Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
Thursday, March 11, 2021
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
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
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
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.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Saturday, February 13, 2021
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!
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.
And these two are my very favorites. They are from Hungary. The expressions are so great.
And I love this woman!
Friday, February 12, 2021
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.
by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét 1933
If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
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.”
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
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
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!
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
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
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 - 9
1. The Purple Onion Mystery (aka Murder on Friday) - book 7, and last, in the Spike Tracy series
by Harriette Ashbrook
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
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
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
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
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
7. Joey The Story of Joe Biden
by Jill Biden; illus. by Amy June Bates
Children's book 2020
8. The Fatal Flying Affair - book 7 in the Lady Hardcastle mysteries
by T. E. Kinsey
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
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
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
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
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
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
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
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
2 Graphic nonfiction
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.
Saturday, January 2, 2021
February - 5