Tag Archives: reading

White Winter Hymnal Magical Fox Child kind of day.

It’s spitting snow today with our thermometer shivering at 27 degrees (-2.8 C).  It’s hard to ponder going outside.  North wind cuts through flimsy autumn jackets, demanding winter garb.

I’m reading.

My friend Emma recommended The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  Just started lapping up the words and paragraphs last night, mesmerized by stark white descriptions of an aging couple living in Alaska in the 1920′s.

Here’s the book description:  Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

I haven’t read beyond Page 80, so can’t determine if I’ll like the book or if it shall end “happily ever after” but am fascinated by the Fairy Tale child-fox sprinting in the trees of imagination, in the landscape of hope and possibility.

Speaking of magical, would you like to listen to one of my all-time favorite songs?  Prepare to be transported into this White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes.  The video is pure delight!

In which Gulliver gets tied up and we eat green bean casserole

Ready, set, open your book!

Tonight six or seven or maybe eight of us will sit around living room chairs at Mary’s house to discuss our latest Book Club selection.

You want to know the exciting name of our selection?

Gulliver’s Travels.

Which yours truly did not read.

Continue reading

Mama Bear Visits the City

Once upon a time there were four bears living in the woods.

Mama Bear, Daddy Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear.

The Bear Family lived happily in the forest.  They read hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books when Brother and Sister Bear were wee cubs.

Can you recognize any of these books?

Mama Bear gathers pumpkins and ponders her visit to the City.

"Witches Four" (Witch boots on, tied up laces, frog eye soap to wash their faces...)

This is a Golden Book from Mama Bear's childhood. It is an old old book. However, Mama is not that old.

 

This is another old,old book. It must be from Daddy Bear's childhood.

 

Oh how the Bear family liked this book--Peter Spier's "Rain". What a wonderful book!

Until one day Brother and Sister Bear grew up, and decided to leave the woods and fly to the Cities.  Brother Bear flew to the West Coast and Sister Bear flew to the East Coast.  (The woods where Mama and Daddy lived was in the middle.)

But Brother and Sister Bear never stopped reading books.  They read dozens and dozens and hundreds and hundreds of books. 

One day Sister Bear invited Mama Bear to fly to New York City to visit her.  (Mama and Daddy Bear had already visited Brother Bear and his fiance a few months earlier.  Actually, Mama had visited Sister Bear two years ago in the Big City, so she’s not completely uncomfortable leaving the forest.)

On Tuesday morning Mama Bear will board an airplane and fly to one of the biggest cities in the US of A!  Will she know how to tip taxi drivers?  Will she know how to behave without looking like a country-bumpkin? 

But, more importantly, will she find a bookstore? 

Moral of the story:  you can take a bear out of the woods, but if they’ve been raised on books, they’ll never stop reading.

Mama Bear wants to know:  what were YOUR favorite childhood books?  Or the favorite books you read your own bear cubs?

Berenstain Bears "Too Much Birthday" (In honor of Daddy Bear who is celebrating his birthday tomorrow. Actually Mama and Daddy are celebrating his birthday today...)

P.S.  Mama Bear will not quit her day job any time soon to write children’s books.  :)

 

The sea is in her blood…

Red squirrel at Cape Cod National Seashore

Dear Readers–Time for another “Meet the Reader” blog!  Or we could call it “Meet one of the commenters” blog.  Today I would love for you to meet a sweet friend and fellow-blogger named Barbara. The sea is in her blood and her soul, as you will discover.  Please welcome her sharing here at Lake Superior Spirit.  Then perhaps you might want to visit her blog By the Sea.

 

Greetings Kathy’s Readers!

My name is Barbara and I met Kathy online perhaps two years ago when we were both members of the now defunct Gaia Community social network.  It was Kathy who encouraged me to start blogging here at WordPress about a year ago, and after starting off filled with uncertainty, I’m finally getting my sea legs.

