Monday, March 31, 2014

Ukiah's Piggy Bank and a George Mark Fundraiser

So the piggy bank broke Friday. The Piggy Bank. The little piggy that went to the market and provided George Mark house with a day of care for one lucky child. Ukiah’s Piggy Bank.

I wasn’t in the room when it happened. My husband was doing what he usually does when being in a room for longer than fifteen minutes; he was rearranging it to make it perfect. He’d moved a furniture item and the shelf on which the piggy bank was perched fell and the piggy bank broke into a million ceramic pieces.

When I got upstairs to witness the scene, my heart broke into a million pieces along with it. I was absolutely bereft, although I didn’t show it. I shed a few stray tears, but I didn’t have time for much else. My daughter was in the room with my husband when it happened and we needed to wrangle her away from the debris.

We spent a good amount of time scooping up all the loose change, change I hadn’t cashed in since the last Piggy Banks for George Mark fundraiser. We had it to put all of it somewhere. I brought out two smallish tins, thinking it would be enough, but instead we ended up using a fairly big plastic bin. Close to five years of putting in all our spare change, two years of the little munchkin having to share change with her brother coin per coin netted a nice little collection.

April 5th is almost around the corner. April 15th too. Those two days and the eight days in the middle are always the roughest for me. I had planned a bunch of distractions to keep me occupied around those dates, so I don’t feel the lingering, the weight, the pain. But they’ve mostly fallen through. I was supposed to run a 5k on April 5th, but that got cancelled. I’ve got a work trip smack in the middle of these dates, but I’m not sure it’ll be distracting enough. My parents are coming and will be here on the 15th, but I’m not sure how that will go.

But I do know that on either or on both days I’ll be going to George Mark House and cashing in the nice little chunk of change we’d saved up in Ukiah's piggy bank. Maybe I’ll use a portion of it to buy Ukiah another piggy bank, so it’s always there, a fixture in our house and in our lives. He deserves that legacy.

I'll do what I did for my birthday. I still have a few more U Hope bracelets to give away. The first four people who donates to George Mark  and sends me an receipt  of their donation via email will receive a bracelet. Anybody else who donates and sends me a receipt will receive a special jewelry or bead gift (your choice). 

If you do donate, please tell them its in memory of Ukiah Gardner. They'll know exactly who you are talking about. They always do.

And if you can't donate, don't worry about it. Spread the word. Tweet about George Mark House (Use the #Supportgmch hashtag and if you want, tag @gmch in the tweet), Facebook it (Send me a link via twitter or email), or use any form of social media you want just to let people know George Mark House exists and the incredible work they do.  Do that and forward it to me and I'll give you free space on my blog. This means a blog post or as many blog posts as you want, space on my sidebar, whatever space you'd like to have.

Ukiah's never very far from my thoughts. Doing this means means he's in yours and that makes a world of difference to me.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review: Spring Into Summer

Before I get into this book review, I must confess two things; one is that this book is written by someone I have a certain of level of online friendship with and level of affinity for. In other words, the author Eden Baylee is just tops in my book, but I'll still try to review her book as unbiasedly as I can. The second thing is that I don't have too much familiarity with the erotic fiction. I've read fiction that was erotic in its own right, but wasn't marketed as erotic. But I know what I like and and I know what works for me.

And Spring into Summer did just that. The novel is comprised of four separate stories, two set in the spring and two set in the summer. While seemingly disparate stories, they interconnect with ideas of love and the main characters' sexuality blooming and blossoming in ways none of them had imagined.

In A Season for Everything, the first story in the book, we meet Claire, listless 20 something trying to find footing in life who ends up with a friend in London. From there, she soons finds and falls in love with an older man who reveals he's dying. He instills in her a love of poetry and music and art and above all else a love for The Spring and the magic it can bring.

Unlocking the Mystery tells the story of an introverted real estate agent named Evelyn who hides behind her work and doesn't have much of a social life. She moves into a big secluded house and gets more than she bargained for when she finds a key in the house. When she asked a neighbor about it, she's presented with a box the key unlocks and finds herself immersed in letters from her former house owner's pen pal/lover in Ireland. When she finds a stamped envelope back to the man, she plots a journey to give him the woman's last letter to him.

Summer Solstice tells the story of Ava, a woman who was dumped at the alter a year ago and who was trying to piece herself back together. She's invited to a Summer Solstice party that turns into more, much more than she bargained for.

The Lottery tells the story Sierra, a young Canadian on a backpacking adventure though Thailand who tries to help out some lovely women she met there by convincing their employer of a gambit that can drive up business and gets way more than she bargained for in the process.

The stories from the ou
tset are obviously romantic in nature, especially the first two. Claire needs to find herself and finds it in Stephen. Evelyn thinks she knows who she is and through exploring herself and her own desires through reading this other person's letters, she finds out she can be a lot more. The sex, the erotica is there, but it's hidden underneath the build of the story. The interesting part of Unlocking the Mystery is that the erotica involved in this story is written into the letters written by the woman's pen pal/ long distance lover she's never met. It feels passive, buried this way, but it's anything but.

