Laura (lauralkeet)'s 75 in 2021 - Part 4

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Laura (lauralkeet)'s 75 in 2021 - Part 4

Redigerat: jun 30, 7:30am

Woody & Alys’s relationship has reached a new level. For the first time ever, they are sharing something!

Midnight, Aug 2002 - Apr 2021

Welcome to my thread! I'm Laura, late 50s, retired. My husband Chris and I recently moved from Philadelphia to northern Virginia. Our daughters, Kate and Julia, live in Brooklyn. 2021 is my thirteenth year in the 75 Book Challenge Group. Where has the time gone?!

Reading has always been an important part of my life, but it saved my sanity in 2020. I made a nice dent in the tbrs on my shelves, but also read a fair amount of contemporary, recently-published stuff. More of the same this year, I think, along with a group read now and then. And of course I’ll keep plugging away at various series, and stay current with new series releases.

Besides reading, I spend a lot of time knitting and have a knitting thread in the Needlearts group; stop in and say hi sometime!

My 2021 threads can be found here:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Books completed
21. The Debatable Land - comments here
22. The Family Upstairs - comments here
23. A Mercy - comments here
24. Zorrie - comments here
25. The Night Always Comes - comments here
26. The Beet Queen - comments here
27. The Widow of the South - comments here

28. Summerwater - comments here
29. Square Haunting - comments here
30. The Postscript Murders - comments here
31. Home - comments here
32. In Bad Company - comments here
33. Sworn to Silence - comments here

Redigerat: jun 30, 7:31am

Series Progress

Active series as of April 1:

A snapshot of my active series sorted on the "progress" column.

Series completed/current in 2021:
* Harbinder Kaur, by Elly Griffiths (June 2021)
* Sandhamn Murders, by Viveca Sten (June 2021)

Series started in 2021:
* Harbinder Kaur, by Elly Griffiths
* Darktown, by Thomas Mullen
* Kate Burkholder, by Linda Castillo

Series abandoned in 2021:
* Darktown, by Thomas Mullen


Toni Morrison Catch Up Project
Inspired by a course I took last year, I started a project to read (or re-read) all of Toni Morrison’s novels in order of publication. Below is a list of Morrison’s novels, with those I have yet to read in bold. Some of these will be re-reads.

The Bluest Eye, 1970 (read June 2020)
Sula, 1973 (read July 2020)
Song of Solomon, 1977 (read August 2020)
Tar Baby, 1981 (read October 2020)
Beloved, 1987 (read Jan 2020, this was a re-read)
Jazz, 1992 (read January 2021)
Paradise, 1997 (read February 2021)
Love, 2003 (read March 2021)
A Mercy, 2008 (read May 2021)
Home, 2012 (read June 2021)
God Help the Child, 2015

Redigerat: jun 30, 7:31am

Currently reading

Whose Body?

On Deck

The Bingo Palace

maj 1, 8:04am

Hi Laura, and happy new thread!

maj 1, 8:15am

Happy new thread, Laura!

maj 1, 8:50am

Happy new thread, Laura!

maj 1, 9:26am

Hello Karen, Anita, and Katie!

It's a sunny Saturday morning here, if a bit chilly. Yesterday we had incredible high winds, the kind where you worry a tree might come down. Fortunately none did, at least not on our property. The chatter in a local FB group tells me this is not an uncommon occurrence, that power losses are common, and that people with electric-powered well water (like us) normally fill their bathtubs so they have a supply in the event of power failure (primarily for toilet-flushing purposes). Oh joy. Well, now we know.

No big plans for today, except for delivery of two box springs for our guest bedrooms. Our upstairs is in two unconnected parts and the older section, where these bedrooms are located, is accessed by a curved staircase. Mattresses were delivered yesterday, but the box springs wouldn't fit up the stairs. Yikes. Fortunately they sell a "split" box spring for just this type of situation. Even better, it didn't cost us anything extra and they could deliver today.

maj 1, 9:55am

Happy new thread, Laura!

Oh, yes, I grew up on a farm with well water, so I'm well versed in the ways of "the power's out - don't flush the toilet!" In fact, I *still* hesitate before using the toilet when the power's out, even all these years later.

maj 1, 10:02am

>8 scaifea: - Ha! Same. I always double check with The Wayne: "We can still use the toilets, right?!??!"

maj 1, 10:10am

>7 lauralkeet: We have that issue (electric powered well water) in our summer house so we have a couple of plastic drum/barrel things with a tap filled with water stored in the bathroom. And fill up a few pitchers and thermoses with water for drinking if a storm is coming. Fortunately we're usually not there during the windy season so only need to use the emergency supplies once or twice a year.

What you call "split box spring" looks very much like single mattresses to me (the images I get from googling), is there a difference? Single mattresses are the norm here, even in beds made for two people (two mattresses side by side).

maj 1, 10:25am

Re: The Darktown series discussion from your previous thread - I was just looking through Amazon's monthly Kindle deals and came across Midnight Atlanta on sale for $0.99. The print edition doesn't come out until August - weird!

maj 1, 10:38am

>9 katiekrug: *snork!* Does The Wayne roll his eyes at you like Tomm does to me every time?

Redigerat: maj 1, 10:57am

"people with electric-powered well water (like us) normally fill their bathtubs so they have a supply in the event of power failure (primarily for toilet-flushing purposes" Yup...fact of life around here. But we've found it much easier to store several of those 5-gallon water jugs, filled, in the garage. You can get a lot of water in a bathtub, but our ancient fixture won't hold it seeps out, and the lower the level of water goes, the faster it drains away from lack of pressure on the plug. And, of course, a generator is something to consider if you find it really is happening a lot or lasting for days when it does.

maj 1, 10:57am

Hi Laura - Happy new thread. Have your girls visited the new house yet? It sounds like they will now have beds!

Great comments on Darktown from your previous thread. I think I'll pass on this.

maj 1, 11:15am

You folks are just new, new, new. New house, new state, now a new thread. Youse are on a roll.

maj 1, 11:32am

>12 scaifea: - Of course!

maj 1, 12:36pm

In Vt we are the oddballs who never lose power anymore because we still have our big batteries from the off-the-grid days storing up the juice from our solar array. Yet we are still so trained that we fill a few buckets, jugs, and saucepans. Hard to let old habits go.

Redigerat: maj 1, 1:26pm

Wow, who knew well water could be such a conversation starter? Thank you Amber, Katie, Paws & Linda for the tips. I like the idea of storing several 5-gallon water jugs for flushing, as well as some bottled water for drinking. A generator is in the back of my mind, too. We'll probably give it some time to see how frequently outages occur and how long they last.

>10 PawsforThought: Paws, pull up a chair and prepare yourself for a brief tutorial on American mattresses. 😀 They come in Twin (single), Full (double), Queen, and King. These correspond roughly, but not exactly, to European sizes. The Queen mattresses for our guest rooms measure 203x152cm, and the internet tells me a comparable European mattress measures 200x160cm. The box spring is separate from the mattress and provides support while also raising the height. It's very common (in fact, the mattress store offered box springs "free" with purchase of the mattress). Many years ago we had a bed of Scandinavian design that used a sort of platform of wooden slats instead, and a box spring was not required. So ... the box spring I originally purchased was the same length & width as the mattress, and what we're receiving today will be two pieces that sit side by side with the mattress on top.

>11 katiekrug: I noticed a similar phenomenon with another new release, Katie. For the life of me I can't remember the book (I didn't buy it), but I was really surprised to see it available on Kindle first.

>14 BLBera: Beth, you are quite astute regarding the girls' visits. Chris has a birthday coming up at the end of May. It's a "significant" one, the girls are fully vaccinated, and we will have just received our second shots so we thought it would be a nice time for a visit. I have warned them the bedrooms will not be fully furnished (we have *plans* for those rooms), but I am committed to having decent beds as a start.

>15 weird_O: Hi Bill! Love the Philly-speak ("youse").

Okay, Chris is heading outdoors to get some things done and I feel like I need to at least *look* busy. Back later!

maj 1, 2:41pm

Hi Laura.
The May thread bonanza is sure busy!
Love your dog topper. Happy reading!

maj 1, 3:26pm

Lovely intro to your new thread. Could thoroughly relate to the no power, no terlet conversation too. Pails in the bathtub in extreme storm conditions here as well, Linda! The generator has been a godsend a few times, Laura. We use ours to power the fridge, freezer, well pump (ergo terlet), and microwave. Candles are fine for general light--hooray for the Kindle!

maj 1, 3:45pm

Happy new thread!

Water, yes, and power. Two essentials, so really good conversational material.

>18 lauralkeet: And that's not even mentioning California Kings!

maj 1, 4:54pm

>7 lauralkeet: It had never occurred to me that electric powered well water was even a thing!

>18 lauralkeet: In the U.K. we have different sizes again. A king size mattress was traditionally 5ft wide, now 150cm I think.

maj 1, 5:38pm

Happy new one, Laura.

Since it is Ramadan, I am happy to talk to anyone about water and how precious it is.

maj 1, 5:48pm

I've lived in cities all of my life and never had to worry about water not being available at the turn of a tap. Many years ago I was traveling in rural China and found several inches of cold water in the bathtub of our room's bathroom. I thought "well I have no intention of taking a bath in that cold water" and pulled the plug. Later we learned that water was only available for a few hours per day. Fortunately we still had time to store some up!

maj 1, 6:01pm

>19 SandyAMcPherson: Hi Sandy! I'm glad you like the pupper topper.

>20 tiffin: Tui, two houses ago we sometimes thought about getting a generator, especially after a couple of significant power outages due to weather events, but we never acted on it. Now we ask ourselves why. We might see things differently this time.

>21 quondame: Susan, thanks for reminding me about California Kings. We bought a King bed 3 years ago, after many many years with a Queen, and it feels plenty luxurious. Do we really need one even larger? It strikes me as uniquely American to keep making things bigger and bigger (see also: pickup trucks and SUVs)

>22 SandDune: Rhian, this is the first time we've been on well water. We've always had municipal or county water service before. But this is a more rural area, despite being less than an hour from Wash D.C.. In fact, in these parts you can't take high-speed internet for granted. We are fortunate in that our house has a high-speed link through Verizon, but there are people still on dialup around here, and recently a local internet provider abruptly shut down leaving customers high and dry. It's more than just a luxury, with the pandemic people need connectivity for work and school. Oops, I digress.

>23 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul! Water is indeed a precious resource, and we tend to assume it will always be there, don't we?

>24 RebaRelishesReading: That's a great story, Reba. I, too, would have assumed the water didn't belong in the tub. Live and learn, eh?

maj 1, 6:08pm

Actually the CalKing isn't bigger it's just different. A "standard king" or "eastern king" is 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. A CalKing is 72 inches wide and 84 inches long.

maj 1, 6:14pm

>25 lauralkeet: I am a very "difficult" sleeper. I must wear loose cotton, have all sorts of supportive cushioning and can't touch a living being - well sometimes I can get to sleep with Gertie against my foot on the other side of a couple of comforters. So the extra space is a boon.

maj 1, 6:49pm

>26 RebaRelishesReading:, >27 quondame: ah, well, that makes sense Reba and Susan!

Redigerat: maj 1, 9:12pm

>11 katiekrug: Well this is a fortuitous thread for me tonight. I just downloaded the newest book in the Mullen series, Midnight Atlanta for $.99 so thanks for that Katie. I guess I'm the only one interested in continuing with the series. I actually listened to the first two so I hope the Kindle version is as good.

I lived with electric powered well water for 43 years Laura. I had a room in my basement with shelves lined with 5 gallon containers of water to use in an emergency and gallon containers of drinking water. We lost power at least once a year. Oddly, in the five and a half years I've lived in this house, which doesn't have well water, I've never lost power. Now that I've written that statement I'll probably lose power tonight lol.

maj 1, 10:06pm

Happy new thread!

Also on well with electric pump. In 22years we’ve lost power for more than 12 hrs once. I bought a generator, but I’ve only used it twice, and yet it has to be maintained…

maj 2, 8:01am

>29 brenzi: Bonnie, I'll be interested to see what you think of the third Darktown book. You're doing all of us a service!

And I'm impressed with the emergency preparedness in your previous home. It's something I should give a bit more thought to.

>30 drneutron: And see, Jim, this is why I end up dithering over these things! Two houses ago, most of the time when we lost power it wasn't terrible. In 13 years there were two weather-related outages where we lost power for more than a day. That sucked, and yet we never broke down and got a generator.

But the possibility of being without water ... that may tip the scales. 🤷‍♀️

maj 2, 8:19am

Vulture Update

You might remember a while back we startled a couple of black vultures in our barn, and suspected they had a nest. Well, yes they did. Incubation lasts about 40 days, so we checked on them from time to time, and more frequently over the past week. We began calling them Mabel and Henry (although we can't really tell them apart). A couple days ago, Chris reported seeing one chick and yesterday there were two little balls of fluff.

It's difficult to get really good photos because it's a bit dark in there, and we position ourselves in a spot where they can't see us. But here they are: perched on the roof, two eggs, sitting on eggs, and fluff!

maj 2, 9:35am

Hi Laura!

>13 laytonwoman3rd: My husband’s solution to the water draining out of the bathtub is a rock in a baggie. The bathtub in the guest bath never gets used, and last summer’s hurricane-anticipation rock is still there, in its baggie.

>18 lauralkeet: We have what I call a “most-house” generator, installed in 2000 when I was paranoid about Y2K. It’s also saved my marriage because my husband does not do well without electricity, even for short periods of time. 😀 We will probably replace it next year with a whole house generator. The new ones cut on automatically, too. We have to go to the shed, start the generator, and flip switches at the power panels in the garage. The most we’ve lost power here is 5 days back in 2002. 3 days without power is not uncommon.

How lovely that the girls get to come visit later this month.

>25 lauralkeet: Depending on how many gallons-per-minute you get with your well, you might want to be careful on laundry day. You do not want to see light brown water coming out of the tap and run the risk of running your well dry. My first experience of laundry when I moved to Bill’s house here in NC was to do 5 loads in a day. The well was only 2.5 gallons/minute. We had brown water for a week. He was nice about it, but it would have cost thousands to have drilled a new well. The first house we built was 3 gallons/minute, so still very careful. Our well at this house is 22 gallons/minute. I’m still careful, but worry much less.

>32 lauralkeet: Sweet.

maj 2, 10:59am

Hi Karen! Thanks for the tip about well water usage. I can't remember what ours is in terms of gals/min so will look into it!

maj 2, 2:24pm

>32 lauralkeet: How special, Laura, thank for sharing!

maj 2, 3:08pm

>30 drneutron: Jim's hit on my reluctance about buying a generator. Keeping it tuned up and ready to start is an on-going chore. Just the sort of chore I'm not good at. We've lived in this rural township more than 45 years and have survived innumerable power outages. To me, a generator isn't a worthwhile investment. Just think of all the books you could get for what a generator costs!

maj 2, 5:05pm

>33 karenmarie: Well, tomorrow the solar panels should be connected, so I'll have a start on power resiliency. I do hope we see the batteries before the end of the summer. We have battery+solar enough for our CPAPs and phones, maybe our tablets, but it's not the same as just being able to turn on the lights!

maj 2, 8:26pm

>35 FAMeulstee: you're welcome, Anita!

