Author Archives: Robin

About Robin

I’m a wife, mother, grandma, retired teacher, gardener, knitter, and passionate reader. I live near Portland, Oregon, USA.

From My Reading Notebook: Dorothy Gilman

One of my favorite mystery series is the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. I’ve been slowly “re-reading” the series by listening to the audiobooks on Audible (you can read one of my reviews here).  In my reading notebook, I found a number of quotes that I wrote down the first time I read the series.This one was from Mrs. Pollifax on Safari. It reveals the personality of the main character and gives you a flavor of these fun-to-read books.

“Of course I’m not being logical,” she conceded, “but I find it so difficult to dislike people. I know they’re frequently selfish or opinionated and egotistical, or dull or contrary and sometimes dishonest, but if one expects nothing from them it’s astonishing how fascinating they are, and always full of surprises.”

This series itself is full of surprises and humor, and is just fun to read.

…photo from Pinterest

Early February in the Garden, 2020

…from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden

One of the things I love about living in Oregon is that winters are mild and the “spring” garden really comes to life in January and February! I guess our reward for the very dark and rainy days of November and December are the early bulbs in bloom in early February! Around here, my gardening friends plant their Sweet Peas on President’s Day! That all just fills my heart with gardening joy!

These snapshots from my yard and garden give you an idea of what early February is like in an Oregon town 30 miles west of Portland, up against the Coastal Range, 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean!

 

Icelanders

As part of my ongoing project of reading books from different countries of the world, “Wanderlust,” I found a delightful and humorous book about Icelanders. When I was teaching sixth grade many years ago, I had a lovely Icelandic girl in class. She sparked my interest in Iceland and it’s spectacular geological history, but I actually know very little about the people and the culture, so this book was a fun introduction to both!

The book is called:  The Little Book of the Icelanders: 50 miniature essays on the quirks and foibles of the Icelandic people, written by Alda Sigmundsdóttir.

After more than 20 years away, Alda Sigmundsdottir returned to her native Iceland as a foreigner. With a native person’s insight yet an outsider’s perspective, Alda quickly set about dissecting the national psyche of the Icelanders. This second edition, from 2018, contains new and updated chapters from the original edition, reflecting the changes in Icelandic society and among the Icelandic people since the book was first published in 2012.

It was an interesting way to learn about a culture, through humor. Alda Sigmundsdottir has written a whole series of little books about Icelanders, and I’d like to read them all! I laughed a lot while reading this book, not AT the Icelanders, but at ourselves as human beings. By the end of the book, I was totally taken by the quirkiness and warmheartedness of the people, and would love to visit there (but not until after I read her book called The Little Book of Tourists in Iceland: Tips, tricks, and what the Icelanders really think of you.).

Here are some quotes from the book, that give you a glimpse of the people and culture of this country of starkly beautiful landscapes.

“Grasping the national psyche of the Icelandic people is like trying to catch a slippery fish with your bare hands.”

Hláturinn lengir lífið, the Icelanders say – “laughter prolongs your life”. There is no doubt in my mind that laughter has not only prolonged the life of individual Icelanders, but has been a source of formidable strength for the nation as a whole.”

If there is one phrase that captures the Icelanders’ innate sense of optimism better than any other, it is this: Þetta reddast. Þetta reddast should be emblazoned across the nation’s coat of arms, for it is a phrase that captures the essence of the Icelandic national character perhaps better than any other – their optimism, their irreverence, their faith, their tenacity. It also happens to be a phrase that the Icelanders use constantly. Þetta reddast basically means: This will all work out one way or another. Just lost your job? Þetta reddast. No money in the bank? Þetta reddast. Economy just melted down? Þetta reddast. Volcano just spewed ash all over your arable land? Þetta reddast líka. I love the phrase þetta reddast. To me, it incorporates a profound philosophy. Because when things are totally dark and you really can’t see the way out, often the best thing you can do is let go and trust that somehow, some way, things will work out for the best. And the amazing thing is that … they almost always do.”

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book about Iceland.

Favorites of a Decade: the 2010s

With the beginning of this new decade, I want to take a moment and look back at my last decade of reading. I went through my notebooks and lists, and found one book that was a favorite for me for each year of the decade 2010-2019. Each of these books touched me in some special way and brought much joy to my life. I loved this decade of varied and wonderful reading and look forward to what this new decade will bring into my reading life!

