"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Signs You're a Book Lover

1. When packing for a trip and everyone else is deciding what clothes to take, you are deciding what and how many books you can manage to cram into the suitcase, or download onto your e-reader.

2. Before taking a car trip you make sure to have three or four audiobooks queued up on your smartphone (Audible and/or Overdrive accounts) so that everyone in the car can agree on a book to listen to while on the trip together.

3. When arriving in a new city you immediately scope out where the used bookstores are located and visit any Indy bookstores in the area. 

4. You always buy something when you visit a bookstore because you want that bookstore, and all bookstores, to survive. (I am wondering if bookstores are still open right now since they are obviously a necessary business, vital to one's health and well-being.) You often give books as gifts and always give books as baby-shower gifts.

5. You know how to place books on hold at your public library and visit it regularly to pick up those books and to peruse the shelves for new arrivals and for 'Lucky Day' books, which, as the name implies, you are lucky you found on the shelf because they are a 'hot' book right now.

6. You can coach your friends how to check out e-books and audiobooks with their library cards even if they don't want to travel to the library and they often call you when they forget how to do it--instead of calling the librarian on-duty, who is getting paid to give that advice.

7. You have a Goodreads account where you keep track of all the books you have read, want to read, and are reading. You spend a lot of time on this account. When you read another book blogger's good review you automatically add it as a TBR on Goodreads.

8. At parties and other gatherings you often find yourself talking about books with whomever will spend a few minutes discussing them with you. And you often claim knowledge that you gained by reading some book or another, but you can't always remember the title or the author.

9. You are in one or more book clubs. You will schedule your other activities around these meetings because you don't want to miss the group discussions because you have your opinions you want to share and enjoy being around other people who like to discuss books, too.

10. You read book reviews, end-of-the-year best books lists, award book lists, and book magazines, though nothing is quite so good as a word-of-mouth recommendation. And you are often asked by others what you think they should read next.

Extra: You also enjoy reading, like I  am right now, books about books. I am currently reading The Books of Books: Explore America's 100 Best Loved Novels as featured on the PBS series.

What did I miss? What are the signs that you're a book lover?


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday Salon/Coronavirus Diaries, 4th edition

Is it a grandson or a dinosaur?
Weather: Rain and shine, intermittently.

At home: We, like most people in the USA, are home, unless we walk the dog or make a quick trip for food, trying desperately to avoid contact with other humans while doing so. I watched a video about how to disinfect groceries and that was going one step too far for me. Since we aren't out in the world there is not a lot to report so I decided to spend this post highlighting some of the good aspects of this time of social distancing/stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Good things:
Bingley on a walk this past week in a wooded forest park near our home
Bad photo but the woodpecker is in the center of the frame with red head.
  • Daily walks with the dog. He loves it and it helps keep us all sane. Last weekend we walked in a wooded park right near our home and discovered a fitness course that meandered around in the trees. We heard and then located a Pileated woodpecker who was busy searching for bugs on a dead snag. This week, due to rain, we have stayed much closer to home, just walking around the block on a few days. 
  • Finding things to laugh about. We can't take the coronavirus news 24-7, so we take humor breaks often. One of those funny things I found on Facebook was the group: Crap Wildlife Photography. It is a place for people to post their bad animal photos and they all make me laugh. The photo I posted as my first submission as a group members was a photo taken in Alaska of sea otters with their pups. The only problem, the animals are so far off the coast, they look like little black spots on the water. Whenever I look at it, I end up laughing. The photo, above of the woodpecker, would probably qualify as a crap wildlife photo.
  • Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream. All this hand washing has been driving my skin absolutely bonkers. I developed a rash on my hands that itched and cracked from dryness. Then I started using this skin cream, just a little goes a long way and I have been saved! 
  • Phone calls and FaceTime. We have heard from several close and far away friends and family members. It is good to know that others are thinking of us as we are thinking of them.
  • Puzzles and games. We have completed our third puzzle and played lots of games...you know, those activities that you enjoy doing but never get around to? Now there is no excuse not to break them out and have some fun. One game that we both seem to like is one our daughter introduced to us this last Christmas break, Qwixx. It a quick game, usually lasting less than ten minutes.
  • Follow some good advice to avoid the virus. This advice from a bone-marrow transplant patient is practical and easy to follow.  And this interview with Trevor Noah and Dr. Fauci and the virus is the best I've heard and the easiest to understand. (It is long, 13 minutes, so get some tea and settle in.

