Archive for February, 2010


Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Failure is a funky fact of natureís law to try and make us perfect.

The longest distance between the beginning and end is the middle.

To make the best of it you have to do it.

Life is stagnant until the pot is stirred and comes to boil, then overflows.

Childhood Books

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Reading Cindyís piece sparked a period of reflection for me. Iíve always loved to read and would reach for anything in print, but my resources were limited. We lived in a small town with no library and our elementary school ìlibrariesî consisted of donated books placed on short shelves in the back of classrooms. Even though I read voraciously, I remember few of those books. The only one that sticks in my mind is Little Women. I identified with Meg, but secretly wanted to be more like Jo. I cried both in shock and disbelief when Beth died. Up until that time, I did not know that book characters could die.

My favorite books did not come from libraries, however. They came as gifts. I have fond memories of many birthdays and Christmases spent curled up in an overstuffed chair reading my latest copy of a Nancy Drew book. What joy! Nancy Drew was elegant! She was smart. She was independent. She drove her own car. She had supportive girl friends (I was always intrigued by one of the names, because George should have been a boyís name.). Her boyfriend was a romantic figure who played football at the college he attended nearby. Her lawyer father always responded to her requests. In the process of gathering clues and solving mysteries, she went to delightful tea rooms and had luscious picnic lunches prepared by a trusty housekeeper.

I have since read thousands of childrenís books, including most of the award winners over many years, and I have seen criticsí criticisms of Nancy and her series. They say the plots were based on worn-out formulas; that Nancy was too independent, too adventurous, too upper-class. I say ìHogwash!î at least about the original books published before 1959. These were the books I read and loved. I am grateful to have had Nancy Drew in my life. She was a familiar and dependable friend during my preteen and early teen years.

The Book Aunt

Monday, February 15th, 2010

When I was a little girl, my Great-aunt Thelma always sent me books as gifts. Now I know to some kids this might rate up there with underwear for Christmas, but to me it was heaven. Aunt Thelma had no children of her own, but she had an uncanny knack of choosing books I loved. To this day I have the well-worn, first-edition copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach with her neat cursive inscription and the date of 1973. I was eight.

In my life I have read thousands of books, but Roald Dahl still heads the list as one of my favorite authors ever. As a childrenís writer myself, I aspire to his extraordinary ability to invent completely ridiculous situations and characters that are somehow totally believable. What kid could resist this opening scene from James and the Giant Peach?

"Here is James Henry Trotter when he was about four years old. (illustration)

Up until this time, he had had a happy life, living peacefully with his mother and father in a beautiful house beside the sea. There were always plenty of other children for him to play with, and there was the sandy beach for him to run about on, and the ocean to paddle in. It was the perfect life for a small boy.

Then, one day, Jamesís mother and father went to London to do some shopping, and there a terrible thing happened. Both of them suddenly got eaten up (in full daylight, mind you, and on a crowded street) by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped from the London Zoo."

See what I mean? So, what books do you remember from your childhood?

Love Letter to Holden Caulfield.....My tribute to J.D.Salinger

Friday, February 12th, 2010

It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Oh Holden!

We meet in Mr. Stough's English class. You were so real, so jaded, so naughty. You smoked, you drank, you flunked out of school.

And yet we were told to get to know you. It was an assignment! Who was Holden Caulfield? What were his dreams? His failures?

It was the happiest day of my young English Literature career.

So different from Huckleberry Finn, the sonnets of Shakespeare, you were tragic like Hamlet but so relatable! You Holden, would never wear tights and hold a conversation with a skull. You were way too cool.

Oh Holden! You were nestled in my book bag, with your dog-eared pages I circled quotes where your voice touched my inner teen-angst! I had found my soul mate. If only you had been here† as a senior at Bear Creek High School! We would sneak cigarettes in the parking lot, we would wear black, listen to the Smiths and comment that everyone else was a phony and that goddamn money....makes you blue as hell.

It would be perfect.

And then we moved onto Macbeth.

