Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day

I didn't do it on purpose, but on this Memorial Day, I'm reading Few Eggs and No Oranges:  The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-1945.  I started reading this last year.

Diaries fascinate me.  I love to read about the details of everyday life.  I've been keeping a diary, off and on, mostly on, since 5th grade (many, many years ago).  I've posted about that before.

I have several books I started to read at least a year ago and which I'm determined to finish this year.  Feel free to query me occasionally about how I'm getting on with Gormenghast, Don Quixote, and Travels of William Bartram.  They're all interesting but not gripping.  Anyway, I picked up where I left off with Hodgson's diaries of World War II.

What people endured in the British Isles, Europe, and, I suppose, in other places during WWII is unfathomable to me.  Waiting night after night for bombs to fall, wondering if it would be your house next and whether you'll survive.  People dying when the bomb shelters collapsed or were flooded.  People trapped under debris.  Little food, disruption of utilites, fires.  We've been spared that in the United States.  Hodgson says she wonders if she'll be like the girl in Liverpool who sat writing in her diary as a bomb fell on her.  Her diary was found but she never was.

Members of my family have fought in every American war including the French and Indian War.  War is awful, war should be avoided, but, on this weekend of remembrance, I thank those who fought, some giving their lives, others wounded mentally and / or physically, hoping that their war would be the last war.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Big Trees

If you're reading this blog post, you probably know that my husband and I finally escaped from Philadelphia to the small city where I was born, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Last fall, an old and very good friend suggested we look at a house two streets over from the house he and his wife live in in an old (1929) residential development.  We fell in love and bought the house.  We're still trying to decide where to hang the pictures and what color to paint the upstairs.  But we're here and we love it.

One of the things we love about the neighborhood is the wealth of mature trees.  The streets are narrow, without sidewalks.  Trees meet overhead to form green tunnels.  I love it.  So I thought I'd show you some of our trees.  In the second to last photo, you'll note a very tall, straight tree.  This is a Dawn Redwood, a prehistoric tree thought to be extinct until it was discovered in China in the 1940s.  We have a seedling of it in a garden behind the house.  I'll have to move it because these trees can grow 2 to 3 feet per year and are enormous, 165 feet or more.  The last photo shows our house, tucked under two huge trees.  In the fall, our front yard is swimming with acorns  -  and squirrels!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

April Books and Feeling Overwhelmed

This will be a short post.  I only finished four books in April.  I finished another today and can finish one more tomorrow, if I get the time.  But those two are May books.

We're still getting settled in our new house.  We just painted the bedroom closet.  There's a huge walk-in closet upstairs.  I love it and really hate moving my clothes downstairs.  But I get it.  I'll leave the winter clothes and seldom worn shoes in the walk-in and bring lighter clothes and shoes I wear all the time downstairs.

I unwrapped all the artwork yesterday.  There are originals by local artists, there are prints of  paintings I can't afford, and there are original prints, if that makes sense.  I hang the prints in my bathroom and plan to hang the originals in the living room and dining room.  I had been thinking that we had less wall space in this house because it has more windows.  But it also has more rooms, so there is more wall space.  Now it's just deciding which pictures to hang where.

We've been spending a lot of time watching birds at the feeders.  After living in Philly for twelve years and seeing almost exclusively pigeons, English sparrows, starlings, the occasional hawk and cardinal, we're overwhelmed (not what I meant in the title of this post) by birds we haven't seen since Marshfield and a couple of new birds.  We have goldfinches, chipping sparrows, white-throated sparrows, probably more sparrows that I haven't identified yet, blue jays, cardinals, Carolina wrens, cowbirds, catbirds, turkey vultures, and more.  The more unusual birds we've seen are the brown thrasher we saw this morning, the two pairs of rose-breasted grosbeaks, which we've never seen before, and the indigo bunting, which I've only seen once before.  A hummingbird has been checking out the hummingbird feeder but hasn't stopped to drink.  It's like an avian Cirque du Soleil!

So, here's the list of April books:

The Wench is Dead  -  Colin Dexter

Die Trying  -  Lee Child

Free Air  -  Sinclair Lewis

A Darker Domain  -  Val McDermid

I have to say that none of them were really terrific.  Or maybe it's just the mood I've been in.  I keep feeling that when I'm reading, I really should be doing something else.  It makes it hard to 'get lost in a book'.  Don't you always feel a little depressed or disappointed when you spend the time to read a book and it fails you?  I keep hoping that I can find more time to read.  How do you find time to read?  Before bed?  In the morning?  Do you take hours during the day?  And do you ever feel like you're wasting your life if you're not reading?!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

My Father's Craft

Since I mentioned the chess board and the little bowl my late father made, I thought I'd show them to you.

