Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's here

I finally had time to plant my little garden and my flowers,
The cushions are on the chairs on my front porch,
I am slowly regaining control over the mess in our house,
Youngest just pointed out that he's still up....after 9 pm,
Today I read 2 books cover to cover,
I lingered over my coffee on weekday,
We'll open the pool this week.
Summer vacation is here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Club Gone Rogue

I belong to a somewhat unconventional book club--we'd like to think of ourselves as a rogue group, but since we're all teachers, women, and somewhat nice people who meet in a coffee shop, it's difficult to get people to buy that. Maybe if we started meeting in a motorcycle bar. Or in an abandoned factory down by the tracks.

Only those places don't have coffee and yummy pastries and comfy chairs gathered around a coffee table. The other problem is that other than coloring outside the lines when establishing the rules for our club, the most dangerous thing we do is refuse to wear socks in all but the coldest weather and willingly spend all day with middle schoolers and first graders.

The group is small--just the 4 of us. A. and I started meeting just because we've been friends since her son was in my class and she was a parent helper. We missed the days of chatting over coffee in my classroom and had started recommending book titles to each other. One day we met at the coffee shop to exchange stacks of books and the nontraditional book club was formed.

For a long time it was just the two of us. That was the first slightly out of the ordinary thing about our club--most people don't consider 2 people enough for a real club. However, we like to think that our personalities are big enough to pull it off.

The second unconventional thing we did is refuse to read the same book at the same time and then discuss it. Instead, our meetings are part book talk about books we want each other to read and part spilling our guts about what we'd thought about the books we'd urged upon each other at the last meeting.

Oh, and meetings. They are somewhat less than regular. We meet when we need something to read, want to push books on each other, or when we want a reason to spend time in the coffee shop with other girls.

After a while, A. and I thought that maybe we should expand our club. A. invited her teacher-daughter and I invited a young teacher-friend. B. and L. are great additions to the group, and they like our rules. A. and I sometimes wonder if we are corrupting the young.

Our newest adventure is blogging. I started a while back, and decided it was time to corrupt expand the horizons of the rest of the group. I thought that if I enjoyed it and it was good for me as a writer, it must be good for others, right?

We met recently, but with no books or book talk (see? rogue!). We made sure that everyone had a blog set up, spent a very long time playing with the backgrounds (we like to look good), and made sure each person posted. Tonight, I sent a nagging reminder to the others and the text messages started flying. Imagine my chagrin when L. and A. both had ideas and I had nothing! Then they both posted before me. I toyed with the idea of just typing out the text messages, as we like to think that we are rather clever; however, that involved some risk (what if we find out we're not clever? or funny?).

So instead you get the slightly skewed history of our following-our-own-rules book club. Happy reading girls!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Train Sounds Then and Now

Right now I can hear the long, mellow whistle of a train. It covers for just a bit the low rumble of the train moving along the tracks. I'm too far away to hear the more abrupt clacking of the wheels. From this distance, the sounds are softened and smooth.

When I was a little girl, I remember lying in bed and listening to the trains. The tracks were about a half mile from our house, and the whistle threaded its way through the woods and into the window of the room I shared with one of my sisters. I'm sure that I sometimes heard the trains during the night, but I mostly remember hearing them in the early morning, especially when we had the windows open to the cool night air of late spring and summer. I would lie there in the gray almost-light before dawn, not awake or asleep, and I'd listen to the trains. Maybe I wondered where they had been or where they were going, but mostly I think I just listened to them pass.

I still hear trains in the early morning. The tracks are not so far away from our home, but now the rumble of train on tracks and the long warning whistles pass through neighborhoods and parking lots to reach my ears. There is still just enough distance to mute the sounds so they match the muted light of early morning, and it's just as I remember it. As dark to fade to light, I sometimes find myself listening. Not quite awake, but definitely not asleep, I listen to them pass and remember.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Literary Litterbugs

At our house, books are like litter along a stretch of abandoned inner-city streets. Rooms here are often abandoned by people, but the reading material left behind is ever present.

No matter how often magazines are placed back into baskets, books onto shelves, and newspapers carefully stacked, they reappear almost instantaneously. Some balance precariously on the arms of chairs or sofas, near end tables with coasters still coffee-warm...wonder who left those?

Magazines, with their slippery, glossy covers somehow slide from their designated spots back to a place at the table, joined by sandwich crumbs and a leftover cup. They sneak into bookbags and purses and lie open on sofas next to people-shaped dips in the cushions. Others find their way somehow into the bathrooms, maybe paying tribute to the days when Sears Roebuck played a critical role in this room of the house.

Still more books lie piled in places both imaginable and slightly surprising. They are commonly found sorted into piles of reading-now, just-finished-but-not-ready-to-reshelve, or waiting-to-be-read. Books alone or in piles in the usual places, like the large ottoman in the living room or the bedside tables in the bedrooms. But they are also found in the beds themselves, nestled under pillows or tangled in sheets. They turn up under couch cushions and in the garage and in the car.

Little by little, the text-litter grows. Stories and information fill rooms left empty by the family. Those wandering through are likely to get caught--a tantalizing picture, an attention-grabbing title. None of us is immune to the call. And woe to those who try to control the litter, to create programs and public awareness of the importance of reshelving. Results are gratifying, but short-lived. Even when the rooms remain empty, the reading material seems to appear on its own, perhaps blown in from another family's out-of-control reading habits. The litter is even going high-tech; often the cover of the Kindle can be spotted among the titles gathered near the sofa, and the iPad or laptop have joined ranks with the newspapers and magazines.

Litterbugs...we are a household of literary litterbugs.