Saturday, February 21, 2015

your turn

I went to bed at 830 pm (house is soooo cold) and was up at 730.  There is a snow storm going on outside.  There's really not much to do here.  I'm supposed to be hosting supper club for 4 couples tonight but really don't see how that is going to happen without going to the store.  And that's not happening any time soon.
Would someone please tell me something funny/shocking/scandalous/mundane about what they have been up to recently?  Leave me a comment.  About anything.  I would greatly appreciate it.  (Out of books, out of movies, out of tv to catch up on, finished with laundry, no more closets to clean, etc. )

Friday, February 20, 2015

snowed in!

SW Virginia doesn't really DO snow.  The schools have been closed all week.  Today the schools are closed not because of dangerous road conditions, but because of the cold weather (it's 1 degree out there!).  Which is all fine and dandy in my world!  We have had a lovely week of sleeping in, reading, watching movies, organizing, venturing out for a few snowy adventures, and eating.  Yes, I have been cooking up huge breakfasts and making casseroles right and left.  I got out on Tuesday before the temps dropped to strap on my skis.  A photographer from the local paper was out snapping pictures of people out and about.  We made it into the online paper!

picture of me cross country skiing with a friend

My kids were in heaven this week, and I gave no thought to other people who might not be enjoying the week off as much as we.  So imagine my surprise when I was on facebook last night and saw a post the our public school system is delivering lunches today at several schools to feed the children who normally have a free or reduced lunch.  "How nice," I thought.  But then I looked through the comments.  The judgmental posts about deadbeat welfare parents who can't seem to put a meal on the table were disgusting.  The criticism of this school district decision quite surprising!  The ignorant comments were plentiful.  I can scarcely believe there are people opposed to providing a bagged lunch to children who probably haven't been eating this week.  But there are. 

So then I got an email from two friends who were organizing a very last minute blitzkrieg at the grocery store to supplement these bagged lunches with care packages to take home over the weekend.  The email said to forward on to anyone who might be interested in donating money.  Of course I forwarded it on to my book club.  This is a group of women whose compassion knows no bounds.  And lo and behold 30 minutes later I was at our book club meeting and one woman had already called to volunteer to work at the distribution site and another one brought money to drop off on our way home.  God bless those ladies who got up at 6 am to shop for other people's children.  Compassion matters.  I don't know how to tie this post into what my usual blog theme of relating everything to a book, but I guess this one is about stepping outside of your bubble and looking around at the world and actually giving a flying f*ck. 

Last night we at our book club we discussed The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

There was a quote that I had put a post it on to discuss with the group.  When we meet our main character, A.J., he is depressed and trying to drink himself to death.  His wife died and his book store is not doing well.  Then he wakes on day to find a surprise that turns his life around.  That surprise is an abandoned baby girl. 

A.J. watches Maya in her pink party dress, and he feels a vaguely familiar, slightly intolerable bubbling inside of him.  He wants to laugh out loud or punch a wall.  He feels drunk or at least carbonated.  insane.  At first he thinks this is happiness, but then he determines it's love.  Love, he thinks, what a bother.  It's completely gotten in the way of his plan to drink himself to death, to drive his business to ruin.  The most annoying things about it is that once a person gives a shit about one thing, he finds he has to start giving a shit about everything.

I love this quote for some reason.  Love can change one's whole perspective on life.  Maybe compassion works the same way too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Do you have an instagram account?  Do you find attractive men reading books to be sexy?  Then I suggest you follow this account.  The New York City Instagram account (anonymous) "Hod Dudes Reading" was created only a week ago and has over 75,000 followers to date.  I am one of them.  It features all types of good looking men reading books and newspapers while riding the subway.  It's harmless good fun!
a sample hunk with book

Monday, February 16, 2015

no stress book swap party

On Valentines Day I hosted an afternoon book swap with girlfriends.  It's such an easy and fun party to host.  Guests were asked to bring a few used books, and were given gift bags with favors (chocolate treats and a bookmark) to collect several "new to you" books to take home. 

The party involved minimal prep on my part.  All I did was clean the house (I like an excuse for housework), polish the silver, shop (I didn't bake anything), build a fire, and clear out the husband and dog.  I was thrilled that my new guest bathroom toilet arrived just 24 hours before the party.  Here I am super relieved that the bathroom is complete.  It took 4 weeks longer than I thought it would!!!  The darn toilet kept arriving cracked and broken.

new bathroom in background

tea and prosecco, what more do you need?

