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ExUrbanis

Urban Leaving to Country Living

The Daylilies are in Bloom Again

July24

(Does anyone remember Katherine Hepburn’s famous line in Stage Door, 1937: “The calla lilies are in bloom again.”)?

When we moved here, there were several daylily plantings that have all thrived and grown. They really need to be divided this fall!

daylilies photo 2016-07-24 daylilies 2 400_zpss6aofcbp.jpg

A sea of colour. Unlike many parts of the country (I’m thinking of you, Ontario) we had lots of rain and cool weather in June so the garden is somewhat lush.

daylilies with bench photo 2016-07-24 daylilies w bench 400_zpsryhlv7rb.jpg

A sunny spot to sit for a minute.

 

Books Read in January 2014

July22

books read
I rated these books when I read them, but don’t recall a lot about some of them. I probably didn’t at the time either, as I was going through life in an exhausted haze, still sorting through my mother’s things, all day, every day.


 

THE CROOKED MAID by Dan Vylata (Fiction, Literary, Canadian Author) 4.5 star rating

The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta photo crooked maid_zpsug4c87th.jpg From Amazon: ” Mid-summer, 1948. The war is over, and as the initial phase of de-Nazification winds down, the citizens of Vienna struggle to rebuild their lives amidst the rubble. . . .

Two strangers, Anna Beer and young Robert Seidel, meet on a train as they return to Vienna . . . Determined to rebuild their lives, Anna and Robert each begin a dogged search for answers in a world where repression is the order of the day.

Before long, they are reunited as spectators at a criminal trial set to deliver judgment on Austria’s Nazi crimes.”

This was a Giller Prize finalist in 2013. It seems that I liked this well enough at the time, but don’t remember a lot – maybe I should have rated it only 4 stars?

4½ stars


 

DEATH OF A FELLOW TRAVELLER by Delamo Ames (Fiction, Mystery, Vintage) 4 star rating

Death of a Fellow Traveller by Delano Ames photo death of a fellow traveller_zpsvujtv3qr.jpg Aka, Nobody Wore Black.

I know someone put me on to this series, but the only references I can find are on My Reader’s Block and In So Many Words, both of which appeared after I read this. Anyway, this is the fourth (published in 1950) in this series which features the young English couple Jane and Dagobert Brown. Jane is a struggling author and very fond of her husband who one would consider to be a no-good layabout apart from the fact that he’s tremendously charming.. Still they travel (I believe this book took place on a skiing holiday in the Alps) and generally have fun. It’s a solid mystery.

4 stars


 
THE UNIVERSE Versus ALEX WOODS by Gavin Extence (Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary) 3.5 star rating

The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence photo universe vs alex woods_zpsr8051jce.jpg

This ended up in my reading stack because I had ordered it at the library to fill in the author “X” on that unofficial A-Z reading challenge I had going.

Alex is very fond of his early-seniors neighbour and finds out that he is dying.

Death and death choices figure large in teenage angst, and this is a perfect book to help teens explore emotions. But I can’t condone a teenager leaving the country without telling his parents.

3½ stars


 
OUR MOTHER’s HOUSE by Julian Gloag (Fiction) 3.5 star rating

Our Mother's House by Julian Gloag photo our mothers house_zpsninco83q.jpg I read this book this month because, well, I was living in my mother’s house after her death.
Originally published in 1963, this was one of my favourite books when I was a teenager in the sixties.

In pre-internet days, books were harder to find, even though I was enjoying the adult library lending privilege of six books at a time. And it was rarer still for me to own a book and this, being definitely an adult book with child protagonists, made me feel grown-up while still identifying with the kids. So, it was a favourite even though it really isn’t all that good.

In 1960s London, not wanting to be put in an orphanage and split up, a family of seven children bury their mother (dead of natural causes) in the backyard and say that she is too sick to receive visitors. Shades of The Death of Bees, but darker.

I gather this was made into a 1967 film by British director Jack Clayton. 3½ stars

 

Does anything in this paltry offering appeal to you?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Top Books Set in Atlantic Canada – with fewer than 2,000 Goodreads Ratings

July19

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

This week’s topic asks for books set outside the USA. I’ve combined that with the challenge from two weeks ago (books with fewer than 2,000 GoodReads ratings) to make you a list of Atlantic-Canadian-set books you may not have heard too much about. These books come from my reading of the last ten years, and the list is, of course, subject to change as life goes on.

 

1. River Thieves by Michael Crummey
1,381 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

River Thieves by Michael Crummey photo river thieves_zpse7s0tzco.jpgIn Newfoundland in the early 1800s, explorer David Buchan wants to establish communication with the last of the Beothuks–the native peoples.

The expedition goes “horribly awry” and it becomes clear that there is no way these people can avoid extinction, as long as “white men” continue to settle.

The book exposes the senselessness of such extinctions, and the baseness of human nature.
 

2. Downhill Chance by Donna Morrissey
419 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Downhill Chance by Donna Morrissey photo downhill chance_zpszutinpyu.jpgSet in Newfoundland fishing villages c1940-1955, this is a heart-rending story of how war affects families and communities.

Morrissey writes beautifully. Her characters are brilliantly real–likeable but flawed, every one.

This is also the story of women – Sare, Clair, Missy, Hannah. Even the things the men did were presented in the context of how it affected a woman, or women. But, trust me, that does not make this a women’s novel.
 

The Corrigan Women by M.T. Dohany photo corrigan women_zpsnawl24ic.jpg3. The Corrigan Women/To Scatter Stones/A Fit Month for Dying by M.T. Dohaney
30/12/15 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Set in a Newfoundland outport, this trilogy is the story of three generations of Corrigan women: Bertha, Carmel, & Tessie. The stories are rich and tragic; the writing superb. I was sad to see this series end.
 

4. Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark
820 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark photo latitudes of melt_zpsv2ocbroi.jpg

Also set in Newfoundland, this near Cape Race throughout the 20th century.

Baby Aurora is found floating on an ice pan in the North Atlantic Ocean. We later learn that she had been on the Titanic.

The book follows Aurora’s life and that of her daughter and grand-daughter. It’s lovely, almost lyrical writing.
 

5. Ivor Johnson’s Neighbours by Bruce Graham
6 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
Ivor Johnson's Neighbours photo ivor johnsons neighbours_zpsppb4yxvf.jpg
This is, in my opinion, the best of the four novels by Graham that I have read.

It has a great Nova Scotia small town setting (Parrsboro?) and realistic characters. The plots and sub-plots are skillfully woven together.

How the lives of the residents of Snake Road intertwine over the years!
 

6. A Forest for Calum by Frank Macdonald A Forest for Calum by Frank MacDonald photo forest for calum_zps210b2lxo.jpg
52 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars

Wonderful book set in Cape Breton (Nova Scotia). It explores the relationship between grandfather and grandson, and the need for a purpose in life.

No sugar coated endings.

Also, some lessons in Gaelic.
 

7. Tarcadia by Jonathan Campbell Tarcadia by Jonathan Campbell photo tarcadia_zpsuhcpwti9.jpg
7 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

The summer of 1974 in Sydney, Nova Scotia through the eyes of 13-year-old Michael.

The premise that leads to his family’s breakdown might seem bizarre if you didn’t live through that time of “free love” and “open marriage”. I found it disturbingly realistic.

Highly recommended.
 

8. Alligator by Lisa Moore
1,188 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

Alligator by Lisa Moore photo alligator_zpsqly7enka.jpgSet in modern day St. John’s, Newfoundland, this book tells its story through alternating chapters about Colleen, a seventeen-year-old would-be eco-terrorist, her mother Beverly, Beverly’s sister Madelaine, and Frank, a benevolent young man without a family.

Moore’s word pictures shine. Through them, and many seamless flashbacks, she provides character development, background and plot advancement simultaneously.

Alligator
is a Canadian best seller, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canadian and Caribbean region), and a Globe and Mail Book of the Year award.
 

9. Cold Clear Morning by Lesley Choyce
11 Goodreads ratings – my rating – 4 stars
Cold Clear Morning by Lesley Choyce photo cold clear morning_zpsiutkjq2k.jpg
Set in fictional Nickerson Harbour, Nova Scotia.

Man returned to his boyhood home after his wife fatally ODs, due to Hollywood lifestyle. Man finds roots, memories including the cold clear morning.

Beautifully written.
 

10. There You Are by Joanne Taylor
13 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

 photo there you are_zpsfshfpxey.jpgTwelve-year-old Jeannie Shaw lives in the Margaree Valley on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in the 1950s. Amazon says: “Lonely and isolated in her small, post-World War II rural community, she longs for a friend, a longing that verges on obsession. When a new family moves in, her hopes are raised, then dashed, and a near tragedy yields unexpected results. Taylor has done a fabulous job of painting a vivid picture of life on Cape Breton Island.”

This is a middle-grades novel that I would recommend to readers of any age.
 

Bonus #11. Losing Eddie by Deborah Joy Corey
53 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
Losing Eddie by Deborah Joy Corey photo losing eddie_zps50x665xh.jpg
This is a brilliant first novel about how the death of teenage child affects family dynamics.

“Deborah Joy Corey captures the voice of . . . poverty and the voice of a single, struggling family” in rural New Brunswick.

Eloquent insights into family relationships.
 

* * * * *

 

Of course, there a myriad of other Atlantic-Canadian books I could recommend as well as those set elsewhere in Canada. Perhaps another post, if anyone is interested?
 



P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Books Read in December 2013

July16

books read
Derailment! On the first of December, I flew to Ontario from my home in Nova Scotia, after receiving word the evening before that my mother had died at home, suddenly and unexpectedly.

My mother was the next-thing-to-a-hoarder and her house had four floors stacked from top to bottom, and wall to wall with STUFF. It fell to me to move in and start going through it. I worked 12-14 hour days on this project and was usually too exhausted to read when I finally got into bed. When I did find the time, I found it very hard to concentrate—a natural grief reaction.

Here is the sum total of my reading for the month, and–YAY–that’s 2013 DONE.


 

SUITE FRANCAISE by Irène Némirovsky (Fiction, WWII, French) 4.5 star rating

 photo dad5f90d-cefd-4646-971a-f7954dc22782_zpsbrfbajpx.jpg This is the first two parts of what the author evidently intended to be a five part opus. Némirovsky was arrested in 1942 and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. This manuscript, then, was written in the early years of the war in Occupied France, in which she set the novel.

In Storm in June, wealthy Parisians flee the city before it falls. The second “movement”, Dolce, concerns the complicated relationships between the inhabitants of a French country village and the German soldiers who are occupying that village.

This is lyrical writing, sustained in the translation from the French by Sandra Smith. How I wish the author could have completed this work!

Read this if: you enjoy beautiful writing. 4½ stars


 

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson (Fiction) 4 star rating

 photo 43e7f4a2-12b3-47e8-a37a-2daed50e6c8c_zpsp2ouq3cp.jpg Wow – how to classify this book? By now, you’ve either read the book or heard the premise: Ursula dies at birth, is reborn and this time does not die; Ursula drowns at age 4, we try again and she doesn’t drown; and so on. (So many ways to die!)

But the book is not as linear as it sounds. In fact, it’s not linear at all, and by the conclusion of the book, although we have many versions of Ursula’s life, none is the ribbon-tied ending you might have expected, and none is so awful that it couldn’t be borne. Extremely well-done.

Read this if: you loved those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a kid; or you just want something to think about. 4 stars


 

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Jill McCorkle (Fiction, Contemporary) 3.5 star rating

 photo 83a54767-0cfc-4d12-a7b3-c48c9a43d44a_zpscfhfcihg.jpg Published in 2013, within two weeks of Atkinson’s book of the same title, McCorkle’s novel seemed to have gotten buried.

This Life After Life is about the residents and staff of a nursing home for the elderly, each of whom had a life before their life in the facility.

Enjoyable to read, but not really any new ideas.

Read this if: you think you’re going to get old one day (it’s either that or the grave). 3½ stars


 

WAYS OF GOING HOME by Alejandro Zambra (Fiction, Literary, Chilean)

 photo 9eb47f0c-97b7-4843-9c94-33bfd59ced92_zpsnasthpmo.jpg This book showed up in my library inbox in late November because I was trying to complete an unofficial A to Z Reading Challenge using authors’ last names.

Amazon tells me that the book “begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed nine-year-old boy” in Santiago, Chile. I vaguely remember that, but nothing else.

