgin Islands campus. The theater is open air and we had a bit of rain but we were under the small covered area so it was just a refreshing cool breeze for us. The dancers were incredible. I loved the modern dance more than the three traditional dance numbers they did from the various dynasties. There were times the audience was completely silent and that is saying something for a mostly local West Indian audience - they are real talkers and there were lots of children in the audience. Lily Cai trained in the Shanghai Opera House but lives in California now so there was a mix of cultures in the dances she created. It was incredible. If you ever get to see this dance group don't pass it up.

I read When I Was a Soldier, a memoir by Valerie Zenatti this weekend. I shame-facedly admit I know little about the Israeli requirement for all young men and women to enlist in the army right after their bacs. Valerie goes from a typical teenage life of long phone calls with girlfriends, clubbing, hanging out with friends to becoming Soldier 3810159. Her intellect and training prepared her for the intelligence division so I am sure we actually find out very little of what happened to her after basic training, but you feel like she is sharing her inner most thoughts and fears with you. This is one articulate and well read young woman who moved from France to Israel when she was a teenager so she had mixed feelings about the army.

I have a favorite line from this book. She has a gay best friend Gali who lives in Tel Avi who she visits during her weekend leaves. He take her to meet his elderly friend Tzvi Kaminiski who own a bookstore. The bookstore is in no sense of order but he likes it that way - he would make a terrible librarian! Valerie says of Gali - "I like having a friend who, like me, thinks you can't run the risk of dying without having read certain books." What a great line! :-)

Now to weed through days and days of email that I didn't get to while dealing with deadlines.

Friday, May 13, 2005

What a hectic week it has been with Open House during the day at Montessori. This is for parents who are interested in sending their kids to the school so they can see a normal Montessori classroom environment in full swing. I have 4th-6th grade students in the library all week working on their state reports, learning how to use almanacs, atlases etc. so I was busy along with presenting basic overviews of the library for the parent groups coming through on tour.

Just got off the phone with my daughter Mary. She is so excited about coming down next month. She and my grandson MJ are visiting for a week at the end of the month - before he turns two in July so I only had to get one ticket instead of two. I am glad the Montessori Yard Sale is next weekend so I can pick up beach toys if they have any. We'll be in the new apt. so he will have a flat area of play so maybe a truck too. I haven't seen MJ since November so I am sure he has grown quite a bit. Downside to living down here is not seeing them enough. Her husband just started a new job so he couldn't come down too and is a bit jealous, but this will be our first mom/daughter time together since they became a couple.

I haven't had as much time to read but I did finish Rosie Rushton's The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love. It is a Hyperion title that came out last month. What a great beach book - I laughed and cried as the three British teenage sisters deal with their father's death and going from being rich private school girls to living in a small rural cottage after the stepmother gets the family home. The oldest sister Ellie is the quiet one who falls for the stepmom's nephew. Abby is the middle sister who is theatrical about everything she does, especially when it comes to guys and dating. And Georgie is the thirteen year old tomboy who realizes that boys are for more that just sailing and hiking with. :-) Add the over protective mother who has never worked a day in her life and you have a fun read.

Since I finished up the final draft of the fiction genre article that will be the feature article in the October 2005 issue of Library Media Connection I am going to "celebrate" and catch up on my email! I've barely had time to touch it in days.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Good morning. Steve just called to ask if the house was still standing. I had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently a pretty strong earthquake hit this a.m. I felt the "rumble" but thought it was a big truck going by. Steve said he felt it for quite some time in the Federal Building downtown in Charlotte Amalie. In the 15 years I lived in Alaska we only had one really strong earthquake that knocked things off the kitchen cabinets etc. I was trying to hold the microwave on the shelf while the kitchen rocked and rolled. This was nothing like that.

After all the depressing reading I have been doing lately I went for a fun read. Girls Dinner Club by Jessie Elliot is just what I needed. Three Brooklyn best friends cook dinner together once a week at each other's homes while they deal with adolescent angst. Celia is the tall and elegant Black girl who can't see Mr. Right, right in front of her nose, but whose 15-years-single Dad seems to have found his Ms. Right in a ditzy British woman. Danielle is the Italian bombshell who won't give up on Mr. Wrong. And Junie is the level headed one who realizes, a little too late, that she isn't ready for a sexual relationship with her boyfriend. What a fun and delightful weekend read. It is a HarperCollins title and will be out the end of this month.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I relished my day to myself yesterday - listened to country music while I packed up things from the kitchen and wallowed in an old "dysfunctional family home for Thanksgiving" movie in the evening. Need to finish wrapping and packing glasses today since Steve will be back later this afternoon and they are drying all over the kitchen counters. He woke me up from a dead sleep this a.m. so we didn't talk much - just a Happy Mother's Day greeting and a go back to sleep from him. Wish I could have! Once the grogginess wore off I was wide awake.

