What I’m Reading

Eleanor and Park

                                          eleanor and park

by Rainbow Rowell

St. Martin’s Griffin, NY 2013

2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book

What a poignant, sweet love story between two high school students.  Eleanor considers herself a misfit: she’s too fat and she has curly, red hair.  She wears the clothes she and her mother scrounge from thrift shops, and her real father’s left-overs.  She lives with her mother, step-father, and her younger siblings.  Money is scarce and step-father Richie is scary.

Park’s mother is Korean.  His father is a white American veteran. Park seems to be a misfit in his own family. When, on the first day of school, Park reluctantly offers Eleanor a seat on the bus, a seed is planted.  The two bond over Park’s comic books, and music.  Their relationship blossoms.  Eleanor tries to conceal her home life from Park.  Eventually, though…I won’t tell you more.

In searching for a copy of the book’s cover, I discovered a wealth of images and fan art.  Apparently Eleanor and Park is a popular novel, as well as a prizewinner.  Rainbow Rowell also writes The Runaways comic books for Marvel.

Read this one, if you haven’t already.  It’s really good.

 

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Saying Farewell

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Bye-bye chairs…

A local family came to get our living room chairs.  As I watched the truck pull out of the driveway, I reflected on how such objects, generally considered inanimate, can have an energy and feel of their own.  Is it we humans who anthropomorphize these possessions, or do they really acquire a personality? As someone who writes novels about faeries and talking beasts, I tend to believe the latter.

One of those chairs served as my meditation chair for a few years.  According to some spiritual traditions, the seat on which one meditates absorbs the “chi” or “shakti,” the spiritual energy of a the meditator.  I wonder if the next owners might unconsciously, or even consciously, be aware of the “vibe.”

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Yesterday, a really nice guy, who is also a vintage Thunderbird freak, bought the last of the T-bird parts Pat had been hoarding to rebuild his 1955 Thunderbird.  There passed on the final remnants of a long-held dream, another difficult thing to let go.

Such is the realization of aging: that there are certain skills, dreams, and plans that won’t be accomplished in this lifetime.  I’ve let go of instruments I will not learn to play, instruction manuals I will not study, journals I’ve written but won’t read again.

The Habitat for Humanity Restore, and the Recycling Center in New Paltz, accepted big and small donations, from our motley collection of garden tools, to our comfy leather sofa that won’t fit in the new home.

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And I said a heartache filled farewell to the glider chair where my daughter and I rocked the baby girls.

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But—since we’ve got a third grandbaby coming soon, I’ve promised myself another rocker.

So it continues, letting go, lightening up, and moving on.

 

 

Angel Helpers

Moving, Part II

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I’m facing scenes like the above every day.  And you’re looking at stuff that isn’t coming to the new place.

At times, I drift around the house, scanning shelves and closets, wondering how to make less, and where it’s going to go.  It’s an overwhelming task.

But angels have appeared.

There’s the couple, handyman extraordinaire and his landscaper wife, who have painted and repaired and planted.

There’s the good-natured man who came to pick up scrap metal, and has been back to take loads to the dump, and drive heavy machinery to the storage unit.

There are the T-bird aficionados in North Carolina, who delight in relieving us of car and car parts.

And the friends who shlep bins to the storage unit, and others who offer to pack us up for moving day.

And of course, husband Pat, who lifts and carries and solves problems.

So even though the children are far away, three in Australia, and four in Vienna this Thanksgiving, I find much to be thankful for.

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Anybody need some gardening tools?

Van Gogh’s Cafe

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Let’s meet at midnight, in midsummer,

At the table at the end of the platform.

I will be wearing a yellow beret and  sporting a briar cane.

You will be wearing a blue vest and a skirt that twirls.

You will tell me in your fluent French

That you are tired of being ambivalent.

I will remove a gold ring from my toe

And mispronounce the words J’t’aime.”

You will say the French word for “maybe.”

I will show you the key to my room in a small hotel nearby.

You will thread it to the chain around your neck.

I will leave a ridiculous number of francs on the table,

And we will teeter off down the cobblestone street.

Meanwhile, Van Gogh, behind his easel, is finishing his painting.

“What happened to the couple in the foreground?” he thinks.

“I hope they’re as happy as lovers can be.

Meanwhile, their blue and yellow are just right for stars.”

 

— Michael Lopes

 

for Kim, 2001

First Snow, Big Snow

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It’s only mid-November, and the back deck is piling up.  I look out the kitchen door, thinking, “This will be the last winter I see this view.”

It’s sad, and yet it’s a great relief.  In our new residence, we’ll also have a big glass door that opens onto a balcony.  The view through that wide window is on woods, too.  BUT– we won’t be paying the plow guy to clear our long, steep driveway.

As the move draws closer, I have “last time” thoughts. The last time I’ll have to pay for a heating repair.  The last time we’ll have to buy water conditioner salt and haul the 40 pound bags down to the basement.  No more house insurance payments!  No more checking the oil level in the tank!

And yet—Ladythorn Place has been a good house.  So many sweet times, so many memories are in her walls.  Yes, she’s quite a prima donna when it comes to behaving well, but we’ve loved her high ceilings, the sunlight pouring into the bedrooms, the glow of the bamboo floors.  The quiet.

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It’s a time of letting go, entering a new phase of life, admitting the limits of age, and looking forward to more ease, with lightness ahead.

 

Art from the Past

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From 1972 to 1973, I attended the College of Creative Studies, a school within the University of California at Santa Barbara.  The boxes and portfolios of work from that time and later years survived several moves across country, and have resided in the attic for the past 25 years.

One of the daunting tasks of downsizing is choosing what to save and what to throw.  Fortunately, my son left his empty portfolio case that he used at FIT, so I had a place to put the artwork I deemed worth saving.  It was hard to choose.  Flipping through stacks of drawings and paintings was like taking a tour through my past.

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Print-making was fascinating, but the fumes and the harsh chemicals drove me away, and into oils.

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The above is a painting of my best friend.

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I was a passionate folk dancer while living in Santa Barbara.

The works pictured here were saved, and will go into the storage unit.  Many, many more are in the recycle bin.

I left the art college to get my teaching credential, but I’ve never stopped creating or dancing!

 

Moving and Tapping

 

Moving to a new home is rated as one of the ten most stressful life events.  This has certainly been true for me.  Reviewing, sorting, and throwing out the accumulated stuff of 25 years in our roomy house have proved to be overwhelming tasks for my husband and me.

In the process, I’ve learned a few things: 1) My body isn’t 30 years old anymore.  This 67-year-old woman can’t lift and carry heavy bins of books and photo albums.  2) It’s okay to get rid of things I haven’t used in the past 5 years, or 2 years, or even 6 months.  3) Help is available, but I have to ask. 4) Renting a storage unit is not a sign of failure.

Meditation and yoga kept me sane for the first month of cleaning and clearing.  Those regular practices weren’t enough to counteract the effects of stress and heavy physical activity. I turned to Tapping.  Officially known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Tapping works to rewire the mind-body connections and reduce stress, pain, and many other emotional and physical stressors.

My sources of information and guidance for EFT are these:

The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner

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and the related app for your smartphone:

www.thetappingsolution.com

Some of the tapping audios are free.  I’ve been using at least two every morning, and I can confirm that the tapping is helping me get through this difficult life event.  Go to the website to find out why tapping works so well.