Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Cloud Cuckoo Land








Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

     I wish I was smart enough to truly critique this book for you but I’m not. All I can tell you is this was a story about a story. A story that follows four children through time who are searching for a way to cope. The story is theirs for the time it is theirs. At the time they discover the story, they are hungry for it. It guides them, it protects them, they protect it with their lives. They are holding as theirs a story called Cloud Cuckoo Land by Antonius Diogenes, an ancient codex, a story that transforms all of their lives.
     There is Seymour, Anna, Omeir and Konstance. And Zeno. So, five. We travel from ancient times to the far, far future. We travel with them through libraries and meet librarians that keep us alive. We cheer them on and cringe in fear. But always we hope with them and for them.
     I know I’m being cryptic but what can I tell you? I’m not good enough for this book. I can simply tell you I immediately wanted to read the advance copy because of Anthony Doerr. I can tell you I’ve waited for a book like this for a long time. A book that has depth, imagination, a book that is thought provoking, a book that I would think about when I wasn’t reading it and couldn’t wait to get back to. A book that, with every page, gave me an “ah HA!” moment. This was a story I was hungry for and knew as I was reading it I wasn’t up to the job of reviewing it because this is a book that both can be enjoyed for the story but also discussed at length in a classroom for months. Such digging you could do with this! And if I was in one of those classrooms I’d realize so much more and see so much more!
      All I can say is what’s said in the book: Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you. Yes, that’s all I can say. I can only promise you won’t be sorry. But take your time and savor it.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Books and quilts, quilts and books

 I went to a quilt exhibit this morning.  It was tailor made for me: books and quilts.  Each quilt in the exhibit was inspired by a book, mostly a children's book if you consider most but certainly not all of the quilts were in the children's room of the Georgetown Public Library.  There were seventy-four quilts in all, scattered all through the library and it was really, really fun to wander around.  You could vote if you had a real favorite or thought a technique was exceptional.  

I took a photo of some,  the ones I liked the best.  Have a look:

This Santa quilt greeted you as you walked in the door and truly, you couldn't help but smile.  I smiled and said aloud, "of course!"  It was a perfect Night Before Christmas!

I first heard of Schrodinger's Cat from Sheldon and I still don't understand it but I loved that the quilter was inspired by this.
What better way to honor sacred spaces than a cathedral windows quilt?
The snowy day was always one of my favorite books for images so this one made me smile big.
Circle houses again but this time, Harry Potter inspired.  Notice the Quidditch circles.

This was another perfect interpretation of a story.  Can you see Laura's dolly in this?
No book for this one, just a quilt representing us.

This one was my third favorite behind the Santa houses and Little House on the Prairie. I like Thanksgiving most of all the holidays.

Such  a fun exhibit, books and quilts, quilts and books.  Cudos to the group that thought of this.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


 I'm done.  Finished.  Moving on.  I would like to say it's been fun but it's only been tolerable.  I've decided I don't need nor want another child, pet or hobby. We'd been gone for a week and I thought for sure if left to her own devices Montana would just quietly die in the refrigerator, starved, ignored, unstirred.  But oh, no.  

I opened the fridge and told PH I thought she was dead.  I was free of her. I took her out and stirred her and fed her, just to make sure and dang if she didn't start bubbling away. So I kept feeding her for a few days, and sure enough, she grew and grew and grew. 

I had decided I was done with this Pompeii thing.  It was fun while it lasted but I wasn't going to make it a career.  I thought Sunday I'd make a straight loaf of  sourdough bread.   And some rolls! How about some rolls for Wednesday's company dinner?  Sure!  Well, the rolls turned out good and to know that I had to eat one but that meant there weren't six left for dinner Wednesday so PH and I just ate the rest.  The loaf though?  Squirrel food.  

I told PH at the end of the day I'm done. I've wasted a lot of flour, time and too many brain cells on this sourdough thing. I have to find a new home for Montana.  After giving it a few hours thought I realized my neighbor likes too cook and she would be a real possibility for adopting Montana.  I asked, she said yes!

I really thought I was going to have to wrap her in a receiving blanket, put her in a cardboard box and leave her on church steps. 

As I was putting her in a jar this morning I told PH there was a lot of her and would Friend Cheryl really want this much?  He said, "just pour it down the drain."  I looked at him horrified, "that would be like putting a pillow over your grandma's head!  Montana is over 100 years old and obviously still breathing!"  I couldn't just KILL her.

She has a good home now with  someone who knows how to handle sour dough starter and I don't have to worry about her anymore.  I will be just fine with the instant active dry yeast from the grocery store if and when I venture back into the world of bread.  But don't hold your breath.  Just be happy for Montana.  And Friend Cheryl said Montana would come back to me someday reincarnated as blueberry muffins.

Monday, September 13, 2021

we've been gone

 We've been gone. For a week.  Even though PH is technically retired he is still asked to go on this trip to the Upper Peninsula each year and sell the area.  I go along for the ride, the scenery, to give him company, to keep snacks moving.  It's a really nice trip and we look forward to it but we never know from one year to the next if it will be the last so we treat it like it is.

There are lots of trees, lots of water, not a lot of people, no big cities, just medium to small sized ones. There's a lot of space between towns and cities and villages and people and that means a lot of driving.  Really, if you lived here you have to go a long way to get groceries. Or fabric.
This is it, as far north as you can go in Michigan unless you board a ferry here for a few hours ride to Isle Royal, and that attracts hikers and rustic campers but not us.  I'd like to see the moose and bear that are there but I'm not rustic.   This is the tip of Copper Harbor and it's absolutely beautiful country.  I asked the owner of the bookstore what brought her here and she said forty years ago she worked a summer job there and never went back. Winters are the definition of harsh.
 PH kept stopping to watch the waves.  It was really windy and at night it rained so the waves were  very active.  Lake Superior is rarely calm but during this day the waves were gorgeous.  We made a turn in the road and saw a windsurfer holding his own. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Mad Women's Ball







The Mad Women's Ball by Victoria Mas

     After they stopped burning us at the stake they put us in asylums. That was so much easier because the asylums were very legal yet not lethal for maybe years and by then who would know or remember you were even there? It was so easy, you see, to find yourself dropped off by a member of your family at the front steps of an asylum and never given another thought. It didn’t take much.

     Since the 17th century women were “sorted,” as the author says. She tells us first came the poor, the beggars, then the depraved and prostitutes and then later the mad women, the hysterics and simpletons. For some, you only needed to have an opinion and speak it. Yet, for all its ease in dispensing with problem women family members the aristocracy didn’t use the service often because they didn’t want the stigma to follow them into the dinners and drawing rooms. Yet, it did happen.   

     This story takes place in 1885 Paris and Eugenie has been dropped off at the front door of the Hospital Salpetriere by her aristocratic father and reluctant brother. Her “crime?” She can see the dead and made the mistake of telling her trusted grandmother, who told her father and now here she is among the mad or otherwise and examined periodically by a room full of doctors who perform experiments on them in a thinly veiled attempt to cure them.

     Eugenie immediately sees someone very near and dear to Beatrice, one of the nurses at the hospital and yes, it’s hard to believe someone who tells you a deceased loved one is in the room but Eugenie lets the dead speak for themselves and Beatrice has to decide whether to listen.

     The Mad Women’s ball takes place once a year at the beginning of Lent. In the weeks leading up to it the patients are excited with the diversion planning how they would be dressed in gowns of their making or choosing and allowed to mingle with the aristocracy of Paris. The aristocracy is there to gawk. It’s quite the event no matter which side you are on.

      I’m not going to tell you anymore about the story. I read this in two nights. I’m surprised it took that long.