Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Sunday Edition

Outside my window... Rain! Glorious Rain! I rarely get to say that. My office window looks down onto a neighborhood of rustling trees and big, puffy, grey rain-filled clouds. Wow! Wish I could throw some mountain scenes into the mix, but I'll take what I can get and today it is so pretty. Thunderclouds, pouring rain....yum!

I am listening to .... Kenneth Cope station on my Pandora. Talent. Mmmmmm.

Favorite things from this week ... The Tucson Festival of Books, family time, reading time, SPRING BREAK, March Madness basketball, reading, time with Rich, gelato, California Pizza Kitchen and Yogurtland with the people I love, raindrops, patios, reading time, no schedule, service to others, bookstores, libraries, reading time, the sound of a fountain, reading in bed, peace and plenty, rain pattering, Book Group, connections. Wow! I am so blessed. I LOVE SPRING BREAK.

I am thinking ... I will be glad to get back to work for one reason only----to get myself back in healthy eating habits!! Working like your hair's on fire has it's advantages! Spring Break was a break from my healthy routines --- so, come tomorrow it's back on the bandwagon for me! Yeah! I miss my apples.

I am grateful for ... that report cards are all done, for rainy days, sportsmanship, passion, goals to set, enthusiasm, vacuum cleaners, texting, and cuddles

I am reading ... mysteries! It's March Mystery Madness for one of my book groups so I am enjoying a few as well as a biography of Agatha Christie. I've finished three books (A Little Bit Wicked, Julia's Chocolates and Cinder) this week and I'm getting ready to start a new book today....what shall it be?!?! The Dressmaker, Starcrossed by Elizabeth Bunce or The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. Decisions.

I am listing ... school plans, book plans, living room plans - my to-do list is actually on a piece of giant chart paper now. Yikes.

I am creating ... chaos ;)

Plans for the week ... March Mystery Madness at Book Group, Girl's Night with my coworkers, hiking with my honey, dinner with J&K and taxes on Saturday

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tucson Festival of Books - 2 days of bliss and awesomeness!

Where words become Imagination.....

Chilly and windy on Saturday morning but I am NOT to be deterred. We are there bright and early. I swear, they even saved us the same parking space as last year!! How nice! The crowds were ginormous on Saturday though - 80,000 people that day alone. Everyone was happy and it was a contagiously fun place to be.
  • I heard Alice Hoffman read from her newest book about the Masada, The Dovekeepers. Amazing! I heart her now.
  • I attended a Professional Development class on writing with students. Taught by Ralph Fletcher, only one of the biggest writing gurus in the education-world! I couldn't believe that the place wasn't packed to the gills. Somehow folks weren't aware that educators pay $$$$ for workshops with him. I tried not to squeal with glee, but I got more than a was fantastic!
  • Hot Crime, Hard Science; Forensic Nonfiction - 3 Historians who spoke on the CNN panel about famous nonfiction discoveries....circulation and transfusions, the development of early forensics in France, the Poisoner's Handbook and the study of the fascinating study of poisons and finally the new forensic science brought to America around the 1920's-30's. I learned a LOT! Stretched my brain.
  • Queen Elizabeth and her World - Louis Bayard, Margaret George (yes, THE Margaret George, of the 800 page novels!!) and Jennifer Lee Carrell. Totally an historians afternoon. I was amazed at the amount of research and crafting of words and story that these authors do. Wow~!
  • Last, but not least, for my Saturday schedule was Cozies Need Respect capably moderated by Lesa Holstine from Lesa's Book Critiques and the Glendale Library!! Kate Carlisle, Earlene Fowler, and Avery Aames were the panelists. Gosh - a bibliophile mystery series, quilting mysteries, and a cheese shop series. I was getting hungry by the end!! I've not read many 'cozies' as I guess I really didn't give them the respect that they deserve....I know, I hang my head in shame. After the discussion I really did decide to try a few of them and I've been pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed how these authors could speak to the definition of the genre and alluded to the 'cozy idea' as one for marketing - marketing to women. As a definition Avery Aames defined cozy as a book that would probably not have bad language, sex or gritty, bloody-CSI type crime on the page. The sleuth is an amateur and typically has a 'community' of friends or supporters around them. My definition would probably be - Could I give this book to my mom?? It was a fun end to a fantastic Saturday - - I did NOT want to leave except that I really was tired and hungry! There was no time to shop or eat as I ran from class to class. What was a book-nerd to do?!?!?

