American Hero, Astronaut Scott Kelly

Captain Scott Kelly

Captain Kelly being interviewed by The New York Times journalist, Jonathan Schwartz, on 10/17 at West Orange High School.

I was on a high! 

It’s not what you think. Accompanying my youngest daughter’s Space Exploration class, I got to meet Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly! “I am so excited to meet you!” I said. “Two summers ago, we watched the International Space Station cross the night sky and you were on it! Did you see me waving?” Kelly responded, “Yes, and I waved back!” Guess what? Kelly is funny!

Kelly, promoting his book Endurance, filled a high school auditorium. According to Amazon, “it’s a stunning, personal memoir from the astronaut and modern-day hero who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station—a message of hope for the future that will inspire for generations to come.”

Kelly talked about growing up, how he wasn’t the best student, and didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. In college, he read a book about flight pilots that changed the course of his life.

In October 2015, Kelly set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space by an American astronaut, 520. This record was broken in 2016 by astronaut Jeff Williams. For the so-called ISS year long mission, Kelly spent 340 consecutive days (11 months, 3 days) in space. Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, is a former astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only siblings to have traveled in space. While Scott Kelly spent a year in space, Mark stayed on Earth as a control subject. Researchers are looking at the effects of space travel on the human body, as part of the NASA Twins Study.

Memorable quotes from a real American Hero.
“When I’m in space, I think of earth, and when I’m on earth, I think of space.”
“It would take over 200 days to get to Mars and over 200 days to get back.”
“Flying in space is a privilege.”
“If we can dream it, we can do it.”

Selfie that Captain Kelly took while he was on the ISS.

Want to learn more about Astronaut Kelly’s time in space?

Tonight, PBS is airing Part 2 of Beyond A Year In Space,an Emmy award winning documentary which “follows Scott Kelly’s record-breaking 12-month mission as the Twin Study as NASA charts the effects of long-duration spaceflight for the next generation of astronauts.”

Sources: Amazon, Space.com, Wikipedia, PBS

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Birthday Girl-Repost

My mom and third granddaughter.

My mom and third granddaughter.

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. I’m re-posting this, along with an introspective quote, in her memory. 

“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.”

― Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Covers, One Story

I just finished listening to bestselling author Alice Hoffman’s middle grade novel, Nightbird on Audible. Layers build upon each other as characters are introduced, problems increase, and mysteries must be solved. The story is an easy read, but contains poignant reminders of how the past informs the present and how we have the power to change our path.

Summary from Goodreads:

Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

Quotes from Nightbird:

“I just stored up my hurts, as if they were a tower made of fallen stars, invisible to most people, but brightly burning inside of me.”

“Mean people are meaningless.”

“It was a miracle to live as birds do, except for one thing: anyone seen in flight would surely be captured, perhaps even shot down like a crow flying above a cornfield. It’s always dangerous to be different, to appear as a monster in most people’s eyes, even from a distance.”

Click here to read a preview of the book.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Happy reading (and listening), hon.

Book Review, The Nightingale

I’m addicted.

I love words, sentences, and stories, but my compulsion to work until I drop doesn’t allow much time for reading novels. Books I intend to read pile up while books I’ve started sit on my nightstand barely touched. Last year, I had a revelation–audio books! Sure, I’ve borrowed audio books from the library (think long car trips) and listened to a few podcasts, but it was a once-in-awhile-thing. Enter Audible. Last year, when I started taking the train regularly from New Jersey to Baltimore, I subscribed to Audible and became addicted to listening to books while I ride a train, drive, cook, knit, walk Lucy…hon, you get the idea.

Now that I am reading–umm, I mean listening–to books, I want to share the ones I like with you. Welcome to a new category on the Bmore Energy…Book Reviews. I’d love to hear if you’ve read or listened to= these books, too. What did you think?

Exquisite is the word that came to mind when I finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I wiped away tears at the unexpected ending. Breathtaking writing combined with  a gripping story puts The Nightingale on the list of my favorite books ever!

Summary from Goodreads:

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Quotes from the book:

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

“Today’s young people want to know everything about everyone. They think talking about a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. We understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.”

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

“But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

― Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Spring Sign

Robert Indiana’s $3 million, 13-foot tall, 3-ton pop art sculpture “Hope” is located on the corner of 7th Ave and 53rd St in Manhattan.

Happy Spring, hon!

“The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.”
― Emily Dickinson


“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.”
― John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

Spring’s Secret Garden

Monarch feeding on a Butterfly Bush.

The Secret Garden was one of the classics I read to my children. We spent many hours in the car driving to Maryland and Long Island to visit family (hon, trust me, we know every rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike), and made the time pass quickly by learning language, discovering stories, discussing characters and predicting plots. I only found out later that “brain imaging has suggested that hearing stories evokes visual images in children’s brains, and more strongly if those children are accustomed to being read to.” (The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children  by Perri Klass, M.D.,The New York Times)

Wait! What? Something I did was good for my kids? Woohoo! Hopefully, that balances out the other stuff that might not have been, ummm, as advantageous.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

New Year’s Resolution

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Painterly landscape of the Rahway River in the South Mountain Reservation, New Jersey.

