February 12, 2010

Friday Five (and a half)

1. Dad's in town. He's happy to be away from the snow that's been dumped on New Jersey.

Our favorite day was spent at The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

What a peaceful place. If you're ever in South Florida, treat yourself to a day at the Morikami.

The exhibits were fun and informative.

Here is a mailbox from Japan.

2. Dad's visit follows our friends, Elysa and Peter, who came from Connecticut and our niece, Nicole, who arrived from Philadelphia.

Nicole and I had a delightful time together. We strolled the beach, picking up shells, laughing at the little gulls and spying a cool spinner shark, spiraling in the air above the waves.

My favorite thing was taking Nicole on her first kayaking adventure. We paddled inside Munyon Island, docked the kayak and explored the island, narrowly missing a gigantic spider web. "Thanks for spotting that, Nicole."

Nicole loved the big turtles who were being rehabilitated at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

3. On a sadder note, Dad and I heard a Holocaust survivor, Irene Zisblatt, speak yesterday. What a lovely woman. And her story was both harrowing and hopeful. She was interviewed by Steven Spielberg for his documentary, The Last Days. You can purchase her book, The Fifth Diamond here.

4. On a sad personal note, we had to say good-bye to a dear friend, Kieran Doherty. I've been in a wonderful writer's group with Kieran for over a decade. After a hell of a fight, Kieran succumbed to the ravages of lung cancer. You can read about Kieran and his struggles on his blog.

Kieran, signing his book, Sea Venture at an event in Ft. Lauderdale.

Kieran exchanging gifts with his buddy, Peter Hawkins, also from our writers' group.

We will miss Kieran's exceptionally good writing, his sharp editorial eye, his wicked wit and the warmth and compassion that lurked just below the surface of his gruff exterior. Good-bye, dear friend.

5. On a more upbeat note, I had the great pleasure of helping judge a writing contest at Independence Middle School this afternoon.

Kit Bradshaw, from the Jupiter Courier, another judge.

Two other of the seven "celebrity" judges.

The students wrote about a variety of topics, including helping the people in Haiti, being inspired by Lance Armstrong, Abraham Lincoln, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and becoming an NFL superstar. Reading the students' essays was great fun. Thanks to Lisa Petroccia for coordinating this and providing a yummy lunch!

5 1/2. I'm delighted to share with you and excerpt from How to Survive Middle School's first review from Booklist. Here's an excerpt:

"Gephart crafts for her likable protagonist an engaging, feel-good
transition into adolescence that’s well stocked with tears and laughter."

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