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July 27, 2018

Looking Back - Little Altars Everywhere

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.



Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells
Fiction
1996 Harper Collins (first published in 1992)
Finished in December 1997
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good!)

Publisher's Blurb:
"We are swinging high, flying way up, higher than in real life. And when I look down, I see all the ordinary stuff--our brick house, the porch, the tool shed, the clothesline, the chinaberry tree. But they are all lit up from inside so their everyday selves have holy sparks, they'd go and kneel in front of them and pray and just feel good. Somehow the whole world looks like little altars everywhere."
Little Altars Everywhere is a national bestseller, a companion to Rebecca Wells's celebrated novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Originally published in 1992, Little Altars introduces Sidda, Vivi, the rest of the spirited Walker Clan, and the indomitable Ya-Yas. It is now available for the first time in hardcover.

Told in alternating voices of Vivi and her husband, Big Shep, along with Sidda, her siblings Little Shep, Lulu, Baylor, and Cheney and Willetta--the black couple who impact the Walkers' lives in ways they may never fully comprehend--Little Altars embraces nearly thirty years of life on their plantation in Thorton, Louisiana, where the cloying air of the bayou and a web of family secrets of once shelter, trap, and define an utterly original community of souls.

Who can resist the rich cadences of Sidda Walker and her flamboyant, secretive mother, Vivi? Here, the young Sidda--a precocious reader and an eloquent observer of the fault lines that divide her family--leads us her mischievous adventures at Our Lady of Divine Compassion parochial school and beyond. A Catholic girl of pristine manners, devotion, and provocative ideas, Sidda is the very essence of childhood joy and sorrow.

In a series of luminous reminiscences, we also hear Little Shep's stories of his eccentric grandmother, Lulu's matter-of-fact account of her shoplifting skills, and Baylor's memories of Vivi and her friends, the Ya-Yas.

Beneath the humor and tight-knit bonds of family and friendship lie the undercurrents of alcoholism, abuse, and violence. The overlapping recollections of how the Walker's charming life uncoils to convey their heartbreaking confusion are at once unsettling and familiar. Wells creates an unforgettable portrait and funny attempts to keep reality at arm's length. Through our laughter, we feel their inevitable pain, with a glimmer of hope for forgiveness and healing.

An arresting combination of colloquialism, poetry, and grace, Little Altars Everywhere is an insightful, piercing, and unflinching evocation of childhood, a loving tribute to the transformative power of faith, and a thoroughly fresh chronicle of a family that is as haunted as it is blessed.

My Original Notes (1997):

Excellent! Just as good as Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Made me laugh and cry. What a marvelous author. Interesting device to use different characters' voices for each chapter. Varies the story's point of view. [I must not have encountered this before, but it's very common in the books I read now!] Highly recommend!

My Current Thoughts:

I wish I could remember more about this novel and I no longer own a copy, so I can't glance back and see if I highlighted any passages. Funny that I had never read (or noticed) a book with alternating points of view! I do believe it's time to reread both Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (which I talked about here) and Little Altars Everywhere. I think I need to devote an entire month to rereading some of my favorites! 

July 26, 2018

Morningstar: Growing Up with Books



Morningstar: Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood
Nonfiction - Memoir
2017 W. W. Norton & Company
Finished on January 5, 2018
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

In her admired works of fiction, including most recently The Book That Matters Most, Ann Hood explores the transformative power of literature. Now, with warmth and honesty, Hood reveals the personal story behind these beloved novels.


Growing up in a mill town in Rhode Island, in a household that didn't foster a love of literature, Ann Hood discovered nonetheless the companionship of books. She learned to channel her imagination, ambitions, and curiosity by devouring ever-growing stacks. In Morningstar, Hood recollects how The Bell Jar, Marjorie Morningstar, The Harrad Experiment, and The Outsiders influenced her teen psyche and introduced her to topics that could not be discussed at home: desire, fear, sexuality, and madness. Later Johnny Got His Gun and The Grapes of Wrath dramatically influenced her political thinking while the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings became headline news, and classics such as Dr. Zhivago and Les Miserables stoked her ambitions to travel the world. With characteristic insight and charm, Hood showcases the ways in which books gave her life and can transform--even save--our own lives.