Where it really gets cooking is in the story Summer Solstice. Of course there's a battered heart at the center, Ava. But it's when she reveals her desires and dreams, first to herself in quite a scene, and then to others at the Summer Solstice party that things really heat up. This was my favorite of the entire collection and wouldn't let me go for a variety of reasons and it's where I can tell the author was having the most fun. And it left me wanting more in a variety of ways (*Spoiler Alert: Where did Keith go?  No really, where did he go? He didn't just leave did he? He had to still be there. Were there digits somewhere? Please say he left a number somewhere. Gah! I mean I'm fine with resolved but not resolved endings like that, but they needed to end up together. Eden, you better tell me they end up together in your mind, otherwise I'ma have to write my own fan fiction that unites them because it obviously has to happen, OMG!)

In The Lottery, Eden takes everything that was boiling over and turns it down to a nice simmer and just lets it bubble for awhile. It was enjoyable and while not as titillating as Summer Solstice, wrapped everything together nicely.

It's an honor just to be nominated

Since the inception of this blog, I've never been nominated for anything. Not that that's something I look for and honestly, I blog so seldom that I haven't really built a fan-base and a bunch of admirers. I've got a few loyalists, (hi all six of you) but mostly I tend to be screaming out into the void. Which is fine. My writing and my musings are meant to bolster my own writing skills and are sometimes meant for my own catharsis.

But just recently an internet friend who I respect and admire very much nominated me for a versatile blogger award. Eden Baylee, Thank you very much. I met Eden during the Indies Unite for Joshua campaign and have admired everything about her. She's very generous with her time and energy and just as encouraging. For her to direct even more time and effort might way (however slight) by nominating me is an incredible thing. So, again. Thanks Eden.

So, as a nominee I'm supposed to share 7 things about myself you wouldn't automatically know and then share 15 sites who I'd also like to nominate. 

1. Still, after all this time, I'm unhealthily obsessed with the movie Hackers. This is odd for probably a lot of reasons. First, I don't own the movie in any form (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, or digital), but I do own both movie soundtracks (I. KNOW. In my defense, one of them was a gift). But if I find it on cable I'm watching it, then rewatching it (thank you DVR magic), then falling down the rabbithole known as the internet, looking at all the behind the scenes pictures and crap i don't need to be looking at. But I can't help it. I plead insanity your honor, otherwise known as infinite love for the young Jonny Lee Miller (Rowr.) Okay, better. Next.

2. I can do a spot-on impersonation of Chunk's "Ok, I'll talk" monologue on command. It comes as no surprise to people who've read this blog and especially as no surprise to the author's I've interviewed, but I love the Goonies. It might surprise a some of you that I could probably recite the entire movie by memory, but this scene especially is one that I can pull-off verbatim. I have done my version of the truffle shuffle as well, but that's embarrassing and best left to the professionals.

3. The town I grew up in was named after a cattle brand. It's still an interesting bon mot I'll parade out at cocktail parties just to get some people to scratch their heads and go 'Hm, interesting'.

4. The town I grew up in also has the only man-made lake in the shape of it's name. Guiness Book of World Records here we come, or something...

5. My mom said if I was born a boy, she would've been tempted to give me my last name as my first name. My maiden name is Kerby. So for those of you keeping track, if I was born a boy I would've been Kerby Kerby. Thanks for that story mom.

6. It's been six years, but I still haven't finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Yes it's a great book and it merits finishing, but it's just sooooooo long. I love Chabon. Love him, and his wife too, but I just haven't been able to muster up the strength to plow through.  I KNOW, I'm sorry.

7. I once mistook a rock for a whale. We were traveling down the 1, and we saw several cars stopped at a turn out. We looked out into the water and there was a whale, so we stopped at the next turn out. We were staring at two whales but only one of them kept surfacing more frequently. There was a family of four stopped beside us and the teenager (snottily, on retrospect) pointed out that we were staring at a rock and that the real whale was the other thing we had been looking at. Thanks snotty teenager from 15 years ago. Sad thing is, I have several stories like that. At the grand canyon I mistook a rock for a dear. Yosemite, the same thing. It's a common theme I guess.

Now onto the 15 other bloggers I nominate:

Laura Zera: Insightful on so many topics, ranging from travel to mental health but also entertaining to read.

Wherever Writer: Her travel musings make me yearn for adventures, especially those happening in home state of California. She's a neverending source for travel inspiration.

Planet Sandisan: Otherwise known as my pop-culture soul mate, or more to the point, my pop-culture compass. When I'm curious about books, TV shows or movies, she usually helps me find true North.

Ryan Casey: An awesome writer who blogs on all things writing and happens to be a good source of encouragement and inspiration at times.

Steven Luna:  Because the Joe Vampire series is my kind of awesome and his blogging is just as funning and insightful.

Sharkbait Writes: He writes about car racing and demons (not the same books, but maybe they should be) what's not to love?

Majk Ink: For basically all the reasons Eden described: Author, school nerd and techno genius. Enough reason for me.

Jason Jack Miller: For educating people on the magic of Appalachians,  schooling you on music and just general badassary.

Heidi Ruby Miller: For Sci-fi writing awesomeness, and also general basassary.

My New Plaid Pants: Another pop-culture compass. He keeps me up to date on all the best casting gossip/movie/TV news and hands out a healthy dose of man-candy whenever you need it. He's a saint.

And I'm going to renominate Eden, cause why not? She's on my blog roll for a reason people.

That's eleven and I need four more, but I'm currently tapped, so you'll have to make due.