Thursday, June 03, 2010

A beautiful breezy a.m. in Lex but it is going to be a hot one, up to the high 80s again. And very humid. Thank goodness for air conditioning and fans. You wouldn't think the northern most areas of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would get very hot but I remember summers where sleeping was impossible in the upstairs of our house. I think Mom cooking on a wood stove also helped keep the house hotter than Hades. They'd close up the doors and close the curtains so the living room was the coolest. I remember laying on the hardwood floor that was a bit cooler due to the fans. I think living like that as a kid makes me appreciate the regulated air conditioning and heat we now have. And, we did get the gas fireplace fixed, just in time for it to heat up and not need it. It even has a remote - how cool is that? :-)

My mom was a great one for home remedies. She is most likely smiling down on me from heaven as I take my tbs. of natural apple cider vinegar mixed in with cranberry juice each morning. Apple cider vinegar has many supposed natural remedies - I am taking it to help my immune system but I wish it did all the other things listed on the Home Remedies Website.

She would also be chucking over my love of Greek yogurt since I hated her Finnish speciality called viili - basically curdled milk. She has a starter she used that she swore came over from Finland initially with my grandmother. I hated the stringy slimy stuff but she ate it every day and swore it helped her digestion. She knew what she was talking about long before yogurt became a craze in the U.S. Mom was a born naturalist long before the "back to the earth" folks
joined in on what the old Finns knew for decades.

As some of you know, I have an interest in debut novels/picture books. I am also amazed at the qualifications of the new YA authors. For example, Jessica Warman has a MA in creative writing and went to Yale. These new young authors decide they want a career in writing and go about getting the education to enhance their natural skills. Warman shows her skills in Breathless We females who have older brothers ofen idolize them. Those who don't go that far certainly look up to them and ask them for advice. I still remember my oldest brother Dan telling me the guy wasn't worth the ground I walked on when I told him about the mean things one the guys I liked in Junior High said to me. It isn't that I made great choices in men the rest of my life after that comment, but it stuck with me all these years. I thought about Warman's main character Katie and how I would have reacted if my brother Larry, who I was the closest to as a teen as he was the closest in age, suffered from schizophrenia. How would I have felt if he was sent away to a psychiatric hospital and was begging me to come get him? Could I handle the pressure? And, what would I say to my classmates if my parents sent me away to a boarding school? Would I go so far as Katie did and say my older brother was dead? It certainly would be easier than to admit the truth - her brother suffered from drug induced schizophrenia and was institutionalized. I certainly wouldn't tell them about the time he dropped the cat off our roof, expecting it to get up and walk away - cats always land on their feet, don't they? Well, not from that height. They called Katie's father, a psychiatrist, the Ghost as he was rarely around but when he was, he called family meetings and produced Ziplock baggies of drug paraphernalia he found around the house. Their artist mother is as calm as a still pond but insubstantial enough for a wind to blow her away. Katie is an innocent when it comes to the viciousness of private school girls and is often the object of their nastiness, especially when she begins to date Drew, the captain of the boys' swim team. Katie's roommate Mazzie has issues of her own over her mother's death and handles the scene at Katie's house after her grandfather's funeral when Will waves a loaded handgun between himself and their father better than Katie does. When her father apologizes as they are ready to leave for school, Mazzie responds with, "Shit happens, Sir." It sure does in this family. Katie finds solace in swimming - she can forget about everything at home and at school while she swims. But she has to surface sometime and when she does she learns an orderly at the hospital has been killed and Will is the prime suspect. Do you stop loving a brother who is criminally insane? No, you don't. Warman creates scenes so poignant and realistic between Katie and Will and Katie and Mazzie that I found myself holding my breath for fear they would know I was eavesdropping. An incredible debut.

On a lighter note: Steve says I tend to chatter too much so I had to smile to myself as I read the delightfully sweet The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska. There are many kinds of quiet from the first one awake quiet, thinking of a good reason you were drawing on the wall quiet, last one to get picked up from school quiet, first look at our new hairstyle quiet, first snowfall quiet, to “What flashlight?” quiet as little bunny is sneaking in a last few pages of his favorite book. The gentle illustrations of a variety of young animals including a little moose, bear, bunny, mouse, hedgehog, and porcupine are perfect for a bedtime story. I have to keep in mind the “Best friends don’t need to talk quiet” next time Steve and I are on the beach together as are bear and bunny as they quietly skip rocks. Sometimes there is no reason to talk when best friends are together and Steve is certainly the friend I want at my side during a quiet walk on the beach, but he had better not expect me to handle “Top of the roller coaster quiet” as I won’t be like bunny and cover my eyes and hold my breath. My breath would be coming out in a loud shriek of fear – I hate heights!

That's it for today.