Sunday, June 30, 2013

Poetry Jam - Cold Comfort

'Mt. Aoraki With Cherries on Top' - photo by Jim Kilgallon

Cold Comfort

Others may languish with their sundaes
Spooning chocolate ice cream up
Swirling their tongues around the cold
Lapping a buttery feeling from their lips
Dipping again for a hit of warm chocolate
Stringing the cherry along til the last
Then plucking it from the taut stem
Crushing the flesh and spitting the pit
Taking cold comfort in that moment

I instead will sit this blue hour away
Scooping a handful of tall grass
Twirling it about my weary head
Sending the night flies spiraling away
Savoring the quiet cool of evening air
Sweeping the field scents over me
Until the sun is ready to gently settle
A glowing cherry atop yonder mountain
And drop to stillness and a comforting chill

- SM-L 6/30/13

This week's prompt was difficult for me ... a cherry on top ... Knickerbocker Glories ... hmm.  It may be late in the week but at last there is something here that has made its way to paper, keyboard, what ever ... it is shared with others at Poetry Jam. Go see what others are sharing! Join us if you've a mind!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult

I have to be in the mood for a Jodi Picoult book. Don't get me wrong, she's an incredibly talented writer and all, but she's just so damn intense. I can always depend on her to hit a hot button issue, twist it, turn it, play total havoc with it and bring out a kickass story. But, my God! By the time I'm half-way through the book, I'm a nervous fucking wreck (pardon the language).

Take The Holocaust for instance. Take the issue of manipulation. Take vulnerability and weakness after a heart-breaking accident. Take human frailty. Take religion. Take time and forgiveness on an individual and global level. Take looking for love in the wrong place. Take it all. Twist it. Turn it. Play havoc with it with several characters. Yup ... it comes out a kickass story.

Jodi Picoult has an almost formulaic way of putting a story together, In fact, in conversations with friends and fam who read her, that is one of the criticisms.  No one can deny, though,  that her stories are put together well and that she always causes a strong reaction to her plots, her characters, and her endings.

Here, in her latest novel, we find an emotionally and physically damaged young woman who befriends an elderly man at a group she attends for the grieving. He shares a dark secret with her and makes a most unconventional request. What's a girl to do? Therein lies the jumping off spot for the story ... Picoult doesn't stop there, however, She weaves in a parallel story that comes to the reader via the young woman's grandmother. Then, there's a side story brought in by the connection the woman makes when she digs into the past history of her elderly friend ... and there's his story. It all gets twisted, turned ...

'Nuff said.

Saturday Snapshot ... Before and During Mountain Laurel Season

At the end of May, my husband and I went on a nice walk out into the woods of southern New Hampshire to look at a trail called the Metacomet. I noticed how prolific the stands of mountain laurel were and told him that we really needed to return and hike the trail again when the laurel came into bloom. Here is a picture along the trail in May .

This is the same trail about twenty paces back from the first photo. It's one month later and you can see just how much laurel grows along the edges of the wetland swamp. It looks like a pinkish white swath from afar, but walking through it as it grows alongside the trail really brings it up close ...

It's just so beautiful.

Here's another May shot further along the trail where the swamp has opened up and is beginning to channel to a brook that drains the area. And below, shows again how much laurel grows along the banks of the water.

I love mountain laurel season ... two weeks of  beautiful color deep in the woods and along the waysides.

This Saturday Snapshot is shared with others at West Metro Mommy Reads. Melinda hosts every week now, while Alyce takes a break from blogging. Check out what everyone else is sharing this week!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Child Thief - Brom

The cover of this book is arresting enough, never mind the premise ... a side of Peter Pan that exposes a much darker character than H.M Barrie ever dared put to paper. Here is a Peter Pan tale that brings a more sinister and dangerous intent to his spiriting away of children to Neverland. And Neverland is not what we remember either! Yes, there is a pirate-like figure a la Captain Hook, fairy sprites that are full of mischief, dangerous beasts with fangs and slimy skins, but their danger and intent are magnified a hundred-fold. Gone are the strictly good and strictly evil characters of Barrie's story; they are replaced with like characters that are ... complicated, complex, more balanced with light and dark.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Live By Night - Dennis Lehane

He's not a gangster. He's an outlaw. So says Joe Coughlin at different times during conversations with his father, his friend Dion, his lover Gabriela, and in deep conversations with himself, but the reader knows differently. And finally, so does Joe ...

