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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.

geraniums

Every year, she planted this bed of geraniums.

And some geraniums which appear each year in Cannon Beach:

geraniums

geraniums

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

geraniums

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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January 2020

Due to almost endless rain and wind, very little gardening and no graveling was accomplished in January. I read 45 books, and while several were short (three poetry books, for example), two were quite long (“Ishyvoo” and May Sarton).

Here are a few more of the books and some takeaways.

I was pleased to get the latest Seaside Knitters mystery, from which I saved some passages to enhance my blog post about the series. Unfortunately, due to procrastination, my saved passages from the previous two books in the series disappeared in my big computer (and computer back up) crash in December. I have been too busy reading to deal with my computer problem any further.

Jazmin was a good reading companion.

From Rachel Maddow’s Blowout: Did you know that “Xena” was an eco warrior princess?

One memoir led to another in January. It all started with The Last Gift of Time, which led me to May Sarton and Maxine Kumin, and (although I cannot remember how) to an assortment of modern memoirs.

A theme in the modern ones seems to be some regret for ones behavior in one’s twenties. I have a bit of that, although age 31 through 36 were my most regrettable years.

I discovered Dani Shapiro and read all five of her memoirs (Slow Motion, Devotion, Still Writing, Hour Glass, Inheritance).

In Hourglass, I liked this passage about the sorting of inherited possessions.

She just hints at and never writes about in detail one thing I wish she would explain: “I could still feel the hug of the woman who was no longer my friend.” What happened?

In her mid life memoir, Devotion, she writes about crying a lot. And another memoirist, Claire Dederer, whose two books I read this month, also writes about herself and her women friends crying. I looked back at my forties and realized I had been so busy working and surviving that I barely had time for a mid life emotional crisis. If I fit one in, I don’t remember it well.

Like most writers, Dani enjoys solitude and describes the kind of non-peopling that I enjoy during staycation.

Dani Shapiro, Claire Dededer, and Christopher Isherwood all write extensively about yoga (the two women) and Hinduism (Isherwood). It felt oddly coincidental to find that theme repeated over and over. I had to wade through it to get to the other good stuff. Maybe the reason yoga does not appeal to me is that our local studio uses a Barbie doll as an avatar. (I kid you not.) Maybe it is because the one time I tried yoga, in my thirties, it reminded me horribly of being a failure in junior high gym class.

I loved, in Claire Dederer’s two memoirs, Love and Trouble and Poser, the Seattle settings–my home town–especially Poser’s first half, when she lived in my old neighborhood, Phinney Ridge.

She takes her daughter to the childcare coop at “the giant gray building that housed the Phinney Neighborhood Association” –and was my elementary school!

A block an half from my old house, Claire and her friends walk around “the flat weed choked lake that lay in the center of Northwest Seattle. Green Lake had no color at all; it was the most ill-named lake ever. But, just a little shy of three miles around, its paved path made a just-right walk.

That was my lake and my frequent path! Below, two of my photos from the early 70s…and me obsessively running the path in the mid 80s, before it became the tremendously crowded walking path that it is now.

Claire laments the loss of the old Fremont neighborhood…

I used to stop between jobs and eat humbow at that same long gone cafe.

She also writes about the wonderful Magus Books in the U District. Here, she has just gotten coffee at the Allegro around the corner. All former haunts of mine.

And the ferries….

…and the houseboats of Lake Union.

(In Love and Trouble, an entire chapter amusingly devotes itself to the old businesses –shops, coffee houses, restaurant, movie theaters–of the 1970s-90s University District.)

I appreciate that in her yoga journey, she addresses several times the possible cultural imperialism of it all (although she doesn’t use that modern and somewhat trendy term). She remembers how yoga figured in the Mapp and Lucia novels, to my delight.

I also read a harrowing memoir, Educated…

and if you leave out the survivalism and off-the-grid life, the scary junk yard, the fundamentalist religion and the home schooling, her father reminds me of mine. Unfortunately. Nearby, her extended family lived among “the constant gossip of a small town, whose opinions pushed in through the windows and under the doors.” A bit like certain aspects of my small town can be.

Warning: monsters ahead

Now… You can stop right here and wait for the next post, a nice one about compost, unless you want to read some sad memories brought on by the next memoir.

I was blindsided when The Rules Do Not Apply segued from a memoir of a relationship and a house to the story of a miscarriage that echoed mine. The author and I were about the same age (late thirties) and at the same stage of pregnancy. Like any story that makes one feel less alone in one’s memories, it was both agonizing and cathartic to read. Her experience was more terrifying than mine; she was alone in a distant country and a little bit further along so that the baby breathed ever so briefly. If this experience brings back a memory of your life, you may or may not want to read her essay about it, Thanksgiving in Mongolia.

