Saturday, April 19, 2008

A quiet night in the Clark household. I just went through the ALA Anaheim preliminary program while watching an old NCIS on the USA channel. Shame-facedly I admit I munched on Frito's while I did both. So I was multi-tasking/eating - in other words, my inner teen is alive and well. If I keep this up I am going to be feeling like Virginia in The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I really was skinny for awhile, but I think those days are gone.

We went to Macy's sale today to pick up the multi-colored Martha Stewart bowls I wanted. They are made of some light weight stuff that doesn't break - which is important these days when I never know if my hands are going to listen to me or not. So now I have a set of bowls in every hue that Steve says are hideous, but function is what matters right now. Then we went to Lowe's and bought shrubs for around the back porch/deck. I ran out occasionally to supervise - too dang cold out there. Really cooled down late afternoon and now it is raining, which is good as Steve put the shrubs in. We have marigolds and a some deep purple petunias I found to put out front. I was looking for wild strawberry plants but they didn't have any. Will have to check Home Depot.

Lowe's had these really cool gnarled and crooked filbert trees that I loved. Think I am going to go back on Monday and get someone to carry one out to the car for me. If I bring it home, Steve has to plant it - right!? :-)

We were listening to Lake Wobegon a bit ago. I am not a big fan but listening to him talk about the Lutheran church and rhubarb pie makes me so homesick! I chuckled when he said the ice was pretty much off the lake. I immediately thought of Martha Brooks Mistik Lake. I felt like I was reading about back home in Upper Michigan even though this is set in Manitoba. Brooks writing about summer cottages with bedding that smells moldy no matter how many times the sheets are washed because they had been left in a unheated cottage all winter made me think of my great aunt and uncle's cabin on Lake Gogebic. The largest inland lake in Upper Michigan - I loved going there, but everything smelled musty.

In Mistik Lake seventeen-year-old Odella and her summer crush on the local boy resembled so many of the cousins or friends of local families who came up North for the summer. The guys we grew up with were no big deal to us, but they sure were easy pickings for the city girls who flirted with them - just as Odella's mother had years before with Mr. Isfeld, the man who owns the store where Odella now works. There is a reason that this quiet stoic man is willing to let her enter his world. It may well be the same reason her mother has a drinking problem and then runs away with another man to Iceland and never returns. Like a handful of the city girls I remember, Odella honestly does find her true love in one of the local boys from Mistik Lake and returns to discover her own cultural and familial roots. For those of us who grew up in a rural lake environment this book is so realistic I could almost hear the lake lapping against the posts - all that are left from the docks that were there when the mines still functioned. Odella is so purely, imperfectly human that she is a character I found myself forgetting wasn't someone I grew up with as I read this book. Perhaps just for a time I was Odella and that was very sweet.

You might recognize Martha Brooks' name as a YA author as she wrote the stunning The True Confessions of a Heartless Girl, which I also loved and is set in the Canadian prairies, which we drove through every summer on our way from Alaska to Point Mills. The closer we got the more I could smell Mom's homemade blueberry pie. Brooks has a way of reaching into the psyche of the lost and lonely Northern girl and making her real to even those teens who run around in flip-flops and shorts year round. Brooks goes to the heart of "every" girl and her novels hold a place in mine. Noreen and her Pembine Lake are not so much different from the lakes and people of Upper Michigan. People like me. When time allows I plan to collect the rest of her YA novels and curl up for a Martha Brooks' weekend read-a-thon.

All for tonight. I received my review books for VOYA and Library Media Connection so I need to put them in order by review due date and maybe start reading before I crash. Tomorrow morning is the NYTimes!