Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Flocks, Herds and.....

This afternoon I attended a presentation on brain research that focuses on how our brain function changes throughout the aging process. It was pretty interesting. The guy who was presenting gave several tips for keeping the grey matter spry in later years....among them doing exercises like MemAerobics - things that challenge memory.

In the beginning of the presentation he told us the words that refer to all manner of different congregations of animals and then toward the end quizzed the audience to see if we could still remember them.

Do you know that a gathering of owls is called a "Parliament", a group of squirrels is a "scurry", a collection of Rhinoceros is a "Crash" and a collection of Giraffes is a "stand"?
Apparently there were a bunch of English noblemen in the 1400's who had not much better to do so they went around naming things. Kind of makes you wonder why they called a gathering of crows a "murder" and rattlesnakes a "Rhumba".
All that aside, it was interesting to hear things like how before age 50 most functions occur on one or the other side of the brain but after age 50 (approx) people start using both sides of their brain to do the same sorts of tasks formerly confined to either the right or left.
In the past people believed we had a finite number of brain cells, and once they were gone, they were gone for good. Now it is recognized that the brain DOES generate new neurons, and perhaps even more importantly can build new network connections to compensate for lost functions due to illness or injury.
Apparently Oregon has the second highest (next to California) amount of brain research going on so we head about all sorts of intriguing stuff about things we now know due to breakthroughs in imaging science with things like PET scans and FMRI.
Thanks to Paul Allen's BRAIN ATLAS cutting edge information about the brain is more readily accessible than ever before, making it possible for researchers all over the world to collaborate or benefit from even the most obscure break throughs.
I've long been fascinated with how we learn, remember, imagine, dream. What is it that makes one person's brain be "smart" and another's "average" or "dull"? How much of that is due to the three pounds of squiggly, squishy grey matter trapped inside our skull and how much of it is from the innate spirit we were created with and how much is social training?
Is there any way to ever know? I doubt it. Still, it is amazing how stimulating various segments of the brain can trigger the sensations of smells, colors, lights.
Yep, brains are cool stuff. I've seriously considered donating my brain to science when I get done with it.

FIND YOUR SPOT!


I just got turned on to a new service that I really like.

It's called FindYourSpot.com You take a brief quiz about your preferences in things like weather, town/city size, access to museums, medical care, churches, sports, outdoor activities and the like. Then it searches the country and comes up with a list of places you would be likely to enjoy living.

Each town that is listed for you shows the population, average home price, precipitation, amount of snow, and has links to job listings in that area.

Is that cool or what??

So I ran through it just to see where it thinks I'd like to be. Interestingly enough, the top two choices it gave me are Wenatchee, WA (where I lived for 5 years and liked it very much) and Walla Walla, WA (a town I also have a very deep affinity for.)

However, I am also offered Palmer, Alaska; St. Helens, Oregon; Hickory, North Carolina; Maryville, Tennessee; Dillon, Montana and a few others.

I'm intrigued. If nothing else, I may have just come up with a list of cool places to visit. And who knows? When my grant-funded job ends a year from now, this may give me a good starting point of where to look for work next.

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Group Blog


I am going to be one of the contributing writers over at a new group blog called Waters of Mormon. It's a brand new blog that is just getting started as a collaboration between an interesting mix of folks from across the country.

If you are LDS, or just curious about what LDS people are saying on a variety of topics, I invite you to go check us out.
Of course, I will continue my usual inane musings here on things of a more secular nature. For me, the new blog will take the place of My Small Plates. It makes sense to me to write my more private spiritual thoughts in my personal journals rather than a blog, and then have the things that I am open to discussion on in a forum where I can get more interaction.
It's certainly not limited to LDS readers, but will deal primarily with issues of both doctrine & culture of the LDS people so I expect those to be our chief audience.
Still... I continue to read Orthodox stuff all the time and dearly love my Orthodox pals. Learning about the observation of Lent and Pascha, or other fasts and feasts from and Orthodox point of view has deeply enriched my understanding of Christianity. It has not altered my concept of who God is or what my relationship to Him is. But it has shifted my prayer life somewhat. While I remain strong in my own faith, I have been deeply blessed by my exposure to Orthodoxy.
Also I read other things, such as Deb Pasquella's blog Let Me Go On and On! which has an entirely different view of what is or is not a moral life that what my faith teaches. I do not have to agree with all her views for me to appreciate her gift with words or to appreciate the common bond we have as smart women with faith in Christ.
Being willing to explore other people's views rather than only looking at my own church's teachings has given me greater clarity about a myriad of things pertaining to faith. So who knows? Perhaps occasionally people not of my faith will drop by to peruse the Waters of Mormon too and that's fine. Everyone is welcome.
I guess what I like best about this whole blogging world is that it gives people who have something in common a chance to come together to talk about things that are meaningful to them, yet it also gives me a window into worlds I might not otherwise know much about. Every now and then I say I am going to take a break from blogging because my real life gets so full. Still, I think sampling both sides of that spectrum is what keeps me coming back.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grandpa's Pants

There is an old saying about living frugally that says: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." In today's disposable society few Americans see the point in that adage. Still, it is something that guides many of the choices I make.

Years ago I went on a road trip with a group of 10 college students for a graduate course in social psychology. We rode in our professor's motor home from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Eureka, Illinois where we stayed for three days in a Mennonite community. It was a great trip that taught me a lot. However, one of my most powerful memories I have of that trip is not of the Mennonite people we got acquainted with. What I remember most is the obvious distress of one of the twenty-something co-eds when she was told that due to limited space she could only bring one small bag of luggage for the week long trip. Apparently, up to that point in her life, she had never worn an item of clothingother twice without washing it after the first wearing. That blew my mind. The rule at my house had always been to wear things at least twice unless you could see the dirt on them, and even then if they passed the sniff test they might be good for another go.

We all have different ideas of how to make use of what we have. Some people throw away their table scraps after dinner is over. Some people give them to the dog. Some people save them to use as ingredients for the next meal.

Or, for that matter, there are very different views about "wasting food" in general. Some say if you drop your food on the floor it is contaminated and must be thrown away. Some say there's a three second rule, that if you pick it up right away and don't see dirt on it, it's still good. Some people say it depends on the nature of both the food and the floor. I will pick up a dropped bannana. I will not pick up dropped spagetti.

While talking on the phone with my older brother this afternoon, he reminded me of a family story about our grandfather. Once when our family was visiting, our other brother got up early and discovered Grandpa stirring up some clumps in the fireplace, removing a zipper and a few other charred bits. Apparently he was burning his Levis. Grandma was so frugal she would just keep patching his pants over and over any time they began to get tattered. Grandpa had had about all of that he could stand. So he burned his Levis before Grandma woke up, sheepishly admitting "it's the only way I can ever get any new pants."

At what point do I try to get more use out of things and when do I say enough is enough and buy new? This came to mind recently when the dog got hold of my cell phone. The thing still functions. It just looks terrible (all those teethmarks and the trim broken off) and it doesn't hold a charge very long. So I've really been considering getting a new phone. However, so far I just can't justify it. After all, it DOES work. Besides, to just go buy one retail is spendy, and I'm not willing to extend my service contract just now to qualify for a rebate. My husband just did that because his cell phone went through the combine while he was harvesting garbonzo beans.

Our family is tough on phones, it seem. Our plan will insure them for $7 per month per phone which I think is highway robbery, so we've just taken our chances. Our chances here lately have not been so good.

Things I now absolutely throw away that I used to try to keep and use over:

Margarine and cottage cheese containers.
(I finally got a decent set of plastic containers to use for left overs so now other plastic containers from things we buy go immediately into the trash as soon as they get empty. I got tired of finding science projects of hairy mold in the back of the fridge that was actually three week old spaghetti masquerading as margarine.)

The GOOD shoelace from a pair when one breaks.
(Life is too short. If I replace ONE shoe lace in a pair of shoes, I put in new ones in BOTH shoes even if the one seems perfectly serviceable. It's just a matter of time till it gives out too and I got sick of having one extra lace laying around in a drawer.)

Stubby pencils. And all pens that skip.

Things that I WILL keep and use over that other people might find silly include:

Zip lock bags.
This drives my husband crazy. Every time he catches me washing them to reuse he raves at me "for crying out loud we can afford a new bag!" But I can't help but cringe every time he throws one away. It just seems so wasteful.

The white Styrofoam packing peanuts that come in boxes from things I order online.
My kids always called them "ghost turds". Because I live in a podunk rural town with no stores, I buy a fair amount of stuff via the Internet. So I generally have a bag of these things in a closet somewhere just in case I need them. I have a bag now that has been "just in case" for a very, very long time. Maybe I should reconsider this?

Birthday candles.
Yeah, I know they are cheap. But it is so easy to rinse of the frosting and put them up in a cupboard to use again. What's the point of throwing them away after just one cake?

