"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=========

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday Salon: Fourth Sunday of Advent

The boys at Zoolights at Pt. Defiance Zoo in Tacoma

Pretty miserable. Rain and more rain.

Family news: (Just random stuff, in no particular order.)

  • We went to Zoolights this past week with our daughter and her family. We luckily were there for an hour between rain storms. Everything was sparkly and beautiful.
    Mt. Rainier is all lit up in the background

    We can't attend Seahawks games, but we can celebrate their fan base in lights

  • I taught at Gov. John R. Rogers High School for twenty years before moving to be a librarian at another school. RHS had many, many traditions especially around the holidays. Many of the traditions became precious to me particularly after my daughters attended the school and participated in them, too. One of these traditions involved the concert choir inviting all choir alumni to join them in singing "Thy Little Ones" during the yearly holiday concert. This year, with COVID restrictions in place, they continued the tradition but this time in a remote concert. Click the link here or watch the video below to listen to the RHS choir and many alums sing this beautiful song.

  •  The RHS Jazz Choir singing "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" at the holiday assembly was another yearly tradition. Both of my daughters were in Jazz Choir and can still sing the song. This week they sang it while I pointed for my grandson to the appropriate page in the book. This version of the song was originally recorded by Fred Waring and the Philadelphians in the 1940s. Click the link and enjoy this rarely heard song!
  • Dough art ornaments a bust. My daughters decided to create dough art ornaments of hand/paw prints our two grandchildren and all the pets. Only one turned out...the print of the fat cat, Fred, who must have put all his weight into it.
  • My youngest daughter turned 29 on Friday. I made the world's best cake for the occasion. If you are wondering where I got the recipe, look on the back of your Hersey's Cocoa container. It is the best. We played a new game which has a lot of potential to become a new favorite: Ticket to Ride.
  • We are watching Sanditon, the mini-series, for a second time and finding it lacking. Enjoy it once and call it good.
  • Typically this close to Christmas I would be frantically running around shopping, baking, decorating, visiting, mailing, fussing. This year I'm nearly done with the buying, all done with the mailing, and the baking seems pretty optional which leaves me time to sit around. And I find that I like it.
  • Keeping with the holiday theme I purchased a bar of homemade soap scented with frankincense and myrrh this year. I love the scents! Who knew?
  • Memories of a Christmas several years ago spent with friends near Mt. Rainier.

Other news:

  • It is only 31 days (one month) until Biden is inaugurated!
  • We have immigrants to thank for the COVID vaccines.  "Hungarian-born scientist Katalin Karikó believed in the potential of messenger RNA — the genetic molecule at the heart of two new COVID-19 vaccines — even when almost no one else did" (NPR).
  • Jupiter and Saturn meet in a 'great conjunction' tomorrow night, Dec. 21st. The last time such a great conjunction occurred was in 1623, and that was during daylight hours. "In the distant past, such alignments of the planets were seen as portents of things to come, from great fires and floods to the birth of Christ and the ultimate collapse of civilization" (Guardian). We are trying to figure out where to go so we can see it. Since it has been raining here our skies are definitely cloudy. A drive to Eastern Washington might be in order.
  • Deb Haaland, is the first Native American to be tapped as Interior Secretary in our history. This puts environmental justice front and center for the Biden Administration. (WaPo)
  • Pete Buttigieg will be the first openly gay cabinet member if confirmed for Transportation Secretary. Infrastructure here we come! (USA Today)

  • McKenzie Scott, ex-wife to Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon, has given almost $4.2 billion to higher education. "They came like gifts from a Secret Santa, $20 million here, $40 million there, all to higher education, but not to the elite universities that usually hog all the attention. These donations went to colleges and universities that many people have never heard of, and that tended to serve regional, minority and lower-income students" (NYT).

The favorite purple tree.


