I know. I know. I missed posting yesterday. I had my fill of words, though, and no pictures. Yesterday I spent the day reading placement essays for incoming freshman. Most were sincere arguments about why the student felt s/he belongs in a certain level class. Some were a few frustrated sentences from students less able to write under pressure. I read a few with a cocky tone that implied how senseless the exam is. Several argued that they belonged in the 101+ class (an extra hour of instruction a week) so eloquently that my boss will call to suggest that the class is not necessary. My favorite, though, was a young man who compared English 101 to a beautiful woman who would demand much time and attention, but would be totally worth it in the end. Who was I to separate him from his lady love?
We noticed a trend: the students who wrote about specific authors or books (oh, we love that!) seem to like Twilight (haven't been able to get through 20 pp of it myself, but I'm going to try again) and Harry Potter (always a hit with the exam readers), Nicholas Spark, Jodi Picoult, and a few other writers that brought out the snobbery in the room. When I got a Jane Austen or Bronte fan, I called it out, and we all smiled and felt the future was in safe hands.
Which leads me to today's list, one I love: ten books on my summer reading list.
1. The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey. While I have no pretensions of my being a designer, I do have a few patterns swirling around my head and am curious to see what the ever-fabulous Knitgrrl has to say about what I should do with them.
2. John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River. I adore John Irving. I consider him my literary grandfather. My mentor studied with him at Breadloaf, so I figure some of what she learned from him trickled down to me. I bought this last night to bring on vacation with me, and I'm having a hard time waiting to start.
3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I've been plugging through this. Usually I rip through anything about Tudor England--fiction or non-fiction--but this has been a painfully slow read for me. I haven't yet put my finger on why, but at some point I'll finish, review the book, and let you know. It did win the Booker Prize, which is why I bought it.
4. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horowitz. My pal and librarian Teri loaned me this. It's under consideration for teaching in my war-themed composition class. I would probably excerpt a chapter as I don't know if I want to make this the book I read with the students. I'm finding it interesting, especially as I have issues with the tight grasp so many southerners seem to keep on the Civil War.
5. Dimanche by Irene Nemirovsky. I love her writing. Period.
6. The Odyssey of Homer translated by Richard Lattimore. It's been about ten years since I've last read it, but I still think about it all the time, so I plan a revisit.
7. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I think Ramona once recommended it to me. It's been on my bookshelf for a while. Mona is a good reader, so if she suggests, I read.
10. The Half-Known World by Robert Boswell. Before my (mostly) daily writing practice, I like to read a chapter or so of a craft book or a piece of writing that will help me to focus. This is my current craft book. I like Boswell's fiction, and I've been intrigued by him when I've attended his panels at AWP.
I just returned home from my nephew Dan's graduation party. Next up for him: art school. He makes me proud.
Yesterday after writing at La Paloma, I met Neal for lunch. We actually ate at the taqueria cart, and man, was the food good. I loved the name of this cart, though, and hope it gives you a giggle, too.
Oh, the hubris. That strawberry was so lushly red and plump at 6:00 a.m. When I went out on the deck at 7:00 a.m.... Manise, you may want to click away rather than read this travesty: it was half eaten. Half! What, bird, it wasn't good enough? I would have eaten the whole thing.
Yesterday I shared the first watercolor in the journal that I'm keeping as part of the Creativity Boot Camp project. I'm late to the party, but I just love the idea of taking creative risk in a medium I mess around with but don't dedicate much time to. Watercolor painting, like ice skating, is something I know I'm not too good at, but I have a whole lot of fun doing.
A few days ago, a friend of mine posted on my FB wall that she needed a writing pep talk. We arranged a lunch date, and I scanned my writing books shelf for some encouragement. The photo above shows the little stack I brought her. She's a well-read woman (a librarian. I'm really attracted to librarians. I want to be a librarian.) with a fantastic idea for a YA novel. I can't wait to read it--the idea is THAT good. This is her first stab in the genre, and I remember that wallowing feeling all too well. I thought these books would provide just the right encouragement for a new writer in need of a pep talk. What would you have added to the stack?
I have had an encouraging writing week. In fact, I honestly can't remember the last time I was this excited about and in love with my novel. I'm moving away from the protagonist into the story of her mother as I've decided to make it the story of how the three generations (original protagonist, her mother, her grandmother) and their secrets entwine. It took a few weeks, but I found the voice with which to narrate the mother's section, and this week, for the first time in ages, I was surprised by plot. I even got choked up by the scene I was writing today!
