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Monday, 2 March 2020

At last I had the anticipated rainy day and could read the rest of the densely small print book, Modern Nature by Derek Jarman.

Skooter did not want to wake up; he dislikes rain.
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When he did stir, he joined me in my comfy chair.
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I loved Modern Nature so very much. It has more of the garden than the recently read Smiling In Slow Motion, simply because the author was in better health and able to spend more time at Prospect Cottage.

I would be hard pressed to say that I have ever read a gardening memoir with more gorgeous garden descriptions, partly because the seaside setting speaks to me. Derek’s garden in England’s Dungeness is on the shale beach in view of the ocean. His garden book has been a huge inspiration to me. I seem to have lent it out and have forgotten to whom!

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Here are just a few of my favourite saves. 

How we lose time in the garden:76CD5675-F646-4B34-868D-D0A39AE4DC98
When Jarman quotes from The Poetics of Space….

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….I have a quotation from that book on display in my garden: “The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”

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I adore his appreciation for the mixed view, the sea and the shale and the lights of the nuclear power station.
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As I learned in his other memoir, Jarman likes to grow red geraniums (pelargoniums). He recommends the one called Paul Crampnel, saying the other modern colors are muddy.

My grandma’s red and pink geraniums:

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looking down the hill from the path of lawn…Gram grew a neat patch of pink and red geraniums backed with a line of roses. I often wish she had been alive during our present day richness of plant selection. mid 1960s.

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Every year, she planted this bed of geraniums.

And some geraniums which appear each year in Cannon Beach:

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And the red and pink geraniums that we used to plant every year in Jo’s garden.

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geranium (pelargonium) walk

You can see Derek’s favourite geranium here. Because I am easily embarrassed and prone to feelings of inferiority, I have let myself be influenced by friends who make fun of red geraniums.  Well, to heck with that. The sharp scent of the leaves takes me right back to life with grandma.  I still have one red geranium from Jo’s garden that I have nursed along through winters as my grandma used to do with hers.
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I was surprised to learn that slugs and snails live on the Dungeness shale.

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I so much love what he wrote about disliking clothes shopping.  You can read the entire passage about it here in an article which includes one of my favourite photos of Derek in his garden.  He finds clothes shops “intimidating and rarely ventured into them”.

When he mentioned a friendly day out with author Penelope Mortimer, I was excited to learn that she had written more books than the ones I’d read back in my twenties. I have ordered those that the library has and will seek them all out.  He also alerted me to another memoirist, Keith Vaughan, whose book I have ordered online…there are only so many interlibrary loans I can make at one time.

Toward the end of this memoir, Jarman’s health rapidly worsens.  He had been diagnosed as HIV+ three years before; he spends time in hospital away from the garden as his condition tips into having AIDs.

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He was well cared for under the NHS, able to stay in hospital for as long as needed instead of being booted out as often happens here.

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He used Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera as a motto when ill.  Just a day or so before  reading this book, I was using it, too, over various health and future concerns.

Did Derek feel he would not be remembered?

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He will be.  I could read this every day and never tire of it:

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He might have feared for the future of his garden because of what happened to the garden of one of his gardening mentors.
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Now his Prospect Cottage garden is under threat  after having been preserved for decades. A fundraiser is trying to save it by the end of this month.

I have been inspired to try to add more driftwood artiness to the port gardens. This is not only from Derek’s ideas….

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…but also from memories of my Gram’s garden. Although none of the photos I have of her garden show it, I remember the driftwood in it. If any friend went to the beach, she would ask them to bring her back a piece, a few of which were substantial. I am sure she rewarded them with bouquets and baked goods.  Her low rock walls in her back garden were made in the same way, by asking everyone who visited her to please bring a rock. (She did not drive and so scavenging on her own was limited, and there was certainly not enough money to order a load of rocks.)

When I told Allan of my long held desire to add some driftwood posts to the port gardens (also a long unrealized desire for the boatyard garden), he said that I would worry that people would poke their eyes on them. No, the poles will be either tall or fat!  It would be hard to dig the holes in the rubbly soil. Then I will dig the holes! And so on. My main problem is that I know where to get some driftwood, but it is on a steep bank and I cannot do it on my own. Watch this space to see if it happens….probably without lobster claws on top.
Also watch for more Derek Jarman passages; I saved some that apply to certain plants and certain months. How I wish I had known him and could have joined him and his friends searching for rusty debris and perfect rocks with which to decorate the garden.