>36 weird_O: You give me pause, Bill. Good points to consider.

>37 quondame: That sounds like a great setup, Susan.

maj 3, 3:24pm

Today's adventure in bread-making. I think I've found my go-to recipe. Like last week's effort, it's a King Arthur recipe, Harvest Grains Bread. I went all-in and bought their special ingredients: Harvest Grains Blend, whole grain bread improver, and dry milk.

Mmmm ... this was a winner. It has a nice texture and the grain blend is exactly what I was looking for. We just sampled slices slathered with butter, accompanied by a cup of tea. So good.

maj 3, 3:31pm

>39 lauralkeet: - That looks like my kind of bread. But then, all bread is my kind of bread :)

maj 3, 4:42pm

>40 katiekrug: yeah I'll eat bread anytime, Katie. But if I'm going to go through the effort of baking it, I want it to be *exactly* what I want. I like breads that pack some flavor, like this one or the more tangy sourdough.

maj 3, 9:36pm

Wow you're really baking up a storm Laura. And I mean that in the best way. That loaf looks really good.

Btw, not that this has anything to do with...anything but have you ever read Rachel Cusk? I just read a review of her newest book and the reviewer compared her to Anita Brookner so I immediately thought I should be reading her books.

maj 4, 7:46am

>42 brenzi: Bonnie, I've read Cusk's Outline, the first in a trilogy. My younger daughter read the trilogy and loved it. I gave Outline three stars but didn't review it. I read it at an especially busy time, and I'm not sure I was able to give it the attention it deserved. My daughter's enthusiasm has me considering a re-read.

Cusk's prose is spare and quiet, so the comparison to Brookner makes sense. I say, go for it!

maj 4, 7:56am

Happy New Thread, Laura. Sorry, a bit late to the party. I am back and slowly trying to catch up. Love the Black Vulture update. Very cool. How are the feeders doing?

maj 4, 8:25am

>39 lauralkeet: The bread looks wonderful, Laura! And I do love King Arthur Flour's stuff.

maj 4, 8:26am

Hi Mark! The feeders have been reasonably busy, with one exception: a house-shaped feeder, supposedly squirrel-proof but apparently not chipmunk-proof. We had to take it down for a few days until we could get a baffle for it. The chipmunk dominated it long enough that the birds need to rediscover it. A couple of sparrows had a go yesterday, so I'm hopeful. We also just got a hummingbird feeder, so I'm patiently waiting for visitors there as well.

maj 4, 8:28am

>45 scaifea: I'm so pleased with the bread, Amber. We had toast with our eggs for breakfast this morning (Kerrygold on the toast, natch). I'm a new King Arthur customer, but I've been very pleased with their products. And their website has a lot of useful "how to" information and tons of recipes.

maj 4, 8:32am

>47 lauralkeet: I get their catalog, which includes several recipes each time, too. I don't often order because it's a tag expensive, but I've loved everything I *have* purchased from them. I also have a couple of their cookbooks, which are excellent.

maj 4, 8:43am

OMG we just saw a hummingbird flitting around the garden! Squeee!

maj 4, 8:49am

Hi Laura!

>39 lauralkeet: Yum. I’m impressed that you went out and bought all the special stuff to make it.

>49 lauralkeet: Congrats on your hummingbird visitor.

Redigerat: maj 4, 10:36am

>50 karenmarie: Hi Karen! I knew you'd relate to the hummingbird sighting. As for the bread supplies, I didn't exactly "go out" to buy the stuff, I just ordered online and eagerly awaited the UPS guy* LOL. The grain mix is a great find, although I'm sure I could make my own as well. The other special ingredients, I think, are King Arthur's way of increasing the likelihood of success in bread-making. I figured if I was going to make one of their recipes, I shouldn't tinker with it too much on the first try. At some point I will branch out and try other recipes. But now I have a quantity of KA products to use up so ... they've got me.

And as I was writing this I received an email from KA that begins, "Looks like you might need a few baking items. We'd love to help you stock up!" Noooo .... !

* Unrelated: Sunday's NYTimes "Modern Love" column is a lovely piece about how platonic friendship with a UPS guy helped a woman get through the pandemic: He Delivered for Me

maj 4, 11:02am

That bread you baked does look tasty.

I'm unlikely to try baking bread, but I am fantasizing about baking shoofly. Or pumpkin pie. Using store-bought pie shells rather than tackling the making of pie dough. That'd be the second phase. Gotta find some gumption.

maj 4, 11:11am

Go for it, Bill! I think starting with store-bought pie shells is a great idea. You can focus on becoming proficient at making pie filling for your favorite kinds of pie, and then move on to the pastry.

Redigerat: maj 5, 8:50am

21. The Debatable Land ()
Source: Library loan - thanks to Lucy (@sybilline) for the recommendation!

The Debatable Land makes up part of the border between Scotland and England. At just 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, the territory was initially a sort of no-man’s-land between the two countries, and uninhabited. But from the 13th to 16th centuries, the land was occupied by reivers, clans that seized claim to land, stole cattle and killed anyone who got in their way. Historian Graham Robb traces the development of the Debatable Land and its people, from its earliest days to the present. He examines how people once identified more with a clan than a nationality, despite borders that partitioned the land between the two countries. Even today, the nature of the landscape maintains the Debatable Land’s insular culture.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the book was Robb’s use of Ptomely’s ancient maps to trace the history of the Debatable Land back to Roman times, which led to a few breakthrough findings about the development of the Debatable Land over the centuries. Then, towards the end of the book Robb discusses the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, which was defeated, and the 2016 Brexit vote, which was not, and the uncertainty cast upon the region and its people. While the Debatable Land no longer exists as a defined territory, it continues to cast a long shadow.

maj 4, 6:20pm

>54 lauralkeet: I like all of the book but Ptomely's map fixing was stellar. And it had the plus of adding in a completely new and different source of Arthurian back story.

maj 4, 7:15pm

>55 quondame: I agree, Susan. The book was pretty breezy up to that point, so I kind of did a double take and said to myself, "wait a minute this is a really big deal!" And I forgot to mention the Arthurian stuff -- that was pretty cool, too.

maj 4, 7:32pm

The Debatable Land sounds very cool, Laura. Onto the WL it goes.

Your bread looks yummy. Another thing to start when I retire. :)

maj 5, 3:18am

>39 lauralkeet: Do you use a bread maker or do the bread by hand, Laura?

>54 lauralkeet: I got The Debatable Land out of the library but it had to go back before I’d read it.

maj 5, 4:39am

>54 lauralkeet: Glad this was a hit Laura, I have it near the top of the pile.

maj 5, 7:26am

I tried bread making many years ago and wasn't very successful. I mentioned this to my (step)daughter shortly a few months ago and, for my birthday, she gave me a cookbook on the No-Knead method along with the equipment and supplies to make it. I now regularly make delicious, crusty, home-made bread :) You can google No-Knead bread and/or check on NYTimes recent article if you're bread making shy and would like to give it a try.

maj 5, 7:54am

Beth, Rhian, Caro ... I hope you enjoy The Debatable Land whenever you get to it. I admit that it took me a little while to get fully into it, I think because of all the places and people to sort out.

>58 SandDune: Rhian, I've made these by hand. I don't have a bread machine, and although I do have a KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook for kneading, the first recipe I made included detailed instructions on how to knead (method, timing, how to know when you're done), which I applied to this second loaf.

>60 RebaRelishesReading: that's interesting, Reba. The sourdough recipe I use doesn't require kneading, just a "stretch and fold" step before each rise. I'll check out that article!

maj 6, 7:34am

Happy new thread Laura! I'm loving the stories from your new home, especially the vulture family and the hummingbird sighting.

maj 8, 7:49am

Happy Saturday, Laura. This is Global Big Day, so I hope you can get out for a walk today and do a count or at least kick back and watch your feeders. Still cool here but it should be a good day.

maj 8, 7:57am

We're finally getting hummingbirds here in RI. Have seen a few at our feeders the last couple of days.

maj 8, 8:19am

>62 Sakerfalcon: Hi Claire, we're loving all the bird species that frequent our property and feeders. Chris just checked on the vulture chicks yesterday and they seem to be doing fine. We saw both parents sitting on a fence a short distance away from the nest, which worried us at first but I guess they are just giving the chicks (and themselves) a bit of freedom.

>63 msf59: Hi Mark! It's a rainy day here, and we have some serious gardening to do if the weather improves. But the feeders are hopping and we're enjoying that right now. We had a lifer the other day: a rose breasted grosbeak. We had a tough time identifying it at first, because it was a female and their coloring is much more like a sparrow. After perusing apps and websites, our trusty 1980s edition Audubon Field Guide had the answer.

>64 dudes22: That's great Betty. The female ruby-throated hummingbird we saw the other day has made several visits. We bought a couple more hummingbird feeders, having read that they can be territorial.

maj 8, 8:24am

>51 lauralkeet: I figured out that you were click ordering it, but am still impressed. I love looking at the King Arthur website but have never ordered anything from them. Yet.

maj 8, 8:26am

>66 karenmarie: I browsed for a long time, Karen. There's something pleasing about their website isn't there?

maj 8, 1:40pm

22. The Family Upstairs ()
Source: Library loan - thank you Karen (karenmarie) for the recommendation!

On the occasion of her 25th birthday, Libby Jones receives a letter informing her she’s inherited a mansion in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood. The house has a gruesome past: three adults were found dead in an apparent suicide pact, and four teenage children had disappeared without a trace. Only the infant Libby remained, and she was soon adopted. Libby is determined to find any remaining relatives she can, and soon connects with a journalist who had published an in-depth report of events back in the day.

As Libby digs into her past, readers hear from two other figures who are equally interested in finding Libby (known to them only as “the baby”). Lucy, a homeless mother of two and victim of domestic abuse, is doing everything in her power to return to England from France. An unnamed male tells the story of the family from his early childhood to the night of the deaths, and on to the present day. As these three storylines converge, the tale becomes increasingly sinister and suspenseful, ultimately making me suspicious of everyone, even those who seemed like the “good guys.”>

The Family Upstairs was an un-putdownable novel with a satisfying resolution -- you can’t ask for more than that!

maj 8, 1:44pm

>68 lauralkeet: This sounds like a fun read, Laura. I am reading Death and the Maiden right now, and then I will get to A Mercy, probably early next week.

maj 8, 1:50pm

Sounds good, Beth. I'll start A Mercy later today.

maj 8, 2:04pm

>68 lauralkeet: Yay! So glad you liked it.

maj 8, 9:20pm

>71 karenmarie: It was a really fun read, Karen.

maj 9, 9:50am

Happy Sunday, Laura. Have a special day, my friend.

maj 9, 10:23am

>65 lauralkeet: - They can be territorial. WE constantly see fights at the feeder.

>66 karenmarie: - 67 - I use King Arthur a lot. Their scone mixes make it easy to whip up a batch. And I've found that I can use my food processor which makes it even better. I you like fruitcake, their mix at Christmas is also an easy way to get fruit cake. (End of promotion - I do not get paid for endorsements :))

maj 9, 11:32am

>73 msf59: Thanks Mark!

>74 dudes22: Mmmm ... scone mixes. I just had a peek at those Betty and am 100% sure I'll be buying some with my next order. I love a good scone, both the traditional English kind and those full-flavored American varieties.

maj 9, 11:37am

>75 lauralkeet: - I also use their vanilla cream scone when I make strawberry shortcake.

maj 9, 11:38am

>75 lauralkeet: Stonewall Kitchen's scone mixes are pretty good too.

maj 9, 11:46am

>76 dudes22:, >77 laytonwoman3rd: Oh man, now I'm hungry. Thank goodness there's leftover pizza.

maj 9, 2:06pm

Now I want scones.

Hi Laura!

maj 9, 5:39pm

maj 11, 8:53am

23. A Mercy
Source: On my shelves

I first read A Mercy in 2009, not long after it was published. At the time, I’d read a few of Morrison’s early novels and admired her work without really understanding what she was trying to say. Over the past year, as I’ve been reading Morrison’s books in publication order, I have sought out reviews and secondary sources in an attempt to understand each novel’s themes. A Mercy is the story of three women, all at the mercy of male-dominated colonial society. Set in 1690, the novel is also a story of slavery’s grip on the economy and culture. And, finally, it’s a story of a mother who gives up her daughter, and the scars this leaves on both women.

I was strongly affected by this novel when I first read it, rating it 4.5 stars. While it didn’t have the same impact this time around, I am still in awe of Morrison and her prose. So I’ll take the easy way out and just share my original review from 2009:

One afternoon a few months ago, I was sentenced to that purgatory that is a 2-hour drive on the New Jersey Turnpike. But then my spirits were lifted heavenwards by a National Public Radio interview with Toni Morrison. Ms. Morrison discussed her new book, A Mercy, and rewarded her audience with a reading. Sheer bliss. I knew I had to read this book!

My, oh my, oh my. Morrison packed so much richness into this short novel. The richness is centered around a tiny bit of storyline, in which Florens, a slave girl, is sent on an errand to get help for her seriously ill mistress. But there's so much more in the stories of each character, told in their own voices: Jacob and Rebekka, the sadly childless European landowners; Florens, who was sold away from her mother to repay a debt; Lina and Sorrow, women who came to the farm via slave ship; Willard and Scully, the white indentured servants; and the blacksmith, a nameless free African who captured Florens' heart. I found myself enveloped in Morrison's prose, savoring every word, as with this description of an Atlantic crossing: Women of and for men, in those few moments they were neither. And when finally the lamp died, swaddling them in black, for a long time, oblivious to the footsteps above them, or the lowing behind them, they did not stir. For them, unable to see the sky, time became simply the running sea, unmarked, eternal, and of no matter. (p. 85)

This is a wonderful, moving, haunting book. Highly recommended.

maj 11, 9:11am

I went back to see what I rated A Mercy and my comments about it. I was less taken with it - I found the beginning a bit too ambiguous and inscrutable and gave the book 3.5 stars. But I wonder if I'd "get" it better now, having read more of her novels where the connections and story only slowly emerge...

Anyway! Great comments - both current and past :)

Redigerat: maj 11, 11:41am

>82 katiekrug: Thanks Katie. Funny thing: I didn't look at my rating or review until I finished the book. My gut reaction this time around was "interesting, 3.5 stars." And that's even though I "got it" in ways I think I missed the first time, and I definitely have a greater appreciation for Morrison's style. So, I decided to leave my original rating and review in place and just appreciate that re-reading has its merits.

maj 11, 2:15pm

Wow! You're done already. I was going to start it today. Maybe I'll just wait for the next one. :)

maj 11, 2:21pm

>84 BLBera: It's a quick read, Beth. Just sayin'. 😀

maj 11, 3:26pm

I would like to read it again. But since you are done, and I finally got The Searcher from the library, I might pick that up instead. It might lend itself more to end-of-semester reading -- and I've been waiting for it for months!

maj 11, 3:41pm

>86 BLBera: ooh, that's a good one Beth. I can't blame you!

Next month: Morrison's Home. I haven't read this one before but I just read the description. Not exactly a beach read lol. But with only two books left in my Morrison reading project, I want to keep going.

maj 11, 3:43pm

Home is one of the ones I haven't read either. I'll make a note to take it off the shelf for next month (assuming I'm invited!).

maj 11, 3:43pm

>88 katiekrug: of course you are Katie !!!!

maj 11, 3:50pm

Bird Update!

