Friday, April 30, 2021

April 2021

So much coming and going this month. Two (2)- count them -Picnics! Getting back to the usual stuff.

4/5  Post Office; CVS; Stop&Shop (first time in a supermarket in over a year!)
4/6  (am)Mah Jongg; (pm) library; JC Farms: Uncle Bob's Garden Center for roses 
4/7  Picnic! Gillette Castle (food from River Valley Provisions)
4/8  Dentist; Lino's Market
4/13 Mah Jongg
4/16 Em (housemate) 2nd Pfizer dose; Neils donuts
4/20 CVS; Mah Jongg; Neon Deli
4/22 Library (indoor); Lyman Orchards
4/23 Stop & Shop
4/27 Vote (fire district budget); Mah Jongg; Istanbul Gyro & Kabab
4/28 Robert's Food Center; picnic Chatfield Hollow 
4/29 Gassed car; library
  
And, of course, plenty of reading. Most of it good with a couple of disappointments. 

Fiction: 
5 of 5 stars;
The Liar's Dictionary by Williams, Eley
 lots of word fun...
Eleven Sooty Dreams by Draeger, Manuela; translated from the French by Mahany, J.T.
Leapfrog and Other Stories by Rosales, Guillermo; translated from the Spanish by Kushner, Anna
Madrid Tales by Constantine, Helen: translated from the Spanish by Costa, Margaret Jill
A Thousand Ships by Haynes, Natalie
Northernmost (Eide Family, #3) by Geye, Peter
   Liked this better than #1, haven't read #2 yet.
Cobble Hill by Ziegesar, Cecily von

4 of 5 stars:
Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Sudbanthad, Pitchaya
Transcendent Kingdom by Gyasi, Yaa
An Elegant Woman by McPhee, Martha
The Lighthouse Road (Eide Family, #1) by Geye, Peter 

3 of 5 stars:
The Sculptor by McCloud, Scott 
 graphic novel
The Sirena Quest by Kahn, Michael A. 
 somewhat silly adventure by somewhat grown-up former college boys
Half Life by Cantor, Jillian
 Alternative lives of Marie Curie. 
The Killing Tide (Commissaire Dupin #5) by Bannalec, Jean-Luc; translated from the French by Millar, Peter
 Not a bad diversion, may read a couple of more from the series when the mood strikes me.
 
2 of 5 stars:
Sarahland by Cohen, Sam
Afterlife by Alvarez, Julia

Nonfiction:
Sobremesa: A Memoir of Food and Love in Thirteen Courses by Caminos Oria, Josephine 
  A modern romance set to food and place (4 of 5 stars)
Fortune's Many Houses: A Victorian Visionary, a Noble Scottish Family, and a Lost Inheritance by Welfare, Simon
 Interesting house, interesting lives but too much detail of the houses and not enough on the lives. Loved the historical footnotes. (3 of 5 stars)
de Gournay: Art on the Walls: Everlasting Beauty, Hand-Painted Interiors by Gurney, Claud
 Beautiful to look at but I couldn't live in most of these rooms (3 of 5 star)
The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames by Cowan, Justine
  Psychological damage in a childrens home... (3 of 5 stars)
Online:
 
Not your "what I had for Lunch" on Instagram food shots: Family-meal image wins international food photo contest.
 
From Project Gutenberg some lovely Floral Illustrations of the Seasons by M. Roscoe
"Consisting of The Most Beautiful, Hardy and Rare HERBACEOUS PLANTS, Cultivated in the Flower Garden, from Drawings by Mrs. EDWARD ROSCOE"
 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 2021

Now that I'm fully vaccinated I've resumed some activities but I'm still sticking to essentials. Next month I'll have a dental check-up and resume my mahjong games. Also can do more as my housemate will also be vaccinated. I read plenty this week--lots of library books plus one off my "owned-but-unread" shelves. Once again I think I added more to the latter than I read...

Activities:
3/1   Library to pick up holds and browse! Yes, I went inside but only for about 5 minutes. 
3/4   Library (book drop only); JC Farms: Lyman Orchards 
3/10 Lab Work
3/11 CVS Cromwell
3/12 Eye Dr 
3/15 DR; Library; gas
3/16 Tree removal. I didn't leave home for this (other than moving the cars to neighbor's driveway) but I did have to interact with tree guy who was probably not vaccinated.
3/24  Library pick up & browse; Durham Dari-serv
3/24  Took E to Uconn (Munson) for 1st dose vaccine; Neil's Donuts

Reading:
 
Fiction (roughly in the order I liked them but The Rib King was the only real disappointment among the fiction):
Dear Child by Hausmann, Romy; translated from the German by Bulloch, Jamie
Lost Girls: Short Stories by Morris, Ellen Birkett 
 A fine collection which I won from The Debutante Ball which featured an Interview with Ellen Birkett Morris
Elemental International short stories by various authors and translators (my copy)
The Caretaker by Arbus, Doon
Indelicacy by Cain, Amina
Mona and Other Tales by Arenas, Reinaldo; translated from the Spanish bt Koch, Dolores M.
The Bass Rock by Wyld, Evie
Inheritance from Mother by Mizumura, Minae; translated from the Japanese by Carpenter, Juliet Winters
The Glorious Ones by Prose, Francine 
Archipelago by Roffey, Monique
The Last Garden in England by Kelly, Julia
The Rib King by Hubbard, Ladee
  Started out fine but bogged down...I admit to a bit of skimming...
 
Nonfiction (three good, one meh, and a bomb):
Finding Dora Maar: An Artist, an Address Book, a Life by Benkemoun, Brigitte; translated from the French by Gladding, Jody
The Chiffon Trenches by Talley, André Leon
A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America's First All-Black High School Rowing Team by Cooper, Arshay
The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move by Shah, Sonia 
  this was kind of disjointed and, not exactly to the point (of the title), wish I hadn't bothered..
Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Knighton, Conor 
  Too much "I" more a memoir than a travelogue, he tried to give a thematic presentation but ended up just wandering. His skipping all over the place made me want to do the same with his book.  Didn't make me want to visit any park I haven't already visited (and some that I have visited were barely recognizable). 
 
Online:
 I somehow stumbled onto to the site Olive Oil Times which has a lot of good stuff of interest to the industry and the consumer, see:  Remains of 2,500-Year-Old Mill Discovered in Italy  and Volunteers in Italy and Spain to Track Spittlebug Activity both by Paolo DeAndreis. In addition to news there are producer profiles, health info, and a bunch of recipes.
 
Paolo DeAndreis
Paolo DeAndreis
 I was wondering about this as we ate our boxed take-out St Pat's dinner.
 Humm..wonder is this stuff will grow in Connecticut...according to the USDA apparently not...see  Plant Guide: Yaupon and Plants profile: Ilex vomitoria Aiton yaupon and Willis Orchard Company: Yaupon Holly Tree
 
Iceburger No, not some crazy frozen dessert. This is an oddly compelling site that lets you create an iceberg an see how it floats. 

How Cats Walk In case you were wondering...

10 Incredible Women of Route 66 by Candacy Taylor (Moon Travel Guides). Interesting sidelights for a road-trip. A couple of the links are broken but easily found by Googling. The hotel in Winslow, AZ is where I want to stay if I ever go to the area again. (We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Williams on our cross country trip in 2001.)

 by Hana Abdel & Christele Harrouk

Monday, March 01, 2021

February 2021

More isolation, more (mostly good) reading, and a reaction to second covid shot. Such an exciting life!
 
Activities:
2/4    Gas; Neil's Donuts; Ace Hardware
2/11  Library (curbside pickup); Lyman Orchards (breakfast fruit & other essentials)
2/17  Library (curbside)
2/21  CVS
2/25  Nissan (key battery replacement); West Side Market (Rocky Hill); traffic check E.Berlin Rt 372
2/26  covid vaccine dose 2 (followed by two days of nothing but sleeping, mild aches, and light eating)
 
The reading was, as usual, all over the map both geographically and thematically.  The Passenger, set in Nazi Germany, and Pigeons on the Grass, set in Post War Munich, went nicely with Endpapers a family memoir that covers both periods and more.
 
Fiction: 
The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpí, Conquistador   
 and Founder of New Catalonia by Besora, Max  (a fun romp)
The Passenger by Boschwitz, Ulrich Alexander
Pigeons on the Grass by Koeppen, Wolfgang
The Theory of Flight by Ndlovu, Siphiwe Gloria (Zimbabwe?)
The Cat and The City by Bradley, Nick (the city here is Tokyo)
The Mission House by Davies, Carys (India)
The Last Moon Before Home (Moon Trilogy, #2) by Dzikowski, Barbara J. (USA; nice, but not necessary, to have read the first of the trilogy)
At the Edge of the Haight by Seligman, Katherine (Post hippie Golden Gate Park, these are not flower children)
The Ancestry of Objects by Ryckman, Tatiana (meh)
White Ivy by Yang, Susie (My least favorite of the month)

Nonfiction:
Uprooted: A Gardener Reflects on Beginning Again by Dickey, Page (This was a nice read. In the past the garden (in northwestern Connecticut) has been open occasionally for tours. I hope they can do it again. It would make a good day trip)
Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home by Wolff, Alexander   
The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine by Nimura, Janice P.
 
Online:
I won't be trying this at home. I never even got past a simple paper airplane...
These impossibly detailed origami figures are made of a single piece of paper Thousands of folds. By Lilly Smith "Several months. One sheet of paper. Juho Könkkölä’s origami characters have to be seen to be believed."
 
Speaking of Neil's donuts...
 
And still on the calorie laden treats theme...
I am impressed with once having a First Lady who behaves as a human (as opposed to a clueless mannequin) that I have been following Dr. Jill on Twitter. Sooo...when Dr. Jill visited a DC bakery. The Sweet Lobby I couldn't resist checking out their site. I was quite taken with their boozy Cocktail Cupcake Menu. I shared this find with my housemate and she countered with a local source of treats -- Nora Cupcake Company -- which offers several cupcakes featuring boozy additives. So we spent a pleasant few minutes at our laptops in a sort of Cupcake War, reading delicious descriptions to each other.

Best Places to Visit in Europe (according to USNews)
I love lists like this one. They open up memories of places I've been to and dreams of places I'd like to go. It's a good list of 25 places, 16 of which I've visited.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021

Another month of quarantine but maybe there's a little light coming--I got my first (of two) jab of the Pfizer  Covid vaccine. So here is the total of my outside contacts. Not impressive. 
Errands  etc.
1/2 Library to pick up holds.
1/8 Library returns; Lyman Orchards for produce & bread. 
1/12 ditto of 1/8
1/21 cvs
1/21-??? phone problem
1/25 covid vaccine dose 1
1/26 land phone repair (a stranger had to enter our house!)

Most of the  reading this month was good. A mixed bunch. Five from my shelves (first group), two Advance review copies (second group), and eleven from public libraries (third group plus the nonfiction). Of the fiction, Polar Vortex was the only one I didn't like at all. The Smiley, Moore, and Osman books were fun light reading. I needed that!
 
In nonfiction, The Dan Rather book was the weakest. I just didn't learn anything from it at all, certainly not what the title suggests.
 
Finally, I spent a lot more of my online time reading stuff other than the news. Still, it was such a pleasure to see competence that I became addicted to White House Press Briefings on CSPN.
 
Fiction
The Regal Lemon Tree by Saer, Juan José
That We May Live by Si'an, Chen and others, various translators (Short Chinese speculative fiction.)
Joseph Walser's Machine by Tavares, Gonçalo M.
Harmada by Noll, João Gilberto
Life Went On Anyway: Stories by Sentsov, Oleg
 
Here Lies a Father by Cassidy, Mckenzie (ARC via LibraryThing. Coming of age--surprised I liked it.)
Polar Vortex by Mootoo, Shani (ARC via LibraryThing. I didn't like it at all.)

Perestroika in Paris by Smiley, Jane
Facing the Bridge by Tawada, Yōko
Igifu by Mukasonga, Scholastique
Missing Person by Modiano, Patrick
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
Hamnet by O'Farrell, Maggie
Shakespeare for Squirrels by Moore, Christopher
The Thursday Murder Club by Osman, Richard

Nonfiction

Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs by Townsend, Camilla
City Squares: Eighteen Writers on the Spirit and Significance of Squares Around the World edited by Marron, Catie
What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Rather, Dan
      
Online
Shaw's blog -- Hunter-Angler-Gardner-Cook -- is always a good read even if one isn't into game meat, foraging, etc. 
 
Includes descriptions of several edible fish and an essay on the breeding of fish and construction of fishponds. There are notes on what the fish eat, where to find them and how to catch them, but nothing about preparation and cooking. The plates, drawn and engraved by Eleazar Albin are what made me want to keep going back to this. Here is his Haddock:

The Smoky Valley  by Birger Sandzén
 I found this on Gutenberg and it was a nice introduction to an artist I'd never heard of. However the works are all in black and white so it was nice to find a resource that has them in color.



Friday, January 01, 2021

2020 What did I know? When did I know it?

I just checked my posts for December 2019 and January 2020. It seems I didn't do a 2019 wrap, nor did I say anything about plans for 2020. Did I somehow have a hint that 2020 would be crap?

I did set a Goodreads goal of 200. Surprisingly I didn't meet it even though at times it seemed that all I did was read. But a lot of that reading was online stuff that wasn't worth recording here. 

What I miss most during quarantine? My weekly Mahjong games, my several times a week water exercise class, the day trips to explore Connecticut with stops for lunch & ice cream, and browsing the library shelves. (I did a lot of online browsing and curbside pick up, but I miss going inside.)

Are there any positives from the quarantine process? Perhaps. We did discover some new places to shop for food. A farm market in Durham (CT), a couple of wholesale/restaurant supply places in Hartford that sell vegetable and fruit boxes to the public (one also partners with restaurants for weekly dinner boxes), and some new (to us) small markets.

We also discovered a few new (again, to us) outdoor spaces.

As far as reading goes the quarantine hasn't changed my habits much. I think I may have read more biography and nonfiction then in the recent past. And, contrary to what I expected when this all began, I read fewer short stories.  Because my daughter actually braved going inside a couple of libraries she picked some things she thought might interest me. Many of them did and I think she and I spent a little more time than usual discussing books.

So what about 2021? 

Goodreads Challenge: I read 156 (out of a goal of 200) in 2020. I think I won't make 200 this year because if the quarantine thing begins to ease I'll be spending more time "doing other things" so I'll aim for 150 and, as usual, I won't fret if I fall behind. 

As far as what I read, I'll just let that develop. Some of that will depend on which library holds get filled. I probably won't join any reading challenges but might listen & watch to more bookish (and other) media stuff (podcasts & video).

First up: Finish library books that are due next week*, then there are the holds waiting to be picked up**, the books I received as birthday & Christmas gifts***, four or five Goodreads, LibraryThing, & other review copies****, etc, etc, etc. That pretty much takes care of January & February. For the rest of the year? Whatever.

*What unites us : reflections on patriotism; Rather, Dan   
(Plus the ones checked out on my daughter's card)

 **A thousand moons on a thousand rivers; Xiao, Lihong
City squares : eighteen writers on the spirit and significance of squares around the world
Perestroika In Paris: a novel; Smiley, Jane,
Igifu; Mukasonga, Scholastique,
The end of a family story : a novel; Nádas, Péter

*** Leapfrog and Other Stories; Rosales
Illogic of Kassel; Vila-Matos
The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers; Eca de Queiroz
Facing the Bridge; Tawada
Joseph Walser's Machine; Tavares
Reading is Walking; Taveres (currently reading)  

**** Too many to list! Where did I even put them?