I plead extreme fatigue. I plead grief. I plead the passage of 2½ years. This may well be “A brilliant novel from ‘the herald of a new wave of Chilean fiction’” but I can’t remember and can’t rate it.

 

As I said at the beginning of this post – that’s 2013 done. Wish me success completing 2014.

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

WONDROUS WORDS – Quire & Ream

July13

This week’s words come from the the story Lord Chizelrigg’s Missing Fortune by Robert Barr, published in 1906. It’s in the anthology A Body in the Library edited by Rex Collings, published 1991.

“I take it a thousand sheets were supplied, although of course it may have been a thousand quires, which would be a little more reasonable for the price charged, or a thousand reams, which would be exceedingly cheap.”

As book-lovers you are no doubt familair with these words, as I am. But I must admit that, if pressed, I couldn’t have defined them accurately. And I love the etymology of these words.

quire photo quire_zpsl3hlkpb4.jpgQuire: a set of 24 or 25 sheets of paper of the same size and stock, the twentieth part of a ream.

The word quire originated from Old French: quaer, a book of loose pages, which can be traced to the Vulgar Latin quaternum, paper packed in lots of four pages.

Ream: a quantity of paper varying from 480 sheets (20 quires) to 516 sheets.

Ream can be traced to the Arabic: rizma: a bale or packet.


Do you have any other “book words” to share?

 

Wondrous Words Wednesday photo wondrouswordsWednesday_zps7ac69065.png
Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. It’s hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion. Hop on over and see what wondrous words other bloggers have discovered this week.

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Six Books in Six Categories: 2016’s 6 in 6

July10

six in six 2016 photo 6_zpsrm17yfku.jpgI’m joining in an annual link-up hosted by Jo at The Book Jotter.

Now that we are halfway through the year, I quickly share the books I’ve read in those first 6 months: 6 books in each of 6 categories. The categories can be ones that Jo suggests or ones I choose myself.

There’s time until the end of July to join in, if you’d like to share the books you’ve read: 6 in 6.

Six first in a mystery series
Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver
MacDeath by Cindy Brown
In Dog We Trust by Neil S. Plakcy
Butterfly Boy by Mary Hiker

Six from the Non-fiction shelf
Sheetpan Suppers by Molly Gilbert
Edwardian Cooking: the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards
Eat It Later by Michael Alvear
The Shelf by Phyllis Rose
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Guiliana Enders

Six authors I’ve read before

The Funeral Makers by Cathie Pelletier
Black Diamond by Martin Walker
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
Clouds in My Coffee by Julie McIvern
Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan
Swann by Carol Shields

Six authors new to me
Nate in Venice by Richard Russo
The Meadow by James Galvin
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum
Nuts in May by Cornelia Skinner

Six books I received from the LibraryThing members’ giveaway
Public Garden Penny by Daniel Kelley
Hunter’s Daughter by Nowick Gray
How to Raise a Good Kid by Starbuck O’Dwyer
Writer’s Block by Julian Padowicz
Abandoned Dreams by Rod Raglan
Falling Problem by Andrew Stanek

Six books that were left over
Lost Luggage by Jordi Punti
All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Hotel Angeline by 36 Seattle authors, edited by Garth Stein
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

 

Mystery Books Read in November 2013

July8


 

Here are the only two mystery books I read in November. Both were set in the 1930s, a period I love to read about. This post makes me almost done recording 2013!
 

 

1. ANGEL WITH TWO FACES by Nicole Upson (Fiction, Mystery, 1930s English setting) 3.5 star rating

 photo 65b07ef3-6bfb-438f-815b-e701d3e81965_zpssspni6sl.jpg

This is the second book in Upson’s series featuring real-life writer Josephine Tey. This second instalment finds Tey and her friend (but not more) Inspector Archie Penrose enjoying a week as guests at a country manor house during the actual four-year hiatus in between Tey’s first two novels.

The mystery was nothing special and ultimately forgettable. But I do enjoy the growing characterization of Tey and Penrose.

Read this if: you’re a fan of Josephine Tey. 3½ stars

 

2. ON THE ROCKS: a Willa Cather and Edith Lewis Mystery by Sue Hallgarth (Fiction, Mystery, 1930s American setting) 2.5 star rating

 photo f2fcc3de-cd1c-4aa1-bf4c-6a719291ae66_zpsumoasguv.jpgWell, actually, this story is set on Grand Manaan Island which is really Canadian, but the holiday community, at least for the summer discussed, is composed of Americans.

On the Rocks can’t decide whether it’s a fictional mystery featuring American writer Willa Cather, or a non-fiction biography of Cather. It leans to the biography side which results in a complicated and nearly senseless mystery.

Read this if: you’d enjoy a fictionalized slice of Willa Cather’s life. 2½ stars

Note: I won a copy of On the Rocks from the publisher but this had no effect on my rating.

 

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Top Ten Books I Have Enjoyed that Have Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on GoodReads

July5

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

This week’s topic allows me to share some books from my reading of the past few years that I think should get “more air-time”.
 

1. A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam
618 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

a beautiful truth by colin mcadam photo beautiful truth 175_zpste0e9jvy.jpg Set in Vermont and in a Florida primate research facility, this story is told alternately from the POV of humans and chimpanzees.

Wealthy young couple Walt and Judy, unable to conceive children, adopt a young chimpanzee who enjoys a pampered life with them. Meanwhile, in Florida, chimps have been studied (and more) for decades. These two stories tragically intersect.

This is an extremely powerful book that continues to haunt me, though I read it over two years ago.
 

2. Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
1,093 GoodRead ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Dog Boy by Eva Hornung photo dog boy_zpsfvfqoqvz.jpgI’ll repeat my comments of March 2013: Winner of the 2010 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Dog Boy is a marvel of experience and of emotion.

Four-year-old Romochka is abandoned in Moscow at the beginning of winter. Hungry and cold, he follows a feral dog to her lair – and so starts Romochka’s life as a dog. The premise sounds preposterous, but Hornung makes it work.

I can’t understand why this book didn’t win more awards.
 

