DO OVERS

So I just spent 3 hours on a Friday night writing a blog post--Hours I could have been liming (which in Trinidad speak means socializing with friends aka "partying");

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hours I could have spent packing my suitcases for my upcoming trip; doing the ironing--which is piling up; eating; sipping; whining (Trini speak for dancing, what Miley calls "twerking"):

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or languidly lounging on the balcony watching pelicans swoop into the glistening Gulf of Paria.

The view from the comfy chair on my patio calls "lounge, lizard! Watch for flying fish! Feel the breeze!

The view from the comfy chair on my patio calls "lounge, lizard! Watch for flying fish! Feel the breeze!

Even with all those things, and more, I could have been doing, I don't begrudge spending one moment writing that post. Because it was brilliant.

It was a post on Do OVERS and how, in the course of doing over our house, I've come to realize the clarity and freedom that comes from throwing in the town and starting over can bring. "I call Do Overs!" The post took me especially long to write because I included lots of photos illustrating problems my contractor George uncovered which led to us having to gut the whole first floor of our house, including maybe rat gnawed wires, leaks, shoddy workmanship, and hidden surprises. (Be glad, maybe, that you don't have to see that...)

The post began like this (I know because I save this bit earlier.):

Hopscotch players have to be able to jump far and accurately--sometimes 4 or 5 squares at a time. But the real secret is in the hopscotch charm. It has to be heavy enough to stick in a square and not roll. Mine was a key chain with a key.

Hopscotch players have to be able to jump far and accurately--sometimes 4 or 5 squares at a time. But the real secret is in the hopscotch charm. It has to be heavy enough to stick in a square and not roll. Mine was a key chain with a key.

When I was a kid, playing a game with friends--hopscotch, marbles, putt-putt golf and the like. Whenever one of us made a really lousy play—marble shot, we called “do overs.”

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Do Overs is an opportunity to try or perform something a second time.
— Wikipedia says

So what the heck? Now that we’re adults…..professionals…DO OVERS aren’t permitted?

Is it because we are scared to chuck it all and go back to the beginning? Take another shot at it? Try another approach?

Or is it because we are too lazy, broke, cocky, afraid of what we'll be left with, of losing what we've got--regardless how flawed that might be?

A fresh coat of paint, new throw pillows, the right lighting mask a multitude of mistakes

A fresh coat of paint, new throw pillows, the right lighting mask a multitude of mistakes

I concluded with the realization that with houses, as with our lives, and our stories, often we allow, knowingly and not, frippery--paint and frills, holidays and laughs, flowery passages and pithy prose--to mask fundamental flaws. And how, if instead of messing around trying to make it look all right,  we should call out "DO OVER," strip it down to the bare bones. Clear the Slate. Wind up and give it another go. 

                             How calling "Do Over" is like a Get Out Of Jail Card. 

                             How calling "Do Over" is like a Get Out Of Jail Card. 

So, this amazing, brilliant, and I am sooooooo convinced, inspiring blog post was finished. I'd clicked to tags, add categories. I'd uploaded a cover picture and even pushed "publish."

I was half out of my seat, ready to get up, walk away, be done. But no, Ms. Clever-McSmarty Pants wouldn't let me quit there, so I decided the post would be even more brilliant if I added a photo of the Do Over game (Because it made me laugh and I was having such fun being clever.)

Do over!.jpg

Oh, yeah, and a pithy little quote about "Rites and Rituals", too.

The do-over was one of childhood’s most powerful rites, for it exerted our dominion over the laws of space and time. The clock was rolled back, the game was restored to its exact status as before before the contested event and play was resumed.
— http://www.streetplay.com/stories/hangingout/doover.shtml

But then, the picture wasn't positioned quite right, so I decided to delete it and try again. Instead, I deleted the entire blog post.

And even after searching all over my blog site and the Internet for ways to recover it, I can't. So now as brilliant as it was, you will never ever get to read that post on the deepest truth of DO OVERS. Unless, of course, I get up the energy to redo it. And despite the convictions of my lost post, I'm not sure I can. 

Not even Marilyn could convince me. (And I listened several times.) So, in closing, I'll let Marilyn speak for herself on the subject. Since you can't read it from me, LISTEN TO MARILYN.

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Count Down to Christmas with Not-Your-Ordinary Christmas Books

Radios are counting-down to Christmas by playing 30 days of Christmas-ish Songs (In Trinidad make that 100 days...who knew there were sooooooo many).