I am so glad I trusted my instincts and bought a hardcover copy of this little gem-of-a-book before the holidays. I read Hood's previous book (The Book That Matters Most) last year and enjoyed her writing style so well that I added her entire backlist to my TBR list on Goodreads. Not only was I eager to read more by her, but a book about books is an immediate purchase for me. This one did not disappoint. I only have a few pages marked, but as I read them a second time, I know that I will  return to this book in the coming year, making notes of more books to read and recommend to my book club.

My only quibbles about Morningstar is that Hood has a tendency to repeat herself  and there are a few times in which she states the obvious (for example, she mentions well-known facts and details about World War II and Vietnam with which most adults are familiar), but her general love of books and her reactions and feelings about specific books (The Grapes of Wrath and The Bell Jar, to name just a couple) are spot-on. In addition to inspiring me to reread The Grapes of Wrath, she has also given me reason to add Majorie Morningstar and Rabbit, Run to my future reading list.

Favorite Passages:
Before Skip gave me that boxed set of Steinbeck, no one had ever given me a book as a gift. But the gift was even bigger than he'd imagined. When I read the first line of The Grapes of Wrath--"To the red country and part of the gray of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth"--some writerly thing broke loose in me. "Spread a page with shining," Steinbeck once advised writers, and I could see that shine as I read. I understood it. I had read big, fat novels before, losing myself in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago. Those sweeping stories, tragedies and triumphs spanning years and years, had captivated me for their otherness. But The Grapes of Wrath was so American, and the Joads so familiar somehow, and the language so lyrical, and the setting so real, that by reading it I saw what writers could do. And it dazzled me.
and 
It did not occur to me that somewhere in the library sat volumes of poetry. It seemed to me a precious thing, a poem, and I could not begin to imagine where poems resided. But one night as I played my favorite album, Simon and Garfunkel's Sound of Silence, it struck me that its eponymous song was actually a poem. Wasn't darkness, my old friend personification? And words like silent raindrops fell a simile? The neon God a metaphor? I played the song over and over, a notebook in hand, teasing out its meaning. Then I turned my attention to I am a rock--metaphor! I am an island! When we had to write a paper on our favorite poet, my classmate Nancy wrote hers on Robert Frost and Steven wrote his on Edgar Allan Poe. But me, I wrote mine on Paul Simon.
and

Isn't this the magic of books? That a fourteen-year-old girl can exactly identify with the fictional character of a twenty-six-year-old, married, former basketball star from Pennsylvania just as readily as that same girl--Italian American, blue-collar, Catholic in a small town--exactly identifies with Majorie Morningstar, an upper-middle-class Jewish girl in New York City? When I read Rabbit, Run, I understood that Rabbit, and John Updike, knew me. The me I didn't think anyone else saw.

and

This is why we all read, isn't it? To know the world and ourselves better. To find our place in that world. Even if you did have access to readers and guidance on what to read, even if you grew up in a family that loved to read and owned shelves of books, still, still, one day a book falls into your hands--perhaps it's Beloved or A Wrinkle in Time or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; perhaps it's Great Expectations or Pride and Prejudice--whatever book it is, it falls into your hands at just the right moment when you need to read it. It transforms you. Perhaps it lifts you up when you are at your lowest; perhaps it shows you what love is, or what it feels like to lose love; perhaps it brings you places far away or shows you how to stay put when you need to.
There are so many books about books and books about readers, many of which I've read and are sitting on my "keeper shelf" for future readings. Ann Hood has written a gem, which is short enough to read annually, but not long enough to satisfy my curiosity about any other books she has loved and can recommend. Morningstar is a perfect gift for any book lover and I'm so happy I gifted it to myself this past Christmas.

July 24, 2018

The House at Tyneford



The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
Fiction
2011 Plume
Finished on December 27, 2017
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good!)

Publisher's Blurb:

It's the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlour maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford's young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely upstairs-downstairs friendship that will transform Tyneford--and Elise--forever.