  • Video Church on zoom. This morning about 25 members from our church gathered on Zoom to worship together. We even had a chance for a coffee break with a smaller group of people. 
  • Weirdly good news:  Crime rate in NYC is down, way down. (Washington Post)/// China has passed a ban on trade and consumption of wild animals (Reuters).///Air quality in LA has improved measurably for the past three weeks straight (LA Curbed).///Many people and companies are doing selfless acts of heroism. Read the list in this article. It will make you smile. (The Hill)
  • Books (of course). I finished The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Fantastic book. I am still reading: Lonesome Dove, All the Songs, The Book of Books, and It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Today I will start Fleishman is in Trouble.
  • And this...more of Carly's cats photos. She sends us pictures every day. Every day I thank God that those two boys went to live with our daughter just in the nick of time to keep her company and entertained.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Puzzling Over the Answers---Play Along

We just finished our third puzzle completed during this time of 'social distancing/stay at home order.' While working on it I puzzled over the answers to each 'book.' Below are my answers.
Play along with me. If you are on Facebook, Copy the list below and change answers for yourself. Post on your page or mine. Leave a note so I will visit your site to see your answers. Bloggers, just copy and paste, being sure to leave a comment below and link so I can find you.

  • Unforgettable Book: The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings 
  • Book a Friend Gave Me: The Singer by Calvin Miller  
  • Book that Gives Me Happy Tears: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White 
  • Book I Read Again and Again: Persuasion by Jane Austen 
  • Book I'd Grab to Save From a Fire: My Bible 
  • Best Book I've Ever Read: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
  • Childhood Favorite Book: Little Bear by Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak 
  • Book That Makes Me Look Smart: How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig
  • Book That Makes Me Laugh Out Loud: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 
  • Super Fantastic BookA Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • Book I Never Finished: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Friday, March 27, 2020

Review and quotes: NANAVILLE

Title: Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlen

Book Beginning quote:
Sunlight spreads across the checkerboard tiles in the kitchen, and so do many other things: wooden spoons, a rubber frog, Tupperware, a couple of puzzle pieces, some plastic letters, elements of the obstacle course of the active toddler. 
Friday56 quote:
We are sitting on the bench by a frog pond. I have been ordered to find and catch a frog, and have been a considerable disappointment. So we are just chatting, frogless, although I continue to keep my  eyes peeled...Did you deliver the frog? Of course, later, when the frog is actually delivered, when Nana snags one and offers it held carefully in her fist, because the last thing she wants to produce is a dead frog, it will develop that Arthur doesn't really want to get up close and personal with it. One part of raising children is discovering the concept of their enormous desire for things it turns out they don't actually want except in theory.
Summary: Anna Quidlen, a favorite author, has become a grandmother and this book is a tribute to her experiences in a new life-role. When her oldest son and daughter-in-law's son, Arthur, is born Quindlen has to navigate a new relationship with her own child and come to terms with the joys and limitations of grandparenting. Where she once led she now has to learn to follow. Using a journal she kept at the time, Quindlen looks back at those experiences now twenty years and now several more grandchildren later.

Review: I've enjoyed everything that Quindlen has written and this book especially spoke to me as a relatively new grandmother. Now in her eighties, Quindlen is writing from a perspective of many years and several grandchildren but she consolidated the story into one, focusing on the lessons she learned at the beginning of her experiences as a grandmother, or Nana. Italicized sections were excerpts from a journal she kept at the time, as the Friday56 quote. I found myself laughing at the examples of times she spent with Arthur which since many could be written about me and Ian. The examples of language problems were especially apt. Sometimes I have no idea what he is emphatically telling me. No matter how many times he says it I still can't understand and find myself saying things like "Is that so? or "That's nice" just to let him know I am listening. Quindlen had the same conversions with her grandson. Arthur settled on calling her Nana. Ian started calling me Nana, too, then shorted my 'name' to Na. His grandfather is Ga. When we are together we are GaNa. Funny, huh? I doubt this book has general appeal but it certainly does to those of us who have had the privilege to be given a new name so late in life.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tanka-poetry Reviews

Thanks to Lark Writes for giving me the inspiration to write short, poetic book reviews. Hers are called Haiku Reviews. I'll make mine a little longer and call them tanka-poetry reviews. Similar to haikus, tanka poems are short, using only 31-syllables in the cadence pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. All of these tanka-poem reviews are for illustrated or graphic novels.

Cicada written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019.)

Cicada tells tale.
Good story. Simple story.
Seventeen years of
work, work, work. Retires at last.
Flies off to forest, free bug.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Versify Books, 2019.)

Poem is love letter
 and tribute to black life in 
our America.
Slavery, civil rights; grit, 
perseverance, heroes, hope.

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees written and illustrated by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.)

Civil war rages.
Syrians flee bullets, bombs.
No place to call home.
World turns its back on them.
Millions of them--unwanted

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Na (Balzar + Bray, 2020.)

