SUNDAY (EVENING) POST

Happy New Year!  No resolutions, no regrets, no promises to keep, just a recap of the week’s reading and viewing:

What I finished this past week: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, reviewed in the post immediately preceding this one and Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin–two books tied for second place on my “Best Books Published in 2016 That I Read” List.  First place went to Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  Look for a review of Swans soon.

Currently Reading: Coming of Age in Mississippi, The Jealous Heart, The Bone People, all novels; and.The Sunday Edition of the Houston Chronicle.

Just Started: Max the Mighty, a YA novel that promises to be a quick but interesting read.

Watched:    Film: The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) a DVD, Christmas present from my brother.

TV: The “Scorpion” Thanksgiving episode (suspenseful as usual); “Poldark” season finale on PBS; “Masterpiece Classic” on PBS, three episodes of this season’s “Indian Summer;” “Gray’s Anatomy” season finale (finished up, was interrupted the previous week), what a cliffhanger!

Accomplished:  All Christmas decorations taken down and packed away for another year and caught up on my correspondence.

I am looking forward to 2017 as a good year optimistic that things, if they change, will change for the better. I hope that you readers will continue to stop by or consider following this blog in the coming year.

 

Sunday (Evening) Post

Here it is Christmas Day evening, and I am so full of good food, I can hardly strike the keys! Quickly, because I need a nap, here is my look at the week back.

What I finished last week:  Nothing!  I was gifted several new books and have been reading in little bits and pieces on the four (or so) books I have going that I am “right in the middle” of things.

What I watched last week: Movie: The Big Fish. I watched this on my DVD player that hooks up to my laptop which arrived by FedEx yesterday (one day service, yet!), Christmas Eve.  While my husband was watching football (His team won by a hair.), I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and will recommend it to my spouse as well.  Everything Tim Burton has a “hand in” is always magical, and this film is no exception.

TV: Two episodes of “Scorpion”, which still keeps me on the edge of my chair, holding my breath–so many twists and turns!  Two Christmas specials: Dolly Parton’s “Circle of Love” and “I Want a Dog for Christmas” Charlie Brown special.( We got to know Snoopy’s brothers). The “Timeless” episode where the team gets involved with Bonnie and Clyde and the sub-plots thicken. “People of Earth” a weird, quirky, thirty minute sit com which has a strange abduction premise and many (often in inappropriate language) zingers and laugh-out-loud-one-liners. The season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” and a few more “mindless TV” shows.  I learned that it’s easy to bake, cook, and clean while “watching” TV.

I think Christmas night calls for no more food and enough reading to keep me from nodding off before eight o’clock.

SUNDAY (EVENING) POST

Well, it’s good to get back to this venue.  I did not do a Sunday (Evening) Post last week (12/11/16) because life got in the way, a planning meeting at school popped up (after the fact of the semester), and I was busy finishing up things, as you will see.

Finished last week:  Ali Smith’s How to be Both, which you will find reviewed here previously.  It was one of the hardest books to review, but one which gave me a great deal of pleasure to attempt.    Astray, a book of short stories by the award winning author, Emma Donoghue, also reviewed previously on this blog.    A cozy mystery, reviewed last week also, The Cat, The Quilt and the Corpse, which was my escape from the craziness of the two-weeks-before-Christmas-hurry-up-and dos.    Conor Kelly and the Four Treasures of Eirean, my first attempt to read a book on my kindle app. (It was easier and more pleasant than I expected.)

Finished on TV:  The season finale of “This Is Us” ,which left me all feel-goody until the cliffhanger at the end.   ” The Big Bang Theory” for this past week.  If this was not the season finale, it should have been.  The baby is here! and (spoiler alert) she takes after Howard’s Mom, judging from her wails and complaints in the nursery.

Continuing to read: The Bone People–disturbing and beautiful at the same time.  I have a luncheon date set for before-going-back-to-school with the friend who recommended the book to me, to discuss it. She re-reads the book every year or so, and I am finding out as I read, why.    Coming of Age in Mississippi, again on the kindle app, and even though I am only on chapter five, I already see why it is a classic and required reading in some classes.

Started: Barely started —Jealous Heart, the sequel to James Lee Burke’s Wayfaring Stranger. We are in River Oaks in Houston, Texas, in the 1950’s and I’m just starting to see the connections with the first book, which are very interesting and promise another great read from Burke.

And, I watched a movie, Max Lucado’s (my favorite inspirational author/see the review of his Before Amen last week) “The Christmas Candle.”  I expected it to be sentimental and smalchtzsy, and in one sense it was, but everyone should watch a Christmas movie and wipe away a sentimental tear or two.  After watching the movie, I have lost my “Bah Humbug” attitude toward Christmas and believe in Christmas miracles, as I told the Sunday School Class this morning.

