Thursday, July 18, 2013

this brings us to the air-conditioned portion of our evening

Foolishly I snagged an empty ice cream bucket and headed to the raspberry patch.  Hunched over between the brambles I lost at least 3 pounds sweating while I plucked ripe berries for jamming.  Rumor has it things will cool down tonight, so it will be perfect for boiling kettles of water on my stove ...  Jam season always happens when it's hottest out. 

Why pick berries in the hot afternoon sun?  Because the bugs leave you alone midday.  I was scratched and sweaty glowing, but nothing bit me.

Then I showered and changed into a sundress and tried to phone Mr. D because I had generously volunteered to drive a fellow Bumble to book club.  He was tied up at work and I now looked like a Grade-A jackass because the Momvan's air conditioner is defunct (as are the lock on the driver's side back door and half the lights on the dashboard ... ).  Windows down, our hair blowing in the humid breeze, my fellow Bumble was a good sport, insisting the whole experience brought her back to her high school days when kids would cruise around town in the same fashion.

We were delighted to discover our fellow Bumbles opted for indoor seating at a popular riverside restaurant.  Air conditioned dining with cold drinks (mojitos and beer, yo!)--we enjoyed the height of electric-powered luxury around our table.

The subject of this month's meeting was J K Rowling's A Casual Vacancy, a book panned by many over at GoodReads because "it's not Harry Potter."  Well, duh.  But let me tell you, she's got chops as a writer and I liked it.  Sure, it was a little tough to keep the huge cast of characters straight in the beginning, but I admired the tightly-wound plotting, the conflicts and the character development.  It's hard to create despicable characters, and for the most part, she did.  We discussed who found redemption and cheerfully disagreed on which characters did not, per our respective views.  (Char, Fats is still a schmuck.  He's just sorry he got caught out, but he didn't really change!)

I am blessed to be a member of this book club.  They're all avid readers and close readers--each one of us can pick apart a book and analyze what worked and didn't.  Each one of us brought a fresh perspective to the discussion.  Each of us suggested a page or phrase that we urged our fellow Bumbles to reference.  A Casual Vacancy explores how actions beget consequences, social issues and secrets.  There's no vile habit left uncovered by Rowling's huge cast of characters, but there are shining moments of glory that balance the darkness.  (Go, Dr. Jawanda!  Way to tell off Howard!)  Plus, this book made us think about assumptions we make about other people and prodded us to become a bit more compassionate.

When the waitress finally kicked us out at closingwe left the restaurant it had cooled off to a tepid 82 degrees.  As we approached the Momvan parked beside the river, we realized how smart we'd been to choose a table inside the restaurant.  You see, the Momvan was covered with second-hatch lake flies.  And I'd left the windows open a bit, so they swarmed around both sides of the windshield.

You can't have perfection 100% of the time, right?  But you can have fellow Bumbles who laugh and don't mind a bit about the bugs, and hey--it was cooler so we didn't need air conditioning for the drive home anyway.

21 comments:

  1. My book club (only Pulitzer winners for fiction, meets as we can) is reading the most recent winner, The Orphan Master's Son. Stunning. A great read. You MUST read it.

    It's like 90% humidity here - when it's not raining. And mid to upper 80's or 90's everyday. The South was civilized by air conditioning!

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  2. I am reading the newly discovered Rowling, A Cuckoo's Calling, and it is quite good.

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  3. I really need to find a book club here...or are the very least, some drinking buddies! This week has been freezing in the desert!!! We've hit 100 for as long as I can remember, but this week has been low 80's and we don't know how to handle it (kid you not, boy#2 is in jeans and a long sleeve thermal!).

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  4. I go back and forth with the "find a book club" idea. Mostly I fear having to read something I won't like. I've got my own eclectic taste and not a lot of patience for books that aren't my thing. But... I would very much like to experience the kind of discussions you mention. So maybe that's going to be my mission when my kids are all launched.
    --Shrink on the Couch

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  5. I think I have recently backed my way into a book club. Exciting stuff.

