Where do we go from here?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Reading Matters

I had a "page" on this blog that I called "Reading," but I consistently forgot to write there about what I was reading; and a few days ago while attempting to catch up on it I somehow managed to completely delete it.  Nobody looks at those Pages anyhow, so, I think I will just write in the blog itself when I feel like discussing what I am reading. Or, not reading. I'm currently having a very hard time settling into anything that really grabs me.  Wonder if others have those strange blank spells.? Nothing you pick up, no matter how great the reviews, or enticing the cover, grabs you and makes you want to turn the pages. It's kind of a Reader's Block, instead of Writer's Block. The book for our neighborhood book club, meeting tomorrow evening, is The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, which I declined to read.  It is narrated by a charming and personable dog, and after Gail (who very seldom cries) finished the book in heaving sobs, I knew I was going to skip it.  Since childhood (remember Old Yeller?) I have avoided dog books - their sole purpose is to break the reader's heart.  Our own crazy little old dog's death is still too recent for me to risk waking up that pain. 

We recently found Sea of Troubles, in a new paperback reprint. It's one of Donna Leon's Venice mysteries that has been, mysteriously, unavailable for far too long, and I devoured it in a couple of nights.  There are two others that seem to be missing, and I'm hoping they're next in line to return.  If you love a good police procedural, captivating protagonists, great food, and exiting locations, Leon's series of books with Commissario Guido Brunetti will be right up your alley.  I have never been to Venice, but from these books I feel I know it, in its contemporary form at least.  It's clear from these novels that Italy has its share of the woes and tribulations of modern life, but the beauty of this ancient city also manages to shine through.  Many of the mysteries have to do with environmental problems, and political corruption, as well as immigration problems.  All things we are familiar with and think of as our own national difficulties.  But, after I finished with Sea of Troubles, I was right back into my lack of enthusiasm for anything I pick up to read.  I have things on hold with the library system, but lack of funding has forced them to seriously cut back on the number of copies they order, and it can take weeks and weeks to get a popular book.

So, while I wait for my holds on the latest titles by Jane Smiley, Anna Quindlen, Scott Turow, James Lee Burke, Sharon McCrumb, and others, I am desultorily picking at one unread volume or another off our shelves.  We are trying not to buy books right now, so it's the long hard wait, unless I lose control completely and find myself at the register at Bookworks with a stack of new books in my arms.   Anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Poem For the Day

Cherry Tomatoes
      by Anne Higgins

Suddenly it is August again, so hot,
breathless heat.
I sit on the ground
in the garden of Carmel,
picking ripe cherry tomatoes
and eating them.
They are so ripe that the skin is split,
so warm and sweet
from the attentions of the sun,
the juice bursts in my mouth,
an ecstatic taste,
and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer,
sloshing in the saliva of August.
Hummingbirds halo me there,
in the great green silence,
and my own bursting heart
splits me with life.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor and The Writer's Almanac)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Still In The Garden

The monsoons seem to be affecting other parts of NM much more than they are us here in Albuquerque.  Other parts of the state have actually had flooding, whereas I am happy if my rain barrels fill up at least halfway.  Things have perked up, though, and I recently read the reason that our rains make the plants so much happier than water out of the hose, even when mixed with fertilizer.  The rains are nitrogen-rich, especially when they fall during a thunder storm, and nitrogen helps plants grow, develop and reproduce.  So, whether it's from the rains or the fish emulsion, or what, everything in the yard is looking healthy and happy.  Even, or maybe especially?, the weeds. Tomatoes and cucumbers are coming on strong, arugula has recovered from the snail attacks, and all the herbs are gigantic. I was sad when the vitex blooms were over, as I'd waited for them all spring, but my sadness quickly dissipated when early one morning I saw a flock of goldfinches chowing on the seeds of the spent blooms, just the way they do on the sunflower heads full of seeds.

We are so fortunate not to be suffering the heat wave that other parts of the country have.  I read the weather forecast for anyplace I have loved ones, and reading the Dallas weather is beginning to scare me.  I called a friend there this morning, just to be sure her AC was working, and she was okay.  My sister (also in Dallas)  got what she calls a tacky, redneck, aboveground pool in June, when temps in that city first went to, and stayed 100 degrees or more.  I think the whole family is staying in the pool around the clock, with heat indices of 110 and over currently.  Most of the country, except the West, is going through this heat horror, but I'm still waiting to hear Jim Inhofe and others like him get behind calling this global climate change.  They were plenty quick to scoff at what they still call "global warming" when the country was drowning in blizzards and freak winter storms - sure, easy to mock "warming" when it's pouring snow and you're wearing every warm garment you own.  But, why are they so quiet about this freaky deathly heat?  I suggest that everyone in the country needs to read Bill McKibben's latest TomDispatch post, and Tom's intro to it: A Wilted Senate on a Heating Planet.