Ever the romantic, for my birthday in February Chris gave me four nesting boxes like these. Last week we put them up (mounted on poles) in an open area of our property. The idea was to attract bluebirds. Yesterday a pair of tree swallows spent the afternoon checking out the boxes and today we've seen them with nesting materials. I'm totally fine with that. They are not nest predators; they just like to use nesting boxes. They are also very pretty:


So tree swallows are blue birds, just not bluebirds.

maj 11, 3:50pm

I've read the rest, but I am up for rereads of the last ones. Count me in - and I will be on break.

maj 11, 3:52pm

>91 BLBera: Excellent!

maj 11, 6:14pm

We had bluebird boxes for many years on our old property Laura and tree swallows were a problem because they'd get in the boxes and then the bluebirds would consider using them. Our were part of a state program and during the season when bluebirds were likely to nest, early June, someone would come out and get rid of the tree swallows to make it more likely the bluebirds would nest. We enjoyed having them.

maj 11, 8:05pm

>93 brenzi: yeah Bonnie, I know they compete for the boxes and the tree swallows often seem to have the advantage for whatever reason. I'm kind of "live and let live" at this point but I can see how it could become a problem for the bluebirds. It's great you had a state program to help manage the situation.

maj 12, 8:34am

Hi Laura!

>74 dudes22: Thanks for the heads up about KA fruitcake mix, Betty. I’m the only one in the family who loves fruitcake so usually don’t make it. Fruitcake Drops might be a good solution to get the flavors without the extended effort. I also see a picture of what looks like a Stollen. Yum.

>90 lauralkeet: Nice boxes, an a perfectly good use for them, even if not Bluebirds. I'm looking at several birthday bird presents directly outside my Sunroom windows - two squirrel-proof feeders. I think it's romantic for someone to give you something they know you'll love and appreciate, even if it's not traditional.

maj 12, 8:43am

>95 karenmarie: I like the way you think, Karen. I'd much rather have bird boxes than roses (but don't get me wrong, getting flowers is nice). Also FYI, the boxes are from, not sure how Chris discovered them but we've since bought a few other bird-related products there. They have quite a wide selection.

maj 12, 7:44pm

>68 lauralkeet: I've got The Family Upstairs from the library (I read the same review by karenmarie), and I'm itching to get at it. Glad to see your positive review; with you and Karen leading the crowd, seems sure to be a winner!

Karen O.

maj 12, 9:27pm

>97 klobrien2: I sure hope you enjoy it, Karen!

Redigerat: maj 12, 9:59pm

>39 lauralkeet: I love King Arthur flour recipes. I don't use their flour (we have a Robin Hood flour mill in town!). I particularly like their Asiago cheese ciabatta and it's dead easy to make.

PM me if you want the specific recipe, with my modifications...

maj 12, 9:55pm

>68 lauralkeet: Woah! A BB. I didn't even try to duck.

maj 13, 5:42am

Hi Laura!

Thanks for the info about

maj 13, 8:04am

>95 karenmarie: - I bought some small ceramic loaf pans that I use when I make fruitcake. That way I can freeze what I don't fie away (or eat). In fact, I still have one in the freezer. It's nice to have them available to go with tea and a book in the winter.

maj 13, 8:12am

>90 lauralkeet: This is awesome, Laura. A naturalist friend of mine told me, that if you place a pair of bluebird boxes closer together, a pair of tree swallows will only occupy one of them, due to how territorial they are, freeing the second one up for bluebirds. Have you seen bluebirds around?

maj 13, 8:23am

>99 SandyAMcPherson: Ooh, I do love a cheesy bread. I just PM'd you for details. Thanks Sandy!

>100 SandyAMcPherson: Ha! Well, Karen started it. 😀

>101 karenmarie: You're welcome, Karen. I just received an email from BestNest this morning plugging their Purple Marten houses, because apparently PMs eat cicadas. We haven't seen the dreaded cicadas yet although I understand they've emerged.

>102 dudes22: That sounds like a good way to preserve your fruitcake, Betty. I love the idea of enjoying it during the "off season." It reminds me of the years I canned tomatoes from the garden. I loved making marinara sauce with them during the winter.

>103 msf59: I've heard that about the bluebird boxes, Mark. We have four of them in a row, but I don't know if they're close enough together. I'll have to investigate further. I *thought* I saw a bluebird before we put the boxes up, but I can't say for sure. It was in the area where the boxes are, but from a distance, and it's possible I just saw the blue of a tree swallow.

maj 13, 8:36am

I sure hope you can get bluebirds to nest in one or two of these boxes. Keep us updated.

My feeders have been slow lately. No recent oriole or hummingbird sightings either. How have yours been?

maj 13, 11:23am

>102 dudes22: We have Mountain bluebirds out in the open prairies around the copses of old cottonwoods and aspens, but not in town. The birds are so beautiful. Lucky you for having them on your property.

Redigerat: maj 13, 12:14pm

>105 msf59: We haven't seen a hummingbird all week, Mark. I'm bummed! Fortunately our other regulars are still showing up every day. The most common visitors are cardinal, goldfinch, house finch, mourning dove, blue jay, nuthatch, and titmouse.

>106 SandyAMcPherson: I'm still waiting to see actual bluebirds at the boxes, Sandy (vs. tree swallows), but I have my fingers crossed.

maj 15, 10:06am

24. Zorrie ()
Source: Library loan - Bonnie (brenzi) has never steered me wrong!

Zorrie was orphaned in childhood, and raised by an emotionally distant aunt. After the aunt dies and Zorrie has to make her way on her own, she finds work as a “radium girl” painting watch dials in an Illinois factory. Told the paint was harmless, the workers ingested large quantities of radium during the course of their work. While Zorrie has close friendships with her fellow workers, she is eventually drawn back to the northern Indiana farmland where she grew up. Years pass, with all the ups and downs expected of farming life and, indeed, of life in general. Zorrie’s common sense and work ethic serve her well on the farm, and her empathy and caring lead to close bonds with many in the community.

The setting and overall tone of this short novel is reminiscent of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong trilogy. Zorrie’s life story is told in exquisite prose, with just as much meaning in what goes unsaid. At just 160 pages, this could be a quick read but I found myself periodically setting it aside to savor what I’d just read. I loved this book.

maj 15, 10:21am

>108 lauralkeet: - Already on my list, but I guess I should push it up!

maj 15, 12:07pm

>109 katiekrug: Absolutely, Katie!

maj 15, 9:23pm

>108 lauralkeet: Excellent review Laura. That book was such an unexpected surprise. A real gem. Never steered you wrong? Hmmm I hope I don't have to climb down off that hill lol.

Redigerat: maj 16, 7:51am

>108 lauralkeet: Hit with a BB.

So, at what point do you acquire yourself a copy of a borrowed book Laura. Does it have to be 5*s? I hate not owning a book I love.

maj 16, 8:33am

>111 brenzi: ha ha no pressure, Bonnie!

>112 Caroline_McElwee: Hmm, that's an interesting question, Caro, that sent me off perusing my LT catalog. There are several 5* books that I borrowed, loved, but did not buy. I can't explain it, other than that purchases of physical books have dropped significantly in the past few years. Bookshelf limitations are one reason I lean toward Kindle purchases or library loans. When I buy, it's usually a specific edition that I'm attracted to. I just ordered two Angela Thirkells in the Moyer Bell editions, part of gradually acquiring (and reading) the entire Barsetshire series.


After reading Zorrie, I zipped through Willy Vlautin's latest, The Night Always Comes. Harrowing. Comments percolating.

maj 16, 11:31am

>113 lauralkeet: Looking forward to your comments on the new Vlautin, Laura. I was pretty impressed with Lean on Pete, and will definitely read more of his work.

maj 16, 1:52pm

25. The Night Always Comes ()
Source: Library loan

Lynette’s life has been one struggle after another, but finally she sees a light at the end of the tunnel: after three years working two jobs, she has saved enough money to join her mother in buying the house they currently rent. Stability is a top concern, especially due to the care needs of Lynette’s developmentally disabled brother Kenny. But then her mother backs out of the deal, setting Lynette off on a manic attempt to amass more funds of her own. Over the course of one long night she tracks down previous “benefactors”, demands repayment of loans made to friends, and tries to make money off of a couple of unexpected finds. Each encounter reveals more of Lynette’s back story, a tale of family instability, financial hardship, and mental illness. As the night wears on Lynette becomes increasingly desperate, putting herself in danger more than once.

Set in Portland, Oregon, Willy Vlautin shows the dark side of rapid gentrification: the displacement of an economic class that was already struggling. Survival requires working multiple jobs, some of which are illegal. Housing is substandard and living arrangements are often temporary, pieced together with friends or even mere acquaintances.

Although the pacing and suspense drew me in from the start, this book was by no means an easy read and left me with a lot to think about.

maj 16, 4:00pm

>115 lauralkeet: This one sounds interesting, Laura. Not sure...

maj 17, 7:28am

>108 lauralkeet: - I have put this on my "recommended" list as the reference to the Kent Haruf books drew me in.

maj 17, 8:07am

>116 BLBera: Beth, have you read Vlautin's novel, Lean on Pete? I loved that one and was excited to see this latest book mentioned on the threads here. Both are stories of hardship, but The Night Always Comes was more difficult reading, at least for me.

>117 dudes22: Betty, I loved Haruf's novels so much. It's nice to find other books/authors to fill that void.

In bird news, yesterday we spotted a male Eastern Bluebird checking out the nesting boxes. He repeatedly poked his head into one box and then sat on top of it. I hope he liked it and brings the missus back for another look.

maj 17, 10:14am

>118 lauralkeet: Keeping my fingers crossed for the bluebirds!

maj 17, 2:02pm

I’m just catching up, Laura. I can’t figure out why I’ve been missing posts of some people I follow in the 75 group. I must have changed the way my Home Screen is sorted. Anyway, you’ve piqued my interest in a few books, as usual!

maj 17, 3:36pm

I haven't read anything by Vlautin, Laura, although I know he's gotten a lot of love here. Too many books...

maj 17, 3:59pm

>119 Sakerfalcon: me too Claire! And since I know you also harbor a secret love for the black vultures, I can report that the babies seem to be doing fine as well. 😀

>120 NanaCC: Well you're here now, Colleen, and that's what matters! Don't be a stranger ...

>121 BLBera: I'd start with Lean on Pete, Beth. I think it's a better introduction to Vlautin's talents.

maj 17, 7:18pm

Noted, Laura.

maj 19, 2:52pm

We got our second COVID vaccine shots today (Moderna). I felt weirdly emotional as the needle went into my arm.

Tomorrow is another big day: Kate, Julia, and their significant others (Tyler and Noah) are coming to see us! They've all been fully vaccinated for a little while now, so we feel safe getting together with them. They're traveling from NYC to DC by train, arriving Thursday evening and staying through Sunday. Chris' birthday is Monday, which is why they are visiting now. And it's a "0" year for him, so all the more reason to celebrate. 😀

maj 19, 3:03pm

Hooray for your first visitors!

How far are you from DC again? Are you going in to pick them up or having them take the Metro as far as they can westward?

Redigerat: maj 19, 3:39pm

Katie, it's just over an hour to Union Station.
If they take the Metro they can get to Wiehle-Reston but it looks like that could take 45min and then it's 30-40 min drive. So I might as well play chauffeur.

maj 19, 4:07pm

>126 lauralkeet: - I always loved driving in DC because you could come around a corner and get an amazing view in so many different places...

maj 19, 4:53pm

>124 lauralkeet: Excellent! I know y'all will enjoy yourselves. I had a meetup with my younger son, his wife, and their three girls on Sunday. First face-to-face since late in 2019.

Redigerat: maj 19, 6:51pm

>127 katiekrug: We had our first taste of that not long ago, Katie. We needed to go to Alexandria to pick up a rug we bought at auction. We were just following the navigation, not really knowing where we were, and suddenly there was the Washington Monument, just to our left across the river. So cool!

>128 weird_O: Thanks Bill, I know how much you enjoyed your reunion. I’m pretty excited too. We were lucky to spend Christmas together but still, it’s been a while.

maj 19, 10:34pm

All of these reunions are so exciting. Being able to hug my children and grandchildren has been a joy.

maj 20, 7:11am

I can't wait, Colleen! I might even hug the boyfriend I haven't met yet!

I'm pleased to say I seem to have come through the Moderna vaccine with very little in the way of side effects. I didn't sleep well, but I didn't feel sick just ... restless? I don't know. This morning I have pain at the injection site and a headache. Chris had more trouble sleeping and is currently enjoying his first cup of coffee in bed, after which I will no doubt get a full report of his overnight discomforts.

I'm so grateful to be vaccinated.

maj 20, 7:17am

Yay for visiting daughters! That's wonderful news!

maj 20, 7:23am

Thanks Amber. I'm pretty psyched.

maj 20, 7:29am

>133 lauralkeet: I bet! We're waiting until Charlie's fully vaccinated before we visit my parents, but I know that first hug is going to be amazing.

I will no doubt get a full report of his overnight discomforts.

I'm so grateful to be vaccinated.

maj 20, 7:45am

Sweet Thursday, Laura. You got my attention with Zorrie. I absolutely loved The Radium Girls, despite the horrors. I want to read The Night Always Comes, since I am Vlautin fan. Did you ever see the film version Lean on Pete? It was pretty damn good.

My feeders have really been slow. I hope yours are more productive.

maj 20, 10:01am

Congrats on being fully vaccinated, Laura, and with minimal side effects! And visitors! How nice. Enjoy and celebrate.

maj 20, 11:15am

>134 scaifea: that makes sense Amber. And it won't be much longer now! I can't wait to read about your reunion with your folks.

>135 msf59: Mark, I haven't seen the Lean on Pete movie. Maybe someday. Our feeders are pretty lively, but still no hummingbirds after those first few sightings. And now the Brood X cicadas are emerging -- we just saw the first ones yesterday, and there were a lot of them out and about already.

>136 BLBera: Thanks Beth!

maj 20, 11:28am

I'm glad you haven't had any bad side effects, Laura!

When things calm down a bit, you should spend a day in Alexandria - Old Town, near the river, is lovely and has great shops. I used to live in Alexandria (not Old Town because I was poor) and am very fond of it.

maj 20, 2:18pm

Thanks for the rec, Katie!

maj 20, 2:35pm

How exciting to be able to meet all fully vaccinated! So happy for you and your family!

Here in PEI, the Public Heath Office made the decision, based on federal guidelines, to get everyone their first shot before getting second shots done. It could be 3-4 months between shots. I had my first May 11 and scheduled for second on Aug 3, if not earlier. Which sounds long, but by the end of June everyone who wants a (first) shot should have one, and then because supply has finally increased to demand, most should have their second shot by early fall. We were slow to get going because of supply, but I think we are catching up, and hoping for a good summer. I don't think we have the vaccine hesitancy in PEI you hear about other places.

maj 20, 10:22pm

>138 katiekrug:, >139 lauralkeet: I definitely agree with the Old Town Alexandria recommendation! One of our favorite places.

Redigerat: maj 21, 10:11am

>140 raidergirl3: Elizabeth, I'm glad you're on the way to being fully vaccinated! It's interesting how different countries/localities have managed the vaccine rollout. We're now at a point here where people can get appointments right away, and there are even some walk-in sites.

