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1. So what do we think? Heaven in her Arms

Hickem, Catherine. (2012). Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means for You. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-1-4002-0036-8.

What do we know of Mary?

 What we know of Mary’s family is that she is of the house of David; it is from her lineage Jesus fulfilled the prophecy. Given the archeological ruins of the various places thought to have been living quarters for their family, it is likely the home was a room out from which sleeping quarters (cells) branched. As Mary and her mother Anne would be busy maintaining the household, with young Mary working at her mother’s command, it is likely Anne would be nearby or in the same room during the Annunciation. Thus Mary would not have had a scandalous secret to later share with her parents but, rather, a miraculous supernatural experience, the salvific meaning of which her Holy parents would understand and possibly even witnessed.

 Mary and Joseph were betrothed, not engaged. They were already married, likely in the form of a marriage contract, but the marriage had not yet been “consummated”. This is why he was going to divorce her when he learned of the pregnancy. If it were a mere engagement, he would have broken it off without too much scandal.

 Married but not yet joined with her husband, her mother would prepare her by teaching her all that she needed to know. This is further reason to assume that Mary would be working diligently under her mother’s eye when the Annunciation took place.

 We know that her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy was kept in secret for five months, and not made known until the sixth month when the Angel Gabriel proclaimed it to Mary. We know Mary then rushed to be at her elderly cousin’s side for three months (the remaining duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy), and that this rushing appeared to be in response to Elizabeth’s pregnancy (to congratulate her), not an attempt to hide Mary’s pregnancy. Note how all of this is connected to Elizabeth’s pregnancy rather than Mary’s circumstances. As Mary was married to Joseph, he likely would have been informed of the trip. Had the intent been to hide Mary, she would have remained with Elizabeth until Jesus was born, not returned to her family after the first trimester, which is just about the time that her pregnancy was visible and obvious.

 So we these misconceptions clarified, we can put Mary’s example within an even deeper context and more fully relate to her experience. We can imagine living in a faith-filled family who raises their child in strict accordance of God’s word. The extended family members may not understand, and certainly their community will not, so Mary, Anne and Joachim, and Joseph face extreme scandal as well as possible action from Jewish authorities. But they faced this together steep in conversation with God, providing a model for today’s family.

 Although sometimes scriptural interpretations are flavored with modern-day eye, overall this book will be more than just a quick read for a young mother (or new bride, or teen aspiring to overcome the challenges of American culture, or single parent losing her mind). It is a heartwarming reflection with many examples that open up conversation with God. As an experienced psychotherapist, the author’s examples are spot on and easy to relate to. We do not need to have had the same experiences to empathize, reflect, and pursue meaning; we see it around us in everyday life. As such, a reflective look upon these examples can help one overcome an impasse in their own relationship with God and also open the reader up to self-knowledge as Hi

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2. SundayMorningReads

I was in Mexico this time last year!

I sure was going to stop after posting my review of Perfect Shot, but then I started reading the blogs, tweets and newspapers and I just had to reflect on my SundayMorningReads!

I have to say goodbye to Amy at Bowllan’s Blog on the SLJ website. I met Amy through her Writers Against Racism series where I posted my own story. I actually met Amy and presented with her at the National Diversity in Libraries conference back in 2010. She’s one of my few online friends that I’ve actually met in person and that makes her quite special to me! Her energy, intelligence and charm will be missed!

When you reflect on what you’re doing and start to feel like you’re preaching the same message to the same choir and getting no results, one has to wonder who has to make some changes? My blog feeds been given quite a transformation lately, along with a resolution to post comments more often. Who knows what the results will be!

We lovers of books talk about inspiring young people to want to read, but I know firsthand that all it takes is the right reading material matched to the right reader. We honest to goodness have it so easy! Imagine if we were math teachers and had to inspire students to like math! I’ve been thinking about this since responding to a comment lately, how easy it is to get students to read if they’re given the right stuff to read. All they need is the freedom to choose and that comes from availability not only in terms of representing the vast diversity of people who read but in realizing the vast diversity of what teens want to read: magazines, newspapers, manga, non-fiction, graphic novels, almanacs, books of records… They’re not all into novels!

