sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 11, 2015

a good problem to have
posted by soe 2:35 am

Part of the problem with the end of the year is that it is chockablock full of best-of book lists. My poor friends on Goodreads know how much I enjoy them, adding multiple books to my to-read list daily and probably 100 over the season. In addition to adding them virtually, I also start requesting books from the library. This is fine for certain books, where hundreds of folks are in front of me in the queue, but more of a problem for books that are checked in and idling on the shelves of various branches of the D.C. Public Library.

I’ve had probably half a dozen books come in each week for the last month. (I have books sent to the main branch near my office for weekday pickups and the Georgetown branch for a weekend trip.) This means I currently have 27 physical books out*, 2 more waiting for me at the library, and five audio books on my phone.

Before you start offering the obvious advice, I do look over the pile each week, assessing the likelihood I’ll actually get to each one and whether it would make more sense to request it again later in the year. I’ve returned some that I know I just won’t get to, but I hold out hope that I’ll magically gain some extra hours in the day and continue to hoard the rest.

It’s seriously unlikely I can squeeze in 29 books before I head to Hungary next month. After all, I do have other hobbies and favorite tv shows and loved ones and a job and a bed competing for my time. It’s a problem.

But, without a doubt, it is a good problem to have.

*Six are cookbooks that Rudi and I are sampling. Three are waiting for me to write my January review post before I return them. Five are in various states of progress. One is a picture book.

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February 7, 2015

leftovers, teamwork, and commercials
posted by soe 10:35 pm

Sorry for the blog silence. I’m up in Connecticut for a few days and was up late trying to finish things Thursday night before departing early yesterday. As I was heading to bed for an hour, I remembered the blog but wisely decided you’d all prefer me to get those 60 minutes of sleep rather than coming back out to the computer.

Even if it’s not true, I’m glad I made that decision.

So, here are three beautiful things from last week:

1. Rudi was away for part of the week, so it was nice to be able to come home and pull something out of the fridge that didn’t require prep or thinking. I mean, sure, risotto and guacamole is probably an unusual dinner combination, but it worked.

2. I like this season’s volleyball team. We’re wildly inconsistent, either winning or losing all our games in any given night, but the group of people is nice and when we gel properly, it feels like we could take anyone on (and when we don’t, it still feels like we’re just that one right thing away from doing so).

3. Rudi’s friend Geoff is British, but he spent a few years in the U.S. and one of the things he liked was the brilliance/ridiculousness of our Super Bowl commercials. He’s returned to England, where they do show the game but with their own normal British commercials. Thanks to computers and stateside friends, though, he and his sweetie, Vicki, are able to call via Skype and share some of our pop culture. Rudi pulls the laptop over to the tv and they chat during the game and then watch the main event together during time outs and between quarters.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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February 4, 2015

posted by soe 2:10 am

We head to Hungary in a month and I have been doing some reading in anticipation of our trip.

Currently, I am most excited by the thermal baths spread throughout the city. I’m wondering if Rudi will find it excessive if I plan to go every day while we’re there.

Second on my list of things to look forward to are the cake shops. Please note that my guidebook suggests these are not bakeries and are not cafes, but are, in fact, places wholly devoted to selling and/or serving you cake. I am in.

Third are the retro gardens or ruin pubs, which are bars set up in alleyways, abandoned buildings, and other “lost” spaces. Since I don’t drink, I don’t know why exactly these rank so high on my list, but they totally are. I was relieved to read that many of them should be open in March.

If you’ve been to Budapest and have any recommendations for must-do/must-see items, I’d love to hear them.

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February 2, 2015

bloggers’ silent poetry reading: barbara crooker
posted by soe 11:58 pm

This weekend marked the ninth annual Bloggers’ (Silent) Poetry Reading in honor of St. Brigid, patron saint of poetry. (I admit to no longer being fully sure of what day it’s supposed to be. We all started on Feb. 2, but it seems to have migrated to the 1st over the years. I am a traditionalist on this issue and always participate on the 2nd.) You can find links to other poems on the festival’s Facebook page.

Ordinary Life
      ~Barbara Crooker

This was a day when nothing happened,
the children went off to school
without a murmur, remembering
their books, lunches, gloves.
All morning, the baby and I built block stacks
in the squares of light on the floor.
And lunch blended into naptime,
I cleaned out kitchen cupboards,
one of those jobs that never gets done,
then sat in a circle of sunlight
and drank ginger tea,
watched the birds at the feeder
jostle over lunch’s little scraps.
A pheasant strutted from the hedgerow,
preened and flashed his jeweled head.
Now a chicken roasts in the pan,
and the children return,
the murmur of their stories dappling the air.
I peel carrots and potatoes without paring my thumb.
We listen together for your wheels on the drive.
Grace before bread.
And at the table, actual conversation,
no bickering or pokes.
And then, the drift into homework.
The baby goes to his cars, drives them
along the sofa’s ridges and hills.
Leaning by the counter, we steal a long slow kiss,
tasting of coffee and cream.
The chicken’s diminished to skin & skeleton,
the moon to a comma, a sliver of white,
but this has been a day of grace
in the dead of winter,
the hard cold knuckle of the year,
a day that unwrapped itself
like an unexpected gift,
and the stars turn on,
order themselves
into the winter night.

This poem reminds me of the final scene in Our Town, when Emily begs to return to earth for just one last time and she finds herself looking in on a morning, which, she realizes, is spectacular in its ordinariness.

It’s rare to be able to appreciate the gift of an uneventful day/afternoon/hour as it’s occurring, but Crooker does it magnificently.

In previous years, I have shared poems by William Stafford, Mary Oliver (twice), Wislawa Szymborska, Stuart Dischell, Jean Esteve, John Frederick Nims, Grace Paley, Heather McHugh, and Barbara Hamby, all of which I stand by as solid choices.

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