May 4, 2021

A Month in Summary - April 2021

Nehalem Bay State Park
Nehalem, Oregon
April 2021

After a year of feeling like I was trapped in Groundhog's Day, April felt like a fresh start, full of promise and a (safe) return to life as we know it. I got my second Covid-19 vaccination (Moderna), celebrated this milestone indoors with my pod (Mah Jong, cake and Proseco!), had a necessary procedure that I'd put off during the height of the pandemic, and ended the month with a week-long camping trip to one of our favorite campgrounds on the Oregon coast. 

My reading was just as successful and I managed to finish 10 books! Mary Oliver's poems were my main focus for National Poetry Month and I read four of her books over the course of the month. I gave up on two novels, which was disappointing. One had been recommended to me many years ago, but I found it too bleak and didn't care for the multiple POVs. The other book was a reread of a book that I loved 20 years ago, but after 50 pages of boring drivel, I tossed it aside. 

Books Read (click on the title for my review):

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black (1/5)

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (2/5)

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (4/5)

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver (4/5)

Felicity by Mary Oliver (4/5)

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (3/5)

Blue Horses by Mary Oliver (4/5)

Mourn Not Your Dead by Deborah Crombie (4/5)

Testimony by Anita Shreve (4.5/5)

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver (2/5)


The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

Five Fortunes by Beth Gutcheon

Movies & TV Series:

Sneaky Pete (Season Two & Three) - I love this show, but Season Three drags a bit and doesn't have the same pizzazz as the previous seasons. 

Strike (Season One) - Enjoyed the first season and will watch more. Cormoran doesn't look at all as I imagined, but Robin is pretty close to Galbraith's characterization.

Atlantic Crossing - We've only watched a couple of episodes, but so far this is an excellent series. Love seeing Sofia Helin (Saga Noren in The Bridge) in a new role. 

Wakefield - Excellent performance by Bryan Cranston! There were several moments when I thought to stop watching, but it turned out to be a very good film.

This Is Us - All caught up!


In the Kitchen:

Photo Credit: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

I am so glad I found this recipe! I've added it to my monthly rotation and plan to alternate between a green and red sauce to keep it from getting boring. I can't wait to stash some in the freezer for our upcoming road trip in June.

As I mentioned, I got my second vaccination at the beginning of the month and had a mild reaction (low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches and killer headache) the following day. I spent the day in the bed, too uncomfortable to read so I slept on and off between watching This Is Us. Other than a lingering headache the next day, I was ok and am so thankful to be completely vaccinated. Science for the win!

PSA - Do you get regular mammograms and skin cancer screenings? How about colonoscopies? I'm of the age that recommended tests are critical to one's health and since we have a family history of colon cancer, I have the pleasure of getting tested every five years. I'd much rather deal with the "nuisance" of the nightly prep than the horrible treatment of radiation, chemo and surgery, so I suck it up and drink my "cocktail." It could be so much worse...

I'm writing this post while sitting inside our cozy RV. We've been camping at Nehalem Bay State Park for the past week and it feels great to get away for a little while. We have another, much longer, trip coming up in June so we'll be busy gearing up for that adventure! I always like to do a lot of cooking in advance of those longer trips so we can enjoy our evenings without having a lot of meal prep (or dishes), especially for those one-night stops enroute. 

I hope you've had a good month! Stay well and thank you for reading (and commenting on) my monthly newsletters. 


  1. I love your ability to take a quick trip in your cozy RV and your anticipation of a much longer adventure! Gorgeous puzzles :)

    1. Jenclair, we are so lucky to live in Oregon. There are so many state parks and they are maintained well and in beautiful areas. Aren't those puzzles pretty?! They were both pretty challenging, though.

  2. Looks like you had an awesome moth in so many respects, vaccinated, camping, books, great looking puzzles and testing (LOL) I've been good about necessary testing thus far and I've had (2) colonoscopies - 50 and 60 Ugh -- the prep is the worst part. Take care and hope May is a good month as well.

    BTW - all of those pictures are lovely.

    1. Diane, it was a great month! Well, except for the routine testing... I wish I could be on the 10-year schedule, but my recent results have bumped me up to every three years now. Oh, well. Beats getting cancer! Thanks also for your nice comment about my pictures. I miss having a "real" camera, but my phone does a very nice job.

  3. April has been a better month for so many people... thanks, science! I'm so glad you got to get out and enjoy the RV again. Thanks for the reminder about the colonoscopy. I was due last year and put it off due to the pandemic, but need to make the appointment.

    We haven't watched much of anything the past couple of weeks, but Atlantic Crossing sounds good. Maybe we'll get motivated to start a new show this week...

    Hope May is off to a good start for you!

    I have fond memories of reading Five Fortunes decades ago. What a disappointment that it hasn't stood the test of time.

    1. JoAnn, after 12 months of doom and gloom, it is so nice to finally feel like we've turned a corner. Yes, thank you science!

      We had such a great trip in the RV, if only for a week. We head out again next month for 5-6 weeks. Can.Not.Wait!

      Yes, make that appointment. I have now been bumped from every 5 years to every 3 years. Still, much better than the alternative!

      I'm still wondering if I quit too soon on Five Fortunes. We were camping and I read it on a rainy day, but got bored. But maybe it wasn't the book. I still have it, so who knows. I may pick it up again.

  4. As you said, most of my side effects from vaccine #2 subsided today, day 3, but I have blisters now around the injection site. Reminds me of shingles but it's not. I am over the worst of it though. It makes me wonder what would have happened to me had I actually caught COVID. Thank goodness I didn't.

    I was feeling pretty hopeful in March. I feel like we all turned a corner. Things are starting to settle down pandemic wise. I just hope that crisis in India doesn't trickle to other parts of the world.

