Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hunger Games - Counting Down

A couple of years ago, I read The Hunger Games because it was on a list of books recommended by Stephenie Meyer. Though I can no longer stomach Twilight, The Hunger Games and its sequels Catching Fire and Mockingjay remain on my own list of books I can read again and again. With the release of the film of the first in the trilogy fast-approaching, I look forward to re-reading all three in anticipation.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recommended Reading

This time of year, I'm always leaping into a number of new reading adventures, usually fizzling out a couple of weeks into the new year and lamenting that I didn't finish what I had started. This year will be different, she says with hope in her heart. The current books are getting read vigorously, and here they are:

Lesley M. M. Blume's Let's Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By

A lengthy title, yes, but utterly descriptive of this little volume's contents. So far, I've learned that chariots pulled by lions or elephants are best, that I'm not the only one who thinks bathing caps have a certain charm about them, how to make luscious pin curls, and that once upon a time, parents revealed how they felt about a daughter's suitor by use of something called a "courtship candle." I'm currently on "fountain pens."

Dorothy J. Gaiter & John Brecher's Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage

This book was recommended to me by a friend of a friend at a birthday party in the wee hours of the morning as we discussed to two very different red wines we were drinking. Gaiter and Brecher document the years of their relationship through the wines they drank and, later, their "Tastings" column for The Wall Street Journal. So far, it's been engaging and very personable, and I look forward to making my way through Louis Roederer Cristal 1974 and Franzia Chablis all the way to Collery Brut Champagne.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture

For months, this title sat in my Amazon cart unpurchased. In a last-minute Christmas shopping spree, it made it to my abode and now sits on my makeshift bedside table. This topic falls particularly close to home as I contemplate joining church (officially) with a certain measure of wanderlust still pervading my heart and mind. I've not made it far so I don't have much to write except that my previous experience Wilson-Hartgrove's work has benn thought-provoking and challenging so I can only hope that this book will prove equally so.

Recommended by the same friend of a friend at the same late-night birthday party, this book is recently arrived and not-yet-opened. It may have to wait until I'm through at least one of the other three, but I relish the idea of Reichl's adventures in the world of New York restaurants, as both herself and her many alternate identities.

- - -

2012 will be an adventurous year in books. My goal is to finish what books I have before buying more. In the past, that has meant a temporary (and short-lived and highly unsuccessful) moratorium on book-buying. Perhaps I'll just attempt to keep myself occupied with those hundreds of long-neglected titles on my shelves before moving on. Perhaps I'll have to avoid bookstores like the plague, as they say. We shall see.

In any case, there will be reading!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrating 15 Years of Second Wind Dreams

Since 1997, Second Wind Dreams(R) has been making dreams come true for senior citizens living in eldercare communities (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice, etc.). To celebrate their 15th anniversary, I'll be blogging about one dream each day for all of 2012. Not all of the dreams will have come true yet, and you'll have a chance every Friday to bring a smile to an elder's face by being a part of the team that makes a dream happen.

Follow the dreams here: and on Twitter @15yearsofdreams.

Dream-blogging begins January 1, 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Atlanta Georgia Dreaming

At 87 years old, Dorie dreamed of reliving her glory days as a champion jitterbug dancer. On December 15th, she had that opportunity. Dancers from the Atlanta-based swing dance group Swinging from the Heart joined Dorie and her friends for a holiday party at Elmcroft of Roswell. When asked to dance, Dorie replied, "I haven't danced in so long." Although she usually travels by wheelchair, she shook a wicked calf on her own two feet for the first of her several dances.

Special thanks to Swinging from the Heart, Elmcroft of Roswell, and Second Wind Dreams for making Dorie's dream come true!

Everything was Beautiful at the Ballet

The Wheeling Symphony's annual production of The Nutcracker went off without a hitch this past Friday and Saturday, with two stunning performances by local dancers, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, and visiting professionals.

For the first time since we started staging the ballet in 2009, the tech happened the way it is supposed to. This year, it was even more precarious going into opening on Friday night, with just one rehearsal in the theatre with tech, and that a disaster like none we've had the past two years, including the first in 2009. Nearly everything went awry, but we did manage to open the magic box and close it without injuring anyone. Hooray!

Although the audiences could have been larger, the show itself was positively stunning. I say that with a bit of a bias, but I've heard from other audience members that it was better than it's been in the past. New costumes increased the production values, and the addition of Mother Ginger and her Bon Bons provided a laugh mid-way through Act II.

Many thanks to Cheryl Pompeo and Oglebay Institute's Youth Ballet Company for your spectacular performances. You have truly outdone yourselves this year, and it was a pleasure to watch both shows from the wings.

Thank you, too, to the dancers who came out to auditions and shone for the first time in the WSO's Nutcracker.

Congratulations to Maestro Andre Raphel and the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra for superb performances (even in the face of late arrival and little time to warm up)!

Another Nutcracker is over, and it is time to move on, looking forward to next year's holiday season and (hopefully) the return of this beloved tradition.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More than a Book - Press Here by Herve Tullet

I ran across this little gem at the Museum of Modern Art on a day-trip to NYC last weekend and then hunted it down on this blog: You Know, for Kids. I think it's the most fun book I've ever read.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Last night, I was shopping online, and I came across this thing and thought, "Boy, Julia would really like this thing!" Then, I looked at the price, and I thought, "That's highway robbery for that thing! I could make that thing!" (Not to discount my own talent at making things like this thing, but really, sometimes I wonder how they come up with these prices.) And then I looked around my (admittedly very messy) room and found that I had all the things I needed to make that thing. So, instead of going to bed at a decent hour, I started working on this thing and became enchanted by it and was up until two. It's not quite finished but will be soon, and once Julia has received this enchanting thing, I will post a picture of it (and perhaps its high-priced doppelganger) to see if you're enchanted too!

Happy Tuesday!