Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Well, I am about there with the handout for the Smooth Talking: Booktalking Styles to Entice Teens to Read workshop at the downtown branch of the Lexington Public Library on the 16th. My rough draft sits in front of me with 75 YA titles on it. Won't have time to booktalk all of them, but at least the participants will have a list to leave with. Also put together a dozen of my favorite YA Lit and Booktalking sites to visit and spent way too much time on them. Well, I had to check the links to make sure they are current - didn't I? :-)

Man, it is already 4:00. Where did this day go? I have been up since a bit after 6:00 and, though I read for a bit in bed with Sophie, I was on the computer early as no Today Show until the cable guy gets here tomorrow afternoon and "hot wires" the other cable outlet in the bedroom. But, I did order Steve the NFL channel for an anniversary present. I won't tell him that I also got some really cool movie channels out of it and even one that airs hockey games.

We are going to Merrick's for dinner tonight - a very nice restaurant here in town - to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Five years ago at this time I was slipping into a short white dress and Steve into shorts and an Aloha shirt before the limo picked us up at CuisinArt Resort and Spa on Anguilla Just looked at the site - oh how I would love to be back there today, but I sadly admit my little white dress won't fit anymore. But, I don't have to worry about the shoes fitting as we got married barefoot on the beach. It was a beautiful evening, even though the champagne the limo driver poured for us was really awful! Steve told me last night he was going to ask the waiter tonight for the worst bottle of champagne they have in stock so we could recreate the first grimace as husband and wife! Steve knows how terrible I am with dates and times so he picked our wedding date and time. We were married on 5/30 at 5:30. Pretty hard to forget that. I also don't forget when he proposed as it was Thanksgiving on Mustique Island, but I have no idea of the exact date! Steve shaved his beard off Monday night so I just keep looking at him and smiling. He was clean shaven when we got married but he wears a beard most of the time. I do adore this guy even if his sense of humor can be a bit perplexing! Couldn't find any of our wedding pics on my computer, but the picture above is what we looked out at from our room. :-) We had breakfast delivered each morning and the bread on Anguilla is to die for. No wonder I no longer fit in my wedding dress - I became a bread-aholic on our honeymoon!

My anniversary present is still in the box on the back deck because I have to pick out patio paving stones before Steve will put it together. At least I know where in the yard I want it! Guess I will do that tomorrow when I run errands before the cable guy gets here. It is a small gazebo with a 3 person swing that actually folds down into a bed. Way cool! I have a terrible time sitting still so I need a rocking chair or a swing when I am outside. I need the repetitive movement to relax. Steve put in Dottie last night - our largest lilac bush - by the deck. I named her after my mom, whose name is Dorothy. Went with Dottie even though I don't know as anyone called her that. I think her nickname as a kid was Butch. Clearly Mom was not what you would call a "dainty lady" - she worked out in the barn on the family farm just like her brothers. The two smaller lilacs aren't in yet, but they are Mary, after my daughter, and Maggie, after my Gramma. We always brought Gramma lilacs for her table too. And cowslips!

Sorry no book to talk about today. I'm reading for the Margaret A. Edwards committee and I can't talk about the books. Dag nabbit anyway!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm having Today Show withdrawal! I usually spend my early morning responding to emails and watching Al Roker and crew. We rearranged the bedroom yesterday to make room for the new furniture and apparently the cable connection on the other wall is not "hot". Hopefully Steve can fix it tonight or I'll have to call and get someone out here. This can't go on for too many mornings or I may have to go back to sleeping in!

But, I did join the Kentucky Library Association this morning, along with the Kentucky School Media Association, a division of KLA, and have the site open to put in a proposal for a session at the KSMA Fall conference. Just need to get a bit more Diet Coke in me to get the wording right. :-) I am so glad this conference does not conflict with the NC School Library Media Association Conference as does the Tenn. Assoc. of School Libs. I agrees to present at TASL (not the one in Texas) and then realized it is the same time at NCSLMA in November. So I'll be in Nashville instead of Winston-Salem that weekend, but I am presenting at the NC Library Association Conference the week before presenting at AASL in October, so I should get to see some of my ECU students there. It is going to be a busy Fall semester! But, I am not complaining. When you teach online as I do, presenting is as close to the classroom as I can get. Although I love the flexibility teaching online gives me, I miss the physical act of teaching about and sharing books in a group setting, be it in a classroom or a conference session/workshop.

