Wednesday, January 30, 2008


It pleases me considerably to see how the generations interact in my family. I've heard tell that the Industrial Revolution really messed with the close-knit familial structure of the agrarian society when several generations lived in close proximity on farms. Young people knew their grandparents well, and aunties and uncles played a significant role as mentors, teachers, and helpers. This phenomenon seems to be alive and well in my family.

My brother John has long been a mentor and friend to my son Culley. Back when Culley was a kid, John taught him to ski and play chess. During school breaks like Christmas and Easter, Culley would go to stay at John's mountain cabin where he got a taste of bachelor life. They maintained contact as Culley grew to adulthood and played chess through the mail and later email after John moved to Colorado John recently moved in with Culley and his family in a reciprocal arrangement that seems to be good for everyone. John has the solid support system important for senior living, and he pitches in with child care and household chores like doing dishes and feeding the chickens. Culley helps John stay up to speed electronically so he can play Fantasy Football and record the various sporting events he enjoys watching on TV. John plays games with everyone, Candyland to Settlers to chess. He sometimes walks through the woods to play chess with the Tippett kids, and he makes a point of going to kid events the Harrelson's soccer games. Uncle John is a fixture not only in my son's life but now he has also become a part of my grandkid's life.

Recently, when I visited my son Raleigh, he played a podcast of my sister speaking at her church in Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful message given on Mother's day but what was really cool was that my son was bringing my sister to me. Just this past weekend, my sister and her husband came to California for a short visit. At a family gathering, Raleigh spent considerable time engaged in thoughtful conversation with his Uncle Charles (my brother-in-law). Raleigh regularly listens to podcasts of Charles' sermons, and he has been powerfully influenced by Charles' insightful teaching, so much so that he actually wrote a song that speaks of agape love a concept Charles has preached on at length. Soon Raleigh will be the first California relative to visit my sister's home in Pennsylvania, a place where she's lived for 14 years. Raleigh is going to Pennsylvania to attend Firestorm, an impassioned conference at Life Center Ministries, where Charles is the senior pastor.

Most of my grandchildren are home-schooled and Granddaddy and I, as retired teachers, have the distinct pleasure of participating in their education. We each meet regularly with grandkids to work on math, writing, reading and science activities. Not long ago, my brother Andy led August and I on a nature/history walk, the subject of an earlier post. Andy shared his considerable knowledge about local geography and history and we have more hikes planned for the future. Andy is giving August, a budding naturalist, information from his considerable knowledge base.

Though the reach of generational support in my family may not look as once did in the early part of the last century, it is clearly at work. The elders in my family nurture and guide; the youngsters entertain and inspire. My family is family in a sweet, swell way.


Sunday, January 27, 2008


My friends' parents are dying. Annie's mom died last spring. Her husband Robert's father died in December and a few weeks later Robert's grandfather died. Cynthia's mother died just before Christmas. This past weekend Lynn's father died. Each time one of my friend's parents passes, I think about when my parents died.

My mother died in 1981 at the age of 60 and my father died in 1995 at the age of 75. Losing one's parents changes who you are. I once heard someone describe it as being orphaned. I laughed when I initially heard this because it was hard to consider my adult self as an orphan, but when I stopped laughing I started thinking. My parents welcomed me into this world. They held me during the first few hours and days of my life and marveled at my existence. When they died, the memory of my earliest moments on this planet went with them.

I think that even if we are adults of 40 or 50 or 60, when our parents die we are orphaned because the child in us no longer has parents. The world is changed. Even if relations with the parent were strained or distant or bewildering, that relationship is gone, and we walk and think differently in the world. It's an adjustment. It's a little scary. We become the elder. The generational roof lifts away and there is no one left between us and passing on.

I'm thinking of all the adult orphans I know and offering my love in their time of loss and respect regarding their changed status.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Time Warp

Yesterday, I felt like I was in a time warp. All day the sky tried to drop snow but kept sending sleet and that's what my brain felt like— slushy splats of history hitting me in the face.

It all started during home school with Taylor and Cody. I decided to use Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I had a dream" speech as the focus of the lesson. We were reviewing comma conventions. I gave them copies of the speech and read it aloud. Since the vocabulary is dense for kids in 5th and 7th grade, I told them to circle words that were unfamiliar and we would discuss their meaning after I read the speech.