When I went for my shot the other day, there were tons of teenagers there since the vax was recently approved for adolescents. I was really happy to see that.

>141 drneutron: Thanks Jim!

Can I just say it's wonderful to have the family together? Kate, Julia and their respective bfs Tyler and Noah arrived last night. I picked them up at DC's Union Station, with just one glitch: the station's website described a waiting area for passenger pickup, which they said was accessed through the parking garage: "just look for the signs on the right." I totally did not see the signs and had to loop around for a second pass. Then I saw them, and that entrance was blocked with concrete blocks. Not helpful, especially in a city I am completely unfamiliar with. Fortunately this was about the same time the train arrived and I was able to drive around to the front of the station where the taxis are and pick them up. Along the way I saw another sign pointing to the waiting area, coming at it from a different direction. Grrr.

maj 21, 10:27am

>142 lauralkeet: That's good news about the teenagers taking advantage of the vaccine...

Boo! to stupid signage. Whoever is in charge should pretend they don't know what they're doing and try following their own instructions...

maj 22, 7:33am

I'm taking advantage of some quiet time before everyone else is up, to catch up on LT. I am loving having the family together, but am out of practice in buying food for more than 2 people. I'll have to make a quick grocery stop today to replenish a few essentials.

Huge bird news: we were sitting out on the terrace yesterday afternoon and suddenly a Pileated Woodpecker landed in a tree. It moved quickly to another tree and then kept going, so it was a brief sighting but long enough and at the right angle to get a positive ID. We saw a PW just up the road a few weeks ago so we knew they were in the area, but they are quite elusive. I'm psyched to think we might have repeat sightings.

maj 22, 9:40am

>144 lauralkeet: Good for you for stealing a few minutes of Laura much as we love Our People, those moments are very necessary. I never get tired of seeing a big ol' Woody Woodpecker. It happens here about once a year. Sometimes we have had one stick around for days, working on a particularly abundant nest of juicy bugs of some kind. One hit up a stump in our neighbor's yard a few years ago, and just sat there flinging bits of wood around for nearly an hour. What a show!

maj 22, 12:01pm

I had a rare bird sighting myself as I was sitting on my porch with coffee this morning. A man drove by on a scooter, and he had a parrot on his shoulder! That's not something I see everyday.

I know what you mean about groceries for large groups! Enjoy your weekend. What do the girls think of the house?

maj 22, 5:13pm

>145 laytonwoman3rd: that's a great pileated woodpecker story, Linda. I hope we see ours now and then.

>146 BLBera: I can't say I've ever seen that, Beth! What a hoot.

The girls like the house and have oohed and aahed about how nice it will be for Christmas. There's so much we're still trying to get in order that we sometimes lose sight of the face that it really is a unique and lovely place.

Redigerat: maj 24, 11:28am

Well, normal boring life has resumed, as everyone is on their way back to NY and jobs and stuff. We had a wonderful time together and it gave us an excuse to get out and visit some places. We had a really nice restaurant meal on Friday night to celebrate Chris' 60th (which is actually today). We also visited a local winery prior to dinner. Saturday we had a relaxed morning and visited the nearby town of Middleburg for lunch and a stroll through shops. It was a gorgeous sunny day and an opportunity to observe a variety of mask policies in place from masks required to masks optional, to a shop that (I kid you not) had a sign on the door saying if you'd received the "experimental vaccine" in the last 30 days you were required to wear a mask. No thank you. We kept walking.

Sunday morning we went on a hike to Bears Den Overlook. The route is about 1.8mi out and back, uphill to a gorgeous view of the valley that is part of the Appalachian Trail, and then downhill back to the car. There were a fair number of people out enjoying the walk and the scenery. Later in the afternoon we visited another winery (there are loads of them here, so we are looking for any excuse to try them out and find our favorites). Dinner was burgers on the grill, with corn on the cob and salad. Then we went out for ice cream.

Oof, I've eaten too much the past few days. It will be good to get back to our normal semi-healthy eating habits.

Book-wise, I'm approaching the end of Louise Erdrich's The Beet Queen and really enjoying it.

maj 24, 11:30am

>148 lauralkeet: - That sounds like a really nice weekend, Laura! And I'm glad the girls approved of the house :)

maj 24, 5:57pm

What a great weekend Laura!

maj 24, 6:53pm

Happy Birthday, Chris! Sounds like you had a nice time with the family, Laura. Hooray for the pileated woodpecker. How can you not love that bird?

maj 24, 9:15pm

Hi Katie, Bonnie, and Mark. It was definitely a great weekend. One for the family memory books!

maj 24, 11:31pm

Laura--All caught up here again! All the bread recipes look yummy and I love all the talk about the bird nests. I am currently trying to figure out how to keep the squirrels out... Congrats to hubby on the big "0" bday! Congrats on the second vaccination and hurray for the family get-together. Life IS good. : )

maj 25, 7:39am

Hi Kim! So nice to see you in these parts. As for squirrels, so far we've been able to keep them off the feeders (we use squirrel-proof feeders and baffles). But are you saying squirrels are getting into your nesting boxes? Yikes.

maj 25, 8:29am

Oh, what a great weekend! I'm so happy (but not surprised) that you all had such a wonderful time. And happy birthday to Chris!

maj 25, 2:09pm

Thanks Amber!

maj 25, 2:09pm

26. The Beet Queen ()
Source: Library loan

Mary and Karl Adare arrived in Argus, North Dakota in 1932, after an unusual and dramatic abandonment by their mother. Karl, 14, immediately struck out on his own, while Mary, 11, was taken in by her aunt and uncle who ran the local butcher. This sets the stage for a sprawling tale that follows both siblings into late adulthood. While Karl makes occasional appearances that give a sense of his life over the years, most of the story takes place in Argus, where Mary grows up alongside her cousin Sita and friend Celestine. Mary and Celestine eventually end up running the butcher shop, while Sita tries to distance herself from the family and move up in the world. The lives and relationships of these three women, as well as Celestine’s daughter Dot, are fuel for a number of comedic set pieces. There were poignant scenes as well, and these usually revolved around the male characters, which I thought was an interesting twist on the traditional “troubled woman” trope. Louise Erdrich also uses this novel to quietly point out the impact of the changing agricultural landscape, as small farms are taken over by large sugar beet operations.

The Beet Queen doesn’t have as much Native American spirituality and culture as some of her other books; I actually wish there had been more of that. However, the preposterous storylines and humor provide a different experience. If you can set aside any notions of practicality and go with the flow, you’ll enjoy the ride.

maj 25, 3:08pm

>148 lauralkeet: We've done that hike with our boys - it's a good one! Great views at the top. Bear Chase Brewery is supposed to be very good and it's right there.

maj 25, 3:09pm

>157 lauralkeet: - As I tend to read novels in publication order, this will be the next Erdrich for me. Good to know what I'm in for.

maj 25, 4:52pm

>158 japaul22: oh, how about that! We saw a number of families on the trail. I've also heard it's great to visit at sunset. The parking lot on Rt 7 is about 15 min from our house so we can easily return!

>159 dudes22: LT says The Beet Queen is second in the Love Medicine series, Betty, if you want to track that in addition to publication order. 😀

maj 25, 9:02pm

Hi Laura - It sounds like you all had a wonderful birthday weekend.

The Beet Queen isn't one of my favorites, either. I'm not sure the order really matters with Erdrich. Her sense of time is very fluid.

maj 25, 9:41pm

>154 lauralkeet: No, just getting in to the feeders. I am going to try olive oil on the post and see if that stumps them, otherwise I need to get me some baffles!!

maj 26, 7:49am

>161 BLBera: Hi Beth, there were some set pieces in the book that really made me laugh, like Sita's failed restaurant opening and again after Sita died, and Mary and Celestine drove to the fair with her sitting upright in the car. And later Karl gets into the car and sits with Sita for a bit, completely unaware.. But I prefer more drama, and I love the Kashpaw family and Fleur, who were largely absent in this novel.

>162 Berly: Ah, I get it, Kim. I saw that Mark posted some good feeder advice on your threads (like baffles). I'm sure he'll be a huge help in getting your feeders under control.

maj 26, 12:59pm

I love my new condo, Laura, but no place for bird feeders. My daughter only lives about ten minutes away though, and they back onto woods and a dairy farm, so lots of nature for me to view at her house. They have several busy bird feeders.

maj 26, 1:18pm

>163 lauralkeet: Yes, even my least favorite Erdrichs are better than many other books. Did you know she has a new one coming out this fall? It's called "The Sentence" and sounds interesting. There are no touchstones for it yet.

maj 26, 4:00pm

>164 NanaCC: I'm glad you have access to birds & nature at your daughter's place, Colleen. I didn't realize how much I missed it when we lived in the city. I was feeling out of sorts this morning but going outside to putter in the garden was just what I needed.

>165 BLBera: I didn't know that, Beth. I've preferred her earlier books but wouldn't shy away from a new one. I'll look for the reviews.

maj 27, 8:01am

Hi Laura!

>148 lauralkeet: It sounds like an excellent visit, and I'm glad the girls love your new home.

maj 27, 8:33am

Hi Karen! We're both getting a good dose of daughter time these days aren't we?

By the way, I'm reading one of your recs right now: The Widow of the South. It took a few chapters for me to get hooked, but now after about 100 pages, I'm all in. I was also pleased to see there are photos and history at the end. I love learning more about the actual people in historical fiction.

maj 27, 11:09am

>168 lauralkeet: I read The Widow of the South years ago. I think I might have listened to it. It was before I joined LT, so not sure. I did enjoy it, that much I remember.

maj 27, 3:02pm

>169 NanaCC: That's good to know, Colleen. We usually like the same kinds of books.

maj 28, 8:45am

I'm so glad you're hooked on The Widow of the South. I, too, love the photos and history. I seem to be in a Civil War mode right now, as I'm reading Killing Lincoln by the despised-but-surprisingly-good-with-his-coauthor-Martin-Dugand Bill O'Reilly. I just received The Children of Pride on a recommendation by lizzied, and although I'm missing disc 7 and may have to abandon it because of that, have started the first volume of Shelby Foote's Civil War series.

maj 28, 10:32am

>171 karenmarie: Wow, you are on a Civil War jag for sure Karen! It's been a long time since I last read about this period. It's made me realize I've spent much more time reading about British history than American, at least in recent years. Back in my 20s, Chris and I subscribed to the History Book Club (like Book of the Month, but all history) and I read a lot more then, including a doorstop of a book about Gettysburg. I think Shelby Foote would have been better. 😀

maj 28, 3:40pm

>172 lauralkeet: *wink* Shelby Foote is always better.

maj 28, 7:12pm

>173 laytonwoman3rd: I agree, Linda!

maj 29, 12:29pm

Glad to be here catching up. Great bird sightings! Lovely that you are so enjoying that. Love the vulture chicks! Also marvelous that you had your girls for a visit.

maj 29, 1:44pm

Tony Horwitz wrote about Shelby Foote in Confederates in the Attic. What a hoot. I read Foote's three-volume The Civil War ten years ago. Something like 2,500 pages; plowed through in a month. Time-Life packaged that series with photos and charts and maps, transforming three volumes into 14. Blathering on. Sorry.

maj 29, 1:56pm

>175 sibylline: Hi Lucy! It's no nice to see you. We're enjoying the birds, and gardening is also occupying a fair amount of our time. One of the joys is finding out what plants are actually here. We bought the house in January, so we had no idea, and it turns out the terrace garden is actually pretty decent. Chris is doing heavy lifting types of outdoor work (i.e., fencing), and I'm trying to stay ahead of the weeds in the existing beds.

>176 weird_O: No apology necessary, Bill! I'm not likely to dive into Shelby Foote's magnum opus but I'm sure it was excellent. We enjoyed Ken Burns' Civil War documentary ages ago, when it first came out. IIRC, Foote was in that production.

Redigerat: maj 29, 2:51pm

Laura, I am so sorry I missed the news about Midnight on your last thread. I feel like a complete nincompoop -- I was so focused on the fact that you got your second shot that I missed Midnight. I know how much you loved her, I absolutely know how hard it is to lose one of our furkidz. Of course, I met Midnight briefly and you know that, as much as I love dogs, I'm a cat person at heart. I am glad that Woody and Alys are settling in some, and that the bed you bought for Woody has provided a comfy place for both of them!

Congrats on spotting that Pileated Woodpecker so close to your house! We saw one on our most recent camping trip and it was a real treat.

Having grown up in The American South surrounded by the rhetoric that the Civil War "wasn't about slavery, it was about states' rights" (ahem, states' rights to own slaves!!), and with the gaslighting we've witnessed in the past couple years when conversations about Confederate Monuments have been in the news, I have been nervous about reading about this particular war. Going back, I remember some terrific reads so I'm not sure my nervousness is rational. I just find myself hesitant to encounter a narrative sympathetic to the Confederate cause. So I will be interested in your comments when you finish The Widow of the South.

Keep taking good care, my friend.

maj 29, 4:30pm

>178 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! First of all, no apology necessary on the Midnight front. I've missed things myself while scrolling threads, and rest assured I have no bad feelings.

I haven't read much Civil War fiction and am certainly not interested in pro-slavery literature. I am okay with acknowledging that slavery was part of our past, just not with glorifying it. I have similar issues in ancestry research. Some of my ancestors almost undoubtedly owned slaves, because that was how things worked in the areas where they farmed, even for those with relatively small farms. I feel like I just need to acknowledge that and move on.

In any case, thanks for stopping by, Ellen! It's nice to see you making the rounds.

maj 30, 12:36pm

This weekend's weather makes me glad we hosted Kate & Julia last weekend. Then, it was hot and sunny. We gave in to Mother Nature and turned on the air conditioner. This weekend? 50F, gray, some rain off and on. We had no plans, so it doesn't really affect us but it still feels WRONG.

On the positive side, being stuck indoors inspired us to tackle a couple of rooms in the house that we'd been using as staging/storage. Part of the upstairs, referred to as a "loft" on the floor plans, consists of one 14x14' room original to the house, a hallway, and a 14x16' room that was part of the 1970s addition. The smaller room includes a bathroom. The entire loft could be used as an in-law suite or similar, but we don't need that. Instead, the smaller room will house our Wahoo indoor bike and other cycling-related stuff, and the larger room will be a fiber arts & music studio. This weekend's project involved moving furniture and cabinets to make a start at the studio, getting the bike into its correct location, and clearing out stuff that doesn't need to be in either of those rooms. Although both rooms still need more work to be "perfect," we made pretty good progress and plan to reward ourselves by going out for coffee this afternoon.

In other news, our black vulture chicks are now about 4 weeks old and doing fine! Mabel and Henry are spending more and more time away from the nest, so we were able to sneak in and get a photo of the little ones. They are so ugly, they're cute. The chicks remain at the nest for around 11 weeks. While we are mostly leaving them alone, I'll try to get photos of our "Endless Vulture Summer" from time to time. Here are the chicks, and Mabel (or is it Henry?!)

maj 31, 8:34am

Oh, yay for a designated craft room! I absolutely love mine.

maj 31, 9:21am

Yeah, Mrsdrneutron converted an extra bedroom into her quilting space. I don’t go in there unless it’s required… 😀

maj 31, 10:46am

Hi Laura!

