Monday, September 29, 2014

Why my hands were blue and purple yesterday

\Morale is: don't use bargain paper towels when doing pysanky . (These still need to be cleaned properly of wax and varnished. The floral one is inspired by henna designs I've seen of late.) Thank heavens for lemon juice and baking soda, which took the dye right off my hands when I scrubbed with it.  Also, for anyone who writes pysanky, the other two were started before I packed up my supplies over a year ago, and I couldn't remember the colors under the wax. My old dyes were weak, hence the faded colors on the one with the squares. I might have changed up the colors  and fill on the other one, had I remembered what was there. Oh well.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Pysanky dreams

Back in the day (and the day being somewhere around 1996 or so), we were in Washington DC for a family vacation, tacked onto a conference where I was speaking. I thought the lasting memory of that trip would be to show our son the town where I grew up, and to share with him the sights and sounds of our nation's capital. I was wrong.

We had just come from one of the Smithsonian museums (which was a large hit with the young czuk), and were wandering the Mall, where Folklife Festival was in full swing. We watched dancing from Thailand, heard music from Latin America and the Caribbean, tasted food from the Bahamas. It was grand. But that year, there also were exhibits featuring Masters of Traditional Arts; those talented treasures we honor with the title of National Heritage Fellows. As we walked down the grassy Mall, my eye was caught by a woman in Ukrainian garb, and I pulled my guys over to her, eager to expose our son to a bit of his heritage.

Inside the tent, the woman was delicately holding an egg in one hand. With the other, she was using a tool* to draw lines on the egg. Spread across the table in front of her were the most beautiful eggs, jewels of bright colors and intricate designs. I'd seen pictures of these eggs since my own childhood, but never seen anyone create them.  The designs and colors had fascinated me ever since. Transfixed, I watched as she added elements to her design and then submerged the egg into a jar of colored fluid. My hands itched to try, but I knew that I could never create such beauty. I was no artist. I'd even had a teacher tell me so in eighth grade, when I finished a painting of a sunset on water, which I'd slaved over for weeks. My colorful flourishes of swirling light didn't match up with her image of art. Her scorn, and her unkind words, became chains to my creativity and confidence.

My guys wandered off to another exhibit, while I stood enchanted, watching Betty Pisio Christenson write pysanky. I listened to her tell other visitors about the art, some of which I knew already from my immersion into Ukrainian culture through my marriage to Javaczuk. (Though my family origins are in Ukraine, my ancestors were Jewish, and did not create this type of folk art. The two cultures shared words and foods, but not art.) As I stood there, like a groupie, we began to talk. I told her I'd loved the pictures of eggs I'd seen since childhood, and always wished I could create one.

"Well, why don't you?", she asked, with kistka in hand.

"Oh, no. I'm not an artist. I could never do such beautiful work, or that kind of detail."

"Have you tried?", she responded.

"Um, no..."

She put the kistka down, pushed her glasses up on her forehead, and looked at me sternly. "Well, don't tell me you can't do it, until you've tried."

Chastened, I shut up, and scurried out of the tent soon after. But the beautiful pysanky still called my name. I regretted not taking pictures of her and her eggs. I wistfully remembered their beauty. But I did nothing else about it.

That September, 18 years ago last week, I opened a beribboned birthday present from my guys. Inside was a "starter kit" for writing pysanky, and a book. I stared at it, both thrilled and horrified, eager to try, but afraid to make a muck of it. But Betty's words, and my own heart's desire, proved too much. I picked up the book, read through it, grabbed my kistka and tried.

Since then, I've written** pysanky almost continually, with only slight hiatuses here and there.  When we put our home on the market last year, I packed away my pysanky supplies. In the new place, I was busy getting things settled and wasn't sure where I would do the waxwork, dying, etc. But now, I'm ready. My setup isn't perfect, but my tools are out, my dyes refreshed, and my mind overflowing with ideas. (Seriously, I can't fall asleep at night for all the ideas that flash through, and my dreams are colored with patterns, swirls, and designs.) I'm back in the saddle again, though it's not a six-shooter at my side, it's a kistka and beeswax. I'm headed  to the open canvas of eggshells, to write my art.

