Book Confessions…

September 19, 2012 § 17 Comments

I want to read but it’s just not something you do in the middle of the day at your desk.
I want to read but instead decide to sleep on the plane.
I want to read but waiting ’til bedtime (11-ish) just doesn’t work out always when Morpheus comes flapping around doing his go-to-sleep-now thing.
I want to read but sometimes it’s just not polite, even if the conversation is boring, to pick up a book and begin.

I crave reading like I crave chocolate, or quiet time or a ride in the countryside.

Instead of reading right now, though, I’ll herein spill some book truths, confessions if you will..and you might want to pipe up on some of it..

FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen. More than 15 months since I started it, I still haven’t finished it. The suburban angst and the “drifting”around of characters is disturbing (and truthful) to me and not the escapism I’m likely to seek after a 10-hour work day.
But the writing is fabulous, full of writing language and human insight.
Plus, Franzen is from here, from Webster Groves.
Plus, I have it on my Nook.

I am only now reading THE BOOK THIEF.
I am reading it because I think I should. (I wrote that line 4 days ago.) But now, more than halfway through it, I’m liking it. There is some sharp and excellent writing in it.
It’s not (just) for young adults.

I am only 4 pages in to THE HUNGER GAMES. I am not yet addicted. I haven’t touched it in four months. I thought I’d be done with it by now, talking about it at the water cooler, yapping about the movie, but no. It’s still hovering near the TBR stack. Along with its two successors. Blech.

As for some of the hefty classics including  ANNA KARENINA, EAST OF EDEN, CUTTING FOR STONE, MIDDLESEX, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, DANTE’S INFERNO, THE ODYSSEY, ULYSSES, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, IN COLD BLOOD, and ON THE ROAD to name a few, I haven’t read ém and I don’t know if I will. Maybe with the change of the season… Though I’d say my heart’s not in reading them, I realize I might fall in love with them. That’s nice, to be on the precipice of (book) love, non?

I am hellbent to read the books that are in the house. However, I find my buy-books addiction leaking into the purchase of magazines instead. My habit has morphed.

The bottom line, though: if I’m reading, I’m not writing.

Summer has been…hot

September 14, 2012 § 11 Comments

It was so hot in the midst of summer that…flowers melted.


art journal TOOLS…

January 29, 2012 § 7 Comments

(you’re right – the rubberbands are wrong.)




favorite things…

December 6, 2011 § 7 Comments

At last, to catch up with a workable holiday theme, to bring a little of this, a little of that to the holiday buffet of favorite things!

Herein, a journal. It’s a tiny little gipper, brought to me by dear friend Linda of Haute Loire, when she took a cooking tour in Tuscany. This is actually a little journal, about 4×5″ and with a long thin leather strap to wrap it all ’round. Nope, this one remains untouched to date. And it doesn’t play well on the shelf (due to its leather string.) But it’s the real ‘ting, all lovely paper inside begging beggging begging for some written words – no matter what they are, to dress it up and make in sing (which it would likely do with a marvelous Italian accent!)

Why so compelled to journal?
It’s an old art, if not an ancient one. The history of the practice will zip you right back to 10th century Japan (ah, those ladies of the royal court…who wrote).
Journaling endures. Not just because people have time on their hands (like the Bennett sisters) but are, moreover, driven by a need to record things, about the world, about themselves, about what they see and don’t see…about fiction. 
It’s notable in the two different  journaling classes I attend that the attendees are always asking what they should write in a journal, in fact, what IS a journal? Others don’t say anything. They might read what they’ve written…or not. They might ask questions and have done no writing. They might come clutching a notebook of some sort and hope for….other people to talk with about writing? I don’t know. I go to for inspiration. I am fascinated by the teachers and their very disparate approaches. I am fascinated by those who attend. And such stories come out!
 Sometimes I write while I’m there. (This is allowed and accepted.)

I would say a journal, frightening or not in its blank blanc-ness, is the ultimate gift, to be explored, to draw the adventures out and onto the page for the writer to then re-enjoy.

The gift that keeps on giving.

Stacking the TBR stack…

August 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

Poets & Writers is one of my favorite writing mags. It’s a support system, an info ship passing across my mental scape, a collection of well pointed essays on the writing scene, a flash of what we can be and/or apire to on the page, a summary of what’s new, what’s right/write, what’s deeper than puffery, what to look at…

And reading from cover to cover, the temptation to write down (nearly) every book that is discussed or mentioned in writer bios as their accomplishments turns one’s head from thoughts of writing to a compulsion to read….ah, the passive side of writing, the sina qua non of mentors, the thrilling read to fill the gaps when one is dancing around one’s desk, eyeing a manuscript in process and getting ready to approach it. At such times, it’s grand to have P&W there, cheering one on, pushing sweetly from the content of its pages.

Here are some of the books mentioned, referred to and/or touted in the May/June issue…cuz I’m often one behind…and I think they belong on (my) TBR stack (and check out some of the links for photos, actual stories by refernced authors to read, some wonderful “author” blogs and the grand old etcetera , as ee cummings would say):

SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell – novel – it comes off the her short story “Big Ava” in her short story collection called “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Rasied by Wolves.” I raved about this story a few years ago. Just. such. excellent. writing. And…bizarre but excellent story.
THE WILDING by Benjamin Percy – novel
REFRESH, REFRESH – Benjamin Percy –  stories
THE LANGUAGE OF ELK – Benjamin Percy – stories
THE WORLD BENEATH by Aaron Gwyn – novel
DOG ON THE CROSS  by Aaron Gwyn – short stories
BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy  – novel
THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim  O’Brien – novel
The above “grouped”works will have some violence in them but done with taste and class (sounds crazy, but it’s true), as in, not showing the reader everything that happens, only inferring it. These were used in an article on how to use violence effectively (if you are including it in your writing. Right – it sounds bizarre but it was a damn fine article and a lot of  this country’s fave writers use violence in their writing, actually.)

