Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Reading

You all know I adore a good book. And there is no better time for putting one's feet up and sitting back with a good novel and a cold beverage than summertime. I don't know about you, but I like different sorts of books in different situations and climates. Summer, to me, is for lighter reading -- mysteries, some girlfriends-at-the-beach books, nothing too heavy or classic. There are always exceptions, though, and the best sorts of books are often the ones you didn't know you were in the mood for when you read it but it turned out to be exactly the right thing. The lucky finds, the surprises.

In case you need some suggestions for what to read this summer, here are some favorites from my list -- I might have mentioned some before, but that just means that I really, really really think these books are worth reading! Oh, and please do comment with anything you suggest! It might be just what I'm in the mood for and don't realize it yet!

The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger (Told in letters, the unfolding between a baseball fan child and his hero -- I don't like baseball or sports books, but this was about the charming relationship. Very enjoyable reading. Keep kleenex handy. Just saying. )

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Suburban life in Mississippi in the 1960s, from the perspectiv of the black maids in well-to-do white households. You'll read this, and you'll not be able to stop thinking about it, and you'll give it as gifts, and recommend it to everyone you know. It's THAT good.)

The Likeness by Tana French (a twisty, turny mystery about a detective who goes undercover to solve the mysterious death of a girl who looks just like her. Implausible premise, really, and yet totally engrossing and fascinating and believable. I loved the writing.)

There's No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern (a missing persons investigator goes missing -- and finds herself in the land of lost things. Magical realism, I guess you'd call it -- charmingly written but with lots to think about. I love everything I've read by this author.)

And here's what's on my summer list. No heavy reading, but novels that look interesting and have gotten good reviews. I've not read them yet so I can't recommend them yet:

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (everyone I know says this is wonderful -- even Oprah picked it)

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow

April & Oliver by Tess Callahan (if Joshilyn Jackson says it's good, that's good enough for me.)

Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger (writing this list reminded me I haven't read a few of this author's more recent books)

Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moment of Grace, Essays by Ayelet Waldman (reflections on motherhood, looks really good)

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz (novel told from perspective on an admissions officer at Princeton)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (murder mystery compared to Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh -- I LOVED that book as a kid)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (a thriller that is getting good reviews and promises to be "un-put-downable." I hope.)

Okay -- I'm headed out to return books to the library! Happy reading!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bee'in Busy

I don't know why I've had a hard time blogging lately. Too much to say, and too little, if you know what I mean.

So here are some of the things keeping me busy lately:

* Reading a great book right now: "Gone Tomorrow" by P.F. Kluge. A story in a story about a writer who becomes a professor at a small Ohio college. Written by a professor at a small Ohio college. The writing is fantastic and it's a wonderful exploration of the dreams of our youth and the realities of our lives. I've already requested other books by this guy from the library.

* With summer travels coming up and my reading pace on vacation, I decided I needed an Amazon Kindle so I won't travel with the bottom of my suitcase lined with books as I usually do. I love it already -- will not stop my library habit -- but it is wonderful to have masses of reading on one small tablet. On board for next week's trip to Boston: "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett and some Mark Twain short stories I've been wanting to read again, plus some Jane Austen.

* Home schooling has been great, but boy, people react strangely when you tell them you're home-schooling. I think I need to format some good stock answers for when people say weird things.

* I've discovered that the best way to get to know a camera lens is to just put it on my camera and KEEP IT THERE for a few weeks, so I'm forced to use it and only it. My macro lens was hard to use at first but I just kept it on the camera and now it's my favorite lens. Lets see if this works for the 50mm lens.

* I have fiber projects in the works, one even finished (and labelled!) that you haven't even seen yet because I don't have a wall big enough to hang it and photograph it well. Maybe I'll try the garage door one of these grey mornings.

* The annual bird nest is showing signs of life in the climbing vine next to the garage door. You'd think that Mama would have learned by now that it's not the most restful spot, as she flies out every time the door opens or closes. Plus there's that pesky woman with her camera trying to get shots of the eggs...

* Why do songs on my Ipod just up and disappear all of a sudden? I loaded a few Stevie Wonder favorites a few weeks ago, and today they're gone from the Ipod music library. Go figure.

see what I mean? Hardly gripping thought.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Golden Windows

During my second year of law school, I rented an apartment over the garage in a home occupied by a lovely older woman named Mrs. Christie. She was a widow and often left treats she'd baked or vegetables she'd grown in her garden for me. She once told me a story that I think about from time to time, and when I took this picture the other evening it reminded me of it. The story goes like this:

One morning, a little girl was looking across the valley from her house, admiring the beautiful golden windows on a house on the top of the hill.

"Mom," she said, "Do you see that house on the hill with golden windows? It must be so beautiful there, and the people who live there must be so wealthy! I'll bet they have no problems and their lives are filled with happiness every day. I wish OUR HOUSE had golden windows."

"Oh, darling," replied the mother, "no one's life is perfect. Even people who live in a house with golden windows."

"No, I think you are wrong! I want to go see for myself!" So the mother packed the daughter a lunch, and away the daughter went to cross the valley and see how wonderful life was for the people who lived in the house with golden windows.

The girl walked all day long. As she reached the bottom of the valley, she lost sight of the house but kept going. It was dusk by the time she reached the top of the other hill. But to her surprise, all she found was an ordinary house. She saw no golden ornaments, nothing that made the house look different or more special than any other house. The people looked ordinary, just like the people in her own family. She was puzzled.

Disappointed, she turned around to gaze at her own house across the valley she'd just crossed. And to her surprise, her house was ablaze with light. The windows shone with gold as the setting sun lit them up. In disbelief, she looked again at the ordinary house in front of her, then back to her house gleaming across the way.

"MY house has golden windows!" she said in amazement. She stood for a moment, struck by how beautiful her house looked from this side of the valley. She took off running back down the hill, eager to return to her family. And never again did the little girl look at someone else's house, or life, with envy.


This house -- and yes, it is a single family home (when it was being built, we all thought it was a hotel or a fancy clubhouse for a country club or something) sits on the hill above my neighborhood. It's a bit "king of the county" for my taste, but it sure looks beautiful at sunset.

I'll be catching up on my blogging! I promise!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Latent Color

Today is a reveal date in our Twelve by Twelve challenge, where the current theme is "Identity." Head on over to the Twelve by Twelve blog to see all twelve -- as always, the variety is delightful and interesting.

I went for the fingerprint as an essential aspect of identity -- I've always found them fascinating and beautiful up close, and i like the graphic nature of their lines. But several of us Twelves used them as the focal point for our pieces -- I think it's the first time that so many of us featured such similar imagery.

I've been an absent blogger recently -- sorry! I've been busy with home stuff, the home schooling, planning a vacation, trying to purge a bit of stuff at a time, and even trying to make a bit of progress on the garden!

I'm inspired to try to make a larger fingerprint quilt, tho, and as "asymmetical composition" is my next assignment for my design class, this might be a good subject.

If I can find a wall big enough, I'll get a picture of the big quilt I just finished. One of the downsides of not having a large design wall is that my "photo studio" space is severely limited!