Monday, July 5, 2021

Independence Day plus one


Here I am at my local Co-op today without a mask! This is the first time in 15 months! I was so much more relaxed today. It was an amazing feeling to just "be" again without impedimenta. The new "rule" is that if you are vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask. I saw many people still wearing them, but it was Senior Day (which happens once a month when those over 65 get 10% off) and perhaps older people may have medical conditions or live with someone who does and they do not want to take a chance. Some of the store people wore them and others didn't. 75% of the employees have been vaccinated so maybe those were the ones who haven't had the shot yet.  Anyhow, it was just the best feeling! 

Saturday, July 3, 2021

50th Anniversary of Jim Morrison's Death

I wrote about our trip to Paris after the fire at Notre-Dame, and today I am revisiting that trip on the 50th anniversary of Jim Morrison's death. First of all, there is no way my head can get around the fact of all those years. From 23 to 73 in a blink of my eye. How is that even possible? 

Anyhow, when we were in Paris, we visited Pere Lachaise cemetery. I don't think we went because of anyone special who was buried there. We had heard about it, and spent a day walking through. It is truly beautiful. 

Fast forward to weeks later. We were in Dublin on a bus, and saw a newstand out the window. There was a copy of Rolling Stone and Jim Morrison was on the cover. We were so excited to buy it. When we actually saw it, our happiness quickly went away. That beautiful boy, dead. Even now I can't believe it. This is my copy of the magazine. Not sure if it is the one we saw in Ireland.

And it was so strange to know we had been at the cemetery after he had been buried there. Just the idea that we could have seen his grave without knowing he had died. Gives me shivers.

So, in honor of the 50th anniversary of his death, I thought I'd post a song. It was hard to choose just which one, but here you go. 

The Crystal Ship

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I'd like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle rain
The time you ran was too insane
We'll meet again, we'll meet again

Oh tell me where your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die
Deliver me from reasons why
You'd rather cry, I'd rather fly

The crystal ship is being filled
A thousand girls, a thousand thrills
A million ways to spend your time
When we get back, I'll drop a line

I read someone's analysis of the song, and you may read it here. All it showed me is that one cannot really analyze poetry! It is what it is to whomever is reading it. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Trouble with blog header photo

 If you are reading this, you will see that my blog header picture is all messed up. I can't say I wasn't warned because Kay at the Musings blog posted about her problem a couple days ago. 

So many of my fellow bloggers have complained about the changes blogger made months ago. I have had no trouble at all, except that I could no longer post a home video. 

We got a new computer last month, our first one in ten years, and now I can post a home video. Hooray. But there have been so many changes that Tom has spent days on the phone with tech people. 

I am wondering if it is the new technology that has caused me to have this problem with my blog header. Or is it blogger? Anyhow, it sure doesn't look pretty. The header picture was peonies but they have gone by and the hollyhocks are stars in the garden now so I thought they would make a good header photo. I knew I was taking a chance, but I thought because I hadn't had the troubles others had that I'd be okay. Nope.

As I told Kay in a comment, there are days I want to give it all up. No more computers or cell phones. Sometimes I want to live a life that is free of screens and connections. I am driven wild with this whole cloud thing. We didn't have any cloud with the old computer, but now the Apple hard drives are small and there isn't room for thousands of photos. I feel like we are all forced to join the crowd. This is all so different from the whole ethos of the hippie life, which was to do things for yourself, and live a private life if you wanted to. Now I feel like there is no freedom like that. No privacy. No quiet.

We are wooed by convenience and ease. The words from Pink Floyd come into my head, "comfortably numb". 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

May Books

A perfect month of reading. I really loved all the books, and they were very different from each other. You may notice the year in the 1920s in red. I began doing that last year as I began my reading from the 1920s. I just do it to draw my attention to the fact.

May - 6

24.The Plumley Inheritance - book 1 in the Ludovic Travers series
by Christopher Bush
mystery 1926
finished 5/4/21

We live in a wonderful time for readers because we have access to so many old books. It is just thrilling to me to read something published when my mother was 13. Another Dean Street Press reissue.