TV stations are playing 25 days of Christmas-ish Movies.  

I'm joining the festivities with a count-down of my own: 12 Days of Christmas-ish Children's Books, with a twist! I'm listing all 12 now so you can:

  • Read one a Day . . . 12 in one day . . . or all 12 every day!
  • Buy one--or all 12--for tots on your list!
  • Use my list to bring to inspire you to pull your favs off the shelves!
Co-written by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, art by Steve Borkman  

Co-written by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, art by Steve Borkman
 

#12: NAUGHTY!  Alfie F. Snorklepuss doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, and he’s being a real pest about it. Cranky Alfie is everywhere—on TV, in the newspapers, over the radio—telling boys and girls what he thinks is the truth. Then, one Christmas Eve, the man in red himself packs up Alfie and brings him to the North Pole for an attitude adjustment, Santa-style.

Brand new from Anne Broyles, art by KE Lewis

Brand new from Anne Broyles, art by KE Lewis

#11: FOLKTALE-LY: It's time for Arturo and his Central American grandmother, Abue Rosa, to decorate their Christmas tree. Abue Rosa shares with him the family history of each ornament as it is hung. But what happens when Arturo plays with-and breaks-a glass bird?

by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, art by HB Lewis

by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, art by HB Lewis

#10 FRIENDLY: Each year at Christmas, Joe writes a letter to Santa. But they've had a few misunderstandings in the past. Last year, for example, Joe wanted a fire-engine-red racecar with retracting headlights, and he did get one — but it was only three inches long. So this year Joe is really, really careful. He describes exactly what he wants — and on Christmas morning, guess what's waiting for him under the tree!

By Laura Leuck, art by Gris Grimly

By Laura Leuck, art by Gris Grimly

#9 MONSTERLY: Mack and Zack are getting ready for Christmas, hanging up their smelly socks and blistertoe, decorating their dead pine tree, making poisonberry pies. Here in the rollicking rhyme of Laura Leuck and the gruesomely silly illustrations of Gris Grimly, is a truly memorable Christmas tale.

by Kandy Radzinsky  

by Kandy Radzinsky
 

The 1st was so popular, Kandy followed up with the collection of Cat letters to Santa.

The 1st was so popular, Kandy followed up with the collection of Cat letters to Santa.

#8 CATISHLY: A cat-happy twist on the traditional English Christmas song for hard-core feline fanciers of any age. . . . they'll appreciate Radzinski's solemn, admiring paintings of her subjects, each whisker heroically articulated, and her settings (the sleeping twosome curl up prettily in a basket with a Christmas quilt, six cats a-playing are decorously entangled with ribbon and gift wrap).

Leave it to Bob Shea!

Leave it to Bob Shea!

#7 PREHISTORICALLY: Dinosaur is getting ready for Santa! He tackles many challenges--decorating, making presents for Mom and Dad, trying not to be naughty--and defeats each one with his trademark ROAR! But on Christmas Eve, when he hears some rustling downstairs, he can't resist a peek. Will our feisty red friend meet his match in the man in the red suit?

Richard Paul Evans originally wrote this as a gift for his family members. After sharing it with your family, try creating a story of your own? Maybe your young artists can illustrate it?

Richard Paul Evans originally wrote this as a gift for his family members. After sharing it with your family, try creating a story of your own? Maybe your young artists can illustrate it?

#6 WARMHEARTEDLY: Rick, Keri, and their 4-year-old daughter, Jenna, are hired as caretakers and are welcomed into the home of Mary, an ailing widow, just in time for the holidays. Before long, it becomes apparent that Mary cherishes their companionship, and this young family begins to understand that their relationship to Mary is more special than any one of them could have realized. These tender relationships, fraught with real-life struggles, are the backdrop for unraveling a mysterious secret that gently propels the reader through this short story.

Eve Bunting and David Diaz are an incredible author-illustrator duo. Warning: this story will make all y'all think differently about homeless people. CAUTION: could prompt spontaneous giving . . .

Eve Bunting and David Diaz are an incredible author-illustrator duo. Warning: this story will make all y'all think differently about homeless people. CAUTION: could prompt spontaneous giving . . .

#5 THOUGHTFULLY: Simon and his mom don't have much--the cardboard house they built for themselves, a tiny Christmas tree, and a picture of an angel pinned to one wall. On Christmas Eve they take in a frail stranger who needs a place to keep warm, and the next morning Simon wakes early to find that the woman has vanished. Instead, he sees December, the angel from the picture, with her wings fanned out over their cardboard house. Could she be real?

