Friday, October 19, 2007

All About Me

The title really has nothing to do with the post. I'm just enjoying myself so much. Aren't you? Yes, yes! I meant enjoying ME. I know I'm self-absorbed, but in a way that's very interesting to others.

The post is about three wonderful finds-- real gems!

The first is a novel, Abide With Me, by Elizabeth Strout. Please buy this book. Send her money and fan mail. I gasped by page ten and re-examined my hesitancy to read while driving (I see people with book or magazine on the steering wheel in the thick of rush hour on 94E, between 3:45 and 4:14, from Lexington to White Bear Lake exits, all the time, if you're a state trooper or cop and have a minute to spare).

Yesterday, waiting with five children for a table at Big Bowl, I stood smack in the middle of the mall and sobbed my way through the ending. Reading standing up. I gave in entirely, wet and running. Scarlett and Merrick know enough to step aside; the other children grew nervous, lest some of this emotion stream their way. John joined us later, only to find me trembling at the table, head in hands, still spent.

"Finish that book?" The man knows me.

This is her second and I have already purchased her first, the hugely popular and award-winning Amy and Isabelle. I am kicking myself for all the times I didn't pick up that book.

Second is the astounding Liz Rognes. For those naughty readers who missed an earlier post, I recently ruminated on unrecognized talent in our midst. You know, the Caribou clerk with a band on the side that turns out to be amazing or the security guard at Target who's actually an award winning poet.

Not long out of college, Liz gives voice and piano lessons to Scarlett and Merrick respectively. She also sings, composes and generally pursues. Yesterday, weak after my bout with the book, I went to her myspace page.

Go to and listen to Falling. John came in while I was and asked, "Is that Jewel?" Please, don't diminish Liz!

To further amaze: when I emailed to ask her if I could put a link on this blog, she wrote, "I have zero recording equipment, so my songs sound like they were recorded on a laptop with a built-in microphone (um....which they were.)" That's what she can do with a laptop? Imagine Liz in a studio. I have goosebumps. Yes, there's a link.

I cried all the way through Falling. Too much art! I can't take so much beauty in a single day.

The third gem presented itself yesterday, too, but is a slightly different animal. This is Leonardo's Basement in South Minneapolis. A non-profit, Leonardo's is indeed a big big basement and it's full of junk: wires, bottle caps, old toys, ornaments, piles of metal and wood, upholstery, coils of foil, computers, roller skates, aprons, keys, screws, feathers, sequins and fur. The list is endless.

Basically, the staff --and there's plenty of them--hands your kid a blow torch or glue gun and says, "Have at it." And Stryker did. Scroll down the photos and see the table and chair my child and his friend built, in under four hours. Stryker had never so much as tapped a nail before. He came home fully lit.

When I picked him up today (he begged to go back), I spotted him with three other excited boys in the 'control panel,' an elevated contraption of computers, wires, poles and pipes and duct tape. He saw me and pushed a blinking button.

"We got the fog to work!" Fog indeed. I was instantly enveloped in the smoke pouring from a huge tube directly above me.

If yours is the budding scientist, a child with a brain wired to rewire, Leonardo's Basement is for you!

Lots of goodies for one day.

No comments: