Sunday, October 19, 2014

Before the last leaves fall

          It was my great pleasure this weekend to drive up to Traverse City and explore all the way along Mission Peninsula, to the 45th parallel (halfway to the north pole!).The colors were indescribably  beautiful. At times it felt like the landscape was ablaze and I was driving through the flames.
          But already some of the trees are spent, their branches almost bare, their colorful life scattered on the ground below. It reminds me that the countdown has begun. For some of you, that is the countdown to the first snowfall. For snowbirds like me, it's the countdown to Florida. We leave six weeks from today.
           That's six weeks to finish all the projects around the house that haven't gotten done over the summer. Time to get the church library in order for the winter months. Six weeks to make those final doctor visits, the last hair appointment. Time to make the rounds to visit the relatives and friends I won't get to see over the winter. I need to squeeze in my last visits to local theater,  file my final reviews for The Press. Six weeks to finish my pre-holiday book sales events and have my holiday celebrations with family in advance. Buy my Christmas gifts, address my cards.
           And time to pack, of course. To remember all the things I forgot last year and sort out all those items I took last year but never used. To clean out the fridge and prepare the house for winter.
            It sounds so overwhelming. But the leaves fall a few at a time and so the tasks that remain will fall. The countdown begins.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bookin' it!

      "What library are you from?"
As I perused the displays at the Michigan Library Association conference in Grand Rapids today, that was the question every vendor asked.  How to answer?
      Should I say the Grandville Library which hosted the kick off party for Full Moon Friday last June or the Sparta Library that welcomed me for a presentation on Laughing for a Living just a couple of weeks ago? Perhaps I should say the Cedar Springs Library or the Traverse City Library which carry my books. Or the Joliet and O'Fallon libraries in Illinois, that also stock my books.
       Or maybe I should say the library at Grandville United Methodist Church. I've been volunteer librarian there since I retired from The Press five years ago.
        Or maybe I should say the Akama Public School library on Epi Island, Vanuatu, South Pacific. Our church raised $900 to stock a new library for that school.
        When I think about it, I've had a lot of libraries in my life. The one at McKendree College where I read Bruce Catton's books on the Civil War for a research paper in high school. The one at Southwest Baptist College where I went to read daily newspapers when the USS Pueblo was taken in North Korea in 1968 and my boyfriend was serving in South Korea. Or the library in Toledo, Ohio, where I read about Cystic Fibrosis after my son was diagnosed in 1979.
        There was the library in Richmond, Va., where my son used to go to reading group and the one in Joliet, Ill., where I checked out old black and white movies to share with him back before we had a VCR. There's the library in Kentwood, Mi.,  where we looked up college information for him.And now the one in Grandville where I stock up on books on CD whenever I take a car trip.
         Libraries are my life.They have kept me informed and entertained. I'd hate to imagine life without libraries.
         What library are you from?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Full Moon Monday

The moon wasn't quite full tonight -- 95 percent the chart says-- but it sure felt full in terms of things going wrong.
       My presentation tonight at Sparta Carnegie Library started off like one of the catastrophe chapters in Full Moon Friday. I arrived about 6 p.m. for the 6:30 presentation, knowing that's running a little tight when technology's involved.
        The room was all set up, including apple cider and great pumpkin cookies. The video screen was in place, as was the projector. First we couldn't find the plug to connect the projector to the electricity. Once that was located, we inserted my flash drive that contained the power point presentation, but the projector couldn't find any of the Windows-based programs on the flash drive. It could only see the jpegs.
         No problem. I'd brought a computer along and with the help of Librarian Nicole we connected it to the projector. It's an older computer that had the right connection to match the projector. It turned on and then zap... turned off and simply wouldn't turn on again.  After trying several restart procedures, Nicole went home to get her laptop.  In the meantime, I managed to get my computer to turn on but it insisted on a "startup repair." Major delay.
          As the guests began arriving, Nicole returned with her computer. We hurriedly connected it, added my flash drive and voila! Power point!
          The rest of the evening went off without a hitch. Cheryl Currier of the library staff gave a great introduction. The crowd was small, but we enjoyed talking about movie star interviews, favorite plays and creative cursing.
          Much thanks to library director Lois Lovell. And thanks to the almost full moon for setting just the right mood!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy Birthday!

