June 15, 2019

Texas Road Trip - Day 33

Saturday, October 6, 2018
City of Rocks State Park
Faywood, New Mexico

Other than some coyotes yipping nearby, it was a very quiet night. The sunrise was lovely so I headed out for an early walk to take some pictures. 

This rabbit was much larger than he looks!

The view out our back window.

A few sites with electric & water. 
We preferred our spot, hidden in the rocks.

Cows grazing in the distance.

Had a nice chat with the owner of this Escape.

Love these trees!

Believe it or not, this is a botanical garden!

I wish I could share pictures of the beautiful dark sky, full of more stars than I have ever seen. I spotted two shooting stars while gazing up at the sky. It was the perfect ending to a very peaceful day. 

June 14, 2019

Looking Back - Wait Till Next Year

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
1998 Simon & Schuster
Finished in August 1998
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Wait Till Next Year is the story of a young girl growing up in the suburbs of New York in the 1950s, when owning a single-family home on a tree-lined street meant the realization of dreams, when everyone knew everyone else on the block, and the children gathered in the streets to play from sunup to sundown. The neighborhood was equally divided among Dodger, Giant, and Yankee fans, and the corner stores were the scenes of fierce and affectionate rivalries. We meet the people who influenced Goodwin's early life: her father, who emerged from a traumatic childhood without a trace of self-pity or rancor and who taught his daughter early on that she should say whatever she thought and should bring her voice into any conversation at any time; her mother, whose heart problems left her with the arteries of a 70-year-old when she was only in her 30s and whose love of books allowed her to break the boundaries of the narrow world to which she was confined by her chronic illness; her two older sisters; her friends on the block; the local storekeepers; her school friends and teachers. This is also the story of a girlhood in which the great religious festivals of the Catholic church and the seasonal imperatives of baseball combined to produce a passionate love of history, ceremony, and ritual. It is the story of growing up in what seemed on the surface a more innocent era until one recalls the terror of polio, the paranoia of McCarthyism reflected even in the children's games, the obsession with A-bomb drills in school, and the ugly face of racial prejudice. It was a time whose relative tranquility contained the seeds of the turbulent decade of the 60s. Shortly after the Dodgers left, Goodwin's mother died, and the family moved from the old neighborhood to an apartment on the other side of town. This move coincided with the move of several other families on the block and with the decline of the corner store as the supermarket began to take over. It was the end.

My Original Notes (1998):

Excellent memoir! I loved it. Very entertaining. You don't need to be a baseball fan to enjoy it, either. I think it's a beautifully written cultural history of growing up in the 50s. Playing outside until dark. Walking home from school for lunch. Owning the first TV on the block. First Communion. Howdy Doody. The Mickey Mouse Club. Polio. The Cold War. Air raid drills. McCarthyism. The Rosenbergs. James Dean. And, of course, the Brooklyn Dodgers! Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider. After reading so many books about dysfunctional and abusive families, I found this very refreshing.

My Current Thoughts:

I can't believe I no longer own a copy of this book! After reading my original notes, I thought I'd like to read the book again, but I can't find my copy. I either loaned it to someone or decided not to keep it when we were packing for our move to Oregon. Rats!

June 12, 2019

Bury Your Dead

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6
2010 Minotaur Books
Finished on June 9, 2019
Rating: 5/5 (Excellent!)

Publisher's Blurb:

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society--where an obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

Meanwhile, Gamache is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. "It doesn't make sense," Olivier's partner writes every day. "He didn't do it, you know."

As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive a terrible event from his own past before he can begin to bury his dead.

Chateau Frontenac Hotel

Morrin Centre
Literary and Historical Society of Quebec

Yes, this is her best yet! I loved learning about the history of Quebec as well as diving into another mystery with Gamache. I so enjoy the way Penny teases out the details of the mystery (and the terrible event from Gamache's recent past), ratcheting up the tension so that I had no choice but to read well into the early morning hours. The main cast of characters are so fully realized that I felt as though I was experiencing their pain and emotional suffering just as I would with any good friend or relative. I rarely give a mystery or thriller a perfect 5-star rating, but this one is deserving of at least that. Bravo! I'm so glad there are so many more in this series yet for me to read and to think I was ready to give up after A Fatal Grace (#2)!

Few writers in any genre can match Penny's ability to combine heartbreak and hope in the same scene. (Publishers Weekly)

June 11, 2019

Hunted on the Fens

Hunted on the Fens (DI Nikki Galena, #3) by Joy Ellis
2017 Tantor Audio
Read by Henrietta Meire
Finished on June 8, 2019
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A vicious criminal is targeting DI Nikki Galena and her team. One by one he will hunt them down and destroy their lives, unless she can stop him first.

DI Nikki Galena faces her toughest challenge yet. Can she save her team and herself from a cruel and determined adversary who will stop at nothing to harm Nikki and her colleagues? First she must work out who wants revenge against her or one of her detectives. Full of twists and turns, this is a crime novel that will have you turning the pages until the stunning ending.

And what is the connection between the series of attacks on the police and the mystery of woman found dead in a seemingly impregnable locked room? Find out in this tense and exciting detective thriller.

THE DETECTIVE DI Nikki Galena: A police detective with nothing left to lose, she’s seen a girl die in her arms, and her daughter will never leave the hospital again. She’s got tough on the criminals she believes did this to her.

HER PARTNER DS Joseph Easter is the squeaky-clean new member of the team. But his nickname “Holy Joe” belies his former life as a soldier. He has an estranged daughter who blames him for everything that went wrong with their family.

THE SETTING The Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you’ve ever seen.

I enjoyed listening to the previous two books in Joy Ellis' Nikki Galena series, but this installment took me over a month to finish and while I enjoyed it, I didn't think it was great. That may have something to do with the fact that I was also reading a Louise Penny mystery, which held my interest much better than this book. Also, the reader for this series has begun to sound flat and monotone when she read the men's dialogue, which I found very annoying. If I continue with the series, I will switch to the printed books rather than listen to the audios. 

June 7, 2019

Looking Back - What We Keep

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg

1998 Random House
Finished in August 1998
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Do you ever really know your mother, your daughter, the people in your family? In this rich and rewarding new novel by the beloved bestselling author of Talk Before Sleep and The Pull of the Moon, a reunion between two sisters and their mother reveals how the secrets and complexities of the past have shaped the lives of the women in a family.

Ginny Young is on a plane, en route to see her mother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to for thirty-five years. She thinks back to the summer of 1958, when she and her sister, Sharla, were young girls. At that time, a series of dramatic events--beginning with the arrival of a mysterious and sensual next-door neighbor--divided the family, separating the sisters from their mother. Moving back and forth in time between the girl she once was and the woman she's become, Ginny at last confronts painful choices that occur in almost any woman's life, and learns surprising truths about the people she thought she knew best.

Emotional honesty and a true understanding of people and relationships are combined in this moving and deeply satisfying new book by the novelist who "writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, love and hope. And the transcendence that redeems" (Andre Dubus).

My Original Notes (1998):

Heartbreaking story with a happy ending. Very, very good! I read it in a couple of days - couldn't put it down, yet didn't want it to end.

A modern day version of The Awakening?

My Current Thoughts:

I still have a copy of this on my shelf and will probably read it again someday. 

June 4, 2019

A Month in Summary - May 2019

Point Hudson Marina and RV Park
Port Townsend, Washington
April 2019

Another fun-filled month! I got in quite a bit of reading and enjoyed all four books, but two in particular were exceptionally good. We had a wonderful visit with my brother and sister-in-law over Mother's Day weekend and are looking forward to another brother and his family who are due to arrive later this afternoon. There were also lots of great Mahjong games, pickleball and yoga, although I was hit hard with a four-day bout of BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) and was pretty miserable. I've only had it once in the past (and it only lasted a couple of hours), but this time it was much worse. After performing the Epley maneuver, I was finally able to get those little crystals back where they belong. I'm hoping this doesn't become an ongoing problem, as it is for a few of my friends. We're getting ready for another trip in the RV and I don't want to be dealing with this while we're away!

Books Read in May (click on titles for my review):

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

First Lines:

Marsh is not a swamp. Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky. Slow-moving creeks wander, carrying the orb of the sun with them to the sea, and long-legged birds lift with unexpected grace--as though not built to fly--against the roar of a thousand snow geese. (Where the Crawdads Sing)

The Center squatted on the corner of Juniper and Montfort behind a wrought-iron gate, like an old bulldog used to guarding its territory. At one point, there had been many like it in Mississippi--nondescript, unassuming buildings where services were provided and needs were met. Then came the restrictions that were designed to make these places go away: The halls had to be wide enough to accommodate two passing gurneys; any clinic where that wasn't the case had to shut down or spend thousands on reconstruction. The doctors had to have admitting privileges at local hospitals--even though most were from out of state and couldn't secure them--or the clinics where they practiced risked closing, too. One by one the clinics shuttered their windows and boarded up their doors. Now, the Center was unicorn--a small rectangle of a structure painted a fluorescent, flagrant orange, like a flag to those who had traveled hundreds of miles to find it. It was the color of safety; the color of warning. It said: I'm here if you need me. It said, Do what you want to me; I'm not going. (A Spark of Light)

We are the unwitting carriers of our parents' secrets, the ripples made by stones we never saw thrown. If I close my eyes and breathe, I can still smell the sparkling, brittle moment my father broke my trust, and with it his heart. I can smell the honey of my mother's promises. (The Scent Keeper)

He left the coffee-scented warmth of the Main Street Grill and stood for a moment under the green awning. 

The honest cold of an early mountain spring stung him sharply.

He often noted the minor miracle of passing through a door into a completely different world, with different smells and attractions. It helped to be aware of the little things in life, he told himself, and he often exhorted his congregation to do the same. (At Home in Mitford)

In Drayton, North Dakota, a former San Francisco cabdriver, sixty-seven, labors at the annual sugar beet harvest. He works from sunrise until after sunset in temperatures that dip below freezing, helping trucks that roll in from the fields disgorge multi-ton loads of beets. At night he sleeps in the van that has been his home ever since Uber squeezed him out of the taxi industry and making the rent became impossible. (Nomadland)

Movies and TV Series:

House, MD - Season 7 - Ready to be finished with this show. Ugh. House. You are an idiot.

Game of Thrones - Season 2 - Can't wait to watch Season 3! Trying to avoid all spoilers for the series finale!

Vice - Great performances. Depressing subject matter.


This one took about a week.


My brother and sister-in-law surprised my mom for Mother's Day! Always fun to have them here. We played A LOT of Mah Jong!

I also got to help teach my neighbor's 8-year-old granddaughter how to play. What a delightful girl! We had such fun.

Engagement Photos:

Click here to see more!
(Photo Credit: Arielle Levy)

Less than four months until the big day! I've been on the quest for the dress (Mother-of-the-Bride dress) and have narrowed my choices. Stay tuned!