*For anyone interested, Betty was using an electric kistka that day, as it was blustery.

**Pysanky are written, not painted, using a wax and dye resistance process, much like doing batik on an eggshell. The letters and symbols all have meanings, and creating an egg is, for me, a combination of creativity and meditation. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hurricanes and Rainbows

Last evening, we had a glorious double rainbow. It was only after it faded, that I realized it was the eve of the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo coming to visit the City by the Sea (and the rest of the state.) That got me contemplating many things, including the "never again by flood" promise in a certain book. Whether you believe or not, a rainbow is a beautiful thing to behold. And a double rainbow/full bow is a true wonder.

Rather than rewrite, I decided to repost and entry from my old blog, from 5 years ago (September 20, 2009) which in turn is a repost from even earlier.:

It was 20 Years Ago Today (well tomorrow, really)

No, not Sargent Pepper teaching the band to play, but that Hurricane Hugo rolled into town. I was going to write my memories, but realized I did that when Katrina hit a few years back. So, instead, I lifted the earlier journal entry and am putting it here. Today is blustery, much like that day 20 years ago. Hugo came ashore right around midnight so the front end hit on the 21th and the back side on the 22st.

Hugo Memories 

With the horrible devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina, I find myself remembering what, until Katrina, was one of the worst hurricanes to hit the US in recent history. What we went through was a piece of cake compared to what folks on the Gulf Coast experienced. And ours was bad enough.

We went about our business at the hospital that September, caring for the kids, teaching parents new skills to help so that they could take their recovering children home. There was occasional mention of a tropical depression, then tropical storm brewing out in the Atlantic, but we tended to ignore it. There were always tropical storms brewing in the summer and fall months. That's part of the routine here in coastal South Carolina. No biggie. We'd stock up on water, batteries, bread and toilet paper when the time came. If it looked bad enough we'd add bleach and beer to the list and maybe peanut butter. Life rolled on.

The storm grew-- gained a name, and seemed pointed our way. Voluntary evacuation orders were issued for the coast. The administration at the Medical Complex where I worked, kicked into high gear, in a way we'd never seen before. Staff was divided into 3 groups: Those who would be in the building when the storm hit, those who would be nearby for relief immediately, and those who were "non-essential" and could get the hell out of Dodge. I wanted to be of help and service- that's why I became a nurse, after all, but my application to be on the crew that stayed in the hospital was turned down. Even though my family could have come and stayed in the hospital with me, the fact that my family included a 4 month old baby(still nursing) and a disabled mother, I became a liability rather than an asset. I was assigned to the second group- the ones that would come immediately after.

The storm grew--and shifted slightly so that Charleston looked most likely to be the welcome mat for Bad Boy Hugo. The voluntary evacuation orders became mandatory. My supervisor called me and told me to move inland, out of the city. The storm was expected to hit at high tide and the storm surge would flood us. "Get out", she told me. "You're no good to us dead." 

My brother had actually flown in to Charleston to help us prepare for the storm and to evacuate my mother. What ended up happening is that the car loaded up with baby boyczuk, bumma and the few things we chose to take, plus relief supplies, made it a little ways inland, out of the city, while the duo of javaczuk and elder brother waited too long to leave had to ride the storm in Charleston. They had been so busy helping others batten down things, and taking care of our home, that the roads had closed.

Bumma and I had hoped to get to join some friends in the midlands of the state. That didn't happen. We never really made it out of the low country (the coastal region of the state). Our refuge was a hotel along the interstate. We got the last room, and settled in for the long night. I tried to make her as comfortable as possible- we'd brought a few things like an afghan she made and a picture of my father, but she was frantic with worry about javaczuk and elder brother. The winds had picked up, and the bands of rain were whipping in. "Call them," she begged, so I did. 

