Sunday, May 21, 2017

Golf Gypsy In a Pickle

It's one thing to stretch and rub a leg cramping while walking or playing golf, but it is a moment of agony to wake up in the middle of the night with three toes cramped tight, turned under and sideways while the left calf is pulsating knots of pain up and down the leg.  Screaming, grabbing, and yanking myself out of bed to stand and push the pain away, as tears of surprise and near anger flowed down my cheeks, is one way to handle the moment. Actually, I didn't stop to think of a better way. 

Options in the past for recovering from summer's heat, and the perspiration my body exudes when exercising have been to drink "Smart Styx" replenishment supplements, 60-100 oz of water daily, eat a banana, or drink a nice cool beer in a frosted mug with salt on the rim, and continue to take daily doses of calcium, potassium, and magnesium pills. 

I mentioned my agonizing leg cramps to my physical therapist, Natoshia, Therapy in Motion. Immediately, like a chorus to a song Natoshia and another therapist chimed in "You need to drink pickle juice!"  They looked at each other and laughed.  She continued, "You need to drink pickle juice or eat a dill pickle everyday, and eat a banana before you play golf or go for long walks." 

"I've never heard of pickle juice as a cure," I retorted and then laughed, "Unless it was to drink with Crown Royal shots after you've lost a golf match." 

Naturally, that line was a stopper. They listened as I recalled the time Manon and I were beat early in a "Horse Race" at a golf tournament at Smoky Hills Golf Course in Hays, Ks.  As spectators, the cart girl came by offering us drinks.  Our friends who'd also lost suggested we try Crown Royal shots and dill pickle juice.   I can assure you that I did not suffer leg cramps that weekend, nor did I suffer a hangover, but we sure laughed a lot. 

But I digress.  

Being a dutiful student, I bought a 6-pack of Pickle Juice at Academy Sports, and bananas at Braum's, plus Ice Cream bars just because. I ate the banana before I drove in the driveway. That afternoon while relaxing on the patio, I discovered that I enjoyed the flavor of the nutritional bottle of pickle juice, loaded with sodium, vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, and potassium.  For those, like me, who can eat a healthy dose of salt consider sprinkling salt on bananas, grapefruit, and cucumbers instead of sugar. 

Most recently, I rediscovered the old fashioned giant dill pickle that spurts juice everywhere when I take a bite. For a brief moment, I'm back at the Coleman Theatre on a Saturday afternoon with friends where I could buy a large dill pickle out of the jar for only a dime. Coleman Theatre

Did the pickle juice and banana help? Yes.  So far no leg cramps in the last three weeks.

I'm not recommending this pickle juice/banana regime for everyone, because I have low blood pressure, perspire measurably, and can handle salt.  I've always been a salt lover, while my husband can thrive on chocolate. If I eat ice cream I often follow up with a saltine cracker and smile. 

In reflection, perhaps it is the salt of the earth that helps us to endure. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day Baskets

Once upon a time in my childhood neighborhood we made May Day Baskets.  In fourth grade I discovered the beauty of cutting and folding cherished wallpaper samples.  We shaped them like ice cream cones, the larger sugared cones.  Using tape, staples, or Elmer's glue to hold the edges together made me feel artistic with a flair for something different. One by one we passed the single hole punch around the room, and one by one we cut a ribbon from which to hang our baskets.  The intent as that we'd give a our baskets to our mothers, after filling them with fresh cuts off the spirea bushes or honey suckle that lined the alley way to Roosevelt school. Like a dutiful daughter I proudly carried mine home that day, letting it swing around my arm as I danced home. 
One for practice 

Sadly, what I handed to my mother was not the same beauty I had earlier created. Instead, I handed her a colorful cone shaped basket without a ribbon, but filled with spirea and a few bright yellow dandelions, which I thought added flair to my bulging creation. 

Over the years, my mother, sister, and I continued to make homemade baskets, fill them with whatever
fold and tape
flowers and blooming shrubs we could find and secretly deliver them to the elderly people in our neighborhood. My mother insisted and repeated her mantra, "Kindness first." 