Sadly Holden, I am now older. Today if I sat with you out in the parking lot, I would tell you to stop smoking, call your parents, stop pissing away their money, buck up and go back to school.


Good Posture and the mother-son duke it out.

Monday, February 8th, 2010

When my son was thirteen he started to slouch.† His tailbone would be inches from the back of a chair and his shoulders rounded.†† As his concerned mother, I went into action to get him to correct his poor posture.† I started with reminders to sit and stand straight which led to nagging which led to pleading which led to bribing which led to scare tactics which led to appealing to his vanity.† I told him he would develop painful back problems in later life, along with osteoarthritis and diminished lung capacity.† I told him slouching gave an impression of laziness and defeat.† I pulled out my big guns and told him that he was far too handsome to ruin his 5í11î with crappy posture. ††Nothing I said worked.† I cut out posture improvement regimens from magazines and offered to pay for massages if he stood up straight.† But nothing I did worked either.† At some point, he told me to let it go so I decreased my posture comments to twice a year and then zipped my lips altogether.†† I havenít mentioned his posture to him in four years.

Yesterday, he phones from Alaska where he is working as a petroleum engineer for Conaco Phillips.† He is now 25 years old.† ìMom, I have a second birthday present for you.î† (His first present was a mason jar filled with homemade bath salts wrapped with enough duct tape it to keep it safe for the three thousand mile journey from him to me.† By the way it was the best bath salts Iíve ever used.)† ìMom, today I bought a yoga mat and made a commitment to improve my posture.î

ìWeíll thatís great, son.† Why did you do this again?î

ìAs a birthday present for you.î

Weíll I am way too smart to believe that one.† Perhaps it was because he is now 5î10î or maybe because his girlfriend and him are on a health regime. †They swim, work out, eat fish and bake their own biscuits with spelt flour.† ìScott, as a yoga teacher, an occupational therapist and your mother, I am delighted.î† And then I slipped in one last comment to seal the deal.† ìI always thought that you are way too handsome to ruin the total package with bad posture.î† ††He shared my comment with his girlfriend and she agrees.

Quinn Reed

Take a StandóBe CourageousóHelp Others

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

His mother died when he was five and then the sister, who he counted on as a mother, died. He grew up on the streets of San Francisco, raised by the World War II veterans who managed the local YMCA. The speaker was Gus Lee, a first generation Chinese man who served in our Armed Forces.

I was hooked. See, he had already explained more than I have ever ìlivedî in his opening words. However, his next thoughts completely floored me as he†continued to describe†how†the home village in China was taken over, the country swarmed by over a million invaders--all determined to commit genocide and re-establish a different government. So his parents began the ëspectacular adventureí of immigrating to the US.

He reminded the NoCoNet audience of over 250 job seekers that very few of us came here on a first class ticket. Most of our ancestors were fleeing impossible odds and running to the only place that would take them.

How true. My ancestors were Irish/Welsh immigrants, poor working class folks who settled in the South, along the Mississippi River Delta of LA. My grandfathers were iron workers. black smiths and mule skinners for the logging company. Every day my dad put on his uniform and went into the city to work; he hung glass in the skyscrapers and was proud of his job.

Gus Lee reminded me that I only need another job. Nothing more. Not a new country. I do not have to run for my life. My children do not go hungry every night; they have both parents and a warm, safe house to sleep in. Nothing about this economic downturn is anything like what any of these brave immigrant†people endured.

I became keenly aware that all anyone in the room needed was the next job. I felt humbled, expanded, rejuvenated with a healthier perspective. And, then he explained that courage is part of character and you can let fear erode your character or stand up and be intentional about who you are and what you are all about. He said you can show your family fear or courage in the midst of travesty. It is a personal choice and a soul quest.

Upon reflection, few things really shake up in my blessed life in Loveland, CO.

But the earth did shake and broke open in Haiti and the world fell down on all those people. Till I get another job, I have a job to do. I am helping at the warehouse of H.E.L.P. International in Loveland, CO. check out,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/You can help, too.

Stay courageous, persevere. Help others all you can. You can learn more about Gus Lee and Character.FtCollins at