It's probably a good thing that I didn't recognize Natasha Solomons' name or remember that she wrote Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English (which I wrote about here). Had I realized that The House at Tyneford wasn't my first encounter with Solomons' writing, and that I was disappointed with her previous novel, I doubt I would have given this book a try. Thank goodness for a poor memory, as I loved this wonderful novel! I began reading it in October, but for some reason wound up setting it aside. When I finally got back to the book, I started over from the beginning and wound up loving the lush, rich writing, reminiscent of Rosamunde Pilcher's prose.
I remember that Sunday with absolute clarity--it was one of those perfect June mornings that make one certain Eden was a summer's day in southern England. The bells rang out across the hillside, chiming with the tinkle of the sheep bells in the field beside the churchyard. Swallows zoomed across the empty sky, while on a stone wall a black cat watched yellow ducklings dabble on the pond with greedy eyes. I took a deep breath and filled my lungs with summer. The air was laced with the fragrance of a thousand wildflowers and the sunlight made the snapdragons and foxgloves in the cottage gardens shine vermillion pink. The entire countryside was smeared with colour; the sky a bold, throbbing blue and beneath it the meadows sprinkled with buttercups, shining like gold coins. Back then I didn't know the names of the flowers--they came later--but now instead of patches of orange and yellow petals, I recall cowslips and creeping jenny. In the distance the sea sparkled and glittered, white spray crashing on the shore. 
The House at Tyneford reminds me of an old-fashioned story that has a mixture of romance and suspense, with characters you either love or despise, bringing to mind classics such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. It's been a long time since I've read such an engrossing novel and with over 350 pages, I still wanted more. Now that Downton Abbey is finished, I would love to see a TV series based on this novel, especially since I love the World War II time period. 
There was no use objecting. I hurried out of the kitchen and went to straighten my hair and splash my face. Despite the lack of staff, and the inordinate distance between kitchen and dining room, standards had to be maintained. The digging up of the potato patch and the disappearance of the underservants had disturbed Mrs. Ellsworth, and she sought reassurance in the details of luncheon in the wainscoted dining room at one o'clock. Mr. Wrexham, walking past the kitchen door with his laden tray and perfectly starched shirt, proved to her that England was mighty and indestructible. Wars might be declared, kitchen boys vanish to join the navy, blackout curtains smother the french windows and previously reliable footmen leave without notice, but lunch would be served at five minutes past one and the butler would wear white cotton gloves.
Could it be that, between novels, Solomons became a more polished, sophisticated writer or did she simply have a better editor this time around? The answer to that question will most likely go unanswered, but if you ask if I will read more by her, my reply is an emphatic yes! Without a doubt!

July 21, 2018

Bandon - Day Four

October 25, 2017
Bandon, Oregon
Bullards Beach State Park

Another slow, lazy morning. I caught up on social media while Rod did a little freelance work. The campground was quiet and the sun was shining, giving promise to another beautiful day.


A room with a view. Sort of. Our site had plenty of shrubs, providing a decent amount of privacy.


We decided to go into town for lunch and went back to the Bandon Fish Market, a spot we tried a few years ago. Sadly, it wasn't nearly as good as that first visit.


We had planned to drive over to the beach, but the clouds were rolling in, so we headed over to Face Rock Creamery for ice cream. These are "small" servings! We were definitely not disappointed with this treat!


After indulging in all of that ice cream, I decided to go for a little bike ride. Sunshine, no wind and warm (but not hot) temps made for a beautiful afternoon ride. I could ride for hours on a stretch of road like this one!


I spotted a coyote in the field and quickly jumped off my bike so I could get some pictures. 


He was a little skittish and started to run off after he spotted me.

Once he found a safe distance, he stopped and looked back at me before heading toward the ridge. I should have brought my good camera with the telephoto lens!




Ah, back to my favorite lighthouse.


I love this huge piece of wood. I can't imagine it washing ashore, but in a winter storm, anything is possible.


A view of the town of Bandon from the lighthouse.


Evening glow.


No wind, so the river was very calm.




Another fun evening listening to Game 2 of the World Series. It was actually a very thrilling game. The Astros beat the Dodgers 7-6 in extra innings after five hours!

July 20, 2018

Looking Back - All Over but the Shoutin'

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.




All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
Memoir
1997 Pantheon Books
Finished on December 22, 1997
Rating: 5/5 (Outstanding!)

Publisher's Blurb:

A haunting memoir about growing up dirt-poor in the pines of Alabama--and about moving on but never really being able to leave.

The extraordinary gifts for evocation and insight and the stunning talent for storytelling that earned Rick Bragg a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1996 are here brought to bear on the wrenching story of his own family's life. It is the story of a war-haunted, hard-drinking father and a strong-willed, loving mother who struggled to protect her sons from the effects of poverty and ignorance that had constricted her own life. It is the story of the life Bragg was able to carve out for himself on the strength of his mother's encouragement and belief. And it is the story of his attempts to both atone for and avenge the mistakes and cruelties of his past.

