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Sometimes I feel like I'm living on the surface; skimming surely over the top without ever managing to puncture through and end up submerged. I can go for long periods of time living up here, skating along. It makes it hard to write. It makes it hard to come up with a true story; no description is deep enough for veracity.

Maybe it's the wintertime, the darkness, the sluggish response to everything. Maybe it's the way my eyes slide along the surface, too. I don't see things or I don't stop for them, the way I do in the spring and the summer. There was a glimpse of white on the river as I drove over the bridge, enough of a recognition to identify a swan but I didn't really SEE it. There was another glimpse of white in the pasture as I passed on the way to work, a peripheral flash of shape and expectation that gave me knowledge: a stork. But I didn't REALLY see it. It's not that there is less to see, it's simply that my eyes are turned inwards and away. It makes for boring posts.

Now is the time of preparations, and frenzied bustling and at the same time a deep sense of slowing as we come to the darkest day. A clementine momentarily arrests me: a bright dollop of glory and a sharp tingle on the tongue. Sunshine in the morning gives me joy but it's a muted feeling. I remember the light and turn; heat-seeking.

Everything I write sounds banal. Trite. I write a sentence, backspace. Write another, delete. Who cares that twice this year it's taken me two weeks to read a single book? Who cares that I finished writing, enclosing and addressing my Christmas cards? We watched Ice Age 3 tonight: whoopee.

I just finished reading the 3 Merlin books by Mary Stewart. Did you know she is still alive?? Did you know she is NINETY-THREE? I had no idea. I know we had these books in the house when I was growing up; I must have read them at some point, one would think, and yet if so, I remembered nothing. And they are so good! They don't feel at all as if they were written in the early 1970s—they're fresh and dynamic and a fascinatingly intricate take on a tale so well-known as to be cliche. Her children's book, The Little Broomstick, was a childhood favorite, a birthday gift from my maternal grandparents in the 70s. The inscription on the flyleaf, in my grandmother's hand, says To Elizabeth Slaughter from Grandma and Grandad Pangborn Aug 197- ...isn't that strange? So I don't know what year I actually got it.

I have a couple of shelves of hardcover books missing their dust jackets: all gifts to me from my parents and grandparents for birthdays and Christmases throughout my youth: A Wrinkle in Time, The Grey King, Lad: A Dog, Heidi, The Three Toymakers, just to name a few. The cloth of the covers is softened and the edges of the spines are whitened and worn: old and battered good friends.

Looking over the list of books that Stewart wrote makes me realize that I have a lot of catching up to do; with these three I've only read a total of four of her oeuvre. It's as if I've opened an unexpected treasure chest, seeing that long list of books that I haven't read by an author that has captivated. It's the same way I felt when I discovered Dorothy Dunnett: pure glee. A whole stack of beautiful books to get my hands on and devour.

What are you reading? Any old favorites to recommend? Preferably ones with a substantial body of work?

Cupcaked & Candled Belated Birthday Wishes to fiveandfour!
mood: calm
music: General Public—In Conversation


I skim my friends' page a lot these days, I must admit. Not really reading most of what people write - in much the same way as you almost saw a stork.

But I do not skim you, my lovely friend. Seeing one of your familiar icons and "lizardek" in the upper right hand corner of a post makes me grab my cup of tea, slow down and READ. Every single time. Even if I don't always put the cup of tea back down and take up the keyboard to let you know it.

As you did read (and commented) on my own little buttony post, I am reading Viveka Lärn's books, one after the other. She is in my head.

I miss you and after the rush we are going to have an evening together and eat sushi and talk about all the things that bob up to the surface when we do that.

I will check her out, but have to find her in English. :)

It's funny how sometimes everything is almost-storks.

I miss you, too. And definitely YES to the sushi date. How does January look for you? My mom is here until the 17th. :)

I love, love, love Mary Stewart. I suggest starting with "My Brother, Michael" or "Madam, Will You Talk".

I actually didn't put her gothics on my list, but will give them a try :)

Oddly, no good novels at my bedside, just Cook Books.
Lack of a library card for a couple of weeks is probably the reason, but I do need to get back on top of it. I think I may start back though with some of the Black Brotherhood books.
I don't know Stewart. I will look her up and maybe get something at the library.
Play and hibernate. Throw us an occasional word or two. Don't worry. Be Happy Liz. It's cookie time!

What are the Black Brotherhood books? I haven't read Stewart's gothic romance/mystery stuff, but I can highly recommend the Arthur/Merlin books.