How ironic, as I write this my mind flashes back to the delight I found in surprising these people.  The Shaw's were always the kindest and most grateful, Miss Einsel scared me as I probably scared her in some unknown fashion. So many people go nameless in my memory, but I recall them working in gardens, canning foods, showing me how to make a compost
flatten cone, cut edges 
pile so the vegetables tasted better. Two of the couples spent hours sitting on their porches watching us run up and down the streets, playing tag at night, kick the can, red rover red rover,  and grey ghost.

Then like Puff the Magic Dragon, I grew up and lost the magic until I fortunate granted me a little girl to raise. She, too, learned the magic of giving a basket of flowers. How sweet my memory of watching her leave our apartment early one morning and running to the neighbors door. She hung the homemade basket, rang the door bell and ran home, but not
arrange flowers then deliver
inside.  Katy didn't want to miss the moment as the attractive gray headed lady, who drove a pickup, opened her door and saw the basket. Standing on our little cement porches there we exchanged smiles. A bouquet of kindness lifted three hearts that day, and left a lifetime memory of joy. 

For more information on May Day click on this link:
May Day Tranditions

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Iris and the Pupil

Iris, the eye of spring

Walking among the colors and contrasts of seasonal flowers refreshes and rejuvenates my soul in any season or locale. 

This year the fall colors of the trees seemed less radiant than usual; my golf ball appeared to be a lighter shade of pale gray that my eyes couldn't follow in the clouds; the manicured flowers of the desert weren't as radiant as I expected. 

I blamed the rainy day for blurring my vision and nearly stepping into a prickly cactus. 

Realizing that my cataracts had worsened, I decided to have them removed. 

I cleared my calendar, gave up some spring golf time, stepped away from reading and writing for a month, and delegated shoveling and planting chores to Jack so my grey jello like cataracts could be replaced with new Crystalline lenses. 

Surgery on one eye at a time starting with my non-dominate eye, the right one, changed my world like walking through a Monet garden might do. I didn't realize how much I was missing in our world of color and detail until the cataract surgery opened my right eye to a bright new world, and I became the pupil once again asking questions about eyesight.

Notice the clarity and lighter color of my right eye, as opposed to my left.  A few days after the first surgery I began looking at every flower and every scene with my left eye closed. The iris, working like a diaphragm on a camera, controls the amount of light reaching the back of the eye and automatically adjusts the size of the pupil. Now with the new Crystalens lens, my eye sees bright colors, tiny leaves budding on the trees, birds sitting on high branches cheerfully calling to me. 

With my right eye this is what I see now.

With my left eye this is what I see and have been seeing with both eyes for the last ten years.

This pupil learned that as a cataract grows or ages, it becomes more like two day old jello that gets sticky and thick. It could cast hues of gray, yellow, or green. Everyone's cataracts are different. Often overlooked is the aqueous humour, the clear liquid in the eye that supplies the nutrition we need to clearly see. 
Years ago I told stories about the trolls who freely roamed the Norwegian mountains and valleys at night causing mischief in peoples lives. They slept by day and roamed by night, seeing and living the opposite life of the people in the valleys. If a troll peeked at the sun it turned to stone, or it burst into millions of splinters and often a splinter would end up in the eye of human causing the human to see things askew, so that what appears right to them seems wrong to others. 

Now as I look out on a clear world with one eye and a blurred world with the other, I wonder about those Troll splinters. Could they affect our perceptions? Perhaps it is that slight touch of humor which allows each of us to see things differently.  

*Thanks to Dr. Kurt Weir at Southwest Eye Clinic in OKC, and Dr. Jake Smith at Classic Vision for giving me a new look on the world.    

Thursday, April 6, 2017

In My Hand

Once we lived on ten acres of wooded hillside. The spacious windows in our split level native stone home looked up and down the hills that were dotted with gnarly old Black Jack Oaks. One day while sitting at the window watching the birds at the feeder I noticed a hummingbird that seem to be struggling at the sweet water feeder.  The hummingbird’s wings fluttered, then its tiny body fell slightly, as if it couldn’t back out of the feeder.  I soon realized that the bird’s tiny beak was stuck in the feeder.

I rushed to the rescue. Upon climbing the kitchen ladder I noticed that large black ants filled the feeder. The hummingbird’s beak apparently had stuck an ant inside the sweet water and couldn’t pull back out. I watched the tiny bird fight to back out. Slowly, I lifted by arm and hand to the bird.  Placing my hand around the tiny bird to help in some way, I held it still and felt the beating heart hammering in a body the size of my thumb. But nothing I could do helped. At last, I pulled the hummingbird away from the feeder breaking his beak in the process.