I stayed up and watching Over the Hedge last night. Cute, but not one of my favorite animated kids' movies. I kept comparing it to other books/movies. Like the cat and skunk - I prefer the old Pepe Le Pew cartoons, especially For Sent-imental Reasons, when he meets Penelope the cat and she falls head over heels for him. As far as turtles go, the level headed Vern is okay but how can you not love the turtles from Finding Nemo better? The concept of humans taking over the animals habitat may be lost to some of the youngest viewers, but it is an important theme, and has been for a very long time in children's books. Just think of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert O'Brien. Although this book starts off really slow, as do many fantasy novels, it is wonderful. Try to imagine being the size of a field mouse and knowing a tractor and plow is coming at you! Very scary stuff! Feels much more real than the wacko exterminator in Over the Hedge. I guess I am getting old! Did you know that Robert O'Brien was actually Robert Leslie Conly and that he died before Z is for Zacharia was finished? His wife and daughters completed this post-nuclear war tale from his notes. 62 comments about this book on B&N online - it is still live and well on the YA shelves and in the hands of teens. :-) As is Mrs. Frisby and clan in elementary and Middle Schools.

Okay, need to get busy on finishing up the handouts and presentation notes for the 16th. So much for summers "off" for professors. But, I did take all of yesterday off, even though it was spent doing housework and unpacking the last few boxes in the bedroom. Steve was very happy to see more socks. :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Here is the larger front flower bed. The retaining wall doesn't look at high as it feels when you climb up and down it! The front yard is on quite a slope. As you can see, I have plenty of room to add more plants to this bed. I took this last week so none of the new things we bought are in yet. too bad you can't see the couple of onion plants that have flowered and look like aliens trying to phone home. :-) Steve just went out and turned on the sprinklers so it is time to truly start my day. I'm going to scrub the bird poop off of the deck railings. Gross, but I love all the birds we have around here. So does Sophie!
Can you believe I am up and Steve is still asleep? Actually not so surprising considering all the yard work he did yesterday. Sophie came in with her soft meows around 6:30 since Daddy had been home for 2 days so that meant it must be a day for him to go to work. I didn't fall back to sleep but he went back to snoring almost immediately. So now we are out in the living room in the recliner with a heating pad on my hip and with Sophie as a purring cat fur ruff. :-)

I did yard work too - hauling the rock Steve dug out of the front yard "pit" we made for Baby Blue, a little blue spruce tree. (I name everything and plants do need to be talked to - it encourages growth.) Steve dug up chunks of brick along with the rock, as builders are not known for cleaning up after themselves. He dug through very hard clay soil and lots of rock to make a hole big enough for Baby Blue. So I hauled planters full of rock and junk across the street and down an incline to the little run-off area that is all rocky anyway. Then I watered and talked to the bushes and flowers in our beds. We also bought a couple of wild strawberry plants that have wonderful runners but do not bear fruit (darn!), a couple of smaller plants Steve picked out that I can't remember the name of, and a plum tree for the front large bed. They are in their spots, watered, but still need to be transplanted. While reading through the bed/container gardening magazine I bought during out endless waiting in Home Depot I realized the "unique" hosta I have been babying is a weed! So is the shamrock looking plant, which the magazine said is one of the prettiest weeds, but still a weed. Hmmm - maybe I can do a weed garden! I seem to be doing well keeping them alive. I have a couple other varieties of flowers weeds in there too. Let's just say I did not inherit my mom's green thumb, but I do love plants and flowers. Sadly, I know next to nothing about the ones that grow in Kentucky flower beds. I just thought they were perennials the builder put in. So, it will be off to B&N before long to find a book on Kentucky gardening!

