Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction : a review

The power of words is certainly underestimated by the childish ditty we were taught: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I've never broken a bone, or been struck by a stick or stone (that I can remember) but there are many words that resonate with at least a small amount of rancor, if not low-lying disappointment, inside my psyche.

Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson, already a strange pairing, exist in a fantasy/horror scenario where a writer's actual words narrate and eventually become real life. Ferrell 's IRS auditor character, Harold Crick, wakes up  in a verbal voodoo-like state created by the words of Thompson's somewhat unstable writer character Karen Eiffel.

As the story progresses, it seems inevitable that Crick will be killed off by Eiffel's story. After shrugging off his shrink's diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Harold turns to literary critic Jules Hilbert-heavy on cynicism, short on compassion-played by Dustin Hoffman, who concedes it inevitable and somehow fitting for the literary world that Harold should die, as he considers Eiffel's almost completed manuscript the masterpiece of the decade.

Were it not for the down to earth warmth of Queen Latifah's character as Eiffel's writer's assistent, and free-spirited bohemian baker Maggie Gyhyllenhall, Crick's love interest, the story would wither on the vine.  The detached manner in which Crick lives his life gives little room for sympathy, until he begins to take Hoffman's advice in light of his imminent death,  to "live the life you want to live".

That is perhaps the thesis of the movie, the takeaway phrase. 

What are we all waiting for anyway? Our death, while perhaps not imminent, is inevitable. Are we living the life we really want to live? When will we begin?

The truth of our lives is, after all, usually stranger and far more absorbing than fiction.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why We Love Christmas

There's something at work in the world that holds a  magnetic attraction for people everywhere. Children, teenagers and adults are not immune.

This 'something' leads us to create an ever increasing variety of recipes, adding, changing the ingredients to make something new. We aren't sure what it's going to taste like until it's completed. The same hunger keeps us reading a good book. We want to find out how it ends. The secretive nature of a good story, whether on the screen or told by the fireside, is irresistible.

Consider what a world it would be if each day we saw played for us the exact events of the following day. Few of us would choose this!

 A wedding between virgins promises a far more thrilling honeymoon than the other kind. Though though we have done much to make it so, the womb is not transparent.  We cannot see the child within until it is born.

The discovery of the unknown has fueled much of the amazing inventions of the past centuries, and continues to propel us into the future. Our great love affair with surprise has funded the lotteries, and boosted the economy every December.

The whole world loves surprises. Good ones, of course.  We are all like children when it comes to being surprised; it is intrinsic to our human experience.

Gifts are wonderful, but a gift, unwrapped,  is not nearly as exciting as the thrill of discovering what is under the wrapping. This is why we love Christmas. Not only are we amazed that God himself came to visit us as a baby, but our gratitude overflows in gifts, in surprises to each other.

 GK Chesterton said, "We can increase the good we do to others by adding the element of surprise."

Consider how you might insert the magic of surprise into your everyday personal and business relationships!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Modesto FedEx office bustling before holidays - Business - Modbee.com

Modesto FedEx office bustling before holidays - Business - Modbee.com

My hard working husband has delivered packages through sleet and rain, snow and record breaking high temperatures for 18 years, cheerfully getting up long before I wanted to. He has delivered on his own time at the end of the day, when it needed to be done, made his cell phone available for customers to gain easy access to him. He has found thousands of dollars in cash and lost items and returned them to their grateful owners. He has delivered packages to ungrateful recipients on Christmas day, and given up vacation days to work when the company was short on workers.  He has logged in break time at a stop to listen to a chatty customer who needed to talk to someone more than they needed the package they ordered. He has spent lunch times playing piano for retirement homes on his route. He has taken pictures of the company picnic and made copies for all the stations that attended, all on his own time and dime. He has kept company secrets, codes and passwords in his head safe and sound and many a time delivered liquid morphine when he knew that meant his customer was at the end of their earthly journey.

