Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday with Miss Kingsolver

It's a lazy Sunday around here. The five days off were welcome but I just stood, dumbfounded, and waved at them as they zipped by like an airplane. Time with family and home is equally comforting and cruel; just when I relax and breathe it's time to head back to work with the unfortunate knowledge of just how un-awesome it is to win that bread. Funny how "real" life of work and routine seems less real than a few days of lounging on the couch eating pie. For this reason I think the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations are the longest in any teacher's life.

I spent the better part of today curled up on the couch reading my new book, Lacuna. Love isn't a strong enough word. Barbara Kingsolver's books are like a pumpkin spice latte for my soul. I find them comforting and delicious. I'm reading this one slowly, savoring each metaphor and trying to take it in small bites so I don't miss anything. It's very good. When I read authors who connect the layers of their story again and again, their circularity warms my little nerd heart. Kingsolver is queen of the small but significant detail. In what may be the nerdiest thing about me, when I read her novel Animal Dreams as senior in my AP English class, it changed my life. I'm a forever fan of her work.

So far this book follows the life of a young boy who's half Mexican and half American, living in Mexico with his mother who left his American father to be a mistress to basically whoever would fill those shoes. The boy finds himself on a remote island, then Mexico city, and in Washington, DC at various times. He's present for the Bonus March riot in DC during the Depression, and now he's back in Mexico working as a cook for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. (Favorite description from the book: her eyebrows "joined in a handshake above her nose.") The book is told through his journal entries and so varies with his maturity. It's lovely and seems to touch on some really interesting (and new to me) historical events in a kind of Forrest Gump way. I'm doing a lot of Googling as I read. Good books always inspire curiosity.

At the moment there's a Martha Stewart Christmas special on TV. (Just so you know, I now have an incurable need to emboss something.) I've got cornbread cooling on the stove and beans in the crock pot. E cleaned our bedroom today, including a thorough sweep of the wood floors. Does it get any better than that? I've even got one of the aforementioned pumpkin spice lattes in my lil' hand courtesy of April and Meem who stopped by to return some forgotten Wii parts from Thanksgiving. Happy. Happy. Mmm. I've imposed a no-latte policy between now and Christmas, allowing only for the exceptions of gift cards and lattes that other people purchase. This one fits the bill. (Zero extra cash this year. We'll be lucky to make it to December 25 and our 30 or so presents.) Sunday is easily becoming my favorite night of the week, thank you very much Hank Moody and Phil Keoghan.

Thanksgiving was wonderful and passed effortlessly in a warm pumpkin-flavored blur. I don't know how time goes like that when we're with family, but it seems to be both relaxed and then suddenly gone. I'm truly happy that E and I are celebrating the holidays together this year. Everything is better when shared in telling glances and knowingly raised eyebrows of a spouse. Man, I love him. I need him there with me for life to be complete. It was nice this year to return to the familiar, shared joy of the holidays. Last year as a single mom, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the most painful for me. It's the things that were the most joyful together that are the hardest to bear alone. It's such a blessing for things to be as they should again.

We spent most of Thanksgiving day with my mom's family at my Aunt Anne's--each one of my mom's brothers and sisters is an excellent cook, as is Gram. Nobody in that family is afraid to try a new recipe, so holidays are a delicious mix of the familiar and the new, each dish prepared to perfection. I was glad that my new green bean casserole turned out well--close enough to the original to be comforting, different enough to be interesting. Cooking is a rite of passage in that family--a way to prove yourself and join the ranks of the adults. (I try hard to do my part!) We had a lazy time of food and cribbage, followed by food and more food. Gram made a chocolate pecan pie this year (along with the pumpkin, mincemeat, apple, etc etc etc). I ask you: is there a better invention than chocolate with pecan? I think not.

I had a hard time leaving, but by that evening we made our way up to Placerville to see E's folks. It was an unusual Thanksgiving in that most of the more than 30-person family was not there--it's an "off" year for Thanksgiving so it was very small. We made it up just in time for pie, ad-browsing for things we can't afford, and The Grinch. The kids made their sleepy way into Mimi's lap and snuggled in close to watch Whos in Whoville. The adults ended the evening with a game of Mexican Train. Though it was different this year, we really enjoyed being there. There's something very comforting (I know, I keep using that word in this post!) about E's family. I love them so much... missed them last year too. Every time I go up to their house I manage to forget about the fact that I have a life and a job... I just want to crawl under a quilt to watch movies by the fire for the rest of my life as the oak leaves fall outside the big glass doors. Bliss.

I had a lovely holiday and a wonderful weekend. I'm even including that one giant fight E and I had late at night on Friday. Sometimes that junk happens, people. But the benefit of working through ugly stuff (even late at night) is that sometimes you come out on the other end of it realizing that there is somebody who loves you enough to hear you out when something is wrong. It's kind of like spending time with the family, in a crazy way; it too reminds you that you're loved no matter what. (And this thing reminds you that basically you need to be asleep by 11:00 PM or you turn into a raving banshee.) So I'm grateful for family, I'm grateful for good books, I'm grateful for E, and I'm grateful for chocolate pecan pie. Nothing about this week was perfect, which is exactly why it was.

I hope that you had a blessed holiday as well. I hope you're finding time, energy and money enough for the presents you need to assemble this month, and that there's something in your life that makes you as happy.



  1. Love this post, love holidays and love that you are happy and warm! You know how much I love me some Kingsolver... can I borrow when you are done? Is it rude to ask? I have been waiting for her to write something new. I love subbing for Karin when she is teaching Animal Dreams. Her kids never seem to understand my OVER-ENTHUSIASM for this book! Anyway, so glad that you had a nice 5 days off. We did too and now - back to the grind. :)

  2. Of course you can borrow it! No problem. :)

  3. Girl, you have a really full life right now. Not starting NaNoWriMo is not a fail for you, it's your first try.

    Me on the other hand, sure it's my first time but I have a rather empty boring life right now and should have been able to hammer out 50,000 words no problems. Big time FAIL on my part. Oh well, there is always next year I guess. :-)

    Glad to see you are enjoying the book. Any advice for someone who used to take ballet and would like to get back into even though it's like 10 years later?

    Right now I'm thinking pilates certification is the closet I can get without being in a kiddie class!


  4. Glad you had a good Thanksgiving! And that's so fun that you started the new book, it was such a sweet gift!
    That's a great idea - the no latte rule. I bet it will help save $$.
    And hey buying coffee is what friends are for in times like these!
    Have a great Monday! Hope school is out of control after the break!