Teen Korean girl
Moved to Alabama with
Mom. Knows no English.
School torture--wants to go home.
Makes friend who likes to draw, too.


Monday, March 23, 2020

TTT: Good book selections in the age of social distancing

Top Ten Tuesday: 
Good books to select in the age of social distancing

Digging into a problem:
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel---set in the years after civilization's collapse
  • Artemis by Andy Weir---set in the only city on the moon where water and oxygen are scarce.
  • Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood---the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale
  • The End of the World Running Club by Adrian Walker---a catastrophic asteroid strike
 Escapist literature---guaranteed to take your mind off social distancing
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen---because, um, it always works
  • Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding---because it is a modern remake of Pride and Prejudice
  • The Woman in White by  Wilkie Collins---Set in the 1800s, it is an intricate mystery.
  • One for the Money (or any of the Stephanie Plum Mysteries) by Janet Evanovich---because they are silly,funny, and mindless.
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman---Because there are dragons and the world-building is superb.
 What are you reading right now?

Coronavirus diaries: Anger, Humor, and Hope

Fighting over toilet paper
Don't know about you, but I am finding it hard to get on with life-as-usual these days even though as a retiree I often don't go out every day, now that I can't I want to! Yesterday as I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner the thought occurred to me that I have nothing planned that I have to do this coming week. NOTHING. My dentist appointment was canceled, as was my therapeutic massage. I can't make any coffee dates with friends. Book club is on a two month hiatus, maybe longer. So how do I fill my days? With walks, books, puzzles, and TV. I am trying to stay up on my daily devotions, but find that my mind wanders. I even have trouble reviewing the books I'm reading. My malaise is slopping over onto my blog.

Thanks to social distancing I can finally find Waldo!
So today, I decided to share with you a few things that really make me angry, other things I find very funny, and lately what is bringing me hope. Click on hyperlinks to call up articles or to view videos. Sit back, sip your coffee/tea and take your time. Here goes...

To begin with, I want to remind you, as does this song, that God is with us during these scary days. If you read nothing or open no articles, at least listen to this song.

The Infuriating Story of How the Government Stalled Coronavirus Testing and article from GQ magazine from March 16th. It is a lengthy and detailed article, worth the read but here is one very disturbing detail which really gets my blood roiling:
A large part of the blame lies with President Trump, who has not wanted widespread testing, apparently out of an obsession with keeping the number of confirmed COVID cases low. It’s why he waffled so long on whether to let the Grand Princess cruise liner, where COVID infections were spreading rapidly, dock in the United States. “I would rather have them stay on [the ship], personally,” Trump said earlier this month. “I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.” His administration turned down tests provided by the World Health Organization and instead wasted precious time having the Centers for Disease Control create its own test. While that was underway, the president denounced the spread of the disease as a Democratic hoax, giving the public a dangerously false sense of complacency just as a pandemic was getting underway.
Rand Paul, US Senator from Tennessee, just tested positive for COVID-19, Palmer Report, March 22nd. Apparently he took the test five or six days ago and then did not self-quarantine while he was waiting for the results. His father, a retired US Congressman has been making noises that he thinks the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax.
This means he’s spent a week running around infecting people while he was awaiting his test results. This means he put a significant number of lives at risk – including potentially the entire Senate. Not shockingly, a number of Senators are angry at him, including some of his Republican colleagues.
The Federal Government Outbids State Governments on Critical Coronavius Supplies After Trump Tells Governors To Get Their Own Supplies, Business Insider, March 20th. Soon, I predict, we will have state-to-state hoarding.
"But if our entire nation is going to survive this, we really need to adopt an economy of abundance and cooperation. This is not just true for the West Coast and the Northeast, where the medical providers and local leaders are yelling as loudly as they can about this need.  It’s true in places like Georgia and Florida and Louisiana, as well as every single state in the nation, where the need for this equipment is going to explode over night."
  • Here is something interesting and helpful: The Worldometer which tracks the number of coronavirus cases and the recovery rates. You can click on any country to see the results. I have the worldometer set to the USA but you can toggle around. The alarming news is how the graph shows the numbers shooting up, like it did in Spain and Italy. But there is some good news, too. People are recovering from the disease. (Updated daily)
  • Good news from the State of Washington, where I live: Our new cases are starting to stabilize. It appears that social distancing is starting to work. And a furniture factory has stepped up to start making masks and shields for healthcare workers, KOMO News, March 22nd.

Now for a little humor:

  • Tom and Jerry show us what to do if anyone sneezes near us:

  • And a teacher sings about teaching on-line:

The song "I will Survive" always chases me to YouTube to view this silly video about an alien singing the song.

  • And my daughter forwarded this to me yesterday. The sentiment is of course true. It is hard not to think of Dystopian novels these days.

