A Parliament of Owls

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My family and I have become fascinated by Barn Owls. We are enjoying watching a Barn Owl family on a nature cam located somewhere in Northern California. We found a YouTube channel called SVNature, with its ‘owl cam live,’ and we’ve been watching since the first owlet hatched. What an amazing way to learn about owls!  By checking in on them numerous times a day, we have become very attached to these fluffy little dinosaur-like owlets and their patient and attentive parents.

the_owl_papersWe also discovered an interesting program about Barn Owls on Nature – PBS, called “Owl Power,” and learned a lot more about these amazing birds. And then, because as you all know when you get interested in something you find all kinds of connections and information around you that you hadn’t noticed before, I remembered that I actually have a book sitting on my shelf with two beautiful Barn Owls on the cover. It’s called The Owl Papers, by Jonathan Evan Maslow, and it looks fascinating! I don’t know why it sat there unread for so many years, but it is definitely time to read it.

“With a naturalist’s eye and a poet’s soul, Mr. Maslow pursues owls through history, literature and myth. A superb and utterly fascinating book.”

~ The New York Times

It’s pretty obvious that the reason I became a teacher 30 years ago is because I love to learn. I do love finding new interests and then experiencing the web of connections to that new interest that surround us all. Who knows where this little parliament of owls will lead me?

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Rereading Rosamunde

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At my local library yesterday, I found this photo and quote on the back of one of the Rosamunde Pilcher collection. I really liked it, although I didn’t just discover this favorite author of mine. I found her years ago, read as many of her books as I could find, and loved them. Her book, The Shell Seekers, is one of my all-time favorites.  I recently discovered that her books and short stories are now available on Kindle, so I decided to give myself a treat and re-read them all. What a lovely thing to do for myself!

What do I love about her books? I enjoy her characters who, to me, seem like real people with real emotions. I love her landscapes, beautifully described. They make me want to spend time in Cornwall and London and Scotland, and when reading her books, I feel like I’m there! I really like her ideas about families and loved ones. There are blood families and there are chosen families, and I love that many of her characters find and surround themselves with the people who really mean something in their lives. And, finally, I simply love being part of each of the little worlds she creates in her books and stories.

I’m enjoying this re-reading, and will probably read them again in another few years! I obviously agree with the statement “now that I’ve found her, I’m not going to let her go!”

From the Archives: Click on the highlighted title to read a post I wrote about her in 2007… The Gentle Books of Rosamunde Pilcher

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Shells: A Cameo of Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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Anne Morrow Lindbergh is an artist who has been an inspiration to me throughout my life. I was a young mother when I first found her books. Her words touched my heart and my life in so many ways and gave clarity to my own journey to define my Self. I read her diaries as they were published, then her novels and her lovely non-fiction. Then I found her beautiful poetry.

In 1974, I marked with interest the passing of her husband, Charles Lindbergh, but in 2001, I mourned Anne’s passing. She had become a mentor, a guide, an inspiration to me, so I felt her loss deeply.

When I recently discovered there was a little book called Shells: A Cameo of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, by Virnell Ann Bruce, I was instantly curious. I haven’t read many of the biographies written about AML because I preferred to read about her life in her own words, or in her daughter’s words — Reeve Lindbergh wrote some beautiful memoirs of her parents. (Click here to watch a YouTube video of Reeve talking about her mother.) But Shells is actually a one-woman play with Anne Morrow Lindbergh sharing stories and reminiscing about her life. The author has done a tremendous amount of research for this play, (Click here to watch a YouTube video of Virnell Ann Bruce talking about AML) and it’s a lovely way to learn about AML and her amazing life. I would love to have the opportunity to see this play performed on stage.

As I read the play, I bookmarked numerous passages that resonated with me. One passage, in particular, described well what I admired about AML, and why she became my own “friend” and “guide” over the years.

I spent a lot of time over the years, looking inward for myself and my world. It’s hard work to become a whole person, to develop and understand your own heart, your mind and your true spirit. Especially since it’s a continuous process as life changes. While I spent a good amount of time in Charles’ world of action, I think I found my own place in the world. Oh, it included Charles and the children, but it also included my world of books and poetry and art. And I found many wonderful friends in those worlds.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s sensitive and insightful world of books, poetry and art continues to inspire me and guide me on my lifelong journey to understand my own heart and spirit. This little book was another lovely encounter with a beautiful artist.