2010:  NATHAN COULTER, by Wendell Berry
2011:  GREEN WITCH, by Alice Hoffman
2012:  ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN, by Elizabeth von Arnim
2013:  DANDELION WINE, by Ray Bradbury
2014:  A TOWN LIKE ALICE, by Nevil Shute
2015:  EMILY DICKINSON’S GARDENS: A CELEBRATION OF A POET AND GARDENER, by Marta McDowell
2016:  THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2017:  A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY, by J.L. Carr
2018:  BECOMING,  by Michelle Obama
2019:  THE MAGIC APPLE TREE, by Susan Hill

 

From my Reading Notebooks: Edward Abbey

Beyond the hill is the auburn-colored desolation of the desert: stony hills, lean peaks, narrow bands of olive-drab shrubbery winding along the waterless drainages and in the distance, on all horizons, from fifty to sixty miles away, the farther ranges of blue, magenta and purple mountains, where nothing human lives or ever did. I find this a cheery, even exhilarating prospect. The world of nature is faithful and never disappoints.

~from Beyond the Wall, by Edward Abbey (born January 29, 1927)

Thirteen Years

Thirteen years ago, I started this blog. It was a wonderful reading world to enter and I was welcomed warmly by so many of you. The friends I’ve made through this blog are cherished.

Book blogs have changed a lot in thirteen years, but the love of reading and sharing with fellow readers hasn’t changed. You have all expanded my world exponentially!

I am grateful for all of you, my blogging/reading friends.

Wanderlust: Reading the 50 States


I am enjoying my “Wanderlust: Reading the World” ongoing personal reading project so much that I’ve decided to expand it by also reading a book from each of the 50 states. (That inspiration came from my blogging friend, Cath, at Read_Warbler.)  I’ll call it “Wanderlust: Reading the States”.  I’m not a glutton for punishment, I assure you. I’m just interested in and curious about the world around me, and these personal projects are stress-free, motivating, enjoyable, and a way of expanding my horizons. All from my favorite reading chair (on the porch again before too long, I hope!).

I decided that I wanted the two projects to run side-by-side, so I went back through my list of books read in 2019 to find the books that were set in one of the States, or the author was from a particular State, or that State claimed the author as their own. It’s a fancy way of sorting my books!  I added them to this list so that both projects were started in 2019. They are “ongoing” with no time limit and are just meant to be fun reading journeys. I’ll review most of the books I read, but not necessarily every one.  Please do check back here occasionally to see where I’ve been “traveling.”

  1. Alabama:  Barracoon, by Zora Neale Hurston
  2. Alaska:
  3. Arizona:
  4. Arkansas:
  5. California:  The Red Pony, by John Steinbeck
  6. Colorado:
  7. Connecticut:
  8. Delaware:  The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle
  9. Florida:
  10. Georgia:
  11. Hawaii
  12. Idaho
  13. Illinois
  14. Indiana
  15. Iowa
  16. Kansas
  17. Kentucky
  18. Louisiana
  19. Maine:  The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett
  20. Maryland
  21. Massachusetts
  22. Michigan
  23. Minnesota
  24. Mississippi
  25. Missouri
  26. Montana
  27. Nebraska
  28. Nevada
  29. New Hampshire
  30. New Jersey
  31. New Mexico:  Kokopelli’s Flute, by Will Hobbs
  32. New York:  Here is New York, by E.B. White
  33. North Carolina
  34. North Dakota
  35. Ohio
  36. Oklahoma
  37. Oregon
  38. Pennsylvania
  39. Rhode Island
  40. South Carolina
  41. South Dakota
  42. Tennessee
  43. Texas
  44. Utah
  45. Vermont:  Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter
  46. Virginia
  47. Washington
  48. West Virginia
  49. Wisconsin
  50. Wyoming

 

Ballet Shoes

photos above are from the ballet book I adored as a child…

It’s never too late to catch up with books you missed reading as a child!  Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild, is the first book in another series I missed reading when I was growing up. I don’t know how that happened, as I loved ballet and would have loved this book! But I’m glad I filled in that gap by reading it while I was sick in bed this month. It was fun and interesting, and a great way to take one’s mind off a cough and a cold.

from the publisher:

Pauline, Petrova, and Posy love their quiet life together. They are orphans who have been raised as sisters, and when their new family needs money, the girls want to help. They decide to join the Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training to earn their keep. Each girl works hard following her dream. Pauline is destined for the movies. Posy is a born dancer. And Petrova? She finds she’d rather be a pilot than perform a pirouette.