Saturday, April 12, 2014

Poetry Month and Introducing Pix

Here is a book spine poem I made in honor of April being poetry month:

That's about all I've done for poetry month so far. I should maybe, like, read some poems and stuff! Put that on the to-do list, I guess.

In other news, since I last blogged we got the sweetest dog in the world!

Pix was a rescue dog that my friend's wife adopted a little over a year ago. Sadly, his wife passed away last summer, and he has been looking for a home for Pix. We are so happy to have her here as part of our family. She has really bonded with both of my boys. Even the cat kinda likes her.

(A friend of mine told me that when a cat turns his back to you, it means he trusts you)

Currently Reading: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo. It's a fascinating and heartbreaking look at a slum inhabited by garbage-pickers near the airport in Mumbai, India. I'm reading it for book club, where we were assigned to read about something (anything) we know nothing about. I tried to get book club to read this one last year, but we had too many good books to choose from and this one didn't make the cut (it also might have been a tad bit depressing for some of them at the time). 

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Cemetery Search

In November, our beloved cat went missing. Luckily for you, I wasn't blogging much at the time so you were spared the drama of my family's week of searching for him, only to find out that the poor fellow's dead body had been picked up by Animal Control the first night that he didn't come home. It was a rough week, and I still miss my furry buddy, but the reason I tell you this story is not to make you sad, but to explain why my boys and I were tromping through a nearby cemetery on a sunny November afternoon. Our cat, of course, we didn't find, but we did find some cool stuff.

We've walked through the cemetery before but never noticed this old delapidated garage/shed building. Here's Ben peering inside the closed garage door. There was an old bed in there and some other "treasures."

I had fun playing with filters on these--here's another photo of the shed with the Lomo-ish filter and museum matte. I really love how the filter emphasizes the way the sunlight plays on the brick walls.

This 1906 cemetery also contains a beautiful old Japanese cemetery within its grounds. I don't know much about the history of this cemetery-within-a-cemetery, but I'm so glad this spot outlasted a streak of post-WW2 vandalism to continue as a tribute to this group of Portland's ancestors, as well as the Japanese/American veterans of several U.S. wars.

It's interesting, looking back over these photos with the distance of three months. This walk through the cemetery now seems like a fitting tribute to the small soul we were searching for at the time. While my boys and I peered behind hedges and called for our kitty, our conversations ranged from him and his story, to Portland's history, to ways people remember their loved ones, the temporary nature of life on earth, and the fleeting passage of time.

Blackster may be gone, but he lives on in the many memories like this that our family created over the 7 years that we were lucky enough to have him in our midst.

Thanks for choosing us, little buddy

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Counting to D--Katherine Scott

Full disclosure: I know the author of this book. Kate and I took a writing class together a few years ago, and in the intervening years we generally meet up at an annual writing conference. I talked with her about this book when she first received agent representation for it, and again when her agent was waiting to hear from publishers, and again when she decided to seek out a different road to publication.

But in all that time, I never read the book, or really much of any of Kate's writing. I knew it would be good, because, believe me, a first-time author doesn't get an agent unless they have an impressive book to show. But, I didn't know much about it other than that. I was a little worried I wouldn't like it, because how awkward would that be?

It's okay, though, because I loved it.

Counting to D is the story of a girl who is brilliant  (she can memorize entire textbooks) and severely dyslexic (she can't read those textbooks to save her life). When Sam moves from California to Oregon, she sees the opportunity to reinvent herself--to be judged for who she is and not the label of gifted/learning disability.

As I started reading, I thought I knew what this book was going to be--the Girl-with-secret moves to new town, hides secret successfully for long enough to settle in, then someone finds out the secret and her new life blows up in her face. It's the perfect formula for a successful YA book, right?

Spoiler: that's not the plot.

I'm not going to tell you where the plot does go, but I will tell you that it's not at all formulaic or predictable. Neither are the characters. As each chapter progressed and I got to know Sam and her friends, I began to realize that each of them carried such depth, that they didn't fit the stereotypes that are so painfully common in YA lit (the brainy sidekick, the pretty and shallow cheerleader, the nerdy best guy pal). In Counting to D, rather than reinforcing these stereotypes the characters encourage readers to question them.  And I loved every moment of watching them unfold.

