Notes from Mt. Bookpile

The second half of the year hasn't been bad for reading.  I caught up (and then passed) my annual goal over the summer, giving me some breathing room for the rest of the year.  Between work and vacations, three-day weekends and Winter Break, I've managed to stay on target.  Here's to a great next year of reading.


  • A ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market, Raul Gonzalez III
  • The Full House and the Empty House, LK James
  • Vroom!, Barbara McClintock
  • Sea Bear, Lindsay Moore
  • Bear Came Along, Richard T. Morris
  • Hey, Water!, Antoinette Portis
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Isabel Quintero
  • Who Wet My Pants?, Bob Shea
  • You Are Home, Evan Turk
  • A Stone Sat Still, Brendan Wenzel
  • Elvis Is King!, Jonah Winter

Children's/Young Adult Fiction

Children's/Young Adult Speculative Fiction




Speculative Fiction

A Year Since

This time last year, my mother was still alive... barely.  In another hour, she wouldn't be alive any longer.

Since then, my father has taken baby steps into a life without her.  Since then, my sister and I have adjusted to talking about "Dad" rather than "Mom and Dad".  Since then, we've all had time to think about how much we miss her and how we connect without her around.

I'll just put this here, as a brief reminder of what a year is.  Trite?  Sure.  But still meaningful.


Last Man Standing

In the summer of 1969 we moved into SmallVillage.  There were many families at our end of the street (including one family with two single children, one pair of twins and then triplets!), old enough to play with or be babysitters. 

First the family across the street moved to Singapore (something I remembered years later, scaring the woman who had lived there), but a family with four children moved in.  Then the next door family moved, replaced with a family with two children my sister and I would babysit for a few years later.  The "new" family across the street moved in 1981, but we became close with the newer family.  Slowly things changed during the 30+ year stretch between my going to school and my parents needing our help for the summer.  In January 2019, the only long term residents were us, the people across the street, and the family next to them.  Then the 90-year-old in number 12 got ill and was moved to an assisted living facility, never to return.  The family in number 14 decided to downsize, and moved out over the past month.

My father has just left to visit my sister and her family so he won't be home, alone, on the anniversary of my mother's death.  When he comes back, he'll be the last man standing living on our end of the street. It's only a matter of time before he, too leaves.  An era, nearly over.


Four Years (or 1, 461 days) Ago

Exactly four years ago I learned that my left optic nerve was inflamed, and that I would need steroids to try to fix things.

Since then I've had innumerable blood tests, two three-day courses of steroids, gone on oral steroids and immunosuppresants, taken other medications to protect me while on those drugs, had three MRIs, one CAT and one PET scan, and visited three different doctors (an ophthalmologist, a neuro ophthalmologist and a retinal specialist) at a rate of about one a month.  And as a pleasant side effect, I've had three ultrasounds and visits to two other doctors because my eye doctors "just want to be sure" things are ok.  Sigh.

Luckily, things have stabilized and there's hope that maybe all this will taper off -- despite my eye not completely ever getting back to 100%, I can live with what I have now.

Then about a month ago I learned that an art teacher I know in SmallCity has been experiencing the same symptoms.  Thus far it's just oral steroids and some improvement, and I'm praying that this will be all she needs.  If she does relapse (as I did) well... her health care is nowhere near as comprehensive as mine is, not to mention that SmallCity isn't known for being a hotbed of medical excellence.

Looking back, those 1,461 days haven't been all bad.  I've gone to Dublin and Amsterdam and Montreal, and seen some great performances, and generally manage to get through my life with only fatigue and some minor inconveniences (like the timing of my "nighttime" pills, or muscle weakness).  I can't imagine being at the start of this, teaching art for a living and without the best hospitals/doctors and full health coverage.

In other words, don't feel bad for me, but please keep her in your hearts.