Saturday, July 4, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - ALA Edition


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

The first of three (small) boxes of books arrived yesterday. This one was sent priority because the long box was the only way to fit this particular bunch of books.
Excuse my big fat head shadow. That always happens whenever I use the flash on my camera.

Roving the exhibits is not all about free books. There's plenty to buy as well - at deeply discounted prices. I usually stop at the BOT (Books on Tape) booth to pick up some new release audiobooks at $20 a pop. They're on the right and most of the titles are cut off.

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud. Unabridged audiobook on 9 compact discs. Read by Katie Lyons. (I read The Screaming Staircase with both my eyes and ears and it was fantastic each time!)

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka read by the author and illustrator, Brian Biggs. (Ack! I cannot believe it! I thought this was book 2 when I grabbed it! I have it already! Oh well, my public library or a classroom might have use for it.)

The Black Reckoning by John Stephens. Unabridged audiobook on 11 compact discs. Read by Jim Dale. (I read the first in this trilogy with my eyes. Heard that it was narrated by Jim Dale and read the second with my ears.)

The Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. Unabridged audiobook on 6 compact discs. Read by Bronson Pinchot. (I have been hearing nothing but great things about this hugely hyped book. I did grab an arc at midwinter and recently picked it up to read when three books came in that I need to read for review. When I saw the book had been produced as an audio and Bronson Pinchot narrated, a happy dance was had. Pinchot did a marvelous job narrating The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle. Random House was also giving away HARDCOVER copies of Circus Mirandus but ran out when I was one person from the head of the line. :-/ Oh well, it's in my fall order for my library anyway.

Arcs:
The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds. 208 p. Blink, August 4, 2015. 9780310746423.

Publisher synopsis: The Looney Experiment chronicles one boy’s journey through bullying, first love, and—with the help of an older than dirt and crazier than insanity itself substitute English teacher named Mr. Looney—an up-close examination of the meaning of courage.


The Copper Gauntlet
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. 272 p. Magisterium #2. Scholastic Inc., September 1, 2015. 9780545522281.

Publisher synopsis: Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to the magical world of the Magisterium in the fall.
 
It’s not easy for Call . . . and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.
Samurai Rising: the epic life of Minamoto Yoshistune by Pamela S. Turner. Illustrated by Gareth Hinds. 256 p. Charlesbridge, February 2, 2016. 9781580895842.

Publisher synopsis: Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life Game of Thrones.
 
This epic tale of warriors and bravery, rebellion and revenge, reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in Japanese history. 
 
When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father went to war with a rival samurai family—and lost. His father was killed, his mother captured, and his brothers sent away. Yoshitsune was raised in his enemy’s household until he was sent away to live in a monastery. He grew up skinny and small. Not the warrior type. But he did inherit his family pride and when the time came for the Minamoto to rise up against their enemy once again, Yoshitsune was there. His daring feats, such as storming a fortress by riding on horseback down the side of a cliff and his glorious victory at sea, secured Yoshitsune’s place in history and his story is still being told centuries later.

House Arrest by K. A. Holt. 304 p. Chronicle Books, LLC., October 6, 2015. 9781452134772.

Publisher synopsis: Timothy is on probation. It's a strange word—something that happens to other kids, to delinquents, not to kids like him. And yet, he is under house arrest for the next year. He must check in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, and keep a journal for an entire year. And mostly, he has to stay out of trouble. But when he must take drastic measures to help his struggling family, staying out of trouble proves more difficult than Timothy ever thought it would be. By turns touching and funny, and always original, House Arrest is a middle grade novel in verse about one boy's path to redemption as he navigates life with a sick brother, a grieving mother, and one tough probation officer.


Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu. 336 p. HarperCollins Publishers, September 29, 2015. 9780062352712.

Publisher synopsis: In the tradition of Sharon Creech and Wendy Mass, Corey Ann Haydu's sparkling middle grade debut is a sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope.

Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she's too little for most things—especially when it comes to dealing with their mother's unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.

When Silly is brought into her sisters' world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she's soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart.


Juba! A novel by Walter Dean Myers. 208 p. HarperCollins Publisher, October 13, 2015. 9780062112712.

Publisher synopsis: In New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers's last novel, he delivers a gripping story based on the life of a real dancer known as Master Juba, who lived in the nineteenth century.

This engaging historical novel is based on the true story of the meteoric rise of an immensely talented young black dancer, William Henry Lane, who influenced today's tap, jazz, and step dancing. With meticulous and intensive research, Walter Dean Myers has brought to life Juba's story.

The novel includes photographs, maps, and other images from Juba's time and an afterword from Walter Dean Myers's wife about the writing process of Juba!

Books:

Neighborhood Sharks: hunting with the great whites of California's Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy. unpgd. Roaring Brook Press, October, 2014. 9781596438743.

Publisher synopsis: A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
Winner of the John Burroughs Riverby Award for Young Readers
Up close with the ocean's most fearsome and famous predator and the scientists who study them-just twenty-six miles from the Golden Gate Bridge!

A few miles from San Francisco lives a population of the ocean's largest and most famous predators. Each fall, while the city's inhabitants dine on steaks, salads, and sandwiches, the great white sharks return to California's Farallon Islands to dine on their favorite meal: the seals that live on the island's rocky coasts. Massive, fast, and perfectly adapted to hunting after 11 million years of evolution, the great whites are among the planet's most fearsome, fascinating, and least understood animals.

In the fall of 2012, Katherine Roy visited the Farallons with the scientists who study the islands' shark population. She witnessed seal attacks, observed sharks being tagged in the wild, and got an up close look at the dramatic Farallons-a wildlife refuge that is strictly off-limits to all but the scientists who work there. Neighborhood Sharks is an intimate portrait of the life cycle, biology, and habitat of the great white shark, based on the latest research and an up-close visit with these amazing animals.

Other:
Three by three: chapter sampler. I dropped by the Random House booth to ask for an arc of The Odds of Getting Even. They were not distributing arcs but gave me a chapter sampler of it along with Ingrid Law's newest,  and Maile Meloy's 

Bound manuscript: Free Verse by Sarah Dooley.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Memes: George by Alex Gino

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.



George by Alex Gino. 195 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., August 25, 2015. 9780545812542.

Publisher synopsis: BE WHO YOU ARE.
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.

George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy.  
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

First line: George pulled a silver house key out of the smallest pocket of a large red backpack.

Page 56: The air was filled with the buzz of a hundred students at recess, punctuated with yells, laughter, and, occasionally, Mrs. Fields's piercing whistle. She was a short, wrinkly prune of a woman with poofy gray hair who disapproved of everything and walked with a hunched back that made her look shorter and wrinklier than she already was.

This has received starred reviews from SLJ, PW and Kirkus as well as a ton of buzz on the interwebz. I was lucky to be invited to a Scholastic event at annual where a section of the story was performed in a reader's theater - so touching. I'm thrilled about the publication of this important book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer (Rick Riordan's Norse Mythology)

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we can't wait to release.




Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer (Rick Riordan's Norse Mythology). 528 p. Disney-Hyperion, October 6, 2015. 9781423160915.

Publisher synopsis: Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother's mysterious death, he's lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he's tracked down by a man he's never met-a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.
The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Whoa! 528 pages?!? Should be interesting. I have multiple copies of all Rick Riordan's books in my library and, for the most part, they circulate vigorously. Admittedly, the Roman mythology books circulate less. My students and I have enjoyed Melissa Armstrong's Norse Mythology series, The Blackwell Pages. It will be interesting to compare the two.