Hey, if you’re a librarian reading this and looking for diversity in what you do, why not try writing about librarians in a non-librarian publication? Let the world know what we do! Enter your piece in the Great Librarian Write Out and win some cash!

Summer for you means hot fun but it’s back to work for me! This week, I’ll begin working at Indiana State University as an Asst. Reference Librarian.   Summer for bookies means ALA , BEA, Comic-Con,  ChLA, SBCWI  or the Mazza Conference in Findlay, OH??? Perhaps you’re a bit more international and headed for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content ? What conferences will you be attending? How do you anticipate them upping your game?

1 Comments on SundayMorningReads, last added: 5/27/2012
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3. For Our Faithful Followers. . .

    Yes, it's Memorial Day. I am not going to open a political can of worms by telling you how to spend your day (although "holiday" and "celebrate" never seemed appropriate words to use in connection with
a day originally called "Decoration Day"...a day the families of Union soldiers "decorated" their graves.)
Somehow along the way, Decoration Day became Memorial Day and Memorial Day became the unofficial first day of summer.
     I am choosing to honor the unofficial start of summer by frying myself at the beach. And being a writer of historical fiction, I am contemplating those who have served our country in the military, past and present.

However you feel about a particular war or "conflict" (Neither Korea or Vietnam was ever officially designated a war, to say nothing of whatever you call the current action in the Middle East), the important thing for a writer is to not allow the world to forget the men and women who believed in sacrificing their own dreams and lives in service to their country.

    I am from the generation whose parents were in WWII. "What did your father do in the war?" was a question we kids asked as a matter of course. My parents were Navy cryptographers. My father-in-law, a Naval commander had not one, but two boats sunk from under him in the Pacific. My first boyfriend's father was in the infantry invasion of Italy. One of my distant relatives who had lied about his age to get into the service, died at D-Day, age fifteen. I had brothers who fought brothers during the  Civil War.
            (This is my mom the WAVE, home on leave. Note service flag in window. The five stars were
for my mother, her three brothers, and a young man who boarded with my grandmother.)

 So today, as you are sizzling up those cheeseburgers or trying to find a place to park your towel at the beach, remember.  It's not our personal politics that matter, but those of our ancestors. We should honor their choice. Memorial Day...a day of memory.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

9 Comments on For Our Faithful Followers. . ., last added: 5/31/2011
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4. Never give up!


Image by Dana Lookadoo - Yo! Yo! SEO via Flickr

What are you determined to do?

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5. There's no place like home

There's no place like home.

On our way back to the tree house we stopped to visit hubby's mom, Nanny. She was recognized as an outstanding alumni at the community college where she attended. The whole evening was amazing. Her speech. The honor. Meeting new people. Hearing their stories. A lady who'd known my father-in-law in high school shared a story about how she had a rattle snake in her backyard and it was so big her husband had to shoot it in between the eyes with a pistol.

There were about 400 graduates, only about 100 attended the ceremony. Each and every graduate got a turn at the microphone to say whatever they liked just before they were handed their diploma. Most chose to speak Spanish. There were tears. And heartfelt thank yous. Show stopping moments. One Japanese girl, who had been sponsored by a local family, declared she loved them more than her boyfriend. One Latina invited everyone over to her house for a party. That brought back memories. I'll be off to Texas for my nephew's high school graduation on Thursday. If you are ever sad, and going to give up go to a graduation.

And so, afterwards, we all went out for a little celebratory dinner. We raised a glass to hubby who had a birthday the next day. It didn't take long before the conversation came around to our other nephew serving with the marines as a machine gunner in Afghanistan. What Mx and Nanny have included in their care packages to him. Nanny said she sends him a carton of cigarettes every month with an note that he better quit when he comes home. We all hope that he is getting everything OK. We arrived home around 2AM. Hubby got to wake up at home, the best birthday present of all.

Happy Memorial Day!

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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6. BOOK OF THE DAY: The June 2012 List!