They were fine, having the time of their lives, a merry adventure. We kept in touch by telephone as the sky grew dark and the winds grew louder. The swearing from my mother grew louder, too, especially when it really sank in that they couldn't leave, the roads were closed. It was more dangerous be out trying to get out than to hunker down and stay. "If you die," my mother said to them, "I'll kill you."

My darling baby boy, just 4 months old, was a delight. He entertained us both and it calmed my mother to hold him. At times, I would see her weeping silently, while he nestled in her arms asleep. The winds howled. Bumma wept.

Outside, the rain beat against the flimsy hotel, battering, pounding, while the winds whipped around us. I filled the bathtub with water, so that we'd have clean drinking water afterward if necessary. The television reception and radio reception was fuzzy, but present- Charleston stations were falling by the wayside. Other stations reported that the eye of the storm was just at Charleston. The phone rang. It was elder brother and javaczuk, calling from the eye. They were high on having ridden the first half of the storm out, of boarding windows up as they blew out, of watching the walls shake and the roofs of neighbor's homes fly by. They told how they could see the water pouring through the streets and how they saw a neighbor's chimney fall, and how the roof slates from another home had sliced into ours, and one even flew in through a window, breaking the glass, and embedded itself in our kitchen. All I could think about was that it could have embedded in one of them, rather than the wall. Bumma was swearing at them again for making her so upset and terrified- I was wondering how they would do when the fiercer back half of the storm hit, they were saying "uh oh" when the line went dead. 

Bumma turned ghostly white, holding my baby boy, worrying about her baby boy. The wind, which had been impossibly strong where we were, got stronger. I could see the window of the hotel room buckling in and out. My mother, in her fear and worry, was making it hard for me to think straight. I did something I shouldn't have- well- two things I shouldn't have. The first was to venture out into the storm to get a soda from the soda machine. The second was to take said soda, mix it liberally with the scotch we had brought and give it to my mother to drink. Which she did, and promptly passed out. Bumma out cold was a whole lot easier to deal with than a frantic bumma. Trust me on this. 

When I had ventured out, I realized that the hotel was surrounded by trees. They were tall, beautiful pines, bending and swaying in the winds. They looked like ethereal dancers waving their arms in time to a hidden drummer. I was mesmerized- probably would have stayed to watch, had I not had a mother and child to care for. And had I stayed, I would have been crushed by the same trees, that twisted, broke, fell, and crushed the part of the hotel where I had been standing.

With bumma down for the count, I could do some more serious safety measures. I lined the bathroom floor with pillows, blankets, towels and anything soft I could find, to make a nest for my mother and son. The bathroom was the only room without a window, and I wanted them safe if the window in the main room blew. Bumma weighed all of 90 pounds at the time (to my whopping 125), and I managed to carry her in to her safe haven. Baby boyczuk went in too, as well as all the documents etc I had carried out of Charleston. I hefted the mattresses against the bulging window and threw my own force against them as well. I wedged the few towels I didn't use to soften the bathroom under the front door. In the morning, two things were true. Our window was one of the only ones on that side of the hotel that didn't blow in, and we were the only folks in the hotel with clean water, thanks to our tub-full.

There was a strange sound that I couldn't identify--and then I realized it was silence. We were in the eye of the storm. I couldn't resist- I went outside. Silence. Nothing. Void. All the trees which had so enchanted me, were matchsticks toppled and splintered. The rear side of the building was crumpled. Cars in the lot were bashed in from flying debris, though ours was still fine. I got my keys and with heart pounding because I knew the back wall was moving closer by the second, moved it to the clear center of the lot. In the morning, it was there, safe, while a large piece of hotel roof would be occupying the space where our car had ridden out the first half of the storm.

In the morning, we began the long drive back to Charleston- a drive that should have taken the blink of an eye, became a journey of hours. The landscape was totally unfamiliar. Everything was battered, bend or broken. Wires were down- though there was no way of telling which were live and which were dead. Roads were only cleared as people passed through. Sometimes a few folks could move the limbs and branches, sometimes, heavier machinery was needed for the trees. The National Guard was there at work before we even began our journey home. 