The exciting news is we bought lilacs! :-) Steve did get the pit dug for the larger lavender one next to the back deck, but we had used all the top soil for Baby Blue so the lilac is still in the pot in the hole. Haven't named her yet. She has one large fragrant blossom already, which made me miss my parents. Dad seemed to know when the first blooms came out anywhere in Point Mills and off we would go to pick a bouquet for Mom. He took great pleasure in being the one to find the first lilacs blooming, the first arbutus, and the first wild strawberries. And I took great pleasure in bursting into the kitchen, smelling of homemade bread and whatever else Mom was baking on her wood stove, with an armload of blooming lilacs. We stopped for lunch yesterday with the plants in the car and when we got back in it smelled of lilacs and I was transported back to my childhood for just a moment as I breathed in the smell I so love and means home to me. I didn't realize what a Northern plant a lilac is until I read White Lilacs by Caroline Meyer, in which a white lilac means as much to an African American family in Dillon, TX (really Denton, TX as this book is based on a piece of history that Denton and Texas Woman's University should hardly be proud of) as the lavender lilac tree in our front yard meant to me growing up. I love the cover of the new paperback edition A black girl holds a tiny lilac plant in her hand. Lilacs do not typically grow in hot climates as they need a hard freeze and those that do often do not bloom. But, after living in Denton, TX and slip-sliding my way to classes at TWU, both on foot and via car, I can say it gets cold enough to freeze! Teenage Rosa Lee's family has a white lilac bush that does thrive and bloom in Freedomtown, the black area of Dillon/Denton, which is about to be turned into a park and the families who live there forced to relocate to a swampy area outside of Denton. I was in my PhD program at TWU when this book was published and Caroline Meyer came to campus and spoke to a predominantly black audience about the difficulties she encountered during her research for this book and the sad fact that there is just a plaque in the ground in the city park where Freedomtown once stood. The story of this sad historical event is told through the eyes of Rosa Lee and her family. A wonderful book and I always have a copy in my collection. I gave my signed copy to Mary. The sequel Jubilee Journey has also recently been reprinted in pbk. and is told from the point of view of Rose Lee's great granddaughter Emily Rose, who has grown up in affluent bi-racial family living in Connecticut where racism isn't an issue in her private school. She learns from experience and the stories her great grandmother tells during her visit to Dillon just how different things are in Dillon, TX, both today and in the past. A real eye-opener! Meyer is best known for her tween/teen the Young Royals historical fiction series as well as other YA historical fiction titles such as Loving Will Shakespeare, but I am partial to her contemporary titles, including the 1995 Drummers of Jericho, which addresses prejudice and the issues of church vs. state. Pazit, fresh from a year in a kibbutz, leaves liberal Denver to live with her father and his new family in a "Bible belt" suburban town where the marching band director is insisting they play hymns at the games. When Pazit refuses to be part of the band's forming a cross during half-time at the football game, she finds out just how outsiders in these small towns can be treated. If you have not read any Caroline Meyer, visit her books - wonderful all the way around and very teen and tween friendly. Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: The Cynthia Ann Parker Story is beloved by many and a heartbreaking read. Captured at age 9, Cynthia Ann is the wife of a Comanche chief when she is "rescued" and returned, against her will, to the settlement. This one came to mind as Steve and I watched Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee last night. The tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched the movie based on the book in which Dee Brown documents the horrific manner in which the Native Americans were treated from 1860 - 1890. I read it when it came out back in the mid 1970s, but I was too young and lived in such an insular environment it didn't mean much to me then. I need to read it again. Aidan Quinn plays the Senator who truly believes he is helping the Indians. He had his agent ask if he could play a role in this movie as the book had affected him so deeply. It shows in his performance that he knows this "story" well.

Steve just came through grumbling and mumbling. I think he is more than a bit sore and he is off to the golf course later this morning. All that walking will loosen him up a bit. I'll have the house to myself! :-) The other day, on one of our nursery trips to look at plants, he took me through the new subdivision going in on the golf course they play on. Good grief! We couldn't afford one of the garages on the houses. One of the houses has 5 garages and the covered multi-level balconies in the back make it look like a fancy hotel on the golf course. Sure, I drooled over them, but I am quite content with our 3 bedroom ranch! I have no concept of having that kind of money. Ignorance is bliss! :-)

Time to go check on Steve - after a few grumbles it is quiet again. He probably went back to sleep!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wow! It is Friday already. The Memorial Day weekend is upon us. I have a hard time wrapping my head around this as it is supposed to be in 5 days from now, since today is only the 25th. Yesterday our wireless connection was acting wonky so I couldn't get onto the Internet. Instead of staying home and having withdrawal I decided to run errands. Finally got down to the closest public library on Richmond Road. Not very large YA section, which they call Teen, but a friendly staff. The computers were mostly engaged but there was not a soul in the Children's section. The offerings were older titles, but that's okay for right now as I was looking for titles to look at in relation to the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Can't talk about what I'm reading - bummer!

Also made a trip to Half Priced Books and they had a clearance cart out front. Ending up with an armload of books before I even got inside! I lent my copy of No More Dead Dogs by Gordan Korman to a student and never got it back so was delighted to find a copy for 50 cents. It is difficult to find humorous YA fiction. How can you not love a young teen who refuses to lie - even about a book he is supposed to love and hates. Why do all the dogs die at the end of these books he wants to know. :-) Made me think of an experience I had with Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls years ago in Alaska. I was doing a long term sub in a 6th grade classroom that most substitute teachers wouldn't touch because it had all the rowdy boys, including one who always wore a black leather jacket with studs on it. It was this kid that came forward and gently took the copy of this book away from me, handed me a Kleenex, and told me to sit in his desk - he would read the rest of the chapter. I always cry when the dog dies! The connection that this group of tweens and I made was incredible. They'd stop me in the halls of the HS where I later became the librarian and ask me if I remember crying. I even had them stop me in the mall to talk about that incident. None of them will forget that book. I was digging through the clearance paperback rack in the YA area of Half Priced Books and was chatting with a mother and her home-schooled tween as they looked for books. I came across a copy of Summer of the Monkeys, Rawls' title that doesn't get the attention it should. I suggested it to the mom and it went into the pile of books in her arms. :-) It is laugh out loud funny! A group of circus monkey get loose and 14-year-old Jay wants to capture them for the reward. He has it already spent in his mind, but catching those monkeys is more difficult than expected, even with Grandpa's help.

We changed our mind at least twice about bedroom furniture since I wrote that I thought we had made up our mind! But, last night we actually bought a set. The Edwardian style four poster bed is gorgeous as is the man's chest (looks like a chifferobe to me!) Steve seems to think it will all fit in our bedroom - I sure hope so! I was in shock over the final total, so we had to go to Olive Garden for dinner and a glass of wine. I didn't know that Olive Garden has great little pizzas - I have to eat pizzas without cheese, but I don't mind as the sauce and veggies keep their taste rather than being overwhelmed by the taste of cheese. I'd always been a minestrone and salad girl at Olive Garden - think I've changed my mind. I love their pizza!!

Yesterday I also went to Michael's and found the cutest little boy angel squatting to look at a snail on his hand. Steve has a wicked sense of humor and told me he thought he was doing something else in our flower bed! Add that to his comment about the Celtic looking cross I added to the bed a few days ago looking like a tombstone, and it appears clear that we don't think alike about yard ornaments! He is just going to have to chill though - the yard is going to be angelic whether he likes it or not. Just makes me feel good to see them.

Now that I can get online I have some work to do that isn't as much fun as blogging.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Another early morning in the Clark household, thanks to a very noisy cat. I think she was letting Steve know what she thinks about the new "rule" in the house that we don't leave the back door open for her. I tried to explain to her that it is "Daddy's rule" but she isn't listening to me - she assumes it is my fault and woke me up this a.m. to prove her point! We are going to find a storm door with a cat door! I'm the one home with her during the day while she gives me the major evil eye because the door is not open. Especially while Steve's Roomba was running around the house - she hates vacuums of all types, but that one really freaks her out.

Was just looking through the wealth of Rembrandt paintings on I will admit right up front I am not a connoisseur of classic paintings and Rembrandt's are too dark for my taste, but my interest was piqued by Lynn Cullen's I Am Rembrandt's Daughter. This very controversial for his time Dutch painter is brought to life through the eyes of his daughter, Cornelia. She is also the daughter of his housekeeper who he never married, although their relationship took a financial and social toll as he was shunned by the wealthy patrons who once flocked to his studio. Cornelia, at 14, is responsible for keeping the dirt poor Rembrandt household going and there isn't much to work with beyond moldy cheese and dry bread. But Rembrandt doesn't notice as he is a very intent painter, sometimes add just a brush stroke or two during a several day period, which frustrates Cornelia, especially when she is the model. Cullen's imagination brought together a rich Amsterdam merchant's fictitious son and Rembrandt's daughter in a budding romantic relationship until the plague strikes the city again and Cornelia discovers just how selfish the love of her life truly is and she sees the man who has loved her and stood by her and her father during the worst of times with a much more realistic set of eyes. An absolutely fascinating book. Hand this one to the art teachers you know - maybe they will even share it with their students. A fun way to learn about a master artist - through the eyes of his teenage daughter.

Time to finish up some grading and then run errands. Need to find the closest post office. Stamps went up again!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Only a bit after 7 a.m. and I have already had my reading/kitty time. Was ready to get up when Steve's alarm went off about an hour ago. I was exhausted yesterday and ready went to bed early. My hip was really acting up. Saturday afternoon was spent weeding and helping Steve lay down a new layer of mulch in our front yard flower beds. Steve even bought a few new perennials to add color. Our front yard is a slope so the large flower bed is surrounded by a retaining wall and in climbing up and down while weeding and hauling off the empty mulch bags I aggravated my hip. But it was worth it - the brick red mulch looks wonderful and brings out the color of the pansies and other flowering bushes and plants. We bought a cool solar light butterfly that I hope looks the way I want it to at night. If it does we will buy some more and put them in the bushes in the front.

