In the High Peaks

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Mr. Nobody and Other Wintry Pastimes and 2020 Worry

Catherine Steadman's thriller Mr. Nobody is a good read, yet it took me so long to finish it. I still seem to be in a place where reading is not my #1 activity. It's true--I am pre-occupied and distracted by the 2020 political whirlwind, but the worst of it all is that this distraction leads me to worry intensely. The more days that pass, the more I'm overwhelmingly disturbed by my concerns. This state of mind leads me to want to do the following: 1) cook ferociously and madly!, 2) heave myself into financial matters that should have been dealt with long ago, 3) push myself into an extravaganza of stranded (color) knitting learning, 4) revamp the studio (again), and 5) walk my dog over wintry, snowy mountain roads for up to two hours per day. (Sandy's an angel after her walkie, though, so it's worth the trouble! Otherwise she is a little demon.)

Okay. Mr. Nobody is a "very good" thriller, and I would give it four stars. I must have a thriller or two in the depth of winter and in the steamiest heat of summer, and this one was just twisty enough with loads of psychological matter to consume me. If you're intrigued by stories of intense psychological suspense, you will likely appreciate this one. But??? Want an even better thriller??? Then look back to the January 2018 publication of The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. That was a killer. Five stars. That had a psychological depth and deftness that most thrillers never attain.

Where to next? I've got my eye on The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I bought it late last year, and haven't gotten off the ground with it--not yet anyway. The answer is: Keep trying.


  1. Always 'so' nice to see a new post from you Judith.

    Don't you find there's 'always' something to worry about? I'm not sure whether it's old age or what but I seem to constantly have some worry or other which is preoccupying my mind. To the point where if I'm not worried I start to worry that I've missing something! It's crazy.

    I've decided to start knitting again. I was an avid knitter from about the age of 10 to around 45. Not sure what happened but I just stopped. So I ordered some wool and will knit my self a scarf as I have a sudden love of them. Looking forward to getting started.

    I have my eye on The Dutch House too. I've just started A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell, a WW2 story set in Italy. I loved her book, The Sparrow (its sequel not so much), so thought I'd try something else by her.

    1. Hi Cath,
      Thank you, and I feel exactly the same way about your posts.
      I find that ordinarily I'm very clever at distracting myself from many things I might or maybe should worry about. However, the political situation now is so dire, and all the Democratic candidates have qualities and, in a few cases, weaknesses (age, being a billionaire and CEO, not as quick mentally as they were 20 years ago)--that make me worry so much about WHO will be able to stand up to the Monster. So when my mind drifts toward that, I worry. Ken and I don't talk, listen to, or think about it in the evenings or we'd never sleep.
      I know the book A Thread of Grace, and may have had a copy in the house at one point, remember picking it up at a sale, and do tell me what you think of it. Gosh, I may still have it.
      Now, to my mind, as a mother and a grandmother, I would imagine that your worry list would be overwhelming, even if each family member is doing extremely well. If I had children and grandchildren, I would fret internally for them, because the things that happen in the world are so out of our control.
      One fun thing: We've just started watching "Grace and Frankie," starring Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin, on Netflix. It is a scream, and I laugh and laugh. A good tonic, if you can watch it. Their former husbands, played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, have become lovers and are divorcing Grace and Frankie on account of that.

    2. Cath, WOOPS! Meant to say that I'm excited about your return to the world of knitting. Would love to hear more about your adventures in that realm.

  2. Judith, I am sorry you are worrying but glad you are putting your energies into productive activities to alleviate it. My reading month has been slow because I have been reading Bleak House (slowly) and short stories from various books. Other than that, blogging and just trying to keep up with daily things like laundry and weeding, except that I have a shoulder problem that won't let me do much. Not a serious problem, I am hoping, just a bother.

    1. Hi Tracy,
      I forgot momentarily that you're reading Bleak House, a book that sits on the shelves in my bedroom and that I still haven't read. And I think short stories are great to read amidst reading a classic TOME.
      And a shoulder problem to boot right now. Shoulders are difficult to keep in good running condition, I've found.
      And, I must ask, what are you weeding? Are you gardening? I'd love to know what you like to grow.
      I'm hoping that I can sow viola and pansy seeds sometime toward the end of February. I've got the seeds, but I'm just hoping I can cultivate the right growing conditions for them indoors. A welcome, distracting challenge. I'll take all I can get!

    2. I do love gardening, Judith, but I can't do it as well or as often as I did when I started gardening twenty years ago. We are in a condominium, and we are lucky to have a small space in the front and the back that we can garden in. In fact, we have to keep the front (which is visible to all) in good condition and weeded. And we do get lots of weeds. During the drought (five years plus?) we did not do much because we could not water consistently. Then last year I was able to start putting in new plants (and pots) and we were lucky with a few that made excellent ground cover (in some parts) and I think will continue to do well this year. I don't even remember the names of the plants we used but if I can find them I will tell you later. We did have several upright verbena "lollipop" plants that I hope return, but if not, I will get more. They were beautiful.