I returned to the festival the Sunday morning, this time without my intrepid book-cohort (who had to return home to the valley for other non-bookish obligations...sad, isn't it!) Now I was on my own and I can really power-shop!! I hit a few booths before the crowds arrived and then the day began ....
  • Brad Meltzer was the star speaker for the event and spoke at the Star Pavillion. He was S.U.P.E.R.!! I discovered a new hero!! He was funny, thoughtful, intriguing, honest, forthright, and powerful. He spoke about his family, his beliefs, his books, his History Channel TV show - Decoded, and the legacy we leave behind of ourselves. It was truly the most powerful message I have heard in AGES!
  • Wicked Women was a panel with Thomas Perry (love him - true gentleman) Robert Dugoni, Lisa Lutz, moderated by Barbara Peters. Well done and funny. I have got to get Thomas Perry's new book....note to self! I met the nicest lady from Green Valley - we could be friends, I know.
  • Deadlier than the Male was a panel with JA Jance, Betty Webb, and Elizabeth Gunn and was not my first choice but it was great. I had headed to a Women in History class but the lines were painfully long and I was just not in that sort of mood - soooooo....I headed to the center of the festival and took in these three grand dames of mysteries set in Tucson/Arizona. It was a terrific panel.
  • About the Brain. This is where true serendipity plays a part! CNN hosted panels all weekend long and this one really appealed to me. As I wandered into the theater I found a seat and asked if it was taken, as I climbed over the young woman sitting down I looked closely and it was Alyce from At Home with Books!!!!!! Yeah!! She's all the way from the northwest, folks!! That's a lot of wing flappin' and now we find each other amongst 100,000 bookies?!?!? I can't even find the bathroom. Well we had fun time catching up and then the brain-busting began. The topic was fascinating. Moonwalking with Einstein; The Art and Science of remembering Everything, Annoying; The Science of What Bugs You, and Save Your Brain - three books to be added for my reading pleasure and edutainment!! Wow!
  • Lastly - oh say it ain't so....Doing Your Research or Doctor vs Lawyer; the Final Contest with Steve Berry (lawyer) and Michael Palmer (doctor) moderated by Josh Bazell (doctor!) Totally cool. Their research tips and ideas were fantastic and fun. I loved this class.

Here, I'll show you my wares!! I hit up a second hand bookstore tent and found a couple of these beauties for $1!!! I shopped the UA bookstore, the tents and even found the Kettle Corn booth (before the long lines!) I loved running into authors just wandering around (like me) looking for the perfect book to read. It was a slice of heaven. A reading weekend.

The other slice of heaven was staying at Casa de Mellor... aka my mom's house. Rich and I took my mom and stepdad to the airport Saturday morning so they could leave on a cruise. I was handed the keys to the casa and told to have fun, feed the birds and water the plants. No problemo!! They live in the foothills in a canyon with little cell coverage, plenty of views, sunshine and wild critters. I was in heaven. I would be there still if a cute guy hadn't returned to pick me up come late Monday afternoon. I guess I will have to give up my life of sitting on the patio and reading ALL day. Here at home on Spring Break I have interspersed the patio sitting with library trips and QT runs....

Ahhhh. I feel my blood pressure returning to normal. Yep, this Spring Break is awesome.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sprin Break Readin'

Spring Break Readin'....
a little sunshine, a patio chair and plenty of QT soda...

I started with -

I really didn't want to read Wicked by Gregory Maguire after the musical so when I was in the Bookstore I was pleasantly surprised to see Galinda's autobiography on a table in front of me. It just seemed like a fun way to continue in my Musical 'glow'.
Not really a tell-all biography, not really a memoir either, but just a sit-down chat that's fast and funny. Kristin Chenoweth shares a bit of her "life beyond the bubble," her philosophy on life, her faith and how her 'hoo-hoo' can predict the weather!! For reals! I giggled, smiled and laughed. My favorite quote was when she was nominated for an Emmy a 2nd time. " Obviously, I had zero chance of actually winning - being an expired marshmallow PEEP next to four fresh tomatoes - but it was a thrill to be nominated." I don't know why, but I have always wanted to use those words in a sentence! Together. It was light and refreshing and a fun way to continue in my Wicked afterglow. (On a serious note, I really did love her philosophy on adoption - it was extremely touching.)

