"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=========

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Review: SIPSWORTH (+Friday56 Sign-in)


Title:
Sipsworth by Simon Van Booy

Book Beginning quote: 

Helen Cartwright was old with her life broken in ways she could not have foreseen.

Friday56 quote: 

The last stop before checkout is the dried good section, from which Helen draws one sleeve of digestive biscuits. Impulsively, she parks her trolley and returns to where there are small packets of unsalted party nuts on hooks at the end of the aisle. She has her tart and her biscuits -- why shouldn't the mouse get something, too?

Summary:

Over the course of a single week, a woman who is ready to die discovers an unexpected reason to live.

Following the deaths of her husband and son, Helen Cartwright returns to the English village of her childhood after living abroad for six decades. Her only wish is to die quickly and without fuss. Helen retreats into her home on Westminster Crescent, becoming a creature of routine and habit. Then, one cold autumn night, a chance encounter with an abandoned pet mouse on the street outside her house sets Helen on a surprising journey of friendship.

Sipsworth is a reminder that there can be second chances. No matter what we have planned for ourselves, sometimes the world has plans of its own. (Publisher)

Review: Sipsworth is a sweet, short story about the importance of connections in our lives. It might be a pet, as the small mouse named Sipsworth, that provides the comfort and urge to go on or it may be one's willingness to be open to the care from other people. Sipsworth is a short novella, 240 pages in length with short chapters and lots of white space on the pages. It can easily be consumed in one sitting. 

Now that I am done with the book I hope to buy a copy for my mother, age 95, who tries awfully hard to retain friendships and human connections but often has to lean in to her friendship with her dear cat, Juniper. I know she will appreciate it, too.


2024 Twenty Books of Summer Challenge

6 / 20 books. 30% done!




Sign up for The Friday56 on the Inlinkz below. 

As many of you know Freda over at Freda's Voice hosted #Friday56 for many years. On September 7, 2023 she told us she was going through some personal stuff and could no longer host. I've attempted to reach her but have had no reply. So I will host The Friday56 until she comes back. Help me communicate with past participants so they can figure out where and how to find me, please post this post's URL on your blog. Don't forget to drop a comment on my post also! Thanks.

Also visit Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader and First Line Friday hosted by Reading is My Super Power to share the beginning quote from your book.

RULES:

*Grab a book, any book
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader
(If you want to improvise, go ahead!)
*Find a snippet, but no spoilers!
*Post it to your blog and add your url to the Linky below. If you do not add the specific url for your post, we may miss it!


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
-Anne

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A compare and contrast of two short story collections


I recently returned from a trip. I like to carry short story collections with me when I travel figuring that I can easily consume a story or two on a flight, train trip, or at the end of an exhaustive day. For this trip I selected Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders and Too Much Happiness: Stories by Alice Munro. I selected these books for the same reason: the authors were both regarded as excellent short story writers and both had received awards for doing so. 

Tenth of December was a National Book Award finalist in 2013, won The Story Prize that same year, and The Writer's Prize in 2014. In addition, George Saunders wrote an excellent book, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, analyzing the art of the short story. Reading that book felt like taking a class by a master himself.

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, cited as a "master of the modern short story." She also won the Booker International Prize in 2009 for her overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. Many say she revolutionized the architecture of the short story, especially in the tendency to move backward and forward in time. She could "accommodate the entire epic complexity of the novel in just a few short pages." Alice Munro just died in past May 2024 and I wanted to read something by her as a sort of memorial to this genius of the form. I also had a used copy of Too Much Happiness on my book shelf. It has been hanging out there for many years. If I finished it on the trip I would have no trouble leaving it behind.

Unfortunately for me and for Tenth of December, I started the Saunders book first when I was in the throws of rather surprisingly bad jet lag and cold symptoms. Every evening as I was settling down to bed I'd crack open the book but could only muster a page or two of the story before my desire for sleep overwhelmed my desire to read. Saunders stories were longer than I expected and it would sometimes take me days to finish just one story. Because of this I found that I would lose the thread of the story, forget characters, or just didn't "like" many of them. I was also surprised by the number of stories that I would consider Sci-Fi or futuristic, though one of these stories is the clearest of all the stories in my memory. "Escape from Spiderland" is about a man, Jeff, who is convicted of a crime and sent to an experimental prison where he becomes a guinea pig for the development of pharmaceuticals. The ending is chilling. I found "The Semplica Girl Dairies" too long and frankly hard to follow. It took me days to read and I kept forgetting what all the abbreviations meant. When I read the summary of this story in Wikipedia, I realized I never actually figured out what was going on at all. I left this collection of stories in the Munich airport, with the story which gave its name to the book half unread. I probably should have stopped earlier. I hope someone picked it up and enjoyed and appreciated it more than I did.

That left me with Too Much Happiness for my trip home. With my jet lag and cold symptoms under control, I could better focus on my reading and immediately found Munro's writing style easy to understand and enjoyable. I no longer had to guess at the plot or wonder about the setting. In fact, I could picture the settings for almost all the stories. My favorite stories in the collection were both quirky with surprising endings. "Free Radicals" focuses on Nina an elderly woman whose husband has recently died and she is confronted by a home intruder. "Child's Play" focuses on two young girls who meet at camp and their lives are forever intertwined by events from that summer.

Clearly I liked the Munro collection better than the Saunders' one. But, I should say, Saunders' novel Lincoln in the Bardo is a masterpiece, and so is his aforementioned, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. I like his writing I just didn't care for this collection of stories by him. Even though Munro stopped writing in 2013, I would still recommend you try one of her collections if you want to read some excellent short stories.



2024 Twenty Books of Summer Challenge

5 / 20 books. 25% done!


 


-Anne

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Review: REREADINGS: SEVENTEEN WRITERS REVISIT BOOKS THEY LOVE

Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love
edited by Anne Fadiman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. 2005.

I picked up Rereadings at a used bookstore years ago. Why this book? First, I had read Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris and loved LOVED it. I devoured that book with a fat highlighter in my hand. Ultimately the whole books became one big highlighted section after another. Perhaps this book was just as good. Second, rereading books is always a problem for me. Should I or shouldn't I? I wondered what authors thought of rereading their favorite books? If they thought it was a worthwhile practice. I decided to find out. As Fadiman said in her opening essay about the project, "The problem with being ravished by books at an early age is that later rereadings are often likely to disappoint."

Last summer I finally plucked Rereadings off my bookshelf and then very unceremoniously placed it in the bathroom where it could be easily reached if one were to spend more time in the small room and needed a diversion. 😏. One never makes fast progress with this type of book and indeed it took me over a year to complete it. Due to the slowness of the reading I would often lose my way and have to start essays over again from the beginning. I even read one essay three or four times before I realized I'd already completed it. Not ideal. 

The rereadings project began when Fadiman became the editor of a literary quarterly, The American Scholar. It was decided that each issue would contain an essay written by an author after rereading a book they read and enjoyed before they were twenty-five. This book is a collection of Fadiman's seventeen favorite essays from that endeavour. She purposely selected essays that were dissimilar and from authors from all around the world. Of the seventeen authors included, I've only heard of one before, Allegra Goodman. Of the books these authors reread I have only read two, Brideshead Revisited and Pride and Prejudice. About the books I hadn't read, some of the authors wrote in such a way it didn't matter if I were familiar with them or not. It was more like reading a short autobiography where the author showed how the particular book helped guide them through some life issue or another. Imagine the author's delight to learn that the book still had something to say to them decades later. But other writers assumed that readers of the essay were familiar with the book they reread and their essays were difficult to slog through.

My favorite essay was written by David Michaelis. He is a biographer and was born the same year as me, 1957.  He didn't reread a book. He reread the liner notes for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by the Beatles. As a ten-year-old he used his own money and bought of copy of the famed album. Often, he said, he would sit and read the liner notes without the music playing.
I settled into the habit of sitting cross-legged and alone, ostentatiously studying Sgt. Pepper's words without playing the stereo at all. It was a deliberate act to read the Beatles without the music. Using my eye instead of of ear to ransack the lyrics for hidden adult meanings turned even a ten-year-old into a seeker of ambiguity, an investigator of the imagination, a devotee of poetry... My true experience of Sgt. Pepper was as a reader.
On his rereading of the liner notes, Michaelis noticed how the fantastical world created in Sgt. Pepper was still dependent on the real world. Sgt. Pepper was supposed to be about a world before 1967 but looking back Michaelis saw that world, the one created by and for the Beatles, as very THEN.

When I read the essay about Sgt Pepper liner notes, I bookmarked it and asked my husband, also born in 1957, to read it. He did and then we had a very animated discussion about our memories of reading liner notes on albums as we were growing up. Both of us spent much time sitting in front of our stereo players with the record album turned to the back side or open like a book, scrutinizing the lyrics to every song. In case you were born after 1980 you may not know what I am talking about. See photo below:
It is thought that Sgt. Pepper was the first pop album to include all the lyrics on the back of the record sleeve. The print was tiny, but legible, at least in the beginning until it got worn away from use. Not long after The Beatles started including lyrics on their albums, all rock/pop groups did the same thing. And it got more and more elaborate. Here is an example of the liner notes inside the double album of Elton John's 1973 Yellow Brick Road which my husband owned and loved:

But I digress.

The point of my examples and all the essays is that rereading book (or liner notes) won't render the same experience we had when first we read them, but the second (third or more) time will render something new and probably just as delightful. "Is a book the same book—or a reader the same reader—the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never...And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book."

Instead of reading this book about rereading, I challenge you to reread an old favorite today. Maybe you will find yourself falling down an old rabbit hole to wonder and joy you once experienced as as a young reader.



2024 Twenty Books of Summer Challenge

3 / 20 books. 15% done!


 


Monday, June 17, 2024

TTT: My Summer Reading List (+How I Did On The Spring List)


Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Reading List. 
Below the line is how I did on my spring reading list.
 
Summer reading list: (Note: I am participating in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge. I created the hyperlinked list for that challenge but will organize it into categories here to be consistent with past seasonal lists.)

Book Club Selections:
  1. Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler (July, Group #1)
  2. Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn (August, Group #1)
  3. Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips (August, Group #2) 
  4. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (September, Group #1) 

Challenge Books:
  1. Classics Club Spin Book TBA from this list 
  2. A Past Pulitzer Prize winner from list
  3. Printz Award winner or honor book from this list -- The Collectors: Stories edited by A.S. King
  4. My One Big Book Challenge book -- Wolf Hall by Mantel 
  5. Big Book Summer Challenge -- The Women by Kristen Hannah
  6. Women's Prize winner or finalist (announced later this week)--  possibly Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan
     
Books I've already started, recently acquired, have on-hold at the library, or the remaining books on my 20 Books of Summer Challenge list:
  1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
  2.  Wandering Star by Tommy Orange
  3.  North Woods by Daniel Mason
  4.  The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
  5.  The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
  6.  Gather by Kenneth Cadow
  7.  The Bee Sting by Paul Murray
  8.  Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  9.  Symphony of Secrets Brendan Slocomb
  10. Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot
  11. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro 
 
 
 

Update: How I did on my spring reading list.
Highlighted yellow: completed. 
Highlighted aqua: in progress or dnf
Highlighted green:  not completed, DNF or currently reading
Highlighted light pink: Did not get to yet!

Spring reading list:

Book Club Selections:

  1. Braiding Sweetgrass by Kimmerer (April, Group #1)
  2. West With Giraffes by Rutledge (April, Group #2)
  3. Klara and the Sun by Ishiguro (May, Group #1)
  4. The Vaster Wilds by Groff (May, Group #2)
  5. Plainsong by Haruf (June, Group #1)
  6. The River We Remember by Krueger (June, Group #2)

Challenge Books:

  1. Classics Club Spin Book TBA from this list -- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  2. A Past Pulitzer Prize winner from list --  Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips (75% complete, current winner, announced in May.)
  3. Printz Award winner or honor book from this list -- The Collectors: Stories edited by A.S. King (10% complete)
  4. My One Big Book Challenge book -- Wolf Hall by Mantel
  5. April Poetry Month: -- The Kissing of Kissing by Hannah Emerson

Books I've already started, recently acquired, and/or have on-hold at the library:

  1. My Brilliant Friend by Ferrante
  2. The Fraud by Zadie Smith
  3. The Bee Sting by Murray (Though I just got this book from the library and will likely start it this week.)
  4. The Symphony of Secrets by Slocumb
  5. Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot  (25% complete)
  6. No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler
  7. Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright: Poems edited by Waters, et al (30% complete, have set aside as a DNF)

I didn't do as good as usual at finishing my reading list but this time I have a few excuses:  

  • -First, I was gone from home for five weeks out of this time period on vacation and traveling. I always think I can read more on vacations than I actually do or that my husband will agree to listen with me to audiobooks which he does not agree to, such as Wolf Hall and The Symphony of Secrets. I did read 31 books in the Spring time period, which is very average for me, I just didn't necessarily read the books I thought I was going to read when I made the list.
  • -Secondly, the library just delivered two of the books to my in-box/or for pick up: Bee Sting and The Collectors. I placed holds on them months ago and had to wait this long for my turn.
  • Thirdly, I should get credit for reading a ton of (okay, seven) poetry books during National Poetry Month in April. I just couldn't make myself finish Tiger, Tiger. It might be the size. The book is huge!

I still want to read/finish all the books highlighted in pink or green, with the exception of Tiger, Tiger so I'll add them back onto my Summer reading list.

-Anne

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sunday Salon: Friends and Family edition

Three sisters. The sightseers. Traveling with my sisters was so special

Weather:
Overcast, occasional rain showers. Temperatures in the low 60s. Yesterday we had a few hail storms followed by sunbreaks.

Trip update: Last Sunday I promised I would give a fuller account of my recent trip after I recovered from jet lag. I did that in my Top Ten Tuesday post, Favorite Moments from a Recent Trip. I have received lots of positive comments about that post which made me realize that the format of showing photos and making brief comments is one that my readers enjoy more than talk, talk, talk. Please take a look at that post if you missed it. Today I decided to fill in a few more details of the trip and the week following the trip by focusing on my friends and family.

Reason for the trip: my siblings and I wanted to reconnect with our family in Norway, especially so our youngest sister, who hasn't been to Norway since 1969, could see the sites in the homeland of our grandfather. We also wanted to spend time with our niece and her family, which included spending time with her two-year-old son we'd only met for moments before it was determined that the family had COVID and we shouldn't be around them. Of course, sightseeing was a bonus.

We all wanted to make the trip to visit Hroar, our mother's third cousin, and his wife Astri (left) and their daughter, Eva. When Mom made the initial contact with her father's family in Norway in 1969 she didn't know about Hroar and his family. We visited with other family members, most who have passed now, including our grandfather's second cousin who looked just like Grandpa. Later, when Mom learned about Hroar, she struck up a friendship which led to visits both directions: Norway to USA/ USA to Norway. Hroar has done a lot of research on the family line and has everything printed out so we can see our family connections. His grandfather and our mom's grandfather were brothers. Eva, Hroar and Astri's daughter, is our contemporary. She and her husband Guttman very generously housed, fed us, and showed us around during our stay in Vikersund.


Here is Eva with my sisters, Kathy (sitting) and Grace. We were waiting for our order of delicious and famous waffles. The weather was mostly lovely during our whole trip, with sunny skies worthy of all the beautiful photos we took.


The waffles were as delicious as they looked. Eva joked that the local paper had reported some people thought the waffles weren't as good as last year, rolling her eyes at the level of news in the paper.

In addition to being toured around the county by Eva, her cousin, Per Ole, took a turn showing us around. Here he is with his mother, She is Astri's sister-in-law. Per Ole is not really our cousin but he is related to our cousin, so we claim him. We met Per Ole Bøe when he was going to school at Washington State University 25 years ago. It was so fun reconnecting with him. We not only got to see the old Fossen family farms, we also got to see the old Bøe farms as well. Norway has a remarkable system of saving family farms and it really gives the countryside an old-timey feel. At the end of our touring around the countryside, Per treated us to a fjord-view lunch. I had trout and it was delicious. In 1979 when I visited Norway with my friend Anne Marie, my relatives took us out for a fancy meal and I had trout. It was so yummy I've never forgotten it. Now I've had two yummy trout meals in Norway. Keep that in mind if you ever visit.

When Per Ole dropped us off, Eva was sitting on her porch with her son, daughter-in-law, and her darling and very social granddaughter. Hroar assigned each generation a number on his family document. Eva and my sisters and I are 'sixes.' Our children are 'sevens.' And our grandchildren are 'eights.' We don't think his numbering system lines up with the numbering system on heritage.com but it works for us. Eva didn't think her son would like to visit us in the US until we mentioned our children (other 'sevens') being at the same stage of life he is. We are so lucky to have connections with our Norwegian roots through Hroar and Eva and her family, and vicariously through Per Ole, our friend.


A few items in the Fossen gård store. I think the owner said some of the furniture was from the old house.
The Fossen family farm (gård) is no longer owned by anyone in our family line but it is still being run as a farm. The women who owns it even runs a little shop full of foods she has grown or foraged. I only bought little trinkets for my grandsons but my sisters both bought some dried mushrooms to carry home that were foraged from the woods near the old farm. 

How lucky are we? Three American women who have such a loving family to visit and get to know across the Atlantic in the homeland of our grandfather. So many people have told me that their grandparents were also from Norway but they don't know any of their Norwegian relatives. Thank you Mom and Hroar for doing the work of making connections.

After we left Norway, we flew to Munich, Germany to visit our niece. We experienced a new side to our relationships: Great aunts with a new member of our family and solidifying our connections with Samantha and her husband. We did some sightseeing but the best part of the visit was hanging out and getting to know the little family better.

Samantha (left) and Kathy kissing our grand-nephew on his head. We were asked not to share any images of the little guy and I will honor that!

Here we are at beer garden not far from our niece's home. It was a lovely evening and the service the best we had in all of Germany. Traveling helps us to not only to learn about other cultures but also to appreciate the positive aspects of living in other countries. Samantha shared many positive things about her life in Germany like the excellent health care and the low food costs. I would add public transportation and amenities like having a grocery store and a beer garden just down the block!

We had a fantastic trip and it was made more wonderful by the people we interacted with along the way.

After I arrived home just a week ago it was hard to slip back into the rhythm of life at home. Thankfully I had a few happy events to look forward to:

Lunch with Gail, Rita, and Anne -- best friends in junior high school days. It was a delightful reunion of old friends. What stories we had to swap!

Attending the 6th birthday party for my cousin's grandson. What a Star War-sy celebration. Love, love our family!

After the party our immediate family came over to celebrate Father's Day together (a day early). We ate t-Bone steak, a rarity, and laughed together. Our eldest grandson told us next to his parents he loves being with us best. (But my youngest grandson told me he didn't love me, so bad news tempered good news!😀) We didn't take any family photos of the event. How many times do we celebrate our togetherness without memorializing them with photos? But I will share one photo taken by my daughter of our young grandson who got into the raspberries set aside for dessert -- they were are big as strawberries!

Photo credit: R. Adams


This coming week our whole family will gather to say goodbye to one of us. Our dear cousin-in-law died earlier this year from esophageal cancer. This coming Saturday we will gather to celebrate her life.

I know that I am lucky to have so many loving connections in my life. 

I have been reading, blogging, and finishing books but I'll save that update until next week.

Love to you, my blogging friends!  Have a lovely week.

-Anne



Friday, June 14, 2024

Review: THE SWIMMERS: A NOVEL


Several years ago I read a National Book Award finalist, The Buddhas in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. I liked it very much for its uniqueness. The author used a technique where all the Picture Brides coming to America from Japan speak in one collective voice. "Some of us are from the city, some of us are from the country..." Readers meet these women as a whole and confront biases as they look at the whole. It was a very clever book and I appreciated it a lot.

In The Swimmers, Otsuka uses the same technique. The swimmers at this underground pool speak in unison, a collective "we" about their swimming experiences. See the example below from page two of the book:

There is one exception to the collective, only one person is named. "One of us -- Alice, a retired lab technician now in the early stages of dementia -- comes because she always has." After the swimming pool is closed permanently because it is starting to crack apart, the focus shifts from the swimmers to Alice as she is moved to a memory care facility. For a while the chorus shifts to the care facility itself as it reviews all of its many rules and advantages but ultimately the focus returns to Alice as she sinks further and further into dementia.
 
As with the earlier book by Otsuka, one has to be willing to suspend reading expectations and settle into a very different reading experience. With The Swimmers I came to appreciate how helpful it is to be involved in a physical activity and how, by contrast, devastating dementia is over time. Reading is is almost like reading poetry with very artistic prose. The book is very short-- I'd consider it a novella -- and I think it is worth your consideration.
 


2024 Twenty Books of Summer Challenge

2 / 20 books. 10% done!



 

 

-Anne


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Review: GO AS A RIVER (+Friday56 Sign In)


Title:
Go As a River by Shelley Read

Book Beginnings quote: 
I imagine what lingers on the black bottom of a lake.
Friday56 quote:
I startled when she reached out, two snow-white palms with splayed twisted fingers thrusting toward me as if to push me to the ground. I recoiled and sped away as best I could. As I did, I noticed her ramshackle black bicycle flung among the dead daisies in the roadside ditch.

Summary:

On a cool autumn day in 1948, Victoria Nash delivers late-season peaches from her family's farm set amid the wild beauty of Colorado. As she heads into her village, a disheveled stranger stops to ask her the way. How she chooses to answer will unknowingly alter the course of both their young lives.

So begins the mesmerizing story of split-second choices and courageous acts that propel Victoria away from the only home she has ever known and towards a reckoning with loss, hope and her own untapped strength.

Gathering all the pieces of her small and extraordinary existence, spinning through the eddies of desire, heartbreak and betrayal, she will arrive at a single rocky decision that will change her life forever. (Publisher)

Review: Go As a River by Shelley Read is a selection for an upcoming book club meeting. When the members were choosing books for future meetings Go As a River came up several times as an option and got rave comments by many. I mistakenly thought these members had read the book based on their comments so I ran out and read the book even before it was an official choice. As I read it I kept wondering what I was missing that the others found so compelling. Not until the next meeting did I learn that none of the book club members had read the book yet, they were basing their remarks on what they had read about the book. Oh, so maybe I won't be the only one to think the book is fine, just fine, but not extraordinary? We'll see. Then, before I had a chance to write my review, I went on a two week trip to Europe with my sisters. After my return I sat down to write this review and I realized another problem with the book -- I could barely remember it. You know all those important things that make up a good story -- plot, characters, setting -- were poof, gone! I had to review the book in order to write a review! Ha! Now I understand that probably any book would have come in at a lower volume in the wake of the wonderful trip I had, but gone? (Ha-ha. I just noticed the quote on the book cover, "Completely unforgettable." I guess I beg to differ.)

So let me just say this -- Go As a River is a fine story. It is set in Colorado. It involves family drama, trials, loneliness and racism, yes, racism. It is a sad story, but also a redeeming one. My advise, if you read it, don't leave the review to simmer for long, especially with a wonderful trip in between. And if you do select it, will you circle back and let me know what you think of it? I am terribly curious.


Sign up for The Friday56 on the Inlinkz below. 

As many of you know Freda over at Freda's Voice hosted #Friday56 for many years. On September 7, 2023 she told us she was going through some personal stuff and could no longer host. I've attempted to reach her but have had no reply. So I will host The Friday56 until she comes back. Help me communicate with past participants so they can figure out where and how to find me, please post this post's URL on your blog. Don't forget to drop a comment on my post also! Thanks.

Also visit Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader and First Line Friday hosted by Reading is My Super Power to share the beginning quote from your book.

RULES:

*Grab a book, any book
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader
(If you want to improvise, go ahead!)
*Find a snippet, but no spoilers!
*Post it to your blog and add your url to the Linky below. If you do not add the specific url for your post, we may miss it!

 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
-Anne

Monday, June 10, 2024

TTT: Favorite moments from my recent trip

The Three Sisters. Photo taken atop the Fortress in Salzburg, Austria.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Moments from a Recent Trip
I am not only off topic today, I am not even talking about books. Here are my top moments on a recent trip to Norway, Germany, and Austria with my sisters. 
We called it the Three Sisters Trip.

1a. We found the actual waterfall from which my grandfather's surname was derived. On previous visits to Norway we had found the falls but without much water. With a wet spring before our arrival, we were treated to this view, which felt like a victory since we had to search for the trail to this vantage point. Our mother has an oil painting of the falls and it matches almost identically.



1b. Connecting with our Norwegian relatives. My mom's cousin, Hroar (center), his wife (Astri) and daughter, Eva. Hroar has done exhaustive research on our family lines and has written it all down. One evening Eva, my sisters, and I went through the document with a fine-toothed comb to really draw together our connections to one another. Here we had tea together as we talked about family stories and how we "found" each other.


1c. This is the view from Hroar and Astri's apartment window in Vikersund, overlooking the Tyrifjorden, a fresh body of water which is called a fjord anyway. The landscape in Norway was beautiful anywhere we looked. Our cousin Eva took us on a tour of the family farms one day, and her cousin, Per Ole, took us on a tour of more family farms and cabins the next day. What a delightful country.

2. Visiting our niece and her family in Munich. She asked us not to share any photos of her darling son, so I chose this photo of the three sisters with her in the Munich Residence, the former palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. The palace was an amazing example of over-the-top decorations in the rococo style, as you see in the background. 


3. The 12th-century catacombs of the St. Peter's Abbey built into the mountainside in Salzburg, Austria. We found the catacombs by mistake as we were wandering around in the rain looking for a way to reach the Salzburg Dom Cathedral, which you can see in this photo I took through a window in the catacombs. It was one of those serendipitous moments of delight on the trip. 

 
Here I am climbing the steep steps entering the catacombs of St. Peter's Abbey


4a. The Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg and the surrounding countryside. Not only did we see many of the scenes from our favorite movie, but much of the gorgeous Lake District of Austria outside of Salzburg.


4b. The three sisters on the same path where Maria walked as she sang "I Have Confidence" in the movie.

5. Attending a special confirmation church service at the same church where our grandfather was baptized and some members of his family are buried. For the confirmation service all the students dressed in the traditional bunads, as did their family members. We were all very touched by the confirmation service. Even though we don't speak Norwegian we caught enough to understand the importance of this rite-of-passage in the teenagers' lives.


A multigenerational Norwegian family in their bunads.

6. A visit to Frogner Park (Frognerparken) in Oslo. We were charmed by the more than 200 sculptures of all stages of life and other artistic touches by the artist Gustav Vigeland. Here the three sisters pose in front of an iron gate of three sisters (at least we think they're sisters!)


6b. Me peeking out of one of 200 of Vigeland's sculptures. It was a beautiful day in Oslo.



7. Norway in a Nutshell Tour. This tour involved a train ride from Bergen to Voss; a coach ride to Gudvangen; a ferry/boat ride on the Nærøyfjord to Flam; a historic train ride to Murdahl; and one more train ride to our final destination. Here we are, the three sisters, before we got wind-blown and cold and had to bundle up in our coats and hoods on the boat ride up the UNESCO preserved fjord portion of the trip.

8. A tour of old town Bergen. We didn't dedicate near enough time to Bergen and the Norwegian West Coast. We got a nice introduction to Bergen with a walking tour and will have to return some day. 

8b. Bergen, Noway. The second morning after arriving I couldn't sleep so I walked around our hotel alone from 4:30 to 6:30 AM and saw a bit more of the city by myself. The sun rises early that far north. I captured this shot of the Bryggen Wharf, another UNESCO Heritage site, without mobs of tourists that early in the morning.

9. An organ concert at the Salzburg Dom Cathedral. The church has seven pipe organs and the concert involved the musician moving from one organ to the next and playing a piece on each. We had to leave before the organist made it to the largest of the seven, a pipe organ once played by Mozart himself! It was a moving experience (in more ways than one.) The picture is one of the seven smaller pipe organs.

10. A visit to the Folk Museum in Oslo where we were able to go inside a Stave kirke (church) built in the 1200s and later moved to this site at the museum. We didn't have time to explore the Folk Museum as much as we would have liked, so it's on the list for a return trip some day.

11. A personal tour of the Kittelsen Museum by the art curator, a friend of our cousin Eva. The exhibition was of Norwegian art/artists on the theme of nature and forests. It was fascinating to not only learn about the artists but about the process the curator took to obtain the pieces of art for the show. The Kittelsen Museum is part of Blaafarveværket which is associated with the cobalt mine, which we didn't tour.

12. The cuisine. We loved the food everywhere we went. The above photo is a pasta dish I ordered at an outdoor cafe in Salzburg. It was delicious but the setting was spectacular. We also enjoyed our smorgasbord breakfasts and our lunches of trout and potatoes in Norway; our Bavarian breakfast of Weißwurst (veal sausages), pretzels and sweet mustard and dinners of schnitzel and spaetzle in Munich; waffles at the Blaafarveværket. We really enjoyed the breakfast offerings at all our hotels. I even got up my second morning back in the US and went out and purchased food for a good Norwegian smorgasbord breakfast: veggies, soft cheese, smoked salmon, boiled eggs and good bread.

13. One of the best parts of traveling is getting home, of course. Here are the three sisters (and two of three husbands) at the Portland airport after a full day of traveling homeward. Now we are all posting our favorite photos on Facebook, doing laundry, catching up on mail and the news from home, sharing our gifts with our family members. There's no place like home.

I'm sure I left some things off. It was a whirlwind trip. I'm also sure my sisters would reorganize their favorites list, but, hey, I'm the one who is writing this post! Ha!

-Anne