Yesterday I wrote a blog post about a book called The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. I had read about half of the book when I decided to blog it, and I made some negative comments. Well, all day today, I felt bad about writing about a book that I hadn't finished. So I decided that this evening, after I went to the gym and had dinner, I'd finish the book and then revise my blog post.
As it turned out, I enjoyed the book very much. It is filled with interesting characters, an engaging story, and lots of retellings of classic literary tales and legends. There are twists and turns in the plot, surprises and sweet moments. The author also weaves a bit of history into the novel.
It is a novel that is based on true experiences and real places in Cambodia. The story takes place in a huge waste dump where people actually live and barely survive by picking recyclables from the trash to trade for a bit of money each day. Their existence is possible because of their hard work and the way they take care of each other.
The book is about a young mother who learns how to read from an unlikely teacher - the cruel woman who collects her rent. As the reading lessons progress, stories unfold and lives are changed. I have to say how refreshing it is to read a book without worrying about uncomfortable content or language.
As I read, I paused to appreciate the miracle of learning to read. (I have grandkids who are learning to read, and it's something we take for granted.) I liked the celebration of the joy of having a book to read. I felt gratitude as I finished the book and looked at the stack of novels on the table beside me waiting to be read.
There is great background material about the author and his writing adventure, as well as a story synopsis in this review in the Deseret News here.
I took this photo right before we hugged these two goodbye and sent them off on their next life adventure. Mike has an awesome new job in Utah county at Verio. It's a huge company that offers online business solutions to businesses worldwide. Mike graduated from USU in 2012 in Management Information Systems and worked an IT job at Icon to get some good experience. And he went "above and beyond" and studied, took exams, and became Red Hat certified...that's a good step in the IT world. It all paid off, and he's about to start something new and challenging. Meanwhile, Sierra finished school, finished student teaching, worked several jobs, and graduated in December. Her major was Special Education and her student teaching was with older high school and post-high school students. Everyone says it and I agree that it takes a very wonderful person to do the kind of work Sierra does and loves.
They're not going far, but for Scott and me it's pretty huge because we loved having them here in town as they dated, were engaged. and during their first year of marriage. They'd come to the house to hang out and do their laundry and for Sunday dinner. Now we're alone in Logan. All of our kids and grandkids live out of the valley...though thankfully, within easy driving distance. We know we'll be spending lots of hours in the car between here and Las Vegas with stops in Salt Lake, American Fork, and Orem.
I love all the Keep Calm signs. This one is perfect for Mike and Sierra's past, present and future!
On New Year's Day, Scott tried to convince me to go skiing. That was just simply the LAST thing I wanted to do. I was still cleaning up holiday decorations and trying to put my house back together after all the December fun. So I said NO. He took it well and spent the rest of the day helping me.
Well, that evening I was talking to Becky, and she mentioned that they were going skiing the next day. Totally surprised myself and Scott by inviting us to go along. Before we knew it we were driving to Salt Lake, then following them into the lodge - look closely and you can see Becky with baby Hollis in her car seat and Emmett being carried by Pitt. (It's hard to walk in those heavy boots.)
Skiing with my daughter and grandson? Couldn't miss it. And, I had a motive that would let me ski less and let Scott ski more...I'd be a good Grammy and tend the baby in the lodge while the others skied...which is exactly what I did.
Can you believe this 4 1/4 year old?! His dad has taught him well and now he's skiing by himself and loving it! Last year and the year before he skied with an adult keeping him upright by using a harness. This year, he's on his own and doing great! You wouldn't believe the slopes they tackled. No bunny hill for this kid!
Scott, Emmett and Pitt at the favorite Solitude photo spot.
This makes me happy and Pitt happy and Becky especially happy.
That's me in black on one of my four awesome runs. Four runs is just the right amount of skiing and the non-mogul slopes take away my fears of injury.
Becky and Emmett and blue blue sky. The name Solitude is perfect for this uncrowded and beautiful ski resort.
Little Hollis spent six hours in the lodge with hardly a whimper. What a sweetie! Becky and I enjoyed tending and tater tots almost as much as skiing.
I'm trying something new! I'm participating in a yearlong quilt project. It's the Aurifil Block-of-the-Month Quilt Challenge.
The information about this challenge is here on Pat Sloan's blog. She's the host of the online event and she has made the first block and posted some tips to make the block quickly and easily. She also interviewed the designer who created the block - her name is Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic Quilts.
Aurifil is company that produces fine threads for sewing and quilting. They have twelve quilt designers who will create and share a block each month. One reason I wanted to do this is to learn the stories behind the blocks. The designers are supposed to make a block in honor of a woman they admire. Follow along and the result will be a nice quilt at the end of the year.
I decided to use my stash of ADORNit fabrics from when I worked there. The colors are so pretty with the grays, blues and reds. and I think they'll make me happy any time of the year.
We used to be tired and grumpy on the day after Christmas. About five years ago, we started a tradition of ice skating and lunch. It got us out of the house and away from the toys and treats for a little while. We love it. This year I sent an email inviting lots of families, and the turn out was awesome! The Eccles Ice Arena, our local (indoor) rink, provides "walkers" for the kids to skate with, plus they let you take strollers on the ice. So everyone from babies to toddlers to oldies can enjoy the skating.
This little sweetie is only two years and a couple of months.
And Suzie, Winston and Lizzie are from Las Vegas where they don't do ice!
That's Carter in the front - he was skating on his own after an hour.
My sister and his son and family came from out of town!
Three generations on the ice.
Mike and Sierra missed the ice skating last year because they were on their honeymoon.
Look at the size of our group - and it's not even everyone!
Becky and Emmett - he wanted to wear his helmet - they're cool now and that's neat!
Emmett and dad watching the zamboni groom the ice after the two-hour skate session.
We started our New Year's Eve celebration at a restaurant that had a special buffet. We've eaten there for several years for New Year's Eve. We always take the last seating which starts at 8:30, but it's usually pretty crowded when we arrive. Well, last night was way different with very few customers and all the help in "go home mode" (yet it was still three hours until the new year). We laughed our way through our meal because the place was weirdly quiet (their sound system was "broken") and the waiters abandoned us to get ahead of us in the buffet line then go eat on the other end of the room...you can see them in the background.
It was so pathetic it was funny. We had to get our own pitchers of water and clear our own plates. The dessert table was mostly empty - only the cookies were left. We had fun in spite of all of the above. As always, our friend Marty put a positive spin on it by saying, "It was like we had our own private dining room."
After dinner we went to Ken and Marty's house. That's Marty with dark hair and my sister-in-law Lesa.
Marty always creates beautiful table settings with beautiful flowers that she arranges and lovely dishes.
We were so full from dinner that we only had sparkling cider and ginger ale to drink.
The guys. Scott couldn't help himself.