Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Puppy Contortions

Scout at three months

Growing too quickly?

yoga with pterodactyls

advanced camouflage lessons

At work: uh, thanks for the reminder. 

It's a short post this week.  My son's play opens on Friday.  He's playing Hortensio in Taming of the Shrew.  Yesterday he passed his driving test on the first attempt. As for my daughter, she just finished soccer season and has joined a rock band. Scout has started puppy class. Now that painting season is over, I'm back to work revising my young adult novel. Sometimes I feel like I'm chasing my tail.

I just dropped the word "blog" from my title.  Hard to believe, but when I started nearly five years ago, most people didn't know what a blog was.  I wanted to distinguish this page from my website and to avoid confusing search engines, but I think people will still find me.

Enjoy the last of the golden maples!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Russet Autumn

Brunswick Town Commons

Most autumns in Maine are ablaze with color, but this year the hues are muted. After a dry August, Tropical Storm Irene battered the trees. The weakened maples were susceptible to fungus in a wet September. Instead of turning bright red or orange, the maples are spotted brown. Another theory is the unusual lack of frost makes the leaves fade slowly before falling. The maples should recover by next year. Still, the subtle shades are beautiful in their own way, and the variance in fall foliage makes you appreciate it all the more in good years.  Remember the reflecting pond last year? Other years we've hiked in the White Mountains once with snow and once with peak foliage, literally!

October is my favorite time to hike in Maine. The foliage peaks this month and deer hunting doesn’t start until November. The woods are safe even for a fawn colored puppy. Maybe next year she'll be big enough to scale mountains.

Already Scout has perfected the art of camouflage. Squirrels beware!

We paused to check out the local color:
I with my camera and Scout with her nose.
Mission accomplished: 
tired puppy!

Blog Watch: I'm not the only one with a new puppy. Nantucket Daffodil welcomed adorable Stormy to her home. Remembering the untimely loss of my last dog, my childhood friend Jennifer Mirsky blogged about Pet Loss and Support. On the subject of loss, support and recovery, Sapphire posted an update on Japan after the Earthquake.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indian Summer at Popham Beach

Pond Island Lighthouse and Life Saving Museum at Popham State Park, Maine
There’s a saying in Maine: “If you don’t like the weather, 
just wait a minute.” 
 Last Thursday night was nearly our first frost, 
but nature delivered a surprise for the long weekend: 
80-degree weather in mid October!

A fisherman looked overdressed in his waders.

Lobstermen in t-shirts were hauling in their catch.

One snack shack was boarded up for the winter, 
but Spinney’s was still serving lobster rolls and Moose Tracks ice cream.

Swimming in a bikini, I surprised a kayaker in a wet suit. 
The water wasn’t any colder than in June...really.

Scout, unconvinced, left the waves to the seals.

She dug a cool hole in the sand.

We stayed for moonrise and sunset, 
wishing these warm days would never end.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

I love quirky books that are hard to categorize. You Are My Only by Beth Kephart is marketed as young adult fiction, but it could just as easily be adult literary fiction. It's a contemporary novel that echoes the language of classic literature.  Many lines read like poetry. The alternating chapters follow a young woman and a teenaged girl, each one confined to a miserable existence. The connection between Emmy and Sophie is a mystery for the reader to solve.

Sophie is a precocious 14-year-old imprisoned in a series of rental houses. While her mother works as a waitress, Sophie is left home alone to educate herself and not allowed contact with the outside world. Because classic books are her only companions, Sophie sounds like a child from another era. She reminded me of attic-bound Sara in The Little Princess. Quietly rebellious Sophie forms a secret friendship with the cute guy next door and his elderly aunts. This engaging storyline was a delight to read, despite the creepy undertones of the confinement.

Emmy married straight out of high school to an abusive man. Her only passion is her baby. After her daughter is kidnapped, Emmy has a nervous breakdown that leads to her institutionalization. Her narrative reads like a wink to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and deviates from the central plot. I would have liked to have known more about Emmy and less about her eccentric roommate. Emmy's emotional trauma scrambles her ability to communicate so she remains enigmatic.

Kephart does a fine job in weaving the two narratives together with parallel themes and crossover clues.  Each story is enhanced by the other in this well-crafted book. The un-rushed pace allows the reader to appreciate the beautiful writing. You Are My Only sparkles with whimsical prose:
Emmy: “The sun has come up like a squint on the horizon.”
Sophie: “Johannes Kepler was born with the skies in his eyes.”
The atmosphere is a character in itself, reflecting the narrator’s state of mind:
Panicked Emmy searches for her lost baby: “The neighborhood changes – from house to retail, from window light and TV flicker to lanterns above. At the gas station, the pumps are still. At the Clock and Watch, the gutter is splash. Maybe they’re hiding Baby in the shadows between places, in the dark behind bushes, on the other side of barrel trash cans.”
Sophie watches the world from the attic: “My house is a storybook house. A huff-and-a-puff-and-they’ll-blow-it-down house. The roof is soft; it’s tumbled. There are bushes growing tall past the sills. A single sprouted tree leans in from high above the cracked slate path, torpedoing acorns to the ground.”
Don’t you want to keep reading? You don't have long to wait. You Are My Only will be released on October 25, 2011.

Disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher at my request. I’ve gotten to know the author online after interviewing her. You can check out her blog in my sidebar.

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@Barrie Summy