Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday, Oct. (counts on fingers) 24: Yellow Leaves!

It's 35 degrees at 8:30 am, and even though it's pretty much overcast at the moment, the leaves are such a bright yellow that it seems the sun is out. October is here--late October is here--and we're living in that wonderful balance when outside is lovely and the inside welcoming. It's baking, hiking, nesting, knitting, walking, gawking time. Glad to have a moment to take a breath and soak it all in!

There have not been many breaths, however: I believe that my desire to move forward has led to a few too many "yes" statements for the kind of down time I love: I am up for recertification this year, acting as a mentor, helping to lead the new student council, leading MDIHS Readers & Writers, taking a School Law class that is driving me crazy, still a learning area leader for the largest department in the school, and that's just in my professional life. Outside, I'm still married and a mom and a daughter, involved in our church and committed to staying active and involved.  Yikes.

So. A quickish update here before I bake two pumpkin pies for the church supper, make pulled pork and bread for dinner, and, I devoutly hope, complete the first draft of my "best practices in regular ed." paper for School Law. Though I had a great time running in the Run for Shelter 5k in Bangor last Saturday (pic below), I am taking this weekend off from running since my knees have been a bit weird and going for a long walk instead. And I want to update my Goodreads, since I have read some good ones!

So, books: 

The Bones of ParisThe Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fantastic "listen"! My only regret is that Audible didn't make it clear that it was the second in the series, so now I have a pretty good idea of what the first one is about, without the pleasure of actually reading it. I'll have to decide if I want to read/listen to it.

Creepy, creepy, creepy, but also fascinating and detailed. Really interesting to read King writing not in the voice of Mary Russell--she seems to be having a wonderful time doing it! Her writing skills are top-notch, and her plot walks the fine line between different points and conversations that hint at the answer and keeping the tension going. The reader was fantastic, which truly topped off the experience.

Highly recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #11)The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, this Three Pines visit did NOT annoy me so much that I had to quit 1/3 through, as the last Penny I attempted did, so either it's a better book or my self-imposed Penny vacation did the trick and I came to this one with fresh eyes. It is a large, ponderous book, with a little bit of the nudge-nudge background plot line that can make a reader feel like a child in a gathering of adults, but though the midsection of the plot verged on the tedious (much like this sentence; sorry), the solution was tight and clear.

The narrative focus seems to be expanding to include Gamache's son-in-law and his next-in-command, which means Penny doesn't have to make Gamache quite so haunted or his neighbors so overstated, which is a relief. I'm afraid that the serial killer guy is going to become a theme in the next few books, however, so perhaps I'll go back into Penny avoidance mode. Still: I found this one good. I did read the actual book instead of listening to it.

Death and JudgmentDeath and Judgment by Donna Leon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Donna Leon as a general rule, but I didn't read much of her for a while and I remember wondering why I'd fallen out of the habit. I had a vague recollection of finding her books really dark and depressing, though I have found her more recent Brunetti novels truly enjoyable.

I reread (I am pretty sure I've read it before) Death and Judgment when I found it at a book sale, and now I remember why I thought her books were dark. It's got all the good Brunetti stuff I love: those lunches! That great family dynamic! All that local color! But by the end of the story, it's clear that the world is broken, the bad guys are essentially unpunished, and justice is not served. Somehow--and this is truly a recollection of my overall impression, so I may be incorrect--Leon's more recent books seem to present a less bleak view of the world. Maybe it's because Brunetti and his key team members have been able to organize themselves in the later books--I'm not sure. However, after reading Death and Judgment, I thought, "Man! This is pretty darn depressing--but I do love her stuff!"

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday, Oct. 9: Three Day Weekend!

A lovely day. It's nearly 11 and I am *beat* after a super-busy but generally good week. Will simply post the poems I wrote (and read!) for the Merging Forms project with Artwaves Bar Harbor, and toddle off to bed. Coffee and, apparently, sunshine tomorrow morning. Much fun and much heavy rain today.


A Sonnet to Hanging Laundry (8/18 - 19/2015)

Hot on my shoulders now the sun light falls, 
As at my feet the sodden laundry waits,
And all around me summer’s nature calls—
Cicadas, blue jays, doves that seek their mates. 

The laundry lines stretch empty, tight, and new
Against the posts’ now battered, darkened bark:
Dead trees, they well perform the task they do
And hold the harvest of my human work. 

Around me, as I bend and shake and fold
The living world exhales its summer sigh:
Leaves tremble in the breeze, the sunshine’s bold
Evaporation leaves the daily laundry dry. 

To do the laundry this way is no chore: 
It drains me only of my mindless stress, 
and modern-day obsession: faster! more! 
The sun, the clothes-line, laden basket: less? 

Such worthwhile work done here amid the trees
Leads sweetly to fresh laundry . . . and great peace.

Hanging Laundry Haiku (s) (8/19/2015)

I fold dry laundry
As sweet air moves the wash line
And work becomes joy. 

The wash line stretches 
Through sunlit air. I fold dry 
Laundry. Is this work? 

The clothes line stretches
Through green and sun-lit space. 
Laundry hangs, air-dried. 

 Meditation on Hanging Laundry (8/19/2015)

The morning sun warms my shoulders as 
I pin the wet clothes on the line, 
surrounded by woods, full and lush with summer. 
Two heat-stunned cats loll near me in the grass, my steady bend-and-straighten rhythm no surprise; our old dog chops a passing fly, 
then lies back down. 
I make my own designs on seven lines: today, all towels in back, 
then jeans and shirts, saving the fiddly pairs of socks for last. 

A blue jay calls above my head; cicadas shriek. 
The sun’s so strong the lightest shirts are nearly dry 
before I flip the empty basket upside down. 

I’m done; the clothes line bears its patterned load, 
each item neatly drying in the sun, held by old clothes pins darkened by past seasons’ rains that flawlessly perform their only task. 
In half a day I’ll come back out, reverse the process, fold and put away, and meet the same great beauty that rewards me now, 
turning this duty into ritual and joy. 


Study in Contrast
~Response to Jane's Painting~

You pause before you plunge ––
your human flesh, sun-warmed, 
pliant, tender, poised against
Nature’s plenitude ––

also in itself a contrast ––

cool water’s rippling liquid green and gold embrace
that laps the rough, unyielding granite’s upthrust strength. 

But most, this image, 
captured, calm, forever, 
creates one perfect balanced moment
held dear against the harried rush of endless time
outside the frame of our attention. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday, Oct. 7: What?????

I'll Give You the SunI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

IGYTS is a remarkable book. I'm not sure who Nelson's target audience is, but I've been recommending it like crazy. Her writing is powerful, effective, and sure: I'd love to read the "real copy" sometime to copy out some of the passages that knocked my socks off as I listened. It's one of the only books with a non-traditional love angle (ahem; no spoilers here) that managed not to sound Like It Was Making A Statement. It's pretty explicit in spots--in ways that came right to the edge of being too much and in areas that might make people uncomfortable in general--so I've recommended it with cautions attached, but its depiction of family, of siblinghood, of first love/sexual love/lost love, of creativity, of art, of loss is memorable and affecting. I was rapt--and especially appreciated the long conclusion, where I *did* get to see how it all worked out, rather than being left to wonder about the people I'd grown so attached to.

I truly enjoyed this novel. I haven't read any other reviews, and I'm curious to see what other people thought.

As far as the audio goes, the female reader was top-notch, but the male reader was only okay, unable to manage a passable British accent for a crucial role. I still loved it, which proves its quality!

Ah! Been so busy. . . . not much reading, but the commute goes on forever! :) One more audio review coming up, but have to feed the hound.

The MasqueradersThe Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is typical Georgette Heyer: fluffy fun, but a little more developed than her usual outing. Listened on audio: it was quite well read, though the narrator seemed to run a bit short on voice options, given the huge cast, and the father was particularly grating. Interesting to read an earlier setting than Regency England for Heyer; her historical details were enjoyable, though the situations, once again, strain credulity.

Read/Listen to this after a tough week: relax and enjoy!

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