Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Using Up Scraps (What Leftovers Can Make) #woodworld

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Barely 2 generations removed from the Great Depression and old enough to have heard many stories from grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, and parents, throwing ANYTHING away is hard to do. Every single item must be used to the end of its’ life, threadbare and loved into shreds. I’d rather make do, recycle, borrow, reuse, or give away than toss things in the trash.

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I’m so happy to see my honey using some of those creative-good-to-the-last-drop (or piece) urges. He’s been using up his stash of scrap wood. Leftovers from other projects like building a deck, making a potting bench, and adding a bit of this and that to make a unique Chevy tailgate bench for our Chevy-man son. Once he gets an idea, I can count on him to disappear for hours and turn up later with something very clever and cute.

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Each piece truly is one-of-a-kind creation, in part because using up scraps requires the builder to use what is on hand. And what is on hand changes on a daily basis. Occasionally new items must be added, like screws, a 1×3 or 2×4. But the outcomes of his dedication to using up stuff to make something new and useful are truly beautiful.

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Hobbies are good for the mind, body, and spirit. My honey calls what he builds his Therapy Creations. A retirement project? Perhaps. But for now, he’s just enjoying after-work and weekend time spent with the drill, hammer, saw, and piles of stuff, waiting for attention.

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I’m not complaining, not at all. My garden is graced with many special pieces and I love each one.

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Heading back out to watch him use up some more scraps. What do you do with your scraps? We might need some new ideas. Or your old scraps.

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Throwback Thursday: The ’74 #TBT

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Check out this cute guy. Turns out he was giving me a ride in a shiny green ’74 Chevy.

The curls, the swagger, the adorable guy hauling around his honey. The guy would be my honey, Kevin. The girl would be me.

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Back in the early days of our relationship, we traveled far and wide. Most of that was back and forth to college, Seattle, Tacoma, the mountains, the beach. This trip was over Chinook Pass where we stopped near an overlook featuring Mt. Rainier. Beautiful mountain and cute guy. My mom used to roll her eyes. Yes! She did. Because all I would say was, “He’s so cute!” I think she got tired of hearing those words.

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The green truck has been in and around our family since it was brand new. My then future father–in-law bought it when it was about 6 months old, a dealer model. Love that avocado green! It’s been a favorite color for me since, well, forever. Kevin’s family took it to Ocean Shores each summer, hauling along the Prowler camper. I was so excited when they invited me to go along. Believe it or not, all 4 of us (Kevin, both of his parents, and me) road around Ocean Shores sitting on the long bench seat. Clam digging, crabbing, eating out, beach runs, yard sales, hot fudge sundaes. I have such wonderful memories of the old green ’74.

Let’s not forget one of our first dates. Kevin had just barely received his drivers’ license and asked dear old dad to borrow the lovely green pickup. So we were dragging the ave. Yakima Avenue. We stopped at a stop light, my honey. He was driving so careful. But the drunk lady behind us was not. On our first outing, we got rear-ended! Her car was pretty smashed up. But good old greeny had a tiny dent and bent bumper. The fear of telling dad what had happened was worse than the actual accident. But we all lived to tell the tale.

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After we were married, Kevin and I had it for several years. We also toted along the Prowler when we took our family to the beach. This truck went wood cutting, Christmas tree hunting, and moving people to and fro.

Later, my dad had the ’74 for quite a few years. He loved to tinker with it and keep it running. He managed to fix it up quite nice. After a certain number of years, one had to always carry a quart or two of oil behind the front seat and commit to regularly checking the dip stick during long trips.

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Eventually, my dad gave the ’74 to Bub, as he liked to call our son. Because old green ’74 was showing her age. Bub, a talented and gifted mechanic, a man after dad’s own heart, was nearly the only one besides dad who could keep the old gal running and on the road. And he didn’t mind constantly repairing this and that. Dad and Bub spent many happy hours puttering and repairing not just the ’74, but an entire fleet of old Chevy trucks and vehicles.

Today? The ’74 is still going strong. My honey recently remade the original wood racks that had graced the back for decades. (Literally.) Rust has worn holes in several sections of the fender. Green spray paint has been added to protect and keep additional rust from making holes. There is nearly a hole beneath the drivers’ side feet-rust, water, salt water, sand, dirt, many years of use.

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Ok, maybe she needs a bit more spray paint. But I do love my rust.

It’s alive and kicking. And we are all the more fonder because of the special memories each of us have surrounding this approaching classic truck. Chevy. Like a rock. The heartbeat of America.

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Kevin made this picture frame from the old wood rack rails. A very talented friend painted this picture for Taylor from a phone snapshot. This is the Chevy line-up, folks. Chevy.

What stories can you tell about your favorite Chevy? (I’m not allowed to name any other brands.)

 


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Author Interview: Kindergarten Hat by Janet Lawler (little bee books)

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Kindergarten Hat

Written by Janet Lawler

Illustrated by Geraldine Rodriquez

little bee books, 2020

 

Happy book birthday to Kindergarten Hat (June 9, 2020)! As a former kindergarten and preschool teacher, I love any book that helps young students conquer their anxiety and make that leap into going to school. I enjoyed reading about Carlos, his mother, and his new teacher with the giant hat! Janet Lawler is spot on with this lovely, colorful book.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Janet! Don’t forget, everyone, to help Janet celebrate her delayed book birthday on Tuesday, July 28, at 10 AM (Connecticut time). See more info below and mark your calendar.

