One of the many interesting things about the English language is – it’s confusing as hell. Take the first word of this blog title – Read. Pronounced ‘reed’ and it is present tense, pronounced ‘red’ and it is past tense. So fun! For the purposes of this post you can interpret it (or ‘reed’ it) both ways.
Remember the other day when I was nattering on about Olive, Again, I said i was going to reread The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Well I did, and it was just as wonderful as the first time I read (red) it. And because I am craving the familiar and what has brought me pleasure in the past, today I will start to reread Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin. I don’t know that this book is all that warm and fuzzy but I remember liking it and I like the way Ms. Zevin writes. Perhaps I should be moving on to her other books which I haven’t read (red) but for now this is my mood – reed what has been previously red.
I shall leave you with two quotes from “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” because why not start the day all warm and fuzzy –
We have our main meal – protein/starch/veg in the middle of the day – Noonish. This morning I did not feel like cooking, or for that matter eating. I had bought some bananas the other day and it seems they went from hard and green to brown and mushy in record time. So while not being in the mood to cook I thought “Why not bake?” It’s raw and cool yet super humid, so I figured I would turn on the a/c and the oven and see if I could dry this place out a bit plus – Baking!
I decided I wanted to make chocolate-banana muffins. Everything is better with chocolate. I found a recipe on the interwebz and after my husband had his lunch I got down to it. The recipe wasn’t all that so I made some adjustments (you have to be careful about adjustments when baking because baking is a science not just an art). Fresh out of the oven –
Whenever I photograph my baking I always include my old time Mirro oven timer because I love it! It’s quite the collector’s item and it came in the original box with the original price sticker. I did the unthinkable and tossed the box. I’m NOT a collector, all I wanted was the timer.
I gave the muffins about a half hour or so to cool and then popped them out of the pan. (The pan was buttered, with real butter and when I say “popped” that’s exactly what happened! I gave the pan a little jerk upward and those little puppies just jumped up out of the pan. Here they are looking so pretty –
My husband and I scarfed down two each (they aren’t very big). Now the interesting thing is the adjustments I made. The recipe called for 1/3 cup canola oil, I didn’t have any (what the heck would I do with canola oil?) But did you know, when baking, you can substitute applesauce for oil on a 1:1 basis. So 1/3 cup oil became 1/3 cup applesauce. Then, I thought, wait there is no flavoring aside from bananas. so I added a little cinnamon, nutmeg and bourbon vanilla. And you know what? These muffins taste suspiciously like my cocoa spice snack cake except with the added flavor of banana.
I had interrupted my reading of “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” (or should I say re-reading of…) to bake and clean – So time to get back to my book, maybe make a cup of tea and have another muffin (or two!)
After I finished reading “Olive, Again”on Sunday, I scrolled through the book on Monday, looking for those few sentences I wanted to save. And today I scrolled through again on my search. While scrolling I also found myself reading deeply, immersed once again in the story.
When I was reading some reviews, prior to writing my first post about the book, it was pointed out that strictly speaking this was not a novel but rather a group of inter-related short stories as were some of her other books. I never noticed that. It doesn’t feel that way to me at all.
I did find the passage I wanted to save –
“and he thought: My soul is aching.
And it came to him then that it should never be taken lightly, the essential loneliness of people, that the choices they made to keep themselves from that gaping darkness were choices that required respect. “ (Olive, Again – Elizabeth Strout)
Wow – hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes. And that’s what this book is about, that essential loneliness.
So much in this book resonated for me. (resonated with me?). It had me jumping up and consulting other books of Ms. Strout. There is a theme of the quality of light throughout the book, particularly the light of February. That made me search through my own writings because the quality of light is a theme in my own writing. I found the poem, mine was about the light of November and December – and you know what? It is a damn fine piece of writing, I’m proud of it. (You can read it here.)
Maybe Olive, Again isn’t all that and a bag of chips; maybe it is just my mood or frame of mind that has me so susceptible to content. I don’t know but it has my brain buzzing.
It also has planted in my mind that I must go back and reread other books – like “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin. Yes, I think I shall do that…
I finished “Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout and it just ripped my heart out. I was only reading maybe 20 or 30 pages a day because I found it so wrenching, then last night I read the last 200 pages, because I had to. A number of Strout’s stories and characters are based in Maine and many show up here in “Olive, Again”. You need not have read her other books to enjoy ‘Olive, Again’ tho I really do think you might enjoy this more if you read ‘Olive Kitteridge’ first. Still…Elizabeth Strout speaks to me more than any other writer I can think of. Or should I say, any other novelist. There are poets who I swear have read my mind and heart and soul despite having died long before I was born.
And that’s why I dislike ebooks – I got this one from my local library, using Overdrive, and unlike other ebook readers I could not ‘search within the book’ – there were a few lines I wanted to save but neglected to do that when I read them and now I shall have to scan through the entire book to find them. If I had a ‘real’ copy of the book I could have marked the page, underlined the text. Oh, well I shall buy the book when it comes out in paperback – I seem to prefer paperback books these days.
I realized today that when I am stressed it’s like when I used to get migraine headaches – I can’t stand the sound of people talking. Human voices grate on my nerves, like this. I had one of those ‘episodes’ this morning, not a migraine, but a stress attack and I snapped my husband’s head off and yelled at the cat. Yes, I know the cat doesn’t qualify as a human voice but then again, you have never heard my cat. And she just never effin’ shuts up! If I knew what she wanted I would give it to her, I would, really, I would. Sometimes I know what she wants and them sometimes it is just incessant demands. “What do you want? You’re a cat. I don’t understand you”
Now that ‘the mother‘ has died, I wondered this morning how my father is dealing with that. Have they bumped into each other yet? Is there some holding space for the recently deceased? I was talking to him this morning and he made me drop my earring and then laughed – not a bad laugh but a warm laugh. I didn’t think to ask him about his wife (aka ‘the mother‘). We used to say that my father died because that was the only way he could get away her. So how does that work now that they are both dead?
chomping at the bit? Grammar Girl will fill you on on which is correct.
Anywaay – I got a notice last night that a book I’ve had on hold for 4 months, yes, that’s right, 4 – count ’em 4 – months finally became available. I didn’t want to start it last night because that would have meant that I would be up all night reading.
This morning was a laundry morning, so I was up at the crack of dawn to get first crack at the community laundry room and then I had an opthamologist appointment at 1pm. I’m home now but still refraining from diving into my book because it will be hours before the dilation wears off. Right now the world is still all bright and beautiful and fuzzy.
Once I dive into that book I will not be coming up for air until I’ve finished it – so maybe after dinner. Which book is it, you ask? Why, “Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout. Hands down, I do believe Elizabeth Strout is my favorite novelist of all time. I have all her books, and I dip into them from time to time just to soothe my soul.
“My Name is Lucy Barton” is far and away my favorite book of hers, I can’t recall exactly how many times I’ve read it or how many bits and pieces I have copied out (I could go into my quotes folder and count them if you really must know…)
Anyway, anyway – I can barely see the screen so I’m gonna sign off – I have no idea how many errors there must be in this short post and when I can actually see normally I’ll come back and fix them – I think I need to just lie down now in a darkened room for a bit.