Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Opening Night Jitters?

This is my daughter when she was five-not-quite-six.

We were at a county fair in upstate Vermont, and as soon as she spotted it, she couldn't wait to get on the mechanical bull. Her older brothers were both a little more reserved (read: scared) but she jumped up and down until I let her try it.


She's always liked to try new things. She also enjoys a challenge. And she's currently obsessed with superheros - maybe as she's trying these new things, she's really trying to discover her secret superpowers. I consider her fearlessness to be one of those superpowers... 

Tonight is opening night for her first school musical. She's only in 6th grade and doesn't have a lead, those went to the older actresses. This is, after all, her first musical. But she tells me that she opens a few of the scenes and is right up front for almost all of the musical numbers.

Opening night jitters? Nah. She's more concerned that I remember to bring my baked goods for the reception afterward. And that I don't embarrass her somehow (I'm helping by organizing the fundraising raffle at intermission.) And that I make sure someone brings her flowers. Nice flowers. Preferably pink and red. Or yellow.

Break a leg, kiddo. With your attitude and energy, you'll go far.

Now a question - if you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? And would you want to be fearless?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering on Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend means a day off from school, a day off from work, barbeques with family and friends, and a long weekend to do yardwork, get away to the summer cottage, or just relax.

But Memorial Day isn't National BBQ Day.

It's a day to remember and honor the soldiers and veterans who keep this great country of ours safe and secure. Who answered the call of duty and who sometimes don't come home.

Thank you to all those who serve now, or have served their time in the military, including my dad.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Can You Judge a Book By Its Cover?

My daughter came home from school yesterday with a question.

"Why do they say 'Don't judge a book by its cover?' Don't you read the back cover to find out what the book is about, and decide if you want to read it?"

Well, yes and no, I told her. That's not what the saying means, really. There was more to our discussion, until it was time to head to track practice.

But on the drive home from the track, I got to thinking. How often do we actually judge books by their cover art? Quite often, if we're honest with ourselves. I mean, aren't you drawn to a certain "type" of cover when you're in the bookstore? Don't you think some books just * look * poorly written, solely judging by the care the author took in choosing their cover art - even if we know the author doesn't always get the final say?

What do you look for at the library or bookstore? What covers draw you in?

Have you ever read a book with a fabulous cover that was totally disappointing?

Have you ever read a book with an awful-ugly-what-were-they-thinking cover that you loved?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Ideas and Swapping Spit

I was lying in bed this morning, planning what I would write here for today. I had it all planned out, clever title and all. But when I got to my computer I'd completely forgotten about an article I needed to finish for deadline.

Of course, now (many hours later) I can't remember anything I was planning to write for my blog, not even the title.

Isn't that the way life goes sometimes? You get a great idea - one that gives you tingles on the back of your arm, even - and then something interrupts and the idea dissolves, getting wispier and wispier until it's gone.

Martinis and Big Ideas go together a lot of the time for me... although I have to admit that some of those ideas aren't nearly as big as they seemed before the glass was empty...

What do you do to hold onto you Big Ideas? Do you write them down right away, jotting them into notepads or onto cocktail napkins as the case may be? Or are you one of the lucky people that remember all your ideas? Even when you're drinking martinis?

Okay, as for swapping spit - I read a blog post yesterday that I can't get out of my head. This author was describing her series of books, and the fact that her heroine dates more than one guy in the course of the series. It's YA, she's 15, none of the "dating" goes further than a few kisses, but some of her fans/critics call the heroine a skank because of her fickle heart.

The author called this the "Twilight Effect," blaming Bella and Edward for the one-to-one monogamy "demanded" by YA readers.

I disagreed. I pointed out that Nancy Drew only ever dated Ned Nickerson. Ever. For how many books? Another commenter pointed to fairy tales, and the "one true prince" trope...

What are your thought for YA? Can our heroines date? Or just have a one-and-only?

Monday, May 21, 2012

100 Years. And Counting.

Every spring, all the local Girl Scouts gather for a weekend of camping. A Friday through Sunday of no brothers, no dads, no showers, dirty faces, lots of marshmallows and food cooked over campfires, staying up late snuggled in sleeping bags, laughing with friends, singing silly songs... Girl Scout camping.