We headed back to Charleston, hoping for the best, but trying to prepare each other for the worst. My mother shrieked at every broken tree and toppled building (in other words, it was a continuous wail.) I gave her the task of watching for downed power lines so I could avoid driving over live ones. She wasn't really able to concentrate and be of much help, but the task gave her a purpose, and me some peace as I headed back to the coast and Charleston.

I had my medical ID and was repeatedly stopped on the way back in the city, only allowed through when I showed it. We wound our way through our familiar town that suddenly was strange- driving the wrong way down one way streets to avoid flooding and blocked roads. Finally, we turned onto our street- or what should have been our street, but now was a empty sketch of what had been lush tropical greenery. Our house still stood, but it was totally empty, devoid of husband and brother. Part of our tin roof was on the front steps, and one of our chimneys was in the street. Worriedly, I headed back to the car, unsure of what to tell my mother. I stood in the now unfamiliar street, trying to figure out what to say, and looked down the block, at the fallen oaks and broken houses. There walking towards us, were javaczuk and elder brother. They'd weathered the storm and were out surveying the calling card Hurricane Hugo had left.

They say that hurricanes have a voice- a particular sound. It is true. I have heard it. It is the sound of my mother, weeping.

The Supreme Macaroni Company, by Adriana Trigiani

I normally like Trigiani's books as little escapes into another slice of life. I've enjoyed this series about Valentine a great deal, watching her grow, and make life decisions. I've also enjoyed the depiction of "the big Italian-American family" and how much it resembles other "big fill-in-the-blank-ethnicity families I know. Also, the design process for shoes that has threaded through the books has been fascinating. This book  carried a lot of Trigiani's skill as a script writer, often enabling me to more clearly "see" the scene in my mind as I read. Unfortunately, I didn't always like what I was seeing, in regards to some of Valentine's decisions and approaches to sharing your life with your lover and your work. I'm not saying that I don't believe a woman should have a career, because that's definitely not true. I just found myself wanting to smack Valentine, and point to the words "Compromise" and "Share" in the dictionary. If I'd wanted that much marital discord in my light reading, I'd pick up <I>Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe</i> or <i>War of the Roses </i>.

I do read the author's notes and afterwards in books, and was interested to see how much of this one/series was based on a cousin of Trigiani.Based on that paragraph, I also have a hunch where the story is going from here. If the next book falls into my hands (as this one did), I'll pick it up. If not, I'm fine with where Valentine and I are in our relationship.

Rounding up to 3/5stars, because even though I didn't like the story as much as some of the others, the writing carried the images very clearly to mind.

Tags: an-author-i-read, give-me-my-time-back, part-start-of-a-series, read, thought-i-was-gonna-like

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

I've lived the north and south of the Civil War  aftermath: born and raised in the DC area, moved to a border state (home of the Dred-Scott  decision) for most of my adolescence, and then settled here in the South for the past 40 or so years. There are many aspects, besides the politics of the war, that I find fascinating. The fierce loyalty some folks have for their homeland, for instance, or the burning desire to fight for their personal beliefs. To me, fighting means taking an intellectual stand, not the physical personal risks the four women in Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy did. The women, each fully dedicated to their cause, are skillfully depicted by Karen Abbott. I heard her talk about the book on NPR, and the interview fascinated me so much, I immediately sought out the book.