They chose him for this sweet little piece by the Bee. And it is fitting, as more than a few of his coworkers agreed!  Kudos to my husband, Jim Maris, a Santa Claus of a guy who spend his days bringing people what they always wanted. May you have whatever your heart desires. You already have my heart! Merry Christmas darling!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fast and Often Sad Ride with Brilliance

Imagine you are going 90 miles an hour in a sidecar, whizzing past scenes you barely know and the driver of the motorcycle is a brilliant British playboy atheist. That's the experience reading Hitch-22 gave me.
Hitchens, a native Brit, covers more political ground than the average American citizen pays attention to in a lifetime. And these are just the highlights. Photos of "Hitch" in many other countries, verbal snapshots of meetings with people we plebeians only know by reading of them in the paper or hearing their name in the news. These weighty journalistic exploits are interspersed with stories of his friend's private jokes that made this non-atheist blush more than once, and I must confess, let out a cackle or two.

A self proclaimed `contrarian', Christopher Hitchens endured the blistering reality of the English school system and a mother who committed suicide, only to emerge as a brilliant intellectual known for a rapier wit and an even sharper tongue, if possible, when it comes to religion, or totalitarianism, as he terms all religion. Discovering he had a Jewish heritage later in life, Mr. Hitchens devoted much of his energy to the study of "The Jewish Question".

As a believer, I certainly found a few things to take up argument with, but taking up sides against this man is no mean task. So I settled for common ground. Easily found. I thoroughly enjoyed a peek inside the mind of a man who said he tested his acquaintances on whether they felt their lives would be over if English Literature were to disappear. If only I were an acquaintance, I would pass on this criterion.
The Hitch? How to be totalitarian about being against Totalitariansim.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Grand Central Publishers in return for my review.

Review For Masquerade

Would you trade places with your best friend if you could? Even if she was a maid, and you were a wealthy society lady?  Charlotte and Dora, a lady and her maid do just that. Despite the fact that the two are immigrants from England, where an accent alone can betray the origins of your birth, they manage to pull it off. Charlotte’s reluctance about the marriage her parents have arranged for her becomes the answer to Dora’s prayer, or so she thinks. 

The trip over on the ship begins a series of events that is anything but smooth sailing for the ‘masquerade’.
I found the descriptions of the immigrant ghettos most riveting. The entrance of Sven, as a photographer in that time period seeking to document the squalid conditions was an interesting concept. No doubt there were people who did that, as some early photography exists. 

The conclusion was fairly predictable, and if you forget about the poor Italian immigrants, satisfies your itch for a happy ending!

 Ms. Moser’s letter to the reader, and her explanation about how the plot changed over time was a novel addition. I found her honesty engaging and almost as fun to read as the book.

Bethany House sent me a complimentary copy of Masquerade in return for my honest opinion of this book.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tasting is Believing

I've always felt that the best way to advertise is to let people get a taste, smell, look or listen- in other words a sample of what you do.

I proved my own adage this past weekend.

For three out of the five years we've been going up to Napa to help our good friends Ken and Susie Pope at the cedargablesinn host the historic inn tour, we've enjoyed a sampling of some dessert by anniethebaker. A peanut butter parfait. They were good. Delicious, in fact. But every year I kept hearing about her cookies. They are for people who love the dough more than the cookie, she said. I'm one of those people. But still, I'd never tasted one of her cookies, the cookies that she'd painstakingly developed by scientific experimentation, often testing each cookie with a thermometer to make sure it was thoroughly done, and still tasted like it wasn't, quite.

Yada, yada. It was all talk to me. I'm sure they were good, I mean most every cookie I'd ever tried was good, you know? And all the dough, too.

We stayed up ater the tour, our aching feet longing to have a rest, standing in the kitchen to talk to Annie, who is one of the most energetic and funny conversationalists I've ever met. She told us how she left accounting to pursue her dream. To bake cookies, and how her parents were and still are a little 'nnnhhh'...about it.