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Mishmash

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Mishmash! Sounds like a casserole or something…but actually it just describes my reading since the first of the year. It’s been all over the place, not following any plan, just going where whim takes me. My reading has often been project-driven over the years, so letting go of plans and just wandering through my bookshelves is very relaxing and enjoyable! Here’s a thumbnail collage of my mishmash of reading since January 1st. Oh, and the photo above is of my vegetarian Paella.

 

Once Upon a Time, IX

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(Beautiful art by Kim Kincaid. Visit her site at http://www.artbykimkincaid.com)

Spring has arrived and with it comes my favorite reading event of the year: Carl V’s Once Upon a Time challenge. This is the 9th year he has hosted this fun event. I’m very fond of it because it was the first reading challenge I participated in when I first started blogging, and it inspired me to expand my reading choices to genres I’d seldom tried. Each time I participate, I find new reading friends, new favorite authors, and many new favorite books. Now it has become a rite of Spring for me and the year doesn’t seem right unless anchored by Carl’s wonderful OUaT.

If you haven’t tried a reading challenge before, this is an enjoyable way to start. Choose books from four different genres, read short stories, watch films, or play a game. No pressure, just fun and celebration of the fanciful!

The Once Upon a Time IX Challenge has a few rules:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: HAVE FUN.

Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.

Set goals that fit your reading wish list and available time. Carl has many different options to choose from. This year I’m keeping my choice simple and choosing “The Journey” for my goal. I will read [at least] one book from any of the four genres between now and June 21st. I will write a post for each book I read and will update my list in the Challenges tab on my menu bar.

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Thank you, once again, Carl, for hosting this delightful reading event! I know I’m going to love my reading in the next few months and enjoy reading the posts of the other participants!

Celebrating Spring

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Early last year I re-read one of my favorite books, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. It was delightful to revisit this old favorite, and I discovered that the landscapes of Grahame’s timeless story fit very well with the landscapes I see around me here in Oregon. I have some favorite spots that I pass by every day, and I’m sure they are inhabited by Mole and Ratty, Mr. Toad, and Badger. It keeps this beloved book close to my heart on a daily basis.

This morning I celebrate the first day of Spring by once again thinking of that delightful book which starts out with Mole doing some Spring cleaning. I’m sure that many of you, especially my friends enduring that endless East Coast winter this year, are also feeling that ‘spirit of divine discontent and longing’ on this first day of Spring. May your day be filled with wonderful stories, beautiful blossoms, perhaps some spring cleaning, and respite from those Winter storms! Happy Spring, friends!

The mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was going in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.

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Illustration by Arthur Rackham.

Computer Heaven

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Oh joy! Today I replaced my old clunky laptop with a snazzy new one! I am hoping that this newfangled machine will empower me to return to my blogging more often. My old, slow, very outdated computer made for easy excuses NOT to post. It’s heavenly to have a newer, faster, sweet machine! And I look forward to more frequent book conversations with you all!

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World

Endurance

Photo by Frank Hurley

January 1915. One hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton‘s beautiful ship, Endurance, became completely locked in the ice of Antarctica. The story of this extraordinary expedition and the survival of the entire crew, despite being stranded for two years in one of the harshest environments in the world, is a fascinating story. All the men survived that experience because of the phenomenal leadership skills of Ernest Shackleton.

When I taught 6th grade many years ago, my teammates and I put together a January unit of study on the Shackleton story. We used Jennifer Armstrong’s book, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, as the basis of the unit, and the 6th graders became as fascinated by the story as we (the teachers) were!, It was a unit in which we focused on some very important life lessons–lessons and discussions about leadership, compassion, hope, and endurance.

So in the middle of January, I stopped everything I was doing and revisited that story in honor of my hero. I loved sharing that book and story with my students, and, if you haven’t read anything about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his ill-fated ship, Endurance, I urge you to pick up one of the many books about this expedition and discover why this man is one of my heroes. There are quite a few books to choose from, but I’m very fond of the little, nicely written book I used to introduce him to young people. It is also available as an audio download through Audible.

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Birthdays

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Today is my birthday, and this week is also marks the 8th anniversary of starting this reading blog. I’m celebrating becoming an official senior citizen (according to the Social Security office) quietly today because I’ve been fighting a mean cold all week. The day will definitely be filled with books, however!

And I celebrate my 8 years of blogging, quietly, too. I’ve been an off-and-on blogger for the last few years, disappearing for months at a time while I focus on life happenings. But I return and check in, and share what I’m reading more often now. And I so appreciate my friends in the blogging world (hugs to each of you!), and all of you who visit me and comment on my sporadic posts. Thank you so much for being part of my reading life!