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This was the scene late yesterday afternoon. I’d been reading too long, so the Red Bean gave me a gentle nudge by beginning to set the table around me. I love evenfall; it’s one of my favorite words, it’s easily my favorite time of day. And sitting at my dining room table looking out the windows, I love watching the sun sink in the sky and do amazing things in the treetops across the street then sink a smidge lower to make that sweet little yellow cottage glow. I wonder what it would be like to be in that cottage, in those front rooms, bathed in golden light. I wonder if my neighbors appreciate it, if they’ve even noticed it.

“The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She was excited, filled with strength. The polished sentences had arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?”
― James Salter, Light Years

I’m reading this again. Again. I’ve read it several times and have yet to be disappointed. Each reading is a new reading, gleaning new gems from the pages, new insight into Viri and Nedra. It’s the very best kind of book because I feel that flaws and all, Viri and Nedra would be ideal friends, neighbors. If Viri and Nedra lived in the yellow cottage across the street, I imagine they would make a practice of having their afternoon cocktail there in the front room bathed in golden light.
 
PS: Have you signed up for the ALM Writes monthly newsletter yet? One email a month with writing/photography prompts, news, and other tasty morsels. Next one is hitting inboxes Friday with news about a new course offering. Sign up here.

 
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Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by August prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the ALM Writes fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.

 

  • Okay, I signed up. I promised to challenge myself more and I need to get to it, writing will accomplish that challenge since it is something I struggle to do.

    I find great comfort in visiting old friends in books, like old friends knocking on the front door that you haven’t seen in ages.

    Evenfall is a great word!ReplyCancel

  • Oh, that quote….I get a little shiver reading it. Well, this novel has been added to my list…I always appreciate the little snippets of what you’re reading.

    Evenfall, a word I love. I follow the evening light around the house, always with appreciation for the subtle changes in the way the light falls across the room. These last few weeks of August seem rich with promise of what’s to come, a slight hint of Autumn in the evening light. And, I’m ready for it :o)ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful imagery. I want to see that light and sense that feeling of home. <3ReplyCancel

  • Such a magical time of day : ) I love how you describe it Amanda. This sounds like a book I should perhaps purchase! Have a lovely evening : )ReplyCancel

  • I just requested Light Years from the library…ReplyCancel

  • jenny tackett

    What a happy place the world would be if everyone took notice of the elegant beauty mother nature bestows on us daily. I’m lucky enough to receive this gift every evening in my kitchen just about time to start dinner. The light transforms the room into a warm cocoon. Thank you Amanda for letting me think of this moment through your eyes as well.ReplyCancel

  • my absolute favorite time is mornings however when the dishes are done and I sit and knit in the evening, I love the settledness of the day.ReplyCancel

  • Evenfall I love this .. I love the quiet contentment that comes with this time of day I have added the light years to my ever growing to read list .ReplyCancel

  • I’m thinking of evenfall, your neighbor’s yellow cottage, and reading Light Years. Time for bed. I hope these good thoughts bring good dreams.ReplyCancel

the habit of being | the interestings

…Then, softer, he told her, “You’re the one.”

“I’m not the one.”

“You are.”

She couldn’t continue the volley, and she thought: Okay, I am the one. I am the one and I have always been the one. This life was here for me, pulsing, waiting, and I didn’t take it.

But, she knew, you didn’t have to marry your soulmate, and you didn’t even have to marry an Interesting. You didn’t always need to be the dazzler, the firecracker, the one who cracked everyone up, or made everyone want to sleep with you, or be the one who wrote and starred in the play that got the standing ovation. You could cease to obsessed with the idea of being interesting. Anyway, she knew, the definition could change; it had changed, for her.

—Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings

  • Swoon…sounds really good.ReplyCancel

  • Compelling quite. I like the idea that one could “cease to obsessed with the idea of being interesting.”ReplyCancel

  • I seeing this book pop up everywhere, I really need to read it!

    Hope you are feeling well Amanda and you enjoy a great weekend.ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten

    Oooooh, sounds good!ReplyCancel

  • Felicia Jones

    Oh, I know a couple people who could benefit from this read. They’re so caught up in playing a part, acting out a role instead of just being themselves. It must be so tiring…ReplyCancel

  • Just finished Chapter One!ReplyCancel

  • Lyssa

    I love reading quotes that you post from books! It makes me fall in love with the book already.

