Skip to content

conjugating hope

2013 November 15
by Rachel Turiel

At home:

at home

Primitive travel.



We call this November in the Southwest.

I have two books to recommend to you today. I’ve been gripping the raft of transporting books lately because my own mind is full of sharks and sneaker waves. My symptoms are flaring up and as I told the kids at our family meeting last Sunday, there are two things I’m working very hard on right now, one of which is this auto-immune condition. To work very hard and feel worse is bringing up a fair amount of cursing, crying, and spending money formerly alloted to beer and pastries on various healers. And reading.

I’ve changed my Pandora shuffle to all women (emmy lou, gillian welch, joni, lucinda, be good tanyas) partially because Rose recently remarked, most of the singers are men, and also because the women do “melancholy poet” so well. When I explained to Rose what was behind my puffy red eyes this morning, she said, “That sounds really hard, Mama. I’d be frustrated too if that were happening to me.” Her unprompted and sincere empathy may be the very definition of silver lining.

But the books! I’m so grateful for the medicine of stories, in which no one is appraising the latest batch of bone broth for jiggly clumps of gelatin, nor trying to coax bereft children back into their own lives.

The Rules of Civility was so beautifully written, so light and smooth, reading it was like watching the effortless gliding of professional ice skaters. The book takes place in Manhattan in the late 1930’s and is about luck, fate, love and class (I stole that from the Chicago Tribune review, but it’s 100% true).

Here’s a gorgeous line from Rules of Civility:

“The little planes no longer circled the Empire State Building, but it was still a view that practically conjugated hope: I have hoped; I am hoping; I will hope.”

The second book recommendation is the first book I’ve ever read by Nick Hornby, who has written a trillion best sellers, and only just last week my friend Kati mentions he’s one of her favorite writers, which is like after spending approximately 324 hours with a particular friend, having her just casually mention she’s descended from unicorns. Which is to say, the man can write like a mofo. I’m reading Juliet, Naked, which is about tracking down the meaning of our lives, how people join together and move apart, the courage to do your art, and people who have a particular fondness (cough*obsession*cough) for certain musical artists (If the shoe fits, Kristi…). It’s probably about even more, but I’m not quite done yet.

Finally, Dan and the kids like to take early morning Sunday drives in the winter, which may be a euphemism for “looking for roadkill.” Appropriately, they’ve made badges to make everything more official.


True badges, with mounted safety pins on the back; Rose’s yet to come.

Also, taking book and female singer suggestions.


70 Responses leave one →
  1. Lorre permalink
    November 15, 2013

    Listen to Grace Potter! She’s great.

  2. Sara Parks permalink
    November 15, 2013

    Valerie June and Eilen Jewell. Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

  3. Linda permalink
    November 15, 2013

    An old, great friend of mine gave me Eleni Mandell’s Afternoon once. It’s one of my favorite discs. And there’s always k.d. lang…
    best to you!

  4. Mamietkd permalink
    November 15, 2013

    The Wailin’ Jennys, one of my favorites! Sending positive thoughts your way!

  5. November 15, 2013

    Damn, I’ve noticed that same “all the singers are male” phenomena myself, and with my eldest getting into music big time, I’d like to show that there are female musicians out there, too. The trouble is, I hardly listen to any female musicians, and when I hear many (most?), I cringe. Something about that high register that I don’t like (I also can’t stand flutes, recorders, or whistling, so I don’t think it’s an inherently sexist thing, but I’ll keep examining that to be sure).

    As for books, I just finished reading There are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry. Oh, my. If you love language (who doesn’t love language?) you must read him, if you can get your hands on a copy (and also an audio version of his novel City of Bohane, but you can’t listen to it with kids around). Here’s a sample to get you excited: (from his other story collection, which I need to get ahold of stat).

    Good luck with the meat broth/gelatin/good book cure.

