Measured Extravagance

2000-12-31 - 7:38 a.m.

It's so lovely how things come together...

When I married her son, my mother-in-law gave me an ornate silver ring with a lavendar stone that had belonged to her mother. Her father, who had an excellent eye for jewelry, probably purchased it for her in Ontario.

A couple of years later, my husband brought back a pair of silver-and-lavendar earrings from Hiroshima that matched the ring perfectly.

And, on the third day of Christmas, the mail carrier brought to me a tiny, gold-wrapped box from Michigan with the note "Merry birthday!" on it. (My official birthday is in May, incidentally, but my friends do tend to observe the Gregorian calendar very casually.)

Inside was a pin - a detailed silver bar with a lavendar stone.

[mechaieh hugs box to herself and dances a delighted jig]


I participate on a number of book discussion e-groups, and there's usually a flurry of year-end Best Of lists. Here's mine [subject to the usual vagaries of memory and quotidian fickleness]:

Most Anticipated
A Secret Love - Stephanie Laurens [Regency Romance]

    [first book in the series: Devil's Bride]

He Shall Thunder in the Sky - Elizabeth Peters [Edwardian Mystery]
    [first book in the series: Crocodile on the Sandbank]

Hot Six - Janet Evanovich [Contemporary New Jersey Mystery]
    [first book in the series: One for the Money]

Picture Books
No Matter What - Debi Gliori
Swine Lake - James Marshall/Maurice Sendak
The Sign Painter - Allen Say
(also: The Z Was Zapped - Chris Van Allsburg - which doesn't count because I first read it years ago, but I just bought a fresh copy for my niece and was thus reminded anew what an absolutely awesome alphabet book it is)

Young Adult
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf - Gerald Morris [Arthurian]

    [first book in the series: The Squire's Tale]

Tree of Bells - Jean Thesman [contemporary author, set in 1920s Seattle]
    [first book in the series: The Ornament Tree]

The Reptile Room - Lemony Snicket [droll macabre - recommended by evilena ]
    [first book in the series: The Bad Beginning]

Adult Fiction
Thus Was Adonis Murdered - Sarah Caudwell [Contemporary English Mystery]
Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman [magic realism]
Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You [Southern magic realism-ish] - Fred Chappell

    [at least, I think I read that one this year. I know for sure I didn't get around to Chappell's _Look Back All the Green Valley_ until this year, so _something_ by Chappell, anyway]

In the Kingdom of the Subjunctive - Suzanne Wise
In the Shroud of the Gnome - James Tate
Anne Sexton: The Last Summer - Arthur Furst

Adult Non-FictionTongue First: Adventures in Physical Culture - Emily Jenkins [exploration of body-centered activities, body modification, etc.]
A Joyful Noise - ed. Rick Moody/Darcy Steinke [essays on the New Testament]
Tsai Chih Chung's cartoon adaptations of Chinese classics

    [cheating a bit, because I started nosing around them before this year, but I'm only ingesting a few pages at a time]

Waiting for the Paperback Edition
Paris to the Moon - Adam Gopnik [my favorite New Yorker writer]
Cool, Calm and Collected - Carolyn Kizer
Beethoven's Hair - Russell Martin

What I'm Buying with My Borders Gift Card
The Element of Lavishness: Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell
[...and two CDs...]
Rodelinda - Handel [boxed "value" set - Sutherland, Baker et al]
Cry Cry Cry - Cry Cry Cry [Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, Richard Shindell - includes a cover of REM's "Fall on Me" and Shindell's superb "Ballad of Mary Magdalen" (the studio version isn't as energetic as the live cut I heard on "Che Lives!" several years ago but I still love the song]


And, to end the year, an auld Scots rhyme:

If New Year's Eve night-wind blow south
That betokens warmth and growth
If west, much milk, and fish in the sea
If north, much cold and storms will be
If east, the trees will bear much fruit
If north-east, flee it, man and brute

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