Sitting With the Hummers

As you can see, dear readers, I have taken something of a hiatus from this blog and from my online life in general including nings and twitter and facebook.  A new “part-time” job began in July but June was filled with preparations and travel.  My first month on the job included lots of travel as well and I was just getting caught up when August, with its double whammy of beginning-of-school-year training and beginning-of-college-year, took arrived, something that always seems to catch me off guard.  Suddenly, it’s the second week of September.  And, there’s some light…literally, it’s early evening and I’m enjoying my little courtyard where the hummingbirds dodge and parry as they grudgingly share a feeder.  After months of seemingly non-stop work, I’ve got some breathing room, some precious minutes between moving away from work and starting dinner, and in an effort to revive these ailing pages, I’ve decided to post a blog entry.  Oh, Joy!

N.B. In the interest of transparency, that paragraph and many of the following ones were written four days ago.  I am just getting back to this draft now so I’m still kind of looking for that breathing room.  Next week holds some promise.  I am, however, sitting in the same courtyard sitting on the Adirondack chair that I managed to finish painting, listening to the fountain with no real sign of the hummingbirds yet.

Three days agao…Meanwhile, despite all, I have been reading.  Well, most of July was spent listening to other people read, but I’m counting it.  I made it through all three of the Stieg Larsson books that way.  The narrator, Simon Vance, was great; the Swedish place names tumbled off his lips and I was glad to hear them rather than having to figure them out on my own from text. I found this Google Map of the various locations though and that helped with my non-existent knowledge of Swedish geography.

They were a bit difficult to listen to in terms of content but I got used to it and a friend remarked that Larsson was really a feminist, and I believe that’s true in the most fundamental way.  Even the main male character, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist, doesn’t necessarily treat women all that well at least outside of the bedroom but I suppose he would think of himself as a feminist by allowing women to be free. But maybe that was just an excuse for his own philandering.  Hmmm…

I was fascinated with the real main character, Lisbeth Salander, and her head-on approach to life. I couldn’t help but bristle at the all-too-real depiction of public education painted by Larsson.  Her unusual gifts and unwillingness to compromise her values put her at odds with the very people who could have protected her.  As the school year begins, she is a reminder to all of us that we owe every kid our attention and non-judgmental support. And, who knows, maybe her fascination with Fermat’s last theorem will help make math cool.

The books kept me going as the miles of road stretched ahead of me and for that I’m grateful.  I also listened to Star Island, the new book by Carl Hiassen, a perennial favorite, and just finished House Rules by Jodi Picoult.  Both were excellent in their own ways.  Hiassen is wickedly funny with his portrait of young idols gone bad and the system that supports them.  I laughed out loud a lot at this one.  Picoult was very different.  A mystery in its own right as well as a thoughtful portrait of Aspberger’s syndrome.  It was read  by the Audible Books ensemble so rather than one reader providing multiple voices, various voices took over for Picoult’s sections which were each narrated by one of five characters.  It worked as it made these sections quite distinct, and highlighted the distinct perspectives of each character.

I have also been doing “real” reading, by which I mean holding an analog book (and I’d even include my Kindle here since I’m holding it and reading text).  I’ve read everything from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, which I’m not completely sure I understand, to British mysteries (mostly Martha Grimes and P.D. James) more than I’ve read all my life, and, in light of the controversy over the Koran burning, a very interesting piece of non-fiction called The Faith Club.  It features three women–a Christian, Jew, and Muslim–who come together to write a children’s book about religion and find it much more difficult than it seems, forcing them to examine their own beliefs and prejudices.  Highly recommended!

Here’s the whole list for 2010.  I’m up to 52 and easily on track to finish 75 books by the end of the year.  I haven’t tackled the big boys yet–McCullough’s John Adams and Inwood’s A History of London.  I need a read-all-day kind of vacation but I don’t see it happening any time soon.  So, maybe I’ll make them the first two books of 2011 when the colleges are on break.  In the short term, my book group is reading The Sparrow.  I went ahead and added the second book, Children of God, to my Kindle as well.  So, the minute I finish Anne Perry’s No Graves As Yet, I’ll start reading.

The photo a day plan has failed.  I made it until June and then things just fell apart.  Now, I can’t even locate my camera!  But, in looking for early photos of our beloved black lab Ivy who we lost this summer (16 years and several months…she had a GREAT life!), I’ve gotten access to the digital photo archives for the Richardsons that started with our Sony Mavica some time in 1996 or 97.  It will include our Lewis and Clark photos, only a very small few of which are on the web.  I’ll save the stories of that trip for another post but let’s just say that Kinko’s was pretty much the only Internet access in those days and they charged $12 an hour! I’m hoping to find some time soon to start going through them and may start my own “picture a day” project that pulls things from the archives.  There’s also a drawer full of digital video tapes that could yield some gems.

I’ll keep you posted.  And, I’ll go ahead and post this so I don’t go another four days!