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Without further delay, here’s Janet!

Welcome, Janet! Tell us a little about yourself.

I started writing picture books as a second career after practicing law for more than a decade. Both careers require that you communicate clearly and simply. But writing for children is a joyful passion that gives me deep satisfaction and peace. I love how words make music, and I marvel at the way illustrators add detail and layers to my stories. Each book is a new adventure! I have had over twenty-five books published and have several more in the pipeline.

What was your inspiration for KINDERGARTEN HAT?

My son and daughter had the same terrific kindergarten teacher, 9 years apart, at our neighborhood grammar school. Judy Baccei always wore a huge flowered hat on the first day, so her students could find her easily. That hat inspired my story.

What was the writing journey you took as you wrote this book?

 My writing journey for this story started over thirteen years ago! I went through many revisions before starting to submit the story to various publishers. I did some submissions on my own and more than once put the manuscript in the “back drawer” as I worked on other stories.

Mirabel’s Missing Valentines was acquired by Brett Duquette at Sterling in 2017. Brett and I really connected throughout the editing process. So I asked my agent to submit KINDERGARTEN HAT to Brett after he’d moved to Little Bee. After one round of pre-acquisition editing, to add depth to Carlos’s emotional journey, the manuscript was acquired. Thereafter, I did another round of revisions, as well as several additional “tweaks” to get the story just right.

Everything is different right now with COVID-19, but how did you celebrate the book birthday of KINDERGARTEN HAT?

The pandemic certainly changed my plans for promoting this book! I had planned for a large launch event on May 30th that was canceled. I did a book birthday posting on my Facebook page, and both my publisher and my agency spread the word via Twitter and Instagram. I e-mailed and messaged indie bookstores and friends, fans, and family all over the country. I have recorded a virtual story time that will post live on the Kids Place of the Farmington CT Public Library on Tuesday, July 28 at 10 a.m. That will be my delayed “book birthday” launch! Anyone can visit that day or thereafter, to hear more detail about the book and listen to my full reading of the story. https://www.facebook.com/flkidsplace/

Surprise us! What else would you like to share?

I have had a 2nd book released this summer—Good Night, Little Engine. , The classic tale by Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could, celebrates its 90th Anniversary in 2020!  Grosset & Dunlap asked me to write a rhyming bedtime story as part of the celebration. Good Night, Little Engine is beautifully illustrated by Jill Howarth. I hope that both KINDERGARTEN HAT and Good Night, Little Engine will help comfort and encourage kids during uncertain times.

Congratulations, Janet! I look forward to reading more of your books!

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Amazon Blurb:

A practically perfect first-experience story, especially for anxious hearts and gentle spirits.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Carlos Abredo is scared to start kindergarten, but a special teacher with an amazing hat helps give him the confidence to start the school year with a smile.

Carlos Abredo loves building forts, playing soccer, vrooming cars, and gardening. But after moving to a new town, he’s nervous to start his first day of kindergarten. What if the bus gets lost? What if he can’t make friends? What if he can’t find his teacher?! Starting school can be intimidating for anyone, but when you’re also the new kid, it can be downright scary.

When Carlos gets a letter from his new teacher, he starts to feel a little better. He picks out a gift for her, and after a much-needed hug from Mom, he sets off for his first day. But when his present is accidentally ruined, will Carlos be able to salvage his first day of school?

From Janet:

Carlos is new to town and his anxieties grow as he prepares for the first day of school and travels on the bus with a special flower for his teacher’s hat. This floral take on the starting-school theme was inspired by Janet’s son and daughter’s wonderful kindergarten teacher. She always wore a huge flowered hat on the first day, so that kids coming off the buses could find her.
It is likely that little ones starting school this fall following the corona virus crisis may be struggling with messy feelings and worries. Hopefully, the humor and heart of KINDERGARTEN HAT will make them feel less alone and help each of them start their first day with a great big kindergarten smile.


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Throwback Thursday: Take Those Wedding Photos!

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“Just one more!” says every wedding photographer. And nearly every person standing in formation for the photo replies with groans.

We finally found our wedding album. It was MIA for a few years. But now we have it. And the precious family photos we had taken are even more meaningful, especially the ones of our parents and grandparents, who have all passed away.

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Should you be at a wedding-online, Zoom, social distanced, streaming-and someone asks for just one more, and “Smile for the camera!,” just grin and bear it. One day, sooner and later, those photos may become treasured memories for the wedding couple and their families.

Reflections on 35 years of marriage.

And, trivia for you, my mom made my dress! First from a sheet-to make sure all the pieces fit, since I had requested my dress be created from 2-3 different patterns-and then from chintz. I might have had the worlds’ least costly wedding dress-until we came to the wide cotton eyelet lace. A wonderful memory of my precious mama. And, another trivia, notice that my dad is smiling. Only in ONE photo, but capturing one of his smiles on camera was indeed a rare treat.

Smile, friends. Make those memories.

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