Thursday, April 30, 2015

Easy Decision

During a recent evening at the library we had a cute crafting program for kids.  One kid and his mom stood at the door of the meeting room looking hesitant but interested in the commotion going on inside.  I approached them and told them about the exciting event and encouraged them to go in.  
The kid looked at his mom and asked, "are we having pork chops and rice for dinner tonight?"  
"Nope," she replied.  "We're having Parmesan chicken."  
The kid gave a disgusted grunt and said, "well, I might as well go in there."  

And into the meeting room he went.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

While the protagonist, Victoria, is incredibly flawed in The Language of Flowers, it is unlikely you will ever feel anger towards her.  Trapped in the uncaring hands of foster care her entire life, she is socially inept, volatile and completely mired in grief and rage.

After being booted out of foster care at the age of eighteen, Victoria struggles to find a foothold in adult life.  Thanks to a florist, Renata, and a flower vendor, Grant, Victoria finds anchor in her passion, the language of flowers.  While she is busy healing the lives of others through her remarkable talent of arranging flowers so that the flowers have a voice, Victoria does not begin to heal her own past until an unlikely thread connects her to not only her past but to herself as well.

With chapters alternating between Victoria’s past and present selves and a captivating and entirely believable vein of magic realism running throughout, you will be mesmerized and silently encourage Victoria to give herself a chance and open herself up to joy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Robert and I will giggle ourselves stupid

Did I mention we are moving?  A few months ago we discovered that Audrey (Robert’s mom) needed extensive work on her house, which is right across the street from ours.  Because of the opportunity to start from scratch and how much more space her house has (currently 6 bedrooms, 4 baths), it was decided that Robert and I are going to switch houses with Audrey. 

Then, an interesting catch happened about a week ago – a friend needed a place to stay – and rather than making the friend move twice and share a bathroom with us, Robert and I decided to move in early (like about a month early).  The plan is to live upstairs for roughly a year while the downstairs is completely renovated.  Because we decided to move early poor Audrey is still downstairs, waiting patiently while the bathroom at the old house is renovated in addition to a few other things.  Really, it’s poor us, not to toot my whiny horn or anything obnoxious like that. 

It’s a little strange.  The upstairs where we are living has three bedrooms (one for friend, one for us, one for office/craft room), a tiny living area and two bathrooms.  We are frantically packing things to store away for a year, dragging needed stuff over and trying to make the place more livable – tiny kitchenette thrown in (a microwave and fridge namely), a few doors on the bedrooms, shelves for storage etc.  Little hiccups keep happening – so far plumbing issues, lack of hot water in our bathroom, an entire rod of clothes collapsing and literally shearing the screws that held it in place, finding out that there’s not enough room for a full-sized washing machine and dryer, Robert needing to fly all the way across the country to fix computer issues for a client whose system was damaged in a storm etc. etc.   

And here is a lovely list of things that we have to go across the street for: my bike, laundry, refrigerated food, books – do I need to keep going?  Just today I sat down to take a breather and work on my embroidery and after some mild cursing and grumbling I ambled across the street and carried my rocking chair over. 

Needless to say, it has been quite the adventure thus far.  Thankfully our friend has been patient with us and our dogs haven’t packed up their toys and left.  Side note: it is cute watching them bring a toy over each time they make the journey across the street. 

Today we toured a home that is completely decked out in home automation.  We haven’t gotten Robert’s mom out of the house or drawn up plans for where we want rooms to be and here we are looking into how to make special messages for unwanted Jehovah’s Witnesses like we’re the Jetsons in training.   

All of this is too funny to really be frustrating.  Robert and I have had so many grand and oftentimes batshit crazy adventures together.  Before we go to sleep tonight, Robert and I will giggle ourselves stupid over any new calamity that has developed in this adventure just like we did the night following Robert’s heroic act of hopping on the handlebars of a bike ridden by a random Guatemalan and rushing to save my mom and me from drowning in a kayak that was slowly sinking in a sewer disguised as a lake in Guatemala years ago. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

too cute to eat

Look at this adorable Easter basket that a writer from my memoir workshop gave me to share with my coworkers:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Workshop Happiness

One of the writers who attends both of my workshops just gave me a thank-you note and the chapbook of a local poet : ): 

And another writer who attends both of my workshops sent this to the Executive Director of the Foundation:

 "I want you to know that The... Branch has a hidden treasure behind the desk and in the stacks!   Hannah Jane Chambers chairs both The Memoir Writers and The Poetry Group once a month and is a creative, enthusiastic and very knowable facilitator.   She loves the library and her work there but I am sure she spends hours of her own time planning and preparing for her 2 workshops.  I never miss either gathering and the little meeting room is usually filled with all ages and of all levels of talent but all eager to learn more from Hannah Jane.  I can always feel the excitement in the room as the early arrivals compare notes and ideas on promps sent home the month before and speculate on  what Hannah Jane will surprise and encourage us with this evening. 
     Last evening’s Poetry Group was especially rewarding;  a well planned study of haikus and time to  write and share our efforts.  Hannah Jane, “off the clock” will be creating our efforts into a wall of flower poetry to celebrate Poetry Month.  I couldn’t sleep for hours as haikus celebrating spring danced in my head.  She was so well prepared and excited herself that the energy in the room was contagious.  She even brought at least 50 colored pens and special papers to encourage creativity.  As I said, Hannah Jane is a treasure.
     Hannah Jane is a wonderful poet and dedicated worker and I’m sure she can look forward to a satisfying future.  I’m 85  just hope no larger library or organization lures her away until I can no longer navigate to The... Library.  Come visit sometime and see for yourself what Hannah Jane can do!"

And the response from the Executive Director:

"This is wonderful and I am so happy to hear that your experience with the Poetry Group has been so positive.  Hannah Jane Chambers is indeed a treasure and we are fortunate to have her on staff!
As the Executive Director of the Foundation, I am especially pleased to hear this because we actively support writers activities and programs at the Library and we love to hear the great work going on...  Your words are life giving and I will happily share with our leadership this great feedback about Hannah!"

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

far more glorious

Robert and I let the dogs have the backyard years ago when they were rowdy puppies and gleefully stomped through flowers, dug holes and romped so vigorously the lawn would occasionally disappear in spots.  We are vaguely aware that a dogwood tree lives back there, in addition to daffodils, crocuses and an all-encompassing rose of sharon, but we stopped caring long ago for any pretty thing that grew back there because the backyard is not our turf.  

Rose and Ella generally hang out in the backyard for a cumulation of maybe 15 minutes each day and during that time we don't want to babysit them.  So if they annihilate any pretty thing in their quest to CHASE THE SQUIRREL so be it.  

Our blasé attitudes were recently tested when we discovered that some kind of mutant daffodil forces had conspired against the dogs to grow the entire length of the giant porch.  But we decided to leave the daffodils to the forces of Rose and Ella.  

When I went outside to take a picture of the daffodils before their imminent trampling I was totally unprepared for something far more glorious to overtake the picture.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

New Etsy Item!

One Splashy Curlew for sale!!

I had such an awesome time meeting this rebel curlew and making this hoop his home.  Plus it was another gigantic learning experience.  I suspect every embroidery/sewing project will be a learning experience of some kind.  With this birdy I tried out 'blocking,' but quickly learned that I liked the blocks to have little to no pattern and to connect in some way, so for now I'm coining my type of blocking as 'interlocking blocking,' which may change if I happen to discover the existing method in my embroidery how-to book.    

What happened to the gnome you ask?  Well, sadly the little fart died hat first in a violent stabbing incident.  If I meet another gnome in the future I am hoping he will be the good kind of gnome.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

the happiest place in the library

April is a very special month for me because it is National Poetry Month and I always make a fun display for the library.  This year National Poetry Month began in March when I asked the people in the poetry workshop I facilitate to help me with a special part of the display.  I thought National Poetry Month would be the perfect time to celebrate one of my favorite forms, the Haiku.  First, I decided our topic would be spring.  I then wrote the five senses out twice on pieces of paper in addition to two special pieces of paper - the opener that closed winter and the closing that opened to summer.  Each piece of paper had a special # attached to it for how it would fit into a Renga, which is a poem composed of many haikus.  Each person in the workshop drew out pieces of paper from the bowl and wrote a haiku about experiencing spring through the sense that was chosen.  For example, the sense of smell was a poem about a dog sniffing the butts of other dogs during a spring romp - no joke - enlarge it and you will see!  After the haikus were written everyone read their poems according to the number attached to the piece of paper they drew.  Two lucky poets wrote the opening and closing for the collaborative poem and wrapped up the Renga beautifully.  

Then each person carefully wrote their poem on a pretty piece of paper of their choice.  I took those papers home and cut them into flowers for a collage piece I created for National Poetry Month. It was such a marvelous experience.  

Doing a collage project often requires the entire floor of my craft room and more time spent vacuuming than creating : ).  I had a lot of fun matching the poets and their poems to the accent colors of the flowers.  

Don't worry, in addition to the collage, my display is bursting with poetry books handpicked by my coworkers and me.  

I think it's currently the happiest place in the library.