Steve was off golfing all day yesterday so I was doing laundry and basic stuff around the house until I made the mistake of pigging out on BBQ Baked Lays chips with lunch. Bad idea! Who would think there would be whey in them? I didn't even think to check the ingredient panel. I have been eating the regular BBQ Lays for years, but the baked ones are clearly a no-no. Whey is high in lactose so I got sicker than a dog and was laying on the bed with the chills and a very upset stomach, feeling sorry for myself when Steve got home. We were supposed to go check out Burke's furniture before we make up our mind on bedroom furniture. I think we have made a decision now that Steve cut out pieces of cardboard to lay on the bedroom floor to give me an idea how much room the pieces would take. I have no sense of size and the chifferobe seems massive in the store. Lots of drawers and shelves - which we really need. :-) Unless there is a set that "blows me away" in Burke's we have made a decision. Thank goodness - we have looked at more bedroom furniture styles than I thought possible.

On a trip to Lowe's to get more mulch I was listening to Elizabeth Peters' The Last Camel Died at Noon and realized part of the reason I love the Victorian era Amelia Peabody mysteries is because I have learned so much about the early archaeological endeavors in Egypt. And, a lot about Egyptology in general. In this particular title, early in the series, Amelia and Emerson, along with then 10-year-old Ramses are abducted and taken to a Shangri-La like community hidden in a desert oasis. The inhabitants live much as the ancient Egyptians did and the outsiders who happen to find their way into the community do not have the option to leave. Peters' research just into the clothing the early Egyptians wore is incredible. Descriptions are so rich I could see prim and proper Amelia's face as she saw the diaphanous clothing she was expected to wear. Only Amelia would wear her split skirt and shirtwaist underneath! :-) Historical mysteries are a genre that rarely raise an eyebrow and I do think teenagers would enjoy the series even though the characters are hardly young adults. Teens will delight in Ramses's antics as he grows up in the series, especially when he blends into the Egyptian communities with his array of disguises. Ramses is a "hottie"! :-)

I'm listening to The Today Show as I type this. Mike Lupica was on the show Friday morning and chatted with Matt Lauer about his sports novels, specifically Summer Ball, which came out this month and is the sequel to Travel Team - basketball books. Very relevant right now when teens are about to get out of school and those outdoor courts will be filled with guys and girls of all ages playing pick-up games. I need to find my copies of his books!

All for today - need to start working on the handout for the full day workshop on booktalking next month here in Lexington. Which means I have to start opening those boxes of books in my office.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Woke up by a quietly meowing alarm clock around 6:15 this a.m. It was so cute - Sophie was quietly meowing to let Steve know it was time to get up. She did her job - got us both up, got her Mama/kitty time while I read and now she is asleep in her bed. Another cool day with possible thunderstorms. Only 43 degrees - seems odd after the high 80s we had earlier this week. High of 65 today, but I doubt that. Sunny for the weekend though. Good reason to stay inside and finish up a few things. Listening to the Today Show as I type. Don't miss Katie at all! I love Ann Curry and Al Roker!

Tried a new recipe for a taco skillet type dinner last night. Seemed to be a hit with Steve but my favorite part was the "kitchen sink" salad. I love to make big salads with lots of stuff in it - found the shredded broccoli, cauliflower mix for slaw is a perfect addition to a regular salad - add crunch, along with carrots, snap peas, mushrooms, etc. I am not a big salad dressing person so I love the salad spritzer type dressing. Steve is in heaven not to have to cook dinner hardly at all. I told him to enjoy it while I was in the mood to cook as I am not always in that state of mind. Guess it is this house and the kitchen I love. Tonight is leftovers as I haven't figured out how to cook for two yet. Still cooking for four as I did when the kids were little.

Finished Kelly Easton's Hiroshima Dreams this morning. Such a gentle book. I was curious about this author as this book is such a poignant coming of age story. So I went to her Web site - and saw that she is also a life coach, a career choice somewhat based on her very unhappy childhood. She commented on how she writes for teens and children because she never really had a childhood. Hiroshima Dreams somewhat reminds me of An Na's A Step From Heaven in the sense that it follow a girl's life journey from early childhood through her adolescence, but it has a bit of a psychic flavor as Lin is able to predict things that will happen - as simple as her best friend's brother's sculpture falling to the floor and as important as the whereabouts of a kidnapped autistic child. Lin is the daughter of an Irish Catholic father and a Japanese mother who turned her back on her own culture due to her mother's deep immersion in culture. Lin learns about what it means to be Japanese when her grandmother comes to live with them. I love the multicultural/racial nature of this book. Lin's best friend is black, the boy she adores is Italian, and their neighbor is Portuguese. I related to the relationship between Lin and her grandmother - it pulled at my heartstrings and caused me to deeply miss my very Finnish gramma as I read of their close relationship. My gramma lived with us for a number of years. She was a central part of my life while growing up. I can still see her with her walker trying to clean up puppy pee on the floor before my mom saw it. It was my puppy, of course! Hiroshima Dreams is a wonderful feel good book for middle school.

