Friday, April 14, 2017

A gorgeous, windy day for exploration and words

wind whips across the
Sound, carrying deep-water
chill and flinging gulls

brrrrrr. Haiku while walking at low tide along Puget Sound

Monday, February 20, 2017

hints of spring haiku

a gathering of
juncos dethrones a plump robin
from the budding peach tree

pair of woodpeckers--
female and jaunty-capped male
share the suet feeder

Saturday, February 4, 2017

YA for our times

In a time when being an immigrant is politically charged and when some people want to retreat behind walls of fear and hate, I read two excellent YA books that I highly recommend for people who prefer to explore and be open to other cultures. These aren’t happily-ever-after stories. They are bittersweet and do not flinch from spotlighting what makes any of us mistrust the “other”.

 In THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, Nicola Yoon (National Book Award finalist) writes the love story of two really smart teenagers who, in the space of a day, discover deep truths about themselves, their families and culture, and the world they exist in.

Natasha is a girl who has faith in numbers, science and facts, probably solidified in reaction to her father. His dream of becoming a famed actor has left her family in poverty. But worse, his DUI leads to the discovery they are illegal immigrants from Jamaica who must leave the US immediately.

Daniel, a poet, is Korean American. His immigrant parents demand the best grades and professions from their sons. He is supposed to be interviewed for Yale when a series of events lead him to Natasha. For him, it’s some kind of sign or destiny.

She has no time for that, but something keeps drawing them closer together. Sure, there’s physical attraction but their budding love has more to do what they discover in the heart and soul of the other. They both know there will be no welcome for them as a couple in their families or communities, even if Natasha somehow finds a way to stop the deportation.

I listened to The Sun is Also a Star on audiobook, so I don’t have a way to quote lines, but I’ve listened to it twice now. That’s how much I love it.

WRITTEN IN THE STARS by Aisha Saeed had me turning pages at all hours as I became more and more terrified for the protagonist, Naila, a Pakistani American.

Even though she is raised in the US and has excelled in school, her parents keep the old ways, strict and unbending. Not only is she not allowed to date, they will choose her husband. But, as things go in both stories and in real life, Naila bends the rules and sets in motion an alarming series of events.

We’ve read news stories about forced marriages and honor killings, but what the author has done is take the reader into the life of a girl suddenly confronted with those horrors, a girl who had no idea this could happen to her.

At the same time, the story finds moments of hope and love.

The copy I purchased has a discussion guide at the end. This makes it an excellent choice for schools and book clubs.

 Of interest, too, is the distinction between forced marriage and arranged marriage. The author states she is happy in her arranged marriage. As well as being an author, she is a lawyer and founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Shortest day, darkest night, moment of hope

Yesterday, the eve of Winter Solstice, my daughter and I went hiking in our favorite neighborhood forest where the air is always sweet with the scent of Douglas fir and Western red cedar. And we stumbled upon this...
The dictionary defines magic as the use of charms or rituals that produce extraordinary results, marvelous effects.
Sometimes magic just sneaks up on you. I don't know who built this labyrinth, but it had a marvelous  effect on me. I've been feeling down in these dark days, and this mystical surprise lifted my spirits and filled me with wonder.
Here are the beautiful stones in its center where my daughter and I both paused to drink in the forest as we took turns walking the labyrinth.
Even my own backyard made magic of the winter solstice when I noticed the sun shining though this metal sculpture of a labyrinth.
Here's to brighter days and moments of hope and magic in our lives. Happy Winter Solstice, everyone.

Friday, December 2, 2016

reflection while walking

after the rainfall,
the pathway littered with leaves
and reflections

haiku while walking in dark times

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Haiku and other thoughts of the season

October wind sends
leaves whispering, skittering
through the graveyard

There is a beautiful memorial park near my home where I sometimes walk when I  want peace, lots of enormous old trees, and a sea of emerald.

In fall, the palette expands.

Once I slipped into the mausoleum and was stunned by the stained glass everywhere.

Occasionally, melancholy creeps over me in cemeteries, but mostly I feel peaceful--a sense of being connected, in communion, to those who've been, those who are, and those who are still to come.

That seems appropriate on the Day of the Dead.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Echoes of past and present in stunning audiobook

I have never heard a more beautiful audiobook than the Newbery Honor novel ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan, author of some 40 books including award-winning Esperanza Rising and The Dreamer.

The story, or actually several entwined stories, is haunting and important to the times we live in as it deals with the fallout of bigotry, injustice, and hatred. The book begins with a fairy tale that introduces a magical harmonica whose destiny is to save someone’s life.

 Over time, the harmonica passes into the hands of Friedrich, a boy in Nazi Germany who yearns to be a composer but is bullied because of a birthmark on his face. The mouth harp gives him solace as his family is torn apart and he is threatened with being put in an asylum.

 The harmonica finds its way from Friedrich to Mike, an orphan living in an institution in eastern U.S. with his younger brother. The instrument brings him comfort and hope that he might save them from an even worse fate.

 Finally, another musical prodigy, Ivy, the daughter of itinerant farmworkers in California, is given the same harmonica. Ivy faces discrimination at school and sees it at the vandalized farm her father is trying to maintain for a Japanese-American family sent to an internment camp. Despite all this, Ivy finds a sense of pride and purpose in her growing musical skill.

 The audiobook brought me to tears more than once as it infuses the children’s heartrending stories with glorious music performed on cello, piano, and, yes, harmonica.

 Music on the recorded version is by Corky Siegel, a blues harmonica and piano player who composes for symphonies and chamber orchestras.

 ECHO is so good I want to read the print version to savor the words on the page, but I also want to listen to the audio again for the sheer delight of Brahms, Bach, Beethoven, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and more. I got the audiobook from the library, but this is one I’d love to own.