Today I went to a writing group that meets at La Paloma in Hartford. I usually steer away from writing groups as too often they descend into complaining about the publishing industry. This group simply writes in each others' company. I like it. I'm going back for more.
It feels fantastic to be so inspired, to have my creativity feeling "on" for the first time in so long. Call me silly, but I really think I freed my head when I moved the beast of a loom out of my house and took back my office, made it a studio. There's something to be said for honoring one's work with a special space, no matter how big or small.
Now I'm trying something new for me: I'm participating in Carole's Ten on Tuesday.
to Entertain a Child
no children, but I've done plenty of entertaining for my nieces and nephews,
who range quite a bit in age. The oldest is in his mid-20s, and the
youngest is a preteen, which means my list may run the gamut!
Read. Either read to the child or read with the child. I
started reading the Harry Potter series because my nephew was into it,
and I wanted to be able to discuss it with him. I gave him The Hobbit
when he first learned to read because I wanted it on his bookshelf when he was
ready for it.
Run in the rain. One time I babysat for the same nephew when he was
nearly three and his sister was a newborn. It was raining out. We
ran back and forth across the driveway (the baby was not running, nor was she
in the rain) and splashed in the rain until he was ready to sleep.
See a play. I prefer Shakespeare outside, because then the child is
also entertained by a picnic. When I was in England, I was impressed by
how young many audience members were when I went to the college greens to see
Shakespeare. Even if a kid doesn't quite grasp the language, a lot of the
plays are so funny and/or compelling that she will understand the story just
Make a kite. Then fly it.
Hike in the woods. Stop and look at all the cool stuff.
Visit a museum. If the child is young, model how to talk about art.
If the child is a young man, a budding artist, ask him lots of questions
about why he likes what he does.
Teach the child to knit or weave or sew. My nephew learned at a
pretty young age, starting with finger, then spool, then needle knitting.
Cook together. My ex-husband had the same nephew standing on a
chair helping out in the kitchen from the time the kid was old enough to stand
on a chair by himself. Kids seem to like to eat stuff that they help to
Watch clouds or lightning bugs together. Nothing like a blanket in
the back yard and a little daydreaming to entertain a child of all ages!
you entertain kids?
P.S. Please forgive any font wonkiness. I'm having issues. I know.
Now I've got a new loom that fits my room. It's the third loom that I've brought home--no, I don't keep them all like stray dogs, silly! I trade, and now I finally feel like Goldilocks with a "just right". This baby is much smaller than the beast (a 12-shaft LeClerc Nilart) that took up my entire room. This baby is a LeClerc Compact. Remembering Dave's advice from lo those many moons ago when I first dipped my toe into weaving, I decided on an 8-shaft. It is a true relief to have the room back; I spent an entire weekend rearranging it, moving furniture around, setting it up for my crafty (words and fiber) pursuits. Now I love being in my space again. I spend most of my days, when I'm not outside, in here, writing, weaving, spinning, reading, crocheting, knitting, painting.
This morning my parents came over for a Father's Day breakfast of French Toast. I have a recipe one of my close friends taught me years ago that always pleases, and when I use a really hearty bread, it's a meal that doesn't just break the night's fast--it takes the place of lunch, too!
My grandfather liked to take a picture of the Thanksgiving table all dressed, turkey on its platter in the place of honor. Whenever I snap a photo of a dressed table, I think of him.
It's been a hot day here in the woods of Connecticut, and the little rainstorm a few hours ago didn't do much to relieve the heat. What did help was the cocktail Neal made me. Mind you, I don't drink much at all--an occasional beer, glass of wine, or Pimms is usually it. Neal doesn't drink at all. But he came in from working in the flower beds all day (they are looking pretty!), snatched a piece of watermelon with mint on it from the bowl I prepared for dinner, and claimed mixology inspiration. Into the blender went the following (I have no idea how much of anything):
Rum (just a scant shot as I'm a lightweight)
Mixy, mixy, blend, blend. I asked for something sweet, so he dumped the ice mixture back into the blender, added some 7-up, and I have a new, amazingly refreshing summer cocktail. It's close to a mojito, but I'm not going to burst my mixologist's bubble! Why isn't there a picture, you ask? I slurped that baby back in a New York minute!