All for today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Since I my heart was back in STT this morning, thought I'd include a picture of the YA section in the small one room library in the Montessori School out on the East End of St. Thomas, USVI. There were only a handful of YA books when I started working with Montessori to build a YA collection and this was several months later and the teens were in second heaven. I would go back there and just smile! :-)
Have been awake since a bit after 5:00 due to the wind and rain. It also woke me up earlier in the night and I had to smile as Steve immediately got up and went to leave Sophie in. He won't admit he worries about her, but he does. :-) I was so intent on reading while Steve was getting ready for work I didn't even realize he was in the bedroom until he flipped the lights off and teased me that it wasn't noon yet. I have been known to sleep in really late, but not that late!

I should have known it was going to rain as I had my car washed yesterday. It was covered with bugs from the last trip back from Greenville. But, we really needed the rain. Steve mowed yesterday when he got home from work. I was out on the back porch window shopping yard ornaments/furniture in a catalog and chatting with Earl, our elderly neighbor. He was giving me advice on what to plant as the soil has lots of clay in it and the area between our houses tends to get the rain runoff. I was teasing Earl I was going to look for swamp plants to put there. And that reminded me of picking what we called cow-slips in the marshy area near my Gramma's house. They had pretty yellow flowers. And Dad taking me for walks to find the long stemmed wild violets that grew in patches. They were the most gorgeous purple. And the wild lady slippers that grew on the 40 acres my Dad owned. They were a beautiful orchid color or a pink and sometimes a white. They were so special they made me want to whisper. We never picked them - the joy was in finding them and just smiling at their wild beauty. I spent a lot of time in that 40 acres of woods with my family as they cut wood from for our furnace, Mom's kitchen wood stove, and the sauna stove. I grew up with the smell of wood smoke. Perhaps that is why I prefer having a gas fireplace!

I read Geraldine McCaughrean's Cyrano yesterday. At 114 pages it is a quick read, but a delight, starting with the attention getting cover with Cyrano's nose right in the center. A wonderful way to introduce this French play by Edmond Rosand, written in 1897 and still popular today and brought to screen many times, even a modern version with Steve Martin as Cyrano. McCaughrean stays true to the plot of the play while bringing Cyrano and Roxane to life for today's teens. Such a touching love story. Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw is a modern version of Cyrano, with a chubby teen cooking for his best friend as he woes the girl that the future chef loves. Both would appeal to girls without a doubt, but if booktalked from the male perspective, these could both appeal to teenage guys as well. FYI - it is due to Rosand's play that we now use the word panache to mean more than a feather in your hat. :-)

Now to finish up the summer reading lists for Montessori. My body may happily be in Kentucky but a part of me is still back in that tiny library on St. Thomas. I loved it when the teens came in and went back to their small section of the library and I could booktalk with them. :-)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Never, ever let your email go without deleting listserv messages each day! I have spent days/hours trying to find the messages I need to answer in the avalanche of weeks worth of listserv messages I didn't get to during the move and while finishing up the end of the semester paperwork. I even found a couple of weeks' old message from a student I had years ago at Sam Houston - what a delight! :-) It is treasures like Jamie's message that keep me sane as I work my way though the mess.
I am taking a break from that for a bit since I found the message from Mary with this pic of her and the boys. It is so cute! I am getting very anxious to see little Kegan next month. Scott and Mary are in the middle of remodeling their bathroom so decided a trip up there this month was probably more stress then they need right now.
I also took a break and went grocery shopping a bit ago. What fun! We have a large Meijer near us and I had wandered through parts of the store but not the grocery section. I was in awe over the variety of foods, especially organic and health foods. Living in the islands for almost 3 years has me appreciating fresh produce and full shelves. And, the frozen foods were in packages you could actually read - not covered in a thick layer or freezer ice proving how many times it had thawed and refrozen.
And, yesterday we went window shopping at couple of furniture stores and I found a Tuesday Mornings! I found an angel yard ornament that Steve rolled his eyes over, but I love it. That store has a little of everything in it. One never knows what will show up on their shelves. Too bad I have no idea how to get back there. I am so directionally challenged it isn't funny. Perhaps, for the pocketbook, it is a good thing I don't know how to get back there. :-) All the shopping opportunites are incredible!
I spent last evening browsing through my Mother's Day present from Steve - a large coffee table size book, The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History by Gregory Paul Williams. It is filled with wonderful b/w photographs of movie stars and the buildings, including the libraries that were burned and demolished as Hollywood grew. I started reading it after I got through all the pictures and it goes all the way back to when a group of Native Americans lived in the area and the Spanish Catholic priests came. This is a book I am going to savor. I only found one picture of Cary Grant in the whole book, but I still love it. The woman we were out to dinner with the other night said her cats were named after Hugh Grant and Tom Cruise. I just smiled and said I wasn't much into the male actors of today. If I were to choose a Grant, it would be Cary. :-) However, I am a Richard Gere fan because he does romances I like, including Autumn in New York, which is on right now and I am somewhat watching out of the corner of my eye. I have never been a Wynona Ryder fan, but in the last two days I have encountered two of her movies. I watched a good portion of Girl, Interrupted last night, which stars Ryder and Jolie, neither of whom are favorites of mine, but the movie certainly held my attention. It is based on the memoir of the same name that addresses the author's 17 months in a psychiatric ward. The book received excellent reviews and after seeing the last portion of the movie I want to read it. I remember reading Joanne Greenburg's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which is still in print and read by teens today, when I was a teen and was totally drawn to the book. I was fascinated by the idea of being that close to madness and being able to rejoin the "regular" world again. Mental illness fascinates teens as the mood swings of puberty can certainly feel like a form of madness!
Back to dealing with email.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day to one and all. Steve left me chocolate filled crescent rolls for breakfast before he went golfing. :-) My daughter Mary and family sent the most beautiful irises that beautify the coffee table. And Christine, my favorite young mother who is the librarian now at the Montessori School I worked at in the islands sent an e-card. Monica will be calling this afternoon. So, this Mom is happy. My girls have remembered! :-)

