Friday, December 31, 2021
I read 10 fiction books this year.
The first I read was The Swiss Summer which I wrote a bit about here. I am currently reading a second book by Stella Gibbons, and am just as happy with it. Thanks again to the Dean Street Press for publishing these wonderful works by women whom most of us have not heard of. I also read three by Molly Clavering. You may read about her here.
I read three works of Japanese literature that I thought so original, so different from anything I have read before.
I thought The Bishop's Wife by Robert Nathan to be quite odd, not anywhere near as good as the movie!
I wrote about the Boy... by Charlie Mackesy here. Not impressed.
The other fiction was the prequel James Runcie wrote - the prequel to the Grantchester mysteries, called The Road To Grantchester. It was excellent.
Only 3 non-fiction but all of them were utter gems! The Splendid and The Vile, Citizens of London, and A Child's Christmas in Wales.
8 children's books. Most were so-so but Cynthia Rylant's The Old Woman Who Named Things and The Railway Children by Edith Nesbitt were wonderful.
1 mystery thriller still scares me to think of it.
1 book of poetry - A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman. I was sure I would love it, but I didn't. I loved some lines but was not interested in much of it.
I'll save the stats for another post.
In 2021 I read 62 books, of which 39 were mysteries.
Finished the Harriette Ashbook series that I raved about last year.
Monday, December 27, 2021
How do you feel? The Old Woman Who Named Things
Describe where you currently live: On - A High Wire in Nuala
If you could go anywhere, where would you go? A Child's Christmas in Wales
Your favorite form of transportation: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse - the last named
Friday, December 24, 2021
I want to thank my most loyal and kind readers. I love it that you are always there even when I rarely do a blog post. I am so hoping for, as The Kinks say, better things in the coming year. So here is our 2021 Christmas card for you. It may not have come through the mail but it is just as heartfelt.
Monday, December 20, 2021
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Saturday, December 4, 2021
Each year I bring out this dear little book with all the other Christmas books. I don't think I have ever read it in its entirety until now. Most people seem to catagorize it as "prose poetry". Whatever it is called, I loved it so much, and I find myself admiring the film version even more because it is very true to Thomas' words. I've written about the movie here, if you would like to read it.
I had forgotten that I gave it to my mother.
It clutches at my heart and makes me cry - the way she wrote "my Nan". She died three years later.
Two years earlier, Tom had given her this album on the first Christmas after my father died.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Sunday, October 24, 2021
I have been very slowly getting back into blogging more often. And what better way to keep myself going in this endeavo(u)r than to join a challenge. I am excited to participate in this one, offered by My Reader's Block. I am going to copy out the details here. I almost always have a mystery going so it isn't a "challenge" in the real use of the word, but it is a way to participate in the community of readers.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2021
Calendar of Crime 2022
|photo credit: Ellery Queen's Calendar of|
Crime (Signet edition)
~Challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2022. All books should be read during this time period. Sign up at any time. If you have a blog, please post about the challenge. Then sign up via the form below and please make the url link to your challenge post and not your home page. If you don't have a blog, links to an online list (Goodreads, Library Thing, etc.) devoted to this challenge are acceptable OR you may skip that question.
~All books must be mysteries. Humor, romance, supernatural elements (etc.) are all welcome, but the books must be mysteries/crime/detective novels first.
~Twelve books, one representing each month, are required for a complete challenge.
~To claim a book, it must fit one of the categories for the month you wish to fulfill. Unless otherwise specified, the category is fulfilled within the actual story. for instance, if you are claiming the book for December and want to use "Christmas" as the category, then Christmas figure in some in the plot. Did someone poison the plum pudding? Did Great-Uncle Whozit invite all the family home for Christmas so he could tell them he plans to change his will?
~The "wild card" book is exactly that. If July is your birth month (as mine is), then for category #9 you may read any mystery book you want. It does not have to connect with July in any way--other than a July baby chose it. The other eleven months, you must do the alternate category #9 if you want to fulfill that slot.
~Books may only count for one month and one category, but they may count for other challenges (such as my Vintage Scattergories Challenge). If it could fulfill more than one category or month, then you are welcome to change it at any time prior to the final wrap-up.
~Books do not have to be read during the month for which they qualify. So--if you're feeling like a little "Christmas in July" (or May or...), then feel free to read your book for December whenever the mood strikes.
