Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We have incredible red tulips in front of our house and for several days my husband has urged me to pick some to take to my Mom. So today on my way into work I did. My Mom was playing doubles tennis. My Dad had a tennis court built one year when his men needed work. (As a building contractor, he bragged that his men were "laid off" only two weeks in 30 years. If he couldn't line up houses or churches or hospital additions to build, he just built onto our house.)

My Dad was up the hill in the living room, reading.

He said, "I get such joy watching them play. I wish I could be playing, but since I can't, I like to watch your mother play." He sighed. "But when I said that, G. said I shouldn't watch because it makes her nervous." Then he laughed.

We talked for awhile and I was suddenly struck by what a good-looking man my Dad is and I saw myself in the future living without him. Not a particularly happy thought but at that moment, I felt very, very lucky to have him as MY Dad even if I have to share him with 8 other people. We talked about my brother, Vincent's, book, "Happiness in Five Minutes a Day". We discussed another brother's work. He told me again, as he often does, that he is proud of ALL his children.

Then my Dad quoted Helen Keller. He may have been paraphrasing. He said, "The things of goodness and beauty in life cannot be touched or seen but only felt in your heart."

He turned it into a sermon, because that's what my Dad does, but what he quoted is true. And my Dad - and my Mom, too - have always been able to feel goodness and beauty in their hearts.

I am lucky in my parents. As Randy Pausch says about his own parents in his book, "The Last Lecture", I won the parent lottery. With my Dad, I haven't always been sure of that. This post makes him sound like a man of wisdom which he can be at times. So that's how I will let it stand.

Monday, April 14, 2008

There is a distinct disadvantage to reading Advance Readers' Copies or bound galleys, especially if the book is part of a series. I just finished Michael Scott's The Magician, book two of his Secrets of Nicholas Flamel series. This book is not due out until June, 2008. That means that there is even a longer wait for book three. And I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!

Most of YOU will have to wait three months less than I do for Book 3. Is that fair?

Okay, here are things I like about this series: The character, Scathach - she's fascinating; the in depth look at the cities in which the story lines take place; the lightning lessons on ancient mythology; the action-packed plot lines; Machiavelli.

Here are things that could change: mentions of current brands and bands - in a fantasy, I find that jarring; some descriptions go on too long; Josh's ambiguity is predictable, even as it adds tension. And slow down a bit. I'd like the characters to have a little bit more time to develop in front of the reader. The twins are not as well drawn as the other characters, perhaps because they are millenia younger. But they are the crucial characters in the story. That said, this is a worthy addition to the fantasy genre.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I never told you about the Wild Women Party or the Belly Dancing Workshop with Tahya!

Okay. Wild Women Party! Last Saturday, I joined s few dozen women and we painted our faces and made tiaras and did our nails and listened to me play the accordion and just did Women stuff and then Kathy Pierce told some great stories about women - folk tales and literary tales and some of her own tales. Kristin Pedemonti told about how she found her own wild self after suffocating if for years and then I told the story of my "Last Christmas at Home". My mom and dad were in the audience and my mom plays a part in that story.

Last night, Donna Bennet, one the LVSG members, told me my Mom as laughing her head off during my story - which was the desired effect, I might add. And I said, "My mom thinks her children are funny and talented", which is true. She does.

But I just thought about that and I remembered that a week or so ago, my Mom wondered out loud about where she went wrong as she and I commiserated about one of my siblings unhappinesses.

So explain this...When we do something wonderful, Mom is amazed and thrilled that any of her little darlings has grown to be so talented. That doesn't sound right. What I mean is - she is totally thrilled and she wonders how she could have given birth to such wonderful creatures. We, according to her, developed our talents on our own and through the grace of God. But when one of us muffs up, she wonders where she went wrong? Um, Mom if you helped us mess up, you helped make us wonderful. And if we can be wonderful on our own, we can make our own mistakes free of your influence - despite your influence either.

My Dad on the other hand beams like a proud Papa when we do something - with a look that says, "See what I did? Hmm? Good, right?" And we mess up, he's furious - as if we did it to insult him. Same thing, Dad. Maybe we are wonderful despite your influence and maybe our mistakes are all your fault...

So, I'm looking at this parent/child relationship. Personally, I like my mother's attitude a little better because she gives us credit for our accomplishments. I just don't like that she (or I or any other mother) blames herself for her grown children's foolshnesses. We have enough GUILT, Mom, okay?? We are the ones who make the stupid mistakes. etc., etc. yadayada...

Enough, really. I must admit. I love having my Mom in the audience when I perform. She expects to enjoy herself and I rarely disappoint. It's great to tell to an audience who loves me unconditionally. I am lucky to have such a great Mom.

As for the belly dancing - I love it. It's so much fun and Tahya was a great dancer. I bought her DVD so I can practice what I learned in private. Expect belly dancing stories in the future.
The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Festival 2008 is almost finished. This is the fifth festival and our fourth anniversary. (Our first festival was in 2004. Count on your fingers - '04, '05, '06, '07, '08 = 5) This year, the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild decided to do a week long festival - with the annual Girls Night Out/Women's Weekend leading off. Fran Yardley was the featured teller and she is an oasis of delightful calm in a tumultuous world. I missed her performance because I was performing as part of the Tellers-in-the-Schools at NCC.

Anyway, yesterday I spent the day with Odds Bodkin as he presented a workshop to teachers and librarians. WHOA!!!!! Talk about a talented teller/musician/educator/performer! He had us all mesmerized. His musical accompaniment is so apt.

His performance last night was soooooooo great! SO GREAT! It was a total immersion - sound effects - made by his very own voice - music - facial expressions - dramatic pauses, wind weather - you name it. WOW!!

Richard Marsh, a teller from Ireland, opened for Odds. Marsh's style is so different. He is a traditional teller. He simply tells the story in a mild and interesting manner but he concentrated on Irish mythology - all those Gaelic names and family connections. SO, two totally different storytelling styles for a complete storytelling experience. Yeah! And you missed it! Too bad.

Today, Hub and I bought new dishes. There is something so satisfying about putting a new set of matching dishes in the cupboard. The part about disposing of the old less satisfactory dishes is always a problem because I hate to throw anything out. I will move them to the attic and wait until the American Family Services lady calls. Maybe some young person just starting out - or someone looking for few spare pieces of that pattern - or an artist who specializes in recycling things - will snatch those old dishes up. One can hope.

Enough. I am finishing The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I'll let you know what I think of it when I finish.

Tomorrow at Godfrey Daniels, from 11 am to around 1 pm, the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Festival offers a Sacred Stories event and invites participants to share stories that speak to the spirit. It's Free! Drop by.