Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ariadne's Thread

The first picture I took of my project was obviously not close enough but I'm posting it at the top to show off those two afghans. They were made about 25 years apart. The colorful granny-square on the left was made by my Mom when she was still in high-school circa 1950. The green one behind my sewing bag was one of my high-school home-ec projects in 1975. There is a story behind the one Mom made and maybe I'll get a couple of better pictures of it and tell that story in its own post someday.

The close-up pictures of my project bring up the tail of this sorry tale.

I started another crocheted bookmark today. And this time I was determined to do it all myself, which meant figuring out how long to make the beginning chain and where on that chain to insert the two sets of six double-crochet stitches that make up a single row of the twelve or so rows needed.

This was much harder than it looked when I watched my Mom start the variegated purple one for me a couple weeks ago. And just to complicate things for myself I chose to switch to a lighter weight thread and smaller hook than I used before. I think wisdom would have suggested sticking with the same size thread and hook for this second effort. Especially considering the difficulty I was having with controlling tension and counting stiches before.

But I was stubborn. I spent hours and hours today experimenting with chain length, putting in the first set of six double-crochet and sometimes the second set before pulling it all out. I would pull stitches out when I lost count, when I lost control of the tension or when I just didn't like the look of it for whatever reason.

I started working on it during Oprah--just after four. And by the time NBC Nightly News was on its last segment I'd probably made enough stitches to complete the thing twice over having pulled it all out well over twenty times. It was just before six when I had a perfect chain of fifteen loops of uniform size indicating I and control of the tension for those single crochet stitches. I was about to stick the hook through the loop I'd chosen to carry the six double-crochet when the phone rang.

I carefully set the hook and chain down inside the silver gift bag I'm using as a sewing bag and headed to the kitchen to answer the phone. I didn't get there in time to catch it before the answering machine picked up. The answering machine is at the far end of the hallway on the opposite side of the kitchen. I carried the cordless phone with me without answering it and headed for the answering machine. If I answered the phone I would have to shut off the machine to prevent it from recording and broadcasting the entire conversation anyway and if the call was about some business only my sister or Mom could deal with it was better to just let the machine take the message.

I walked across the kitchen past the dishwasher and around the breakfast bar into the hall. It was business so I returned to the kitchen to put the phone back on its base. That particular phone only lasts five or ten minutes off its base else I would keep it near me when my sister is out. Returning to the couch I reached into the silver bag for the hook and couldn't feel it. Then I noticed the thread coming out the top....

...and heading across the couch cushion ...

...and across the carpet...

...and through the dining room...

...and through the kitchen...

...and around the far side of the breakfast bar...

...where I finally fished up that perfect chain that was now about six or eight loops long.instead of the twelve or fifteen it had been.

I found the hook on the floor in front of the couch.

Apparently I had not made sure all the loose thread had made it into the bag with the chain on the hook and some of that thread was stuck to my knit slacks and I took it for a walk.


And the story doesn't end there.

I returned to the couch with the yards and yards of loose thread in my hands, I lay it carefully down and reached into the bag for the spool, thinking to start winding it back on. But as I picked up the spool a whole bunch of the loops wound around it slipped off and the spool hit the floor and rolled. More loose thread in my hand and more on the floor. I lay the handful of loops on the couch on top of the ones I brought back from the far side of the kitchen.

I started winding. Soon I realized that this was going to take awhile and I wanted to sit down. So I picked up all that thread on the couch and sat down with it in my lap.

*banging head on wall*

By picking it up in a bunch like that I had created a tangled mess that started to knot up as I started winding again. It took me close to an hour to get it untangled and wound back on the spool. And by then my sister and Mom had returned from their outting and it was time to help fix dinner and I didn't get to work on it again until after everybody else headed for bed after ten.

Intending for Thursday's post to be about this, I started the draft right after I finished loading the dishwasher but I returned to the living room and planted my butt on the couch determined to get that beginning chain plus at least one row and then take a picture of it.

It took me until twelve-thirty to reach my goal and I decided to do a second row and then a third and then a forth. Those three rows took another ten minutes. I was on a roll and it was hard to stop but by 1AM I had the pictures and was heading for my laptop.

Close and closer..


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kitty TV

This is Bradley, my nephew's cat, sitting on one of his favorite spots. Through the big front window he watches birds, traffic, dogs walking people, cats from the neighborhood and people on foot and on bikes.

Bradley was a rescue kitty. He was found by someone on the side of a road with an apparently broken hind foot. He was taken to the Humane Society whose doctor was contemplating amputating the foot because an xray showed what looked like shrapnel. But instead they waited to see how he managed.

My brother's daughter at that time was fostering litters and sick or injured cats for the Humane Society and Bradley became her charge. This was back in 2004, I believe, after my Dad's first surgery. That was the summer my sister moved in with her son to help out during Dad's cancer treatment.

When my sister's son met Bradley at my brother's house in Portland he connected with him. He was about ten at the time. Then when Bradley was deemed healthy enough to be placed my parents adopted him but he has always been considered my nephew's kitty.

They never did amputate that leg and it sticks out to the side a bit and Bradley waddles and sometimes has difficulty leaping to a high surface and he is very particular about how you pick him up and how you hold him.

Another of his favorite spots to sit is on the back of any chair someone is sitting in. Below he is on the back of the office chair where moments before he was watching an episode of Lost on the computer with my sister, her son and myself. When my sister had to go answer the phone I went and grabbed my camera hoping to get a picture of him watching the computer screen but of course all the activity on the screen had stopped when my nephew paused it and the more interesting stuff was in my sister and myself to-ing and froing. I was lucky he didn't hop down while I was gone.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Of Rainbows and Ribbons and Tangled Threads

Mom was doing great today. She even went to the therapy pool at the Y after dinner. She was using her cane around the house instead of her walker for most of the afternoon. It's as if Saturday evening never happened.

