Tuesday, February 28, 2017

why hello there


2017's first crocuses whisper their howdy dos.  



Monday, February 27, 2017

slurping ice cream in comfort


Taking the dogs to get ice cream and sniff around a different park is one of my biggest joys in life.

My thug muffin, Ella, attempted to order her ice cream in dog.  Thankfully the gal at the ice cream place didn't understand dog so Ella ended up with only one doggie cone.



And yea, when you flip down your seat so your dogs can sit on the expensive liner that you bought just for them,  your dogs (especially the thug muffin variety) will almost always choose to put their keisters on the soft leather seat.



But it wouldn't be a Subaru without a little lot of doggie hair/dirt.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hunter's Heart


I made this french knot heart for a special friend. She picked out the colors and fabric and asked for less density at the top and more at the bottom.

Because this friend is always looking out for others it's very likely she has two hearts, so I attempted to do a double heart in this piece.  







Thursday, February 23, 2017

this green tub mountain is a love letter to libraries


This is what it looks like after the library is closed for a day:


These tubs are filled with holds placed by patrons at my branch.

And this is only the first of two batches for the day.

I think it's fair to say I work at one of the most loved places on earth.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bastards by Mary Anna King


Mary Anna King’s first six years of life are anything but stable. Three out of her five siblings are put up for adoption, and as a small child, Mary Anna tags along with her mother to meet with potential adoptive parents for each of her unborn sisters. Mary Anna explores the many reasons for her mom’s unwanted pregnancies, and though she’s never certain of any particular one, she is sure about one thing. She’s going to meet those sisters someday, no matter what. Bastards is not only Mary Anna's journey of discovering who her adopted sisters are, but also discovering who she is and how family is defined when it's scattered to pieces.

When Mary Anna is six, her step-grandma, Mimi, shows up at her New Jersey home and whisks the remaining three children away to live in Oklahoma with her and grandpa. Mary Anna’s unreliable father has walked out for the last time. This time Mary Anna’s mom is so broken she cannot take care of herself, let alone her three kids that managed to escape adoption. What starts as a temporary stay at her grandparent's home ends up as Mary Anna’s and her sister’s forever home. Sadly, her brother is shipped back to New Jersey due to behavioral issues, but he manages to stay in touch. Mary Anna’s life with her grandparents is stable, but she spends her childhood wondering if they opened their home out of love or obligation. Mary Anna is also unsure of who she should love, whether the recipient deserves her love, and how love is actually defined.

I feel like I need a diagram to explain Mary Anna’s convoluted family tree, but that’s one of the reasons this book is so special. Mary Anna’s candid prose beautifully sets up the family tree, person by person, connecting everyone together with not only physical characteristics, but also mannerisms and personality traits. As each sister finds Mary Anna, the reunion is both joyous and heartbreaking. Finding one other is balanced equally with many lost years that can never be relived. Mary Anna deftly captures this and expertly describes how her family comes alive, piece by piece, in the faces of strangers.

Mary Anna oscillates between matter-of-fact acceptance and the anguish of a child who is the very definition of the word, bastard. Her radical shifts between acceptance and uncertainty give the memories of her unique childhood a sense of sincerity and vulnerability and proves that what she went through was enough confusion and trauma to last a lifetime. I’m glad she didn’t feel the need to finish the memoir with a happily-ever-after feel. It's completely believable that she will spend the rest of her life getting to know her sisters and forever questioning her parents' strange behavior.

Because this book was so beautifully written and compelling I read every single word, including the acknowledgements. And it was there, in the acknowledgements, that I found the most beautiful line, “To my editor… You made it possible for there to be a place in this world where my siblings and I can be together, in some small way, forever.”

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mother Taiga


When I listened to Mother Taiga the first time I was blown away. The second time I listened to it I wondered what taiga meant.  It turns out that taiga is Russian for forest, a swampy, coniferous forest of northern latitudes.

And it makes perfect sense.  I've always felt like the forest I grew up in was a mother to me in many ways.  It taught me life lessons, gave me nourishment and shelter, and demonstrated both tough and tender love, often on the same day!  Like the day I jumped away just in time to escape an ominous rattler, and later, to console myself, found a tree to tuck into until I could face the world again.

This song is balm for all my invisible aches.  It centers me whenever I get too ahead of myself and gently nudges me to focus on the present. It's the pulse of the ground beneath my feet, the growl of life lived fiercely, the whisper of atmosphere and breath combined.

And I hope it means as much to you as it does to me.

Carmen Rizzo & Huun Huur Tu - Mother Taiga

Sunday, February 12, 2017

lighter


This morning I was a little overwhelmed and anxious.  Lotsa stuff on my mind.  

