Thoughts on Literature, Food, Faith and the Subversive Power of Living Small

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
Fools Crow by James Welch
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

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Music Madness at LivingSmall

Music-- I'm in a music zone. I am not one of those people who buys CDs on a regular basis. In fact, I'm one of those annoying people who plays the same CD over and over and over again -- which is one of the many reasons it's good that I live alone.

However, every year when the Oxford American Magazine Music Issue comes out, I wind up buying a glut of CDs, and this year, the Music Issue happened to coincide with both the death of Nina Simone (go, right now, and read Jeanne d'Arc's brilliant piece on Nina Simone here), and new CDs by three of my favorites: The Be Good Tanyas, Lucinda Williams, and Roseanne Cash. And then, while wandering around looking for CDs by folks like Steve Earle, Will Kimbough, and The Blind Boys of Alabama, all of whom have great tracks on the Oxford CD, I also happened to stumble across a couple of other astonishing things, like this CD from Willie Nelson: Crazy, the Demo Sessions. Oh my oh my -- Willie and his git-ar, just the two of them, without the terrible overproduction that too often makes him sound campy. And as a die-hard Patsy Cline fan, it's wonderful to hear Crazy and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in these stripped-down versions. So, add that to the stack. Yikes. This is not living small at all.

So, after coming home with this ridiculously large pile of CDs, it became clear that I had to re-organize my CDs in order to fit them all into the allotted space. I had organized them by subject -- Alt Country, Jazz, World, etc ... but due to space considerations, I decided to put them all in alphabetical order. I know, I'm beginning to sound like a real music wonk (if you think this is bad, get me started on how my library is organized), but there's a point here, really. The point is the marvelous juxtaposition that alphabetizing them created. Who would have thought of Sinatra and Springsteen if it wasn't for their proximity in the S drawer? Coltrane and Shawn Colvin? Dinah Washington and Gillian Welch? And although I have that sort of icky feeling one gets after spending too much money, it was on music, which like books and art, is inherently good because without support, all of us in the arts would wither up and blow away. And it's probably my CD consumption for most of the year. And I have a new outlook on my old CDs, so there's a whole new world of 5 CD combinations to explore. For a person like myself, who gets stuck in musical ruts, this is a boon. And as a technique for LivingSmall, it kind of works ... that is, by giving one a new perspective on the stuff one already owns, it makes it kind of new again, interesting again.

Plus I have a whole bunch of new, soulful, wonderful music to listen to, music that will filter down into my writing, music that just makes every day here in my little house so much better, music that makes me turn off the TV because it's just better to be sitting in my living room listening to great music and reading a book.

posted by Charlotte at 4/29/2003 08:45:00 AM


Another Day, Another Garden Bed

Woke up this morning to sunshine, which was welcome. Although come to think of it, yesterday was sunny, it was just intermittently snowing and hailing through the sunshine. But this morning, blue skies and happy dogs. A good way to start a Sunday.

Planted one more raised bed today. The plastic sheeting over the raised beds seems to be working quite well. This morning when I went to shake the puddles off the two existing beds, I discovered they'd frozen overnight. But underneath, carrots and arugula are sprouting, and the shaky-looking transplants I put in last week are looking more sturdy every day. It also seems to be really warming up the soil in there nicely. Today I planted another raised bed with kale, golden and early wonder beets, Yu-Tsai -- which looks like Chinese spinach although the package tells me it's actually rape, yellow Gai-lan, which is sort of like a Chinese version of broccoli raab, and parsnips. Watered it well, covered with semi-clear plastic, then sat on the comfy lawn furniture and read last week's New York Times.

posted by Charlotte at 4/27/2003 03:48:00 PM


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