I served petite fours, cheese straws, toast with fig spread and goat cheese, tea, and champagne cocktails.

so pretty and store bought

a southern staple

Prosecco with sugar cube and angostura bitters -- my favorite

We were a small gathering.  I invited some people I don't usually see around, one of whom was the mother of Sophie's boyfriend.  It was great to get to know her.  After socializing for an hour, we looked at the books for grabs that were gathered on the dining room table.  Everyone left with some new books and a jump start to their evening plans, or in my case, lack of evening plans.  No one ate a lot, so I had leftover sweets that were incorporated into Sophie's romantic dinner.  Her adorable boyfriend came over to make dinner with  her. 

he's a keeper
They used my electric wok from 1985 to make Asian food.  However, he only showed up with carrots and broccoli, so I had to run to Kroger for them to supplement the stir fry.  I set the table for them in the dining room, lit candles and put out all the leftovers for their dessert.  Then she asked us to leave!  Rob and I went out and had a drink at a nearby bar and came home and ate their leftovers.  She said they tried to clean up and put dishes away, but the kitchen was a disaster.  I cleaned up the all the splattered sesame oil and soaking pans (4??).  Despite this, I couldn't have asked for a nicer Valentines Day.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Harper Lee's Lost Novel

Such surprising news in the literary world!  I am sure you have heard that Harper Lee's "lost" book -- Go Set a Watchman -- has been "found" by her personal lawyer in a safety deposit box.  There is a lot of mystery and suspicion shrouding this news. 

Let me break it down as easily as I can.  88 year old Harper Lee published just one novel in her lifetime:  the classic To Kill A Mockingbird featuring the beloved Scout.  Apparently, she wrote a prequel to this book, one which her editor at the time dismissed as "not the book you wanted to write".  And then it was lost.

The prequel was about Scout as a grown woman.  The editor argued with her to rewrite the book from the perspective of Scout as a girl.  Go Set a Watchman was written before Mockingbird, but takes place about 20 years later, during the civil rights movement. Scout Finch, the precocious 12-year-old narrator of Mockingbird, is now an adult woman who has returned home to Alabama after living and working in New York City.  So, at the suggestion of her editor, Lee wrote the story of Scout as a girl living with her father Atticus.  And this is the story we all know. 

Now Harper Lee is in assisted living, having suffered a stroke several years ago.  She is pretty much blind and deaf.  So is someone taking advantage of her by unearthing this book from a safety deposit box and sending it off into publication this summer?  She's had legal troubles in the past.  She filed a lawsuit against her literary agent not too long ago.  Her lawsuit charged that in 2007 her agent, Samuel Pinkus, duped the frail 80-year-old Lee into assigning him the copyright to her only book and then diverted royalties from her estate. These things will shake out, I am sure.  But for fans of Harper Lee, this is crazy exciting!  How about you?  Will you read the new book, aka, mysterious prequel when it comes out this summer?

Harper Lee on left; photo from 1962 film on right

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Wisdom of A. J. Fikry

I am completely and utterly ENCHANTED by our February pick for book club:  The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  Redemption, transformation, humor--it's all here.  More on this book later.  But for now I would like to quote A. J. Fikry:

People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love.  You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?

Would you be able to answer this question?  What is it?  Are there different books for different stages of your life?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

showing up

Do you practice yoga, or have you ever been to a yoga class before?  If so, you may be familiar with the intimate environment that creates, especially in a popular class.  There you are, doing a downward dog, and staring at someone's crotch.  Or smelling something a little "off".  Because it can get hot in there and sometimes people don't wear deodorant!  Or worse, they have different hygiene practices than you do.  Burp, fart, cough, sneeze--there's no loud music drowning out those sounds. 

Glennon Doyle Melton writes about the "smelly coughy guy" in her yoga class in her book Carry On, Warrior (and found on her blog which I linked to here--scroll down to read it).  

I had to laugh because there's one who shows up occasionally in the class I go to as well, and he has a similar nick name.  I've never been close enough to him to smell him, but my friends swear he is "ripe"--a mixture of b.o., pot and sex. 

Which leads me to another point, and the main point I want to make about this book.  Glennon talks a lot about "showing up".  Showing up to face hard things--in your marriage, in your work, in your relationships.  The main theme of her witty and powerful collection of essays is to stop pretending that these things aren't hard.  She also advocates constant and generous forgiveness, which for me is hard to do.

I've been reading Momastery for years, usually just sporadically.  She can be a bit over the top for me.  But I love the idea of showing up.  Good things happen when you do.  This yoga class I take, for example.  I have been going every Thursday and meet up with 3 other friends at class.  We then go to a coffee shop afterwards "for tea".  We aren't always there in 100% attendance, but we try, and some new and very nice friendships have been forged for which I am very grateful.  It's probably my favorite day of the week.  The class itself is fabulous and the teacher even more so.  All around win-win.

The other day I was talking to my husband about something that had hurt my feelings, but rather than just get mad and hold a grudge I was going to cut this person some slack.  "You rarely cut people slack," he said.  Yikes.  I am going to make a concerted effort to be more gentle with people, and myself.  What a lovely collection of essays to inspire anyone to take up this charge.