  • A poem on Social Distancing by Alexander McCall Smith is worth the trouble to read the whole thing. But here are a favorite few lines from it: (Honestly, go read the whole thing!!!!) {Thanks, Dave, for sharing this with me and others who need this positive message}

And so we turn again to face one another
And discover those things
We had almost forgotten,
But that, mercifully, are still there:
Love and friendship, not just for those
To whom we are closest, but also for those
Whom we do not know and of whom
Perhaps we have in the past been frightened;
The words brother and sister, powerful still,
Are brought out, dusted down,
Found to be still capable of expressing

  • And another poem, "Lockdown" by an Irish Priest, Bother Richard Hendrick is bring hope and understanding to many people today. IrishCentral, March 23rd. Once again, click to link to read the whole poem, but here is a small excerpt: {Thanks Kathy for sharing this with the family}

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.


They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

  • The other day we were talking to one daughter who lives in SF on FaceTime when our other daughter and grandson called on FaceTime on our other phone. Ian's reaction to seeing his aunt on a phone within a phone was hilarious and priceless.

  • Don and I are playing a lot of games of Quixx, a dice game that only takes a few minutes. I've been working a jigsaw puzzle, calling friends and family, and of course reading lots of books. Alexander McCall Smith writes about this later int he poem:

We discover things we had put aside:
Old board games with obscure rules,
Books we had been meaning to read,
Letters we had intended to write,
Things we had thought we might say
But for which we never found the time;

  • We are not alone. God is with us. We have each other. Good CAN come from bad. 


Friday, March 20, 2020

Review and quotes: LETTERS OF NOTE

Title: Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience compiled by Shaun Usher

Book Beginnings quote from the introduction---
Dear Reader, The beautiful book you now hold in your hands is the culmination of an unexpected but wholly enjoyable four-year journey through the letters, memos, and telegrams of the famous, the infamous and the not-so-famous...[the letters] perfectly illustrate the importance and unrivaled charm of old-fashioned correspondence just as the world becomes digitized and letter writing becomes a lost art.
Friday56 quote---
To my old Master, Col. P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee. August 7, 1865.
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you have not forgotten Jourdan, and you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of you being hurt, and am glad you are still living.
Summary: This is a spectacular collection of 125 letters from the famous and not-so-famous, as the introduction says. Some are whimsical, others serious or hilarious, and often enlightening. Many of the letters are written by still-living famous people like the Queen of England while others were penned by long-departed people like Ronald Reagan and Mark Twain. Each letter is accompanied by a short introduction to let the reader know who wrote the letter and under what circumstances. For example the opening letter was written by Queen Elizabeth to President Eisenhower. Apparently he liked her scones when he visited England on a state visit in August 1959. She sent him her recipe. The Friday56 quote came from a letter written by a former slave to his former master, who had written him, asking that he return to service. The former slave, Jourdan Anderson, was living and working in Ohio at the time and all of his children were attending school. In the letter Jourdan calls into question if his children would be able to go to school if he were to return. He concludes the letter with this sign-off: "Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me. Your old servant, Jourdan Anderson."

Review: I enjoyed this book immensely. It is a large volume which not only includes copies of the letters but also interesting photographs of writers. If the handwriting was hard to decipher, or written in another language, it was typed (and translated) for easy reading. I didn't read every word of every letter, but I spent enough time with each to get a feel for the purpose the personality of the writer. A few of my favorites were the above mentioned letter from a former slave to his master; a letter from E.B.White (Charlotte's Web) to a man who was concerned about how everything was wrong with the world. White writes that sometimes, like with weather, things change quite suddenly. People make messes of the planet yet within others there are the seeds of goodness, inventiveness, ingenuity that can lead us out of trouble. In the conclusion, which seems so apt today, E.B. said, "Hang onto your hat. Hang onto your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day."

Another favorite was a letter written by a young Australian teen boy right after Sputnik had sent the first rocket into space. He wrote his letter to "A TOP Scientist at Woomera Rocket Ranch in South Australia. URGENT." and it included a hand-drawn diagram of a rocket with Australian markings, Rolls-Royce engines, air torpedoes and radar antenna. Underneath the diagram he included these words, "YOU PUT IN OTHER DETAILS." His letter wasn't answered until 52 years later by Allan Paul, a research leader in aeronautics.  Paul complimented the boy, now man, for his directions to "put in other details" stating he thought that proof he would make a good project manager one day. How the letter when unanswered for such a long time was also addressed.