My father, James Armstrong Hindman, was a skilled craftsman, but he was the kind of person who did not want to do what he did for work in his spare time.  My mother would get so frustrated because just getting him to throw together a simple bookcase for us was almost impossible.  That said, my sister and I each have bookcases he made and we each have tall clocks for which he made the cases.  We treasure them all.

Here are the chess board and the bowl:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Library: The (Almost) Finished Product

Here it is, the almost finished library.  I have to tidy up a bit.  I just unpacked the boxes of my 'toys' and haven't decided where they should all live.  I'm glad we put shelves in the closet for the toys, my blank journals, my art stuff, and my notecards.  Yes, I still send notes to people;  one jokester in the crowd e-mailed me that when he got one of my notes, he was astounded and almost called the Smithsonian to tell them about this archaic form of communication that had arrived!

The room faces east, so I have direct sunlight to deal with.  I ordered bamboo matchstick blinds, which I hope will solve the problem without making the room look like a tomb.  The last photo is the view from the windows.  There's a corner window, too, but it faces my lovely neighbors.  I didn't want to invade their privacy by showing you their house.  I would also love to have a small sofa or a love seat.  I like to have my feet up while reading and to snuggle down.

Unpacking the "Library Stuff" boxes was like Christmas.  My library in Marshfield had a fireplace with a mantel, built in curio shelves, and wide window sills, so my toys and curios had lots of places to live.  In Philadelphia, there was no mantel and only one window sill, which I couldn't use because that's where the a/c went in the summer.  I hadn't even bothered to unpack several boxes, so I had forgotten about my little cast iron bear, my lion's head staple remover, my jaguar (some sort of big cat) ink blotter (I use fountain pens), and my tiger leaping through a hoop of fire.  I was delighted to see them again.

BUT, I was not happy to find more books after I'd already sorted and shelved what I thought were all my books except the TBR (and given away) books.  I found half a box of gardening books after I'd already shelved my gardening books.  I'd rather not have books stuffed on top of other books, but what was I to do?  I refuse to double shelve.  I need to see my books and don't want any of them to be hiding behind others.

In the second photo, you can see the board my father 'made' for my sister and I.  He was a talented cabinetmaker, so this didn't tax his skill.  I have an inlaid chess / checkers board he made for my grandmother and a curved inlaid bowl he made.  But he 'made' this flat board for my sister and I to use as a desk when we sat in chairs to do our homework.  It's all marked up with names and initials and this and that, but I almost panicked when I thought it got lost in a move.

We're so happy with this house, this neighborhood.  Believe me, I know how lucky I am and I hope I never take any of this for granted.

Now that the library is finished except for some tinkering, I hope to get back to reading!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Just a Few Shelves Short

The shelves are full and I still have 2 or 3 boxes of books without a home.  I did realize the other day that there's room for a small bookcase under the side window in the room.  I guess I'll have to use that.  I was so hoping to get all my books on the shelves.  I should be grateful that I have so many books and that I have shelves to put them on.  Many people have much bigger problems.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Library Progress and Books Read in March

Things are moving along in my library.  I've shelved pretty much everything except my gardening and nature books.  I have three completely empty shelves and two partially empty shelves.  I have nine boxes of books that I'd like to keep in the library.  What do you think?  Close, right?

Will they?  Won't they?  

As for what I've been reading, I've done better this past month than I have in months.  I finished eight books.  Still not my average, but better than the paltry four I finished in February.  In March, I finished:

The Bookseller  -  Mark Pryor

Chasing Cezanne  -  Peter Mayle

Le Road Trip  -  Vivian Swift

McNally's Trial  -  Lawrence Sanders

Sulfer Springs  -  William Kent Krueger

Something Light  -  Margery Sharp

Death and Letters  -  Elizabeth Daly

Before We Were Yours  -  Lisa Wingate

So what if they were mostly mysteries?  I like mysteries.  Shelving my books makes me want to lock myself in, with no distractions, to lose myself in more substantial books.  Maybe one day soon.