>172 lauralkeet: I’m finding the Shelby Foote rather dry. I need a bit of a break on the Civil War, but may start The Children of Pride soon. In the meantime I’m reading a book outside my comfort zone – Hench, a BB from RichardDerus. It’s fascinating.

>176 weird_O: Loved Confederates in the Attic, Bill. My Bill’s maternal family has Confederates in the attic, and a 3rd or 4th-great grandfather who left his slaves to various family members in his 1829 will. Somewhere around the house we still have some Confederate money.

>177 lauralkeet: We loved Ken burns’ Civil War Documentary, and I have the companion book, The Civil War: An Illustrated History.

>180 lauralkeet: Oh, thank you for the photo of the black vulture chicks and Henry or Mabel. Congrats on all the work you’re doing to continue the settling in process.

Redigerat: maj 31, 12:58pm

>181 scaifea:, >182 drneutron: I'm excited to have a dedicated space. As a knitter, I can pretty much do that anywhere in the house but I need storage for yarn, gadgets, notions etc. and there are some tasks like seaming garments together that need a work surface. I've used our dining room in the past but this will allow me to leave work-in-progress on a table in the studio.

I was ridiculously excited this morning to receive a notice that an Amazon order would be delivered today (earlier than expected). Among other things the order contains a few storage bins for the studio. Not everything I need, mind you, but I'm excited to start organizing my stuff!

>183 karenmarie: Hi Karen! This conversation is making me realize I haven't really read much about the Civil War (fiction or non-fiction). I haven't been drawn to the topic. I've enjoyed delving into history related to my family tree, but so far I haven't found any ancestors who were directly involved, on either side. It seems they were either too old or too young at the time of the conflict.

I'm glad you appreciate the vulture photos! Fun fact: male & female vultures look so much alike, the only way to determine their sex is through DNA testing. So, that's not gonna happen and we will be forever guessing whether the adult vulture on the fence is Henry or Mabel.

jun 1, 7:27am

Thank you for the vulture update! It's great to see the chicks. And congrats on the pileated woodpecker; I've only seen one once, in Glacier National Park. It's so exciting to live vicariously through other people's experiences, especially while travel is restricted.

jun 1, 7:43am

Morning, Laura. Love seeing the Mabel & Henry update. I rarely see anyone tracking vultures nesting, so this is a treat. I am sure the chicks will fledge quickly and head out on their own. It will be fun to watch.

My feeders have been active but mostly the usual suspects.

Redigerat: jun 1, 7:45am

>185 Sakerfalcon: You are most welcome, Claire! Yesterday Chris reported seeing the vulture chicks strutting around their nest. This was the first time we've seen them actually moving, not just snuggled up in a corner. They'll be around the nest for another two months so I hope to continue posting updates here.

>186 msf59: Hi Mark, looks like we cross-posted! I'm glad you're enjoying the vulture updates. We would love for them to fledge soon so we can make use of their space, but sources say they spend a long time at the nest so we are expecting them to be with us for a while.

jun 1, 3:33pm

27. The Widow of the South ()
Source: Library loan - recommended by Karen (karenmarie)

The Battle of Franklin took place in Tennessee on November 30, 1864, just months before the American Civil War’s official end at Appomattox. The battle was a devastating loss for the Confederate side, with casualty figures far exceeding those of other battles. The army designated Carnton, a plantation owned by John McGavock, as a hospital. McGavock’s wife, Carrie, threw herself into caring for the wounded and dying soldiers.

Carrie knows grief, having lost three of her five children. She lives in isolation, rarely going into town. Besides her family, the only person Carrie is in close contact with is Mariah, a Black woman about Carrie’s age, who was a childhood companion and accompanied Carrie when she married John. At first she resists the Army’s demand to take over her house, and is surprised to find herself responding to a call of sorts, working around the clock to provide bandages, water, food, and shelter. After the war, Carrie learns that a prosperous man in town plans to plow up a nearby field that was used as a cemetery. She successfully intervenes and organizes a reburial of all the men interred there, with stones marking each person’s place of rest.

The Widow of the South is Carrie’s story, a fictional account of historic events. Carrie’s role in the creation of the cemetery is well documented, but as is often the case with female historic figures, there is much about her life that is unknown. The novel is an interesting imagining of likely events and circumstances that might have caused Carrie to behave as she did. The author’s note at the end of the book includes photos of Carrie and her family, commentary separating fact from fiction, an an extensive bibliography. I enjoyed reading about a part of Civil War history completely unfamiliar to me, and am glad Robert Hicks chose to celebrate the Carrie McGavock’s important role.

jun 1, 11:56pm

Hi Laura,
Just catching up after s longish absence. Feels like months!
Took my reading a few posts to realize who this Mabel and Henry were. Not visiting family as it turns out.

So satisfying to read that your kids visited and everyone (I think?) is fully vaccinated. The hubs and I have had 2 doses (Pfizer) now but we've been advised to wait a month to make sure our immune systems have given us an acquired immunity. I gather great swaths of folks in some counties in the US-mid west especially (?) are all determined to avoid the vax program. So much misinformation, so sad that social media has perpetuated this most distressing attitude as being a good choice. Sorry if vax is a verboten topic here, btw.

I'm on a Bujold reading binge. Such a fantastic writer. I love the Pen and Desdemona saga. I'm waiting on some holds right now.

Be well and happy.

Redigerat: jun 10, 11:23am

Hi Sandy! I'm glad you figured out who Henry and Mabel are. I gave them names the first time we saw them, but that was way back, probably on my first thread. So I understand your confusion.

Vax talk is just fine here, no problem. My kids and their beaus are all fully vaccinated. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) have deemed that one is fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second jab. For Chris and I, that day is today -- woo hoo!

As for those who are not yet vaccinated, the NY Times published an interesting piece a couple of weeks ago, a data-driven look at the reasons people are not getting vaccinated. In the US as a whole:
8% are watchful
9% are cost-anxious
4% are system distrusted
14% are covid skeptics

The full article breaks this down further by geography and analyzes the segments. Great stuff for data junkies.

My takeaway from all this is that those not getting vaccinated are not just stupid people (admittedly my gut reaction), and the government needs to tailor its approach to reach each of these segments. There have been some interesting tactics employed at a state and local level from providing transportation to clinics, giving newly-vaccinated people a coupon for a free drink at a local bar, and changing admission to sporting events (i.e.; special seating areas for vaccinated folks). It's also really, really important to target disadvantaged segments of the population and help them get to a vaccination center.

I've seen recent reports indicating that some non-vaccinated segments are coming around to the idea. Eventually we will have a very small minority of non-vaccinated people, and they will either realize they have been stupid for waiting so long or they won't. And if they get sick, that's on them. Sounds callous, but that's where I stand.
/dismount soapbox


In reading news, yesterday I started reading Sarah Moss' Summerwater. I loved The Ghost Wall and her earlier novel, Cold Earth. She packs a lot of tension into very spare prose. And you know what else is cool? I submitted this on my library's "request a title" page and lo and behold, they acquired it! I looooove the Loudoun County Library system.

jun 2, 8:17am

Eventually we will have a very small minority of non-vaccinated people, and they will either realize they have been stupid for waiting so long or they won't. And if they get sick, that's on them.

Yep, that's where my thinking is at, too.

jun 2, 11:29am

>191 scaifea: True "if they get sick, that's on them" but the problem is that having a significant number of unvaccinated people makes it more likely that the virus will morph into something new that will not be prevented by the vaccines and will leave us back where we started (or perhaps worse off if the new versions are more contagious or more lethal, etc.).

jun 2, 12:14pm

I worry about that too, Reba. It's a difficult, global problem.

jun 2, 12:20pm

>192 RebaRelishesReading: Agreed, but we can't, apparently, force them to get vaccinated, so...*shrug*

jun 2, 5:43pm

Hooray for Summerwater! And your local library.

I see that a lot of schools are going to require vaccinations, which is fine with me. Also, I imagine some employers might as well. I know when I worked for a clinic, I had to get a flu shot every year if I wanted to continue my employment. I'm fine with that.

jun 2, 6:14pm

>194 scaifea: Yep.

>195 BLBera: Right Beth. I think there's a combination of carrots and sticks here. Some people will respond to incentives, others will fall in line when they realize they can't work or participate in something they enjoy unless they are vaccinated.

jun 3, 7:22am

My library is pretty good about getting books also. There was one I wanted to read (not sure what it was right now) and I never seemed to move up the request list because our library system gives "home" library patrons the book first even if they're further down the list of people who are waiting. I mentioned it to my sister (children's librarian) and she told the person who orders books and they got it for me. SO nice!

jun 3, 7:56am

Sweet Thursday, Laura. Good review of The Widow of the South. With you and Karen singing it's praises, I will have to get to it. It is also nice I have a copy on shelf.

jun 3, 7:57am

>197 dudes22: I've always wondered about the hold list algorithm, Betty (my career was in IT and I can't help thinking about how systems work ...) I have a feeling the Philadelphia library may have done something similar to yours, although I can't say for sure. And to be honest I don't know whether the Loudoun County system does that either. So far, most of my requests have been for less popular books where there's been only 1 or 2 people ahead of me, although I'm currently on the list for a couple more popular books and one soon-to-be-published book.

I finally received a "Your item is ready for pickup" notice yesterday for Square Haunting, which I requested in early April. It was checked out and due back around 4/24, and apparently the patron hung onto it for a very long time. Tsk tsk.

jun 3, 2:02pm

Hi Laura!

>188 lauralkeet: I’m glad you liked The Widow of the South, halfway between Respectable and Recommended in your rating system. *smile*

>190 lauralkeet: Congrats on being fully vaccinated.

jun 3, 7:16pm

>200 karenmarie: Hey Karen, I give a lot of books 3.5 stars. About 50% of my reads, YTD. 5s are really uncommon, but I'm stingy about 4 stars too. I can't even explain why, just that a book needs to have a certain je ne sais quoi to get 4 stars or higher.

jun 3, 10:43pm

>200 karenmarie:, >201 lauralkeet: I think you're wise with having about 50% of your books at the mid-point. I tend to be too easy and then when a really, really wonderful book comes along I have nothing to give it :(

jun 4, 7:24am

>202 RebaRelishesReading: Oh I know exactly what you mean, Reba! And to be honest, most of my ratings are a gut feel that develops as I'm reading the book. I can't explain it analytically.

Mathematically speaking, the midpoint should be 3 stars, but in my actual reading it turns out to be higher. In my yearly stats my average rating is usually around 3.7. Like a lot of 75ers, if I'm reading something that feels like less than 3 stars, I probably won't finish it (unless I'm hate-reading and planning a scathing review. It happens ...). So almost everything I finish, rate and review gets at least 3 stars, which makes 3 stars feel like a low rating when it shouldn't.

This ratings business is complicated!

jun 4, 9:21am

Interesting discussion about ratings - most of mine are a gut feeling that resolves into one word that corresponds to a number. I abandon books without a qualm. I try to be careful about what I pick up to begin with. I've abandoned 6 books so far this year. I've gone back and added a new stat - Rating - with breakdown by # per star and average of all ratings for the year. Right now it stands at 3.88 for 50 books read.

jun 4, 10:35am

>203 lauralkeet:, >204 karenmarie: Hi Laura and Karen. I've never actually calculated my ratings and I'm not sure I want to...I may not like what I find lol. I don't readily abandon books but I generally read things either recommended by people whose taste is similar to mine or from author's I have liked in the past. Maybe that raises my rating average?

jun 4, 12:01pm

>204 karenmarie:, >205 RebaRelishesReading: Karen & Reba, I didn't track anything pre-LT, but I'm still pretty confident that hanging around LT and the 75ers has led to me being a more discerning reader. So I guess I'm agreeing with the points you made about what we pick up in the first place, and being influenced by those with similar tastes.

jun 4, 4:03pm

I got a book about Doc Barnes on Tuesday; The Devil and Dr. Barnes. Halfway through it. Yes, he was both brilliant and despicable. A second book, Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection, is supposed to be delivered in the next few days, but it's been sent Media Mail, so I'm at the mercy of deJoy's minions.

jun 4, 4:44pm

>207 weird_O: I'm glad you're enjoying your foray into Barnes-land, Bill.

jun 4, 7:20pm

I'm notorious for giving books slightly high ratings although I have no idea what my average LT rating is or where to go to find out Laura. But over the years I've pretty much learned not to read books I'm not in love with by a certain point or good bye book. It could be a few chapters, pages, paragraphs or...words. Whatever. I have no time for books I don't like. Life is too short. But I have written a few scathing reviews in the past 😳

jun 4, 8:22pm

I think my average is about 3.5 also, Laura. Like Bonnie, I rarely keep reading something I am pretty sure I won't like.

One of my pet peeves is people who hang on to books with reserves. Come on!

jun 5, 7:45am

>209 brenzi: Bonnie, I suspect you don't really want to calculate your average rating but I'll tell you how it's done anyway. I keep some reading stats in a spreadsheet, with a new sheet each year. That's how I get my average rating. Another way would be to use LT's export function to get your library data into a spreadsheet, where one column would be the rating field and an average could be calculated.

>210 BLBera: I was pretty annoyed with that library patron, Beth. Not that I had any shortage of reading material, but it's just the principle of the thing. I finished Summerwater last night so now I'm ready to dive into Square Haunting.

jun 5, 7:52am

>209 brenzi: " I have no time for books I don't like. Life is too short." Well said, Bon...

I guess I am bit lucky in that department, since I rarely have to abandon a book. That said, I have gotten better jettisoning a book if it isn't working.

jun 5, 8:42am

>209 brenzi:, >211 lauralkeet: LT will tell you what your average rating is (and a lot of other stuff too). On your profile page, and on your home page, under the main banner, you should see a tab marked Stats/Memes. There's a nifty chart and everything.

jun 5, 8:51am

>213 laytonwoman3rd: I'm such a dolt. I actually went to that page this morning and somehow failed to see the giant bar chart right at the top of the darn page. Sheesh.

jun 5, 9:40am

>214 lauralkeet: Gotta say, it made my day to be able to scoop you on something like this!

jun 5, 9:55am

In my defense, I was under-caffeinated at the time. But I’m happy to make your day, Linda!

Redigerat: jun 5, 3:35pm

I know while our library was under covid restrictions they were holding books 3-4 days at each end which didn't help with getting books and they were lenient with fines because of that too. I'm sure some people took advantage of the fact. I know when I take an ebook from the library, they just grab it instead of letting you renew so you can't keep it longer than the due date. Minor advantage to library ebooks.

ETA: Sometimes I put a hold on both the ebook and the regular one when there are holds.

jun 5, 4:42pm

>217 dudes22: Hi Betty. Our library doesn't charge for overdue books anymore; it seems like a lot of libraries eliminated this practice in the past year. However, I just looked this up: if an item is 21 days past due it will be considered lost and the patron will be charged a replacement fee, so that may have happened in this case. At least there's some consequence for hanging onto something well past the due date.

I've placed holds on both ebook and print as well, especially if it's a book with a long hold queue.

jun 6, 11:51am

28. Summerwater ()
Source: Library loan

Summerwater is set in a remote Scottish holiday camp where several travelers are trying to make the best of things despite the incessant rain. Most looked forward to spending a week off the grid without cellular service, until being cooped up in damp cabins with little to do but watch your neighbors’ comings and goings.