I was fascinated by her as a person. She'd grown up in the midwest. We understood each other. Still, I'd never tasted a cookie of hers. Everyone left. Annie went home. I passed by a table in the foyer with rounded mounds that someone said were Annie's cookies. I tried a chocolate one. OOOOHHHH! Now I know what she meant. It tasted like cookie dough (forbidden treat) but it was a fully cooked cookie. I had another, a white one with huge milk cocolate chunks. Really full, but tasting more, I finally tried the rainbow sprinkle one,  the favorite of all the kids.

I was hooked, and am now a believer.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meaning and Mattering

In doing my yearly reading of the Nativity Story I came across a gem of a phrase in the notes of my old Tyndale Living bible. 

In the section in Luke 2:3-6 where the story tells of Mary and Joseph having to travel 70 miles at the 'very worst time' for a pregnant, unmarried woman in a primitive time period, the following sentence stuck out: 

"When we do God's will, we are not guaranteed a comfortable life; we are promised only that even our discomfort has meaning in God's plan."

Meaning. A life that matters. That's what I want. don't you?  Mary had no idea, really. And neither do we.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Praying is Visualizing

Imagine your future! Make it happen! Picture yourself in your dream house! your dream job, your dream life! Are all these techniques valid? and how do they fit in a christian world view?

It occurred to me that when I pray, I am visualizing to myself and God exactly what it is I really want, both for myself and for others. It is telling the truth and reaching into my deepest self to see that which I wish to happen. As I do this, the real, true desires of my heart float to the top like cream on the top of the old fashioned milk jug.

There is a moment in the movie Bruce Almighty where the character Bruce, played by Jim Carrey  is telling the God character Morgan Freeman, that what he really wants for the girl he loves is that she be happy, even if that means she won't be with him. It is a realization that he wasn't able to see for himself until he verbalizes it.

"Now that's a prayer." says God.

I've kept pace with the traditional view of prayer, and for most of my life, thought of it as a way to please God. After all, He told us to pray, and Jesus himself modelled it for us, praying often, both openly and in private to his Heavenly Father. "We ought to pray", is how I carried it in my heart, feeling guilty if I didn't 'pray enough'.

But the transforming truth, as Jesus reminded us, will set us free, is that part of the design God has for prayer may be simply for our own benefit. Daily regular, episodic, and seasonal contact with ourselves in His presence may serve to sort our own hearts out for a bit of soul cleaning and organizing, perhaps.

What a master designer!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I am surrounded by good things even Martha couldn't top!

I have four lovely daughters and a husband who loves me.

I live in a free country with a stable government, a support system of churches, police, armed services, hospitals and emergency services.

I have life insurance, health insurance, savings, a job (or two) and am in good health.

It's almost embarrassing how full I am. And dinner isn't for another two hours! May I never take my charmed life for granted.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Frugal Thanksgiving

It was the worst of times. I'm sorry Charles Dickens but I cannot tell a lie.

Going to the recycling yard to scrape up the rest of the money I needed for my thanksgiving dinner marked a new low for me. It was raining and I hauled my stash into the covered awning and predicted I'd get back about seven dollars. It was barely worth the gas it took to get there.Vacillating between momentary devout prayers of trust and panicked worry, I counted the dollars and tried to reconcile it with my list. So many of you are at this point as well. It is a new experience. Being poor in college doesn't hold a candle to being tight when you have teenagers! Hungry, socially active teenagers.

And then, I saw them. The three of them, two men and a woman, crammed into a pickup truck loaded to the gills with aluminum hubcaps. None had washed for at least a month. Teeth missing, clothes a tattered collection of someone's castoffs, they were nonetheless a pleasant bunch.

I'll be getting a check or two next week.They probably won't. I'm just temporarily tight, and have a warm house with bathing facitlities and clean towels. They clearly don't. I visit the recycling facility when the pile gets too high in my garage. They most likely scrounge everywhere they can and visit often.

Being hungry and homeless is a far cry from where I am. I must remember this. A little perspective changes almost anything.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buttered Hot Chocolate

I discovered how to make the most delicious hot chocolate EVER!

To milk, add sugar and cocoa to taste, along with a pat of butter. (no kidding!)
Simmer slowly and whisk vigorously till cocoa is absorbed, sugar is melted, and it's hot enough for you.
Each serving will take about 10 oz of milk.

Thanksgiving Resolution

"Pretty is as pretty does", was a saying that went around when I was a child. Well, thankful is as thankful does, too. Every year we all take off work, eat turkey, and tell everyone around us to have a happy thanksgiving. Saying you are thankful is simple and important, but  this year I'm starting a new tradition.

I've decided to take action with my gratitude. So many people have been treasures from heaven to me! I'm sending out letters of sincere appreciation to people who have blessed me. I've sent one already, and am plotting the second. I call myself a writer, after all, and a letter is one of the most basic forms of communication one can compose. It's the one thing you can write, that you can be pretty sure will be read!

I made a list some time ago of people who've made a significant impact on my life. Some I've met, some I've just read about. Some will be hard to track down, as I've lost track of their whereabouts.  But, there's no time like the present. As a matter of fact, there's no time but the present, and I intend to get far on my list.

Let me start by thanking you, my reader. I value the time you took to browse through my collection of thoughts, and I'd love to hear from you.

Who are you thankful for? and why? People are our most valuable resource. Let's tell them so.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

All the Best Laid Plans...

Have you ever imagined a project turning out beautifully and then being a little disappointed about the final result? This has been my experience for so many projects. But not this time.

When my husband and I bought our beautiful Italian tiles six years ago, we hauled them home and priced out professional installation. Ouch. Doing it ourselves? Scary. We are musicians, not skilled laborers. There they sat. Well, not exactly. They got moved upstairs and down several times and we finally relegated them to a corner of the garage, where they sulked at our cowardice, and petulantly allowed us to stub our toes on them.We considered selling them about a year ago. It seemed the project would never get done.

I'm not sure what pushed me over the edge, but this summer I got my DYI savvy daughter to help me tear out the old linoleum (yuck) and carpet (yuckier).  There it sat, the bare sub floor, and the toilet that was now in the shower, awaiting it's new Italian base.

I had a friend (now worth his weight in tile, er-gold) who delivered his wet saw to my garage and provided valuable information on how to cut, and lay tile. He back-buttered this tutorial  (tile laying shop talk) with profuse amounts of encouragement.

I finally felt ready, and with a substantial amount of fear and trembling fired up the saw. (I did do my measurement homework) Just so you know, the new revised motto for novices is measure 6 times and cut once. I dry laid the tiles, and it looked like it would all work!

My husband kicked in his muscle for the mortar laying and grouting. I couldn't have finished without him. At one point I think we were fighting over the trowel.

The result was so many times more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I almost think that little elves (maybe big ones) came in overnight and did a professional job for me. My goal was to have it finished before Thanksgiving, and now I have one more thing to be thankful for. A beautiful new Italian tiled bathroom! Finally.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Standing (pulled from my old myspace archive)

Standing in the room

I feel the pieces fall

beside me and shatter

on the floor

like shards of glass             I dare not move ahead or behind

I make myself breathe

but slowly


 the air will smell of  some other day

and it will be too


too strong

too full

of dreams

for me to take it in

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two Wee Poems

The Dream

 Multi-layered reasons cloak my furtive attempts at conversation.

Single need drives me to probe, to wonder, to whisper all around the truth.

Keep it back.

No folly like the hidden one.  No time like the present.

I steal away backwards, the azure blue of the twilight sky sillouettes palms, tall and graceful.

Their slight movement in the wind mirrored on the breeze, touches my face.

The smell? -jasmine, dust, and you.

All fetters broken. I am free at last.

The monstrous dream has landed in my backyard.

The thing I hoped for, here and now.

I pinch myself, flying over ground, my feet inches above real, hard, solid earth.

Giddy elation. A wash of peace.

All my trust. Pinpointed to this soul-embracing moment.

It is finished.

My teeth chatter in the cold.

I hold myself tightly, but it is not enough.

Pieces of me are flying away.

What remains will have to do.

And there is plenty to do.

Be good, my muse, and stay awhile.

Carve your leaden features on my mind.

Stay your angel fingers on the memory of tomorrow.

Stamp an image, clear and strong.

My pouring out depends on it.

My filling up comes with your words.

Be good, my muse and stay awhile.

The clouds gather...."Filled with Failure" the words lie heavy.

They burn and cleanse like farmer's fires.

The deadwood past is kindling.

The present fluff blows past my door.

My house is crowded, rooms are full.

Clear away the refuse and empty every corner, till all is gone and peace is left.

I sit in silence on the floor.

The echos tell no truth but mocking lies.

I will not stop to fear them now.

The truth has burned away all farce.

 The Ride of Life

Hairpin curves, breathtaking vistas.

I hug my yearnings to myself and daftly try to shape them into what I believe.

Do we all do this?

No other living soul can share this space with me; I inhabit it alone.

Stand or fall.

Rich or poor.

Loved or left.

Faith's a lonely room.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Amy Inspired Inspires

Amy Gallagher is a writer with whom many can instantly identify. She grew up in a ‘broken’ Christian home, no longer the oxymoron it was once considered.  Her struggle to find forgiveness, acceptance and love winds along the path she has embraced, a path of words. Eli, a semi homeless young man with a very sad past, is an artist of unknown potential. As he comes to stay with Amy at the insistence of her typically trendy friend Zoe, the subtle weaving of his art with her words is chastely seductive and beautiful. 

Bethany Pierce manages to gracefully straddle the fence of reality on which many postmodern Christians find themselves uncomfortably perched. Her story contains real people with real problems including a Christian who finds herself verbalizing what she ‘means to say’ instead of the tired old evangelical ‘magic words’ of witnessing. Peppered with the reality of self-mutilation, divorce, alcoholism and death, the romance emerges beautifully, and is made even more poignant by virtue of the flaws of its characters, yet woven into the story is the unmistakable thread of faith. 

I applaud the courage of Bethany House to publish fiction of this depth. I eagerly expect to read more from Ms. Pierce.
A complimentary copy of Amy Inspired was given to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion of the book.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Searching for Gravitas

My mother and I went shopping yesterday. Lots of mothers and daughters do that all the time, right? Not this pair. My mother doesn't really enjoy shopping. But, every now and then, it has to be done. We strategically  began with breakfast at Village Bakery, making it infinitely more palatable for Mom. She's almost always up for a breakfast out.

An omelet and three half-eaten pastries later we were on our way, doggie bag in hand, to a department store nearby.  We had done our best, and saved the rest to take home, my mother's motto being "No pastry left behind".

Seven months ago we had been sitting in the doctor's office facing her diagnosis of breast cancer. Imagining this scene would have been a stretch for both of us. At the time, I don't think we dared look ahead too far. But, here we were!

We scanned the aisles of Kohl's and she rejected one sweater on these grounds,"I want something with more gravitas than that." Gravitas can be defined as a quality of substance or depth of personality. Depth, substance. Everyone who knows my mother would agree she possesses both. She is Judi Dench, but nicely. Or perhaps Angela Lansbury with a fiercely spiritual side. And not every article of clothing is befitting for a woman of mature years. It might be either too frilly, too pale a color, or not enough hardware on it. Yes, my mother likes hardware. But hardware with the kind of  elegance that glitters, dazzles, blinds, maims...well you get the idea. The more bling, the better. We trolled the clearance jewelry as well, and again, gravitas was the deciding factor along with glitz and glam.Half price didn't hurt either.