I marked several other letters to show my husband. One was a hand written note from Clyde (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) to Henry Ford thanking him for building such a powerful car. Later that week we watched a movie about the highway men who finally brought down Bonnie and Clyde. At one point in the movie they showed the newspaper clipping about that letter. Another highlight for me was a note written by the composer Samuel Barber to his mother when he was child. In the note he apologizes for not wanting to play football saying, "I am not meant to be an athet [sic]. I am meant to be a composer...don't ask me to forget this unpleasant thing and go play football." It is as if he sees in himself something he wishes he didn't.

I don't think this review is doing the book justice. Just go find a copy of it at your public library (when it opens up again, and read it for yourself!

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

24in48 Social Distancing Readathon

It is a perfect time for another readathon. Join me and others in reading for 24 hours over the course of of the next five days. That is the way I am modifying this event: Starting now until midnight on March 22nd, I hope to read for a total of 24 hours, which averages to a little less than five hours a day.

Let's get started!

First: Sign up here: 24in48 The Social Distancing Edition

Second: List of books you hope to read. Here is my list:
  • All the Songs: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song (At 650+pages I doubt I'll finish. I'm currently on page 40.)
  • I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Audiobook, I'm midway through the second disc of six. Since I plan on walking the dog everyday of this challenge, I know I can complete this one.)
  • Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting (I am already through 40% of this short book, with less than 100 pages to go.)
  • Lonesome Dove (Another long book, over 850 pages, I just hope to make some good, solid progress on it.)
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (By the nature of this book, written by Mr. Rogers, it doesn't lend itself to long-reading sessions. I'm currently on page 35. I hope to at least double that page count.)
  • The Testaments (Audiobook. I hope to start and make some progress on this library owned copy before it returns itself automatically.)
  • Others? Who knows what I may be able to get to.
Third: Make a plan for reporting progress
---I will report and update right here on this post every night before going to bed. My report will include:
  • Time spent reading throughout the day
  •  Progress made on books
  • Any funny anecdotes or quotes I want to remember
Easy peasy!

Wednesday progress:
  • 4 hours and ten minutes
  • All the Songs---1 1/2 hours; up to page 110
  • I Am Half-Sick---1 1/2 hours; at the half-way point. the murder just happened
  • Lonesome Dove---15 minutes, up to page 60
  • Nanaville---15 minutes, up to page 79
  • Embraced---10 minutes. This is one of several devotionals I am reading right now.
  • I had to take the dog to see the vet today. He has two scratches on his eye. How did that happen?
Thursday progress:
  • 5 hours and 20 minutes. Two day total: 9 1/2 hours
  • All the Songs---1 hour; up to page 180
  • I Am Half-Sick---3 hours, 40 minutes. Completed the audiobook.
  • Lonesome Dove---30 minutes; up to page 82.
  • Devotional---10 minutes
  • I marked and listened to previews of all the Beatles Songs I didn't recognize by name that I was reading about. I did recognize them all once I heard them.
Friday progress:
  • 4 hours and 47 minutes. Three day total: 14 hours and 17 minutes
  • All the Songs---1 hour; up to page 270
  • Lonesome Dove---45 minutes; up to page 110
  • Devotionals---20 minutes
  • A Beautiful Day---45 minutes; up to page 59, plus a reread of the article "Can You Say...Hero?"
  • The Testaments---1 hour and 52 minutes
  • I listened to the audiobook of The Testaments as I worked a jigsaw puzzle. Later we watched the movie about Mr. Rogers that was the basis for the article,  "Can You Say...Hero?"
Saturday progress:
  • 4 hours and 52 minutes. Four day total: 19 hours and 9 minutes
  • All the Songs---2 hours; up to page 377
  • Devotionals---10 minutes
  • A Beautiful Day---30 minutes
  • Nanaville---30 minutes
  • The Testaments---1 hours and 42 minutes, on the fourth disc
  • We walked the dog to a nearby park and walked the whole exercise circuit. Quote from Nanaville: "There are only two commandments of Nanaville: love the grandchildren and hold your tongue." 
Sunday progress:
  • 5 hours and 35 minutes; total for five days: 24 hours and 48 minutes
  • The Testaments---3 hours and 10 minutes, on the seventh disc
  • A Beautiful Day---15 minutes, got to page 70
  • Nanaville---finished the book after reading for one hour
  • All the Songs--- 1 hour, up to page 410
  • Devotionals---10 minutes 
Wrap up:
  • I finished two books: I'm Half-Sick of Shadows and Nanaville, as I predicted
  • I doubled my pages on A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which was my goal.
  • The Beatles book, All the Songs, is a tome of a book and it sat on my island counter all weekend. I just finished reading about the creation of the songs for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, at page 410.
  • This is the third time I've checked out The Testments from the library and I am so relieved to finally have a good start of it, over half-way. I know it will be finished before it automatically returns in a few days.
  • My one disappointment of the readathon is I didn't really get a good chunk of Lonesome Dove read. It is a LONG book and I was hoping for at least 25% completion but I barely passed 10%. Alas, it kept getting shoved aside by the others.
Join me? 