Late afternoon sun at Avery Point

My blog is called By the Sea because when I was little my grandparents were always reminding me that the sea is in my blood.  (Many of my maternal ancestors were Cape Cod sailors and sea captains.)  And it is true because I find that, as Rolf Edberg says: “In still moments by the sea life seems large-drawn and simple.  It is there we can see into ourselves.”  All I need is a walk on the beach to reconnect with myself and with the universe, and to find peace of mind and sometimes a moment of transcendence.

I was born in Connecticut 54 years ago, and have lived here all my life, except for when I was 15-17 years old and we (my parents, sister, and I) moved to a suburb of Athens, Greece.  Although I wasn’t too thrilled with the plan at the time, it was an important life experience.  My horizons were broadened considerably by attending a small international high school, meeting other teens from several other countries and learning that there are many different ways of looking at the world.

Long Island Sound from Eastern Point

When I was little I played in the woods surrounding our little house all the time.  The trees were my friends, especially the hemlocks, which I loved to climb.  I had a mystical experience with a stag when I was six years old, and a couple of years ago, I had another remarkable encounter with a doe.  We gazed into each other’s eyes for a little over an hour after she caught sight of me studying her from the window of my dad’s house.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us.”

Lily in Dad's garden

From a very young age I began tracing my family history, interviewing any and every relative I could get to cooperate with me.  My passion for doing genealogical research has never waned and we’ve had some great experiences over the years visiting town halls, historical societies, court houses and cemeteries all over Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.  Had a very moving experience at Ellis Island, where my paternal grandparents entered this country from Ukraine.  Some day we hope to go to Nova Scotia, Ontario, Michigan, Vermont, Norway and Scotland to investigate other leads.  So many ancestors, so little time!

In 2004 Tim got me started creating a webpage for sharing the results of my research.  (I call him Tech Support.)  Last year I started moving it all to WordPress at Rodgers Family History.  Every few months or so a new distant cousin finds my site and contacts me and we exchange copies of whatever research, vital records and old pictures we have gathered.  The site has been a fantastic way to connect with our “internet cousins.”

Cape Cod National Seashore

Words are another passion.  Reading – mostly historical fiction, biographies and poetry.  Writing – in the past I had many pen pals, nowadays I enjoy my blog pals!  Collecting many, many, many quotes, which pop into my head all day long and creep relentlessly into my blog posts.  Some of my favorite authors and poets are Barbara Kingsolver, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sigrid Undset and Emily Dickinson.  And now Mary Oliver, thanks to Kathy!  One of the first things I do every morning is take my turns in the Scrabble games I play on Facebook with four of our relatives.  I’m always open for another game if anyone wants to play sometime!

Tim & I married very young and started a family right away.  After we met we soon found out that we both loved the seashore.  He grew up visiting his grandparents on Cape Cod, just like I did.  We have three adult children who, we often say, managed to grow up into compassionate human beings, in spite of our immaturity and lack of experience.  Most of our family vacations and romantic getaways have been on the Cape and we never felt a need to venture any farther away for rest and refreshing our souls.

I’m something of a dreamer, and a very domestic homebody who has thoroughly enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom.  It had always been my dream and it has been a precious gift from Tim that he has somehow made it possible all these years.  When our youngest was just three years old, I began what turned into a very long “career” of assistance-giving and care-giving, beginning with Tim’s mother, then my mother, my grandparents, my aunt and my father.  Some of them overlapping.

Yours truly.

In September 2007 Tim survived a major heart attack and was flown by medical helicopter to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he had triple by-pass surgery the next day.  Before Tim was well enough to go back to work, my father was hospitalized after taking another bad fall, and then put in a rehabilitation center for two months.  When he came home he required more care than ever.  While Dad was in the hospital our son was also hospitalized for an antibiotic-resistant infection, and in the course of treating it the doctors discovered he has diabetes.  No family history of diabetes.  It’s been a lot to take in.

My aunt, now 97, had some surgery in September and started needing more daily attention, too.  We’re finally getting some professional help with the elder care, and I’m no longer making the hour commute inland to help out.  I’ve been spread too thin the past few years and am now trying to focus on improving Tim’s and my health and well-being.  Some choices are so difficult…

I love being in the blogosphere – connecting with so many interesting people I would otherwise have never met.  These connections lift my spirits and bring me so much joy!

