The snow before Christmas was lovely but didn't come at the most convenient time for me. I needed that day or so to knock out some Christmas shopping (once I was finally out of school for the semester) before heading to Chapel Hill for Ben's graduation. I don't think I ever caught up on the days lost.
What I really like is a good snow that socks us in, forcing me to stay in the house for awhile with nothing to do but read. Some of my best winter memories are times we were all in the house--with electricity, bread, milk, and toilet paper--and lots of time on our hands. At this point, the new semester hasn't overwhelmed me--yet--but I have so many things I want to read that I hardly know where to turn.
On recommendations from many different directions, I picked up Mantel's Wolf Hall, set during the reign of Henry VIII, and I can't wait to finish it--and I dread its ending. It 's that perfect combination of fiction, history, and politics, but it is very character driven, particularly the protagonist Thomas Cromwell.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to read Helen Thorpe's Just Like Us, following four Latina teenagers in Denver, in time to talk about it at my book club meeting.
In the car, I'm listening to Jungle Law by Victoria Vinton. The book has been on my shelf without catching my notice for awhile, but I was surprised to discover it is the story of Rudyard Kipling, living in Vermont as a young married man while creating the story of Mowgli that will become Jungle Book. A parallel story line follows Joe Connolly, a teenaged neighbor whose mother does the Kiplings' laundry and whose Irish immigrant father so scorns the peculiar new neighbors.
In between, I am trying to catch up on the January magazines that came in before Christmas. All my life, I watched my mother stack them up when they arrived, saving them for the cold days after the holidays. Now I have issues of Oxford American (the music issue!), Our State, Garden and Gun, Southern Living, Smithsonian, and more for whenever I have just a few minutes.
Among my new acquisitions, I have Gin Phillips' The Well and a Mine (a Christmas gift from a reading friend who knows me well), Fatemeh Keshavarz's Jasmine and Stars: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran. I also picked up a copy of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile and other plays.
I also have several poetry chapbooks, some by North Carolina poets, I eagerly anticipate reading this month by Helen Losse's Better with Friends, Debra Kaufman's Moon Mirror Whiskey Wind,
Glenda Beall's, Now Might as Well Be Then, and Bruce Niedt's Breathing Out.
No wonder this week, as I discussed my harried schedule this semester--teaching five classes, taking an art class and mandolin lessons too--one of my colleagues asked, "You don't ever just sit and watch television, do you?" No, Matthew., I don't. Now if only it would snow.