So there's a partial list from me. What sort of things do you keep and what do you throw away??

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Large Hearted Boy



I just found a cool website I had been utterly unaware of. I was looking for links to list the last couple books I have finished to my list of Books I've read in 2007 Doing a Google search for Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England led me to Largehearted Boy. The description says: "Largehearted Boy is a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture." The piece on my book had the author describing the music he was listening to while writing the novel. Interesting .

I'll definitely explore this find some more.

Some of the book links on my list are simple - leading to purchase info at Powell's bookstore or Amazon.com. But usually I like to look for something that offers more, a review or notes about the author. It helps me remember more of the details about the book. I read a lot and then on top of that listen to a good many tales on CD in my car as I commute back and forth to work. After a while they all sort of run together in my head. By looking back at my list and bringing up the links I can bring them back as individual stories that had some impact on me.

Then of course, in addition to all the books I really did read to the end I COULD have a whole other list...the ones I started but never finished. Maybe next year.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Airport Hell - Part II

Apparently it was wishful thinking that we'd get home without a hitch.

On our way out to Michigan it took us longer to get to Detroit than it did to get us to Egypt. Looks like we won't do much better on the return trip.

We got to the airport way early so we could make it through all the THREAT LEVEL ORANGE security without having to be rushed. Since Detroit airport has a lot of international flights their security is fairly tight.

We actually boarded our plane pretty much on time and were excited that everything seemed to be going well. Then we sat in the plane on the tarmac for THREE HOURS due to a lightening storm passing over. Being stuck in an airport with ability to walk around, get food, use Internet, etc is not my favorite thing. But being stuck ON THE PLANE really is worse.

We finally made it to Salt Lake about 11 PM. (Should have been all the way to Pasco by 9pm)
Of course, by then the last flight out to Pasco was long since gone. So now we are here in some little hotel by the airport, hoping to make a different connection sometime tomorrow.
On the up side, we met a couple of really nice folks from Twin Falls, ID who had just gotten back from a month long trip to Uzbekistan. We enjoyed visiting with them about various international trips we both had taken.

But I'm tired, my head hurts, my throat hurts (I hate airplane air - it always makes me feel cruddy for a day after). I just want to go HOME.

Heading Home

Yesterday we wrapped up the visit with our family. We gave our final hugs, said our good byes and drove away. Now we are at a hotel in Detroit, trying to rest and regroup a bit before flying home this afternoon. (HOPEFULLY the flight home will not be quite as challenging as the ordeal it took to get here!) It’s early morning now. My husband is sleeping soundly…I’m trying to be quiet to allow him all the rest he needs. After a few days of fishing, geocaching and generally running helter skelter with our wild tribe, he needs it.

The fishing adventure was a real highlight. Although the bass and the bluegill were biting like crazy, my avid fisherman husband caught very few. Grandpa spent the whole time baiting hooks, unraveling tangles, replacing lost hooks, throwing back fish, and keeping the little ones from casting into the trees. It was pretty hilarious. But throughout I just soaked in the feeling of strong memories being forged that will keep us in those kids’ hearts even though we live on the other side of the country and generally only see them once a year.

Both of our sons keep asking us to consider moving back to Michigan. They wish we could be around to be a more integral part of their children’s growing up years. Some days I like to dream about that. But honestly, I don’t see it happening. We are deeply connected to our lives in Oregon. Our season of living in the Midwest ended a dozen years ago. There are clearly things I miss - our family topping that list. But having woven a sense of home where I am now, I’ve grown accustomed to the losses.

There’s just no telling what the future will hold. But right now I don’t feel like coming back to Michigan is going to be my destiny. We may or may not not stay planted where we are currently once my job ends next year. However, a return to the Midwest would not be my first choice.

I've been thinking a lot about the concepts of home and family and what they mean to me. Watching various aspects of my sons' current lives gave me much to ponder about. I want the very best for them, of course. But best according to whose values? Theirs don't always match mine. I still have much to sort out to understand what it means to have a healthy, balanced relationship with my adult children. What can be or should be my relationship to them now?

My younger son and I talk on the phone all the time. We have long convoluted conversations about ideas and hopes and dreams. We are very close. He and I think alike in many respects - although the paths we've chosen for how we live are quite different. My life is deeply rooted in my faith. He currently has no particular spiritual path. As his mom, that has been difficult for me. While I respect his right to believe or not believe whatever he chooses, my heart aches for those seven kids that are growing up without the influence of knowing they are children of God. I do all I can to respect his right to raise his family his own way. But it hurts me to sit at a table for meals where no one says a prayer to give thanks. I know I cannot impose my beliefs and that to do so would alienate the relationship I cherish. But in my heart of hearts I believe that to not give a kid a strong sense of the love of God is every bit as neglectful as sending them out into a snowstorm with no shoes or coat. How can they possibly make it strong and safe in this chaotic fallen world without the guidance of the Holy Spirit??

My older son, on the other hand, HAS chosen to remain active in church. So we share a common spiritual heritage and can talk about things like callings and conference talks. But our common ground ends there. Unlike the constant contact I have with his kid brother, my number one son will go several weeks at a time without talking to us and when we do call (or he does) the convesations are more guarded. So I tend to walk more on egg shells around my first born boy, careful to not say or do anything that he will perceive as being intrusive, judgemental or out of my league. We both love each other value the family bond. But for some reason our way of relating to each other seems more fragile, more work, less certain at times.

My relationships with the two boys (now young men) are so entirely different.

I love them both very, very much. Still, sometimes I think having some distance between us is not a bad thing.

There - I said it. I don't necessarily WANT to live in close proximity to my kids. I sometimes think I SHOULD want that. But I am not all that sure that I do. If I lived close I would have a front row seat to the drama of their lives. There is nothing more heart wrenching to me than watching my kids go through painful or difficult things and not be able to do a darn thing about it. LIFE is complicated. They WILL have struggles. I know that. But knowing that from twelve thousand miles away and watching it unfold before my eyes are two different things.

Because my own parents so entirely abdicated involvement in my own life I tend to go overboard in the other direction. It's easy for me to want to rescue too much. It's easy for me to want to FIX every problem the boys have. I know that's not in their best interest or mine, so it is something I work on every day of my life to overcome. But to NOT reach out and provide solutions takes so much effort it is exhausting.

From the little things to the big....there are so many issues I just don't have the answers to.

When I come to visit should I pitch in and do the laundry or should I keep my mouth shut and accept that there will be piles?

When I know they are struggling financially how or when or why is it ok to offer help and when do I stand back and watch them do without?

When they have something that I believe is a problem but THEY don't, or something THEY believe is a crisis but I perceive as trivial - how do we talk about it or not talk about it?

With no role models of what it's like to have a healthy relationship with parents I'm left flummoxed with so much uncertainty of which way to be that it gives me vertigo.

Families are complicated. I'm fortunate that my own, for the most part, gets along. But having that buffer of distance may be one of the reason we do.

There are days I want more than anything to be closer so we COULD build bonds across the generations. Some days I do ache for that. But other times I don't. I will miss them all terribly as I head back home. Still, I am ever so ready to go home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blogging Success

The new group blog I am going to be participating in continues to move forward. It is not quite ready to go public, but some of the other writers have now posted their bios and our fearless leader is tweaking some of the administrative functions to make it easier to use and more visually appealing. It has been fun to watch the thing grow from an idea to something tangible.

Eric, the organizer of this thing, recently asked each of us who are involved in the project to consider the following questions:

How would you define blogging success?
Is this success measurable?
How will you/we know if we are being successful here?

So I'm curious....how would YOU answer those things?

Erasing Memories



Those clever neuroscientists are up to it again. Seems like folks are monkeying around with what it takes to ERASE memories.

I've been working on a fiction piece that has to do with deliberate removal of specific troubling memories and how that impacts the lives of those involved. It's supposed to be a bit of a sci-fi thriller.

But if there is anything I hate in sci fi is when the FI part doesn't pay enough attention to the SCI part.

Anything that occurs in the story has to be consistent with science as we actually know it and then the parts we twist and project must be at least PLAUSIBLE to something that could be developed in the future. So now it looks like I'll need to slog my way through a bunch of brain science before I move ahead with my silly plot. So it goes.

Meanwhile, my jury is still out as to whether or not I would personally choose to eradicate all memory of certain events. Some days I say ABSOLUTELY. Other days I say no, that I would be a different person without those experiences and that I will choose to keep them, as problematic as they may be.

How about you? Would you jettison certain events from your brain, given the choice? How about if there were some nasty side effects (in my story the consequences of short circuiting the memory synapses are periodic episodes of raging hot flashes, headaches, and a sense of smelling burning skin - but the memory is gone!)