“If you loved me, you would read my blog”

Dear Bloggers,  I’ve talked with many of you throughout the blogging years.  We’ve shared the trials and tribulations of blogging.  The ups, the downs!  The highs, the lows.  The wonderful creativity of sharing ideas and thoughts, the lulls in inspiration.

Yes, we’ve shared a lot.  Bloggers of the world, I salute you!  I salute you for sharing of yourself publicly.  You’ve taken yourself from the world of private journal to public column.  You’re expressing yourself on a world-wide screen.  You’re out of the closet!  High Five, dear blogger.  You’re awesome.

We’ve talked, haven’t we?–about those trials and tribulations.  We’ve uttered our doubts, our sadness, our frustrations. 

The frustration one of my friends expressed recently broke my heart.  I am still thinking about it.

She spoke from your deepest blogging pain.  She mentioned dearly beloved family members.  Precious friends.  And then she uttered these words:

“I just want to say to them–If you loved me, you would read my blog.”

Yes, dear blogger, I know what you mean.  In my most secret thoughts (OK, not my most secret thoughts–I think they’ve been said aloud more than once) I have felt the same thing.  And I have heard this from the confessional lips of more than one blogger.

Maybe bloggers who write about specific topics such as photography and nature and spirituality don’t mind.  They don’t expect family members and friends to read.  Because who is really interested in all subjects? We can forgive Grandpa the raving fundamentalist for not reading our spiritual blog.  We can forgive our sister the doll collector for not reading our gun-collecting blog.  We can forgive our city-dwelling friends for not caring about wildflowers and moose.

“But–” said my suffering blogging friend, “This blog is about me.  Someone they say they love.  Why don’t they want to read about what I think?  What’s happening in my life?  I mean they don’t have to stop by every day.  But every few days?  Why don’t they care?”

I wonder how to answer this question.  Let’s try this approach:

“I’m sure it’s not because they don’t love you,” I say.  “They are probably busy.  Maybe they are not readers.  Not everyone likes to read!”

“My sister reads books every day,” my blogger friend replies.

I try Approach #2.

“Maybe you need to turn it around.  Try to look at it differently.  I know!  What if you look at it like we are all pieces of God.  Only certain parts of God will resonate with what you want to say.  Then you can be grateful with whoever decides to visit your blog.”

Long pause.

“Are you a religious fanatic?” she asks.

I pause–briefly.

“I am a spiritual fanatic,” I reply and begin to think quickly about Approach #3.

“OK, I really do know what you’re feeling,” I say. ” My husband would understand, too.  He’s been writing a column for the local newspaper for at least 30 years.  He’ll meet people on the street who will say, ‘Been fishing lately?’ or ‘What’s happening with you?’ and he’ll know they haven’t been reading his column because he’s told everyone in town what’s been happening lately.”

I could tell she was starting to feel better.  If a newspaper columnist feels this way, it’s OK for us bloggers to feel this way, too.

“I think he’s gotten used to it after 30 years,” I continue.  “He doesn’t really seem to mind.”

“I wish I could get to the point where I don’t mind,” she sighed.  “When my mother asks me what I’ve been doing I want to scream:  read my blog!  I have been writing my heart and soul out.  If you loved me you would read my blog.  You would.”

“Some people don’t want their friends and family members to read their blog,” I try to console one last time, “They want their blogging to be a private space.”

“I wish I felt that way,” she said, “I wish I could be mature enough to say that it doesn’t matter.  But it does matter to me.  I want my friends and family to care enough.”

Suddenly something begins to take shape.  “You know,” I say hesitantly, “maybe our true friends and family are the ones who are present to us, who do care, who show up regularly.  Maybe whoever is in our life today–whoever engages–is what is important.  Not who we want to show up.  But who does show up.   Maybe our heart just needs to be open beyond old expectations of friends and family.  Who shows up today are friends and family…do you think?”