I cried for the injured bird, and screamed and kicked the dirt at the black ants who’d caused this pain. I carried the tiny bird in the palm of my hand for a few minutes, feeling his heart beat and tiny flutters of his wings before he died. Then I placed him in my pink bougainvillea growing in the back yard.

With tears running down my cheeks I thought of an old story about the Elephant and the Hummingbird.

Once when elephant went walking through the jungle he saw a tiny hummingbird lying flat on its back along the path.  The bird’s feet were raised up into the air.
“What on earth are you doing?” chuckled the elephant?
Hummingbird replied, “Didn’t you hear? The sky might fall today and if that should happen, I’m ready to do my part to hold it up.”
Elephant looked upwards and saw the heavy gray clouds. Then he laughed and mocked at the tiny bird, “So you think those tiny feet of yours could hold up that sky?”
“No, not alone I can’t, but with a little help from my friends we can. What will you do elephant?"

* Thank you to Jim Smith, Alex Beury, and Carol Torpey for these lovely hummingbird pictures. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Among the Wolves

I read this gem, tucked among the words of Louise Penny in her novel The Beautiful Mystery which takes place in a monastery in the wilderness of  North Eastern Quebec, Canada:

“I hope we learn from it,” the abbot said turning to Inspector Gamache, after the Chief Inspector had solved the mystery of a recent murder in the monastery of the Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. “What lesson will you learn?” Gamache inquired.
The abbot thought about it. “Do you know why our emblem is two wolves intertwined?” Gamache replied with his theory, only to be corrected by the abbot. “No, the emblem is from a native story of the Montagnais.”  
“Don Clement relates it in his diaries. One of the elders told him that when he was a boy his grandfather came to him one day and said he had two wolves fighting inside of him. One was gray, the other black. The gray one wanted his grandfather to be courageous, patient, and kind. The other, the black one, wanted his grandfather to be fearful and cruel. This upset the boy and he thought about it for a few days then returned to his grandfather. He asked, ‘Grandfather, which of the wolves will win?’ “
The Old Man in the Tree, Dodgeville, Wisc. 

The abbot smiled slightly. “Do you know what his grandfather said?” The Inspector shook his head. “The one I feed,” replied the abbot.
Gamache looked at the monastery; he’d mistranslated the emblem. Not Saint Gilbert among the wolves, but between them. In that place of perpetual choice. (chapter. 34)

Like Inspector Gamache, I pondered this story then smiled.  This is why I enjoy Louise Penny’s books so much. Many of her explanations are lines from poetry, mythology, Bible, folklore, and literature. She asks her readers to think about the problem, the mystery, or an aspect of life that the characters must also deal with.  As Inspector Gamache knows, each of us deals with perpetual choice. 

I found myself thinking ahead to choices I need to make and then smiled.  There’s something about giving a situation a story that makes it easier for me to solve and think through. I can see more clearly what I’m feeding and what I’m denying. 

Perspective and choice! So many ways to relate to this story. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fitbit Farts and Other Funny Follies

During the week of making funeral arrangements and preparing for family visits, I couldn't sleep much. One night, however, the noises of the house stole the hours of sleep from me.  

Tossing from one side to the next, my body tired and wrinkled from near exhaustion and heartache, I could hear a nearly pulsating sound, like a fart! I questioned my mind and body. Was I so tired that my own body was giving out on me?? One more worry to add to the ever present aging process. 

Now, if my father had 'tooted' he would have blamed the dog, immediately pointing to Ticky or Tootles. As a child I laughed at Dad's tricks, and then watched the poor dog hang his head in humiliation. Of course, my father, being a trickster, owned a hand held rubber tube that fit in his pocket. On ladies day or for golf tournaments, Dad would put the fart ball, as we called it, in his pocket and casually walk by golfers and squeeze his toy in the middle of some one's back swing. No matter what type of fart he made, the long slow "toot toot buzzz......" or the pronounced "Toot" without odor, the victim tucked his or her body in embarrassment, then followed that move by outrage or laughter when the group figured out what had happened.

