Monday, October 20, 2014

The Death of Bees



Any book that opens with teen girls burying their dead parents in the garden is going to be a page turner.  Marnie (whose fifteenth birthday is the day of the secret interment) suspects her 12-year-old sister, Nelly of suffocating their father, Gene.  Nelly suspects that Marnie is the culprit.  Neither of them are overly concerned since all they want to do is stay together.  Hence the hiding of the dead bodies.  (Mom's death was something else entirely.)  Gene and Izzy were NOT model parents.

Lenny, the aging neighbor watches the girls from his window, missing his dead partner, Joseph, and wondering where the parents have gone.

The girls struggle through school, and with friends and boys (Marnie) and social ineptitude (Nelly), until a crisis forces them to seek refuge with Lenny.  They find a safe place there.  But nothing lasts forever.

Sex, drugs, violence - this book may be about teens but it is written for adults or New Adults as 20-somethings are now called in the publishing world.  Marnie and Nelly are both very smart.  As they alternate telling the story, with some help from Lenny, they uncover what a truly neglected life they have led.  All the reader really wants is for them to have a home with Lenny - he's so lonely and he can really cook! - and get on with their lives.  But murder is not a victimless crime.  Someone always has to pay.

I can't get this book out of my head.  Some of the observations attributed to Marnie and Nelly are so apt, so well-put, that I want to memorize them.  Or post them on a sampler on my wall.

When Marnie catches her bible-thumping grandfather swigging whiskey from a bottle she reacts this way:
"I go back to my room afraid, because people like Robert T. Macdonald carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous and I never considered him dangerous before and now that I do I am scared."

"People...carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous."  We see them every single day.

Click for Lisa O'Donnell's NPR interview here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Almost missed this! Ivy and Bean

It's still October 18th!  So we can still celebrate those friends-to-the-end, Ivy and Bean.
Check out all the fun here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Craft Fair again????

Oh, dear friends (and Friends), the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting Craft Fair approaches. (Oct. 18th) I should be planning the arrangements of all the tables, setting out yard signs, contacting the crafters and making sure they all show up, sending emails to all the bake sale donors and volunteers.  But instead I want to:
- read
- play the accordion, or the piano, or the kazoo
- bake muffins for me and mine and NOT for strangers
- write another adventure of the Advent Avenger, or the Halloween Hero, or the Thanksgiving Titan; (Titan?? where did that come from?)
- doodle
- do 6 or 10 or 15 sudoku puzzles and a few crosswords
- take down the wash
- make supper

ANYTHING!!!  ANYTHING but what I should be doing.  It is an affliction - this tendency of mine to ignore my responsibilities and just fritter.    Puttering is guilt-free.  Frittering is fraught...just totally fraught.

Anyway, if you are in Bethlehem, PA on October 18th - stop by the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting and spend money.  I will be the heavyset flustered woman in the weird hat.  You will have fun.
10 am to 3 pm. 4116 Bath Pike, Bethlehem, PA 18017  And there will be homemade soup and bread, fresh pressed cider and music, sweet, sweet music.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Lyrics

I have a problem.  I long for days with no to-dos in them - just puttering.  I like puttering.  BUT - but, I have so many things I want to do.

One of the things I want to do is write more song lyric-y poetry.  I even want to write more songs.
So I signed on to a FB group that challenges the members to write one song a month using a prompt suggested by members of the group.  And by write, the group doesn't expect a handwritten score that can be played by a quartet.  No, all the group wants is a YouTube, or an mp3, or an iTunes of the song.  Your phone can record the song, even.

Except my phone can't.  And after the first three or four months, I stopped trying.

Here are the prompts I missed:
one perfect day
an antique photo in a shop
tattoo
something to love about everyone
glimmer

I decided to cheat!  I decided to roll all those themes into one song.  Here are the lyrics I wrote:

 On a perfect day, one spent with you,
I chanced upon a scene
Of an old farm house in a dusty frame
So gray it was almost green.

And you smiled as if you had a thought
You had to keep from me
You bought me that dusty frame
Since that old house spoke to me.

There is something to love about everyone
You whispered that night in our bed.
That old farm looked like a promised land
to that farmer when he wed.

There is something to love about everyone
Was your mantra from then on.
That farmer’s work,  or my strange love
for a place that was long gone.

That frame is safely packed away
with the other things you left
When you knew that your time on earth was done
and I found myself bereft.

And your mantra I’ve etched into my skin
A glimmering tattoo
There is something to love about everyone
Because I once loved you.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Story FUSION 2014

The tellers are coming!  The tellers are coming!

Frantically, I try to absorb all the research on stories and learning and then I must put all that stuff into context and condense it into sound bites. And then I have to provide adult learners with activities that will make them feel easier about  incorporating storytelling into their work lives.  And then I have to organize all this stuff so that it makes sense.  And THEN, I have to NOT blank out when presenting.

So here's my to-do list:
Create the certificate of participation - because it's the thing I would forget to do if I don't do it NOW.
Make an enlarged resource list - which I will make available here.
Collect definitions of the word story.
Collect quotes from studies to support the research.
Organize how I hope to present this stuff.
Practice it - so I don't blank out when someone takes me down a shady tangent.

Oh, did I tell you?  I'm leading a workshop for teachers and librarians about telling classrooms and storytelling clubs.  On Saturday.  From 9 to 12 noon.  At StoryFUSION.  JOIN ME!

Also, I am the MC on Saturday night - for Mary Wright and - TA DAH!!!  Jennings and Ponder!

This is the MOST wonderful time of the year!!!



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Storytelling AGAIN!!

UPDATE: The workshop was, as the host kept saying, "A-DOR-able!" 16 children, ages 4 through 12, and their various adults met with me and we told stories and played games and made crafts.  I had So Much FUN! Cops'n'Kids does a wonderful job of providing free books to children of all ages.

On Saturday, I will lead a family workshop on storytelling for kids 7 and up.  Younger kids can attend if their parents come along.  The workshop will be at Cops'n'Kids Lehigh Valley at the South Campus of Northampton Community College.  Click on the link to find a complete list of CopsnKids events.

I am reading Story Proof by Kendall Haven.  The subtitle is The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story. Haven has studied thousands of pages of reports in brain and cognitive science and they unanimously agree.  Humans need stories.  Humans learn best through stories.   As Rudyard Kipling is purported to have said,

"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."

That is the truth.

I keep promising myself that I will make a list of the odd little facts, household tips, and attitudes that I have picked up from stories - either oral or written.

For instance, I learned that if you put your cream in the cup before pouring the coffee you don't need to stir.  And it's true.  I read that in a YA novel about a boy whose mother was a wandering diner waitress.

I learned the best way to clean up a shattered glass from a book.  The book was about a boy whose father was the headmaster at the lad's school.

Things stick in your head when your hear them, or read them in a story.

So join me on Saturday and hear a good story or two.