Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Reading

"What we're reading, or listening to, or rather, what we're getting into lately is in some sense the most profound question we can ask each other. It's all seamlessly related to the question of how we're doing, and what it is that has hold of us, and how our passions might be channeled in a redemptive direction (and be good for something) rather than being tossed to and fro by the powers of passionate distraction."
-David Dark, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything

I'm borrowing this idea from my friend Katie's blog. And it seemed to fit nicely with the above quote I grabbed from my brother David's book.

So here they are, the books I'm spending some time with these days:

1. Coming to You from the Blue Room by Loranne Marsh Temple- this is the thin one on the top. And sadly, it's the only fiction in my bunch. I always wish I was more drawn to fiction. This one was written by my neighbor who lives three doors down. We're getting to know each other.

2. Standing By Words by Wendell Berry- we just bought this one on our trip to Michigan. I haven't opened it yet except to look at the contents, but I try to always have some Berry flowing into my brain.

3.The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark- my brother's latest. Possibly my favorite of his thus far. It's completely engaging, but I'm taking my time--sort of my way of making it last as long as possible.

4. Spinning Straw Into Gold by Joan Gould- I finished this one a few years ago. It explores how women's connections with certain fairy tales can point to particular transformations in their own lives. I'm addressing a few of her observations in some of my own writing, so currently this book has a constant presence on my desk.

5. Through the Children's Gate by Adam Gopnik- I'm a fan of Gopnik's. One of the essays in here, Bumping Into Mr. Ravioli, played a large part in helping me think through my current, and thus far most consistent, writing project.

6. Even In Quiet Places by William Stafford- My most recent attempt to prime the poetry pump. I actually bought this to give to some friends but thought I'd read through it first. My favorite Stafford poem thus far, A Ritual To Read To Each Other, is not in this collection but would be worth a "look up" in your spare time.

7. Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn- Another purchase from our recent trip to Michigan. I actually wanted to purchase a different book of hers, Talking the Walk: Letting the Christian Language Live Again, but it wasn't on sale. So I grabbed this one. I really like Marva Dawn. Her book, Is It A Lost Cause: Having the Heart of God for the Church's Children, had a tremendous impact on me a number of years back.

8. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard- my daily devotional for writing. Chicken soup for the writing soul. It will always have a place in my reading cycle of books by writers about writing.

So? What have you been reading lately?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Excellent Orchestration

Following directions can often lead to good things...
(found through Amanda Maciel Antunes)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Work Ice Cream

Our summer has been a bit too busy thus far. It's all good stuff--good trips to see good people and enjoy good places, but it's not quite the schedule of lazy days with lots of writing time that I'd pictured. Hopefully, these next two weeks at home will provide a little bit of that.
As of today I'm back to my morning writing routine, so that's something.
We started this schedule earlier in the year, and it was picturesque. I'd rise early, sneak downstairs, start the coffee and get the breakfast items ready for Brett and the girls, then I'd hide away in the basement to get in a couple of hours of work before the rest of the house began to stir.
If I look up to the ceiling from my desk in the basement I see an old air vent that leads into our dining room. Many years ago I'm sure it was functional, but now it serves as my muffled speaker, giving me a nice muted version of the family show happening just above my head.
The morning program would usually start with Olivia's energetic footsteps hitting the bottom of the upstairs steps in the entrance hallway and then running over to the vent.
"Hi Mom. How's it going down there?"
I'd look up and see her little fingers clinging to the vent's grate and then her mess of morning hair falling all around her face.
"Good Liv. How'd you sleep?"
"Good. Well, bye Mom, I gotta eat."
What would usually follow was a perfect melody: sweet A.M. conversations between Olivia and Brett, delightful babbling from Mae, drawers and cabinet doors closing, cereal hitting the bowls, spoons clanking ceramic-- general morning pleasantries and silliness. And it was the perfect viewpoint for me, an onlistener, as I tried to stream together the words of an onlooker for various scenes on paper.
But now Olivia is rising earlier, and she knows I'm down here. In her little 4-year-old mind, there is nothing wrong with her being down here with me, as long as she stays in her "playing" area and doesn't bother me in my "office" area. And in my idealistic morning mind, this should work. We do have a really big basement. But even with the best of intentions coming from the both of us, interruptions happen, and frequently.
Just within my first hour of writing this morning, I've also built a spaceship out of a cardboard box, purchased two ice cream treats from a musical push toy turned ice cream truck, and I've helped decorate for a princess wedding with wrapping paper scraps. And all the while, I was putting my "foot down," really.
Finally, the vent began broadcasting the morning show with Brett and Mae, and Olivia went up to join them. I was sure the interruptions were over. But soon I heard the clankle-de-clink of the ice cream truck making another detour down the basement steps.
"Olivia, really. I have to write."
"But Mom, I have something special just for you."
"No, Olivia. I'll enjoy it later. I have to get some work done now."
"But it will help with your work."
"Later Olivia. Go eat breakfast."
"But Mom, it's a special work ice cream!"
"Yes! It has paper, pencils, and words mixed in. And I put it in a cup, just the way you like it. And it's free!"
"... wow... Thanks Liv, I really need this..."
"I know, Mom. I love you. Bye."