Friday, June 23, 2017

Fortunate Family

 Let's call this late Happy Father's Day to my Dad.  Here he is with my Uncle Rick.  My uncle is crazy surprised because my cousins threw a 50th wedding anniversary party and all the cousins were there from all over the U.S.  This is actually my mom's side of the family - the Shutters clan.
 L to R - Heather and Jen Shutters - they threw the party and are the daughters. Jen came in from Nevada. Heather lives in Quakertown PA near her folks.  Then Lori (DE) peaks over Uncle Rick's shoulder (he's my mom's younger brother age 78), then my brother David (nearby in Sellersville), Gary (MA) behind Aunt Connie. Then Mark (OR), me (I'm 4 days older than Mark), and Sandy (PA) is the elder cousin.  Quite a troupe.  Dad is front and center - he was the oldest person there and represents my Mom.  Oh it was a glorious gathering - we are fortunate - tons of laughs, no issues or family feuds.  It's great to get together for a happy occasion, since we all are getting older.
 Jeff and Jen,  Aunt Connie and Uncle Rick, Heather and Jeff.   Heather is quite the spitting image of my mother as a young girl.  It's uncanny.
50 years.  I attended their wedding at age 8. It was my first wedding and I thought she looked like a princess.  Through thick and thin, some health issues, etc. - a good marriage.

And we are all a fortunate family.

Book Review - A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros is best known for The House on Mango Street. Now A House of My Own is a book of  a richly illustrated compilation of true stories and nonfiction pieces that taken together form a jigsaw autobiography – an intimate album of a beloved literary legend.  (from cover blurb)

She grew up poor in Chicago, but rich in family life. She traveled the world, worked hard at her craft, honed her voice, and sought to make that voice heard through her words. She sought roots and yet stayed restless. Now living in Mexico, back to her ancestral roots, Sandra Cisneros, with this collection – spanning three decades and including never before published work – has come home at last. (from cover blurb)

I think this paragraph in her introduction exemplifies Sandra Cisneros’ style and the reason to read this book:
So I’m gathering up my stray lambs that have wandered out of sight and am herding them under one roof, not so much for the reader’s sake, but my own. Where are you, my little loves, and where have you gone? Who wrote these and why? I have a need to know,  so that I can understand my life.

Another welcoming example of her writing – P. 40.  I look for my kin in fellow writers. Those I know in person and those I know on the page. I feel fortunate at least to open books, and be invited to step in. If that book shelters me and keeps me warm, I know I’ve come home.

Her profiles of other writers. Her travel essays. Her growth as a writer. All are documented here. Her thoughts as an Hispanic woman who left home to get an education, to teach, and to write – all to the chagrin of her family. Why are you not married? How can you leave and be on your own without a husband? She shrugged and moved forward ever reaching, ever seeking meaning as a woman and a writer – in essays, poetry, and stories.

A House of My Own – Stories From My Life by Sandra Cisneros is like inviting a friend in for a chat. This is such a pleasant read. When I finished it, I was ready to start it over again – eager to glean more from her writing. Style, grace, and heart.  Welcome home, Ms.Cisneros. Welcome home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice Birthday

An oldie picture, but I don't have many of my mother. I've written this before - she always dodged the camera, ever elusive.  This is back in the 1980s -  Lori's early years in college and we were visiting her. I was in from TX. My brother is missing. So young and vibrant.

Today - June 21st is my mother's birthday. She's been gone twenty five years now.
Happy Birthday Mom!  I'll eat some chocolate cake in her honor.

I liked this quote by Russell Baker:
Children rarely want to know who their parents were
before they were parents, and when age
finally stirs their curiosity, there is no parent left to tell them

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Moment - Clarity

This interview caught my eye in the June 12th issue of Time Magazine. Q&A with Sir Harold Evans, a longtime editor and author.  Sir Harold on writing evils:

Writing that is deliberately designed to deceive - insurance  policies, political statements. Business verbosity wastes money, confuses millions. I find myself getting much more angry about the moral question of obligation of fairness than I do about a misplaced semicolon. 

other good quotes:
The language police are a bloody nuisance, some linguists in particular

on Twitter
Twitter's wonderful for assertion. It's absolutely useless for argument.

All food for thought.  Let's have a decent week, everyone.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is a young adult novel that was also made into a movie.  It is well written, current without being obnoxiously hip, and provides some lessons learned for the heroine. From the cover blurb – Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12 should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning.

Yes, this is a variation on Groundhog Day, except it’s Cupid Day. Samantha and her crew are the girls with the most roses. They are prepping all day to go to the hot party. Samantha is preparing to lose her virginity to Rob that night. Oh there’s alcohol, icy roads, and a crash. Then Samantha wakes up and relives the day over and over with an ever jaded eye on her behavior, on her friend’  behavior, and on the shallowness of high school. She tries to vary the routines, but something always goes awry. She tries to fix a bullying situation that she was a willing participant early on. However, after several “deaths and rebirths” she recognizes her wrongs.  She sees how Kent is thoughtful, kind, and actually looks out for her versus Rob, her boyfriend, who’s actually quite a jerk.

The book isn’t all sugar and spice and perfect redemption. However, Oliver develops her characters well and shows growth. She definitely captures the cliques of high school and the need to fit in well, the need to keep popularity and image intact. She also goes below the surface and shows the underlying angst of teenage life.

A friend lent this book to me and it was a quick read. I recommend checking it out of the library, and I’ll probably keep my eye out for the movie on Netflix. Before I Fall  - you’ll find a piece of your young self  somewhere in this book.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New Kid in Town

There's a new Faries in town - Dakota Lynn. She was born on 5/25/17 at 8 am. She's going to need that attitude face to keep up with older sisters - Skylar (2), and Makyla (8).  And poor parents, Kevin and Maria, are now outnumbered.

Good luck kid!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot absolutely leaps from the screen. She is stunning, smart, and is the perfect Diana/Wonder Woman. I loved this movie. It is sharp, slick, moves along with an actual plot, is visually arresting, and Wonder Woman has a lot of character.  Am I gushing? Sure. So many of the Marvel and DC Comic movies are over-the-top fights moving to more over-the-top fights. Sometimes it’s too big of an assault to the senses.  (I like the films, don’t get me wrong, but…)

Wonder Woman has better pacing as an origin story.  We meet young Diana as a girl living with the Amazons on a shrouded island. This place filled with strong women is idyllic and yet prepared for the worst. Unfortunately, Chris Pine as Captain Steve Trevor, pilot in WWI, crashes into the nearby waters. Diana saves him and the island is invaded by German soldiers. Needless to say, Diana saves her people, unleashing more powers than she ever knew she had. She is special and in her na├»ve way, wants to find Ares – the God of War – to stop this mess. Trevor is a spy who needs to escape and get back to England. Diana says farewell to her world, she’s destined for bigger things, and joins Trevor on his mission.

Once in England, this Amazon fish out of water proves resourceful. Again, Gadot shows trust, heart, and worry – it flashes across her face, even as she’s using her golden lariat, her magnificent sword, and her ever increasing skills. Chris Pine is also quite good with a light comedic touch at times and then true stolid hero bearing. They work together to find the German plant preparing to unleash killer poisons. They find the horrific scientist creating chemical weapons of mass destruction. Oh, there’s plenty of action and blow-em up. But through it all, Diana/Wonder Woman is a towering presence.

Wonder Woman is a winner in so many ways. A strong female heroine with principles and heart. I do believe that Gal Gadot was created from clay and blessed by Zeus. And I look forward to future films from this actress. I want her to save OUR world!