Thursday, July 18, 2024

A Gathering of Poetry: July 2024

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. Those of you who receive The Washington Post Book Club newsletter may have read this poem. In the June 21st email, editor Ron Charles wrote about the long-awaited re-opening of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. A specially commissioned poem by Rita Dove is inscribed in a marble border that wraps around the west garden walkway. I'm not sure I'll be visiting the Library any time soon, but I keep returning to this poem again and again, so I'm sharing it here.

Clear your calendars. Pocket your notes.
Look up into the blue amplitudes,
sun lolling on his throne, watching clouds
scrawl past, content with going nowhere.
No chart can calibrate the hush that settles
just before the first cricket song rises;
no list will recall a garden’s embroidery,
its fringed pinks and reds, its humble hedges.
Every day is Too Much or Never Enough,
so stop fretting your worth and berating
the cosmos – step into a house where
the jumbled perfumes of our human potpourri
waft up from a single page.
You can feel the world stop, lean in, and listen
as your heart starts up again.


You can read more about the incredible story of the poem here, and listen to Rita Dove read the poem here

You can also read more about Rita Dove (Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate) here

Thanks for reading and joining us for our monthly Gathering of Poetry. You are more than welcome to add your link below if you would like to share one of your favorite poems. The more the merrier!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 7/17/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with a potholder set. I got the bright idea that Ryan might also have a use for some smaller six-inch potholders in addition to the larger eight-inch PRO size, so I had to buy a regular loom. Here is the first matching set. They're real ROYGBIV potholders in the proper order since I knew that would matter to Ryan.

I read a couple of books this week, one slightly better than the other. The first was You Are Here by David Nicholls. For me, this was an enjoyable three-star summer read. It doesn't quite rise to the level of One Day but Nicholls has written two pleasant protagonists, Marnie and Michael. They are both divorced and living singular lives. Michael does not want to be at home by himself so he goes for long walks; Marnie is almost agoraphobic and doesn't want to leave home. Through pushy friends, she ends up on a walk from coast to coast in England, and of course, Michael is there. There is humor (not as many laugh-out-loud moments as others have noted), a light and predictable plotline, and charming characters. This might fit the bill if you're looking for a non-challenging, feel-good read. 

Sarah recommended the second book, A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus. I just love a good story set in England, and A Place to Hang the Moon fits the bill. It's a middle-grade book set in 1940 but sometimes that's what you have the bandwidth to listen to. Siblings Anna, Edmund, and William live with their grandmother after the death of their parents, but unfortunately, their grandmother has just died without making any plans for guardianship of the children. Her solicitor arranges for them to be evacuated to the country, and although they are lucky enough to be billeted together, they are often not housed with very kind people. Of course, there is a war going on and London is being bombed every night, so everyone is on edge, and William often has to take responsibilities that I would not wish on a twelve-year-old. I kept imagining my own children in a situation like this and that gave extra poignancy to the tale. The story is predictable, but it is also charming, sweet, with a little sadness, and just one fairly repulsive rat-catching scene. This book makes a welcome respite from reading the news and more bad news every day, so I rounded up my 3.5 stars.

What are you making and reading this week? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Read With Us: The Ministry of Time

Last week, Carole gave you an introduction to our current Read With Us selection, The Ministry of TimeThis week I'm going to tell you a little bit more about this time travel, romance, spy thriller, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction novel. It's a combination of many genres, hard to classify, and there is a lot going on in this book. 

I'm always interested in how authors deal with time travel and I especially love Kaliane Bradley's take on the subject. At the beginning of the book, she presents time travel as a relatively inexplicable phenomenon, saying that “the moment you start to think about the physics of it, you are in a crock of shit.” When she was asked about this in an interview, the author gives what I think is a great answer:

"Time travel is such a weighted trope. When you write about time travel, you’re not just writing about time travel; you’re writing your own outline for the shape of the universe. Do you subscribe to Thomas Carlyle’s “great man” theory of history, or does history come from below, from the people? Is time a series of linear events, expanding into unfixed futures; or is “time” complete and whole, regardless of the human perception? Does time travel always have to draw on our (rich and varied) hard sci-fi tradition, especially if the author has barely a gnat’s grasp on quantum physics?

Well, what I wanted to do was write about this one sexy polar explorer. So I shut all those questions down ASAP.

