Sunday, April 29, 2007

Just finished reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. Very interesting and thought provoking. How far have we come in the last 30 years or so in accepting people with Down Syndrome and similar conditions? Yes, they are "mainstreamed" now in school, and no longer institutionalized from infancy. Many hold jobs and live in the community, though not always completely independently. I thought one of the most interesting parts of this novel was Caroline's fight for Phoebe to be able to attend school and have access to the same medical care as other children. Of course, the affect of the secret on David, Norah and Paul was another intriguing aspect - how the secret became a wall between them all, how each dealt with the loss and absence of Phoebe in his own way. David's photography, his need to capture the moments and memories, even though the moment caught by the photo rarely tells much of the story. It is, instead, a sentence within a novel. It can tell a bit but without someone to interpret the scene or elaborate on the context, it means little to anyone except the photographer.

I am listening to The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank while in the car. I have the book, too, but found the audiobook at the library and checked it out. My commute flies by and I arrive much less stressed if I am listening to a good book. It always maximizes my "reading" time, time I would otherwise consider wasted. I really like it (the book) so far. I am about halfway through. I liked her previous book, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing. Much more clever and entertaining "chick-lit" than, say, Bridget Jones. Ugh. Did not care for Bridget. I therefore did not see the movie, either, though have been told that it is "really cute" and that I should see it. Rarely go for the "really cute".

My new bookclub, which I call "Books and Breakfast Club", though I don't know if anyone else calls it that, met for the first book discussion yesterday. We had bagels and coffee and discussed existentialism and the absurd at 9 am on Saturday. Nothing like a little deep philosophy and caffeine to get you going for the weekend! I had chosen the book, The Stranger by Albert Camus, mainly because it had been sitting on my shelf for awhile and because I had been meaning to read it since we read the first chapter in French my sophomore year in college, 957 years ago. It was a very quick read, done in 3 evenings, but one of those novels I felt like there was a lot more than I was getting. I did some research into existentialism at the library, reading the definition of it in a dictionary of philosophy. Ooh boy! No wonder my roommate got depressed when she took a class on the philosophy of Kirkegaard in college! There was some very good discussion with the bookclub, though there is some thought that I might be a bit disturbed for picking a disturbing novel (I have been accused of this before - maybe I am just intrigued by the disturbed?). Interesting conversation as to whether or not the main character would be classified as a sociopath, whether or not the guillotine should be brought back, who it should be used on if it was, and if there should be any other punishment inflicted on them before they were guillotined. And then we spread more cream cheese on our bagels and talked about gardening!

Next on the reading list: Surrender, Dorothy by Meg Wolitzer; Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres; and Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart.

As for eating, I am still thinking about the yummy rigatoni Bolognese I had on Friday night at Biaggi's. I would love to be able to make a really good Bolognese. Can a girl of northern European descent make a decent Italian sauce?

The garden is moving along once again. This weekend we planted a new forsythia (the old one died, mainly because I didn't get it planted all last summer and it over-wintered in a plastic nursery pot) by the front steps. We also assembled the arbor and put the last coat of poly on, set it up, anchored it, pulled out a bunch of grass, laid down mulch, extended the rock wall another couple feet, and planted 2 clematis to creep up the arbor. They are Polish pride clematis, deep purple in color. We both like purple, and the side of the garage is mainly purple and yellow flowers. The Polish part reminded us of our friend Ania, and our favorite half-Polish baby, Rena.

Other garden accomplishments: Weeded all the beds (darn quack grass!) and finally got all the dead stuff cut back. So I am a little slow! Now my next project is to get my containers planted, move some plants from my so-called nursery bed (they have been there "temporarily" for the last year and a half), and figure out what other plants I want/need to fill in and to replace those which did not survive the winter. The plant I am most amazed by is the bugle weed. It is an evergreen ground cover which appears to be undeterred by the shallow roots of the silver maple it is growing under. It does not seem to mind the poor soil, lack of water and low sunlight. I love the evergreen-ness of it. It has a slightly purple color to the leaves as well, giving the shade garden a little color to contrast with the green of the hosta.
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