  6. November 15, 2013

    Female singers: The Crane Wives (Youtube their song, “How To Rest”)
    Book: Drop City

    Hope you get to feeling better!

  7. November 15, 2013

    Well, if you know about The Be Good Tanyas, you’re ahead of the game. And Gillian Welch is a goddess. Another favorite gal singer/songwriter of mine is Regina Spektor. Enjoy the tunes and the books and the venison. xo

  8. Hillary Ross permalink
    November 15, 2013

    I love the badges-so cool!!!- but we are wondering what they do with the roadkill?

  9. November 15, 2013

    Oh yum, book recommendations. I’ll be gobbling them up via library request. Thanks!

    (And I love Be Good Tanyas, mesmerizing.)

  10. Jill permalink
    November 15, 2013

    My favorite female singer/songwriter is Nancy Griffith. Keeping the positive thoughts coming your way for relief and healing…

  11. Andrea permalink
    November 15, 2013

    they say it will get better before it gets worse. your immune system has been fighting this fight for so long. be patient. stay strong.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 15, 2013

      I thought it got worse before it got better…anyhow, I think I’m due for some better.

      • Andrea permalink
        November 18, 2013

        I am really laughing at myself for saying it will get better before worse. I meant to say worse before better. A simple reverse of word order, but I can’t help but wonder what I was really trying to say underneath that pleasant and gentle encouragement. Probably something like ‘diets fucking suck’.

  12. November 15, 2013

    what in tarnation is going on, Rachel? i’ve had concern around the edges of my thoughts of you, knowing there was ‘some health thing’ going on…then you throw in words casually like ‘auto-immune’ and i’m ready to pack my bags and come play nurse! if you ever want to just shoot me an email full of cuss words and complaining, i’m here to listen.

    those badges are supremely excellent.

    music! i give a big second to nanci griffith (youtube “mary margaret”). kate wolf, who you probably know from growing up in the bay, will remind you of our golden hills. ‘the civil wars’ does have a male singer, but he duets with a woman, and their voices are so rich and silky, i don’t think you’ll mind him at all. and finally…edie brickell and steve martin! we’re the same age, so surely you remember edie from the 90s? in their new album, steve wrote the music, sent it to edie, she wrote the lyrics and does all the singing. we’ve had it on repeat for weeks. xo

    • November 15, 2013

      p.s. ‘barton hollow’ by the civil wars is the album to check out.

      • Milla permalink
        November 22, 2013

        and so is their new self-titled!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 15, 2013

      Mary, you’re kind. I’m still coming to terms with the phrase “auto-immune” myself.

  13. November 15, 2013

    Oh Rachel…. What a strange post for me to jump in on after being away for so long…. Hope everything is okay… I like the Swedish folk band called First Aid Kit…. (((Hugs)))

  14. November 15, 2013

    Recently discovered Kacey Musgraves, who captures exactly how I felt in high school, when I was so determined to not lead the conventional life I saw around me.


  15. November 15, 2013

    Conjugating hope in your direction, sweetie.

    I have a Babes and a Dudes station. Some recommendations from Babes: Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Eva Cassedy, Melody Gardot.

    As someone else mentioned above, Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” is wonderful.

    • Susan S permalink
      November 15, 2013

      I would just like to second, third and fourth the Patty Griffin and Eva Cassedy. Would probably jump on the bandwagon with the others if I knew who they were. Here’s my favorite Patty Griffin:

  16. Danielle G permalink
    November 15, 2013

    The Tiger’s Wife. Some of the most beautiful writing I have ever encountered and the author wrote the book when SHE was 24!

  17. dale_in_denver permalink
    November 15, 2013

    Sorry your hard healing work is not reaping rewards just yet – healing from the inside out can be a long and challenging task. Don’t lose hope. Rose’s empathy is, indeed, a silver lining – but not at all unexpected because she has such wonderful role models in her parents. Female melancholy brings to mind for me The Cranberries. Sinead O’Connor might fit in there. Some melacholy, some upbeat – Cheryl Crow. And how about the Indigo Girls? I’ve always loved them. Thank you for the introduction to The Be Good Tanyas. Clearly I’m in a music time warp with the bands I’ve come up with…..