3. Adé: A Love Story by Rebecca Walker
Ade: a Love story by Rebecca Walker photo ade_zpsfmnnfum9.jpg 551 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
 

I mentioned Adé in a recent Six Degrees of Separation post, comparing it to Romeo and Juliet. It’s haunting and heart-breaking, and definitely not a “romance novel”. This tale, set in modern-day Kenya, deserves to be a classic of 21st century literature. I have not been as touched by a book in a long time as I was by Adé.
 

4. How High the Moon by Sandra Kring
1,114 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

How High the Moon by Sandra Kring photo how high the moom_zpsruhngwmd.jpgHow delightful this book!

Isabelle “Teaspoon” Marlene was abandoned by her mother and left with mother’s boyfriend of one year, Teddy, who raises her. It’s summer 1955 and Teaspoon is 10 years old.
The relationships are exceedingly well done, and Teaspoon’s misunderstanding of adult terms (such as blackmail: a dark-colored letter) leads to some very funny parts.

Fresh voice, and humour, and warmth – oh my – a new favourite!
 

5. Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert
1,917 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars

Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert photo hawks hill_zpsv5ceii5y.jpgSet in the nineteenth century American mid-west, this is the story of a little boy who becomes lost on the prairie and spends several weeks living underground with an adult female badger. For some reason, I mistakenly thought it was a true story – and I found it highly believable. The boy was small and desperate; and the badger, grieving.

It doesn’t really “prettify” nature’s interaction with men (and vice-versa).

Newbery Honor Book. Recommended.
 

6. Wrecker by Summer Wood
(Raising) Wrecker by Summer Wood photo wrecker_zpsnwtovmlp.jpg
411 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars

The best way to find out about Wrecker is to read my review.

I was hooked on Wrecker from the first paragraph and could seldom put it down.

There are beautiful insights and rich emotion, caught in spare and lovely prose.

Just read it.
 

7. Altamont Augie by Richard Barager
55 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Altamont Augie by Richard Barager photo augie_zpsunhb7dgw.jpgRichard Barager’s debut novel is set against the back drop of 1960s America, the Vietnam War, and the ever increasingly violent anti-war protests of the time. It is the story of David and Jackie, young people on opposite sides of those divisive issues, but who have a passion for each other that connects them through it all.

Barager has crafted a keenly insightful look into the politics of the 1960s, presenting both sides, but with a protagonist who represents a view that was decidedly unpopular among youth of the day.

When I first read Altamont Augie , I rated it 4½ stars. But since it provided much fuel for discussion in our household, was extremely thought-provoking and stayed with me, when it came time to review it, I upped my rating to 5 stars.
 

8. The Grace That Keeps This World by Tom Bailey
537 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
the Grace that keeps this World by Tom Bailey photo grace that keeps_zps4xwefymp.jpg
My 2005 pre-blogging reading journal remarks:

Wow. Just wow!

First, I love the different perspectives by different people.
Second, the setting and life-style are, if not appealing, certainly compelling.
Third, the plot didn’t go at all where I expected it to.

Set in rural Wisconsin.
 

9. The Last Rain by Edeet Ravel
26 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

The Last Rain by Edeet Ravel photo last rain_zpsguyfktlk.jpgThis novel is set on a kibbutz in Israel, mostly in the years 1949 and 1961.

The story jumps to various points of view and time periods, as well as formats (bits of a play, excerpts of committee meeting minutes, diary entries, and so on) at what is, at first, a dizzying—and sometimes annoying—rate. But piecing it together is all part of the plot, illustrating the complexities of any experiment to create a utopia.

When I finished the book, I wanted to start at the beginning and read it again now that I had the whole picture.
 

10. The Meadow: a Novel by James Galvin
1,218 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
The Meadow by James Galvin photo meadow_zpstieipgg7.jpg
 
From Amazon: “James Galvin depicts the hundred-year history of a meadow in the arid mountains of the Colorado/Wyoming border. Galvin describes the seasons, the weather, the wildlife, and the few people who do not possess but are themselves possessed by this terrain.

I read this for book club – and I’m glad I did!
 


 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Weekend Cooking – On the Scent of Truffles

July2

Last weekend I posted an excerpt from Black Diamond featuring Bruno, Chief of Police. It included directions for making a Crème Brûlée with Truffles.

Truffe noire du Perigord photo Truffe_noire_du_Peacuterigord_zpsjnaacdll.jpgOne of my readers asked if anyone knew what truffles taste like. They’re a fungus that usually grows in tree roots, and one wouldn’t think they’d go with dessert. (Mushroom pudding, anyone?)

Truffles are one of those things that I’ve heard about all my life but have never tried. So I’m putting it out there: if you’ve tasted truffles, please share.

I think there a number of ingredients that fall in the same category for me – things I’ve heard about, know a little about, but have never had the pleasure of imbibing.

What food is in this category for you? Mussels? Anchovies? Caviar? I’ll start the discussion by admitting that I’ve never tasted capers.

 

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg

I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.

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The View from My Window – 30Jun16

June30

Time for the monthly update on the view from my office window.

In the photo, there doesn’t seem to have been much change since the beginning of June. But when you’re here, you can tell that the wild roses in the circle garden are blooming, and everything is just fuller.

view from my window Jun16 photo Window June 2016 450_zpsq5supbzl.jpg

The weather in June was crummy for the first two weeks: cold and rainy. The rain pushed back the fence-building work which, in turn, pushed back the tree trimming. That pear tree in the foreground has got to go!

It’s been lovely since and all the rain and then the sun has made everything lush. This long holiday weekend promises to be sunny and hot – perfect beach weather.

How’s the weather where you are?;

Books Read in November 2013

June28

books read
In November 2013, I was still a reading machine, getting through a dozen books, although two were cookbooks, and two were picture books. I guess that means I’m not much of a machine after all, doesn’t it?

The two mystery books that I read are detailed in a separate post.

 

1. THE LIBRARY by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small (Children’s picture book, Bibliophilic) 5 star rating

 photo library_zpscddvujp4.jpg 

Elizabeth Brown loves to read and leaves her home as a library for the town. A charming story and delightful illustrations.

Read this if: you love books; or want to engender a love of books in a little person. 5 stars


 

2. IN THE LAND OF BIRDFISHES by Rebecca Silver Slayter (Fiction, Literary, Canadian) 4.5 star rating

 photo in20the20land20of20burdfishes_zps1dfrwahf.jpg Blinded in childhood, two young sisters are separated for treatment and lose contact with each other. As an adult, Aileen decides to search out her sister in the Yukon Territory, Canada.