In 2017 let us remember

that with one departure

there is an arrival,

that following every before

there comes an after

and that the moments that 

seem utterly minor

will undoubtedly add up to 

something major.

This year is just like any other.

The only difference is 

what you decide to make of it.

 

Source: Tiffany & Co. Jan. 1, 2017

DIY Graduation Party, Words of Wisdom

Proud of our grads!

Proud of our grads!

Miles of milestones.

Our Words of Wisdom Box was inspired by Advice Boxes on Pinterest. After the graduation party, one of my daughters Tweeted, “”Last night my backyard was basically a Pinterest board.” What can I say? I love a party and I love a theme. If I can combine both, even better!

Words of Wisdom Box

Supplies:

shoebox, wrapping paper, Exacto knife, index cards, scissors, pens, sign, frame, basket or other vessel

Instructions:

  1. Wrap a shoebox in wrapping paper.
  2. Cut index cards in half.
  3. Cut a slit in top of shoebox long enough to slip index cards through.
  4. Make a Words of Wisdom sign. (“Give advice to our new graduates.”)
  5. Set up box, pens, index cards and sign.
  6. Invite guests to be creative.
Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Words to live by.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

“Remember there are a thousand things you haven’t done yet.”

“Believe in yourself. Dream. Try. Do Good.
“Stay true to who you are.”

“Be confident. You are both great. (No tattoos!)”

“Always say yes to opportunities.”

“Never give up!”

“Find something to be thankful for every day.”

“Be a better student. Nevermind, you already graduated!”

 

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guests know where to drop their words of wisdom.

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Fifty Shades of Grey

Dale Chihuly, Perennial Fiori, Blown Glass, 2014

Perennial Fiori, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014

Many shades of grey exist between black and white.

In my last post, Glass in the Garden, vibrant colors resemble Monet’s Impressionistic paintings. Here, black, white and grey stand in stark contrast to grass, leaves, bees and a wall of water.

Aside from contrasting colors, I am taken with the dichotomy between straight and curved lines borrowed from nature and mirrored in glass and stone at the Denver Botanic Gardens

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As stems reach for the sun, bees drink up the shine.

Nicholas Kadzungura,Chapungu Sculpture Park, Zimbabwe, Africa.

So Proud of My Children, Nicholas Kadzungura,Chapungu Sculpture Park, Zimbabwe, Africa.

This African mother may walk tall and straight , but the curve of her face, tilt of her head, and bouquet in her hand form a circle of devotion around her children.

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I’m passionate about children and reading, so it’s no wonder why this sculpture spoke to me.

The Boy and a Frog, Elsie Ward Hering, stone 1898

The Boy and a Frog, Elsie Ward Hering, Stone 1898

I am always amazed at how material such as stone can be chiseled to look like a person. This sculpture’s curves harmonize with the brick path and bushes.

Surprise! Instead of spires, around a corner were huge, wavy glass blooms. I wasn’t expecting these white flowers. Their clear “petals” blend with the falling water yet, at the same time, they wave upward and outward in an unnatural way. I do like the way they are both opaque and translucent.

Dale Chihuly, Perennial Fiori, Blown Glass, 2014

Persian Towers, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014

Dale Chihuly,

“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced. ” (quote by Chihuly)

Hon, what do you think of the black and white glass?

Quotes and Notes (from the NJSCBWI14 Conference)

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The last weekend in June, I attended the New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference.  I entered the conference nervous but excited. I left the conference exploding with ideas, anxious to start revisions, and encouraged by the connections I made.

I was inspired by illustrator and writer Floyd Cooper‘s Opening Keynote speech, and choked up after listening to Rachel Vail‘s Closing Keynote speech.  If a writer leaves me with a lump in my throat and tears threatening to make my mascara run, then her words have reached the core of why I persist with passion.  Surely, I’m on the right path?

Hon, I thought you’d enjoy quotes from the conference paired with pictures.

“Voice puts color and emotion on the page.”  (Susan Hawk)

Color and emotion.

Color and emotion.

Each girl has her own voice.

Each girl has her own voice.

“What does love require of us?”  (Rachel Vail)

Me and Three when they were 12 weeks.

Me and Three when they were 12 weeks.

“We have to have the courage to press that bruise.”  (Rachel Vail)

An accidental shiner care of my "Plus One."

An accidental shiner care of my “Plus One.”

“Make me laugh.”  (Quinlan Lee)

Laughing is contagious.

Laughing is contagious.

“Being brave is not the opposite of worry.”  (Rachel Vail)

I should've joined the circus!

I should’ve joined the circus!

“Gaze through a world made up paper and ink.”  (Rachel Vail)

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 This quote isn’t from the conference, but it speaks to me just the same.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”  (John Wayne)

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Tween and me in Monument Valley, Utah.  We galloped to the base of the buttes and our American Indian guide sang us a lullabye his grandma sang to him.