Author Archives: Robin

About Robin

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

Classics Club Spin #28

It’s time for another Classics Club “Spin!”  Here’s how it works:

  • Go to your blog.
  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog before Sunday, 17th October.
  • We’ll announce a number from 1-20.
  • Read that book by 12th December, 2021.

Here is my list of 20 books. Check back here on October 17th to see which book I will be reading for this new Spin.

  1. Sons, by Pearl S. Buck
  2. The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie
  3. The Little Bulbs, by Elizabeth Lawrence
  4. The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
  5. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
  6. Home, by Toni Morrison
  7. The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  8. In Morocco, by Edith Wharton
  9. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
  11. Summer at Fairacre, by Miss Read
  12. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain

  13. The Cossacks, by Leo Tolstoy
  14. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
  15. Night, by Ellie Wiesel
  16. Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
  17. Round the Bend, by Nevil Shute
  18. Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki
  19. House Made of Dawn, by M. Scott Momaday
  20. Malgudi Days, by R.K. Narayan

A New Blog Feature


I love to take photos! It started when I was six years old and won a Brownie camera in a coloring contest, so my interest in photography started at a young age. And later, when my kids were little, I took a photography class called “Ways of Seeing.” It was taught by an architecture professor, who was also a photographer, and she sparked in me a passion for photographing what I see every day.

I post many of my daily photos on my Instagram account, but I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog and use some of them as my header, changing it often. The inspiration came from Nan, at Letters from a Hill Farm, because I love going to her blog to see the photos she chooses for her header.

I hope you enjoy this new feature as much as I enjoy sharing my ‘way of seeing’ with you!

The Fortnight in September

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What a sweet way to end my summer reading! The Fortnight in September, by R.C. Sherriff, was a delightful ode to family and summer vacations. Every September for many years, the Stevens family has been making their end-of-summer pilgrimage to the same seaside town, staying at the same (now aging) inn, and enjoying the break from all their usual activities. In this quiet, slow-paced book, you get to know each member of the family and what that fortnight in September means to them. That’s it…nothing earthshaking, just a regular family on vacation. But this author is masterful at capturing the nostalgia of such a yearly vacation over time, and capturing the sunshine and joy of time away from the usual hustle and bustle. It is a timeless story, and full of sunshine for the soul.

Walking with Thoreau

Walking on a trail in the Hoh Rain Forest, 2019…

Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay called Walking, which was published as a long article in The Atlantic in 1862. Although some of the words he used are dated — we seldom use “methinks” anymore — his ideas are still clear and fresh today, and it is very readable. In this essay, he expresses his need for long walks in nature, and laments the loss of “wildness” in our culture and the encroachment of private ownership of great parcels of wilderness areas. Looking back at his world of 1862, when there were still great areas of unsettled land, and where woods and forests still remained right outside of towns, easily accessible for long rambles, it makes me sad to realize how far away we have come from that closeness to nature.

He reveled in the beauty of nature on those walks, a phenomenon that was mostly unknown to the village dweller who sat indoors all day:

We had a remarkable sunset one day last November. I was walking in a meadow, the source of a small brook, when the sun at last, just before setting, after a cold, gray day, reached a clear stratum in the horizon, and the softest, brightest morning sunlight fell on the dry grass and on the stems of the trees in the opposite horizon and on the leaves of the shrub oaks on the hillside, while our shadows stretched long over the meadow east-ward, as if we were the only motes in its beams. It was such a light as we could not have imagined a moment before, and the air also was so warm and serene that nothing was wanting to make a paradise of that meadow. When we reflected that this was not a solitary phenomenon, never to happen again, but that it would happen forever and ever, an infinite number of evenings, and cheer and reassure the latest child that walked there, it was more glorious still.

And he prized “wildness” over “civilized.”  Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him.

In short, all good things are wild and free. There is something in a strain of music, whether produced by an instrument or by the human voice—take the sound of a bugle in a summer night, for instance—which by its wildness, to speak without satire, reminds me of the cries emitted by wild beasts in their native forests. It is so much of their wildness as I can understand. Give me for my friends and neighbors wild men, not tame ones.

He used the word “sauntering,” and gave the history of the word from the Middle Ages, which basically meant a type of “crusade.” So walking was not merely taking a walk, but was a devotion, a commitment to immersing oneself in wildness.

