In the High Peaks

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Great Time for Books

Well, at least I can say it's a great time for getting lost in books. All of our social activities have shut down. No restaurant meals or pubs open anywhere in New York State--take-out only. I'm sure you're facing similar encumbrances, and do tell. No libraries, no YMCA and pickle ball for Ken. The only things open are grocery stores, gas stations, medical facilities, and... I think that's it. 

So we're about to set up a new, hopefully sustaining, hopefully temporary lifestyle during this difficult time. We'll engage in outdoor work (always too much of that), reading, jigsaw puzzles (which we rarely have time for), card games, and PBS programs via PBS Passport, then Netflix, and Amazon Prime. We're very lucky and we'll be fine. I do feel for parents who have children at home now for five weeks. We don't have any children in our neighborhood, but I do wish them all well.

After hiking with Sandy all over hither and yon all of this morning, she and I settled down in the afternoon to read. I've got just a hundred pages to go with The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, which I'm enjoying thoroughly. I finished Bleaker House by Nell Stevens, the memoir of her time in the Falkland Islands in winter, which I'm so glad to have read. 

And I've been enraptured by 44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel, which I'm now halfway through. I'm still trying to figure out Steel's winning combination of elements. While there are plenty of dramatic features and conflicts, there is also plenty of cozy fantasy. The titles I've been most drawn to have often involved a fascinating house with lots of history. And her scenes permit the reader to imagine being within the scenes with the characters.
I'm going to be very sorry when 44 Charles Street ends. Francesca's home is a good-sized brownstone in Manhattan, and she, a woman in her mid-30s, owns an  art gallery. She used to own it with her partner of five years, who decides to leave her, the gallery, and who returns to being a Wall Street lawyer before their break-up. And because Francesca loves the house, which she can no longer afford on her own by any stretch, she acquires  three roommates--a young 23-year-old teacher of autistic children, an architect and single dad with a 7-year-old son, and a 59-year-old famed cookbook author and widow from Vermont. They start out as mere tenants and landlord, and become, through fascinating trials and tribulations, a family of sorts. The time speeds by while I listen.

I know I promised you some book-binge purchasing, but I haven't done it yet. More to come?? Do weigh in and let us know how you're faring.


  1. It is a great time to read. This is the big advantage to this world crises. I am currently digging into Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

    1. Oh, Brian! I so loved reading Crime and Punishment. It was a literary experience that I will always remember, though it was decades ago. I was fascinated by Raskalnikov (spelling error, maybe?) and all the themes in this book. At the time I also was in a wonderful group of people with whom to discuss it. Best wishes!

  2. In Penzance still but home tomorrow. We'll have to do the lockdown thing because Peter is high risk, heart condition, diabetic etc. At home we have plenty to do, books of course, jigsaws, my knitting and we'll soon be starting the garden. We have a freezer full of food as I batch-cook for it and use it for the veggies Peter produces. We'll be ok, am just not clear how much we'll be able to see if our daughters and grandkids. Our youngest daughter lives very close by and will want to help as much as she can.

    I think it would be a nice idea if our little book blogging group posted as much as possible to keep our spirits up. Take care, Judith!

    1. Hi Cath,
      How nice to have had your time in Penzance before you "lock down."
      I agree wholeheartedly that it would be so nice if our fellow bloggers were able to stick together, and perhaps post a bit more regularly as we weather this time.
      I definitely intend to, and need to, and I'll post my wish for a bit more blogging and perhaps you could do the same? When you settle after your trip, of course. I know that takes a couple of days at least.
      And please Cath, you and Peter take care. Hopefully, if time shows that we need to isolate more, hopefully it will not be for too long a period. Have you tried Skype with your grandchildren, by any chance? Not satisfactory, I know, but just a thought. I would love to have your email, by the way.
      Mine, unfortunately spells my whole name out, so I'm reluctant to put it here at the moment. Do you have a more cryptic email that you could share somehow?

  3. Hi Judith, yes, too right, I'm so happy to have been able to see the Cornish side of my family before the real lock-down begins, as I'm certain it will.

