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    Monday, May 30, 2011

    Summer Reading

    I just finished Lisa Tawn Bergren’s Waterfall and can’t wait to get the sequel Cascade. With satisfying doses of romance, action, and time-travel for us paranormal fans, the River of Time series couldn’t be better for your summer reading list.

    When Gabriella and her sister, Evangelia, enter an ancient Etruscan tomb at an archaeological site in Italy, they have no idea they’ll emerge in medieval Tuscany—in the midst of a battle no less. Gabi cannot find her sister anywhere and is soon carted away to the Castle Forelli. Taken in by the powerful Forelli family, Gabi struggles to adapt to everything from the language to the customs to the barbaric realities of medieval war.

    Marcello Forelli, the second son and leader of the knights, is practically a fantasy hero with his Italian good looks and abundance of virulent manliness. Too bad for Gabi, the guy is taken, engaged to the daughter of the Forelli’s political ally. But that doesn’t stop a sizzling bond from growing between the two. And as the friction between the Forellis and their enemies mounts, Gabriella and Marcello find themselves enmeshed in a dangerous plot to rescue Gabi’s sister and conquer their treacherous adversaries.

    I particularly liked the heroine Gabi, who has the strength and fortitude to thrive in her frightening circumstances, but also has all the vulnerability and self-doubt of any modern young woman. Bergren does a superb job of crafting a heroine that both teens and women will embrace. And, of course, Marcello is a drool-worthy hero with an honorable heart and lovely, big muscles. Sigh.

    I’m curious to see how the time-travel element plays out in the rest of the series and anxious to get back to Bergren’s vivid Tuscan setting. Warning: This book will make you want to go to Italy. Probably not Italy in the 1300s, unless you think using a chamber pot would be a hoot and a half. But what girl doesn’t want to visit castle ruins, stroll through a breath-taking piazza, and eat pasta in a local cafĂ©? Sign me up!

    So, has anyone else read any great books lately? What’s on your summer reading list?

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Purple Hair, U2, and Field Trip Fun

    Things in my house which are now purple:

    My pillowcase
    My hairbrush
    My fingernails
    My scalp

    Every time I take a shower a certain Prince song takes over my bathroom. Even the ceiling has little purple dots on it. I had no idea I washed my hair so enthusiastically.

    I’m not sure why the purple stain we put in my hair last week is still washing out. All I can say is that I’m sure glad it has come off my skin, mostly. I did come up with some fun story ideas about The Purple-Eared Fairy though. My stylist and I thought it would be a good name for a drink. Can’t you see a brawny guy walking into a bar and asking the bartender for a Purple-Eared Fairy? That’s something I’ve just got to use in a book.

    So last Saturday Kory and I went with friends to the U2 concert at Invesco Stadium in Denver. This was my third U2 concert, and they were just as awesome as ever, even from the nosebleed section where people huddle together for warmth and make geeky Star Wars references about doing what you have to do to stay alive.

    Like I said, this was my third time seeing U2 and you know what’s weird? Their fans are getting really old! We played an ongoing game with our friends called “Can you spot a teenager?” I got excited when I found a whole cluster of young people in the mad crush of folks exiting the stadium after the concert. They probably wondered why an old, purple-haired lady felt the need to congratulate them for having good taste in music.

    Today I had the pleasure of herding third graders around downtown Colorado Springs for a scavenger hunt field trip.

    Highlights included:

    Rain and sleet
    Lots and lots of walking
    Finding “Phil” (each adult with a clue was called Phil)
    Street names unpronounceable by third graders
    Being offered “brownies” by strangers in the park

    Actually, stranger danger aside, it was a lot of fun. After our soggy hunt we went to the Pioneer Museum. I got all excited about a TB exhibit since I’ve been researching tuberculosis for my work-in-progress. Sometimes being a writer makes you awfully weird.

    So that’s what I’ve been up to. Purple hair. U2. Field Trip.

    Anyone else done anything exciting in the past few days?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Help! I Have a Creative Child.

    The other night I was sitting between my two boys, helping them with their math homework.

    Monkey, my third grader is doing fractions. I vaguely remember fractions as going something like this.

    If Evangeline eats 2/3 of a pie, how much pie will be left for Evangeline to share with her friends?

    Evangeline is a pig.

    Needless to say, I wasn’t much help to my son. For one thing, it seems they do math differently nowadays, and even though I could tell he was working with fractions, the presentation looked like alien bathroom art.

    But I tried. He kept asking me if his answers were right, and I kept trying to avoid admitting I didn’t know.

    Meanwhile, my first grader had a sheet of simple addition problems.

    Chunky: Mommy, what’s nine plus nine?
    Me: You figure it out.
    Chunky: But I can’t.
    Me: Then go get those jelly beans. Count out nine, then count out nine more. Then add them together.

    While Chunky fetched the jelly beans, I turned back to Monkey’s Martian graffiti. After an irrelevant and somewhat desperate lecture against defacing property, I checked back with Chunky to see if he had made two groups of nine jelly beans.

    Chunky: Look, Mom, I made an exclamation mark out of jelly beans.
    Me: That’s great. Now count out two groups of nine.
    Chunky: No! That’ll mess up my design.
    Me: Oooookay.

    Monkey claimed my attention again. I eventually had to send him to his dad for confirmation that his answers were, indeed, correct.

    When I looked at Chunky’s paper again, he’d come up with an interesting way to show his work.

    Here was the problem.

    Clearly he was supposed to draw groups of dots or write out a word problem, but Chunky chose, instead, to illustrate his creative process.

    It really is a picture of how he solved the problem--by sitting at the table, rubbing his antenna together, and eventually coming up with the answer. The fact that it in no way shows his mathematical method is arguably irrelevant.

    No, he doesn’t have a future as a mathematician. I’m thinking we have an LAS major on our hands. English? Fine Art? Communications? Philosophy? Cringe. Let’s hope, like his mother, he marries well.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Arts, Crafts, and Other Mysteries of the Universe

    There are two kinds of women in this country. Those who took Home Ec in high school. And those who couldn’t fit it into their busy flirting schedule.

    For those of us in the dubious second category, adulthood brings certain challenges. Things like lost buttons, ripped seams, high-altitude baking, and school play costume requirements send us into a panic.

    But perhaps the worst part of being domestically challenged is the blatant lack of crafting skills. While our industrious sisters scrapbook memories, stencil walls, and sew everything from quilts to purses made out of jeans, we reformed flirts struggle to make a model of a popsicle stick out of . . . a popsicle stick.

    Thankfully, our wiser and more accomplished peers have developed a plan to rescue us from our own silliness.

    The Craft Fair!

    At these wonderful events it is possible to buy a homemade craft, take it home, and after removing the price tag, PRETEND you made it. Genius, I know.

    If you cower at the sight of a glue gun and reach for band-aids along with a needle and thread, then join me at the Rocky Mountain Calvary Craft Sale this weekend. Mom and I will be signing books, and I’ll be shopping for homemade items to make my book club think I’m cool and convince my mother-in-law that her son didn’t marry a ninny. (Disclaimer: My MIL is pretty cool. I don’t think she holds my crafting disability against me.)

    We hope to see you there. I’ll be the one looking awed and slightly befuddled.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    The High Fashion World of Turtle Ownership

    Roger and Molly are here! They are three-year-old (approximately) Colorado native ornate box turtles. I brought them home last Wednesday even though it meant rushing around to get their habitat together instead of emptying my entire closet onto my bed in preparation for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference which started Thursday.

    When it comes to packing for out-of-town conferences, I usually start a week in advance. Try everything I own on. Go buy shapewear. Try everything I own on over new, lung-constricting undergarments. Go buy new clothes. Pack my suitcase with well-planned, coordinating outfits and enough girdles to do my grandma’s hourglass figure proud.

    But since this conference was in town, and I spent the week before planning and executing a certain someone’s spectacular Easter/animal birthday party extravaganza, I left everything till the last minute.

    At this point I would like to ask my beloved, hard-working husband to STOP READING THIS POST.

    So, for those of you who are not Kory—

    Imagine my consternation, after spending over $200 to outfit Roger and Molly in their new digs, only to discover that I had no idea what I’d be wearing to the conference the next day.

    I panicked. I went to Target and bought a black shell, an indiscriminate assortment of body-squeezing underwear, and an odd, blue shirt.

    Back home, I frantically yanked clothes out of my closet, crammed my arm into pair after pair of black tights to check for holes, and ironed my jean jacket, of all things.

    Then I carefully assembled what appeared, at 1 AM, to be stylish outfits.

    The next day I got up, decided I had a blind engineer’s fashion sense, wore something entirely different, and was late to the conference.

    I never wore the black shell. I never wore the odd, blue shirt.
    I did wear the Spanx, of course.

    I think I did all right. No one asked me to go home and change. But I’ll let you in on a secret. No matter what I’m wearing, I always feel about as dignified as this poor creature.

    Speaking of poor taste, we're having an edible turtle contest over at The Dragon and the Turtle. Stop by. It's not as horrible as you think!