The picture above, as promised in last night's post, is of the ribbon my cousin bought me yesterday and there in the foreground are a couple of the treasures I found in my Mom's sewing stuff. I put them in the picture with the ribbon because I'm probably going to use them for a bookmark or book cover project as well. The wider ones won't work in a bookmark of the same style as the crocheted one featured in yesterday's post but I've got other ideas for them.

The two pictures above and below are of the collection of crochet thread I now have. I probably only needed to post one of these but both shots cut something off and I couldn't Most are from the sewing basket of my husband's Grandmother which was given to me after she passed in 2007. The tiny ones and brown were in my Mom's stuff. The black one with the metallic silver thread is one I bought several years ago for a notebook cover needlepoint project to accent the yarn stitches. I am thinking of trying to make a bookmark like the one I finished yesterday with it but not until I get better control because it is tricky working with that metallic thread twisted around the crochet thread.

Below is a close-up of the set of crochet hooks that were in Grandma's sewing basket. Included are sizes 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and possibly a 12 but it could be another 11 as the number is unreadable and it is definitely a smaller hook than the 10.

Below is a picture of a tangle of lace, elastic, crocheted edging, bias tape and other miscellaneous scraps from my Mom's sewing. Some of it was remnants from outfits she made in years past. Some of it was detached from worn out items of clothing, linens etc.

I've been untangling and sorting through it and setting aside some of the treasures. Or at least what looks like treasures to my creative eye. I'm seeing book marks, book covers, headbands, belts, and accents for shirts, skirts, tablecloths.....


Monday, April 27, 2009

Crocheting a Bookmark

Mom was released from the hospital this afternoon. Details follow as part of this post.

Mom (re) taught me to crochet this month. I asked her to look at this bookmark I found in one of my Dad's books when I was here in 2007 and see if she could figure out how to duplicate it and teach me how. She said it was just a variation of the granny square stitch which she'd taught me when I was in high school. That was long and long ago and with fat yarn not crochet thread.

The picture above features the just tied off variegated white and purple one we made next to the pastel green and pink one we were copying. Below is the purple one fresh off the hook with the spool of thread. That is a size 10 hook for those in the know and curious.

I was intending to get a picture of it with a row or two still left to do but I forgot in all the hullabaloo that went down Saturday evening. I was working on it while sitting in the hallway outside the bathroom door while Mom was showering. I was turning the corner on the penultimate row as she opened the bathroom door so she could visit as she combed her hair at the sink.

I chattered away about how I thought it was close to the right length but that it was kinda messy looking because I had not got my tension on the thread under control until a row or two ago and I had possibly also miscounted stitches having what looked like extras in places. And I wondered if I should pull it all out to the point where she left off and do it over now that I had got the hang of it.

And she said she would look at it later but right now she was just too tired. She started to come through the bathroom door with her walker heading for her recliner in the living room. I kept chattering.

This chattering to Mom is something that developed on this visit in response to the awkward feeling silence when hanging out with her due to her post-stroke aphasia. Mom was the one who used to carry the weight of conversations. She was a talker! And a fast one. It was hard to get a word in edge-wise--even answers to questions she asked. So these past months have been an exercise in adapting for all of us. Her aphasia is much improved. Much. But she still stumbles over words and talks at less than half the speed she used to with less animation. And wears out easily.

So all that was to establish why I wasn't alarmed at the silence at first. Until I realized that the sounds of the walker and footsteps had also stopped. I glanced up from my crocheting to see the walker abandoned half through the door, Mom having backed away from it to lean against the sink counter. She was standing there with her arms hanging limp at her sides gazing at the floor.

Well, I guess I don't need to retell the same story I told in Saturday night's post.

Mom was released from the hospital in the early afternoon today. The results of some of the tests they did are not in so we are still waiting to find out if they think they have safely ruled out a serious issue. The prevailing theory and the one for which her release papers gave excruciatingly detailed information on cause and prevention was that she had an episode of syncope aka fainting due to sudden lowering of blood pressure. This can be an innocuous thing common to just about anyone if circumstances are ripe for it. But it could also be a symptom of a heart or neurological condition which they are doing due diligence to rule out.

This evening my cousin took me to a fabric store to shop for ribbon for the finishing touch for the bookmark. Of all the mountains of things Mom has saved over the years, including sewing supplies, you would have thought we could find eight inches of white, lavender or purple ribbon. But after spending over an hour searching my sister said it would just be easier to go buy some. So she called our cousin who was bringing dinner over to us to see if she could take me shopping for it.

Time was of the essence because I wanted to put it in my Mother-in-law's birthday card which I was already late mailing as her birthday is Wednesday. So our cousin agreed but it would be several hours before she arrived. I used the time to, among other things, tuck the beginning and ending tails into the stitching, take the pictures of the project, prepare the birthday card and envelope, and prepare a clipboard with white paper on it as a photo background that I could use in the car after threading the ribbon through and also pack a small scissors for cutting the ribbon and my camera in my purse. I wanted to put it in the mail before coming home. And we did.

I was hoping to get a spool of white ribbon that I could use with any of the colors of thread I have. I was given my husband's grandma's sewing basket after she passed in 2007. In it were a lot of partial spools of crochet thread in a variety of colors and weights and I've had this idea for making bookmarks with them for over a year and a half now.