Shifting in sleep mode I once again heard the squeezing
sound of a fart. With one eye opened I rolled to the side of the bed and sniffed. The air was clean. The dog could not be blamed.

Now I rolled closer to Jack, so as to rub his shoulder the next time he farted! Not Jack! 

The early morning hours arrived and I heard the fuzzy vibration. In sledge hammer mode I arose and walked around the bedroom searching for some unknown fart machine or dying animal.  At last when sunlight flooded the house, and my awareness returned I heard and saw the noise. There on my dresser lay my Fitbit with notifications ON!  With each notification or reminder
to get up and move the Fitbit quietly buzzed, but the fart noise came when it actually vibrated on the dresser top. My emotions ranged from laughter to anger at my loss of sleep, but the mystery was solved, and my dad would have laughed. 


For those who wear Fitbits to help motivate or count steps, I must say I've learned a new trick.  After complaining week after week that I must surely walk more than it counts, I discovered that it truly counts steps when I attach it to my tennis shoe laces and walk.  Then my steps each count, when walking through stores with a basket being pushed or on the treadmill when I'm resting my arms at the sides instead of swinging them.  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

In Love's Embrace

She died peacefully and drifted toward heaven in a chorus of Hallelujah.

She blessed the world with her music, her smile, and her humble graciousness, and we all felt blessed.

How do we remember her—by personal memories.

Mom was a mother hen, and she liked nothing better than to have all of her little chickens close by her side. She always wanted to know where we were, who we were with, and when we’d be home. When we were teenagers and came home late she would usually be in bed. As we passed her room we had to say our numerical order. Being the second born, I simply answered, ‘Two.’ Then went on to bed.  Mom couldn’t sleep until she knew we all home.

Summer break before my junior year of college I came to stay with Grandma for a week in June. As is customary in Oklahoma a huge storm came through. Sitting with Grandma on the sofa in her living room we were watching the news as the sky turn a greenish hue. Hail started to pound down from the sky and a tornado warnings went into effect. Pretty soon we could hear the storm sirens ringing outside of the house. On the TV they listed the neighborhoods that should take shelter and sure enough, we were in one of the area directly in the storm’s path. Being from the north I was ready to grab a mattresses and go for cover in the bathtub.  As the newscaster again listed the areas that should seek shelter immediately, I turned to Grandma and asked what she normal did at this point. She just smiled at me, and said in her lovely melodic voice “Oh, well I normally change the channel at this point”. 

My Grandma Watt was very wise.   
That chocolate is best served at breakfast with coffee.  
That green beans taste better with bacon grease.
That music can start a conversation.  
And defects, no matter how big or small they may be, can become a part of HOW you do something not WHY you do not.

My favorite Grandma memory comes from when I was living with them. If you got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and took too much time, by the time you returned to your room, it would not be unusual to find your clothes folded and your bed made! 

 My memories are from the little corner shelving wedged above the kitchen bar where she kept little trinkets and CANDY! She would reach up on the shelves and magically find CANDY for any child by her side.    

Mostly, I loved to hear her sing Amazing Grace and Rugged Cross when she and Papa Watt played in the Golden Okies Band.

Alleen always insisted on paying her way, whether to Braums, Red Lobster, or Sonic. None of her children would take her money, but we learned to say, "Thank you for offering." 

In the end, I will hear her voice say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I feel sure that those were her last words, too.  She told me time and time again that if she ever quit talking she would die. She made doctors and nurses chuckle when they tried to take her vitals, because she chatted continually. I’m sure that on that Sunday when a stroke stole her ability to speak, she had reached her frail hand up to touch the young aide who had pushed her to the dining room, and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Glimpse of Hoar Frost

Last week we awoke to a thick heavy fog that blanketed the brown grasses and trees. The cool air kept me inside looking out.  The forecast the next day was for more fog along with colder temperatures, and I kept my fingers crossed that Mother Nature would delight us with a glistening morning of Hoar Frost.  However, we were lacking the key ingredient to form Hoar Frost--moisture. When it's cold enough outside and the air is filled with water vapor then Hoar frost can form. It is more often found near unfrozen lakes and streams on a cold morning when temperatures are fluctuating.

