Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sept. 29: A Belated Book Post

Home after a good b'fast with Dad and a really nice kid/runner/Saki filled day. Yay!

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and WarMayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating "listen"--another book that had me telling everyone factoids and left me with a major crush on Benjamin Church, tho I was a tad disillusioned by the fact that in later life he became so fat he needed two supporters to help him walk! I expected a heart-wrenching story, but the truth (as it so often is) was a tad more complicated: there were heroes and villains on both sides, and even the sides themselves changed and morphed. Squanto was not the hero I learned about in grade school (I'd accepted long ago that he didn't wear feathers stapled to the elastic from an old pair of briefs, either). . . neither was Miles Standish! Philbrick definitely does not gloss over the violence, but he doesn't dwell on it, either.

Mayflower would be great addition to any US History class! 

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Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28: How the heck did THAT happen?

I'm at Mom's house in Auburn for the night. She had a new patella put in last Friday, and this seemed like a good day to visit. I'm combining this drop-in with breakfast with my dad at 8 tomorrow, and then I'll head to Belfast to see various xc teams run in the pouring rain (Nate has a sore Achilles and is not running) and cheer my exchange "niece" on, then dry and clean Saki up and we'll go out to lunch in Belfast.

The ride down was pretty, with lots of trees changing, and the heavy rain holding off pretty well. I got here at six so it wasn't too dark yet, either. Mom is more laid up than I expected--she's so tough that I'm certainly not used to seeing her less than 100%, and with a walker??? I think not. But all is going as planned, I guess. I managed to make her a pair of pj pants in a pretty brown leaf patterned flannel (the good stuff, from Sewing by the Sea, not discount from Marden's!) during the evenings/afternoons of the week, so that was a fun present. I'm hoping the work over the bandages and that they're comfy!

A little bit of a crazy week--phase of the moon? End of month #1? Not sure, but I was a tad edgy, and overwhelmed, and all that good stuff, so a definite shift of focus is a good idea. Soon I will retire to bed and read Jacob Bailey, Dad's new book, till I fall asleep--5 minutes? But it's a good book, and I'm glad to get to the weekend.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23: Books and Settling in

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is another reread; I love Kimmel's books, though not everyone does (looking at you, Mom!). Even tho Langston, the main character, is annoying, the whole characterization and structure of the book wows me. Kimmel's message--that we get through the best we can, that our treatment of each other creates the meaning of life--is valuable but not facile. After I finish this book, I want to spend more time with the characters--and I am listening to The Used World right now! So I can, I gather!

A subtle, powerful story about the meaning of life, especially in small towns. 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Yet ANOTHER reread, for a reason: due to various Board-related tensions in the Library at the moment, I've been avoiding it, so I'm digging into the tried and true piles around home. One year I set out and read all the Ngaio Marsh books I could find: I think I got them all. She is a fantastic, detailed, interesting, creative writer, and she never fails to please, so False Scent was a pleasure! It's funny--I visualize the setting as the house from Bringing Up Baby, which also featured in "The Women"--so I almost feel that I've watched a movie. In any case, this whodunnit, even though I knew (and remembered) who had, is a pleasure. Highly recommended. 

It's Sunday afternoon again--time sure flies! I've realized that planning/prepping AND correcting makes for a crazy week, so I've been putting in a solid two hours of work on Sat., and then a good chunk on Sunday afternoon too. Eats up my weekend, but results in a saner week. 

It's been a lovely September: cool at night, sunny in the days. Some rain. The weekends have been less gorgeous than the weeks, but we've gotten some nice weather in them. Tonight is chilling down nicely, too. Lots to be grateful for: Lyle is happy at school, Mom came through her first patella repair surgery fine, Andy had a great sail today, Nate had a great time at a race in NH and ran well and is home and happy again, I am lucky in my school, family, work and community. . . . Today felt like I was really settling into church again, too--this summer I'd gotten out of the routine a bit and was wondering if I'd feel settled in again, and today I sure did. Pat and I had FIVE kids in the nursery, with much good fellowship before and after. 

So. Off to another week. This one should finish on Friday with a visit to my mom and possibly breakfast with my dad and then a trip to see Nate run at Belfast. We'll see, but it would work well. I always forget, when I love my weekends so much, how much I also love my weeks. I am a happy woman! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday, Sept. 16: Wow!

What a stunning day. It is cool--just warm enough that I can stay on the deck in my almost-cold bare feet and big sweatshirt--but breezy and sunny. There's a definite tang of fall in the air. I have swept off the table so I can be outside and do things like register for CROP Walk online and link to Facebook so my family can support me with ease and facility. . . . and also update my Goodreads and my blog! So here I is.

This is a day to take a breath and be grateful, more than anything else, I think. Yesterday Andy and I drove a big load of oak from the tree harvest down to Craig and Heather's, emptied it out (or watched while it was emptied. . .), and then we carpooled over to Tap's to take him out to dinner. He is now wheelchair bound, very frail, and very hard to hear, but every so often he'd fire out a joke or give one of us that clear, interested look that was so very him when he was well, and that was great. After dinner, he started to ask Andy to take him to the airport so he could collect the shipment that was coming in. . . . but I think he had a good time most of the time and certainly knew we were there. And Craig is so amazingly patient and good with him--Craig's feet hurt him a lot so the standing and helping he does for Tap must be hard on him, but you can't tell at all. It's moving to see him with his dad--never a frustration in sight. Wow. So it was a good family visit--the four "kids" laughed a lot, and Tap had a night out, and Andy and I were home by nine,

where poor N had been stricken by his cold really taking over. He missed church today, and finally gave in to my suggestion that he have a nap ("I'm not really that tired, Mo----zzzzzzzzzzzzz") and has been sleeping for a solid hour. I bet he'll be okay to go back to school on Monday, but if he's not, he's not. At least he's taking it easy now.

And church, with the 200th b'day all celebrated last weekend, was reflective and quiet again, though happy and quite full. Henry, the blond bombshell of a 2  1/2 year old, was there flirting with all of us--what a pleasure. It really felt like our focus was warm and full today.

I have been reading Haven Kimmel's "The Solace of Leaving Early" and am afraid that I am fighting a cold--both on the brink of a busy week. The book, the weather, and the potential cold make me feel reflective. . .  so I head off to write my Goodreads review and then start my spicy chicken soup. Yum.

"All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well."  Julian of Norwich

And how apropos that I should find that pretty day lily photo from this summer for a highlight, since my most recent book is. . . 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bo lent me this book and told me it was amazing, and it was--I finished it last week but didn't have time to write it up till now. I think I'd give it five stars if I had time to reread it--towards the end I was reading so fast that I know I missed some nuance.

Diffenbaugh has an assured and understated voice throughout this book, though she also employs the unfolding flashback technique that I am ambivalent about: it threatens to become trite, like the 9th graders' favorite conclusion: "And then I woke up." Still, the characters she creates and the plot that unfolds were enough so that I kept going. Granted, the male lead (oops. His name is Grant. Sorry) is a little one-dimensional, but he's attractive nonetheless, and Victoria is difficult and frustrating, but I rooted for her positive growth, too. The problem the novel highlights, of kids aging out of foster care with no support under them, is a powerful one to consider, and her group is inspiring in its efforts (though that's off track from the review. Sorry.).

While some of the events in the story and some of the characters (as mentioned) are a little awkward, overall the book is well-written, absorbing, and warm, the kind of book that leaves me at a loss when I'm finally finished and don't have that reading to look forward to anymore! Highly recommended. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lucy Sullivan Is Getting MarriedLucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, this is a reread, but I"m surprised to see there's no comment here, even, because I remember reading Lucy Sullivan the first time and I remember the reasons I didn't like it: too predictable, too dragged out. Not sure what changed, but this time when I read it, I was much more impressed by Keyes's facility at describing patterns that the person in them can't see, like the one Lucy is trapped in. The book is not her strongest effort, but there's more here than I saw on first read (about a year ago). Most moving is the description of depression, which, if you follow Keyes at all, you know comes from a deep and painful personal experience with it.

I am looking forward to reading "Mystery of Mercy Close"--plan to get it as my September local bookstore purchase!--and I'd also like to reread the Holiday one: Rachel's ? Holiday, since I remember that as one of her best. So this is up to three stars from my original 2.

But don't you think that Goodreads needs a "reread" category?

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So a semi-fluff book that I'd read already. . . just what I needed for the first real week back to school! It was a good week (a four day week, of course. . . ), and I wasn't quite comatose by the end of it. We had a great inaugural knitting group on Friday--eight people, with a few drop ins!--and I stopped at TJ Maxx en route home to get new washcloths (!! My life is just jam-packed with excitement) and then Nate, Andy and I watched "Mean Girls" and ate Thai food for our Friday movie night. This weekend marks our church's bicentennial, which leaves me cold, but we have a dinner tonight and a special service tomorrow. . . . and it's due to rain or be grey all weekend, so I'd better settle in with some indoor projects to keep me cozy. 

It feels like I'm settling into the routine again, and that's great. Onwards!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sept.2: Rainy Labor Day Sunday

I think Goodreads has instituted a special font and color for negative book reviews. Have no idea why this is different, but variety IS the spice of life, so enjoy!

What Happened to My SisterWhat Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This book was on the "What to Read Now" list in the September O magazine, and it was the only one in our library, so I got it. . . and I must say I was taken aback: I don't think it's a very good book. The voices switch, but not really: Carrie is a nine year old who's thought to be crazy or disabled, but her grammar and voice are both pretty sophisticated some of the time, which doesn't sit right. Then there's the whole weird connection of (SEMI SPOILER HERE) a nicey nicey normal family who's just lost a girl who looked just like Carrie and WAS NAMED CAROLINE. . .  I read it pretty quickly and did read the whole thing, so I struggled with giving it two stars vs. one, but ultimately I think it's a trite piece with some really flat characters and odd plot twists that alternate with predictability. Not recommended. 

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We got to the Fair after a stunning day yesterday and another forecast for today, and there were a few dark clouds. . . . and by the time we got home two hours later, it was raining! A cozy afternoon, however, good for tying up loose ends. Did a raft of charitable donations, paid some other bills, am about to head up to finish (?) the dress. . .  Maybe a nap later? 

Closing with some fun Fair pictures. . . Cows, and the Ferris wheel!