Friday, May 27, 2016

Dog Run Moon and Hammertime Construction

I read the most delightful collection of short stories called Dog Run Moon by a writer named Callan Wink this week.  First off, what a name!  I'll be naming every child I have from here on out Callan, including minor characters in unwritten novels, thank you. 

Normally I would summarize what this book is about or what it did for me, but I'm tempted to say if a name like Dog Run Moon doesn't do it for you already, I can't help you.  The stories are set in big western-y places like Montana and Texas and have lots of dogs in them and people who shouldn't be seen together falling in love.  It's got heart but it's also smooth like a river rock, and I found myself staying up late reading it many nights in a row. 

Also, as opposed to some writers whose descriptions of nature have the potential to embarrass me, I found myself hoping Wink's characters would encounter a bird or a patch of dust, so I could hear about it.  It's a prejudice of mine, for sure, but if you consistently describe water in ways that make me want to take off my shoes and wade into it, you pretty much have me as a reader.  (Pisces alert!)

Speaking of water, we managed to slip away for a few days and see Traverse City.  If you are looking for friendly bookstore personnel, this is not your town.  Other than miserly librarians-cum-miserly cash register ladies, it is a nice, if tame, weekend spot.  There are lighthouses, bizarrely turquoise coastlines, giant sand dunes, and a general store that takes up to thirty-two minutes to brew an Americano.  The Workshop Brewing Company is an awesome industrial-design space I recommend.  It also has the best hand-squeezed lemonade I've had in my life, or at least since I was a kid and first learned to make it.  (You put in how much sugar?  Are you sure??) 

One morning behind our hotel, I was congratulated by a carpenter after finishing a light run.  I was probably gone for twenty minutes and walked half the thing, but he acted like I'd just completed a marathon.  He really understood how to treat a tourist, and I'd like him to follow me around all the time now, just to tell me how great I'm doing at basic things like dressing and eating.

In other news, Tim found this piece of paper from his days as a college student.  It's so well preserved it looks like it came from the top of his desk. He swears it was hidden away, and also that he didn't go to a high school for college.  I say star clip-art never killed anyone, especially student event planners.  I was pretty into stars as a college student, myself, as anyone who received a letter covered in stickers from me at that time can attest. 

The Velvet Dog is still in business, by the way, which is as it should be.  How could you deprive college seniors of a bus ride to a DJ dance at The Velvet Dog?!!  

Sometimes my dad refers to me and Tim as young people, as in: he'll appear in front of the television at his house and say, "Goodnight, young people!" as he's heading off to bed.  This makes me feel light and free, as if I'm not the old-feeling person I am these days, wondering where my metabolism headed off to and whether it's too late to do anything about it (verdict: unclear).  Being called a young person by my accomplished father makes me like everything is going to be okay, that even though I've covered a lot of ground in my life, there is still plenty more to go. 

There's also that next layer of gratitude beyond the realization that life keeps getting richer, and that is: I should be on my knees thanking my lucky stars that bad semi-formal dresses and dates that happen on buses are behind me.  THANK YOU, STARS!   

While we're on the topic of things I was once too young to understand, I just discovered an Elements of Style I may be able to stomach, because it's been illustrated by Maira Kalman.  Hallelujah!  I have never been able to ingest more than four lines of that book.  Here's my chance, thank you, world! 

Finally, circling back to big western spaces, I once impulsively embarked on a road trip with one of my dearest friends.  For some reason, probably a mix cd I'd made or something, we painted HAMMERTIME on the back window of my vehicle.  We then drove empty roads in Yellowstone and stayed in a tiny cabin on national forest land in Idaho, spent a harrowing night in Missoula and an anti-septic one in Seattle.  The whole thing was an education in fresh air and quiet and friendship which for me, frankly, is the best kind.