December 4, 2019

A Month in Summary - November 2019

Little Whale Cove
Depoe Bay, Oregon
November 2019

Well, that was quite a month! In spite of all the craziness that popped up during the last two weeks (see my post here), I managed to get in a lot of reading and stuck with my personal challenge to read only nonfiction. Nonfiction November is always a fun blogging challenge to follow, and I wind up adding a lot of titles to my TBR list, but I'm not an official participant. My favorite of the month? I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel. She really gets us readers!

Books Read in November (click on title for my review):

Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall

I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

First Lines:

They took Arlene's car because it had air-conditioning and Emily wasn't sure the Olds would make it. That and Arlene's was bigger, a wagon, better for bringing things back.

Emily knew she wouldn't be able to resist. She'd never learned to take even the smallest loss gracefully--a glass cracked in the dishwasher, a sweater shrunk by the dryer. She'd stuff the Taurus full of junk she didn't have room for at home. All of it would end up down in the basement, moldering next to the extra fridge still filled to clinking with Henry's Iron Citys. She didn't drink beer, and she couldn't bring herself to twist them open one by one and tip them foaming down the sink, so they stayed there, the crimped edges of the bottle caps going rusty, giving her vegetables a steely tinge. She would save what she could, she knew, though Henry himself would have shaken his head at the mess. (Wish You Were Here)

Our story started when one war ended and another began. 

The day World War II ended, my grandmother, Oma, was one of the first in the village to emerge from the underground cellar and step out into the still and desolate landscape of rural Schwaneberg. At forty years old, her belly swollen with her seventh child, she hoisted open the heavy wooden door and climbed up onto the dry, dusty landing as her children followed, squinting as their eyes met the daylight. (Forty Autumns)

I never liked getting my hands dirty. This was one reason that our yard looked so sad. But there were other reasons, too--bigger reasons that were much harder to confront than brittle grass and overgrown bushes. (Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening)

"Can you recommend a great book?"

Because I'm a writer, certified book nerd, and all-around bookish enthusiast, people ask me this question all the time. I talk about books like it's my job--and in a sense, it is. I make book recommendations all day. (I'd Rather Be Reading)

I heard about the promise Edward made to his dying wife long before I met him.

Valerie, Edward's daughter and one of my oldest friends, related the story when I saw her shortly after her mother's death. Paula, who was just shy of her ninety-fifth birthday had been bedridden and drifting in and out of consciousness for days, sat up in bed specifically to address her beloved husband.

"Listen to me, Eddie." Paula spoke firmly, emphatically. "You can't come with me now. It would be the end of our little family." (Dinner with Edward)

I was stunned by Mary Karr's memoir, The Liars' Club. Not just by its ferocity, its beauty, and by her delightful grasp of the vernacular, but by its totality--she is a woman who remembers everything about her early years. (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)

Movies and TV Shows:

Echo in the Canyon - I love music documentaries, particularly those of the 60s, and this one didn't disappoint. I could happily watch it again.

El Camino - We loved Breaking Bad, but this follow-up movie was a big disappointment. I was tempted to turn it off halfway in, but stuck with it. Meh.

Saving Private Ryan - We've watched this a few times and it never gets any easier to sit through those opening scenes of the battle on Omaha Beach. Excellent cast.

Avengers Endgame - Loved it until the end.

The Vietnam War (Ken Burns) - Burns is simply a genius when it comes to documentaries. We have watched several of his programs, but I think this is possibly his best. It's a depressing topic, but there is so much about Vietnam that I didn't know until I watched this show. If I were a high school history teacher, I would be sure to include this series in my lesson plans. 

Puzzlemania - 

This one was quite challenging!

Outings and Trips:

We haven't done much in the way of outings or trips since we returned from our road trip. The only outings of note were to Corvallis when my husband wound up in the hospital with pancreatitis and a severe gall bladder attack. Four days later, I was able to bring him home where he has been recovering as he figures out what he can eat. Thank goodness this didn't happen on our trip or during our daughter's wedding!

Rod wasn't the only one in our household to wind up in an ER this month. My 86-year-old mother had been battling a terrible cold/cough and it became much worse one night, so we call 911 and she was taken to the ER where she was diagnosed with viral pneumonia. She was released two days later after several breathing treatments and rounds of antibiotics and is now recuperating at home with us.

We are grateful for all the wonderful doctors and amazing nursing staff at both ERs and hospitals!


My brother and his family came down from Seattle for a three-day visit and our next-door neighbors joined all of us for our Thanksgiving feast. It was a lovely day and yes, we ate too much!

We have so much for which to be grateful. At the top of our list is family, friends and our health.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Great family picture and I love the scene in that puzzle! So grateful for the good medical care you guys experienced!

    1. Thanks, Kay! I love the scene on that puzzle, too. Hope to visit Jasper National Park someday.

      Everyone is on the mend here and doing so much better, thank goodness!

  2. Your Thanksgiving sounds wonderful! Here's to a great December!

    1. Thanks, Kathy. December is already feeling pretty hectic, but I'm hoping to squeeze in more time for reading.

  3. You had a great month. You and I read and enjoy similar books, so I especially appreciate your honest thoughts about the books you read. We've been doing a movie night with my sister and her husband so I'm always trying to find recommendations for good movies, too.

    1. Thank you for your nice comment, Deb. I love your book reviews, too. Here's to happy reading and movie viewing!


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