The store my cousin took me to was having a clearance sale because they are in the process of moving down the block into a larger building. The ribbon was 5o-80% off. But we could not find white! Nor plain satin finish. I didn't want to buy six dozen yards of ribbon just to make sure I had all the colors I needed so we discussed leaving and going to Wal-Mart. But she was enamored of this pale lavender ribbon saying how it would look awesome with the bookmark and offered to buy it for me and then let me get the white later. I agreed to this and then I'm not sure what happened but she started picking up spools until there were some six or eight of different colors including two rainbow striped and a polka dot. She said she had been meaning to do something for me for the work I did last January on her son's homeschool high-school trascript which he urgently needed for an upcoming job interview.

So I'm all set to make more of these bookmarks. I should have thought to grab a picture of the pile of ribbon spools before uploading the contents of my camera but I didn't think of it until after I had started preparing these pictures for the post. And by then it was after ten--my cousin and I not getting back here until nine. Oh, well, maybe another time and I could include the spools of crochet thread too.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Serenity #124 (also Mom's status)

I'm feeling profound relief and gratitude today that Mom's still with us. She gave us quite a scare last night. My sister and I truly thought she was dying in our arms.

The doctor's leading theory is that it was a sudden and profound lowering of her blood pressure due to a confluence of things: she had eaten just before her shower which draws a lot of blood to the digestive track; she had taken her bp med with dinner; she had taken a hot shower; she had riased her arms over her head while shampooing and again while combing her hair at the sink just before the spell came on.

But they kept her overnight last night and again tonight to run more tests. They are concerned there might have been a seizure because of the way I describe how her trembling had gotten jerky just before she passed out.

She feels fine though. She says she is feeling normal and she is acting herself--at least what has become normal in the last several months. Though she has made huge strides in progress since the stroke in November she has not gotten back to the full wattage of her vibrant, perky, chatty self that she was so well know for.

Before last night's incident though she had progressed in large and small ways both in regards to healing of her hip and reacquiring language. In the last month the list of things she started doing again grew by leaps and bounds:

  • playing scrabble
  • making bread pudding
  • peeling potatoes
  • folding laundry
  • going to the water therapy pool at the Y
  • walking with a cane (still with supervision though)
  • showering alone (with one of us just outside the door but this will have to be reevaluated I think because what if this had happened while she was in the shower? *shudder*)
  • taking phone calls
  • initiating phone calls
  • going to AARP meetings (she had been president of the local chapter before her fall last November)
  • teaching me to crochet again (I'll post about that with pics later this week.)
  • doing Find-a-word puzzles
  • reading the newspaper, magazines, mail etc
  • just last Sunday she went to Portland to spend the day with my brother's family and was planning to repeat that again today (and I was planning to go with but to spend the afternoon at Powell's and then make my Sunday Serenity post all about spending four plus hours in a book store big enough to need a map the size of a poster. *sigh* maybe next Sunday.)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Praying For My Mom

My sister has just taken my Mom to the ER. She had a fainting spell shortly after getting out of the shower this evening. She may have also had a seizure for as I held her in my arms trying to keep her from sliding to the floor she was trembling and then it went beyond trembling to something more jerky.

My sister was out working in the yard while I was supervising her shower. Supervising makes it sound way more involved then it is now as for the last several weeks all she needs is for one of us to be waiting in the hall in case she calls for help. Help can be as simple as reaching in to turn on the fan.

This time she was combing her wet hair in front of the sink and complained to me she was exhausted. Which is normal. The shower procedure tends to wear her out and she needs to rest afterwards. Then she was exiting the bathroom with her walker but didn't get all the way through the door. Instead she backed up without the walker and leaned against the sink counter. She was real quiet and I asked "Are you OK Mom?" and she said "No." And that's when her breathing became heavy and strained.

I had to move the walker to get past it. I put my arm around her waist and she leaned her head on my chest as she said, "I feel like I'm going to faint." I called to my nephew to go get his Mom. And that's when the trembling began that escalate quickly to something more than trembling.

Just as the trembling/jerks stopped my sister arrived and she stood on the other side of Mom and took some of the weight. She asked Mom if her shower had been extra hot. And Mom said "No." So she was responding to our questions at that moment. My sister asked her son to get this small chair out of the office across the hall and he brought to directly in front of the bathroom door. She asked Mom if we could help her walk to that chair---about three steps away--and Mom agreed. But after taking a single step she started to slide out of our arms towards the floor. The two of us together could not hold her up.

We laid her on the floor across the threshold with her legs in the bathroom and her head and shoulders in the hall. She was unconscious. My sister called to her son to call 911. He brought her the phone. He was nervous about what to say. He's fourteen. So she dialed. About the time she was saying into the phone that she needed an ambulance Mom woke up and said "No I don't." and the whole time my sister was answering their questions Mom was saying over and over. "I'm fine now. I don't need an ambulance."

But the paramedics came anyway. They took her BP and blood sugar. Nothing alarming there. She still resisted going with them. But when my sister suggested that she drive her and the paramedics acknowledged that there would be no ambulance charge in that case, Mom acquiesced. So I suppose her resistance was more about the cost of the ambulance ride. She is still coming to terms with the cost of the multiple ambulance rides she was given in California last November and December after her fall which broke her hip and the resulting hip surgery followed by a mild stroke.

The paramedics helped my sister walk Mom to the car. I didn't know what to do with myself after the door shut. I was pacing the floor and starting to hyperventilate. I figured if I didn't want another ambulance to have to be called to this address this night I had better find something to do besides fret myself into a panic attack.

Writing helps me process so I thought to go to my journal but then changed my mind and went straight to my blog instead.



The winner of today's drawing for The Gold Standard is bridget3420.

Congrats Bridget.

Thanks to all who participated. Especially those who posted about it or otherwise spread the word.

Note: there are three giveaways still running which all finish on May 16:

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Made in the U.S.A.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Script Frenzy Week 4

As I discussed last week, I pasted the text of another of my short stories into Celtix the script writing application I'm using and am working at converting all the dialog sections into script. Doing dialog in script format is becoming almost as easy as doing it in novel narrative format. So whatever else comes of this experience, I have that.

