Something to Smile About: A SpReAd the Love Challenge

Yay! Another SpReAd the Love challenge!

SpReAd The Love

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard about Richard Armitage’s biting debut as Francis Dolarhyde…aka The Tooth Fairy…on NBC’s Hannibal.  We here at STL like to mark special Armitage events, and this one is no different.  You might wonder how we are going to blend together kindness collection with an orally afflicted serial murderer…that’s easy!

Anyone else remember this from Captain Kangaroo??

In honor of the “Tooth Fairy” we are challenging ArmitageWorld to donate toothbrushes (and/or other oral hygiene products) to local or international organizations in need.  Dental health is directly connected to overall physical health, yet millions of people around the globe lack easy access to oral hygiene products.  Toothbrushes, dental floss, toothpaste and mouthwash regularly show up on the “Things We Need” list for homeless shelters and also for international relief agencies.  Here are just a few I know about:

Donate A Toothbrush


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SpReAd The Love “Children’s Book Challenge” for Dr. Seuss’ Birthday!

March 1st is the birthday of beloved children’s book author, Doctor Seuss. Coincidentally, the first week of March is also Read Across America week here in the US, and elementary schools across the country will be celebrating with activities, author visits, and other events to share the joy of reading with kids.

In honor of Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel, the SpReAd the Love group has organized the Children’s Book Challenge! Fans of Richard Armitage everywhere are encouraged to write a review of a children’s book that you love and then donate it to a school, library, children’s hospital, Ronald McDonald House, or a child in your own life.

I think that sounds great! I’ve chosen two books that my son and I loved and cherished when he was small: No, David, by David Shannon and the Encyclopedia Prehistorica – Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart.

No, David!
This book was a bedtime favorite for my son when he was 4, 5, and 6 years old. It’s full of delightful, bright-colored pictures of mischievous little David jumping on his bed, tracking mud through the house, and turning his bathtub into a shipwreck-filled typhoon.

The simple-to-read and simply perfect text is all parental dismay and exasperation: “No, David!” “Settle down, David!” Come back here, David!” (The last statement goes along with a picture of David running gleefully down the street, completely bare.)

“No, David” puts a smile on my face every time I read it. Check it out on Amazon. The children’s librarian at the Alexandria Public Library said that it’s a favorite with kids today, and I bet it will never go out of style.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica – Dinosaurs

dinosaursSeriously, this book is beautiful, and a stunning feat of engineering to boot. Each of the big pages has a large central pop-up, and each of the four corners of the double-page spread hold additional mini-pop-ups, including one that has two scientists engaged in a tug-of-war over a fossil, and another that shows a huge explosion similar to a giant asteroid hitting the Earth.

Check out the book’s Amazon page for some great pictures of the pop-ups.

The same artist, Robert Sabuda, has done other elaborate pop-up books – we had a Wizard of Oz pop-up complete with a whirling tornado, and we still have his Star Wars pop-up book (because the pop-up showdown between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader has them wielding lightsabers that actually light up. How cool is that?).


And hey, I finally figured out how to get the video I made about the Encyclopedia Prehistorica to be uploaded! I’ve edited to include it here. (Probably just as well if nobody sees it, but the book really is cool.)


SpReAding the Love


The children’s librarian, Pam Hankinson, was excited to receive the Encyclopedia Prehistorica, too. I hope it brings plenty of joy to the young and young at heart. The Alexandria Public Library is an independent library in Alexandria, Ohio. It is located next to the elementary school. Students walk over to the library every day, since the school doesn’t have a library of its own.

Happy Reading to all!

For what is done […] May the judgment not be too heavy upon us

A beautiful and sobering reminder.

Me + Richard Armitage

Ash Wednesday [by T.S. Eliot]

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce…

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A Gift I Got for Giving!

A while back, I participated in the SpReAd The Love Gives Back Week connected to the premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Readers of the blog were urged to share a comment about a kindness you’d done for others, or something kind that had been done for you. One lucky person was to be selected from the comments, and they would receive a lovely handmade beaded bracelet in sky-blue, purple and gold.

So I shared a story about the nurses and staff at the nursing home where my mother spent her final years. She was strong-willed, fiercely independent, and sinking deeper into delusions and senility, so the good people at the home really had their work cut out for them. They found and removed the half-pints of milk that my mother kept hiding in her sock drawer. They fielded her continual complaints about the guy across the hall who listened to his TV too loud. They made sure she was clean and comfortable.

