Saturday, January 31, 2009

Birthday Season

Thanks for all your nice emails, guys -- I've appreciated your good wishes. Life stuff is just so ... relentless, sometimes, isn't it? But friends make all the difference.

We are in our household birthday season. We celebrated C's birthday earlier in the week, trying to cope in as "fun" a way as possible while getting a pile of homework out of the way. Today is my birthday and I am celebrating with an indulgent day of sewing, to be followed by a family pizza night in front of Wall-E. Tomorrow we will go out to our favorite sushi place with some friends. And next week is Roger's birthday, which we will celebrate by going into San Francisco to watch the big Chinese New Year's parade.

Fun! Lots of fun!

I am happy to be back at the sewing machine, finishing my "chair" piece for the Twelve by Twelve challenge. The reveal is tomorrow, so check in there to see the results!

Oh! One more fun thing: Don't forget to check out the Animal Planet channel tomorrow for its annual Puppy Bowl, broadcast during the Super Bowl (who wants to watch football when you can watch frolicking puppies?!) It is the cutest, happiest, smile-makingest thing you can imagine. And then some. They do re-air it after the football game in case you want to see both events, and I think they stream it online for some time too.

Have a fun and puppy-filled weekend -- I know I will!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quiet time

I have to apologize for my silence over the last weeks. I started the new year planning on blogging every other day or so... but life events have a way to taking their own path. Life has been complicated, with just too many hard things going on at once. I haven't been quilting at all, and I have to admit that I've not been in the mood to chat about books and other stuff.

So, sometimes, life requires some quiet concentration on family and friends and home.

Nothing drastic is happening, no need to imagine dire things. It's just life throwing a few curves (gee, how many cliches can I throw out here?) and blogging is taking a back seat.

My 12x12 challenge deadline is coming up this week, so I've got to get my "chair" piece finished. So that'll get me into my studio to throw fabric around. You'll see the results soon!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Expect Happiness

I know, another photograph of a random child from my day at the zoo ... I promise, I'm not going to start shoving pictures of babies and kittens at you (oops, I HAVE done the kitten shots, haven't I? Can rainbows be far behind?)

As I've been working through the pictures I took at the zoo last week, I keep stopping at this one. We were at an exhibit where owls, hawks, and other big birds one doesn't usually get to see up close were on display, and I was happily photographing birds. As I turned, I saw this sweetheart posing for her big brother, and she sat waiting and smiling while he fiddled with his camera. I simply couldn't resist photographing that lovely expression.

What stuns me in this picture is this girl's happy expectancy. You can tell that she's looking at someone she loves, can't you? She looks so open, and eager, and yet totally relaxed.

So she's my poster for another resolution for the year: remember to expect happiness. Look forward with a smile, not with fear or worry. When we expect happiness, we will find it.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My favorite novels in 2008

While I'm thinking about books, I thought I'd wrap up 2008 (I know, I know, but school isn't back in session yet so I can't seem to think of it as 2009 already) with a list of the best novels I've read this year. Some of them I may have mentioned already, but I'll list them again because I thought they were *that* good! And rather than try to describe them to you, I'll link you to Amazon where you can read summaries and see what you think. I truly enjoyed all of these books enormously and highly recommend them.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Likeness by Tana French

Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond

There's No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby

How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life by Mameve Medwed

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons

If you've read something that you've loved in the past year, please feel free to pass along the recommendation in a comment. I'm always looking for the next thing to read!

Start off the year with a good book

If you're looking for a terrific book to dive into to get you through the post-holiday blahs, I've got just the book for you. It's America America by Ethan Canin, and it's well worth your time.

I picked this up off of the new book shelf at the library a week ago, and was immersed immediately. The novel tells the story of a journalist who, upon the death of a prominent senator, reflects back on his youth working for a wealthy man who played a big role in promoting the senator's career. The novel was reminiscent of Great Gatsby -- innocent ordinary man getting an inside look at the life of privilege -- and there are many overtones of the Ted Kennedy/Chappaquiddick scandal. The story touches on the nature of father/son relationships, and loyalty, and innocence, and politics, and idealism. All of this -- and it's beautifully written.

There's another aspect of this novel that I loved -- the sense of layers of events, and how one can live through something at one point in one's life, and only later look back and understand that very different things were going on under the surface. Canin conveys that so well in this story.

This is the sort of novel you'll want to sink into with a cup of coffee at your side and a bit of time to dive in. It's not superficial or straight forward... but that's exactly what I liked about it. I was sorry to see it end.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Starting the New Year with Joy

A few days ago, we went to the zoo for the day. It'd been a few years since we'd been there, and we had a grand time strolling around, watching the animals, and taking pictures. Perhaps because I was armed with my camera, I found myself looking at things a bit differently -- and I started thinking that watching the people was actually more entertaining than watching the animals. It's certainly a great place to find a lot of smiling kids, that's for sure.

This one adorable little girl caught my eye as she was blowing bubbles with her grandma. I snapped a few pictures, and the sheer happiness on her face in this one just takes my breath away. So I've decided that this will be my "goal" picture for the coming year -- to remember to enjoy the moment, to let myself be surprised and delighted by the little things that happen each day.

I wish I could send this picture to this girl's parents, to tell them how much her spontaneous smile inspires me.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Look Back

2008 in pictures...

Happy 2009, everyone!

The holidays here have been fun and busy, with many friends and family members popping in and out. Today we are all set to have a hanging-around-the-house-in-jammies day, playing Rock Band (yep, Santa brought it to Roger) and reading and, most likely, napping.

Now, to refill the coffee mug....