Simply reading King's speech dropped me back in time to my high school days when the construct of desegregation was driving its way into my brain. Reading the speech, I recalled vivid black and white TV images from Alabama and Mississippi. Then I got yanked into the present when 10 year old Taylor asked what "negro" meant. I grew up with the word "negro." It was the polite way to describe dark skinned people and highly preferable to the N-word, as the more derogatory term is now called. I don't remember hearing the term African American until the late 70s or maybe even the 80s. I can't describe the feeling that arose when Taylor asked for the meaning of this word. It seemed like progress in terms of the language we use about race, but it also revealed a piece of history that was yet unknown to her especially when one of the other terms she asked about was Emancipation Proclamation. Both the Civil War and Civil Rights are part of her history lessons, and I had lived through one of those lessons.

When I drove away from home school, sleet was hitting the windshield and a segment of This American Life was playing on my iPod. It was a story about blacks in the Navy during WWII, men who were stationed at Port Chicago, an ammunition dump near San Francisco. Apparently Port Chicago was the site of the worst stateside loss of life during the war. Fifty-eight black Navy men died and many more were seriously injured when two ships loaded with ammunition exploded in 1944. But here is the detestable part of the story (not withstanding that blacks were not allowed to man guns in the Navy during WWII but were assigned to handle dangerous ammunition). After the explosion, 50 men refused to go back to work loading the dangerous cargo, so they were charged with mutiny and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Even today, the Navy refuses to speak about the Port Chicago incident or to exonerate the men who were charged with mutiny. This American Life interviewed 5 survivors of the explosion who were jailed. By the time I got to the post office where the sleet had turned to rain, my heart was heavy with sorrow. How simple it would be to apologize to these men for this degrading mistreatment.

At the post office there was a card from a long ago friend, Janet. She was my best friend when my 37 year old daughter was a baby. She sent pictures of her grandsons. The resemblance between one of the boys and his mother who I knew as a little girl shot me back in time again to the 1970s and young motherhood. My friend closed her note with "I think of you often and I love you." WHEW!! The tug on my heart to visit this friend was powerful as I drove back up the hill through heavy sleet toward the charter school where 3 grandkids were giving oral presentations that I'd helped them prepare. Can you feel the warp? Thinking about my friend and our children at 4, then 7, then 10 as I drove to see my grandkids, ages 8, 10, and 13 give their speeches.

You'd think after all this mental time travel that yoga would be a welcome relief, but NO! This was the day my yoga teacher took a democratic vote: get in down dog, raise your right leg if while we do yoga you want to listen to a radical CD with Martin Luther King and JFK and Ani DiFranco talking against a back drop of rap and other alternative music?? I did not raise my leg. I'd had enough radical time travel for one day. But it was a democratic vote and my choice lost. No soothing Indian chants or Dali Lama Oms for me. Instead I tried to do yoga while the sound of JFK and Willie Nelson and DiFrano rocked my fragile spirit, bringing tears that dripped from my cheeks while I held strong in forearm plank.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Dream, My Thanks

Much too late yesterday, the importance of the day-- a holiday celebrating Martin Luther King-- hit me. How could I ignore this day? How could I forget the importance of honoring King's life and work?

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950's and the 1960's. Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham where he was arrested and jailed for marching and protesting non-violently, King organized a massive march on Washington, DC on August 28, 1963. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he evoked the name of Lincoln in his "I Have a Dream" speech. The speech is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

One line in the "I Have a Dream" speech reverberates into my family: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

The day after Martin Luther King day when businesses, government offices, and schools across the nation closed in honor of his life, I remember to give thanks to this man. In 2007 when my grandsons arrived from Liberia, they came to a different country than the one in which Martin Luther King was born. They came to a country that King helped to change for the better. I have no illusions that racism is a thing of the past, but I know that because of Dr. King, there is a much greater chance that Leon and Aliou will be judged by who they are rather than by the color of their skin. I know that they live in a nation where an African American man is running for president—a man whose father was born in the nation of their birth. These are remarkable times in American.