I'm still struggling with translating all the interior monologue, thoughts and memories of the primary character of these two stories into script without compromising the integrity of the character and of the story.

The second story features many of the same characters of the first and takes place a couple months later. Or rather one time stream of the story does. There is a second time-stream woven in that takes place ten years earlier. In my short story, Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes, there are eleven sections that alternate between the THEN and the NOW. It is even possible to put the odd numbered sections and the even numbered sections into separate piles and read them as two separate short stories.

I have plans to add a THEN stream to the first story, Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities. as well. Not for this month's script project, no. I'm speaking of the novel for which Of Cats is chapter one and Making Rag Doll Babies is chapter three. I decided some time ago that some of the major secondary characters introduced in Making Rag Doll Babies need to be introduced much sooner than approximately one third of the way into the projected novel.

So I developed an idea for having the three main characters, Faye and her twin Julia and sister-in-law Wilma, all high-school teachers, put on a high-school production of Macbeth some twelve or thirteen years preceding the opening of Of Cats. The students playing the roles are the same characters in both time strands of Making Rag Doll Babies--three and thirteen years after the play.

I suppose that is all mind-wiping to read if you don't know the stories. I went to the trouble of trying to describe the situation just so I could make this comment: If I'd already written the second time stream for Of Cats before I started adapting it to screenplay format, what new twists would that give to the task to have a stage play inside a screenplay? My mind is turning itself into a pretzel trying to imagine it.

I think before I would attempt to try that I would have to read the screenplay for Shakespeare in Love. Can anyone suggest other screenplays that would give me guidance? On how to do a play inside a play? On how to adapt a novel's essential interior monologue and memory/thoughts?

As I did last week, I'm going to append the links to the snippets of these two stories that I posted previously:

Chapter One: Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities:
~ Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~ Part Four

Chapter Three: Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes:
~ Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~Part Four ~ Part Five ~ Part Six
~ Part Seven ~ Part Eight ~ Part Nine ~Part Ten ~ Part Eleven


Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream

I have been obsessed with the Susan Boyle phenomenon since Tuesday night. I had seen a snippet of the Britain's Got Talent performance on Oprah last week and had barely taken note. But Tuesday evening after I posted my whine about being grumpy and needing to catch up on sleep, I thought to wind down by going to YouTube to check out the video mentioned on Oprah and NBC Nightly News as having taken millions of hits in just a week.

I should have realized this wasn't a 'wind down' activity. But it was in my mind as a 'for fun' and 'for a kicking back moment' the kind of thing that I've been putting on my 'for later' list for months. That list that is likely to be longer than the road between where I'm at and where I wish I was by the time I get there. (It's over 300 miles between Longview WA and Phoenix OR)

So instead of going to sleep early Tuesday night, I spent the next couple hours watching and re-watching the full version of Susan Boyles BGT appearance. I really wanted to embed that one in this post but the embed was disabled. As it was for every one of the vids featuring more than a few notes of the song whether put up by the BGT people, news organizations or fans. I don't get what they think they are protecting by disabling the embed but leaving the video on YouTube. It seems to me that allowing the embed can only be good for the promotion of their program. But that issue is another topic altogether...

By the time I found this video Tuesday evening it had been viewed over 38 million times. By this evening it had topped 42 million. (I wonder if they count mutiple views of single viewers or only unique views because if everybody watched it ten times like I did Tuesday and another six time like I did tonight....)

The first time I watched it, I started crying before she got to the end of the first line: I dreamed a dream in time gone by.

And I don't mean I was gently weeping.

I blubbered all the way through the first four viewings.

I've been trying to figure out just what this phenomenon is ever since. Both what gripped me so hard and why there has been such a global sensation.

Ah but my heart wants a divorce from my mind. It wants a moratorium on 'figuring it out'. My heart just wants to be immersed in it. To live it. And if it is vicarious so be it.

But for those hours Tuesday night and again tonight, I knew what it was to have had a dream I dreamed in my youth and given up all hope for return to lift me out of despair into a reality a thousand times more brilliant than the dream itself. Being one who has had such a dream and lost hope and got a grip again... That much I already knew intimately. But the moment in this video where this woman, just three years younger than me, hit that high note midway and the crowd came to their feet...that moment made real to me what it would be to realize my own dream. It made it seem not only possible but as if it has already happened and all I need to do is remember....

Yes, I suppose this all sounds ridiculous and as cloying as a bad cliche.

Oh well. It is what it is.

My admiration and gratitude for Susan Boyle abounds. She has showed me what courage really is. And the value of persistence. And most of all the importance of devotion to ones own matter the length of the road between where you are and where you wish you were.

If you haven't seen it yet, clickhere to go watch the full version of the video. It is so worth it.

Lyrics to I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables:
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high,
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving.

Then I was young and unafraid
When dreams were made and used,
And wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung,
No wine untasted.

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hopes apart
As they turn your dreams to shame.

And still I dream he'll come to me
And we will live our lives together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms
We cannot weather...

