Sniffle sniffle

I'm on day 2 of a pretty bad cold, courtesy of Daniel. So here I am at home, using up whole boxes of Kleenex, instead of at book group.

Probably just as well, since I haven't finished the book yet. However, I will finish it in a day or two. Refuge is a woman's beautifully-written memoir about two things happening at the same time: her mother is dying of cancer, and her "refuge," a bird sanctuary in Utah, is being destroyed by the rising water level of Great Salt Lake. The rising water level is a natural occurrence; normally the birds would just move upstream, but they can't because of human population growth. Interspersed among the details of the cancer progression -- not so much medical details as emotional details -- are descriptions of the birds and the terrain. I wish I knew more about birds. I must confess that although the cancer aspect of the book is extremely moving and beautifully written, the bird stuff leaves me cold. I've never even heard of half the birds she talks about (phalarope? avocet? heck, they could be lizards, fish, even plants, for all I know), and I certainly have no mental pictures. Tanager? Could weigh 5 ounces, could weigh 5 pounds. Could be hot pink with a purple beak. I have no clue.

The cancer is not a normal occurrence; the mother is in her early 50s when she dies, and it seems that she probably got it, along with most of the other women in the author's family, as a result of being exposed to fallout from nuclear tests in the surrounding desert. So far she hasn't talked very much about that aspect, but I'm hoping that in the remaining pages she'll get more into that.

The dying mother is an amazing woman. She accepts her impending death more easily than her family does. She does go gently into that good night; it's the family that rages against the dying of the light, though in the end they are accepting, too. I sobbed at the death scene; I can't even imagine how someone who didn't have two extremely healthy (and cute) parents would react.

Doulicia, who's hosting tonight, asked us to think about what our own refuges are. I thought about it a lot. I don't think I have one. At least, not a physical place, the way the author of this book does. I retreat into books and daydreams and solitude. I can do that anywhere.

What's your refuge?


  • Faith is my refuge. Everything can be cruddy, including me--but I still have a faith at my core. It sustains me.

    posted by Blogger mrsd on 11:24 PM  

  • PS. Hope you feel better. My youngest has given me a cold too.
    :( Ah, well. Such is life.

    posted by Blogger mrsd on 11:25 PM  

  • Refuge? hmm. I think I spend a lot of time in it, and it is a state of mind. Books are a more tangible one I guess, and I use them too. I don't much like being in my refuge all the time, it's not useful, and I'd rather connect with people on a deeper level (at least from my end) than on the superficial level that I am often left with. Maybe the internet is a refuge from that! Hmm, a bit inarticulate at the moment. Also been sick with a 36 hour nausea (felt exactly like a day and a half hangover) not pleasant, but a good excuse to do the detox water/fruit fast I'd been planning for a while! I hope your sniffles abate soon, and that your book comes through with the goods at the end.

    posted by Blogger Mummy/Crit on 7:31 AM  

  • Definitely books. I can completely suspend the outer world when I'm immersed in a good book. I don't often get the chance to get immersed these days, but even a magazine will do in a pinch!

    posted by Blogger Suzanne on 10:10 AM  

  • I guess that has been alot of my problem lately. I haven't had a refuge that I felt I could turn to for relief and renewal. You know, not alot of time alone or out of the house or intellectual stimulation from adults....

    It's a good question Julie. I'm going to be working on this more.

    posted by Blogger Sleeping Mommy on 10:52 AM  

  • Personally I would love to have a good book group, I wish there were some around here. And yeah I've checked.

    posted by Blogger Sleeping Mommy on 10:53 AM  

  • Books have always been my refuge. I know when life is getting me down because I have to hit the library twice a week.