Plan in advance for father’s day! The month of June is dedicated to books for dads and boys…don’t worry, a few dads & daughter books thrown in too! Good list for reluctant readers as well as summer vacation. Enjoy!

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7. Memorial Day

Who are you remembering this Memorial Day?

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8. Signs that Summer is Almost Here

I look at the calendar and it tells me it's the middle of May. The middle of May? Seriously? Another school year is wrapping up, television shows are having their finales, and summer is just around the corner...literally.

Here are some signs that summer is almost here:

People Tweeting about the prom: So many friends of mine have been posting about getting their son or daughter ready for the prom. Amazing how the girls love the shopping, picking out their dress, how they'll wear their hair and makeup, and the boys just complain that they have to stop playing video games long enough to take a shower and get ready. LOL!!

School's Out: There's no better feeling than the last school bell ringing to signify the end of a school year and the start of summer vacation. I remember that faithful bus ride home every year where people would celebrate by shaking up Coke cans and spraying them on each other. No one got off the bus dry. (I'm sure that's not permitted theses days.)

Picking up the boys at the airport: With the end of school, that means my fiance's son's will be joining us on the RV until they go back to school in August. They're flying up to Baltimore from Atlanta where we'll spend a few days in Gettysburg, then up to Boston, and then to Illinois and upstate New York for events and then down to Florida. We're planning on catching the VERY LAST launch ever of the space shuttle program.


Memorial Day: The official opening of summer! The campground is full of people with their grills and lawn chairs already set out. The pool will be open soon and hopefully, the sun will grace the east coast with its presence.

Good books to read: Well, my fifth GHOST HUNTRESS book, THE DISCOVERY, just came out and it would make excellent beach reading. So would any of the books from the Buzz Girls. Get them online, at the bookstore, or from us directly. Or, try downloading a digital copy for your eReader. Whatever the case, enjoy escaping into the story as you soak up the sun.


So what are some signs for you that summer is on the way?

Marley = )

4 Comments on Signs that Summer is Almost Here, last added: 5/19/2011
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9. Honoring Memorial Day with Lee & Low

Teachers- Looking for a way to talk to your students about war this Memorial Day?

Parents- Trying to make your kids understand the importance of remembering those who gave their lives for our country?

Lee & Low has some great titles that will get your kids interested and help them understand the great sacrifices made by our men and women at arms, what really makes someone a hero, and the impact of war on a level they can relate to.

Heroes by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee

Set during the ’60s with the Vietnam war going on and World War II popular in the media, Japanese American Donnie Okada always has to be the “bad guy” when he and his friends play war because he looks like the enemy portrayed in the media. When he finally has had enough, Donnie enlists the aid of his 442nd veteran father and Korean War veteran uncle to prove to his friends and schoolmates that those of Asian descent did serve in the U.S. military.

Check out the Teacher’s Guide for additional discussion ideas!

Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story written and illustrated by S.D. Nelson

A biography of Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who was one of the six soldiers to raise the United States flag on Iwo Jima during World War II, an event immortalized by Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph.

Don’t miss out on the BookTalk with S.D. Nelson, or the accompanying Teacher’s Guide.

When the Horses Ride By: Children in the Times of War by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Through rhythmic words, photos, and original art, this collection of poems about children throughout history focuses on their perceptions of war and how war affects their lives. A great way to introduce the topic of war into discussion with your children and the ramifications they may not have considered.

For some insight from the author, take a look at this BookTalk with Eloise Greenfield.

Be sure to leave comments below on how discussions about war went in your classroom or with your own children; we’d love to hear from you!

Filed under: Musings & Ponderings Tagged: memorial day, soldiers, talking about war, war
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10. When Memorial Day Becomes Rememberance Day


On Friday, May 25, 1984,  in a small town of 1200 people, in a small grocery store on the highway not too far from cornfields, at the golden age of 14, I became a comic book collector.

What set me on this path that has led me  >choke<  27 years later to be a comics missionary, spreading the four-color gospel far and wide?  Well, I blame Morgan Freeman and Jim Shooter.

