Turn the page and you will find me

Since recently joining Peace, Love, Books, in the hopes of finding new books and some intelligent people to discuss them with, together with Number 2 on the List, I’m inspired to post and possibly review my recent reads. My goal on the List is to read 100 books in 1001 days, which really isn’t much of a stretch for me, I’m sure I’m going to do it in far less than that. It’s been suggested to me that I shouldn’t list or include books that I’ve RE-read, but I’m going to anyway because to me, reading is reading.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the many  books I’ve read since writing my List on January 11th, 2010

Shutter Island-Dennis Lehane

Unfortunately, I read a lot of books. I read a lot of books, in a multitude of genres. This leaves me with limited resources for new material. I had thought, seeing previews for the movie, that this might just be something a little off the wall, and I purchased it in the hopes of finding a new favorite author. Alas, what I found was a predictable story, one that although it was well written, was one I’ve read before. I had it all figured out within the first few chapters. I even re-read the last few chapters  three times, in the hopes that I was mistaken in my predictions and that the story didn’t end as I had expected. But, it did, sadly.

 In The Gloaming-Alice Elliott Dark

This was a wonderful collection of  short stories, based on the dynamics of ordinary life. Set in the fictional town of Wynnemoor, the stories introduce the reader to a collection of characters, in common day situations, with exceptional complexities. I laughed, I cried, I ran the gamut. Each story was different, but all left me with thoughts running through my head.

Loose Girl-Kerry Cohen

This was your typical rendition of a “I was a bad person, but now I’ve learned the error of my ways” story. It tells the tale of a spoilt (surprise!) young lady, who had life handed to her on a silver platter, who found herself wanting (surprise!) in meaningful relationships whilst growing up. Not  able to get what she needed from family, she turned to promiscuity (surprise!)  in hopes of finding the ultimate connection with a soulmate. Although I don’t class the writing to be substandard, I certainly wouldn’t label it substantial either. It rates right along with any other book where the author has “turned their life around”.

The Importance of Living-Lin Yutang

I’ve read this numerous times over the course of my life, my current and tattered copy given to me about 15 years ago by a friend, Joe, a resident of  Hong Kong.  Knowing that I was a Witch, Joe and I had many, many  conversations likening my belief structure  with that of Chinese philosophy. Yutang’s is not a book of teachings, as much as it is a book of experiences, both his, and the people in his life. A person would be hard pressed not to find something to relate to in this book. All philosophy aside, The Importance of Living is a witty, entertaining, thought-provoking read.

Mapping the Edge-Sarah Dunant

Not one of her best. I usually love Dunant’s stories, as they’re very descriptive, leaving them both entertaining and educational, as fiction goes. This one left me with a feeling of being incomplete, as though Dunant had rushed it out the door. Every mother at one point or another (although 99% will never admit it) has had the thought of rushing out the door, leaving motherhood behind, no explanation, no forwarding address. Mapping the Edge tells the story of one such mother, and although it’s a story of acting on these thoughts,  it lacks in the definition behind those emotions.

Altar Music-Christin Lore Weber

I found this to be a very relevant book. It is a loving and compelling look at the intricacies of religion through the eyes of a Catholic nun. It’s a work of fiction, loosely based I believe, on the life of the author.  Receiving a rare glimpse into the life of a Cloistered nun, the  passions and disciplines it took to get there, and the heartbreak of doing battle to balance personal beliefs, left me wanting to live the experience firsthand. Altar Music is beautifully written with scads and scads of authenticity.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy-J.R.R. Tolkien

Does this really need a review? I think not. Love it or hate it, it’s one of those writings that should be experienced by absolutely everyone. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve read this series,  at least once a year, since I was about 10…probably more like 2-3 times per year, if you averaged it out.  If you haven’t read it, give it a try, if you have, read it again.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower-Stephen Chbosky

I must say, my review of this book is going to be completely biased. Quick anecdote: My oldest son is dating a girl (they live together, in a city five hours away from home) who is a real joy to behold. She’s beautiful, she’s intelligent, she’s an individual…and she’s also, very, very, shy. Just before the winter holidays I was discussing the girlfriend with my oldest daughter. I had said that I hoped to get to know her better while they visited, because I truly adore her, and want her to feel apart of this family. I mentioned that I hoped she would open up to me, as I really wanted to get to know her on a deeper level. Her name is Sarah. On the day Sarah arrived for the holidays, she threw her arms around me, with a great big hug, then reached into her bag and pulled out a small package. “I bought you something”, she said. I told her she didn’t have to do that, to which she replied, “yes… I did”. I opened the package to find this small book. Excited by a new read, I voiced my appreciation for any sort of book. Sarah leaned over, and quietly said, “This is my favorite story in the whole world, I just wanted you to have a copy”. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a series of letters written by a young boy standing on the outskirts of life. Poignant enough to fit in with the crowd  but withdrawn enough to not realize how poignant he is, Charlie tells a story of growing up that’s hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. Much like Sarah. Who gave me one of the greatest presents of my life.

