Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 book facts

I'm not sure anyone but me is interested in such a post! Just the facts about this year's reading.

This year I read 59 books.


Children's: 1 (well, really more than this, but wrote about one, and didn't keep track of the others)
Fiction: 8
Mystery: 42
Nonfiction: 7
Short stories: 1

Kindle: 48
Print: 11

Publication dates

1920s - 1
1930s - 7
1940s - 1
1950s - 4
1960s - 3
1970s - 3
1980s - 4
1990s - 9
2000 through 2010 - 8
2011 through 2019 - 19


Men: 15
Women: 43
By a man and a woman: 1

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My 2016 Reading

I spent a good part of the year in this area of the world without having to leave Windy Poplars Farm. This has to be one of the most wonderful things about reading. It is very doubtful that I will ever get to visit these countries, but I feel I know something about them from books.

I discovered the wonderful Inspector Singh mysteries by Shamini Flint. Singh's home is Singapore but he travels around solving crimes, mainly because his bosses want him out of their hair. He investigates in Mumbai, Cambodia, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, China, and London. He's happy when he gets to stay home. We hear often how his trademark white sneakers don't get dirty on Singapore's clean streets. Here is a list of the seven books written so far, in order of publication.

I read the third and fourth books in the Vish Puri series, The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken, and The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall, and so loved them.The author brings the sights and food and humanity of Delhi alive to the reader. I found an article on pollution there which was written by the author’s wife, journalist Anu Anand. You may read it here. She also wrote a blog piece about moving the family back to England because of this problem. It is here.There hasn’t been a new Vish Puri for three years, and I hope the series will continue.

I also read the second in Vaseem Khan's delightful Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series called The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown. Mumbai is the city featured in this series, and the author makes me feel as if I am there. A third book is on the way soon.

I read a new mystery called Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness - book 1 in the Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency series by David Casarett, and really liked it.

I read The Merry Misogynist - book 6 in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series by Colin Cotterill, a book I had put off because I didn’t like the title and what it meant. It was very good, but I can read these books only with spaces of time in between. I so like Dr. Paiboun and his wife, and the stories are excellent, but they are a bit … I don’t even know the adjective. Not dark, not heavy, but for me they are a bit intense. 

I was happy, happy that the prolific Alexander McCall Smith published number 17 (!!) in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, set in Botswana called Precious and Grace. I hope he never stops. These books are food for my soul. I love them beyond words.

I went to Maine, and caught up on the Gray Whale Inn series by Karen McInerney, reading books 4, 5, and 6; Berried to the Hilt, Brush with Death, and Death Runs Adrift. The 7th comes out next month. I adore the characters, the settings, and the stories in this series.

I was thrilled to see that two of my longtime favorite writers' books were available on kindle: D. E. Stevenson and Elizabeth Cadell. I read three by each author and remembered why I love their work so much. Interesting, kindly people, terrific settings, and just plain good stories. They never disappoint and I feel a contented happiness when I’m within their books. 

I spent the early part of the year finishing up my reading of Jane Langton’s series with former cop, now professor Homer Kelly and his wife Mary, also a professor. The reader learns a great deal about various locales, writers, and art. 

I did some reading in the Bobby Owens series by E.R. Punshon whose books are quiet, interesting Golden Age mysteries. I read the first Miss Seeton book by Heron Carvic, and two books in the Alan Grant series by Josephine Tey. I plan to continue with all three of these series. 

I also read some excellent nonfiction this year. The best, the most wonderful was Kick: The True Story of JFK's sister and the Heir to Chatsworth by Paula Byrne. I can't say enough good things about it. Such sadness in that family. Another good book was Elle & Coach by Stefany Shaheen (with Mark Dagostino). This is a story about a young girl with diabetes who is helped enormously by a yellow Labrador retriever. I was amazed by Coach. I very much enjoyed Deep in the Green by Anne Raver, a collection of gardening/life essays. There were a few other nonfiction books as well, but these were my favorites.

My reading year was full of sweet, old-fashioned fiction, wonderful mysteries, and some terrific non-fiction. My hope for next year is to read more print books, and try to write about my reading here, even if just little monthly book notes.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Today's picture/Writing Christmas cards

It is snowing outside the window as I write my Christmas cards. I feel like I'm in a movie.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Today's picture/A first day of winter surprise - moose antler

Tom and Lucy came upon this moose antler up in the woods on the morning four-wheeler ride. Lucy barked at it!

From my Wild Mammals of New England book:
New antlers begin to grow in April. Growth is slow at first but becomes much faster as summer advances. By August or September full development is reached when the velvet dries and is rubbed off on shrubs and trees. The antlers are usually shed in December or January, but may be shed as late as March.
This was newly shed because there was still a bit of blood at the base. Pretty cool, eh, wot?!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas wreath

I've meant to post this since we got our wreath three weeks ago! The woman who owns the flower CSA (Community Supported Agriculture),

which I wrote about so often this summer, made it.

It also had two bulbs of garlic on it, but we brought them inside. Oh, and we are hoping to get the house painted this summer. It has been over a decade! Geez, Louise!

Sunday, December 11, 2016


hygge (ˈhyɡə) noun: a concept, originating in Denmark, of creating cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing

I'm quite sure that I first read of hygge in this entry on Cornflower's blog. I began looking into the subject, and thought to myself, 'yes, this is it.' Here is my domestic life principle. This is who I am, a homebody who wants my home to be a comfortable and comforting place for me and others. I wrote about this a bit here, as I found that Laurie Colwin felt the same way. 

I've preordered The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking, and can't wait to read it.

I've heard that hygge was on short list for word of the year 2016, but it was beat out by brexit.

The pronunciation is something like 'hooguh' said quickly.