All Over but the Shoutin' is a gripping account of people struggling to make sense and solidity of life's capricious promises. A classic piece of Americana, it is made vividly, movingly particular by Rick Bragg's searching vision, generous humor, and richly nuanced voice.

My Original Notes (1997):

The best book I've read all year. The absolute best!


He made me laugh out loud. Made me almost cry. Made me want to meet him and his mama.

Bragg writes the most beautiful sentences!

My Current Thoughts:

I was born in Canada and raised in California, but after reading anything Rick Bragg writes, I can't help but speak with a southern drawl. Words and phrases such as, Y'all, poooool, Sugar, and bless her heart have suddenly wormed their way into my vocabulary! All joking aside, this man can write. His gorgeous phrasing reminds me of Pat Conroy's lyrical passages in Beach Music. (Oh, those Southern writers.) He makes me laugh and tugs at my heartstrings. I read this book over twenty years ago and it's remained on my shelf of lifetime favorites, waiting to be read again. I think it's time. It is truly fine writing.

Rick Bragg writes like a man on fire. And All Over but the Shoutin' is a work of art. I thought of Melville, I thought of Faulkner. Because I love the English language, I knew I was reading one of the best books I've ever read. By explaining his life to the world, Rick Bragg explained part of my life to me. I fell in love with is mother a hundred times. I wept when the book ended. I never met Rick Bragg in my life, but I called him up and told him he'd written a masterpiece, and I sent flowers to his mother. ~Pat Conroy

Searingly honest, beautifully written, All Over but the Shoutin' is perhaps the most courageous thing Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg has ever written. Bragg has never failed to record the grace and dignity of people who life their lives in the margins. Here he gives us the story of himself, a child of poor white Southerners, and of his family--an alcoholic, mostly absent father, and an extraordinary mother, quietly heroic in the face of devastating poverty. Bragg looks down the corridors of his past with love, hate, humor, regret, self-doubt, and understanding. In the telling, he may occasionally flinch, but he never turns away. ~Willie Morris

Bragg's tribute, a love story for his mother, honored her for the sacrifices she made as a mother. What a remarkable way to say thank you.

July 18, 2018

July 17, 2018

The Bright Hour



The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs
Memoir
2017 Simon and Schuster
Finished on December 11, 2017
Rating: 5/5 (Excellent!)

Publisher's Blurb:

An exquisite memoir about how to live—and love—every day with “death in the room,” from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air.

“We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other.”


Poet and essayist Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—"one small spot." Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal.


How does one learn to live each day, “unattached to outcome”? How do you approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty? 
Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?

Brilliantly written, disarmingly funny, and deeply moving, The Bright Hour is about how to love all the days, even the bad ones, and it’s about the way literature, especially Emerson, and Nina’s other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. It’s a book about looking death squarely in the face and saying “this is what will be.”


Especially poignant in these uncertain times, The Bright Hour urges us to live well and not lose sight of what makes us human: love, art, music, words. 


If I were still working in a bookstore, I would love to recommend this beautifully written memoir to customers who enjoyed Being Mortal and When Breath Becomes Air. Reminiscent of Kelly Corrigan's (The Middle Place) conversational writing style, I was hooked and couldn't put this book down. I never read in the middle of the night, but Riggs' book about cancer and family and death kept me reading late in the night. She has given her two young sons and husband a lasting legacy of her love, which I hope will bring them comfort in the coming years. 

There are some lovely passages throughout this stunning memoir and it is quite obvious that Riggs was a poet. Who knew one could write such beautiful prose about cancer and death, while fighting for her own life. She lost her mother (also to cancer) prior to the beginning of her own second round of chemo, which makes this book even more tender. And yet, there is nothing sappy about The Bright Hour.   

Some favorite passages:
I am reminded of an image...that living with a terminal disease is like walking on a tightrope over an insanely scary abyss. But that living without disease is also like walking on a tightrope over an insanely scary abyss, only with some fog or cloud cover obscuring the depths a bit more -- sometimes the wind blowing it off a little, sometimes a nice dense cover.
and
You are fully entitled to slap the next person who tells you that God only gives us what we can handle.
and
We have called in hospice for my mom.
It's strange, because hospice is one of those words that when you say it people's faces fall. It is a word that evokes last breaths and hushed voices. But the more I think about it, the more I'm struck by what a beautiful word it is -- hospice. It is hushed, especially at the end. But it's comfortable and competent sounding, too. A French word with Latin roots -- very close to hospital but with so much more serenity due to those S sounds. ...
It used to mean a rest house for travelers -- for pilgrims. And is there anything more welcome to a weary pilgrim than rest?