    I can give you my email address, it's: nanquidno2001 at yahoo dot com. Hopefully that won't attract any spammers.

    A couple of people I've mentioned it to said that yes they would try to post often. I'll start tomorrow with some photos from our time away, plus I have books to review and books I bought and books I was given. LOL! And the same lovely elderly cousin who gave me a bag books also handed me a bag of wool, so I'm well set for the isolation period. (I also bought wool by the way.)

    Thank you, we will certainly take care and you and Ken take care too. It's an unsettling time for everyone. We have Skype but I've never used it for my daughters and their families as we've always been able to see each other as often as we like. That will obviously now change especially for my daughter in Exeter (about 20 miles from here) who I doubt we'll be able to see as she's a teaching assistant. Her daughter, Ruth (our grand-daughter of course), who's at uni in Swansea, was supposed to be going to CERN in Switzerland in a couple of weeks, pretty sure that's not going to happen now. Another cousin was off to Ireland for the first time in a couple of weeks, not now. So many lovely plans ruined. I think the worst thing is not knowing how long this is going to go on for. I'm not too concerned about the isolation as I don't really do 'boredom' with so many hobbies, but I wouldn't really want to have to live like that for 6 months or something.

    1. Cath,
      So glad you've got WOOL to pull you through. I do as well. And it's certainly true for me that I'm totally able to entertain myself, but 6 months would be a stretch indeed!
      So glad you have Skype--you will be glad you have it now, I think.
      And I'm eager to see your photos and hear about your trip to Cornwall.
      I'm a little worried about Ken because he has a tendency to feel "trapped" in long blizzards and is particularly susceptible to cabin fever, despite my efforts. We have lots of outdoor work that needs doing so that should help.
      I will be posting more often.

    2. Cath, I will be emailing you soon. Hopefully Thursday, but if not, then soon after. Thank you.

  4. Hi Judith,
    Things are stressful here but no real problems. It was good to hear how you guys are doing.

    We have been frustrated by trips to the grocery stores (in hopes of getting toilet tissue, which no stores have had). Initially it was just scary to see empty shelves in the meat area, produce, and paper goods. Today my son and I went out at 7:00 a.m. and at least this time we got some meats and cheese.

    In California, the governor said that all seniors over 65 and anyone with health problems should isolate themselves, but they haven't made it clear how to handle groceries, etc. in that situation. I don't mind staying at home and Glen is working at home. I have plenty to keep me busy (besides reading, which is always a priority). Clearing out areas where I let a lot of things accumulate before I retired, cataloging books, and weeding and gardening.

    Here restaurants are still open (although not in Los Angeles), but I doubt if they have many customers.

    Have been doing lots of reading and currently am sticking with comfort reading. And I plan to keep blogging, and checking other blogs.

    1. Tracy,
      I'm so glad you've been able to do lots and lots of reading. And, like you, I'm finding my comfort reading and my cozy reading most satisfying, like balm on a wound, really. I get into my comfort zone and feel very relaxed.
      So glad you have lots to keep you busy. I, too, have loads of de-cluttering to do, but so far I feel better just reading or walking the dog, and of course, knitting.

  5. It's exactly the same here in Fife. Luckily we are both home birds so are very happy to stay at home apart from walking for exercise in the countryside (outside our back gate). Luckily our sons can both work from their homes. I'm sad about missing out on the UK road trip we had planned around Easter though - but such is life. Stay well!

    1. Katrina,
      I'm so glad you are both "home birds." I am definitely a home bird, but Ken feels trapped if he must remain at home. He feels better if he can drive around and get the mail, pick up a grocery item, or whatever. This period of time will be MUCH harder on him. We have lots of outdoor work to do, so that may help him.
      And I am so happy to hear that your sons can work remotely!! How wonderful that is.
      I was hoping to make two trips to Boston in April to be with friends and especially with my nephew Gavin. Gavin and I have loads of plans, but must postpone until probably much later. This thing isn't going anywhere anytime soon, I don't think.