Set against the backdrop of Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida during the prohibition years, Lehane's most recent novel spins a tale of the youngest son of a Boston cop who has been lost and trying to prove himself since he was a child living in his brother's shadows and craving his mother's love and attention and his father's acknowledgment. Under those pressures, he comes up the loser and instead straggles to the streets and the company of neighborhood toughs. Neighborhood toughs that become his cadre and soon his way of finding a way up and away from anonymity.

Too bad that the recognition he gets leads him to bleeding in an alley, being abandoned to prison by friends and father, losing a lover, being pressed into service by mob leaders and challenged by other mob leaders, gradually facing the fact the he ... is ... a ... gangster.

The question that simmers in the reader of this latest Lehane page-turner is, "Can he be redeemed?"  There are other questions too ... What price will a man's soul pay to prove himself ?  Is revenge ever worth the plotting and execution? Is heaven really here on Earth and have we really blown it? Can a life of crime ever be abandoned for a life of benign goodness or will past crimes always be visited on us? What about friendship and trust between criminal rogues - is it really possible?

Excellent and fast read, Dennis. Keep crankin' em out!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Poetry Jam - Red Rock Nightfall

Red Rock Nightfall

We were warned about scorpions sensing our warmth
But still we headed out to that desert tower.
I could not get over the sense of space as we climbed
Over tables and shelves of red rock around dusty
Columns and up through smooth chimneys until -
We found a large table that faced the western sky.
A sky that stopped my heart for one brief second
That made the world swirl round that sun in a spiral of
Red and purple cloud striations that bled away from the sky
Down through the dusty desert air and into the rocks around us.
Not a soul in sight - the only sound was our breathing.
Our cameras hung idle and we sat down - hard
And just like that the sun, too fell hard behind a line
Of sand and rubble that went grey and then indigo.
The stars blinked on and on and on and as I looked
The sky became the heaviest blanket pressing us
Back, back toward the flat tabletop on which we sat.
I found myself lying there lost in the sheer numbers
Specks of light and bright gleaming dots, constellations
Taking form with such size and definition -
All against this fuzz of light from millions of stars.
We settled flat against the rock and felt the desert dust
Settle over us and the night press down with a weight
That pushed our souls outward and upward.
I thought what a glorious end it would be
To be fossilized like that scorpion I’d seen at the museum
Pressed into the rock by the desert dust, the indigo night
The stars of the ages,  the cold passage of time.

Poetry Jam - this week we think about the word 'rock' ... 

 'Free verse may be written as very beautiful prose; prose may be written as very beautiful free verse. Which is which ?'  

- John Livingston Lowes

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Mag #173 - Fair Warning

The Promenade - Marc Chagall

Fair Warning

When we walk out in the morning air,
My thoughts soar high and away.
I watch the breeze lift up your hair,
Send collar and coat tails astray.
You always tether me close to you,
A soft hand to stroke and hold.
At first it comforted, now I rue,
For your clutch seems far too bold.
I am my own blithe spirit, sir !
You may not hold me too close !
For if my soul becomes a blur,
Or reflection of yours, at most,
I’ll soar away, reclaim what’s mine
And leave this love that’s heady wine.

A weekly pilgrimage to see what others post at Magpie Tales - this week is Mag #173 ... check it out.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Once Upon a Time there was a magical island with a strange mysterious portal to the past ...

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children got a lot of press back when it was first published in 2011. A new spine-tingling young adult read, it relies on an old equation - misunderstood young man with unusual ability is drawn to an isolated haven for children with equally unusual abilities that is looked over by a matronly and well-meaning mother figure. Yes, the Harry Potter syndrome strikes again. Once again, age-old themes work with a new author's imagination to give us a whiz-bang adventure fantasy that promises to be ripe for subsequent novels.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday Snapshot ... Light Lunch in Chelsea

The new Freedom Tower with its topper on the left!

Last weekend, I spent time in Brooklyn and Manhatten ... did all the tourist things ... walked blisters onto my feet, ate like a champ, rode the Staten Island Ferry, took the subway to Coney Island, oogled the art at the Neue Galerie, dawdled my way through Prospect Park, drank wine and cooked with my daughter, and walked on The High Line ... action packed, I tell you! I need a vacation from my vacation!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Colors of the Mountain - Da Chen

Reading memoirs can be a light-hearted experience or one that wrenches the heart. In Colors of the Mountain, Da Chen manages to give his readers a bit of both experiences. Who can read of his family's oppression and public harassment during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution and not feel a sense of outrage and empathy for their humiliations and fear of imprisonment ? Who cannot cheer for young Da Chen when he decides to beat the system and get a top-notch slot at one of the Chinese universities that opened when the Cultural Revolution had run its political course? Da Chen's voyage through his school years makes for a wonderful look at Chinese culture and the political egg shells that every Chinese citizen tiptoed around during that era of oppression called the Cultural Revolution. He gives a vivid picture of small town politics and back-biting that occurs everywhere, but was amplified by the extreme climate in China of the 60's and 70's. And as he recalls his childhood experience, we see other children mirroring what their parents and leaders do within the smaller social clicque of the classroom and on the streets of his village.

