Category Archives: Life

Bibliotherapy

My husband had a bone scan done today. That meant a trip to the hospital at 11:00 to get the infusion, and then back to the hospital at 2:00 to get the scan done. Since it’s a distance to the hospital from our home, rather than driving back and forth, we decided to make good use of the in-between time and go out to lunch and then to the bookstore. It was so wonderful to be in the bookstore again! Spending time at Powell’s is definitely bibiotherapy!

May and June…where’d they go?

Daughter and me at our favorite garden center.

Oh my goodness. Yes, we have a lot going on here, but May and June just seemed to get lost in the shuffle of busy-ness. Reading has slowed down, gardening has sped up. In both May and June, all of us now vaccinated, we enjoyed a couple of visits with our daughter. We took a one day road trip to see her home and garden after 15 months of not being able to travel. Then, her visits in May and in June to our place. When she comes for a visit, there’s a lot of garden stuff that happens. We always visit our favorite garden centers, AND she helps in my garden! She weeds my flower beds and makes things look so nice. Her way of “helping,” which is a major understatement!

Two days after she left this last time, I was outside picking our bumper crop of cherries which took three busy days. I hustled to pick as many as I could before THE heat event hit the Pacific Northwest. Then I spent my mornings watering to keep things alive in the intense heat, and afternoons in retreat from the most intense heat I’ve ever experienced. Thinking back over the last two months, it’s no wonder I am feeling very fatigued! But here I am, checking in and letting you know I am still here, and still reading!

Books finished in May and June:

Hopefully, with the hot afternoons of July upon us, I will be getting more reading done while staying cool indoors parked in front of our window air conditioner. And hopefully, we won’t have a repeat of that record-breaking heat wave! I don’t want to repeat those three days of 104, 109, and 112 degrees!

I hope this post finds you enjoying your summer, and that it is filled with sunshine and books…and nice mild temperatures!

Back to the Library

Illustration by David Small. Cover of The Library, by Sarah Stewart.

Long closed due to the pandemic, our library has finally reopened! Hallelujah! On Friday, I visited it for the first time in I can’t remember how long, and it was a delightful 20 minutes I spent there. They have excellent virus protection precautions in place, and as a result, we are restricted to a 30 minute time period. There were only two of us there, besides the librarians, so it was incredibly quiet. Oh, how I’ve missed being able to walk there and spend time exploring the stacks!

I Cherish…#5: Dad’s Rose Garden

Today, my Dad would have turned 101 years old! He’s been gone for 27 years now, but I cherish my very special memories of him. They keep him close to me every day. The last time we drove past our old family home (pre-pandemic), his rose garden was flourishing! It warmed my heart to see his beloved roses in bloom, still gracing the old neighborhood with their beauty.

April Reflections, 2021

My reading in April really dropped off, due to some happy busy-ness. Reading time was given over to Spring garden projects, a visit from our daughter for the first time in most of a year, and the call to be outdoors by the return of very pleasant weather.

I was able to finish two books in April. The first one was Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell, (which I loved). The second one was The Consequences of Fear, by Jacqueline Winspear, (a fun addition to her Maisie Dobbs series). I also made a little more progress in my long-term project of reading The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a book that is both painful and fascinating to read.

I must confess that not spending so much time reading during the day was delightful. It is simply wonderful to be outside in the sunshine after the long gray days of rainy winter/early spring in the Pacific Northwest.

 

January Reflections, 2021

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I was so happy to welcome this January and this new year! After all the difficulties of 2020, how nice to have a “new beginning”!  And the month was filled with LIFE.

Weather-wise, January started with unusually warm weather and all our bulbs thought Spring had arrived. Mid-month, we had a week of major rainstorms with flooding and the closing of many streets in the area, and with water in our basement (110-year-old home with a leaky foundation). After the rains and the flooding subsided, we had a storm that dumped a couple of inches of snow on us!  It didn’t stick around very long, however, with the temperatures warming back up to 39-40 degrees during the day, but we enjoyed it while we could.

Hubby and I were able to get our first dose of the Covid vaccine (Moderna). Hubby has some health issues that put him into the first phase, and because of that, I was also able to get my first dose. We are now anxiously waiting to make appointments for our second dose. So far, we haven’t been able to do that. Yikes!

My reading this month was both productive and enjoyable. Productive in that I focused on reading more books from my Classics Club list. I have now read 45 out of the 50 books I planned on reading for my 5-year period of time. My favorite reads this month were from that list: The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim; The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame; and Most Secret, by Nevil Shute. Another favorite was the audiobook of Stacy Abrams’ book, Our Time is Now. I will be reviewing that one soon.

I am really looking forward to my February reading! Because it is Black History Month, I’ve decided that my focus will be to choose from the wealth of excellent books by black authors– from classics to modern fiction to non-fiction to books for young people! I have so many good books already waiting for me!

 

 

The Measure of My Days

Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were interesting, and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate. I grow more intense as I age.

