Wednesday, May 30, 2007


The summer birds have reminded me that early morning is a great time to be quietly alone. In these green hours, my best company (besides our beloved tabby cat on my lap) is a book. For years, I have been making a stack of summer reading for myself. Sometime after the weather starts I scavenge our shelves for books I may have neglected, and have a bonanza at the bookstore. Here are the books on the summer shelf this year:

Narcissus and Goldmund. Hermann Hesse
To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis
The Hummingbird's Daughter. Luis Alberto Urrea.
The Best Science Fiction, 2007. Rich Horton, Ed.

Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize. John Alexander, Ed.
Good Poems for Hard Times. Garrison Keillor, Ed.
(Note: Keillor’s talents extend beyond folksy storytelling. He is an excellent editor. The first collection, Good Poems, was one of the best collections I’ve ever found.)

His Excellency, George Washington. Joseph J. Ellis.
How to Practice: the Way to a Meaningful Life. Dalai Lama
Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different. Gordon S. Wood.
Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Childhood. Jennifer Traig.
The Educated Child. William J. Bennet, Chester E. Finn, Jr., and John Cribb, Eds.

Not on this list are the many little mystery novels I call my "potato chip" books. Those silly little series with recipes, etc...they are so fun and quick to read! Rest assured I'll be reading a bunch of these, too.

And yes, Uncle Edward, Corelli’s Mandolin remains on the list, too. Why don’t I just give in and read it, already?

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cupcakes part 1

When you mix together some free time, a visit from Grandma, an exuberant 5-year old, and an over-the-top shopping spree at Michaels (courtesy of Grandma--thanks mom!), you get cupcakes! Ballet cupcakes. Because it's a rule in our house never to bake unless you share the bounty with people outside of the home, we made them for Ada's class. Ada is the best froster, we decided. And I'm not bad at smoothing out the shoes. Grandme is best at cutting (and tasting, Ada reminds me to say) the fondant. We made a great team. What will we make next time Grandme comes?

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Thoughts on the reunion, and a girl in the mirror

For the past few weeks, I've been spending an unusual amount of time looking backward. Planning a 20th reunion will do that to a person, I suppose. So many names, so many people. I was not, by far, a popular or well-known person, but for some reason I remember almost everyone. There were 450+ members of our graduating class, and I am determined that each one is invited individually.

Ideally, we would all attend the reunion. We would all be the amazing grownups we thought we could be. We would leave behind us the grudges, the resentments, the cliquishness. Ideally, we would instead make a celebration of the past--the good and bad of it, and acknowledge how our adolescence influenced the people we've become. We would be one, big, happy group, the same as the day we graduated.

Oh idealist! Of course, this assumes there was a real unity to our class--a happy unity, at that! And there wasn't. How could there be in a group so large? We may have been physically "together" in the same building and in the same town, but we were not all "together," were we?

Still, there is something to be said about remembering those formative four years, and the fact that we all did have the same environment. We did start together. We have a something of a shared past, whether our memories of that time are happy or angst-ridden, or most likely, both. And that's why I'm spending time on the reunion. Contacting people has been such fun--I am revisiting memories I had long forgotten, and hoping others are doing the same. Good memories, bad memories, formative memories. These are a few of the roots of the me I am today.

Here I am, reflective in another way, sometime around 1985. I love this photo--me, in my favorite Esprit pants, no doubt worried about what I saw in the mirror. I look at her now, and I feel--well, love. Thank you to her and to my parents and friends and all who brought me to happy today.

It's funny to spend time in the past, with these photos and memories. Esme and Ada, and life in general, have a way of keeping me firmly rooted in the now--the right now!--kind of present. These reunion diversions are fun--and between the laundry and the dinner and the nursery rhymes and violin lessons and ballet class and diaper changes, I think about these things and wonder what Ada and Esme will think about when they wax nostalgic...

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