I grew up knowing I was a very special person. My parents and grandparents doted on me. I had the respect of my little brothers. And everything centered around my birthday.
         In those days, the new TV season usually began on October 1. The new model cars were released on October 1. There were billboards and television announcements and full-page ads in the newspaper. It was practically a national holiday.
          It was, after all, MY birthday.
          Yes, I really am self-centered enough to think the television networks and car manufacturers chose October 1 because it was the true beginning of the year. The beginning of me.
          Years  later I found an even better reason to celebrate the day. It's not only my birthday but also the birthday of Jimmy Carter. I was a Republican until Jimmy Carter came along. He's one politician I can respect. He's honest. He's a real humanitarian not a caring-for-the-cameras humanitarian. He's a Christian that not only knows the Bible, he lives it.
           Not to mention he's a nuclear scientist. And the author of 28 books. He volunteers at Habitat for Humanity. And paints. He's a devoted husband, father and Sunday School teacher.
          I know the pundits like to criticize him, but I don't usually agree with most pundits.
          I'd never want the thankless job of President of the US, but when I grow up, I want to be as good a person as Jimmy Carter.
         Happy 90th Birthday Mr. President.

Monday, September 29, 2014

When the moon says I love you...

         Every time I see a musical I notice things I didn't notice before.
         Last weekend I went to the Looking Glass Playhouse in Lebanon, Il., to see "The Addams Family." I'd seen the Broadway tour in Grand Rapids, but I was anxious to see what a small community theater would do with it. Although this community theater is not up to the professional level community theater that I routinely review in Michigan, my mother and I enjoyed several of the performances and songs.
          One song that I overlooked before, "The Moon and Me," caught my attention because of my recent release of Full Moon Friday. I guess you'd say I've become a moonie of a sort always looking for moon trivia.
         This number, if you haven't seen the show, is a love song between Uncle Festus and the Lady in the Moon. It's such a ridiculous, Addams Family sort of premise. It fits the script perfectly.
         I went online to find a copy of the song to share in this blog, and to my surprise I found a performance I absolutely love...and it is from a high school production! The soloist is a freshman of all things! And the staging is fantastic. I hope you enjoy.
         It IS a dream that's coming true when the moon says "I love you."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Building a boat

What I like most about a quiet little drama, such as "The Boatwright" at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, is that it starts the wheels turning in your head. Days later, I find myself thinking about ideas the play has planted.

Written by Virginia playwright Bo Wilson, the script won a national play writing contest sponsored by the American Association of Community Theatres and is receiving its world premier production this month at Civic. It's the story of a retired widower who combats loneliness by building a boat in his garage.

It sounds like a ridiculous project for someone in the middle of Kansas with practically no sailing experience. But it got me thinking about the "boats" all of us build as a means of coping. One person might take up golf.  Someone else might plant a garden. I usually take on more projects than I can possibly accomplish. Like buying a pottery wheel and turning out bowls and mugs for Christmas presents. Or getting a dulcimer and never taking time to practice. Or writing a series of mysteries. Ah, yes. That's like building a yacht.

Is building a boat -- or whatever project a person chooses -- a healthy coping mechanism? Or is it "tilting at windmills" like Don Quixote?  Does the way we spend our time need to be logical? Should our hours be meted out to activities that will accomplish the most good, be that financial gain or health improvement or world reform? Or is it okay to build a boat that will never make it out of the garage? And who decides what's okay and what's a waste of our precious time?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mooning over the Moon

Isn't the moon beautiful tonight? Thin wisps of clouds streak across the face, like a bridal veil. Oh, yes, this is a lady moon. Peeking through shyly. You can only imagine the beauty, the shape, with the edges blurred by clouds. And then all and once the clouds part. She is beaming boldly, round and full. A woman, unafraid. Disarming. Dangerous.
     Tonight is the romantic moon poets write about, not that insidious evil moon that drives people to do crazy things. That beckons the werewolf out of hiding. That bedevils emergency rooms and  police dispatchers. Not the kind of moon I wrote about in Full Moon Friday. No, not this moon. Surely not this moon.
      And yet, here am I.  Sitting on the deck admiring the moon. Wishing I had some wine in the house to open. Forgetting the cookies in the oven. It's just so beautiful.