Each year, there's a theme. This year is the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, so our theme was "100 years of Girl Scouts." We had about 90 girls from the three towns in our Service Unit, all mixed together and working together and singing silly songs together... it was a pretty good weekend.
My Cadette troop only has four girls in it. They had their own tent and got absolutely no sleep. I was in the tent next to theirs, so I know. We shared our unit with a Brownie troop from Chatham, and a Daisy troop from Harwich, as well as a Chatham Junior leader and the only two of her girls who like camping. We all did our own things for meals, but shared one campfire where we also shared marshmallows and songs.
My Cadettes are also working with the Harwich Historical Society to put together a summer exhibit for the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts. We interviewed some older Scouts with the help of the local Channel 18 crew, and met with the women at the Historical Society to see how it all gets put together.

Some of the women I spoke with were Girl Scouts back in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. This was back before Title IX, and back before there were a lot of choices for girls' activities. Girl Scouts was a huge part of these women's lives, and some of their stories are fun to listen to.

Some of these girls never went over the Cape Cod Canal until they went with their Girl Scout troops. With Girl Scouts, they traveled to Martha's Vineyard, Boston and even to New York City. Girl Scouts was an inclusive organization from the get-go, so in the old photos you see black girls and white girls working together - in 1940. Even the military wasn't integrated back then. One of my neighbors recalls vividly that her troop had several Portuguese immigrant girls who were treated as equals in Scouts.

None of the women remembered selling cookies. They didn't really recall how it was that they raised the funds to go on the trips they went on, or did the fun activities that they participated in. They just remember the fun. Which is all I can hope for for my own daughter. Remember the fun. And be proud to be part of an organization that has meant so much to so many women for 100 years. And counting.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Going for Gold

All three of my kids are participating on school Track Teams this spring, at the middle school and the high school. And all three of my kids throw shot put. Or "put the shot," as my mother likes to say.

They're good. Not always the best, but good. My eldest hasn't come in first all season because there's a senior on his team who's really-really good. But my boy's only a sophomore. He's got time.

My middle child looks good competing, and loves being part of the team. He shows a lot of heart to go out there every day and try, always believing in his chances.

My daughter is only in sixth grade, and she's placed at every meet she's competed at this spring. Usually coming in second or third, but she also keeps trying for that gold. When she's in eighth grade, she'll be winning. And by high school, look out.

What's my point?

It's not always about winning. It's about the journey - going for the gold doesn't always have to mean you win. The important part is to keep trying. To keep believing in yourself and your chances. To never give in to that little voice that says, "Why bother? I'm not going to win/place/get published anyway."

If you don't try, you'll never win.

If you don't write, you'll never be published.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: Deadlocked, by Charlaine Harris


If you've read my blog for a while, you know I love this series.

But I just spent a few minutes reading some of the over 1,300 reviews and 21,000 comments already posted on Goodreads about this particular installment in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and, well, Ms. Harris can't be happy.

I admit that I'd already read the poor Publisher's Weekly review last week, before I bought it. But I still bought it, paying full price for the nook version from B& My Mother's Day gift to me. I started it Friday night and finished it Saturday morning. And it was entertaining.


I'm not into spoilers, and not into giving bad reviews.  And I enjoyed the book, even if so many on Goodreads definitely hated it. Many reviewers said the series was dying a slow and painful death, and one went as far to say it had turned from a sexy vampire to a zombie meandering aimlessly. (But wait, doesn't that reviewer know that Zombies are the new Vampire? Aren't they?)

If you haven't read the first 11 books in the series, don't start here. Go read the first book or two and see if you like them. They're all at your local library as well as on Kindle, Nook, and the shelves of many bookstores. Starting with book #12 is like trying to watch the last five minutes of a movie and only knowing it's "something to do with vampires." Don't do it.

If you are a fan of the series already (like me) I will say that it's not nearly as bad as the reviews make it out to be. It does average 3.5 stars. I'd probably give it 2 or 3, just for holding my attention. But there's nothing net new here. And there's no sexy scenes - Sookie has sex once with Eric, behind closed doors, as they say. And there's way too much about Claude, a character I haven't liked or trusted since I first met him.

Somehow everyone else in the world knew that this was the penultimate book in the series, and that it will be ending with #13. Shame on me for not knowing that before PW told me. But after reading it, I think it was a defense mechanism from the author or publisher, as if to let people know that all these seemingly random strings Ms. Harris has been playing with and loosely weaving only have another 600 pages or so to be wrapped up neatly.

That's a bit of pressure right there. And as a long-time fan of the series, I do appreciate that she's tying up the loose ends and neatly cutting others off. Which only leaves the still-dangling storylines that are hanging in the wind to be tied up in Book #13. Many reviewer think they know what the ending will be. And maybe they do, if Ms. Harris goes the predictable route. She is telegraphing rather loudly, as Sookie would say.

But maybe she'll surprise us all.

I guess I'll be reading Bk #13 when it comes out.  But I'll probably wait for it to be at the library.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Making Life Not Suck

Hope everyone had a great Mother's Day yesterday! The weather on the Cape cooperated - we did have a cloudy patch there in the middle that made me bring my raincoat to my son's soccer game  (yes, his league scheduled actual games ON Mother's Day. I mean, it's a National Holiday, right? Isn't here a law?) ... but it cleared up and the sun came out while I sat in the bleachers, probably because I brought the coat. And they ended up with a tie, 1-1, which was nice, and the boy who scored for our team came running into the bleachers after his goal to kiss his mom. Nice gift for Mother's Day.

When we got home, my husband had these beautiful flowers waiting for me, and my daughter had made me a few cards. The first she made from all the kids, and read "You Put up with a Whole lot of Whining..." on the front. When you open it, it reads, "...But let's stop talking about Dad. Happy Mother's Day!"

The other card was just from my daughter. The one in the picture above. Here's a close up.

The inside just reads "Thanks!"

I was pretty happy with her, and with her perception of me.

Okay, it may seem really snarky to some people, but isn't this the very idea of what being a good mom is all about? Middle School kinda sucks for most kids. In lots of ways. And High School isn't always a picnic either.My job is to help them make it through it all. For her to write this, and mean it, means something besides wanting to make me smile on Mother's Day. Which it did.

Who helps you make Life not Suck? Who do you help make it through the day?

Friday, May 11, 2012

An Award for Friday - Every Friday Should Get One!

Jaye Robin Brown over at Hanging on to Wonder has awarded me the Kreativ Blogger award.

The rules of this award are that I must tell you ten random and unknown facts about myself and then spread the love by passing on the award to more bloggers. So here goes.
  1. I hated the end of The Hunger Games so much I threw the book across the room. Hard. And then went to wake my son up so that he could read it. (The second book hadn't come out yet. Frustrating!)
  2. I don't really like Bill Murray, but Groundhog Day is one of my all-time favorite movies.
  3. I really do eat M&Ms with my coffee sometimes for breakfast. (It's not just a blogging thing!)
  4. One year our swimming pool cover was a vernal pool, and there were thousands of tadpoles. We tried to save as many as we could - we filled four kiddie pools!
  5. During college, the only times I ever set foot in the computer center was to visit a friend. I only used an electric typewriter for all my papers.
  6. I should never be the Cookie Mom for my Girl Scouts, because I end up eating way too many. Or wait, does that happen to everyone? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?
  7. I can't say I was ever "on tour" with the Grateful Dead, but I can think of a few occasions where I jumped in someone else's car (once I didn't even know the girl!) to travel to a Dead show without a plan or a ticket in hand. It all worked out well, but if my own daughter did that, I'd have a heart attack!
  8. My worst job ever was as a temp making cold calls for an office supply company. Kind of like working at Dunder Mifflin on The Office, except not as funny. Not funny at all.
  9. I always click on the Google icon when the image is something special for the day. Always.
  10. I can't decide whether to buy the latest Sookie Stackhouse (#12!) novel by Charlaine Harris beacuse the reviews I've read are not good. I guess I'm susceptible to reviews after all... I've read all the rest, though, so I think I'm going to have to buy it anyway!
Next, I must pick six of you to pass this award along to.... I've decided to choose 6 new bloggers I've met through April's A to Z challenge...

D.G. Hudson - Rainforest Writing

Siv Maria at Been there, Done that.

Jan Morrison - This Crazy Writing Life

and last but not least

baygirl 32 at that girl from around the bay

Technically, I started following baygirl during last year's A to Z, but she's such a great blogger and a great commenter that she deserves this award. (And doesn't already have it, either. I checked.)