Nina Riggs' stark honesty (and witty sense of humor) had me wishing that her life wasn't cut so short - I'd love to read more of her writing! I borrowed the book from the library and wound up buying a copy for a second reading. As with Being Mortal, I feel that The Bright Hour should be read by everyone.

My reviews for Being Mortal, When Breath Becomes Air and The Middle Place can be found by clicking on each title.

July 15, 2018

Chicken Paillard - Weekend Cooking




Tyler Florence's Chicken Paillard

Paillard* is an older French culinary term referring to a quick-cooking, thinly sliced or pounded piece of meat. In France, it has been largely replaced by the word escalope. The cut is known as "scallop" in the US, not to be confused with the shellfish scallop. (Wikipedia)
This is such an easy recipe! Paired with a caprese salad, it makes a delicious, light dinner that can be thrown together in a short amount of time. If you have any leftovers, the chilled chicken is quite good in a tossed green salad or sliced for a sandwich. This has become one of my favorite go-to recipes, especially in the summer when the tomatoes are fresh and yummy for salads.

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 8 oz. each (see my note below)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 2 cups panko bread crumbs
Olive oil for frying

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap (I use a Ziplock bag) and gently pound with a mallet or rolling pin to a uniform 1/2-inch thickness. Prepare a breading station, placing the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, in one shallow bowl; the eggs in another; and the panko (also seasoned liberally with salt and pepper - you should be able to see the seasonings) in a third bowl.

Coat the chicken first in the flour, then in the egg, and lastly in the panko, shaking off the excess after each step. Place the breaded chicken on a plate and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. This helps to remove any excess moisture from the breading, which will keep it from falling off as you fry the chicken.

Heat 1-2 inches of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Test the oil with a little panko to see if it sizzles. Once the oil it hot enough, add the chicken and fry for 5-6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer the cooked breasts to a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve with a wedge of lemon and either a caprese salad or a simple green salad.

Serves 2 (or 4, if chicken breast is cut in half)

My Notes:

When I buy boneless chicken breasts, they are almost always too thick, even after I pound them prior to cooking. I've started cutting them in half (lengthwise) just before they are completely defrosted. They are much easier to handle when they're still slightly frozen. This is not only cheaper than buying cutlets, but it also stretches the meal so we can have plenty of leftovers.

*(prounounced "pie-yar")


Please visit Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

July 14, 2018

Blogger Meet-Up!

Blogmates! Last week I had a great time spending an afternoon with two of my favorite bloggers. Robin and I have met for lunch on a few occasions (she lives a couple of hours away from me), but this was my first visit with Kay since moving to Oregon. Our online/blogging friendship dates back to 1997 and we met (face-to-face) for the first time in Austin a few years later. What fun to spend the day with both of these intelligent, well-read and fun women! My only regret is that we don't all live near one another. Not only do we all love to read, but we're also avid walkers! We managed to get a few steps in as we walked through the quaint town of McMinnville, in after our delicious lunch at Valley Commissary.


Valley Commissary
McMinnville, Oregon
July 2018


Of course, we had to visit the local bookshop!
(None of us walked out empty-handed.)


 Robin's photo of the three of us.

Kay's photo of me and Robin.


I also got the chance to meet another online friend (who is not a blogger), while she and her husband were out on the Oregon coast for a family wedding. Teri and I met in the same online book group that Kay and I were in. So the three of us have been friends 21 years! Nan (Letters From a Hill Farm) is also a part of this great group of friends, but sadly she wasn't able to join us. Hopefully, next time!


The Gang!
Rod, Hayden, Kay, Teri and Charlie
Little Whale Cove - Depoe Bay, Oregon
July 2017

The six of us enjoyed lunch at a local Depoe Bay restaurant and then headed back to our house for a walk along the bluff. We spotted several spouting whales, which was fun for our visitors!

Kay has written about her visit here and Robin mentioned our lunch date here


July 13, 2018

Looking Back - Mr. Ives' Christmas

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.