Several years ago we awoke one morning at our home on Quivira to see the grasses, bushes, and evergreens covered in ice crystals, sparkling in a light fog.  I threw on a heavy robe, grabbed my camera and ran out to take photos.  Even the grasses collected the ice crystals and crunched under my feet, but my camera could not capture the glistening grasses.

The ice crystals reminded me of why the Inuit Indians in Alaska have over a hundred names for snow, for these crystals could have each been knitted in various patterns by nature fairies. 

The term "hoar" come from the Old English word "har" meaning "gray, venerable, old. Hoar frost is found in O.E. c1290 expressing the resemblance of the white feathers of frost to an old man's beard."
Hoar frost etimology

I wish my photos could have spoken a 1,000 words, and since they didn't I thought perhaps the poets might describe it best:

"The Valentine Wreath" by James Montgomery

For thy locks of raven hue,
Flowers of hoar-frost pearly,
Crocus-cups of gold and blue,
Snow-drops drooping early,
With Mezereon sprigs combine
Rise, my love, my Valentine.

"Legend" by Stephen Vincent Benet

The trees were sugared like wedding-cake
With a bright hoar frost, with a very cold snow,
When we went begging for Jesus' sake,
Penniless children, years ago. 

Nature may have disappointed me this week by not encasing us in silvered crystals, but I have faith that we will someday see these angelic dainty crystals on our bushes. Staying alert to natures' changes offers such delights, nearly as much as a touch of love at Valentines. 

Frost Flowers are another surprise beauty of nature. This story was posted last year. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Glorious Secret and other Burts

Johnie Stapp, the man who coined the word burts. 

Genetics certainly colors our lives from the inside out. We accept what can’t be changed, but strive to correct our ills. However, my sister, Jonya, and I have both inherited a flaw in our tongue that causes us to tangle words and sometimes tinkle! There’s a connection, just keep reading.

When we were quite young my father, a golf pro, was already suffering pain in his shoulders and elbows from years of swinging a golf club, hammering, building, and repairing cars.  One evening after dinner he stood up to reach for another glass of water, and dropped the glass as he reached toward the sink.  Three sets of eyes turned to see the calamity and then heard, “Dammit, my shoulder burts!”

His two daughters and wife sat in silence, afraid to laugh or giggle, but what we heard and what we saw eventually caused a total eruption of hysterics. As much as my dad wanted to scream at us for our rude behavior, he could only join us in the laughter. When the broken glass was cleaned up, a sigh of relief waffled across our shoulders and at last dad explained, “What I meant to say was that my shoulder hurts really bad.”  Burts may not be in the dictionary, but it certainly has held a place in our vocabulary for over fifty years.

One day while shopping and beginning to feel tired on our feet, my sister attempted to explain our feeling, “There’s always a side down to any saturation.” Being tired only added to our uncontrollable laughter, and then one of us felt a warm trickle down a leg. Oh, my. 

Not long ago, a friend asked me about my houseplants that were so strangely shaped. I tried to explain that my grandmother called them “Never Dies”, but the proper term is cacculent.” She looked at me strangely, and my eyes searched my brain back in forth questioning the words I uttered. I continued, “Cacculent, yes, that’s either a cactus or a succulent. You decide.” I appeared as innocent as possible with the newly coined word.

Driving somewhere one day with my comical sister she began to chatter about shopping and what she needed. “I need some new underwear that gives me some support."  Since we were in Tulsa I suggested Zach’s Fifth Avenue. She thought about it a moment and replied, “No I’d rather go to Gloria’s place?” She sat in thoughtful silence, “No, it's not Gloria's," still sighing and thinking, "It's Glorious Secret, for women like us."

"Yes," I laughed, "We'll keep it a secret."

She often makes driving difficult for me, especially in new cities when I’m not sure where places are. Needless to say, our GPS had never heard of A Glorious Secret nor Gloria’s Secret, but we did manage to find Victoria’s Secret, and Victoria's Tea room.

Now the weather spins its own vocabulary and on winter days when the temperatures reach the 70's it is merely "twing" time, in between winter and spring.  

My fit bit just buzzed which means it's time to gualk, or go for a quick walk with the dog on a twing day. 

Please share your own funny word combinations in the comment box below. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What? ……. Where’s my Brain?