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seems
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce your use:

  • Reduce your use of oil: Walk, ride a bike or take a city bus whenever possible.
  • Reduce your use of paper towels and napkins. i.e. Use cloth napkins
  • Reduce your use of plastic drink containers--water bottles and polystyrene cups. Use your own reusable coffee mug or water bottle at home, at work or on the go whenever possible..
  • Reduce your use of electricity: Unplug all home appliances that do not need to run full time (as refrigerators and freezers do of course) as more than half of the energy appliances use is consumed while they are turned off tho still plugged in and kept in a ready state. Besides entertainment electronics this applies to toasters, blenders, coffee makers, microwaves, curling irons, hair dryers, can openers, lamps and more. Alternatively, use a surge protector strip for multiple appliances and turn them all off via the strip's switch.
  • Reduce your time in the shower: Every 2 minutes uses 10 gallons of water. Reduce the water use more by installing a low flow shower head. Also don't run the water in the sink the entire time you are shaving.
  • Reduce Junk Mail: Remove your name from junk mail mailing lists and save some of the 100 million trees per year currently dedicated to this practice. Start here.
  • Lower your theromstat in winter and raise it in summer. i.e. use less heat in winter and less air conditioning in summer.
  • Replace one or more incandescent light bulbs with CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) bulbs and save up to $30 over the life of the bulb in the savings generated by its 70% less energy use and its typically 10 times longer life span.
  • Buy organic foods. Organic means grown without herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, steroids, is not genetically modified and is not irradiated. Healthier for you and for the earth.
  • Recycle! And buy products made with recycled elements--paper, plastics, glass, metals etc.
  • If you have a garden, compost your organic garbage.
  • Use reusable cloth shopping bags. Keep some of the billions of plastic bags that take 10K+ years to degrade out of the landfills and save some of the 100 thousand plus of trees made into shopping bags each year.
  • Use your local library. Donate books, DVD, CD to your library.
  • Use cloth napkins and dishrags.
Recycle! And buy products made with recycled elements--paper, plastics, glass, metals etc.

Where to recycle:


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Got My Grump On

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I must still have some post Read-a-thon sleep catch-up yet to do.

It was a beautiful spring day. Warm, sunny. I got some pics of my Mom's front yard. Thot I might post them this evening. Couldn't care less at the moment.

I finished the book I started in the last eight hours of the Read-a-thon this evening--Billie Letts' Shoot the Moon First time in months that I've finished a novel in the same week I started it. Thought I might write a review. Finding I'd rather not just now. Couldn't do the story justice.

I think this looks to be the most likely degrumpifier:


Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Giveaway: Testimony

I'm authorized to give away 5 copies. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

By Anita Shreve
TRADE PAPERBACK Publish Date:5/5/2009
Pub. Back Bay Books

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

Get Reading Group Guide

View the interactive eBook


  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST May 16, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Serenity #123 Better to Give

Serenity is giving with a gracious heart and receiving with a gratitude alert to opportunity to give.

That is why I love hosting giveaways. And why I see no reason not to combine my Sunday Serenity post this week with the announcement of the winners of the four drawings that deadlined at noon yesterday. I delayed conducting the drawings because I was involved in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.

The winners:

You Want Me To Do What?

Live Your Joy

The Poet
Pissenlit, Valorie, & tetewa

The Big Love
NotNessie, AmandaSue, & Jessica

Congrats to all. Thanks to all who participated and extra thanks to those who posted about the giveaways on blogs, forums and twitter.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Brain On Books IV

Note to the entrants of last week's book giveaways: The four contests close at NOON PST today but I won't be conducting the drawings until I wake up Sunday afternoon. Thank you for your patience.

<-- click the pic to learn about the Read-a-thon

I am reading for RIF today. I don't have a sponsor but I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their 2009 Read With Kids Challenge and maybe even sign up and help them reach this year's goal of 5 million minutes read with children in three months.

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones.

5:55 I'll be spending the last hour cheerleading is anyone still out there? Haven't heard a peep for hours.

2:55 Eva's Mini-Challenge: A tribute to Dewey.

My favorite memory of Dewey was an exchange of emails we had last August and September. I had won a book in the summer Read-a-Thon and it never arrived so while I was email regarding some other business I got up the courage to 'annoy' her with that issue and she was so kind and professional about it, tracking down what happened and asking the author herself to see that I got a copy when it became evident that the blog or business that had sponsored the prize was unable to fulfill it.

Having got my courage up to ask about the missing book, I then took the plunge to ask her for tips about book blogging. Here is a part of the resulting exchange:

Me: things are heating up for Joystory and I'm getting overwhelmed and I don't want to blow this. you seem to have it so together. how do you do it? and i mean i need details about organizing things and time etc. you can blog about it instead of email if you like. or even ignore me. :) you have got to be so busy!!

Dewey: It's funny you should ask about organizing my time, because this summer, I feel like I just let my blog go. I was moving, and I had a houseguest for weeks .... and I just ended up not having much time for reading or blogging. But in general, I think that the key to keeping up is to know your own time constraints and just not take on more than you can handle. When you want to do something big, get helpers! I couldn't do the read-a-thon or the Bookworms carnival by myself. And Weekly Geeks was a nightmare until I decided to use Mr Linky! The blogsphere is very forgiving, though, and I don't think you can really ruin your blog unless you start fighting with all your readers or something. Oh, another thing that keeps me sane is writing lots of posts on days when I have the time, but just saving them for days when I don't have the time to write anything. You know how sometimes you just get on a roll and could write all day? Use those days and write five or six posts! Then you can set some aside for later.
Why did it take so much courage to ask for her help? Because I had been watching her blog grow over that year and had been in awe. Not only in awe but I had zeroed in on Underside of a Leaf to teach how to do 'book-blogging'. Before the first Read-a-thon my blog had leaned heavily to the personal journaling side with a smattering of my own fiction and poetry. Before the first Read-a-Thon no one had reached out to Joystory to host book giveaways or offered review copies. And before that happened my stats averaged around ten visits per day. Now they are over fifty and rising. And I give Dewey the credit for that. She taught me what I know about book-blogging. Including how to have more self-confidence.

I'm so glad Dewey's husband has left her blog up because I am still taking lessons from it

1:05 I just spent the last two hours cheerleading. I had promised the 11 to midnight hour but didn't want to stop at midnight. It was exhilarating and yawn banishing. I've promised the 4-5AM slot as well so that leaves me with three hours to spend with Billie Lettes' Shoot the Moon. I won't come close to finishing it but that was never the point I want to get lost in story. After all story is my joy.

I may not get back here for another up date until the closing bell so I'll leave you with
a pic of my current reading location.

I'm reading. Have to lay aside Hunger's Bride though. Didn't reach the point I'd aimed for as the best stopping place either. But at least it isn't in the middle of a scene or a cliff-hanger. I can let it go back to the library tomorrow and wait a few days and go back after it or, more likely, my sister would go pick it up for me.

Don't blame the story for my failure to stick with it. It's so good I'm thinking already it will be worth a re-read and worth having in my personal library someday. Blame it on my visual impairment. The font just whipped my eyes into submission. If it was an ebook which I could enlarge the font to 14pt on, I could read it all night.

And don't be mystified as to why a Read-a-thon vet like me (this is my forth time) would chose a book with such drawbacks--weight, length 1322p, 11pt font, complexity--for an event that begs for easy on the muscles and joints, easy on the eyes, conducive to sustained concentration and short enough you have hope of finishing at least one.

I knew all of that and chose it anyway because I'd been trying for over nine weeks to find time to read more than two consecutive pages in a sitting without interruptions. Today I read a total of 60 in chunks averaging 10 to 15 pages. That was what I wanted to do with the dedicated reading time today.

It is going to be hard to switch novels in mid-stream. But I'm going to start Billie Letts' Shoot the Moon as soon as I click publish. No danger of that one needing to go back to the library as I brought it with me from Phoenix. There is even a slight hope that I might finish it as it is a much faster read. Well maybe less than slight. There is only 7 hours left and I'm cheerleading for two of them. Watch for me between 11PM and Midnight PST (in about an hour) and again for the final hour.

5:05 I'm going to have to take a break from the fun for awhile. My help is needed for the dinner hours prep thru clean-up. I may be able to duck in for a peek-a-boo or possibly a booless peek. It's hard to predict how long. 1-3 hours. :(

4:55 This is my entry in the Hour 11 mini-challenge at Flight into Fancy which is to write a letter to a character in one of the stories we read today.

Dear Juana Inez de la Cruz

Your precociousness in verbal and reasoning skills do not amaze me nearly as much as your tender heart. It is one thing to learn how to read at age three by spying through your sister's schoolroom window, it is another to notice and be disturbed by the way in which your family's native born servants are treated as less-than.

It is one thing to read with comprehension the reports of Thucydides at age 9? 10? it is yet another to be heart-broken when Thucydides' Athenian compatriots (representing to your mind the epitome of rationality and civilization) follow their logic to the bitterest of conclusions thus displaying it's empty heart when they slaughter all the males on the isle of Menos and sell their women and children into slavery because the people of Menos refused to swear loyalty and subservience to Athens.

You, at such a young age, 9? 10? were able to see the equality of the Athens and Menos peoples, even the parity of their respective logic (ATHENS: Exceptions would weaken us in our enemies eyes; MENOS: Acquiescing to slavery is cowardice and worse than death.) As head-shaking stunning as that achievement, it is as nothing compared to the way in which you saw your own beloved Abuelo (Grandpa) through new eyes and found him wanting in some unnameable crucial thing when he attempted to explain that ancient conflict as pragmatism (ATHENS) vs. idealism (MENOS) clearly favoring pragmatism.

The only explanation is that you were born with the soul of a poet.

Oh that we had a few such as you living in our generation.

If I could ask you to answer one question for me, it would be: Why, as an adult, did you choose to enter a cloister and take not only the vows of a nun but a vow of silence as well? Based on the reason suffused with heart you exhibited as a pre-teen, I cannot believe it was simple expediency. Not even the expediency of protecting your own life.

Your awed admirer from beyond the 'Unstable Margins'
Joy Renee

Speaking of libraries...(see update directly under this one) I had to take about an hour's break from reading to prepare and pack library books for return to the Longview Library. Books I had/have checked out on my sister's card. Some of them were due last Thursday and some of them are due next Tuesday. I've used up the two renewals. Meaning I've had them for 3x3 weeks! That's how long I've been at my Mom's. Well even longer than that because I didn't even make it out of the house let alone to the library until late January and I arrived here before New Year's by half a week. It was/is difficult for both my sister and I to be out of the house at the same time. We still are not comfortable leaving Mom alone and in January there wasn't even a hint of a question that it was possible. Because I am legally blind like our Mom, in order for me to go anywhere we have to find someone to drive me or someone to sit with Mom so my sister can drive me. (Mom broke her hip November 23 and suffered a mild stroke post surgery causing aphasia and I came north to help out.)

The Longview Public Library was my first library and the one that I grew up with until age 21. It was also my library throughout the 90s.

One of the prep steps before packing the books up today was to take down the author and title of each book for which I did not already have that info recorded already. Becasue I did actually read paragraphs, even whole pages, as I handled each book I'm going to post a partial of that list. Fiction is sparse on it because I tend to have the info recorded elsewhere if only in a wishlist.

Cults in our midst by M T Singer
Making Shapely fiction by Jerome Stearn
The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray
Creative Capitalism: A conversation with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and other economic leaders
Imperial america by Gore Vidal
The Way of the World: a story of truth and hope in an age of extremism by Ron Suskind
Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We know by Randall Stross
The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory , the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin
Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The true meaning of the Maya calendar end-date by John Major Jenkins
The Body and the Blodd: The Middle East's Vanishing Christians and the Possibility for Peace by Charles M Sennott
The Gospel According to America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea by David Dark
unchristian: what a new generation really thinks about Christianity...and why it matters by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Collected Stories of katherine Anne Porter (Library of America)
The American Short Story: a collectionof the best known and most memorable short stories by the great american authors edited by Thomas K. Parkes

Excuse the typos etc. I'm not fussing with it right now.

I actually handled and dipped into nearly double that number and just didn't need to record their bib info.

Now.... I'm going to go back to reading Hunger's Bride for awhile. I was supposed to send that one back today but had not reached a good stopping point. I must or else by the time I sleep because its going back tomorrow afternoon regardless. Sigh.

12:44 PM
I answered this hour's mini-challenge Love Your Local Library thusly:

Name: The Phoenix Branch of the Jackson County Library System (Southern Oregon) Located in Phoenix OR a tiny town between Medford and Ashland of Shakespearean Fesival fame.

When I'm not out of town as now, I go once or twice a month and occasionally send my husband to pick up reserves for me in between. I used to go once a week before the new building was built too far for an easy round trip on foot with book bags.

Yep the staff know me by name.

I do browse while there even tho I've usually got a dozen or more reserves waiting. Especially the new books' shelf as many of those can't be reserved. And the DVD shelf dito.

My fav thing about my library is that it is open. In 2006 the entire system of 15 branches closed for over six months for lack of funding. I was devastated. I blogged about it at the time. I started blogging daily the day I returned the last book April 2006. Before that my blog was more miss than hit.

11:45 Prompted by the hub blog to take a walk, I went out on my mini-tramp which is on Mom's front porch. I took Hunger's Bride with me so even my arms got a work out. :)

These pics were taken a week or two ago of my Mom's yard. In the first you can see the porch where my tramp sets in the upper right but the tramp isn't visible.

In the second pic, taken from the same general spot but facing down the street to the right, you can see the nearby park where Little League games are hosted. I heard them singing the national anthem as a game was about to begin while I was out there. Often while I'm out on the tramp in the afternoons, I'll hear the crack of bats on balls and the announcer chatter. The sounds of spring!

Also heard was distant lawnmowers and birds. More sounds of spring.

Well, I see it took me too long to prepare this update for it to qualify for the hour 7 challenge. :( Oh well. It was worth it. The outing did revive me.

10:22 Just spent over an hour visiting other readers but only hit a few because I spend so long on each one.

5:25 AM I'm beginning the day with Paul Anderson's Hunger's Brides. This novel is HEAVY and I mean that in both senses of the word--it's over 1300 pages and annotated like an academic treatise.

It is also smallish print so I know I couldn't stay with it for the duration today even if it didn't need to go back to the library this afternoon. I checked it out on my sister's card nine weeks ago and have used up the two renewals. I started it the first time that first week but set it aside to finish the novel I was already reading. I've restarted it at least twice since then but life keep getting in the way.

It is not the story's fault. It is the kind of story that enthralls me--stories nested inside stories. Anderson handles language like a poet. One of the central characters is an historical figure--17th century poet, nun, mystic Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz of Mexico.

The principle reason I've kept setting it aside is that it does not lend itself well to being read in snatches of moments nor to being schlepped about the house under the arm and held one-handed while stirring a pot or even two-handed while high-stepping on the mini-tramp. Like I said, HEAVY.

So I'm going to devote at least the next two, maybe three hours to it in hopes I can reach a good-enough stopping place. Then sometime next week we can get it back from the library. I hope.

5:00 AM Let's get started y'all. (i've set this to autopost at 5AM. if this parenthetical is still here I may not have had time to stop in here before starting. At least I hope it's not because I overslept.)


Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Script Frenzy Week 3

I confess I stalled out after converting all the dialog and the easy action bits of my short story, Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities, into screen play format. I can't figure out how or even how much of the inner monologue and memories of Faye to try to convey. I've decided to skip it for now. I think I need to read some scripts done by those who know what they are doing to get a feel for what needs doing in my script.

Instead of giving up entirely though, I'm going to move on to the second short story, Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes, converting the dialog and action bits and leaving the parts that confoozle me.

The second story is nearly three times as long as the first so it should give me another fifty pages of script seeing as how the first one gave me over twenty. 70 some pages of script is a respectible accomplishment for a raw beginner.

Both stories are set in the same story world and feature the same cast of characters. In fact they are intended to be in the same novel as the first and third chapters. But the chapters of this novel are designed to also stand alone as short stories. I've posted both of them in snippets previously:

Chapter One: Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities:
~ Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~ Part Four

Chapter Three: Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes:
~ Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~Part Four ~ Part Five ~ Part Six
~ Part Seven ~ Part Eight ~ Part Nine ~Part Ten ~ Part Eleven

I'm going to take a couple days off though. I'm participating in Dewey's Read-a-Thon tomorrow as Reader and as Cheerleader and sleeping it off on Sunday.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon

The forth 24 hour Read-a-Thon is scheduled for this weekend--Saturday 5AM to Sunday 5AM PST.

I didn't think I was going to be able to participate this time but a way just opened up. I've been helping my sister with the post surgery/post stroke care of my Mom since just before New Year's. I just learned that my Mom will be spending Sunday with my brother's family and my sister will devote the day to mother/son activities. Which leaves me free to sleep off the Read-a-thon fatigue duty and guilt free Sunday.

I may not be able to devote the full 24 as I've been riding the sleep deprivation roller coaster since news of Mom's fall just before Thanksgiving. Plus I'm not going to push the evening KP duties onto my sister's overflowing plate even for this. But she has given her blessing to my participating as much as possible on Saturday. It sounds like a mini-vacation. a get-away into story!

I also have four giveaway drawings closing at noon Saturday and my usual practice for them is to spend the next hours compiling the list(s) and sending notification emails and putting up the winner's post. But--thinking off the cuff here--I could start compiling the lists today and then have only the Saturday morning stragglers to add on later. I could also put together a draft of the winner's post with only the names missing and then do the drawings, plug the names into the draft and publish it as the read-a-thon closes Sunday morning. The notification emails might have to wait until after I wake up Sunday afternoon.