  18. Danielle G permalink
    November 15, 2013

    OK, hope this doesn’t sound too obnoxious, but I didn’t love Strayed. I love backpacking and I have hiked much of the PCT. I certainly think her story is a good one, predictable, but good. The writing is good, but not GREAT. just my opinion. Still worth the read, but more in the category of “beach reading” not “soul-stirring.” Perhaps knowing the movie version will star Reese Witherspoon tainted my experience with the book.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 15, 2013

      I acually agree. Her story is amazing. Her courage, her chutzpah, her journey, all amazing…but her writing in Wild wasn’t the most stirring for me either. However, her book Tiny Beautiful Things is a motherfreaking gift to humanity.

  19. Danielle G permalink
    November 15, 2013

    I meant “Wild” not “Strayed.” LOL. Need more coffee!

  20. Megan permalink
    November 15, 2013

    Laura Marling has been fueling my melancholy poet november. Especially her album Once I was an Eagle. She has a Joni Mitchell, Fiona Apple-y feel to her.

  21. November 15, 2013

    Sending you much love and support, dear friend! My favorite “poor me” music (that music I listen to when I’m feeling particularly melancholy or heartbroken) is Patty Griffin. Her first album, Living with Ghosts, is raw and beautiful. I’d be happy to burn you a copy if you so desire! XXX000

    • Susan S permalink
      November 15, 2013

      Oh, how very true! Living with Ghosts is indispensable!

  22. Carrie permalink
    November 15, 2013

    Dar Williams. Mary Chapin Carpenter. And seconds on Gillian Welch.

  23. Sarah Z permalink
    November 15, 2013

    I love Laura Veirs. “Carbon Glacier” is a particular favorite – love!

    Also a big fan of Neko Case.

  24. Chelsie permalink
    November 15, 2013

    This is one of my favorite songs!
    Also the group MaMuse and their song Hallelujah, The Wailin Jennys as others have mentioned and
    Misty River
    Alison Krauss
    Loreena McKennit
    Eva Cassidy
    Indigo Girls
    KT Tunstall
    Tina Malia

  25. lilly hancock permalink
    November 15, 2013

    Brandi Carlile!

    Rules of Civility is one of my favorites, so happy you enjoyed it!

  26. November 15, 2013

    I can’t even remember when I first found your blog, but I believe it had something to do with sheet mulching or something permaculture-related. Whatever it was that brought me here, I’m glad I stayed. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune issue back in June and it has completely thrown my world for a loop. I’ve been to natural healer after natural healer and been so optimistic that I’m on the right track only to eventually realize that supplement, that naturopath, that acupuncturist, that voodoo-not-even-sure-what-was-going-on-there-healer wasn’t necessarily changing the path. It can be so frustrating to not know which approach might be the right one, and to be told by conventional means there is only one way to “treat” it with scarier than all hell immune suppressors. I DO feel like healing is taking place in its own time and way though, even if it isn’t as fast as I want. And I DO hope yours comes along. Just know you are not alone in that big, big quest for immune system healing.

    I was just reading something on the healing power of music. :) I’d add Rising Appalachia, MaMuse, Alison Krauss, Brandi Carlisle.

    Books – I’m alternating “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and “You Can Beat the Odds” by Brenda Stockdale.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 15, 2013

      Thank you, Melanie. Sincerely.

  27. Jessica permalink
    November 15, 2013

    So many good music selections above! I’m going to pull a 180º and throwout The Pretenders. Sometimes you just need a chick who sounds like she is going to kick anyone’s ass and back it up with some strong guitar!

