Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's New?

A few people have written to ask why I haven’t been blogging much lately, and the simple, wonderful answer is – because my prayers were answered and I now have a three year old underfoot 24/7. In addition, Evan is out of school, so every day it’s the two of them loving each other one minute, squabbling the next, and I am the referee. Also I’ve been doing some freelance writing work to help pay the bills (which have grown along with the family), sending my new book out to agents, plus helping my daughter in law, who is living with us, to get established in the US. I’ve been taking her on school tours, helped her do all her financial paperwork, get a credit card, etc… It’s been busy.

We are still trying to figure out how this new family configuration works, and most days it’s wonderful--Aya and I love cooking together, hiking and taking the kids out to ride bikes. But it’s also a huge life change, chaotic, full of new challenges, and we are all searching for balance. I haven’t been able to write at all, which makes me crabby. Evan has had some behavior regression with the new changes; he’s developed fears, nightmares and clinginess to me (common behaviors in kids when there is a “new baby” in the family). I’m overwhelmed, but grateful.

In the middle of all these new changes I found out that my father, with whom I have a complicated, almost nonexistent relationship, has cancer. Today he had surgery in Houston. I am praying for his spiritual and physical healing, and for myself to come to a place of peace with what is, and what isn’t. This is still a tough one for me. 

Group hug in Texas with my dad, brother T, and nephew Jordan.
So many of you have prayed for my grandson to return, and I thank you. My heart is so full, so happy, with my family back together. Every day I get up and thank God for this second chance. And many of you are now praying for my father, and again, I can’t thank you enough. I feel your good wishes and love.

So, that’s it in a nutshell with me. What’s new with all of you?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Steal Away to Vacationland

(Just because this book happens to be written by my gorgeous and prolific friend Sarah in no way implies that I am biased. This girl's writing truly knocks me out.)

VacationlandVacationland by Sarah Stonich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maybe because of the title, I expected Vacationland to be a light, breezy read. What I didn’t expect was to be engrossed, obsessed, and ultimately knocked off my feet. 

The book’s main character Meg was orphaned as a child and raised by her curmudgeonly grandfather Vac at Naledi, a harsh land near the Canadian border, and the Summer resort around which the book’s intricate human stories are interwoven. At Naledi, Meg will observe the many people who come and go, and each will leave an imprint. Meg is a fine artist known for her paintings of water, specifically the water of lake Naledi. In her paintings, one sees in the water’s surface a reflection of the beauty of the surrounding land and forest. But look closely, and there are scenes under the water - much deeper, more complicated than what appears on the surface. Just like this book. Stonich’s characters are simple folk, stoic - not a drama queen in the bunch - yet they are compelling and quirky and flawed and striving, and ringing with authenticity.  Stonich peels back the layers of her characters in such an understated, artful way, showing her true skill as a writer. Page after page, I was drawn deeper into each story. I thought about the characters during the day as I was working, and couldn’t wait to steal away, to curl up with Vacationland, drift away on lake Naledi. As the book progresses, Stonich reveals with subtle restraint how each story and character are connected. It made me think of my own life -- each person’s unique value, how interconnected we all are, and the impact we have on the lives of those we may never know.

For me, the worth of a book or film, or any art for that matter, is if it can make me feel, or think, in a way I haven’t before. I finished Vacationland  a week ago and I’m still thinking about it…

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