Leon and Aliou will turn 5 next week. I have a dream that by the time they are turning 60, like me, the color lines of this country will be dissolved. I dream that they will remember to give thanks to Martin Luther King and Barak Obama for breaking through barriers that once stood in the way of people of color.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Cedar

Yesterday, we planted a cedar tree in the meadow as a memorial to Ashley. We chose a Thuja plicata, the California gold variety, which has bright gold new leaves that age to dark green. The yellow-gold tips are reminiscent of the color of Ashley's hair and the dark green looks beautiful against the backdrop of red clay and golden dry grass in the meadow.

In the late afternoon, Ashley's cedar stands in the shadow of the pine tree we planted in memory of Danny, Cindy's brother, who died in 2002. Danny's tree has grown a lot and has the cutest little pine cones this year. Cindy says that the tree reminds her of Danny because it is tall and skinny with sparse needle production. Ashley's tree, on the other hand, is small but full.

In many traditions, the cedar is regarded as sacred. For instance, in some indigenous cultures of America and for the Celts and ancient Hebrews, it was regarded as the tree of life and a bridge between worlds. To North American Indians up near Lake Superior, the cedar is seen as a symbol of femininity. We think the California gold cedar is a fitting tribute to Ashley.


Friday, January 18, 2008


It was cold in Nevada and we were there for five days, so we watched a lot of movies. I'm a sucker for sentimental, so while these films don't hit the top of the mark in terms of terrific-ness, they were all very satisfying and perfect for our kick-back vacation. Raleigh are you listening in? Because these chick flicks are right up your alley.

Hitch with Will Smith was funny and had some great New York scenes and of course a happy ending.

Shrek III was awesome. I love Shrek because he reminds me of my dad and he even looks like him, and I mean that in the best of ways. Shrek III can't possibly be for kids. It is full of tongue-in-cheek allusions to fairy tales that kids could not possibly get and many adults would also miss. And the good guy wins in the end and the underdog rises up-- all stuff I love.

The Bucket List is all over the media, so you can't miss it and you better take tissue because if you have even a pinch of heart, you'll cry. AND even though many critics say Nicholson is shallow in he role, I just don't agree. I thought the dynamic between him and Morgan Freeman was believable and cool. And there is always room to consider one's mortality which I was doing anyway since I knew I was coming back to an appointment about a growth on my ear that won't go away and now they are getting VERY SERIOUS about cutting it off instead of just trying to burn it and so I was thinking along some scary lines some of the time anyway. So why not a Bucket List, which Cindy and I discussed and I keep thinking about and updating in my mind.

The Emperor's Club, which starred Kevin Kline as a proper but nonetheless passionate history teacher, tapped into a vocational vein for me. It was all about ethics, and fudging, and misjudging and getting another chance, and chance, and generosity and greed. WOW! I liked it a lot.

Pride is about a black man who experienced angry and extreme racism at swim meat in 1962 and ten years later he's fighting the same racial battles in Philadelphia as he tries to get work worthy of his education without success. He ends up in a menial job at a Park and Rec Center, and the rest of the story is about how he teaches kids to swim and they go on to win a state championship and at the end there is a clip of the real guy because it's a true story and he is still coaching at this inner city pool and SIGH . . . swimming and black kids are kind of meaningful to me and yes, I cried in this one too.

So there you have it.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


We are coming to the end of our 5 day vacation at David Wally's Hot Springs and Resort. Wally's sits up against the jagged peaks that form the west side of the Carson Valley in Nevada. It's right down the road from Genoa, a town believed to be the first settlement in Nevada. The hot springs are the central feature of the resort. The steaming springs, which form the eastern perimeter of the resort, are piped into five tubs and a large pool to make for easy access. I've always been fond of the high desert on the east side of the Sierra Nevada and this place greatly pleases me.

