Category Archives: poetry

January Reads and Recommendations!

Reading gets me through the long month of January. Have any reading goals for 2019? I’m going to read 50 books this year (Lord willing and the river don’t rise). I’ll be keeping track in a leather journal and on Goodreads (why I keep both, I’m not sure). If you’re not on Goodreads, I highly recommend it. It’s easy to navigate and is somewhat like an accountability buddy. Once you finish one book, it sends you an email that says, Congratulations, what’s next? Me and my personality eat up this type of thing.

I’m quite pleased with the number of books I got through in January, though it’s a bit of a cheat as I started the first two in 2018, but never mind, I’m counting it. So here you go, all good books:
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Even if you’re not writing a screenplay, this a a worthy read for any writer. And who knows, you might be so inspired you become the next Matt Damon/Ben Affleck (of Goodwill Hunting) powerhouse.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang recently won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature – a very prestigious honor! If you like well-written middle grade with a smart and problem-solving protagonist, pick this one up. It’s great!

The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Following an invitation to finish this by the end of the year in 2018, I was a little late and finished in January. I love this book. You can see it’s worn from all the years of reading, marking up, moving, and handling. If you’re interested in religion, Jesus Christ, prophets, and history (think A LOT of bloody wars), here you go. This book has power; it’s changed my life.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. Likely the tamest of the tame by King standards, I wanted to read a book that would teach me about suspense without giving me nightmares for twenty years (Hello, The Shining.) This is about a girl who gets lost in the New Hampshire woods for over a week. She gets bitten by a lot of black flies and as the sun sets, hears all the spooky sounds of the unknown… It was pretty good (and no nightmares.)

The Elizas by Sara Shepard (of Pretty Little Liars fame). I was looking for a psychological page turner and The Elizas showed up. Though originally turned off by the premise of a girl who can’t remember large chunks of her past due to drinking large amounts of alcohol (yawn), Shepard went in a different direction (brain tumor!? munscion syndrome!?) It was a page turner even if the ending was completely implausible ūüôā

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This is going to be made into a movie, I’m sure of it. If you like beautifully descriptive nature writing (reminiscent of the incomparable Pat Conroy) paired with love and a whodunnit mystery, here’s your book. I’m not quite finished, but I couldn’t wait to share! (Thanks for the rec, Annie!)

Dream Work by Mary Oliver. Oh Mary, I love her so. If you haven’t read the poetry of Mary Oliver, you simply must. In honor of her recent passing, I had to check this out. What a collection! A great NPR tribute HERE.

One of my favorites, “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

And now my friends, what ARE you going to do with your one wild and precious life? Does it include reading?



Today I Like

1.  I like when my children sit down at the piano with bunny ears on. 

Or a sideways scout hat with sunglasses on. ¬†It makes me laugh. ¬†I also like that they are playing the piano. ¬†My sweet eldest has been passed on to a different teacher for the spring because it’s just better that way for awhile. ¬†For both of us. ¬†It also makes me happy that I only have to start ONE more child at the piano. ¬†
2. I like Ann Romney and I like Michelle Obama. ¬†They’re both great, strong ladies who love their children and this country. ¬†My ears turn deaf to the Mommy wars…yawn. ¬†Women, please stop using stupid and devisive phrases and words to make yourself feel better. ¬†Devisive is an adjective: tending to cause disagreement or hostility between people.¬† I apologize if I’ve said stupid or devisive things. ¬†I suppose it’s a casualty of being human.
3. ¬†I love this quote in¬†Kelly Rae Roberts’s¬†house, (photo courtesy of¬†featured on design mom¬†this week. ¬†I have a feeling that if I picked out pieces that didn’t match, they would just look like pieces that didn’t match. ¬†I like that I don’t feel badly looking at other people’s homes anymore. ¬†We all spend our time doing different and (hopefully!) worthwhile things.
4. ¬†Like running. ¬†I really like running. ¬†I like Barbara and Edna and Grandpa in the kitchen at Proctor because while Gregor drives the kids to school, I run to Proctor, where he works. ¬†But he arrives sooner than I do and sometimes has to get to early meetings. ¬†So every day Paige runs into the kitchen to see her friends who are all at least 40 years older than her. ¬†Even though they are very busy, they give her scrambled eggs and orange juice, teach her to peel carrots, make bread, create great works of art, and today taught her how to blow a bubble with her bubble gum. ¬†They are so¬†nice to her. ¬†Paige cries when I run at a different time or don’t feel like going out, because she loves her Barbara and Edna and Grandpa so much. Sometimes she’s only with them for 15 minutes but it is a huge help to me. ¬†Simple. ¬†So kind.
5. ¬†And since it’s National Poetry Month, I will share a poem I now adore. ¬†And I only heard it last night when a little, almost-10-year-old girl, got up and faced a very large audience. ¬†She reminded me of Scout from my very favorite Mockingbird book. ¬†Her voice was clear and bright as she recited. ¬†I wanted to capture the words in a bottle. ¬†I wished I were a poet. ¬†I must now discover the poet laureate, Billy Collins.

On Turning Ten
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed. 

Billy Collins