Tuesday, August 16, 2011


August 16, 2011

I had to knock down the dust in Erin's room some yesterday.  I actually spend a lot of time in there and the major surfaces were okay, but some of the shelves don't get a lot of practical cleaning.

Okay, so beyond the I-don't-deep-clean-my-house-regularly confession, there is the other bereaved-parent confession coming.  Twenty-eight months later, and I haven't actually done much with Erin's stuff.  I did give her Keen's to Ian last Friday (for keeps) when he got his muddy mucking around with the geese, but mainly her room is morphing into something else (who knows what?) at a glacier's pace.

I finally got around to dusting the bottom shelf of her bedside table where she stacked the books she was reading.  There they sat, each with a thin skin of petrified dust on them, their places marked, mid-read.  Some had precious store-bought bookmarks holding the place, including a special one carried back from Egypt by a friend who knew Erin's love for books.  An Underarmour tag just as proudly marked her progress in another.  My favorite?  A much doodled upon notecard spelling out the first ten amendments to The Constitution and what they protect.

I dusted under, around, and in the books, then instead of re-shelving them, stacked them back up at the bottom of the bedside table:

Anne McCaffrey's The Harper Hall of Pern
Roald Dahl's Skin
Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
Agatha Christie's The Secret of Chimneys
and on top
Erin Hunter's Warriors

This is just one more way that I take after Erin.  

I took a few books on vacation and finished three.  I started with Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, which despite having won the National Book Award a few years ago AND despite having bee given a free hardback copy, I had avoided, mainly because I just have negative views of the Vietnam War and our involvement, not to mention the whole spy/covert operations/screwing natives and manipulating people theme.  I decided to suck it up and give it a try.  I can't say the book made me feel any better about Vietnam or spooks, but once I started, it compelled me to finish it.  It was much different than I expected with all the characters being broken and and interesting (and thus accessible).  Of course, there were difficult and brutal parts, but also passages that were so evocative that I had to keep picking the book back up, even when I knew I wouldn't like what I would have to read next.

I also finished a murder mystery called The Pawn by Steven James, which I had started as a take-to-the-gym, read-while-you-stationary-bike book.  Spoiler Alert! Since it turned out that the serial killer was actually two serial killers (who had known each other as teens), it turns out I couldn't follow the plot line unless I focused while I read, rather than multitasking.  Being vacation and all, I didn't feel too guilty about just sitting in a chair on the balcony with my feet up reading from time to time.  

Even though I had started a couple of other books before we left Texas and hauled them around with me,  I couldn't help looking for something else to read.  In Taos, I found a locally-owned book store called Moby Dickens and on the advice of the owner, bought three books by southwestern writers (other than Tony Hillerman, who I was caught up on).  I finished my vacation reading on the drive home with Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya.  And while the bodies stacked up in this book just like in the other two, it was completely unlike them--much gentler and reflective, as coming of age stories can be.

After I made it home, I started and finished another of my Taos books:  J. Michael Orenduff's first pot thief book:  The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, whose gentle self-deprecating humor and practically bloodless mrders helped me transition back into the world where more was expected of me than to drink fine coffee in the morning, fine wine in the evening and while away the hours in between.

Now I'm back to the grind (almost. . . my semester starts two weeks from today).  I have my latest Mother-Daughter book club book at hand:  Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities, which I have always (at least since tenth grade) counted as one of my top five books of all time And which I didn't recognize a word of, beyond the opening paragraph (you know "It was the best or times.   It was the worst of times. . . ") when I started it the other day.   I am also coping with Scott Hendrix's (no relation to Jimi Hendrix) Recultivating the Vineyard, which Walter and I chose for our Sunday School class to use in our study of the Reformation this fall.  

Quick, you can tell that I am missing the third leg of my reading stool.  Give me a light and fun suggestion that can balance off the other two.  I'm considering this one by Will Lacey if it gets into print soon enough.


  1. *looking at my bookshelf*

    Light and fun? oh dear my. oh! well.. interesting.. at least to me.. "Far Appalachia: Following the New River North" by Noah Adams (yes, of NPR) (here's the some info on it, including a excerpt and interview with Noah Adams about the book. i don't know how fun it is, but it's light.. well, light for me.. and interesting because the new river is, well, that's the river i grew up on. Dad lived 150 feet above it.. if there's one thing he and i shared the most (besides looks and temperament) its a love of *that* river. if it sounds interesting to you, i just happened to pick up an extra copy (for $.99, in EXCELLENT shape) the other day and maybe you are the person who is meant to have it...

    i also see on my bookshelf "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself" by Judy Blume. From Wikipedia: "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is a 1977 young adult novel by Judy Blume. The story is set in 1947 and follows the imaginative ten year old Sally (she likes to make up stories in her head) when her family moves from New Jersey to Miami Beach. While not as controversial as some of her other novels, Blume does manage to address the following themes of late 1940s life in America: racism, anti-Semitism and sibling rivalry. This novel is her most autobiographical, with many parallels between Blume's own life and that of Sally."

    thinking about taos and life things.. interesting (but may not as fun) is "Long Quiet Highway" by Natalie Goldberg. i think she lives in taos now, or has in the past. LQH is not fiction, it's a book about her and her spiritual life. she's got a fiction book "Banana Rose" that is interesting, but like LQH, i don't know about fun.

    also sitting on my bookshelf is Winnie the Pooh. You know, a classic. Oh, and a couple of Shel Silverstein books of poetry. other than these, i'm not sure if i have anything to recommend that is "fun." *sigh*

    you have made me realize vickie that my bookshelf is quite intense.. and i'm talking beyond the stats books and paolo freire.

    oh, and while i'm rambling.. one last thing. as a daughter who lost her father i can tell you that today, for the first time since he died, i cleaned my car out.. well, not deep cleaned, but it just kept collecting stuff. it's been 16 months.. i'm not going to mention what else hasn't been done since he died.. but i'm getting there.

  2. Bless Me Ultima is one of my favorite books! For another good southwest read, try Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.

    This summer's "fun" reading has included Ken Follett's The Key to Rebecca, a couple of Mary Higgins Clark novels, and the last two novels in the Harry Potter series.

  3. The Hunger Games series...young adult fiction, but very entertaining!

  4. If you want something light and fun, try
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    It's quirky and interesting and laugh-out-loud funny in an odd sort of way.
    I still think of Erin often. She was and is an inspiratin to me. As you already know, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to grieve and whatever timetable you are on with her stuff is just fine. God bless.

  5. Whether you have read it before or not: Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (a premature hippie weirdo fisherman). I just read it again sitting on the porch of a cabin in the Rockie Mountains, and once again it made me laugh out loud and feel slightly better about this strange world in which we live. Start with the "chapter" entitled "A Half-Sunday Homage to a Whole Leonardo Da Vinci" and you will keep reading.

  6. Read the River Y.... And Company of Liars (Maitland