Archive for January, 2010

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I loved every word of this book. Enger has a talent with words, sentences, and crafting a story. At times, I didn’t care about the plot … just loved reading his words, descriptions, and the “declarations” of the characters. I’ve also read “So Brave, Young and Handsome”. His words are, as I like to say, like chocolate for my eyes. “Peace” has a better plot and more themes to discuss.

Right and wrong isn’t black and white and each of the characters in “Peace Like a River” find their own way to deal with the ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ of the events that come to this family.

I’m partial to Enger and his talent. I love his descriptions of North Dakota. From page 146 – “A good thing about North Dakota, it has buckets of horizon; the sun comes up and you know it is there.” And from page 151 – “Have you been to North Dakota? In good sunlight you can see someone coming eight miles away.”

Every time I’m there I always think North Dakota really deserves Big Sky as the state motto. There isn’t a place on the face of earth with more sky, more horizon, more openness. People sing the praises of mountains and woods. Me? I’d rather be on the open prairie seeing forever. I’m claustrophobic in the mountains, caged in surrounded by trees, and yearn for openness, a flatness that’s unearthly, with rows of corn and fields of waving wheat … sunflowers with their bright faces. But, I’m off topic.

“Peace Like a River” is no doubt a tragedy. Along the way it’s funny, sad, thought provoking, and a joy to read. I highly recommend it.


Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Thursday I went to the Distinguished Lecture at the Michigan Theater. Each Thursday of the U of M school year the School of Art and Design hosts a distinguished lecturer for the A&D students. These lectures are free and open to the public – sponsored by a number of folks with the main benefactor being Penny Stamps. The lectures are always interesting, sometimes thought provoking and usually inspiring.

January 14’s lecture was about sound. Stephanie Rowden is a local gal who is working in sound, both in installations and on the radio. If you listen to Michigan Radio, our NPR station, she’s part of the “Sounds of the State” project they’ve been running for several months. She’s also got a website with these 20 second clips. ( She played lots of clips from many projects she’s worked on. There were two that I thought were quite fun.

One of the “Sounds of the State” was a clip recorded and submitted by a police officer on the west side of the state. While on duty, he recorded the Amtrak passenger train going through is town on the way to Kalamazoo. In his email he stated he was on duty and that the train was going slower that day. He knows because he measured its speed with his radar gun!

She also played a 2:30 minute clip she did with a couple of young girls. They went to a bicycle store and rang the bells on the bikes, talked about the sounds, imitated the sounds, and, at one point caught the attention of the old man running the store. He promptly kicked them out after inquiring about their project. Then the girls recorded their thoughts on him saying “He’s crabby”, “He didn’t get his eight hours of sleep”, “They should fire him”. Stephanie summed up the experience by saying something like “Things usually don’t go as planned. And when they don’t something wonderful happens.”

I hope something wonderful happens with you this week.

New Year’s Resolutions – Part Two

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

In my post last week I forgot to mention the strategy a couple of my friends use. Instead of specific resolutions, they pick a theme for the year. So, for instance, one friend is intent on “Connecting” more this year (in fact, more than one friend). For another, this is the year of “Finesse”.

Just more food for thought in your quest for changing something in your life this year.

New Year’s Resolutions

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

I have my own new year’s resolutions (writing this blog is one of them … yikes it’s been a long time) and when talking and reading about new year’s resolutions there seems to be a couple of approaches.

First, new year’s resolutions “are cheesy”. That was the declaration from one of my friends at the New Year’s Eve party I attended.

Second, the secret new year’s resolutions. Either people weren’t sharing or they were keeping them secret.

Third, the “why-does-it-need-to-be-a-beginning-of-the-year” to make an improvement. Partially, I feel this way. I “resolved” to get more cardio exercise back in August. Since then, I’ve been walking several times a week on a regular basis. They call this in the coaching biz “readiness for change”. I was ready. I made a commitment. And, it’s stuck. I “re-resolved” to carry on my walking schedule at the end of 2009/beginning of 2010, so it’s counting as one of my new year’s resolutions. Does getting a head start count as cheating?

Fourth, the new year is a time to just start fresh. Reassess. Shed the old, start the new. And, for some of us who don’t have that “resolve” other times of the year might make and effort at the beginning of the calendar year (or school year, or season). It might kick us into the “readiness to change” mode. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Whether they are secret or not!

Happy New Year!