    I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award because I love visiting your blog : ) You can check it out here: http://playguitar4him.blogspot.com/2014/08/liebster-award.html Don’t know if you have time or inclination for this, but I would love to read the answers to the questions I’ve written!ReplyCancel

  • Is it good?? What a wonderful quote.

    I have a beautiful hardbound copy a friend gave me for my birthday and have yet to open it. I long to read this book!!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Rebecca, It took a while to get into it but I enjoyed it. There were some really beautiful/thought provoking passages that made it worth reading.ReplyCancel

the habit of being_home
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the habit of being_home2

 
 
Home has been good a place to be lately. Cold brew coffee and a bowl of sliced watermelon at the ready in the fridge. Little people playing Legos and hosting tea parties. Eavesdropping at the bathroom door while the Nacho took a bubble bath and kept up a running dialogue which had me laughing in the hall. Dinners have been drawn out and we find ourselves still around the table in the fading light.

The Mister is prepping for a trip to Munich and London, one we had originally meant to take as a family but contracts and such delayed our plans. He’s torn, excited to go but sad to leave us, home, the feeling in the air right now because he knows it’ll be changed when he returns. The evening light will have shifted just so, our day-to-day changed as we enter the school year. I promised him it’ll still be good, so very good.

PS: What should I ask him to bring me from his travels?
PPS: Have you seen this movie? It is so very delightful.

 
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Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by August prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the ALM Writes fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.

 

  • Oh, yes, I too found The Lunchbox delightful. Auntie!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Denise, after watching it, I wanted an Auntie to call out the window to!ReplyCancel

  • Home has been my haven and one I was glad to walk back into after running errands all morning. I honestly think I could become a hermit, no problem.
    I’m sorry about the trip Amanda, that must be so disappointing for all of you. How about a pretty scarf or a lovely piece of art work to hang on the wall?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Tracey, I’m used to it by now but am sad that this one didn’t include us as it was supposed to. Guessing at this stage of pregnancy international travel wouldn’t be fun anyway ;-) But! I’m making a list of goodies I’d like so that will make up for it!ReplyCancel

  • Haven’t seen the lunchbox yet (have seen the trailer a bunch). Ask for Crunchies from London. Yum.
    How’s mama doin? Feeling ok?
    xoReplyCancel

  • I am a homebody and even though I love the thought of travel I am quite happy at home. What to bring back…well an ornament for the tree, anything that he thinks you will like. Maybe a special journal? or maybe a print to frame. Can’t wait to see what you get!ReplyCancel

  • The lego landscape looks pretty much like my house! And that movie does look delightful.ReplyCancel

  • you have a knack of making the everyday magical. thanks for the reminder that there’s so much good in these every day moments.ReplyCancel

  • Felicia Jones

    Ah, the joys of family and home! Ask the Mister to bring you back some Cadbury chocolate and some of the lovely jams, jellies and chutneys that they have in England. and Germany has the most wonderful handmade wooden toys and Christmas decorations.ReplyCancel

  • You know, Amanda, I dropped by on a mission, after too long away, which was this: to thank you, voraciously, for recommending Eleanor and Park. You recommended it, what, a full year ago? And I took instant note. But just got to it last week. Life. But, oh. I stayed up late, and woke early, and stole innumerable moments, and devoured the thing whole in 24 hours. Indelible. Astonishing. Thank you.

    But then I laughed, as I saw Wolitzer’s book at the outset, since that’s next in my stack.

    And then I laughed again, when I spotted this post, as I am wearing that exact blue striped skirt, as I type. Roll top? Stripes running the other way? If not the exact same, a shocking dead-ringer.

    And so, to close, two things: 1) I am so deep-down glad that July’s seen fit to treat you a touch more kindly. And 2) I think I’d do just fine to compile my reading lists from yours. Clearly, a Venn diagram of tastes would have a decent overlap.

    Happy August to you,

    xo,
    MollyReplyCancel

    • whoops! just noted that that last comment included the wrong (read: spouse’s work!) e-mail. attached, the correct one :)

      xo,
      mReplyCancel

    • admin

      So glad to hear you enjoyed E&P, Molly! It really struck a chord with me and I still find myself (a year later) thinking about E&P.