~A wrap-up post/comment/email will be requested that should include a list of books read and what category they fulfilled. [Example: January: The House of Sudden Sleep by John Hawk (original pub date January 1930)]
~The headquarters link in the left-hand sidebar will be updated in January for 2020 for easy access to this original challenge post, monthly review link-ups, and the final wrap-up. The final wrap-up link will not go live until the end of 2020, so please save your notification until that time.
Friday, October 22, 2021
So here's our beloved Hazel in her Hallowe'en costume. I had never heard of The Mandalorian until she told us about it. You may read more here, if you are interested. She is wild about the show. Already the talk is about boys' and girls' clothing. Someone told her The Mandalorian was for boys. She doesn't care. She loves it! Today is the Trunk or Treat where parents park their cars and decorate them for Hallowe'en, and the little kids go from car to car for treats.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Margaret didn't really plan on having a Hallowe'en party this year, but people asked and she did! Last year's party is here.
It was another warm evening. We haven't even had a frost yet! Unheard of around here. But it has meant that the lovely autumn has gone on for a longer time.
The kids and parents were down the hill until it got dark and then they made their way along the trail to our house. There were even more creepy delights than last year.
This one probably wins the creepiness award! Tom moved the tractor down into the field so the spider would have a home. There were battery candles that lit up at night.
And here is a closeup.
The "graves" were made of styrofoam.
The two last pictures were taken as I walked down the hill, not up to our house. Margaret's driveway is to the left by the orange maple tree.
When the kids arrived at our house this is what they found.
Friday, October 15, 2021
Thursday, October 14, 2021
One For Sorrow (Two For Joy) is an old English nursery rhyme.One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told!
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss.
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Saturday, September 25, 2021
This is a recipe from a woman whose blog I used to read and enjoy. And then she just stopped. Happily, it is still on the internet.
I went to my blog to find the exact recipe, and I don't have it under "recipes". I did find it here and decided I'd post it so I could have it in my recipe list.
This is Tara's blog. The last entry was in 2010. A lot of the people whose blogs I follow commented, and if any one of you knows anything about her since that time, - like a new blog somewhere? - I'd love to know.
So, back to the recipe.
Chop up shallots, as many as you need. It will depend on how many mashed potatoes you are making.
Sauté in butter and olive oil (you choose portions of each) until well-done, even crispy.
Cook potatoes until soft, and mash with butter and salt.
Add shallots and mix in well.
I also made guacamole from a recipe a friend gave me recently.
Put 2 avocados through food processor. This didn't make them completely smooth, but were just right.
Chop shallots very finely and add to avocados. Squeeze half a lemon and strain juice into mixture.
That's it! And it was very good. I'm not an eater of raw onions, but this was alright. Shallots aren't as sharp a taste as onions can be. But the next time, I might try sautéing them a bit. I have no idea how it would turn out, but worth a try.
I used to post to Weekend Cooking, but I haven't been allowed to in ages.
Addendum: It worked this time!
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Today at 3:21 pm Eastern time the sun goes into Libra, beginning the autumn season.
I came across this quote today and thought it perfect for the blowsy, over-stayed-its-welcome cleome! It looks so out of place amongst all the autumnal colors around these days. Unbelievably, we haven't had a frost yet!
Monday, September 20, 2021
I have lately been watching a program which is on Britbox - Bergerac. I'm sure all my English friends will know the series. The other evening as Jim pulled up to the gas pumps to have his car filled with gasoline, I got to thinking about what I enjoy about the older shows.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
You may know that I have been buying flowers from a local flower farmer for several years. Under "letter topics" there is a Flower CSA, and my first post was June 29, 2016. The idea of a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, is to provide money upfront for the farmer to use.
As may be obvious, I haven't posted as much this year, and the CSA postings have been non-existent. I am going to try and remedy that situation now, in one long posting of the glorious flowers I have enjoyed.
This batch is from another farm that started in the past few years. She grows flowers, and she bakes. Her wares are available at the local farmers' market. This is her first year of offering a CSA, and I was delighted with the spring blooms. Not only are the flowers wonderful, but I love the brown paper "tied up with strings" (The Sound of Music).
And this year's weekly flowers from the original woman. We have rather a lot of women farmers in a few local towns. Most of them are relatively new, and they have been such a wonderful addition to our communities.
August 11 and 18
I couldn't load because my camera was set on "live" - won't do that again!
And there we are. Weeks and weeks of such beauty!
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
"But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on."- Robert Finch
Thursday, September 2, 2021
The past few months have been a strain at Windy Poplars Farm.
Tom's 93-year-old mother has had increasing signs of dementia, and is currently in a hospital where they are evaluating what is going on. From there we are expecting a move to a mental care facility and we hope it will be a place that is five minutes away from us. There have been a few times when his mother has expressed interest in moving up here - to independent living, and later to assisted living - but every time it didn't work out.
Our son Michael and his wife, Estée have separated. It has mostly been harmonious, but it is still one of those big changes that are very stressful and worrisome. They are now both settled into rental houses in the same town. They are, without any court intervention, sharing custody of Campbell and Indy. The kids seem to be doing alright, even well. Maybe at six and seven they are able to grasp that their parents are happier apart; better friends and parents not living together. As you may guess we, and Margaret have been very involved in this whole process. The kids have been up here a lot, which is good for all of us. I have a blog post planned with summer fun pictures.
With two big emotional situations in our lives, there haven't been many minutes to read during the day, and in the evening I just want to settle into one of the wonderful television shows available or an old, much-loved DVD. So almost all my reading has been bedtime, or early morning reading in bed, which means the Kindle.
A few months ago, Acorn TV offered a new detective series called Whitstable Pearl. I enjoyed it, and naturally bought the first book in the series. As is so often true, the books are very different and offer a much more in-depth story and character development than television. This is not to say that the book is always better. I could barely read the Inspector Morse books, but I adore the television production and actually think it is much better!
I expect I am not alone in being a foreigner who did not know that Whitstable is a real town. Look to the right - on the coast, and almost even with London on the map.
You can see loads of photographs here. It really sounds beautiful, though Julie Wassmer, the author of the books makes it clear that there are the usual problems with vacation destinations. The DFL, Down From Londoners, buy up property and use it occasionally, while the rest of the time they rent it out. These rents are mostly too high for the locals, and young people can't afford to live in the town they grew up in. Whitstable seems to have been able to avoid one of the downfalls of popularity and that is that their stores are less national names than local, independently owned. The author does an excellent job of portraying the landscape, the businesses, the public lands.
I had the supreme reader's joy of reading the eight available books in the series, one right after the other. I so love finding a new-to-me author and doing this. The main character is Pearl who owns a restaurant called Whitstable Pearl which offers local seafood. She is a single mother whose son is now going to college in nearby Canterbury. This city is also described beautifully. Pearl's mother is a widow, quite alternative in her thinking (a bit like this reader), and very flamboyant in her choice of clothes and haircolors (not a bit like me there!). There are other characters who appear in many of the books, and then new ones who are introduced in each new murder case.
When Pearl was young she began going to school to become a police officer. She became pregnant with the love of her life (who by then had moved away), and had to leave. She isn't the kind to look back with regret. She has made a wonderful life for herself and her son. After her son leaves for college, she starts her own detective agency. She has a real gift for the work. She is one of those rare characters - a woman who is contented, self-assured, and quite genuinely happy.
I love this series and look forward to next year's offering.
Saturday, August 28, 2021
Yesterday afternoon we were standing around the kitchen - Tom, Margaret, Hazel, Campbell, Indy, and I - when a police car drove up. This has happened a few times in our 40 years in this house. My heart always goes into my throat fearing for my kids. This time I wasn't concerned because Michael is in another town, and Margaret was right here! But I still needed to go out and see what was going on. The man asked, "Do you have a Pug?" I told him no, but my daughter does, and then I asked if she were dead. He said, "No, he's (he didn't know the gender) in the car!" Margaret was out the door by then, and we walked over and got the whole story.
Seems a couple of out-of-staters were driving past our road and saw Piglet walking kind of in circles at the bottom of our dirt road which spills onto a busy, tarred state road. They stopped and picked her up and brought her to the police station. The police then drove over here. We were all so very grateful, and amazed. We talked for a long time about the wonder of this. How kind the people were to take the time to bring her to the police, and for the police to bring her back home. There were two of them, a man and a woman with the biggest smiles, probably in their twenties. Just the kindest, dearest police you've ever seen. I wish they could make the national news!
Margaret checked the town page on Facebook and the police had posted a picture of Piggie - (and here comes a bad pun) a "Pug shot", telling the story of where she was found and to get in touch with the police.
This is not the first time Miss Piggie has gotten into trouble. Another day a fellow drove into Margaret's yard, having picked up her up also at the bottom of our road. Again, such kindness.
And this is her a couple years ago. You'll notice the chair does not say her name.