Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays Dear Blogger Friends!

Poor little Snoppy! His music wouldn't stop and I had to delete the post! "Oh Christmas Tree," you went too far into January...I could hear the visitor noise swelling over cyberspace, "Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!! :-)" or was it me??

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dancing "Traditional" in Dominica


Oasis Dominica(n) Feature: A Hat Romance

(photo of Marcelle John)


I have heard that the points of this hat are significant: One point and the girl's single and available, two and she is married, three and she's a widow...so the folk wisdom goes...

~~~~In Dominica, the traditional dance costume is worn for special cultural occasions and is often made with great care. Marcelle's grandmother made this costume-the last one before her death.

On the afternoon of our visit, we saw the beautiful costume laid ~~~~~~~~~~out on a traditional piece of furniture. I was surprised because this is the same traditional furniture you find in Puerto Rico. The open weave back and seat area make it particularly suitable for hot tropical weather.




~~~~~~It wasn't long before we convinced Marcelle to dress up for us so we could see how the outfit was worn. She was a great sport about it! Her sister, Irma Bryon, helped to tie and adjust the carefully made parts.~~~~~

Once all the pieces are put together, we are treated to a most festive and dramatic costume!


~~~~~~~~ A view from the window... imagine the family getting dressed for church and walking through town on a Sunday...only I think they wore a different outfit...a more formal
outfit. We were shown one of these in the family photo
album...~~~~~(the long sleeved dress on the left would be worn to church.)



~~~~~Here are some young people dancing for us at the Caribbean Cultures Conference...an adorable romance -where the boy appeals to the resistant girl -is acted out in the songs. We were entertained by a delightful folk musical.
I imagine that the original house look like the neighbor's lovely wooden home complete with the cutout lacy detail...sigh...romantic, yes, but cement is more practical in the storm tossed tropics.
Thank you...
Mar
celle and Irma for showing us your beautiful rich Dominican traditions, but most of all, thank you for sharing your warmth with us in your family home.
~~~~~~
Bloggers, thank you also for reading about my visit to this unique island. If you missed the previous posts in this feature, please go back and read more about Dominica. (I just received my copy of "The Unburnable" by Marie-Elena John in the mail and have just read the beginning...these women are the author's aunt and mother.)

Post Script:
I'm sure we all agree with the "World Peace" sentiment on this Dominican building...and let it begin with all o
f us.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Questing for a Literal-Literary Home

Hi friends! I'm sorry that I have been a "lazy good for nothing" blog hostess lately but I have been held captive by career duties and research, enchanted by the Facebook fairy, and compelled by a family who wants their mom to be the Domestic Holiday Goddess-or at least cook. I appreciate your visits and comments so much! Thank you for staying with me. (I will try to do better, I promise.)

Here is a photo from my recent trip to Dominica. I am standing with my French friend, Marie-Annick, a professor from Bristol (UK).

I just love the way our world is growing smaller everyday.



Speaking of a small world (and not the Disney version) let me get back to the walk through Dominica and our little group's chance meeting with the Marie Elena John's mother (Marella John) and her aunt (Irma Byron)....



~~~~
If you recall... Sunday was hot...a kind of heat where you feel you need to slip into a bathing suit and wade gently so you don't just let go and sink to the bottom and drown.



Our brave little-soaked-in-humidity-group continued down George V Avenue in spite of the heat. Hotel Flamboyant (photo) called to us in all of its tropical but cool brightness but we were on a mission.




"Just where is the author, Jean Rhys' house? It's around here somewhere." (She called herself "a doormat in a world of boots" and is the famous Caribbean writer of the prize winning, Wide Sargasso Sea, which is another look at Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre) It's around here somewhere...


There it is just under that Guest House sign. Everything seems to be closed and boarded up. Too bad.

