Category Archives: books

Retiring? Who Me?

Photo credit:  Aaron Burden

The announcement about my retirement has finally been made (took my boss and her boss about three weeks to try to talk me out of it).

One of my co-workers, in a very serious tone said “but what are you going to do with all your time”.  She wasn’t joking (although I had assumed she was).  How could she not know me after working in the same department for 20 years together.

Without even a thought I rattled off:

    • Reading
    • Gardening
    • Cooking/Baking
    • Crafting
    • Walking the dog
    • Volunteering
    • Home improvement projects
    • Travel
    • Hang with friends

I put an app on my phone that is counting down for me.  Kinda fun.  Right now as I’m typing it’s: 1 month, 18 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes and 32 seconds.

Anything I’m missing on my list?

 

Jury Duty

Well, it has happened again. It seems that every other year I am called for jury duty, and I received another letter from the Clerk of Court while I was in Minnesota, telling me I am yet again in the pool of potential jurors for the Southwest District Court for the month of July.

I have never actually been seated on a jury panel. I haven’t even had to go to the court house while they choose jurors for cases, as the cases seem to be settled before the date of the hearing. I also can’t imagine any attorney would want me on a jury, especially if it is a criminal case. It is really hard in a small community to serve on a jury if one is a health care professional. If asked if I know a defendant, I have to say “I am prohibited by State and Federal law from answering that question unless ordered to do so by the court” if I know the person from the work at my agency. That statement is, of course, a tip off that I know them from my work, and everyone in town knows where I work, but that is what our legal department has told us to say.

I expect the same thing will happen this July, and I will wait for a letter from the Clerk of Court telling me that, yet again, I won’t be called for a jury panel in July and that I am still in the pool of potential jurors for the next round of cases if my name is picked at random. That is another problem living in a sparsely populated area-there really is a limited number of people to do things, so the chances of being picked for these typed of things are high.

Would you want to be a judge, a defense attorney, or a prosecutor? What are your favorite movies or books involving court hearings or lawyers?

Nap Time

Our grandson is 4, and is at that stage where, if he takes an afternoon nap, he can’t go to sleep for the night until after 10:00, and if he doesn’t nap, he is a real pill until bedtime.

When Son and his family visited over Memorial Day weekend, we put on a vinyl recording of Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester narrated by Meryl Streep, with music by The Chieftains, for grandson to listen to one afternoon. Son listened to the same recording when he was a small boy, usually at bedtime. I was tickled to find Son and Grandson sound asleep on the sofa shortly after starting the recording. They didn’t even get to the part where the Tailor sets free the mice that Simpkin, the naughty cat, had imprisoned under the tea cups, before they dozed off. I have always liked Simpkin. Grandson was so tired after traveling to us that the nap didn’t interfere with his usual bedtime.

What helps you sleep? Who is your favorite Beatix Potter character? What do you remember about naps as a child?

Large House Cats?

Last November there was a post that I clipped part of and have kept on my desktop.  I don’t remember what we were talking about but this string always intrigued me:

Part of the reason it has stuck with me is that it reminds me of two books.  My dad loved everything written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially the John Carter/Mars series, so I’ve read quite a few as well.  In the Gods of Mars series, the Therns have bamboozled another species, the Barsoomians, luring them with the promise of a journey to paradise, when in fact, they just get captured and eaten.  My father and I had some long conversations about this; he thought it was the best justification for being a vegetarian he had ever read.

The other book that our conversation reminds me of is The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell.  Also science fiction and a similar scenario in which the traveling Earthman discovers that the dominant species eats the non-dominant, although to his eye, they are both sentient beings.  There is also a VERY disturbing sub-plot in which the Earthman is basically kept as a pet and from his (and the reader’s) perspective, abused and maimed, although his “owner” fairly easily deflects and explains those actions away.  And it was believable.  Way too believable.  It took me a few years to work up the nerve to read the next book in the series.

Even though all these memories got dredged up back in November, I still thought it was a funny exchange. Although I’m pretty sure I’m already the pet of my cat Nimue….

What’s the most exotic animal you’ve ever fantasized about getting as a pet?

Reading Affairs

I got Chris’ newsletter yesterday; he asks for pictures of people reading his book at the beach (or anywhere else for that matter).  It got me thinking about my current reading state of affairs.  March and April were a little discombobulated around here — too much work for a few weeks, then the stinky weather, more than one home project in the works.

Not surprisingly, my reading has been a little discombobulated as well.  You all know that I am usually in the middle of a few books at once but the past several weeks have been off the charts.  Instead of working my way through whatever I started, I would just pick up something that I thought suited my mood.  This means that right now, I’m in the middle of nine books.

Walking the Old Road by Staci Drouillard.  This is a “history” of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe.  I want to like this book a lot more than I actually like it.  The author wanders all over and rambles with a lot of detail that is actually distracting from her topic.  Unfortunately I’m listening to it on CD and the author speaks v.e.r.y.  d.i.s.t.i.n.c.t.l.y and v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y. so it’s taking much longer than if I had just plowed through the print.

Beautiful: the Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Shearer.  Quite interesting.  Hedy Lamarr was incredibly intelligent and all we remember about her is how beautiful she was.  She was actually the co-inventor of a radio guidance system for the Navy.  Who knew?

Coyote vs Acme by Ian Frasier.  Re-reading this because we talked about the author a couple of weeks ago.  Funny.  Very funny.

Autumn Light by Iyer Pico.  This one keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the pile. The writing is quite nice but it’s a memoir of a man helping his wife navigate the grief of losing her mother and whenever I start to pick it up I think “too sad”.

American Aristocracy by David Heymann.  I’m reading this because it’s a biography of Amy Powell (and her famous family).  She wrote the poem “Giver of Stars” which features in a JoJo Moyes story of the same name.  I’ve read the first half really quickly because I find I’m not all the interested in her family – just her.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.  I’m just in the beginning of this, so hard to give any kind of synopsis, but it’s Barbara Kingsolver, so I’m pretty sure I will end up liking it a lot.

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen.  This is an alternate history re-write of Pygmalion.  It’s an intriguing idea but unfortunately the author is sticking way to closely to the original story, just with different characters, so it’s not feeling as fresh or original as it should.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick.  I picked this up because I just recently actually watched Blade Runner (I don’t know why I waited so long – but I did).  It had such an ambiguous ending that I thought I’d see what the book was like.  I’m only a couple of chapters in… I’m not a big Philip K Dick fan, but I think I’ll make it through.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie.  Re-reading this because I saw recently that Hugh Laurie is producing and directing another version of Christie’s work.  This isn’t actually Christie’s best work by a long shot but I’m still enjoying it.

I have a couple of other books from the library on the bedstand and Chris’ book AND the Sherlock Holmes book I bought while at his signing last month.  Maybe now that work has let up and the weather is improving, I can stick with just three or four and get some of them finished!

What are you reading right now?

Cabin Fever

Yesterday was my first day back at work in two weeks, and I was curious how my coworkers spent their time during the blizzard. Half were ecstatic about the time off, loving the isolation and the enforced stay at home. The other half hated every minute of it, feeling trapped and anxious. I think that is called cabin fever.

There was a very funny article in the New Yorker April 11 by Ian Frazier about cabin fever and what it is like to go stir crazy. He used to live in a cabin in western Montana, and noted how socially awkward he became the longer he spent in isolation in the woods. He also noted that in 2018, a Russian scientist at a research station in Antarctica stabbed another Russian scientist because he kept giving away the ending of books. I am happy to report that none of my coworkers stabbed anyone, but of course they were only snowbound for three days.

Because of the way the snow blew in, there is a huge pile of snow on our roof on the front of the house, and the melting has caused enormous icicles to form right by our front door. You could stab someone with one of those, I suppose. It is a good thing that Husband and I both like being at home, and neither of us gives away the ending of books.

Have you ever had cabin fever? Who would you like to be snowbound with? Ever read much by Ian Frazier?

The Sunwise Turn

I’m reading a quaint little memoir called “Sunwise Turn: A Human Comedy of Bookselling”.  Two women, with no bookselling experience decide to open a bookstore in New York in 1916.  The book was written in 1925.  It’s a fascinating story of how they got started and how they survived.  The book downplays the fame of the store, but online you can easily find a history of the store which was also a salon for up and coming writers as well as an exhibition and performance space. 

Early on in the book, the author describes how they came to name their shop:

The name was one of the crises through which we had somehow to get.  There is sin and virtue in a name.  We wanted a name that would mean something.  Everything was to be significant.  All kinds of titles of the thumb-mail variety were offered.  My partner telephoned me one day that Amy Murray had drawn up in the net of her Gallic wisdom the name ‘The Sunwise Turn”. 


They do everything daesal (sunwise) here” – Father Allen had told her of the people of Eriskay – “for they believe that to follow the course of the sun is propitious.   The sunwise turn is the lucky one.”

The key goes sunwise; the screw goes sunwise; the clock goes sunwise.  Cards are dealt with the sun.  The Gael handed the loving cup around the banqueting table sunwise; he handed the wedding ring and loaned money sunwise  An old sea captain who once came into the shop told me that wind and weather go sunwise, and once when I called in our Swedish contractor, Behrens, to confer with him about the furnace, eh said: “It out to be in the other corner of the house, maam.  I always put my furnaces in the north end.  Heat goes with the sun.”

I’m pretty sure naming your bookstore “Sunwise Turn” breaks every rule you can find about picking a name for your business.  It doesn’t say anything about what the shop sells and it’s unbelievable obscure, but I really fell in love with the name and the thought and meaning behind it.  Makes me want to open up a shop of some kind, just to use the name again.  

Let’s say you are opening a shop of your own next week.  What would you sell?  And what would you name it?

Borrrrrrring!

I’ve been writing a lot of notes these days and it’s been hard.  I don’t find I have much to say about my life.  It’s kinda boring.  I work, I sleep, I read – the triumvirate.  Then there’s all the day-to-day stuff that makes life run (cooking, eating, laundry, errands).

There is crafting of course.  It goes into the “Other Stuff” category because it’s not a daily activity; I tend to do most of my crafting on the weekend, when the big a** work monitor is moved off my desk in my studio.  It probably accounts for 6-7 hours a week. 

But even with the crafting, my life right now feels boring to me.  I lost my winter attitude way too soon this year and I’ve been feeling trapped in the house by the cold weather.  This is not something I usually experience during Minnesota winter.  The only difference between this winter and other winters has to be the lack of seeing other folks.  Calls, text, even online meetings for work aren’t quite the same as being with people (although I will admit the irony that I wish I could keep working from home starting the first week of April). 

 I am really looking forward go warmer weather so I can add a socializing slice to my pie.  And then there will soon be a gardening/yardwork slice to my pie as well as a dog-walking slice.  Can’t WAIT for a more interesting pie!

What does your pie include these days?  Any new slices coming up for you?

Into the Unknown

In October of 1915, Ernest Shackleton’s ship, The Endurance (oh, the irony), was crushed by pack ice in the Antarctic and then sank.  It had been trapped in the ice for 9 months.  In August of the following year, a rescue ship arrived; all of Shackleton’s crew had survived.

The news from Antarctica this week is that after 100 years, the wreck of The Endurance has been found – nearly 10,000 feet under those frigid waters.  It didn’t move too far in 100 years, it was found just four miles south of the location recorded by the crew when she sank.  According to the search team, it is “in a brilliant state of preservation” and is even sitting upright. 

I’ve read a handful of books about various exploration voyages, some about Shackleton, some about others.  I also see several stories in National Geographic every year about someone heading off into the unknown to do something that no one has ever done before.  None of these stories makes me want to do this kind of thing.  Even today, 100+ years later, I can’t imagine how awful it must have been to be trapped on the ice of Antarctica, listening to the timbers of your ship creaking then finally breaking.  You’d have to be fairly certain at that point that you would never see home/family/friends again.  I don’t even like to set up the tent out of sightline from the car! 

I used to think of myself as adventurous, based on all my travels, but after reading these stories about wandering out into the unknown, I’ve decided my level of adventure tolerance is much lower.  I can live with that.

Have you ever ventured into the unknown?  The partly unknown?

Color Me Surprised

I’m surprised and embarrassed. 

Surprised because two weeks ago I discovered by accident that Andre Norton, a prolific science fiction/fantasy author was a woman.  I didn’t have a clue.

The embarrassment is because not only do I read a lot and consider fantasy one of my chosen genres, but I worked in a bookstore for six years.  Six years of shelving Andre Norton titles with my own hands and not knowing.  How could I not know this?  And despite knowing the name and the genre, I have to admit I’ve never read any Norton.  I’m really don’t know why – it probably has more to do with the fact that at any given moment, there is a list of about 100 books that I’m thinking about as “next on the list”.  I just never got around to her. 

Her very first book wasn’t in the Hennepin County Library, but I did get it from InterLibrary loan, so we’ll see if I go for more after I read this one. 

But I’m still flummoxed that I didn’t know she was a woman.

What’s a big surprise you’ve had recently?  Extra points if you feel like you should have known….