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Archive for March, 2018

To twelve-year-old Rose, the cello and Bach and math are everything. They run through her veins, her brain. They will get her through the upcoming Bach Cello Suites Competition and her dream of working with Mestro Waldenstein. But life conspires against her in the form of a giant pumpkin. It’s the pumpkin that reinforces the different between her and twin, Thomas. For one, she’s five eleven and he’s four six, and she hates being so tall. It’s the pumpkin that changes her summer for the worse. But it’s the pumpkin that brings everything and everyone together.

 

Giant Pumpkins and music. That’s a combination I couldn’t resist. Ever since I’ve read Joan Bauer’s ‘Squashed’, I’ve been fascinated with giant pumpkins. And although I can’t play a lick of music, I enjoy books on the subject, rock or classical. The dedication to master an instrument amazes me. I love how the author portrays this dedication, how Rose practices and lets the music flow around her.

I learned more about pumpkins in this book. Unlike in ‘Squashed’, Rose, Thomas, and her neighbor who planted the seed, know nothing about growing the pumpkin. Not that I’m ever going to grow a giant pumpkin, but it’s interesting. One can plan a pumpkin growing lesson around the book. It would have been interesting to have the pumpkin respond to Bach as Rose plays the cello.

Another thing I learned was about a neighbor’s kintsugi bowl, a bowl that had been broken, but repaired in such a way as to add to the beauty of the object. There are master in Japan who do this. The bowl story interweaves with the plot of the book.

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Shingles

My mom got shingles. It started with a blister and I didn’t think anything of it until the second and third one came. It once again made me realize I would never made a good nurse. This is too gooey and ooey and, as it turns out, I don’t like touching people too much.

She’d had the shingles before, but it was different. How different I can’t say because it was years ago, before they came out with the Shingles vaccine. It’s my understanding once you’ve had shingles, you can’t get the shot. I am so going to get it.

My sister asked about the shot. She told the doctor she never had chickenpox. I got all the diseases – mumps, measles, and chickenpox, but I only got mild versions of them. My sister may have gotten one of them, also mild. She didn’t even get the measles when she was exposed to it. The doctor did not believe her when she told her that.

For the shingles there is a medicine and one takes it five times a day, for seven days. Of course I had to work out that meant Mom got a shot every four hours and forty-eight minutes. I made every four hours and forty-five minutes because it was easy to compute. I made a chart. Because that’s what I do. To make sure she gets the pill, I have to get up around 3 in the morning. I don’t do getting up at night well, but I’ll do it.

Thank goodness for cell phones, though. I can program an alarm for the entire day and that why I won’t forget. Mom insists it doesn’t matter so much and she should be able to sleep during the night. But she’s stuck with me so that means she’s going to get that pill on time. I want her to get well.

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I’d hoped to be finished with this by now, but every time I read it, I find another fact I must verify. Historical novels are not easy, not if you want to do it right. There has to be a right amount of facts. Too much and you can bore your reader, too little and it can be at anytime anywhere U.S. of A. And you don’t want to be looked at as an idiot if you’ve screwed up the facts.

For example. In my very first draft, I maintained it was easy for former slaves to find family members. Wrong. I was so, so wrong. Serendipitously I spotted the book Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery by Heather Andrea Williams. That sure set me straight. Most people never saw their relatives ever again if they’d gotten separated. And they looked, placing countless ads in church newspapers.

While I was lucky finding that book, there are other bits of factoids I’m searching for to make sure my book doesn’t go amiss. This in regards to a funeral. I’ve checked the library. I’ve checked the Internet. I can’t find anything on the specific questions I have. How long did it take to embalm a body during that time? If they didn’t embalm the body, how long would it last in the heat? I checked the local history section in a library and this one lady told me in good authority exactly what would happen, but she only knew about now and not in a historical context. It kind of irked me.

I’ll just have to keep trying. I’ve got another avenue to go down for the answer to this one.

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David just bought a hot dog for $2000. Correction, a half a hot dog for $2000. A half-eaten hot dog to be more specific. Okay, it was supposed to be $20, but a few extra zeros got added and now he’s trying to earn the money back before his mom finds out. Because he bought it on her credit card, you know. She will never understand the significance of the hot dog. But, seriously, David only meant to pay $20.

Somehow he has to raise that money and repay it before his mother finds out. With being too young to drive, there aren’t a lot of jobs available. Make that no jobs. Providence delivers him a plan with the Super Pigarino Bowl Pizza eating contest. David can eat a sixteen inch pizza in four minutes and thirty-six minutes. He’s all into the competition eating thing. If he wins that, he’s good.

I have never understood competitive eating and I don’t know a lot about it so this was a new topic for me. But it’s more than just eating contests. David’s the easy middle child between his attention needing, college age sister and his autistic younger brother. He doesn’t like being the middle child. He doesn’t like having to be the one always baby sitting his brother, Mal, even if there is a bond between the two no one else has.

I enjoyed the characters although I wished there was more with his friends, HeyMan and Cyn. The description of the state fair brought back memories of the SC state fair. It made me wonder if the cow made of butter in Iowa is the same butter cow I see in South Carolina. Wouldn’t that be weird.

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I was taking a nap when I heard Agnus’ hooves, clop, clop, clopping, over the wooden floors. He was running. Fast. I dropped down from my spot, which was a huge mistake because he changed his course and grabbed me.

“I have Lyme disease. West Nile virus. I’m been infected by the plague and the Zika and,” he took a deep breath, nearly sucking in all the air in the room. “Ebola.”

I’m not sure sheep can get Ebola.

“I have to be disinfected. With your super bug spray. RIGHT NOW!” He shakes me.

“I don’t have bug spray. Did you have a bug?” This is interesting. Angus is very afraid of mosquitoes and ticks which are a fact of life in the our realm. Well, his. I can’t say when I last had a tick latch on me. Crawled yes, but not dug in to feed.

“A tick. On me shoulder.” He points. I see no evidence of a tick. “I flicked it off with me hoof.” He’s now waving his fore hoof at me as if the tick had stuck on that.

“I still don’t see a tick.”

Angus sags to the ground. He’s fainted. While I wait for him to come back to consciousness, I inspect him for ticks. There aren’t any. No ticks. No fleas. No mosquito bites. My last dusting was doing well. Still, it won’t hurt to wave the plant around him again. Which I do. It’s best to do it when he’s not awake or he’ll eat the plant and, I’m told, it can cause a tummy ache.

Angus wakes and wobbles to his feet. “I feel weak.”

“You always do when get up from a faint. You’ll be okay in a second. I dusted you.” I hold up the plant stalk, but keep it well away.

Angus begins rubbing the powder in him wool. “I can’t believe it. Dead. So young,” he sobs.

“You’re not dying. Where were you anyway when you found the tick?”

“In me usual spot when I conduct me business.”

His cell phone then.

Leaving him to massage the powder in, I go over. No tick. All I find is a bit of sock fluff. Aud tends to leave them around. I return.

Angus looks up, and gasps. “The tick!”

“This?” I hold up the ball of cotton. “It’s sock fluff.”

“What?” He snatches it from my paw, eyes narrowed. He squeezes the bit of fluff. “Sock fluff. Oh, I shall complain.” He marches off, fluff held high.

I yawn and hop back to my napping spot. The sun is just shining perfect on it and I don’t want to miss it.

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