Did you know that Jean Rhys went to England to live with her aunt when she was seventeen? She also longed to go to the places that she read about in books. (see article)
The characters in her fictional but often autobiographically based books are displaced. Isn't it sad that her schoolmates in England made fun of her when she called herself English? They said she was a colonial. Rhys writes of lonely women who long for validation from men, and I've often read that she had a drinking problem but I digress...
~~~
Where are we going now? I hope it's safe. I had a reason to feel afraid...


We had an unpleasant adventure one evening, which I regret to tell you about. One of our party was robbed! It was dark when we headed down the street en route to our hotel when I heard another friend yell, "They're being robbed!" After she dashed by, I went back down the dark street only to see a man engaged in a discussion (HE HAD A GUN) with another female from our group while two men hovered nearby. (One of them was MR. OASIS!) I started yelling, "They're being robbed!" and didn't stop until people began to return, and the criminal took off with our friend's purse.


At least they didn't get shot!


"Dominica is safe; the official crime rate is well below the average." We heard this from the hotel staff, our tour guides, and the airport personnel.


Still I advise you to be careful if you go there.

Crime happens everywhere. (Confession: I 've learned my attracting attention distraction technique from the streets of Puerto Rico!)

We went out many times after this incident and no one was ever harmed, stalked, or hustled in any manner.
~~~~

It's daytime! Get ahold of yourself, Ms. Oasis! Just look at the delightfully bright color of these homes!


Hello up there! You have a beautiful colorful house!




Was I too forward?


I think people from Dominica are friendly and honest. We started talking with these ladies on the balcony. When they realized we were there for the Caribbean Cultures Conference, they became even more hospitable! I'm afraid I asked them their names. (Bold!) When I heard the surname John, I immediately suspected that they were the women mentioned by the author, Marie Isabel John during her presentation. [She said, "I'm not an academic" but is a graduate from Columbia University (masters degree)-she was also valedictorian of her bachelor's degree class-I'm sure she knows what she is talking about-academic or not.] Her novel, The Unburnable, loosely references her family-and these two women!
What a discovery! We found the house and family. It was a rare opportunity because they now live in Antigua and were only in Dominica for their annual two week visit to air out the family home.
AND they invited us inside!
Hello Miss Marelle and Miss Irma!
***
We will tour of this historic house, see a handmade traditional costume, and experience more of the beautiful Dominica in the following blog... See you soon, friends.
Bye for now!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jamaica Kincaid's Dominica Exile


Oasis in Dominica: Meetings and Mothers
I have read most of the Caribbean author, Jamaica Kincaid's writing. In the course of my research, I have learned about her biography. Recently (Sunday), I came back from her mother’s home island of Dominica. While there, I looked at everything with concentrated attention-this is where Jamaica Kincaid arrived when her mother sent her away for dropping her newborn baby brother on the floor. Her mother said she intended to kill him. (This autobiographically based scene is described in Kincaid's second novel, Annie John, but is referred to in various interviews.)

While at the conference, I met a young girl who was the Prefect of her class. I remembered the scene where Kincaid loses this same position of honor because she ornately writes in a textbook under a color plate of Christopher Columbus, "The Old Man Can No Longer Just Get Up and Go." Annie had just left her mother's house, where a letter from Dominica had arrived with what normally is bad news. It stated that Anne's grandfather's health was declining, and her mother's cold reaction was the above statement. This scene is narrated in the chapter, "Columbus in Chains" and overlaps with the author's life. (Don't be confused with the names because in real life, Anne is Jamaica Kincaid's mother's name-and also Kincaid's daughter's name. In the the book, Annie John, is the character that most closely resembles Jamaica Kincaid. Oh and that is not her birth name either! She was born Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson)

I was astounded by the coincidence of meeting a girl in Dominica at the conference who was also a Prefect of a local school, since only adult scholarly types usually attend. (I confess I teased her about being a perfect Prefect!) I asked her if she knew who Jamaica Kincaid was or if she had read any of her work. After hearing her negative reply, I located her teacher and asked why they don't read Jamaica Kincaid's books. She said that her work was too difficult. I'm pretty sure she was not talking about writing but more about Kincaid's controversial character portrayal and subject matter.

While walking around, I keep thinking, "Kincaid saw these people (Okay-maybe their relatives!) and rode on these roads."



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Dominica is a beautiful tropical island-with very little catering to the tourists. The streets are roughly repaired, the sidewalks are cut off by a cement drainage system and people crowd every space with merchandise-unless it’s Sunday. On Sunday, all is quiet. A few of us Caribbean Cultures Conference attendees went for a bright Sunday walk through the streets of Roseau.

