Sunday, December 17, 2023

Read in November 2023

 With these 7 books, I am now at 95 books read for the year - with the rest of December to go! I think I will definitely reach my goal of 100, but I'm so temptingly close to an all-time record that I am picking up the shortest books I can find to pad my numbers. I know, it's is silly, this is my personal reading and who cares how many books I read? Next year I'm hoping to focus on quality over quantity, finally diving into some long books and trying to complete the backlist of my favorite authors. I know I am not the only type-A reader out there!

The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
This has been on my list for over 15 years, and I finally bought a used copy so I could read it. I was expecting a multi-generational family saga with notes of Downton Abbey. But alas. In over 500 pages nothing happens. People have conversations, children play elaborate games. There is some conflict, but none of it ever gets resolved! There are several more books in the series and I can only hope that there is some plot or resolution, but I will not be sticking around to find out.

Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin
I struggle to describe this book. An atheist lesbian somehow gets a job as the receptionist in a Catholic Church. Her life is kind of a mess, she's depressed, but it's also really funny? There are heavy topics addressed in this book, but they are handled with the perfect type of humor that still allows them to be taken seriously without being overly heavy. I enjoyed this book, and if you read this description and were intrigued, you probably would to. If you react with a hard "nope", then definitely skip it.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I found this book on the take-one-leave-one shelf at work, and in an incredible feat of reading, finished it and took it back the same week! (Usually books come home to sit on my shelves for years.) How to describe this book... Jason is kidnapped and wakes up in an underground facility, in a world where his life is no longer his life. What results is a sci-fi/thriller mash-up. It's very fast paced and easy to read (lots of sentences as paragraphs). Overall I thought this was a fun book and will make you think about all the little things that have brought you to the life you're living.

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown
Wow. Everyone knows the story of the Donner party, right? At least the cannibalism part. But how did they end up stranded in the snowy mountains? Brown explains the series of unfortunate events and decisions which brought them to their terrible situation. The story of the group who set out on foot to find rescue truly was harrowing. If you're looking for adventure and a nonfiction account that reads like fiction, this book is excellent. If you are stressed out by such things, particularly details, then steer far away.

Vanishing Edge by Claire Kells
This is the first in a series featuring Felicity Harland, new on the job as a special agent for the National Park Service. (This is a real thing - my husband worked with them at one point so we expressed much incredulity about what was happening in this book. Being flown around in helicopters?? Spending all your time hiking around the wilderness with your dog? Solely investigating a double murder with literally no other agents? Suspend your disbelief.) Overall this is pretty much what you'd expect with this genre, with a touch of romance thrown in. It was a good palate cleanser. There are two more in the series, and I plan to read them as well.

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
I've seen so many good reviews of this book that even though I don't read much romance, I checked out the audiobook. What a good time! The writing was funny, and the story was more believable than many others in this genre. I liked how the main characters were interested in each other from the start; no dumb fake-dating set ups here. I will definitely be checking out more by Abby Jimenez.

The Last Ranger by Peter Heller
What, two park ranger books in one month? Yes! I love Peter Heller's writing, and the fact that this book is set in Yellowstone (were we lived for a summer) had me so excited. In the end I found to to be fine; the descriptions of nature are great as always, but the plot was just "meh" and the mystery not all that captivating.

Monday, December 11, 2023

And the Garden Goes to Sleep

In November we had our first proper frosts, finally ending gardening season. I already miss the flowers, but I won't deny that this period of rest is very much needed. Our season is so long: I start seeds in February, start planting in March, harvest tulips in April and then go straight through October. I am not a fan of winter, with the sicknesses and cold and dark. However, it does go quite quickly when I think about how I only really have two months "off."

Revisiting these pictures already makes November seem so long ago, today, with our first snow on the ground. After the frost killed off the remaining plants, I cut down all the dead foliage, planted the tulips, and commenced dahlia digging. A lot of gardeners have been overwintering their dahlias in our zone 7a area, but I wanted to dig mine up to divide and cull the ones that were not performing. I also bought a dozen clumps from another nearby farmer, which meant I spent many hours digging, washing, dividing, and wrapping tubers for storage. I probably have several hundred tubers now, and room for 100 plants. I'm happy for the extra insurance! If I end up with extra in the spring, I'll be able to pot them up and hopefully sell the plants.

My pace of knitting has slowed down over the years. After producing some twenty-plus years of knits, I and everyone I know is fairly well stocked. I have a drawer full of socks and certainly don't need any more; they are just one of my favorite things to knit. Lately I have been focusing on making short socks that are wearable in warmer months. This pattern is Brambleberries by This Handmade Life. I love how they turned out... but, I committed my most-common knitting error. They are slightly too small. I blocked them out as much as I could and hope to get some use out of them.

You may ask, why not just unpick them and add some more length? After knitting at least 50 pairs of socks in my lifetime, I don't care enough to do this. I'll just move on to the next ones! Yes, I do have two daughters to potentially give them to but one of them already has feet bigger than mine

The yarn is Knitpicks Stroll, not my favorite, but I have a lot of it from many, many years ago. I don't have a massive yarn stash yet I could probably knit from it for many years to come!

Last month I mentioned I had signed up for a pottery class. I have two more classes to go of the five-week series. This is a communal studio, not glamorous or even that tidy, but oh, I love being there! It takes me right back to my college days. Although I was an art history major, I was required to take two art classes. I remember showing up at the art building at all hours to work on projects, along with my fellow students who were keeping similarly odd schedules, unencumbered by adult responsibilities.

After my first class, I quickly realized that I don't yet have the skills to envision what I want to make and then create it. This has resulted in an assortment of random pots with no specific function. As long as they are round and don't fall apart, that is good enough for me! I still have several steps to go before they are complete, so I'll share the finished products in my next post. 

Is there something you have always wanted to do but haven't found the time for? I highly suggest going for it - because we only live once, right?