The novel unfolds over a single day, with each chapter one holidaymaker’s interior monologue. A woman goes for an early morning run, enjoying the solitude. Despite the weather, an elderly couple boards a ferry to visit one of their favorite spots. A teenage boy braves the elements in his kayak. Their narratives are both a commentary on the activity they’re engaged in, and observations about the people they see along the way. They speculate on the lives of their fellow travelers, never making direct personal contact. Haven’t we all done this?

And yet there’s an ominous undertone, a sense that all of this is leading somewhere. Sarah Moss has a gift for building suspense through spare prose. Small details dropped in each narrative build a composite picture of life at the holiday camp. Some of those details turn out to be important; some are red herrings. I enjoyed getting to know the couples and families stuck on a holiday gone bad, all the while wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. And when it did, the pace went from zero to sixty in a flash, and delivered a knockout punch that continued to haunt my thoughts well after I closed the book.

jun 6, 12:51pm

>219 lauralkeet: Glad it was a hit for you too Laura.

jun 6, 1:45pm

>219 lauralkeet: - Now looking forward to this one even more!

jun 6, 6:49pm

>213 laytonwoman3rd: Well there's something I never knew existed on LT. I have to admit, I seldom explore little known LT features sticking mostly to this group and well, you know, the books. Anyway I apparently have a 4.1 average for all the books I've even listed here which seems about right.

>219 lauralkeet: Very enticing review Laura. I've got this one on my Overdrive list so I'll get to it at some point. I've only read one other Sarah Moss book, Ghost Wall and was a bit put off by the father's abuse of his daughter but this one sounds good.

jun 6, 8:22pm

>219 lauralkeet: Great comments, Laura. Moss is great with atmosphere, isn't she? She got me from the very beginning when the mom, I forget her name, was going jogging and agonizing over whether to lock the door.

jun 6, 9:30pm

>220 Caroline_McElwee:, >223 BLBera: Caro & Beth, this book grabbed me from the very beginning. Like you said Beth, she is so good at atmosphere. I know what you mean about that scene with the jogger. There was also a moment where one character, I think it was Alex with his kayak, spotted the little girl's shoe on the beach. That turned out to be more of a red herring, but I was on guard from that moment.

>221 katiekrug: I can't wait to see what you think of it, Katie.

>222 brenzi: Bonnie, LT has so many features, I am sure there are plenty more I don't know about and/or don't use. For example, there's a sizable number of LTers actively dealing with matters related to cataloging and how things should be classified. I appreciate their efforts but choose to spend my LT time here, gabbing with all of you, instead.

jun 7, 11:03am

>I loved Summerwater too and your review above is perfect. Moss has a new one out in November called The Fell.

jun 7, 11:13am

>219 lauralkeet: I must get around to reading this soon, as so many of you whose taste I respect have loved it!

>225 vivians: Oh, that is exciting news!

jun 7, 11:24am

>213 laytonwoman3rd:,>222 brenzi: Thank you Laura. Like Bonnie, I don't explore the site much so I'm regularly surprised by features mentioned by others. I checked my rating average and found it's 3.98 -- about what I expected.

jun 7, 12:33pm

>225 vivians: Thank you Vivian, and great news about Moss' new book. I stand prepared to "request a title" at my library. I might get a reputation as "the woman who reads Sarah Moss," but I'm okay with that.

>226 Sakerfalcon: Oh yes, you should indeed, Claire!

>227 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, LT has my overall average rating as 3.65. A quick look at my annual spreadsheets shows that back in 2007 my average rating was around 3.5 and last year, 3.8. I guess I'm getting soft in my old age ...

jun 7, 3:51pm

Home is the next book up in my Toni Morrison project, and I'm just putting it out there that I'm still planning to read this one in June. The thing is, library holds keep coming in to land. I'm currently reading Square Haunting with The PostScript Murders on deck, and I'm first in line for Sworn to Silence, the first in a series recommended by Karen.

It's only June 7, so I should be able to read all of these plus the Morrison. Fingers crossed.

jun 7, 5:54pm

I'll tentatively plan to reread Home with you, Laura. But, like you, those library holds are really coming in now! I hope you're enjoying Square Haunting.

jun 7, 8:21pm

>230 BLBera: Sounds good, Beth. And yes, I'm finding Square Haunting quite interesting. I'm just a bit in to the Dorothy Sayers segment.

Redigerat: jun 8, 7:27am

Yesterday while I was making dinner, two young men came to our door. They were history majors at George Mason University, and members of a metal detecting club. They told Chris that maps and other references had pointed them to some of the old houses in the area as potential sources of "finds." Would we allow them to do some detecting on our property? Of course we would. They were out there for a good hour. After a while, Chris went out to chat with them and they had found a couple of metal buttons, a ring, and a clay pipe.

Has anyone here seen the comedy series The Detectorists? We couldn't help imagining these guys as part of that group. Their finds were interesting, and the whole thing was a bit of a hoot.

jun 8, 7:36am

Hi, Laura. Glad the young men who came to the door were detectionists and not selling ever-lasting life or aluminum siding. How have the feeders been? We are getting the usual summer visitors. I have been seeing a red-bellied woodpecker drop by lately.

Redigerat: jun 8, 8:31am

>233 msf59: Well Mark, I shared your skepticism at first -- there's a reason I made Chris answer the door. But it was all good!

We've seen a Pileated flying to and fro on our property a couple times. Such a treat. And we've had a couple hummingbird visits in the past few days. I'd like more, but I'll take it.

jun 8, 9:03am

>232 lauralkeet: I loved The Detectorists! I don't know many people who have watched it, and now it is gone from Netflix, in Canada. My cousin told me about it.

Did the fellows offer to share any great finds with you? or is it finders keepers?

jun 8, 9:26am

I have Home pencilled in for this month, Laura. We'll see if I actually get to it...

jun 8, 10:02am

>228 lauralkeet: Or selecting more good books :)

jun 8, 12:50pm

>235 raidergirl3: that's too bad, Elizabeth. I think it's still on Britbox here.
And it's finders keepers on the things they find. I'm sure the dream is to find something valuable, which would need to be vetted, and otherwise they just classify and store their collection. But I'm sort of guessing here, since everything I know about metal detecting comes from watching that show.

>236 katiekrug: I get that, Katie. No worries either way!

>237 RebaRelishesReading: I like the way you think, Reba.

jun 8, 7:53pm

>188 lauralkeet: The Widow of the South has shown up on a number of Best Historical Fiction for This Summer kinds of lists so I have it on hold at the library. It sounds like it's worth staying in the queue.

>232 lauralkeet: That is a wonderful story. I have not heard of The Detectorists but I might see if I can find it. We do get BritBox.

jun 8, 9:29pm

>239 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! I hope you like The Widow of the South. The Detectorists is worth seeking out, too.

Redigerat: jun 9, 6:11am

>232 lauralkeet: We watched The Detectorists. It was one of Mr SandDune’s favourite TV programmes and he has now heard of a book called Landscapes of Detectorists which he is intending to get (it was filmed fairly near us).

Loving the pictures of the vultures by the way!

jun 9, 7:38am

>241 SandDune: Interesting to learn there's a book about the areas where they filmed. Being somewhat familiar with the area where you live, I'm not surprised to learn it was filmed near you. It would be fun to find familiar places in the book.

I'm glad you are enjoying the vultures! We peeked in on them the other day and it appears they're starting to go from fluff to feather. We'll keep watch.

Redigerat: jun 9, 6:35pm

Comments about Migrations are posted on my thread. Thank you for nudging me to write comments. I feel rather pleased with how they turned out. :-)

jun 10, 7:14am

>243 EBT1002: as well you should, Ellen. Migrations looks like a terrific book.

jun 10, 10:01am

>190 lauralkeet: I like your soap box!

Couldn't read the nytimes article. I refuse to subscribe (even a free limited account bothers me) since I rarely take time to read news online outside of the brief survey of headlines on the open websites. I like the ny times when I can read columns but of late everything is blocked.

I was intrigued with the Guardian's review of Sarah Moss. The Guardian is where I first heard of Cold Earth. I didn't realize Ann Cleeves was her pseudonym, though.

Redigerat: jun 10, 11:28am

>245 SandyAMcPherson: Hi Sandy! I didn't realize the NYTimes article would require a subscription (we subscribe to the weekly Sunday print edition which gives us digital access as well). I wouldn't have signed up either. For a while, NYT was making all of their COVID content publicly available. Perhaps they're no longer doing so, or that policy may not apply to this one (which was an opinion piece).

I didn't realize Ann Cleeves was her pseudonym, though.
Clever you. That's a great way of saying "wrong touchstone, stupid"! I've corrected it (see >190 lauralkeet:).

jun 10, 6:48pm

>246 lauralkeet: Seriously, I thought it was really a pseudonym. Shows how dozy I was (am) when I'm not properly awake...

Redigerat: jun 14, 9:44pm

29. Square Haunting ()
Source: Library loan - recommended by Beth (BLBera)

The 20th century ushered in a period of change for women, leading to advances in education and greater independence. London’s Bloomsbury neighborhood flourished as a residential and intellectual hub and one specific enclave, Mecklenburgh Square, was home to five notable women writers and scholars over more than twenty years. The poet Hilda Doolittle, known as H.D., came first in 1916, followed by author Dorothy Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, historian Eileen Power, and author Virginia Woolf.

In Square Haunting, Francesca Wade profiles each woman and shows how their time in Mecklenburgh Square informed their lives and their work. None of the women lived there at the same time and their circles barely overlapped, but there are common threads running through their lives: scholarship, independence, and the courage to flout convention. And yet their success often came at significant emotional cost.

Before reading this book, Woolf was the figure I was most familiar with. I enjoyed reading about others who forged similar paths, and am grateful for their pioneering role in improving the lives of future generations of women.

jun 14, 6:11pm

Hi there! Once again I am caught up here. On everything from pseudonyms, and metal collectors, to room re-organizing and even books!! : ) Happy Monday.

jun 14, 7:22pm

It sounds like you liked Square Haunting, Laura. I'm glad. I think you're right about the common threads that run through all of their stories.

jun 14, 7:33pm

>248 lauralkeet: I liked this more than you Laura, but then I'm a Bloomsbury fan.

jun 14, 9:46pm

Hi Kim, Beth & Caro. I actually rated the book 4 stars, but made a mistake when posting my review. It’s corrected now. I really liked the book but for some reason had difficulty putting cogent thoughts together!

jun 15, 6:25pm

>248 lauralkeet: I'm hoping to get to this one at some point because it sounds fascinating Laura.

jun 15, 8:37pm

>253 brenzi: I think you'd enjoy it, Bonnie. I love reading about women's lives, especially when they pushed the boundaries and/or defied the odds. It's great that their stories are being told.

Redigerat: jun 16, 7:35am

Happy Wednesday, Laura. This is a male eastern bluebird from a recent jaunt. I know you see them in and around your yard but I have to venture out a bit. The feeders have been hopping but with mostly the usual visitors. A red-bellied woodpecker has been stopping at the platform feeder regularly too.

jun 16, 7:53am

Nice pic, Mark!

We see downy wood-peckers every day but for some reason the red-bellied has only shown up a couple of times. On the other hand, there's a hummingbird making frequent visits now.

jun 17, 6:58pm

Vulture Update!

The chicks are getting their feathers, and are now a combination of black feathers and tan fluff:

The chicks have yet to leave the barn as far as we know, but Henry and Mabel are going out on the town again:

jun 18, 12:50pm

All caught up! While my back was turned, you grew a whole new thread.

How I envy your soon-to-be-craft-and-music room. Jim and I try to squash our activities into our 720 sq. feet, but it doesn't always result in a calm and neat home.

And thanks for the thoughtful reviews. I really must get busy reading Erdrich - it's a big hole in my experience, as are the books of Toni Morrison. No excuses - I even have some on my shelf.

I love reading about your new house, what you see and what you are doing. It must be a great adventure.

On the subject of electricity and water, we live in a large apartment building, and the water supply is pumped up to the roof and then flows down by gravity on demand. When we lose electricity for more than a few hours, we lose water pressure. So if we know that might happen, or if they announce they are working on the boiler or other components of the water supply, we fill the tub.

We are having beautiful days here - I hope you are enjoying them and your new landscape too.

jun 18, 3:16pm

>258 ffortsa: Hi Judy! Nice to see you here. It's interesting to hear how utilities work in your building. I can imagine it's a pretty tall structure and that process makes sense. My daughters both live in 3-story brownstones which I think are less complicated.

Our weather has been delightful this week but it's heating up. But on the plus side, we saw two Pileated Woodpeckers this morning!!

I just finished a book last night and I'm finally ready to start my next Toni Morrison. But first, a review ...

jun 18, 3:16pm

30. The Postscript Murders ()
Source: Library loan

A murder mystery about the death of a murder mystery writer? Yes please! Peggy Smith, an elderly woman living alone, dies suddenly, and her effects include long-running correspondence with a popular author. It appears Peggy was a source of plot ideas and reviewed early versions of the author’s work. Her death is labeled suspicious, and then the mystery writer is also murdered. Harbinder Kaur is assigned to investigate. But at the same time, three civilians have formed a self-appointed investigative team: Natalka, Peggy’s care worker; Edwin, a neighbor; and Benedict, a former monk turned cafe owner. Harbinder has to figure out how to capitalize on their energy while still retaining control of the investigation. This is no easy task when the trio embarks on a road trip to a literary festival in Aberdeen. Clues and hijinks ensue, in equal measure.

Meanwhile, there’s Harbinder’s personal storyline. Her Sikh ancestry makes her stand out in the police force, and she’s often overlooked for opportunities. Harbinder is also openly gay at work but not at home, and she lives with her parents and hates having to hide herself from them. This novel sees some movement in a positive direction and a strengthening of her character.

This is only the second book in a series, and I’m looking forward to reading future installments as they are published.

jun 18, 3:23pm


I had another library hold come in today, but I'm going to read this Toni Morrison novel first. It's short, and it gets me back on track to read all of her novels.

jun 18, 4:12pm

>257 lauralkeet: This is so cool. These look like black vultures, I thought they were turkey vultures at first. Do you know?

jun 18, 4:48pm

I'm pretty sure they're black vultures, Mark. When we spotted them for the very first time back in February, I assumed they were turkey vultures because it was the only species I was familiar with. But when I looked up vulture nesting habits I quickly discovered the black vulture. Both types are common in these parts. The more I see them the more certain I am they're black vultures.

jun 18, 5:00pm

Adult turkey vultures have red heads and these adults clearly have dark heads. We do not get black vultures here, unless it is an errant one.

jun 18, 5:02pm

>264 msf59: right, Mark. I meant to also mention that we were driving home from some errands today and spotted a vulture at the side of the road, which was most definitely a turkey vulture. I hadn't seen one in a long time, but their heads are totally different from the black vulture's.

jun 18, 5:24pm

>260 lauralkeet: I really enjoyed The Stranger Diaries and didn’t realize the second book was available, Laura. I listened to the first, so I will listen to this as well. I’m glad to see your positive review.

I used to see turkey vultures all the time where I lived in New Jersey. Here in MA, I see wild turkeys at my daughter’s house. I think there are 19 of them. They pass through their yard and often hop up into the trees there at night. There are coyotes, so I think their night habits are to stay away from them.

jun 18, 8:40pm

>266 NanaCC: I think you'll enjoy The Postscript Murders, Colleen. And just like that, you'll also have the satisfaction of completing a series!