This is a brilliant depiction of the long summer nights of the short northern summer near the Arctic Circle. Add an unreliable narrator (but who?) and it’s a smashing story.

Read this if: you’re looking for a literary summer read; or are interested in new Canadian literary talent. 4½ stars


 
3. ZELDA AND IVY by Laura McGee Kvansnosky (Children’s picture book, Series) 4 star rating
 photo d6deaaa8-ce88-4778-9669-7808d2eee500_zpsugcpnpij.jpg 
Zelda and Ivy are sisters who make me glad I was the eldest of my siblings. I hope I was a better big sister than Zelda.

Charmingly illustrated, this book kicked off a popular series of Zelda and Ivy adventures.

Read this if
: you’re helping a child deal with sibling relationship issues. 4 stars


 

4. THE BURGESS BOYS by Elizabeth Strout (Fiction, Contemporary, American) 4 star rating
 photo 0982fbfd-6063-4554-b34a-74e6c4480f3a_zpsp0jbbezw.jpg 

With The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout continues her tradition of fine fiction (see my notes on her Amy and Isabelle.) Her writing is beautiful and the stories are memorable.

Read this if: you want a literary summer read (another one!) 4 stars


 
 
5. BREAD BAKING MADE EASY by “Rita Martin” and Robin Hood Multifoods 4 star rating

This small gem, published by Robin Hood in 1953, illustrates step-by-step breadmaking. You need not have any prior experience nor even exposure to yeast, kneading, or doubling. This book explains it all.

 photo a486ea8b-71fd-435f-947f-b60fc21f2aa7_zpsclph0eb7.jpgIt’s an interesting aside that Rita Martin was invented in 1938 as a corporate character for Robin Hood flour. According to Culinaria: “with a name equally pronounceable in English and French, Martin was one of the faces of Robin Hood [Canada] until around 1970.”

The test, of course, of any cookbook is what kind of bread I made using the directions: it was light and even, and I felt that it was a “properly made” loaf.

Read this if: you want to learn how to make basic bread. 4 stars


 

6. A WILDER ROSE by Susan Wittig Albert (Fiction, Biography, Book-related) 3.5 star rating

 photo 8c6b88ce-01bf-4af3-a531-413aac3d5f10_zps9mmojykh.jpg

Many of you have read and loved the pioneer stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Some of you are aware of the controversy surrounding her stories—allegations that it was, not Laura, but Laura’s daughter Rose Wilder, who wrote the Little House books.

Witting Albert makes this case, rather convincingly, in this novel based on Wilder’s life between 1928 and 1939.. She uses some artistic license to imagine the communications between Laura and Rose.

Read this if:
you’ve read and enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. 3½ stars

 

7. VW BLUES by Jacques Poulin (Fiction, Canadian, Quebecois, translated) 3.5 star rating

 photo 17b3b41a-84eb-453f-abd1-912c9e5d629c_zps2bb4bghf.jpg I’ve wanted to read this since Rock Carrier championed it in CBC’s Canada Reads in 2005.

Translated from French, VW Blues is the story of an impulsive road trip from Gaspe in Quebec to Las Vegas, Nevada to find the protagonist’s brother, with whom he has had no contact for 20 years.

I thought it dragged in spots although, in the end, everything tied together.

Read this: if you’ve thought about going off to find long-lost relatives. 3½ stars

 

8. TRAIN OF SMALL MERCIES by David Rowell (Fiction, Historical, American) 3 star rating

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I was an impressionable 13-year-old when Robert Kennedy was assassinated and I’ve had an interest in RFK since then. So when I heard that this book centred on the train carrying Kennedy’s body from New York City to Washington D.C. for burial, I was intrigued.

Alas, although there was potential, there was no story.

Read this if: you enjoy very low-key anecdotes about everyday life. 3 stars


 
9. THE THIEF by Fuminari Nakamura (Fiction, Contemporary, Japanese, translated) 3 star rating
 photo b0dcaf28-a0aa-4efe-9a4d-b41e48a0208f_zpsfuihvs6j.jpg 

I understand that this is a Japanese modern classic. But either it loses greatly in translation, or my sense of “classic” is off. I did persevere to the end, but it was almost painful.  

Boring, not much point. 3 stars
 


 

10. 1 BATTER; 50 CAKES: Baking to Fit Your Every Occasion by Gina Greifenstein (Cookbook) .5 star rating
 photo 3eb5e35a-faea-4429-b674-3be6d2dedfb2_zpsjmsuikmn.jpg 

This recipe book sounded promising but really was just a compilation of recipes that purportedly followed a basic pattern.

As with the breadmaking booklet, the test is in the tasting. We tried only one recipe, that produced a “cake” that wasn’t even edible.

The half star is for explaining the basic composition of cakes.

Don’t bother to read this. ½ star

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Rural French Cooking – à la Bruno, Chief of Police

June25

Black Diamond by Martin Walker photo black diamond_zpsvcdqrqij.jpgOne of my favourite mystery series is Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police. The books are set in southern France about 100 km (60 miles) from where we stayed in 2014. We did, indeed, take a couple of day trips into Bruno’s territory, before I had ever met Bruno.

Part of what I love about this series is the atmosphere – the life and ways of modern French villages, being bought out by wealthy foreigners (chiefly British), but valuing their heritage, including their cooking.

This is not a cozy series and does not include recipes. But Bruno is no slouch as a cook, and in Black Diamond he makes a dessert for a funeral gathering. I was particularly intrigued because I had considered buying a jar of truffles (scraps and trimmings, no doubt) while I was there but wasn’t sure how I’d cook them, or whether I’d be allowed to bring them back into Canada since fresh truffles are definitely banned from import.

Here then, is the closest to a recipe this series comes.