With three teenagers at home and I the only taxi before and after school often created a very hectic schedule. Katy called from gymnastics, “Mom,” In a whisper of embarrassment I heard her dramatic voice, “Where are you? All of the other kids are gone, and I’m still here.”

“I can’t find the keys. I came in with the groceries and turned around to run back out the door and pick you up but I can’t find my keys.” My voice rose in frustration with each syllable I uttered. Without cell phones we depended on landlines, time limits, and neighbors.  “Call me back in five minutes, and I’ll see if I can find someone to pick you up.” Promptly hanging up, I turned to rummage through the groceries on the counter one more time.  Quietly, a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I swished to turn toward the touch only to face our youngest son, Matthew, who dangled a set of car keys in his hand.

In a monotone voice he spoke, “Is this what you are looking for?”

“Yes,” I screaked like a breathless actress trying out for a role, “Where did you find them?”

Soberly his large eyes looked at me with concern, “In the refrigerator.”

I paused for a moment to think! “Thank you.” I cried, then grabbed the keys and tore out for the door, “Oh, Matthew, please tell Katy when she calls that I’m on the way to pick her up.” I left him standing alone in that tiny kitchen, and felt like the worst mother in the world for abandoning our nine year old son, who had saved me once again.

So when I feel my age playing tricks on me, I remember how forgetful and chaotic life felt in my thirties…and forties.

The other day, I turned on the computer to finish a blog about a woman who sculpts ceramic hands, but I walked away to do something and forgot to go back to the computer.

This afternoon I came into to my playful room to color and draw and noticed my computer set up to work:  my notes about the lady sculptress were spread out over the Word 2013 Level 1 book showing my class assignment. Then my brain kicked on. I not only forgot to write the blog, I never did finish my class assignment from the day before. Now I was faced with three choices: draw, write, or study the technical reading step-by-step and finish the one class assignment.

I love my brain.  We (my brain and I) sat down without chaos and  doodled, colored, and piddled until at last the brain waves floated like clouds and I could think.

“Now let’s have some fun.” Whispered my brain.  So I put the lease on the peacefully sleeping dog and out the door we trotted. 

Guess I only have my brain to blame, or the disease CRS!

Oh, I’ve got to remember to buy cheese….

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Que, Sera, Sera

The forecasting began over a week ago, “Cold front coming folks and moisture from the south means ICEY conditions.  We’ll keep you up-to-date.” Over and Over the words were repeated, “With Arctic air arriving on Friday and moisture from the Pacific and the Gulf colliding, the conditions can only mean disaster. Make sure you have your survival kits, stay off the roads, school closing are running at the bottom of the screen…..” Tension hung in the air, not ice.

Visceral memories of previous ice storms--four days without power, solid ice on roads, trees, people iced into their homes, and cell phones running down, created a mob effect at the grocery stores.

By Thursday I’d seen enough television to know that the area in purple could expect devastating effects from the ice; red meant three quarters of an inch of ice expected on power lines and trees for a moderate effect; orange meant enhanced; yellow meant slick; turquoise meant a glaze.

Remaining proactive whether about weather or daily life is important. What I question is the effect of sensationalism on our minds and bodies. Why do we allow the Media to create such havoc in our lives? We’ve been blasted from our comfort zone over national politics; the strife and division created by two simple colors describing who I am NOT—the Red states and the Blue states;  the what if’s and unknowns of change; of scenes of daily shootings on our streets and the continued holocaust in the Middle East.

Technology screams in tweets, peeps, gongs, swooshes, and sirens like a constant train of wrecks on the highway. And we wonder why it is so hard to relax and enjoy the moment.

Friday dawned cool, dry and refreshing.  We took Lucy to North base to run the fields and sniff the grasses while we walked a cool mile or more.  Suddenly, I thought now this is living in the now. The chilling North wind forced itself up my nose, opening my mind to the multitude of birds in the low grasses. A Killdeer fluttered away screaming in her protective mode; the Meadowlarks sang and ignored us; the Red-winged Black Birds swirled and circled around behind us; and dozens of UBBs (unidentified brown birds) fluttered and swarmed low to the ground, giving us a show like an MGM musical.  I forgot about the impending doom that never arrived.

