I hope that many of you are able to celebrate a fun and relaxing Father’s Day with family and friends. We are hoping to have a family cookout here today: grilled chicken and KC Strip, corn on the cob, side salad, and Coke Cake for dessert. I am hopeful that Kansas weather will cooperate, as we have had enough rain to last us the rest of June!
The only thing that might prevent this celebratory meal would be if Mom has to have surgery. It has been a twisted couple of days, that is for sure. She originally went into the hospital a little over a week ago because her hypertension (high blood pressure) and orthostatic hypotension (blood pressure bottoms out when standing up) were out of balance. They managed to tweak medications and regulate her blood pressure by Tuesday, but then on Wednesday she started to experience pain in her abdomen. A sonogram showed that it might be her gall bladder, but the surgeon was hesitant to operate on Friday because he was not completely convinced that was the culprit (and given her weak heart, unnecessary surgery is not an option). Anyway, we are in a holding pattern until they can discern the right direction to take.
I feel as though I have let the ball drop on the blog. While I do still love to read, and have read numerous books over the past month or so, I have not written a book review for quite some time. I feel like I am an impostor in the book bloggosphere. I think my lack of reviews is for several reasons:
- The books are probably of interest to only a select few and I do not want to bore you.
- I do not feel qualified to write an in-depth review on these topics, so instead I remain silent.
- My free time this summer seems to be quite limited (at least as long as Mom is in the hospital) and I would rather spend it reading new books, than writing ill-qualified reviews.
Most of my books this summer have been of the non-fiction genre. I have read several books on photography – and now that my son bought me a new camera (Canon EOS Rebel T1i — thank you, Brian!!!) I am really itching to put this new-found knowledge to practical use. While I feel unqualified to write a review for these books, I will say that I truly enjoy Bryan Peterson’s writing style. I found his book on Understanding Exposure to be very informative and written in a way that an amateur could easily understand. You might recall that this is the same author who wrote Learning to See Creatively which I thoroughly enjoyed and plan to re-read again sometime soon.
I have also read several books on art appreciation, particularly focusing on Impressionism, mostly because I really love this time period and also because it is the setting of the book that I plan to start writing in July. Geoff and I are hoping to go to Chicago for our 28th anniversary this coming weekend and I want to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and see some of the famous paintings in person (most notably Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street: Rainy Day)
The third category of non-fiction books that I have focused my reading is Cookbooks. I have probably checked out of the library about 20 or 25 over the past few weeks. My first major haul included cookbooks of Food Network personalities, such as Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Barefoot Contessa, and Yan Martin. However I quickly discerned that if I made these recipes all the time, I would probably gain about ten unwanted pounds. So the next batch of cookbooks focused on recipes that include low-fat substitution suggestions, like the Hungry Girl and Cook Yourself Thin. I must say that I had already incorporated several of these suggestions myself over the years, but each cookbook provided a couple of tasty sounding recipes that I would like to try.
Finally, I have also been reading a lot of books on the art and craft of writing: anything from fiction, to creative non-fiction, to personal journals. This tends to be my mode of operation for nearly every project I take on in life: conduct thorough research (almost to the point of sensory overload) and then just dive right in. I am relieved to say that I am just about at the saturation point with knowledge and I am now ready to “just do it.” Of the dozen or so books I have skimmed and/or read since June, I would say that the ones that I found most helpful were Writing True by Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz and Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Corner (this is, of course, in addition to the two modern classics on writing that I reviewed here, as well as Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and Poem Crazy by Susan Woolridge)
The fiction novels that I have chosen to read during this time period have been “research” for my book project. To the left is a picture of the novels that I have set aside; the ones that I have completed so far include: Dancing for Degas by Kathryn Wagner, Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman, and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. In my “research” I am trying to read books that take place in the age of Impressionism (Paris, France around 1875-1882); that involve Time Travel — both adult and YA — as I believe my finished book will be most appropriate to the adolescent market. I must say that I am rather stumped as to why I feel driven to write a time travel book about the Impressionists. My interest in art has only been within the last couple of years – and I am certainly NO expert; and I have never had an interest in time travel books. But…I am trying very hard not to question the inspiration, but rather to follow and see where it leads me.
This week will probably be focused on getting Mom out of the hospital – and arranging in-home care for her; researching activities for our upcoming trip to Chicago by way of St. Louis (I already know I want to visit the St. Louis Zoo and the Italian neighborhood of that same city as well as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium), and reading some of those novels pictured above (perhaps The Time Traveler’s Wife and Luncheon of the Boating Party would be good selections.