Monthly Archives: February 2019

Three more finished

I’ve recently finished three more books: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, and Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker.

A Wizard of Earthsea just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would have probably liked it more as a teenager. There were parts I liked, but I guess I am over fantasy books. Which is sad.

Now, Nine Perfect Strangers, on the other hand, was my cup of tea. That Moriarty woman just doesn’t write books fast enough for me to devour them. This one was not quite as good as some of her others (Big Little Lies, for instance), but fun to read. That’s okay right? If I read for pleasure?

Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside is a book that I would have gladly never have heard about. I didn’t like it when I read part of it for book group, but liked it somewhat more when I picked it up again as an audio book. Then I got tired of it once more and it was almost painful to listen to it after a while — not that the narrator was bad — he was pretty good, but I had no interest in the story — especially after Bruno and the other detective hooked up. I finished up reading the book last night and I will never revisit Bruno’s countryside again. What a waste of time.

Dad’s Winter Gift

One morning, during our annual Christmas visit to Illinois in the late 1980s, we awoke to trees covered in feathery crystals — a true winter wonderland. We exclaimed at the beauty and made plans to take photographs of the frost. We wondered what this was — we’d never seen Jack Frost’s work quite as lovely as this. Then Dad, matter-of-factly said, “Hoar frost.”

We looked at him and shook our heads. We’d never heard of hoar frost and how could he possibly know what this phenomenon was called? At some point we looked it up or talked to other people (no Internet on our phones back then) who confirmed that Dad was correct. If I recall correctly, he seemed rather proud that he knew something we didn’t.

I never forgot how beautiful this was and, while we occasionally see something similar on the grass in the Pacific Northwest, we never saw it as beautiful as it was in 1988. I hoped we would get it in Bethesda, but we never did.

We were recently in Illinois and besides spending time with family, and Dean being recognized by our Community College as the 2019 distinguished Alum, we visited some places that meant something to us. One of those was the cemetery where my father is buried. We almost passed it by, but I figured we were right there, so I asked Dean to stop. I trudged through the snow and placed a coin on three gravestones: my Grandmother and Grandfather Patrick’s joint gravestone, my cousin Jim’s gravestone and Dad’s gravestone. I told them hello and that I loved them.

Going back to the car I felt the only grief/nostalgia that I’d felt during the trip so far. Normally I have a lot of feelings when visiting my hometown, but this trip I’d had none until that cemetery visit.

My path through the snow

The next morning I awoke to hoar frost. The trees and bushes were covered in white feathery crystals. Dean had already been outside taking photographs and I went out in my pajamas and stockinged feet to take a few pictures. Later I took a video as the frost began falling off the trees.

After marveling at the frost I remembered that first time I’d seen it and fancied that Dad did this for me because I visited him the afternoon before. He knew how much I wanted to experience a hoar frost again and he used his weather superpower* to give it to me.

*The day we buried Dad there were tornados in the area that morning — one less than a mile from the cemetery. We joked that Dad wanted us to know he was pissed off.

Three finished, one more added

Our book group selection was an easy read: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I cannot say I thought the book was well-written, but it kept me interested through to the end. I’d seen that it was also a Masterpiece Theatre production and planned to read it (in fact I’d bought it in December) anyway. The book dealt with homosexuality, unmarried pregnancies and interracial relationships in 17th century Holland. I think it could have been more effective if only one of those topics had been addressed. As it was I grew weary of the angst caused by the fear of being caught whenever a new then-outlawed activity was revealed. It will be interesting to hear the various comments. I am sure one friend will announce this book should never have been written.

Yesterday morning I finished The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. It was a bookgroup read back when I was still using my Nook instead of a Kindle — a long time ago. I started reading it but could not get into it. I think I skipped book group that month. I imagine reading it will give me more ideas of books to read — just what I need. I enjoyed this book, except for one thing. It seems that everyone in Schwalbe’s family is extraordinary, especially his mother. It made me feel like I’ve done nothing with my life.

Also yesterday, I finished Lemony Snickett’s The Penultimate Peril. I will be pleased when I am done with these books. They are very much the same, witty and clever, but also repetitive. I can now watch a few more episodes of the Netflix series.

The new addition to my list of books I am reading is the newest Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers.

My sister-in-law asked me how I kept the books straight. I don’t have a problem with that — and they actually help me sleep because when I get to a point where I cannot get to sleep I go through the books I am reading and remember where the characters were when I last saw them.