    I think it’s very special that you are explaining your health struggles with your kids. My mom had an autoimmune disease, but kept it hidden until much later. I would have been much more empathetic walking in to the puffy eyes and frustrations if I had understood the battle in an age appropriate way.

    Sending many virtual hugs and lots of hope your way.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 15, 2013

      Hugs received, and your Chrissie Hynde reference made me laugh, which is worth a lot these days.

  28. Rachel Turiel permalink*
    November 15, 2013

    You guys are the kindest, most supportive people. I am feeling the love. Also, my Pandora station is about to blow up with awesomeness. Thank you.

  29. November 15, 2013

    Ohh the Be Good Tanyas! Love’em!
    Damn, it really sucks that you are having a flare up after all the efforts… I can totally relate to that feeling of frustration, despair and sadness accentuated by the pain your feel… I truly hope you will find relief… I know all about very strict elimination diet and the frustration that accompanies them (and all the great stories of people who healed themselves on them too…!! Why not me!! I know the feeling…). Hang in there, keep searching, keep trying… Sometimes it’s one little thing that sets us back (in my case – severe migraines that kept me in bed more than 50% of the time – I finally pinpointed that yeast intolerance was the problem. I had cut every possible food out of my diet, but them realized that it was actually the great fermented food I was making – lacto-fermented veggies, kombucha, kefir, the fermented mayo and raw sour crean, and more – that were causing my pain… even the leftovers were a trigger since naturally occuring MSG developped in them after a day or so in the fridge! No wonder I could not find what was wrong!).

  30. Susan S permalink
    November 15, 2013

    One more Patty Griffin, called No Bad News. You will be unable to sit still, and Rose will love it!

  31. Emmanuelle permalink
    November 16, 2013

    Oh Rachel, I am sad for you and worried. I hope things get better soon! They have to. The path to self-healing is often a tough one, but so worth it – and you have been such a brave cookie :o)

    I fully recommend these books, as a first mini-selection plucked out specially for you from my favourite reads of all times:

    West with the night, by Beryl Markham – inspiring, incredibly well written, thoroughly genuine memoir. It’s one of the few I actually own (90 % of my reading list is scattered in libraries on both sides of the Atlantic).

    Delta Wedding, by Eudora Welty – also The Robber Bridegroom and The Optimist’s Daughter, in fact most of her works, particularly her Collected Stories. She has a genius for telling a story, short or long, that is at once totally rooted in real life (mostly in the Mississippi Delta where she lived) and unmistakably uncanny in her own way, so that she has you paying attention to all the details – dialogues, sensations, drifting thoughts, everything is mesmerizing

    The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, a true wonder

    Safekeeping, by Abigail Thomas: a memoir in which she writes in a deceptively simple way that holds a lot in each short page

    Sister crazy, by Emma Richler: told from the point of view of a very observant girl with four siblings (whose father was Mordecai Richler) this is a warm, funny and endearing not-quite-fiction set of stories from their childhood.

    Let me know if you have read them already, for I have more up my sleeve !

    In the music department, I usually go to acoustic guitar and similar string instruments, which I find very soothing and uplifting at the same time. Try Ballaké Sissoko (Kora) or Anouar Brahem (Ud) The Astounding Eyes of Rita.

    Hugs xo

    • Emmanuelle permalink
      November 16, 2013

      Two small notes here : all of the books above are actually on my own book shelves (too bad I live too far to lend them to you!)

      And : The Astounding Eyes of Rita is one of Anouar Brahem CDs, all of which are subtle, slightly jazzy collaborations with musicians from various origins.

      Similarly, Ballaké Sissoko collaborates with a cellist, Vincent Segal, in Chamber Music – a lovely, thoughtful work that sounds like early June to me :o)

  32. Carrie permalink
    November 16, 2013

    Sending well wishes and healing vibes.
    My dear friend here in Los Angeles an
    Awesome doctor told me so many people are being misdiagnosed with auto immune
    When what they have is lyme-super hard to diagnosis because the tests aren’t accurate.
    Had to put that out there.
    Forgive me for meddling
    All love carrie

  33. November 16, 2013

    Blessings to you, Rachel, and many thanks for compiling (via your lovely community) such a fantastic list of artists.