    3. Oh, Tracy, do I ever hear you when you say you can't garden as well or as often as you used to do!
      Ditto here. Gardening is exhausting work, if you want to know my point of view.
      I'm hoping you'll be able to keep up with what you got started last year.
      This year I'm hoping, fingers crossed, that I'll be able to do more container planting. I adore violas and pansies of all sorts--then zinnias later for full summer. Hope to have a large container of baby tomatoes. Some herbs, oh yes!
      We have WOODCHUCK demons at our place. Those devils will eat anything (not tomatoes, though), and they are not at all shy about eating plants outside our door. Brazen! Too bad that they're awfully cute.
      How is your water situation currently?

    4. I recently read that some areas in California are being classified as abnormally dry, and we could have a moderate drought coming... possibly not as bad as the last one. The good thing from my point of view is that I now have the time to water at the ridiculous times that they allocate during drought, and have a start on having better plants for that situation. I love container gardening but you do have to water more often ... at least here with the sun and no rain in the summer. I also love succulents, which can handle dry conditions.

    5. Tracy,
      So true about container gardening, and I can see how it's not ideal for your conditions. It's great you have succulents to plant--perfect. Around here people have them indoors, but that's it. I imagine your gardening centers have lots of suggestions as well. I really need to sow those violas and pansies now, because they are good to be outdoors on the porch in April, even if nothing else is happening. Some nights they have to be brought indoors, but they're pretty hardy. Your post is reminding me to get going! Best wishes!

  3. Oh Judith, we *love* Grace and Frankie! Have seen all but the new series which we will start to watch at some stage. I adore Lily Tomlin but the whole cast is amazing.

    Yes, I do a fair bit of fretting about our family. Our grand-daughter has been worrying us recently. She's had a number of problems at uni, not the course, she seems to have no trouble with Physics, but other niggling personal stuff. You do all you can but in the end they have to solve issues for themselves and I know she is but still... I worry.

    Yes, we've seen some of your election news over here. The latest being Mayor (ex?) Bloomberg entering the race. I'm afraid Peter and I have come to the same conclusions as you and Ken, wondering who on Earth can beat DT. Is it unusual for a President not to get a second term? Recently, Obama (oh, how I miss him), Bush and Clinton all got second terms didn't they? Forgive my ignorance.

    Well I started A Thread of Grace and can't seem to get into it. Possibly because I've been feeling rather sorry for myself, I put my back out a couple of days ago and although it's a bit better now, I'm finding it hard to concentrate on anything serious. I've put it aside and am reading an instalment of a favourite series by Elly Griffiths.

    My wool came today, it's such a pretty royal blue with coloured flecks. I will keep you updated on that.

    1. Hi Cath,
      To think we are only in the midst of the first season of Grace and Frankie. You know, we watched Season One: Episode 1, and were so-so about it. And with so many other movies and shows to watch, we let it slip. But not any more! We have one episode left in Season One and I'm sure we'll zoom through the rest. So good!!
      So interesting to hear about your worry about your granddaughter. I understand completely, and I understand largely because other than love our young relatives to pieces, there's not much more we can do. Alas!
      I worry about my oldest nephew, who is turning 29 next week. He has suffered extremely from long-term effects of Lyme Disease, which still affects his vision and makes it impossible for him to drive. It also affects his energy and has made it hard for him to work long hours at a job. He lives with his father (my brother) just outside of Boston, and has a job of sorts, but it's hard because he is the oldest of four boys and the other three are zooming past him, with advanced education, jobs, etc. I'm becoming closer to him, in particular, I think because he has been most interested in having a close relationship with his "aunt." We have a good time together.
      Oh, and I'm so sorry to hear you've put your back out! Double Yuck!! Which book by Griffiths are you reading? I know you will report on it, so don't feel obliged to reply.
      And I'm so glad you're pleased with the wool you've ordered. Sounds scrumptious!

    2. CATH!
      Just realized I didn't mention anything about Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of NYC. I do not like him at all. I didn't say anything til this week, but I discovered Ken doesn't like him at all. He's another CEO who thinks he can solve the problems of the country and the world. Independently of each other, we both feel he is so arrogant and dismissive of other people. We don't need another CEO billionaire who thinks he can solve the country's problems all by himself just because he is a CEO. Ugh. He also has huge, conflicting business interests invested in China. NOT GOOD.
      One-termers. George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

  4. I'm right there with you on the political worrying... and it's not getting any better! No blogging for me in weeks. My life has been a whirlwind of remodeling decisions and winter visitors, but I have been trying (with mixed success) to keep reading. My new library book club had an excellent discussion about The Dutch House last week - lively and far-reaching. If you can get hold of an audio version, I highly recommend Tom Hank's narration!

    1. Hi JoAnn,
      I agree 100 percent that the worrying is not getting any better. (I just groaned audibly when I wrote that line and Sandy popped her head up, "What's wrong?") Isn't there a line from the TV westerns of the 1960s, "It's all in God's hands now." Well, I don't believe that God controls things on Earth, actually, but, judging from what I read and hear from journalists and other people, none of us has any control over what is happening. And, yes, that does scare me. Feeling that scares me.
      Don't fret a bit about not having time to blog right now. We all know you'll be back! And we miss you.
      How great is it that your NEW book club read The Dutch House and that the discussion was so good! I'm impressed and very happy for you. I am so keen to read The Dutch House these days, and I haven't gotten to it. I've been doing all these other things.