Everywhere, I look there is a sight to behold. The mountains are covered with snow and they float in and out of fog and clouds each day. The starkness of the leafless trees against the granite and snow is like an artist's rendition. There is one bush that sports burnt red branches similar to a Manzanita but which are much more delicate. They add a touch of color to snow-blanketed pastures that stretch across the valley. Each morning, the fog freezes on trees and bushes creating a sparkling wonderland. Steam rising from the hot springs mingles with the fog to create strange visual distortions that are both eerie and eye-catching. The air is cold, not even rising above 24 degrees yesterday which caused the frost to stay on the trees all day. We were delighted to see a weeping willow hung with ice crystals. Birds galore frequent the wildlife refuge that is opposite the resort: geese, grebes, owls and hawks. Saturday afternoon when we were out for a walk, we watched a hawk swoop down to catch a snake in the swamp and then land in a a tree to eat it. When the sun sets behind the steep mountains, everything turns a bluish purple. And then the coyotes begin to yip and howl. Each night, a tiny crescent moon has risen in the star-filled sky.

We've soaked in the hotsprings, watched a bunch of films on dvd, read for hours, napped, eaten a lot of junk food, and taken walks fully covered in hats, gloves, scarves and heavy coats. Our room has a fireplace and deep bathtub with jucuzzi jets. The patio is perfect for watching the sky pink up through the fog each morning and for bird watching. There are lots of things to do nearby, but the only place I've managed to go was into town to watch a movie yesterday—The Bucket List (two thumbs up). Cindy went for a little jaunt to the casino this afternoon, but I opted to stay home and nap (and write a post for my blog). She must be winning or she'd be back by now J

Winter vacations are a new thing for this retired teacher. I like snuggling in for a nice long stretch like this, and the nippy walk to the hot springs has kept me from feeling like a complete slug. This is the life!


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Priceless Company

What I intended to write about today was the raucous and very fun evening last night when Culley's household visited for dinner. I intend to share my delight in 2 year old Nell rolling sheets of tissue and securing them firmly with Dora Explorer Band-Aids while Mackenzie and Huck reshaped the headlines of the Sonora Union Democrat with black pens. I wanted to joke about John channel surfing for results of the New Hampshire primary while Culley spouted his Libertarian viewpoint on the freedom to heat by wood. I wanted to revel in the fact that Andrea happily previewed the pile of books I got for Christmas. I wanted to describe how Cindy and I created a smorgasbord dinner to combat our feelings of inadequacy about preparing a meal for the two best cooks in the family. The food and company were great and I'd like to report more, but what has consumed me since their visit are the results of an email I opened after they left. The message was a response to one of my initial queries asking for freelance work.

Everything I've read told me to be prepared for this question, but I wasn't. Here's the question? "Do you have a pricing structure you can send us?" OOOPPPS!!! I was priceless!

But by midnight I had pulled together a suitable document that I was rather proud of. Cindy seconded this opinion, confirming that my prices were reasonable and my language left ample room for flexibility. I was so tired after creating the pricing document which I didn't get to until AFTER I washed every dish and pot that we owned because we had cooked so many different things for our smorgasbord that I fell into bed and went right to sleep only to wake up at 3:30am thinking about a writing proposal I had promised a local business woman following an interview we had on Monday about me writing for her company.

By 4:30, I knew I wasn't going to go back to sleep, so I got up and started working on the proposal. By 9:30am it was done, and I had used my newly developed pricing schedule to included costs related to each service that I was recommending. I decided to let the proposal sit while I went to work on one of the Tall Tales I was writing for ABC Teach (my very first freelance job). But first I sent the pricing schedule to the gentleman who had first asked for it. After two hours on the Tall Tale project, I reread the proposal. It still sounded good, so I emailed it to the woman. Within 5 minutes, she responded: "EXCELLENT!" she wrote. "I want to do it all!"

I was stunned. I had expected her to chose two maybe three of the tasks I had suggested. Not all of them. Everything I'd read about business planning encouraged developing a clear pricing structure (Chris Bibey; Collis Ta'eed; Mark Silver to mention a few). But I was unprepared for the satisfying results of one sleepless night and a clear pricing structure. As Mark Silver says, "The price brings the whole idea of whatever the offer is into concrete, grounded here-and-now-ness . . . The price represents a choice point."

