Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Ribbons and things


What does everyone do with all the extra stuff in your life? I’ve read Marie Kondo and many articles about organizing. I read my Real Simple magazines. I still have lots of extra stuff that I want but in my creaky old house I don’t have walk in closets or basements with rows of shelving. 

I do have lots of amazing treasures though. Tonight I spent time emptying out a drawer (yes, just one drawer) of a three drawer antique dresser that lived in my grandmother’s home. The top drawer is where I’ve stuck ribbons, small jewelry boxes just waiting to be reused, and miniature photo albums filled with my children’s faces at varying stages. This year at Christmas I’m going to bring these little books out and everyone can have fun looking at how cute they were way back when. 

The ribbons from the box I twirled, organized, and wrapped up ready to be used again and again. They’re so shiny and pretty, reminding me of ballet shoes and extravagant gift boxes. Many of them gifted me a memory as I softly wrapped them around my fingers, like Verda’s cream cotton wrap that held together my last Christmas gift. Many were worth saving although I discarded a few ribbons that didn’t bring me joy anymore.  I’m capable of recycling and throwing away. After my mother died we sent many boxes to Goodwill. 

In the drawer I also found two letters from my dad that I will relocate to my “dad” box and this is how we make sense of it all. What stays and what goes. I spent the night sifting through memories, organizing a piece of my life. I’ll use the ribbons when I want something to be festive and I’ve made space as I cleaned out the clutter. Bit by bit I’ll get my life in order even without a walk-in closet. What do you save and what do you lose?

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Ten fabulous books

The last 10 books I've read are all memorable stories and should be read by everyone. Stories are so important and they should be celebrated not shoved aside, stuck in a back closet or banned.They should be read over and over again by people. Here's my awesome list:

1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: I heard about this first on the ReadHead podcast and it took me over a year to get to it.  I'm so happy I did. A young woman sells her soul to have a different life and  travel the world and eventually finds her purpose. It's an amazing story. I really wanted to travel with Addie. 

2. Starfish by Lisa Fipps: This story makes you understand why books are windows into another person's life. I gained such a deep understanding about Ellie's life and what it was like to be her as a she deals with bullies, friendship, and her own self image over her weight. This is a novel-in-verse and was a good emotional journey.

3. The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart: An unusually dark tale from one of my favorite authors. You have unknown children living in a house across from you who arrived in a mysterious van late at night. Sounds thrilling!

4. In the Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo: Another novel-in-verse, windows looking into another world when we meet Anna who is so excited to move to America, the beautiful country, only to find out how difficult life is for an immigrant family struggling to make it work. Her parents' restaurant is failing, she is bullied at school, and she longs for the home and family they left behind.  

5. Thirst by Varsha Bajaj: This story takes place in India and gives us a real look at the difficult life of living in poverty in Mumbai.  When Minni's brothers witness a crime and her mother becomes too sick to work Minni must go to work for the wealthy family her mother takes care of and she sees what life is like on the other side. She sees running water from taps in the bathroom and kitchen instead of how she must wait in long lines to get water for her family.  This story shows a real look at how many people live in many countries.

6. The Turtle of Michigan by Naomi Shihab Nye: I read  The Turtle of Oman last. year and loved it. I researched more about the country of Oman and wanted to be there with Aref and Sidi, his grandfather as they navigate life on their own. Aref's parents are in the U.S. and this companion novel takes us on his journey to Ann Arbor. His immigrant experience is very positive, he attends an international school where everyone is from somewhere else and his neighbors are accepting and happy to meet Aref and his family. Lyrically written and perfect for all elementary students. 

7. Playing Through the Turnaround by Mylissa Larsen: Band nerds and misfits take on the local school board as they fight budget cuts that could take out their favorite school clubs. This is told through several different voices and each character is very unique. 

8. A Rover's Story by Jasmine Warga: This story tells the story of Resilence, a rover under construction to explore Mars. Told in alternating chapters between the scientist's daughter and the rover we have a better understanding of how emotional this journey into space is and how it affects those on earth.

9. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon: Good little mystery by an Oberlin professor with a variety of stories that all come together in a twisted end. This story really kept me reading even though I didn't like any of the characters.

10. Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov: Fabulously well-paced novel about Sergey as he tends his bees, takes care of his home, and tries to make friends with the one neighbor left in his deserted village. During the original Ukraine-Russian conflict Sergey survives one day at a time. 

Enjoy these stories, read them, love them, get them from the library or buy them from a small independent bookstore.