Crème Brûlée with Truffles

Now for the dessert, he said to himself. He had decided on crème brûlée with truffles and began by taking a jar of truffle scraps and trimmings and tying them firmly into a small bag of doubled cheesecloth. Then he poured three quarts of heavy cream into a saucepan, turned on the heat and dropped the bag of truffle trimmings into the thick liquid. As it heated, he began—with thanks to his chickens for their fecundity even this late in the year—to crack two dozen eggs, tipping the egg halves quickly back and forth over a bowl so that the whites slithered out and the yolks were left in their half shell. In a separate bowl, he mixed the egg yolks with a dozen tablespoons of sugar until they were thickened and had turned pale yellow.

creme brulee 400 photo creme brulee 2_zpsvyhbgc2o.jpg

The cream was about to boil, and the heady scent of truffles began to fill the kitchen. He turned down the heat, poured in the egg yolks and whisked until the mixture began to steam. Careful not to let it boil, he tested it with a wooden spoon to see if it would coat the wood, and once it did he poured the mixture through a sieve into his largest soufflé dish. He chopped one of the black truffles he had been saving into the mix and set it aside to cool. He’d leave it in the refrigerator throughout the day to set, and then all it would need was a layer of sugar on the top and a minute with a blowtorch to melt it. The result would be a dessert fit for royalty. Fit for Hercule, he thought sadly.

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg
I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.

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Mystery Books Read in October 2013

June22

 

I continued with a favourite series – and discovered a really good new (to me) one.

Have a look!
 


1. THE SOUND AND THE FURRY
by Spencer Quinn (Mystery, Detective, series) 4.5 star rating

 photo sound20and20the20furry_zpsiko3annm.jpg This is the sixth installment in the Chet & Bernie series, which the canine “Chet the Jet” narrates. He and his “partner” Bernie run the Little Detective Agency and have been hired to seek the missing brother of a past “client”. Said brother has disappeared with his houseboat somewhere in the Louisiana bayou. This poses a BIG change of scenery for our boys but Quinn had me smelling those swamps, so succinct were his descriptions.

If you haven’t yet tried this series (perhaps because of the animal narrator), I’d urge you to do so anyway. There is almost always a solid mystery and some suspense. And Chet has such a naive and positive outlook on life that he can’t help but leave you smiling.

Read this (series) if: you’re a dog lover; or you’d like a mystery that’s definitely not cozy but still fun. 4½ stars

 

2. KILLED IN THE RATINGS by William L. deAndrea (Mystery, Vintage) 4 star rating

 photo killed20in20the20ratings_zpsrwmjmgqk.jpg I found reference to this series in Old-Time Detection, a thrice-yearly publication written and published by Arthur Vidro of Claremont NH, and I was able to purchase the Kindle version of the series’ first book.

Written and set in the 1980s, it’s a peek into corporate culture in the pre-cell phone, pre-Internet days. It’s also a look behind the scenes in the television industry.

Matt Cobb, network executive, deals with literally deadly office politics. It’s reasonably well-written. I’m not sure how more murders will occur within the scope of a high-end entertainment exec, but the series continues, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading some more.

Read this if:
you’re nostalgic for the days when you didn’t have to be available to everybody 24/7; or you’re looking for a series that not too dark, in a setting that’s a little different. 4 stars

 

3. THE IGGY CHRONICLES by Spencer Quinn (Mystery, Novella – adjunct to the series) 4 star rating

 photo 44548fdf-0ab4-4b9b-85ce-4eac7b59db2c_zpslrfurogc.jpg Another sort of prequel to the Chet & Bernie series (see item #1), this is the story of Iggy, the dog next door. Iggy is Chet’s bud, but they don’t see much of each other.

While this wasn’t as intriguing as A Cat Was Involved, another series prequel, Quinn still has a way with a story and this dog’s irrepressible take on life.

Read this if: you’re a series fan. If you haven’t read any of the books yet, start with A Cat Was Involved and then move on to Dog Gone It. 4 stars-

 

Do you like the sound of either of these series?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

SNAPSHOT SATURDAY 18Jun16: Updating the Travel Journal

June18

I’m stuck looking through our photos of our trip to France two years ago. It was such a dream come true.

updating the travel journal southern france photo iPad 54 450_zpscbsrlysi.jpg

Updating our travel journal: This was one of our “home” days, having lunch in the walled garden in back of our gite (cottage). Bread & soft cheese (I shared that plateful!). And, I know, it should be wine instead of water but, now & then, we needed a break.
 

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Books Read in October 2013

June16

books read Finally – here I am with my “Books Read Summaries” for the rest of 2013. This is what happens when one lets herself get behind in recording “Books Read” on her blog, her personal & necessary record: life, and death, and more life. I won’t bore you with the details all at once, just as they occur.

So here I am in October 2013, blissfully unaware of what’s ahead, and reading, reading. Because this was almost three years ago, I won’t pretend to remember everything about these books, but I’ll tell you what I can. I’m thankful that I rated them when I read them.

The three mystery books that I read are detailed in a separate post.
 

1. THE DEATH OF BEES by Lisa O’Donnell (Contemporary, Scottish) 4 star rating

 photo b70d1352-ae96-453d-a95f-42ccc7674d2c_zps3dqjmyir.jpg Two young girls bury their parents in the back yard and try to carry on as normal so that their parents’ assistance cheques will keep coming. The lonely widowed next-door neighbour watches them, suspects that something is amiss, and reaches out to include them in his life.
The story is told in the first person from the POV of each of the three main characters. I remember that the voices were clear and distinct. Also, the burgeoning relationship between the neighbours is credibly drawn.

Read this if: you’d like a sneak peek into the slums of modern-day Glasgow and the life of many of those who receive welfare; or if you like stories with young, resourceful protagonists. 4 stars
 

2. FAUNA by Alissa York (Literary, Contemporary, Canadian) 4 star rating

This was the 2013 pick for One Book Nova Scotia. It’s set in the Don Valley in Toronto, Ontario. The River Don runs through the heart of Canada’s biggest city, largely unnoticed by most residents, but the valley teems with wildlife activity. photo 76284495-5d1b-49cc-babb-f999ea81cb94_zpso3ohrcdo.jpg

Alissa Yorke imagines an auto wreckers in this ravine, with a secret sanctuary for the injured fauna of the title. All of the characters who cross paths here are recovering from or distancing themselves from a loss. Most interesting is Edal, a federal wildlife officer on stress leave, torn between reporting the illegal operation and watching the wildlife she is sworn to protect heal. There’s also a coyote-shooting fringe element, and of course, the wildlife itself.

