Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Was...

Apple picking
Baking a delicious recipe from Audrey
City of Women by David Gillham on audio, will finish this week
Downton Abbey season 3 begins in the UK, but
Exactly 98 more days of waiting in the US
Football Homecoming game
Good times with old friends
Happy Birthday, Mom!
It's getting darker earlier and earlier...
Just loved Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Kayaks on sale, could be time to buy
Looking for an apartment in NYC was a daunting task, but
Manhattan will be Daughter #1's new home
Next weekend is the  Big Move
Orange and red leaves... I love fall!
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Quiet weekends? Maybe next month.
Reread The Old Man and the Sea
Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men for Banned Books Week could be next
The Submission by Amy Waldman is our new book club selection
Unbelievably great events all over the blogosphere, but
Very little time for blogging this month
Windows replaced in the kitchen means
eXtra cleaning - sheetrock dust is everywhere!
Yummy fall soups
Zelda celebrated her 5th birthday

Welcome, October!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Intro: Maine

"Alice decided to take a break from packing. She lit a cigarette, leaning back in one of the wicker chairs that were always slightly damp from the sea breeze. She glanced around at the cardboard boxes filled with her family's belongings, each glass and saltshaker and picture frame wrapped carefully in newspaper. There were at least a couple of boxes in every room of the house. She needed to make sure she had taken them all to Goodwill by the time the children arrived. This had been their summer home for sixty years, and it amazed her how many objects they had accumulated. She didn't want anyone to be burdened by the mess once she was gone."

by J. Courtney Sullivan

As I said in this week's Sunday Salon post,  Maine  by J. Courtney Sullivan is the book I've been craving all summer. Not a lot actually happens, but with multiple generations, family dynamics,  a summer house, and the Maine coast, it doesn't matter one bit. Does this type of book appeal to you, or do you prefer a fast-paced plot?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Checking In and Catching Up

Good morning and Happy Fall! I've been on a scaled-back blogging schedule most of the summer (my last Sunday Salon post was in June), but we're finally beginning to see a return to normalcy.

Summer passed in a blur with all three girls at home. We enjoyed the traditional summer activities and I discovered a new sport - kayaking!  Then, in mid-July, my mother-in-law's health rapidly declined and she passed away a few weeks later. The blog went quiet for the rest of August.

Over Labor Day weekend, we moved Twin A back to college, while Twin B returned to classes locally. With their routines established, Daughter #1's job/apartment search became the main focus. We found an apartment, she landed a free-lancing gig, and a couple of interviews are pending. There's still a LOT to do before we move her to New York City two weeks. It's an exciting time...

So, what did I read? Not as much as I would have liked, but there are reviews in my draft folder:
The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Rules of Civility by Amore Towles
- The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

I also revisited The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, a book I hated in high school. Can't say that I loved it, but I did find much more to appreciated this time around. My post is here.

My current reads are an interesting mix.

For book club, I'm reading Boy's Life  by Robert McCammon. I was enthralled with the story-telling until a group of boys sprouted wings and took their annual fight around town on the last day of school. What can I say - I've never done well with magic. The meeting is Thursday and I'm not sure if I'll leave my bookmark at page 160 or try and power through.

Maine  by J. Courtney Sullivan is the book I've been craving all summer - multiple generations, family dynamics, summer house, the Maine coast. I don't want this book to end!

City of Women  by David Gillham is my car audiobook. Set in Berlin during WWII, it's gotten a lot of publicity lately. I'm finding it to be a tense and intense listen. The narrator, Suzanne Bertish, is pitch perfect.

Another audiobook, The End of the Affair  by Graham Greene, narrated by the swoon-worthy Colin Firth, is on my ipod. I read the book nearly ten years ago with my book club, but it's a totally different experience on audio. was giving this away - FREE - a few weeks ago. It's only available to US listeners and I'm not sure how long the offer will last, but the link is here.

And let's not forget about Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. I actually read a few (three, to be exact) letters this month. Our year-long group read continues...

I hope you are enjoying this first full day of autumn. We are headed to the orchard for some apple-picking this afternoon, and I'm sure there will be pie for dessert! Then I look forward to catching up with my google reader.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend Cooking: A Poem for Saturday

A Pot of Red Lentils
by Peter Pereira

simmers on the kitchen stove.
All afternoon dense kernels
surrender to the fertile
juices, their tender bellies
swelling with delight.

In the yard we plant
rhubarb, cauliflower, and artichokes,
cupping wet earth over tubers,
our labor the germ
of later sustenance and renewal.

Across the field the sound of a baby crying
as we carry in the last carrots,
whorls of butter lettuce,
a basket of red potatoes.

I want to remember us this way—
late September sun streaming through
the window, bread loaves and golden
bunches of grapes on the table,
spoonfuls of hot soup rising
to our lips, filling us
with what endures.

"A Pot of Red Lentils" by Peter Pereira, from Saying the World. © Copper Canyon Press, 2003.

Autumn, my favorite season, arrives at 10:49 this morning. Bright yellow mums have been purchased, the plates on my baker's rack have been changed, and soup ingredients are ready for the pot - chicken tortellini today.  Happy Fall!

