In the High Peaks

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Giving Thanks to Bloggers and Books

Tomorrow we will have a very quiet Thanksgiving. For the first time in many years, we will be on our own and we will not have a turkey. We will have filet mignon, potatoes au gratin in a cream sauce, butternut squash, cranberry apple chutney, a diverse salad, and a French Apple Cake,  a recipe that I first tried last year at Thanksgiving. We had planned to have a Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant with a friend an hour to the south of us, but due to Sandy's condition--we unexpectedly  cannot leave her alone at this point because she is still in "a cone" and our friends are too busy to drive all the way up to see us and eat a dinner I might have served here.

But, I think, what an opportunity. Maybe we can dig into a long movie we haven't had time to see! Maybe we can binge watch one of the many shows we've been dying to see. So I don't feel as sad as I might have.

When we give thanks this Thanksgiving, Ken and I agree we give thanks for Sandy, and how happy we are to have such a remarkable dog with us.
And I give thanks to all of my blogging friends. May you have a peaceful holiday, and if you don't celebrate it, may you enjoy reading loads of books this weekend--or enjoy shopping for them! Do tell!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Writing Fiction, and TBR Books and Utter Drivel

I know I've mentioned that I'm taking an online novel-writing class through Grub Street, a wonderful Boston-based writers' collaborative, a non-profit, that hosts seminars, classes, and, thank goodness, online classes for people like me, hundreds of miles from anywhere.
The class I'm taking has been so good for my writing. Grub Street places a priority on each class forming a strong community, where feedback to each other flows freely, and instruction filters down from a published novelist and experienced teacher. I have only kudos to offer our instructor, my classmates, and Grub Street! I've signed up for another class for mid-January through the end of February.
Does this class keep me busy? And how!

I'm reading While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt, a gothic novel set on an unidentified Scottish island (contemporary). The protagonist is an American woman in her very early forties, an artist, who seems to be escaping a horrific past. As all gothics go, setting is extremely important, and this one is no exception. The only problem is I'm not as keen on gothics that prominently feature a ghost, and Merritt's ghost is eerily similar (in some ways identical  to Tess Gerritsen's in The Shape of Night.) BUT, I will point out that Merritt's novel pre-dates Gerritsen's by at least a year, as it was published in the UK in 2018.
Have I announced that currently I'm writing an Adirondack Gothic? It figures, right? But NO GHOST!

As far as my focus on writing is concerned, it has been a blessing in disguise that I've had to stay by Sandy's side all week, while she's been recovering from some surgery that took place last Monday. She's doing really well, but needs to be "kept quiet." (Ha!) So far so good, but we have at least another week to go before she can go back to her flying leaps and high jumps and running, and walking backward on her hind legs! (Preserve us, oh lord!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What Will Be Your Final Reads of the Year?

I find myself wondering about the books all of you are planning for your final reads of the year. Please do report! I've been stumbling around with my books lately, largely because I've been so engrossed in my online novel writing class, which won't end until December 11th. Then I intend to read like mad. Or at least I hope I'll be able to.

Our weather has been very wintry since November 6th, much like 2018. As much as I like winter, I've been very concerned that during the last few years it has been setting in earlier, due to the displaced arctic air, forced southward, as the Arctic experiences much warmer than normal temps. Our weather is not normal, not at all. Ultra-frigid cold normally doesn't begin here until December. We're in the 20s now, but we had below zero Fahrenheit lows off and on for the past two weeks, and we're still seeing snow on a daily basis.

Do you have any books in mind for the week between Christmas and New Year's?
I must name one I'd like to read. I've been searching for the #5 Maisie Dobbs novel in the upstairs of the house. Have not found it yet, but I still have a few places to search. "The Too-Many-Books Syndrome" is at fault.

Have any of you started to watch The Crown, Season 3? It's extraordinarily interesting--but, in my opinion casting Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret is a disservice to the princess. Carter's  portrayal is over the top, I think, based on my research, but I suppose it makes for "good tv"--yuck! Carter is an actress with a limited range.  

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Secret Garden, Illustrated by Inga Moore

I've been promising that I would identify the illustrated edition of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which has had me captivated. This edition was published by Candlewick, originally in 2008 and reprinted in 2010. Inga Moore is the illustrator. I am so fond of the illustrations in this edition that I am going to purchase a copy. I must have it in my library for those early days of spring. Or those days in April when it is still winter here and one is longing so.

