Saturday, May 24, 2014

Daring to do dulcimer!

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!
     On the one hand I am a theater reviewer, and I've been busy filling in my Thursday and Friday schedule with reviews of wonderful summer theaters all over the state of Michigan.
      On the other hand, I am an author and I'm swamped with book signings, preview parties and sales events for my latest book, Full Moon Friday.
      And then along comes the dulcimer workshop. I spotted the workshop at Interlochen and sighed with envy. Learning to play the dulcimer has been on my bucket list since  before I had a bucket. I bought a dulcimer 15 years ago but never learned to play. I toyed with it a bit the first few months, but mostly it has sat in a case. In the back of the closet. Unseen. Unused. Unheard.
      I'm so busy in June, how could I fit in another thing?
      I put off signing up for the workshop and the next time I checked it was full. I was so disappointed. I put my name on the wait list, but I figured it was for the best. I'm really too busy. I squeezed in a whirlwind week in France, launched a church cookbook project, and drove two states away to visit my new grand nieces ... all while processing the final proofs of Full Moon Friday in my spare time.
      Now, the proofs have been approved, the first book is delivered to the library and a shipment of books for the kickoff is on its way. I'm packing for a quick trip to Colorado for grandkids graduations. And the email comes.
      The waitlist.
       There's an opening in the dulcimer workshop.
       Do I dare?
       I prayed about it. That part of my character Josie is true to me. I pray for answers. Doesn't everyone? This time I prayed and picked. I got out the dulcimer and tried picking out a tune. Shoot, I tried tuning it to little avail. But I made a some music and it gave me a little smile.
       I'm going to that workshop. It will mean reviewing a play on a Thursday night, driving 2 1/2 hours to Interlochen on Friday and spending the evening with my beau Steve. I'll be in the immersion workshop all day Saturday and drive back to Grand Rapids that evening so I can get up the next morning and drive 3 1/2  hours to Chicago to spend the day selling books at the Printers Row Lit Fest. I'll  drive back to Grand Rapids that evening and fall into bed no doubt. .
        But I'll be a little bit closer to being able to play a dulcimer.
         And that makes me smile.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The moon is missing, the moon is missing!

The internet tells me there was supposed to have been a full moon on Wednesday night, but it was too cloudy in West Michigan to see it. The same was true last night and tonight. I thought I saw it fairly low on the southern horizon once, but the clouds quickly covered up any hint of light.
         I was disappointed because this was to have been the last full moon before THE MOON. Next month, June 13, the full moon coincides with Friday the 13th. It's a pretty rare occurrence. It won't happen again until 2049, and I don't expect I'll live to 101 to see that.
         So, I'm wondering, if you can't see the full moon, does it still cause people to do crazy things? The moon's affect on behavior is the topic of my next book, Full Moon Friday (to be released June 13) Cops and nurses and journalists often blame the full moon when people act up, even though the more scientific-minded dispute whether there is any real evidence of the connection between the full moon and bad behavior.
      Earlier this week I discussed the topic with David DeBruyn, who was curator of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Public Museum for many years and continues to write a column about West Michigan Skies for the Grand Rapids Press. He shared with me a couple of articles he has written over the years citing some research into the phenomenon,
     He credits selective memory. "We as human beings tend to remember the extraordinary things that we become involved with while relegting to the recesses of our memory the more mundane daily events," he wrote in one article.
     On June 8, Dave plans to write a column about the full moon coinciding with Friday the 13th. I'll be interested to see what he has to say, especially since he plans to mention my book in which all manner of madness is blamed on the moon.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Kiss a lot of frogs

Americans often call the French people "frogs," probably because of the alliteration, and perhaps because of French cooking that can make anything a gourmet treat. But on a visit to France last week I found another reason to associate frogs with France.

My favorite stop on my tour was Giverny, a garden built by artist Claude Monet and used as the backdrop for his famous paintings. The flowers were fantastic and the lily pond beautiful, even though the water lilies weren't in bloom yet.

The place was packed with visitors. All of a sudden a frog croaked. Another responded. Pretty soon there was a cacophony of frogs singing. At least one must have been an enchanted prince, but which one?