Awesome Images



I just found a new blog I had not seen before... has some AMAZING pictures so I thought I'd share a LINK to it. Check out Needs More Coffee

MUD

We just got back from taking the whole tribe of grandkids out on a geocaching adventure. We've found four so far and will look for more tomorrow. (Trying to give everyone a chance to be the one to find.) We went through one fairly deep section of thick woods that was wet and muddy from recent rain. Grandpa suggested at one point that we backtrack and look for a more defined trail to get to the area where we needed to be so we wouldn't have to slog through the underbrush. Eight year old Ayden piped up "Oh, we are MEN! We get dirty all the time. Just deal with it!" These kids crack me up.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Alphabet Soup - LETTER F

Blessings I am thankful for that begin with the letter F....

1. Family - they make me laugh, they make me cry, they break my heart and sometimes break the bank. But my relationships to them define me more than any other single aspect of my life.

2. Friends - as I explained to my daughter-in-law today in our long heart to heart, even the very BEST marriage or parent or sibling relationship cannot possibly meet all your needs. It is good to be devoted to family, but it is essential to nurture strong friendships. I've got some great ones who have sheltered me through some emotional storms, celebrated with me when things went right, and just plain UNDERSTOOD me in a way my family never could. I treasure my pals - both those I've gathered in the "real" world and those I've come to love in cyberspace.

3. Fun - My older son was telling me about some MSU sports website he reads a lot. The people who submit postings to it each have some sort of deeply meaningful quote associated with their signature - many of which are from famous coaches or successful athletes. Most of these quotes have to do with meaning-of-life / overcoming adversity / importance of never giving up sorts of things. However, there is one particular guy who posts every now and then who has as his signature quote "I like fun." - 4 year old nephew. Oh YEAH! I can be such a driven crazy work-a-holic at times. It's ever so important that every so often I remember to stop and let myself just plain have some FUN.

4. Food - Tonight we had barbecue ribs, baked beans, corn on the cob and watermelon for dinner. It was EVER so yummy. I used to manage a food bank and I've traveled to parts of the world where people going hungry was not at all unusual. I am very mindful of the fact that it is a rich blessing indeed that I live in the circumstances I do that I have an abundance of wholesome, delicious foods available to me. Because having full cupboards is such a common occurrence in my world, it would be SOOO easy to take that blessing for granted. But I recognize that this is a gift and so I say THANK YOU to the farmers, the fields and the critters that keep me well nourished.

5. Fiction - I just finished up my summer term of online sociology classes and the face-2-face class I was teaching in Academic Planning. That means I have a pocket of time to kick back and enjoy reading more of what I WANT to read rather than being stuffed with grading papers. I got to spend some time curled up with a good book this afternoon and it was delightful. I love my books!

So that's my list of F blessings for the week. There are plenty of others I could have included - from faith to frozen yogurt. What are yours?

Thanks again to Morning Glory for getting me on track with this.

I look forward to this weekly chance of naming by blessings along the rainbow of the alphabet. At some point I may go back and pick up those first few letters I missed before I began. But for now, I'm happy for the letter F!


Choices

Tonight after we finished up dinner over at my son's house we invited two of the tribe of 7 kids to come spend the night with us at our hotel. (We had the four that wanted to go to church with us stay over on Saturday night. We had promised the non-church goers that they could have an opportunity on another day.) The littlest one is adorable, but at 3 was not ready for a sleepover. So tonight we had Jacob - age 6 and Nathan, 13, join us for games, stories, and fun. Initially they were excited, chattering about how much fun it would be. Then suddenly as we were preparing to leave, Jacob melted in tears.

His little lower lip quivered and his whole body was shaking. The poor kid looked just miserable. I asked him what was wrong. In a shaky voice he finally admitted "I would miss my Mom!" Apparently the kids has had very little experience with overnights away from home. The IDEA of being with us at the hotel sounded really fun. But once he came to realize what he would have to give up in order to win this privilege, it totally freaked him out.

So we had a long heart to heart talk about what it means to make choices. I explained to him that I was inviting him, but that he did not have to come if he didn't want to. I told him that if he preferred to stay home with his mom that was totally ok, and that we could do some more fun stuff together tomorrow. However, if he did not want to spend the night tonight, we were not going to have him over on a different night for this visit. I said we might do it again next year when we came out, and maybe by then when he was bigger he might feel more comfortable. But for this year's visit the opportunity was pretty much now or never, so he would have to decide. I explained the sorts of things we planned to do if he wanted to come, but also made it clear that no one would be mad if he wanted to just stay home. The choice was entirely his.

This HUGE shudder went through his whole little body and he plaintively cried out "choosing is really, really hard."

Yep Jacob, it is.

I introduced him to the concept of "opportunity cost." I told him that every time we make a choice for something we want, we are cutting off the possibility of having the opposite alternative. I explained that no matter how much we tried to figure out which would be the best choice, sometimes we would pick well and be delighted with the outcome, and sometimes we would later regret the choice we made.

But I also explained that our ability to make good choices was a lot the the muscles in our arms and legs. I asked him if he understood that the more he exercised outside playing T-ball or soccer or other active things the stronger his body would be. This was a principle he understood well. He nodded and said how he could now jump higher, kick further and run faster than just a few months ago because he had been practicing really hard and was getting very strong.

I explained to him that the part of our brain that makes choices works the same way. In the beginning when we first start making some choices sometimes we don't get what we really want. Maybe it will make us sad when we wish we had picked something else. But I reminded him that even if he was disappointed about staying home to be with mom and missing out on a fun time with us, or if he felt a little bit scared or lonesome away from his mom if he did go along, nothing really bad could happen to him either way. I explained that we were giving him choices that were both safe and both had something good about them. So he could think about it for 5 minutes and then we were going to leave. It was totally up to him if he decided he wanted to go with us or stay home.

He vacillated quite a bit on the decision. But in the end, he didn't want his big brother to go and him be left behind. So both boys came with us, and both kids had one heck of a good time. After all, I'm a rockin' cool grandma.

As we turned out the lights and the boys settled down to go to sleep for the night Jacob said with a touch of reverence and awe in his voice: "Grandma, this was really fun. It was a good choice."

As I think of some of the choices I've made, I do understand the struggle the little guy faced, and know how hard it can be sometimes. Should I pick door number 1 or door number 2?

It won't always work out well. But if I can surround myself with people who love me and then take a chance, as often as not I'll find blessings through either route, and if not I'll have safe hands to catch me when I fall.

Thanks, Jacob, for reminding me of that. And you were right. It was a lot of fun.

STARFALL

On the upside of the sleep over with the boys at Grandma & Grandpa's fancy hotel, Jacob and I got to play with STARFALL going through the entire alphabet doing letter recognition games. It is amazing how hearing a six year old erupt in giggles at the sight of a cartoon hippo or a dancing dinosaur magically lightens my heart.

That's a Sarcasm

I was hanging out with two of my grandkids this evening having a grand old time. We were talking about words and what they mean. I was defining things like quotient and capillaries. We talked about how scabs are the body's way of protecting itself and healing. We talked about why some people shave their poodle dogs to look big and fluffy up front but all skinny around the butt and back legs. We talked about brain waves and dirt and discussed all sorts of things. Then Jacob, the six year old, said to me "Do you know what a sarcasm is?" I said "I think so, but why don't you tell me what you think it is." He replied: Well, it's sort of like opposites. It's when people say one thing but they really mean it another way. And they say it like this ...to which he sing songs "I REALLY hate cookies"....and then goes on to explain in regular voice "that means that actually I LIKE cookies."

Shortly afterward as we played and talked their grandmother had a brief moment of rather undignified flatulence. To which Nathan, the thirteen year old said: "How Ladylike! ...See Grandma, that's a sarcasm!"

Yeah, kids...gotta love 'em.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Underwear Went to Chicago

After a 23 hour ordeal of delays, schedule changes and hold ups, we FINALLY made it to the Detroit airport. Three of our four suitcases came with us. One, however, did not. All our socks and underwear went to Chicago. This was problematic.

Fortunately, it did show up, intact, a full day later.

So now we are here in Grandville, MI very much enjoying time with family. I'm not really looking forward to the return flight home this coming Friday. Hopefully this next trip will be less eventful.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Threat Rainbow

For the past couple hours we've been hearing announcements every 15 minutes or so over the loud speakers throughout the airport about the Department of Homeland Security raising the threat level to ORANGE due to increased risk and that we should report any suspicious behavior.

Personally, I think this is useless. The information is so vague and ambiguous - I doubt anyone has a clear idea of how they should behave any differently than if the threat level were labelled yellow or green or blue. All it does is push people's buttons of worry and mistrust.

Then there's the whole thing of having to take of our shoes to be x-rayed, throw out tubes of toothpaste that go over the 3 oz max limit, and have every single bag opened and ransacked to check for explosives.

Does this make us safer? Is this a worthy way to spend our time and resources?

