Summer Reading: A Place for Us

In summers long past, my friend Jill and I would cajole my grandfather or my aunt to drive us to the local library at least once a week where we stocked up on reading for the long summer days. We always registered early for the annual Summer Reading Program, obtained our reading log sheets, and dutifully completed them to drop into the collection box on the librarian’s desk. I still recall with great fondness my favorites from those summers, and I often re-read them before moving on to other things. Maud Hart Lovelace’s Besty-Tacy books, anything by Madeleine L’Engle, Trixie Belden, the Little House series - classics in a time where there wasn’t a lot of choices in children’s or young adult literature. 

Years went by, I had a child of my own who loved to read, and he would also register for summer reading (at the very same library, by the way, a nice bit of serendipity for me.) So back we’d go to the library, often riding our bikes (we lived closer than I had as a child) and stopping a nearby donut shop on the way home.

Thus, summer and reading are intrinsically linked in my mind. Already this summer I’ve happened across some wonderful new books, and I thought to write about them occasionally here.

WE Are America

I sat down at my computer this morning intending to write about marriage and life and the reinvention of both. 

But instead I’m going to write a different sort of blog post.

One about children. Because something horrible is happening to children in this country, and I can’t be quiet about it any longer. 

I’m not just talking about the threat of gun violence in schools, although that is horrific and mind-boggling and terrifying. Right now I’m talking about hundreds of children who have been taken from their parents at border crossings and imprisoned in detention centers.

This inhumane and torturous action is being perpetrated by the United States government

The Best Day

In his memoir about marriage to Jane Kenyon, poet Donald Hall writes: “If anyone had asked Jane and me ‘Which was the best year of your lives together?’ we could have agreed on an answer: ‘The one we remember least.’” Because, Hall continues, although there were years of triumph, sorrow, sickness, and excitement, the years they counted as best were those filled with “repeated days of quiet and work."

It is a theme he returns to in this book, The Best Day the Worst Day, a theme that extols the beauty of routine and quiet and simplicity, something we most often do not appreciate until things are Otherwise as Jane Kenyon, expresses so perfectly in her poem of that name, one written as she contemplated Hall’s mortality after he was diagnosed with cancer. Ironically, it is Kenyon who will die first, at age 47 after a harrowing year of treatment for leukemia. And it is the 72-year old Hall who is left to grieve for the many “best days” they lived together. 


One topic keeps coming up in my reading online and off; in real time discussions with friends; in my correspondence with creative friends; and in my own journal. 

Addiction. Specifically, social media addiction. 

Almost everyone I know is feeling it in some form or other.  The ones who are brave enough to confess it describe similar habits. The incessant itch to check for messages whenever you have a free moment, even while sitting at red lights or waiting online in the grocery store. The urge to scroll through your FB or Twitter feed over and over again, just to see if something new popped up since reached the end of it just two minutes ago. Feelings of agitation and anger at political news and the vitriolic commentary that invariably follows.

Now we are finding out more and more ways that social media has infiltrated our lives, our privacy, even our very democracy. Why are we still using it at all??

A Year in the Life-January*: On the Last Gift of Time

We’re buried in snow here this weekend, but you know what? We don’t care. We’ve spent the past two snowy days sleeping in, drinking extra pots of coffee in front of the fire, watching birds come to the feeders in droves, reading books and watching movies on TV. 

Yes, I said WE because as of January 31, my husband is officially RETIRED. 

I know that word strikes fear in the hearts of many women, but so far we are managing quite well. I am much more mellow than I was even a few years ago, my expectations for being productive in a day have changed dramatically, and I’m enjoying the ability to be flexible with all the free time in my own schedule. 

Still, it’s obvious some adaptations will need to be made.  Jim is more of an afternoon-evening person, while I am definitely an early morning person. He likes to relax and take life slow, I like to be busy and get things done. He’s all details and logic, while I’m touchy-feely and sensitive.

But we’ll figure it out. We’ve been together for 45 years and are committed for the long haul.