25. High Wire in Nuala - book 9 in the Inspector De Silva series
by Harriet Steel
mystery 2020
finished 5/7/21

I don't read very much historical fiction, but I will read these books as long as she keeps writing them. I love the Sri Lanka setting, called Ceylon at the time the books take place. 

26. Dandelion Cottage
by Carroll Watson Rankin
children's fiction 1904
finished 5/9/21

This was one of those Amazon recommendations - I think because I read The Railway Children. Another book about children, and I loved it. Four girls are "given" this rundown house for the summer. Fully drawn characters with an interesting story.

27. Sweet Bean Paste
by Durian Sukegawa
translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts
fiction 2017
finished 5/12/21

I saw the movie version of this on Netflix DVD called just Sweet Bean and loved it. When I read Convenience Store Woman in April, Amazon recommended this book. I hadn't even known it was a book. It is rare when both a book and movie are perfect but these certainly are to me.

28. Before the Coffee Gets Cold - book 1 in Before the Coffee Gets Cold series
by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
translated from the Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselo
fiction 2015
finished 5/17/21

A fascinating concept. An underground restaurant with just a few tables, but it has a reputation that people can go back in time. There were a few separate stories, and I was so caught up in them. Wonderful idea and book.

29. The Consequences of Fear - book 16 in the Maisie Dobbs series
by Jacqueline Winspear
mystery 2021
library book
finished 5/23/21

Ah, Maisie is back. Always a joy to follow her in life. This was a particularly excellent installment.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

April Books

 April - 5

19. Sable Messenger - book 2 in the Inspector Knollis series
by Francis Vivian
mystery 1947
finished 4/2/21

20. The Threefold Cord - book 3 in the Inspector Knollis series
by Francis Vivian
mystery 1947
finished 4/8/21

I like these Vivian mysteries. I'm not wild about them, but find them pleasant enough old mysteries.

21. Something in the Water
by Catherine Steadman
mystery/thriller 2018
library book
finished 4/10/21

This book is completely out of character for me! It is a thriller, an edge-of-your-seat kind of book which I rarely read. My daughter actually quit because it was scary! I stayed with it just because I had to know how it turned out. Whew! I don't think I'll read any more of her work, but the book was very good.

22. The Swiss Summer
by Stella Gibbons
fiction 1951
finished 4/20/21

It is probably obvious that I read mostly English authors of books set in England. I do occasionally take a different road, and that's what happened this month. Although Stella Gibbons was an English woman, this book is set in Switzerland. Other than Heidi, I don't think I have ever read a book set there. Swiss Summer is one of the re-issued publications by Dean Street Press. The characters were new and interesting. Their personality quirks were quite different than I've read before. And Switzerland sounded just divine - a perfect place to spend a summer. I highly recommend it.

23. Convenience Store Woman
by Sayaka Murata
translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori
fiction 2018
library book
finished 4/22/21

This was a recommendation from Sam at Book Chase. It was unlike any book I've ever read, and I loved that. The characters, the setting, the idea were new and so interesting to me. I am very happy I read it, and it has led me to other Japanese writers. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Tom's 2021 Reads

May - 1

1. Truman
by David McCullough
nonfiction 1992
finished 5/12/21

July - 

1. Bury the Lead - book 29 in the Joe Gunther series
by Archer Mayor
mystery 2018
library book
finished 7/10/21

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Quote du jour/Christopher Bush

 I'm reading yet another old mystery by someone I had never heard of before, The Plumley Inheritance by Christopher Bush. I came upon this quote and thought how apt for the past year. 

"The vicar had retired at his usual hour. The day had told on him very much, and at his age it is the mental stress that tells."

