Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LIKE FAMILY: Growing Up in Other People's Houses

Dogs are easy. If their tails are up and their eyes are soft, you're in. Sometimes they need to smell your hands, your shoes, between your legs. Sometimes they just throw themselves full tilt, all of them at all of you--like the Lindbergh's dogs. They were what we saw first, a happy blur along the fencing as our social worker, Mrs. O'Rourke. slowed the car and stopped in front of the whitewashed wooden gate.
Like Family
Paula McLain

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Baghdad Theatre one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.
Donald Miller
[not a first paragraph, but one of Miller's choices]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I don't know what woke me up--I drank no alcohol last night, I observed the carb curfew, I had only one espresso during the day, plus I did a Pilates class and hours of gardening in the fresh air--but I'm definitely awake now. Wide awake.
Rachel Johnson

I love Rachel Johnson's punctuation stylings. I write similarly. I wonder if she also uses too many !!!!? I read somewhere that you are only allowed two in a lifetime...

Monday, December 21, 2009


The beach is not the place to work; to read, write, or think. I should have remembered that from other years. Too warm, too damp, too soft for any real mental discipline or sharp flights of spirit. One never learns. Hopefully, one carries down that faded straw bag, lumpy with books, clean paper, long over-due unanswered letters, freshly sharpened pencils, lists, and good intentions. The books remain unread, the pencils break their points, and the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughts even – at least, not at first.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Sunday, December 20, 2009


He saw each note as it fell from his clarinet. Smooth, stretched, with a smokey luster that made him think of black pearls against a woman's translucent white skin. "If I Had You," it was called, an old tune with a slow, sweet melodic line. Had he ever played this one for her?
Deborah Crombie

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


If love had a language, he'd realized it would be this, not words or gestures, but the mellifluous richness he'd heard that summer evening, anchored between the pairs of violins and the bass. The musician seated with his cello tucked between his knees, bent in concentration and intensity of focus that swept and fled, stroked and drew upon man, instrument and bow.
Jeffrey Lent

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Cornelius Engelbrecht invented himself. Let me emphasize, straight away, that he isn't what I would call a friend, but I know him enough to say that he did purposely design himself: single, modest dresser in receding colors, mathematics teacher, sponsor of the chess club, mild-mannered acquaintance to all rather than a friend to any, a person anxious to become invisible. However, that exterior blandness masked a burning center, and for some reason that became clear to me only later, Cornelius Engelbrecht revealed to me the secret obsession that lay beneath his orderly, controlled design.
Susan Vreeland

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


He came on foot. Like a mirage, he rose in a shimmer of heat waves above the winding dirt road leading to our door. I watched him from the shadows of our enclosed porch.

I was fourteen on that hot July day in 1966, would be fifteen in less than a month. I leaned against the porch doorway and squinted into the sun while the last dregs of water drained from the wringer washer behind me...
Donna Milner


When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her. Maybe he had been turning towards her just before it was completely dark, maybe he was lifting his hands. There must have been some movement, a gesture, because every person in the living room would later remember a kiss. They did not see a kiss, that would have been impossible. The darkness that came on them was startling and complete. Not only was everyone there certain of a kiss, they claimed they could identify the type of kiss: it was strong and passionate, and it took her by surprise.
Ann Patchett