We've seen a few wild turkeys in a field nearby, but not on that scale. Wow!

jun 19, 9:27am

Hi Laura!

>258 ffortsa: I love the Henry and Mabel and chicks updates.

>260 lauralkeet: I like two out of three of Griffiths’ series. I tried The Zig Zag Girl and will pass on the rest of the series. Have you tried it?

jun 19, 9:49am

Henry and Mabel look like partiers---I hope the chicks are self-sufficient soon, for everyone's sake.

The newer Elly Griffiths series sounds intriguing. I may have taken a hit there.

Just a note for anyone thinking about trying Louise Erdrich for the first time, or getting back to her, for that matter: July is a theme month in the American Authors Challenge, and we will be reading Native American fiction and non-fiction. So if you pick up one of her books soonish, please stop by and share with us. The July thread will be announced later this month in the the General Discussion Thread for the challenge (which I'm sure everyone has starred already!). This has been a public service announcement. We now return to your regularly scheduled thread.

jun 19, 12:14pm

>268 karenmarie: I'm always glad to see fans of Henry, Mabel, and their little ones. They're starting to strut a bit, although almost always still within the barn. We're hoping they start to brave the wider world in the next few weeks.

I haven't read The Zig Zag Girl or any of that series; in fact, I only just realized it existed when I saw the books listed in my copy of The Postscript Murders. I have enough series on the go right now that I don't really *need* another one, and given your thoughts I'm in no hurry ...

>269 laytonwoman3rd: Linda! What a timely PSA. Not just because it will soon be July, but because I received a copy of Erdirch's The Bingo Palace in today's mail!! I bought it after she won the Pulitzer, because I've already read The Night Watchman but wanted to read something of hers to mark the occasion. I'm a very sporadic participant in the AAC, but I'll definitely be there for July.

Who's with me?!

jun 19, 12:27pm

>269 laytonwoman3rd: Coincidence! I had just had that thought yesterday. Checked the descriptions and reviews for the five (5!) unread Erdrich books I have and settled on LaRose as the one to read next month for the AAC.

jun 19, 12:40pm

>271 weird_O: see ya over on the AAC thread, Bill! With 5 unread on your shelves, why stop at 1? Just sayin'.

jun 20, 9:28am

31. Home ()
Source: On my shelves

In Home, Toni Morrison tells the story of Frank Money, a Korean War veteran who embarks on an odyssey to rescue his sister Cee from a bad situation. Frank suffers from PTSD and severe guilt at having survived the war when his childhood friends did not. He has yet to reconnect with his family despite having always felt close to Cee. But then he receives a mysterious letter informing him Cee is in danger, and he is compelled to track her down.

As Frank makes his way towards Cee, his memories shed light on his experiences during the war. And at the same time, readers learn more of Cee’s story. Cee had run off with a ne'er-do-well to escape oppressive small-town family life, and when that relationship failed found work with a doctor who practiced eugenics. She naively submitted to his “treatments,” with disastrous consequences.

Reading Morrison’s fiction usually requires a certain willingness to go with the flow until I figure out what’s going on. But Home’s narrative is straightforward, almost mainstream in its approach. Cee’s situation was resolved in a way that was a bit too tidy. But I found her recovery, as well as Frank’s, sufficiently moving to warrant a 4-star rating.

jun 20, 12:15pm

You are too fast, Laura. I'll have to reread this another time. I think you liked it more than I did.

jun 20, 12:21pm

Sorry Beth, I knew you were a bit uncertain as to whether you'd read it this month. And I didn't realize it would be such a quick read. It's only 145 pages, and I zipped through it in just a couple of days.

After I finished the book I read a review in The Guardian that was more critical, saying Morrison rushed through the story, resolved major plot points in too simplistic a fashion, and did not thoroughly explore her themes. I think those are valid criticisms and the book definitely doesn't stand up to Beloved, which the more I read Morrison's work the more I see was truly her masterpiece.

But I was moved by Frank and Cee's emotional and physical healings, even if they were a bit too quick, so I didn't allow that review to change my rating.

jun 20, 12:29pm

Hi Laura, I wonder if you've heard in Loudon County about a disease circulating among birds? It is in Fairfax County, but I'm not sure that it has spread out your way. We were asked to take down bird feeders and bird baths. We did this a week or two ago, but unfortunately did find a fledging bluejay in our yard with the disease. It's an eye disease that crusts over their eyes and blinds them. We reported to Virginia Dept of Wildlife Resources and had animal control come to remove it. It was very sad! Just wanted you to keep an eye out among your many birds that you see!

jun 20, 12:32pm

>273 lauralkeet: This is one of Morrison's that I don't think I've read. I'm glad to know that it's a bit more "straight ahead" before I read it. I don't expect an author to create only masterpieces like Beloved, so I think there is room for books that may not be as innovative from Morrison that can still be enjoyable, worthwhile, and very well done. I'll try to get to this sometime soon.

jun 20, 12:53pm

>276 japaul22: Yes Jennifer, I've heard about that disease. Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, a rescue/rehab near here, has posted about it quite a bit on their Instagram because they've had record intake numbers this season. I understand it seems to affect fledgelings more than adult birds, and also some species (jays) more than others.

I had not seen warnings to stop feeding altogether, although a bit of Googling just now turned up several articles from respectable sources (i.e., WaPo). We'll take precautions, thanks.

>277 japaul22: Exactly ... this one was worthwhile and well done, just different. I have just one more Morrison novel to go and then I'll have a sense of her career as a whole.

jun 20, 4:02pm

I thought God Help the Child was better than both Home and A Mercy, Laura, so I'll watch for your comments. At some point, I would like to reread the last three. But my reading of her novels was complete when I finished Love, so thanks for the companionship so I could finally finish her fiction. I do have a collection of lectures to read, I think.

jun 20, 4:52pm

>279 BLBera: Oh, I see -- you've read them all now. Good for you! I'm looking forward to reading God Help the Child, obviously because it will complete my project. But also because of the jazz song, "God Bless the Child," made famous by Billie Holiday. I don't know if the book borrows anything from the song, but I love the song so I'm curious.

jun 22, 8:17am

We've been without power since 5pm yesterday. A short but intense storm come through and immediately took down a tree (pictured above, laying across the country road that runs along one side of our property). The tree, in turn, took down a power line which took down a pole about 1/8 mi up the road. The storm passed within about 30 minutes and since cooking was out of the question I went out to pick up a pizza for dinner. I didn't see any other evidence of power outages.

Sometime around 9:30pm we heard the sound of chainsaws, and a crew was out there moving all the debris off the road. I wandered out to investigate this morning and saw tree debris shoved off on each side of the road, and the wires and pole were also pushed to the side. So that's step one done, I guess. The good news is that the rain cooled things off significantly so we are not suffering from lack of AC.

I'm currently posting this from Starbucks. We packed up our devices and a power strip so we could charge everything and use the wifi while we have breakfast and the all-important coffee. Hopefully the power restoration crew will be on the scene when we return home, but honestly, who knows.

jun 22, 8:25am

Oh, yoicks, Laura! Here's hoping they get things fixed soon, but thank goodness for coffee shops with wifi (and, um, coffee, of course)!

Redigerat: jun 22, 8:39am

>282 scaifea: I know, right? We just refilled our coffees ...
We were lucky to have tables available. Most of them are still blocked off, despite the extremely low covid risk in our area. But yeah, the wifi and abundance of power outlets are a godsend.

jun 22, 10:34am

Oof. I hope your power is restored soon, Laura! Though an enforced break can be kind of nice, too, as long as there is coffee and power available :)

jun 22, 10:45am

Ugh. Hate when the power vanishes. You are fortunate (?!) to have a Starbucks with wifi close by (I guess it's reasonably close). Too bad you ain't cookin' with gas; that'd give you coffee, bacon, and eggs, but not wifi.

Redigerat: jun 22, 11:10am

Work has been underway for a while now. The power company estimate is 3-8pm. Two new power poles have gone up. Hoping they beat that estimate.

Bill, the Starbucks is about 3mi away. We have a gas range so we could have cooked breakfast, but the need for wifi and charging won out. Also laziness.

jun 22, 1:49pm

I'm so far behind I hardly know where to start! Your thread is always wonderful.

So happy you get your own project room! I could use some of the third floor space now that the little darling is rarely home, but I think of that floor as being 'all' hers so I haven't. I keep a lot of stuff up there, wool and sewing machine and etc, but mostly bring stuff down to the dining room table when I am really doing a project.

Totally with you on the soapbox/ but also note Reba's caution.

Love the vultures!

We usually have a pair of pileated w's somewhere (mostly we can hear them -- sounds like a cement drill!) up in the woods. Every now and then some tree or other that is 'perfect' draws them to the woods edge above our house and we'll see them.

Did either of your daughters get into the Hank the Cowdog series? The LD learned to read to herself because she loved them so. I have a fondness for vultures I didn't have before reading those, a father/son vulture duo (can't quite remember their names, but I'll find those and come back later).

Finally, here is a thing. I'll have to find this novel Widow of the South -- My GG grandfather was John McAllister Schofield who commanded the Union forces in that battle. The only battle he ever did command. His strengths (considerable) lay in organizing and Sherman used him to tidy up after the wrack and ruin he left in his wake. During Reconstruction Schofield was in charge of Virginia and Maryland (and is well regarded) and after the war Schofieldwas the Secretary of War for Grant, reorganized the armed forces more or less into the pattern they hold today. Schofield AFB is named for him, which is kind of funny since there was no air force at the time! He was fortunate really, I suspect, in that there were capable and experienced officers under his command - although he had the wisdom to let them have at it. It was a very touch and go battle.

Did the widow care for all soldiers or just one side? Unclear in your comments.

jun 22, 3:10pm

>188 lauralkeet: I don't know how I skimmed over your review of The Widow of the South. It ticks a lot of boxes for me....a woman's overlooked role in historic events, preservation of graves, Civil War history.... Sadly, the historic marker at the McGavock Cemetery (thank you, seems to give all the credit to John.

jun 22, 3:29pm

The power came back around 3:10pm! I'll be back later with responses to today's visitors.

jun 22, 3:32pm

I hope your power is back on Laura because didn't you say you have a well now for your water? That was almost the worst part of the power outages when I lived in the country. Fingers crossed.

jun 22, 3:58pm

Hooray for being back on the power grid, Laura. Thank God for Starbucks, right?

jun 22, 5:43pm

Hooray for power being back!! Glad you didn't have to suffer through the peak of the heat without A/C.

jun 22, 5:57pm

>287 sibylline: Hi Lucy! I'm afraid I'm not familiar with Hank the Cowdog. Sorry to have missed out! I love your story about Schofield, that's super interesting. The cemetery was for confederate soldiers. I guess the marker Linda shared in >288 laytonwoman3rd: says that more clearly than I did.

>288 laytonwoman3rd: But how rude to only give credit to John! See, that's why we need authors to write books like The Widow of the South. I know you "get" that, Linda, I'm just preaching.

>290 brenzi: Yep Bonnie, we have a well. So it was a no-flush zone here for 22 hours (TMI). You can bet we took advantage of our Starbucks outing this morning, and an afternoon jaunt to another coffee shop. But all is well now, PUN INTENDED.

>291 msf59: I don't usually thank God for Starbucks, Mark, but in this case, I will. Ha.

>292 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba! We were indeed lucky re: temperatures. It was around 90 yesterday and 70 today.

Redigerat: jun 22, 8:57pm

How outrageous that the husband gets the credit for burying those soldiers!

Love the pun. Glad you have your power back.

And I've snagged Kaur #2 to listen to. Very much enjoyed #1.

Wallace and Junior are the buzzards in those Hank books. Which are a hoot and a half.

jun 22, 11:09pm

I'm glad you got your power back, Laura. The no water part is the worst for me.

jun 22, 11:29pm

>260 lauralkeet: I liked this story 4*'s worth, too Laura. A few improbable shenanigans in solving the mystery but I didn't care about that. I usually don't especially like the amateur sleuth involvement but somehow, this one worked for me.
Like you, perhaps, I'm hoping it isn't too long before the next one in this series appears. This comment from the person who didn't much like The Stranger Diaries, too! Heh.

jun 23, 5:59am

I'm glad your power is back on Laura, and that you had a nearby Starbucks to take refuge in the meantime! At least books are unaffectedly by power outages ... as long as you have enough light to read!

jun 23, 8:06am

>294 sibylline: I'm glad you plan to listen to The Postscript Murders, Lucy. It was a fun read.

>295 BLBera: Beth, I'm with you on the "no water" thing. This was our first time being in that situation and it's disconcerting. Even though I had already stocked up on 2.5-gal jugs of water and we didn't even need to use them. I guess for me the crux of the issue is the uncertainty, not knowing how long you're going to have to deal with the situation.

>296 SandyAMcPherson: "Improbably shenanigans" is a great way to describe it, Sandy! I usually don't to in for that amateur sleuthing stuff either. I wonder if Griffiths is setting any of those characters up for further involvement in crime-solving. Harbinder needs a sidekick. Her partner in the police force doesn't add much to the story.

>297 Sakerfalcon: Hi Claire! It helped that Monday was the longest day of the year, so we benefited from daylight much later than usual. But as the light began to fade we first listened to a podcast and then we took our small battery-powered lamps to bed so we could read before nodding off. It worked pretty well, actually.

jun 23, 8:23am

Hi Laura!

>269 laytonwoman3rd: and >270 lauralkeet: Because Mark was reading The Night Watchman I decided to pull The Plague of Doves from my shelves and must admit that it hasn’t caught fire with me yet. I’m at page 56 of 311…

>281 lauralkeet: Sorry about the power outage. Glad you could get to a Starbucks to recharge – caffeine and devices! Let’s see… the nearest Starbucks to us is 17.6 miles away.

>286 lauralkeet: I’m glad to hear you have a gas range. Having a gas cook top and oven allowed me to make my husband’s Father’s Day dinner since we lost power for 5 hours on Father’s Day. We have a generator, but a ‘most house’ generator, not a ‘whole house’ generator. We’re thinking of doing it right sometime next year. This generator’s 21 years old.

>288 laytonwoman3rd: That marker irritates the crap out of me, Linda.

>289 lauralkeet: Yay for the power being restored.

jun 23, 8:37am

Good morning Karen! Sorry to hear your latest Erdrich isn't grabbing you.

We actually tried to boil water for coffee yesterday afternoon and found we couldn't ignite the burners. I'm not sure why. Our range is powered by a propane tank, not natural gas (there are no natural gas lines in our county), so maybe there's something different about that? I'd like to say we'll investigate but I can almost guarantee we'll forget about it until the next power outage LOL.