I can see the "mental stress" very clearly on my own face. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Grammy and Nana award winner! The Adults Are Talking - The Strokes LIVE NYE

This year I did something I hadn't done since I was a kid. I bought an album called The New Abnormal by The Strokes based on my love of one song, "The Adults Are Talking"! Every time it was on the radio, I stopped in my tracks, and thought that I just had to own it. Happily, I love every single song on the record. But this one, oh, is a perfect, perfect song to me. I love every note. The album has not left the turntable for weeks. When I heard it had won the Grammy award for Best Rock Album, I was so happy. The lyrics are a bit hard to understand, but honestly, I don't even care that much. It is that music and voice and instruments that I am wild about.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March books; and the Second World War

 15. The Black Cat Murders - book 2 in the Heathcliff Lennox series
by Karen Baugh Menuhin
mystery 2019
finished 3/5/21

16. The Splendid and the Vile
by Erik Larson
nonfiction 2020
finished 3/15/21

17. The Curse of Braeburn Castle - book 3 in the Heathcliff Lennox series
by Karen Baugh Menuhin
mystery 2019
finished 3/19/21

18. Inked Out - book 2 in the Snug Harbor series
by Karen MacInerney
mystery 2021
finished 3/23/21

Still loving the Menuhin books. I'm going to wait a bit to continue, and read some I already own on the Kindle, but I'll go back. Pure delight.

I enjoy two of Karen MacInerney's mystery series - The Gray Whale Inn, and this new one, Snug Harbor which is a bit of a spin-off. These are all books that ease my mind and soul. Nothing terrible happens to the main characters, there are mysteries, the settings are lovely, and always there are recipes. 

And now I come to one of the best books I've ever read, The Splendid and the Vile:A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. It is simply perfect. I've always said Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand is the best book I've ever read, and now this new one by Erik Larson comes in second. He has taken one year, May 1940 through May 1941, and brought it to life. I learned a lot about both the English and the Germans during that time. By choosing to cover only a year, so very much could be covered about the people and life during that time. 
I also watched two television series on DVD during my time of reading. One is Goodnight Sweetheart about a man who time travels back and forth between the 1990s and the 1940s. I offered a quote du jour from it in January. It is one of my favorite, favorite television shows. 

Back in the early days of PBS, when we were kids in our early twenties, Tom and I watched an English television series called A Family At War (1970-1972). We were absolutely riveted for 52 episodes. I gave the DVD set to Tom when he retired. He hasn't watched yet, but I did this winter into spring (finishing last evening), and found it to be just as wonderful as I remembered. It deals with an extended family from 1938-1945. We went to England in 1971, and I actually looked up the phone number of one of the actresses I liked a lot in the show, Lesley Nunnerley. I've always regretted that I didn't call her and talk to her about what a great performance she gave! 

To continue with my World War II reading and television experience, I am now reading Citizens of London:The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour which a friend recommended years ago. And I am going to begin this evening watching four movies, made from 1942-1945, which I bought as a set called David Lean directs Noël Coward

Monday, March 29, 2021

Today's picture - Old bookmarks

Do you remember the early days of Amazon when they included bookmarks in the book orders? I still have two of them. I have a couple little drawers of special bookmarks and these are among them.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

March 2020

I had to look it up, but our presidential primary was on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. I remember being bowled over when I saw a few people at the voting place with gloves on. I don't think there were masks then. I couldn't believe people were so concerned about a "flu". I didn't think much about it again until March 12. We had been told that an old friend of ours was in hospice. We hadn't seen her for years. We drove over to the place, and were met at the door by someone saying we could not come in. She told us "our president" gave a speech last night that said nursing homes shouldn't let anyone in. Having not heard the speech, we were surprised. She said she would let us know when we could visit our friend, but that call never came. She died on the 29th. 

The next day, Friday the 13th, I had a haircut appointment. The woman and I talked about how exciting it was that the local high school boys were in the state playoff that night. By late afternoon it was announced that the game was cancelled. That's when I knew something much more serious was going on. All the schools closed. 

And thus began the year like no other.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

February books

I began three new mystery series this month!

10. A Shot in the Dark - book 1 in the Mydworth mysteries
by Matthew Costello (with Neil Richards)
mystery 2019
finished 2/6/21

This is a new series set in the late 1920s. I completely enjoyed this story of an aristocratic Englishman, Sir Harry Mortimer and his Bronx-born wife, Kat. They have both been active in government service, and are now home in England. Happily for them, there are enough murders to keep them from getting bored. I like the main characters and I liked this story. I will read more and more of this series.

