Summer Reading Stack 2012

Summer is here! A new grill sits proudly in the driveway awaiting her next full belly of charcoal, the window AC unit is chugging along full blast and the yard dances with firefly promenades every evening. There’s nothing but flip flops by the door and the cats look for opportunities to escape to the exotic land of birds, squirrels and other small critters. So if all that is happening, then it is once again time for the Summer Reading Stack!  Wooo Hooo!

Actually this is the short stack. I didn’t want to take the time to drag together all the books I’ve got in piles for the upcoming few months, so here’s the ‘best of’ list.

Currently, I am about knee deep in the first of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin, Game of Thrones.  It is awesome and I’m a little obsessed. Of course, this is not an uncommon occurrence for either me or for readers of this series.  It is quite good and since this is perhaps my favorite genre, I feel quite at home with this story. The book is in such poor shape, I was almost ashamed to put it at the top of the pile for everyone to see! I accidentally got it soaking wet. But it’s so good, the ruffled pages only add to its charm.

Also, while we’re in the lands of the Starks, Lannisters, Tullys and others, I’ve also got The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook on the stack. Recently I have discovered that there is, in fact, an Official Game of Thrones Cookbook. I’m certain it’s cool as well. I’ll be steering clear of the blood sausage, thank you very much, but there are some quite delicious sounding meals in there I’m looking forward to trying.

Next is City of Thieves by David Benioff.  (Not to be confused with City of Thieves by Cyrus Moore. Probably a fine book, but not really my speed.) It’s set in WWII Natzi besieged Leningrad (which is, by the way, entirely more my speed) and though I’ve only covered the first chapter or so, it’s really good. Reads sort of like a memoir in a way. Came highly recommended from one of my most trusted book sources, so it promises to be great. Also  the author wrote the screenplays for the movies Brothers and X-Men Origins: Wolverine which are fine marks in his favor.

Three books in the stack are loaners. The Grizzly Years by Doug Peacock, and Crossing Open Ground by Barry Lopez are both environmental books that look great. Spunk by Zora Neal Hurston is a collection of her short stories. Since Hurston is the author of one of my life long favorite books, I’m looking forward to that one.

Then there is Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I’ve started and put down this book twice, but it’s not the fault of the book. Met the author and she seemed really great so I am looking forward to reading her book and this time I will read beyond the first chapter!

Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell. Woodrell has written several books, one of the latest is Outlaw Album, but he is probably best known for Winter’s Bone.

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith. He wrote Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and at least one other preternaturally revisioned classic.  This one is about the three kings in the Christmas (or, if you will pardon the liturgical perfectionist in me, the Epiphany) story…. with a twist.

China Mieville’s latest, Railsea, was an ARC sent to me by the publisher and so far I’ve been negligent in reading the Man With the Big Words.  Mieville’s massive and artfully used vocabulary is always a refreshing challenge, but one I must be prepared for with dictionary in hand so it may be at the end of the summer before I get to him. In the mean time let me just say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious antidisestablishmentarianism! Take that Mieville!

On the bottom of the pile is Ron Rash’s The Cove. Clearly, this is an indication that the stack is in no particular order! When it was first released, I got about half way through with this but had to take a break. I’d just read Land More Kind Than Home and re read Serena and I suddenly found myself overfull of this part of the state and had to break for a bit. It is, of course, a beautiful, rich, deep and dark story compellingly written so I long to return to it soon.

So, there it is. The short stack.

Prepare yourself, O mighty grill full of charcoal! Chug on, window AC! The Summer awaits!

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Lightening In A Jar

Summer is one of the best times of the year to make photographs. Everything is exploding and shouting, “Look At Me!” From children on the slip-n-slide in the back yard to men speaking mysterious Y-chromosome code around a gas grill; from ladies in flip-flops and bright toe nails to sunglass clad faces splashed with freckles; from mountains wrapped in melted green crayons of every shade of forest and ever and logan and hunter to grand floral displays arching up to the sun and greeting the bees with welcoming petals. Everywhere, everywhere, the world is showing off her photogenic nature.

Yet if there is one thing that says summer to me more than anything else it is fireflies. My daddy called them lightening bugs and he taught me how to poke holes in the lid of a mason jar, just as people have done since the invention of glass canning jars, so I could keep them alive and bring them in the house to live.

When I was a little girl I envisioned a night light made out of one of those large jars filled with lightening bugs. They would flicker their magic glow on the walls of my room and chase away all the monsters that would come prowling in the night. There was no question in my mind that those tiny bugs who had somehow captured a drop of lightening in their bellies were filled with powerful magic!

But the precious drops of flickering charms never lived long in a jar. I suppose lightening could be contained in their little abdomens but a mason jar was too much like a prison. I could have just as easily kept a box of stars or a bowl of sun.

As a grown up, I have tried several times to photograph the tiny flying sparks of arcane wonder but it never works out like it should. The flashes always end up looking like dust on the prints or they never show up at all. Perhaps they are like fairies that can never be properly photographed. I content myself in the summer with photographing the roaring waves of life from the sun’s first crest over the ridge till his duck behind the other side. On those summer evenings when the lighting dances on tiny black wings in my yard, I put down my camera.

Some things are just too beautiful to photograph.

Changes Around the House

I swear they have been multiplying while I was at work. It was just two shelves of books, nice and neat and orderly and one day, when I came home from work, they looked like this…

Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. A bit. I mean I know there are a lot of books on this bookcase, but I have several other bookcases in the house which are quite neat and organized. Ok, so there are a few boxes and stacks of books that don’t really have a places on a shelf anywhere…. because there aren’t any more empty shelves… but it’s not like I have a problem or anything.

It’s not like I have a book addiction or anything like that.

Geez! As if!

ha

I could stop any time I wanted.

[awkward moment of silent denial]

Anyhow…lots of rearranging and moving around at the homestead. Gotta Summer roomie coming in. She’s going to be a Summer intern for me at the church, which is awesome! Slave labor…. umm… I mean…. a great opportunity to help someone discern their purpose in life.

We did not have anywhere for her to stay so she’s stuck with me over ten weeks worth of the Summer! I’ve rearranged the guest room, ordered a new mattress for the guest bed and I’m even going to install a window AC unit for that room. Just a few final touches left to go. Actually, it should be a fun Summer.

In all that preparation, I had to unpack about a dozen boxes that had been placed in storage in 2004 when I departed for seminary. Shockingly, a lot of them contained books. At the same time I began all of this, I also started reading a new (new-to-me) book on organizing your work and personal life called Getting Things Done. It’s great! And it has all kinds of great ways to think about organizing your whole life. Like, for example, the reason we get stressed about things and can’t seem to turn off our minds is sometimes because our unconscious mind does not want us to forget something really important and so, for our own good, it keeps poking us over and over saying: don’t forget that thing you have to do! don’t forget that thing you have to do! But, if we have some kind of system in place that will remind us automatically of those important things we have to do, our subconscious brain will relax and stop feeling compelled to remind us constantly. It’s actually kinda cool. So I’ve been doing a lot of sorting through, throwing out, recycling, etc.

Not the books of course. Not getting rid of them. Don’t see a reason, really. I mean, it isn’t like I have too many books or anything…..