So there you have it! Check out these bloggers if they're new to you! And thank you again to Jaye Robin Brown for adding me to her list of 6!

Okay, I'm off to buy the new Charlaine Harris book for my Nook to read this weekend. Yeah, I've been thinking about it since I typed that last factoid and can't get it out of my head. What is everyone else reading these days? (Besides 50 Shades of Grey)

Have a great weekend, whatever you do!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reflections on A to Z 2012

During April, I had Puppy help me navigate the alphabet, from A all the way to Z. She quickly tired of me and my camera.
But we made it through the month. And through the alphabet. This week, many of the A to Z bloggers are taking time to look back over the month and reflect on what they learned (or didn't learn), what the enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) and what it all meant to them.

1. First and foremost, I learned that scheduling blog posts is the bestest and easiest way to be an efficient blogger. In the past, I've kinda thought of it as "cheating" somehow. I felt that blogging should be an immediate, visceral thing. And it is when you are reading it. But just as magazine articles can be written way in advance of an issue going live and still hold relevance, so can a blog post. The scheduling tool is my new best friend when it comes to keeping up online.

2. Second, I guess I learned people only comment when you ask them a question. Well, maybe not only. But they feel more compelled to write something if you ask them. And I knew this before. But it hit home. An addendum to this is that people will tend to comment if you take time to visit them and leave comments. I had an awful month of busy-busy-busy, and didn't leave as many comments around the blogosphere as I wanted to - or as I did last year during the A to Z challenge. But most of the people I did visit this year came to visit me back. Unfortunately, sometimes I lurk more than I should, or get interrupted before I can finish my comment... or the blogger still has verification turned on and it takes forever and I get frustrated....

3. Third, when someone hits "Follow" and adds to your count, it's polite to go follow them back. I do try to always do this, but in reading the Reflection post of others, I guess not everyone does that. Or agrees with that philosophy? I thought part of the point of A to Z was to drive traffic and expose potential new followers to new blogs. I have made an effort to follow everyone back - if I missed you I didn't mean to! Let me know and I'll be right over to click the button on your page, too!

What did it all mean to me? I was in a blogging slump for sure going into the month, and was completely panicked about making it all the way to Z. Panic kicked into high gear when I realized I would be out of state from O through U and either needed to write those in advance or play catch-up when I returned. The challenge helped me out of the slump and over the hump of "I can't do all this..." , all this having more to do with my loaded plate of everyday life than writing simple blog posts.

We all have too much to do. (And if you don't, go volunteer for something cuz you're lazy.) Writing and blogging has taken the back burner in my world since December, and I realize it can't stay back there forever. We all need to do some things that feed our creative souls, and writing feeds mine a lot more than vacuuming does.

Will I do this again next April? I'm not sure. Maybe? Next April is so far off my radar at the moment I can't even contemplate it in any meaningful way. Besides, didn't the Mayans say the world is ending in December...?

Will Puppy let me take more pictures of her with the alphabet? Probably not. But there are other ways to work with letters, and I'm already thinking about it... so maybe Puppy and I will try again next year. Or maybe we'll have to make friends with a whole new alphabet worth of dogs. We'll have to wait and see.

What did you think of A to Z 2012? Was it what you expected? What did you learn?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finally Friday!

This has been the longest week - following the longest A to Z month of April. I'm still thinking about my Reflections post that's supposed to be posted on Monday (Thank you for the week off!) but in the meantime, I've got other stuff to do - like leading my Girls Scouts on a camping trip this weekend.

But... thought I'd take a minute to share this. I had a ton of junk mail in my inbox this morning, but one really funny forward from a fellow scout leader, who will also be camping this weekend.... I read it and it sounds like I wrote it out myself. Tell me if it sounds familiar to any of you as well. Be honest.


(1) Fine : This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up. 
 (2) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house. 

(3) Nothing : This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine. 

(4) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It! 

(5) Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.) 

(6) That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That's okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake. 

(7) Thanks : A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you're welcome. (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says 'Thanks a lot' - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say 'you're welcome'.. That will bring on a 'whatever'). 

(8) Whatever : Is a woman's way of saying...Go to Hell... 

(9) Don't worry about it, I got it : Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking 'What's wrong?' For the woman's response refer to # 3.
Have a great weekend!!!!