Read more about Modern Nature here.

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I spent four delightfully rainy days in early January thoroughly absorbed in Christopher Isherwood’s Diaries, volume one–900 small print pages followed by an ever so useful glossary of all the characters and of the many terms unfamiliar to me from his years in the Ramakrishna faith. I wish that all books with a multitude of characters, fiction or non fiction, had a glossary!

The diaries begin right after his 1930s experiences in Berlin, described in the memoir Christopher and His Kind. I haven’t read that book yet so am glad we had just seen a film of it. The Berlin experiences eventually became the famous musical, Caberet..

During World War II, Christopher had moved to the United States and spend a year living with a Quaker group helping refugees from Germany. The rest of the diaries, except for some traveling, take place in California.

I’ve already shared the following passage from near the beginning, the moment where I fell in love with these diaries. Gerald is the friend who introduced Christopher to the ways of Ramakrishna, which Christopher studied for his whole life.

More descriptive writing:

…..

Here are some more of the bits that spoke to me, which is to say they reminded me of my life….and I found it comforting that someone in such a different world (the world of Hollywood in the forties and fifties) had some similar thoughts and experiences.

Christopher had a tribulation that I shared (from 1994 through 2003, culminating in divorce):

(Asit was one of the monk initiates who noisily lived in the room next to Christopher in the Ramakrishna house, described in an earlier part of the diaries.)

…..

…..

Like my sleep deprived relationship, Christopher’s ended in separation.

Even into his fifties, he agonized about and analyzed his friendships.

“What I really want is solitude in the midst of snugness,” he wrote. I found it most endearing that he complained when company came to stay and longed for solitude, and yet went out to dinner and parties what seemed like several times a week.

In his fifties, he wrote often of aging. (His partner, Don, was much younger.)

….

That was just in his fifties! I can’t wait (but must wait) to read about how he felt in his 60s, in the 1960s. He wrote of a friend who turned 65: “Billy in tears, drunk and lonely–and pitiful in a way that a woman of sixty-five is pitiful–her life over. But Billy’s life is by no means over. It may even be really beginning.” That’s good to hear, as I will soon turn sixty-five.

I loved his descriptions of his home throughout the years. He always included the addresses, so I was able to google them and sometimes see inside.

In the late fifties, he and his longtime partner, artist Don Bachardy, bought the house that they would live in till Christopher died, and in which Don still lives.

I was thrilled to find on google street view some photos of the garden along that block today.

Christopher had a garden problem that I could well relate to.

(He had some close women friends, including, to my delight, Dodie Smith, author of I Capture the Castle, one of my favourite books–and 1001 Dalmatians.)

Another close friend, Igor Stravinsky, was not bothered by garden incursions.

I was so pleased to be able to get from Netflix the documentary about Chris and Don…

…which had special features at the end with Don, now an old and accomplished man himself, taking the filmmakers on an inside tour around that very house. So when I read the next two volumes (I am waiting so impatiently for an interlibrary loan of the 1960s diaries!) I will be able to visualize the inside, where Don painted and Chris happily puttered with his houseplants.

Despite the weight and size of the 1000 page tome, Jazmin managed to read part of it with me.

Speaking of solitude, I am finally achieving the non-peopling days of rainy reading that my sanity (and disposition) requires. It was hard to emerge from the diaries and read other books while waiting for the next volume.

Isherwood’s mention of Anais Nin’s diaries–“seventy volumes already”–reminded me that I had read most of them in 1980-ish. I became disillusioned when, as she aged, Nin kept rhapsodizing about how much she wanted to be around young people. Even at age thirty, I thought that was just silliness. Despite the age difference between Christopher and Don, Christopher appreciated the company of friends his own age. Maybe my exasperation with Anais Nin is why memoirs did not become my favourite genre till I discovered May Sarton and Doris Grumbach in the late 1990s.

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Reading in December

Staycation so far has had too much emotion and worries to be the peaceful reading time I had hoped for. Maybe in January. For now, my concentration has been pretty much shot.