An Extremely Hot Walk

The sun blazes through the atmosphere turning the wet earth into a steaming bath. I was uncomfortable in the delicious way that Kincaid describes in her travel book A Walk in the Himalayas, and aware that I could be one of the tourist she cuts down in A Small Place. I’m so please that I was able to be in this tropical atmosphere for a while.


I imagine the sketchy character in the short story, Girl (At the Bottom of the River) and question, why do I appreciate her work? What does it tell me about life? I don't actually relate to the challenging proud girl-except that I also had an independent mother. I don’t think I was vocally rebellious but I often had independent thoughts. Like Kincaid, I struck out on my own at seventeen and tried to cutout my own life path (which came with many mistakes!)

I appreciate Kincaid's writing style but also her character's conflict and confusion. I honor the effort she made to become a writer who is now internationally known and respected.

While at the Eastern Caribbean Cultures conference, I was introduced to the social activist and novelist, Marie-Elena John. She wrote her first novel, Unburnable in 2006, and was describing the writing and how it connected to her personal biography. (interview)Her talk was fascinating. I learned that she grew up in Antigua but her mother was from Dominica. She spent time in Dominica as a child but especially absorbed its culture through contact with her mother. She has this in common with Jamaica Kincaid. I asked her what was the double-edged sword of being compared to Jamaica Kincaid, which she had mentioned in her talk. She said that it is an honor to be compared to such a well known author, but that as a child her mother and other older Antiguan women were shocked by her tell all writing style. She heard them say, "How could she do that to her mother? She is still alive and walking around here!" John said that recently while conducting a writer's workshop at the University of Puerto Rico, she told the aspiring writers that they had to be committed to the writing and where it wants to go. You have to be willing to write about what might be considered private-even when it's difficult. (I will read John's novel soon.) John said that she was going back to New York (on a six month contract) to work on another women's grant writing project. Though I know her work is important, I hope she writes her second novel soon-while the trail is still hot!
Speaking of hot-let's get back to the Sunday walk tale and how I met Marie-Elena's mother and aunt. But maybe I should wait a bit on that one! I don't want to overload you with detail. So friends-Let's look at more photographs a bit later? Until the next time...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear Mom


Oasis Reflection: It's October again.


Halloween is Susan Pittmann, my mother's, birthday. When I see pumpkins, black cats and witches, I think of her. Why would that be a concern, you may wonder. You see, she was murdered in a hate crime 18 years ago by our neighbor, Jim Brooks. (I wrote about the murder.) Since that time a lot has happened around her story. Isn't it strange how a life can continue in some way even after it passes? Every October brings with it a time to reflect, whether I want to or not, about that tragic event. I thought I would just go ahead and write about it here, on my 100th blog post.

Dear Mom,
I turn to you on this day because I am compelled to embrace your life. You are the door that has led me on so many life journeys. I want to thank you for your strength and open mindedness. Do you remember that you once told me that I could have benefited from a mom who was more sensitive? I want you to know that you were enough, and that I did not need any other mother.
You were a strong straightforward person- a woman bound to accomplish, an entrepreneur, and a visionary. We had our differences. You liked having a practical vegetable garden and I loved growing flowers. You liked painted properties and I liked painted canvas. You were tough and I was sensitive. You were a 'people person' and I was somewhat reserved. Let me be clear about your insight, Mom, you were wrong because you were exactly what I wanted and needed. You taught me to toughen up, and I'm still learning that lesson from you.

Do you see that book cover I posted here, Love in the Balance? It arrived in the mail last week. It has a character, Evonne, who is loosely based on you. And the scene of the murder trial, news reports, the sentencing of Mr. Brooks are all factually correct. Some of it sounds like it came right out of the TV news reports, "Our top story tonight is the double murder this morning of two local women at their home in a quiet rural neighborhood...It is unclear whether the murders were the result of a boundary dispute. The women were in the process of installing a fence separating their property from that of the suspected killer." There is one mention about a daughter, Jenny, who spoke to the reporters and at the funeral. Her words make people understand that her mother was a loving mother, grandmother, and friend-and that living a lesbian lifestyle does not mean that you are someone who is separated from the normal embrace of family life. That message is what I try to share as well. I think you would like the book. It's about self-acceptance and celebrating life.