} A slew of incessant rambling.

Moving Day
My oldest child is leaving home today, to start on the great game of life. I suppose I should be saddened by this event, suffer the whole “empty nest” syndrome, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. First of all, this is the second time she has left home, and second of all…SHE LIVES IN MY DAMN STUDIO AND NEEDS TO GET THE FUCK OUT. It’s been slightly weird having her home this time around, she’s felt it too, says things are “different”. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that she’s an adult now, not a child, so the relationship is different. Don’t get me wrong, she and I have a great relationship, better than most mother/daughter relationships out there, it’s just been strange having a grown up Kayla living here, when all I’ve ever lived with is the child Kayla. Is this making any sense?

Anyway, she’s moving out today, into her own apartment and I’m pretty damn happy about that. It means I’ll get to walk around all day in my underwear. It means I’ll finally get my own space back.

I suppose I should say that I’ll miss her, but I’m pretty confident that I won’t have the opportunity. She’ll visit, no doubt, at least every other day and I expect she’ll phone me or facebook me even on the days when she’s here. Of course, this means I’ll have to make my own mid-day pot of coffee from now on, but at least I get my studio back.

Number 10 on the List
I had my first bath in almost 3 years last night. It was heavenly. I came out all squeaky clean and refreshed. And being able to sit down while I shaved my legs, was a dream. I have a bathtub. There’s never been a bathtub in this house, only a small 2×3 shower stall in a 1980’s inspired bathroom. The renovations have been well underway for sometime now, but they are very nearly complete. Renos suck. They just suck. They suck the cash out of your bank account, and they suck the life right out of you. John, the man who owns the lighting store in town, thinks it’s fabulous that I’m taking my 1980’s bungalow and “updating” it into an 1880’s farmhouse. He’s come out with the greatest home reno discovery story yet.  He was telling us the other day about a house he bought south of town, with a drop ceiling in the kitchen. Any home owner knows the risks of buying a house with a drop ceiling. John said he didn’t truly concern himself, because he bought the house with the foreknowledge that it was going to need extensive renovations. How bad could it be? Some water damage on the ceiling plaster? Fixable. The room was getting completely re-drywalled anyways.

John and his wife moved in, and immediately noticed an odd cacophony any time someone flushed the toilet in the bathroom over the kitchen. He said the roar of rushing water amplified any time his wife let the water out of the bathtub after a long hot soak. He compared the noise to water rushing over rapids, or the echo you hear standing near a wild water slide ride at an amusement park.

Curious, John poked his head up through a tile in the drop ceiling. Imagine his surprise to find eleven, count’em, eleven P-traps running across the ceiling. It seems that the fella who had installed the toilet hadn’t wanted to drill holes in the joists to run the plumbing from the toilet to the stink pipe so instead, he had woven the plumbing along using 11 P-traps. Like this:

Luckily for John it was an easy fix, but the old saying goes, you never know what you’re going to find til you start ripping shit down.

When we told John our plans to start renos on our kitchen next year, he said he wanted to take before and after photos….of us, not the kitchen.

Spring is in the Air
The weather has been warm lately, and quite sunny in recent days, but, as encouraging as that sounds, the mess the weather has left behind is daunting. My pristine white, snow-covered yard has given way to a bog of water and mud. The spring thaw is the worst season of country life. The fields flood and the earth starts to travel its downward flow. Every year at this time a line from Hocus-Pocus runs through my head. A-muck, A-muck, A-muck. There is muck everywhere. You can’t step forth from the deck without getting covered in muck. Makes for great four-wheeling weather, but keeps the mud-room living up to its name.

Thankfully, there are reminders everywhere of the whole point of this season. The melting of the snow lays bare the earth which springs forth shoots of green blissfullness!!