Sunday, May 22, 2022

Life: It Goes On - May 22

Happy Sunday! How weird has this spring been? While I'm worried, last night, about whether or not I need to cover my plants to protect them from frost, I was looking at posts from Colorado where people were dealing with up to a foot of snow fall in the past few days. In late May. My lilacs are finally starting to bloom but I can't open the windows to let the scent into the house because it's been too chilly. I have yet to put out the cushions and the rug on the patio. I'm not a fan of my outdoor season being shortened! 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: I'm still bouncing between a number of books at once. This week I came across the book An Education, written by Lynn Barber, which was adapted into a movie of the same name by Nick Hornby. I finished David Sedaris' Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. Now I'm going back to Susan Cain's Quiet. 

Watched:
 Last night we went to Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. I don't even know how to explain it to you, other than to say that in the end, a bad mother had to figure out how to express her love to her daughter before the multiverse was destroyed by that same very angry daughter. As if mothers didn't already feel guilty enough!

Read: Hey, I finally finished The School For Good Mothers! I also started Kate Folk's Out There and Maud Newton's Ancestor Trouble. But I'm going to have to put both of those on hold because I have to return Emily St. John Mandel's Sea of Tranquility soon. 

Made: The usual not much. But I am going to make my first batch of strawberry shortcake of the season today, so there's that. 

Enjoyed: Friday we went to the high school graduation party of a great-niece (which always makes me feel so old AND to wonder why we skip the "grand" part when we talk about aunts and uncles - I'd much rather be a grand-aunt than a great-aunt!). When she was just a baby, I babysat her once a week for two years, until I returned to work full-time. My kids adored having a baby to play with and she was showered with attention and love when she was here. So proud of the beautiful, smart young woman she's become! 

Oh, and getting a video Thursday morning from Ms. S of a moose walking down the street in front of her house! This is their life in Alaska and I'm thoroughly enjoying living it vicariously. 

This Week I’m:  

Planning: Because of my back/leg issue, I've fallen behind on so many things, including finding new homes for the things we brought home last weekend. This week will be about catching up on some of those things and decorating for summer. 

Thinking About: What it means to be married. We're headed to a wedding in a couple of weeks and there is so much advice I think those of us who've been married for decades could impart to the young couple. Like when you're working on a blog post and your husband kindly brings you a cup of hot coffee, you don't complain that he's made it the way he likes it and not the way you do. As I'm doing right now!

Feeling: I don't want to jinx anything but I'm starting to believe my sciatic issue is finally on the mend. I was able, albeit very slowly, to vacuum and rearrange some furniture yesterday. I'm beginning to doubt that I need to have an MRI on Thursday. If that were a relatively inexpensive thing to have done, I'd still do it, just to have answers. But dang - I don't want to spend the kind of money that's going to cost me if I don't need to!

Looking forward to: Finally getting some patio time this coming week. 

Question of the week: Everything, Everywhere, All At Once is one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. What's the strangest movie you've ever seen? Do you like to go see movies that are out of your comfort zone? 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Girls In The Garden by Lisa Jewell

The Girls In The Garden
by Lisa Jewell
Read by Colleen Prendergast
9 Hours 21 Minutes
320 pages 
Published Atria June 2016 

Publisher's Summary: 
Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people's houses. You've known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really? 

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her 13-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

My Thoughts: 
The book opens with Pip caring for her mother, Clare, who has had well too much to drink at a neighborhood party in the garden square behind their flat. That done, she ventures out into the garden to look for her sister. Now, if you didn't fully read the publisher's summary, you'll read Pip's discovery of Grace and know that Grace has been raped and murdered. So I hope you didn't fully read the publisher's summary. Because part of what I liked about this book is that assumption I made early on - it certainly colored how I read the book from there on out. Especially when it's revealed that thirty years ago, a young woman was found in the garden square, dead of an apparent drug overdose. But questions have always lingered and now they come back to the forefront, in no small part because that girl's then-boyfriend and her sister still leave on the garden square. 

Clare has moved her girls to the flat (for reasons that will later be revealed) and we learn through Pip's letters to her dad (who is where, we wonder) that Clare is less worried about what might happen to them on the garden square than the danger they might face from their father. But gradually we learn that some of the denizens of the homes surrounding the garden might be a threat. Could Leo, the father of a trio of sisters Grace befriends, have a thing for young girls? Could his father, Gordon, who has come to stay while he recovers from surgery, be a dangerous pervert? Even Leo's wife, Adele, begins to worry about the attentions Leo pays to one of the neighbor girls, especially when she learns that he had a sort fling with the dead girl's then 13-year-old sister. 

Jewell opens with the discovery of Grace and then we travel back to "Before," when Clare and the girls first arrive in the neighborhood, up to the discovery of Grace's body. After that we leap to "After" and the investigation into what happened to Grace. It's a long, slow reveal, which could have felt like it went on too long but never did, as Jewell gradually reveals additional details and how those details affect the families involved. 

My book club read this one for May and it was a hit that resulted in a good conversation. There are the red herrings, there are the differences between the ways that Adele and Clare mother their daughters, there is the side piece of Grace's and Pip's dad, there is a lot to unravel about how the past affects the future, and there is the moral piece of how the attacker(s?) were dealt with. 

This is no police procedural, no story of a serial killer being tracked down, race to find a killer before it's too late. Instead it's a mystery/thriller about the dangers that lurk in our everyday lives. And isn't that just about the scariest thing there is? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Life: It Goes On - May 17

Happy Tuesday! Happy late Tuesday, actually. 

We went out of town this weekend. Sometimes I schedule these posts before we leave, sometimes I have them mostly ready so that I just need to add a couple of things on Sunday evenings after we get home. This weekend, I clearly did neither of those things. And then last night I was finishing this month's book club selection. But I know how much you all live for these posts (😂), so here we go!

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: I've actually been listening to three books this week. My book club book this month (The Girls In The Garden) was a read/listen combo, The Big Guy and I listened to some of David Sedaris's Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls, and I've been listening to Susan Cain's Quiet during my commute. 

Watched: We had such a nice weekend with BG's brother and sister-in-law, nice and relaxing. We spent a lot of time watching movies and streaming shows while we chatted. My sister-in-law and I watched Motherhood, starring Felicity Huffman, Patricia Arquette, and Angela Bassett. Then she got me hooked on Inventing Anna. The four of us watched a couple of episodes of Alpha House, starring John Goodman, and Operation Mincemeat, starring Colin Firth. And, of course, I been watching the final episodes of This Is Us...with tears pouring down my face. 

Read: As I mentioned, I've also been reading The Girls In the Garden and I'm still trying to finish The School for Good Mothers. 

Made: Seriously - I might as well take this category off these posts. 


Enjoyed:
 One last trip to Decorah. BG's brother and his wife will be moving to Lincoln in a few weeks and we'll love having them close but they have a lovely home in a wonderful little town and it's always a pleasure to spend time there with them. Plus, this visit we were the beneficiaries of some things that they won't have room for in their new home, including a table that was the guy's great-grandmother, another table that their dad made in high school, and a wonderful collection of BG's brother's paintings. We are honored to be the new wards of all of these treasures. 
Yes, there are two chairs in 
there; and no, we could
not see out of the rear view
mirror

This Week I’m:  

Planning: On finding new homes for all of our new pieces. And deciding which of the two tables will be my first project of the season. Great-grandma's table doesn't need much so I'll probably start with that. 

Thinking About: Everything we'd have to get rid of if we were downsizing so dramatically. Makes me even more determined to purge the unused, the unneeded, and the things it's time to let go of. 

Feeling: Frustrated with my continuing sciatic/back issue; happy to have gotten to spend time with my book club friends tonight; brokenhearted by the death of man I've known for over fifty years who succumbed to his mental illness this week, leaving his sister bereft. This is one of those weeks when I really am feeling all of the things. 

Looking forward to: My dining room is half full of things that need to go to Mini-him's place (including that rocking chair you can see in the pic above and some of the art). I can't wait to get everything out of my house and see it all in its new home. 

Question of the week: By now you've all figured out that, rather than go to thrift stores, most of my previously loved pieces have come from friends and family. I love having all of these reminders of people in my house. What about you? Do you like old pieces or are you someone that prefers new things? 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff
Read by Barbara Rosenblat, John Franklyn-Robbins, Jill Tanner
1 Hour 55 Minutes
Published 

Publisher's Summary: 
When Helene Hanff makes an innocent inquiry about the possibility of purchasing hard-to-find books through Marks and Co., Booksellers, she begins a twenty-year love affair with Frank Doel, the proper English bookseller who answers her letter and sends along her first order in the fall of 1949. 

They are two very unlikely correspondents: she a cranky Jewish New Yorker who writes TV scripts and lives in a messy apartment on East 95th Street; he a determinedly courteous middle-class Englishman who sends her beautifully bound and often obscure antiquarian books from the shop he manages on Charing Cross Road in London. 

The letters, written between 1949 and 1969, capture the period and pay tribute to the special kind of reader who treasures a well-worn classic.

My Thoughts:
84, Charing Cross Road is one of those books I've been meaning to read for years. But I didn't own it, couldn't find it from my library book on audiobook and always had so many other books that popped up ahead of it. And then the other day I was looking for audiobooks that would be good for the hubby and me to listen to on road trips and there it was, 84, Charing Cross Road, not only available but also less than 2 hours long. Fewer than 24 hours later, I was finished with it. And now I'm a little sad that I can never "read" it again for the first time. 

Helene Hanff is a no-nonsense writer living in a studio apartment with a penchant for obscure, mostly nonfiction books. When her first request to Marks and Co booksellers in London is a success, the store quickly becomes her go-to for book acquisitions. She can't be bothered to go out into New York to search for the books and she can't be bothered to convert the pounds into dollars and she often complains about the books that are sent to her. But it is equally clear that she is, at least partially, teasing and soon such a deep affection grows between Frank and Helene that others in the store begin writing to Helene as well. Getting to know them, Helene begins sending packages of foodstuffs to the store employees, knowing, as she does that so many things are in such low supply in London and finding the cost to herself to be quite reasonable. Soon Helene is also carrying on a correspondence with Frank's wife, a neighbor, and, eventually Frank's daughter. 

Helene is witty and fun; I adored the way Helene described things. Frank is ceaselessly patient and warm. I so wanted Helene to make it across the ocean so that they could meet. I so wanted to meet each of them. The best part was knowing that these people were real, that these letters were real. And those letters provide a marvelous glimpse of what life was like as a writer in New York and for the people of England following the war. It almost seems trite to call this book "charming" or "delightful;" but it is, it really is both of those things. It is also moving and thoughtful and makes me want to run to my nearest used book store. 

Helene proclaims that she doesn't like to read a book for the first time, far preferring to read books that bring her comfort. I don't reread often; but, for 84, Charing Cross Road, I will gladly channel Helene. This may be the book I read every year. 



Monday, May 9, 2022

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Bloomsbury Girls
by Natalie Jenner
Read by Juliet Stevenson 
12 Hours 29 Minutes
Published May 2022 by St. Martin's Press
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through Austenprose PR, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary: 
Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:


Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances--most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.



Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.



Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.



As they interact with various literary figures of the time--Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others--these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

My Thoughts: 
Two years ago, I took a chance on Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society and thoroughly enjoyed it. Timing helped - it was the right book at the right time. When I was offered the opportunity to read her latest, I didn't hesitate. These days I'm looking for exactly the kind of writing I found in The Jane Austen Society, the sweetness, the fun characters, a little bit of predictability. I'm happy to say that I found it in Bloomsbury Girls. 

I was happy to see Evie Stone reappear in this book (read below how Evie wouldn't leave Jenner); this time she's older (but still so very young) and wiser but every bit as determined as she was in The Jane Austen Society. She is not the only strong female in this book, which is filled with strong females both in the lead and as secondary characters. Evie, Grace, and Vivien are each trying to find their way in a world where men make the rules. The feminist in me was delighted to find the three of them fighting back when men took what was rightly theirs. 

The battle between the sexes is the main theme of this novel, but Jenner also touches on immigration, racism, mental health, morals, and the aftereffects of war. The time period and setting allow for all of those well known people mentioned above to make and appearance which lead to even more tension between the men and the women. That touch of predictability I mentioned before? It's here. You expect that things will be resolved a certain way and for the most part, they are. You expect that there may be some things that are more easily resolved than they would be in real life, and there are. I'm fine with that. I wanted that, in fact; it's one of the reasons I wanted to read this book now. 

One of my quibbles with Jenner's first book was the reader (he did a fine job, just didn't have the range to voice so many women). Juliet Stevenson, on the other hand, is terrific and I highly recommend the audiobook version of this book. 

Thanks to Laurel Ann, of AustenProse PR, for including me on this tour. 

Message From Author Natalie Jenner: 
Dear readers, I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who had to leave school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). Bloomsbury Girls continues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in Bloomsbury Girls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it. Warmest regards, Natalie

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Life: It Goes On - May 8

Happy Sunday and Happy Mother's Day! This morning is overcast and we're expecting more rain but the sun is supposed to come out later. It's sort of how our past week has gone - a fair amount of rain and grey with just enough rain to make this girl happy. Things are green, I've been able to get out and get most of my pots planted and vegetables and more herbs will go into the garden later. The patio is almost ready and you know I can't wait for the perfect evening to pull out the cushions, plug in the lights, and enjoy all of it. 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner, which I'll be reviewing tomorrow. Loving the reading of this one!

Watched: The Big Guy called the cable company to lower our bill this week and ended up adding HBO. We've been watching a ridiculous amount of television, consequently, a habit we'll need to break. Friday night we caught Al Pacino and Annette Bening in a movie we'd never heard of but thoroughly enjoyed, Danny Collins

Read:
 I'm still working on The School For Good Mothers; not really sure why I'm having such a hard time making myself sit down and read it because it is interesting. 

Made: Guys, I made something this week! Friday night I made lasagna. Well, sort of. Turns out I didn't have enough cheese so I substituted in more cottage cheese (an ingredient my mom's recipe calls for that always surprises people). Thursday BG made "fried" potatoes in the air fryer. While they aren't as good as the ones he makes on the stovetop with a stick of butter, they weren't too bad so we may be able to enjoy fried potatoes again, which is pretty exciting for two people who would eat them once a week. 

Enjoyed: We went into Lincoln yesterday so that BG could help his brother with moving something (his brother and his wife are moving full-time to Lincoln the end of June) then the three of us and BG's sister and brother-in-law went out to dinner to a new-to-us pizza place. We were all really impressed and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to leftovers today!

This Week I’m:  

Planning: On finishing up the patio and gardens getting somethings put together around here. With my sciatic issue, I've fallen behind on quite a bit but I'm starting to have more good days (and, mercifully, much better nights so I'm sleeping again), so I'm hoping to have the ability to catch up. 

Thinking About:
 
Our moms and missing them both so much today. 

Feeling: Like curling up with a book in a corner of my new sofa, which was delivered Friday, over a month ahead of scheduled delivery. It's a good day to break in a new sofa!

Looking forward to: A couple of trips we have coming up - one to visit BG's brother and sister-in-law one last time before they move from the lovely little town they've been living in for over 20 years and one to Dallas for a wedding. 

Question of the week: How will you be observing today?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

A Slow Fire Burning
by Paula Hawkins
9 hours, 19 minutes
Read by Rosamund Pike
Published August 2021 by Penguin Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary: 
When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him. Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim’s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of yet another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim. Three women who are – for different reasons – simmering with resentment. Who are, whether they know it or not, burning to right the wrongs done to them. When it comes to revenge, even good people might be capable of terrible deeds. How far might any one of them go to find peace? How long can secrets smolder before they explode into flame?

My Thoughts: 
Seven years ago I read Paula Hawkins' debut, The Girl On The Train, and I was one of the people who raced through it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was perfectly willing to suspend disbelief, loved the alternating chapters by nearly equally unreliable narrators, and did not see the ending coming at all (ok, well, that last bit isn't all that surprising - you know I rarely do!). Then, as I am wont to do, I didn't pick up her next book. That's not entirely true, I do own Into The Water, I just haven't read it yet after reading some less than glowing reviews. 

This time I didn't bother with the reviews. I was looking for a new audiobook and this one was available so I snatched it up with high hopes. 

Hawkins has returned her to what, I assume, has become her formula - a story told from the point of view of three unreliable (and not in the least likable) women. The women initially appear to have nothing in common but we soon find out that their lives have intertwined in various ways. All of the men in the book are detestable. And we jump back and forth in time, often getting a part of the story from more than one point of view. Which makes it mighty interesting that perhaps the only person in the book who's likable, Irene, wonders this about the book within a book that appears here: "Why couldn't people just tell a story straight any longer, start to finish?" This book is one time where I kind of wondered the same thing myself. 

Somewhere I read that readers would never see the end coming, never figure out who the killer was. To which I, of all people, disagree. I knew about half way through the book who the killer was and if I can figure it out, I'm pretty sure you'll see it coming as well. There are some rather icky things that pop up in the book, none of which made this book any better for me. I'm sorry to say that I was really disappointed by this one. It could have been better. 

Guys, Maureen Corrigan really, really did not like this book (her review in The Washington Post). I have never read a Maureen Corrigan book review that I recall being so scathing. Still, I'm happy to know I wasn't the only person who felt this way about this one. 

THE saving grace of this one, for me, was Rosamunde Pike's reading. She is superb and I hope to get to listen to her reading again soon, hopefully something that deserves her skills better.  






Tuesday, May 3, 2022

April in Spain by John Banville

April In Spain
by John Banville
320 pages
Published October 2021 by Hanover Square Press

Publisher's Summary: 
Don't disturb the dead…

On the idyllic coast of San Sebastian, Spain, Dublin pathologist Quirke is struggling to relax, despite the beaches, cafés and the company of his disarmingly lovely wife. When he glimpses a familiar face in the twilight at Las Acadas bar, it's hard at first to tell whether his imagination is just running away with him.

Because this young woman can't be April Latimer. She was murdered by her brother, years ago—the conclusion to an unspeakable scandal that shook one of Ireland's foremost political dynasties.

Unable to ignore his instincts, Quirke makes a call back home to Ireland and soon Detective St. John Strafford is dispatched to Spain. But he's not the only one en route. A relentless hit man is on the hunt for his latest prey, and the next victim might be Quirke himself.

My Thoughts:
I've long been meaning to ready something by John Banville (his name is always popping up on lists of great authors). So I didn't even read what this book is about before I reserved it at the library and, no surprise, I didn't read the summary before I jumped in. Even though I knew nothing about the book and should have been ready for anything, I was still surprised to read this opening: 
"Terry Tice liked killing people. It was as simple as that. Maybe "liked" wasn't the right word. Nowadays he was paid to do it, and well paid. But money was never the motive, not really."
Woah now. What kind of book have I picked up? As it turns out, quite a good one, filled with truly interesting and unusual characters, a lot of darkness, and a little humor starting with the play on words in the title. There are a number of storylines going on at the same time here, which flit in and out of each other, not coming fully together until nearly the end of the book which isn't, as it so often, distracting, but instead pulls readers through the book. As good as the story is, it's Banville's writing that really made this book work for me, as in this passage where the always cranky Quirke is complaining about vacationing: 
"The conspiracy begins the moment you arrive, as he pointed out to Evelyn, who was knitting, and wasn't listening. There's the grinning doorman who yanks open the door of your taxi and gabbles a greeting in pidgin English. There's the beaming girl in black behind the reception desk who exclaims, in her bouncy way, that it is a pleasure to welcome you back, even though you've never stayed here before. There is the porter, lean and stopped, with a melancholy eye and a mustache that might have been drawn on with an eyebrow pencil, who festoons himself with your suitcases and staggers away with them, to arrive at the door of your room a mysterious twenty minutes later - was he off in some cubbyhole in the meantime, going through your things? - and, having shown you how the light switches work anyhow to open and close the curtains, loiters expectantly on the threshold, with his fake, ingratiating smile, waiting for his tip."
Doesn't that draw a vivid picture even as it tells you so much about who Quirke is? Another vivid picture, one that might feel excessive in a such a slim novel but doesn't. 
"His keenest, secret enthusiasm was the lift. It ran, or joggled, rather, up and down through the very heart of the building. It was ancient and creaky, with a folding iron gate that shuddered shut with a satisfying clatter. Inside, it was lined with red plush, and attached to the back wall, below a framed mirror, was a little wooden seat hardly deeper than a bookshelf, covered with a raggedy piece of carpet held in place by round-headed nails worn to a shine over the years by the well-upholstered posteriors of countless well-heeled guests."
Throughout the book Banville reveals things that appear to indicate that this is not the first book that features Quirke, that there may be things that first time readers don't know. But the book is so well done that it comes off feeling more like Banville has just dropped readers into a life and you're going to have to accept that there will be some things that you don't know about the characters and their pasts. It was only after I finished the book that I found out that Banville has written a number of books featuring Quirke. So now I need to find more books by Banville and books about Quirke. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Life: It Goes On - May 1

Happy Sunday! Oh my gosh, can you believe it's May already?! For so many years of my life, today has been about creating and delivering May baskets. Although it's been many years since I've done that, it still seems odd not to do them. After a stormy Friday and cold windy Saturday, we finally had a day that was sunny enough to be warm enough to sit outside this afternoon and to eat dinner on the patio. Then eating on the patio made me decide that it was time to get the furniture set up for enjoying the patio even more. 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: Music Is History by Questlove (of The Roots). My loan is going to expire this evening with me only half way through the book. To be honest, I will probably not place another hold on it to finish it. It's interesting enough (Questlove certainly knows his music!) but it's a tough one to listen to, even though he reads it. In my opinion, this one would be better "read" in print than audio, where you could read a chapter at a time and absorb that chapter before you moved on. 
My dad and The Big Guy 
soaking up some rays today

Watched: The NFL draft. 

Read: The Tilted World by spouses Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly for book club and The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. 

Made: I've barely cooked all week. I made broccoli cheese soup last Sunday that we ate two days and I grilled burgers that we ate for two meals but that's the extent of my actual cooking. I bought a roasted chicken at Costco on Thursday and that made three meals and we ate out. One day I'll cook again but with summer coming, it might not be for a while yet!

Enjoyed: We went out to dinner last night with my Tier Ones and their spouses (who we love equally!) then to our house for dessert and drinks afterward. We can, and do, talk for hours every time we get together. Love this group - I am so comfortable with them. 

This Week I’m:  

Planning: On going to the nurseries for this season's gardens. I usually have things planted by now, especially in my pots; but it's been so cold this year. I definitely want to get shopping before Mother's Day so I have a better pick of flowers. 

Thinking About: My health. When my sciatic pain flared up a couple of months ago, I assumed it would gradually get better. It hasn't. In a way, that's a good thing. It has forced me to finally find a doctor. I'm happy to say that I really liked the doctor I chose and he is being really proactive. I finally feel like a real grown up! 

Feeling: Blue. I mentioned another time that one of my Tier One friends is moving. We've talked about it a lot, I've been to her house and seen how much she was purging and giving away. I've been lucky enough to have been bequeathed a number of vintage table linens and a number of other things that she was getting rid of and wanted to go to a home where she'd know they were appreciated. But it wasn't until I walked into her house today and saw it without most of the things that made it their house, that it really hit me that she'll be gone in a few weeks. 

Looking forward to: My golly, I haven't even turned the calendar page yet today to see what's on the agenda this week!

Question of the week: It's about grilling season. What's your favorite thing to grill?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Morality For Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith

Morality For Beautiful Girls
by Alexander McCall Smith
8 hours, 8 minutes
Read by Lisette Lecat

Publisher's Summary: 
In Morality for Beautiful Girls, Precious Ramotswe, founder and owner of the only detective agency for the concerns of both ladies and others, investigates the alleged poisoning of the brother of an important “Government Man,” and the moral character of the four finalists of the Miss Beauty and Integrity Contest, the winner of which will almost certainly be a contestant for the title of Miss Botswana. Yet her business is having money problems, and when other difficulties arise at her fiancé’s Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, she discovers the reliable Mr J.L.B. Matekoni is more complicated then he seems.

My Thoughts: 
My second book about morality this week! To be fair, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books all (well, at least in the three I've read so far) deal with morality to a degree. Also, to be fair, the morality of the beautiful girls is only a tiny part of this book. As with all of the series (again, this is based on only three books but I'm certain that it's a formula that will continue through the series), there is a lot going on in this book. 

When Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni (and truly, he is never called anything else in the books so I can't just give you a first name) seemingly abandons his beloved Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, leaving it in the hands of his two slacker apprentices, his fiancee, Mma Ramotswe steps in. First she needs to figure out what's ailing him and while she waits for him to get better, she also needs to keep both his business and hers afloat. Enter her secretary/assistant detective, Mma Makutsi, who is recruited to first become a secretary for the garage but soon becomes the assistant manager. Surprisingly, she is just what both businesses need. In short order she has the apprentices working hard and business thriving at the garage. Then, while Mma Ramotswe is out of town solving one case, Mma Makutsi lands a big case that will help keep the detective agency afloat. 

One thing that appeals to me about these books is that, while the cases are always solved, the resolution is not always so easy. Her Mma Ramotswe manages to uncover the poisoner but then  finds both a way to heal the family and protect the poisoner. She truly cares about people and is always looking for the way to protect those involved while also resolving the problem. 

These are the perfect books for me to read between other books - not too fluffy, not too dark, and even though I don't always know what the resolution will be to a case, I always know that things will end well for everyone.  And that's just what I need in a book every so often. I've become very fond of these characters and I'm looking forward to the next book. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn
331 pages
Published March 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

Publisher's Summary: 
Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.

Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?

My Thoughts: 
My bookworm coworker recommended this one to me after she read it with her bookclub. She didn't tell me much about it but her enthusiasm convinced me to pick it up without even reading the summary. Which is why I thought seriously about not giving you the summary to this one. I did not see what happened on page forty coming at all! 

The Millers are a family teetering on the brink - Jack and Ann are barely holding it together; Ann doesn't know how to handle their teenaged son, Oz; Jack has given up his job to care for Oz; Ann and Chloe are barely on speaking terms; and poor Finn feels a little invisible. Still, Jack thinks a family ski trip is just the thing to bring the family together. Along for the ride is Finn's best friend, Mo; Ann's bestfriend "Aunt" Karen and her husband "Uncle" Bob and daughter Natalie; and Chloe's boyfriend, Vance. The family has no sooner arrived in their striped down camper at their cabin in the mountains when they turn around to leave for dinner. Along the way, they pick up a young man, Kyle, whose car has broken down. He has hardly joined the group when Jack has to swerve to avoid hitting a deer in the road, sliding into a guardrail that gives way. 

How to give readers the full picture of what happens to each of the people in that camper for the next couple of days? One of them dies, allowing them to become an omniscient narrator. This allows us to follow Chloe when she follows Vance, despite her mother's protestations, who heads out to find help. It allows us to follow Ann and Kyle when they also head off for help. And it allows us to stay in the camper with the remaining family and friends. It allows us to see the choices that are made. And it allows us to make judgements that Redfearn will make us question later. 

Because although the first 100 or so pages of this book seem to be a survival tale, at its heart, this book is a morality tale. Our omniscient narrator forces us to question our opinions, making us consider if one person's choices were better or worse than another's. You think you know, as you're reading the book, what you would do given the same situation, what the morally "right" thing to do would be. But Redfearn will make you rethink that answer. Would you really do the "right" thing if it meant your own family member was more at risk? 

And what about the aftermath? How would you heal from what happened? How do you heal yourself mentally and grieve? How much of you can be spared to help everyone else heal? There is a lot to be unpacked here. My coworker's book club read this one and she said they had a great discussion, including about 20 minutes discussing the author's afterword where Redfearn discusses the personal experience that inspired the book. Does the book have flaws? Yes - there are unanswered questions that don't necessarily feel like they were meant to be unanswered, the narrator often appears wise beyond their years, and some things happen that seem entirely improbable. But it kept me racing through it, hoping for the healing and hope that Redfearn delivers on in the end. 


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Life: It Goes On - April 24

Happy Sunday from the windswept plains! Seriously, it's been ridiculously windy here most days for a couple of months. I understand why people literally lost their minds because of the wind when pioneers were first settling here and I don't have to listen to it whistling through the walls and windows of my house. Still, it's full on spring, at long last - things are green, we're getting much needed rain, and the yard is filled with birds and baby rabbits. 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: Morality For Beautiful Girls, the third book in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Up next is Questlove's Music Is History.

Watched: We finished the latest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel last night. I didn't realize we were on the last episode until it was done and I'm more than a little sad to not have saved it. 

Read: I finished In An Instant and started The School for Good Mothers

Made: Seriously, I might as well take this category off my weekly posts! I am, today, making broccoli soup because I accidentally ordered well more broccoli on my grocery order than I intended to order. 

Enjoyed:
 Yesterday Lincoln held something called The Big Event, whereby people can request a crew of college students to come help with things they need done around the house. We got a crew of nine young men to work at my dad's. They got straight to work and knocked out everything on my dad's list in just a couple of hours. We even took time for a cinnamon roll (my mom always served the kids cinnamon rolls so we had to keep that up) and water break, during which my dad regaled the young men with stories about the year my parents got an all-girl crew who astonished them with their hard work and his time at the university. Loved seeing those young men so attentive to my dad!

This Week I’m:  

Planning: Using the inch-by-inch I learned from someone I follow on Instagram, I continue to work on my purging and organizing project, focusing now on the basement. That will continue this week. Mini-him is coming for lunch today and I'm going to put him to work going through the things he still has stored at my house to make sure what's here are all things he really wants saved. My guess is that there is a lot that I've been holding on to more because of the memories I have than those that he does. 

Thinking About: It's baptism day for my great-nephew and I'm so wishing I were there to celebrate with the family; I've been thinking about them all day. 

Feeling: Resigned to the fact that my sciatic pain won't resolve itself and frustrated that it's almost impossible to find a doctor in my network that will take a new patient. 

Looking forward to: Book club on Tuesday. 

Question of the week: What's one of your favorite low-cal, high-flavor go-to meals? 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
212 pages
Read by Peter Francis James
Published 1958

Publisher's Summary: 
Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger. Things Fall Apart traces the growing friction between village leaders and Europeans determined to save the heathen souls of Africa. But its hero, a noble man who is driven by destructive forces, speaks a universal tongue.

My Thoughts: 
I'll be honest, I know this one is considered a classic (I know because it's on my Classics Club list) but I really struggled with understanding why for most of the book. Perhaps that has something to do with how I read it; this one turned out to be a listen/read/listen one for me when my audiobook loan expired and then I chose to check it out again. Perhaps it's because I read it through the prism of my own moral expectations, judging Okonkwo by standards that wouldn't have applied to him. As time has passed, as the lessons of the book have sunk in, I'm finding a greater appreciation for the book, especially in light of the era in which it was written. Still, because of all of this, I'm struggling with putting my thoughts into words. Instead, let me give you this from Kirkus Reviews (and if you've been here long, you know how rare it is for me to even agree with Kirkus Reviews, let alone defer to them so that will tell you something about how much I love this review):
"Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor."
That last line - wow! It makes it so clear why this book is considered so important. I do highly recommend that you listen to this one if you choose to pick it up; instead of stumbling over names I can't figure out how to pronounce (if even in my own head), the book flows smoothly and the names no longer feel foreign. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #2) by Alexander McCall Smith

Tear of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #2)
by Alexander McCall Smith
Read by Lisette Lecat
7 Hours 49 Minutes
Published September 2002 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary: 
Precious Ramotswe is the eminently sensible and cunning proprietor of the only ladies’ detective agency in Botswana. In Tears of the Giraffe she tracks a wayward wife, uncovers an unscrupulous maid, and searches for an American man who disappeared into the plains many years ago. In the midst of resolving uncertainties, pondering her impending marriage to a good, kind man, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, and the promotion of her talented secretary (a graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College, with a mark of 97 per cent), she also finds her family suddenly and unexpectedly increased by two.

My Thoughts: 
After just one book in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, I already knew what to expect from the books in the series, not the least of which is that these would be detective stories that had far more to do with the lives of Precious Ramotswe, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, and the people around them than the actual cases that the detective agency takes on. 

In Tear of the Giraffe, we pick up where we left off with Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni having recently become engaged. Now they must decide which of their homes they will move into after they are married. It becomes clear to Mma Ramotswe quickly that her place on Zebra Road is far preferable but this means that Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni's maid will need to be let go and she is not at all happy to be losing her golden goose. She's been running a side hustle in the house while her employer has been off to work and she's bound and determined to convince him that his fiancee must go. 

That's the first of Mma Ramotswe's problems in this book. Then there is Grace Makutsi, the detective agency's secretary, who wants to take on a bigger role, a couple of cases to be solved with delicacy, and an orphanage matron whose ability to manipulate people changes the lives of Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni. 

Precious Ramotswe is a sensible woman whose case solving relies on intuition and observation. McCall Smith's writing is equally sensible - nothing fancy about it. Still he manages to give readers vivid pictures of the appearance of his characters and their surroundings. Where he does get lyrical is when he talks about the country of Botswana, which becomes one of the series' characters. 

These are cozy mysteries that will have readers considering morality, decency, and our ability to learn and change. I feel absolutely certain that Lisette Lecat's reading of the books is adding to my enjoyment of the books which makes them even more perfect as books to be listened to when I need something quick and not too heavy to listen to between heavier books. I've already started the next book!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Life: It Goes On - April 17

Happy Sunday! And Happy Easter and Happy Passover to those who observe! We celebrated Easter yesterday with my dad, Mini-him and Miss H. We had most of our traditional foods - ham, hash brown casserole, lemonade "salad," and pie. The "kids" both got Easter gifts but no more Easter baskets, no Easter egg hunts, and no candy. I think I could have been disciplined if there had been Easter candy in my house, after 12 weeks of retraining my brain about food, but I decided not to tempt myself. I am pretty sad about not getting to have any Cadbury eggs or Hershey's candy-coated eggs! 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: I finished Tears of the Giraffe and A Slow Fire Burning and started the next book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Morality for Beautiful Girls. I'm sure I've mentioned before that sometimes when I'm racing to finish a book, I'll up the speed of the audio. This week, as I was listening to A Slow Fire Burning, I realized that I had been listening to it for some time at 80% speed - no wonder it was taking so long to finish!

Watched: More of The Marvelous Life of Mrs. Maisel, some baseball, and CBS Sunday Morning, which had a marvelous piece by Steve Leder (the author of The Beauty of What Remains) this morning. I highly recommend looking it up. 

Read: Out of No Way, which I reviewed on Thursday and I started In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn, which was recommended to me by a co-worker/fellow bookworm.


Made:
 Glazed ham, hash brown casserole, lemonade salad, and raspberry pie. It felt good to cook again! 

Enjoyed: We went out with friends last night to a new-to-us place, which is basically like a mall food court for grownups. At one place we got momos, at another lox crepes, and at another Japanese poke bowls. Capped off the night with a boozy ice cream shake at our friends' house!

This Week I’m:  

Planning: 40 Bags In 40 Days is officially over, as of yesterday, but I'm not done yet. After seeing all of the clearing out our friends have done in preparation for a move, both The Big Guy and I are inspired to really start clearing things out. I say that even as I've just said "yes, please" to more of my friend's vintage tablecloths! 

Thinking About: Spring, of course; aren't I always! I'm beginning to wonder if it's ever going to actually arrive! 

Feeling: Optimistic - as I so often am on Sundays when the week lies before me and I'm certain that I'm going to accomplish so much! 

Looking forward to: Some time off work this week, even if it is only a half day. 

Question of the week:

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Out of No Way: Madam CJ Walker & A'Lelia Walker A Poetic Drama by Roje Augustin

Out of No Way: Madam CJ Walker & A'Lelia Walker
A Poetic Drama by Roje Augustin
156 Pages
Published May 2020 by Bowker
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through Poetic Book Tours - Where Readers Come to Poetry

Publisher's Summary: 
Author, producer, and emerging poet Rojé Augustin has written a groundbreaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter, A'Lelia. Rojé's singular and accomplished work is presented through the intimate lens of the mother-daughter relationship via different poetic forms — from lyric to haiku, blackout to narrative. (One poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.) Written in tribute to Walker, Out of No Way deftly and beautifully explores themes of race, motherhood, sacrifice, beauty, and the meaning of success in Jim Crow America.

My Thoughts: 
You know me I'm always up for trying something different in a book. Well, maybe not always...you are going to have to convince me that it's worth taking a risk, especially in the past year when my reading has been on the skids. But, say you approach me with a book about a woman that I've long been interested in learning more about and then also say that you approach me about a book of poetry, something I've been trying to read more of recently and then say that you have a book that combines both of those things. Well then, you've got my attention. 

Ms. Augustin doesn't just hop right into the poetry. She kindly gives readers an introduction to the characters who will be populating her work and prefaces the book with an explanation of why she wanted to write about Sarah Breedlove, why she chose to write her poetry from the points of view of both Sarah and her daughter Lelia, and how she chose what she would write her poems about. If you've been here long, you know that I almost always skip over these kinds of introductions but I'm glad I didn't do that here. To be honest, it wasn't that much reading but it was certainly well worth the time it took to give me a good background going into the book. 

Sarah Breedlove was the first child born into freedom in her family, orphaned at age seven, married at fourteen, a mother at seventeen, a widow at twenty. Lelia was her only child. Breedlove would marry twice more, the third time to Charles Joseph Walker who convinced her to call herself Madam C.J. Walker when her company began. Ms. Walker died at the young age of fifty-one have risen from a working child who earned seventy cents for doing the hard work of a household to being the first self-made female millionaire in the country. 

Each chapter addresses an issue relevant to this mother and daughter - the first letters of those issues, in fact, spell out M-O-T-H-E-R and D-A-U-G-H-T-E-R. Poem styles include lyric, narrative, haiku, blackout, elegy, nursery rhyme, and villanelle. It's particularly interesting to see how the form of poem either mirrors the topic (Envy is written in blackout form) or to act as a counterpoint (Hate written in nursery rhyme). 

All of the poems serve to move the story of these two women forward as Augustin explores the relationship between the two, often alternating poems from one woman's point of view to the other. As with any book of poetry, some of these resonated more with me than others. Rare for me in a book of poetry, I even highlighted some passages. 

Some of my poems were The Voice In Her Head, in no small part because of the way Augustin then took that work and used blackout to make it several other works. She also used black out to take a dozen Madam C.J. Walker product ads and create poetry out of them that addresses envy - I found them very clever and as a whole, very effective. In the chapter titled Resilience is a work titled "Resilience: Making a Way Out of No Way" Speech by Madam C.J. Walker Given at the Anti-Lynching Conference of June 1918" that is gut wrenching and inspiring. In the chapter titled Hate is the piece titled The Prison of Racism that Hate Built, which is a poem that builds on itself and becomes more and more impactful and which is one of my favorite works in the book. I'll share one of the last stanzas.
There was the money
For the NAACP
To challenge America
That elected the president
Who headed the government
That built a system
That rewarded the white men
Who created Jim Crow, 
That angered the woman 
Who helped the people 
Lynched in the prison of racism
that hate built. 
This is a book the keeps me challenging myself to read out of my comfort zone in both genre and subject, to read diversely and, sometimes, uncomfortably. Well done, Ms. Augustin. Well done. 




Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries
by Terese Marie Mailhot
124 pages
Published February 2018 by Catapult 

Publisher's Summary: 
Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder, Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.

My Thoughts: 
This book was highly recommended by Lizzi (IG bookish_lizzi), whose book recommendations I've been following since before I began blogging. Lizzi called this a "powerful memoir of fighting to survive and thrive," and said it is "Definitely worth reading." I requested it immediately from the library and picked it up a couple of days later. Then I realized that it was maybe not the book for me just now. But I know myself and knew that if it went back unread, it would likely never be read. I'd forget about it, lost under the mental piles of books that came to my attention after I took it back. 

It is, as Lizzi said, a powerful memoir, painful to read in its rawness. Mailhot grew up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia and her indigenous culture plays a big part in her writing in so many ways. I'll be honest - I wasn't always sure exactly what Mailhot was trying to say when she went to that place but the emotion of what she was saying was always clear. She is often filled with rage, frequently shocking, always trying to find ways to live with her pain. 

Because this maybe wasn't the right time for me to read this book, I'm not sure it impacted me as much as it might have another time in my life. It meanders and can feel disjointed; but that may have as much to do with the way it was written from her journals, begun when she was hospitalized. It is, for sure, an eye-opening account of the ways white people have damaged indigenous peoples, creating a ripple effect that carries down through the generations. 

Others have written much more eloquently about Heart Berries. The Guardian reviewer, Diana Evans, says of this book: 
"This is a slim book full of raw and ragged pain, the poisonous effects of sexual abuse, of racial cruelty, of violence and self-harm and drug addiction. But it is not without a wry, deadpan humour and clever derision. Its quiet rage is directed outwards towards the intangible yet definitive (white supremacy, male supremacy), the unjust shape of the world, while a deep tenderness and empathy are shown to those who share in the author’s vulnerability – her sons, her mother, even her father: “I don’t think he was wrong for demanding love – it was the manner in which he asked, and whom he asked that was unforgivable.” Her mother, in all her dysfunction, her societal powerlessness, is portrayed as a kind of quirky triumph of parenting against the odds, serving her children badly cooked wild rice, encouraging them to beat pillows or rugs when misbehaving, “because she wanted us to release our tensions”. The result of this wise yet flailing caring is a spiritual mother-daughter bond that continues beyond the grave."
I would certainly recommend this one - just know what you are getting in to when you begin and read it when your mood is right and you are mentally able to handle it. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Life: It Goes On - April 10

Happy Sunday! Coming to you this week from cloudy Omaha. On the plus side, as I type, I'm watching birds, squirrels, and rabbits frolic in my front yard; the trees and lilac bushes are starting to leaf out; and the grass is, finally, starting to turn green, which is all making me happy.  

Cases of the new Covid sub-variant are on the rise here in Nebraska so The Big Guy and I got our second boosters Friday. Each of the other shots has kind of knocked me out for about 24 hours but the only side effect I had from this booster was, strangely, a bit of a runny nose. Or that could have been allergies, what with the door open all day yesterday because that's the price to be paid for spring. 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: I finished Tears of the Giraffe, the second book in Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Lady's Detective Agency series and started Paula Hawkins' A Slow Fire Burning

Watched: Got BG to watch more of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I'm not loving it as much as I used to - it's starting to feel a bit like "oh look, another bad thing happened," but it's still, most of the time, so funny. 

Read:
 I finished John Banville's April in Spain and now I'm switching between Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries and Jessamine Chan's The School for Good Mothers

Made: My aunt and I have been writing each other a lot about "dieting" and she was telling me about roasting garbanzo beans. So I oven roasted a pan of garbanzo beans (seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, and parsley) the other day and have been throwing those onto salads. And now I'm thinking of other ways they could be seasoned and wondering if an air fryer might give me a crunchier bean. 

Enjoyed: Happy hour with my tier ones on Tuesday and dinner at a new place with friends last night. 

This Week I’m:  

Planning: It's the last official week of 40 Bags In 40 Days so I'm going to try to crank out some work on that. But, as is often then case, I'm going to try to keep myself working on that after Easter as I just haven't gotten as much done this year as I was hoping on getting done. 

Thinking About: How happy I'll be when we've made our way past the primary election in May. I'm so tired of listening to the Republican candidates' ads as they try to out conservative each other and acting as though all Nebraskans feel the same way they do. 

Feeling: Overwhelmed by all of cruelty in the world. Some days I just can't watch the news or look at social media but I know that ignoring it won't make it go away and that we all need to speak up. 

Looking forward to: Seeing Miss H next weekend, although she'll be busy attending a friend's wedding and won't even be able to stick around long enough for Easter dinner. 

Question of the week: What's one area of your house that could really use the 40 Bags treatment? Or are you a person who always works hard to keep things from accumulating too much?