Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Dust of 100 Dogs. A Book Review by Drama Girl

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

Pirates. And Dogs. And pirates who are dogs. More specifically, a pirate who is cursed, so that she has to live 100 lives as a dog (with all her memories), before she can finally reincarnate as a human, with the one goal to return to Jamaica and dig up the treasure she buried as a pirate in her past life.

So meet Emer, the aforementioned pirate chick. She's pretty cool--she wasn't always a bloodthirsty pirate queen. In fact, it's hard to believe that the sweet little Irish Emer of the first part of the book could ever turn into the fearsome entity that plagues her later incarnation--Saffron.

Now we get to the modern stuff. It's interesting to watch a teenager with all the memories of a twenty-something pirate and 100 dogs. So, besides acing every history test ever, Saffron isn't much affected by her past lives. Except for her burning desire to dig up the treasure that is rightfully hers as soon as she turns 18, which confuses her parents and leads to some very interesting therapy sessions.

The book switches between the perspectives of Emer and Saffron, and even though Saffron has all of Emer's memories it's important to remember that they are two different people. While Saffron is dealing with teenage angst involving the Homecoming dance, her alchoholic mom and druggie brother, she narrates the entire thing with horribly descriptive goriness, courtesy of Emer. You see, most teenagers would picture an annoying friend getting run over by a car, but thanks to her pirate history, Saffron has all sorts of interesting choices, such as removing their eye, or twisting their thumb off.

Emer's transformation is by far the more interesting of the two. A little girl from a small village in Ireland starts with simple troubles like sewing, or fighting with her brother. But as horror after horror corrupts the little girl, you have to watch Emer grow up fast, and you can't help but cheer out loud when a bad guy gets it.

Historically accurate, romantic, and full of twists and turns, The Dust of 100 Dogs cannot be placed into one  category. Except Awesome.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Needlework Tuesday: Garden Flowers

Today I'm appliqueing (is that how you spell that?) these hexagon flowers onto panels for a quilt.  I thought I was making great progress until I realized I still have dozens of little leaves to attach too, so this will take me a while.  I can't wait to finish this quilt.  I really like the fabrics.  The flowers were paper pieced from charm squares.

I got Jungle Boy all settled into his ballet camp this past weekend.  More about that adventure tomorrow.

Right now it's raining here in beautiful Northern California.  What the heck?  At least it's a good excuse to sit and stitch.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Out of Town

The big day has arrived.  Jungle Boy is heading off to spend a month studying at American Ballet Theatre's summer intensive program.

I'm flying out with him, to make sure he makes his connecting flights.  I offered to pack some of his things in my luggage, but he fit it all into this relatively small bag.

And by all I mean
  • quilt
  • sheets
  • pillow
  • set of towels
  • 5 pairs of ballet shoes, and a pair of jazz shoes
  • 6 sets of ballet class gear
along with all of his regular clothes, flip-flops, mp3 speakers, Kindle, toiletries, jacket etc.  If I hadn't supervised the packing myself, I never would have believed it would all fit in there.  When he gets to the dorm, I'm going to head out and buy him some laundry detergent and other sundries. 

And cookies.  Because I can't believe he'll be gone for a whole month.  I'll have to get some last-minute mothering in.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finished for Friday: The Massive Magazine Purge

I've been quilting for quite a while now.  Over the years, I have subscribed to several quilt magazines.  Sometimes several at a time.  They're one of my favorite things to find in the mail.  I set aside time to flip through them and enjoy all the eye candy and fantasize about making all of those beautiful quilts.

You know what happens if you save magazines you love?  Eventually they take over.  I've always kept them neatly sorted in magazine holders, but even with that organization, I could never find or even remember what was in them.

So this week I spent days and days going through every single page, saving just the quilts that inspire me and recycling the rest of the magazines.  I put the saved patterns in page protectors and put those in binders.  I went from two overflowing shelves full of magazines to a couple of binders.  Yippee!!

Now to tackle those National Geographics.  I want to just pitch them completely but I'm getting some resistance from the kids.  That shelf full of yellow is bugging me.

What have you been up to this week?  Chime in with something you've finished.  Feel free to borrow the button from my sidebar.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

[Title of Show]

We all went out as a family last night to see [Title of Show].  Yes, that's the name of it.  It's a musical about 2 guys writing a musical for an upcoming festival.  Unable to come up with a topic, they decide to write about writing a musical.  They enlist the help of two actress friends and spend three intense weeks writing about what they're doing during those three weeks.

In a case of art imitating life, or maybe life imitating art (it gets confusing), their show not only makes it into the festival but gets an off-Broadway run and eventually makes it to Broadway.

In reality, the show's writer, composer, and director all won Obie awards (off-Broadway versions of a Tony) and the writeer, Hunter Bell, was nominated for a Tony.

As the real show was gaining stature and popularity, the show itself was edited to reflect the updates.  The audience gets to share in the joy of the characters real rise to fame.  There is even a snarky review that ends with the line "I bet you'll put this in the show" - and they did.

The show is funny and a little raunchy.  Definitely PG.   It's a wonderful exploration of the nature of creativity, goals, and self-doubts.  If you're creative in any way, this is a perfect musical to see.  Standout numbers include "Die Vampires, Die," about the little voices in our head that tell us we're not good enough, and a solo about remembering the joy of childhood, called "A Way Back to When."  There's a video of it on youtube but my computer is having trouble putting it on the blog this morning.  If you're really interested, you can find it here

The kids enjoyed it and were quoting funny lines on the way back home.  I recommend this one if you get the opportunity to see a production in your town.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday Toonlet: The Right Tools

related []
The Right Tools

I shouldn't complain. I make housework playlists. But I don't take hours putting them together.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blowing out candles

Today I am 49.

On this birthday, I bounded out of bed with a smile on my face.  I feel better than I have in years; I have the greatest family on the planet, I love all the creative things I'm doing, and I'm optimistic about the future.

Back when I was in high school, I spent the summers working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home.  I think it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. 

I remember in particular one lovely, quiet woman.  She groomed herself beautifully, and read the entire newspaper every day.  She would wait by her door at meal times for one of us to offer her an arm to escort her to the dining room.  I don't know that she needed us for stability as much as she had simply earned the right to have that special attention.

I loved to spot her waiting.  Escorting her slowly down the hall was a break from the otherwise hectic pace of work there.  I know we had many brief pleasant conversations, but there is one that stands out in my memory.

She stood at her doorway and smiled.

"It's my birthday today."

"Happy birthday!  How old are you?"  [Let's remember I was in high school - this probably wasn't the nicest thing to ask.  I certainly wasn't the only person who remarked on her longevity though.]

"I'm 107."

"That's amazing!  Do you have any advice on how to live so long?"

"The first 100 years are the hardest."

So today I raise my glass to that dear patient (whose name I have forgotten) and her witty advice.  According to her, I'm almost halfway through the hard part.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Giving to Dad

Father's Day is one area where I doubt my effectiveness as a mom.  When the kids were babies, I bought the card and gift and signed their names.  When they entered preschool, Sunday School, and elementary school, the lovely creative teachers helped the children make sandcasts of their handprints, funny marshmallow concoctions in the shape of neckties, and pillowcases - with painted handprints and "I love Daddy" on them.  I was so relieved that the teachers went all out like this.  I just sort of went along for the ride as far as Father's Day went.  How could anything outdo these precious gifts?

But the teachers in middle school were decidedly less creative, forcing me to have to step up to the plate.  The kids had limited money so I would go with them to pick a card and pay for something like a plant (Daddy wants a lemon tree!) and orchestrate the whole gift presentation.  I got the nagging feeling that the kids were more observers than participants in the gifting process.

This year it happened again.  My husband's trusty charcoal barbecue grill died a few months ago.  He let us know his resolve to turn his back on briquets and enter the gas grill league.  Then he proceeded to work 16 hour days and travel every other week.  The gift that would delight him was obvious.

As Father's Day approached, I pow-wowed with the kids on gift ideas.  Shrugs and blank stares.  I floated the grill idea.  Their relief was obvious.  Mom would take care of the whole thing again.

Let's be clear.  I knew about as much about gas grills as I know about building an aircraft carrier.  I fired up the computer and began my internet research.  Hours and hours later I found the perfect model, well within my price range.  The catch?  It's only sold at the big box hardware store down the street that I can't stand.  I feel the same way about hardware stores in general as some men probably feel about needlepoint shops.  My mind goes numb and I want to get out as fast as possible.  The salespeople are always unable to help me and the lines are painfully long.

So when Drama Girl needed a trip to the library on Saturday I bargained with her that she needed to go with me to the hardware store.  We pulled up and Hooray!  Lines of grills lined up OUTSIDE THE DOORS!  I wouldn't have to go in!  There was the model I needed.  I couldn't believe my good luck.  Thirty minutes and two trips through the cashier later, I had the grill in the minivan and even the very last free apron "gift with purchase" (who knew hardware stores speak my language?)

As we pulled up to the house I consulted with Drama Girl on how we should announce our surprise.  Her solution?  She brought in the apron to give her dad.  Then she broke the news that his new grill was waiting in the car.

He was thrilled.  Mission accomplished.

I still have a nagging suspicion that this is the wrong way to teach kids about giving.  When they're out on their own, nobody is going to organize their thoughtfulness for them.  I can only hope that they internalize the joy they feel in seeing the recipient of a gift really love the thoughtfulness that went into it.

As for me, even though this experience was relatively painless, I'm hoping to never have to endure that hardware store ever again.

Now tell me, at what point do your kids come up with and procure gifts for others?  Do they pick out gifts for friends birthdays and holidays?  Do you remember at what age you became responsible for gift-giving?

LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs