limejuice lemon and hungrydog holler

Dear Reader:

Cooler, with gloomy grey skies. My dog trainer’s in town for a free session at the shelter. Hope she gets lots of eager customers.

490) poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, 1995 (hard copy)

I bought and read this book years ago. Susan is a poetry professor, poet, and happy mother.

She published this little book out of her classes, mothering, teaching people and students to loosen up their relationships to words.

Susan tells stories about word-play and includes exercises at the end of her chapters: “Look around and steal some words. Lamborghini. Jute. Wombat.” “Give each word a color.Vermilion regret.” “Toss words, say them, sing them, chant, invoke, notice and let yourself get excited about them.”

I love this book. It brings words alive for me, making them fun, helping me be playful. I used to read it and write and make paper art of wonderful juxtapositions. If you are interested in writing (poetry, blog, short stories) I highly recommend this book.

56) One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty, 1983 (hard copy)

If I can’t stop buying new books (actually, I haven’t bought one in awhile) the least I can do is read my new books! So, I read this one, #1 on my purchases since starting this blog.

This book is a compilation of a series of three lectures Eudora gave at Harvard in 1983. The chapters/lectures are: “Listening,” “Learning to See,” and “Finding a Voice.”

She tells stories about growing up in Jackson, Mississippi. And learning her craft. She was lucky to have two loving and in-love parents who encouraged her and loved reading. They bought her and themselves books, books, and more books: all of Mark Twain, Gulliver, Our Wonder World.

Her town had a Carnegie Library that limited patrons to two books a day and you couldn’t return them the same day and take out more. So, Welty would charge through her books quickly and rush back for more everyday.

She tells the story of her parents, their meeting and courtship and her father taking the train back 1000 miles to see her mother over and over. And her WPA work traveling around Mississippi and collecting characters, learning their rhythms. A wonderful book and I look forward to reading The Ponder Heart and The Optimist’s Daughter.

414) The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Armin, 1899 (kindle)

One summer, Elizabeth decreed to her husband, the Man of Wrath, that she wanted a summer to herself, free of visitors.

He agreed, but told her she wouldn’t be able to stand it and midway through would change her mind. She did change her mind, but never seems to have told him.

This book, by the author of Elizabeth and her German Garden, which is pretty popular on book blogs these days, chronicles her musings throughout this summer. She talks about her garden, her reading, taking a book to a nearby pond and whiling the days away soaking up the sun and green. For some reason, never explained, partway through the summer, she and her husband ending up quartering 100s of troops. They feed and house them and receive a per diem.

Von Arnim was a wealthy woman with a supportive husband, lovely children, and a lot of servants. I expected this book to be more like our current chronicles of solitary time (like Drinking in the Rain and A Year by the Sea). It isn’t. It is more of a compendium of random musings. Some interesting, some not so much.

486) Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry by Billy Collins, 2003 (hard copy)

I’ve finished up this edited volume, one of two created by Collins to be read each morning by schools with the morning announcements exposing children to poetry. I’ve very much enjoyed it.

Some of the poems left me cold, but lots of them were wonderful. All are accessible. If you, or someone you know, is looking to dip into modern poetry, this would be a great book with which to start. The poems are funny, sad, poignant, slick, and silly. You are guaranteed to find lots of poems that speak to you. And if you want to get a taste of the poems in either book in this series, go to Poetry 180 where many of them are printed.

Here’s one that is near and dear to my professor-heart:

Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent.

The poet continues on with all of the funny, snotty answers we teachers consider offering when we get this favorite stupid, insulting question.

White and pink and yellow

Happy reading, Ruby!



  1. Lol, yes, I’ve often been tempted to give a smart alec answer to the “Did I miss anything today.”
    Sometimes I would say, “Just the exam…” and walk away..since I didn’t give exams that would usually cause a mini-panic attack in the person asking.


  1. The List | A Year of Actually Reading My Own Books
  2. Making It to the Top: The Big 2-0-0… | A Year of Actually Reading My Own Books
  3. Jazz and Dogs and Rain: Billy Collins’ Poetry | A Year of Actually Reading My Own Books
  4. Shells, Hearts, Boarding, and Someone’s Typing Up my Thoughts: Elizabeth George’s Believing the Lie; Eudora Welty’s The Ponder Heart; Saul Bellow’s Dangling Man; Muriel Spark’s The Comforters | A Year of Actually Reading My O

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