Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Tuesday--Where Are You?

So, where are YOU?

I am on the island of Guernsey, in the English Channel. I am with Elizabeth George in "The Place of Hiding" as her recurring characters, the St. Jameses, are privately investigating a murder on the island. It is quite entertaining. However, this is a later Elizabeth George mystery, and as is sometimes the case, not as good as her earlier works. That said, I am about 4/5 through the book and still have no clue whodunit...

Another distraction, I suppose. However, I would never have known so much about the island of Guernsey had I not read this book.

Monday, March 30, 2009


This is a reposting. The original post was deleted because of stray html that I did not recognize. There was a pretty rude comment to the original post so not wanting to take any chances, I deleted the whole thing.

A little history...I was about eleven or twelve when the bicycle accident happened. That would make it around 1960 or 1961.

Here it is again.

Today I read that a woman exposed to DDT as a young girl is five times more likely to develop breast cancer. Well, now I wonder if it was DDT that spewed out of the crop duster plane as I watched enthralled from the “safety” of my living room. My mother thought it might help stop filbert worms. And, was the powdery substance coating the green bean vines DDT? Breathed it, ate it, absorbed it through the skin as I picked those beans. Were my eyes swollen shut from DDT after the bicycle accident? My mom picked gravel out of my arms and face, and sent me back to the fields. Not that I am blaming my mother, she didn’t know any better. So what if there is no history of breast cancer in our family? Those grandmothers were not exposed to DDT. Who invented it? Who made money off it? Who is still living in luxury from the interest earned on the profits? Just wondering.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday in the Garden

As you may have noticed, I am adopting ideas from other book blogs for routine postings. "It's Tuesday, Where Are You?", and "Wordless Wednesday", for example. While someone else in the blogosphere may be doing this already, I am going to attempt a weekly "Sunday in the Garden" posting. Today's premiere entry epitomizes spring in western Oregon. The picture was taken at the end of a raging hailstorm. As I write this post, 20 minutes later, the sun is out and la la la la la.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Uncharted Territory

This afternoon I heard the mayor of Fargo, North Dakota tell NPR that Fargo was in "uncharted territory" with this flood emergency. Ice jams, swollen river, snow, thousands massed along the riverbank making and stacking sandbags. Heated sandbags...they don't work as well when frozen.

My heart goes out to the people of Fargo and to others in this "uncharted territory".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Tuesday...Where Are You?

I am in Ireland and New Orleans/Washington D.C.

It's a bit of a writing exercise, actually. I thought it would be valuable to read through a few popular paperbacks to see what popular fiction is up to these days. I usually read "literary" novels and nonfiction so this is a departure from the usual for me. A sort of survey. I am looking for characterization, setting, dialogue, pace, how the book is structured.

One book has been made into a movie. I have read the book before and seen the movie several times. I picked this one because I wanted to understand how a "thriller" is put together. The other book is a "romance". I have never read it and doubt it has ever been made into a movie. Same deal here, how is a "romance" put together? My book has aspects of both genres, so like I said, this is a survey.

That said, I picked the wrong "romance" book. The opening chapter gives an overview of a small Irish village and introduces the main characters, most of whom are children at this point in the story. OK so far. Then, the following chapters (I am up to Chapter 6) are focused vignettes concentrating on one character. I can see where it is going...the life of the village is told through these vignettes. It is a fun read, but not really what I was looking for.

The "thriller" has been in the back of my mind since I started this project. At one point (while waiting for my first granddaughter to be born), I tried to deconstruct this book, line by line. It grew tedious and I put it away (M is 18 months old now). Now I am focusing on chapter by chapter, much more productive. This is not to say I will not come back and do the deconstruction later.

OK, here are the books.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ballymaloe Cookery School

After a little internet searching, I found the website for the Ballymaloe Cookery School mentioned in my post about old Gourmet magazines. It looks like a thriving concern and a place I would love to visit. The Saturday newsletters will have to suffice for now...check out the website, there is a lot going on at Ballymaloe.


It's a rainy weekend here so I plan to find a Ballymaloe recipe to play around with.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Much of a Muchness

"They look much of a muchness." George Orwell, referring to a parade of mostly Senagalese soldiers on maneuvers, Morocco, 1939. From 3/12/39 Orwell Diaries.