  34. November 17, 2013

    I’ll second The Tiger’s Wife and The God of Small Things. I’d be curious to here your take on “The Legend of Colton H Bryant”. And thanks for the intro to Be Good Tanyas. I’m impressed that you are name-dropping Pandora–last I recall, you were still busting out the mixed tapes! I still don’t really know what it is (I suppose I could google that, but I’d rather sit here and write a comment on your blog); I have an ipod, does that count? Music…I’ll second (or 4th or something) Alison Krauss and Brandi Carlisle, plus throw in some First Aid Kit (Emmylou, Wolf, Lion’s Roar, To a Poet, Tiger Mountain Peasant Song…), also “Animal Tracks” by Mountain Man (a female group) wouldn’t hurt. Hmmmm…I see a theme emerging here what with tigers and lions and wolves, oh my!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      November 17, 2013

      Pandora *is* the new mixed tape.

      • Sara Parks permalink
        November 17, 2013

        Try spotify darlings… WHOLE albums… yea.

  35. November 17, 2013

    The female singer songwriter may be my most favorite category, ever.
    Neko Case, Tanya Donnelly, Caitlin Rose, Sharon Van Etten, Jenny Lewis. She & Him are lovely to listen to. Shovels & Rope are pretty amazing. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. Edie Brickell – not just her new album with Steve Martin, but all her solo work. I’m sure there are many more, but that’s a good start.

  36. janie permalink
    November 18, 2013

    Darling, I was hoping that you were were feeling fantastic and fine again. ((((hugs))) and silliness your way. I raced yesterday with a pulled calf and made it worse (but maintained my 3rd place elite standings)…that’s some real silliness.
    love you,

  37. November 18, 2013

    natalie maines, the former lead singer of the dixie chicks. her album is mother, she covers pink floyd, pearl jam, ben harper sings back up vocals on it. awesome album.

    patty griffin’s new album american kid is insanely good too (robert plant is the not-too-shabby backup singer there…. not that any of us around here like him…) she grieves the loss of her dad on the album, if i understand correctly, so the melancholy poetry is strong. and the woman can belt it out. great for driving alone.

    i really like girl on fire (alicia keys) and i love adele.

    local oregon female artists that rock my socks: the shook twins, anna tivel (anna and the underbelly), and enion pelta of the band taarka.

    we’ve been enjoying steve and edie, as mary suggested.

    also a big fan of brandi carlile, gillian, allison kraus, indigo girls, nancy griffith, bonnie raitt, and yes to chrissy hynde!!!!

    natalie merchant is another stand by. suzanne vega. beth orton. emmylou. lucinda. shawn colvin. iris dement. liz phair. aimee mann. cowboy junkies. tori amos. pink. joan osborne. joan baez. sinead o’connor. billie holiday. nina simone. annie lennox.

    susan tedeschi also rocks my socks. what an amazing voice!

    i am a huge fan of ani difranco. i know she’s not everyone’s idea of a good time. i haven’t figured out why. but she is the number one melancholy poet (and in recent a;bums now that her life is wonderful, happy poet) that i know. she is my favorite artist of all, and i believe her music has healing powers for all women.

    female singer songwriters and bands are sort of a passion of mine… for the very reason you stated- the singers are not all men! dammit!

    dissertation over.

    this is the first i’ve heard you utter “auto-immune”. that is heavy. it’s in my family, i know the frustration second-hand from my mom. i want to send you a lot of hugs.

    i will hope.

    i love the roadkill patrol!!!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 21, 2013

      “Ani is my favorite artist of all, and i believe her music has healing powers for all women.”
      Love this because I am picturing doctors all over the world prescribing to afflicted women: listening to albums of Ani.