I've heard a few people suggest that so many new jobs were created by the increased threat level that now some want to KEEP the threat level high to protect those jobs for all the people searching our bags and x-raying our shoes. Who cares if it makes air travel far more uncomfortable and less efficient. Of course, people wouldn't stand for that if they thought they were going through this rig-a-marole for that reason. So we keep up the talk of safety and national security so it seem down right fool hardy and unpatriotic to object.

What if instead of all these warnings about Threat Level ORANGE they keep announcing every 15 minutes, instead we heard a soothing voice wishing us a happy travel day? What if there was light music? What if there was just silence? Would we really be any less safe?

Trapped in the Airport- The Saga Continues

My beloved and I have been stuck in airports all day. I'm tired, cold, and trying not to be grumpy.

We had reservations to fly out at 6:45 AM to get to Detroit (via Salt Lake City) orignally scheduled to arrive by around 3:00 this afternoon. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans of mice and men.

We got a recorded - message call about 3:30 this morning telling us our flight from Salt Lake to Detroit had cancelled. So we called Delta, were put on hold long enough to grow a beard, then spoke briefly with someone who barely spoke English. Our call was transferred to a different department where we were put on hold AGAIN for another tedious, frustrating wait being subjected to bad music. Finally we were told we had been rebooked on a different flight. Great! So we went ahead and drove the hour and a half to the airport in Pasco where they informed us our flight to Salt Lake was today and our trip to Detroit was for TOMORROW. GRRRR.

I have grandbabies waiting for me to taking 'em on a wild geocache adventure. I need to GET there.

So we rearranged flights AGAIN, this time taking us from Pasco to Denver to Chicago and THEN Detroit, which would get us in a little before midnight. That meant a long delay of sitting around the freezing cold Pasco airport, but at least we'd be able to get to our destination late tonight rather than blowing a whole other day traveling.

However - once we got to Denver there was another delay - our plane came in but there was no crew to fly it. The figured they could eventually get us to Chicago by 9:30. However, our flight FROM Chicago to Detroit was scheduled to leave at 9:00. AGH!

So back we went to ANOTHER line of about 50 people who all had their flights screwed up. We somehow managed to get yet a different flight, this time directly from here to Detroit. We were supposed to fly out of here at 7:00. We breathed a sigh of relief. Until the monitor sign popped up with big letters saying "Flight Delayed". They bumped it to 8:00. Then a while later it was moved to 9:00. We just checked again and they don't plan for that flight to leave until 10:00 PM. No telling if we will even get out of this airport yet tonight.

I'm thinking we should have just gone to Salt Lake as originally planned, but who knew?

I'm trying to choose to be positive in adverse circumstances. I'm struggling a bit because I'm tired and I'm cold. I never went to bed last night, assuming I'd have a long flight to sleep on. There's no place to comfortably rest here in this waiting area of loud annoyed people who are all milling around complaining about their flights being screwed up. So I'm loopy from sleep deprivation. Also, the temperature in the terminal, just like the one in Pasco, has me shivering with goose bumps. The air conditioning is set way too cold.

So I'm pretty uncomfortable. Still....I decide how I will respond. There is nothing I can do to change the situation. I can only choose how I handle it.

I alternate between reading, people watching, stretching, trying to get comfortable. It's all wearing pretty thin. I believe desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. This calls for a walk down the concourse to Cinnabons.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Library Daze

I don’t remember learning to read. All I know is that from the time I was tiny, way before starting school, I had a fascination with the printed page. It seems like the most astonishing magic to me that those squiggles and lines dancing together could represent sounds.

At age four I was the queen of phonics. I would sound out words on cereal boxes and toilet paper wrappers. I would read billboards and letters carved in soap. I thought it shamefully wasteful that car license plates had letters that had no particular meaning. Even though I could not read them, I would sound them out just the same.

Once I got old enough for Brownie scouts I began making weekly forays to our town library. This was a tiny little stone building at the edge of downtown. I remember walking down the sidewalk that curved steeply along a hill from my elementary school to the street where the library was. With every step I took my anticipation mounted and I eagerly planned what sort of book I would get to check out next.

I rapidly progressed from picture books to chapter books and then moved out of the juvenile section to read some grown up biographies. I loved learning about Florence Nightingale and Helen Keller. By fourth grade I was moving through all the animal books like “Brighty” about a donkey that lived in the Grand Canyon and “Misty of Chincoteague.” When things got crazy in my family (which happened a lot) I would grab one of my books and head for the giant mulberry tree in the back yard. I could hide out there reading for hours to stay out of harms way.

My greatest joy and biggest disappointment came from libraries.

When I was really little, I thought that the library in our small town held every book in the world. So, I made up my mind that I would go through them one by one until I’d read them all. I would begin at the red shelf in the west corner, then progress up to the green shelf, and on to the blue. Once I was done with all the books on the west wall I'd move over to the wall next to it and do the same thing. I checked out books about planets and books about dogs. I checked out a book on small engine repair and murder mysteries and history books. Some I didn’t understand at all. But I would plow through each one as best as I could, sounding out each word and making stead use of my dictionary to looking up the vocabulary I didn’t understand.

I thought it was a rather noble project I’d taken on, and felt rather smug with myself.

Then one day when we went to visit my grandparents in Flagstaff my grandmother decided to take me to the big city library so I could see all the books there. I was horrified. That library was six times the size of the little Podunk establishment I’d grown accustomed to. There were whole rooms of books of a certain type, not just separate shelves. I realized all at once how naive I had been. I could read ever waking moment of the rest of my life and NEVER be able to read all the books in the world. Recognizing the futility of the dream I had been so ambitious about nearly broke my heart. I was so overwhelmed I broke out in sobs.

My grandmother was mystified. Of all of her grandchildren, I loved books the best. She thought I would be delighted to see this treasure trove of print. She asked why I was so upset. I tried as best I could to explain through my tears how I had wanted to read every book in the world, because I thought the little library back home held them all. I told her how awful it felt to know I would be missing out on so much because there was just no way I could read all these hundreds and hundreds of volumes, even if I lived to be old as her.

She smiled and wisely said: “Oh honey, don’t worry about that. Half of them are junk. The trick is to learn how to pick the truly good ones and spend your time with those. You don’t need to go filling up your head with a bunch of garbage just because somebody put it in a book. But if you get good books with solid stories and honorable characters, THOSE books can become your very best friends.”

She was right. But then, she often was.

What sort of books engage you the most? Are there ones you could read again and again?
Which books have had the biggest impact on you?

1001 Books

I just found this list of 1001 books to read before you die. I cannot discern what sort of criteria whas used to concoct such a list. The literary genres appear to be all over the map. Also, I can think of more than a few classics that appear to be missing. I have highlighted the ones I have already read. There are a few others that I had begun, but for one reason or another never actually finished. Do you see any favorites on this list? What might you add that wasn't included? "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" by ukaunz

2000s
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
Saturday – Ian McEwan
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee
Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson
The Sea – John Banville
The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
The Master – Colm Tóibín
Vanishing Point – David Markson
The Lambs of London – Peter Ackroyd
Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
Drop City – T. Coraghessan Boyle
The Colour – Rose Tremain
Thursbitch – Alan Garner
The Light of Day – Graham Swift
What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Islands – Dan Sleigh
Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee
London Orbital – Iain Sinclair
Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
The Double – José Saramago
Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
Unless – Carol Shields
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor
That They May Face the Rising Sun – John McGahern
In the Forest – Edna O’Brien
Shroud – John Banville
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Youth – J.M. Coetzee
Dead Air – Iain Banks
Nowhere Man – Aleksandar Hemon
The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi
Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
Platform – Michael Houellebecq
Schooling – Heather McGowan
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
Don’t Move – Margaret Mazzantini
The Body Artist – Don DeLillo
Fury – Salman Rushdie
At Swim, Two Boys – Jamie O’Neill
Choke – Chuck Palahniuk
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargos Llosa
An Obedient Father – Akhil Sharma
The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho
Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare
White Teeth – Zadie Smith
The Heart of Redness – Zakes Mda
Under the Skin – Michel Faber
Ignorance – Milan Kundera
Nineteen Seventy Seven – David Peace
Celestial Harmonies – Péter Esterházy
City of God – E.L. Doctorow
How the Dead Live – Will Self
The Human Stain – Philip Roth
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande
Super-Cannes – J.G. Ballard
House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
Pastoralia – George Saunders

