Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jan. 30: Goodbye, First Month!

Summer HalfSummer Half by Angela Thirkell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What a terrific story: Thirkell has captured the idiosyncrasies of a variety of people, classes, ages, and professions, and created a story that enchants and entertains. Penelope Freeman, the reader, does a fantastic job bringing it all to life. What a great way to entertain myself through January in Maine and the end of my semester! Anglophile escapism at its finest.

Trouble is a Friend of MineTrouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sharp, funny, original ya mystery. Dialogue is great; plot is over-the-top but anchored by likable, interesting characters. I can't wait to read what else Tromly comes out with!

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Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22, Friday: Whew!

I think I'll make a list of downs and ups for this week, Tuesday - Sunday. Because.

Downs, for starters (Ending on the ups, you see!)

1. Old Dog Zeus had a stomach issue, to put it delicately, on Tuesday night. I got up early on Wed. to head off to my swim workout, glanced at the floor in the living room and thought, "Did Andy walk mud in there last night?" . . .  and the rest of my workout involved scraping, scrubbing, washing, etc., and then, after school, pushing the terribly unwieldy carpet cleaner around the living-room and rolling up the ruined (but also ancient and due for replacement anyway) rug in the den and throwing it away. Nice to have a husband about whom one can say, "There's no one I'd rather be doing this disgusting chore with than you!"

2. End of term. Frantic kids, loads of grading, much stress. Not many thank yous, despite the deep support/encouragement/hard work/etc., put in.

3. Starting a class. . . . tomorrow, Saturday, 9 - 4. Close (that's an up) but still: wow. And the co-workers who've signed up have already shown signs of negativity. Hope that changes.

4. In light of #3, the fact that I have a big pile of grading is tough.

5. At knitting today, I requested that we not talk about school. As a result, we talked about . . . mortality. Our parents' mortality.

6.  I really hate that new blog design option where all the entries are in squares like a Memory game and the pictures turn grey when you mouse over them. I *hate* that.

7. No one has yet made me a luscious dessert. There's no reason anyone *should* have made me a luscious dessert, but, still. =sigh.=

Ups, for finishers.

1. The aforementioned husband has made good dinners from the Martha Stewart Everyday Food site . . . every day this week! Yum!

2. I just finished listening to the a.may.zing memoir Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan. It is powerful and well-written. Boom. Right to the heart. Now I am listening to Angela Thirkell's Summer Half, which is one of her best (she is an acquired taste, for sure! But I love her as an escape author.): funny, quick, entertaining, and an endearing look at teaching. Just what I need, given #2 in "Downs."

3. Left-overs for dinner!

4. My cold is relinquishing its grip!

5. The moon is full, the days are lengthening, and it's not too terribly cold.

6. Hey: it's Friday evening. Bravo! 

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18: Martin Luther King Day!

All Together NowAll Together Now by Gill Hornby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would love to see this book as an independent Brit flick like "The Full Monty" or the one about the boy who loves ballet, but it's also a lot of fun as a novel: good hearted, full of quirky characters and slightly unrealistic plot twists. At its core, however, it holds to the truth that singing together is something wonderful--slightly mystical--and very rare in these days. It may even have convinced me to join our church's rickety choir--at least for the Easter season!

Somewhat slow going at the start, but gains verve and confidence after the first quarter or so.

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Have had a lovely weekend: 7" or so snowstorm on Saturday, a partly sunny and milder day yesterday, then a cold day of flurries and school work today. I ran on the road out past the hospital, enjoying the snow on the blueberry barrens and the flurries, meeting only a couple walking a friendly black dog. Andy and I went out to lunch. I did some correcting (the semester ends next week), some reading, some knitting; resolved to handwrite something at least once a week, and pondered fun writing activities for my Readers&Writers crew. My cold is better. Life is good, an accident of grace that I surely take for granted. In honor of a man who sacrificed so much so that life could be better for more people, I share this lovely cover of a James Taylor piece:

Be well, do good, enjoy.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16: A Slow and Snowy Saturday

What a lovely day: I've had a snuffly cold since Tuesday, and since it's a three day weekend and we were due to get messy weather today, I decided to treat myself to a sick day. I'm not really sick, but, my! this slow, snowy, mellow day hit the spot! I can't remember when I've been able to force myself to be this relaxed. I putzed on line, knitted on my latest sock, chatted with Lyle, Lori, and Nate on facebook and Mom in person, cleaned the kitchen, wrote my New Year's letter to mail with our New Year's card, addressed all 23 envelopes, got 11 of the cards ready to mail, watched the Pats win their playoff game, binged on four episodes of "Fixer Upper," made hotels rezzies for Julie's and my trip to Portsmouth in February, did a 30 minute yoga work out on line, and read my book! My only trip outside was to the mailbox, and though I did exercise, I felt thoroughly, wonderfully at my own disposal for the whole day. AND my cold is much better, thank you!

All told, we got about 8" of snow--it started as rain, then changed to sleet, and then, suddenly, it was tumbling down snow quite heavily. How nice not to have to go anywhere!

The House of Silk (Sherlock Holmes #1)The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saw this reviewed and thought it sounded good; I enjoyed it, finding it very much like an actual Sherlock Holmes novel--including the oddly wooden feeling of the narration. I didn't really care about any of the characters, I didn't feel nostalgic or concerned--and that removed effect is what I remember from the Conan Doyle novels, too. So: all in all, if you like the original Holmes stories, you'll probably like The House of Silk; if not, probably not.

Tied Up in TinselTied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About ten years ago I made a New Year's resolution to read all the Ngaio Marsh books, and I did, and highly enjoyed the process. I re-enjoy each one I listen to or reread. This one was a little festive, so it was great for an early December entertainment. Brava! Marsh is truly a master, and the reader (not Nadia May, but another great reader) was terrific.

*Re-"read" January 2016. Still highly enjoyable!

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Jan. 9: Really? How'd that happen?

I think sometimes only vacation goes this fast, but, wow! This first week back to school flew by! I had an Ed. Leadership Dine and Discuss on Wednesday night and then yoga at the new studio on Thursday, and Nate was home this week, so there was plenty to distract me. Last night N. made dinner (this lovely soup!) and we cleaned the kitchen and took down the Christmas tree and then put the living room back together. Yay! Tonight we'll go out to dinner, and then tomorrow around noon he'll head off for Bates semester #4.

In the meantime. . . . reading, listening, and thinking about stuff. Lots of knitting, not all done by me, which is great: Andy had made two hats and is working on a pair of mittens, and N. is on panel #3 of the amazing Game of Thrones afghan. Such fun!

Someday, Someday, MaybeSomeday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**NOTE: maybe contains spoilers, but my whole point is that it's not a spoiler because you already know what's going to happen. Read on with this knowledge. **

The reviews from our library patrons were scathing, and I almost gave up, but ultimately I found this to be a "pleasant enough" read. It had some original witty bits like the reproduced Filofax pages, and Graham writes clearly; these two pluses made up for the general sameness of a novel about trying to make it in show biz: guess what? It's hard! And the sexy actor is kind of a jerk (oops. Is that a spoiler?). . . . and the nerdy roommate, on the other hand. . . . : see? You can guess the plot, but I found there to be enough oomph to make it readable as distraction from a busy week in January. I *do* find the "what? I'm beautiful?" schtick offered in many such novels (and by many such crossover stars) to be a bit wearing, but ah well.

Light, but fun.

Long Upon the Land (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #20)Long Upon the Land by Margaret Maron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like the Deborah Knott series, and I have read most, if not all, of them. While I enjoyed this one on the whole, I only gave it three stars because it employed the infamous present-tense-flashback format that has crept into so many narratives. These, pertaining to Deborah's mother, Sue, didn't seem to lead to anything or play a major role in the story, so I think they'd be better cut out. However, the story is well written and interesting otherwise.

**Series note: I would recommend reading this series pretty much in order, just because there's a lot of character development through the stories.

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