I love Book Group nights.
This book read fast, brought interesting conversation and we celebrated the total female absurdity!! In all we truly enjoyed it. Well, except one....

Cinderella - retell on steroids.
I'm reminded of anime, Anakin Skywalker (when he was a little kid and worked as a droid mechanic) and Minority Report. This is so very different. So very readable. I forget that I am reading and ended up with a lovely sunburn....
at least it wasn't letumosis!!!

Oh I have SO many more books to read!!!
Who says Spring Break has to end?!?!?!?!

Now, lest you think I have done nothing of value:
1. I went to the library.
2. I cleaned out my closet - and found the floor!
3. I went back to the library.
4. I did laundry, floors, swept the porch, vacuumed, shredded papers, completed report cards, and graded Social Studies projects all while watching March Madness basketball games.
5. I went to the library yet again.
6. Oh, and I read!

Gotta love Spring Break!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Break ...With a View

Perfect breakfast companions; My QT soda, a book, and a view!
Thanks Mom, for letting me stay at your casa and enjoy the peace and quiet.
It was a great start to a terrific week!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Sunday Edition - The Wicked Way!

Outside my window... Whoa Nelly...spring has sprung!! It's 82, a sweet breeze, poppies and daisies are in every front year and the trees are coming in to leaf. Love it!! I am especially grateful for the beauty around me today as I think about so many that have been affected by the tornadoes. Wow, it makes me count my blessings.

I am listening to .... murmurs. A whisper of conversation here, a faint ring there, it's the cloaked noises that remind me that there are others here with me, yet the world is outside. Perfect.

Favorite things from this week ... 1. WICKED!!!! Oh my golly gosh. It was knock-your-socks-off-phenomenal!!! Why, oh why have I waited so long to see this?? Rich and I both loved it. I am still singing and humming. (That makes Saturday chores much more fun:)))) 2. Finding the perfect bookshelves on Craigslist!! They're gorgeous and huge!!! This room will come together yet. 3. Q updated my phone and I am whole again!! Wahoo! 4. Leap Year celebrations for a great birthday boy and son #2 celebrating another one yesterday. Cool week.

I am thinking ... about the Tucson Festival of the Book. Yea! It is A.L.M.O.S.T. here. I can't wait til Saturday. It's the end of the grading quarter so I'm pondering grades, report cards, schedules and how to get my kiddos really ready for State testing in April. Yikes. AND I'm rolling the taste of Spring Break over and over across my tongue!! It starts this Friday and I intend to love every minute of it. I don't want to have to DO anything. I want to to just what I WANT to do. Oops...and read in bed in the morning. AND sleep in. AND ---- A week of possibilities.

I am grateful for ... 1. good weather and safety from the storm. I grew up in Tornado Alley for a portion of my little ol' life and they scare the liver right out of me. 2. I am so thankful for warnings. 3. On a lighter note, I am grateful for new hiking shoes. In preparation for a big hike this summer I am wearing them at every chance I get. They are fantastic and feel wonderful--Yippee. 4. Dropbox. Now that is one cool program!! And talk about user friendly. It puts Googledocs to shame. Wow. 5. My public library. You can now check out eReaders. Some come fully loaded with books to read or you can check out one and load up your own things. I am on the reserve list to check out the Nook and see how it would work in a classroom or by a pool or at a baseball game. How cool is that?!?!

I am reading ... Cinder by Marissa Meyer (thank you public library reserve list. It was finally my turn - -loving it - - need I say more?!?) Madensky Square by Eva Ibbotson (thank you, Shannon Hale for the recommend - we're best buds, you know!) Finishing My Side of the Mountain with my class. I love to hear small murmured comments, "I LOVE this book!" as I walk around the room. The hum of opinions and debates that are raging amongst the kids are fantastic. This is what reading is!!

This week they made 'smoking racks' like the main character did to preserve his meat. They were so creative. Of course it wouldn't be my life without reading about 4-5 more books but I'll just leave it at these for now.

I am listing ... People to call, lessons to teach, things to do, and notes to write. Now that they're on paper (or in my phone) I can forget it!! Right?!?!

I am creating ways to teach fractions, decimals and percentages. Hmmm. Any ideas? Getting ready to create my March Madness Bracket.... I adore NCAA basketball.

Plans for the week ...meetings & classes, report cards, planning who to see and hear at the Book Festival....who cares about what's for dinner or the mundane. This girl has her priorities...