THE END OF BEING KNOWN by Michael Klein –  memoir – he’s a poet so I suspect his memoirs, and he has TWO of them already (see just below) are likely well painted.
TRACK CONDITIONS by Michael Klein – another memoir

THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN by Siri Hustvedt – novel – this author is a student of the Brain and its various functions, quirks and amazingness.  Curious. Worth giving it a whirl, methinks.

SILVER SPARROW by Tayari Jones – novel – she has some significant writing freinds, including Judy Blume. Look for her blog:

LIVING ARRANGEMENTS by Laura Maylene Walter – short stories (coming soon)
TEN THOUSAND SAINTS by Eleanor Henderson – novel
AMERICAN WEATHER by Charles McLeod – novel

Oh, there are more mentioned within the magazine’s pages.
And in a very wrapped-up, intense meeting today, another bookaholic who happens to be from the West Coast leaned over to ask if I’d read Kingsolver’s The Lacuna. Well, no, I haven’t. But the seed  has been planted and I can barely wait to get to the library, hoping to cheat having to stack another book on the TBR stack. Yeah, sure.

on the road for a weekend family wedding

August 10, 2011 § 8 Comments

Roadtrips….mmmm….love ’em.

Me and HM, running down the road, no outside noise can get into the car unless we invite in tunes, text or t mobile.
Between here (the Gateway) and Chicago (the Big Windy), there is all the flatness you can imagine, Big Flat that’s full of corn and poles and windmills (those elegant greeners) and tiny old buildings heaped upon themselves, mere dots in the midst of  lowgrowing green.

Expansive.  There are crow’s miles out there. Who’s gonna run out for some milk? Maybe underage drivers at the wheel of big red rusty trucks hauling across the open fields, rooster tails of dust blowing behind them, their moms in the kitchen looking out proudly after them.

I dunno, but it’s beautiful in a non-impactful way, in an open space vs  urban decay way, beautiful like thoughts one has during rest, meditation, prayer…a prairie prayer…


August 3, 2011 § 13 Comments

Hot enough to dry the oomph out of a starfish..
Hot enough to turn the pages of a paperback book brown (‘specially if left in the car during the work day)…
Hot enough to say things out loud that you normally wouldn’t, like “whew” and then pluck at your clingy tee shirt…
Hot enough to buy iced coffee rather than the regular temp brew even though you’re oddly not a fan of coffee flavor in cold things…
Hot enough to avoid a hug…(yup, near blasphemy for this little hugger)
Hot enough to avoid retail therapy…(impossible to slide clothes on and off in this weather)
Hot enough to sit in  a darkened room and watch a movie (though it’s at the bottom of you things-to-do list…
Hot enough to influence even your reading choices – beach books win over all  literature…(temporary!)
Hot enough to get shy non-swimming friends into the pool to enjoy some wallowing…
Hot enough to lose your appetite…
Hot enough to imagine snow…

And hot enough to proclaim a timeout in your room, resting and reading some of those beach books, like:
MAINE – Courtney Sullivan  (in process)
BEACHCOMBERS – Nancy Thayer (just finished – get a long laborious “B”)
THREE WOMEN AT THE WATER’S EDGE – Nancy Thayer  (read years ago but nostalgia gives it an “A”)
FORTUNE’S ROCKS – A Shreve  I loved this book; reminded somewhat of something Edith Wharton would write
BEACH HOUSE – Jane Green  not my fave of her works but hey, we’re talking summer reads here and we’re loyal Green readers!

Bird is the word…

August 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Cardinal:  Hey! Are you looking at me? 
Photographer: Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am. And a fine looking bird you are, too, even with that sunflower seedyou have pinched in your mouth.

And with that, Sir Cardinal flew into the nearest tree, finished his seed and began a litany of  sordid songs ’til the photographer put aside her camera and moved away from the feeder.

Another moment in Suburban-garden Land brought to you from Cafe Oh.

The weekend …

July 30, 2011 § 11 Comments

FRIDAY NIGHT…unwinding, poolside ….

SATURDAY …  flowering and kitchening…

Sometimes you think you’re the only one. The week rockets by with spins, turns and not so well performed pirouettes at work.  You push large rocks up steep hills, you listen as people transfer monkeys from their back to yours and walk away, you envision, you list,  you write and rewrite,  a dear friend resigns a position you thought was ideal and you realize that even in this economy, the trend is not only that people lose jobs but that people leave jobs because the job have become untenable. That is not the case where you work; nevertheless you put in long long hours and long long meetings and stay so awake, alert, visionary, on point, that by Friday night, you curl on the couch with your spouse and fall so deeply asleep that when you wake, you think you’re still at work and have fallen asleep at your desk and has anyone seen you, sleep wrinkled and tousled?

When you reach out to friends you find they are spinning the same delirious tale.

And so we learn to really vacation and lounge about when we take vacation time.
We learn to really sleep when it’s time to sleep.
We learn to love even more the preparation of simple meals and being at the table together.
We learn to look up and say thanks.

If a weed grows in a small crack in the driveway, it’s ok.
If two little bambis fit their heads inside the iron gate to eat the glorious morning glories from our garden, it’s ok. There are plenty of blooms to enjoy.

How lovely to resist schedules.

Cali misc…

July 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

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