Story and Art by Chris Van Allsberg  Watch the movie, too! Tom Hanks is the conductor/dad!

Story and Art by Chris Van Allsberg

Watch the movie, too! Tom Hanks is the conductor/dad!

#4 MAGICALLY: The tale of a young boy lying awake on Christmas Eve only to have Santa Claus sweep by and take him on a trip with other children to the North Pole

By Eve Bunting, art by David Diaz. These two make an amazing team!

By Eve Bunting, art by David Diaz. These two make an amazing team!

#3 POINGNANTLY: Christmas is coming and Carlos and his family are going home-driving south across the border to Mexico. But Mexico doesn't seem like home to Carlos, even though he and his sisters were born there. Can home be a place you don't really remember?

I love you, Little Cindy Lu Who!

I love you, Little Cindy Lu Who!

#2 Susically: "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" and oh how we love you! Gotta read it every year. Gotta watch the movie, too--two times, maybe more, sing all the songs, feel that heart grow three sizes . . .

#1: TRADITIONALLY: Thanks to Clement Moore for T'was The Night Before Christmas . . . or Henry Livingston, whichever actually wrote the story of Santa's stop one Christmas eve. poem. (A mock trail was even held to determine the true author.) Once a season, at least, this book needs to be read. Which version? You're choice. This classic Christmas poem has been retold in scads of different versions: Cajun, Golden Book, Cowboy, Cat, Thomas the Tank, even Pop Up . . . Call in "Henry's revenge" that royalties for all these go not to Clement Moore's heirs, but to the retellers.

We've come to the end of my counting down to Christmas: 12 Days of Christmas-ish Children's Books List. I hope you'll have as much fun reading through the season as I have!

  • Please add to the list by sharing your favorites. Help build the list to 25 days of Christmas-ish reads, and onto 100!  (Post suggestions in the "comments" section! Curious minds want to know.)

 

An Anthor's Fear . . .

If a tree falls in the forest and noone is near, does it make a sound?

The question was first posed by Philosopher  George Berkeley, in A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (pub. 1710). Here's the passage "But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than for me to imagine trees, for instance, in a park [...] and nobody by to perceive them. [...] 

Help! I'm falling and I can't get up . . . 

Help! I'm falling and I can't get up . . . 

In June 1883, in the magazineThe Chautauquan, the question was posed, "If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?"

The question was answered with an emphatic NO!

 "Sound is the sensation excited in the ear when the air or other medium is set in motion."[3] . In other words, if there is no ear near to hear it, there is no sound. 

If a book is published and nobody reads it? Then it is no book. 

Spoken or not, this is every author's fear. And we are a fearful lot: 

         First,  we fear we won't be able to tell our story . . . 

         Then,  we fear our story will never be published . . . 

         After, we fear no one will want to read our book. . .  

And in-between, before and after there are a byzillion other smaller fears... (Is it any wonder so many notable authors, as Mr. Bojangles put it,  "drinks a bit"?)

They make housecalls . . . 

They make housecalls . . . 

 

 

 

 


 

 

That's why I did it--4 am wake-ups, 3 flights, 6 hours drive--Why I went to Fenton, MO, where, thanks to Deborah, the Barnes and Noble Community Relation's Rep, and Rebecca Grose, my publicist, visited 6 schools, gave 6 school and 2 store presentations, to read. Read it I did. I read VAMPIRE BABY at least a dozen times, and NOT NORMAN, A Goldfish Story, too! 

What ohhhh, what a joyful time it was! 

 

Gretchen, the brand new Guffey Elem librarian, came by the store after work just to scoop up copies for her library!

Gretchen, the brand new Guffey Elem librarian, came by the store after work just to scoop up copies for her library!

 


 

Angie and "Granny from Philly" brought the triplets, Jacob, Ryan & Kevin, by for Storytime (and Granny asked where I got my hair cut, but didn't think it was worth the trip to my Trini hairdresser, Helen...)   

Angie and "Granny from Philly" brought the triplets, Jacob, Ryan & Kevin, by for Storytime (and Granny asked where I got my hair cut, but didn't think it was worth the trip to my Trini hairdresser, Helen...)

 

Mrs. O, the Trautwein Elem librarian broadcast the program and answers to their most excellent questions throughout the school. I've met David Shannon...does that count??? And yes, it really did take me 2 years to write that book with just those many words...