11. A Pint of Murder - book 1 in the Madoc and Janet Rhys series
by Alisa Craig 
mystery 1980
finished 2/20/21 

This was my first book by Charlotte MacLeod writing as Alisa Craig. It was a very sweet kind of book (if you don't mind a few murders!)in which the reader is introduced to Madoc Rhys, a royal Canadian mountie, and Janet Wadman. I enjoyed it and plan to read the other four books in the series. I've read a very few of MacLeod's books; one in the Peter Shandy series and one in the Kelling/Bittersohn series. I do like her, and am happy to be back in her company. 

12. The Old Woman Who Named Things
by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Kathryn Brown
children's picture book 1996
finished 2/22/21

I recently bought this book. I wrote about a library copy here on the blog. It was written 20 days before Margaret was rushed to the hospital. I wasn't such an old lady then as I feel like now. Hoping when the virus lessens, I will kind of find myself again. 

If you go back to read it, and read the comments, you'll see the first one was from Cait O'Connor. Her blog is still up, and the last entry is just so sad. I didn't leave a note, and I'm sorry about that. 

13. A Little Night Murder - book 2 in the Mydworth mysteries
by Matthew Costello (with Neil Richards)
mystery 2019
finished 2/24/21

I liked this one just as much as the first! 

14. Murder at Melrose Court - book 1 in the Heathcliff Lennox series
by Karen Baugh Menuhin
mystery 2018

finished 2/27/21 

I so enjoyed this book that I've since read the second, and am now on the third. If the author's name sounds familiar, her husband is the son of the late Yehudi Menuhin. She has a website here, and you can sign up for her reader's club which of course I did. In the first email, there is a link to get a short story about the main character, Heathcliff Lennox. He hates his first name. He fought in the First World War, and this is another series set in the 1920s. He has a dog, and soon has a cat as well both of whom he loves. He is quite eccentric, a loner, but pleasant enough to other people. He is a different character than I've read before. 

This month I don't have a favorite. I completely enjoyed every book. And I am still reading The Splendid and The Vile. Great, great book. We just gave a copy to a friend for his birthday. 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Birthday party, and the evening after

My 73rd birthday was a week ago today, and this is the first chance I've really had to sit down and write about it. 

The whole family had not been together since November 1. There was school, there were rising cases in our state, those in authority advised that families not get together for the holidays, and we all decided it was best to stay in our little local pods. Yes, it has been very hard, but the health of all my babies is more important to me than anything! We've all been well, there haven't been cases in their schools, and we're all very careful so we decided we could get together during February vacation. As a birthday surprise, Michael, Estée, Campbell, and Indy showed up down at Margaret's. Tom was down there, and texted me there was a birthday surprise. I walked down and three kids raced to me. What joy!!

You may notice that my coat is buttoned unevenly. That's because the wind kicked up as I was walking down and I was struggling with one hand, grabbing at random buttons and buttonholes to get my coat buttoned. 

At the outside fire

Margaret made the cake. This is the recipe the family pretty much agrees is the best chocolate cake so why make any other! You may find it here. In that big bowl is chocolate whipped cream for the frosting. It was perfect!

A late Christmas present for Hazel - a dressmaker's kit with a model, material, and all the accoutrements of the sewing world. Estée has a business making clothes and doing repairs/adjustments to older clothes. They worked together for ages.

While Margaret taught the boys how to play Mario Monopoly. 

My grown-up babies.

We all agreed it had been the most perfect day, except for missing Matty who had to work.

And then ... when we got home, we saw that Lucy had peed on the kitchen rug. That is not like her. She has never peed anywhere except outdoors. Also, the water bowl was almost empty. We had been noticing for a few days that she seemed to be drinking more than usual. These are both signs of possible medical problems, so off Tom went to the local emergency vets who work the hours the other vets are closed. 