1900s
Timbuktu – Paul Auster
The Romantics – Pankaj Mishra
Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
As If I Am Not There – Slavenka Drakuli?
Everything You Need – A.L. Kennedy
Fear and Trembling – Amélie Nothomb
The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie
Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
Elementary Particles – Michel Houellebecq
Intimacy – Hanif Kureishi
Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks
All Souls Day – Cees Nooteboom
The Talk of the Town – Ardal O’Hanlon
Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis
Another World – Pat Barker
The Hours – Michael Cunningham
Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
Mason & Dixon – Thomas Pynchon
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Great Apes – Will Self
Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
Underworld – Don DeLillo
Jack Maggs – Peter Carey
The Life of Insects – Victor Pelevin
American Pastoral – Philip Roth
The Untouchable – John Banville
Silk – Alessandro Baricco
Cocaine Nights – J.G. Ballard
Hallucinating Foucault – Patricia Duncker
Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
The Ghost Road – Pat Barker
Forever a Stranger – Hella Haasse
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
The Clay Machine-Gun – Victor Pelevin
Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
Morvern Callar – Alan Warner
The Information – Martin Amis
The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie
Sabbath’s Theater – Philip Roth
The Rings of Saturn – W.G. Sebald
The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Love’s Work – Gillian Rose
The End of the Story – Lydia Davis
Mr. Vertigo – Paul Auster
The Folding Star – Alan Hollinghurst
Whatever – Michel Houellebecq
Land – Park Kyong-ni
The Master of Petersburg – J.M. Coetzee
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
Pereira Declares: A Testimony – Antonio Tabucchi
City Sister Silver – Jàchym Topol
How Late It Was, How Late – James Kelman
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
Felicia’s Journey – William Trevor
Disappearance – David Dabydeen
The Invention of Curried Sausage – Uwe Timm
The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx
Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
Looking for the Possible Dance – A.L. Kennedy
Operation Shylock – Philip Roth
Complicity – Iain Banks
On Love – Alain de Botton
What a Carve Up! – Jonathan Coe
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
The House of Doctor Dee – Peter Ackroyd
The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
The Emigrants – W.G. Sebald
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Life is a Caravanserai – Emine Özdamar
The Discovery of Heaven – Harry Mulisch
A Heart So White – Javier Marias
Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker
Indigo – Marina Warner
The Crow Road – Iain Banks
Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson
Jazz – Toni Morrison
The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Høeg
The Butcher Boy – Patrick McCabe
Black Water – Joyce Carol Oates
The Heather Blazing – Colm Tóibín
Asphodel – H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
Black Dogs – Ian McEwan
Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud
Arcadia – Jim Crace
Wild Swans – Jung Chang
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis
Mao II – Don DeLillo
Typical – Padgett Powell
Regeneration – Pat Barker
Downriver – Iain Sinclair
Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord – Louis de Bernieres
Wise Children – Angela Carter
Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard
Amongst Women – John McGahern
Vineland – Thomas Pynchon
Vertigo – W.G. Sebald
Stone Junction – Jim Dodge
The Music of Chance – Paul Auster
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham
Like Life – Lorrie Moore
Possession – A.S. Byatt
The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi
The Midnight Examiner – William Kotzwinkle
A Disaffection – James Kelman
Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson
Moon Palace – Paul Auster
Billy Bathgate – E.L. Doctorow
Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Melancholy of Resistance – László Krasznahorkai
The Temple of My Familiar – Alice Walker
The Trick is to Keep Breathing – Janice Galloway
The History of the Siege of Lisbon – José Saramago
Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
London Fields – Martin Amis
The Book of Evidence – John Banville
Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco
The Beautiful Room is Empty – Edmund White
Wittgenstein’s Mistress – David Markson
The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
The Swimming-Pool Library – Alan Hollinghurst
Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
Libra – Don DeLillo
The Player of Games – Iain M. Banks
Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga
The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul – Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
The Radiant Way – Margaret Drabble
The Afternoon of a Writer – Peter Handke
The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy
The Passion – Jeanette Winterson
The Pigeon – Patrick Süskind
The Child in Time – Ian McEwan
Cigarettes – Harry Mathews
The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster
World’s End – T. Coraghessan Boyle
Enigma of Arrival – V.S. Naipaul
The Taebek Mountains – Jo Jung-rae
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Anagrams – Lorrie Moore
Matigari – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
Marya – Joyce Carol Oates
Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons
The Old Devils – Kingsley Amis
Lost Language of Cranes – David Leavitt
An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
Extinction – Thomas Bernhard
Foe – J.M. Coetzee
The Drowned and the Saved – Primo Levi
Reasons to Live – Amy Hempel
The Parable of the Blind – Gert Hofmann
Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
The Cider House Rules – John Irving
A Maggot – John Fowles
Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis
Contact – Carl Sagan
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Perfume – Patrick Süskind
Old Masters – Thomas Bernhard
White Noise – Don DeLillo
Queer – William Burroughs
Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
Legend – David Gemmell
Dictionary of the Khazars – Milorad Pavi?
The Bus Conductor Hines – James Kelman
The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis – José Saramago
The Lover – Marguerite Duras
Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
Blood and Guts in High School – Kathy Acker
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes
Money: A Suicide Note – Martin Amis
Shame – Salman Rushdie
Worstward Ho – Samuel Beckett
Fools of Fortune – William Trevor
La Brava – Elmore Leonard
Waterland – Graham Swift
The Life and Times of Michael K – J.M. Coetzee
The Diary of Jane Somers – Doris Lessing
The Piano Teacher – Elfriede Jelinek
The Sorrow of Belgium – Hugo Claus
If Not Now, When? – Primo Levi
A Boy’s Own Story – Edmund White
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
Wittgenstein’s Nephew – Thomas Bernhard
A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally
The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
The Newton Letter – John Banville
On the Black Hill – Bruce Chatwin
Concrete – Thomas Bernhard
The Names – Don DeLillo
Rabbit is Rich – John Updike
Lanark: A Life in Four Books – Alasdair Gray
The Comfort of Strangers – Ian McEwan
July’s People – Nadine Gordimer
Summer in Baden-Baden – Leonid Tsypkin
Broken April – Ismail Kadare
Waiting for the Barbarians – J.M. Coetzee
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Rites of Passage – William Golding
Rituals – Cees Nooteboom
Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
City Primeval – Elmore Leonard
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
Smiley’s People – John Le Carré
Shikasta – Doris Lessing
A Bend in the River – V.S. Naipaul
Burger’s Daughter - Nadine Gordimer
The Safety Net – Heinrich Böll
If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan
The World According to Garp – John Irving
Life: A User’s Manual – Georges Perec
The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch
The Singapore Grip – J.G. Farrell
Yes – Thomas Bernhard
The Virgin in the Garden – A.S. Byatt
In the Heart of the Country – J.M. Coetzee
The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter
Delta of Venus – Anaïs Nin
The Shining – Stephen King
Dispatches – Michael Herr
Petals of Blood – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
The Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector
The Left-Handed Woman – Peter Handke
Ratner’s Star – Don DeLillo
The Public Burning – Robert Coover
Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
Cutter and Bone – Newton Thornburg
Amateurs – Donald Barthelme
Patterns of Childhood – Christa Wolf
Autumn of the Patriarch – Gabriel García Márquez
W, or the Memory of Childhood – Georges Perec
A Dance to the Music of Time – Anthony Powell
Grimus – Salman Rushdie
The Dead Father – Donald Barthelme
Fateless – Imre Kertész
Willard and His Bowling Trophies – Richard Brautigan
High Rise – J.G. Ballard
Humboldt’s Gift – Saul Bellow
Dead Babies – Martin Amis
Correction – Thomas Bernhard
Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
The Fan Man – William Kotzwinkle
Dusklands – J.M. Coetzee
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum – Heinrich Böll
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carré
Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Fear of Flying – Erica Jong
A Question of Power – Bessie Head
The Siege of Krishnapur – J.G. Farrell
The Castle of Crossed Destinies – Italo Calvino
Crash – J.G. Ballard
The Honorary Consul – Graham Greene
Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
The Black Prince – Iris Murdoch
Sula – Toni Morrison
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
The Breast – Philip Roth
The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
G – John Berger
Surfacing – Margaret Atwood
House Mother Normal – B.S. Johnson
In A Free State – V.S. Naipaul
The Book of Daniel – E.L. Doctorow
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
Group Portrait With Lady – Heinrich Böll
The Wild Boys – William Burroughs
Rabbit Redux – John Updike
The Sea of Fertility – Yukio Mishima
The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark
The Ogre – Michael Tournier
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick – Peter Handke
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Mercier et Camier – Samuel Beckett
Troubles – J.G. Farrell
Jahrestage – Uwe Johnson
The Atrocity Exhibition – J.G. Ballard
Tent of Miracles – Jorge Amado
Pricksongs and Descants – Robert Coover
Blind Man With a Pistol – Chester Hines
Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
The Green Man – Kingsley Amis
Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
Ada – Vladimir Nabokov
Them – Joyce Carol Oates
A Void/Avoid – Georges Perec
Eva Trout – Elizabeth Bowen
Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal
The Nice and the Good – Iris Murdoch
Belle du Seigneur – Albert Cohen
Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
The First Circle – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid – Malcolm Lowry
The German Lesson – Siegfried Lenz
In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
A Kestrel for a Knave – Barry Hines
The Quest for Christa T. – Christa Wolf
Chocky – John Wyndham
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
The Cubs and Other Stories – Mario Vargas Llosa
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Pilgrimage – Dorothy Richardson
The Joke – Milan Kundera
No Laughing Matter – Angus Wilson
The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
A Man Asleep – Georges Perec
The Birds Fall Down – Rebecca West
Trawl – B.S. Johnson
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
The Magus – John Fowles
The Vice-Consul – Marguerite Duras
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
Giles Goat-Boy – John Barth
The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
Things – Georges Perec
The River Between – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
August is a Wicked Month – Edna O’Brien
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut
Everything That Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor
The Passion According to G.H. – Clarice Lispector
Sometimes a Great Notion – Ken Kesey
Come Back, Dr. Caligari – Donald Bartholme
Albert Angelo – B.S. Johnson
Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe
The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein – Marguerite Duras
Herzog – Saul Bellow
V. – Thomas Pynchon
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
The Graduate – Charles Webb
Manon des Sources – Marcel Pagnol
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John Le Carré
The Girls of Slender Means – Muriel Spark
Inside Mr. Enderby – Anthony Burgess
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
The Collector – John Fowles
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov
The Drowned World – J.G. Ballard
The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
Labyrinths – Jorg Luis Borges
Girl With Green Eyes – Edna O’Brien
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis – Giorgio Bassani
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
A Severed Head – Iris Murdoch
Faces in the Water – Janet Frame
Solaris – Stanislaw Lem
Cat and Mouse – Günter Grass
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
The Violent Bear it Away – Flannery O’Connor
How It Is – Samuel Beckett
Our Ancestors – Italo Calvino
The Country Girls – Edna O’Brien
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Rabbit, Run – John Updike
Promise at Dawn – Romain Gary
Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee
Billy Liar – Keith Waterhouse
Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
The Tin Drum – Günter Grass
Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes
Henderson the Rain King – Saul Bellow
Memento Mori – Muriel Spark
Billiards at Half-Past Nine – Heinrich Böll
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
The Leopard – Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring – Kenzaburo Oe
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Bitter Glass – Eilís Dillon
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – Alan Sillitoe
Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris – Paul Gallico
Borstal Boy – Brendan Behan
The End of the Road – John Barth
The Once and Future King – T.H. White
The Bell – Iris Murdoch
Jealousy – Alain Robbe-Grillet
Voss – Patrick White
The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham
Blue Noon – Georges Bataille
Homo Faber – Max Frisch
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Pnin – Vladimir Nabokov
Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
The Wonderful “O” – James Thurber
Justine – Lawrence Durrell
Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon
The Roots of Heaven – Romain Gary
Seize the Day – Saul Bellow
The Floating Opera – John Barth
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
A World of Love – Elizabeth Bowen
The Trusting and the Maimed – James Plunkett
The Quiet American – Graham Greene
The Last Temptation of Christ – Nikos Kazantzákis
The Recognitions – William Gaddis
The Ragazzi – Pier Paulo Pasolini
Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan
I’m Not Stiller – Max Frisch
Self Condemned – Wyndham Lewis
The Story of O – Pauline Réage
A Ghost at Noon – Alberto Moravia
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Under the Net – Iris Murdoch
The Go-Between – L.P. Hartley
The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler
The Unnamable – Samuel Beckett
Watt – Samuel Beckett
Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
Junkie – William Burroughs
The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow
Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin
Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
The Judge and His Hangman – Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor
The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson
Memoirs of Hadrian – Marguerite Yourcenar
Malone Dies – Samuel Beckett
Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Foundation – Isaac Asimov
The Opposing Shore – Julien Gracq
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Rebel – Albert Camus
Molloy – Samuel Beckett
The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
The Abbot C – Georges Bataille
The Labyrinth of Solitude – Octavio Paz
The Third Man – Graham Greene
The 13 Clocks – James Thurber
Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake
The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing
I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
The Moon and the Bonfires – Cesare Pavese
The Garden Where the Brass Band Played – Simon Vestdijk
Love in a Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford
The Case of Comrade Tulayev – Victor Serge
The Heat of the Day – Elizabeth Bowen
Kingdom of This World – Alejo Carpentier
The Man With the Golden Arm – Nelson Algren
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
All About H. Hatterr – G.V. Desani
Disobedience – Alberto Moravia
Death Sentence – Maurice Blanchot
The Heart of the Matter – Graham Greene
Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton
Doctor Faustus – Thomas Mann
The Victim – Saul Bellow
Exercises in Style – Raymond Queneau
If This Is a Man – Primo Levi
Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry
The Path to the Nest of Spiders – Italo Calvino
The Plague – Albert Camus
Back – Henry Green
Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake
The Bridge on the Drina – Ivo Andri?
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
The Pursuit of Love – Nancy Mitford
Loving – Henry Green
Arcanum 17 – André Breton
Christ Stopped at Eboli – Carlo Levi
The Razor’s Edge – William Somerset Maugham
Transit – Anna Seghers
Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges
Dangling Man – Saul Bellow
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Caught – Henry Green
The Glass Bead Game – Herman Hesse
Embers – Sandor Marai
Go Down, Moses – William Faulkner
The Outsider – Albert Camus
In Sicily – Elio Vittorini
The Poor Mouth – Flann O’Brien
The Living and the Dead – Patrick White
Hangover Square – Patrick Hamilton
Between the Acts – Virginia Woolf
The Hamlet – William Faulkner
Farewell My Lovely – Raymond Chandler
For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
Native Son – Richard Wright
The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene
The Tartar Steppe – Dino Buzzati
Party Going – Henry Green
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Finnegans Wake – James Joyce
At Swim-Two-Birds – Flann O’Brien
Coming Up for Air – George Orwell
Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood
Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller
Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
After the Death of Don Juan – Sylvie Townsend Warner
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson
Nausea – Jean-Paul Sartre
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
Cause for Alarm – Eric Ambler
Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
U.S.A. – John Dos Passos
Murphy – Samuel Beckett
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Years – Virginia Woolf
In Parenthesis – David Jones
The Revenge for Love – Wyndham Lewis
Out of Africa – Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen)
To Have and Have Not – Ernest Hemingway
Summer Will Show – Sylvia Townsend Warner
Eyeless in Gaza – Aldous Huxley
The Thinking Reed – Rebecca West
Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell
Wild Harbour – Ian MacPherson
Absalom, Absalom! – William Faulkner
At the Mountains of Madness – H.P. Lovecraft
Nightwood – Djuna Barnes
Independent People – Halldór Laxness
Auto-da-Fé – Elias Canetti
The Last of Mr. Norris – Christopher Isherwood
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Horace McCoy
The House in Paris – Elizabeth Bowen
England Made Me – Graham Greene
Burmese Days – George Orwell
The Nine Tailors – Dorothy L. Sayers
Threepenny Novel – Bertolt Brecht
Novel With Cocaine – M. Ageyev
The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
A Handful of Dust – Evelyn Waugh
Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Thank You, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse
Call it Sleep – Henry Roth
Miss Lonelyhearts – Nathanael West
Murder Must Advertise – Dorothy L. Sayers
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein
Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain
A Day Off – Storm Jameson
The Man Without Qualities – Robert Musil
A Scots Quair (Sunset Song) – Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Journey to the End of the Night – Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
To the North – Elizabeth Bowen
The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett
The Radetzky March – Joseph Roth
The Waves – Virginia Woolf
The Glass Key – Dashiell Hammett
Cakes and Ale – W. Somerset Maugham
The Apes of God – Wyndham Lewis
Her Privates We – Frederic Manning
Vile Bodies – Evelyn Waugh
The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
Hebdomeros – Giorgio de Chirico
Passing – Nella Larsen
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
Living – Henry Green
The Time of Indifference – Alberto Moravia
All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
Berlin Alexanderplatz – Alfred Döblin
The Last September – Elizabeth Bowen
Harriet Hume – Rebecca West
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
Les Enfants Terribles – Jean Cocteau
Look Homeward, Angel – Thomas Wolfe
Story of the Eye – Georges Bataille
Orlando – Virginia Woolf
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall
The Childermass – Wyndham Lewis
Quartet – Jean Rhys
Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh
Quicksand – Nella Larsen
Parade’s End – Ford Madox Ford
Nadja – André Breton
Steppenwolf – Herman Hesse
Remembrance of Things Past – Marcel Proust
To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
Tarka the Otter – Henry Williamson
Amerika – Franz Kafka
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
Blindness – Henry Green
The Castle – Franz Kafka
The Good Soldier Švejk – Jaroslav Hašek
The Plumed Serpent – D.H. Lawrence
One, None and a Hundred Thousand – Luigi Pirandello
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
The Making of Americans – Gertrude Stein
Manhattan Transfer – John Dos Passos
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Counterfeiters – André Gide
The Trial – Franz Kafka
The Artamonov Business – Maxim Gorky
The Professor’s House – Willa Cather
Billy Budd, Foretopman – Herman Melville
The Green Hat – Michael Arlen
The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
We – Yevgeny Zamyatin
A Passage to India – E.M. Forster
The Devil in the Flesh – Raymond Radiguet
Zeno’s Conscience – Italo Svevo
Cane – Jean Toomer
Antic Hay – Aldous Huxley
Amok – Stefan Zweig
The Garden Party – Katherine Mansfield
The Enormous Room – E.E. Cummings
Jacob’s Room – Virginia Woolf
Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
The Glimpses of the Moon – Edith Wharton
Life and Death of Harriett Frean – May Sinclair
The Last Days of Humanity – Karl Kraus
Aaron’s Rod – D.H. Lawrence
Babbitt – Sinclair Lewis
Ulysses – James Joyce
The Fox – D.H. Lawrence
Crome Yellow – Aldous Huxley
The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
Main Street – Sinclair Lewis
Women in Love – D.H. Lawrence
Night and Day – Virginia Woolf
Tarr – Wyndham Lewis
The Return of the Soldier – Rebecca West
The Shadow Line – Joseph Conrad
Summer – Edith Wharton
Growth of the Soil – Knut Hamsen
Bunner Sisters – Edith Wharton
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
Under Fire – Henri Barbusse
Rashomon – Akutagawa Ryunosuke
The Good Soldier – Ford Madox Ford
The Voyage Out – Virginia Woolf
Of Human Bondage – William Somerset Maugham
The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
Kokoro – Natsume Soseki
Locus Solus – Raymond Roussel
Rosshalde – Herman Hesse
Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressell
Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence
Death in Venice – Thomas Mann
The Charwoman’s Daughter – James Stephens
Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
Fantômas – Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre
Howards End – E.M. Forster
Impressions of Africa – Raymond Roussel
Three Lives – Gertrude Stein
Martin Eden – Jack London
Strait is the Gate – André Gide
Tono-Bungay – H.G. Wells
The Inferno – Henri Barbusse
A Room With a View – E.M. Forster
The Iron Heel – Jack London
The Old Wives’ Tale – Arnold Bennett
The House on the Borderland – William Hope Hodgson
Mother – Maxim Gorky
The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad
The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
Young Törless – Robert Musil
The Forsyte Sage – John Galsworthy
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
Professor Unrat – Heinrich Mann
Where Angels Fear to Tread – E.M. Forster
Nostromo – Joseph Conrad
Hadrian the Seventh – Frederick Rolfe
The Golden Bowl – Henry James
The Ambassadors – Henry James
The Riddle of the Sands – Erskine Childers
The Immoralist – André Gide
The Wings of the Dove – Henry James
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann
Kim – Rudyard Kipling
Sister Carrie – Theodore Dreiser
Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad

1800s
Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. – Somerville and Ross
The Stechlin – Theodore Fontane
The Awakening – Kate Chopin
The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
What Maisie Knew – Henry James
Fruits of the Earth – André Gide
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Quo Vadis – Henryk Sienkiewicz
The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
Effi Briest – Theodore Fontane
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
The Real Charlotte – Somerville and Ross
The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Born in Exile – George Gissing
Diary of a Nobody – George & Weedon Grossmith
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
News from Nowhere – William Morris
New Grub Street – George Gissing
Gösta Berling’s Saga – Selma Lagerlöf
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The Kreutzer Sonata – Leo Tolstoy
La Bête Humaine – Émile Zola
By the Open Sea – August Strindberg
Hunger – Knut Hamsun
The Master of Ballantrae – Robert Louis Stevenson
Pierre and Jean – Guy de Maupassant
Fortunata and Jacinta – Benito Pérez Galdés
The People of Hemsö – August Strindberg
The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy
She – H. Rider Haggard
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Mayor of Casterbridge – Thomas Hardy
Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson
King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
Germinal – Émile Zola
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Bel-Ami – Guy de Maupassant
Marius the Epicurean – Walter Pater
Against the Grain – Joris-Karl Huysmans
The Death of Ivan Ilyich – Leo Tolstoy
A Woman’s Life – Guy de Maupassant
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
The House by the Medlar Tree – Giovanni Verga
The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
Bouvard and Pécuchet – Gustave Flaubert
Ben-Hur – Lew Wallace
Nana – Émile Zola
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Red Room – August Strindberg
Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Drunkard – Émile Zola
Virgin Soil – Ivan Turgenev
Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
The Hand of Ethelberta – Thomas Hardy
The Temptation of Saint Anthony – Gustave Flaubert
Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Enchanted Wanderer – Nicolai Leskov
Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
In a Glass Darkly – Sheridan Le Fanu
The Devils – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Erewhon – Samuel Butler
Spring Torrents – Ivan Turgenev
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll
King Lear of the Steppes – Ivan Turgenev
He Knew He Was Right – Anthony Trollope
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
Sentimental Education – Gustave Flaubert
Phineas Finn – Anthony Trollope
Maldoror – Comte de Lautréaumont
The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Thérèse Raquin – Émile Zola
The Last Chronicle of Barset – Anthony Trollope
Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Jules Verne
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
Uncle Silas – Sheridan Le Fanu
Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Water-Babies – Charles Kingsley
Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev
Silas Marner – George Eliot
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
On the Eve – Ivan Turgenev
Castle Richmond – Anthony Trollope
The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
The Marble Faun – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Max Havelaar – Multatuli
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Oblomovka – Ivan Goncharov
Adam Bede – George Eliot
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
Hard Times – Charles Dickens
Walden – Henry David Thoreau
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
Villette – Charlotte Brontë
Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell
Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lonely – Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Blithedale Romance – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Shirley – Charlotte Brontë
Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
The Count of Monte-Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
La Reine Margot – Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
The Purloined Letter – Edgar Allan Poe
Martin Chuzzlewit – Charles Dickens
The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe
Lost Illusions – Honoré de Balzac
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Dead Souls – Nikolay Gogol
The Charterhouse of Parma – Stendhal
The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
The Nose – Nikolay Gogol
Le Père Goriot – Honoré de Balzac
Eugénie Grandet – Honoré de Balzac
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
The Red and the Black – Stendhal
The Betrothed – Alessandro Manzoni
Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hogg
The Albigenses – Charles Robert Maturin
Melmoth the Wanderer – Charles Robert Maturin
The Monastery – Sir Walter Scott
Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott
Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
Ormond – Maria Edgeworth
Rob Roy – Sir Walter Scott
Emma – Jane Austen
Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Absentee – Maria Edgeworth
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Elective Affinities – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Castle Rackrent – Maria Edgeworth