Mrs. O, the Trautwein Elem librarian broadcast the program and answers to their most excellent questions throughout the school. I've met David Shannon...does that count??? And yes, it really did take me 2 years to write that book with just those many words...

B&N Children's Section welcome

B&N Children's Section welcome

What these pictures don't show is a couple hundred K-2nd graders, in all manner of costume and hair-do, eyes bright, shaking their fingers and shouting out "NO BITE!"

Music to my fearful author's ears!

The "I VANT MY VAMPIRE BABY" Contest begins Oct. 15. Enter to win!

Link: http://kellybennett.com/blog/2013/10/i-vant-my-vampire-baby-contest-details

JUST KEEPS GETTING WEIRDER . . . Dimples!

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For some, it may have been a passing thought. One of those "Boy if only I had dimples, too . . . I'd get to be Goddess-of-the-Whole-Entire-Universe-and-Beyond" thoughts that cross your mind when you saw  __________(fill in the blank). And if you're honest, after my last post, you might have given serious thought as to whether you could grow a pair--of dimples that is--by sucking on popsicles. You might even have popped for a six pack of strawberry ice on a stick--less than 100 calories each! Checked into Cool Scuplting. Or, in a burst of guilt-free glee, googled recipes to make your own. Sorry to say, I still don't know how many popsicles one must suck to develop face dimples. I'm still working on it. . . 
But I did find some interesting recipes for various flavors. Here are my fav fruit pop recipes.  

dimple machine.jpg

It's weird enough to think of someone putting so much thought into how dimples are formed. And it just keeps getting weirder:

Our frieghbor, Brian, just sent me an article about a woman who wanted dimples so badly--and thought everyone else did, too...enough to pay for them--that she invented a dimple making machine!

Anyone in the market for "A fine set of dimples?"
Here's more about  Isabella Gilbert and her contraption, along with other "bad inventions":

It just keeps getting weirder . . .

Rocking and Rambling

Zane's pirate flag is flying high today!

ONE DAY I WENT RAMBLING

is a finalist for the Writers' League of Texas Book Award!

 

 

Bright Sky Press, 2011

For more on WLT click: http://www.writersleague.org/131/2013-Book-Awards-Contest-Finalists

 

 

The 2013 Writers' League of Texas Book Awards Finalists 

*Winners will be announced on this page in early September.

FICTION

Along These Highways by Rene S. Perez Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Saenz Appearances: Stories by Jan Seale

NONFICTION

Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing's Invisible Champion by WK Stratton Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality by Suzy Spencer Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma by Leila Levinson My Boys and Girls Are in There: The 1937 New London School Explosion by Ron Rozelle In the Shadow of the Carmens: Afield with a Naturalist in the Northern Mexican Mountains by Bonnie Reynolds McKinney State of Minds: Texas Culture and Its Discontents by Don Graham

POETRY

Horse-Minded by Suzette Marie Bishop Crane Creek, Two Voices by Vanessa Furse Jackson & Robb Jackson Strange Light by Derrick C. Brown Begging for Vultures by Lawrence Welsh Jan Seale: New and Selected Poems by Jan Seale

MIDDLE GRADE & YOUNG ADULT NOVELS

Breaking Lauren by Jordan Deen Chained by Lynne Kelly Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull The Veil by Cory Putman Oakes The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly

PICTURE BOOKS

Alicia's Fruity Drinks by Lupe Ruiz-Flores HummingBirds: Facts and Follklore from the Americas by Jeanette Larson It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate One Day I went Rambling by Kelly Bennett

E.L. Kongisburg's Silence

E.L. "Elaine" Konigsburg has passed. El KonigsburgA true genius of a writer, witty, funny, smart, snarky--she was a thinker who created thoughtful, smart, young characters who made us think. I made a point of reading her books--all of them. Silence comes to mind when I think of her. She subscribed to the Japanese belief that creative blooms in negative space. That first we must empty ourselves, empty our minds, clear a space and let it rest, still and silent, trusting that new ideas will emerge in the same way spring buds in my Aunt Ingrid's garden (these are her pics). First daffodils This and That 09 1771 This and That 09 1767 E.L. Konigsburg's speech stayed with me, just as the characters she created have. I've referred to her often, as in this posting: Nothing is Something.  Here's the link: http://www.kellybennett.com/blog/2009/12/nothing-is-something/

Altogether at one Basil Frankweiler Jennifer, Hecate . . .

