The Book Thief

If you haven't read The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, stop whatever you're doing and get to it. One of my students recommended it to me this year - he actually wanted our lit class to read it, but I got it from the library and saw that it was too long, so I never got around to reading it until now. It is the best book I have read in a long time. Fair warning: it's also quite heartbreaking. It's about WWII, and though I was into darker stuff when I was younger (Clockwork Orange, etc), I've never done well with the real stuff - I have a hard time watching movies about Vietnam, for instance. And of course, reading about the Holocaust. I just don't understand how people can do what they did. Or maybe I do understand it, and that's why it's so hard. I am always amazed at what people are able to survive, and I know it's going on today, with rape camps in the Congo, and, and, and... It just doesn't seem possible. Anyway. Read this book.


My Dog Ate My Dreams

I've been dipping in and out of the world of women's circles this past year (not a sewing circle, and we don't look at our cervixes, but kind of the same thing). I went to one right around the spring equinox, and we all got little jiffy pots and dirt and nasturtium seeds, which we planted with intention, to symbolize our dreams for ourselves. It was all very sweet. And then I brought my little pot home and watered it, and over the next few days was amazed to watch the plants actually grow. And grow, and grow, and grow! Now, I have never really had a green thumb - this is the first year that I've had more than one houseplant, and it's a big deal that they're all still alive (I even killed cacti in my younger days). So third grade science, or whenever we stuck toothpicks in potatoes - or was it avocado pits? - and put them on the windowsill, that was the last time I've really seen a plant come to life from a seed. It's amazing! It's like magic! How do they do it? And these grew so fast, you really could almost watch it happen. They were tall and beautiful, a shade of green that means life, and I waxed poetic over them, and nurtured them, and moved them into the sun, and then out, and worried about how much water they were getting....and then I let them die. Almost.

The theory was that after they sprouted up, you were supposed to plant them in the ground, pot and all, and they would take root and flourish. And they're great plants to have around - nasturtiums are the pretty flowers you get in salads at shmancy restaurants; they're edible, and a bit spicy. I started looking up recipes for nasturtium vinegars, and envisioned having a whole border of nasturtiums offering up their blossoms for my palate. It was delightful. The thing I didn't do was actually plant them. I meant to, several times, really I did. It made me sad to watch them wither and fall over, no longer able to support themselves. Two of the shoots were sacrificed to keep the other one hanging on to life, a hint of pale green still in its stem. I began to worry - I'm not usually into all that spiritual woo-woo stuff, but if these were supposed to symbolize my dreams and intentions, what was the message? That I am passionate at first, but unable to follow through, letting my dreams wither and die? Not this time! I finally put them in the ground, carefully loosening the roots, lovingly mixing compost into the dirt, gently mulching around the top. Live, little plant, live! I poured my heart on them, along with some plant fertilizer. I felt sure they would recover, and prove that I can follow through on my intentions. My dreams would thrive!

And then my dog ate them.