Read this if: you are interested in the role that animals and humans play in the healing of the other; or you live in or near Toronto (or another large urban centre) and want a glimpse of the hidden world amid the concrete that is the Don Valley. 4 stars

 

3. BREATH by Tim Winton (Literary, Australian, 1970s setting) 4 star rating

Breath  photo 81762949-f7fc-4df7-81e6-a2513c61341d_zpsved5fxts.jpg is set in a small fictional village in Western Australia. Childhood friends Piker and Loon grow up daring each to more and more dangerous stunts. As teenagers, they take up surfing and meet Sando, a former pro surfer who leads them to new levels of daring.

What I remember most about this book is the image of the beauty and the savagery of the west Australian coast. Winton put me on the edge of my seat, underwater with those boys.

Breath won the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2009.

Read this if: you’ve forgotten the thrill of testing yourself to the limit. 4 stars

 

4. A FAR CRY FROM KENSINGTON by Muriel Spark (Fiction, Vintage, British) 4 star rating

The narrator  photo 97a6a513-1983-4986-9644-9118ad4ba959_zps2lwhudmm.jpgof this book lived in a boarding house in Kensington in the 1950s and recounts the mild adventures of her fellow boarders. As usual, the narrator is a key, but that fact is obscured until the end. This makes it sound as if I didn’t like this book, but I did – a great deal. Spark is a smooth delight at any time.

Read this if: you’ve just finished a book you had to work really hard at and you need a ‘palate-cleanser’; or, obviously, you enjoy vintage English comedies. 4 stars

 

5. EXTRAORDINARY by David Gilmour (Fiction, Canadian, Contemporary, Literary) 4 star rating

 photo extraordinary_zpsgnooqj91.jpgLong-listed for Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize for Fiction, Extraordinary became a controversial choice after comments made by the author that many saw as sexist. It was a challenge to approach this book then, without preconceived ideas about its value.

Very spare, it’s told from the viewpoint of a man asked by his sister to assist in her suicide. It’s perhaps as objective an account as can be told about this hotly debated subject.

Read this if: you’re interested in the collateral effect of the assisted death of an ill person. 4 stars

 

6. YOU ARE ONE OF THEM  by Elliott Holt  (Fiction, American) 3.5 star rating

 photo you20are20one20of20them_zpsaoy6jjyd.jpg Set during the Cold War, this story revolves around a community of young Americans living and working in Moscow.

I had a difficult time deciding on a rating of 3 or 3½ stars. In the end I came down on the side of readability.

Read this if: if you’d like a low-key spy novel. 3½ stars

 

7. PALISADES PARK by Alan Brennert (Fiction, Historical, American) 3.5 star rating

 photo palisades20park_zpsecrwxgrs.jpg The real Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City, saw millions of visitors in its life 1898 – 1971. It was immortalized in Freddy Cannon’s 1962 hit of the same name.

Brennert has created a novel that could well be the biography of generations of those who worked and/or owned the concessions and made the park their second home during the summer months.

Read this if: you remember having fun at Palisades Park or another large privately-owner amusement park. 3½ stars

 

8. EVERYTHING FLOWS by Vasily Grossman (Fiction, Historical, Russian, translated) 3.5 star rating

I would never have picked this up but for the War and Literature read along.
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Translated from the Russian, this strongly autobiographical story follows Ivan Grigoryevich who returns to society from prison during the Communist regime. It’s hard for us to imagine living with the distrust of friends and family members that Russian citizens did for decades—lifetimes.

I’m glad that I read this but it did drag immensely. Perhaps life in Russia did then.

Read this if: you want the nitty-gritty of life under Communism in post-WWII Russia. 3½ stars

 

9. EVERYBODY HAS EVERYTHING by Katrina Onstad (Fiction, Contemporary, Canadian) 3 star rating

 photo everybody20has20everything_zpsj3upslvf.jpg From Amazon: “After a car crash leaves their friend Marcus dead and his wife Sarah in a coma, Ana and James are shocked to discover that they have become the legal guardians of a 2½-year-old, Finn”.

I don’t know why I found this book so forgettable.

Read this if: Since I can’t remember anything about it, I can’t really recommend who should read it. 3 stars

 

10. THE HOW-TO HANDBOOK: Shortcuts and Solutions for the Problems of Everyday Life by Martin Oliver and Alexandra Johnson (Non-fiction, DIY) 3 star rating
 photo how-to20handbook_zpscra4vvi0.jpg

Instructions for many basic but necessary life skills. Suitable for teens moving out for the first time.

Read this if: you’re off to college or to find your place in the world. 3 stars

Note: I won a copy of this book on Library Thing Early Reviewers. This did not affect my rating.

 
Is there anything here that catches your interest?

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

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Five Things I Miss about City Living

June14

Last week I took part in Top Ten Tuesday and extolled the virtues of country living. I also promised that this week I would balance the scales a little by listing a few things I miss about living in the city.

I could come up with only five. I’m clearly a country girl at heart.

theatre masks photo theatre_zpsiuy3scuo.jpg1. Live Theatre — Although there is a small amateur group here in Tatamagouche, they present only twice a year. In the city, I had season’s tickets to every theatre group going, professional and amateur. From September to June, I was out an average of twice a month going to theatre productions.

2. Ethnic Food — Sometimes there will be one restaurant run by new citizens who will provide the cuisine of their home country, but usually it’s pizza, “Chinese”, or, here in Nova Scotia, donairs. Sometimes I long for good Indian food.
 photo pizza_zpsxhhz5oyc.jpg
3. Pizza Delivery
— There are some nights when it’s a toss-up as to which I feel less like doing: cooking or driving into the village to pick-up the pizza.

4. Sidewalks — In the spring, especially. Even when the snow is still piled up, if the walk has been cleared and the sun has been shining, there might be no need of boots in the city. In the country, we all have “mud boots” (for March through May) as well as warm winter boots.

deer in headlights photo deer_zpsf6apszzb.jpg5. Short distances to Your Friends’ Houses — It’s not the getting there, it’s the driving home after dark, keeping careful watch for all the critters who (rightfully) think the road is a part of their woods.

How about it, city dwellers? What are the advantages of urban living?

Books I’ve Read (in the Past): 1997

June11

 photo Books Ive Read text 400c_zpsrnpovccu.jpg

I first started keeping track of the books that I read in 1997 when I was already in my ’40s. What a foolish woman I was to not have started in my teens. How I’ve wished (over and over) that I had.

And my early records are incomplete, and some of the brief comments are laughable. But, inspired by JoAnn of Lakeside Musing who has shared her older journals in a series that she has named Pages from the Past, I’d like to share my journals with you. Herewith, a small sample from that first year, 1997.

death of a salesman 125 photo death of a salesman_zpseoca2nz8.jpg

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (fiction, play, drama, tragedy) Viking Press 1948/1970
Pulitzer Prize winner
** Very dark–not just about aging, but also madness. Would like to see it performed when in a better state of mind.
[2016 notes: Most everyone will have heard of Willy Loman and his family around whom this play is centred. Hard work and chasing the American dream have not rewarded Willy; neither have his sons turned out as he had hoped.]

illustrated garden book photo garden book_zpsegcb52cn.jpgThe Illustrated Garden Book by Vita Sackville-West (non-fiction, essays, gardening)
** An anthology of her newspaper columns from the 1940s and ’50s.
A window on a different life–English gentility; and a different climate, where she could arrange some plants to cut for indoor ‘flowers’ every month of the year!
[2016 notes: I remember that I immensely enjoyed this book, which I dipped into an essay at a time, and fell in love with Vita Sackville-West’s writing.]

and ladies of the club photo ladies of the club_zpsenzzavqu.jpg

And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer (fiction, saga, drama)
** My second time through this – the first over 10 years ago. I still enjoy the development of multi-generational characters; and I think I was more touched this time by the fleetingness of life. The U.S. politics still could not hold my interest, though.
[2016 notes: This story centres around two women (and eventually their families) in the years before, during, and after the American Civil War. I’m not sure why I was intrigued enough with this to reread it since it’s over 1300 pages.]

That’s all I recorded for 1997 although I know I read lots more than that. What do you think: shall I continue posting these old reading journal entries?

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Reasons I Love Country Living

June7

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

I want to make this a quick list that won’t require extra photos, nor a lot of your time to read.

1.
Privacy (in a physical sense). Folks will want to know who your grandfather was, where you’re from, why you’re here and lots, lots more. But most of them “don’t mean nothin’ by it”. It’s just the country way of knowing people. And they leave you be to go out on the deck in your robe (or less!)

2. Quiet – You’re usually far enough away from your neighbours that the noises you hear are the spring peepers, summer crickets, autumn leaves, and winter wind. Much nicer than someone else’s stereo on full blast, sirens and horns, and squealing tires.

3. Friendliness — It might take you a while to be accepted in the country but while you’re waiting you can pretty much know that everybody on Main Street will smile and say hello. It helps to try do things their way instead of showing off your city learnin’.

4. Traffic — There isn’t any. Except during haying season when the farmers drive their tractors down the highway. Three cars behind one is a traffic jam. (The school buses here pull over and let you by.)

5. Clean Air — No traffic carbon monoxide, no factory particulates or smells. Country air smells green; here it sometimes also smells like the ocean.

6. Clotheslines — outlawed in lots of cities, but pretty much de rigeur in the country.

7. No Water or Sewer Bill — not that we waste water; it is a limited earth resource after all. And every few years we have to pay to get the septic tank pumped. But it still beats having that monthly bill.

8. Wildlife
— Okay, the bear getting into the green bin was a little much, but I never tire of seeing deer in the yard, or catching a glimpse of a fox or a ferret crossing the road and disappearing into the woods. There’s red squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, muskrats and lots, lots more.

9. The View from My Window

10. House Accounts
— at the pharmacy and the hardware store. Enough said.
 

To be fair, there are a few things that I miss about living in the city. I’ll share them with you next Tuesday.

Semi-Charmed Summer 2016 Challenge

June5

I haven’t officially entered any book challenges since 2012, when I entered 63 of them. You read that right: sixty-three challenges. As you might guess, that burned me out of reading lists for a while.

But, from time to time, I do challenge myself: to themed reading months, to the What’s in a Name? challenge now hosted by The Worm Hole, and to Semi-Charmed winter & summer challenges. All of these have the common element of introducing me to books I might have left languishing on the shelf, while being creative and fun.

Semi-Charmed 225 photo Semi-Charmed SBC16 225_zps7fb8g3py.jpg
So it’s about time that I made it official: this year I’m formally entering Semi-Charmed’s Summer 2016 Challenge. I’ve copied the criteria to the end of this post. I have no idea at this time what books I will use to meet the requirements of each category, and I’m open to suggestions.

 

Categories:
5 points:
Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long.
10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essays. They may all be written by the same author, or the book may be an anthology from different writers; your choice!
10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children.
15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia.
15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing.
20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of.
25 points: Read a book with a punny title. The title can be a play on another book title, movie title or a common expression.
30 points: Read a microhistory.
30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word. Note: This category is reeeeeeeally open-ended! Maybe you like turtles, so The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a title with a “good” word. Similarly, the “bad” word could be a swear word or a literally negative word like “not” or “none,” or it could just be something you don’t like. Have fun with it! (Remember, you must read both books to get 30 points; this category is not worth 15 points per book.)
40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural. (Remember, you must read both books to get 40 points; this category is not worth 20 points per book.)

Do you have any suggestions for me?

Lobster Season!

June4

One of the bonuses of our rural community is that it is on the Atlantic coast. (In Nova Scotia most of us are not far from the ocean. The province is very nearly an island.)
lobster platter 450 photo lobster platter_zpsxnjjjleo.jpgThe government of Nova Scotia limits the fishing seasons and rotates them throughout the various areas of the province. Although lobster is being fished throughout the summer, the fisherman in our area have only May & June to haul them in. So lobster season is here on the North Shore!
lobster supper photo lobster supper 2_zpszgfur3bb.jpg
Since I was visiting Ontario for most of May, we have had a slow start to our personal lobster season. A neighbor of ours – just a mile down the road – runs Lobster Time each year to sell the lobsters that her husband & father-in-law fish. We picked up a feed today.

Since we eat them the traditional Atlantic Canadian way (cold with hot garlic butter, potato salad and bread), I bought these lobsters pre-cooked so supper was easy-peasy.

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg
I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking, even though I did very little actual cooking.

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