Where in the world do I begin with December 2009? What a freakin’ crazy month! I only ran 4.49 miles for the entire month (ha!), but have a sneaking suspicion my knees are thanking me for the time off. Weather wise we had a few snow storms, but nothing too dramatic. I wrote more reports and conducted more reviews and put in more work hours than I care to admit. But, best of all, most memorable of all was the trip home to Monhegan. I haven’t even begun to write about that (which is strange because it changed my life). With everything going on, books were low on the list:
- Tiepolo’s Hound by Derek Wolcott ~ interesting but not my favorite.
- Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle ~ memorable and moving, definitely one of my favorites.
- Wonderboys by Michael Chabon ~ can’t wait to see the movie! I only have one question, “is the snake in the trunk?”
- Soloist by Mark Salzman ~ amazing, amazing book. I’m a fan of Mark Salzman now.
- The Walls Came Tumbling Down by Babs Deal ~ gossipy and girly, this was a fun one.
- The Lost Steps by Alejo Carpentier ~ last book of the month…
From my list I didn’t get to Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling. It should have been on my November list, not December. Woops!
Something of interest – I didn’t read any nonfiction this month. Hmmmm…
December 2009 is promising to be an interesting month. I’m taking Kisa to the island for Christmas (his first winter visit ever – we’ve already consulted L.L. Bean twice). Doctors are weighing in on serious subjects (yours and mine) and I await every word with caught breath. It’s not always about me, but the waiting is just the same.
For books it is a simple month:
- Tiepolo’s Hound by Derek Walcott in honor of December being the best time to visit the Caribbean.
- Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle in honor of Iowa becoming a state (Boyle was part of the Iowa Writers Workshop. He was also born on December 2nd).
- Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling in honor of Native American literature month.
- Wonderboys by Michael Chabon in honor of Pennsylvania becoming a state.
- Walls Came Tumbling Down by Babs Deal in honor of Alabama becoming a state.
I don’t think I have any nonfiction for the month. Strictly imaginary but oddly enough, nothing about Christmas this year. For LibraryThing’s Early Review program I found out I am supposed to receive Then Came the Evening a first book by Brian Hart. I snuck a peek at some Library Journal / Amazon reviews and this promises to be a heartbreaking story.
October has always been my “hang on”” month. It’s the month I hold my breath for while waiting for September to release me. This October was no different. It started with a trip to Maine to see West Coast family (and a great foggy run), a trip homehome andandand Kisa got to go (yay), Hilltop got a much needed haircut, there were a ton of new Natalie sightings, and, dare I say, the promise of a Hilltop Thanksgiving? The end of the month was a little stressful – a lump in the breast and a missing ovary. No wonder I read so many books and here they are:
- Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis ~ sci-fi story about a man who is kidnapped and taken to Mars.
- The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis ~ coming of age story about a young girl who is a chess playing phenom.
- A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle ~ a ghost story about a man who lives in a graveyard for twenty years.
- Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters ~ a mystery about two unmarried women traveling through Egypt and being pursued by a mummy.
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan ~ nonfiction about the role of women through the ages (up to the 1960s when the book was written). Oh, how far we’ve come!
- House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier ~ a spooky tale about time travel.
- When Found, Make a Verse of by Helen Smith Bevington ~ a commonplace book full of poetry, proverbs and excerpts.
- Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ a novel about small town life (read because October is the best time to visit New England).
- The Natural by Barnard Malamud ~ a novel about a baseball player (read because October is World Series month).
- In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu ~ a compilation of short stories all on the dark side (read in time for Halloween – you know…horror, fantasy, mystery, etc).
- The Life You Save May Be Your Own: an American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie ~ biographies of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy in one book (read for Group Reading Month).
For fun, I am rereading Mary Barney’s Ring That Bell (2003) because I want to challenge my cooking and make every recipe in the book. So far I’ve cooked/baked my way through nine recipes.
For the Early Review program from LibraryThing I was supposed to read Ostrich Feathers by Miriam Romm. It hasn’t arrived as of yet, so it may very well turn into a November book.