1700s
Hyperion – Friedrich Hölderlin
The Nun – Denis Diderot
Camilla – Fanny Burney
The Monk – M.G. Lewis
Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe
The Interesting Narrative – Olaudah Equiano
The Adventures of Caleb Williams – William Godwin
Justine – Marquis de Sade
Vathek – William Beckford
The 120 Days of Sodom – Marquis de Sade
Cecilia – Fanny Burney
Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Reveries of a Solitary Walker – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Evelina – Fanny Burney
The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Humphrey Clinker – Tobias George Smollett
The Man of Feeling – Henry Mackenzie
A Sentimental Journey – Laurence Sterne
Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne
The Vicar of Wakefield – Oliver Goldsmith
The Castle of Otranto – Horace Walpole
Émile; or, On Education – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rameau’s Nephew – Denis Diderot
Julie; or, the New Eloise – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rasselas – Samuel Johnson
Candide – Voltaire
The Female Quixote – Charlotte Lennox
Amelia – Henry Fielding
Peregrine Pickle – Tobias George Smollett
Fanny Hill – John Cleland
Tom Jones – Henry Fielding
Roderick Random – Tobias George Smollett
Clarissa – Samuel Richardson
Pamela – Samuel Richardson
Jacques the Fatalist – Denis Diderot
Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus – J. Arbuthnot, J. Gay, T. Parnell, A. Pope, J. Swift
Joseph Andrews – Henry Fielding
A Modest Proposal – Jonathan Swift
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
Roxana – Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
Love in Excess – Eliza Haywood
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
A Tale of a Tub – Jonathan Swift
Pre-1700
Oroonoko – Aphra Behn
The Princess of Clèves – Marie-Madelaine Pioche de Lavergne, Comtesse de La Fayette
The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
The Unfortunate Traveller – Thomas Nashe
Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit – John Lyly
Gargantua and Pantagruel – Françoise Rabelais
The Thousand and One Nights – Anonymous
The Golden Ass – Lucius Apuleius
Aithiopika – Heliodorus
Chaireas and Kallirhoe – Chariton
Metamorphoses – Ovid
Aesop’s Fables – Aesopus

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Alphabet Soup



Now here is a concept I hadn't really thought of since back in the days when my boys (now in their 30's) were avid Sesame Street watchers: It's time to name some blessings brought to you by the Letter E .

What things make my life sparkle that being with E?

1. EARLY morning. There is just something magical about that time of day when the sun isn't quite up but you can feel the night transitioning away... the birds start to sing and the horizon grows murky light. Little by little the eastern sky begins to glow in shades of crimson and magenta. The whole world just feels full of possibility. I love being out in my flowerbeds at that time of day.

