Today, May 8th, is Gary Snyder’s birthday. He’s 90 years old! I have a book of his poems, Regarding Wave, bought long ago when Byron and I were newly married. That book has traveled with us through all our moves and book purges. I still enjoy opening it occasionally and revisiting some of my favorites in that slim little volume.
Here’s one that I loved way back then, and still do…and it seems quite appropriate to reread it during this time of shelter-at-home. Also, by coincidence, our grandson is named Kai, so there is even a greater connection to this poem now. Isn’t it interesting how a poem weaves itself into your life in many different ways?
Thinking of my Mom and Dad this week… My Dad passed away 26 years ago today, just two days before his 74th birthday. I lost my Mom almost two years ago. Missing them is timeless and a constant. But they are in my heart and always with me. The memory of them both, and their lives of integrity and kindness, still guide me in my daily life.
photos above are from the ballet book I adored as a child…
It’s never too late to catch up with books you missed reading as a child! Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild, is the first book in another series I missed reading when I was growing up. I don’t know how that happened, as I loved ballet and would have loved this book! But I’m glad I filled in that gap by reading it while I was sick in bed this month. It was fun and interesting, and a great way to take one’s mind off a cough and a cold.
from the publisher:
Pauline, Petrova, and Posy love their quiet life together. They are orphans who have been raised as sisters, and when their new family needs money, the girls want to help. They decide to join the Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training to earn their keep. Each girl works hard following her dream. Pauline is destined for the movies. Posy is a born dancer. And Petrova? She finds she’d rather be a pilot than perform a pirouette.
My Dad, summer of 1954.
My Dad and Mom created a rock garden the summer I was five years old.They turned a small sloping lawn into a beautiful garden. I remember going for family drives, looking for rocks. We all loved that! I just recently found this old photo of my dad in front of the rock garden, and it reminded me of that happy time.
I’d already been thinking of creating a small rock garden in what I call our “triangle garden,” the space between our angled driveway and our vegetable garden. Finding the photo of my Dad in front of his rock garden made it seem absolutely right for me to go ahead and build my own.
However, we discovered quickly that rocks are not very accessible around here. When I was little, we lived right next to the mountains, so it was only a quick drive up the canyon to find loads of big and very interesting geological specimens! For some reason, there aren’t many rocks along the roads around here and our really interesting rocks were collected from farther away. Fortunately, our daughter is in the process of building a big garden at her new home in Washington State. She’s spent the summer digging rocks out of the area they want to garden. We think perhaps all the rocks that should be here in Oregon are in her back yard! All those rocks you see lined up so neatly in the photo on the left came out of that dug up space in the photo on the right. She’s developed strong digging muscles! And each time she visited us this summer, she brought a load of rocks for our rock garden.
Our daughter has dug all of these rocks out of the area they want to put their new garden!
And this is where she found all those rocks!
So, I am not quite finished collecting rocks and planting, but my little rock garden is close to being done. I’ve planted a variety of perennials, some pansies for winter color, and a whole bunch of bulbs for spring color. There is still room for some colorful annuals that I’ll plant next Spring. I’m just loving this autumn gardening project.
The triangle space between driveway and garden.
Rock garden so far…
Still some space to finish…
When my mother turned 90 years old, my four-year-old grandson was quite amazed when she told him her age. His sweet response was, “That’s a Big number!” Today would have been her 100th birthday. She always said she did NOT want to get to 100 years old, and she missed it by one year and three weeks. But I am thinking of her today and feeling so deeply grateful that she was in my life for so many years.
One year ago, we lost Mom. After we celebrated her life, we decided that, as a family, we would continue to get together at least once each year. So my brothers and their wives, and Byron and I, all met in Salt Lake City once again last week for our first annual get-together. What a wonderful reunion!