I had a lazy morning of tea and chocolate and the newspaper in bed. I'm reading William Nicholson's Seeker, the first book in the Noble Warriors series. Three very interesting young characters join together to discover what the weapon is that the kingdom of Radiance plans to use to destroy the Nomana, a group of warriors who protect the meek and the One and All god. The Wildman is the most interesting of the three as I can see him dressed like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Basically he is a pirate who steals what he wants and thinks he can become a noble warrior and "steal" their peace for himself. The Seeker is the gentle one - he was supposed to become a teacher but wants more than anything else to become a Noble Warrior, even more since his older brother Blaze has been cleansed and sent out of the community. Morning Star is a thinker who can see the emotions people are feeling as colors that surround them. She is seeking her mother. The three of these 16-year-old together will be a force to be dealt with.

Haven't had as much time to read as I would like - life just keeps getting deliciously in the way of reading. :-) For example, we went to a Legends minor league baseball game Friday night. The weather was wonderful and the between innings antics of the mascots were very funny. Granted, the players on both teams were not great, but I enjoy baseball when the innings go fast and these did! Lots of strike outs and foul balls. More went into the stands than out in the field. Roger Clemens' son plays third base, but he sure isn't a batter. The little kids were so much fun to watch as they ran around with their baseball mitts on, hoping to catch a ball.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tuesdays are not a day to try and sleep in. The trash truck comes by before 6 a.m. and then just when I start to fall back to sleep Steve's alarm goes off. And, that triggers Sophie to begin talking, which she does until she has us both awake. Then she goes back to sleep! If I try to go back to sleep I then get woke up by the truck that picks up recyclables. So, it is a good morning to curl up in bed and read - which I have been doing.

The trip back home from Greenville on Saturday was a tiring one as it rained most of the way - sometimes hard but mostly just enough to make the spray from the trucks a pain as far as visibility goes. Lots of people on the road too, making travel even more difficult. I had such a tension headache when I got home I just sat while Steve made yummy chili and we watched the Kentucky Derby on TV. Dominican, my favorite, was way back in the running so I wouldn't have won anything anyway. I crawled into bed and gave my headache over to Tylenol P.M.

Sunday we went window shopping for bedroom furniture. I think I found the suite I want, but we have a few more stores to check out first. Then we spent some time in Lowe's looking at landscaping plants. I think we are going to put in a couple of Japanese maple trees since we both love them. Not sure what else but it did get me in the mood and I weeded the flower beds in front of the house yesterday. All we have right now are pansies, which are not a favorite of mine, as far as flowers go. We have lots of work to do on this yard, but that's the fun of it. Steve gave me landscape software so I am going to start playing with that to see what I might come up with. Would like to put a swing in one corner of the yard with lilacs or roses near it.

