Here comes the sun

December 11th, 2009

Well, OK, not really.  There’s a winter storm watch in effect here in Portland, Oregon, and I’ve just sent my boys to the grocery store (one major benefit of having teenage drivers around) to stock up in case we get iced in.  Last year we were stuck at home for days and days.  They’ve called twice with questions, so it will be interesting to see if what they come home with is even close to what’s on the list.

Back to the sun.  I was in L.A. over Thanksgiving, spending a couple of weeks with tween niece while my sister and her husband were in China fetching home new wee niece (more on that delightful addition to the family in another post).  We went to Disneyland and got sunburned (it was 80 degrees!  in late November!), and we also made a jaunt to Balboa Island, one of my favorite spots in Southern California. 

The transition from the land of perpetual sunshine back to the frigidly cold Northwest hasn’t been easy (I’m having niece withdrawal, for one thing), and on an icy day like today it’s lovely to have a few photographs to remind myself that summer will be coming around again here, too, soon enough…

Welcome to the tiniest ferry in the world

It’s true — just three cars.  See?

The destination is so worth the short ride:

We had burgers at Ruby’s at the end of the pier and watched the surfers.  Then it was time for Balboa’s most famous treat.  Yes, all you Arrested Development fans, you guessed it — frozen bananas on a stick!

This one was taken with my old cell phone’s crummy camera, but I quite like the Holy Grail-like ethereal glow.   It perfectly captures my feeling of reverence toward my new favorite treat.

After frozen bananas, it was time for a ride on the Ferris wheel, which is almost as teeny as the ferry, but still manages to give a good bird’s eye view of the bustling island.

All in all, a most satisfactory day, as you can see from our smiles.

Reading on the Rise

January 17th, 2009

Is it as cold in your neck of the woods as it is in mine? I have no business complaining – the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures are hovering around freezing, is positively balmy compared to other parts of the country right now. A friend I talked to in Ohio on Friday afternoon reported that it was nine degrees outside, while a colleague in Minnesota topped that at 21 below. And the girls in a Chicago-area mother-daughter book club that I visited with via Skype over the weekend had been home from school for several days because classes were cancelled due to the extreme cold.
 

Here’s some news to warm the hearts of readers and writers everywhere, though. Earlier this week, The Christian Science Monitor reported that a new study by the National Endowment for the Arts shows reading among American adults is on the rise for the first time in 25 years.

 

Reversing decades of decline, the number of literary readers – those who read novels, short stories, plays, or poetry – has grown significantly, and across the board amongst all ethnic groups. According to the NEA, “reading is an important indicator of positive individual and social behavior patterns,” including everything from volunteerism to attendance at arts and sports events, and even participation in outdoor activities and exercise.
 

For the first time in the survey’s history, literary reading has increased amongst both men and women. And what’s even better, in my opinion, is that the largest jump is amongst young adults (18-24), which certainly bodes well for the future of the publishing industry.

 

So take that, cultural pessimists! Take that, everyone who’s been predicting the demise of books, and reading, and literature! If this isn’t news to ring in the new year and “drive the cold winter away,” as one of my favorite traditional carols puts it, I don’t know what is.

 

 

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