The four women are very different in personality and approach to how they helped. Belle Boyd was flamboyant, rambunctious, daring in an overt way, very much an extroverted young woman. I found myself wondering what labels a psychiatrist would slap on her were she to end up on a couch today.  I suppose as a kid I sometimes fantasized about passing as a boy so that I could have a more rough and tumble life (I grew up in the late 50's), but I am not sure I would have tried to pass as a male and join the Union army, as Emma Edmonds did.  It's interesting, also to note, that there are several books out of late about women disguised as men and fighting in the Civil War. Edmonds experience was spurred not by the desire to be next to her sweetheart, unlike most of these women on other books, but to escape a bad home life and put distance between her present and past. Rose O’Neale Greenhow was the only one of the four women I really knew anything about beforehand, some of which I "knew" being incorrect. A clever and cunning spy, she was able to pass messages and information even when under house arrest by the Yankees. Elizabeth Van Lew, who lived in Richmond, was shunned as an abolitionist, while getting valuable information to the North, and aiding the escape of many Union prisoners and Southern slaves.

Oddly, though, the two people I want to read more about are not these four women, but "Little Rose", the youngest daughter of Greenhow, and Mary Elizabeth Bowser, a freed slave that Van Lew helped place in the southern white house as part of her spy ring. Bowser was both educated and possessed of a photographic memory, thus was able to gain access and recall intimate details of the strategy and plans discussed by Jefferson Davis and his officers.

A long, but interesting read.

Tags: heard-about-it-on-npr, nonfiction, places-i-have-been, read, set-in-my-stomping-grounds, set-in-the-south, taught-me-something, thank-you-charleston-county-library

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The book that made me pull my juicer off the shelf: Juice by Carly de Castro, Hedi Gores and Hayden Slater

It's no surprise that I like this book. We've been walking a path to more healthful eating for quite a while now, careful what we consume, and from where it is sourced. Many of the farmers greet me by name at the local farmer's market. We have a high quality blender, which we use for smoothies (particularly green smoothies, which often are what we sip in the evening as we sit outside and watch life parade by.) There's also a juicer in our appliance arsenal, having moved from a centrifugal juicer to a twin gear over the years. I love fresh juice, especially, juices "with ingredients", as my mother used to say, taking frequent opportunities to partake of cold pressed and fresh squeezed juices offered for sale, even though I often shudder at the prices asked for them. Yet, I balk at juicing itself: the cleanup is just such a chore. I never want to do it after having that yummy juice, and if I do it before, I resent that it's keeping me from my fresh juiced goodness.

But this book, with beautiful pictures, easy to follow tips, and absolutely scrumptious recipes for juices, smoothies, and even some non-juice stuff to supplement a cleansing program, has me eyeing the juicer that sits high up on a shelf. I even am contemplating climbing up on a stool and bringing it down, finding a place somewhere in our compact kitchen to give it a more accessible home. I've got the fruits and veggies  already in the fridge -- all I need is the motivation to tackle the juicing and the inevitable clean-up. I tried convincing myself that the washing helped with an upper body workout, but my mind didn't believe me. Maybe I'll try telling myself that washing all those parts provides a zen moment to meditate. 

Many thanks to the authors for some wonderful tips, recipes, and insights, and to Blogging for Books and the publishers for sending this book along. It's a keeper.

Tags: blogging-for-booksread-for-reviewfoodiei-liked-ittaught-me-somethingmade-me-look-something-up 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I remember Mama

It was one of the final days before I left St Louis to move to Charleston, mere weeks after graduating St Louis University School of Nursing, and mere months after the sudden death of my father.  Friends were sending me off, doing what my friends tend to do well:  fill a space with life, laughter, good food, music, and a helluva lot of love.

She was still heart-broken, and I was heart-torn-- how  could I leave her, so newly widowed, and so fragile physically? How could I start off anew, as I had intended to do in those days before my father's heart gave out? I told her I would stay; she told me I must go. She said it was the life I'd been planning, that we'd talked about, in those months before I finished nursing school.  It was the life that gave my father a lot of pleasure, thinking of his daughter heading back to that city by the sea. The two of them had talked about it, when I wasn't around, which only made me slightly twitchy to think about. He had dreams of joining me in practice after I became a Nurse Practitioner, hanging out a shingle that said DOD (though instead of the "Dear Old Dad" nickname it stood for in our family, it would be "Daughter or Dad").