Monday, June 29, 2015

More on ALA Annual

Well, my intention to recap my days failed. I had a very long and full day on Saturday with little brain function to blog. I slept poorly and had an early start to my Sunday, which was another long on. I felt jazzed and hyper upon returning to my hotel after the Newbery Banquet on Sunday night and thought I could blog as well as check in for my flight. Unfortunately, the hotel Internet went down and stayed down through Monday morning. Another reason to get a smart phone. Their business center is independently operated and only linked to the airport, where I needed a confirmation # to check in. But, that was in my email. 

Sigh.

Headed out super early to the convention center to hit their network. Found a kiosk to sign in the the airline via my email and was able to print my boarding pass. Then, I felt ready to meet the day.

I think I will start with today and work my way backward as long as memory and energy last.

I originally intended to sightsee this morning and return to the convention center for the Odyssey Award ceremony before heading out. I perused the session manual one last time and found a session called Whaling Ho! at 10:30. There really wasn't anything I wanted to do around the neighborhood so I stayed put at the convention center and scheduled a blog post.

I am devoting an entire blog post to the Whaling Ho! session because I want to review the handouts and set up links to two rather valuable resources if you cover any maritime history in your school or library

A friend posted to FB that she was gathering at The View at the top of the Marriott Marquis at 4 in the afternoon. I thought I might be able to swing that and the Odyssey gathering if I trekked back to my hotel between morning sessions to retrieve my bag. (I do believe I may have dropped a few pounds this conference thanks to the all the walking, hills and spotty eating.)

The next session was called Robots in the Library. This was serendipity as I am teaching a brand new class for the eighth grade next school year. I will be getting some training in a few weeks, but thought attendance at this particular session was mandatory to see how school and public libraries are doing robotics. Got some ideas.

The final session of ALA Annual Conference 2015 was the Odyssey Award presentation. I adore the Odyssey Award. Oddly enough, I hadn't (and still haven't) read any of the winners with my ears. I've already read Five, Six, Seven, Nate! and A Snicker of Magic (and loved them both) with my eyes. I adored Tim Federle's Odyssey Honor-winning performance of his debut mg offering, Better Nate Than Ever, but somehow never got to it. S&S gave away copies so I snagged one and will remedy this post haste.

The awards went surprisingly quickly. I snagged a drink and chatted with some folks for a bit before heading over to The View. The View is indeed impressive as the lounge features panoramic, 360 degree views of San Francisco from 39 stories high. My friends Roxanne and Monica were there with snacks and a comfy couch.

I headed out around 5:30, wrangled with the ticket machine and had to wait less than five minutes for the BART to the airport. The train was quite crowded so I stood for a few stops. Once we were out of the city proper, a seat opened and the airport was the last stop. Thank goodness my friend Barb Langridge did the trip the day before and gave me a heads up about keeping my ticket handy because I needed it to enter the air-train area. That came immediately and my terminal was the second stop. I lost track of the time but it was all quite fast and certainly faster (as well as cheaper) than a cab that was likely to sit a bit in rush hour traffic leaving the city.

I feel so thrifty and competent. Honestly, it was so easy!

The sun is setting over my shoulder. It's quite pretty. I wish airports had verandas where waiting passengers could get fresh air and sunshine while they waited. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

ALA Annual - First Full Day

I had a great first full day in San Francisco on Friday. It was quite full and very long as I awakened at 3AM (which was 6AM by my east coast body clock). I lounged around in my room reviewing the scheduler and writing yesterday's post. I had a 9:30 breakfast appointment at my hotel dining room but found the time to dash down to the convention center to pick up my registration materials and attempt to register for the Printz Reception (why I did not do that upon initial registration is beyond me. I've always gone). Sadly, it was closed but I did get a ticket to Sunday's YA Author Coffee Klatch. 