I’m joking. The book is told from the point of view of a woman for whom these questions are so many ontological fart noises; it would have rung false for her to try and explain the fictional physics. She perceives history as a human subject, so she flags early on that what she’s telling is not a conceptual story, but a human one."

About that sexy polar explorer...

Bradley says “I wrote this book kind of by accident." During the pandemic, she took refuge in the TV series The Terror (based on a 2007 novel by Dan Simmons), a supernatural horror about Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 Arctic expedition. She was especially drawn to one of the crew, Lt. Graham Gore, who dies two episodes in at the age of 38. While looking for more information about Graham Gore, Bradley was struck by a Wikipedia description of him as “a man of great stability of character, a very good officer, and the sweetest of tempers”.

“I was in such a state at this point in my life that I thought, ‘You’d be handling the pandemic better than me,’” she laughs. She was smitten. A dashing portrait of Gore now sits in her study.

Gore led her to seek out other polar exploration enthusiasts online, “quite a community, it turns out”. She began writing what would become The Ministry of Time in installments for them: kind of “a nerdy literary parlour game” imagining what it might be like to have her favourite explorer – Gore – move in with you. “It just kept spinning out and I kept on going,” she says, writing 400 words or so in the evenings. “It was just so much fun.” About halfway through, one of her new online friends said, “I think this is a novel.”

And so it is, one I hope you'll Read With Us. 

Kym, Carole, and I will be talking about the book, giving additional information, and doing promotional posts throughout July. Discussion day for The Ministry of Time is scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, 2024, at 7:00 pm Eastern time, so mark your calendars. We'll ask questions on our blogs that day and then host the always fun, educational, and entertaining Zoom discussion.

The hardcover, Kindle, and audio versions of the book are all available from my library with a bit of a wait. Hopefully, we'll all have plenty of time to place a hold, get the book, and read it.  The Kindle and hardcover versions are priced reasonably on Amazon and I'm sure your local bookseller could order a copy for you if you're lucky enough to have a local bookseller. I found that the dual approach of listening to the audio version and reading it on my Kindle worked well for me. 

I do hope you'll read The Ministry of Time with us. It's a genre-defying book with an intriguing cover and an original premise. I have read it once and I'm hoping that a re-read in late August or early September will answer some of my questions and make things clearer for me. (I will admit to being a bit confused about the ending.)

Come Read The Ministry of Time With Us!

Monday, July 15, 2024

In Person!

I feel like I "know" quite a few of you virtually. Between comments and email exchanges I "talk" to many of you several times a week. But it's an even greater pleasure when I get to meet some of you in person, and that happened on Saturday. 

After they drove across the state of PA from Pittsburgh, we (Dee, Vera, and I) met up with Sarah and her daughter Mo in person. Of course, they are even lovelier than you might have imagined. We all had beverages, chatted, knit, and Mo crocheted. She's wearing a sweater that she crocheted and Sarah has on her first Rift tee. 

I truly appreciate Sarah and Mo taking time out of the TwinSet Retreat that they were attending to meet up with our little group of knitters in the eastern PA/NJ area. Now John can't tease me about my "make-believe friends" because of all the knitters I've been lucky enough to meet in person. 

If anyone else is ever in the area, please let me know! We can meet at the Three Birds coffee house and be watched over by a friendly caribou.

Thanks again to Sarah and Mo; it was a lovely way to spend Saturday morning with all five of us in person!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 7/10/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with a mixed bag of making. There were several more potholders, one more bright one for me, and two in neutrals for a housewarming gift.

There was also a return to knitting on my Hitch On the Move. It's progressing, but I've still got quite a ways to go. I guess you have to actually work on a project in order to finish it, but my interest in knitting has waned as the temperatures have risen. 

Reading was a bit of a bust this week also. I looked forward to The Cliffs by J. Courtney Sullivan and was happy to get it from the library. It was a much-hyped book, but I realized I was going to have trouble when I had to make myself read it. The Cliffs begins well enough telling the story of Jane Flanagan. Growing up in Maine, she came upon a deserted house, perched on a cliff overlooking the water. Jane eventually becomes a historian and gets a job as an archivist at Harvard. But then due to her alcoholism and inappropriate behavior, she loses her job and husband in one fell swoop. Jane returns to Maine to clear out her deceased mother's home, and she connects with Genevieve Richards, a wealthy woman who’s bought the old house and bulldozed much of its history so she can put in a pool. This is where I think the book starts to go off the rails. The author tries to do far too much, including lecturing the reader about the history of the Native Americans of New Hampshire and Maine, the theft of their artifacts, culture, traditions, and the injustices they were forced to suffer, the history of the white explorers and settlers of the region, the Shaker community, and spirits of the dead who haunt their former homes. And let's not forget the effects of alcoholism on the alcoholic herself and all of those around her.

All of these topics were related but the author did not make the connections in any interesting ways and the book just became tedious with too many characters, timelines, and points of view. It felt like Sullivan had done extensive research but then threw it all together into one book. Sadly, it was a meandering, chaotic, two-star book that left me feeling glad to finish and move on to hopefully much better reading.

I've read How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking three times, but this time I was focused specifically on what Jordan Ellenberg had to say about math, probability, polls, and voting. We're in the midst of some pretty awful political upheaval, and I need to find a way to think about it calmly and preserve my sanity. Some quotes I want to remember:
"There is a good reason to bet on "X" (candidate), but we don’t know for sure. There are so many people, especially pundits on TV, saying: “Now look, this is what’s going to happen.” And then somebody else says, “No, this is going to happen.” That’s a very different perspective to have on the future: to believe that a clear answer exists, if only we’re clever enough to see it."

"Feelings are for the same thing that math is for. They’re both for guiding your decisions and helping you select actions and helping you understand things. Relevant to your decision making is how strongly you feel about the outcome. So, yes, probabilities are about feelings."

"A good mental-health question to ask yourself is: What am I actually gaining from trying to figure this out now? Our epistemic situation when we know the outcome of the election will be the exact same no matter how hard we think about it right now. Our stress affects nothing."

This is perhaps easier said than done, but this at least provides a framework for me to deal with this cataclysm in a way that's slightly better for my mental health.

What are you making and reading this week? 

Friday, July 5, 2024

Right Now: July 2024

I couldn't think of anything to post about until I remembered that it might be time for what's going on Right Now. I'm still not sure I have enough to say, but maybe if I just start typing, some words of wisdom will flow from my brain to my fingers and keyboard. 

A red-spotted newt I saw in the woods
(but he doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the post.)

Making -  A few things with garden produce. We've frozen 20 quarts of snow peas, and I have two small zucchini and two lonely cherry tomatoes. I'm going to make air-fried zucchini tonight. I love eating fried zucchini but I hate making it and the breading doesn't stick well. Hopefully, the air fryer is the answer. 

Drinking - This chai. I drink a cup (or two) of tea every morning but it's getting a little boring. I like chai but don't like making a big production out of it by making it myself with milk and spices, so these tea bags make a delicious and easy cup of chai. 

Watching - The Repair Shop. This is kinder, gentler, old-person TV, but it's pretty much the kind of thing I want to watch now. It's a British show where a bunch of different craftspeople repair family heirlooms. They really do remarkable work, especially with ceramics, clocks, woodworking, and even teddy bears. You can watch it on Britbox and there are some full-length episodes on YouTube

Keeping Up With - Riding my stationary bike. It's nothing fancy, but I started riding it about six weeks ago, working up to 30 minutes a day. I got really lazy when John went on his fishing trip and didn't ride at all for 10 days, but the nice thing about exercise is that you can always begin again. There's an added bonus that I can also read while I'm doing this, so sometimes I get involved in the book and forget about watching the clock.

Wishing For - A good soaking rain followed by a week with low humidity. That doesn't sound much like summer in the east, but I can wish! 

Slightly Disgruntled About - My perceived lack of customer service at Lowe's. I went to get water softener salt and I usually get six 40 lb. bags at a time. There were no cashiers, just self-service checkouts with three Lowe's employees standing around chatting near the salt. I asked one of them if he could help me and he said "No, he was only helping self-service checkout customers." I said that's what I was and could he please use his scanning gun to help me purchase six bags of salt. He said he couldn't do that; I would need to take one bag to the checkout myself and then I could change the quantity to six and pick up the other five bags on my way out. That's what I did, but I figured that three men that looked to be about half my age could have helped by helping me lift at least one bag to take it to the checkout. Am I just an old curmudgeon who expects special treatment based on her age and gender? Feel free to let me know!

Wondering - What happened to my black-eyed susans and poppies. I used to have a whole bed full of them, but that was back when we had an above-ground pool. We took that out long ago, but I'm left wondering where my flowers have gone. They seem to have disappeared over the last few years, and I'm wondering if John mowed them off since they were no longer contained with a fence. 

