I’m not sure if it’s a consequence of making this list/ keeping track of my progress, but oh my how fast this summer seems to be flying by…
Okay, what have I completed this past week?
6. Read at least 20 books. (#20booksofsummer)
I finished 7 books this week! For a total thus far of 8. Yeah, not nearly as impressive as it sounds considering that the total includes 4 comics/manga and a short poetry collection that I started before this week. It was, however, a very gratifying weeks between the covers!
The first book I read this week was Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova. This was an impulse grab at the library a few weeks back. I’d never heard of the book before, but I’d read both her Nightschool and her Dramacon series and enjoyed them quite a lot. It was a good impulse, because I really loved this comic! This one is aimed at a middle grade audience, so I know it won’t appeal to everyone…but what can I say, I have a soft spot in my heart for middle grade lit. Anyway, it is sweet, but not in a syrup-y way. What it has that adds up to wonderful: extremely lovable but flawed characters, art, science, diverse characters, learning to deal with and grow from one’s own mistakes, and an emphasis on friendship.
Next, I read A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. And I have a question–why has no one ever told me to read this play before?!! Well, in case no one has ever told you to read it and you’ve never discovered it on your own, let me suggest you go read it. It was so. damn. good. Written and set in 1950s Chicago, it is really a story about dreams. And a story about racism. And a story about feeling trapped by circumstances. Reading this some 50 years after it was written, it’s hard not to notice how things have changed since then, both in terms of race and gender. And yet it is ever so depressing to acknowledge how very many things haven’t really changed at all.
And then there were three more volumes (19, 20, and 21) of Skip•Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura. I will forever and always blame/thank Memory for bringing my attention to Skip•Beat with her unwavering enthusiasm. I really did mean to space these three volumes out a bit more, but…just. couldn’t. do. it. One after the other, they went down. There was a bit of an unexpected (and dare I say, somewhat far-fetched) addition to the storyline started in volume 18 (or maybe 17?). I admit that I rolled my eyes a little bit, but then found myself so sucked in again that I didn’t even care. Uhm, and in fact, even rather liked how it played out. Kyoko continues to charm and delight me. Yay for more Moko! Another admission: there were a few happy tears for Maria. What can I say, this series just makes me happy. 🙂
I also finished my reread of Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons. While not my favorite of her collections that I’ve read, there were several poems that really got to me. It’s her relationship with the natural world that first drew me to her poetry years ago, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the way she speaks of our relationships with one another as humans as well.
And late last night, I finished up Dead Time, the first in Eleanor Taylor Bland’s Marti MacAlister series. I’m 99.5% sure that it was Eva that brought Eleanor Taylor Bland to my attention, so thank you, my dear! What can I say, I loved this book! (So much so that upon finishing I immediately went and put a hold on the second book.) I liked Marti MacAlister right from the start, and only continued to like her more and more as the book went on. A black woman cop, a single mom for the past year and a half since her husband was killed, a somewhat recent transplant from Chicago to the smaller city of Lincoln Prairie. Vik, her partner is a somewhat gruff man, who tries hard to deny that his city has changed from the city of his boyhood. He also holds some pretty sexist notions when it comes to the role of lady cops, but Marti doesn’t take his crap. I used to read tons of suspense/psychological thrillers and still enjoy them occasionally, and I also occasionally enjoy a nice cozy mystery. Dead Time falls sort of in that sweet spot somewhere in between. I sort of suck at finishing series (okay, there’s no “sort of” about it), not because I don’t enjoy series but just because of the whole there’s-too-many-damn-books-I-want-to-read-before-I-die thing. Still…if I enjoy each of the books as much as I did this one, there’s a chance I might actually finish the series. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself. 😉
(I feel like I should apologize for my cheesy book photos, but I’m not gonna. It’s my blog so I can do what I want, right? After I took that picture last week of Small Gods with our garden turtle, I challenged myself to keep it up–to try to take a picture of each book I read for #20booksofsummer with something that reminded me of the book. I have already failed though, as I just couldn’t come up with an idea for the Skip•Beat! books. But I’m going to keep trying anyway.)
Write and send off the last of Gray’s 10th grade progress reports.
Got to scratch this one off last evening, and I cannot express how freakin’ good it feels to put another year of homeschooling behind us!
Send LOI for next year’s homeschooling.
An easy one, but I’ll take it.
16. Continue harvesting the rhubarb:
freeze more/bake more tarts/ try making rhubarb jam.
Yep, crossing off another piece of this one. I froze three more pints during this past week. Harvested and chopped some for tarts yesterday, but didn’t have sour cream. So they will wait until this week.
Eat at Sticky Lips.
This is where Rich picked to go for Father’s Day, so another one crossed off the list.
Eat at Beale Street Cafe.
Rich and I went on a working date Friday morning, and then out to lunch.
Go to Central Library.
That working date I just mentioned, it was at Central Library. I went to look at some books I’m considering using for homeschool next year, and it was a fairly successful trip. But even better, I just love hanging out there.
39. Bring in flowers from outside every week.
This week it was simple daisies. But wildflowers are always my favorites.
46. Drink ice tea. Every day.
Yep, still going strong. Can’t imagine a summer day without it.
52. Read at least one essay, one short story, one poem, and one fairy tale each week. Read as many outside as possible.
And I’m still keeping up with this one too. I really enjoyed this week’s essay (still working my way through Barbara Kingsolver’s High Tide in Tuscon collection). It was titled “In Case You Ever Want to Go Home Again,” and while every essay I’ve ever read of hers is of a personal nature, for some reason this one seemed even more so. Maybe it was because it was a glimpse at a part of her life I’ve never seen before. It was really about writing. Writing fiction in particular. But she talked about her school years and lack of friends, about her hometown and leaving it, and finally about coming home. I cannot put my finger on what exactly it was about this essay, but I enjoyed it immensely. And I love this line with a passion:
In the final accounting, a hundred different truths are likely to reside at any given address.
I’m also still working my way through Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck. This week I read the story “Ghosts.” It takes place years after the Biafran War, and in many ways the story is about its aftermath. I wouldn’t call the story depressing, so much as melancholy. In that “if only…” sort of way. But even using the word melancholy seems wrong. It’s a story about surviving, and making choices, and living with those choices. And it’s a story of coming to terms with the “what is.” This story in particular has very much made me want to read her Half of a Yellow Sun.
This week’s fairy tale was “Hansel and Gretel.” Despite another wicked stepmother, “Hansel and Gretel” is a tale I tend to love, both in its original and its retellings. (Side note: My favorite retelling ever of this tale is Catherynne Valente’s “A Delicate Architecture.”) The art this time was by Monique Felix, and I thought it was gorgeous.
And as mentioned earlier, I finished up Twelve Moons, so again lots of poems this week. One of my favorites from this week is “Beaver Moon–The Suicide of a Friend.” There was a truth in this poem that just pierced my heart. It’s ending brings tears, every single time I read it:
That night, you turn in your bed
to watch the moon rise, and once more
see what a small coin it is
against the darkness, and how everything else
is a mystery, and you know
nothing at all except
the moonlight is beautiful–
white rivers running together
along the bare boughs of the trees–
and somewhere, for someone, life
is becoming moment by moment