Here's from NPR:"E.L. Konigsburg, the author of the 1967 children's book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, about two children who run away from home to live secretly in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, . She was 83. Konigsburg won two Newbery Medals, and actresses Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall both played Mrs. Frankweiler — Bergman in a called The Hideaways, and Bacall in a TV movie. The book famously begins: 'Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back. She didn't like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere.'"-http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/04/22/178338252/book-news-childrens-author-e-l-konigsburg-dies

Rodeo Time!

There I was, craving a little happy, when niece Claire shouted out: "A rodeo broke out during nap time."

 

Ride um Cowgal, Adelaide!

"We heard noises coming from her room. It turns out she was saying "Yee-Haw!"

 

Only 2 3/4 years old, and boy howdy Ada's already got spirit!

Speaking of Happies--Cowboys & Aliens & the catchy refrain: "Yippee-ki-yi! Yippee-ki-yo! I think I see a UFO!"  make Kathy Duval's newest picture book, illustrated by Alan McCauley, a sure-fire fun-fest! Take me to your BBQKathy's guest starting on Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations this week. Check it out! And sign up for the Spectacular GIVE-AWAY!  Here's the link: http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/2013/04/guest-post-giveaway-kathy-duval-on.html

YEE HAW, ALL Y'ALL!!!!

SO FAR AND YET SO CLOSE . . .

** I can’t just push on with my usual day and let my guests fend for themselves, can I? Especially not in Trinidad where they can’t drive, the only place close enough to walk to is the mall—or around in a circle, and if they leave the building without a “fob” (of which there are only 2) they’ll be locked out forever and have to sleep under a car and catch a long green lawn lizard for lunch . . . What sort of host would that brand me?

Recently . . . okay, last October, sis-in-law Marilyn came to visit. I placed the TT Travel Guide on her bedside table, handed her a pad of sticky-notes and told her we could go anywhere in the book she wanted. (Being new to Trinidad myself, I’d never been anywhere in the book, either, so it would be an adventure for both of us.)

Yes, I did warn Marilyn that I’d already suffered 2 flat tires, run out of gas and driven on the wrong side of the street more than once, as well as the wrong way down a one-way. . .  Eternally “yar,” Marilyn rose to the challenge.

Our first few outings were timid enough: jaunts around town; up up up a scenic hill; over and around the mountains to the beach…on a narrow, shoulderless pitted roads . . . during a rainstorm. . . .

On the day of our last outing, Marilyn flipped to a sticky note which directed us South on the highway to a Hindu Temple, “Waterloo Temple in the Sea.” At high tide it’s surrounded by water; at low tide by mud flats. It serves as testament to Sewdas Sadhu, who built it, “single-handedly”--spell check doesn't like this word apparently, it suggested: highhandedly, underhandedly, offhandedly, evenhandedly--over a 25 year period, by carrying stones on his bicycles and preparing and dumping bucket after bucket of concrete on the seafloor at low tide to build the foundation.

According to the book, the way to the temple seemed fairly straight forward---it was NOT!  Others might have been tempted to turn back. Not us! If Sadhu could do what he did, we could, with air-conditioned confidence, find it!

Good thing we passed a “doubles” vendor on the side of the road, and hostess mindedness—and tummy growls—compelled me to crank a U-turn so Marilyn could try one of these fist-sized gloppy curried chick peas-drizzled-with-chutney-cucumber-and-pepper sauce (if desired)-sandwiched in fry bread morsels or we might still be looking . . .

It was low tide and the scene around the temple island was mudflat and religious relics mired in muck. Not the most photogenic, but inspiring none-the-less as they reminded Marilyn of something more she’d read in the guide book—the Chaguananas Pottery makers, where red clay is fashioned into all manner of pottery and fired in open wood-fueled kilns.

Although Southeast Asia is far from Trinidad—on the other side of the world--our visit to  Benny’s Pottery Works, “the oldest and most famous” of the traditional pottery workshops transported me right back to Java or India or Nepal. . . The methods are the same. The workers possess the same wiry builds, same stance with cigarettes dangling from their mouth, same quickness and expertise.

So far and yet  close . . .

*I’ll only say this one time, never again, and only way down here at the bottom of the post. So if you’ve read this far, this is to you: Forgive me for slacking on the blogging. Truth is I've been so busy "filling my writer's well" (as my friend Richard Harnett puts it) I haven't taken time to blog. Stick with me, I'll be better about it, promise???