There was quite a line of cars when he arrived at five o'clock when they open. Someone came by to get information about what was wrong. He told them, and they came back after an hour and told him he could walk her to the door, and then they took her in. In about half an hour, the vet called and asked some questions. After another half hour or so, the vet called again to say Lucy's sugar levels were elevated. To make a long story short, she has diabetes, and Tom gives her insulin shots twice a day. They gave her a low dose to start her off, and said to go to our regular vet as soon as we could. He said she needed more insulin, so we upped it, and so far she is doing well on it. It has been a fraught few days as we've adjusted to this, but honestly you wouldn't think anything was wrong with our dear girl. 

They've told us that she is otherwise very healthy, and should be able to live with this a long time.

Addendum: On Friday Lucy went back to the vet, and he said the insulin had to be upped again because her sugar levels weren't what they should be. (I think that's the medical explanation) He said it can take a while to get this settled. She goes back again Monday morning. So she has gone from 10 units, the base amount the emergency vet gave, to 14, and now to 17. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

David Bowie – Life On Mars? (Official Video)

This evening I watched a live Instagram of Lukas Nelson, and one of the songs he sang was Bowie's "Life On Mars" in honor of the Mars landing. I was never a huge Bowie fan, but I still thought this was appropriate today. And here he is way back in 1973. Does not seem possible it was that long ago.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Hello dollies

" It is a fine thing to preserve and pass on the dolls of the past. And the dolls in native costumes are worth handing down, too, for there may well be a day when native costumes are gone. As countries get divided up and passed around, as people fly all over the world, probably everyone will dress alike, more's the pity."
Gladys Taber
Stillmeadow Seasons 1950 

I have written a bit about Tom's parents moving out of their home into an independent living apartment here. The follow-up is that after a couple years, they moved again; this time into assisted living. They needed help with medications and other things. Last month his step-father died. It was the best death one could ask for. He essentially laid down and after a few days stopped breathing. He was 97. Tom's mother has moved into a smaller apartment in the same building. She's doing well.

One of the things we were given when they made the first move was her doll collection. I spent quite a long time three years ago documenting it in our iPhotos, and have been meaning to do a blog entry about them for all this time. His mother had them catalogued years ago, and I matched the picture of the doll and its place of origin in our pictures. 

I am so fond of this lady!


Look how tiny these are

And here are some pictures of them arranged on the shelves.

The family of dolls on the lowest shelf were played with by Hazel a lot for a couple years. She had this special voice and made up stories about them.

 Because there wasn't a doll from South Korea, I went online to buy one. She is taller so she gets a shelf all to herself

And these two are my very favorites. They are from Hungary. The expressions are so great.

And I love this woman!

 We are so, so happy to have these dolls. And someday, they will go to Hazel. I thought I might have prints made of the information and the dolls and put them in an album. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Today's poem by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét

On Abraham Lincoln's birthday, I thought I would post a poem I learned as a child.  I've never read anything quite like it, and though it is probably a "children's poem", I find it even more meaningful as an adult and mother. 

            Nancy Hanks 

by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét 1933

If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She’d ask first “Where’s my son?
What’s happened to Abe?
What’s he done?”

“Poor little Abe,
Left all alone
Except for Tom,
Who’s a rolling stone;
He was only nine
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried.”

“Scraping along
In a little shack,
With hardly a shirt
To cover his back,
And a prairie wind
To blow him down,
Or pinching times
If he went to town.”

“You wouldn’t know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he get on?”

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Hoping for a blog post without the word "hay"?? Not quite yet!

Yesterday our young friend delivered nine bales of hay from a town about an hour north of us. There won't be more from that source, but we are so grateful. And on Wednesday we will go again to the next state for those five bales we are allowed. The animals are smiling.

Here is the lad himself.

And the hay.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Hay, again

Today Tom took two trips to get hay. The first was the feed store in the next state - the place where you can get five bales a week. And who knew that five bales would fit in a VW Golf! He put down the back seat, and voila!

That truck in the first picture is Matt's old, now dead, S-10, a truck much loved by those who had one. You can't get small trucks anymore. They are all huge - too huge in my estimation - and they cost a fortune.