Dear blogger, I care enough about you to read what you have to say.  Thank you for sharing of yourself.  Thank you for your creativity, the way you express your feelings in such a real way, your unique expression.  Don’t ever quit blogging.  No matter who reads–and who doesn’t read.

**Disclaimer.  The names, sentences and thoughts have been altered to disguise the frustrated blogger.  I have taken amazing creative license (with her approval) to attempt to share this common blogging woe.

The boy who lost his pants on Main Street & other stories from a U.P. weekend

Love--in the bathroom of Carmalita's Restaurant in Calumet

 You guys are all waiting impatiently to see the picture of the teenage boy standing at the four corners in L’Anse after having–how do we put this politely?–dropped his pants, aren’t you? 

 I am sorry to say you will see no photos.   #1:  because Barry and I were so shocked to see the baggy pants fall down–you know the kind of pants–the kind most kids used to wear a couple of years ago where you could view the rear end of said youth if you so desired.  #2:  The car in which we sat was driving too fast through the four corners and there was no time to grab the camera as the baggy pants simply fell to the ground revealing a nice pair of jockey underwear and #3:  I could not have embarrassed the guy, anyway with a photo.  No.  Not me. 

 Since he will never–I am sure–find this blog–we’ll only tell his tail.  I mean tale.   

A flower in front of Espresso on Main Coffee Shop in L'Anse

 Yesterday was such a busy day.  Its busy-ness came from being married to a weekly newspaper reporter/editor.  He had three assignments spread across two counties here in the U.P.  (also known as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).  Because we were aiming for an eventual lunch at Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant in Calumet (maybe an hour away from Baraga County) I tagged along. Tagged along with my camera.  He took the official photographs.  At one point–when I was snapping photos yesterday–I murmured to the people with raised eyebrows, “Oh I’m just following him around taking pictures.”  They smiled and nodded, like that was expected behavior.  

At the Keweenaw Bay Kids Fishing Derby

 We went EVERYWHERE.  Who can remember all the places we visited in six or seven long hours?  Here are the three official assignments where we had to take pictures.  I mean where he had to take pictures.  #1  The Farmer’s Market in downtown L’Anse.  #2:  The annual Keweenaw Bay Kids Fishing Derby and #3 a baseball game played up in Hancock.

 Many of my photos basically turned out Just Awful. This doesn’t happen too often.  Usually I can find six or ten or twenty photos that I like. Some that are liked a lot.  But not yesterday.  Err…  The sky was too gray.  The sweet dear loving little Sony CyberShot didn’t compensate like she was supposed to.  Or she didn’t focus clearly enough.  We’re having relationship issues…  

Kids' shoes

 Barry and I surely did have fun, though!  There must have been 300 kids (or more) at the fishing derby.  They all looked like they were having a grand old time casting in the ponds behind the Sand Point Lighthouse.  You had to park half a mile away from the activity.  That’s how many folks mingled about.  It was good to see so many happy kids.  

Elvis? Coming to da Copper Country?

 After that we did our weekly shopping, bought organic vegetables, found supplies like eye drops and Q-tips, and meandered up to Carmelita’s for lunch.  I brought my camera in the bathroom again.  Sigh.  It’s unavoidable behavior, apparently.

 What do you think of the Elvis Presley sign?  The romantic couple?  Isn’t it wonderful when a bathroom can be so entertaining?  (As for the rest of the photos in Carmelitas–the Sony CyberShot was sticking its tongue out at me and refusing to produce anything but blurs in the dim light.  I started talking to Barry about the possibility of one of those fancy cameras.  You know, with a birthday coming up and everything…)  

Eat, sleep, read. Is there anything more to life, really?

 We stopped at the North Wind Bookstore in Hancock just before we headed home.  I was looking for the second book in the Conrad Richter Awakening Land trilogy, but alas.  No Conrad Richter.  So I bought a different book called “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.  A New York Times Bestseller  about a Chinese American boy who falls in love with a Japanese American girl back in the 1940′s before she’s sent to an internment camp.

 Yep, the book is already read as of 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon.  I can’t help devouring books like they’re exquisite full course gourmet meals.   Yum, yum, yum.  Eat, sleep, read.  Yep, that sounds like THE life!