And now I have a second job--one that will have me working for several months. I would venture to say the priceless company of family that preceded creating my pricing schedule and proposal gave me the boost I needed to get the job done! Thanks you guys.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Power Weekend


Our power went out early Friday morning. Cindy's mom's advice was to cuddle on the couch under a blanket and read. So we did just that for over 12 hours! Cindy read half of a novel and I tweaked on my business plan including creating a calendar of action for January. About 7:30pm, our camp lantern battery died, and we had to go to flashlight reading and writing. The house was getting colder by the minute, and we added a layer of blankets. By 8:30 I gave in and went to bed. Cindy followed at 9:30. There was still no power in the morning. We were cold and needed showers. Cindy's mom's advice: get in the car and turn on the heater full blast. So we did and then we drove to our friends' house to take a shower and then we went to the store. We got home at 1pm and there still was no power. When it came on at 2:30, we cheered and turned the thermostat up to 70.

Glorious Electricity

We turned on almost every light in the house and fired up our computers only to get all whacked out when the sky darkened, lightning and thunder crashed across the sky, and a torrential hailstorm hit the house. The lights flickered briefly but never went out. We stayed up until late, late, late, house ablaze with lights, kissing the thermostat each time we passed by, both of us happily engaged on our computers and eating the best toll house cookies Cindy has ever made.


Our practice these past 8 years has been to do our holiday gift exchange with each other on New Year's Day, but this year we postponed this giving for a lot of complicated reasons. We chose Sunday for the exchange, which coincidentally was the 12th day of Christmas and Epiphany. We returned to on the power outage couch with steaming cups of tea, sliced oranges, and bowls of nuts, where we opened our gifts to one another. What fun! Cindy gave me 2 books, lots of card making paraphernalia, a bunch of nifty office stuff, a gorgeous periwinkle top, and 3 gifts of service. I gave her black sweat pants to replace her favorite pair that recently bit the dust, an auto emergency kit that I put together myself, a bunch of kitchen gadgets, an auto office center (because she works out of her car), and 3 gifts of service. We were both delighted! It's such a pleasure to live with someone who gifts me so well!

Writing Power

Sunday afternoon was the first meeting of my newly organized writing group. All I can say is that these women ROCK!! They are all powerful writers as well as smart, intelligent, kind, generous reviewers. I'm so thrilled to be working with these women.

Tiny Tippett

I came home to message to call Anna Mae, who had been given the privilege of telling me that I have a new grandchild in the making. A baby, growing in Mama's belly, will make its appearance early next summer. Power to the Tippetts!!


Friday, January 4, 2008


I am cautiously optimistic and deeply pleased that Barack Obama came out on top in the Democrat Iowa Caucus with 39% of the vote, making him the clear favorite over Edwards and Clinton. Though I'm not convinced Obama is ready to be president, this early victory in the primaries bodes well in my small world. I feel it is auspicious indeed that a black man could do so well in Iowa the same year that I became grandmother to Leon and Aliou, twins from Liberia.

Just before the twins arrived, I listened to Obama read his book, Dreams of My Father, A Story of Race and Inheritance. The book filled my heart with hope and calmed my fears regarding the climate of racism we were bringing the boys into. I'm a child of the 60s and remember the Civil Rights movement with weeks of TV news footage depicting riots and fires and lynching, images I still can't get out of my mind. I know things are better, but I'm not naïve. The color barrier still looms large in this country. So my hope soared for my country and the African grandsons who were on their way as I listened to Obama's rich voice recount his life as the son of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother. The book was written in 1995 before Obama was elected Senator in Illinois, and it offers the perspective of a young man describing his experience with race and many cultures.

I am not politically astute. I haven't followed the presidential candidate race very closely, and I'm guilty of voting intuitively and from my emotions just like the people who put Bush into office. But I do have a method for making political decisions. In the case of presidential elections, and even senatorial and gubernatorial elections, I read memoirs, biographies, and feature articles in newspapers and magazines looking for a window into a candidate's life. I remember reading The Ugly American when Kennedy was running, though that was before I could vote. In fact that might have been the book and times that established my way of learning about a political candidate.

For today--right now--however, I'm simply happy that Barack Obama did well. I enjoy seeing his black face smiling warmly on the blogs and news websites that I'm reading this morning, a face just like Leon's and Aliou's.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Her Eyes

She watched the sun set in El Salvador. She saw a smile spread across a young boy's face when she helped him into a wheel chair. She saw snow falling on the mountain beyond her parent's home. She saw her grandpa plant a willow. She watched her brothers play ball and her sister swing a bat. She watched giant cedar's sway behind the pulpit each Sunday morning.

