Death notices

How do you learn about the death of someone you know or have known? Right now for me I usually learn about someone’s passing through Facebook. In the past several months I’ve heard about at least five deaths through Facebook: A dear friend I met at college died from a stroke in March or April, but I read about it on his Facebook page months later. Another friend, one who I’d only met once, but felt very close to died mysteriously in May and it was posted on his Facebook page. Two of my mom’s friends, one of whom I’d become close to in the previous year, died last year — I learned of their deaths on Facebook too. Just yesterday I learned (via by brother via Facebook) that my late cousin’s widow (now remarried) died.

I’m asking you this because when I told my husband (Dean) about the cousin-by-marriage’s death (someone we both admired and thought was very sweet) his reaction was not, “Oh, that’s sad. I always liked Deb.” but “How did Kevin (my brother) find out? and when I said, “Facebook” he was surprised (and sounded disaproving).

I used to hear about the deaths of family members or family friends through my mom. Now, other than Facebook, Kevin will occassionally text me or FB message me. I guess Dean gets his notifications through his family and maybe he figures that it doesn’t matter if people die and he doesn’t know about it, especially if he has had no interaction with those people in a long time.

Maybe that’s the difference between us. I like connections, no matter if they are online or offline (but online has been easier for me ever since there was an online), and if one of those connections is lost through death I want to know. I might not do much about it except write a condolence message to the family in a comment, but I want to know so I can think about that person and what they meant to me.

All of this said, I would not want to hear about the death of a close friend or family member on Facebook — which is why, when my parents died I made sure to call people it mattered to before it leaked onto Facebook. I very nearly learned about my Aunt Ginny’s death on Facebook, but luckily for me Uncle Jack called me.

As much as Facebook has its faults, it does have some features, and providing personal news is one of them.

Thoughts on The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

I began reading The Hidden Life of Trees shortly after I purchased it in November 2016. I was enthralled by it but for some reason, stopped reading it. After many starts and stops since then, I finally finished it this morning.

The book is not a long book. The book is not at all difficult to read. What the book is, is unbelievable in parts. It’s written as science and has notes for evidence (that I did not pursue) but there is definitely a lot of anthropomorphism throughout the book. The article titled Pitfalls of Anthropomorphism: The Hidden Life of Trees on The Odd Website explains why this is a problem far better than I can.

So, did I enjoy the book? I did. I read about a chapter a day for a while and then when on a walk, could see what the author was talking about. For instance, I always wondered how coniferous trees stayed green all year and in the book, Wohlleben explains that coniferous trees do shed their leaves, but not all at once. I noticed this that afternoon when passing a chain linked fence with thousands of pine needles hanging from it. (Of course I knew that pine needles fell off pine trees, but I think I needed that nudge to actually see it).

This happened many times over the course of reading the book this year. Not being a scientist, this book was written for me and if I am to be honest, I kind of liked the anthropomorphism. After all, I’ve named at least two trees in my life, and loved even more.

The impetus for wanting to finish the book this year was because I’d read The Overstory a couple of years ago and one of the characters in that book was based on a scientist whose work was cited often in The Hidden Life of Trees and who wrote a note at the end of the book. In The Overstory, the character wrote a book similar to The Hidden Life of Trees.

I’m glad I read it, I’m equally glad I finally finished it. Will I re-read it at some point? Probably not. Will I read Wohlleben’s other books? Probably not.

Thoughts on The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

This book wasn’t really on my list of books I was interested in. I have read enough WW2 books to last more than one lifetime. The only thing that made me consider reading it was that Alexandra Robbins (an author and reader I trust) gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

When my friend, Debra, chose it for her book group choice I wasn’t delighted, but believed Alexandra’s taste, so I bought it for Kindle and began reading it.

I really liked most of it. It inspired me do some internet searches on Bletchley Park. Dean and I watched The Imitation Game a few days ago because of my interest in Bletchley Park and Alan Turing. I liked most of the characters and it was plot-driven enough to make me want to pick it up to read often and keep reading past my bedtime.

There were things that I didn’t like about it though. One thing I don’t like is the romance. I am pretty sure if there was a novel written about the male code-breakers at Bletchley Park there would not be the romantic nonsense.

A second (and possibly petty) problem I have with the book is that in one scene when characters drive from Yorkshire to Milton Keynes the author writes:

“The Bentley was speeding past Blackpool now, well south of York…”.

The Rose Code — Kate Quinn

Blackpool is just barely of York and there is no reason to drive through or near Blackpool to get to Milton Keynes, especially you are in a hurry. The only way they would drive past Blackpool is if Clockwell was closer to the West Coast. Clockwell’s location was never indicated except that to get there from Bletchley Park one had to drive through moors.

Finally, at the end of the book when many BP veterans are working on the Rose code, including Alan Turing, he’s described as “shifting from foot to foot” while someone else runs the bombe machine that he built.

Featured image created by Wombo Dream using the title of this post.