  38. Claire Ninde permalink
    November 18, 2013

    So sorry to hear of your health struggles and healing thoughts coming your way. Along a different genre than most of what has been mentioned, I love Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. Sweet Honey n the Rock, as well.

    Your post is amazing again. I so look forward to it.


  39. Anonymous permalink
    November 18, 2013

    Music: Jenny Lewis, Joanna Newsom, Sharon van Etten.

    Books: Rachel Kushner is amazing–I read the Flamethrowers first and now I’m into Telex from Cuba, which was her first.

    Aren’t our bodies so humbling and doesn’t it suck sometimes? I just love what Rose said. Sending more love and empathy your way!!!xoxo

  40. Marlene permalink
    November 18, 2013

    ….and Emmylou Harris!

  41. November 18, 2013

    Love this, love the comments! Well, I don’t love you feeling like shit. That sucks. And I just know, have known and will know that this is leading somwhere. Right? Somewhere.

    Female faves, now: Lykke Li, Heart, Ani, Ella Fitzferald.

    with lots and lots of love,

  42. Morgan permalink
    November 20, 2013

    I second (third? 50th?) all of the above favorite female singer/songwriters, and want to add a new one who I’ve just discovered– Valerie June. Her album is fantastic!
    I hope your spiral of healing continues upward.

  43. November 21, 2013

    musica fantastica: ani d, paper bird (homegrown in colorado), zap mama if yer feeling uber afro-pea funky.

    so glad yer loving nick hornby. so sad yer still struggling with those damn bullshit symptoms. that is *tough*. let’s walk soon. xoxo, shady dreadlesssss of the unicorn clan

  44. JenP permalink
    November 21, 2013

    Cold Specks – deep, dark, soulful, and amazing. Carrie Akre has always been a favorite too. Either with her past bands Hammerbox or Goodness or her beautiful solo stuff.

    Sending healing thoughts your way.

  45. November 22, 2013

    I’m pretty sure I commented on this, but I will second Mary and recommend the Civil Wars, Basia Bulat, Mariee Sioux is absolutely magical and Elephant Revival is guaranteed to lift your spirits. Feel better soon.

  46. November 24, 2013

    I love this. The line about conjugating hope…I need that on my wall and maybe in a note to keep in my pocket.

    I’ve felt the same way about female singers/musical artists.

    Love all of the suggestions here.

    Sending thoughts of health and happiness.

  47. Rachel Kohnen permalink
    November 25, 2013

    I have sat for five minutes pondering my first sentence. Because I don’t want to seem trite in empty platitudes over your health. I do pray for hope and healing and perseverance in the search of health.
    My book recommendation for you: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. She intertwines a current story with a flashback to tell the tale of orphans. The cool part about reading the book was the solid history of “orphan trains” (which I also read about in The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty). I did a search of “orphan trains” and found the transcript to a PBS episode that Ian and I are currently reading for our social studies section. Amazing stuff…a bit morbid, but that usually ups the interest factor right?
    Blessings you and yours!

  48. November 26, 2013

    I love Nick Hornby! But I haven’t read what you recommended here. On to my list it goes…hope you’re feeling better today, mama. XO

  49. Katie G. permalink
    December 28, 2013

    If you’re still looking for female artists, check out Frazie Ford’s ‘Obadiah.’ She is a part of The Be Good Tanyas and her solo work is excellent.

  50. March 6, 2014

    wonderful female singer: First Aid Kit

  51. September 8, 2014

    I read a lot of interesting content here. Probably
    you spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is
    an online tool that creates high quality, SEO friendly posts in seconds, just search in google – k2seotips unlimited content

  52. September 18, 2014

    I’ll immediately grab your rss feed as I can’t in finding
    your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Please permit me know so
    that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  53. January 7, 2015

    Interesting posts you post here, i have shared this article on my fb

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. chicken feet and other weirdnesses | 6512 and growing

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: