Showing posts from November, 2018

November Book

Recently I've been thinking about how strongly I associate books with particular months or times of the year. Last week I shared my October Book and why it suited October . Previously, I talked about the surprises of rereading a book I always associated with September (which may more properly be a May book). Which brings me to November, the month of my birthday. Back in the Days of Yore, a calendar (printed! on paper!) was considered a wonderful and appropriate (and somewhat affordable) gift for a hard-to-buy family member--a father, say, or a brother (or three). In my experience, November gets the most boring pictures. The best are January (usually the cover), something stunning for a summer month (often July), and a cozy interior scene for December, which if not explicitly about Christmas is at least about indoor warmth, hot chocolate, and a roaring fire. Of course, being me (a person who holds meaningless grudges against monolithic institutions and incoherent concepts l

October Book

In September, I posted about a book that I always think of in September . I meant to do one in October, but I didn't have a chance to revisit this old friend until now. So even though it's November, here's the October book: Mrs. Miniver , by Jan Struther. No, not the movie , lovely though Greer Garson might have been in it, and important though it might have been in showing Americans what was at stake in the war they had so far (in 1940, when the book was compiled and published) refused to enter. Nope. It's the book, the text of which is available online here , along with lots of notes about what was and wasn't "real," and what made it into the movie and what didn't. I think it's worth reading, but I'm biased. Actually, this book could serve as a September book as well. It begins in September of 1937 and ends just after war is declared in September of 1939. In a series of slice-of-life vignettes set roughly two per month (evidence they


This morning I noticed that our outdoor thermometer showed very little red. The temperature has been dropping recently, and it got cold last night: near 0F/-18C. Although I'm still limiting my social media exposure, I do cross-post a photo to Facebook and Instagram, usually daily but sometimes not. Taking and sharing photos is partly an act of attention  and partly an act of caring for my extended family. They enjoy seeing random day-in-the-life moments from this lovely place I live, which has meant so much to our family.*  So: the thermometer. I considered taking a picture of it. I considered what I'd say: "Soon, this temperature will lose its shock value, but today? Yikes." I didn't actually take the picture, though. I thought maybe something else interesting would turn up. The lake looked interesting, and I was up early enough to watch the light change. So I started my morning social media/email check-in. Facebook showed me a memory from this date four

Paying Attention

Here are a couple of quotes from What Light Can Do , collected essays by American poet, translator, and critic Robert Hass (2012). "One of the things I love about the essay as a form--both as a reader and a writer--is that it is an act of attention. An essay, like a photograph, is an inquiry, a search....There are a lot of different ways to write essays, a lot of different ways to say thing, so the pleasure and frustration of writing essays is that you are often discovering the object of inquiry and the shape of the search at the same time...." And later: "The deepest response to a work of art is, in fact, another work of art." I've been thinking a lot about attention. Times when giving attention to something grants it power. And other times, when something gains power through our inattention, when we deliberately ignore it or maintain ignorance about it. For the past few months, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery has hosted a national touring exhibition of U