    And Sleeping Mommy, just start your own book group. That's what I did--you'd be surprised how many people would like to be involved.

    posted by Blogger SuzanH on 7:54 PM  

  • Hope you feel better soon. My refuges depend on my mood. They run the gamut from laughing/sharing/enjoying close friends or family to painting, to reading, to dancing, to photographing nature...They all share the inexplicable feeling, as a friend describe it of being in "one's zone", as if I'm in a cocoon far removed from daily routines. I lose all track of time and feel so free. Ahhhhhhhhh

    posted by Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) on 1:45 AM  

  • Interesting answers, you guys!

    Mrsd: faith was also a refuge for the author of the book, who's a devout Mormon. Clearly her faith sustained her, especially during the time when her physical sanctuary (the bird refuge) was disappearing under the rising lake.

    Crit: I was thinking the internet might be a refuge for me, too. It's amazing how you can find like-minded people so easily. But the difference between you and me is, given the chance, I'd spend 24/7 in my refuge if I could. That was a bold statement! and possibly not true. I don't know. Hope you're feeling better!

    Suzanne & Suzan: Books! Me too!

    Sleeping Mommy: It's so hard when the children are so little, and close together in age. I hope you are able to find something, soon. "Down time" is so important. And yeah, you should start your own book group. My friend and I started this one, and it was very easy. We just asked around and almost everyone we asked said yes. But if that doesn't work you could ask your public library to start one up. And you can always read along with my group! :) I'll post the next book as soon as I know what it is.

    Gel: What you said about the zone is so true. Madeleine L'Engle writes about that -- the zone where you're outside time, so to speak. She says that's where you are your true self.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 6:07 AM  

  • ta julie, definitely feeling better. how is your cod?

    I remembered after replying that I used to use a hot bath as a refuge, but not since D'Arcy was born - no time, and not much inclination as we bathed together for years until he got into showers....too much information? I'm good at that.

    posted by Blogger Mummy/Crit on 7:12 AM  

  • P.S. I hope you feel *much* better before Mom's Day. Happy Mom's Day to you, one of my bibliophiliac friends.(I think I made up a word ;)

    posted by Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) on 2:42 AM  

  • A Wrinkle in Time made such a profound impression on me when I was in elementary school, I cannot adequately desribe it's impact.
    Thank you for further info about its author. You're always a wealth of interesting info.

    (I think blogging has become a type of refuge for me, too. IT feeds that insatiable thirst for knowledge drive allowing me small doses on chosen topics instead of force-fed newspapers, etc. As one who is a voracious reader, as most of your readers undoubtedly are, I feel rush reading short pieces while printing giclee prints of my artwork, tweaking graphics, answering work email, and yes, taking a break from writing other places than on a blog.

    If I read a book while trying to do these tasks, I'd become lost in the book plus not accomplish the other work. ;) Blog reading can be like reading abstracts.

    posted by Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) on 2:50 AM  

  • Wrinkle in Time, me too!! And other books by her as well. For a while now I've been debating whether or not to go back and reread some of them. I'm afraid they might not be as good as I remember them. Her novels for adults are pretty cheesy.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 7:42 AM  

  • I didn't reread them when my daughters did for the very reason you mentioned. It's like the play "Our Town." I don't think you can go back to certain books. For me, I want to preserve the incredible impact she had on me as an elementary school child. It was as magical as her book(s).

    I did try an adult book of hers and didn't finish it. I can't recall which one. It was a while ago. I'm glad you're so patient with me b/c I used to be a voracious reader, but with long working hours, I'm much more on the sidelines now.

    I soak up your blog by osmosis. :) It feels cozy like a virtual library & book group combined. I'm so glad you commented on mrsd's blog way back so we "met." :)

    posted by Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) on 11:55 PM  

  • Gel, thank you for such a sweet compliment!

    It's ironic how blogging cuts into my very limited reading time to such a huge degree. When I first started this blog I thought I'd be posting about a couple of books per week, and back then I probably could have. Now I'm lucky if I can read a couple of books per month.

    Your comment that "you can't go back to certain books" will be the subject of my next post just as soon as I can organize my thoughts. I have tons, TONS, to say on that topic!

    posted by Blogger Julie on 6:20 AM