Her eyes read JK Rowling's riveting words. Her eyes studied passages from the Bible, read In The Time of the Butterflies, and danced through the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Her eyes live on, giving sight to man of 21 and an infant of 3 months. They are blessed.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Yesterday, the sun was shining after many gray days, and I was puttering in the yard, doing one of my three favorite yard tasks, transplanting (the other two being weeding and pruning). I was moving some foxgloves that had volunteered in the rose bed to a better location. As I worked, I was lamenting the fact that the deer decimate my roses EVERY year. They looked awful! What could I do about it, short of building a fence around the entire yard or at least around the rose bed which would look stupid since it the roses sit against the front of the house.

BING! An idea. I could move the roses into the tiny fenced vegetable garden. I could hear Culley, Raymond, and Jay groaning when they heard this idea, and I anticipated that Cindy would resist the idea as well, having convinced me to move ALL flowers out of the vegetable bed 2 years ago. The only one who might understand was Michael who enjoys the pleasures and challenges of rose cultivation as much as me.

But when I get such an idea, there is no stopping me and as it turned out Cindy didn't resist at all. She heard me out. I told her I would leave room for tomato plants in the summer and her watermelon plant too. I would set up barrels and use the long planter box on the patio to grow lettuce. Those were the only veggies we really wanted to grow. We are not farmers and my passion in the garden is flowers and design and TRANSPLANTING J

"OK," said Cindy, "Go for it!"

So I prepared a place in the veggie garden and started digging up the first bush. Immediately, I discovered that there was another reason the roses were not doing well. The earth was webbed with the roots of the 3 mulberry trees that shade our house and sit 5 feet in front of the roses and the earth is putrid smelling as well. It took a great deal of effort to dig up the first bush. I probably made a mistake in moving my favorite one first, but it now sits in its new home in rich soil in a place of honor in the fenced garden: the first plant you see upon opening the gate.

The goal: To move one bush each day for the next week. And Cindy came up with a great idea for putting something in place of the roses. She suggested I put several wine barrels along the front of the house and plant deer resistant bushes in them such as the butterfly bushes I've been wanting. The beauty of this idea is that the plants won't have to compete with mulberry tree roots, the barrels are moveable if we ever paint the house, and they are consistent with my rustic landscape design.

Feels good to get back into one of the focal points of retirement life (the other two being family and writing each of which has gotten its fair due of late).

The sun is shining again and I'm going to go transplant another rose.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

All I Want to Do is Read

Some days, I bemoan the fact that I'm a laboriously slow reader. People think that because I've read a lot of books, I'm a fast reader, but that simply isn't so. My daughter-in-law is a fast reader. My friend Bernadette from college who became a book reviewer is a phenomenally fast reader. Me, I'm just a plugger. I devote a good deal of time to reading but always feel like there is not enough time for all that I want to read. When I discovered audiobooks, I added hours to my reading time--thanks to my friend Christine who poked me in that direction for years before I tried it. Now I read/listen when I exercise, drive, and garden and sometimes when I do housework. But still I don't feel like there is enough time for reading.

Instead of writing new year's resolutions, one of my favorite bloggers, Alison Luterman, over at See How We Almost Fly wrote a list of books she wants to read in 2008. Allow me to copy that practice. Here are the books I want to read this year in no particular order:

The Gathering by Anne Enright

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman (non-fiction)

Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill

Waiting by Ha Jin

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (and his new book too)

The Denial of Death Ernest Becker (non-fiction)

Who is My Self? A Guide to Buddhist Meditation by Ayya Khema

Speciman Days by Michael Cunningham

A History of Love by Nicole Krause

The Pacific and Other Stories by Mark Helprin

Here are the poets I will read this year: Mary Rose O'Reilley, Patricia Fargnoli, Alicia Ostricker, Leonard Cohen.

I would love to have recommendations from friends who read. Andrea, Anne, Christine are you there? Please all of you readers tell me your "must reads."