If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again — if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man — then you are ready for a walk.

I enjoyed his musings on being in nature, and I admired his commitment to living in wildness. He was a unique individual with unique circumstances that allowed the freedom he had to devote his life to nature. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by what I perceive as his fanaticism, but he reminds us of what we have almost completely lost today: the incredible restorative power on the human soul of being outside, in the wild, in nature.

 

I chose to read this book as one of my 50 books in 5 years for The Classics Club, Round 2.

One More Body in the Pool

The reason that Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors is because he was a joyful writer. He was an idea man who loved writing, and that joy shines through in all his works.

I just read one of his short stories, One More Body in the Pool, and enjoyed the fun of it, but was completely captured by the joy he must have had in writing it.
It begins with this:

I walked across the beach and stood in the hot sun for a long moment, staring down at the man lying there with his head covered by a newspaper. I took a deep breath, held it, and at last said. “Scottie?” There was no motion beneath the paper. I took another breath and said, “Mr. Fitzgerald?” At last the paper drifted aside and the young old man underneath it opened his eyes. His face was familiar and young and terribly haunted. The cheeks were smooth and the chin was very fine. The eyes, which were clear blue, seemed to have trouble focusing on me. “Well?” he said at last. I replied, “God, I hate to bother you, but I’m a sort of literary agent and, well, forgive me, but I have an idea that I want to offer you.”

The story is about a time-traveling idea man who visits some iconic American authors (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner) to introduce an idea to each of them for their writing. Of course, we readers recognize the ideas that will eventually become their greatest novels. It’s tremendous fun to have a very brief glimpse into the lives of those authors while this mysterious idea man plants the seeds of those stories in their minds.

I can picture Mr. Bradbury writing this story. He is enjoying every moment of the idea and of the storytelling that will bring it to life with tongue-in-cheek humor and a playful respect/disrespect for those men.

A fun short story for my Readers Imbibing Peril -XVI challenge!

Embracing Mobility

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This week, I have been focused on finishing one of my enjoyable reading challenges. It’s a great feeling to meet a challenge one sets for oneself!  However, it’s another level of good feeling to meet a major challenge that Life throws at you. In the last month, my husband has been faced with another major physical and mental challenge related to his Stage IV metastasized cancer.

One month ago, he finished the radiation treatment he underwent to hopefully lessen the pain in his hip caused by the bone metastasis there. He walked into the five-day treatment on the first day, unaided but limping from his sore hip. Unfortunately, by the end of the five days, he was suffering from a not-so-common side effect from the treatment called a “pain flare, ”  which is an inflammation of the lining of the bone due to the radiation. And it is extremely painful. So for his final treatment, I had to wheel him into the building in a wheel chair.

The inflammation was treated, the pain has slowly lessened throughout the month, and Byron has worked hard to regain his mobility. Truly a challenge! But he has embraced each step in this process, which started with the arrival of a cane we ordered on the day after that final treatment because he could not walk unsupported. A few days later, a simple walker was delivered to our porch, a surprise ordered by his primary care physician! He was delighted with it because he was much steadier getting around the house and could now do some limited walking outdoors. After a week with that more limited walker, we went shopping for his “off road walker,” as he calls it. And he was thrilled with the new walker we found!

So now, he does laps around the house with his fancy walker. We load it in the car and walk the sidewalks around the campus here in this university town. And the more he walks, the better he feels, even though energy and endurance are limited. It was not the kind of month we expected, but I am so proud of the way my husband faced the pain and the setback, and embraced the challenge to return to better mobility, one level at a time.

 

The Classics Club, Round 2


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I first joined The Classics Club in March of 2017 and signed up to read 50 books in 5 years. I just completed those fifty books and it turned out to be a really enjoyable reading experience for me. I do love reading the classics, so here I go with a second round of reading 50 books in the next 5 years!

As with my first list, my reading will be a mix of novels, novellas, non-fiction, short stories, and poetry — a combination of adult and children’s literature. This time I’ve decided to create a pool of classics I’m interested in reading, add to it often as I run into other books I’d like to read, and choose my 50 from that pool of books. I will keep a running list of the books I read along this journey, so please check back here to see my progress. My new time goal for completing this second round of reading 50 books in 5 years is October 1, 2026!  Once again, that sounds so far away, but I know that five years goes by in a flash, and what pleasurable reading years they will be!

