Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Gift of Time

Sometimes you get the most unexpected gift when you most need it. This week, the children will be with their grandparents and I will have the pleasure of writing, teaching, and putting this house back in order. Without interruptions. Plus, my husband and I can have a date night every night :)

I also hope to take twice daily walks with the dog, do more obedience training, and pray the rosary. I used to do it regularly, but sometime this summer, I became too tired to give even 20 minutes to contemplate the life of Jesus. Sigh. I do find myself praying while walking or doing the dishes, but the rosary is somehow different ... I'm trying to pin what it is and I think it's because generally when I pray, it's still all about me -- my kids, my family, my friends, my dreams, etc. With the rosary, it's about Him.

I just got back a letter from my teacher on my first chapter of the novel, and the timing couldn't be perfect. Not only have I been itching to write, but I've already written some ...

As I prepare to turn in for the night, I can't help but remember my children's laughter, their absolute joy for having this gift ...

Friday, July 24, 2009

When The Whistle Blows

Wow! I finished this book a couple of days ago and have been itching to talk about it. And I did manage to talk about it with some of my students. But tonight, I wanted to give a shout-out to Franny and tell her THANKS! For this amazing gift of a book based on family stories. I cannot even imagine what her family thinks of this, but I bet they are durn proud of her. And love her.

WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS is episodic. It reminded me very much of Richard Peck's A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO and Graham Salisbury's BLUE SKIN OF THE SEA, both that I loved. I like short stories, connected short stories and of course long stories. But it takes a special person to pack so much into a short story. Fran's prose does double and triple duty ... there's not a wasted word and like Mozart's music, pitch perfect. I am in danger of mixing up all my metaphors, so I'll stop here.

My husband recently joined the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's group, and the Society reminded me of that. This book shows the importance of fraternal bonds. I loved being part of a Secret Society, of experiencing brotherhood and the love between a father and a son. I think it is important to for boys to be boys and to bond with other boys by running around in pack and testing their mettle. The same can be said for girls, but boys and girls are inherently different and after a certain age, boys need to be with boys and girls need to be with girls. I'm not saying that boys and girls shouldn't be together or be friends, but the bonds could never be deep. And if they do run deep and strong, we risk having boys and girls in an inappropriate relationship.

I laughed. I cried. And I am inspired to continue working on my family stories -- I never thought I'd share them with the world, because I am writing these primarily for my children, but perhaps I will try to shape them for a wider audience.
My husband will be reading this book aloud so that my daughter can also enjoy these stories. And of course, my son will race ahead and finish this book in a day. That kid, I have to limit his reading ... I have to dole it out an hour at a time so that he gets his chores done.

Thank you, Fran, for writing this book. I can't wait to see what you come up with next. And thank you Angela for holding a contest and picking my entry.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Holy Smokes are Winners!

Busy hands making a congratulatory banner because ....

Redmond's St. Jude's Holy Smokes took first and third prizes for barbecuing ribs and pork butt respectively. They got stiff competition from Blessed be the Meat (Blessed Teresa) in Woodinville and Valley Dukes (Holy Innocents) in Duvall. My favorites besides the meat from our team, were the tandoori chicken and Thai beef brisket. Yum!

That's my husband in blue and his teammate in orange. They both spent the night out, tending to their meat. Thanks to the Knights for a wonderful weekend. They cooked for our parish picnic today as well.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kittens and Cats

I get my kitten fix at Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. I can't help but say "Awww" to all those cute kittens.

But my husband introduced me to LOLCats ... they add laughter to my life.
Check them out and laugh along with me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Whistle in my Mailbox

The mailman brought a present from Angela. My son wanted to put his grubby little hands on Whistle, but it's *my* book and I get first dibs. Yeah, life is so unfair.
I begin tonight ... but only after I finish correcting one lesson. See, I'm a good girl ...
More on this book later ...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Spotting Blueboarder Books

One evening in Disneyland, I took the two girls to the bookstore. They'd finished reading the couple of books they'd brought to read. While they browsed through the books, I met a Sikh family visiting from India. They were looking for books for their two girls, ages 6 and 11, and particularly for the 11-year-old because she didn't like to read. The father proudly said, "She's just like me. Doesn't like to read. I still don't read. But I tell her that in today's world she must read. What to do?"

Sigh. I realize that not everyone in this world like to read books, but I don't know how parents can expect their children to enjoy reading, when they don't like to read themselves. Thankfully, this family was trying to remedy that ...

After listening to what the girl liked, I managed to find something by Gail Carson Levine, Jeff Kinney and of course, J. K. Rowling. Fingers crossed. I told them that perhaps they could read these books out loud together. Then I chose a few books for the six-year-old, a collection of fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson and a book of assorted poems. The selections for younger kids was paltry. I bid them a happy and safe journey home. The older girl said that perhaps she can try to read two pages a day. I thought: no, no, no. That's what writers do -- they write two pages a day. I suggested that she read one chapter a day. She agreed. I hope they do ...

Then I turned my attention to the young adult section. Imagine my delight to see Blueboarder books along with the mega-bestselling Twilight series. I read bits and parts of Fate by Jen Barnes; Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog; and The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I also spotted Dreamdark by Laini Taylor (think pink). I didn't have my camera with me, but I was so happy to see these books in a place where the selection was small. I'm not a paranormal/fantasy type gal, but thoroughly enjoyed the excerpts I read. Perhaps I'll be picking up these titles to read in full.

I used to work at Holland Library -- humanities and fiction -- during my college years at Washington State. I loved that job. I'd browse through intriguing titles while shelving them and thus discovered many, many books that I normally wouldn't have sought out. Some of these I loved, others were so-so. But it's such a gift to be introduced to new authors.

I think I'd love to work at a bookstore as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We just got back from a trip to Disneyland. A first for the kids. And were they at the perfect age, ready to participate in thrilling and chilling rides, reveling in the fantasy come alive, and nightly fireworks.

Oh, but it's good to be home with our pets and the clean, fresh air and the sweet water of Washington. It's cool up here, but so welcome after the desert heat. Hard to believe that once I grew up in India and lived through temps. over a 100 F.

Here's a picture of all of us cooling off at Splash Mountain ...

after we rowed around Treasure Island. It's the only ride where the riders actually have to do some work ...

Now it's back to the regular routine -- walking the dog, cooking, cleaning, playing, teaching, working on my novel again, reading in peace.

I stashed a small stack of index cards in my fanny pack and managed to write a bit when I skipped the stomach-curdling rides. I loved people watching and stories were constantly popping in my head ... I can't wait to see where they lead me.

I hope you're all enjoying your summer and soaking up the beautiful sunshine.