Trip two was to a lovely place a few towns away. Turns out the guy cuts many fields and then sells the hay. Tom got four bales there, which were a bit bigger than the first load. So, nine bales in the barn. Money in the bank. I think we are going to try and sign up for next year's hay. Although I don't get political here, I am going to say that it has been a stress this year getting hay and feed at our usual store. It is one of the stores in the big town next to us where they refuse to wear masks. Most of the stuff we get is outdoors, but Tom still has to go inside for dog food, bird, and deer food. He's been going to another place sometimes, but the store is the only show in town when it comes to hay. I think it would be lovely to drive down to the new person's place once a week and get lovely, local hay.

So, there we are. Good for now. Haven't heard back from our friend yet, but that may well be another source. A tentative "whew". 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Hey, hey, hay

 So here we are on Groundhog Day. Tom went in to the farm supply store, and there was no hay. And there will be none till Friday. We have Nebby the donkey and eight sheep who need hay twice a day. Tom drove out to visit a farmer from whom we bought our raw milk for years and years who now raises meat cows. He said he didn't have any extra at all. He said because of the drought last summer there was a scarcity of hay all over. But his daughter's partner has some hay and he gave Tom her number. In the meantime I called a feed store in the next state, some 30 miles away and asked if they have any. She said yes, but she knows they are going to run out so they are allowing a customer to buy only five bales a week. That sounded great to me! I also texted a young friend (who is going to become a first time father this year at almost 43 years old) who knows everyone in the north country. He said he'd get back to me. He does know a guy. Tom came home and we are now going to get some hay from each of those sources, and then buy more at our store on Friday. But still, it is really worrisome. Our next call will be to a few towns north of us where the drought wasn't so bad.

It isn't enough to have a virus and discord in the country. We have to be fearful about the most basic of basics, hay.  

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January Book Facts

To save myself doing so much work at the end of December, I am really going to try and do the stats each month.

Read 9 books

children's books - 5 

mysteries - 4

Kindle - 6

print - 3

by men - 3

by women - 6

By the years:

1900-1909 - 1

1940s - 2

1950s - 1

1960s - 1

2010-2019 - 1

2020 - 3

January books

January - 9

1. The Purple Onion Mystery (aka Murder on Friday) - book 7, and last, in the Spike Tracy series 

by Harriette Ashbrook

mystery 1941


finished 1/2/21

Sorry to say farewell to Mr. Tracy. I've so enjoyed these books.

2. The Theft of the Iron Dogs aka Murderer's Mistake - book 28 in the Robert Macdonald series

by E.C.R Lorac

mystery 1946


finished 1/10/21

One of my favorite books in the Macdonald series. He goes back to an area, and sees some of the people he met in a previous book, Fell Murder. Such good characters, and she was a really good writer. I've read she's getting a lot of acclaim since being re-introduced through the British Library Crime Classics series. She deserves every bit of the praise.

3. The Railway Children

by Edith Nesbitt

children's fiction serialized in The London Magazine 1905, published as a book in 1906


finished 1/14/21

Best book of the month! I loved it so much. She is a great writer, and I plan to read more of her this year. Wonderful family relationships. Realistic children. Life in the "olden days" when kids could pretty much live their own lives during the long days. 

4. The Owl Service

by Alan Garner

children's fiction 1967


finished 1/16/21

I really wanted to like this, but I mostly felt it was odd. I don't want to say too much because it is a good story to come to fresh. I am interested in the mythical stories about old England and Wales, but this one just didn't strike my fancy.

5. Murder in Vienna - book 42 in the Robert Macdonald series

by E.C.R. Lorac

mystery 1956


finished 1/21/20

Still loving Lorac so much. What a terrific character Macdonald is. It is one of those series where you don't see him at home, or with relatives. It is just him on the case, yet readers get to know him as a person.

6. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea

by Meena Harris; illus. by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez

Children's book 2020


finished 1/24/21

7. Joey  The Story of Joe Biden

by Jill Biden; illus. by Amy June Bates

Children's book 2020


finished 1/24/21

8. The Fatal Flying Affair - book 7 in the Lady Hardcastle mysteries

by T. E. Kinsey

mystery 2020


finished 1/27/21

I love this series! It is historical fiction set in the pre-WWI years. Awfully good relationship between two women, both of them strong and interesting. 