Much of a muchness. Thinking of this phrase, I am wondering if there are other obvious examples. Human endeavors: Sports figures, cheerleaders (related to the sports thing), soldiers (very obvious, obviously), girl scouts, boy scouts, rotary, fraternal organizations in general, sororities, clubs of all kinds, generally groups of like-minded individuals. Animal kingdom: Any flock, herd, pride, infestation, on and on. Plant kingdom: Forests, wheat fields, tulips.

Much of a muchness.


Spring...spring season, springtide, springtime, seedtime, grass; vernal equinox. So says Ralph's thesaurus. By the way, thank you Deb for the Ralph Segal obit. Let's agree this is our Ralph, OK?

Spring...new, innocent, pure, ideal, ready, the time of coming into being, dawn, the beginning, a cutting, a slip, a sapling, the rising of the sea, a bound, a jump, a leap. Spring fever.

Spring...a promise.

Late snow is an insult to spring.

Other reflections on spring:

"Spring had really come.
The south opened like a mouth.
It blew one long breath, humid and warm,
and flowers quivered inside the seeds,
and the round earth began to ripen like a fruit."
Jean Giono, REGAIN

From "Provence: A Country Almanac" by Louisa Jones

"Colette, traveling south on the famous "Blue Train" from Paris, describes a Provencal spring:

We just passed Avignon and I might have thought, yesterday, after sleeping only two hours, that I had slept two months: Spring had come to meet me, a fairytale spring, the exuberant, brief, irresistible spring of the South, rich, fresh, with its spurts of sudden greenery, its grasses already high, which sway and ripple in the wind, its mauve Judas trees, its paulownias the color of gray periwinkles, its laburnums, wisteria, and roses...My head has been spinning since Avignon. The northern mists have melted over there, behind the cypress hedges bent by the force of the mistral. The silky murmur of tall reeds came through the open train window that day, along with the scent of honey, of pine, of varnished buds, of lilac about to bloom, that bitter smell of lilac before it flowers, a blend of turpentine and almond. The cherry trees cast violet shadows on the reddish earth, already parched with thirst." From Colette, THE VAGABOND

This blog has survived one season. Let's journey together into the next. Thank you to everyone who visits, and especially to everyone who comments. I LOVE comments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Where is the Eiffel Tower?

Well, in this picture, it is obvious...just over there. Life is full of regrets, and one of mine is being twice in Paris and missing out on seeing the Eiffel Tower. It does not seem possible, but it is true. Two wild taxi rides from train station to train station...and not once did I catch a glimpse of the Tower. Ah well, something to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring Forward

So, we move the clocks forward one hour Saturday night, before sleep. Why? Does cutting an hour off at the beginning of a day and adding it at the tail end make for a longer day? No. I don't get it. I hear Arizona has opted out of changing the clock. Probably the only reason I can think of to move there...

Speaking of time...I have a bedside clock on order from LL Bean. It is a very cool, retro looking clock. When the "alarm" goes off, the whole clock gets "light", kind of like sunrise. If one does not respond to the "light", then it beeps. I love the concept. We'll see how I like it "real time".

More about time...I would like to create more structure into my daily life. I know it is pretty hard to teach an old dog new tricks, even if it is the old dog trying to teach itself. However, I do think that if I am ever going to write my version of the great American novel, I have to set aside time every day (except maybe one day a week for piddling) and WORK on it! A friend of mine warned me to beware of the distractions, and boy, was she right. I have it all in my mind, albeit kind of jumbled up, but it's there. Here are my new "daylight savings time" resolutions:

Make a list of research still undone and DO IT
Write every day (take the laptop out to the deck and make the most of the extra daylight, right?)
This is a biggie...decide once and for all whether I am writing a "story" or a "literary novel".
Research agents and process for publishing (thinking optimistically)

My favorite season is still autumn, when we get to turn the clocks "back" and hunker down inside by the fire. But, I admit, gaining appeal as I enter the third stage of life, are warmer days, twilight at 10 p.m., the surprise of a bat, that soft feeling of a summer night. So, I guess the welcome mat is out for daylight savings time.

Let us all "spring forward"!