2. EMPLOYMENT - Although at times I grouse about my job, I am deeply grateful to have secure employment. I know far too many people who struggle to make ends meet. I not only have a comfortable income, I also have excellent health benefits and four weeks each year of paid vacation on top of 10 holidays and 3 personal days. That's nothing to sniff at. I know it will end in a year when my grant runs out. I just pray that whatever my next job will be can share a portion of these same blessings.

3. ECHINACEA - great for colds and lovely in my flower garden

4. ELECTRICITY - from my toothbrush to my computer to my rechargable GPSr, having all that power available at the flip of a switch is a delight indeed. Lately I'm really trying to be more responsible with this resource, turning off lights whenever I leave a room and powering down my printer at the end of each day. I am mindful of how we energy glutton Americans are impacting this planet. Still, I count it as one of my blessings and give homage to all the things in my house that plug in!

5. ELBOWS - ok, I'm stretching now, but arms would be far less useful without these nifty hinges in the middle of 'em, ya know?


So what blessings do you have in YOUR life that begin with the letter E??

Thanks to Morning Glory for prompting this moment of grateful silliness.

Caring for Aging Parents


The Woman to Woman Challenge this week is:

There are many women who still have one or both parents living. As our parents age and move into their 80s and 90s, they often need a family member to care for them. Are you currently the caregiver for a parent? Perhaps you are the caregiver for a beloved grandparent. What have you observed through this process and how have you worked this caregiving into your family life? What difficulties have you encountered, and how have you resolved them? What has been successful for you?

I hesitated to respond to this topic….
How could I? Why would I?
But on further reflection, I decided I did have a thing or two to say.

I never had aging parents. My mother died at age 53 and my father died at 55. Their deaths both came sudden and unexpected, snatching them away from this earth in the very same week. Although divorced for many years, living in separate towns and not having spoken for quite some time – they died within days of each other. My father’s repose came on Dec 16, 1983 and my mom died a handful of days later, on Dec 21. It was a discombultating double whammy of grief when I was just 26 years old.

While the rest of the world was singing “Deck the Halls”, cooking a fat goose and baking mince meat pies I was helping my stunned siblings plan a funeral. For many years there after Christmas lights and baking smells conjured up images of death in my mind. To this day I still cringe every time I hear the song "Silent Night."

I wasn’t part of my dad’s service. It was done and over before I was able to get a flight out of the frozen Midwest to his Arizona town. I did help my sibs scatter his ashes later. But there was never any real closure, no real goodbye.

I did attend my mother’s funeral. That service taught me to despise the ritual of open caskets. That sallow faced corpse was not my mother. But it is the last image I have in my mind of the woman who gave me birth, and the picture of it linger in my brain still.

There was so much unfinished business between my parents and me. Truth be told, they could have probably lived to be the age of Methuselah and we would more than likely never have managed to resolve the old baggage. Ours had been a volatile household, a crazy kaleidoscope of laughter and nightmares. I left home at sixteen and never looked back, having only a few strained contacts with them after that. There had been so much water under the bridge, so many senseless wounds. Still, with their deaths it became clear and final there would be no more opportunities to apologize on either side of the hurts we'd lashed out one each other. There would be no resolution, no forgiveness, no settling into peace.

So I set my jaw and trudged on through the world, trying to make whatever sense of it I could. Throughout all the changes and transitions that were to come over the ensuing years I would sometimes wonder – what would my parents think if they could see this? Would they care? Would they approve? But there was no voice to caution me, encourage me, or even to tell me to figure it out for myself. Their absence shaped me in a way all its own.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn some important lessons from them both about caregiving.

When I was about nine my father's mother came to stay with my family for a few months. I balked when I came home from school one day to discover my previously private bedroom had been totally rearranged to make room for me to share it with my bratty younger sister so that Grandma could move into her room. No one had told me this was even being considered. I simply came home to find it was a fait accompli.

Once I got over the injustice of that, I enjoyed the attention I got from my grandmother. Still, the thick undercurrents of shifting emotion in our house were palpable. But nobody ever admitted out loud how difficult the whole situation was. As a result of that silence, it was impossible to ever seek out support. Ours was a family well accustomed to wearing many masks, painting on a charade of polite pleasantries on the outside so matter what conflicts lurked down deep.

I never did learn the circumstances that led to my grandmother coming to stay with us or what precipitating her leaving, which seemed to me as abrupt and unexpected as her arrival. Maybe there was talk about it that I was not privy to. As a child I had no power or influence, so I was not considered worthy of consulting. Perhaps the conversations were not clandestine at all...maybe I was simply so self absorbed that I was oblivious. Whatever the case, those events left a strong enough impression on me that when I had my own family I was determined we would have open family councils to talk about any decisions that would affect us all.

On the other side of my family was my maternal great-grandmother, Gertrude Young Kurtz, who lived to be 103. Throughout all the years of my life she lived with my mother's parents.

Grandma Kurtz had four daughters (not counting the one who died as a child.) My grandmother’s sisters would come to visit from time to time, but seldom shared in the responsibility of caring for their aging mother. I know there was sometimes resentment over that. My grandmother sacrificed her health, strained her marriage, and gave up many life opportunities out of a sense of duty to care for her mother. There were plenty of times she wished her siblings had been willing to help share the load. More than once I heard caustic remarks about the cross my grandmother had to bear - both from her own lips and those of my mom.

There's just no way to sugar coat it. The relationships between the women in my family were thoroughly toxic. Although seemingly capable and willing to offer comfort and affection to the boys in their brood, when it came to how mothers and daughters interacted in the generations of our clan, bitterness and belittling were served up with daily bread. My great grandmother could at times be quite dreadful to my grandmother. In turn, my grandmother chopped away at my mother’s self esteem year after year. Keeping on the family tradition, my mother dished out venom of her own to me. I’ve always said that God knew what he was doing when he sent me only sons.

More than once I have wondered, had my own mother lived, would I have been willing to care for her in her old age? I honestly don’t have the answer to that.

It’s one thing to go through the complicated business of shifting roles from the dependent child to the responsible head of household with a parent who kept you safe throughout your own period of weakness and vulnerability of childhood. It’s quite a different matter to find yourself in the position of taking on responsibility for the well being of a parent who repeatedly broke your spirit or in other ways caused insidious harm.

Yet I’ve seen families do it, and some do it quite well. I've seen miracles of healing take place in the final season of an aging parent who had been beastly during their own children's growing up years.

When I lived in Washington State I worked for an Area Agency on Aging – coordinating all the caregiver training classes across six counties. I met with hundreds of women and men facing the challenge of taking care of aging parents, grandparents or other infirm relatives. Some were from strong, intact families. Others were from fractured networks of kin that had committed crimes of all kinds on each other over the years. In every case, no matter what the past history, there were both poignant challenges and rich blessings for those who stepped up to the plate of assuming the caregiver role.

Later I served as Marketing Director for a fancy retirement community with an attached assisted living facility. There I met with family members to coordinate the move in plans for those who either could not or would not continue to live with their kids. We had many long, soulful talks about their reasons for selling their homes and moving away from all that was familiar to them.

I celebrated with the ones who had visits from children and grandchildren multiple times each week. I mourned with those who were alone in the world – either because they had never had children or were estranged from the ones that they did.

I’ve given much thought to issues of aging and what our responsibility is for our failing family members.

At times I've felt it was selfish and harsh when daughters or sons were unwilling to make needed sacrifices to care for aging family members, regardless of what the past history might be. I thought it was heartless and cold to stick someone away in some paid for facility surrounded by strangers to make one's own life flow more comfortably. But over the years I've come to understand that family relationships are complicated and diverse. What works for one will not work for another. I have no room to judge someone else for what they will or won’t do in this regard.

I've watched families agonize over concerns for the safety of elderly parents who insist on continuing to live alone. Who makes the decision when an older person should give up driving? Who has the right to intercede in how the senior chooses to spend their money or if they refuse prescribed medical treatment? At what point does a person's right to live independently in any fashion he or she may like give way to their family members' worry about the older person''s ability to meet their own daily needs?

There are no simple answers.

Now that I am the matriarch of my family I begin to plan which choices I may make if the fates should rob me of my body's health or lucidity.

Would I go to live with my kids or grandkids? I think not. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. This I do know for sure - if circumstances ever do lead to that EVERY child in any household I may enter will have a chance to voice the impact it has on them.

To read what others have shared on this same topic, check the links at Lei's blog over at My Many Colored Days and / or those listed at
co-host Morning Glory's blog over at Seeds from My Garden.

And if any of this touches a cord with you - feel free to share your own thoughts and add your link to the growing number there already. Even though this writing challenge has been named "Woman to Woman" I'm sure that ALL voices who might care to enter would be more than welcome.

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