Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Eyes Have It!

Little Jase came to visit us last weekend... and Jennie captured images of him for me to keep. He's grown so much since Christmas! He's not a baby anymore. His eyes are still full of wonder and they are a piercing baby blue! He loves cars and trucks, his wagon, and his Daddy!

Jennie did such a great job on these photos! How has she just learned this on her own? She amazes me. She really caught the little boy inside. Check out Jennie's blog - Ampersand photography!!

We all "caught" something else from him....a yucky virus!! It was wicked and everyone this little guy had contact with seemed to get it. (10 people at least!) It was pretty nasty and I must say after that I was first in line to get my flu shot on Tuesday! I want no repeats of what was ravaging our house as well as that of my extended family. Needless to say we've gone through lots of Gatorade, saltine crackers and soup. Yeah for "real" food!

Looking at Jase's blue eyes it makes me think how our eyes are such a reflection of who we are inside. Wasn't it William Shakespeare who wrote, "The eyes are the windows to the soul
."? With those words he reminded us that by looking into the eyes of a person we can see their hidden emotions and feelings.

Language is filled with metaphors referring to eye contact.... He/she had a "cold stare", their eyes were "steely and hard," she had a "penetrating look," shame faced, the child "stared at his shoes," "he and I came to see eye to eye." There are thousands of such metaphors referring to our eyes! And it's the eyes that play a big part in a book I finished this week called Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

From the website:

"Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone."

Debut author Kristin Cashore marked those who carried a Grace with two different color of eyes and eye contact is the subtle way the author communicates tensions, aggression, and power. Direct eye contact can be mis-perceived in our encounters with others as a challenge to a fight. Those in Katsa's world look on her two eyes and know that they are encountering one Graced with an extraordinary ability - her ability to fight and kill.

In our society, it is often said that, much like in the animal world, when two men who are strangers stare at each other, they are sending the challenging and dangerous message about being willing to fight. This is sometimes expressed as "get outta my face" or "whatcha staring at?" This is said in a loud and aggressive tone. On the other hand, when a man and woman stare at one another, they can be communicating an interest in one another and sparks can fly. Cashore used this psychological truth and melded her character around it.

Cashore's writing further enhanced her metaphor of the eyes. I loved her phrasing:

"Oll wasn't foolish; he knew to fear the quiet girl with one eye blue and one eye green." p.11

This was just an ordinary sentence that flowed with careful wording. The whole book felt that way - there was no accidental writing here. Each word was carefully chosen and crafted; placed in just the right space. I read the book slowly and savored this author's work!

p. 340 "The storm had been building all afternoon. The clouds knitted together. The snowflakes swelled and sharpened."

What word choice!! That sentence alone was a picture in my mind.

Kristin Cashore wrote a story of survival; a story of conquering self. Her characters take their weaknesses and hone them, develop them. Katsa battles her natural inclinations and strives to live on a higher plane. She conquers self to do it and the story soars as she does it!

The eyes have it - in more ways than one!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thanks bunches

Oh my goodness - I feel like I have won an Oscar or something!! Thank you to a sweet Susan for passing this on to moi!! It made my day.

This nifty little "feel-good" is given to bloggers whose posts come "from the heart." ( I do know I have one lately 'cuz it's been tugged and pulled and stomped on... sorta like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz!!) I'm supposed to pass it on to 7 bloggers, then answer a little meme. But I'll break the rules and write first and tag next...this brain tries to do the most important thing first...oops, I think I got online to pay bills!! Oh, whatever! Here goes: 10 Random Things about Me!

1. I love rain! It could rain almost everyday and I would be a happy camper!! (Well, then again - not at recess time or at lunch time! Give a teacher a "break" would ya?!?!) I do love when it rains on weekends and I especially love when the clouds build up, all black and blue, and it just pours and pours! Can you tell I live in the desert? Actually I grew up for several years on an island in Washington state. Maybe that's where this rain-love comes from!