The walk to and from the convention center is doable. Maybe not-so-much with bags of books. It was a gorgeous, windy morning and I made it back to my hotel to finally meet, in person, the lovely and brilliant Stacey Barney. Every so often, an arc appears in my mailbox courtesy of Stacey and I know I'll be in for a treat. I had no idea how I popped up on her radar but am very grateful for the opportunities to read books like Leaving Gee's Bend and Golden Boy and The Secret Hum of a Daisy. We spent a lovely hour talking books and how our wending careers have happily converged. She also brought a bound manuscript of Sarah Dooley's newest middle grade novel, Free Verse. I enjoyed her debut novel, Livvie Owen Lived Here and see that I somehow missed her sophomore novel, Body of Water. Honestly, it is so hard to keep up!

After breakfast, the hotel concierge mapped directions to the Embarcadero and, while it was a beautiful day to walk there, I had some time constraints, so I grabbed an electric tram (What are they called?), which was standing room only. It dropped me at Pier 39. I waded through the crowds and made my way to the walkway by the bay, got a gorgeous view of Alcatraz Island, saw the sea lions and walked the bayside around the crescent that ended on a historic pier where a variety of fisherfolk fished and crabbed and I snagged some more pix of Alcatraz from a slightly different angle. Time did not allow for me to use my transfer for a return ride back to Market Street, so I sprung for a cab to the convention center. Man, traffic in San Francisco is murder!

I made it back slightly late for the start of a YALSA program called, Diversity Goggles, in which Dr. Kafi Kumasi urged participants to change the narrative and avoid damaging discourse, such as saying "cultural deficit" as opposed to "cultural capital." This was followed by Dr. Sandra Hughes-Hassell, who said, that it is not the job of the kid to close the achievement gap. His job is to become literate. How do we do that? Not by teaching to the test.

The second half of the program consisted of a panel discussion about diversity between debut author, Adam Silvera, whose book, More Happy Than Not, sits on my summer tbr pile and Kekla Magoon, who has two books on my summer tbr, and Christopher Myers, who just gets better with every book and whose picture book, My Pen, is a 2015 favorite. This panel gelled in a nice way. I enjoyed both their prepared responses and the banter and conversations that sprung up. I honestly could've sat and listened for another hour. 

I spent the hour and a half between the end of that session and the opening of the exhibits chatting with a conference acquaintance, then strolled the exhibits with the hordes. I was mostly scoping out the lay of the land, but spied arcs of K. A. Holt's upcoming House Arrest and snagged it. I was disappointed to learn that there will be no arc distribution of Sheila Turnage's next Mo and Dale book, The Odds of Getting Even, but the rep gave me a sampler called Three by Three, which includes the first chapters of Odds, plus Switch by Ingrid Law and After Room by Maile Meloy, both of which I am eager to read. So that was a treat.

Over at the Simon & Schuster booth, they were giving out these cute totes, which required a coupon. Luckily, I had my Aisle by Aisle pamphlet and snagged one. Then, I nearly tripped over a stack of arcs, which was rather serendipitous as it was a stack of Stuart Gibbs' next Funjungle novel, Big Game! I adored Belly Up and reviewed Poached for SLJ, so this was a happy-making discovery!

I spotted Chris Lynch's Hit Count over at the Algonquin booth and near it, Trevor Ingerson, who sent an email after I reviewed Hit Count here. It is so nice to meet online acquaintances in person!

Finally, I joined my conference pal, Barb Langridge, of abookandahug.com while she sat at the ALA booth and we made plans to trek to some events together today. I totally ran out of steam and opted to join the hordes heading for the shuttles and sat next to a middle school librarian from Nevada. Sure enough between the roundabout route and the traffic, I could've walked back to my hotel faster; but I was a bit weighed down and oh, so tired. The conversation was satisfying. I love how I can turn and talk to just about anyone here.

I ended my day back where I started it, at the hotel restaurant, where I had delicious fried calamari and a tasty cocktail. As tired as I was, sleep was long in coming, so I dipped into Big Game for a bit.

Today, brings new adventures. 

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

Reviewing for SLJ:

VIP: I'm with the Band by Jen Calonita. Illustrated by Kristin Gudsnuk. VIP series #1. 336 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, December 1, 2015. 978.0316259729.