I am sure we have all heard the saying, "Once in a blue moon" about how rarely, if ever, something happens. Guess that is what made me pick up Hila Feil's Blue Moon - a paperback reprint of a 1990 Gothic style mystery set on Cape Cod. I had to chuckle when I realized the teenage girl was an au pair, which certainly has a racier connotation in teen literature today with Melissa de la Cruz's Au Pairs series, which is set in the Hamptons and has rich teens involved in activities very adult in nature. I read a couple of them and that was enough for me, but I am sure teenage girls find these a guilty voyeuristic pleasure. Kind of like watching Paris Hilton's antics because you are disgustedly fascinated. Back to Blue Moon, which is a beautiful coming of age story about naive 17-year-old Julia whose parents have divorced and is shipped off to take care of the 8-year-old stepdaughter of a self-centered soap opera writer. Molly is the exact opposite of her outgoing blond stepmother - she is dark and quiet and observes the world around her with big sad eyes. Julia learns Molly's mother drowned - suicide, perhaps. Molly is sure her mother's spirit haunts her family home and she is very upset when her stepmother begins to remodel the home. Weird things take place like paint refusing to dry and mysterious footsteps appearing in still wet floors. Julia and Molly are inseparable until the mysterious Sean asks her to sit for a portrait. Although she knows he is too old for her, Julia falls for him and ignores the guy her own age who is right in front of her. Add fog banks, a village that now resides under the sea, and a young girl searching for her mother in her old sailboat and the Gothic theme swirls around the reader. A delightful "safe" read for the romance and/or mystery reader 12 and older.

Friday, May 04, 2007

What a busy few days. The drive over from Lexington on Wednesday was a delight. Partly because I had gotten my spring semester grades done and I was in a good mood about that, but mainly because I am listening to The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. No wonder she received a huge advance for this first novel - it is fascinating! Henry is born with Chrono-Impairment, a condition that sends him traveling through time, even arriving where he already is and interacting with himself. But, so he doesn't affect the time period in which he arrives or leaves, he comes with nothing and leaves with nothing, including clothes, which make some of his travels more than a bit interesting. But this is much more than a time travel book, it is an enduring love story between Henry and Clare, who he meets when she is only six, but knows one day he will marry her. Clare grows up accepting that Henry arrives naked in the secluded meadow on her family's South Haven, MI property. Henry helps her with homework and plays chess with her as they wait for her to grow into a woman. When he is isn't with Clare, Henry works a normal job as a librarian in the Newberry Library in Chicago. Many of his time travels take him back to the library at night so he keeps an extra set of clothes in his office. The beauty of this book is the quiet joy Henry and Clare find in each other, no matter what time periods they are in together, but the here and now is the sweetest. I have a little over a CD left to listen to and I suspect I may end up crying before I am done.

On a lighter note - I have Emily Gravett's Wolves next to me on my desk in the office, where I am wrapped up in a heated blanket because it is so darn cold in here! I am glad I work from home most of the time. BRRR!! The cover art in itself made me pick up the book. It is off white with a funky looking bunny on the bottom looking up at the title. Then I chuckled in delight as I read the "reviews" on the back - "Every burrow should own this!" - The Daily Carrot. "A rip-roaring tail." - The Hareold. Gravett has me chuckling before I even open the book. And then I am thoroughly captivated by this quirky picture book as rabbit is at the library to check out a book on wolves from West Bucks Public Burrowing Library. :-) There may be few words, but what is happening around rabbit as he has his head burrowed in the big red book on wolves is hilariously wolfy! Let's just say rabbit learns a lot about wolves, including what one of their favorite foods just happens to be. Don't worry - "no rabbits were eaten during the making of this book." The publisher information lists it at ages 4-8, but this one will delight the adult reading it with their little one as much as it will the child, if not more! This one stays in my "gramma collection" to read to my grandkids. But, do buy it for your primary level library - the kids will love it!

This afternoon is our tea and snacks gathering with our graduates and then the ceremony itself at 7:00. Wish it had been earlier as I would have driven home tonight, but that is too late. I didn't care much for driving through the mountains in the dark like I did when Sophie and I drove home for the first time. So, tonight is girls' night - we are going to watch Sleepless in Seattle, which I haven't seen in years. All I can say is that I wish my hair looked like Meg Ryan's in that movie. I am not a big Tom Hanks fan and never have been, but I love Meg Ryan. My favorite movie of her's is one that didn't get much attention, I.Q., with Ryan as the brilliant niece of Albert Einstein, delightfully played by Walter Matthau. It is a laugh out loud fun romantic comedy with Uncle Albert playing cupid. Also love French Kiss with Kevin Kline. We have our own copy of this one and my stomach hurts in sympathy as Meg Ryan's lactose intolerant character, Kate, pigs out on delicious French cheese while on a train and suffers greatly for it! Hey, I just saw a Meg Ryan movie listed on B&N I haven't seen - Flesh and Bone. Blockbuster here I come when I get home! :-)

Now back to sorting books in my messy office as I prepare for lots of fall semester workshops.