Delightedly she found a bevy of sweaters and tops she could shine through the holidays with, as well as a bejeweled necklace that passed the test.

I couldn't have been happier!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review for Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens

Imagine you are going 90 miles an hour in a sidecar, whizzing past scenes you barely know and the driver of the motorcycle is a brilliant British playboy atheist. That’s the experience reading Hitch-22 gave me.
Hitchens, a native Brit, covers more political ground than the average American citizen pays attention to in a lifetime. And these are just the highlights. Photos of “Hitch” in many other countries, verbal snapshots of meetings with people we plebeians only know by reading of them in the paper or hearing their name in the news. These weighty journalistic exploits are interspersed with stories of his friend’s private jokes that made this non-atheist blush more than once, and I must confess, let out a cackle or two.
A self proclaimed ‘contrarian’, Christopher Hitchens endured the blistering reality of the English school system and a mother who committed suicide, only to emerge as a brilliant intellectual known for a rapier wit and an  even sharper tongue, if possible, when it comes to religion, or totalitarianism, as he terms all religion. Discovering he had a Jewish heritage later in life, Mr. Hitchens devoted much of his energy to the study of “The Jewish Question”.
As a believer, I certainly found a few things to take up argument with, but taking up sides against this man is no mean task. So I settled for common ground. Easily found.  I thoroughly enjoyed a peek inside the mind of a man who said he tested his acquaintances on whether they felt their lives would be over if English Literature were to disappear. If only I were an acquaintance, I would pass on this criterion.
The Hitch? How to be totalitarian about being against Totalitarianism.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Grand Central Publishers in return for my review. 

The Book I WantTo Write

I counted up the books I read in the last month or so. About 8. One was a classic- Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
One was a memoir-Christopher Hitchen's Hitch-22. Two were fiction-Nancy Moser's Masquerade and Martin Amis' Night Train. Two were religious self help-The Strategically Small church (author escapes me) and Chasing Francis by Ian Cron . One was political- Jeremy Lott's William Buckley.
All great reads in their own way. Masquerade was set in my favorite era, and Night Train was an amazing feat of voicing-a writer from England managed to create the voice of a female cop from Chicago, and pulled it off! The self helps offered extraordinary insight into today's spiritual climate. Christopher Hitchen's memoir is like a side car trip through his mind. Rocky, but exhilarating.
None of the fiction touched me like Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.
They are two of my favorites because of the unearthly stirrings they created inside me. The longing to be there, to be that person, to feel and experience what they did. Still. And I read them months ago.
That's the kind of book I like to read.
That's the kind of book I want to write.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Culturally Out-outsourced

Unashamedly, my new favorite comedy is the series Outsourced, about a telemarketing manager who is sent packing to shepherd a group of native Indians in a call center for a novelty company (think: talking mounted fish, imprinted underwear, and such).Todd, who is called 'Toad' with a sharp 'd' by his employees, attempts to explain America to them via the novelty market, a fairly accurate albiet trite expression of American culture.

The Indian mind, as it is portrayed in the show exists at several notches of intensity above the rather flippant and socially forward mind of the American. Although I do not consider myself flippant or forward, I have to admit that most countries, especially in the more eastern parts of the world, see us this way when compared to their own culture. At the same time, India appears to be imitating all things American as fast as possible.

I cringe at the vulgar humor inserted in the show, but keep watching because I am fascinated at the melding of the US and India as I view it from my central California window.My daughter's best friend in junior high was a girl whose mother's marriage was arranged, and we used to love to hear her perfect 'Britindian' accent as she told us in crisp consonants about what it was like to live in India, and then come here. I routinely browse the shelves at Spice of India around the corner, seeing, smelling and listening my way through what seems like another country just a few blocks away from my home.