SSS4 When Memorial Day Becomes Rememberance DayAs a child of the Seventies, I would watch Sesame Street, and immediately after that, The Electric Company.  During the 1974-75 season, TEC started showing episodes of “Spidey Super Stories”.  These were comicbook/live action hybrids, mixing live action with drawn panels.  Spidey usually had to thwart some crazy villain, and never spoke, except in silent word balloons which had to be read by the viewer.  (My favorite villain: The Can Crusher, who, while visiting a tomato canning factory as a child, loses his pet frog in a kettle.  Thus he spends his adult life crushing open tomato cans in supermarkets, searching in vain for his beloved croaker.  *sniff*  Such pathos.)

I was just learning to read, as well as going through the “superhero phase” most young boys experience.  So I got hooked on Spider-Man, and my mom actually bought me the first comic book I ever read!  (Thanks, Ma!)  As you can see on the cover, the Easy Reader (Morgan Freeman) gives his seal of approval, stating “This comic book is easy to read!”  (The Comics Code approved it as well, but they’re as square as their seal.)

I would continue to enjoy Spider-Man throughout my childhood, taking my Spider-Man vitamins every day, and reading the daily comic strip whenever I had access to the Des Moines Register during my summers.  (Their comics were much better than those in the Omaha World-Herald.  The Register ran Star Trek, Asterix (!), Bloom County… and on Sundays we’d get the smaller market Sioux City Journal with the comics never seen in bookstores (Eek and Meek, Born Loser, Berry’s World).)  But I never really bought comics as a kid.  From 1979 until 1982, I was a fan of Mad Magazine, buying back issues and passionately learning all I could, pre-Internet, about The Usual Gang of Idiots.  From 1982 until 1984, my passion was video games.  While my family owned nothing more advanced than an old Coleco Telstar 6040 playing variations of Pong, that didn’t keep me from haunting arcades, searching for the new and unusual, and buying almost every videogame magazine I could find.

Of course, like most kids across the country, I read comic strips, bought the occasional strip collection, watched the CBS specials, and looked at any comic or cartoon (including the ones in my older brothers’ National Lampoons).  I even glommed onto an old graphic novel from the 1950s… the first Pogo reprint from Simon and Schuster.  When I was sick, I would read Richie Rich comics (the superhero covers at the pharmacy just made me sicker).  But it was just part of the multimedia background collage of my life, with older interests constantly being covered by newer distractions.

So, given all this, what caused me to become a comics fan?  What brought comics into the foreground, eclipsing my other interests?  Junior High and Mattel toys.

12 Comments on When Memorial Day Becomes Rememberance Day, last added: 5/31/2011
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11. Happy Memorial Day!

We have 33 donations from Editors, Agents, and Art Directors.  The are all up on eBay, except for Anna Olswanger (Agent, Liza Dawson Associates) who has donated a critique the first 20 pages of your chapter book or middle-grade novel or your picture book manuscript (with illustrations if you are an author-illustrator).  This will be listed on Tuesday.

Yesterday I posted the raffle donations, but you may have missed a bunch of things according to when you viewed the post.  You should check the raffles, the ebay posting and the Summer Networking dinners for changes.  Example, I was able to lower the price for the dinner on Aug. 24th, due to having to change restaurants.  So you could save some money if you sign up for that one.

Have a great day.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Events, Hoiday Wishes, networking Tagged: critique update, Memorial Day, raffle update, Summer Networking Dinners

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12. In Memorium

The Sisters in Scribe hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day. If you get the chance, take a minute to remember all of our fallen military who gave their lives for our collective freedom. We wouldn't be grilling burgers, drinking beer, and hanging out with friends today if it weren't for them. The picture below is from Arlington Cemetery:

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13. On this Memorial Day

I want to send a big thank you to all who have served and sacrificed.

The photo above (found here and I believe it is the work of this Daniel Wood) is devoid of any national flags. To me, Memorial Day isn't as much about national pride, but pride in those who have served and sacrificed regardless of their politics or nationality.

Thank you.