      The skirt is a roll top but grey and white stripes. Clearly we are kindred spirits!

      xo
      AReplyCancel

the habit of being_divisadero

 

“With memory, with the reflection of an echo, a gate opens both ways. We can circle time. A paragraph or an episode from another era ail us in the night, as the words of a stranger can. The awareness of a flag fluttering noisily within its color brings me into a sudden blizzard in Petaluma. Just as a folded map places you beside another geography. So I find the lives of Coop and my sister and my father everywhere (I draw portraits of them everywhere), as they perhaps still concern themselves with my absence, wherever they are. I don’t know. It is the hunger, what we do not have, that holds us together.”

– Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero
 

Divisadero has been on my radar (and shelf) for a few years now and I can offer no reason for why it took me so long to pick it up and crack the cover. The hardback cover in and of itself is enough to make you want to pick the book up and settle into a comfy chair. Mea culpa.

Divisadero is the story of intersecting lives stretching across continents and time. Ondaatje’s prose reads like poetry as we read through the stories, the focus not so much on what happened but what was felt – as if we were reading a collection of poems in prose rather than standard novel writing. There are incomplete story lines, some involving central characters, but if you read it like you would a poem, you won’t be bothered by the lack of resolution at the end.

Divisadero is about gazing at the divisions in our lives from a distance, it’s about the divide between our secrets and our desire for intimacy. If themes of memory, loss, and connection appeal to you, this is a must read.

 
What are you reading?

 

  • This sounds different and very interesting. I am still plugging away with “Tender at the bone” Ruth Reichl…I love it- my kids hear me chuckling as I am reading- great book.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      camilla, tender at the bone had some great moments in it. love reichl’s writing!ReplyCancel

  • I just finished We Were Liars and once again you were spot on Amanda, I loved it. I have now recommended it to my nieces, both in college, one an art major, the other a Lit major…I think they will love it too.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    I am reading The Best Creative Nonfiction Vol. 1 edited by Lee Gutkind. A gathering of short nonfiction stories from magazine publications, blogs, etc. It is actually a book my daughter needs for a class at school this fall, but it looks so interesting that I wanted to read it before she left for school. So far, very good.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Sarah, those volumes of short stories and nonfiction usually have a few gems in them – enjoy!ReplyCancel

  • I am so excited to see this here. Just last week I named Divisadero as one of my two all-time favorite novels (along with Gilead by Robinson). Nobody seems to talk about it. I love, love, love, LOVE this book. Prose poetry. xoxReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lindsey, It was so amazing. And yes, “prose poetry” — perfect!ReplyCancel

  • I’m almost done with Noble Norfleet by Reynolds Price and about to pick up The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I found Carried Away, a selection of stories by Alice Munro, at the library and picked it up. Now I might have to check Divisadero out…oh, and my book club is reading Random Family, so I need to find a copy of that…ReplyCancel

  • Thank you for the insight into this one! I might have to check it out when my list is slightly more manageable. I just finished reading _Passage to India_ for the first time (I’m teaching it this fall!) and found the writing surprisingly lovely. I have lots more to read but am spending a day or two listless and bereft, which is how I feel every time a novel ends.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Cindy, This summer’s goal is to reread a few books I read when younger, Howards End is on the list. Wondering if I can squeeze in Passage to India, too? Hmmm…ReplyCancel

  • Don’t you love when a book is good? That gives me hope when I slog through the undesirable ones. I’m reading one hundred names and so far it’s pretty good! I like how the story is unfolding.ReplyCancel

  • One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. I saw him do a reading from Divisadero several years ago and it was so wonderful. I have such a pile of books to read, but your post makes me want to read this again. And Running in the Family and The Cat’s Table…

    I’m currently enjoying Per Petterson’s novel, It’s Fine By Me.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Denise! Another Petterson fan?! Kindred spirits my friend. I so enjoyed his Out Stealing Horses.ReplyCancel

  • Oh, Divisidero is such a good book — but then anything by Michael Ondaatje is wonderful! I’ve just started Light Years by James Salter & I have the feeling I’m in for a treat. Here’s to summer days & reading…ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Sarah, Salter never disappoints! Hope you enjoy it :)ReplyCancel

  • i’ve learned that i will pick up a book {usually} when it is the right time and space for it in my life. i have many books sitting on our bookshelves that i want to read, am looking forward to reading … but i’m just not feeling it yet. when i do, i like to think, i’ll be open to glean from the story what i am meant to. or maybe i just overthink the whole thing.