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Mackenzie "Mac" Lowell's dreams have come true. Thanks to her mom scoring the coolest job EVER, Mac is going from boy band fanatic to official tour member of her favorite group, Perfect Storm. Good thing she's brought along her journal so she can record every moment, every breath, and every one of lead singer Zander Welling's killer smiles in written detail and daydreamy doodles.
But between a zillion tour stops and pranks gone wrong, Zander and his fellow band members, Heath Holland and Kyle Beyer, become more like brothers to Mac. When the boys' differences start to drive them apart, can Perfect Storm's biggest fan remind them why they'reperfect together? It'll be up to Mac--and her comic-book alter ego, Mac Attack--to keep the band together and on the road to stardom
Chronicling her experiences on tour, Mac's journal springs to life with black-and-white illustrations and comic-book panels throughout its pages.



Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey. 304 p. Tundra, September 8, 2015. 9781770498150.

Publisher synopsis: Lewis Dearborn is a lonely, anxious, "terminally shy" boy of eleven when his great-grandfather passes away and leaves Lewis's family with his decaying seaside mansion. Lewis is initially delighted with his new bedroom, a secluded tower in a remote part of the house. Then he discovers that it's already occupied — by the ghosts of seven dead pirates. Worse, the ghosts expect him to help them re-take their ship, now restored and on display in a local museum, so they can make their way to Libertalia, a legendary pirate utopia. The only problem is that this motley crew hasn't left the house in almost two hundred years and is terrified of going outside. As Lewis warily sets out to assist his new roommates — a raucous, unruly bunch who exhibit a strange delight in thrift-store fashions and a thirst for storybooks — he begins to open himself to the possibilities of friendship, passion and joie de vivre and finds the courage to speak up.



The Secrets to Ruling the School by Neil Swaab. Max Corrigan Series #1. 204 p. Abrams/ Amulet Books, September 1, 2015. 9780553556285.

Publisher synopsis: It’s the first week of middle school, i.e., the Worst Place in the Entire World. How do you survive in a place where there are tough kids twice your size, sadistic teachers, and restrictions that make jail look like a five-star resort? Easy: with the help of Max Corrigan, middle school “expert” and life coach. Let Max teach you how to win over not just one, but all of the groups in school, from the Preps to the Band Geeks. Along the way, Max offers surefire advice and revealing tips on how to get through universal middle school experiences like gym class, detention, faking sick, dealing with jocks and bullies, and acing exams (without getting caught cheating).
In an innovative format that is part narrative and part how-to, acclaimed illustrator Neil Swaab has created a hilarious new reading experience that is reminiscent of video games and sure to engage even the most reluctant reader.

Purchased: Yeah. I'm drowning in books but still need more. Plus, I prescheduled this earlier this week since I'm at ALA Annual from Thursday through Monday. I'm sure I will find a few more to add to the ridiculous tbr mountain.



The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen. 368 p. HarperTeen/ HarperCollins Publishers, June, 2015. 9780062281364.

Publisher synopsis: Don't get mad, get even! In this poignant and hilarious novel, Rachael Allen brilliantly explores the nuances of high school hierarchies, the traumas sustained on the path to finding true love, and the joy of discovering a friend where you least expect.
In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That's a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it's only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.
I can't remember where I read about this, but it looks like a fun sort of beach read. It kind of reminded me of Kody Keplinger's Shutout.

We are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen. Unabridged audiobook on 5 compact discs. Read by Jesse Bernstein and Jorjeana Marie. Penguin Random House/ Listening Library, May, 2015. 9780553556285.

Publisher synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless.
Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.
 
Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.
 
They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules.


I loved The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. This one sounds brilliant.


Flunked by Jen Calonita. 244 p. Fairy Tale Reform School #1. Sourcebooks/ Jabberwocky, March, 2015. 9781492601562.