I am still longing for the month of January, after Allan’s birthday and going on till February 5th or so, to be non-peopling and not leaving the property.

Anyway. Did I even mention these two great books that I read early in December? I saved so many takeaways that I simply cannot deal with the effort of blogging about them. If you like non fiction tales of the social internet and related technology, give them a go.

We still had Frosty then.

I had a pretty good pile of books to read by mid month.

Having read Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, I read one of her three actual memoirs and liked it very much. Cat lovers among you might like this cat description.

Via interlibrary loan, I got the second “Edward” novel, a trilogy (so far) about an aspergian man. I could so relate to his love for his new iPhone. I am thoroughly devoted to mine.

I have ordered book three of Edward via interlibrary loan and meanwhile read another aspergian novel which I recommend….the first in a series.

After the death on December 9th of my old friend Bryan, my former spouse the Leedsman reached out to me to make sure I had heard about it. We did a fair amount of messaging about it and during that conversation, he recommended a mystery series by a friend of his. (He is a renowned writer of mysteries himself. )

I enjoyed the first one, and a passage about photography reminded me of some thoughts that my favourite blogger, Mr. Tootlepedal, has written about taking up photography after retirement and how it has helped him notice things.

Frosty was sorely missed while I read this book.

Of course, any mention of Whitby brings back memories of a dreamy trip there with Chris. Most entrancing place I have ever been.

You can peruse the photos of Frank Meadows Sutcliffe here.

Skooter did not read a single book with me since Frosty’s passing. He spends his time with Allan while Allan has been moving loads of his old photos to a his computer.

Meanwhile, days were spent working on a garden project which I am waiting to write about when it is done. On one of those days, Tony, Scott, and their dog Rudy, brought us some delicious home made peppermint fudge.

Fudge and tea makes for delectable reading, as did this plate of cookies and poppyseed bread brought to us by Mary and Denny of Klipsan Beach Cottages.

When we went to our Christmas Eve dinner at The Depot Restaurant, I observed that the window box annuals still refuse to die. I came home and erased dealing with them from the work board. None of the indoor jobs have gotten done.

After Christmas, it took me three days to read My Roots by Monty Don. I was also making memorial posts about Frosty, so focusing on even the best book was difficult. There are probably more takeaways than I can get away with sharing; My Roots will have a post of its own, next, I hope before the end of the year.

We watched two slow paced BritBox specials about Christmas lights on English estates and in London. Earlier in the month, our nerves had been soothed by a season of the Great British Bake-off and by an increasingly charming three part series called Mum. Not to mention a Coronation Street Christmas retrospective and a Gavin and Stacey Christmas special during which I just about wept when they sang Fairytale of New York down the pub. (The Pogues figured large in my past. If you know the song, I think certain lyrics could be replaced with, “You scumbag, you tosser, you cheap double crosser” instead of…you know.)

Also on BritBox, we watched Christopher and His Kind, a biographical film about Christopher Isherwood, because I have an enormous book of diaries by him which I must read by January 7th. Interlibrary loans don’t allow renewals. I learned about the diaries when I read The Last Gift of Time; Carolyn Heilbrun wrote a biography of him.

The latest book I have read is a semi-memoir by the great food writer Ruth Reichl.

It is half memoir and half recipes. Some amateur reviewers complained about the idea that food “saved her life” after Gourmet magazine shut down, because her life is one of such privilege. Even though I am acutely aware of class and though she could be from a different planet than me in terms of how different her life is, I don’t discount her sorrow at the loss of a beloved career.

I skipped over the recipes as soon as I would get to something beyond me as a non-cook…but saved some of the ones whose terminology I could understand. We couldn’t even get most of the ingredients here. Our two closest local grocery stores are renowned not only for a limited selection but also for foods (bacon!! yogurt, cottage cheese, salsa) that are past their expiration dates.

The book made me long for the wider choices of food that I had back in Seattle. If I went to Astoria more, we could find better ingredients and could sample the assorted food carts that have appeared over the past few years. I do love good food cooked by someone else. Allan is an able cook who provides meals for us, because he would tire of my bagged salads and microwaved quesadillas. I tell myself I might learn to cook great food after we semi retire….but it consumes so much time and a meal is gone so quickly. Gardening is an art form that lasts much longer.

I share Ruth Reichl’s feelings about friendships made through the social internet.

And I loved this bit about her cats, after a badly broken foot kept her in bed for weeks.

Her poetic twitter excerpts made me want to tweet. But I think WordPress, Facebook, and Instagram are enough addictions to have.

Jazmin did sit with me for awhile during that book. It’s so large that there was not much room for her to get comfy.

My next book was quite small in size so that Jazmin fit perfectly.

The first in a mystery series recommended by Carolyn Heilbrun, it taught me something I did not know about the US constitution.

The mystery abounded in droll British humour of the sort I like.

And

It imparted these wise words about intense relationships:

I hope to read Sarah Caudwell’s three other mysteries before work begins again. She is far more educated than I, and the reading takes much closer attention than I have during work season.

Before the massive Isherwood tome, I intend to fit in a couple of shorter and easier books. The garden project is on hold until a few days of good weather are predicted.

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Read on 4 December 2019

Long ago, I read and loved Carolyn Heilbrun’s Kate Fansler mystery series and her non-fiction book Writing a Woman’s Life. I had completely missed her memoir about aging until recently, when I learned of it and placed an interlibrary loan.

Here are a multitude of take-aways from what is, so far, my favourite book of my 2019 reading year.

In Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, I was struck by no mention of some of my favourite memoirists, including May Sarton and Doris Grumbach. I was so pleased to see Doris mentioned early on in Last Gift.

And then May Sarton herself appeared at the end of this paragraph about Grumbach.

I knew I was in for a heavenly read.

The subject matter of life over 60 is significant to me because I will soon turn 65.

Heilbrun quotes from a poem by Marilyn Hacker, called Against Elegies.

Soon came the story about one of my favorite things in a memoir, buying a house, coupled with another favorite thing, the joy of solitude.

…..

The idea that something can be happening for the last time is even more poignant to me as I reread this next takeaway a week after an old friend, who wanted to live to be 100, died with no warning, in his sleep, at age just barely 67.

Part of a chapter is devoted to the joys of email (in 1996) and to Heilbrun’s extensive correspondence through that medium. I wonder what she would have thought of the social internet?

Next, I found a whole chapter about May Sarton. What bliss. I once read a disappointing and cruel biography about Sarton which criticized and excoriated her difficult personality. In contrast, her friend Carolyn wrote of her with sympathetic and understanding honesty.

……..

A friend who knew May Sarton and was smitten with her told me a story about being invited over and then being told to go away, because May was in the midst of a writing inspiration. I think it was in her memoirs that I learned the phrase “a person from Porlock”.

I still have these books but must have lent out my two favourites, Plant Dreaming Deep and Journal of a Solitude.

I thought nothing could make me happier than a whole chapter about May Sarton, until turning the page brought me to a chapter about England.

…..

…..

And yet, and yet, something of that first fascination with writings by the English remained, like the aroma of a lost love, pure, fabricated, and enchanting.

…….

I had to look that up.

The chapter goes on with the joys of visiting the home of English friends. Every paragraph is perfection and way too big of a takeaway to share here. Just a glimpse or two:

….

The chapter ends with this delightful quotation about friendship.

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On memoirs in general, with reference to a memoirist named Maxine Kumin, whom I have not read.

…..

….

………

More on aging:

….

Below: I remember as a child taking drives out of Seattle with my parents and being in the countryside in twenty minutes, with pastures and cows and horses and barns.

And I know that nostalgia for the past is a privilege.

…..

On reading as an Anglophile:

…..

The passage below is just how I feel about death. Perhaps if Carolyn Heilbrun were still alive, I could contact her on her Facebook page and we could share thoughts about it.

I am reminded of my favourite song, which I would want sung at my funeral, if I wanted a funeral, which I don’t:

Love It Like a Fool by Malvina Reynolds

Baby, I ain’t afraid to die,
It’s just that I hate to say good-bye to this world,
This world, this world.
This old world is mean and cruel,
But still I love it like a fool, this world,
This world, this world.
I’d rather go to the corner store
Than sing hosannah on that golden shore,
I’d rather live on Parker Street
Than fly around where the angels meet.
Oh, this old world is all I know,
It’s dust to dust when I have to go from this world,
This world, this world.
Somebody else will take my place,
Some other hands, some other face,
Some other eyes will look around
And find the things I’ve never found.
Don’t weep for me when I am gone,
Just keep this old world rolling on, this world,
This world, this world.
As Carolyn Heilbrun says…
….which is ironic, because my next post will go as far back as 1982.
My last takeaway to share :
It bothers me no end that Carolyn committed suicide at age 77, only a few years after this book was published. She had planned to do so at age 70 but had found life to be enjoyable after all. No one among her family and friends knows why she did it. The clue to why she did it that I might understand is that “she didn’t want to be a useless person.”
I left out of this long post a few paragraphs about her decision, in her 60s, to get a dog, even though she did not like the idea of getting up early to let the dog out. (I was so lucky that my dog, Bertie Woofter, liked to sleep late as much as I do.) She loved her dog. I wonder if her dog was still alive when Carolyn decided to depart? That seems a significant point that no one mentions. You can read more about it here, including a mention of how much she loved dogs up to her last day on earth. I am sad and mystified. I wish that she had continued to love now and had lived to write another memoir about being in her 80s.

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Although staycation proper doesn’t really begin until I have some steady uninterrupted time at home, I managed, among assorted holiday outings, to get started on my staycation reading. Here are some takeaways.

Toil and Trouble by Augusten Burroughs

In Burroughs’ new memoir about being a witch, I appreciate and relate to all of his words about his chronic anxiety.

and

and

I identify more with his husband, Christopher, when it comes to material possessions.

While describing a book about magick, Burroughs has this to say:

And this is an excellent way to navigate the world:

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

Listening to the album Horses, which I checked out of the library when I was 22 years old, changed the course of my 20s and 30s by setting me on a trajectory toward punk rock. If not for Patti, I might not have met pretty much everyone I knew between age 25 and 35.

Her personal story continues with her third memoir, this one written as she is about to turn 70.

……

When I started following Patti’s Instagram, I was pleased to see her still wearing clothing with raggedy sleeves.

I think if her every time I wear my favourite long back sweater with raveled sleeves out of the house to public events.

What she wrote about libraries reminded me of the forty block round trip that I used to walk from my childhood home to the Green Lake branch of the Seattle Public Library.

……

The prevailing theme of the book was the death of two friends, one of them also an ex-lover. I did not know that within a week, I would hear of the death of an old friend and lover of mine. I sort of wish I had read this book right afterward. Clearly, because I saved takeaways on the subject of loss, the subject already spoke to me…a function of age. I knew that fairly soon I would reach the age where friends were dying. I already knew of two, but had not yet lost an old friend whose death sent me reeling. Now I have, but to write about that here would be getting ahead of the narrative flow.

I still keep thinking something wonderful is about to happen.”

Here is an image to keep ourselves hoping, about having seen a performance by Belinda Carlisle (of The Go-Gos) on a telly show.

Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister

I read this excellent history book between memoirs.

Something both discouraging and hopeful in our times:

It’s one of the better political books I have read; I recommend it.

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Memoirs have become my favourite genre. I haven’t read any of Mary Karr’s, but I will after this book. The Liar’s Club is now on my table in my stack of library books.

One of Karr’s main themes is how to tell the truth. I’m disappointed to read this about Vivian Gornick. I loved her memoir The Odd Woman and the City.

…..

I want the truth. When I write a blog post, I don’t even like to switch the order of daily jobs to improve the narrative.

But memories are tricky.

One of my first memories is standing in the arched doorway between my grandma’s kitchen and breakfast nook while my step-grandfather, whom I loved and called “Bumpy” for some reason, tried to make my grandmother take a handgun from him. He shouted, “Just take it! Just shoot me!” and I cried, “Bumpy, stop! no!” I see it so clearly…but do I remember it or did Gram tell me about it? My next memory, though, is crystal clear: I am at my uncle’s house, where Bumpy was staying. I was watching him in the mirror while he shaved with tears running down his face through the shaving foam. Later, I understood the story behind the events: he had come home drunk from a fishing trip and had hit her, and she had told him to leave.

On telling the whole painful truth:

On why memoirs are so mesmerizing:

……

Mary Karr has excellent advice on how to use language that gets one as close to the truth as possible, especially when remembering long ago conversations.

Next, and coincidentally related to Patti Smith’s book, a memoir about life after 60.

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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

While Allan helped with the crab pot tree decorating, I delved into a memoir.

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Some years ago, I read the author’s memoir, Look Me in the Eye. Recently I read his brother Augusten Burroughs’ childhood memoir, A Wolf at the Table.  I want to reread Look Me in the Eye but have had to make an interlibrary loan request, during which I discovered two other books by him, including the one above.

I love this guy, and here are a few reasons why.

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And…

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And…

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And…

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I 100% relate to that, and to this:

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And to this…

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Which seems a sad ending to my takeways.  I might not have entirely believed that people are often malicious till I was caught in a situation of being shunned in 2014.  A friend who was the other shunned one said to me, “They are picking on the aspies!” and it all of a sudden made complete sense to me, along with a lot of other factors about my life.  Still, I do prefer to think that maliciousness happens sometimes but not often.

I look forward the arrival of Look Me in the Eye, which I will then follow with Robison’s memoir about life with his aspergian son, Raising Cubby.


I had time to read another book.

The China Bayles mysteries are always good.  I love the ritual introduction of the setting in each book.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Today was a work day.  With darkness falling so early, I was able to read the next China Bayles book in the evening (along with watching Survivor and an episode of the Great British BakeOff!)

Again, I do love the description of Thyme and Seasons.

…so soothing to my soul.

Both mysteries are set mostly in the fictional Texas Hills town of Pecan Springs, and both feature lots of plant lore, including orchids in the most recent book.  (Vanilla is an orchid.)  And now I am all caught up with the series again and waiting for the next one.

 

 

 

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Sunday, 24 November 2019

We’d had this much rain overnight.

The weather forecast was wrong.  The day, while a bit chilly, stayed dry.

Out my front window, my view of gloomy blackened sanguisorba leaves could be improved. The front bed stays mostly in full shade at this time of year.

I soon found myself out there gardening.

later, a view improved

Not only did I cut back the sad looking sanguisorbas and a few other perennials, but I also trimmed back some of the hellebores whose leaves are already sad and needed removal.

Old diseased leaves on hellebores should be removed and NOT composted.

I was pleased to see that the tall mahonia in Allan’s garden, which for years has only had one flower way up high…

…now has more flowers lower down.

The Jasminum nudiflorum is in bloom already.

(My camera has plotzed so all I have is my old iPhone for photos at the moment.)

Frosty

Meanwhile, Allan had worked at the Ilwaco Community Building, mostly blowing leaves that were smothering the heathers.

He checked on The Cosmos that Will Not Die at the port office for me.

Even the night blooming stock there will not die.

The plants must be thriving from being against the south wall of the building.

a crab pot snowperson at the port

Home again, Allan cleaned the gutters of our house and the Nora House and got some interesting views from up there.

Our rolled roof is not a thing of beauty.

This evening, I had a look at Michael Pollan’s book, How to Change Your Mind.  Unable to muster up an interest in his experiences with LSD, I put it in the return pile and instead started a book called The Bad Food Bible.

It gave me many takeaways from the author’s research about dairy, gluten, sugar, carbs, MSG, coffee, alcohol, and more.  These are my favourites bits.

I may have gone overboard when I decided to cut back on salt this year!

Hmmmm.

Also, I want to try these.

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Friday, 22 November 2019

my day at home

Frosty

I had big compost sifting plans for today.

Frosty accompanying me to the project

When I tackled bin three, as planned, I found the compost almost unbearably cold to sift.

ice on the canoe pond
before: bin four is tarped in blue

I got this far with some rough sifting…

…before my hands ached too much to continue.

Giving up, I decided to shift some plants into my new cold frame and pot up a few cuttings and then, just as I was about to return to the house and a book, the weather warmed enough to get on with the sifting.

Jazmin supervised.

second load
third load
fourth load
the last batch
bin three empty!

I used the rough mulch along some edges by the fire circle, where I had expanded garden beds in the late summer.

Bin three is now ready to receive a batch of fall clippings.

 Allan’s day at the port

Allan got a midmorning call for help from Jenna.  Going to the rescue with our garden loppers, he found her at a gear shed near the boatyard, battling to undo a vine-entangled net.

Our Jenna

Jessie’s Fish Company had donated the net for some sort of Crab Pot Christmas decorations.  After some of the ivy had been clipped off, a Jessie’s fork lift driver helped to drag the net open.

A nice large piece was then cut off for decorating purposes.

Because neither Jenna nor Allan felt hungry enough for a lavish reward, they split a burger at Salt Pub.

When Allan returned from his day, he positioned a new plant table for me, one that we had found in the free wood pile near the boatyard.

My reward for my unexpectedly productive afternoon:

I had an evening of reading an enjoyable novel about an aspergian man.  It is the first of a trilogy.  The library only has the first, so interlibrary loans will ensue.

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There will be a book with gardening lore after two books about life on the internet!

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Last week and this week, I read two books by Siva Vaidhyanathan.

The first, about Google, was written almost a decade ago and still pertinent.

I had no idea that Google owns Blogger (home of blogspot.com blogs).

I find the author’s politics most agreeable:

Fascinating technology:

I followed the book about Google with one about Facebook.

Anti-Social Media is only a couple of years old and thoroughly gripping.

Mr. Vaidyanathan writes at the end that he has no intention of leaving Facebook—or Instagram, where he has an account for his dog (which I long to find but have failed to do so thus far).

One of my favourite non fiction authors has this blurb on the back cover.

During an airplane flight:

I can’t judge anyone for a Facebook addiction, because my own addiction to it runs deep.

I finished Anti-Social Media on the evening of November 16th.  It delves deep into the influence Facebook has on news, journalism, and politics.  I recommend it.



Sunday, 17 November 2019

Today we had reading weather all day long.  What bliss!

from the kitchen window

from the front porch

paperwhites on the kitchen window sill

I sped through the brief (disappointingly brief) newest book by a favourite author.

The repartee between a couple who have entered marriage counseling is miles wittier than any I have ever had in any relationship.

Here comes the book with gardening lore. One of the joys of Facebook is that I have gotten to be Facebook friends with a couple of my favourite mystery writers, Susan Conant (The Dog Lovers’ Mysteries) and

 

Somehow I had fallen behind on the latest two books of the China Bayles series, one of my favourite cozy mysteries.

Every chapter starts with some horticultural lore:

Because I am a stick in the mud, I always like to have all the action in the China Bayles series take place in the fictional Texas town of Pecan Springs.  Each book re-introduces us to China’s herbal shop.

That is where I want to stay.  But the author takes us away to a different location every few books, thus avoiding falling into the Inspector Morse/Midsomer Murders trap of having far too many crimes take place in a small area.

So we left Pecan Springs.  I had never been at all interested in Texas till reading (especially in her memoirs) Susan Wittig Albert’s descriptions of the hill country.

Mama is the big van that China and her friend Ruby use for their business.  As they drove to give a seminar at an olive ranch, I learned that our raccoons, deer, and bears crossing the road are not bad in comparison to…

Pretty much every locaton that Wittig Albert creates makes me wish I could visit.  I don’t mean the hogs, I mean the café at the olive ranch.

Their host at the olive ranch…

If you like a good cozy that is not too safe and confined and that has herbal lore (and some recipes at the end), I’d advise reading the China Bayles series, in order and from the beginning.

Frosty loves reading weather.

After my mystery, I started a young adult novel that I had come upon while ordering Rachel Maddow’s latest book.

I do love a good YA novel as I find they often go deep into issues that people my age could barely touch on when we were in high school. When in my 20s, I noticed this phenomenon, and a lovely librarian at my local branch would find me the best YA novels to read.

The author really does know her Rachel.

By bedtime, I was so involved with the story that I stayed up till three AM to finish it.  (The joys of reading weather!)



Monday, 18 November 2019

With torrential rain (1.15 inch in all) for the entire day, I read another high school book.  It was coincidence that they were back to back.  I’d read a good review of High School by Sara and Tegan Quinn.  I must confess I had never heard of the sisterly musical duo Tegan and Sara. Nowadays I like listening to silence best of all so am out of touch with popular music. Even though once upon a time I would have said my life was saved by rock and roll.

Both the high school books, first the novel and now this memoir, had so much drug use (which most of the characters real and imagined eventually moved past).  I was such a goodie goodie in high school.  A reclusive goodie goodie, much less social than Brynn, Tegan, or Sara.  Sometimes when I think of reincarnation, I realize that even for another chance at life, I would not want to go through high school again.

………….

I remembered at age 25, I wanted to go to my first punk rock show.  But I was so worried because I had heard that the audience jumped up and down and hit each other on the head.

I went to many many shows after my first one and never once did anyone hit me on the head, not even in the mosh pit.

on the cusp of punkdom

I remember seeing the Ramones in LA when I was 26. (Montana Mary drove us there; she had other sights to see there than the Ramones.)  I had my fingers hooked over the plywood barrier right in the front of the standing audience.  When the band came on stage I put my arms up (I loved Joey ever so much) and the surge of the audience behind me slammed the plywood into the metal frame behind it.  I sometimes remember that moment and think that in an alternate timeline I could have lost my fingers.  The crowd was so tight that I could not get my arms down for the rest of the show and by the end, my clothes were drenched to the skin.  I was so thirsty that I walked straight back to our motel (at night, in LA, in the Hollywood district) and got a can of pop from the machine and drank it straight down. What a remarkable event it was.

I enjoyed every bit of Tegan and Sara’s journey to their adult musical career…

…and I have gotten around to listening to three songs of theirs, all of which impressed me.  I intend to listen to them all.

Finally, I closed my three day reading session with two books by David Sedaris.  I feel almost sure that I have read both before and forgotten to note them down.

I loathed the truly mean stories in Barrel Fever and read less than half of the stories.  It is his first (?) book.  If it were the first I had ever read, I’d have skipped all of his subsequent memoirs.  (The essays at the end were better.)

I did enjoy a passage in the Santa Land essay about how people say the same thing and think they are witty and original.

In my world, the most common saying is “You can come to my garden next!”

Fortunately for my reading day, Dress Your Family … is one of his almost completely delightful memoirs.

My favourite line, about his mother at the beach:

I had been aching and longing for reading weather.  Two days had been satiating enough that I felt fine about getting back to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, 11 November 2019

Allan’s photo

On October 25, I had begun an enormous library book.

I realized then that I needed the perfect rainy day to read it all in one sitting and so set it aside until today.

The pages are so large that the text is in two columns. I very occasionally got confused with the two column format.

 Even  the smaller photos are superbly rendered.

Here are my favourite bits, although I did love every last little bit ever so much.

The team is Monty and his spouse, Sarah.

Agreed!

This is why when I try to add more formality to my garden, made on what was once a river’s edge, it is just not right:

About the weather forecast:

….

In my weather world, that brings hope when the sky is light around the edges.

That is as far as I got in October. Today, I finally had the perfect weather day to finish the book.  It did take the entire day, with two chapters left till the midnight hour after dinner and telly.

This was written before Monty hosted Gardeners’ World and before the Round-Up lawsuit findings:

………

…..

The Misery Loves Company department:

My hedges are the same.

And my sweet peas have the same problem.

Best tips for me:

Really? Also, I had no idea that golden oregano, of which I have so much, was a tasty culinary herb.

The photos are plentiful and sumptuous.

I had a revelation when I read this…

..and realized that we must have two arbors at the fire circle ends of the Rozanne Loop paths.  Bamboo, perhaps, which would be easiest to set into place.

I went to tell Allan all about it and found evidence that he was about to repair the Mighty Mac.

He did get the belt replaced.

Allan’s photo

The very large book was frustrating to lap cats.

This was news to me about what corms are made of:

I also learned that Fritillaria meleagris is known as “Sulky Ladies” in the UK.

Monty reads The Guardian.  Be still, my heart.

Monty has been very open about how he suffers from winter depression.  I was glad to read that he turns the corner right after Christmas.

There are a few other books by Monty that I have not read and that will require making some interlibrary loans or buying them from across the pond.  Locals can get this one from our wonderful Timberland Regional Library.  You will need a comfy chair for reading this enormous tome.

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