The novel-writing class that I am taking is offered via Grub Street, a wonderful institution in the Boston area, which has recently added lots of online writing classes to its vast offerings. I'm very pleased with all the class is offering, but this class is even more demanding than the one I took this summer. I need to set my alarm to a much earlier hour because I can't get all the work and writing done in a regular day.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Reading in Bed Day--Sunday!

I'm proclaiming that tomorrow, Sunday, November 10th, will be READ-IN-BED DAY. Granted, Sandy will need a good walk. But other than that, my bed is where you'll find me.
I spent the last two days hiking and trying to clear snowshoe trails of fallen branches, trees, and debris. Ken and I have noted that the past two years, trail maintenance has become a much more arduous task. More trees are falling, due to storms of greater magnitude than in years past. I can't get over how bad it has become. Every muscle and bone in my body aches.

So what shall I read? From the library I have an exquisitely illustrated edition of The Secret Garden. It's pure enchantment. (Details about the edition to come) Also from the library I have Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald, about radio announcers in London during the Blitz.  I have Anne Perry's 2019 Christmas novel, A Christmas Gathering , which is set in England during the late 19th century. And I guess I must spend a few moments digging up where I placed the fifth Maisie Dobbs novel, An Incomplete RevengeCath of readwarbler (see sidebar) says that it's one of her faves in the Maisie Dobbs series. So I'm very keen to get immersed. I'm so looking forward to this! Ken says he'll help with the dog walking, an acknowledgment that I could use a break. Thanks!   And wouldn't it be great to knit while listening to Homework by Julie Andrews. (Still working on that one.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

New Year's Eve: 8 Weeks From Tonight

That's a wake-up call for me. I'd like to read a few really good books before 2020 comes around.
And yes, yes, I'm still bemoaning the sub-par, barely mediocre Christmas novel offerings this year, whether mystery or otherwise.
I haven't wasted my time on the chaff. But I am reading Sarah Morgan's offering from 2018, Christmas Sisters, which is set in the Scottish Highlands. I'm reading this before falling asleep. It's decent.. Key word: I found one decent Christmas read. Yay, me.

Reading Plans: I want to read the 5th Maisie Dobbs novel I bought to read for 2019, An Incomplete Revenge. I'm also thinking seriously about reading Snow by the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, which I planned to read this year. On the agenda.

I'm including an excerpt from a NYT review of Snow by Margaret Atwood:

"This seventh novel from the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk is not only an engrossing feat of tale-spinning, but essential reading for our times.
In Turkey, Pamuk is the equivalent of rock star, guru, diagnostic specialist and political pundit: the Turkish public reads his novels as if taking its own pulse. He is also highly esteemed in Europe: his sixth novel, the lush and intriguing ''My Name Is Red,'' carried off the 2003 Impac Dublin Literary Award, adding to his long list of prizes.
He deserves to be better known in North America, and no doubt he will be, as his fictions turn on the conflict between the forces of ''Westernization'' and those of the Islamists. Although it's set in the 1990's and was begun before Sept. 11, ''Snow'' is eerily prescient, both in its analyses of fundamentalist attitudes and in the nature of the repression and rage and conspiracies and violence it depicts.
Like Pamuk's other novels, ''Snow'' is an in-depth tour of the divided, hopeful, desolate, mystifying Turkish soul. It's the story of Ka, a gloomy but appealing poet who hasn't written anything in years. But Ka is not his own narrator: by the time of the telling he has been assassinated, and his tale is pieced together by an ''old friend'' of his who just happens to be named Orhan."

We have been winterizing like crazy the past few days, to the point of exhaustion. Why, oh why, was October much warmer than last year, much warmer than normal, and now, HELTER SKELTER, the very next week we are crashing into deep solid winter? Temps will drop into the low teens F overnight. Madly washing hats and gloves and winter jackets and coats, priming the snow blower, sending the snow blower to be repaired (oh, no), washing super-warm winter bedding, and the other preps are endless. We were living in a fool's paradise this October. Snow Thursday night followed by daytime temps in the 20s on Friday with lake-effect snow. Now that sounds wonderful for woodland hikes with Sandy.