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review 2020-02-13 20:29
Christina's Ghost by Betty Ren Wright
Christina's Ghost - Betty Ren Wright

Christina and her little sister are excited to spend the summer with their grandmother again. It means freedom, farm breakfasts, and cozy memories. Unfortunately, their grandmother has become suddenly ill, and with their parents away in Alaska, there's no place for them to go but with their aunt and uncle. Their aunt takes Christina's little sister with her to town, but has no room for another girl. That leaves Christina alone with moody Uncle Ralph who doesn't like tomboys and was looking forward to a summer by himself house-sitting for a friend.


I had little memory of this one, but in the opening pages of the book there's a scene where Christina is car sick and the description brought a lot of the book back to me.


The ghosts are a little boy in a sailor suit who was murdered in the 1950s along with his tutor who was implicated in the theft of postage stamps. Why is it always a stamp collection?


This is quick book to read and the haunting is pretty mild - even milder than in 'The Dollhouse Murders'. The best part of it is Christina's awakening to female liberation. Attempting research on the house she's staying in after hearing about a past murder, she runs across a sexist newspaper editor and after another comment from Uncle Ralph about her bluejeans or something she declares: "I'm glad I can't cook! And I'm gonna have a career!"


It's amazing. Uncle Ralph isn't bad, by the way, he just wants to be left alone and warms up to Christina for being who she is.

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text 2020-02-13 17:17
On being invisible

Tuesday night, I went with a friend and fellow artist to a meeting of another art group.  She had been with me last February when my own group exploded and essentially told me I'm not good enough for them.  So she invited me to join another group that she said was much more friendly, much more welcoming.


I had my doubts, but in the interest of her friendship and in an effort to fight off my own discouragement and cynicism, I agreed to go.


I deliberately wore a bright, bright green tee-shirt.  Surely someone would spot this bright green color, recognize that the person wearing it was a stranger, and they'd come to introduce themselves and welcome the stranger to the group.


My friend introduced me to one person, Suzanne.  Another woman introduced herself as Wilma and introduced me to Mike; both of them were sitting at our table.  The woman seated next to me introduced herself as Dorothy, but never introduced me to her companion who sat on her other side.  I never did learn his name.


At the front table the members all signed in and registered for various raffles.  There was a separate sign-in sheet for guests.  I signed the guest list.


In the course of the meeting, the VP never once welcomed the visitors.  He did not read off our names, ask what type of art we did, nothing.  Guests were not acknowledged at all.


When the three-hour meeting was over, I felt as if I'd not been there.


Wednesday morning, after that unpleasant experience, I went grocery shopping.  I had to get some items from the deli department, where two customers were ahead of me, one being waited on at the time and the other waiting to be waited on.  The sole person in the department took care of the first customer, then while he was slicing ham and liverwurst for the second lady, another woman walked up.  As soon as the second lady was done, the third woman just started placing her order.  Ham, turkey, baby swiss, beef bologna.


I think it was while he was slicing the bologna that yet another woman arrived, obviously friends with the beef bologna lady.  Or maybe not?  Maybe she just started conversations with whomever she encountered.  It didn't matter.  As soon as beef bologna lady was done, this fourth woman started her order.  Pastrami, salami, and a few slices of sandwich pepperoni.


Finally, there was no one else, and the clerk asked me what I wanted.


"Am I invisible?" I asked.



Last week, just prior to our rock hunting trip on Saturday, I had a brief and unpleasant experience online that pushed me to back off Twitter for a while.  Ironically, the incident didn't happen on Twitter, and the unpleasant person was swiftly dealt with.  But after the rock hunting trip and the work of cleaning up the rocks the following day and then a bunch of other stuff, I continued to stay away from Twitter.  It wasn't anything specific, but I felt as if there was a whole lot of negativity I was letting myself get dragged into, and I needed a little bit of a break.


Last night I checked in on Twitter and discovered some people had been asking about me, was I okay, was I still around.  I was enormously touched, indeed moved to tears then and again as I write this.


You made me feel visible again.


Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


Happy Valentine's Day.

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text 2020-02-10 21:16
So we went rock hunting Saturday . . .

. . . and I still ache just about everywhere.


Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we didn't get to the exact location I intended.  As a result, we didn't find as much of the pink chalcedony as I had hoped.  Whether there will be another opportunity this spring before BF's foot surgery the end of March, I don't know.


I did make some interesting finds, however.



This doesn't look like much, but it's actually about ten pounds of purple moss jasper.  I have found a few fist-sized pieces in the general area before, but this was a surprise at this precise location.  It was locked in the host rock -- likely solidified volcanic ash -- and we had to hammer it out, then carry it back to the vehicles.  Luckily, my photographer friend Johanna had a backpack and she did the heavy work!  ♥♥


I was able to chip off a piece of it this morning, and I'll be starting it in a small tumbler load later this week to see how it polishes.  There are some fractures running through the whole stone, so it's possible that it won't work for slicing -- and it's too big for my little saw anyway -- but it should make lovely tumbled pieces.


Another unexpected discovery was two small chunks of red moss/plume agate.  They were lying about two feet apart in a narrow wash.  I took pictures this afternoon, but the shots of the larger stone -- and it's only about the size of a ping pong ball -- came out blurry, but the smaller stone photographed well.



It's too small to make anything out of, but the red inclusion is nifty, and so is the other side of the stone, covered with little tiny but clearly formed crystals and "bots."  Bots aren't really a thing; it's a corruption of the mineralogical term botryoidal (from the Greek for "grape-like") which means a stone has formed in bumps like a bunch of grapes.  The "bots" on this stone are very, very tiny.



The crystals aren't much bigger!



The objective of our trip, however, wasn't purple jasper or moss agate.  It was pink chalcedony.  We found quite a bit, but not as much as on previous visits.  Still, there were some very nice pieces waiting for us.



The desert rose on the right is one of the most perfectly formed specimens I've ever found. There is almost always a spot on every piece of chalcedony where it has broken away from another piece.  This one has no separation point; it is exactly as it formed in a void in the volcanic ash.


The top



And the bottom



It has bots, too!


We ended up with a five-gallon bucket almost full of rocks, all of which have to be cleaned.  I spent about six hours on it yesterday, and that just made my neck and shoulders ache even more.


I would love to go again, but that may not be possible until fall.  We'll see.  We'll see.

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review 2020-01-27 21:57
Happy-Go-Lucky Skipper by Carl Memling
Happy-Go-Lucky Skipper - Carl Memling

'Happy-Go-Lucky Skipper' was likely meant to kick off a whole series of early chapter books in 1965 - this was at the same time Mattel had heavily invested in their 'The Barbie Look' campaign that saturated every television network as well as print media - but I can tell there wasn't even the small bit of heart in this piece of licensing that was in the Barbie Random House novels.


There's really no fault with the story: Skipper Roberts is impulsive and free to roam and get into hi-jinks with her best friend Imogene Ann. Barbie is an indulgent older sister and her parents can only shrug and exclaim 'Kids!' in a sitcom way. There are a few charming scenes matched with illustrations: Skipper bothering moving men at a neighboring house, Skipper being precocious with an old woman at the grocery store, etc. I guess it just didn't feel on-brand.


An effort was made in the novels to design end-papers that illustrated Barbie's accessories and, wherever possible, characters and plots highlighted some aspect of the doll's many-faceted personality without sacrificing the semi-realistic portrait of a teenage girl.


Skipper in this book is a realistic little girl, but little in this outing ties in to the doll. Other than her name, the font on the cover of the book and one illustration showing her in an available outfit, this could be any generic storybook character. No mention was made of Ken or Midge, and bizarrely, Barbie is drawn with a Midge-like flip haircut instead of her iconic ponytail. It's not even the pageboy 'American Girl' cut that debuted in '65. This is in sharp contrast to the picture book published a year before this that heavily featured illustrations of Skipper in genuine outfits and other characters were name-dropped. 1965 even saw the premier of Skipper's first two friends, Skooter and Ricky, who should have been far enough along to be mentioned here.


But, anyway, I was delighted to learn of this book's existence and it will look good on the shelf next to the other Barbie fictions. Carl Memling did another doll story: 'Barbie's Adventures at Camp'. Maybe that will meet my punishing standards, lol.



Skipper and Skooter, otherwise known as Miss-not-appearing-in-this- book.

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review 2020-01-26 19:13
Portrait of Skipper by Ellen Lenhart
Portrait of Skipper - Claudine Nankivel,Ellen Lenhart

This picture book follows Skipper on her adventures from Halloween to Christmas.A fortune-teller predicts that "something wonderful" is in store for her future, what could it be?


While their parents are off in Europe for, I don't know, forever, Barbie is tasked for looking after Skipper. This seems to be a painless affair, especially since there's a woman who looks in every now and then to help with the shopping and the "usual" chores. Though elements of this storybook are blantant propaganda for the toy line, this book works better as a story about a young girl and as a marketing tool than 'Happy-Go-Lucky Skipper', which came out a year later and made no attempt to expand upon, or even work with, the story crafted for the toy..


I especially liked the numerous illustrations that detail pretty much every outfit available to Skipper in 1964. Never mock synergy, Lemon. Skipper even receives some dolls in international costume that suspiciously look like....you guessed it:


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