It has taken me some time to come to terms with her passing. Doesn’t seem right. More than doesn’t feel fair. I’ll say it yet again – cancer just isn’t fair.
They came to the island as love birds; a dating, doting couple. Binoculars and a sense of biology, they came to the island year after year to love the birds. The years gave way to marriage, kids, property, and a dog. A sense of belonging to the community became so strong the island couldn’t remember a time without them. It was as if they had always been there.
I don’t remember the first time I met her. It was that long ago. I can only remember her as I last saw her four months ago. Feisty and forcing fresh baked cookies on us, she commanded from the couch. Slipping water through a straw she surveyed the world outside her kingdom. A huge picture window afforded her a priceless view. She smiled as she watched a pheasant family creep jauntily through the high grass. Father pheasant’s neck arched and stretched searching for bugs, pecking as he went. His eyes were bright, watchful and wary. He paused as if to say I know you are there and she paused, the glass lifted halfway to her lips, as if her stillness could keep him there.
Binoculars, books and Bean gear. She was always ready for the birds. She kept a journal of the season’s best spyings. A log of feathered friends encountered throughout the seasons. As she grew sicker, too ill to hike her ornithology conquests had to be counted from the couch. Her bird’s eye view of the birds was limited to the ones who came to her big picture window. Mostly it was the pheasants. Soon she could tell us how many families were in the area. How many babies were born that year. Always the pheasants. They became her friends. That is why when I see a family of pheasants I will always think of her.
I hate this murky underwater apathy. This floating through things on tired waves of discontent. Lately, all I want to do is give it up. Why am I exhausted and who should I blame? Maybe it’s the dreams. At night I have nightscares that frighten me so badly I wake disorientated and confused. I struggle to ask myself why do I repeatedly have visions of bombers flying over Monhegan, dropping weapons of mass destruction? Masked fighter pilots spewing hundreds of rounds of bullets into people and places. We run, we scatter, yet there is blood. There is death I can’t explain. The sad thing is this. In my dreams I see them coming from miles and miles away. The sky is crystal clear, glaring and brilliant blue. At first they are dots on the horizon, yet I know who they are and what will happen when they arrive. I am powerless to stop it. As they get closer details emerge until I can see their faces. My dreams make them human and cruel.
Another repeat offended is the dream of drowning. Monhegan is hit with a wave as big as Texas. Again, there is that sense of foreboding. I can see it coming from miles away but I’m powerless to stop it.
Some say I want to destroy home. Some say I am started to dread the return, but what part I always ask. It’s true that Colorado started out as a joke, but has become more of a deep wishful thinking as time goes on. I fantasize about being snagged by the Rockies. I dream about being trapped miles from New England with no direction (or desire) to go home. Is that what I really want?
I take pieces of you home with me. Little by little, piece by piece. Do you feel yourself diminishing? Do you sense yourself growing smaller? Stealing from home to make a home away from home home. Scouring shorelines for colors of sea tossed glass, speckled, inexplicably beautiful rocks, broken buoys of red and gold. Like a song about romance I steal them all home with me. Vain attempt to bring me back to where I am not.
I cannot bottle the heavy salt air. I cannot take the earthy decay of fallen leaves. I have to leave the sunsets of gold behind. So, instead I take the glass, the rocks, the shells. Bottled and bowled I keep them, cherish them in my home away from home.
We will rise before the sun and face the day with the thought that today will be different from the day before. Much different. We will look towards coffee as the great motivator but really, in our heart of hearts, it will be the open road. We will stop for alcohol and then when we can drive no more, stop for the sea. When we reach the ocean we will know we can go no further. We will ride the waves and smell the salt. I can’t speak for her but I will breathe. Breathe in and out. Breathe like I haven’t in days. We will spot my mother and gossip all the way up the hill. We will finally drop our bags in sighing relief and a great sense of freedom. We will call our husbands while drinking wine and staring out over the ocean. Distracted. What we won’t do is talk about work because we promised. We will (try to) keep that promise. For love and sanity, we will.
I came across this…as I was packing. How perfect is that? Nothing has changed. I could have written this yesterday. Or next year. I wouldn’t want it any other way.