9. The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse

by Charlie Mackesy

illustrated fiction for adults and children 2019


finished 1/27/21

My main print reading is a very big (and wonderful book) about Churchill and the Second World War but I did read a few children's print books this month. 

I heard about The Boy...  from The Duchess of Cornwall. And then I saw it everywhere, so I bought it. I must be missing something. I think it is a perfectly fine children's book, but I am not one of the many adults who've written about how wonderful it is. I thought it rather simple and bland and not surprising or interesting. Probably I'm the only reader in the world who thinks this, but there you go. 

The book about President Biden was really quite wonderful. We got it for all the grandchildren for Christmas. It is quite detailed about things in his life. I think it will show children that ordinary people can do great things as children and may even be President someday.

This book about Kamala Harris and her sister, Maya written by Maya's daughter was based on a story the writer had always heard. It isn't necessary factual but is a good story. I didn't care for the illustrations. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Duchess of Cornwall reads "My Heart's in the Highlands" on Robbie Burns' birthday.

I've been all over trying to find a video to show you here, but this is the best I can do. I so hope it will work. It is also on Facebook if you are there.

The Duchess of Cornwall reads Robert Burns' "My Heart's in the Highlands". He was born 262 years ago today.

There's a nice piece about him here

Tom and I drove to Cambridge, Massachusetts many years ago in a snowstorm driving a red Dodge truck to go to a "Burns' Night". It was great fun. In those days, we were big fans of Jean Redpath. She was there, as was Norman Kennedy. The host was Robert J. Lurtsema, who I wrote about on the blog here. In fact, someone commented on that post just last month!! It warmed my heart. I just reread it and saw that I had mentioned the Burns' Night, and the red truck!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Followup about The Simpsons

 This is quite mind-blowing. Because I copied and pasted right from the site, you have to scroll over a bit to read it all but it is worth the trouble. Wow!

'The Simpsons' seemed to get it right again -- by predicting part of the inauguration

Social media users noted the parallels between Vice President Harris' inauguration outfit and Lisa Simpson from a 2000 episode.

(CNN)First things first: No, "The Simpsons" cannot actually predict the future.

Yet, as the longest-running sitcom in US history, the timeless series often finds itself aligning with "life imitates art" moments that happen years after airing.
This week, for example, users on social media couldn't help but wonder at the latest coincidence between Vice President Kamala Harris' outfit during the inauguration and Lisa Simpson's outfit in an episode from 2000.
In "Bart to the Future," Lisa assumes the presidency and asks the now-viral line, "As you know, we've inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump."
    Lisa Simpson as president in the 2000 episode "Bart to the Future"
    In the episode, Lisa wore a purple jacket and pearls. At Wednesday's inauguration, Harris wore a purple jacket and pearls. With Harris serving immediately after Donald Trump's presidency, comparisons by viewers were readily made.
    The similarities with the inauguration didn't stop there for Simpsons fans. Actor Tom Hanks appeared as a host during a virtual concert Wednesday evening, which aimed to keep with President Joe Biden's theme of national unity in a time of crisis.
    In "The Simpsons Movie" from 2007, Hanks in a cameo role pitches a proposed new Grand Canyon at Springfield, the hometown of the Simpsons.
    "Hello. I'm Tom Hanks. The US government has lost its credibility, so it's borrowing some of mine," he says.
    At the end of the scene, he says, "If you're gonna pick a government to trust, why not this one?"
    Speculation over the show's prescient abilities is nothing new. Fans claim the show predicted, among other instances, the Siegfried and Roy tiger attack, smart watches, "murder hornets," and Disney buying 20th Century Fox.
    The show's longevity and its exhausting of possible sitcom scenarios have even been referenced in other comedies, including the "South Park" episode, "The Simpsons Already Did It."
      When asked in 2016 about predicting a Donald Trump presidency so far in advance, writer Dan Greaney told The Hollywood Reporter, "It was a warning to America."
      "And that just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane," he added.

      Thursday, January 21, 2021

      Today's picture seen on Instagram

       I laughed so much when I saw this.