Publisher synopsis: Flunked is an exciting new twisted fairy tale from the award-winning author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series. "Charming fairy-tale fun." -Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series.
Gilly wouldn't call herself wicked, exactly...but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly's a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).
Until she gets caught.
Gilly's sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its heroic mission. There's a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?
I happen to enjoy fractured fairy tales myself, but I also have a student who reads voraciously and loves them as well. 
That's what's new with me. What's new with you?

Friday, June 26, 2015

ALA Annual - San Francisco


Well. I'm here. I arrived yesterday. My plane landed fifteen minutes early but sat on the tarmac for almost forty-five minutes because the gate wasn't ready. The plane that was there was having mechanical difficulties. I chose to grab a cab into the city because I was meeting my husband's uncle for lunch and didn't know how long the shuttle wait would be. The cab ride in was a bit pricey and we stopped dead in traffic for the ball game that was starting. Oh well.

My room happened to be ready, so I checked in and that was good. It's in the "historic" section of the hotel and is quite nice but that the single window looks out into a shaft of some sort and I look directly into another hotel room. It's only for one night though. I have to move today to the "premier" section, at $30 more per night. It's right downtown though and a longish walk to the convention center. It'll do - especially since it was just about the only thing left by the time I booked this trip.

Honestly. While there's something to be said for "going with the flow," I am a hopeless planner. I always seem to be a day late and a dollar short and usually lost. I don't mind wandering but there's something to be said for joining a tour and listening to someone who knows the area. Last night, I had dinner with a vivacious librarian and her husband. She is the opposite of me in that she researches everything about where she's going and makes the most of every minute. Of course, she has energy to spare. 

After a delicious dinner at a small Indonesian place I never would've found on my own, I decided to wander around the neighborhood a bit. As I trekked up a hill near Union Square, I realized that, one, I am woefully out of shape as I got short of breath within a block, and two, I had no idea where I was headed as the darkness (and chill) fell. I had this sudden memory of a trip to Europe I took in my senior year of high school. My advance placement history teacher always took a group of seniors some place in Europe for the February break. We went to Saltzburg, Austria and Munich, Germany. The first night in Saltzburg, we were free to wander the downtown area with instructions to meet back at the hotel at a certain time. My best friend and I happily walked and talked and walked and talked until we realized that we were lost. Boy, did we get in trouble upon return to the hotel.

Then, there was the time, twenty-five years ago, when I thought that Colonial Williamsburg was a walk from the train station. Our train arrived at night. I was traveling with my husband, and three sons, ages 14, 4 and 1. We walked and walked and walked and there were no signs or anything. How my husband didn't divorce me is testament to his patience.

I had a lovely lunch with Uncle Howard. He took me to the Oak Room and we caught up on family matters. He is a vibrant almost 92 year old who just gave up his apartment and moved to a retirement/ assisted living situation. The last time I visited, he took me around SF, and I had trouble keeping up with him. This time around, he seemed to tire after a short walk around Union Square and fretted a bit about not having the energy to attend a six-hour opera that night, so I said that I needed to nap and sent him on his way to take one himself. I did end up napping, but I should have roused myself and scoped out the convention center and registered so that I could read the manual. I honestly can't handle the online scheduler. But I didn't. And so.

Of course, the Alcatraz and Angel Island tours are all booked up. I thought I would trek around town today but there's an interesting diversity panel this afternoon and the exhibits are open, so... I will go with the flow and make the most of it.

Sometimes too much choice is paralyzing. Then, there's the matter of energy. I've been ailing most of June with a combination of some sort of bug/ allergy thing and dealing with side effects from a new medication my oncologist put me on. Add to that the fact that school ended two days ago, with all the craziness that that brings, and... You know what? I'm going to shut up now. 

I'm here. The weather's supposed to be great. I have appointments to keep, friends to meet and workshops to attend. I will not dwell on what I missed and will make the most of what I am doing. I will be present.

Onward and upward.