Mr. Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos
Fiction
1996 Harper Collins (first published in 1995)
Finished in December 1997
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

Hijuelos' novel tells the story of Mr. Ives, who was adopted from a foundling's home as a child. When we first meet him in the 1950s, Mr. Ives is very much a product of his time. He has a successful career in advertising, a wife and two children, and believes he is on his way to pursuing the typical American dream. But the dream is shattered when his son Robert, who is studying for the priesthood, is killed violently at Christmas. Overwhelmed by grief and threatened by a loss of faith in humankind, Mr. Ives begins to question the very foundations of his life.

Part love story—of a man for his wife, for his children, for God—and part meditation on how a person can find spiritual peace in the midst of crisis, Mr. Ives' Christmas is a beautifully written, tender and passionate story of a man trying to put his life in perspective. In the expert hands of Oscar Hijuelos, the novel speaks eloquently to the most basic and fulfilling aspects of life for all of us.

My Original Notes (1997):

Fair to mediocre. I never really got into the story or the characters. Didn't hold my attention at all.

My Current Thoughts:

Isn't it funny how you can forget everything about a book, but remember where you were when you read it? We had just put our house on the market and were getting ready to move to Texas. I had recently found an online book group and this was one of the books we chose to read and discuss. I really wanted to enjoy the book and make an intelligent contribution to the discussion, but as I recall, I really didn't care for it at all and had I picked it up on my own, I would have quit after 50 pages (if not sooner!). I wonder if my reaction to this book would be any different, having now experienced my own tragic loss of a child.

July 12, 2018

Bandon - Day Three

October 24, 2017
Bandon, Oregon
Bullards Beach State Park

It was 48 degrees when we woke up, but the sun was shining and it warmed up to 74 later in the day. After breakfast, I decided to take the truck and drive over to Bandon (about 10 minutes from our campground), while Rod worked on an editing project. I parked at the Coquille jetty and got some shots of the waves crashing over the rocks, as well as some pictures of the lighthouse. (You can never have too many pictures of a lighthouse!)


The waves were really big, with lots of spray blowing as they crashed against the rocks.
The South Jetty was built in 1906 to stem a rash of shipwrecks on the Coquille River bar. When the Oliver Olson rammed the jetty so hard in 1953 that the ship couldn't be pulled free, the South Jetty was extended by building right over the ship's hull. Now sailors complain the uneven lengths of the river's two jetties make the bar more treacherous than ever. (Oregon.com)


Signage about tsunamis. I pay attention to escape routes, but don't spend any time worrying.


There were a lot of huge trees and logs rolling in the surf. These can be quite dangerous to people in the water or along the shoreline.


I like this view of the Coquille Lighthouse from this side of the river. I wrote about here, as well.


I could live in this! 

I headed over to the Bandon Beach Loop and walked along the bluff trail and then down the path to the beach. The sun was shining and it was absolutely gorgeous!


Table Rock










My granddaughter and I have walked through some of these openings in the rocks at low-tide. It's interesting to see them from up above on the bluff, with the waves covering the sand where we walked a few years ago.










Do you see the face of a woman looking skyward?
According to a Coquille tribal legend, the face in Face Rock belongs to Ewauna, daughter of Chief Siskiyou, who had traveled here to a great potlatch feast in his honor. Ewauna had never seen the ocean before, so one night she sneaked to the beach for a moonlight swim. In the water she was grabbed by the evil ocean spirit Seatka. But she refused to look into his eyes, knowing that this was how he controlled his victims. Instead she fixed her stare on the North Star, and defiantly gazes there even today. (Oregon.com)
How about now? It's a profile and the mouth, which looks slightly open, is on the right. The nose is in line with the horizon.








This beach looks otherwordly!
The Southern Oregon Coast is composed of rock that began a billion years ago as a volcanic island archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The drifting of the continents has since "rafted" these ancient islands and reefs onto the Oregon shore. Many of the islands at Bandon are composed of blueschist, an extremely resilient rock prized for jetty construction. (Oregon.com)
Photo Credit: Oregon.com 

These are the cottages at Windermere On the Beach, which we've stayed in a couple of times. They are quite nice, especially the furthest one on the north end.












After I returned from my long walk, I puttered around getting ready for dinner and Game 1 of the World Series. 


It was fun to sit by the campfire and listen to the game on the radio. (Well, actually a radio app on my phone.)


An all-American evening. All that's missing is the apple pie!

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