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14. Happy Memorial Day!

by Andrea Woroch

In grateful thanks for those who've served our country, Gift Card Granny offers a Memorial Day listing of 125+ military discounts for merchandise and services. Here are our top ten.

1. Papa Murphy's - Save 50% on one pizza with your Military ID.

2. Red Robin - Save 25% to 50% on your meal purchase with a valid Military ID.

3. Johnny Rockets - Save 50% when you wear your uniform.

4. Timberland Outlets - Get a 20% discount with an active duty Military ID.

5. Sears Portrait Studio - Save 20% if you show your Military ID at checkout.

6. Southwest Airlines - Receive one-way tickets as low as $51 for military personnel and their family members. You must call Southwest Airline's customer service hotline to receive the discount.

7. Clarion Hotel Universal - Military discounts are available for $59 or $69 per night with a free breakfast buffet. This offer is subject to availability.

8. Dollywood Theme Park - Receive a 30% discount during times of war for all active, disabled, retired, or reserve military personnel. The discount applies to all immediate family members.

9. Hidden Valley Ski Area - Enjoy a $5 lift ticket and $5 rental with a valid Military ID. Your dependants also can receive up to 50% off on their visit.

10. FTD - Save up to 20% on your flower purchase.

View the full list of military discounts.


GiftCardGranny.com is one of four websites operating under the brand name The Frugals and is dedicated to helping consumers save money and live more frugally. Other members of The Frugals family include CouponSherpa.com, MrFreeStuff.com, and MrsSweepstakes.com.

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15. What’s on Your Summer Reading List?

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kick off for the summer season.  For me, it’s also an excuse to eat more ice cream than I should and it marks the start of a new season of reading.  Although I probably read the most in the winter, when it’s cold outside and toasty warm inside, nothing is quite like a good book at the beach or under a shady tree in the park.

This summer my book club is reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a debut novel by Jamie Ford.  I also hope to read two books I received for my birthday, The Zookeeper’s Wife and The Piano Teacher.   I’d like to finally get to the last two Harry Potter books as well. (I know I’m way behind the times on this one!)

My complete reading list would probably take me at least 5 years to get through, but still I’m always looking for more good reads.  I asked some of my colleagues what they were reading this summer.  A few were too shy to divulge their “fluff” reads.  (I think summer is the perfect time for some fluff!) Anna said that she’s taking the mystery Mudbound by Hillary Jordan to the beach and Rose said she will be reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Return of Sherlock Holmes and Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Bonnie is taking on the classics starting with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn followed by a long list that ends with A Farewell to Arms.  Now this is something I’ve always wanted to do but have never had the courage.  Like Bonnie, I somehow missed a lot of classic reading as a kid.

In addition to reading Hidden Kitchens by The Kitchen Sisters by Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva and The Black Book of Hollywood Diet Secrets by Kym Douglas and Cindy Pearlman (her fluff read), Caroline had some fun summer reading plans.  “I plan to read the Complete Adventures of Curious George to my two nephews.  Curious George is my favorite childhood reading and I want to share this anthology with the boys.”

So, what’s on your summer reading list?

3 Comments on What’s on Your Summer Reading List?, last added: 5/27/2009
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16. Happy Memorial Day!!!

I just want to wish all of our veterans my gratitude to them for keeping me and my family safe as well as the world as we know it.

Okay, I'm sitting outside, listening to some Muse and banging from the neighbor (which is okay), but I took a picture of the book Shiver that someone will win when I hit 200 people. I thought you'd want to see it enjoying itself outside in the gorgeous weather.

And of course me in my Boston Red Sox hat. Yep, that is me! Trying to take my own picture. I suck at it, but for those of you, who'll see me at BEA, I'll look not so icky! :)

4 Comments on Happy Memorial Day!!!, last added: 5/26/2009
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17. Review: Into the Beautiful North

Luis Alberto Urrea. Into the Beautiful North. NY: Little Brown, 2009.
ISBN-10: 0316025275
ISBN-13: 978-0316025270

Michael Sedano

Don't say anything negative when I ask this question: Into the Beautiful North is one of those novels a reader will not put aside until its conclusion, ¿No?