They considered what they did to be all in a day’s work, but by freeing me from a burden I could never have borne by myself, they did me a great kindness. In her final illness, they grieved for her, difficult as she’d been. “Of course we look out for her,” the head nurse told me. “Your mother’s one of us, now.”

Anyway, now I’ve been picked to receive this beautiful bracelet! The sky-blue beads are for Thorin Oakenshield’s sky-blue hood, the purple beads no doubt for his majesty, and the gold spacers represent the shining beauty of gold.

The bracelet came tucked in a pretty gauze pouch filled with silk rose petals, and decorated with a valentine on the front.

Thank you! I will treasure it!

The road less taken

So I’ve been sharing the TED videos I like best on my tumblr account, but I thought maybe I’d share them here, too.
In this video, Daniele Quercia talks about creating apps that can tell you how to get from here to there — not by the quickest route, but also by the prettiest route. The most pleasant commute, not the fastest one.

Because why be on autopilot through those moments (or any moments) of your day? It’s a good question. In a world that’s spinning faster and faster all the time, we are robbing ourselves when we sprint through our lives.

Our priorities need adjusting. I like how this guy thinks.

A New Year

My husband doesn’t make New Year’s Resolutions. None of that “setting yourself up for failure,” as he calls it. But I’ve got to have direction. Hopes. Dreams. Lists.

Years ago — more than 20 years ago now — when I was single and struggling, I read a magazine article about making Vision Boards.  The idea was (do people still do this?) that your Inner Child, your subconscious self, is pre-verbal and doesn’t respond well to text. To get through to your Inner Child, you need pictures. Images. Sensory stimuli.

Dutifully, I collected some magazines, intending to cut out photos that represented what I wanted for myself. I leafed through the magazines and was inspired by nothing. Not one thing. Nada. Niente. Bupkus. I didn’t look like any of the “career gals” pictured in the glossy pages. The stuff in the ads looked boring. There wasn’t anything that looked like who I wanted to be, or what I wanted my life to be.

So I ended up writing down what I wanted in as great detail as I could manage. A car. A house of my own. Work that I loved. A life partner.  Then I set the document aside (it was on a computer and I don’t know if I ever printed it out) and didn’t look at it for a long while.

Strangely, my life began to change, almost without my doing anything at all. I got a new-to-me car. My job seemed a little better. I met a guy who had all the qualities I’d asked for: intelligent, healthy, sense of humor, kindness, a hopeful outlook on life (my then-boyfriend had had a cynical, contemptuous, worm’s-eye view of the world which quickly overshadowed his handsome looks and superficial charm) and who really wanted to be with me. We planned our life together, bought a house.

Now I’m getting closer to building a career as a writer. This is the work I want to do, but I need it to be a financial support as well. And so now I’m thinking back to that long-ago document that I wrote, and I wonder: What did I do right? How did I manage to put down the words that held the seeds of the future? Was it some momentary magic, a state of mind, a quiet alignment of the stars?

I’m looking for the magic again. I hope I find it.


Quilted and timeless

Most mornings lately I’ve been waking up with songs in my head. I blame it on Pandora, because in my ongoing struggle to write this new book I’ve been listening to a lot of free tunes — fiddle, guitar and mandolin, Celtic and Quebecois, nearly all instrumental. Lyrics are too distracting. They drag me out of the movie in my mind, which isn’t good when I’ve got a few thousand words to write.

Anyway, this morning instead of Natalie McMaster, I woke up with Elton John’s song “Pinky” in my mind. It’s been a favorite of mine since my teen years. The album belonged to my boarding school roommate, but I played it more than she did.

Why did I think of this particular song today, after so many long years? Maybe it has something to do with a sweet moment savored in the midst of life’s trials and errors.

Here’s to sleepy snuggles and abandoned plans on a cold morning.

I don’t want to wake you
But I’d like to tell you that I love you
That the candlelight fell like a crescent
Upon your feather pillow

For there’s more ways than one
And the ways of the world are a blessing
For when Pinky’s dreaming
She owes the world nothing
And her silence keeps us guessing

Pinky’s as perfect as the Fourth of July
Quilted and timeless, seldom denied
The trial and the error of my master plan
Now she rolls like the dice in a poor gambler’s hands

You don’t want to tell me
But somehow you’ve guessed that I know
Oh when dawn came this morning
You discovered a feeling that burned like a flame in your soul

For there’s toast and honey
And there’s breakfast in bed on a tray
Oh it’s ten below zero
And we’re about to abandon our plans for the day