I found out about the book because the author, Marianne Martin, was interviewed by the film maker, Brian Alexander for the Pittmann Puckett Documentary- yes, there is a film being made about you and your partner's murder, and how it mobilized the gay-lesbian community into action. Did you know that the Michigan organization you founded (with others), Affirmations, is still going strong? It serves as a community and support center for people who are discovering and/or celebrating their sexual identity. There is an art gallery named after you, too, and I copied the dedication for you:


The Pittmann-Puckett Art Gallery was founded in memory of two of Affirmations founding members and strongest supporters, Susan Pittmann and Christine Puckett. The couple was killed in their home by a neighbor in 1992.


I went to Michigan last March to be interviewed for the film. It was a powerful experience, and I felt as though I could say all that was important to me about you and your murder. I hope the film is seen by many people, and that it continues to expand and open the perception of those who are narrow-minded. While I was there, I was able to visit the Pittmann-Puckett Art Gallery. I was proud to know that your presence continues to be felt within that organization. I particularly appreciate that an art gallery was named after you (and Christine). Do you remember that the first college class I ever took was with you? And it was art history?
I am strengthened by the memory of how you lived your life. Your graduation from Wayne State University at 50 years young-as you would say-continues to inspire me to strive forward regardless of artificial age limits. Thank you for showing me how to change and become strong enough to obtain my goals in life.
Just before you were killed, you told me that you were proud of me and how I lived my life. Mom, I hope I always make you proud of me. I hope my life reflects the best of your legacy. I will always love you.


Your daughter,


Cynthia "Sue"-included for you, Mom xxoo


PS. You will be happy to know that the Hate Crimes Bill was signed into law just three hours ago----------
-------------

Thank you, dear bloggers, for sharing this time with me.

(Thank you, Maithri, of Soaring Impulse for the posting this award winning photo on his blog. Heart Hands by Paolo Sapio.)


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Monet Makes an Impression


Oasis Feature: Books that Matter

~~~~~When I was sixteen years old, I took an art history class with my mother at a local community college (Wayne County Community in Michigan). It was my first college class (I was still in high school!) and I was anxious to do a good job. I carefully took notes, memorized painting names, periods, and styles. I was particularly drawn to the Impressionist Art Movement, and Claude Monet (1840-1926) was my favorite. Since then, I've felt Monet's work was over printed, frequently with poor color quality, so I moved away from his work. Recently, though, I've come back to Monet. (Isn't that how life is?) I'm re-captivated by his life story, gardens, and art. I feel he continues to have so much to offer those of us who appreciate life, light and beauty.









~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Claude Monet's Garden and photo credit



~~~~~The conclusion of the art history course involved an unofficial trip to Chicago to attend a special exhibition of Monet's water lily's at the Art Institute of Chicago. How exciting to take a train with my sister, Pamala, and older classmates, all the way to Chicago! I was excited about the trip. When we arrived in the art gallery's circular room, I sat in the center at a bit of a distance to get the best view. Up close, as you know, it looks like dense color and rough texture. (There are two oval rooms in France at the Musée de l'Orangerie, which were created to show eight of Monet's water lily murals.) I'm still processing that first encounter with Monet's art.

How can something that looks like nothing up close be so clear at a distance?

Similar to life, it seems experience and meaning sharpen with time. Even painful, boring, or muddled periods make some sort of sense after that life epoch passes. Did you know that much of Monet's later work was painted when he was suffering from cataracts? I've noticed that as my own vision declines...(cough), I've started to see how puzzling life pieces and past events might fit more neatly together. I'm beginning to see how I've gotten to where I am in life.


~~The book is a green enchanted vacation into a life rich with experience and bursting with insight.~~


~~~~~Monet came back again when my daughter was young when I discovered the magical and educational book, Linnea in Monet's Garden (by the Swedish writer Christina Bjork and illustrated by Lena Anderson.) (1985/87) This book takes you on a charming visit with a young girl and her grandpa-like neighbor, Mr. Bloom, to visit Giverny and see Monet's gardens. Though this is an easy-to-follow book, it is substantial. It is a way to go into art history with your child and sow the beginnings of a reading garden. The illustrations of Linnea moving around Paris and the gardens, her curiosity and engagement with people, animals and plant life; the accurate biographical information about Monet and his complicated family dynamics, which is supported by old photographs, just enlivens the discovery experience!

