"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=========

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Sunday Salon and Coronavirus diary, May 31st

"The Kiss" Photo credit: D. Bennett

Weather: We woke up to a thunderstorm on Saturday morning. The weather earlier in the week was perfect. We ate outside almost every meal and found ourselves just sitting on the deck enjoying ourselves.

Making memories: Last weekend we babysat our grandson. His mommy went to visit her sister in SF and his daddy had to work. So we got to have fun together. We went to the Washington coast one day. We planned the whole event so we were self-contained and didn't need to interact with anyone else. Ian had a great time. He ran away from waves and tunneled, with his finger, for clams. See photo above, where Ian is poking his thumb in clam holes and Bingley is giving him a big kiss. Everything about the day was perfect. It was not even that windy or cold at the beach.
     The next day we took the rocks we had decorated and hid them in the park which has a forested section. Ian was so earnest in finding just the right hiding spots and so proud of himself when we were done. Later he told his mommy all about each rock as they looked at this collage I made of the event.

Better Days: This video, with contributions from around the world, was centered around the OneRepublic song, "Better Days." I love watching these. I get so inspired by the message that we are all in this together and it won't last forever.
"Oh, I know that there'll be better days
Oh, that sunshine 'bout to come my way
May we never ever shed another tear for today
'Cause oh, I know that there'll be better days."

Republicans Against Trump: This webpage is dedicated to republicans and conservatives who cannot, will not support Trump any longer and will not vote for him in November. There are over 100 videos of their stories. I watched about 10-15 of them to get a flavor for the project. It left me feeling hopeful. If you know someone who has turned (from the dark side?), suggest they record their story here.

Humor in the time of the coronavirus, because we really need to laugh right now:
  • -This is really short so don't worry if you don't understand Spanish. Here a cooking demo doesn't go according to plan. ((Click the link. It is worth it. Come on. Don't skip this.)
  • -Creativity is really blossoming these days. Here's a twist on the Billy Joel hit, "Longest Time". I've watched it a bunch of times and enjoyed it over and over. Click play right on the screen.

  • - OK, this article isn't funny but it is about how humor can help ease stress during the pandemic. Click this link if you want to read more. This paragraph alone explains why I am including humor in my Sunday Salon posts.
    Humor helps people take back their sense of power in a powerless situation and it helps them connect with others—two things we have lost during this pandemic. And although there is nothing particularly funny about what we're going through, science suggests that those funny memes, crazy TikTok videos, and snarky online quotes may be just what we need to ease the overwhelming fear, anxiety, and grief many of us are dealing with on a daily basis.
Even dogs are practicing social distancing these days:
Even dogs are pracicing social distancing these days

No need to explain this one:

Or this one:

We're living a cartoon life now:

I know this is hard to read because it is cream on purple, but the description of the holiday, Koronakah, is so funny:

What is with all the anti-science people?

Summer Bummer: There's disappointment about Seafair (Seattle's summer festival) being canceled this year. But I can relate to the Seafair pirates who now have more time for puzzles. I think I just finished my 15th puzzle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Copyright: David Horsey, Seattle Times

And finally, what do you do if you are a sports broadcaster and sports are canceled?

BBC sports commentator narrates Australia's penguin parade in lockdown voiceover

  • Completed in the last two weeks:
    • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Audio. Carly's comment when I told her I was finally reading this book, "Everyone's favorite book in fourth grade." Well, I liked it a lot, too.
    • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Fred Rogers, with movie tie-in. Print. I loaned this one to my daughter after I finished it. I love Mr. Rogers.
    • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams. Audio. Sequel to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. So funny.
    • Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart. Audio. #3 book in the Kopp Sisters series. We were reading book #1 for book club that got canceled due to the pandemic so I am reading on.
    • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi. E-Book. Sadly this is a perfect book to enlighten me about the backdrop for what is happening in Minneapolis right now. The adult version of this YA book won the 2016 National Book Award for nonfiction. I highly recommend it.
  • Currently reading
    • So Big by Edna Ferber. Print. My Classics Club Spin selection. I'm supposed to be finished by tomorrow. I might make it. Depends on the weather. Good weather, unlikely. Bad weather, better chance. 60% complete.
    • The Water Dancer Ta-Nehesi Coates. Audio. Next month's book club selection. About slavery and the underground railroad. Heavy stuff for heavy times. 53%
What are Fred and George up to? This week my daughter shared photos of the boys that made me laugh. First they keep playing in the entertainment center, one on one level, the other on another. Don't you love those tails? Next, in the spirit of their forebears, the boys spent some time on the top of the refrigerator. All our cats have loved getting up on the fridge so they can have a high vantage point on the world. Since my daughter's apartment doesn't have a fridge the cats can access themselves, she put them up there. They seemed to like it.

Prayers for the family of George Floyd and for our nation right now.

Stay safe out there as your state/country starts to open up more.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review and quotes: CUCKOO'S CALLING by Robert Galbraith

Title: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Book Beginnings quote:
Though Robin Ellacott's twenty-five years of life had seen their moments of drama and incident, she had never before woken up in the certain knowledge that she would remember the coming day for as long as she lived.
Friday56 quote (from chapter 3, the farthest point in the preview):
His subconscious had become entangled with Charlotte again; it was a surprise to see the strange girl enter the room. She had taken off her coat to reveal a snugly, even seductively fitting cream sweater. Strike addressed her hairline.
Summary: Cormoran Strike is a private detective. Before his recent profession he was an MP in the military but had his leg blown off while serving in Afghanistan. The day we meet him he has just broken things off when his long time girl friend, Charlotte, and is down on his luck, even having to sleep in his office. Robin Ellacott is serving as his temporary secretary, which he can't really afford, but she is the most efficient person the agency has ever sent over. On the day she arrives so does a new job, one that should pay nicely, one Cormoran Strike is well suited to investigate.

Review: After J.K. Rowling finished her Harry Potter series she published an adult book in 2012, Casual Vacancy, which I purchased for my high school library. I thought my students were Rowling fans and would want to read her current stuff. I was wrong. American teenagers did not want to read her non-Harry Potter stuff and the book languished on the shelves unread. The following year when I learned that Rowling had published another adult book, this one under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, I decided against purchasing it for the library not wanting another of her books to sit around unread. Now that I've read Cuckoo's Calling I realize I just got my purchases backwards. I think my teen readers would have liked this book, a mystery and would have been interested in its sequels, too. Oh well. Can't go back in time, it is too late to rectify that flub.

I like reading mysteries so it is odd how few I actually read each year. The good thing about being a mystery fan without reading many of them, I am rarely disappointed in the plots. I didn't even figure out who committed the murder, like a lot of people say they did. I liked the writing, I even noticed a few of Rowling's brilliant turn-of-phrases that she is so famous for. I want to read on in the series and each successive book has better and better ratings. That is something to look forward to. Right now with the pandemic still raging, we are pretty much stuck at home. Serious books are not my reading choice these day, nor are docu-dramas on TV. Instead give me mysteries, action/adventure, or comedies. This book fit my needs nicely and I can recommend it to those of you who, like me, delayed reading it when it first came out.

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.

Qualifier: 459 oages


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Big Book Summer Challenge

Once again, I am going to sign up for the Big Book Summer challenge! This challenge is hosted by Sue at Book by Book. Usually I don't sign up until I have completed a BIG book but I am trusting I will finish at least one big book this summer, considering I started one today! Ha!

The rules are simple: 

  • Anything 400 pages or more qualifies as a big book.
  • The challenge will run from Memorial Day weekend (starting May 22 this year) through Labor Day weekend (Labor Day is September 7 this year).
  • Choose one or two or however many big books you want as your goal. Wait, did you get that?  You only need to read 1 book with 400+ pages this summer to participate! (though you are welcome to read more, if you want).
  • Sign up on the first links list below if you have a blo so others can visit (or in the comments below or in the Goodreads group if you don't have a blog).
  • Write a post to kick things off - you can list the exact big books you plan to read or just publish your intent to participate, but be sure to include the Big Book Summer Challenge pic above, with a link back to this blog.
  • Write a post to wrap up at the end, listing the big books you read during the summer.
  • You can write progress posts if you want to and/or reviews of the big books you've read...but you don't have to! There is a separate links list below for big book reviews or progress update posts. Pretty easy challenge, right?!

So let me look over my TBR and see what big books I might read this summer.
Have you read any of these? Where should I start?


Monday, May 25, 2020

TTT: Humorous Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday: 
Funny or humorous opening lines to favorite books

“A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head.”
–A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

“Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food.”
–Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
–I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”
–Feed by M.T. Anderson

"The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house on that cold, cold wet day."
 -The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had the occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.” –Stiff by Mary Roach

“I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem.”
–The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

“All of this happened, more or less.”
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“I’m pretty much f*cked.”
–The Martian by Andy Weir

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.”
-A River Runs Through It by Norman MacLean

“The story so far:  In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
-The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

"Long ago, when I was a junior high student in Iowa, I remember being taught by a biology teacher that all the chemicals that make up the human body could be bought at a hardware store for $5.00 or something like that." 
-The Body: A Guide to the Occupants by Bill Bryson

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number 4, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

[Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Artsy Reader Girl.]


Friday, May 22, 2020


Title: The Restaurant At the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

Book Beginnings quote:
The story so far:  In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
Friday56: quote:
'What a depressingly stupid machine,' said Marvin and trudged away.
Other favorite quotes:
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened. 
The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. //To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. //To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy offers this definition of the word "Infinite". Infinite: Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, "wow, that's big", time. Infinity is just so big that by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we're trying to get across here. 
The little waiter's eyebrows wandered about his forehead in confusion. 

Review (of sorts): I came to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy party late in life. But when I finally did arrive, I enjoyed every minute of the experience. Adam's zany sense of humor, the jokes, the funny-sounding names, and a bit of a mystery attached to a particular number. I laugh when I think about the book.

Laughing is what I want to do these days due to the pandemic situation, so I opted to read the second book in the Hitchhiker's Guide series, The Restaurant At the End of the Universe. It is just as silly as the first book but maybe not as funny...or maybe the same funniness so it seemed predictable on that score. But I did laugh and it was worth the time for that reason and the quotes. Oh, the quotes. You know the book is going to be funny right from the start with the questioning if the universe should have been created in the first place. The quote from page 56 is from Marvin, the depressed robot. We met him in the first book and he is always good for several laughs.The other quotes I picked all make me smile or even laugh out loud. My favorite is the quote about anyone who thinks they should be President, shouldn't be. That seems really obvious right now with Trump as ours...totally unqualified but he thinks he is the best. Ugh.

Just in case you are wondering, there is a tiny plot in The Restaurant At the End of the World. Zaphod Beeblebrox has been tasked with locating the person who is really in charge of the universe, since he, the President of the Universe, knows it isn't him. Douglas Adams seemed to have an endless imagination for creative names and places, all of them funny.

I listened to the audiobook read by Martin Freeman. His name alone makes me laugh since the robot is named Martin and he wishes to be free, but I digress. The first book in the series was narrated by Stephen Fry, one of the best at his craft. Though Freeman did a fine job, I missed Fry's narration. It is a perfect book to digest in the audio format, allowing for the narrator to help with comedic timing of the jokes and, if one loses their place as sometimes happened when listening to the audio narration, no bid deal. You won't miss any of the plot, since the plot is almost missing anyway.

The third book in the series, Life, The Universe, and Everything, has been added to my TBR pile. Who knows I may get to it sooner than later.

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.

Happy Stay-at-home Memorial Day Weekend!

Monday, May 18, 2020

TTT: What I love about being a reader

Top Ten Tuesday: What I love about being a reader

1. I always have something to do that I enjoy, even when I am doing something I don't like waiting for an appointment.

2. I often have read the book before the movie comes out, so I have consumed the superior source first.

3. Most of my best friends are also readers so we always have something to discuss---what we are reading.

4. I know where to go to find new information and I enjoy reading books where I learn something new. As a librarian I used to tell people who wold ask me for information that I was a generalist---that I know a little bit about a lot of stuff, but I know where to find more information.

5. I usually have lots of book ideas for gifts.

6. Unless I am late for a meeting or an appointment, I don't mind getting stuck in traffic because I always have an audiobook going in the car. Traffic jams just give me more time to listen to my story.

7. Books help create special family moments---books we read together every year at Christmas; snuggling with children or grandchildren and a book; family car trips listening to audiobooks en route.

8. Books can help quiet the negative chatter in my head these days of negative news and politics---poetry, nature essays, inspiring stories are the obvious choices, but right now I am enjoying humorous books the most. I need to keep the laughter coming just to survive.

What do you like about being a reader?


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Sunday Salon and Coronavirus diary, May 16

Every Sunday we "attend" church at the First United Methodist Church of Eugene (pictured) and our church here in Washington State. One good thing about on-line church, we can attend services wherever we want. Doesn't it look like Hebrew symbols in the light? I am so inspired by this photo. The above photo was taken by Adam Briddell.
Weather: Mostly rainy, with moments of  glorious spring weather interspersed throughout the day.