A few sentences that spoke to me hard:

You’ll have another one.” ….”No, I want that one.” It was the savage truth. I had a longing–ferocious, primal, limitless, crazed–for the only person I had ever made …His soul.I had wanted to experience unconditional lovefor someone whom I alone had known in his whisper of a life.” (In my story, at least Robert was there, too. He had just gone looking for a miniature guitar to buy for his son the week before it happened.) “Logically, I knew the person I’d lost was not fully formed, that he was the possibility of a person. But without him I was gutted. If my baby could not somehow be returned to me, nothing would be right again.” She writes about something that I have seen mentioned in no other memoir, “one of nature’s less kind tricks” of lactating after a miscarriage. The worst and most physically painful stab in the heart. The doctor she sought out said that he felt desperately sorry for her that she would not know what her boy would have been like as a child.

She writes that eventually “the grief went back to sleep in my body.”

The best words of wisdom that she came to eventually were “everybody doesn’t get everything….as natural and unavoidable as mortality”. If my own son had lived and continued to live, he would be 28 this year. I have no idea how we would have survived financially. We had no back up. It is unlikely that my then spouse, Robert, could have kept our business going on his own, and even though my housecleaning clients loved me (I was their “jewel”, and all that sort of thing), I doubt if hauling a baby to our jobs would have worked out. We might all three have sunk into so much poverty that we lost our house, and I don’t think I would have ended up being a gardener by trade. Our son, Devon, might not have liked me as a mother; I doubt I would have been a good one. Don’t tell me otherwise.

Next: the great relief of some ordinary composting.

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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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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:

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The chapter ends with this delightful quotation about friendship.

…..

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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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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Monday, 22 April 2019

We were out the door to go to work, not relishing the cold air, when the rain began.  I happily retreated to my comfy chair and a book that Allan had checked out for me from the library.  It had been recommended to him by a book site while he ordered other British books. “If you like that, you’ll also like this.”

watching the weather

 A paragraph in the introduction, by Nigel Slater, had me thinking about how timid I am about what I choose to share in this blog.  I write an awful lot that I then delete, although WordPress preserves it all in the various drafts of each post (along with all the typos and mistakes that get corrected):

I am aware my writing has taken on a melancholic turn,” the author writes much later into the book, “so perhaps it is time to share a sunnier story.”  So even he pulled back from revelation for a moment.

And even later:

This was the perfect time to read a book by someone brave enough to dig deep, even though he is a well known writer in the UK and now people will know his secrets and pain.  How does he feel about that, and how can he stand the exposure? I ask that of almost every memoir I read, while at the same time being grateful for the writer’s transparency. (It is ironic that I just deleted two lines from this very paragraph.)

It had taken me a long time today to settle down and actually set all other materials aside and apply myself to reading.  Then the first page mentioned snails eating baby beans.

I had to get up again, go outside, and apply Sluggo to my baby sweet peas.

The table I painted yesterday looked wonderful in the rain.

Allan’s photos

Plot 29 goes back and forth between the present day and the author’s childhood and his search for answers about his parentage.

Well, now, this is just how I felt about several gardens I have gone in to rescue over the past 25 years…

I was excited to see a mention, all in one paragraph, of Monty Don AND one of my favourite gardening books, the book that inspired me most about seaside gardening, Derek Jarman’s Garden.

On the appearance of a gardener:

Jenkens and his allotment companions use the principles of “Biodynamic gardening” and stir up various potions.

At bedtime, I am reading chapters of Linda Chalker-Scott’s The Informed Gardener books, one chapter thoroughly debunking Biodynamics.  Oh dear.  Sometimes I am not sure what to think of all the debunking, since further scientific studies often contradict the first studies, etc.

I can tell biodynamics is just not something I would have the energy or belief to try.

Oh!  The author writes about driving: “I have only once been behind the wheel.” I am thrilled.

On his three gardens, one at a small summer cabin in Denmark, one a rooftop garden outside his London flat, and the allotment patch:

As regular readers know, once I began to read Plot 29 I could not stop to do anything until I had finished.  I so appreciate Allan finding it for me.  Locals can order it from the Timberland Regional Library.

Mr Tootlepedal had asked if I had seen any of a gardening show called The Beechgrove Garden.  I had not.  It is a Scottish gardening show, rather like Gardeners’ World, and I I was delighted to find some episodes online.  I watched one episode and will watch as many as I can find.  Down the rabbit hole!  It has been on telly since the 1970s.  Fortunately for my getting things done, all the shows are not online.

I also found in the past few days a Gardeners. World Road Show from 2005 in which the hosts go on tour to a city, visit many gardens, and have a plant swap.

They may be too big of celebrities now to do that anymore.  Perhaps a viewer over there can tell me if they still have a roadshow special each year.

 

 

 

 

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