    right now i’m reading Moloka’i by Alan Brennert – a book that’s been on my radar for a handful of years but i just recently picked it up because my research of hawaii in the late 1800’s nudged me in that direction. i’m also re-reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

    thank you, amanda, for sharing your book adventures with us … take care of you and yours!ReplyCancel

The story of our weekend in iPhone photos. I was restive and the weekend was just so relaxed. I think the easy-going nature of the weekend might have rubbed off on me a bit. I’m thankful for that. The wee lass slept until 9am both mornings, the older kids a bit later. Mornings were slow and easy. Dinners were long and full of lively conversation. Saturday night’s dinner stretched on and on as Mister and I began rating fine art museums, trying to pick our top ten, agreeing to disagree. And of course you can’t talk about art museums without talking about the travels that brought you to that particular museum. There was much chicanerie, much chasing of rabbits but it was lively and fun.

We spent Sunday morning on the porch, Mister stretching linen on a newly-made frame for a painting, mixing gesso and gypsum so it’s just to his liking. The Wee Lass playing with (possibly torturing) the cat that isn’t our cat. I’m fairly certain there has never been a more patient cat.

 

the habit of being_7.27.14

 

The Poulette spent time dressing the Wee Lass up. It’s the newest thing. She came in with her bandage (TP held in place by some Rainbow Loom creation) and a baby blanket cape to tell me she was bwoken.

 

the habit of being_7.27.14c

 

We recently watched Tim’s Vermeer, Mister naysaying a bit before the movie, He used a camera obscura. Why make a movie about it? And then of course we’re still talking about it days later because the attention to detail this guy put into recreating the room was amazing. The kids studied Vermeer last year while we read Chasing Vermeer and with Mister’s help, built a camera obscura. They watched the movie too and are now thoroughly intrigued by the mirror component. Apparently next weekend’s project is to construct a similar setup but one that allows the painting to be done upright, not forcing the painter to contort or work at a weird angle as the one in the movie did. Mister’s biggest beef with the film is the angle at which Tim had to paint (tiresome! uncomfortable! crippling!). And of course as he rather longwindedly explained to the kids, if you can see, you can paint. You don’t need a gadget or a gizmo and by painting what you see it would take a fraction of the time, a month, as opposed to years.

Nevertheless, the gauntlet has been thrown down. They’re going to make a mirror gadget and then set up some sort of still life to paint. They kids will paint it using the mirror technique and Mister will copy it though he’ll do so left handed and if I remember correctly, at a larger scale, and on a canvas he must stretch and prepare — all to slow him down a bit. And so the two older kids are in research mode, sketching possible configurations, making a list of supplies they’ll need.

The Poulette insists she wants no part in it and will continue watercoloring bunnies because bunnies make her happy. It’s always good to know what you like, isn’t it?

 

the habit of being_7.27.14b

 

 
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Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.

 

  • Lovely reading about your happenings. The tp ‘bandage’ is wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • This has been a much missed summer of art museums for me…..and I don’t know if it was just because I’ve missed them so much, but the recent ones have ended up (for me) being some of my favorites…..visited the Bayeaux Tapestries which was phenomenal, the Detroit Institute of Art was an unexpected pleasant surprise (even though the Diego Rivera fresco was obscured by a private party)–the Breugel alone would be enough to put it in my top 10, but it had a roomful of Rembrandts that I didn’t expect!. We just got back from the Cape and visited the Isabella Gardner before flying home….it was rather unnerving seeing all the empty canvases from the 1990 heist in the Dutch room—-and of course, the empty frame where the Vermeer once hung. What ended up on your top list???? I’m always looking for more places to visit. (And I LOVE that you have made a camera obscura. THanks for the movie recommendation, too.)ReplyCancel

  • Love the bandage- especially the rainbow creation- I am sure it will help her feel much better :)ReplyCancel

  • Your home sounds like a wonderful place to grow up.

    I agree with The Poulette and would paint bunnies too ;)ReplyCancel

  • Cheers to knowing what you like!ReplyCancel

  • I enjoy seeing your weekends and the little ones being busy. So happy that you are weekending this weekend :) Missed that the most! Now that bandage is quite the spiffy one indeed.ReplyCancel

  • Poulette’s bunnies made me smile so much…they are just delightful : ) Sounds like a lovely weekend was had by all. I think the cat that isn’t your cat must be related to our borrowed cat, Tommy…he’s soft as a brush too! Have a good week : )ReplyCancel

  • isn’t it lovely when we can surrender to the pulse of our families?ReplyCancel