The concept of outsourcing touches all of us nowadays. Not long ago my husband and I were guided through a computer repair by a technician in India, who during the course of the conversation quaintly encouraged us that we would have time to "have a cup of tea" before he finished a trouble shooting operation. I imagined him sitting sedately in a call center halfway around the world sipping a cup himself.

One of the episodes of Outsourced featured  Todd showing his office a tutorial on sexual harassment. To his dismay, Todd discovered that someone was making anonymous calls to his superior, accusing him of sexual harassment. After exhausting every resource to find out who it is making the calls, and what he did to offend them, he realizes that his very American habit of touching the workers on the shoulder is considered offensive to many native Indians. While most of the workers have accepted his friendly touch, one woman in particular was disturbed by it. As I watched, I thought to myself that they must have really played that up, because I wouldn't go around randomly touching people of the opposite sex that I barely knew. 

Just the other day, we had dinner at a local restaurant and ran into an old friend. She introduced us to her roommate, who was from India, and a whiz on computers. I've been so curious about a native Indian's reaction to Outsourced, that I asked him, a young man I just met, if he'd ever seen the show and what he thought of it. As I asked this, I looked down at my self in the detached way we see when we can't quite believe what we're doing, and patted his back, in a motherly sort of way. I had done it before even thinking about it. A model immigrant, he politely told me that he hadn't seen it, but a friend from India had and she thought it was funny. Well.

Worlds often collide, don't they? And I am reminded that my point of view isn't necessarily everyone else's. That's enough curry in my soup to clean the passages...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Preface to the Book of my Life

While my book(s) are in the wings, waiting to be published, it seems a shame to delay that wonderful name dropping business of thanking every influential person in your life and telling them how grateful you are. So, here instead, because I can't wait, and don't want to, is the preface to the book of my life.

First of all, thanks to my mother and father, Wes and Frana Hamilton, whose knowledge and embodiment of the truth of the Bible shaped everything I am. Thanks to my first brother David Hamilton, now Dr. Hamilton, whose thirst for knowledge and fun eclipsed all my curiosity and took it to a new level. Thanks to my sister, Ali Martinez who continues to generously give to me out of her heart, and to my next brother, Daniel Hamilton whose life is a living testimony to me of devotion to God and others, the second a validation of the first.

To my first crush, Bobby Hanson, with whom I was planning on raising a cat farm, and who inspired me to dress up as catwoman, thereby sealing my love of drama, costuming AND cats, forever.

To my first boyfriend Tony Leow, a great friend to this very day, who modelled generosity and hard work.

My best friend from the 6th grade, Debbie Brownfield, who shared my love of music and literature at 12 and still does.

To my first drama teacher, Mrs. Chmelka, who made herself cry on the floor during a monologue. I'll never be the same!

To Dr. Dan Anderson, my college president, whose humble prayer, "Lord, we are not adequate for the task." brings tears to my eyes even as I write it.

To Dorothy Gilmore, now passed on, who gave me the gift of travel, while I was in college, to the middle east, opening my eyes to a whole new world. 

To my faithful husband, Jim Maris, who is the wind beneath my flighty wings. He enables me to reach heights I could not achieve on my own.

My daughters:
Lana, who never ceases to amaze me with her unsinkable creative energy and cheerfulness.
Emma, whose gift for writing and determination astound me.
Clara, the always dependable worker whose talent shines from deep within.
Janna, who adds sparkle and pizzazz to everything and everyone she is around.
Being these girls' mom is the single most important delight of my life. 

And now for the random assortment of people I am proud and blessed to have known. They have contributed to me as a person and an artist.

To Jane Austen who makes me want to have lived next door to her, and rubbed shoulders at a country dance.

To Charlotte Bronte, whose 'Jane Eyre' has haunted my very soul ever since I read it.