It looks like today looks will be a beautiful sunny day with temps in the 70s, so I'm going to help Chris with some outdoor work. We're sprucing up our barn and today's task is to put some gutters up along the roof. We're not sure what happened to the old ones (there's a downspout, but no gutters, wtf). After a few minor maintenance items like this we're going to put a fresh coat of paint on the barn. The vulture chicks are still hanging around but they (and their parents) don't seem too bothered by us doing work out there.

jun 23, 3:15pm

We're giving our small barn a makeover, including pressure washing and a coat of paint. Also gutters, which we installed today, and rain barrels to catch the runoff from the downspouts. When we came out to do some work this morning the vulture chicks were standing in the doorway to "their" part of the barn, soaking up the morning sun. They're getting really big but this is the furthest they've ventured so far. Henry & Mabel are still feeding them as far as we can tell. I think it will be a few weeks before they fledge and I imagine they'll be teaching them to find their own food.

jun 23, 3:18pm

I’m glad your outage wasn’t too long, Laura. I usually have a book going on my kindle. It works great for a power outage as it supplies its own light. Of course I need to remember to keep it charged. The charge lasts for a really long time.

jun 23, 3:43pm

>300 lauralkeet: Did you try a match? To ignite the gas, I mean.

jun 23, 3:49pm

>302 NanaCC: Great point, Colleen and in fact my current read does happen to be on Kindle so I didn't really need my battery-powered lamp as much as Chris did.

>303 weird_O: Yes Bill, we used a firelighter thing (like a large Bic lighter). It's worked for us on other gas ranges, so not sure what's different this time.

jun 23, 8:20pm

I was going to guess that the range has an electronic starter which requires electricity. That's just a stab in the dark though Laura.

jun 23, 8:41pm

>300 lauralkeet:, >303 weird_O:, >305 brenzi: Most gas ranges now do have electric pilot lights, but many of them can be manually ignited in the absence of electricity.

If the previous owners didn't leave the manual for your stove behind, Laura, you can probably find it on-line, and maybe figure out if yours is one of the ones that doesn't have that feature. For future reference.

jun 24, 7:26am

>305 brenzi:, >306 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks Bonnie & Linda. We do have a stash of appliance manuals left by the previous owners, and I know there's one for the stove in there. I'll have a look and see if I can figure anything out.

Redigerat: jun 25, 7:48am

Morning, Laura. Happy Friday. I am a bit surprised that there are such mixed feelings about Erdrich. I have always found her pretty consistent, especially based on how prolific she is. I just bought Love Medicine, so I am going to try and bookhorn that one in next month. Lots of rain here, which we need.

>301 lauralkeet: Love the vulture update! Good luck with the barn makeover.

jun 25, 9:41pm

>308 msf59: Thanks Mark!

jun 25, 9:41pm

32. In Bad Company ()
Source: On my Kindle

This Swedish series is set in Stockholm and the Swedish archipelago, and features Thomas Andreasson, a police officer, and Nora Linde, a lawyer working with the Economic Crimes Unit. Previous books have dealt with murders and other violent crimes; this time Nora takes center stage as she investigates a money laundering operation. The case takes a hard turn when the suspect, Andreis, violently abuses his wife Mina. Mina is relocated to a shelter at an undisclosed location, and Andreis becomes increasingly violent as he simultaneously attempts to locate Mina and avoid conviction on the economic charges.

While I was drawn into the story and it held my interest, I have mixed feelings about this series. The writing -- or perhaps it’s the translation -- can be spare and simplistic. Viveca Sten also keeps chapters very short and choppy, possibly for pacing. But 137 chapters in 480 pages is a bit much. And then there’s character development beyond the principal characters. In this novel Mina, Andreis, and Andreis' lawyer Ulrika seem like cardboard cutouts, stereotypical and lacking depth.

And yet, over the arc of this series, Sten has given Nora a more substantive role. Initially she was just Thomas' long-time friend who meddled inappropriately in the investigations. Now her career gives her a legitimate reason to work on cases, even though she does overstep and do dumb things from time to time. I like the evolution of Nora's role and purpose, and I am invested in Thomas' personal story as well, and that's what keeps me coming back to this series despite its weaknesses.

jun 25, 10:43pm

>310 lauralkeet: I agree with your thoughts on this one, Laura. I’ll keep coming back for more, but they are flawed.

jun 26, 7:28am

>311 NanaCC: That's a good way to put it, Colleen. I struggled with my rating on this one, thinking at first it was 3.5 stars but reflecting on the series as a whole I decided to downgrade to 3 stars because it falls short of other mystery series I've enjoyed.

jun 26, 9:35am

Hi Laura!

>300 lauralkeet: We’re on propane, too, so don’t understand the problem igniting the burners. Nice projects – sprucing the barn up and putting up some gutters.

>307 lauralkeet: Good idea to look at the manual before the next power outage!

jun 26, 3:48pm

Hi, Laura. Sorry to hear about the power outage. I sometimes freak when I think of how dependent we all are on electricity.

We’re under a tornado watch here and hunkered down in our basement, wondering whether we’ll be getting a power outage. So far my phone’s working fine and I’m catching up on LT on it.

Redigerat: jun 26, 5:08pm

>313 karenmarie: I'm pleased to report I figured out the gas burner issue, thanks to the owners manual. There are 6 burners, 2 "Extra Low" burners and 4 "Standard" burners. Only the Standard burners will light in a power outage. The Extra Low ones are the ones we use all the time, just because of where they sit on the range, and those are the ones Chris tried to light.

Don't ask me what the Extra Low burners do that the Standard ones don't. I'm too lazy to walk back to the filing cabinet and pull the manual out. All I know is they have an "XLO" setting on the dial.

>314 jnwelch: Stay safe, Joe! I hope your power doesn't go out.

jun 27, 8:20am

Happy Sunday, Laura. We have had a lot of rain, so little activity at my feeders. I will have to get out there and clean up everything. I am sure my platform feeder is a soggy mess. How are those books treating you?

jun 27, 9:05am

Hi Mark! Bummer about your weather and the feeder cleanup. We've had a very mild week, pleasantly warm and sunny, but the heat is expected to return with a vengeance today, with high temps in the low 90s for the better part of this coming week. Ugh. But hey, maybe I'll curl up with a book instead.

Reading-wise, I'm really enjoying Sworn to Silence, a new author and series for me. The author doesn't shy away from crime detail, which took some adjustment. But I like the premise: the police chief in a small north-central Ohio town grew up Amish and left the order. We lived adjacent to Pennsylvania's Amish country for many years, so that part is interesting to me. And while the town is fictional, the surrounding area is real and I'm somewhat familiar with it from visiting Kenyon College while Kate & Julia were students there. So, all good so far.

jun 27, 4:48pm

>310 lauralkeet: Finally started In Bad Company today. I've enjoyed the series so far....

>317 lauralkeet: And you have my utmost sympathy on the heat. Ugh. But I am enjoying my nice, cool hotel room. : ) I'm even catching up on LT a little!! ; )

Redigerat: jun 27, 6:51pm

Hey Kim, nice to see you! I just commented over on your thread. Our heat isn't anywhere near as bad as yours, thank goodness.

PSA for word puzzle nerds (I know you're out there!)
To celebrate 125 years of the NYTimes Book Review, they've published a tribute crossword puzzle! You don't need a crossword subscription to play, and it's a nice easy-to-medium level of challenge. Everyone here should be fine because of all the literary clues. Find it here:

jun 27, 7:58pm

>319 lauralkeet: thanks for the puzzle link!

jun 27, 9:13pm

>320 raidergirl3: Have fun with it Elizabeth!

jun 28, 9:10am

Thanks for the crossword link, Laura! It was fun.

jun 28, 9:24am

>319 lauralkeet: Thanks for the puzzle link. I visit the NYT crosswords site regularly for the free puzzles. This is a treat!

jun 28, 12:36pm

>322 katiekrug:, >323 PawsforThought: I'm so glad you both enjoyed it!

jun 28, 4:58pm

>324 lauralkeet: I love crosswords (and all kinds of puzzles, really). The NYT used to have a solve-along with their crosswords editor on Facebook which was really fun and enlightening.
I’ve been thinking about buying one of those books that collect the NYT crosswords from different days of the week - maybe when travelling becomes a reality again, would be nice to have on the train.

Redigerat: jun 28, 6:37pm

>325 PawsforThought: That solve-along would have been fun, Paws. Chris and I have been doing the NYT Crossword regularly for several years, and have negotiated days of the week where we each get to solve online (and therefore track your solve times). I get Sun-Wed, and I print the puzzle on the other days. We have a NYTimes Games subscription for annual access to all of their puzzles, including Spelling Bee, which we love just as much as the Crossword. Totally worth it.

jun 28, 7:52pm

We get a NYT crossword puzzle in our Saturday paper and we pass it back and forth. Sometimes it takes all day, but we can usually finish it without googling. We are pretty old school, lol

jun 28, 8:27pm

>319 lauralkeet: That was a lot of fun. I had to interrupt myself for a phone call, though, so my solve-time wasn't accurate. It didn't give me too much trouble, I have to say.

jun 28, 8:35pm

I think they still sometimes do solve-alongs. I've seen mention of them on the NYT Wordplay Twitter account.

I am back to doing the crossword every day (or almost every day; my streaks occasionally get broken by life circumstances, but I'm currently at 56 days, I think).

And, thanks to Laura, I am a big Spelling Bee fan :)

jun 29, 7:48am

Hello puzzlers! I love how many 75ers are also puzzlers. We all love words as much as books.

I had to interrupt myself for a phone call, though, so my solve-time wasn't accurate
Ooh, I hate when that happens! We definitely pay attention to solve times and point out to one another when we've beaten our average or, even better, achieved a new personal best. I'm not sure why, but I did the bookish crossword on paper. I printed it on Saturday, but the print was so tiny I could barely read it. However, we get the Sunday paper delivered and it was in the Book Review section in a more readable size so that's what I used.

jun 29, 7:51am

Between books and birds, I have no time for puzzles. More rain here...ugh.

Happy Tuesday, Laura.

jun 29, 8:03am

>331 msf59: More heat here. Ugh.
Happy Tuesday back at ya, Mark!

jun 29, 8:50am

Stay cool, Laura. Does your house have AC?

jun 29, 2:42pm

Hi Beth! Thankfully, we do have AC. Most of the house is cooled with a couple of exterior AC units. The guest bedrooms in the older part of the house currently have window units. We're planning to redecorate those bedrooms and might consider alternatives. But on the other hand the rooms aren't used often and we have no other need to be in that part of the house so maybe it's okay?

Redigerat: jun 30, 2:05pm

33. Sworn to Silence ()
Source: Library loan - new series recommended by Karen (karenmarie)

This book is the first in a series featuring Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police in Painters Mill, a fictional town in north central Ohio. A young woman is found brutally murdered, with all the hallmarks of a spate of unsolved serial murders that occurred sixteen years earlier. Kate, who grew up in Painters Mill, is well acquainted with the previous crimes. Not only did she grow up in Painters Mill, but she was held hostage by the suspected murderer and narrowly escaped harm. Now it appears the perpetrator has returned. It’s all hands on deck, with both the police department and sheriff's office on the case. The town council, concerned that Kate isn’t moving fast enough, also calls in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

I really liked the setting, premise, and characters in this book. Kate is a strong female protagonist with an interesting backstory. Painters Mill is in Ohio’s Amish country, and Kate grew up in the order but left at 18. She brings unique knowledge to her role as police chief and is able to bridge the gap between the Amish and “English.” But her relationship with her family is fraught with tension, and her personal life is a bit of a mess. The plot is well crafted, and even though I correctly suspected “whodunnit,” it wasn’t at all clear how they would expose and apprehend him, which had me eagerly turning the pages. I will definitely read more books in this series. For anyone else considering it, I have just one caveat: Linda Castillo doesn’t shy away from describing crimes, including sexual assault, and autopsies in all their grisly detail. It makes for less than ideal bedtime reading, and some may find it too graphic.

jun 30, 8:33am

>335 lauralkeet: Oooh, I should check this one out - that's pretty much where we live!

jun 30, 11:08am

Hi Laura - Good that you have AC - I don't have it because previously we had five hot days in the summer when I would have liked it. Now, with climate changes, our summers seem a lot hotter so I am rethinking it.

>335 lauralkeet: I'm averting my eyes from your comments - I don't need another series. :)

jun 30, 11:15am

>335 lauralkeet: I remember getting this as an ER book years and years ago. It was good but I never continued with the series. If you continue to read and like them, maybe I'll pick it up again.

jun 30, 12:48pm

>336 scaifea: Amber, it's set in Holmes and Coshocton counties, the latter of which I'm super familiar with from repeated drives to/from Kenyon. I think that's a bit north of you, right? But Columbus and Dayton also get mentions. I love reading books where I'm familiar with the setting. It's kind of funny though: the novel was published in 2009 when online databases were less prevalent and communication channels moved more slowly. So no one had connected the events in Painters Mill with similar events in Dayton, just 3 hours away. Things would be different today.

>337 BLBera: We've had AC my entire adult life Beth, except for the first house we bought. And that was okay, until we had a baby. My memories of that summer are about spending most of our non-working hours in our bedroom. We bought a window unit and a small TV for our bedroom and moved her crib in there for the duration. Fun times ha ha.

>338 japaul22: Watch this space, Jennifer. I do plan to read more.

--- Trigger warning about the Kate Burkholder series ---
I've been thinking about this a lot since posting my review this morning, and feel like I need to be more clear about things I alluded to in my review. The crimes in this novel include sexual assault, some aspects of which are described in detail.

This probably isn't unusual for the genre, but compared to other series I've been reading, it is. Do folks think I should amend my review to mention this more specifically?

jun 30, 12:50pm

>339 lauralkeet: Agent Fitzsimmons is in Holmes County, which is the one just north of us!

jun 30, 12:58pm

>340 scaifea: But she won't be there for long! I'm so excited to follow her adventures. For anyone who doesn't know what we're talking about, Amber's family is getting a new border collie puppy on Monday, and her name is Agent Fitzsimmons. Photos on Amber's thread, and more to come no doubt.

jun 30, 1:00pm

>341 lauralkeet: No, she won't be there long! The drive was an interesting one yesterday - it's very deep in Amish country and the roads are...not straight. I was driving and I still started to get car sick. Beautiful country, though.

Redigerat: jun 30, 1:27pm

>339 lauralkeet: Regarding your trigger warning, I think if you insert "including sexual assault" after "crimes" in this sentence: "Linda Castillo doesn’t shy away from describing crimes and autopsies in all their grisly detail" you will be doing some readers a favor.

jun 30, 1:31pm

I agree with Linda.

jun 30, 2:05pm

>343 laytonwoman3rd:, >344 katiekrug: ah yes, that's a great idea. Done, both above and on the book page. Thank you!

Redigerat: jun 30, 8:25pm

>335 lauralkeet: No, no, no....not another series Laura. No way. With or without sexual assault. I don't even know how many series I've got started without FictFact (or even my very own spreadsheet😳) but I do know even Matthew Shardlake is staring at me right now from my book shelf.

I've enjoyed ac ever since I came home one really hot summer day and my hubby and kids were squeezed into a small bedroom with a window air conditioner going and he looked at me and said, " this ends now." Lol. A few days later they installed the ac system. That would've been the early 80s. I know all the arguments about global warming but ac is one thing I can't live without.

jun 30, 8:40pm

Sorry to tempt you with yet another series, Bonnie! There are now a few series on my spreadsheet where I've only read the first book. And several where I'm current, but new books keep coming out and I tend to give those priority over the ones I've just started. The struggle is real!

jul 1, 7:35am

Time for a new thread! Follow the continuation thingy ...
Den här diskussionen fortsatte här: Laura (lauralkeet)'s 75 in 2021 - Part 5