Thanks to the descriptive words of Ivan Doig, I escaped part of the weekend reading This House of Sky, and realized that drifting
away to the mountains and valleys of Montana allows me to live in the fullness of the moment, much like meditation. Stopping my hands from rushing over the keyboard gives me brief moments of sparkle as I watch a tiny House Wren wag its tail while eating from the bird feeder outside my window. My husband steps in my Art Gecko room to tell me that the radar shows rain coming within the hour, I reply, “Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be will be, I’m sick of the radar you see, Que Sera, Sera.” He smiled, we hugged and giggled. Now that is a visceral moment of living in the now.  

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Intriguing Reading from 2016

In 2016 I joined two book clubs and continue to use my public library card monthly to read whatever my heart desires. As a result I’ve read too many good books to share one by one, so I composed this list in hopes of inviting readers to read these titles.

The Last Painting of Sarah DeVos by Dominic Smith
“She wonders sometimes if she isn’t painting an allegory of her daughter’s transit      between the living and the dead, a girl trudging forever through the snow.”

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
“…eyes that looked like slush in the streets…Like the Great Wall of China, most threats were already inside.”

 Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
“Nature, she knew, abhorred a vacuum, and these people, faced with an information vacuum, had filled it with their fears.”

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
“We don't know others. They are an enigma. We can't know them, especially those we are most intimate with, because habit blurs us and hope blinds us with truth.” 

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Pulitzer Prize 2016)
“I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds.” Talking to Viet Thanh Nguyen

Commonwealth by Ann Pachett
“Our stories are us: to give them away is dangerous but, like those guns, stories don’t have to destroy.”

The Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
“Life can tickle you in the ribs surprisingly, when it’s not digging its thumbs into them.”

Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Inspiring stories must have two elements: Tension and triumph; Triumph over adversity.”

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (National Book Award)  interview for National Book Award
“Cora… crawled toward the handcar, left leg in agony. The slave catcher didn’t make a sound...With her arm on the handcar she began to pump, throwing all of herself into movement. Into northness. Each time she brought her arms down on the lever, she drove a pickax into the rock, swung a sledge on to a railroad spike.”

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien (intriguing)

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien (intriguing, riveting)

“The oak tree driven apart by lighting…On the opposite side, young branches in leaf extended in all directions, a freak of nature, dead on one side and living on the other, a reason to hope.”

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
“All wars are fought twice.  The first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.”

LaRose by Louise Erdrich
“Sorrow eats time. Be patient. Time eats sorrow.” 

Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction. Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means.”

The Nest by Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney
“Right now, it felt like there was nowhere for his thoughts to alight that wasn't rife with land mines of regret or anger or guilt.”

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan (memoir)
“…but what child can see the woman inside her mom, what with all that motherness blocking out everything else.”

Less is More, More or Less by Nathan Brown (poetry)
“Local Star--
He’s still as good as he ever was.
That’s why he’s still where he is.”

Still Life in Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen
“It's a funny thing, hope. It's not like love, or fear, or hate. It's a feeling you don't really know you had until it's gone.” 

The Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig (memorable and my favorite read this year)
“Oh, S&H, S&H…little green stamps, little green stamps! Sperry & Hutchinson does wonders for my purchasin’. My book is full at last, I better spend ‘em fast.”

Walking Nature Home (A Life’s Journey) by Susan Tweit (memoir)
“Ravens pair up for life, but every year they court each other anew, a lovely practice that humans might do well to adapt.”

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
“It is important that you know. I want you to set it down ‘Mikhal was in love with David.’ Nobody ever writes that about a woman. It’s always the man whose love is thought worthy of recording.”

Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy
Scott Turow says, "I was enthralled by it...It's true that there aren't many human beings in the world like Atticus Finch--perhaps none--but that doesn't mean that it's not worth striving to be like him."  .

Thoughts on Reading

My only regret is that I have not read a single book by the 2016 Neustadt Award Winning writer, Dubravka Ugresic

If you are looking for a reading challenge this year consider the Read Harder  Book Challenge at this website:  Reading Challenge 2017

As we grow up and encounter new peoples and situations it might behoove us to know that research now indicates that 
Literary fiction improves empathy , as opposed to popular fiction which does not surprise us or push us to think.  

I'm happy to reply to readers thoughts or impressions with any of these titles or considerations.