You may find more about hygge in the following places:

A short, terrific video here. I think I could happily live in Copenhagen. She shows us that hygge is a concept more far reaching than simply the household sense of the word.

And hereMore here

This should give you an idea, and if you are interested, there is much more online. Here are some hygge spaces in my house.

living room


tv room

Monday, December 5, 2016

Today's pictures/the December 5th birthday team!

Today Tom turns 66 and Hazel Nina turns 3!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Peeling a kiwi

I've begun adding a chopped kiwi to my blueberries and yogurt smoothie everyday. Here is a fantastic tip I saw online which makes the peeling quick and easy and even fun.

Cut the ends off the kiwi.

Insert a spoon under the skin and go all the way around.

Pop out the kiwi. 

Please visit Weekend Cooking for links to more food related postings.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Quote du jour/ Jan Karon

Cynthia came in quietly and set a cup of tea before him. He kissed 
her hand, inexpressibly grateful, and she went back into the kitchen. 
When we view the little things with thanksgiving, even they become 
big things. 

   Jan Karon, These High, Green Hills

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A decade

Ten years ago today when I began this blog, I wrote: 
Actually, I am a big fan of November. This is the month when the landscape opens up. We can see lights in the distance which were hidden throughout the summer. I’m sure that in past times, the families who lived on these isolated hill farms were happy to see the neighboring lights. When there wasn’t easy communication between people even a mile away, they must have brought great comfort in the winter season.
And now the lights I see down the hill, that I haven’t seen all summer belong to my daughter and her family. 

This is the photo I posted that day

Here is the same view of the house today

It isn't really slanted. ;<))  The old maple is gone, and the small trees have grown up. There is one young dog living in the house, not the three that were here in 2006. 

The ‘folks who live on the hill’ - see this post - are still going along. Older, yes. Slower, yes. Happier, yes. Our daughter living so close, our son only an hour away, and their partners, and the grandchildren give us life and hope and such joy. 

I am very grateful to the readers of my blog, both old and new. I am especially thankful that you drop by and take the time to leave a note even when I haven’t had a chance to visit your blogs in a while. There is such generosity of spirit among bloggers.

And so, I celebrate ten years of blogging.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Quote du jour/from Peak Practice

From an old British television show called Peak Practice. A character says,
"I like the cold. It lets you know you're alive."

This is exactly how I am feeling this evening of our first real snow of the season. I stand in the open doorway just breathing in the fresh, fresh air.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016




Ice cream tasters

Donkey riders

You Tube watchers


Four wheeler riders 

All in a day full of fun and great joy and oh, so much love!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Death of Leon Russell

I feel so lucky that I saw Leon from the third row in a small, intimate venue in August 2014. He has been one of my musical loves for a long, long time. He was supposed to be there again last month but he'd had a heart attack this summer. I thought he must be better because he had rescheduled for February. But it was not to be. Sadly for us, happily for him, he died in his sleep today.

We were in the presence of greatness. That voice, that piano playing, those songs.

He was completely unique in the music world, and his death is a deep loss. There is an excellent obituary in The New York Times here.

It was hard for me to choose one song to put up in honor of Leon Russell, but I think this one is the most meaningful to me as a parent, and now grandparent. I wish there were a video of this song, but there are some nice photos that are shown.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday Sally/November 12

Sally: A brief journey; an excursion or trip.

For this week’s Saturday Sally, I am doing a couple follow-ups to my own letters. The first thing is that I tried a tip I wrote about in a What I Learned from TV post. I tried putting salt in a candle to see if the candle burned longer. I put two identical Vance Kitira candles side by side and burned them for four evenings. 

And the result is that the salt made not one bit of difference, and in fact, the salted candle was worse looking today than it was on Tuesday when I began my experiment. 

Did I do it wrong? I sprinkled salt right in the wick area, and outside it for good measure. Anyhow, I just wanted to give you an honest report.

A year ago July I wrote about Roz Chast’s book Can’t we talk about something more PLEASANT? She wrote an epilogue to the book in The New Yorker a few months ago. You may find it here. It is quite wonderful, and a fitting end to her book.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

Today's picture and today's video/Hazel Nina, and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Hazel Nina had so much fun today watching Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. She was singing along, 'time, time, time.'

I thought you might enjoy the video as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Death of Leonard Cohen

I just read on my blogging friend Robin's Instagram that Leonard Cohen has died. I feel so very sad about this. He has been a musical fixture in my life for nearly fifty years. I can't believe he is gone.

Last month I posted a photo of Hazel Nina and I walking and I quoted a line from Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye. I planned to put up a video of he and Judy Collins singing it. This was a meaningful song to Tom and I when we were kids because we were always being separated by school schedules and family responsibilities.

So now I shall post it in memory of, and in honor of, the wonderful Leonard Cohen.

You may read a very recent article in The New Yorker here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today's song/All Your Favorite Bands by Dawes

I love the sweet message in this song.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election day around here

Since Hazel Nina was about 6 months old, we've been taking care of her while her mother and father worked. For a year it was four days a week, and now it is two, but Tuesday has always been one of the days. And because Tuesday is voting day, Hazel has now been to the polls three times!

Here she is on November 4, 2014.

And the sticker from February 9, 2016 (don't know why we didn't take an inside pic).

Today she walked in and came upon a bake sale. Now she knows that voting means eating cookies!

Here she is waiting for the elevator to take us upstairs, cookie in hand.

Inside the booth with Pop. The woman told us 950 people had already voted and we were there around one o'clock. According to the 2010 census we only have about 2500 people in the whole town!

Afterwards we went to the playground next door.

Then she fell asleep. Voting takes it out of you!

And meanwhile, the animals say, "what's an election?"