    I have started "A Casual Vacancy". I haven't been able to get past the opening chapters with the sudden death of a 44 year old man of a heart attack, which is way too close to my life. I'm almost ready to pick it back up - I'll let you know what I think when I do.

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    1. And I need to add that thanks to the goodness of a neighbor, I was able to get our house shut up with the AC on because I've only had it in my car. And one can only drive around so much....

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  6. But why did those pioneers settle there in the first place with all those midges and gnats, or did they get there in a kinder season when there weren't any? I always wonder about those things, or was their hunger for land so big that they took that for granted? And all those Dutch dairy farmers? How did they put up with it?

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  7. I was never impressed with J.K. Rowling's writing, but now I'm hearing about this mystery she wrote, and Casual Vacancy. I'll have to give her another look.

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  8. I'm interested to know what you and your reading group thought of
    A Casual Vacancy - I'd heard lots about it but mostly bad - maybe worth a read?

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  9. Oh jeez, bugs on a hot night. Dang!

    My friend makes jam and agrees, it always rolls around on the hottest days of the year. But oh how I enjoy her labors. nothing like homemade jam. Nothing.

    Stay cool. xo jj

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  10. I have sympathy for your heat. I have two sisters in Michigan sweating it out along with my folks close to Madison as we enjoy BEAUTIFUL, cool, rainy weather here in Texas. It's a switch but thanks for giving us a go at it.

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  11. At least with a name like "The Bumble Book Club," you were sort of mentally prepared for the flies, right?

    Your book club sounds just so ... juicy! That kind of discourse is such a treat.

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  12. I don't think the bugs around here know about not biting midday. I have a TON of bites and I have only been out midday. Stupid mosquitos. My kids always ask me why God made mosquitos and I really can't come up with anything. Dumb bug.

    Anyway!

    So glad you had a lovely book club meeting and that your friends are such good sports. ;) Are you a Stephen King fan? Have you read Under the Dome? I'd be curious to know what you think of it.

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  13. Glad you had a nice book club meeting! I joined a newly formed book club earlier this year and really appreciate its forcing me to make time to read, and to be able to discuss books with people is always fun. If you ever decide to read some local authors and deem my novel worthy of your time I'd be happy to participate in a book club discussion!

    http://the-quiet-corner.blogspot.com/p/almost-there.html

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  14. Thank goodness for Book Clubs and women who enjoy a good discussion. Provides a focus often lost while doing the mom thing. I put a combined 315000 miles on two vans. Hauled those book and bunco groups lots of places, too.

    I'll look into the book. Enjoy the cool coming your way. We had a few days of it - now back to the heat.

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  15. Ok I have never made jam myself so those who do are amazing, as for the heat well I just came in from pegging the washing on the line and bloody hell is it cold outside my fingers are numb from the cold. But even though I like to complain at times I do like the cold it is a nice change from the heat......

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  16. My friend and I have just extricated ourselves from our longtime book group that was no longer focusing on the books; we've started a new one and I have high hopes.

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  17. I didn't realize there was an advantage to picking berries during the day! It makes sense though.
    I wish I was part of a book club! A friend tried to start one with her tight group of friends and I was welcomed in...and we started out great-we read The Good Wife which was fabulous-but only half the group finished the book and the other half just discussed what they knew of Laura Bush (who the book is loosely based on). After that, the book club became the wine club, and since I don't drink wine, I opted out. I should find a new club!! Way to stay positive in the midst of a heat storm. :)

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  18. I didn't realize there was an advantage to picking berries during the day! It makes sense though.
    I wish I was part of a book club! A friend tried to start one with her tight group of friends and I was welcomed in...and we started out great-we read The Good Wife which was fabulous-but only half the group finished the book and the other half just discussed what they knew of Laura Bush (who the book is loosely based on). After that, the book club became the wine club, and since I don't drink wine, I opted out. I should find a new club!! Way to stay positive in the midst of a heat storm. :)

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  19. My book club hasn't met for 2 months and since we are both book group and support group for one another, I'm feeling the loss.. but August is coming!
    Thanks for the book recommendation and the reminder of why I love air conditioning. (I hate bugs.)

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Spill it, reader.