It was nice that this first get-together was in Salt Lake City. We were able to visit Red Butte Garden and spend time at our memorial bench — our memorial now for both our parents. They both donated their bodies to the University Medical School, so we don’t have a gravesite to visit. Instead, we have a memorial bench in the rose garden of Red Butte Garden, and it couldn’t be a lovelier, more uplifting place to sit and remember them.
During the week, we also enjoyed time at the Natural History Museum, always a favorite; went on long morning walks; hiked around Silver Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon; went out to eat at all our favorite restaurants; visited The King’s English Bookshop; and spent a lot of time reminiscing.
Books are always part of our discussions when we get together as a family. We shared about books read and then, of course, some of us bought new books. Here’s a bullet list of books discussed and/or purchased during the week.
- On Immunity, by Eula Biss
- Chances Are…, by Richard Russo
- Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
- My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor
- Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
- Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer
- Furious Hours, by Casey Cep
- Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
- Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
- Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
- The Sadness of Beautiful Things, by Simon Van Booy
- Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman
- The Natural World: Portraits of Earth’s Great Ecosystems, by Thomas D. Mangelsen
Such a fun week! Good people, good food, good books, and a beautiful location for a reunion. We also decided that next year we’ll meet on the east coast!
Many many years ago, I found the book series Cherry Ames in the library. I read the first one and was hooked. I was determined to read every single one that was published, and I’m pretty sure I did.
During another trip to the library, 60 years later, I found the first one on the shelf and decided it would be fun to re-read it. It was fun! And since the library had a four-books-in-one ebook available for my Kindle, I went ahead and re-read the first 4 books in the series!
I can easily understand why the young me liked this character so much. She was an intelligent, independent, compassionate young woman with a strong sense of purpose. She wanted to be a nurse to help people, and that’s what she did, even if it got her in to trouble. She had a great sense of humor, and also a temper that would flair when she perceived injustice. She was a natural leader, and was not afraid to speak up to authority when she thought it was important. And she was an excellent nurse!
I thought I would describe her as a “woman ahead of her time,” but I actually think that she was vey much a woman of her own time. The first books were written during World War II, a time that called on the strengths of women as well as young men. It was so interesting to see the attitudes toward women at that time, and how doors of opportunity were opened to women because they were so needed during the war. I wonder if I keep re-reading the series if I will see within the stories the closing of many of those doors when the war ends and the men return home?
It was interesting to revisit something that had a powerful influence on me as a young person. Do we have series like this these days that encourage young people to make an impact on the world?
There are times when I really miss spending my days with school children. When I first started teaching, one of my wise teammates suggested that I keep a file in my desk drawer to keep the nice notes and cards from students and parents over the years. I took her advice and still have that treasured file, even though I’ve been retired for five years. While I was going through a box of my old teaching materials the other day, looking for something for my grandson, I pulled that file out and reread some of those notes and best wishes. One stood out for me and felt like the “compliment of a lifetime.” It had to do with reading aloud with my students, something that was the anchor of my day with all the different groups of children I worked with over my twenty-seven year career. A mom wrote it to me toward the end of a school year, just a short note on a nice little card, and it still warms my heart.
Since my daughter is going to miss reading books with you more than anything else in her school life so far — would you have any recommendations for summer reading, books you wish you would have had more time to read with the class?
Emmie gave her Dad a copy of “Danny Champion of the World” for his birthday, because it was so good she wanted to read it with him!!
My library posted this wonderful quote by David McCullough on Facebook the other day and I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea. It is true that books can change our lives and characters can have tremendous impact on us. In my own experience, I think the book and character of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, read (the first time) when I was in the 7th Grade, had a lifetime impact on me. I read many of the books my older brother read, and I remember that after he finished Jane Eyre he told me he thought I would like that book. I most certainly did! I have vivid memories of scenes and impressions from the book. The strength and resilience of the character, Jane, made a large imprint on my both my heart and my psyche.
Since then, I have found many influential characters and more favorite books. But that first encounter with a character that I admired deeply, and was so influenced by, was a life-expanding experience for me. And for that, it will always be my “favorite book.”
Which is your special book and life-changing character?