Jul 19, 2017

Just a list

of books I have not finished lately.

The Girl Before - JP Delaney - Not badly written or edited but what's the point?

Flesh and Blood - Patricia Cornwell - If you have insomnia, try this. When did this series become such a snore and a bore?

Until Proven Guilty - J.A. Jance - I just read the synopsis I linked to and I don't remember this book at all and it was less than a month ago that I attempted to read it. Enough said.

Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson - What's the definition of insane - Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Why do I torture myself with attempting to read anything this woman writes. Who says I'm not an optimist. This is a Jackson Brody book and I liked the first one and then it all went down hill.

Mercies in Disguise - Gina Kolata - Non-fiction, a rarity for me. Read probably the first third, scanned through to the end.  Why I took this out of the library I have no idea.

The Chinese Shawl - Patricia Wentworth - I've read the first two books in this series and now I just cannot read any more books set in Great Britain in the early 20th Century featuring a plucky young woman. Stick a fork in me, I am done!

Lonely Hearts - John Harvey - Meh. Just didn't care; didn't even read the end to find out who dunnit.

Different Class - Joanne Harris I simply did not care - not a whit. No more books that take place in any part of Great Britain during the middle of the 20th Century!

The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry I should have liked this book, I didn't. I like supernatural type stuff; I like mysteries and haunted houses and all of that but this one was too girly for me. Too romance-y.

The Solitary House - Lynn Shepard I kinda like the beginning of this book and then - Yawn! I also took out the next book in this series A Fatal Likeness which I never even opened. What did I say about books set in England in the 20th Century - let's now include books set in Great Britain in the 19th century as well.

Were there any books I've cracked open (so to speak) over the last two months that I enjoyed? Yes. There were one or two, and aside from The Poisoner's Handbook - Deborah Blum, they were free ebooks of little or no literary import or interest and I probably scrolled through most of them BUT at least I finished them.

I am currently dragging myself through "Every Dead Thing" by John Connolly. I don't think I am going to make it to the end.

(The links are mostly reviews and they should open in a new tab or page, depending on how you have your browser configured.)

Mar 12, 2017

The smartest things I've ever done...

is a very short list.

This morning as I was doing a major kitchen cleaning, just like every Sunday morning, I was washing the tray that the cats dishes sit in and I thought "This is the smartest thing I've ever done" and then I thought "Hmm - this may be the only 'smartest thing' I've ever done"

Trying hard to think of other 'smart' decisions I've made, and while the list is long, they don't qualify as 'smartest' because they are things that were done too late; after the damage had been done.

I was told that for the first 2+ years of my life my vocabulary consisted of four words - Ma, Pa, John and No. I was told that the first sentence I ever uttered was "No, I don't want to. Make John do it" and then I walked out and slammed the door. Go me!

Unfortunately the ability to say no didn't stick with me. I re-learned that skill sometime in my late 30's, after 3 years of therapy. But, there is always a but, I did not fully embrace it. I will probably never get back what appears to be my innate tendency to stand-up for myself.

What is that old saying "ve get too soon oldt undt too late schmart" - well, I've gotten old, but still not smart.

Mar 7, 2017


miscellany, because that's all I've got.

I finally finished another Anita Brookner book and that woman had a definite preference for the word prelapsarian. I'll leave you to click the link and discover it's meaning. It certainly is not a word, or even concept, that one encounters on a regular basis. I have in the past derided ebooks but my situation being what it is, that is pretty much the only kind of book I read, the upside of which is that I can quickly look up a new word. I like that.

Penultimate is another word I like. I'm not sure when I learned it's meaning but I'm always delighted when I see it. It came up in the tv listings this morning - the penultimate episode of "This is Us" will be on tonight; we will watch it tomorrow.

I've written about words for as long as I have written. Somewhere in my stash of juvenilia I have an essay I wrote about them - or really not an essay per se but just something I wrote in what we would now call a journal. Back in those days I don't think we called it anything in particular - diary maybe?

My fascination with words is not so much in their meanings but in their sounds and how they feel in your mouth when you say them. I remember as kid loving words like plethora and superfluous.  There is another word which I was crazy about as a kid and at the moment it escapes my memory, but I really loved the way it felt in my mouth.

The other thing I love about words is their connotation - I shall just refer you back to a post I wrote  on the subject.  A fun and interesting read - back when I was fun and interesting.

I've noticed I am not commenting on many blogs lately and that's because I don't relate. Nor do I wish to be contentious. I read, I just don't relate. My reactions are "how nice for you" or, well, or nothing. Not that I don't enjoy reading what people write, but it has nothing to do with me (It's not all about you, Grace - and you're right, it's not. Only my life is all about me, yours, not so much, or even at all.)

There are blogs I read that give me pause for thought but blog comments are not the place for deep philosophical discussion (tawkin' about you David.) And then there are blogs where my reaction is inappropriate - oh, wait I said that already - or nosy. I always want details; I have questions.

I just took a break from writing to take a bunch of pics of Frankie and a little video - and that's another thing - I see fabulous photos, and sometimes I post fabulous photos, but what can you say besides "Fabulous photo" - and do people really want, or need, to hear that 15 times? I do like to know that at least people dropped by even if they have nothing to say and that's what stat counters are for, I guess.

Oh, and the other thing - I'm into slightly cynical sayings this week. I'll be posting them on my facebook page. You should go and check them out - they amuse me.

I guess I'll sign off and play with the Frankie photos...

Feb 21, 2017

The fabulous and the meh (long book review post)

Starting with the meh - and didn't like, sorta liked and I'm a masochist...

The Other Child - Charlotte Link - Not necessarily a bad book, just not memorable in any way. Read the review, decide whether you want to read it or not.

GBH - Ted Lewis - As the review says - not for the faint of heart. Couldn't get past the violence, torture etc in the first few pages. Closed it with a shudder. It may well be a fabulous crime novel, I will never know.

A God in Ruins - Kate Atkinson - Companion novel, so they say, to Atkinson's Life After Life ( a book I think I already reviewed and which I didn't care for at all). This one I sort of started but I was so disheartened by "Life After Life" that I probably didn't give it a fair chance. Bad me. Who cares.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards - It was okay. Not great, not horrible. I believe there is a movie version, never seen, no plans to.  It held my attention for a while but my interest flagged about half way through. Flipped through the back half, read the end. And I barely remember anything about it.

The Lake of Dreams - Kim Edwards I must have taken these two Kim Edwards books out at the same time because I can't imagine, having read one of them, I would ever have sought out another book by this woman or; I am more of an optimist than any of us imagine.  They aren't bad books you understand, they're just not, um, interesting? Memorable? Engaging? They're girly books? It may be they are your style and taste. Check out the reviews.

The Likeness - Tana French - This is the second in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I like the first one "In the Woods" very much, this one, not so much. Not so much in that I didn't really finish it. Skipped around, read the end. That was that. Yet - I will read the third in the series if my library has it. I may have just hit 'The Likeness' at a bad time in my reading life.

Memory Man - David Baldacci - My husband reads David Baldacci, this was a first for me and I rather liked it. I liked the protagonist, Amos Decker and I particularly liked his neurological condition - ' “an acquired savant with hyperthymesia and synesthesia abilities.” Now if you have to have a neurological condition, synesthesia is the coolest one. The plot is very convoluted, sometimes not always easy to follow; the characters are likable, I didn't mind spending time with them at all but that said - I skipped huge chunks of the book, most in the last third, read the ending and yes, this is a series and I will read the next one.

Case Histories - Kate Atkinson - Another Kate Atkinson book? Yes, and after trashing the first two of hers that I read you must think I am mad. But honestly, while this book does not belong in the 'fabulous, must read' category, it was pretty darn good. This woman does have a passion for going back and forth in time, a plot device that drives me 'effing bonkers, but it kinda sorta works here.  I can recommend this with reservations. Read the review make your own decision.

And now for the fabulous -

Life After Life - Jill McCorkle - Please do NOT mix this book up with Kate Atkinson's book of the same title. Both were published within a month of each! How does that happen? A huge disservice to Jill McCorkle.

This is a must-read for anyone with a heart and soul. And a sense of humor. I have read it twice already, I may even buy a copy so I can read it again...and again, tho the ending really bothered me. I did not think that death was necessary at all.

This book should make you think, make you feel and yes, make you laugh. It's real; these people, for the most part, are lovely. You will not regret one moment you spend with them and you will go back and visit with them again. This book grabbed my heart and mind.

Brief Lives - Anita Brookner - Can't say exactly why this is fabulous but it is. I loved it. If you are looking for an easy, plot driven book, this is not for you.  One of the good things about reading this as an ebook was the dictionary function. I must say, Miss Brookner has an amazing vocabulary. Her writing can be dense and yet - I read it through almost without stopping. I got involved, with the story and the people, even the not-so-nice ones. I liked Fay Langdon.  I want to read more books by Anita Brookner - and I will.

Whew - long list and I left out some fluffy books I enjoyed. I'll get to them next time. I know it's a pain in the patootie to have to click links but the links do open in a new tab (or page, however you have your browser setup). The reviews give you a better idea of what the book is about, far better than I ever could. So, get a cuppa, settle in, click and review. You should find something worthwhile on this list. Definitely, DEFINITELY, read the Jill McCorkle book. Please. (And don't get it mixed up with the Kate Atkinson book of the same name. Remember - Jill McCorkle.)

Dec 31, 2016

Aren't they cute?

You can just barely see Mr. Big Orange Lump on the couch...just being a lump.

(Click photos to biggify)

Dec 29, 2016

Thursday Rants and Raves

And in my case they are the same thing!

Two more authors on my "Oh my god, why?" list.  Chris Bohjalian and Ann Patchett. They just make me so tired. I've tried and tried to enjoy them but I simply can not.

Following discussions wherein people express the most uninformed and ill informed opinions makes me crazy. You're sitting at a computer, google the damn subject. Yes, I know, I simply shouldn't read those threads but it's mental rubbernecking - I can't not look and check out what moronic information is being exchanged and debated. Someone stop me please! (And not no, not a political discussion.)

Thursday is shopping day and aside from making a poor cashier's life miserable, I am sorry about that and next time I see her, I will apologize, it was fun insofar as eavesdropping on the young people dominating the grocery aisles today. Senior Discount Thursday but the store was chock-a-block with 20-somethings. Why are these young people not at work? Our parking lot is still packed - no one has gone to work it seems. The federal government has a 'use it, or lose it' leave policy and my husband suspects this is why everyone is home but these young people haven't been working long enough to accrue much of anything. Bless their hearts.

There was very little traffic - very unusual but that didn't stop a young man from almost plowing into us; so busy looking right never glanced left. It was really close!

I don't relate. Never have. It makes me crazy.  Most of the people I encounter who are my age (70) I want to smack - 21st century people, join up. And people younger than I,  by even just one generation, well, we don't share any common references.

I know, I know - I've whined about this before. I would really like to talk to someone who shares my references, my style, my POV - who was where I was when we both were there.

Yes, interacting with people who are different from me is mind-expanding but sometimes I just want to say "You too? Cool".

I'm going to have lunch now. A slice of chocolate fudge cake. Just the one, maybe half now and the other half later. Gotta love the 'buy one slice' option.

Dec 26, 2016

Not pretty but awfully good

I don't like to cook but when I do it is always good, sometimes terrific and occasionally awesome. The one thing it never is is pretty.  I do like to bake, which I don't do anymore because my husband can't have sugar. My baking is always awesome but never pretty. I just can't manage to make pretty food. Case in point...

For Christmas I made manicotti. I love manicotti but it's a pain the patootie to make. The gravy/meat sauce/spaghetti sauce/tomato sauce, however you want to call it, is easy enough, as are meatballs, it's just those pesky crepes. And all that cheese that has to be grated. Garlic and parsley to be chopped. So many elements. Oy

This is how it went...
The only ingredients missing from the picture is a boatload of garlic, pinch of salt and a little sugar. I only use Cento brand tomatoes because, you might be able to make it out, the list of ingredients is: vine ripened tomatoes. That's it. Nothing else. Just tomatoes. It's a simple sauce, nothing fancy, pure peasant.

Meatballs - one pound of very good quality chopped meat, one egg, some seasoned bread crumbs, romano cheese, lots of parsley and a pinch of salt. (The parsley in the glass dish was leftover and I froze it.) Aside from one egg for each pound of meat, I have no idea how much of the other ingredients I use. I mix it with my hands and I know how it should feel.
If I were frying/baking them then I would add garlic, basil and oregano. I cook my meatballs in the gravy/sauce and they absorb all those other flavors.
The crepes are easy - eggs, flour, water, pinch of salt. In the past I have made them in a 6-inch cast iron frying pan, this time I decided to use a 6-inch non-stick pan -
Because I have a crap stove, these weren't so easy to do. I took me an hour to make 27 crepes. Boring. Some came out perfectly round and lovely and some came out like that. I totally ruined only one.

The filling is ricotta, eggs, mozzarella, romano cheese, parsley, and pepper. You plop some filling down the center,  roll it closed, line them up in a pan, dollop some sauce on them
and into a 350ยบ oven the pans go for about 1/2 hour.

Getting them out of the pans isn't so easy, I've got them in there pretty snug, so when I plated them - not very pretty

But man oh man were they delicious!

Dec 23, 2016