Monday, March 16, 2020

TTT: My Spring Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring Reading List followed by how I did on my winter reading list:

I. Books I just checked out from the library before it closed due to the epidemic
  1. Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlen
  2. It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History
  3. The Book of Books by PBS
  4. Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience edited by Shaun Usher
II.  Books I still want to read from the winter list
  1. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
  2.  Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
III. Book Club Selections
  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  2. Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt
IV. Just because books
  1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  2. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
  3. Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Mr. Rogers 
  4. The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

How I did on my Winter reading list:

I. Books I want to read based on end-of-the-year lists of best books of 2019
  1. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (I currently have this checked out but haven't started it.)
  2. Normal People by Sally Rooney ✔
  3. On This Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong ✔
  4. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (I started this book and DNF)
  5. Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Just got the book from the library today)
II. Book Club Selections
  1. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Letham ✔
  2. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
  3.  Love and Other Consolations by Jamie Ford
III. Cybils JH/SH Second Round books
  • I start my role as a second round judge for Cybils on January 1, 2020. Likely we will have 12-14 books to read and digest in 6 weeks. Crazy, huh? But I am excited and ready to go to work. (✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔-I read all eleven books)
IV. Mock Printz (YA book award) possibles are selected the end of January. I will try to read a few of these titles before that time.
  1. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. ✔
  2. Frankly In Love. David Yoon. 
  3. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Started but did DNF)
Of the 22 books listed, I read 15 which looks a lot better than I thought.

What are you reading?


Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd edition

No cabbages at any price
If you missed my first coronavirus diary entry, here it is. (Click on the hyperlink.)

Yesterday after posting my Sunday Salon, where I mused about the coronavirus and the new world we are facing, my husband and I went to the grocery store. We were prepared for empty shelves but we just needed a few things: bread, fruits and vegetables, and a few dried goods.

Initially we were pleasantly surprised to find that the produce section was nicely supplied with lots of apples, bananas, potatoes, even salads-in-bags. We had our list and we started shopping. Bananas, check. Potatoes, check. Carrots and celery, check. Then we rounded the corner. No broccoli. Not a single sphere. Wow. That was odd. Our mission was to get cabbage for our traditional boiled dinner. It too was wiped out. There is always cabbage, even when everything is gone, but not now. We got brussel sprouts just in case we can't find cabbage anywhere because, um, they look like little cabbages?

Deeper into the store we moved. Though there was still plenty of meat, the corned beef bags were completely gone. Lucky I'd bought ours earlier in the week. As we walked past the alcohol section we decided to buy a half case of Corona beer because, um, news reports of stupid people thinking that the beer has something to do with the virus was spoiling sales. Apparently, according to Snopes, that story is false, but we had a laugh over it anyway.

We took a circuitous route to the organic section and found both rye and organic wheat breads. Score. We also found an organic dried bean soup mix which was lucky since the regular, inorganic mixes were completely wiped out. Apparently the secret to our success was this stopover since all the items we got in this section were not available elsewhere in the store. Take note.

People were scurrying around the store with dazed looks on their faces. It was hit or miss what we could find. There was plenty of milk and yogurt, which we didn't need, but the bread section looked like a bomb had gone off. The only kind remaining were hot dog buns. When I mentioned that to Don another customer laughed out loud. We were all in the same boat.

We grabbed some of the last containers of kitty litter, stepping around one box which was spilled on the ground, and finished up our shopping by selecting some ice cream flavors. We chose Mint Chocolate Chip because it was green (for above-mentioned boiled dinner, St. Patrick's Day theme.)

I thanked Don for shopping with me as he was better prepared for the experience than I, having lived through a visit to Trader Joe's earlier in the weekend to pick up a bottle of pizza sauce. This is what he found:
Next to nothing on shelves at Trader Joes
The gal at the check out laughed when we said we'd see her tomorrow when we come back for a cabbage. What did that laugh mean? Hmm. Was it, "Good luck with that wishful thinking?" or "Yes, I'll be happy to see you again so soon?" I don't know. But I should get dressed and run to the store to see which statement is closer to the truth.

Hope you are doing well in your neck of the woods. Stay positive. Eat brussel sprouts. Who knows we may end up liking them.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sunday Salon---The Coronavirus Diaries

Weather: Cold with blue skies. Great dog-walking weather. Oddly it snowed two mornings this week with minimal accumulation.

Today's post: Will include some of my thoughts and some other musings about the world and the pandemic we are experiencing. Some of things I post may be NSFW or at least not family friendly, so I will give fair warning to allow you to decide whether to view or not.

Sheltering in place: Like many others we are sheltering in our home avoiding interactions with as many people as possible. Don is still going to work but sometime this next week his office will be ready to go to completely remote work-from home. We are doing our part to help flatten out the curve of the disease spread.

Or if you prefer to use a cat example for the flattening out curve concept with cats:


Will this coronavirus pandemic be what finally undoes Trump?
The nation is recognizing this, treating him as a bystander “as school superintendents, sports commissioners, college presidents, governors and business owners across the country take it upon themselves to shut down much of American life without clear guidance from the president,” in the words of Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times. Donald Trump is shrinking before our eyes. The coronavirus is quite likely to be the Trump presidency’s inflection point, when everything changed, when the bluster and ignorance and shallowness of America’s 45th president became undeniable, an empirical reality, as indisputable as the laws of science or a mathematical equation. The Trump presidency is over. (Link)
Disturbing poll numbers reported by ABC News:
JUST IN: Among Democrats, 83% are concerned about getting coronavirus, including 47% who are very concerned, and among Republicans, 56% are concerned, including only 15% who are very concerned, new @ABC News/Ipsos poll finds. (Link)
Why is there a difference in concern about getting COVID-19 between Democrats and Republicans? Could it be the news sources used by the two groups? I think so. Check out this article on Daily Beast which describes how Fox News top executives are concerned but that is not translating down to the on air personalities who are delivering the "news."  For example Trish Regan was fired after this:
Earlier this week, Fox Business Network host Trish Regan delivered a breathless bonkers rant in which she described the crisis as “another attempt to impeach” Trump while accusing the “liberal media” of using the disease to “demonize and destroy the president. As she bemoaned the “crescendo” of Democratic hate, an on-air graphic blared “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.”
On a much lighter and sweeter note, I made jam this week. We were running out of our favorite freezer jam and had several bags of strawberries which I had cleaned, squished, measured and froze during one summer day when it was too hot to make jam. So all I had to do was defrost the berries, add pectin, and sugar. Voila!

When others ran to the store to stock up on cleaning supplies and toilet paper, I ran to the library and stocked up on books!  Good thing, too. Our library system closed its doors yesterday for the foreseeable future. I got there in the nick of time. See my post about the books I selected here.

Juice Media: Spread the message not the virus. WARNING this video contains a lot of foul language. But if you can stand that, I promise you will laugh. (Yes, this is satire!!) Link

Good news--Major Biden: Joe Biden adopts a rescue dog, names him Major.

FDR's words of resolve: 'We are now in this war. We are all in it--all the way' can be applied to our current situation: (For more quotes that FDR used for our situation during WWII that apply to today, go to this link.)

Meanwhile, America today seems to be acting like a failed state. (The Atlantic, Derek Thompson): Here are a few snippets from the article--

...Only the national government can oversee the response to a national outbreak by coordinating research on the nature of the disease. Only the state can ensure the national regulation and accuracy of testing, and use its fiscal and monetary might to stimulate the economy if the pandemic threatens people’s income and employment.//
Throughout the world, the most effective responses to the historic threat of the coronavirus have come from state governments. China imposed a lockdown of tens of millions of people in Wuhan and other cities. In Singapore, the government built an app to inform citizens how to contain the virus and what public spaces to avoid. South Korea opened a number of drive-through centers to accelerate diagnostic testing. //
But in the United States, the pandemic has devolved into a kind of grotesque caricature of American federalism. The private sector has taken on quasi-state functions at a time when the executive branch of government—drained of scientific expertise, starved of moral vision—has taken on the qualities of a failed state. In a country where many individuals, companies, institutions, and local governments are making hard decisions for the good of the nation, the most important actor of them all—the Trump administration—has been a shambolic bonanza of incompetence.
 And yet from Vietnam comes this catchy new dance to remind us how to wash our hands:

Bad timing: I got my first shingles shot in November and had to get my second shot within the right time frame (2-6 months) so I decided to get my second shot this week. Brilliant thinking. NOT. The shot is very strong and made me feel sick for two days and my arm is still sore and inflamed. Bad timing.

And life goes on: It is hard to imagine that everything hasn't completely stopped. Nature is still preparing for Spring (Northern Hemisphere). Today on our walk, Don and I saw beautiful trees budding out, hyacinths and daffodils blooming. We heard frogs croaking and a Pileated Woodpecker calling. My mother, who is almost 91-years-old, has neighbors who are checking in on her daily offering to buy groceries or help out if she needs it. My youngest daughter is preparing to adopt a cat. We move forward.
Flowering plum street trees. March 2020.