To CS Lewis, whose literary works are a constant reminder that intelligent people can and do believe fervently in a loving and Holy God. 

To The people at Hickman Charter School, most notably David Meyer, whose untiring educational support allowed me and my children to have priceless memories during the formative years of their lives.

To Artistic maverick Roem Baur, who opened skylights into my mind where there were lead ceilings. 

To Grace Leiberman, whose dedication and love of the arts must be unparalled in Modesto.

To Paul Tischer, whose attention to detail and love of the theater brought me into a world of experiences I would never trade.

To the neighbors on my street who have made living at Willow Oak Ct a friendly, cozy and safe place. 

Many others could be on this list, but I fear that though I would not tire of expressing thanks, the reader will tire.Thanks to you, my reader!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ten Word Novels

I've been having fun writing ten word novels. Here are some of the ones I entered on ChickLitShorties. I made it as a finalist! Enjoy! Try a few of your own!

I know you love me but I love him. Oops! 

Money meets looks.]Brains trump charm. Plot thickens.Love wins.

He sneaks. She peeks. She sneaks. He peeks. Game over.

He sings, she sings, neither hear. Curtain falls. Sequel coming.

If wishes were pennies, this story’d be worth a million.

Message in a bottle: It’s cozy in here. Join me.

Cat meets dog. Fur flies. Adjustments made. Bird was delicious.

Lost my job
Lost the house
Lost my wife

His turn: sex
Her turn: power
They turn: sour

The only reason you should read this is to discover…

What you don’t know won’t hurt so I won’t tell!

History of Flirting: Write, Call, Fax, Page, E-mail, Text, Twitter

Cinder maid, made to stay, slipper found, got it made.

Page turning times ten equals all you need to finish.

If only life could be as lovely as this story.

I think I can, they think I can’t, I did.

Girl meets boy, says no, regrets, says yes, I do.

Wanted:  one romantic tragedy with a happy ending. Apply within.

She came, she ate, she prayed, she loved, she conquered.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Green Room: Current

The Green Room: Current: "Life goes on, like a river. And on the coldest day in October, my oldest daughter braved the current and the cold of the Stanislaus river, ..."


Life goes on, like a river.

And on the coldest day in October, my oldest daughter braved the current and the cold of the Stanislaus river, and made a statement of her faith by being baptized.

It was natural, yet breathtaking, for her as well as me.

The song sung before the baptism was sung a long time ago by a young man who has since made his way to heaven before all the rest of us.  I felt as if a peice of him was there, playing the guitar, and singing "God of Wonders".

Thanks, Joey. See you someday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sitting on Hands, Living the Plan

C S Lewis said, "It seems like there's no plan because it's all plan."

Well I'm living in the 'seems like' today.

How blessed I am, and how little I know it. The focus of my life has been mothering, helping kids to learn music, and lately helping brides with their special day, and writing like mad about everything I've read about.

Doesn't sound very focused, does it? Nope, I'm busy, behind and broke.

 But, I'm breathing! And I believe in the plan.

And that will be my focus, for today.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rough Ride

Review of
William F Buckley
By Jeremy Lott

Lott’s biographical work on William F. Buckley traces his beginnings as a Catholic, and man of faith, and his political work in the founding of the National Review, the publication for which Buckley is most well known. He references his talks on The Firing Line, and draws from many of Buckley’s actual words. 

Fascinated by the man, I was not as drawn in to Mr. Lott’s detailed depiction of his life. I found it ‘tough meat to chew’ as someone who was not familiar with the political figures prominent during Buckley’s heyday. I found the references to chronological events a bit muddled, and hard to follow. While I came to admire Mr. Buckley for his stance as a political dissenter, this book did not really give me a clear picture of Buckley the man. Everything I knew about Buckley before I read the book tended toward the coldly intellectual.  It left me feeling a little dry. But, maybe, that was intended? 

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from booksneeze.com with the understanding that I would post an honest opinion about the book.