Weather is certainly changing. We have seen a few nights in the forties. Usually I am glad to see this weather, I really do love it but soon we will be moving inside. I still have not figured out how to cope with six or seven months of being in the house. I will probably do even more reading.
I have a range of books for you this month. My first favorite book Is The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, it Is well written and hard to put down. Winston Churchill comes to life during the time that England is under attach by Germany. His ability to give people a clear picture of what is going on draws the English to have faith in what he is doing. You will learn about his family and surroundings during this difficult time. You don’t have to have a strong interest in WW2 to find this a fastinating read.
A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory does not follow her usual study of the Kings and Queens of England. You will still find yourself in England towards the end of the 16th century. A slave trader who has worked himself up from nothing comes up with a new scheme where he will train newly captured slaves to become household slaves for the wealthy residents of England. He marries a woman two train these slaves. This does not end up going quite as planned. There are a lot of particularly good books covering the tragedy of slavery but this one gives us a new slant on slavery in the United Kingdom.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett’s the story of twins born in a small southern town. They are black but very light. They live in a mostly black town where being light skinned makes them special and treated better than the darker citizens. They run away to New Orleans to find a more exciting life. One of the sisters decides to pass as white and falls in love with her boss. She follows him to the north not to be heard from again. I won’t give the plot away, but this is a great book.
The Absolution by Yrsa Sigurdardottir is the third book in this series. You can bet I am going to read the first two. This Icelandic series is a bit dark and scary. The book I read certainly has the typical Scandinavian, not so happy ending. I find myself drawn to this dark mystery writing.
Keep Reading June 2020
At this point, reading is keeping me from going out of my mind. TV is getting old and the news only repeats itself over and over and over again. Thanks to all the authors, past and present, that keeps me going.
My first book PIECE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger is an older book written by the same author who wrote Virgil Wander. Rubin, his younger sister and his father are on a cross country quest to find their outlaw brother. Rubin believes in miracles and that his father can perform them. You might believe it as well after reading this book. Travel with this loving family while they stay with old family friends and new acquaintances as they make their journey. This book will gently sweep you away into another time and place. Life was hard but you could always count on a hug.
CITY OF Girls will sweep you off to by-gone days in New York City. Elizabeth Gilbert does it again. An elderly woman tells the daughter of a previous man in the woman’s life of how she interacted with the girls father. As the older woman tells her story, you are not sure witch of the many men in her life is the father of the young woman she is writing to. Spend some time in the world of the New York Theater that is not quite Broadway. A wild life is almost but not quite the norm for the people in this story.
DEACON KING KONG by James McBride takes place in NYC in 1969 and goes back in time for all the back stories. The main character shoots the local drug dealer in the face and we spend the rest of the book finding out why. The character development is stunning and the interaction between characters will win your heart. Even most of the bad guys have real redeeming qualities.
Here are three books to take you away from what is going on in our world. If you are lucky enough to be at the beach or just sitting on your porch or your favorite chair, let reading fill your mind with different kinds of adventure.
Keep Reading May 2020
By far, my favorite book for May is Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. In fact, this is one of the best books I have read in a while. Edward is a twelve year old boy who is the only survivor of a plane crash that kills 189 people including his entire family. Edward goes to live with his aunt and uncle who have been trying to have their own child for years. Edward bonds with a girl his own age who lives next door. Together they work through Edward’s teen age years and dealing with the aftermath of the crash. You will cry but they are likely to be happy tears.
The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel is the third book in a series about Thomas Cromwell. If you have not read this series, start with the first book, Wolf Hall and enjoy your time in the fifteen hundreds in the court of Henry the eighth. This is a wonderful way to escape what is going on in the real world. There were a few years between each book so it would be nice to read them closer together.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern made me think of The book titled The Shadow Of The Wind. In fact that book is mentioned just about when I was thinking of it. This is a really strange book that will certainly take you to another world. Rather than try to explain it I will copy the description from NLS.
Graduate student Zachary discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks that contains stories of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, nameless acolytes, and a story about an incident from his own childhood. The book sets him on a course of adventure that leads to a hidden library.
The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian is extremely timely. I absolutely love all his books. His subject range in amazing. If you don’t read this try some of his other books.
This is a book about a virus and a lot of nasty people who are being tracked by someone who has no idea what they are tracking. You won’t be running out to get a pet rat very soon.
Adventures With Coronavirus June 6
Things seem to be lightening up a bit. Also other things have happened to take attention away from the virus. Our world is growing more disturbing every day. All we have to do to fight the virus is stay home. It is not as easy to solve the issue of inequality. The Corona virus even seems to be easier on white people. I know one answer is that more people of color have jobs that can’t be done from home and that are needed to keep the rest of us fed and cared for. Now I have to look deeply into the question of why do people of color have those jobs? An answer that is often given is because they don’t have the skills for other jobs. However why is that the case? I am suspect that if I keep following further with these questions I am going to end up with the fact that in some form, slavery still exists.
I am not very good at philosophy so I think I will stop here until I possibly have more answers.
We have discovered a local vegetable market with a lovely farm. It is not too far from our house and I feel safe going in because it is never very crowded. On Friday a truck comes with locally caught fish. We can go on the fisherman’s web site and place an order to be picked up next Friday. I am enjoying eating more local food.
Speaking of local food. I have quite a crop of mixed lettuces. I also have plenty of herbs. My tomatoes and peppers have a long way to go.
I am still trying to use up stuff from around the house. I seem to have many half full bottles of sun screen. Since I am in and out of the house a lot now, I am using it as lotion.
I don’t think I have mentioned how much I like good old junk food GOLD Fish to add some crunch to all the salads I am eating.
We are trying to learn to use our Insta-Pot. Actually it is another brand. We bought it because it talks but it does not talk quite enough for me to find the talking very useful. We made a lemon chicken last week that turned out really good.
A couple of weeks ago we went to visit friends and socially distanced in their back yard. It was nice to see people again but it felt really strange as well. I am not sure when I will really feel comfortable around other people. I am getting very used to being in my house or yard and only with Neal. Eventually I know we will be back to some kind of normal but honestly I don’t think that will be this year.
A big conference in the blindness field that happens in Orlando at the end of January has been changed to virtual for next year. I don’t think normal can exist until we have a vaccine that is available to everyone. That means everyone in the entire world.
My yard is full of flowers and we have been able to have the windows open most of the time. The scent of glorious flowers is everywhere. Of course, so is the pollen. The pollen will be gone soon.
Adventures With Coronavirus May 19th
Here we are starting week 9. On March 15th if you told me we would be shut in for this long I would have said I would be nuts by now. Honestly, I am no more nuts than usual. In fact I am probably much calmer and relaxed than in the other normal.
We have an appointment to get our hair cut on the 27th. The list of rules we have to follow is substantial. I am a bit nervous about going out or maybe I feel like a coward that I think my hair needs to be cut.
I called our usual nursery this morning and they will put together all my plants and put them in our car tomorrow afternoon at 5:00.
We have ordered a vegetable box from our local upscale farm stand. We ordered it on Sunday and have an appointment to pick it up at 5:00 this evening. We have some idea of what we are getting but we don’t know for sure. I feel a little like it is Christmas.
We got one of those gadgets for measuring the oxygen level in your blood. Who would have thought we would ever need this. I will put that, our thermometer and blood pressure thing in one place where I know it is.
Neal went to the grocery store Monday at 6:00 am. This means we need to get up at 5:00. The extra hour and a half makes the morning seem like it goes forever.
My yard is full of flowers. This is the best time for all those wonderful scented spring blooms. I keep picking them and bringing them into the house.
Our dock is in and now it is officially summer on the lake. I am hoping we spend a lot more time sitting outside this year. I am close to inviting someone over to sit six feet apart in a couple of comfy chairs and enjoy the lake.
This would be so much harder if it were winter. Hopefully we won’t go through this again next winter.
We are going to have to make our own decisions about what we, personally, need to do to stay safe. We also need to remember that the choices we make will affect the safety and health of others. In some ways it has been easier having someone else make decisions for us but now we have to think for ourselves. I plan to stay in and stay safe. I will make small changes very slowly. Fortunately, Neal and I are on the same page with all of this so we will be happy to stay nested in for a bit longer and enjoy what we have right here in our much smaller world.
Adventures With Coronavirus May 8
Another Friday has arrived. Neal is still working so week ends still matter to us. My favorite week end thing is that I can eat breakfast in my pajamas and relax for a bit before our walk. Tomorrow will be bad weather in the morning so we can even cook a big breakfast.
I had a quarantined birthday this week and honestly, it was one of the best birthdays ever. I heard from so many people and received some lovely gifts. Neal really did a lot of little things to make me feel special.
We might get snow tonight. For some reason this is not making me crazy. I will believe it when I see it. I did go out this morning and pick flowers that were blooming. They might as well be inside where it is warm.
Once again I have to mention how important food is to us. I even bought a brownie mix on Monday. I should say Neal bought it. He is still going shopping every other Monday at 6:00 am. He is a real trooper. We could feed an army.
I am getting very close to trimming my bangs. I also think I could cut Neal’s hair. His is really curly and would be forgiving if I did not do a perfect job. My hair is totally straight and would be easier to mess up.
I got an Insta-pot for my birthday. Supposedly I can operate it by talking to it and it will talk back to me. We are going to try it with a pot-roast recipe tomorrow. I hope this goes well and I can really run it by myself. I looked at it and the few buttons I could feel were not very obvious and I think they do several different things.
We have not had many arguments and I would hate to see us blow up along with the insta-pot.
Tonight is game night with our friends. Of course it is virtual. We did not have to come up with the game this week. I think this will be night seven. It is getting harder to come up with games but we seem to pass most of the time catching up on what we are not doing.
The only future plan I have is what I might fix for dinner in the next few days and when I will do the laundry.
We just got our second stimulus check. The first one was auto deposited and this one came in the mail. We cannot figure this out but at least we got both checks.
We are certainly living in weird times.
I heard today, not sure if this is true, that if we go to our cottage in Maine we have to quarantine for 14 days. What in the hell have we been doing? Actually, when you think about it, how would that be different? I am not sure what is open in Maine but I think more than here. They have been somewhat open for a week. Shouldn’t that mean we are safer and less likely to be carriers than the people in Maine? I guess we will just stay here on the lake a little longer. We are going to order some lounge chairs for the lake and call that a vacation.
Keep Reading April 2020
Honestly, I thought I would get a lot more reading done during the shut in. I think I am too often distracted by the news. This is pretty silly considering each day has the same news.
I am surprised at the books that are able to hold my interest at this time. I am not finding mysteries are able to grab me.
Both my book sources are not seeming to be uploading many new books right now. This will drive me back into the past a bit more and that is actually quite nice.
My number 1 book for this month is VIRGIL WANDER by Leif Enger. This book will take you to a small Minnesota town. You won’t be able to stop yourself from casting the movie. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to put this book down so you will have a short visit. This author has a previous book called Peace like a River that I am holding to read later.
AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins takes you on a totally different journey. A young mother and her son are the only survivors of a gang style shooting that takes place at a party being given in the back yard of her Grandmother. The young woman and her son were not meant to be saved. Now she has to find a way to safety in the United States. You will appreciate the beauty of Mexico while they desperately make their way to the border. There is great joy and sadness on every page.
BLOND by Joice Carol Oats will bring you into the world of Hollywood in days gone by. This book was written several years ago but I have heard Net flicks is going to make it into a movie. Yes, it is about Marilyn Monroe. This is a novel based on her life. Sometimes you have to work to figure out who all the people are who touch her life because many names are not used. Joyce Carol Oats is one of our best American writers and this book does not disappoint.
Adventures With Coronavirus April 30
Today is a day for being grateful.
Last evening my family and I celebrated what would have been my Mother’s 99th birthday. We gathered through texting and House Party. Several of us toasted with Manhattans, my mother’s favorite drink. Neal made me a perfect Manhattan without the cherry. I am not a fan of those cherries.
We had a few days last week where we could sit by the lake in the evening and have a drink. Neighbors went by in their boats and said hello. How blessed am I to live in this perfect spot.
I picked two hyacinths yesterday and brought them inside. I always struggle with picking flowers because I think I am being selfish to keep them inside. I have given up that guilt trip. We need flowers in our house and the best ones are the ones from my own garden.
I am quarantined with the best possible person. Neal and I have fallen into a perfect pattern for the day. He is working from home and I have lots of little things to do throughout the day including making my check in calls. The TV we have been watching is in the same room as his office and the tread mill. We have breakfast, take our morning walk, and Neal takes over the multipurpose room for the day. I might drop in so we can have lunch together and maybe watch the governor speak.
Now that it is getting lighter and warmer in the evening, we often take a second walk.
Like everyone else we can’t stop thinking about food. We have far too much food in our freezer so I always have choices of what to fix for dinner. Cooking has become an important part of my day.
I always kind of struggle with whether or not I should have a glass of wine every night. Now the struggle is red or white.
All in all, life is pretty good at our house. I am falling in love with my husband all over again.
That makes it sound like I fell out of love with him and that is certainly not true. This is a time when I really am grateful for the choice we made 29 years ago tomorrow when Neal moved in with me.
Adventures With Coronavirus April 21
Another week end has come and gone. Saturday seemed like a very long day to me. I think I was looking for something special to make it feel like a week end. My prayers were answered. Leslie asked us to join a house party and Michael and Karen and Vaughn ended up joining us. We even had some time with Anna and Alex. Our plan for the evening was to watch Princess Bride. No one could believe we had not seen it. Maybe we were the only ones in the world who had not seen it but now we can joyfully join the rest of the world in knowing what a great movie it is.
Sunday was a lovely sunny day. We did the last three accessibility assessments we needed to do for the town. They were much easier than doing the rail trail. Then we went to Hodgie’s, our seasonal ice cream store and had hamburgers and fries that were fabulous. We each bought a pint of our favorite ice cream to bring home and we had some of it as dinner. I seriously mean dinner and not dessert.
We are now into week six. I watch these demonstrations going on around the country and those people are getting far too close to each other. I am just fine staying home for a few more weeks or whatever it ends up being.
We are starting to hear of people we know who are getting the virus. So far no one is near here.
I did a little pruning in our yard yesterday and there is a lot of green going on. I have one early lilac that is getting close to blooming. I think I will have plenty of flowers in another two weeks. I do wish the weather would get a little warmer.
Neal went food shopping early Monday morning. He ended up going to two stores. We now have plenty of toilet paper but other shortages seem to be happening. There were virtually no fresh vegetables. Meat seems to be in short supply and he could find no brown eggs. We are, however, the proud possessors of 5 pounds of bacon. We may be able to fund our retirement after all.
Adventures With Coronavirus April 13
What has happened to time?
Before I get into what could actually end up being a rant. Here is a great book title. I got to escape for two days with this book. He wrote another earlier one that I am saving for a bit.
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Visit a small town in rural Minnesota and enjoy every minute of your time there.
Speaking of time. I can’t quite get my head around how time is passing and not passing at the same time.
I know there are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and that is as far as I can go. Months and years are completely gone.
I can count on about 4 good hours of sleep at night and then it just seems like day time with some naps if I am lucky.
The hour we spend taking our walk seems to fly by.
The hour I take in the afternoon to disconnect and maybe sleep a little slips away.
The hour I spend cooking dinner and eating it is pretty nice.
I usually spend an hour or so a day making check in calls and maybe a little more time on the phone talking to friends.
We watch a couple of hours of TV at night along with a glass of wine and that time makes sense.
That leaves a lot of time that just seems to stand still.
The weird thing is that when we go to bed it feels like the day went rather quickly in its entirety.
Suddenly it is Friday again. I like the week end because the stock market is closed. Two days without worrying about where my savings will end up at the end of the day.
I told you this could be a rant.
This is the first day of week 5. If you asked me 5 weeks ago I would have said I would be nuts by now. Instead, I almost find myself lulled into some kind of coma.
I know I can do 5 more weeks that in itself kind of scares me.
I am now talking to my Fitbit.
I wish all my old Fitbit friends would return.