~~~~~It's the kind of book you will enjoy reading aloud, if you share it as a picture book but also makes a great gift for a 9-12 year old. I read it to both of my children many times. If you like, you can buy a little Linnea doll who wears a white apron to cover her black outfit and a round straw hat. Cute. There is also a DVD of the story, which I haven't seen but has received great reviews. I recently discovered that there is a new Linnea suitcase puzzle set that I would love to get. What I like about these extensions of the book, is that they continue to bring Monet back into the child's experience.

~~~~~It is so important to absorb the imagination in books while children are still young enough to connect affection from a parent with the words on a page. It teaches them a way to feel comforted at any time, to satisfy their urge to dream, and provides the bonus of literacy-a method to implement their dreams. With five small children, a full-time job and night classes, my own mother didn't have the luxury of time to offer shared reading time. Through some sort of luck, a membership in a Dr. Seuss club that brought books to our house every month, and an aunt who gave them as Christmas presents, I was able to learn to love books. Today as I open the pages of Linnea , I remember my vicarious stays at the Esmeralda Hotel near Notre Dame Cathedral with Linnea, Mr. Bloom and my own children. To know that this hotel is a real place is delightful! It is so enjoyable to travel in a way that might actually be duplicated in the future.

Oh, I do want to go to Monet's garden.

Maybe I should make one here at my land-based Oasis?

~~~~~I am thankful that my mom encouraged me to go forward toward my dreams, to study, and to connect that experience with real life adventure- even if we couldn't read together.

And to all of you writers out there- Sarah Laurence, Beth Kephart, and the painter/illustrator Frances Tyrrell , to name a few, who address the younger audience, thank you for offering your gifts to the reading community. You actively impact and enrich our lives.

~~~~~I like this song. I'm sending it out to all the bygone people who were good, solid and inspirational! Only I add the caveat that good people can be found all around- especially in the land of blog.

Jack Johnson, Good People


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moi en Mieux: Breathlessly Late for the Willow Manor Ball



Oasis Feature: Moi en Mieux- Me but Better


What a perplexing dilemma! I ignored my invitation to attend Willow Manor's Annual Ball until this morning!

Suddenly, I'm in a fashion frenzy; I'm looking for appropriate party wear and trying on identities. I took inspiration from Clarika's song Moi en Mieux as I attempted to find a new kind of me to attend this most auspicious blogger event. (Thank you Lala Ema of My Castle in Spain for introducing me to this poetic and quirky musician.) Should I go as Marilyn Monroe? No a little too flirty! (What was I thinking?)


Or perhaps I might attempt to imbue-emote- express Grace Kelly's poised elegance?
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What was I thinking???~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh Madame Grace- to reach those heights of style...sigh- alas and alack-not today. I need to be more grounded if I am to arrive on time.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I know just the person who can take on the challenge of an out of sorts and tarty moi- our dear Miss Katherine Hepburn.

Oh yes, that is me elegantly splayed on the manor floor! (I hope Willow doesn't mind!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The effort of selecting identities can be exhausting! And wouldn't Katherine have the nerve to sit on the carpeted floor and just catch her breath! Indeed!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But now I've skipped ahead! I didn't tell you about my date dilemma.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Who could I find on such late notice?(I RSVP-ed at number 70!)
Setting aside my married beau, I'm left with the two handsome standbys, dear Cary Grant and charming Jimmy Stewart.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Who will be my leading man?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now Mr. Grant can be romantically captivating

...but sometimes I just want to capture him! It's my independent streak, I'm sure.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That leaves Mr. Stewart...hum...so affable and lovable...but that incredibly cute pooka, Harvey,
just might want to tag along-and we all know how that turns out!

Of course you know that I arrived on my own! I loved the ball! And next time, I will remember to Répondez s'il vous plaît-er-rather- it will please me to respond much earlier!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here I am still in my alter-ego identity -
considering life and celebrity balls.

I must admit that I do so enjoy sitting here knitting and reflecting -until my next project!

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Would you like to listen to Clarika? Here is a YouTube version of the singer and the song.
I'm off to see all of you blog party-goers at your version of the ball! (Click on Willow Manor link to view the lists of participants.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wisteria and Sunshine: Mrs. Fisher!
























~~~~~~~~~~~

Classified Ad:

To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine. Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let furnished for the month of April. Necessary servants remain. Z, Box 1000, The Times.


(Punctuation and spelling is true to the original text.)



Have you seen the film, Enchanted April? I confess that I have seen it more than 50 times. It's based on the 1920's book of the same name by
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM. (It's available for free online at Gutenberg Online-just click on the book.)

It's also a musical comedy by Mathew Barber (2003), Wisteria and Sunshine, but I haven't seen it. I like the title though, Wisteria and Sunshine, it brings to mind the Italian castle mentioned in the ad above. (wisteria photo credit)
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Enchanted April is set in a time of social change after World War I, when British women were learning to find a new role in society. The story is about a reconciliation between men and women who realize that they can live together and celebrate life. Nature and a strong dose of sun begin to thaw chilled hearts and closed minds. Inhibitions gently leave while love finds a place to thrive.

If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it.


My favorite character is Mrs. Fisher who is played by Joan Plowright. (I am David 2004/Tea with Mussolini 1999) who is not the focal point of the movie but simply a brilliant secondary character; and it is her transformation that impacts me the most. Mrs. Fisher is an elderly well-read widow who is both powerful and severe. I hear her criticism in my mind, "Lax, lax!" because no one has come to dinner on time. And I feel her resistance to San Salvadore and the flood of love threatening to drown her in delight, "I will not let it get to me."
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In the film (but not the novel) her inner state is communicated by a desire to paint, which she severely controls... later, we see her painting flowers.



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Her transformation is complete when she accepts Lotty's (Josie Lawrence) affection and promises to continue their friendship. This movie is a reminder that there is good in the world if only we allow ourselves to see and feel it.

(photos from the movie)

And on that note...!
`
It's my BLOG's birthday! Today, Oasis Writing Link is one year old! I started out awkwardly uncertain and now, much like Mrs. Fisher, I can open my heart to my dear blogging buddies.

Thank you for reading me this year!! And I thank you for honoring me with your own life stories and sharing your experiences with me. I appreciate every comment you have left here!

I send you all love and Besitos (little kisses)!

xx


Here is a charmingly awkward moment to share with The Beatles as they try to remember the words and music to Besame Mucho (Kiss me much)
.







Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Home for the Artist


But there is nobody like Mom...if she were here, she'd tell me something about how red is always chasing yellow. I'll never have another new Mom story. I only have the old ones to keep, which is why I have stayed so quiet since she passed, why I 've been keeping to myself, because if I talk, if I say too much about Mom, I'm thinking that the parts I still have will escape, like bubbles. (Nothing But Ghost 217)

Nothing by Ghost by Beth Kephart is a young adult novel that tells the story of the young girl, Katie, who is prematurely launched into independence because of her mother's unexpected death. Both Katie and her father seem to adapt to this tremendous loss by becoming introspective and work-focused. Set during the summer before Katie enters the 12th grade, it becomes a romance, mystery, and psychological exploration on memory and loss. Kephart writes with such tenderness and care as she touches on the subject of friendship, first love and loss.

Listen to the author read a short segment of the book:





I enjoyed this book for so many reasons; it has a magical touching scene in Barcelona, Spain; the loss of the girl's mother is treated with emotional perceptiveness; and the young girl's insight rings true. Beth has written a young adult novel that is warm and honest. Read this book! It is a one day vacation into the life of a young girl who learns how to live after the death of her mother. For anyone who has experienced a similar loss, you know that we all are children again when we lose our parents. (I wrote about the murder of my own mother- here.) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Another Mother-Daughter Dynamic

Who do I miss?

I was watching the mother-daughter fashion show scene on the Gilmore Girls series tonight. I feel so touched when I see them walking down the catwalk together. Oh, I know it's suppose to be funny but I can't help but see how music and play can bring people together. It's a reconciliation dance performed in Nancy Regan red suits and perkily accompanied by Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."



