Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Yes, it’s true . . .

 We are way overdue for a recipe blog.
 But until a couple of days ago my recipes had been kidnapped and were being held hostage. And the worst part is the kidnapper wouldn’t even contact me about a ransom.  

And yes, it was irresponsible of me to send my only copy of my recipe file out into the world alone, a print copy at that, so faded and old as to be impossible to scan.  Mea culpa.
But who could know? And anyway, the crisis is over, and they are back safe and sound, with a backup file to boot. And you still aren’t going to get a recipe blog.

 At least not this time.
 Because I promised on Facebook that I’d write a quick book review. Even though Geoff Herbach’s  I’m with Stupid is a YA novel, and if I am going to put book reviews instead of recipes or anything else  on my blog I should be writing reviews about middle readers since my first one (Coyote Summer, remember) comes out this fall. Although I guess this is not really what you’d call a review.  So maybe that’s ok.

I’m reading YA novels lately because I happened upon one (Beautiful Music For Ugly Children) in the library and it stunned me. So I wrote Kirstin Cronn-Mills (the author), and during our brief correspondence she’s given me several other author’s names. And they have all been wonderful and truly amazing.  Amazing in that they speak to such universal truths, to the real problems you face growing up and the even realer problems you encounter trying to deal with them, that I found myself saying yes, yes! (sometimes even aloud) as I read.

Because up until lately, you see, it’s only been Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And now you are really beginning to wonder. Buffy? Where on earth is she going with this?
You know how some comics, like Ellen Degeneres, start out with a topic and seem to wander all over and then suddenly Bam! - there they are back where they started having tied everything up neatly?
 Well, that’s probably not going to happen here. But bear with me.

Buffy. The show that used vampires and demons and witches and odd reptilian creatures to tell great stories that just happened to touch on all of the problems high school kids face, sometimes providing solutions but even when there wasn’t an easy solution you came away from the show feeling ok about being different, or liking girls instead of boys, or not having a parent around, or having scales and a tail because that one made you a natural for the swim team?

Until recently, it seemed to me that with a few notable exceptions, Buffy was it. And when YA literature started to become popular again, it was full of dragons and vampires or it took place in the distant past or future or on another world.

These people, though, this latest crop of writers, the Kirstin Cronn-Mills’s and Geoff Herbachs and A.S. Hyatts and David Levithans, just to name a few, they write these raw, powerful stories with problems like the ones you had growing up, or people you knew had, and the endings aren’t always all happy but there’s usually at least a few answers and a lot of hope because that’s what you need when you are a teenager.  These are the stories I read and my heart tightens and then opens and oh, I wish I’d had these books when I was a teenager because they are my life.

That’s what I’m With Stupid did for me.
Take a kid who was bullied when younger, give him a terrible early memory he hasn't dealt with and a parent who's not really there for him. Throw in the fact that now he's a popular jock and a heck of a football player, partially because he's got this anger inside that he deals with by crushing the competition. How does he cope? Where is his life going? What happens when he decides to use his power for good instead of evil (sort of) ?

What happens is a piece of your life. Somewhere in this book, and others by the writers I've mentioned above, is a piece of your life. Doesn't matter who you are or what you were in high school. You're going to go - ""Wow. Yes." at some point. 

So, no. not really a book review. But what I wanted to say. 
And thank you, all of you YA writers out there.
Keep going.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Well, my friends . . .

I know it’s been a while, but we’ve been moving from the country into town. It has been hard leaving my beloved cabin, but I know it is in good hands with our caretakers, and we still have the little guest cabin to get away from it all. 

“It all” being the booming metropolis of Lexington, VA, population 6000.

I know, but I haven’t lived in a town since 1981. It’s hard. 
There are people everywhere. 
Oh, and curtains. I need curtains. Ugh.

But we put up a fence for the dogs, and that helps. 
Actually, Jake Wilson put it up. Board by hand cut board. The old-fashioned way. 

It’s a beautiful fence.

And the property has afforded some much appreciated surprises. 
Like a strawberry patch -

Mature blueberry bushes -

2 asian pear trees –

Gooseberries –
A fig tree –

This is a pie cherry tree.
It was loaded with half ripe fruit when we arrived, I watched as we unpacked the first day after the move as a dozen birds and two hungry squirrels stripped t bare. You can still see many of the dried seeds hanging.
And -
A wonderful old apple tree that must have been on this corner for ages -

Oh, and there’s a grapevine on the back wall,

 and some asparagus, which we missed.

The house is about half in order, although there’s nothing on the walls yet. It’s hot, and noisy, and we need a dog door.
But when I get a bit overwhelmed I go outside and look at my mini-garden and orchard.

It helps.

Thank you, Phil and Daphne. We’ll take good care of your house for you.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bayberry Island!

And the winner of the name contest for Jessie's island  is Bayberry Island!
Thanks to all who participated. There were several people who suggested this name, so the book will go to the one who suggested it first.  I'll let you know as soon as we have the fall launch date for Coyote Summer!