Counting to D goes on sale today! Buy a copy at your local bookstore or at Amazon or Powells or wherever. You'll be so glad you did.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

At the Antique Shop

I haven't posted a Saturday Snapshot in a while (okay, I haven't posted much of anything in a while). Life has kept me busy and away from the land of Worducopia. The upside is, I have lots of photos lined up to share.

This series is from an antique shop I visited during a beach weekend in Washington with friends. I had a lot of fun taking photos inside the shop, but first I had to stop for a portrait of these beautiful great Danes who were patiently waiting for their owner in the parking lot. Clearly these sweethearts are accustomed to posing for photos, don't you think?

The photo below is a jumble of stuff and didn't even crop well, but I love how they set up the space as if the cow were waiting to see the dentist. Or maybe the cow is the dentist? 

Calling all ducks

 I just love these old tins. 

What I'm reading: So many books half-finished, strewn around my house! I need to at least put them in a stack or something and start working my way through them. Then I can add them to the stack of books waiting to review.

More Saturday Snapshots are available at West Metro Mommy

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bloodline, Indeed.
Can a famous author's son inherit his job?

Where I've been: Camping. Attending a writing conference (but not doing much writing). Making jam. Figuring out my kids' fall plans (community college for the oldest. Homeschooling supplemented with various classes for the youngest). Trying to get organized.

What I'm doing today: Preparing for my youngest's 13th birthday, which is tomorrow! Presents must be bought, cake and plans and fanfare sorted out, all without use of a car (that's a story for another day). Also, heading over to Cathedral Park later for a picnic and to watch Trouble with Tribbles, a live play of my favorite original Star Trek episode.

What's Been Happening on Worducopia: Crickets.

What I'm Reading: Just finished Bloodline, by Felix Francis. No, Scratch that: the official title is "Dick Francis's Bloodline," which put me off so much that I almost didn't read the book.

Here's the thing: I get that Felix helped his father, famous mystery writer Dick Francis, with his books in the later years before Dick's death at age 89, and that he is writing in the style of his father, so publisher Putnam wants readers to get the connection. And as a writer, I don't begrudge Felix the advantage he has as a fledgling writer (Bloodline is his second book), because of the connections he had made through his dad. But if the novel is good enough to be published (which it is), it should be good enough to draw readers in its own right. Put "Son of Dick Francis!" in big letters under Felix's name, if you must, but putting Dick's name as part of the title goes too far with the Blatant Marketing Ick factor.

That said, I don't particularly like mysteries, and I was assigned to read one for book club. I've been a Dick Francis fan since I was 14 years old (he managed to write mysteries that read like character-driven novels) and discovered a shelf full of his books while staying with my parents at a house in Tuscany. But I've read all of Francis's books, and I thought that for book club I should branch out.

I picked up a James Lee Burke book, read a few pages, and switched out for Michael Connelly's "The Black Box." Set that down when Chapter 2 started out twenty years after the grisly murder scene in Chapter 1 (Disguising a prologue as Chapter 1? A nasty and underhanded trick! I fling your book at you!)  and tried a Leonard Block mystery that was sitting on the free shelf at my hairdressers. It was okay. I carried it around for a couple of weeks, occasionally reading part of a chapter, mostly not.

Book Club's date loomed closer and closer on the horizon and I found that the nearer it came, the less interest I had in actually finishing "The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling." Book Club Anxiety Syndrome reared its ugly head. It's one thing to show up with a particular book unfinished, but who could justify arriving with a stack of 4 unfinished books and the excuse, "I guess I just don't like mysteries much?"

In desperation, I picked up Bloodlines. Ten minutes later, I felt like I'd taken the medicine doctors might prescribe to remedy Book Club Anxiety Syndrome. Yes, I could read this! I could even finish it by Tuesday if I read 60 pages per day. I ended up finishing it in 3 days.

So, Felix, you're forgiven for taking advantage of your dad's many years building a name for himself. And as for you, Putnam: you've got yourself a decent writer who is admirably filling the hole left by Dick Francis's death. Why not give him credit where credit is due, and let him be an author in his own right?

Find more  Sunday Salon posts here.