Of course I read - I am in awe of Julius Lester's Day of Tears. Subtitle states "a novel in dialogue". For me it read like a first person novel in multiple voices - I wasn't really thinking about the fact that it was supposed to be dialogue - felt like storytelling. Beautiful, terse, poignant, bring tears to your eyes real life stories told by the people who lived them. All the raw emotion is there to be felt in the words. Lester tells the interwoven tale of the slaves and owners on two plantations in the South. The novel is based on the real record breaking auction of Pierce Butler's slaves to pay off his gambling debts. The lists of slaves and the prices they brought are from historical records. If this is to be Lester's last novel, he had done himself proud - 175 pages of pure emotion.

Off to the kitchen to pack.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Almost the end of my day "off" this week. Been very busy at Montessori so I have been in pretty much all of last and this week. Add final grading for two classes and getting ready to move and you pretty much have my day other than sleeping, which I want more of! A very dreary and drizzly day today but I love it since it is cool, in the low 80s, with a breeze.

Since I knew I was going to be stuck in front of this computer screen all day I had my first diet coke while finishing the last couple of chapters of Kevin Brooks' Candy. What a wonderful novel, but then again I am partial to Brooks - I loved both Lucas and Kissing the Rain. This one is about a young British teen who becomes obsessed with the young prostitute he meets on his way to a doctor's appt. in London. Even after her pimp scares him silly during their first meeting, while sitting in McDonald's, Joe can't get Candy out of his mind. He skips school and meets her at the zoo, where they spend the day together, with her running off to the bathroom to smoke heroine. At this point he is still ignoring what she does for a living and that she is an addict. She shows up at the Katies' concert - he is in a band - and dances to the song her wrote about her. But Iggy, her pimp, shows up and Joe's sister's boyfriend gets beaten up trying to stop them from dragging Candy out of the club. His obsession gets worse and he follows Iggy home to where Candy is. Joe is letting his obsession with her shake any sense of reasonable behavior out of his head and he and his sister almost die because of Candy.

Now I really need to read something that isn't about a teen prostitute, both of the last two books I have read have had a female teen prostitute on drugs. But, I am limited to what I can find on the top of my boxes of books to go to the new apt. Can't wait to get them all set up so I can get to them readily, especially my collection of Christmas books. I like to take them out and just browse through them. I'm in the Christmas mood again - we have Saturday Night Live's Christmas special on DVD- haven't watched it yet. Will this weekend.

Back to work for me - need to find the top of my desk - I am worried something important is in this pile!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Less than a month to go before we move into the new apt. and I can't wait to be out on the end of a quiet road. I have been up since 5:30 when a "crotch rocket" motorcycle when flying by on the road below us. These guys are crazy - they drive between the cars on the centerline and burn rubber at each light going through town. And talk about noisy - they make my teeth hurt.

Carnival was this past weekend and we avoided the crowds and watched a bit of the adult parade on TV. The teachers at Montessori said the Children's Parade on Friday wasn't too bad as it drizzled off and on, keeping them somewhat cool. Our kids made the front page of the paper so everyone was happy. We went out to a local's place to have the prime rib special Sunday night and a couple came in who had just gotten back from St. Martin. They had left for the weekend to avoid Carnival and got there to find out it was Carnival weekend on St. Martin too.

I am still shaking my head over Nirvana's Children by Ranulfo, an author who lives in Australia, but was born in the Philippines so the main character in the book is a teenage Filipino boy who runs away from home and ends up falling in love with a teenage prostitute who dies of an overdose. She may be the one on drugs, but the first person narrative is so strange I wondered if Napoleon was on drugs, or psychotic. He calls having sex "making disease" and uses some other quite strange phrases as well. He joins the birds in the park for a time, having lively conversations with them, and even tries to fly with wings made out of feathers, spit and dung. Lots of messages here about the government, ecology, racism, etc. This is certainly for older teens. But, the cover makes you think it is for middle grades as it has a carousel horse on it. If you look closer at the back cover there is "Mr. Bones" - death that is taunting Napoleon at every turn. All in all a very strange read, but I have to admit I couldn't put it down - had to find out what was going to happen to Napoleon and I'm still not sure!

Off to Montessori to make up some hours since I have to go in late on Friday. Steve is off to his daughter Monica's wedding. Just a short weekend trip, but I do have the apt. to myself for a couple of days. Sophie and I are going to do our mom/cat daughter thing and curl up and read late in bed. :-)