I listened, and remembered; all the talking and plans, the futures he, she, and I had anticipated. It hurt to leave; it was the death of a dream to stay.   I looked at the face of  my mother, a curious combination of strength and vulnerability, alone for the first time in her life. My heart cried, but I listened to what she said, told me what she wished. "We'll both be starting new lives. It will be fine. And there are telephones, " she said. She paused, and with a twinkle in her eye, added, "and airplanes."

Tomorrow she would have been 93. In the  photo I look at, found in a box tucked away, the tangible memory of our conversation,  I am roughly the age of my son, she is roughly the age I'll be in a few days. When I look now, I see the echoes of the face I see in the mirror each day, in both her image, and mine of 33 years ago. There are no planes for visiting now, or telephones, but the journey to remembering is never far.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill

What happens when the princess in the story is unbelievably  homely, an old god is bent on destruction and the world is about to fall apart?

I picked this up to read before Kelly Barnhill's new book comes out. There's much hype and anticipation based on her earlier works (this one included) so I thought I'd take a test drive.

I liked it. Really. The main narrators were quite good, and the story well plotted and thought out. I liked the interweaving of some stuff from our mythology and folk tales, and a whole new world to explore.

It's geared for a younger crowd, but that shouldn't stop the child-at-hearts from reading it. And, it's got dragons. And heroes. And loyalty. And books. And did I say, it has dragons?

Tags: fantasy, i-liked-it, kids-of-most-ages, read, thank-you-charleston-county-library, will-look-for-more-by-this-author, ya-lit

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

Another story-within-a -story type book, interweaving two tales, which I tend to like, particularly if both narratives are interesting, which happily was the case here. In one, a woman in occupied France WWI era, finds herself struggling to keep her home and family safe, while her beloved husband is away fighting. She has her memories, and a portrait of her he painted from their days in Paris. All threatens to come apart when a German Kommandant discovers both Sophie and her portrait. In the other thread, Sophie's portrait is in modern day Paris, in the home and in the heart of Liv Halston, whose husband gave her the painting on their honeymoon. Now widowed, Liv finds herself in a court battle over who owns Sophie's portrait and if it is the spoils of warn or a true gift of love. I honestly have to say that as I read, I kept wondering how the author would untangle the mess that both women seemed to have gotten into, while keeping the promise of a happy ending in sight. I saw one possible out, but surprisingly enough, Moyes came up with a different one.

This is the second Jojo Moyes book I have read. I found the details and characters compelling, and the descriptions of life intricate enough that I could easily visualize the events of the book. My copy of the bok also included a prequel novella, called "Honeymoon in Paris", which for me, was really only interesting for the backstory of Sophie and her Edouard, rather thank Liv and her husband. And it was yet another book involving art that made me wish I could see the brush-strokes and actual painting involved in the story.

Tags: a-favorite-author, currently-reading, taught-me-something, will-look-for-more-by-this-author

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dr Who: Silhouette by Justin Richards

This is my maiden voyage with a novel based on Dr Who. The show is a big hit in my family, where three generations all consider themselves Whovians. I was curious to see how the characters translated to book format, knowing that usually, I am one of those "liked the book better than the movie" types. While the story, itself, was fine, it didn't thrill me with the same sort of delight that a well written Dr Who script does. I found the portrayals of the five "regular" characters rather flat, and, at times, had trouble remembering this was supposed to be the Capaldi Doctor, and not some ambiguous time traveller. There were a few moments when Strax seemed like Strax, and Jenny showed spunk, but for the most part, I wasn't wowed. Perhaps the fault is mine, though, as I expected the book to paint a picture in my mind that would match up to what I see on the telly each Saturday night.

I'm giving this book a 3 out of 5 stars, though, because even though I love the television series, sometimes the writers have an off time, and I moan and groan about how poorly the script was written, not giving the actors a chance to really strut their stuff. This plot-line was no worse than some of those scripts that I thought weak, perhaps even better than one or two. It could just be that my imagination is not trained to translate a story visually from a book to match what I know on the screen. After all, this adapting from a series is a new sort of read for  me. So, just like me giving the writers of episodes I'm not keen on the benefit of the doubt, so I'll give the book series the benefit, too, and a three-star rating. It also strikes me that this would be a good YA type read.