Habbakuk: This week in my Zoom Bible Study class we turned, for a short time, to a minor prophet: Habbakuk. (The book is found near the end of the Old Testament.) We were all blown away by the scripture as it spoke to our situation today with the coronavirus pandemic. Here are a few of my insights.
  • Hab. 1:2-4 essentially asks, "Why is this happening?" with questions like: "How long, O Lord, must I call for help? Why do you tolerate wrong? Strife and conflict abound but the law is paralyzed and justice never prevails or is perverted." Don't you want to ask God why this pandemic is happening? I understand that the pandemic and climate change are all wrapped up together. We have harmed our environment so much that viruses can escape the wild population of animals we should have no contact with.
  • Hab. 1:5 is the Lord's answer: "Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed. For I am doing something in your days that you would not believe." He hasn't abandoned us. He is moving. His answer will utterly amaze us. One good thing about the pandemic is we are using less fossil fuels worldwide. It is predicted that greenhouse emissions will fall 8%--the largest decrease ever. (NPR) Could this be one of those utterly amazing things?
  • Hab. 2:1 says, "I will stand at my watch. I will wait to see what God has to say to me about these complaints." This scripture reminds me that I need to move my focus off of myself and back onto God.
  • Hab. 2:3-4 is God's reply, "The revelation awaits the appointed time." God's timing, not my timing.
  • Hab. 3 is one long prayer where Habbakuk remembers all the good things God has done and even if things are bad (no fruit on the vine, no olives on the trees, no animals in the pen) we should still praise God for he is good. "The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go to the heights" (v. 19). In other words he is preparing me to be part of the answer. I don't know why we are going through this time of personal isolation, but I do know that God is with each of us right now. There's your sermon for today.
My town should be famous: because it clearly has the hugest rhododendron around. See photo above. (Okay, I see it is two bushes, but they are still huge.) Notice the plants are taller than a house! Not my house, though. I just noticed it as we were driving home from the store yesterday. We had to take a long detour to come back around to snap the photo.

  • Completed this week---
    • XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century by Campbell McGrath---a very clever collection of poems that started at the beginning of the century and moved to the end of it. Each poem covered some event or an important person living during that time period. For example, Picasso had several poems since he lived for a majority of the century. Print.
    • Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais---set in South Africa during the late 1970s in the midst of apartheid. A young white girl and a black mother come to mean very much to each other as both are grappling with grief and aspects of apartheid. Audiobook.
  • Currently reading---
    • Big by Edna Ferber---this is my Classics Club Spin book. Written in the 1920s, it was a Pulitzer Prize winner. 25%, e-book.
    • The Restaurant At the End of the World by Douglas Adams. This is the sequel to a favorite book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe. I relish lighthearted things right now. Can't get much more lighthearted than this. 40%. Audiobook.
The best picture in my head: My husband (Taw-paw Don) and my grandson playing rock-n-roll on the Guitar Hero guitars. Well actually, they pretended to play. Ian would do everything his grandpa would do including jumping up and down and leaning back while crouching on the ground. So cute. Of course, I didn't take an actual photo. Dang!

Now for some coronavirus-related humor:
I'm pretty sure all of my appliances are saying these exact words. Though I don't wear pajamas all day, I have been wearing the same clothes for days on end. And I can't believe how often we have to run the dishwasher.
I'm sure this Senator from Arizona meant well. She just misspoke. She meant to say "Asymptomatic" which is very different than "asymmetric." Ha!
Imagine being this newscaster when he discovered what the sign behind his head actually said, not what it was supposed to say. This goof-up really cracks me up.
I am often shocked at how many people in my country are anti-science. This is not so much funny as it is mystifying, really.
I actually wonder if there is anyone who voted for Trump in 2016 that wishes he or she voted for Clinton. Anyone? Think how things would be different if we had someone in charge who really cared about the country and didn't want people to die from this disease.
Seems about right.
Be careful out there. Even if your state opens up early, it still isn't necessarily safe to return to "normal" activities.
What are Fred and George up to this week?
George explores a cupboard he's never noticed before.
Which reminds my daughter, a Beatrix Potter fan, of Duchess in The Pie and the Patty Pan
While his brother was exploring the upper cupboard, Fred was enjoying the lower drawer, which happened to be empty at the time (except for the cat.)
In a quieter moment, the boys pose for a photo together while they survey their domain.
I'll leave you with this thought: It was posted on Facebook by my sister, a preschool teacher. I think it is very apropos---
Stay safe and healthy!