Books read this week: (I know it is a lot, but heck, I'm sitting around the house a lot these days.)
  • Undefeated by Kwame Alexander---an award-winning children's book with illustrations by Kadir Nelson about the strength and accomplishments of many African Americans. Print.
  • Almost American Girl by Robin Ha---a graphic novel about the experiences of one girl who immigrated to the USA from South Korea. Many of her experiences were very unhappy. Print.
  • The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman---The second book in the series The Book of Dust. I loved every moment of my listening experience now want the third book, which isn't published yet, now! Audio.
  • Little Pierrot, Vol. 1, Get the Moon by Alberto Varanda---Another graphic novel. The illustrations were darling but I didn't understand the story line. Maybe there wasn't one. Print.
  • Cicada by Shaun Tan---a favorite artist and author of mine. This book is short and hilarious. Print.
  • The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown---It is ghastly what has happened and is happening to a whole group of Syrian refugees. No one wants them but they will die if they remain in Syria. The world has turned its back on them. So sad. This is another graphic/illustrated book. Print.
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving a Wider Distribution edited by Shaun Usher---The subtitle tells you about the book. I enjoyed this very much. Many of the letters caused me to do more research, too. Print.
  • The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett---a children's book which talks about the author of Goodnight Moon. Print.
Currently reading:
  • Lonesome Dove---I will be reading this book for a LONG time. It is 800+ pages long. Print.
  • Nanaville: Adventures in Babysitting by Anna Quindlen---An admired author is experiencing life as I am...as a grandparent. Print.
  •  I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley---the 4th book in the Flavia du Luce series. I got derailed a few years ago and am trying to get back to the series. We'll see if I am still interested. Audiobook.
Meet Fred and George:  Carly did not adopt one rescue cat but two. Their names are Fred and George, after the Weasley twins.

Fred, under the covers, and George, sitting up.

That seems like a good note to close on.

My prayer for you today, my readers, is that you find ways to delight yourself, learn new things, and enjoy your quiet days as we wait out this virus in seclusion.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Getting serious about reducing my TBR list

I had an hour to kill today. Why not drop by the library? While there I decided to check out a book or two. Why not, it is a library after all? I left with nine books in tow, all but one of them from my TBR list and I managed to place holds on a whole bunch of other titles that should be coming my way soon. Why so many books, you ask? Well, I am quite good at adding books to my TBR list and not so good at removing them (aka reading them.) Today I decided to do something about that. I may not decide to read each of them, or indeed to read all of each, if that makes sense. But I will have touched each one, and opened it up, and, with any luck, find my list shorter by eight books!

The Haul:
  • The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby
  • What to Read and Why by Francine Prose (Isn't that a great literary name?)
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience compiled by Shaun Usher (Super big and heavy but I'm already a third of the way through this one!)
  • Nanaville by Anna Quindlen
  • It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Wright (I am predicting that this one is the least likely to be carefully read. I predict quick perusing ahead.)
  • Cicada written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Sound the trumpet. This one is complete and it ended with a laugh.)
  • The Book of Books: Explore America's 100 Best-Loved Novels as Featured on the PBS Series--The Great American Read (Wait. This one wasn't on my TBR but should have been, is now!)
  • The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees written and illustrated by Don Brown
  • Little Pierrot: Vol 1, Get the Moon written and illustrated by Alberto Varanda
Best go. I have some reading to do!

3/14/2020---Lucky I got to the library when I did. They have closed the library due to the corona virus for at least three weeks. Whew!

Monday, March 9, 2020

TTT: Authors Who Have a Fun Web Presence

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors with a cool web presence 
 Among the usual stuff about the books she has written, there is a playlist of songs that she listens to when she writes and why she likes them.

Has different portals for children, teachers, and grownups. Creative just like his books. Lots of ideas fro teachers and for children explorers!

John has a very active web presence. In addition to his blog, he has a video blog with his brother, Hank, called vlogbrothers, and does podcasts on educational and interesting topics. 

I wouldn't say that this is the most creative author site but I included her because she is so creative, artistic and musical. 

Remember her from your board book days? She is so fun. Many of her books have been made into musical numbers. Here is my favorite: Personal Penguin. One can spend hours on her site. 

In addition to info about his books and his speaking engagements, he participates in a podcast called BOOKISH.

You probably haven't heard of Rhodes, at least as an author. That is because he is a classical pianist, but he has written a kick-ass YA book called PLAYLIST where he introduces readers to the original rock stars of music: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. He also created a playlist on Spotify for the book.

So many spin-off sites for fans. The creativity never ends.

I love his writing so it shouldn't surprise me that I would love his website, too. Bonus: It has a page dedicated to his quotes.

Wonderful presentation of her remarkable books.