    1. Ti, how odd about the blisters. I had a red horseshoe-shaped ring around the injection site, but no blisters. I'm glad your other symptoms have subsided. I need to get my shingles shot(s) later this year since I've hit my HUGE deductible and it should be covered. I've had shingles twice and I don't want to get them again!

  5. Yay for being fully vaccinated and hitting the road again! I also had the Moderna and pretty much the same side effects minus the headache. Just so glad to have that and hopefully start venturing out a bit more. I'm going to look for some of the shows you mentioned as we need a new one to start. And, look at all those beautiful puzzles! So glad you had a great reading month and hope May is turning out to be excellent!

    1. Iliana, it was a great month, that's for sure! May is already pretty busy and my reading is already slowing down. June will probably be the same, since we'll be on the road, but it's all about balance!

  6. So much to talk about here! Wonderful to see your RV trip ... looks so peaceful & nice there. You had an impressive April, with books & puzzles & especially being fully vaccinated! what a relief. Glad you are liking Atlantic Crossing. I need to get back to Strike. (is it too slow, or just right?) ... Perhaps we should watch Wakefield. We've been watching Mare of Easttown lately. I'm so glad for your travel ... today it is sleeting here and I'm ready to road trip anywhere. Have a great week.

    1. Susan, we had such a great time on our week-long RV trip. May is shaping up to be a pretty busy month and we'll be back out on the road before we know it! We need to get back to Atlantic Crossing and Strike. Yes, Strike feels a little slow, but we keep going and see if it picks up. Wakefield was surprising good, but it's an odd story. We have Mare of Easttown on our list and hope to get to it soon, too. Bummer about the sleet!! I hope you get a little bit of spring before summer arrives. :)

  7. I'm glad that your reading for April was (mostly) good. It's a pretty safe bet to stick to the thoughtful and gentle Mary Oliver, I think. I like it that you tossed aside a reread that wasn't working for you. I seem to be doing that more and more as I get older.

    I'm sorry that you had a strong reaction to the second shot. I am glad that you are now able to get back on the road, and I know you are, too.

    1. Deb, this year has started off with a bang with regard to my reading, but I'm already seeing a slow-down as summer approaches. With travel and visitors, my reading usually takes a nosedive, so I'm glad to have already read some good books in 2021. In a weird way, it's nice to see some gaps on my TBR shelves and know that I am finally reading some of the books that I bought years (if not decades) ago.

      The reaction to my second shot is a little blurred with my colonoscopy prep, but those are both now behind me and I'm thankful for science and my health! We hit the road again on the 1st of June!

  8. My husband had to start colonoscopies at age 40 because of family history. He's past due for his 3rd one now but I've got it scheduled for when we head home for a week next month. Since we haven't been home in so long, we feel like we have a million doctor's appointments to catch up on. It will be a fun week! (A touch of sarcasm there but we are excited to see our friends and family)

    It's a shame that Hansel and Gretel didn't work for you. I loved it a few years ago but I can see how it wouldn't be for everyone. Good for you for moving on to something else!

    Your AJ Casson puzzle reminds me of a book I read... The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. It's historical fiction about the artist Emily Carr. It looks like she was about a generation ahead of Casson. Their styles look very similar to my untrained eye, based on your puzzle.

    I had no idea there was a Strike show! I'll have to look for it. I've only read the first two books in the series so far but I did like them.

    Where are you heading for your long road trip? You must be so excited! We're trying to work out where we'll go next. I'm too superstitious to announce where we're going until my husband has actually worked a week there (contracts get cancelled or fall through). We're definitely trying to head north and out of hurricane country though!

    1. Jen, I'll bet you're excited to head home next month, in spite of all the doctor appointments! I hope all goes well with your husband's colonoscopy. He's probably glad he won't be prepping in the RV... :)

      It is a shame that Hansel and Gretel was a dud, as I'd heard such good things about it from a couple of friends. I love books set during that time period, but I simply couldn't get interested. Might have been a timing issue, but life is too short and I doubt I'll give it a second chance.

      I've only read one book by Susan Vreeland (Girl in Hyacinth Blue), but have wanted to read both The Forest Lover and Luncheon of the Boating Party. I'll have to bump TFL up in my stacks. I wasn't familiar with Emily Carr until I read Louise Penny's book, The Brutal Telling (reviewed here with some of Carr's artwork). Now I'm even more intrigued!

      Yes, Strike is a show and it's pretty good, but we've only watched the first season. The actress who plays Robin is pretty spot-on, but Strike is not what I envisioned.

      We're heading down 101 to San Diego then back up 395 and over to 5, stopping at several favorite places along the way. Pretty similar route that we took in Sept. 2019 for our daughter's wedding. We are excited, but have a lot to accomplish in the next two weeks - mainly washing/waxing the rig (hiring that out!) and all the meal prep so I don't have to do too much cooking. I can't wait to hear where you're heading next. Always an adventure, right? Probably a good idea to get out of the hurricane zone. And the tornado zone! I'd probably opt for somewhere like Michigan. I'll bet it's great up there in the summer.

  9. So much to comment on! I am glad I finally got your blog URL :-)

    I enjoyed Atlantic Crossing, it was a part of the war I hadn't heard anything about before.

    I am a big proponent of mammograms/breast ultrasounds, colonoscopies (without the drugs), and skin cancer full body checks. I don't enjoy it all, but feel regular checks are so much better than the alternative!

    1. Yeah, these month-end summaries tend to be a little long-winded. ;) Thanks for commenting, though!

      We took a little break from Atlantic Crossing (to watch Mare of Easttown), but we're going to watch more of it tonight.

      I do all those cancer screenings, with the exception of the skin check. It's on my list!


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