Considering - A haircut. I always wear my hair up in the summer, but am wondering if I should give in and just get it cut short. The last time I thought about this seriously was nine years ago, and the only time I've actually done it is when we moved to FL 44 years ago. I was so unhappy then that I cried, so that is certainly entering into the decision process. I have started a folder on my laptop with photos of short hair that I like, so maybe someday ...

Planning - Some painting. Last year we had our enclosed box gutters fixed and this year it's time to paint them. This is all high second-story and roof-level work and John does not feel secure enough on a ladder to attempt it. I don't think he should be up on a ladder either, so I put together a list of 10 painters and told him that he could make the calls now that he's retired. The score so far stands at 10 painters called, five calls were returned, four have shown up to do estimates, and two have actually submitted estimates. One of them looks good so we'll probably go with him, and now John has a better understanding of why I used to complain so much when I was the person in charge of procuring electricians, roofers, plumbers, etc. 

Laughing At - This skateboarding turtle chasing a cat. (I'm tempted to see what Nugget might think of a turtle on a skateboard, but I don't have access to a turtle or a little skateboard.)

What's going on in your world right now?

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 7/3/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with some potholder weaving! Kat is taking a break so I don't think we'll have an official linkup, but it's Wednesday so I'm here with some making and reading. I unpacked my potholder loom and since it comes with enough assorted rainbow loops to make two potholders, I used some of them first to make a random cheerful potholder.

I didn't take it off the loom until Tuesday morning because I wanted to look at it in the morning light to make sure it was a pleasing color arrangement. I decided it was, so after employing my trusty crochet hook, voilĂ , I had a potholder.



The front and back of this one both look the same but I hope to weave some patterns in the future where the front and back look different. I was quite happy with my first potholder so I started a second one in kind of a dark rainbow theme.

You might have noticed the fork in the photo above. I've been doing my weaving at the kitchen table and I found that my fork makes a perfect pusher-downer (or whatever the technical weaving term is) for the weft loops. I am really having fun! :-)

I finished two books this week. The first one, Knife by Salman Rushdie, was a very powerful memoir. I haven't read any of Salman Rushdie's previous writing but was curious what he might have to say about the horrendous experience of being attacked by an assailant with a knife in Chautauqua in August of 2022. Words are largely inadequate for situations like these, but in Knife Rushdie has shown that his ability to write rises well above. He describes the knife attack, meeting it with an almost eerie sense of calm as he has been living with the fatwa for 35 years, and his grueling recovery in intensive care, rehab., and life afterward.

 Rushdie has written an honest and visceral account of his physical recovery but also the very real damage that was done to his mental well-being and what he has gone through to not become a bitter victim. One of the things I appreciated most about this memoir was the intelligence, plain-spokenness, and even humor that was evident in his writing.

I tend to think (possibly mistakenly) that things are easier for famous people, so I was surprised to read about instances where this is not necessarily true. Rushdie said that he accepted the speaking engagement at the Chautauqua Institution in large part because the fee would pay for a new air conditioning system in his home. He suffers several iatrogenic (illness caused by medical treatment) issues with blood pressure medications that were not discontinued when he was discharged, along with the usual pain and frustration caused by doctors and medical appointments.

I don't know how I might feel about Rushdie's fiction, but the weakest part of this memoir was the long section where he imagined a conversation with his attacker. While I did understand this part (I've had many imaginary conversations in the shower with people who disagreed with me), I don't think this section fits into the book very well. But the rest of the book clearly shows a man who has a great ability to write, what that ability has cost him, and how he has managed to recover and continue to live a happy life. This was four stars for me.

“Without art, our ability to think, to see freshly, and to renew our world would wither and die.”

The second book, Sipsworth by Simon Van Booy, was one Kym recommended last week. Are you wondering what to read when the Supreme Court is making egregious decisions, politics has sharply divided us, wars are raging, and you can't face one more bit of we're-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket news? Sipsworth might fill the bill. It's a charming story about Helen Cartwright who has lost both her husband and son. The story consists of Helen's sad and lonely daily habits until one night while picking through her neighbor's trash, she brings home an aquarium, a deep sea diver toy that reminds her of her son, and inadvertently, a mouse. Because no woman is an island and we all need something to care about, Helen becomes the mouse's protector and caretaker. She names him Sipsworth and her connection to him leads her to be open to new connections.

This book felt much like A Man Called Ove but it didn't hold quite the same meaningful possibilities. It's still deserving of 3.5 stars rounded up as a welcome respite from the news.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Let the Fun Begin!

I don't have a nice alliterative name for "Potholder Tuesday" but my loom and loops have arrived and I am ready for some potholder weaving fun.

Harrisville Designs says "Discover the joy of potholder weaving," and any extra joy we can discover is wonderful. Big thanks to Janelle, Becky, Carole, and anyone else who encouraged me last week in my pursuit of potholder joy!

Friday, June 28, 2024

A Few Good Books

I usually include the books I have read in Unraveled Wednesday posts, but my book reviews have been getting longer for some reason. Adding them to an Unraveled Wednesday post makes those posts far too long, so long that even I wouldn't want to read them (and I wrote the darn reviews). Last week I finished three books, and wrote long(ish) reviews, so here they are in case you might be interested.

The first was Summer Solstice, which I know many of you have read. I wish it had a better cover (because I do judge books by their covers), but there you go. What marks the start of summer for you? For me, it's probably the summer solstice along with the first sighting of lightning bugs. This year, summer has arrived with a vengeance, with high heat, humidity, and that awful stickiness I dread.

"I try not to fight it anymore. I embrace the sweat, the damp at my back, between my breasts, the insect tickle of a drop riding the slide between the muscles that line my spine."

I can't quite bring myself to embrace the sweat like Nina MacLaughlin advises. This next quote rings a little more true for me:

"But my body likes the cold-dark half of the year so much more, that friction, when the heat comes from the inside, when we make the heat ourselves. And so, unlike the fruit flies, unlike the rhododendrons, the honeysuckles, the peonies, the turtles, the bears, the dahlias, the daisies, the tulips, and the corn, I go dormant for a while, slink into a sort of a hibernation. Let's talk again late August when we really start to notice less light and the shadows start to shift."

Summer does have its charms and one of them is that it does come to an end. This one was four stars for me. 

This book was a lot different from what I usually read, but I can't often resist the offer when a publisher pre-approves me for an advance reader copy. Told in dual timelines, Songs for the Brokenhearted tells the stories of Yaqub and Saida who are Yemeni and meet in an immigration camp in Israel in 1950. The second timeline is set in 1995 and deals with Saida's daughter, Zohara, who has moved to the United States but returns to Israel when her mother dies. We learn more about Yaqub and Saida as the book progresses, and Zohara learns more about her mother as she comes together with her family and clears out her mother's house. She has always had a distant and complicated relationship with her mother but begins to learn much more about her mother and the secrets she kept.

 This book dealt with topics I honestly knew very little about, such as Yemen, Yemeni immigrants and culture in Israel, the Oslo Accords, Yemeni women's songs, and "disappeared children" from immigrant camps. Parents were told that their children had died but thousands of them were actually adopted out. Ayelet Tsabari has written a novel that tells truly interesting stories, ones that many people have never even heard about.

"If we're only relying on written history, what stories do we miss? What happens to the stories of people who were illiterate? To marginalized communities? Whose stories are written in history books? And who decides which stories to include?" 

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on September 10, 2024. I also gave this one four stars.

Sarah recommended Piglet and I'm so glad she did. (Thanks, Sarah!) It's probably not a book I would have picked up myself, but I was drawn into Piglet's story as soon as I started listening. She is a 30-something cookbook editor engaged to Kit. He is seemingly almost perfect, and Piglet has arranged a seemingly perfect life, from preparing luscious meals to moving into an ideal home with Kit to leaving her middle-class upbringing behind (except for her childhood nickname). But cracks begin to appear, and 13 days before the wedding, Kit betrays her. Hazell has made a choice not to reveal exactly what that betrayal was. This bothered me initially, and plenty of reviewers have complained about it, but ultimately I think it helps to immerse the reader more completely by letting them come up with the worst perfidy they can imagine.

The book is structured chronologically, beginning 98 days before the wedding and leading up to the day itself and afterward. I'm not going to reveal the outcome, but this book packed quite a punch for me. It has a lot to say about expectations for women, those that we have for ourselves, style over substance, and hunger in all its forms. I was so enthralled that as soon as I finished it the first time, I started re-listening to the book for a second time. I'm glad I did because there were things I missed about Piglet herself from the very beginning. The descriptions of food are lush, the writing is adroit, and Lottie Hazell is an author I will definitely be looking to read more from in the future. Four and a half stars rounded up.

I'm not sure why I liked Piglet so much. Maybe because I was also given a not-so-wonderful food and size-related nickname as a child, and have only outgrown it now that my father is gone. Maybe because I often felt that there were many expectations (usually food-related) that I was never able to live up to. Whatever the reason, I thought it was a terrific book. 

And check out these different covers: 

UK cover

Australian cover

I'm not sure why the poor Aussies only get half an apple, and I really don't think it goes with the book. A big, greasy hamburger or stack of donuts is much more fitting. (The choice of covers and their differences is always interesting to me!)

What are you reading? I hope you have a good book or two lined up to help make your weekend a good one!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 6/26/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with something a little different. Monday was a fairly nice day weather-wise, but it was 93 yesterday and today it's supposed to get up to 95. I couldn't face working on my HotM shawl; my hands feel even stickier when I knit with wool and it lies across my lap and makes me feel even hotter (and grumpier). So I started thinking about Christmas presents again. 

Ryan insists that I've knit him quite enough socks, hats, fingerless gloves, and even Hitchhikers, but he has said that he could use some potholders. I spent time perusing Ravelry and while there are knitted potholders, a great many of them are crocheted. That is definitely not my forte, but I would be working with cotton and it wouldn't be in my lap making me hotter, so why not give it a whirl? 

I found a pattern that seemed easy enough (I can do single crochet and count!) with the added benefit that it made me laugh. Topflappen (rav link) means potholder in German, so I started crocheting topflappen. 

My first attempt was with Sugar 'n Cream yarn and a crochet hook that was too small. I stopped and unraveled because this topflappen was far too stiff, in fact, almost bulletproof. I unraveled it and went in search of better yarn and larger crochet hooks. 

After making an even bigger mess of my stash closet, I did find some Peaches & Creme which felt slightly nicer, and a few bigger crochet hooks. My next attempt wasn't quite so stiff, but it's still not a real pleasure to crochet.

I think I'll finish this one, wash it, try it out, and see if it's gift-worthy. I also have some Dishie cotton which feels nicer, so I may try that, but I think that I just don't enjoy crochet very much, so there's not much use blaming the yarn and hooks. 

I did have what seems like a good idea while I was writing this, and it might be worth pursuing. I found a couple of dragon potholder patterns that I think Ryan would like (they're knit - hooray!) that I could make, knit plain backs, and sandwich them together so they would be thick enough for serviceable potholders. That might happen sooner rather than later if this summer continues the way it's started.

I read three books last week and due to some long-ish reviews, I'll put them all in a separate post on Friday. I'll let you be the judge of whether they are long-winded or detailed!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Read With Us: It's a New Book!

Today is the day we announce a new Read With Us book for summer! You might already be aware of this if you were able to attend the last Zoom discussion for How to Say Babylon, but now everyone will know. This one doesn't fit neatly into one genre; the publisher describes it as a time travel romance, a spy thriller, a workplace comedy, and an ingenious exploration of the nature of power and the potential for love to change it all. Welcome to The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley.

From the publisher: "
In the near future, a civil servant is offered the salary of her dreams and is, shortly afterward, told what project she’ll be working on. A recently established government ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to establish whether time travel is feasible—for the body, but also for the fabric of space-time.

She is tasked with working as a “bridge”: living with, assisting, and monitoring the expat known as “1847” or Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition to the Arctic, so he’s a little disoriented to be living with an unmarried woman who regularly shows her calves, surrounded by outlandish concepts such as “washing machines,” “Spotify,” and “the collapse of the British Empire.” But with an appetite for discovery, a seven-a-day cigarette habit, and the support of a charming and chaotic cast of fellow expats, he soon adjusts. Over the next year, what the bridge initially thought would be, at best, a horrifically uncomfortable roommate dynamic, evolves."

KymCarole, and I will be talking about the book, giving additional information, and doing promotional posts throughout July. Discussion day for The Ministry of Time is scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, 2024, at 7:00 pm Eastern time, so mark your calendars. We'll ask questions on our blogs that day and then host the always fun, educational, and entertaining Zoom discussion.

The hardcover, Kindle, and audio versions of the book are all available from my library with a bit of a wait. Hopefully, we'll all have plenty of time to place a hold, get the book, and read it.  The Kindle and hardcover versions are priced reasonably on Amazon and I'm sure your local bookseller could order a copy for you if you're lucky enough to have a local bookseller. I'm in the process of listening to the audio version and reading it on my Kindle, and that dual approach is working well for me. 

I do hope you'll read The Ministry of Time with us. I can't resist a genre-defying book with an intriguing cover and an original premise. A book that's a lot of fun and intriguing seems appropriate to read during the summer. 

Come Read With Us!

Monday, June 24, 2024

Remember This?

Of course, I don't expect you to remember this mural I wrote about nine years ago, so I'll recount the story. This mural was painted on the side of our abandoned Agway building and in one of the Friday Letters I used to write, I had a small rant about it because the building was due to be demolished. After much discussion and arguing about what to paint, a local artist just took matters into his own hands and painted Big-Headed Music Boy for just the cost of materials. This is what it used to look like:

Much the same, but a lot brighter. It has definitely faded in nine years, but so have many other things. 

But back to the story. The owners of the lot had plans approved for a small complex with apartments and a few shops. But then the mayor and town council thought maybe they could come up with a better plan. Again, there was a lot of discussion and arguing, but also the mayor and members of town council changed at least twice. This served to reset the discussion and arguing all over again, which is why the abandoned building and its fading mural are still standing nine years later. 

So I've learned a lesson; it's not worth getting upset about things that are not important in the scheme of things. (This is something I need to be reminded of again and again.) I ranted about painting a mural on a building slated for demolition, but here it is still standing. 

Besides, we've got something new to discuss and argue about. This is an abandoned train station not far from the mural building. It was going to be demolished because it was falling down, unsafe, and kids were playing in it. The bulldozers were all ready but then someone cried, "Hold on there; it's historic!" I'm thinking of starting a betting pool on whether it will fall down all by itself in the next nine years. 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A Gathering of Poetry: June 2024

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. June seems to be the perfect time for a poem about fireflies, so that's what I'm sharing. I've been seeing them for a week or two and now I look for them every night. 

These Fireflies
by Sue Owen

Now we see them, then
now we don't, these
tiny stars whose only hope
is that they will outlast

the night, if they stick
to it and burn, if they
blink again in the face
of the blind darkness.

And whose will will
win after all as these 
fireflies dot and scamp
and burn there, trying

to show us that light
and smallness matter,
even if their own glowing
will soon fade out of sight?

Even if dimness plans
to step in and put out
their gay flit of fire?
We who watch them know

that it is their burning
that always wins, as brief
as it is, as fragile, and
that this kind of magic

stuns even the old crawling
night that dozes, as the 
fireflies dance above it,
as if to light its dream. 


You can read more about the author here


Thanks for reading and joining us for our monthly Gathering of Poetry. You are more than welcome to add your link below if you would like to share one of your favorite poems. The more the merrier!

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 6/19/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today. In fact, it may be the highlight of my week. Like much of the country, it's hot and humid here and I don't even have enough energy to spread out my HotM and take a photo. None of my animal friends has any motivation either, so here's my knitting in an uninspired and uninspiring lump. It looks much the same as last week but I have knit 25 rows or so. Maybe partly because of the weather, it feels like I've reached that never-ending part pf the project but I really would like to finish it in the near future. 

At least the mandevilla is pretty and hasn't suffered from the heat yet. 

I did read an interesting book last week, Sing Like Fish: How Sound Rules Life Under Water by Amorina Kingdon. My sister and I used to play a game when we were swimming at my aunt's pool. We'd both duck underwater, one of us would say something, and then the other would try to guess what had been said. I don't remember that we were very successful at deciphering the burbles and gurgles, but it's part of why I wanted to read Sing Like Fish. I know sound is important underwater and wanted to learn how fish and other animals use it. I learned far more than I ever expected! Kingdon writes about the anatomy of fish ears, dolphin calls, and beluga echolocation. She explains how sound travels underwater and behaves differently in water, moving in currents, and off the seafloor, and can even be altered by temperature and salinity. The author also writes about sound production by ocean dwellers; fish have a surprising number of ways to produce sound. Sound plays an important role in feeding, mating, parenting, navigating, and warning underwater and all of our human-made sounds can affect and interfere with these. You might wonder if you could possibly be interested in a book about sound underwater, and if it's this original, captivating book, my answer is a resounding yes. This one was five stars for me. 

What are you making and reading this week?