This is something like the 53rd book in the series, so apparently, others have no problem translating from television to text.  As I said, the fault is probably in me. Please don't bash me because our tastes are different. But if writers continue to have Madame Vastra refer to her wife, Jenny, as her maid, make Strax dull, Clara a bit of an imbecile, and the Doctor somehow enigmatic and dull at the same time, I'll cross future books off my wish list.

Many thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for sending this copy my way.

Tags: blogging-for-bookscolor-me-disappointed,great-coverok-but-not-greatpart-start-of-a-seriesreadthought-i-was-gonna-like

Friday, September 5, 2014

In which I get all artsy fartsy again

I hurt my knee, and apparently, in order for an injury to heal, the injured person is supposed to rest. I have learned that "resting" is, for me, a very difficult occupation, and I have repeatedly failed at it, which means that my recuperation is taking longer than I wish.

However, here are some of the things I have done to fill up my time and keep me from doing the things I apparently like to do, that are rough on a knee that is trying to heal. I've got a bunch more, including a menagerie -- foxes, horses, owls, bears, and getting ready to start a rooster.

My friend, antof9, has dubbed my style, which often combines Indian Truck Art with pysanky writing as Pysindi.

Truck art style

Star Gazing

Autumn is Coming

Find the Birdie

Girl's best friend 

Tantric Coconuts by Gregory D Kincaid

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance meets Life of Pi in this quirky spiritual journey across the wild highways and byways of America, they said. "Okay!" I said. "I'm in!" What I hoped for was a quirky boy-meets-girl (if the boy is a stiff-necked small town lawyer taking a road-trip/vacation to fulfill a promise to his grandfather and the girl is a free-spirited, new age, Native American, beginning her career as a spiritual advisor from the back of a converted bookmobile.) The problem is that the plot really didn't progress much further. Instead, the book segued into a primer on spirituality, various methods, means, types, and approaches. Don't get me wrong-- this is good information, but if I wanted to be exploring a spiritual pathway, I'd like to choose my own reading list, rather than be ambushed from the pages of a novel. As an outline/introduction to different spiritual viewpoints, this one is pretty decent, but again, I wanted a story, not a lesson. Mr Kincaid has created some characters that are just oozing with potential, but abandoned them to help enlighten the reader. I really wish he'd stuck to letting Ted, Angel Two Sparrow, and the dogs develop into fully fleshed out characters.

I'm guessing that there are those who this book will find, and it will be just the right time/tool/introduction to help them move into a new phase of life. I'm not particularly enlightened, but for me, a lot of this was like sitting through a review class on a subject I know pretty well. I plugged on through because it was a book sent to me by Library Thing Early Reviewers and the publisher, for which I am entirely grateful. I will pass it along through BookCrossing, hoping it finds the right reader while it travels the world as a BookCrossing book. Rating it 2.5 stars (out of 5), even though it is a decent introduction to spirituality book. It's just not as decent as a novel.

Tags: advanced-reader-copy, color-me-disappointed, early-review-librarything, not-to-my-taste-but-worthwhile, read, read-for-review, thought-i-was-gonna-like

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore

A Christopher Moore I haven't read! Yahoo!

I enjoyed this book, as I do most Moore novels. He's got the right mix of zaney, bawdy, silly, outrageous, humanity, and mystical to make his books good reads, truly deserving of laughing out loud. Nice to see an early iteration of a character who shows up in several other books as well.

I kept thinking, while reading this, that when I was four, my family went on a cross-country trip. While out in "Indian Country" my parents bought me a book called "Coyote Tales", all about that mischief maker. Somehow, Old Man Coyote is a bit randier in Moore's book than in my memory, though maybe I ought to read the children's book again, and look for hidden meanings. You never know.

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