      Sunday, January 17, 2021

      Quote du jour - Goodnight Sweetheart

       I've just started watching my DVDs of Goodnight Sweetheart - third time I will have seen it, I think. 

      A woman in 1940 lights up a cigarette. A man who has time-traveled from the 1990s says it is "very bad for your health." 

      She says, "Everyone knows they're good for your nerves. And there is no point worrying about a cough carrying you off when a bomb could land on you any second."

      Friday, January 15, 2021

      It was a year ago today...

      ...that we picked up the kittens. 

      And you can see them now in the blog header! We are so thankful for Gemma and Maisy!

      Wednesday, January 13, 2021

      The Reading Room on instagram


      If you are on instagram, you might be interested in this reading group! To find her, just type into the search 


      I've read that one of the books is The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charles Mackesy. 

      Sunday, January 10, 2021

      2020 Book Facts

       2020 was my year of discovery! I discovered several new writers, and raced through their work.

      Harriette Ashbrook. Who has heard of her? Yeah, I thought not. Well, she writes a terrific series starring the younger brother of the Manhattan District Attorney. As is the case with so many fictional second sons, this man lives a very different life from his successful sibling. Spike Tracy is a bon vivant, a boulevardier as Bertie Wooster is. He is also a brilliant detective, who sometimes sits unnoticed while noticing everything and everyone. I really like him. She wrote seven books starring Spike and I loved each one. She has another series as Susannah Shane with Christopher Saxe as the detective, but just one of the books is available. She lived to be only 47, and it is very hard to find much information about her. I did find a blog piece here

      E.C.R Lorac, whose real name was Edith Caroline Rivett, is much more famous, yet was unknown to me. I began reading her work last year, and am still going strong. Not all is available, but I read what I can. You may read more about her here

      A more modern writer I discovered only to find out she had died in April 2020 is Sheila Connolly. It made me so sad for her, and for her myriad readers. There is a very nice tribute here, in which the series I read, one right after the other, is featured.

      I only have two posts about the 1920s here and here, but I've had quite a great year reading. I read seven books published then, and one about Hadley Richardson. You will read in the first link that we had planned to visit her grave in Tamworth, New Hampshire but that went the way of so many things in the year of the virus. It will be one of the first outings when this thing finally ends! I've also kept on a special shelf all the books I have that were published in or are about the decade and hope to continue each year reading more. 

      I hardly ever write about one book that was my favorite or the best, but for 2020 it is easy. Electric Eden by Rob Young. I have owned this book for a very long time, and decided I would read it with my breakfast every day instead of a magazine, and then I began reading it other times of the day as well, and then there were times I couldn't put it down, though it took me two months and twelve days to read! And I bought four books that were referenced: News From Nowhere by William Morris, A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Houseman, The Celtic Twilight by W.B. Yeats, and The Owl Service by Alan Garner. I also bought a vinyl version of an album I had bought on iTunes years ago, Vashti Bunyan's Diamond Day. There was much stopping and looking up all kinds of music and musicians. You Tube was a tremendous place to find most everything. I felt like I was in college again, really studying and really learning. 

      I loved reading some James Herriot books, some of which I had read a long time ago. And Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga was so excellent. I can't praise those books enough.

      And I am delighted that I read 17 print books this year. 

      I read a few books published in 2020. The 2020s have begun! 

      Without further ado, as they say, here are my stats for the past year. And, note to self - this year do these stats each month instead of tallying at the end of a year.

      In 2020, I read 70 books. 

      3 Children's fiction

      11 Fiction

      2 Graphic nonfiction

      41 Mystery

      13 Nonfiction

      53 Kindle 

      17 Print 

      22 by men

      48 by women

      By the years:

      1 - 1900-1909

      7 - 1920s

      6 - 1930s

      5 - 1940s

      4 - 1950s

      3 - 1970s

      4 - 1980s

      4 - 1990s

      3 - 2000-2009

      26 - 2010-2019

      7 - 2020s

      I'm not bothering to count rereads or library books anymore. I hardly read any of the latter, and the rereads are so few that it doesn't matter to me how many there are.