2. I do NOT like clear soda pop! My mom would always give us 7-up or gingerale when we were sick. Now it makes me feel sick whenever I even smell that stuff!!

3. Bird feet freak me out!

4. I had a monkey sit on my head once! It was on an island in the Caribbean and I really "paid" for it!

5. If I had a personal motto it might be, "Is this the hill I want to die on?" It's made me back down from ruining many a relationship.

6. It was my goal in high school to date the Student body President...and I did!

7. I love chick-flick movies but I don't like chick-lit books. I enjoy thriller books but won't even go near any thriller movies - no way! I enjoy fantasy books but not fantasy movies (okay, Harry Potter is an exception.) I hope the book-to-movie people are not trying to please me.... I'm a hard sell!

8. My favorite smells....desert rain, a bookstore, puppy breath, and the coffee aisle at the grocery store! Mmmmmm.

9. Greek food is my favorite! Wanna share a gyro?

10. I grew up playing tennis since I was in 3rd grade. I had the whole shebang...lessons, tournaments, cute little skirts, fancy rackets, and a killer lob. I don't think I could even swing a racket anymore. Goodbye Wimbledon!

So now on to some bloggers who deliver up their whole heart ---

Jennie at The Krazy Karges Life makes me laugh and smile - but she should, she's my "baby girl!" I am loving reading her take on life. She's forthright and more than bluntly honest with herself and others. I admire her BIG heart...

Jenn at A Storybook Story is fairly new with her blog. Her daily posts are so heartfelt and her "voice" is more than real. She sees things with clarity - plus she has really cute kiddos - my grandkids!

Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here is a hoot. She is one caring person and writes frankly and with a great sense of verve. What fun it is to read her blog and check on the heartbeat of her life and books!

I've been a lurker on Amy's blog, the English Geek for several months now and boy does she feel like a fellow soul mate. Her inner thoughts are recorded with passion and I admire her honesty with herself. What heart that takes. She doesn't seem to try to please anyone but herself. I think I want to be like her when I "grow up!"

Lesa at Lesa's Book Critiques is a professional librarian across town from where I live in this big hot state. Her blog is always full of new books, she has fun giveaways from her "closet" and she's always giving us rundowns of authors who visit or come to chat. I love her little glimpses into her life as a librarian and the heart she has for books, authors, and patrons! She is also so very supportive of everyone.n

I think I've been reading Melissa's blog, Book Nut, since I started blogging. She's led me to more fun (in book format) and she's a whiz in the blogging universe. Her interviews with authors and reviews on Estella's Revenge give an insight into the kind of heart she has...

I happened onto Amanda's blog, A Patchwork of Books, a long time ago. She was amazing as she blogged about her job as a librarian and then as she gave birth to a sweet little boy. Unfortunately his little life was so short but he won the heart of everyone who read about her journey. She and her husband are on to new adventures and she still blogs about almost daily. She gives the best "book commercials" for kids books!!

Thank you, Susan, for making my day - if I could play recess tag-backs I would. Your blog inspires me and I just know we should do lunch one day!! Now on to what I was doing when I sat down....paying bills.....ooh, look there's another cool blog.....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Puppy Dog Tales

(The boy and his dog - 14 years later!)

Once upon a time a boy wanted a dog. Something of his very own. He looked high and low and one day, with his mom in tow, he found the perfect dog. There in the pound she sat, with ears not ready to be up or down, this ball of fur with a smile and a glint in her eyes. The boy named her Shelli, so that whenever he "called, a pretty girl would come running!"

That's how Shelli came to our house. Paul adopted her when he was 17 years old. It was an odd time to get a dog, he was a year or so away from leaving the nest, yet he had always craved a dog of his own. She became a healer of sorts. She could calm a troubled heart by just laying next to you. Many a time Paul would hold her, lay down beside her or just sit next to her and talk his heart out. She worked on others too. we would sit next to her, her head on our leg, rub her soft ears and away went the sorrows. We all learned to lean on her.

Time flew by and she remained when Paul grew up and flew the nest. Now she slept with Drew, hogging most of the bed while he made do with the edges. When Drew moved away, Shelli stayed by my side and healed my wounded heart. Another fledgling to leave our nest. Shellie now shared the bed with Q. At his feet or on his pillow. She would race him up the stairs to bed, bring her ball, and lick his face as he slept. But boys grow up to be men and when he did Shelli nestled in next to me and licked my face. Another bird had flown.

Shelli had grown older and she no longer could climb the stairs at bedtime. But she remained our constant friend. Shelli protected her last little bird, Jennie, and barked when dates arrived to woo her away. She lay at the feet of every date and pretty much gave approval or disdain. When Jennie was sad, she rubbed Shelli's ears, got a sloppy kiss and cares were easier. When Jennie flew off to college, Shelli stayed by me almost night and day. She made those hard days easier. When Jennie married, Shelli was the only one who knew all my feelings. (She knew more of my secrets than anyone!) Yep, all the chickens flew the nest and only Shelli stayed behind to need some love and care.

Today she leaned on us. She told us with soulful eyes that it was time to let her go...I hate writing this tonight...
I hate it when the dog dies at the end of a story.... Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, even Marley and Me. Yet this is another story with another sad ending. I've already used up my tissue allotment and it's only day 1...

I know we are talking about our pet.There are friends and family who have suffered far greater losses, those who've lost children, parents, and other loved ones. There are those who are going through scary illnesses and unknown futures. I certainly don't want to negate that. But my heart still hurts!! This house is too darn quiet. I call out, "hey Shelli-dell..." and no jingling of collar and tags, no climbing off the couch to come and lick me. (We finally gave in and gave the living room couch to her. Front rooms and parlors are very overrated you know. She loved the country french cabbage roses even when I was ready for Metro chic. My next sofa will be leather anyway!) So, through swollen, red-rimmed eyes I ask myself, "What am I supposed to learn from this?"

Things I learned from Shelli:

1. Unconditional love - no questions asked!! Each and everytime! She was awesome at that. It's hard for me at times. I have lots of practice ahead.

2. Never, never, never give up! Chasing balls, walking when wounded, coming back for more attention. She never gave up. I can try that!

3. How to care for someone when they are older - Rich was better than me. Not usually. He was always the one to discipline her when she was younger, but no more. He was patience personified. He just adopted the attitude that she wouldn't be here forever. That was a great lesson. I should have remembered that when I was mopping floors at 2am.

4. Always be eager - for a car ride, a treat, a walk, to throw the ball. (even at the end of her life - she would take one or two steps after it, but she was always eager.) I may not be able to wag my tail but I vow to try to always be eager!

5. ...Until the last few days. Then she just slowed down. She knew it was time to go. She looked at me as if to say, "it's time,let me go, you can do this." Not really, Shelli-girl. This is harder than I thought. But you sure have taught me a whole crop of lessons. You're preparing me for the big stuff. I think she also taught me to appreciate what you've got... don't worry about what other's think...Eat cat food (who cares that you're a dog, eat what you like....leave a little bit of yourself behind....that way people will remember you! We call it - Dog hair! (everyone always left with a little bit of her!) But what a good idea. Always leave a little bit of yourself with people!!

There are many more lessons that I'm sure I was taught but they may take a few more days to materialize. Thanks, Shelli-girl!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Points

Some days my life just feels like random points plotted in chaotic fashion. I'm sure someone knows the rhyme, reason, purpose, and plan....but for me it just feels like 1000's (well okay, at least 20) of random incidents and thoughts. Today is one of those days - and blogs!

  • We know we need to arrange for the last few days of our Shelli-dog's life. It's hard and it stinks and I hate it! Weird though, a vet will charge you about $50 as a consult fee if you have never been in their office before - even if you are arranging euthanasia - nothing more! (Guess what?? after our Shelli is gone, we won't be seeing them again! It's not like we can bring them back, right?)
  • It's that time of year - Brach's mellowcreme pumpkins are here!! Some nights I would rather eat them than dinner!
  • On days when I don't want to be a teacher or when I don't really want to be at school I can actually do my best! How is that? It's almost like I rise above. I'm not advising it to anyone. Merely an observation of today.
  • Today SMELLED like fall here. No falling leaf, no crispy cool nights but it just had that "feel" and it wasn't a "hundred and gazinga" outside. Yep, it must be almost fall. (The other hint was the mellowcreme pumpkins!)
  • I love college football. I love college basketball. From now on Saturday TV is mine!
  • Work is seriously cutting into my book reading time. Argh~!
  • When I have a good book I am tempted to read it very s-l-o-w-l-y so that the story keeps on going. I'll read a page and put the book down over and over again.
  • I could eat popcorn everyday for lunch - and I do!! Pass the salt and Diet Pepsi, please!
  • Thank heavens I carpool with my husband. He makes me go home on time.
  • I don't mind going to meetings.
  • I like doing laundry.
  • To me a clean fridge is an empty one. It looks crisp and clean and full of potential!
  • I can't wait to read Catching Fire. I refuse to read anything about it until I do.
  • I hate making phone calls. I think I passed this on to my daughter.
  • I can't sleep without a fan on.
  • I wear a silly sleeping mask to sleep every night now. Any little light keeps me up or wakes me up. I'm sure I look very "Holly Golightly" (from Breakfast at Tiffany's") in mine!!
  • One of my secret wishes would be to dance (!!!!) and be on Dancing With the Stars!! I choose Mark Ballas...yum!
  • One year I forgot how old I was. When I had my birthday I aged two years instead of one because for a whole year I had my age wrong! Drats!
  • When we were young my sister would laugh every time someone would say the word "avocado"!!!
  • Today when I took my kiddos out to recess I told them to make sure that they got all their wiggles out before they came back inside. A quiet question came from one of the boys, "what is wiggles?" They then wiggled and waddled all the way to recess. Too cute.

Life observations can be intriguing....or just random.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Think I'm Crabby... or something!

Disclaimer: I think I'm crabby or something.... and it doesn't happen THAT often (okay, my family would be laughing, but at least for long periods of time!)

It seems that everything is a little off this school year. Not enough time, harder class, lower abilities, harder tasks and requirements, larger class sizes, same high expectations, loads of stress, no place to vent... Geez, who am I kidding, every teacher has it hard, I guess I'm just crabby.

My reading time has seriously been sucked up. Gosh that could be another reason I'm crabby. Hmmm.

I have not lost weight on my "see-ice cream-and-eat-it-diet!!" Gosh, that is not fair! Every girl needs ice cream after a hard day! Yep, I am definitely getting crabby!

My last two books have just not been perfect for me. Don't get me wrong....most people are loving them. But I guess I just have that "I am just not that into you" kind of attitude lately. Drats! Maybe someone else would love them - it seems that most do. Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog and Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George were good books. interesting characters - strong male characters too and that's a plus! There was a brand new twist in Fairy Tale when the boy needs to leave this world to take his rightful place as Fairy King in the Otherworld...but his earthly girlfriend is determined not to let that happen!! Princess at the Midnight Ball was the retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm. There was a lot of back story to this that really fleshed out this fairy tale and it featured a great male lead character that even knits!! Sure I liked them... so why didn't I love them??? I purposely didn't read any reviews of the books before I read them but I did read them after I finished. It seems lots of people are loving them. So why not me??
I am sad to say that maybe I didn't bring what I needed to the table. Those authors worked hard and did yeoman's jobs. Can I say it was all about the timing? Or maybe I'm just crabby!?!?! It sounds like it, doesn't it?

Well today is a new day....

Maybe I'll just try acting like this one instead....