Better than losing one’s pants.  ;)

The Solstice and the Creature

The amazement of sunlight at the solstice

 

 Hello, dear reader!  Did you notice I skipped a day?  

 And then had to take my own advice from the last blog.  Because the Mind started to whine (oh haven’t we heard this before??)  “There’s nothing to say, nothing to write about!”  But since I don’t believe this particular slice of mind (Yes, I still believe other slices of mind) this blog is born despite all odds.  

 We shall write about The Solstice and the Creature.    

Let there be shadow and light on this longest day

 

 The Solstice, as many of you know, is the Longest Day of the Year.  The longest day of sunlight shining uponst us all.  OK, some of us suffer with clouds or rain or tornados or monsoons.  But behind all those events, the sun still insists it’s the boss on June 21st.   

 We heat-starved northern folk are basking these days.  We’re letting the heat seep into our frozen bones.  We’re thawing out.  We’re letting the memories of six-foot snow drifts subside…  We’re trying to let the memories of six-foot snow drifts subside…   

Ring around the Solstice rising sun!

 

 This morning I was at work at the school.  Working.  Honest.  Except, on a sashay through the library (it couldn’t have been more than three minutes, honest), I noticed shadows and light!  Had to go root in my purse for the camera.  Don’t you love the way the shadows and light play on that game?  I do.    

Yep, let the reading fun begin!

 

 While I had the camera in the library, it was now paramount to take a picture of the sun shining through a ring in the curtain holder.  The sun, for an instant, was captured!  Yes!   

 And down below lay a flyer which insisted, “Let the reading adventures begin!”  I snapped its photo, as well.  

 Although–in my life–the reading adventures never end.   

 The latest reading adventure has my heart going pitter-patter and the fingers dialing the L’Anse Library trying to get the second book in the trilogy.  It’s called “The Fields”.  

 The first book, which I devoured like manna, was called “The Trees.”  Oh.  Yes.   It is by Conrad Richter and it’s situated at the end of the eighteenth century in the land west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River.   

 The author talks in old-time lingo, and by gosh, by golly, by the end of the book you’re going around saying things like “I tole you!” and “It put me in mind of the playparty rations…” even though you have no idea what “playparty rations” might be.  

 Gosh, how I loved this book!  It came to me via my stop at Dog Ears Books in Northport nary on a week ago.  (Tee hee, you see how this old-time language takes over after a good read.)   

 I was askin’ Pamela to recommend a good book when an artist-sort with blond hair began to wax poetically about The Trees.  She said almost every one in their book club liked it.  If almost everyone in a book club likes a book, it’s a miracle.  (Our book club can never get a quorum on a book we like.  Well, hardly ever.)  

For all you adventuresome readers.

 

 One of the fascinating parts about this book are the trees themselves.  They hang thick and dark and heavy and lonely, swamping the early settlers in their unbroken forest world.  The curtain of heavy trees may have even killed one of the characters…but we won’t go there.  Oh how I understand!   

 Last year, when I wrote the 365 day outdoor blog, I wrote one blog which articulated some of the challenges of living amidst a forest of trees.  It was called Horizon Envy and it was one of my favorite blogs from last year.  My sociologist son even suggested a possible sociological study of this phenomenon.    

But watch out when you start reading. You never know who will decide to join you.

 

 Anyway, I am panting to get the next book.  The library lady said she would check and see if it’s possible to order interlibrary loan books during the summertime.  (Apparently the libraries aren’t happily passing around books when the schools close due to high postage costs.  Sigh.)  Might have to gander toward another bookstore!  

 As for the Creature–you were waiting to hear about the creature, weren’t you?  Did you see It lingering on my skirt in the above photo?  It decided It wanted to roost on the reader earlier today.  Any one know the name of this long antennaed creature?  

And while we’re talking books, any of you enjoying your reads these a days?  (Oh goodness.  We have to get back to talkin’ normal soon.  We hafta.) 

Enjoy the Solstice, Everyone!