Edited at 2009-12-13 09:39 am (UTC)

I'll get started on Stewart soon. Which is the first in the Merlin series? I'm going to the library on Tuesday.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood books are trashy vampire books, but well written; not something I would have normally picked up. Somehow the first one showed up on my library reserve pile and I don't even know how. I assumed that someone recommended it and that it took a long while for it to show up; don't remember who, I thought maybe it was you...vampires.
To my surprize, I enjoyed the book. Chava picked it up after I finished and liked it too.
Anyways, now I'm going to see if J.R. Ward keeps up the good work in the second book.

The Crystal Cave is first, then The Hollow Hills, then The Last Enchantment. She wrote a 4th one later as well called The Wicked Day, but I haven't read that one yet.


I was waiting for it! It had to be coming! After all, the past always repeats itself, and it has done so regularly now for quite a few (13)years! The new long list of books! Of Course! I had recently crossed off a bunch on Lizardek's 6 (or is it now 7?)pages "BOOKS TO BUY" List,which are mostly not available in Sweden! AAUUGH! It's like my Grandkids.........
constantly growing! Love, Lizardmom

hahaha! I agree, Mom, it's awful how that book list never stops growing! I've even actually gone through it and PURGED a couple of books, but people just keep on writing good stuff: it's not my fault! :D

From Megsie

First of all, I am not reading anything right now. I stare longingly toward the bookcase, and quickly look away. Too many irons in the fire to sit and read. So, I procrastinate by knitting. That has been my obsession for the past month. Secondly, I love your posts. I love hearing that you have all of your Christmas Cards done. I may not like you quite as much...just kidding...just jealous. I WROTE my letter today. My husband began to edit it, which means he has started the re-write. I may get them out by later next week if I am lucky. I know what you mean about skimming the surface, I feel that I am trapped underneath it though. I can't make heads or tails of anything right now. Everything is just murky. We should meet half way and then we would both be in a good place, right?

Re: From Megsie

That's why it's been such a slow reading month for me, too: too many irons in the fire. December is always so crazy. Hopefully toward the end and during the "inbetween-days" I'll have some time for some serious reading.

Wish I could help haul you up to the surface. I know exactly what you mean about feeling trapped underneath it, though. I'd be thrilled to meet you halfway! We can do the deadman's float!

I have piles and piles of books bedside, which I'll need to attend to soon. Or -ish, anyway.

I'm reading lots of mystery books, which might not interest you much. ???

Naaah...I'm not much of a one for mysteries, most of the time, though it does depend. I liked Elizabeth Peters, and I like Sharon K. Penman's mysteries.

I like to listen to mysteries...books on tape or CD, while I'm cooking or cleaning, driving or wrapping holiday gifts.

I think Steward's Merlin/Arthur books are about the best ever written, as you say, they still hold their own.

I'm reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and liking it. I liked Outliers a lot too.

I really liked his book The Tipping Point.


I remember really loving The Crystal Cave when I read it in high school. We should definitely try the series - I bet Beaux, especially, would love it. Right now, he's reading The Golden Compass and I'm getting him the next two for Christmas.

I just finished American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld and WHOA. So good. I'm currently reading a historical novel about Helen of Troy, which is fascinating. I never learned much Greek mythology properly, so the names are familiar but I don't know all the stories. I keep meaning to buy a copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology so I have it in the house to pick up every now and then.

And I treasure books that have inscriptions in them. They just make the books YOURS and YOURS forever. But I love it when I buy a used book and I see an inscription, too.

:) Sam

I would actually recommend D'Auliare's Greek Mythology to you. I ADORED it as a child (keeping Thomas in mind) and it's great even for an adult, with wonderful illustrations :)

What's the Helen of Troy book? It sounds right up my alley! And your the second person to recommend American Wife...I shall check it out forthwith.


The D'Aulaire book is top notch and so much more understandable than Edith Hamilton, I agree!

I just read I Capture the Castle for the third time (!). Yes, I am in need of a new book, but it does stand up to the rereading and I'd definitely count it as an old favorite.


I've read I Capture the Castle WAY more than 3x! Have you read any of her other books (not talking about dalmations)? She's a treasure!!


101 was my favorite book when I was a kid. What else do you recommend?julia@kolo

I love all her stuff, frankly. The Town in Bloom, It Ends With Revelations, The New Moon With the Old and her autobiographies.


The book is "Helen of Troy" by Margaret George. I have now finished it and can't get over how good it was! Thanks for the recommendation on a mythology book. Edith Hamilton's did look awfully dense, you know?

:) Sam

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