  • One of my two book clubs met this week to discuss The Library Book by Susan Orlean. We had a terrible discussion and I'm not sure why. I love the book but read it over a year ago. My lack of memory on the finer points may have led to our disastrous discussion. Or maybe, and this is probably it, the Zoom meeting format just didn't help.
  • Reading:
    • The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino. First published in 1975, I was planning on weeding this book from the church library. I've changed my mind. It is very spiritual. I'm trying to figure out if we can use it for our church book club as a future selection. (Print, 55%)
    • Ready, Player Two by Ernest Cline. I love the first book in this series, so of course I have to read this sequel. (Audio, 10%)
    • High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict's Double Life by Tiffany Jenkins. A book club selection. I'm questioning my judgment in selecting this one. We'll see if it improves. (Print, 48%)
  • Completed:
    • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This was a book club selection for December but our meeting was canceled due to pandemic restrictions. I think we will discuss it next time we gather. I liked the book and think we'll have lots to talk about.
    • Home for the Holidays: Stories and Art Created for the Benefit of Habitat for Humanity edited by Gene Stelten. I was tremendously disappointed by this collection. It was poorly curated and had little to offer in terms of gaining interest in this worthy charity---Habitat for Humanity. The other disappointment is that I've had this book for years, dutifully bringing it out every holiday with the other books of its ilk and now I know it was just wasting space. 
  • Check out this list of lists of the best books of 2020. The compiler of the list @ BooksAreMy FavouriteAndBest  looked at 52 end-of-year lists in publications and came up with a list of 50 of the best books based on the number of times they made it onto a list. Here are the top thirteen:
    • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (30 lists)
    • Luster by Raven Leilani (23 lists)
    • Deacon King Kong by James McBride (18-20 lists)
    • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (18-20 lists)
    • Leave the World Behind by Ruuman Alam (18-20 lists)
    • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (18-20 lists)
    • The Burning by Megha Majumdar (16-17 lists)
    • Real Life by Brandon Taylor (16-17 lists)
    • Weather by Jenny Offill (16-17 lists)
    • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (16-17 lists)
    • Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (16-17 lists)
    • Memorial by Brian Washington (16-17 lists)
    • The Glass Hotel by Emily Mandel (16-17 lists)


1. A friend and former colleague has been asked by his wife to hide the 'elf on the shelf.' He says the elf, who has been locked up for eleven months, just wants a little fun. His wife says these are not appropriate. Either way you have to admit that they are funny, naughty, and creative. Thanks Scott!



4. I agree with this statement. I don't want to think about the President every day. Do you?

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays!



  1. Ha! I love that only the fat cat ornament was a success! What a lovely way for the Rogers High School Choir to keep the tradition alive. Thanks for sharing that.. Christmas will just be the two of us, video chatting with the girls and many phone calls with Mom. Wishing your family and you a very Merry Christmas.

  2. Beautiful music. I don't think I have ever listened to as much beautiful music as I have during the pandemic.

    Someone recommended the audio version of Ready Player One, saying it was the best audiobook she had ever heard. I checked it out from the library this week and we have been listening to it in our spare moments. I have just requested the audio of Player Two.

    The lights at the zoo are lovely. We are contemplating a night walk one night next week just to see the lights in our town.

    I'm sorry your discussion did not go well. I have already read January and February books but I think I will reread them before the discussion.

    I'm still laughing at "Why does Trump think I would visit him in prison?"

    Merry Christmas, Anne!

  3. That Zoo light show is spectacular!
    I’m glad you found a way to safely uphold your holiday traditions.
    Seems like your friends elf is making the most of his freedom ;)

    Wishing you a great reading week and Merry Christmas 🎄

  4. Alison is in that Thy Little Ones virtual choir. Did you spot her? I hope we can manage a discussion about The Vanishing Half in January; it seems like it will be on Zoom too. I too have made several activities optional this Xmas. I haven't decorated and have no tree, but am still planning to do some baking. (mostly to give away)

    1. Yes. I did spot Allison, with Carly's help! I love it so much. I've always thought it was a strange song to make into a tradition but as I watch the singers I know it is a delightful choice. They all love it so much and it is unique.

  5. I should listen to Ready Player One on audiobook. That's a great idea. I tried to get into it a couple of years ago but I kept putting it down and never picked it back up.

    I loved the Vanishing Half as well. I hope you all have a great discussion on that.

    I'm hoping we're able to see the planet alignment tonight after sundown as well. It should be clear skies!

    Zoo lights are so fun. We went a few years ago to our local zoo and enjoyed them immensely.

    Those Barbie and Elf on the Shelf pics are hilarious!

    I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year's. Stay safe and warm!

  6. ha ha my husband and I are enjoying your funnies, especially the naughty Elf on the Shelf!

    Beautiful Zoolights!! You're lucky to have that :) A local performing arts venue here has put together a drive-through light display that I plan to get tickets to the week after Christmas. And what a lovely choir performance! I just love that kids (and others) have found ways to still perform this year - thanks for sharing.

    Time to sit around?? What's that? Enjoy!!

    I got my husband Ready Player Two for Christmas (shhh...) I can't wait to get my hands on it!

    Merry Christmas, Anne! Enjoy your lovely family -


    Book By Book

  7. Thank you for including the video of the high school choir and alumni singing. I have really felt like it isn't the holidays and I think it's because we haven't had our music on. I am not motivated. And all the good (and funny) news you share is much appreciated. Have a wonderful holiday!


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