A Good Book is Never Out of Place

Books are a permanent and essential fixture in our home.  Over the years, as I review photographs and memories, I realize that books are fixtures in our lives, not just our home.

Reading before dinner in Hawaii
Waiting for our table while dining in Hawaii

In the past year or two, I have made room in my life for a book club of wonderfully interesting women.  We meet every other month, sometimes  discussing the book at length, other times just enjoying each other’s company, food and drink, with the book a secondary focus.  We were honored with the presence of the author himself at our last gathering, as one of our members happened to have a family connection to him.  (By the way, our author-attended evening involved a definitely recommended read — The Theory of Remainders by Scott Carpenter — a suspenseful novel set in the Normandy region of France.  It is a captivating read that would be a perfect companion for a long car ride or flight!)  During a time of life where finding time to read for pleasure often takes a back seat, book club “forces” me to make time for an activity that always gives more than it takes.

Reading on the pontoon
Kicking back on the pontoon, book in hand, faithful friend as pillow.
Does life get much better?

Books are like friends to me — different personalities, different experiences.  Getting lost in a good book is the best.  (And as the weather turns colder, running a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine at my side and a good book in my hand is the perfect end to many a night!)  Some books are fine if read just once, but others demand repeat performances, often spaced over time, when life’s intervening experiences shed new light on the static words.  To Kill a Mockingbird (my book club’s next pick) is one of those always-fresh reads.  I believe this will be my fourth read of the classic novel, and I look forward to finding yet another new insight or hidden gem as I turn its pages once again.

Curled up with a book at the cabin
Cozy at the cabin with a good book (and, of course, that faithful friend!)

Other favorite reads (old friends) over time?  The list is long, but I will share a few , including several sentimental favorites:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Taking a breather while exploring Ostia Antica
Taking a breather while exploring Ostia Antica

New books (like new friends) can add a different perspective, sometimes unexpected, sometimes fun, sometimes reflective.  A few newer reads that were worthwhile:

  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Buffalo for the Broken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch by Dan O’Brien
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Reading by firelight
Campfire memories at Glacier National Park

What is one of your go-to favorites, that you have read more than once and always recommend?  Or perhaps it is a newer book that comes to mind when asked to recommend a good read?

Ciao! ~ Kat

Secrets of Parenting Success

What is the secret formula to raising a happy kid?  a successful child?  Since we are just making it up as we go along in this household on many days, I certainly don’t have the answer.  But we remind ourselves of certain basic principles from time to time.

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” ~ L.R. Knost

The world needs more people who value charity, gratitude, empathy and understanding.

OK, there may need to be an exception for certain brotherly interactions . . . 

Snow fight in Glacier National Park, Montana

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Books are an escape into worlds of fantasy, dreams and adventure, while other times they act as the doorway to a new realm of knowledge and understanding.  Do what you can to cultivate your child’s love of reading, and teach them to treat a good book like a good friend.

(Note:  I am still working on my husband and youngest son on the whole “treat books with care” concept — my oldest son and I will not let the other two members of our family borrow our most treasured volumes, for fear they will be returned to us appearing to have gone through the washing machine, or unceremoniously jammed into a bag or briefcase. I am thankful for the ability to share ebooks with them . . . )  

Peaceful winter bay

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” ~ Margaret Mead

Instill good values, and let them figure out how to apply those values to the world around them.

I do have to say, though, that my husband forgot this tenet when introducing them to NFL football, being the passionate Minnesota Vikings fan he is (I remain in denial when it was the first time I heard one of my sons utter the words, “Packers Suck.”)

Twilight at the cabin

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ~ Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Many of my favorite family memories involve experiencing the wonder of the world together — watching a herd of buffalo cross the river to their evening grounds in Yellowstone National Park, sitting on the shores of Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park with a picnic lunch watching the mountain goats play on the snow-covered mountainside above,  or gazing over the vast depth of the Painted Wall at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

As I have noted in prior posts, time together spent exploring places of wonder can strain the family ties, as well . . . such is the risk of spending endless hours confined in the car together, enjoying a classic summer road trip.

Painted Wall at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

There is no one right way to raise a child  . . . indeed, that is what makes us so unique and interesting to each other.  How dull life would be if we were all the same.

Unique inukshuk along Lake Superior's shore

On that note, I leave you with the words of the poet e.e.cummings:

“To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.” ~ e.e. cummings

Blog on, friends.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Getting Out of the Way

“It is one thing to show your child the way, and a harder thing to then stand out of it.” ~ Robert Brault


And so it begins . . . Or depending on your perspective, and so it ends. The first of the college acceptance letters arrived in the mail this week and we were reminded again how quickly this year will go as our oldest bird stretches his wings and gets ready to fly.

How exhilarating to have the world at your feet and a blank canvas to fill with your life story ahead of you. Watching your child consider the possibilities, you cannot help but reflect on your own life and choices. Would you take a different path if you could do it again?

More importantly, what will you do with the time that remains?

Ciao! ~ Kathy

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Kids chasing waves.  Waves chasing kids.


Chasing waves on the North Shore of Oahu

‘nuf said! — because isn’t “carefree” about less rather than more?

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Carefree” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

Returning to the Glensheen Arts and Crafts Festival, which was the subject of one of my first blog posts, seemed appropriate as this little blog celebrates its first anniversary! Glensheen is situated on a stunning piece of property on Lake Superior, so as we wandered through the artists’ booths, we made time for a detour down to the water.

Skipping stones along the shores of Lake Superior

No matter how old my boys get, I suspect Lake Superior’s rocky shoreline will always invite a rock-skipping competition.

Skipping stones along the shores of Lake Superior

Thank you to all of you who follow my blog, who take the time to like or comment, and who help make this blogging community a pleasure in which to participate.  I look forward to year two, and hope that you will continue to share your insights and creativity.  It is time well spent.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” ~ Mary Oliver

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”One Shot, Two Ways” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.