A summer update

Another bouquet from the front yard #wildflowers #flowerlove

Wildflowers from the front yard.

Apparently, I haven’t had much to say lately. There are dogs to be walked and books to be read and friends to be moved, near and far. After a run of house guests and weekend travel, I have relished our recent weekends at home — even if the last weekend meant relishing by way of contracting this horrible fever virus that is worming its way around town. I was in bed all day on Thursday, fantasizing my death, sending incoherent e-mails to family members, letting Pyrrha lick my limp fingers as she made her rounds around the house. She is a very sweet nursemaid. I was going to say that she had such concern in her eyes while I was laid up in bed, but I think she might always have concern in her eyes, burdened as she is by her myriad fears. My dear troubled dog.

Beauties

The girls.

Eden, on the other hand, was quite put out with my laziness. She is merciless toward the weak.

Lately, I have derived pleasure from:

  • Post-dinner walks with G. and the girls
  • The wildflowers in our front beds (an Easter gift from Mike and Windy)
  • The short stories of Paul Bowles and re-reading Pale Fire
  • Looking up words I don’t know in Pale Fire, only to discover that Nabokov made them up
  • A granite/Corian counter-top cleaner I made myself, thanks to the glories of Pinterest
  • New jewelry from Tara Montgomery’s fall line
  • Watermelon and peaches
  • Going to bed before 10
  • Teaching the dogs some (much needed) new behaviors
  • The resurrection of family e-mail chains
  • Not having any calligraphy jobs on the immediate/urgent docket
  • Guion’s new melodies
  • July days that top off around 81 degrees

You?

Human rights

A favorite recent anecdote, told to me by my coworker:

The topic of blood diamonds comes up when my coworker is home visiting her parents, who are very conservative, FOX News-abiding folk. Coworker tells her parents that our fellow coworker, P., recently said he’d never buy a future fiancee a diamond, because of the conflict regarding the precious stones and the fraught diamond trade in Africa. No one at the table knows much about blood diamonds, and so her mom says, “I don’t understand; what’s the problem?” Coworker says, “Well, it’s a human rights issue.” Mom’s eyes narrow, knowingly, and she says, “Ohh. I get it. So, he’s really liberal, huh?”

So! Score one for us, liberals! We have human rights on our side. Conservatives apparently don’t go in much for those.

Books for getting cozy with your dark mood

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

10 books:

  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Barbara Demick
  • The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Some Ether, Nick Flynn
  • Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer
  • We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, Philip Gourevitch
  • Othello, William Shakespeare
  • Song and Dance: Poems, Alan Shapiro
  • The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead
  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, David Foster Wallace

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Books for people who believe that women and men are equal

I’m feeling weighed down lately by how deeply and fervently this country of mine hates women. So. Here are some important books I’ve enjoyed, which you should read if you think that women are human and should be treated accordingly.

The Second Sex

  • The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
  • My Life, a Loaded Gun: Female Creativity and Feminist Politics, Paula Bennett
  • Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, Cordelia Fine
  • The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
  • Half the Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn
  • On Lies, Secrets, and Silence, Adrienne Rich
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
  • A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf

A Room of One's Own

Ravenous

Wildflower bed growth

Wildflowers, and some weeds, coming up in the front yard.

Guion turns 27 today! What a wonderful husband! (What a nice birthday gift if his Kickstarter got funded! Hint, hint…)

These days, I can’t read enough to feel satiated. All I ever want to do is read. (I’ve read 82 books since January, and this still doesn’t feel like enough.) I want to travel just so that I can have extra time to read while moving about on various forms of transportation. I am on a first-name basis with the public librarians, because I am in there at least once or twice a week, picking up holds. Some of them don’t even ask me what I want when I approach the counter; they just scan my card and go look for my books, handing them to me wordlessly, unamused. I resent calligraphy jobs now, because they suck up my free time, and I can’t read and practice calligraphy simultaneously, to my dismay. I really just want to be alone with my books.

It is easy for me to forget that people have worldviews that are different from mine. This is a consequence of my naivete and my predilection to cultivate a community that shares my broad base of opinions on how the world works. I watched about two minutes of FOX News while in my hotel room in Boston, and I felt like I was watching some broadcast from outer space. All I could think was, Who do they think they are talking to? Is there anyone listening? (Yes, apparently a large swath of America.)

Summer is upon us, and the dogs get more easily worn out by short walks or fetch sessions. This is one of the great benefits of summer. We are waiting on Eden to mature, but people say that working-line shepherds don’t truly calm down until they are at least 3 or 4. Delightful. She turns 1 on July 5, though, so just a few more years…

Same view (Belmont)

View of Belmont.

One of my constant life dilemmas is how much I would love to go to grad school but how there is no useful degree I can think of getting. I’d love to get an English MA, but if there is one thing the world does not need more of, it’s English MAs. They are a particularly unbearable breed. But I would love to join their ranks. I’ve thought about getting a degree in animal behavior, but you apparently have to know something about science for that. I also think about getting a degree in Japanese literature, but I’d have to live in Japan to achieve even mild fluency, and I really like living in Virginia, with my husband and my dogs. So. No grad school for me? That makes me sad.

Books I will be reading soon:

  • A Long Day’s Journey into Night, Eugene O’Neill
  • Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez
  • Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  • The Stories of Paul Bowles
  • The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard
  • Monsieur Proust, Celeste Albaret

Books for escape

Living by Fiction

10 books:

  • Living by Fiction, Annie Dillard
  • The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson
  • The Wisdom of the Desert, ed. Thomas Merton
  • Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  • Suite Francaise, Irène Némirovsky
  • Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson
  • Close Range, Annie Proulx
  • Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
  • Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  • Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner

Angle of Repose

We need your help

 

As some of you may know, I have the good fortune to be married a very creatively gifted man. Guion is the singer/songwriter for a band called Nettles, and they are seriously good. Describing Nettles is a difficult endeavor, but I like to think of it as the music that floats over a misty swamp surrounded by Spanish moss-laden trees. Or the sounds that rise up from a garden in the cycle of growth and decay. Or the harmony elicited by a falling star. It’s a mystical Charlottesville folk band, you know? These kinds of things come up.

288/365

Over the past four years, Nettles has been in the process of making their first album. Now, they need your help to finish it. Nettles has a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,500 in 25 days. Would you consider helping them out? Every little bit counts.

I feel lucky enough to have watched Nettles grow and transform over the years. I was one of the first humans to get to hear “Bells,” which you can hear on their Bandcamp page — and receive for immediate download with a Kickstarter pledge. It’s a beautiful song and a consistent crowd-pleaser.

Nettles opening for The Welcome Wagon

We’d be forever grateful to see this album, and the band’s hard work, come to fruition. Pledge to the Nettles Kickstarter campaign if you feel compelled — and tell all your music- and poetry-loving friends!

With humble gratitude and thanks.

Books for cloudy days

Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories

10 books:

  • Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, Ryunosuke Akutagawa
  • Dog Years, Mark Doty
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot
  • What the Living Do, Marie Howe
  • Runaway, Alice Munro
  • The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk
  • The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit
  • Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan
  • Orlando, Virginia Woolf

Orlando

Sam and the truck

When Sam was 3, he crushed his little hands in the door handle of the truck. Somehow, he’d gotten his baby fingers jammed up inside the exterior handle itself, so that Dad had to push his bruised, tiny hand even further into the metal handle to get it out. He screamed for such a long time, and it was miserable; us three girls were afraid for him, watching his chubby face contort with pain, sneaking glances at his purple fingers. Mom was in Atlanta on a business trip, which added greatly to our concern. Dad put all four of us on their big bed and turned on The Lion King, presumably hoping that the novelty of getting to watch a movie in the middle of the day would distract him from the pain. Naturally, it didn’t. We all ended up going to the ER together and waiting for hours, just for the doctors to tell us that his fingers weren’t broken and that he’d be fine.