Which brings me to the last thing on the post (This WAS a long one!).  I had the privilege of subbing for my Sunday School class since our teacher was out with laryngitis and the “Texas crud”, and one thing that really struck home was this:  We were studying Psalm 119 which is an acrostic poem that proclaims the wonders of God’s Laws, precepts, commandments.  Last week I  taught as well, and the lit major in me had a field day with the poetry “angle.”  Today the psalmist was exalting in the good life one was blessed with which made one WANT to obey God’s laws.  One commentator said,” Reading [and meditating on] God’s precepts doesn’t make us sinless, but it makes us sin less.”

 

Sunday (Evening) Post

While wandering among blogs this afternoon, one blog led me to check out another until I found myself reading blogs I was not actually following, but had been re-blogged on one I was.  Among my “findings” was a blog entitled “Live to Write–Write to Live.”  Today’s weekend post started with a quote that gave me hope in these broken times:
“Do not be discouraged at the brokenness of the world.  All things break.  And all things can be mended.  Not with time, as they say, but with intention.  So go.  Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.  The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” I hope younger people, especially, will take these words to heart.  They were attributed to L.R. Knost, evidently a children’s and parenting author.

This past week has had many evidences that we are living in a broken world, not the least of which was two “evacuate the building…do not use the elevators” commands which interrupted my last class day last Wednesday.  After the second evacuation and the second climb up and down stairs, we decided to go home.  There was nothing on the local news about any fire or other “trouble,” so it was probably just a drill on a Wednesday afternoon when few classes are scheduled. In a way, it was a good thing; I was able to go home early,  we missed the usual horrendous traffic, and I was spared making a “This has been such a good group, it is hard to see you go” speech, which is especially true this semester and would be hard to get through emotionally. Ok, so I’m an old softie!

So, one of the things I finished last week was the school semester.  Another was the multi-stranded novel Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke, which I reviewed in the post immediately preceding this one.  Today’s jam-packed-full Houston Chronicle, Sunday Edition is also done for another week, and I am up to date on my New Yorkers with the exception of three fiction offerings in three back editions.

What I am still reading (and still bemused by and enchanted with) is How to Be Both, a novel by Ali Smith.  It keeps unfolding and yet re-connecting to the beginning in the strangest of ways with very few stops, pauses, no chapters to speak of, definitely a unique book. This book will certainly require a re-read (or two or three) to get to all the “meat” of the author’s thoughts.  How I will ever review this book presents a conundrum.

What I am still watching:  Up to date on “This is Us” with just the season finale (Christmas episode) left to see; “Poldark” on PBS; “Timeless” which is still timely (pun intended); “The Big Bang Theory,” which will still be funny when the “guys and gals” are Senior Citizens; and “Gray’s Anatomy,” the best soap opera on TV.

What I am looking forward to:  Writing Christmas letters to go in Christmas cards–although I made the mistake of buying “cute”, tiny cards featuring a tiny little songbird which practically requires origami skills to place 8×11 inch letters in such tiny envelopes. That and visiting the newly opened Goodwill Store here in Alvin to look for Christmas baskets to put presents and baked goods (should I get that far!) will be my major undertakings for the week ahead.  I will require one trip back to the university and some yard work replacing all the bulbs/plants I dug up to make way for the new fence (and that has to be done before the first freeze due Friday).  All this will keep me plenty busy in the week ahead.

I hope your week to come is calmer and stress free.  

SUNDAY (EVENING) POST

This will be brief because I have spent the day finishing grading final papers and starting averaging grades for the semester.  Wednesday of this week will be the last time I see this particular group/class of students.  I have become very attached to them and am glad to report that all are doing well.

What I Am Reading:  Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke, which is the first book in his trilogy about the Holland family.  This first book starts during WWII and I am currently in River Oaks, Houston, in the 50’s.  Two buddies from the war have gone into the oil business, one’s wife is a big Hollywood actress and the other’s is being investigated as a Communist during the 50’s Red Scare/Witch Hunts that took place.  Life isn’t easy.

Conor Kelly and the Four Treasures of Eirean which takes place 4,000 years ago and is my first step into studying/reading Irish/Gaelic mythology.  It is also the first book I am reading on my new Kindle app on my laptop.

Ali Smith’s How to Be Both, which I don’t fully understand but am enjoying a great deal for the wonderful writing, and I’m already planning to read it again when I finish, maybe during Spring Break when it will seem like a brand new book.

The Arthritis Cure by Theodoakis, Adderly, and Fox, which was a totally new concept when published in 1997 (treatment via Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate) which I intend to discuss with my family doctor next week when I see her.  I am in need of relief from osteoarthritis.  (It could be much worse, rheumatoid arthritis, so I feel blessed in spite of the constant pain.)

What I Watched Last week:  Lots of mindless TV for frequent breaks from paper grading and to rest up–My favorites so far are the following: “Timeless,” where I went to the Alamo and was involved in Watergate in two different episodes; “Gray’s Anatomy”, the medical soap opera I think I’ll never give up on; “This Is Us”–It looked good so I taped it.  I have watched three episodes and am so glad I have followed it, excellent acting; “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” which can be summed up in one word–delightful!

I have also started Christmas baking and decorating the house just for the two of us.  Pretty soon I will start in on Christmas cards and letters, for some early birds of our acquaintance send theirs out Thanksgiving weekend–no kidding. I refuse to send ANY until December first. I will probably be sending the last around December 23rd.

I am opening my unfinished, in-progress- house to any PWR members who want to get in out of the shopping hustle and bustle for a few minutes, put their feet up on my sea chest (coffee table substitute) and drink coffee and take a few deep breaths. Mi casa est su casa!

SUNDAY (EVENING) POST

Exhaustion is my new middle name.  I was so busy today having phone visits for my birthday (which isn’t until tomorrow) that I forgot my “grandson” was going to help me load a book onto my computer.  Now, neighbor, that’s too busy.

My birthday weekend started Friday with a card from my book buddy/husband’s cousin who included a check for $26.00, just the exact price to buy myself a hard back book of my choice.  What a thoughtful gift!  In the same day’s mail, a former student sent me a card, a postcard for my collection from Boston which she recently visited, and a tote with a map of the “original” city of Boston.  It even is waterproofed and snaps shut.  My husband of 52 years led our Sunday School class in singing Happy Birthday to me and two others who have birthdays this week, and I especially liked the “And many mo ore…” they added to the end of the song.  There were several cards and special gifts from friends some of whom I’ve known for 30 or more years. My dear husband made a trip to Kroger’s (a gift in itself) to do the weekly shopping, and he brought home my favorite cake–white cake with white coconut frosting–which we had for supper along with a huge glass of milk.  There’s enough cake for breakfast and several times tomorrow, the actual birthday, and half a cake left to freeze.

All of a sudden I feel “loved and adored” which was the “angel message” a popular blogger posted on her blog today.  I also feel blessed, beyond compare or deserving.  Thanks to everyone who has already started my BD rolling.  It is not eight o’clock, and I think I’ll read until (early) bedtime!

God bless.

Sunday (Evening) Post

What I enjoyed this past week: Visiting with friends as I borrowed a coffee pot and card tables and chairs in preparation for yesterday’s brunch.  Having coffee and forgotten cookies (70’s recipe to go with the 60’s percolator coffee pot) with my class  Wednesday as they let their rough drafts for final papers “percolate” in their subconscious for a week and used the first hour of class to peer critique each other’s rough drafts. A necessities shopping trip Saturday with a big enough investment to call it my birthday present. And, the AAUW November brunch, here, Saturday.

The first people arrived at 9:30 and helped set up.  I provided turkey and dressing casserole, and another friend brought sweet potatoes and cranberry/orange relish.  A third friend brought a lovely veggie tray with dip and a fruit plate.  Cookies from Aldi’s (think Sam’s Club) was the assortment accompanied by four kinds of coffee and made a nice, light dessert.  Afterwards, we packed toiletries overnight kits for the Women’s Shelter and although I do not know what the “count” was, it took three shopping bags and two large plastic bags to carry all the “kits” to the delivery lady’s car. The last two guests who were “catching up” did not leave until nearly three, providing a “cool-down” for me. Sunday School this morning put last week in perspective and gave me hope for the week ahead.

What I am looking forward to this coming week: Finishing A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and hopefully reviewing it as well. The tree man coming to remove a pear tree that has never produced a single pear and has lovely blossoms that I am sure are a nuisance to both back and side neighbors’ pools, and the same tree man  trimming the broken branches of the Mungo Pines in the front yard.  I spent a good forty minutes this afternoon harvesting the mini-pinecones and some pieces of greenery before the tree men take the broken limbs away. I will be the most popular supplier of pinecones for the coming Thanksgiving table turkeys and for the Christmas brandy snifters filled with mini-pinecones for the upcoming Christmas season.  A birthday coffee for a girlfriend who will be 82 and who deserves a fete in her honor.  It will be a small group–seven counting me–but the house is already clean, so why not kill two birds with one cleaning? Class Wednesday where final papers will be turned in and some time after the students leave, I’ll remain to get a head start on grading them. A friend’s retirement party as head librarian at the local library, and since our Third Tuesday book club has already given her a party, I don’t have to bake or bring anything!

It promises to be a good week!

Sunday (Evening) Post

Finished:  The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant.  What a delicious, thought-provoking read!  Will probably review it here tomorrow. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, a wonderful graphic novel/memoir (reviewed here yesterday) and the Sunday Edition of The Houston Chronicle my Sunday afternoon “guilty pleasure.” A children’s book, Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris , illustrated by Vincent X Kirsch.  I will review this soon; it is special.

Started: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (author of Rules of Civility).  I am only on page 109, the beginning of Book Two and am already asking, “What else has this author written? I want to read more of his stuff soon.”

Looking at next: 25 reviews of chapters of Zinsser’s On Writing Well, which have to be graded by Wednesday.  Since the students had their pick of one of eight chapters, all eight chapters had to be read first (which was a delight). I have been wanting to “get this in” for several semesters now and finally was able to.  I am not complaining but looking forward to grading for a change!

This was a busy week for us all.  Some “good” busy, some not so good.  The cat, Lena, is upset because she seldom has so many people in and out of her house.  A man’s home may be his castle, but so is a cat’s home, especially when the cat is fifteen years old (that’s 79 in human years–it is figured based on chronological  age and the weight of the cat.)

Before I wax philosophical, I’m going to go start those papers.

 

Sunday (Evening) Post

What I am reading:   Not much.  This week has been filled with grading papers, leaving very little time for reading.  I am continuing to read The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, The Pleasures of Shopping and Why Clothes Matter by Linda Grant.  I am taking my time reading one chapter here, another there, making this the perfect pick up and put down book. If I had to make up a title, it would be The Philosophy of Fashions and Shopping for Clothes.

What I am watching:  No time for TV or movies–busy week.

What I want to read soon:  The Trouble With Lexie, a novel by Jessica Anya Blau, The Best We Could Do an illustrated memoir by The Bui (like a graphic novel), and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which I have checked out from the local library.

I still have a lesson plan to finish for Wednesday and two latest issues of The New Yorker to catch up on, so I will wish you Happy Reading and Goodnight. 

Sunday (Evening) Post

Here we are again at Sunday evening?  Where did the time get to? I was so busy this week, I met myself coming and going, but did MAKE some time for books and things “bookish.”

What I finished reading this week:  The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell.  This was “due” for my Third Tuesday Book Club at the local library, and I finished it just in time–literally (in the original sense of the word).  As I baked a cake for our wonderful head librarian’s retirement party at the book club meeting, I read the last couple of chapters of the book Tues. morning. (That’s cutting it too close!) Also I finished a cozy mystery which I reviewed here last post–a most refreshing “escape” read. I finished the first two chapters of Acts in time for this morning’s job of subbing for our Sunday School teacher.  It took a lot of digging and thinking and reading commentaries and comments from the writer of our student quarterly, so quite a bit of reading was involved. ( Another “close one.” I finished the “finishing touches” (pun intended) on the lesson last night around 9:30 pm.)

What I am reading now: I am still reading on The True American by Anad Giridharadas, which is really a good read, but “something” ( a library book due, a TV show, a movie on  the computer that was just too tempting,…) keeps popping up, and I know I can keep this one until Thanksgiving or later if necessary (It is on loan from a friend).I am also reading or am reading and looking at two articles in Image, a local (Brazoria County) magazine by a woman who was once my eighth grade student and is now a free lance writer.  Both are on local museums (both in small towns).  She also took the pictures for the articles which are as well done as the articles themselves.As usual, I am reading the Sunday edition of The Houston Chronicle, my usual Sunday afternoon pastime.  Ok, so today I’ve only gotten as far as the comics! I’ve been cooking for the coming week.

What I am starting right now: Three library books, including The Thoughtful Dresser,and The Little Prince,which is the November book club “assignment.”  I have seen the film and read the book ages ago, but the prospect of a discussion prompts a re-read.

What I am watching:  The Big Bang (caught up to date) and the 9:00 hour of the Today Show on NBC which is called “Trending Today” and I tape faithfully so I won’t “miss anything.” (caught up to date). What I have given up on: The Good Life.  I feel I gave it a fair try but found myself “doing other things” while supposedly watching.

Two movies: Into the Woods, which was a “happy accident” and a great movie with a marvelous cast, wonderful songs and superb acting.  The movie I intended to see, A Walk in the Woods, with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte (and Emma Thompson!) I finished today after lunch.  It did not follow the book by Bill Bryson, but in all fairness, it did say, “adapted from the book” and Bryson was in on the planning of the film.  It was good, but I kept reminding myself, “That was a Hollywood touch.”  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the film as a stand alone.

What I intended:  I intended to participate in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Marathon, but life caught up with me and overwhelmed me instead.  I did visit Debbie Nance’s hosting hour yesterday from 2-3 and eavesdropped on blogging friends who have become as close as really flesh and blood friends because of their clever comments and kind commitment to follow my blog.

Thank you, all of you, who have stopped in this evening (even if you are stopping in Tues. or later! Ha!) Please continue to stay in touch, and thanks for all the hours of “happy reading time” well invested in reading your posts, reviews, pass-alongs, and musings.

Rae