Absolutely yes.

But then the reader will ask if Urrea's current novel is worthy of the praise heaped upon the author's notably wonderful novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter?

No. It's not.

On the other hand, Hummingbird's Daughter is an impossible work to follow; that is one superb novel. Whatever you are reading next, stop that. Go to your library or bookseller and take delivery of The   Hummingbird's Daughter. Read it. You're welcome de adelantado.

Into the Beautiful North, is not Hummingbird's Daughter. How could it be? A buddy novel, Urrea wisely sets out not to build on Hummingbird but to do something completely different. And quite well, ese, if you get what I mean, y si no, pues, no. But Into the Beautiful North is one of those funny pieces that comes along only every once in a while, so, finishing the dramatic Hummingbird, read this next one; you owe it to yourself.

Would any film fanatic compare "The Wizard of Oz", let's say, to "El Norte," or, maybe "Spanglish"? As an intellectual romp, one might. Howzabout comparing Into the Beautiful North to "The Magnificent Seven?" Now there's the delightful parallel; not mine, but Urrea's. His crew of colorful characters venture out from backwater Sinaloa to the mercilless frontera of San Diego / Tijuana, perhaps the two worst cities in the world, on a "mission from God" like los hermanos azul. 

How refreshing to discover a border crossing story that is a comedy. Not that Into the Beautiful North, is not a deadly serious border crossing story; it is. But the crossing ain't the tale, it's the cultural gaps that define the limits of these characters' experience, and infuse the plot with a sense of dread that, thankfully, Urrea holds in abeyance.

On their first crossing, they get caught. Not in a calamitous tragedy for the three teenage girls, but for their friend, Tacho, a gay vato who's assumed the role of protector and adult. Tacho gets an asskicking by assholes from the ICE. La migra, the regular tipos, are just regular good people doing a job, but these newly appointed jerks have no sense of honor. But then, Urrea sets up the beating long in advance of the mid-novel crossing.

Tacho has a lot of smarts that, owing to Mexico's extreme poverty, never had the benefit of a classroom. He's not ashamed of his sexuality, nor do his fellow villagers shun him for being himself. Outsiders, like the corrupt cops who come through selling mota to tourist surfers, could make life a misery. Tacho laughs at their hatred by taking the stereotypically gay limp-wristed posture as the name of his bar, La Mano Caida. As Tacho and the three luscious teenage girls are being processed back to TJ at the San Ysidro lock-up, he calls out the name of his business. The mensos from ICE hear Tacho wrong; they hear a terrorist organization, "Al Kaeda." It's a funny phonetic trick but also a satiric gut punch. As a literary device, it strikes me as a contrivance. The one weak element in an otherwise brilliant novel. I wonder if Urrea came up with the joke first, then forced the plot to arrive at that moment?

Ni modo. Pretend you've never read Urrea's earlier work and take Into the Beautiful North for itself. You'll laugh, breathe sighs of relief, nod your head knowingly at the deadly serious facts that rest just beneath the surface of this wonderfully comedic satire of manners, love, lust, and immigration.

Memorial Day, 2009.

Every year I struggle to defeat my sentimental nature that tends to the maudlin. This year, I lost, and sank into a green funk, staring into the faces of some soldiers I trained with back in 1969. A friend asked if I know where these vatos are today, if they lived through that year? I do not know, and I do not want to know.

The storms start out there, on Monterey Bay. Grey blue haze obscures the horizon between sea and sky. Eyes front, but the vista compels our eyes to dart left, to take in the wondrous mottled light beyond the red roofs and yellow barracks, past the sparkling white sand of the firing range. On the water, bright patches where sunlight penetrates the morning dank define the luminous swell and ebb of the tide. Darker greys wash down from the ether shouting rain! Wetness swooshes across the water, heading directly toward us. “The Daily Dozen.” Windmill stretches. Jumping jacks. Jump thrust. “United States Army Drill Number One, Exercise Number Five, everyone’s favorite, the Push Up.” We drop to the front leaning rest position and begin the four count exertion. “One, two, three, ONE, Drill Sergeant, one two three TWO, Drill Sergeant…” Peripheral vision of breathtaking beauty counterweights a boot shouting in your ear, “keep your butt down, Trainee!”

