June 18, 2013 @ 5:48 pm | Filed under: Events
Last year, my friend Dan Tapper wrote a guest post for Bonny Glen about the Mission of Mercy event in Connecticut—a free dental clinic people wait all year (and many hours in line) to attend. This year, I’m delighted to once again feature Dan’s recap of this remarkable event.
Connecticut Mission of Mercy: The Wait, the Line, the Need
by Dan Tapper
The rain hadn’t started quite yet around noontime in Bridgeport, CT last Thursday, but the sky was showing it could happen at any minute. There was a steely pall and a grim chill that spoke more to March than to the early summer day it actually was.
Beth Carter was ready, rain or shine. The New York resident was going to get her ailing teeth fixed, no matter what. She was here, first in line outside the Webster Bank Arena, and doors to the free Connecticut Mission of Mercy (CTMOM) dental clinic would be opening in just…18 more hours.
To Beth, it didn’t matter. She was here. And she was prepared to wait.
“I missed last year’s clinic by one day. There was no way I was missing this year’s,” the Westchester County, NY resident said with a smile. “The cost of dental work is so expensive – I’ve been planning for this since last year!”
June 17, 2013 @ 7:46 am | Filed under: Family, Homeschooling
Art by Chris Gugliotti
June 12, 2013 @ 8:18 pm | Filed under: Photos, Rilla
It seems all that wisdom is exhausting.
June 12, 2013 @ 7:32 pm | Filed under: Family
Ah, June…that lovely time of year when mothers everywhere are driven to a frazzle by endless activities, gatherings, ceremonies, and general running-around. I guess I’ve been maybe a bit…distracted?…lately? Dithered? Headless-chickened?
At least so I gather from the moment I had with my eerily perceptive seven-year-old this morning.
“Mommy, will you come outside with me for a minute?”
“Okay,” I toss over my shoulder, en route to the room with the printer. “Just let me do this one thing—” which of course turned into three things. Maybe four. Half a dozen max.
Finally, though, I told her, Okay, how about now. She took me by the hand and led me to the backyard. Paused at the edge of the lawn, looking out across the grass at the butterfly garden, the bird feeder, the trees beyond.
“See,” she said solemnly, all business, “I was noticing our mornings have been grumpy this week. People have seemed…tense. Now: listen. What do you hear?”
I’m breathless. She has this preternaturally serene expression on her usually animated little face: positively Charles Wallace.
“Birdsong,” I venture. Fluty house sparrows, a persistent scrub jay, the operatic mockingbird.
“Right,” she nods. “The music of nature.”
I’m hiding a smile. She’s so very serious. Any minute now she’ll call me Grasshopper.
“Now breathe deep,” instructs this tiny guru. “What do you smell?”
It’s a rare overcast day. You can hear the grass singing to the clouds, yearning for rain.
I’m feeling very humble now. “The good smell of green growing things?” I murmur.
“Yes,” says the seven-year-old. “Life.”
Point taken, Master Po.
June 10, 2013 @ 6:08 am | Filed under: GeekMom posts
I have a new corner over at GeekMom: I’ll be hosting live interviews with other authors and artists via Google Hangout. Eep! Recorded live! Sometimes books fall on your head in the middle of the interview! (True story.)
Here’s Episode One: an interview with the awesome Quinn Cummings about her new book, Pet Sounds (and a whole lot of other stuff). Bonus: lightning round questions contributed by my children.
I hope you’ll click over to take a look. I had the best time chatting with Quinn.
June 3, 2013 @ 7:46 pm | Filed under: Books
I’ve really dropped the ball on my reading notes, these past few months! I’m looking at my GoodReads list and ouch, I must have missed logging some things, because there’s only one novel listed for May. That can’t be right. Let’s see, it’s definitely missing The Scent of Water, which I reread in early May. That’s one hitch with GoodReads; if you’ve entered a book in the past (I read it last year), there’s really no way to re-list it except to change the date altogether.
Well, notables of the past couple of months:
The Scent of Water (reread)
Pilgrim’s Inn, also by Elizabeth Goudge, immediately afterward. I was so in the mood for more Goudge, and this was a really lovely book, but I rather wish I’d had more time between the two; their themes are so similar, and the assortments of strong and quirky personalities. And the importance of houses, specific living, breathing houses who have to be counted as characters in their own right. (Like L.M. Montgomery, Goudge will ruin you for houses! The boxy mid-century bungalows of my neighborhood seem blank and bland to me after a dose of Goudge. No ‘lashings of magic,’ to borrow Jane of Lantern Hill’s phrase. No quaint spool beds or cockeyed chimneys, no breathtaking views, no hidden chapels or wide, welcoming stairways. No secret lanes anywhere! Although you can pretend them into existence if you try…)
Crop out the houses and the runoff drain between two streets becomes a secret path…
Anyway, I’m teasing a bit, but I really loved Pilgrim’s Inn and am glad I still have so much Goudge left to read for the first time.
Colson Whitehead’s The Colossus of New York—a complete change of pace! A collection of gorgeously written, jangly, quick-beating essays about New York City. Made me ache, I missed the city so much. Sent me careening right back to my beloved Helene Hanff: Letter from New York, 84 Charing Cross Road (which is about NYC as much as it’s about books and kindred spirits). I bounced back and forth between Whitehead and Hanff, gulping great chunks of each.
Do you know, I read this way more and more these days…a chunk of one book, a chapter of another, back and forth, six or seven at once, wantonly, greedily. I mostly finish things, but sometimes I don’t. A few of the things I’m in the middle of this very moment: Wild by Cheryl Strayed; How to Watch Television (a new book coming from NYU Press, and it is CAPTIVATING ME); Blackout by Connie Willis (I never finished that one a couple of years back; picked it up again recently)—all of them active reads, all of them gripping me, each of them begging a free afternoon.
(Will I ever finish Blackout? Will I reach the point where I can’t possibly put it down? That point usually comes sooner for me in a Willis novel.)
Back to the books that occupied my spring—only now it’s gotten late, I’m not going to finish this list. I have to add Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness. I’ve been reading a story a week, more or less…she’s so sad and rich, I have to take her slow. I read her sentences like each one is a small poem. Cheryl Strayed’s Wild begins with a harrowing cancer story—I won’t give too much away—and a woman who’s just been told she has terminal lung cancer, maybe a year to live, asks her doctor if she can still ride her horse. But they’re offering radiation to shrink the tumors along her spine, and the doctor says her spine will be so brittle, a jolt could shatter it to dust. That’s how my heart feels after an Alice Munro story, like one more sentence would crack it to splinters.
From Munro I pendulum to the things I’m reading my children: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Brambly Hedge (on endless repeat, it seems), Odd Duck. Laughter glues me back together. But I can’t do without the shattering books. I think you come back together a little different, every time.
“To be perfectly honest, Ticky,” said Professor John, “I do not care for grandfather clocks as a rule. They are so very tall that one can never look into their faces and see what they are thinking. But your grandfather must be a very special clock, and it is always a good thing to have an ancestor who lives in a castle.”
—The Very Fine Clock by Muriel Spark, illustrated by Edward Gorey (1968)
June 1, 2013 @ 6:52 am | Filed under: Books
Amazon’s Kindle deals for June include some great children’s novels, including a trio of Elizabeth George Speare titles for $1.99 each.
May 31, 2013 @ 7:26 pm | Filed under: Books
My Bookletter went out to subscribers this afternoon. If you’d like to subscribe for monthly email delivery, click here. To view it on the web, click here. And yep, I sure did call Rilla a six-year-old—twice. Scott caught it right after I hit send. In my defense, her April birthday was, what, ten minutes ago?