Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reading the Situation: Visiting Mitford

I love words.  Always have.  Taught myself to read when I was three or four years old.....well, my sister got me started by teaching the ABCs but she was busy and stopped somewhere around G or H.  I got bored of waiting so I figured out the rest on my own.  Precocious!

But I wasn't a good student.  This was partly due to the fact that my family moved frequently--by the time I graduated high school, I had gone to about ten schools in half a dozen US states.  Also partly due to the fact that my family wasn't interested--I don't ever recall being asked about my homework or encouraged to do it, except once for when I got in trouble for not learning multiplication tables.  And I missed quite a lot of school due to illness on several occasions (this amounted to about half the year for both second and fourth grades) or due to simply not bothering to finish a year when we moved.  My education just wasn't a matter of concern.  I managed to skate through solely thanks to an excellent memory.

When I went off to college the first time, I flunked out due to having no idea how to study or even being aware that I should.  This was how I happened to end up at a junior college later--I was starting over.  By the time I realized that I absolutely loved school and taking lots of classes, it was already very nearly over for me.  In my senior year of college, I fell ill with the disability that has troubled me ever since.  Oh, I kept going through four more years of graduate school and got more than three-quarters of the way in on my thesis (it was an extended annotated bibliography--a true research/reader's field if ever there was one) when I suddenly lost the ability to read anything at all. 

Aphasia.  I couldn't read a stop sign.  It was just another cruel trick from my disability.  With much effort (using large print books from the library and filling in untold puzzles of many varieties), I learned all over again.

Anyway, I'm sure I've written about all this old boring stuff before and am simply repeating myself myself myself.....  The problem lately, though, is that my old enemy has been springing up.  Oh, it's never far away.  I have to focus and practice to keep reading.....and I have to keep at it daily.  But I wasn't.  For no particular reason, I haven't been reading books for several months and my ability to do so began to be an issue again.  Oh, I still read stuff online but that's different because there's a light behind the letters; the printed page is flat.  But I don't want to read eBooks--staring at screens too much makes for headaches for one thing.  More importantly, I like to annotate the books I read--can't do that with a screen.

I knew I needed to start reading books again.  I shouldn't wait or it would just get worse.  Starting with something I had read before would be the least stressful and most sensible I decided to pay a visit to Jan Karon's Mitford series.  Wonderful books.  I only very rarely read fiction--I'm still a scholar at heart so I prefer hard history--but Mitford is like coming home to somewhere you've never been before.  The Mitford novels are entertaining and funny and wise. 

If you haven't visited Mitford, I'd encourage you to do so.    I'm just finishing up the first book:  At Home in Mitford.  Maybe I'll read all the rest (there are 13 of them, and I can heartily recommend all but one) right the way through.  It's a temptation but it's a worthwhile temptation and it's like re-orienting yourself in an out-of-control world.

You can learn more here:  Jan Karon's Mitford.

The only problem with these books is that they always inspire me to want to make Orange Marmalade Cake (one of the stars in the Mitford universe) again.  Oh, so tasty!  I assure you that there is absolutely nothing better.  (You can find the recipe at the bottom of this page.)

Now I think I'll just go make another mug of tea and read another chapter or two.  And I'll contemplate the notion of making an Orange Marmalade.

Life is good.

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