We smell the rain coming, pushing the air before it, enveloping us in cool humidity that smells wet, that raises gooseflesh. Now we hear its relentless arrival. Below us, Ft. Ord has surrendered to its drenching. Visibility zero down there in forbidden territory. We are maggots, confined to The Hill.

The first heavy drops of water strike us, a few more, more. At the order we pull our waterproof poncho from our gear, hunker down under the protective sheet. We are forty green tipi spaced dress right dress across the platoon’s PT field. The rain noise drowns out any other sound but the swirling wind pushing up from the bay. An unrelenting volume of water strikes our heads and backs. We savor these moments of privacy, alone with our own thoughts and memories, for now the Army only this dull green light and the sound of the passing squall. We feel rivulets form, tingle, and stream the length of our spine as the water courses down to the ground. We are blind; we can see only our boot toes and the corona of daylight that glows at the periphery of our waterproof poncho. Mud splashes against our now scuffed, once spit-shined combat boots. Run-off forms around our toes, puddling fashions the outlines of our leather as erosion sculpts a memory of our presence on the land.

The noise abates. The rain passes. We obey. Ponchos off. Stand tall. Monterey Bay sparkles with magical light, whales, porpoises, salmon, sardines, Steinbeck…"U.S. Army Drill Number One, Exercise Number Five. The Push Up…”

We bitched and moaned. We laughed. I hope we all lived.

So here we are, the last Tuesday of May, a Tuesday like any other Tuesday, except you are here. See you in June.

La Bloga welcomes your comments. Mouse down to the Comments counter below and Klik. If you'd like to be a La Bloga Guest Columnist, click
here .

3 Comments on Review: Into the Beautiful North, last added: 5/29/2009
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18. Memorial Day Flags

On this day of remembrance and observance, best wishes to all of those who have lost loved ones who gave their lives for our country and freedoms.  Now for proper flag rules, most of which Americans overlook. 

Taken from Gettysburg Flag Works:

Most half staff days suggest that the flag is at half staff from sunrise until sunset on the days of the order. Memorial day is the exception where the flag is at half staff from sunrise until noon.

For flags that can't be lowered, such as those on many homes, the American Legion says that attaching a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag is an acceptable alternative. The ribbon should be the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag

For a wall mounted flag, three black mourning bows should be attached to the top edge of the flag, one at each corner and one in the center.

While we're on the topic of flags, I'm flying one in my new novel. Well, it's not flying, it hangs on a wall in a character's home. Here's what it looks like:

Think: soccer, world cup, the new brazilian neighbor girl. (really didn't mean to tell you what to think.)

I'm all for breaking a few rules here and there. Whatever you do, fly your flag with pride today. 

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19. Let's Go Fly A Kite

Memorial Day started out kind of slow. I snuck into the office to write. My daughter vegged out on cartoons. Until my husband suddenly appeared with the kite.

We hadn't been kite flying in ages. Suddenly, the house was a blur of action. Kite flying. It was contagious. We couldn't get out the door fast enough, despite clouds that threatened rain (and a Ben Franklin kind of kite flying experience should thunder show up too). We were off on an adventure to the park.

Only problem. Not a lot of wind. We were running all over the place trying to get that kite into the air. I was beginning to despair.

Then again, there is nothing quite like the determination of a seven year old. If there was even the hint of a breeze, we were going to find it.

And we did!

The only thing was, once my daughter had gotten a taste of kite flying, there was no holding her back. We stayed until the cows came home (all of them).

Which didn't bother any of us. It was a blast.

Even the ice cream man showed up. There really is something about the ice cream man that screams excitement. I couldn't get the dollar bills out fast enough before my daughter was grasping them in her fist, throwing the kite string to the wind (which I then ran after), while my husband ran after her, trying to keep her from zigging into traffic just to stop the ice cream truck.