I have had this book on my shelf for ages. But as I move into the years she wrote about, her seventies and eighties, I decided to finally read Florida Scott-Maxwell’s, The Measure of My Days. It’s a quiet book, with many thoughts about her daily life, about aging, and about death. I do not live alone at this point, but I am touched by her thoughts on aging and being alone, and think of my mother and how she handled those years. I see them coming ahead of me, sooner than I would like, and look for guidance and wisdom to help me along. And she most definitely has wisdom and guidance to share with me! Here are a few examples of some of her thoughts that resonated with me…

I wonder if living alone makes one more alive. No precious energy goes in disagreement or compromise. No need to augment others, there is just yourself, just truth—a morsel—and you. You went through those long years when it was pain to be alone, now you have come out on the good side of that severe discipline. Alone you have your own way all day long, and you become very natural. Perhaps this naturalness extends into heights and depths, going further than we know; as we cannot voice it we must just treasure it as the life that enriches our days.

It is not easy to be sure that being yourself is worth the trouble, but we do know it is our sacred duty.

The crucial task of age is balance, a veritable tightrope of balance; keeping just well enough, just brave enough, just gay and interested and starkly honest enough to remain a sentient human being.

When a new disability arrives I look about to see if death has come, and I call quietly, “Death, is that you? Are you there?”. So far the disability has answered, “Don’t be silly, it’s me.”

I want to tell people approaching and perhaps fearing old age that it is a time of discovery. If they say “Of what?” I can only answer “We must find out for ourselves, otherwise it wouldn’t be discovery.”

One cannot be honest even at the end of one’s life, for no one is wholly alone. We are bound to those we love, or to those who love us, and to those who need us to be brave, or content, or even happy enough to allow them not to worry about us. So we must refrain from giving pain, as our last gift to our fellows.

Florida Scott-Maxwell, painted by Amanda Brewster Sewell.

When I bought the book, I hadn’t heard of her, I just liked the concept of the book. So, for those of you who have never heard of her, either, I’m including a short biography of Florida Scott-Maxwell from The Poem Hunter.com:

Florida Pier was born in Orange Park, Florida, and educated at home until the age of ten. She grew up in Pittsburgh, then moved to New York at age 15 to become an actress. In 1910 she married John Scott Maxwell and moved to her husband’s native Scotland, where she worked for women’s suffrage and as a playwright. The couple divorced in 1929 and she moved to London. In 1933 she studied Jungian psychology under Carl Jung and practised as an analytical psychologist in both England and Scotland. She died in Exeter, England. Her most famous book is The Measure of My Days (1968).

 

 

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

Ketchup

When I taught Sixth Grade, there were times in the afternoon that I would occasionally bag the lessons I had planned and call for a catch-up time, which my students affectionately named  “Ketchup time.”  Life and responsibilities gets overwhelming sometimes and it’s good to remember to give yourself a break from what you think you should be doing and just give yourself (or your students, in that case) a gift of time to catch up with yourself. The students would cheer when Ketchup time was called, and would finish assignments, read a good book, draw, create art projects, or watch what was happening out the window. Those were many of the happiest times in my classroom over the years, for the teacher and for the students!

I am so far behind on my reviews of books I’ve been reading! So I’m going to give myself some “Ketchup time.” I’ll write reviews, or make a list of books I’ve read during the pandemic (without the pressure to review them), or just spend some time looking out the window. So please bear with me as I Ketchup with myself and my blog. Reviews will be coming.

Positivity and Gratitude

The year 2020 has been a cruel one in so many ways. It has felt like one thing after another, and each time we think the worst has happened, another challenge pops up that takes even more to deal with…

There. I’ve stated my overall view of this year, but the way I am choosing to deal with it all is to continue to look for the good, the beautiful, the special, and all the little things that bring meaning and happiness to my life. The word I chose for this year is “Gratitude,” and that word has helped me get through the many trials that we’ve faced in 2020. In the midst of the chaos and cruelty, I have been mindfully grateful for so many things. Here are a few of them:

I am grateful for my husband who, in my opinion, is the best person on earth to be quarantined with! I love our long walks and long talks!

I am grateful that my daughter, son-in-law, son, and grandson have all been healthy this year and able to stay safe during the quarantine.

I am grateful that my oldest brother, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 in late May or early June, was asymptomatic and recovered without any damage.

I am grateful for the weekly Zoom calls with my brothers and their wives. We call ourselves the “Famnet,” and share weekly updates of our lives (next week is call #38!). Our parents would have loved this new way of family communication! These Zoom calls definitely beat the family meetings my parents used to hold when we were little…which we dubbed “Gripe Sessions.”

I am grateful for my exercise class and my tai chi class being taught online so I can continue with them despite the restrictions of quarantine.

I am grateful for the beauty that surrounds us. My husband and I have been making a couple of trips a week (short drive) to the coffee shop and then to Fern Hill Wetlands in the early morning hours to watch the geese and ducks, the bald eagles, and the Redwing Blackbirds…and to talk over all of life’s little and big problems while we look out over that beautiful and life-filled view.

I am grateful, this year especially, to be retired, an introvert, and a reader, which made staying home less stressful than so many other people’s months of quarantine!

And I am deeply grateful for the medical people, the caretakers, the scientists, and all the essential workers who have have given so much and helped us deal with this pandemic, and who have cared for our loved ones when ill or dying.

The list is actually endless, I realize now. GRATITUDE was the right word to choose for 2020.  And I already know which word I will choose for 2021, but will talk about that later.