(Click here to see my Classics Club List #1)

Classics Club List #2    

GOAL DATE: October 1, 2021 – October 1, 2026
Progress = 0/50

Red = Link to my review
Blue = Read but not reviewed yet

  1. Walking, by Henry David Thoreau
  2. The Fortnight in September, by R.C. Sherriff
  3. The Amethyst Box, by Anna Katharine Green
  4. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain
  5. .
  6. .
  7. .
  8. .
  9. .
  10. .
  11. .

CLASSICS I’M INTERESTED IN READING:

  • Sons, by Pearl S. Buck
  • A House Divided, by Pearl S. Buck
  • Mandala: A Novel of India, by Pearl S. Buck
  • The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie
  • Luka and the Fire of Life, by Salman Rushdie
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel
  • Day, by Elie Wiesel
  • Dawn, by Elie Wiesel
  • On the Beach, by Nevil Shute
  • Marazan, by Nevil Shute
  • Round the Bend, by Nevil Shute
  • What Happened to the Corbetts, by Nevil Shute
  • Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
  • Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope
  • Framley Parsonage, by Anthony Trollope
  • The Small House at Allington, by Anthony Trollope
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope
  • The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
  • Green Thoughts, by Eleanor Perenyi
  • Old Herbaceous, by Reginald Arkell
  • The Little Bulbs: A Tale of Two Gardens, by Elizabeth Lawrence
  • Garden Open Today, by Beverley Nichols
  • Garden Open Tomorrow, by Beverley Nichols
  • The Northern Farm: A Glorious Year on a Small Maine Farm, by Henry Beston
  • Walking, by Henry David Thoreau
  • The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen
  • The Chimes, by Charles Dickens
  • The Holly Tree, by Charles Dickens
  • Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
  • The Professor, by Charlotte Brontë
  • Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
  • Vilette, by Charlotte Brontë
  • The Green Dwarf, by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Ramayana, by Bulbul Sharma
  • Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
  • The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaren
  • Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
  • Days of Reading, by Marcel Proust
  • Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust
  • Walt Whitman’s Diary: A Summer in Canada, 1880, by Walt Whitman
  • The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  • Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki
  • The Book of Tea, by Kazuko Okakura
  • A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
  • The Sea Around Us, by Rachel Carson
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
  • The Land of Little Rain, by Mary Hunter Austin
  • The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
  • Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott
  • Sounder, by William K. Armstrong
  • Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen
  • Malgudi Days, by R.K. Narayan
  • Therese Raquin, by Emile Zola
  • House Made of Dawn, by N. Scott Momaday
  • The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad
  • The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Losing Battles, by Eudora Welty
  • A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass
  • The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Up from Slavery, by Booker T. Washington
  • The Fire Next Time,  by James Baldwin
  • Home, by Toni Morrison
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
  • The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, by Virginia Hamilton
  • Phillip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon, by Bette Green
  • Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
  • The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
  • The Fortnight in September, by R.C. Sherriff
  • Tales of the Alhambra, by Washington Irving
  • Old Christmas, by Washington Irving
  • Green Mansions, by W.H. Hudson
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
  • The Princess Priscilla’s Fortnight, by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • The Caravaners, by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • The Story of Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting
  • The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
  • The Egg and I, by Betty Macdonald
  • The Plague and I, by Betty Macdonald
  • The Black Monk, by Anton Chekhov
  • The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoyevski
  • The Cossacks, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer, Richard Graves
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, by Ian Fleming
  • The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  •  As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, by Laurie Lee
  • A Moment of War, by Laurie Lee
  • A Rose for Winter, by Laurie Lee
  • The Amethyst Box, by Anna Katharine Green
  • The Stranger, by Albert Camus
  • Summer at Fairacre, by Miss Read
  • Mrs. Pringle, by Miss Read
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain
  • My Daniel, by Pam Conrad
  • A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
  • A Death in the Family, by James Agee
  • Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther
  • The Joys of Motherhood, by Buhi Emecheta
  • Winters Tales, by Isak Dinesen
  • In Morocco, by Edith Wharton
  • Some Tame Gazelle, by Barbara Pym
  • The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Hound of the Baskerville, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Valley of Fear, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Footsteps in the Dark, by Georgette Heyer
  • I Heard the Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven

Reading on the porch…