I'm also trying to figure out how to get some sleep beforehand and still be awake by 5AM with my eyes unglued. My schedule here this month has been much as it was at home--sleep from 5 or 7AM until noonish. In other words I'm used to laying down about the time I'm supposed to be sitting down to read for this. In fact last October that schdule bit my butt because I could not manage to sleep a wink in the hours before the read-a-thon started so I went past 24 hrs awake shortly after noon that Saturday. I made the full 24 though.

And if I do get to sleep Friday night, there is the matter of how to be awakened in time. I can't very well set my alarm in the room I share with my Mom four hours before her usual arising!

I am so glad Hannah (WordLily), Ana (Nymeth), and Trish (Hey Lady!) are keeping the read-a-thon alive in Dewey's honor. During the last one--my third--I was feeling so blessed by the experience, I was planning to promise to help out with the next one but then I jumped right into NaNoWriMo and then news of my Mom's fall was followed within days by news of Dewey's passing...

Reading, writing and sleep time have been in limited supply since then. Sometimes I'm not sure I'm even the same person I was last October.

Some read-a-thon participants have sponsors who donate to a charity in proportion to the number of pages, books, or minutes read in the 24 hours. I don't know anyone who is flush enough to ask to sponsor me but what I can do is plug one of my favorite charities now and repeatedly on Saturday: Reading is Fundamental. And in their honor--and to give me a chance to repeatedly refer to them in my updates--I will spend some chunk of the day reading children's books. Some of my childhood favs are still floating around this house. I might even post some pics of them.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

I'm authorized to give away 5 copies. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
By Joshilyn Jackson
Trade Paperback release May 26, 2009
Pub. Grand Central Publishing

Lauren Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother keep family skeletons in the closet or sewing her acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister, Thalia, is her opposite, an impoverished actress who prides herself on exposing the lurid truths lurking behind middle class niceties.

While Laurel's life seems neatly on track-- a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, a lovely suburban home-- everything she holds dear is threatened the night she is visited by the ghost of her 13-year-old neighbor Molly. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly, floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is an unseemly mystery that no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Laurel enlists Thalia's help, even though she knows it comes with a high price tag.

Together, they set out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about their family's haunted past, the true state of Laurel's marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

Follow Joshilyn Jackson's blog on Facebook


  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST May 16, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Giveaway: Made in the U.S.A.

I'm authorized to give away 5 copies. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

Made in the U.S.A.
By Billie Letts
Trade Paperback release May 4, 2009
Pub. Grand Central Publishing

The bestselling author of WHERE THE HEART IS returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father. While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.

MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home.


  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST May 16, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Gold Standard

I'm authorized to give away 1 copy. Rules for entry in the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team
By Mike Krzyzewski, Jamie K. Spatola
(c) 2009
Pub. Business Plus

Says Coach K: "In all forms of leadership, whether you are a coach, a CEO, or a parent, there are four words that, when said, can bring out the best in your team, your employees, and your family...I BELIEVE IN YOU.

These four words can mean the difference between a fear of failure and the courage to try."

In his previous bestselling books, Coach K has guided readers to success the way he has guided his teams at Duke University - - with the power of his inspirational words and phenomenal leadership skills.

But that was with college kids.....Now, Coach K has stepped up to take on an entirely new challenge - by volunteering to coach the US Olympic Basketball team. Comprised of some of the biggest NBA stars, Coach K had to work with huge egos and personalrivalries in order to create an American team that could win against the best competition in the world and restore Team USA to the gold standard of basketball.

This is more than a celebratory book - it's Coach K's first-hand account of how he dealt with such stars as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and all the rest to buy into his "total team" play. Half a book on basketball, half a book on management techniques, THE GOLD STANDARD captures Coach K's personal style and approach to getting different (and sometimes difficult) people to work hard and succeed in reaching a common goal.

About the Author
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI has been the basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils for twenty-seven years, winning three NCAA championships and twelve national Coach of the Year awards. He is revered and respected by sports fans and business leaders everywhere. Coach K lives with his family in Durham, North Carolina.

JAMIE K. SPATOLA is a graduate of Duke University, where she majored in English. She is also one of Coach K's daughters.


  • Leave a comment in this post expressing your interest in entering the drawing.
  • Provide an @ by which I can contact you in case of a win. Either in your comment or in an email to me at joystory AT gmail DOT com If you email your @ be sure to connect it to your entry. If I do not receive an @ your entry will be disqualified.
  • If, in the case of a win, you would like me link to your blog in the winners announcement post, provide your URL in your comment or via email. This is not a requirement for entering nor do you have to have a blog yourself in order to enter.
  • If you blog about this giveaway, send me a link to the post and your name will be entered a second time.
  • Deadline for entering is NOON PST April 25, 2009. I will select the winners with a random number generator using
  • Winners must provide a US or Canadian mailing address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Serenity #122

These were actually taken Friday after Mom and I put the last tile on the board at the end of our four hour Scrabble game. But can you think of a more serene way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

I love word games.

But the significance of these pictures goes much beyond the love of word games and words. It is a measure of how far my Mom has come since her post surgery stroke last November.

We didn't play be the typical Scrabble rules either. This was more of an exercise for Mom. We allowed her unlimited use of the dictionary to look for words as exposure to those word lists is nothing but good for her. We also allow her use of proper nouns as they were hit hardest by her aphasia. We also allowed her unlimited time to look for words. And we didn't keep score.

The implications of this as to Mom's ultimate recovery go beyond serenity into the realm of joy.


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