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Intro: City of Women

"The Blind man taps his cane rhythmically. Three taps, three taps, three taps to gain the attention of passing Berliners. He is a cadaverous sentry with a shaved pate under an old soldier’s cap, selling pencils from a canister strung about his neck. A pyramid of dots are stamped onto the armband he wears, and his round black goggles are like two holes poked through the day, letting the night bleed through. Sigrid fishes out the coin purse from her bag as she emerges from the U-Bahn stairwell, and drops a few groschen into his cup, “Bless you,” he rasps in answer to the jangle. “Please choose a pencil.” She thanks him, but when he turns his head in the direction of her voice, something behind the blindness of those goggles seems to mark her. She puts the pencil into her handbag and crosses the street at the signal."

City of Women
by David R. Gillham
Narrated by Suzanne Bertish

My current audiobook (on CD in the car) is both tense and intense. Enjoyment is not really the correct word, but it sure is compelling.

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Here's a tip from the Audiobooks group on Goodreads that I simply must share:

The End of the Affair by Graham Green, narrated by Colin Firth is available free through this link.

Be sure to use the above link. If you click through the audible homepage, the regular price is listed. You may need to be have an membership to take advantage of this offer, and it appears to be available to US listeners only.

I just downloaded my free copy of The End of the Affair. Let me know if it works for you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Old Man and the Sea, Revisited

On Saturday I posted about the sixtieth anniversary of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Originally published in Life magazine, it sold more than five million copies in two days, went on to become a best-seller in book form, and is now considered a classic. It is a perennial fixture on high school reading lists all over the country.

Confession time: I disliked The Old Man and the Sea. An old man and a big fish? Come on. Neither could possibly be considered interesting subject matter for a fourteen or fifteen year old girl. In the end though, I did the required reading, complained bitterly about being bored, wrote the requisite essay, and promptly forgot all about it.

Over the years, I have come to appreciate Hemingway - a handful of novels, some short stories, and, of course, A Moveable Feast - but never returned to The Old Man and the Sea. Saturday's anniversary seemed to be a sign. I pulled the book from the shelf and read,
" He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy's parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat."
Wait a minute. Is this really the same book I read in high school? How did I totally ignore the beauty in the simplicity of Hemingway's prose? Was I not touched by the boy's devotion to the old man? Did I miss the old man's respect for the fish, or have I simply forgotten? And what about the old man and his struggles to overcome physical limitations?

Yes, The Old Man and the Sea is more than just a fishing story. And while it will never be considered a personal favorite, I have a newfound appreciation for this classic Hemingway novel.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

60 Years Ago Today...

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway was published.

From today's Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1952 that Ernest Hemingway published The Old Man and the Sea (books by this author). For years, he had been living in Cuba and working on an epic novel about the sea, but he couldn't quite get it right. So he decided to publish a small piece of it, just 27,000 words long, which he called The Old Man and the Sea. He released it in the September 1st issue of Life magazine, which cost 20 cents. That month, it was published by Charles Scribner's Sons for $3. 
Hemingway's last major work had been For Whom the Bell Tolls, published 12 years earlier in 1940. His book Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) sold fewer than 100,000 copies, all the critics panned it, and there was a general feeling that maybe Hemingway's best days as a writer were passed. The Old Man and the Sea changed all that. The Life version sold more than 5 million copies in two days, and it was a best-seller in book form, as well. 
In it, Hemingway wrote: "The shark swung over and the old man saw his eye was not alive and then he swung over once again, wrapping himself in two loops of the rope. The old man knew that he was dead but the shark would not accept it. Then, on his back, with his tail lashing and his jaws clicking, the shark plowed over the water as a speed-boat does. The water was white where his tail beat it and three-quarters of his body was clear above the water when the rope came taut, shivered, and then snapped. The shark lay quietly for a little while on the surface and the old man watched him. Then he went down very slowly. 'He took about forty pounds,' the old man said aloud. He took my harpoon too and all the rope, he thought, and now my fish bleeds again and there will be others. [...] It was too good to last, he thought. I wish it had been a dream now and that I had never hooked the fish and was alone in bed on the newspapers. 'But man is not made for defeat,' he said. 'A man can be destroyed but not defeated.'"
It was the last book that Hemingway published during his lifetime; in 1961, with his physical and mental health deteriorating, he committed suicide.

I've long considered myself a Hemingway fan, but hated The Old Man and the Sea when it was assigned in high school. My favorites over the years have been A Moveable Feast and The Garden of Eden. Perhaps today would be a fitting day to revisit this classic. I wonder if I'll have a different reaction.

Have you ever reread a classic you despised high school? Was the experience different? What is your favorite Ernest Hemingway title?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Vogue, Me?

That's right. I've always loved clothes, but fashion is something else entirely. Still, the September issue of Vogue found its way into my home. What prompted this extraordinary purchase?

Edith Wharton.

I simply could not resist the gorgeous photo shoot from The Mount or the article by Colm Tóibín. If you'd rather not lug home the nearly five pound magazine, just flip to page 810 the next time you pass a newsstand. Better yet, read the article and view the slideshow here.

A word of advice. If you decide to purchase the magazine, be sure to grab a tissue before reading Ann Patchett's eulogy to her beloved dog, Rose. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Intro: Boy's Life

"I want to tell you some important things before we start our journey.
I lived through it all. That's one problem about relating events in first person. The reader knows the narrator didn't get killed. So whatever might happen to me - whatever did happen to me - you can be sure I lived through it all, although I might be a little better or worse for the experience, and you can make up your own mind which."

Boy's Life
by Robert McCammon

A week or two ago, I previewed the first fifty pages of our next book club selection.  I was unfamiliar with Robert McCammon, but was almost instantly reminded of Pat Conroy - definitely a good thing! Now it's time to begin reading in earnest.

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.


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