I love the feeling of forgiveness- both giving and getting. Humans are so fallible and inexpert at human relationships.

I feel so much compassion for us.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The father in Nothing but Ghosts spends his time restoring works of art. I was looking for some information about art restoration for those of you who may not know-and then, I remembered this classic quirky movie. Watch the first few minutes of the clip to get an idea of the profession. Keep watching to see the strange kissing scene when Holly Hunter gets fired. Continue on to suffer with the mother when her teenage daughter is compelled to confess that she is going to have sex with her boyfriend, "We're gonna do it. We've talked about it. We'll be safe."

Home for the Holidays is incredible. (Directed by Jodi Foster) It features an intelligent script, an authentic setting, and fair treatment of awkward family dynamics. In the beginning, the song, "Evil Ways" (great performance by Rusted Root) accompanies the viewer while one odd event after another draws us into the confusion of realistic family holiday dynamics.
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While we're on the subject of writing and family, I want to tell you about blogger Sarah Laurence who has just finished her young adult novel, "As U Like it"! Isn't that a great title? Shakespeare and IM-speak! I'm thrilled that she shared some early pages with me and my family. (We were checking the authenticity of her Puerto Rican character's Spanish.) Her own daughter acted as a reader for the book. Isn't that just adorable? And useful!!
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Goodbye dear readers and bloggers!

A final shout out (sorry too much MTV) to my own dear grandmother and mother who have both passed on:

Hey, Mom -cool 50's look- bobby socks with flared out skirt! And Grandma Alice-you're looking good in your 40's style fitted skirt!



Grandma Alice (holding my oldest sister, Linda) and "Mama Sue" (holding my older sister, Pamala -spelled with an "a" !)

Postscript: I messed up on the date of the last post. (I dated it a week in the past! So- you may have missed it. I decided to go ahead and post this now since I have an unexpected "free day"(not a snow day...but a sunny day!) The students are on strike!

Love to you...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Say No to Store-bought Bread?







Check Spelling

















~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oasis Life: Time for Art and Appreciation

I was reading about Alexandra Day (a pseudonym for Sandra Louise Woodward Darling) the author of the Carl picture book series. (Why didn't she use the name Sandra Darling-it's a name and an endearment all in one.) What got me into this subject? Suzanne Casamento (a young adult book writer) at The Question of the DAY was asking for a picture book recommendation. I started to think about all the books I have shared with my children. I had time to read with them because I cleared my schedule (for the most part) during the first five years of their lives. And we read a lot of books!

What a wonderful experience it is to introduce books to young people. I confess I read to and with them long before they understood what books were about- after all they were still infants. You can never start too early! Have you ever read "Carl's Afternoon in the Park?" I love the mood that the images create. I found the author's website and read her artistically inclined family and it influence on her life. Do you remember the expression, "store-bought?" I love how it evokes a time that's past and honors hand made items. She wrote that at 86 year old mother still makes her own bread because "store-bought bread just isn't the same."

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I'm living the store-bought bread lifestyle right now. Are you? There just isn't time (or energy) to do all that I would like to do. Did you notice that I missed a weekly blog post? No time! When will I take painting classes in Old San Juan? When will I finish my writing project? When will I finally create my dream garden? When will I ????

(Painting: "Lady in Boat James Jacques Joseph Tissot
"-aka Pensive Pittmann)
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I want to have time to notice that special visitors have arrived for breakfast. Here is a bowl of acorns offered to the early but patient guests over at Willow Manor. Do visiting Chipmunks like acorns? See! I have no time to explore the mysteries of the animal kingdom and much less time to paint them!

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Did you know that my little family loves art?



Amber and Alex (daughter and son) study art in school.


Drawing and painting create a kind of uplifting deep meditative concentration.


I can get lost in time when I paint. How about you?



Unfortunately, I haven't painted in a few months.






ALEX contemplates his painting...
"Containing Shapes"











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Amber's horse and panda bear were on exhibit at the Baldwin School Art Gallery.
















~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Beautiful bloggers,










~~~~~~~~~~~~~~wishing you (and me) a Homemade Bread life...