Beautiful Tony

The beauty of this book hurts me a bit.  I am happy and sad at the same time. I think I have told you that I tell stories on Sunday mornings. In some of those stories I tell about the complexity of how happiness mixes with sadness to make joy.  Like a potion.  When I first encountered this concept I didn't really get it or believe it to be true.  But now I see. Especially when I read books like this.  There is so much emotion in the poem and in the sketches. It is alive.  Yes, there is nothing more alive than poetry.  I think about how much work it took to make this piece of art and my hand starts to cramp.  It must have been painful.  Like most things.  As I grow older I am struck by how much effort and work it takes to accomplish tasks with excellence.  To cook, to clean, to write, to parent, to live. Everything takes more time than I ever thought it would.  It is hard to realize this in our American culture.  When everything is faster, faster, more, more.
  I have reread Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott this past week and it has changed me. I tried to read it about 15 years ago, but I wasn't ready for it.  My mind was too small then.  Anne Lamott voices universal truths that no one cares to admit.  And now her words will help me live through this week and then tell the story.  I hope.



 When you live in a climate that brings long hard winters, there is a silver lining.  During the dark months of the year everyone has the trump card of rotten weather to excuse you from functioning as a normal person.  No, I can't leave the house, tonight is hygge night and you aren't invited. No sorry, it doesn't look like we're gonna make it, we wouldn't be able to find our way in all this darkness. Or more believable is, I literally can't see my car because its buried in snow. It is all understood and supported. So here is a tip for you to tuck away. Don't offer to host a dinner party between the days of January 1st and April 15 because you will be praying that snow or indoor borne viruses will require a cancellation and then if its not cancelled you will become angry that you are forced to cook dinner for people who didn't have the good sense to understand that your invitation was a mere gesture. Yesterday was our first day of real Spring weather and I felt panicky realizing that my time was short to say No, thank you to life.  This season of reemergence is just awful.  All the squinting and awkward chats with people you haven't seen for the last 6 months.  There is no where to hide anymore. And once we force our vitamin D deprived selves to step out in our scurvy like condition we are quite touchy and desperate.  I  question the normalcy of ever leaving your house. And what do you even do with asparagus? I can't remember.  Do I even own a decent t-shirt? Then you find one balled up in the back corner of your drawer, only to realize that it has mysteriously shrunk.
   Welcome Spring. Here's to hoping that our vocabulary and conversation skills come back in time for Independence Day. 

Here's what we are reading.


On a Snow Day

On a snow day my thoughts drift to other homes and I wonder what everyone else is doing.  I wonder if the students that I helped find books yesterday are enjoying their titles or if they are still buried in their backpacks.  Is Alise reading, Al Capone Does My Shirts?  Is Rosalind enjoying Sing a Song of Tuna Fish?

I wonder what will become of us all.

I wonder what Amy Krouse Rosenthal's family is doing right now.  I think of the years of grief and loss that lay before them and I cringe at how young she was at her death and how young my mother was.

I think of Shinichi Suzuki's idea that to surrender to the thought of having no talent and give up the effort is cowardly.

I wonder why I even bother with this annoying blog.

I wonder about the events in Mia Farrow's life that gave inspiration to this quote: "I get it now, I didn't get it then that life is about losing and doing is as gracefully as possible and enjoying every minute of it." This is my new mantra.

I wonder if I am creating an environment in my home that will produce abilities in my children so that they will have an easier time enjoying life.

I wonder if this snow day that brings rest and unrest to our home is doing the same to others.

I wonder if my manuscript is as terrible as I fear.

The snow has finally started and now maybe the noise outside will be a background to good things in this home of mine.

I read the first chapter of Farmer Boy last night to my family.  This chapter is one of my favorite first chapters of all time  I chose it in hopes that it would ward off any bad omens lingering in the house after a tumultuous weekend. I always turn to it for comfort. After I finished, Fiona told me that it is her favorite chapter in the Little House Books and then Myles crawled in bed with a nightcap of this, Midnight is a Place.  I think this is what enjoyment is for me.


Dear Sunshine

"Dear sunshine, what a potent medicine you are."  

Before the current day trend of addressing personified seasons in clever captions of social media photos, L. M. Montgomery was a woman ahead of her time. Clearly I am still in the grips of the Emily of New Moon series. Every three paragraphs I pause and marvel at her use of metaphors and impeccable clairvoyance.  I am as much enrolled in a writing class as I ever could be.  Today the sunshine was the perfect remedy. It appears that New Englanders may be served up a Spring this year. A scandalous claim at this spot on the calendar, but the hope is real.

I am working on a middle-grade piece of historical fiction, so yesterday when I visited my ninety-five year old friend I shared a bit of the story with her. She then looked at me hard and asked me what the resolution will be. "What is your heroine getting at?" I stared blankly for a minute searching for a simple reply, but nothing came. It was exactly what I needed to be asked and I give thanks for her wisdom and the work that is before me to answer that question.

"Oh, God, as long as I live give me, 'leave to work.' Thus pray I. Leave and courage."

I will stop with the Lucy Maud quotes now.  The other day at the library, this book was lying next to the checkout counter and Myles exclaimed, "Mom that's what my teacher is reading!"  In a classic moment of, "I'll have what she's having," I plucked this book up and have been enjoying it ever since.  See what you think. 

And this one too; such a heart warming tale that contrasts nicely with other fluffy stuff found everywhere.



A Farewell

Yesterday our cherished local children's librarian retired. There was a farewell gathering hosted in her honor and it was standing room only.  Many, many people were touched by her kindness.  She is someone that you feel lucky enough to know. As my sister and I stood together listening to her co-workers speak of her unique ability to show love to each patron, young and old we knew we were witnessing a special moment and a precious chapter coming to a close.   Her service to her community is something that we will never forget.  She created a space between her shelves that sheltered us.  It was a comfortable home that we returned to again and again. Whenever we checked out an old, favorite title of hers she would smile and say, "It makes me so happy when I see this go home with someone." And then we would smile thankful to know we were meeting one of her friends.  My sister lives on the same street as this local branch, so my nieces and nephew have grown up in her reading room; truly an extension of their home. She blogged about it here.

It is not often that one experiences life the way it should be.  But at this place, this sanctuary; one does. Cue the Cheer's theme song.  Thank you, Lise for all that you gave us.  May you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Here's one of the newer titles that she acquired that I will always remember on account of her.