So I grabbed the grooming tools and hit the porch with the dogs.  Grooming the girls is always a chore that intimidates me at first, but later, transforms into meditation. 

After quite a bit of brushing we all felt a bit lighter. I mean look at all this hair!



Rachel, after sleeping in on a rare morning off, made her usual yogurt parfait and joined us on the porch even though it was miserably cold and windy.  She cuddled up with Rose, who I had already groomed, and chatted with me while I finished grooming Ella.



Like lotsa humans, I struggle to put my negative energy to positive use.  This morning, after a bit of grousing, I did just that.  The negative energy not only dissipated and left me feeling lighter, but when Rachel joined us, I was consumed with joy.

She ate her breakfast on the cold porch with tornados of hair swirling everywhere, just to be near me and the dogs.

I've spent today thinking, I am loved, I am needed, I matter.  And hopefully I can remember that the next time I'm feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Monday, February 6, 2017

happy as can be


This is what I mean when I say that our house is starting to feel like home:


One dog is a pillow/place to prop homework, the other is a footrest.  And they are all happy as can be.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

dangit.


I cannot help but think that this staff picks picture from last week is perfect because I am fighting off my fifth sinus infection since November.



This is our first official "death" row of staff picks (that we're aware of).  

And no worries.  I'm not going to die from these sinus infections.  I just feel a little like this dinosaur:



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Girl Power


January was definitely a month of girl power when it came to reading.  I read two outstanding books with strong, inspirational female protagonists. Both books hooked me within the first few pages and by the end of each I had fallen in love with both ladies, one fictional and one who is very real.

The Boston Girl is a full-length review because it was not only an exceptional book, my library system owns it, so therefore I wrote a longer piece for their website.  Something I should probably point out is that I haven't read an outstanding piece of fiction since July, 2015.  I've read some good fiction, don't get me wrong, but nothing that had me talking for days about it.  

I also read Hope in a Ballet shoe and am currently watching First Position, which is a documentary about six different kids competing in the Youth America Grand Prix​.  Michaela is one of the ballerinas featured in the documentary so I'm very jazzed up about it.

The Boston Girl is told by 85-year-old Addie, who revisits her long life of memories during an interview given by one of her grandchildren.  It’s an incredibly intimate one-side conversation that completely ensnares the reader.  This storytelling style made me feel as if Addie was my grandmother.  Like other special books with superb storytelling, The Boston Girl envelopes the reader inside a bubble.  While reading it, you feel like you are living the story and your real life is just an inconvenience that exists outside of the bubble.  

Addie Baum is both fiercely independent and endearingly reliant on the love and support of her friends and family.  She’s never entirely sure what she wants out life, and for most of the book, she could be any teenaged or twenty-something trying to figure out who she is.  She is just as surprised as the reader is by each of her revelations.  Because she has a couple rotten experiences with men, she becomes leery and standoffish with them.  I found it refreshing that she stays level headed and doesn’t succumb to her emotions.  Her relationships with her friends and family are complex and meaningful.  Hands down, my favorite aspect of The Boston Girl is the colorful array of characters. Each person in this book stands on their own and is just as complex as Addie.  My only disappointment was how little time was spent on her years of motherhood in comparison to her years prior to marriage.  Because of how well the characters are portrayed I wish I could have known more about Addie's husband and children.  

The first time I saw this book, I was immediately drawn to the cover, as I’m sure any reader would be.  Though she is sitting on an uncomfortable pier with waves crashing around her, Addie is completely immersed in the book she is reading. This is a testament to the kind of life she lived - giving her undivided attention to her friends, family and personal growth.  When you read The Boston Girl, you too, will give Addie's memories your undivided attention.  The entire world will disappear, leaving only Addie’s story of growing up in Boston and her journey to find her place in the world. 

Though Hope in a Ballet Shoe isn't the most well-written book you'll ever read, and the portrayal of the Sierra Leone civil war will give you nightmares, I highly recommend it. Michaela DePrince's story of going from a starving, neglected orphan to ballerina extraordinaire is inspiring, beautiful, and heartwarming. 

After seeing a picture of a ballerina during her horrific time at an orphanage, Michaela decides she wants to become a ballerina. She escapes Sierra Leone thanks to two extraordinary people who adopt both Michaela and her best friend, Mia. After years of hard work, Michaela becomes a globally renowned ballerina. This is the stuff of fairy tales, but unlike fairy tales, it's a true story. 

I was blown away by the love portrayed in this book and how it overpowers the atrocities of Michaela's early life. Though the book doesn't hide the sacrifices made by Michaela and her parents, their selflessness, passion for life, and love for each other make those sacrifices look so small in comparison.