The beauty of the book is its relentless voice of youth - a voice that in one moment rants aggressively against adults and their corrupt political bickering and in the next moment speaks with innocent optimism of working toward unthinkable dreams of grandeur and retribution for slights, humiliations, and pain caused by bureaucratic teachers and town politicos. Through the entire memoir, the love and support of his parents and siblings remains a constant and the support and brotherly love of his pack of hoodlum friends serve to give him an outlet that every kid should have (regardless of their naughty and sometimes disrespectful behavior!). One can't help but cheer him on as he excels at the 'do or die' testing that allows him to become eligible for a spot in university and moves him closer to realizing his dream of stepping out of the poverty and social strictures forced on his family.

This is a great introduction to a wonderful writer. Da Chen has gone on from this memoir to write other books that expose Chinese culture to Western readers.  He has emigrated to the United States and lives in upstate New York, where he continues to write.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Once Upon A Time VII - Carl's Reading Challenge Is Back!

The first days of summer-like weather have finally arrived and with them comes a feeling of excitement for sunny afternoons spent lounging on my porch with my pile of summertime reads. I always have a really fun time deciding just what I will concentrate on in my summer reading hoard ... and this summer, I'll start out with a few books and a play!

I almost missed out on this year's Once Upon a Time reading share that Carl Anderson organizes at his website called Stainless Steel Droppings ... it's been too long since I dropped in to see what he has been up to! If you are one that likes getting into conversations about fantasy, sci-fi, mythology, fairy tales, and such this just might be the challenge for you! Carl does an excellent job of tiering the levels of participation in this annual blogging event, building a full genre tour, use of television and wide-screen media, a read-along of one major work(this year it's Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream ), and a short story option. There is something for everyone here, folks!

I am opting for reading the Shakespeare and at least one other book, as I have discovered the event  pretty close to its winding down date (rats!) ... hence, I will be reading - drum roll, please ...

Ransom Rigg's Young Adult novel about young Jacob's fantastical journey in search of the details about his grandfather's mysterious past and unusual upbringing at Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Katharine Beutner's novel about the mythological daughter of King Pelias of Iolcus who, sacrifices her life out of love for her husband King Admetus in Euripides' tragic play Alcestis. Beutner writes the back story of the young princess and how she ends up embroiled in the play between Greek gods and her husband.

There! That should get me started! Perhaps, you too, will decide to jump aboard the Once Upon a Time train ... if you have a comfy chair and a pile of books set aside that fit the parameters of the challenge !

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Poetry Jam - Vacation Postcards!

Salutando da Abruzzi! Buon Appetito!

We boarded the plane and held tight
The ocean went onward – all night
We landed and … ATE -
The food has been great!
Our asses now pack cellulite!

Molto amore e baci, Mamma e Daddio!


a kind of humorous verse of five lines, in which the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines, which are shorter, form a rhymed couplet.

Definition from

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Untitled Rictameter - The Mag 171

Time flies.
Yesterday’s gone.
‘Take flight’ - my new mantra,
it’s that I care to softly sing.
I could beat the dead horse and beg for more
I could, you know, but why prolong
What drags and brings us pain ?
I must be gone.
Time flies.

This poem is shared with the writers of Tess Kinkaid's Magpie Tales weekly writing share. See the link for more pieces on this week's Mag 171.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Back Yard Visitor - Saturday Snapshot

The other afternoon, my husband was out in the back yard doing some weeding and gardening tasks when he came upon a visitor. A huge Cecropia moth with a wingspan of about five inches was fanning its wings on the base of the lilac bush. He called me out to take pictures and was pretty amazed that I knew exactly the type of moth we were welcoming to the yard.

Further, when I came into the house and consulted my book on moths and butterflies (I'm such a science geek!), I found that we were dealing with a female Cecropia. The massive body was a dead give away. So, my question to you is what a proper 'name' for her might be ! Got any ideas? I kind of like Zsa Zsa ... so elegant and flashy.

This Saturday Snapshot is being shared with others at West Metro Mommy. Melinda has hosted Saturday Snapshot, a photoshare that encourages bloggers to share original snapshots and short posts concerning them ... head on over and check it out! Get your camera out and join in on the fun! heck! You never know what you'll find in your own back yard !