I think every ice cream driver gets a kick out of seeing how fast he can get those kids running. Personally, I think if they wanted to really break records at track and field events, they should pull out an ice cream truck. American runners at least would be reaching new speeds, I'm telling you. My daughter did.

She got her ice cream.

Then we eased out under a huge, old tree and watched her slurp down a crushed ice, while we built imaginary cities out of twigs, old leaves, dandelions and acorns.

Best Memorial Day ever.

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Maira Kalman considers the soldiers who prepare for war.

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21. Summer Reading…What’s on Your List?

I recently visited the Phillips Collection and was thrilled to see Renoir’s famous painting Luncheon of the Boating Party.  After having a long discussion with friends about the intriguing people in the painting,  I decided that Susan Vreeland’s historical novel with the same title was moving to the top of my summer reading list.  I picked it up at the library today to read right after I finish my current book club book The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.

As you can imagine, we often have discussions at the office about what everyone is reading, especially leading up to Memorial Day weekend.  I learned that several of my colleagues are reading the Millenium Triology by Stieg Larsson. I didn’t even know the triology had a name. I bought the first two for my Dad for Christmas last year and hope to “borrow” them back when I see him in July. I heard there is already a line forming!

Below are some other books on staff summer reading lists, quite a variety as usual:

  • Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  • The Shack by William P. Young
  • Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

What books are catching your eye this summer?

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22. Friday Procrastination: Link Love

Is it me or does the week before a long weekend always go particularly slowly?  Wednesday feels like a month ago.  Luckily, despite my whining, Friday has arrived and so has Memorial Day Weekend.  I hope you have lovely weather, delicious barbecues, and some time to relax with a good book.  Below are some links to get you through the day.  See you all on Tuesday!

Tina Fey wins the Mark Twain Prize for Humor!

Speaking of Mark Twain, here comes his autobiography.

Are we really friends with our friends?

Sequencing the bugs in our bodies.

A simple swab can save a life.

Do paywalls kill traffic?

The unicorn at Microsoft was real.

The Kagan kids.

Bookshelves to make you drool.

EMT’s in Massachusetts and New Hampshire faked their papers.

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23. Memorial Day Weekend

Today is the beginning of the holiday weekend–that official weekend of the BBQ season, that weekend in which the Indy 500 is run and people from all over cheer for their favorite driver/team, that weekend in which families visit the cemeteries to place wreathes on the graves of family members who have gone before them. But first it was the weekend used to pay homage to those who fought and died for the freedoms given to the people of this country.

In small towns across the country parades will march down main streets, bands will play, members of the VFW and American Legion will march and wave or ride and wave to those standing curbside with hands over hearts as  the high school band plays The Star Spangled Banner. There will be laughter, cheering, balloons and memories.

Toddlers will wave their tiny flags on a stick from their parent’s arms. Small children will race among the viewers or stand quietly beside the grown-ups, trying to discover why the parade is happening on this weekend. Teens will watch from the sidelines, some solemn for they have older siblings fighting overseas right now, or they know others who are in a war zone. Other teens understand that these men and women were parading for their great-grandfathers, grandfathers, uncles, or fathers.

Tears flow easily at these small cousins of big city celebrations. Perhaps it is because these citizens feel the loss of even one young person to war as a personal one. Maybe it is because they still remember the reason the holiday was created. Regardless of reason, this small town parade has significance to these citizens.

And in just over a month they will come together again for another parade. This one will commemorate the founding of this country and the reason why Memorial Day’s creation was allowed. The Fourth of July has also become a holiday of BBQ’s, picnics, swimming parties, and let’s not forget fireworks. Those fireworks symbolize the rocket’s red glare referenced in The Star Spangled Banner performed a month earlier during that Memorial Day parade in a small town in the USA.

And what are your plans for this weekend?


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24. Six Word Saturday # 14



Feeling your visit.


I've been in the mood to create powerful collages lately. This one seems fitting for Memorial Day weekend as we remember those we have loved and lost.
For those of you who have experienced 'visits' as I have, lucky us.

For more six words, click here <

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