I have loved these special Zinnias (Zinnia Señora) I planted this year! I purchased the seeds from Floret Flowers in Washington State. They’ve bloomed nonstop throughout the summer, and I hope they last until the very last minute before frost. What joy beautiful flowers bring!
We are well into mid-August and the usual heat of summer has been replaced by the especially miserable record-breaking heat, drought, fire, and smoky air. We do all our errands in the early morning, occasionally picking up a cup of coffee at Starbucks and then hanging out at Fern Hill Wetlands watching the birds and the birdwatchers. Then, it’s home to hunker down as the heat of the day builds up and the air becomes worse. And I must add that the hunkering down is also part of our daily protection plan for my husband’s compromised immune system during this time of raging variants!
So, all that sounds pretty grim, but the nice thing about it all is that we are getting a lot of reading done, are enjoying watching our current K-drama during the day instead of after dinner, and are having fun trying out new recipes. Adjust and Adapt!
Books read and enjoyed in the last few weeks:
A Song for Lonely Wolves, by Lee Evie. The first book in a new mystery/detective series that takes place during the Joseon Dynasty in Korean history. The main character is a talented young female detective during a period of time when women were not valued. A very interesting historical fiction mystery. I’m looking forward to reading on in the series when the new books come out.
Notes on Grief is a short book by Chimamanga Ngozi Adichie about the death of her father during the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown last year. (He did not die of Covid.) It is a beautifully written account of his sudden death and the grief that followed, complicated by the restrictions of the pandemic. “I am writing about my father in the past tense, and I cannot believe I am writing about my father in the past tense.” It is a deeply personal, yet completely universal, story, and I appreciated her honesty and her sharing her grief with us. I wrote down many quotes from this book because I know they will give me strength later on. “Grief was the celebration of love, those who could feel real grief were lucky to have loved.”
My emotions are like a roller coaster these days, since my husband’s diagnosis. We have days that are “mostly normal” and days where waves of sadness hit us hard. So after reading Notes on Grief, I decided to return to the kind and gentle world of Miss Read’s Fairacre. I picked up the 15th volume in the series, Village Centenary, and read it through in a short few days. It was an absolute delight, and exactly what my soul needed. In this book, the village celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the village school. Most of the residents of Fairacre went to the school, and the town comes together to honor the old school with a wonderful celebration at the end of the year. “There was no doubt about it, Fairacre School was the heart of our village, and memories of their own schooldays quickened the adults’ response to this tribute to its hundred years.” What a lovely series, and this was one of my favorites of the ones I’ve read so far.
We are currently enjoying watching the South Korean drama, Bossam: Steal the Fate. It’s a highly entertaining series about a man of the Joseon Dynasty who mistakenly kidnaps the widowed daughter of the king. Bossam” was a “customary remarriage procedure” during that period of time. “A widow could not remarry. A single man or widower would kidnap the widow and marry her. Some of the kidnappings were agreed upon in advance and others were by force.” So a man could be hired to do the kidnapping, but things went awry with this particular job! It is both humorous and serious, with wonderful acting, costuming, and filming — just a fun and very addictive historical drama.
Aside from reading and watching historical South Korean dramas, keeping my garden alive in the heat this summer has been a full-time job. I have to get it all watered before the heat builds up, so I start early and finish before noon. Fortunately, my zinnias like the heat!
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:
- Seesaw Girl, by Linda Sue Park
- Beginner’s Mind, by Yo-Yo Ma
- Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
- A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry
- Death by Dumpling, by Vivien Chien
- The Firekeeper’s Son, by Linda Sue Park
- The House in the Clouds, by Victoria Connelly
- The Living Reed, by Pearl S. Buck
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!
This year, 2020, is the strangest year! I posted this 2020 version of the calendar on my Instagram account, and we’re all just hoping (but not holding our breath) that December will be like that…nice and normal! But the quarantine days in the middle there are exactly what it has felt like to me. One big jumble of days!
But I’m checking in here to say HI to everyone, and report that we are all well here, although the summer has not been without stresses and anxieties. I am so grateful, though, for our wellness, our resilience, and all the love and support of family and friends!
Some time in April, my oldest brother tested positive for Covid-19. It was such a shock to hear that news. But he was without symptoms, and couldn’t believe that he had tested positive. He was in isolation (at home) for 10 days, then in quarantine for 24 days beyond that. He never developed any symptoms that he could discern, and at the end of the quarantine time, he and his wife were tested again and both results were negative. Also, he requested an antibody test, and that returned negative, as well. We will never know if he was simply one of those asymptomatic cases, or whether his test was one of the 5% false positives. We are all just deeply grateful for his good health.
Our summer projects are moving along slowly. I ended up not planting a vegetable garden this spring/summer, but the butterfly garden is doing really well and looking quite pretty. I’m getting ready to plant some autumn veggie crops in the raised beds, and look forward to planting lots of bulbs for the spring. Hubby has been working on the patio cover next to the new shed in backyard. Our pace on these usual projects seems to have really slowed down. I think it’s due to what I call “quarantine fatigue.”
My reading, however, has NOT slowed down, but sped up. I finished Deborah Crombie’s mystery series, and read a number of books for my anti-racist self-education. And then, at a friend’s suggestion, I tried out the first book in a “romance” series. I hardly ever read books from that genre, but I thought I’d give it a try for some lightweight summer reading, and now I’m already on book #9. I got completely captured by Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, which takes place in a very small town in the mountains of northern California. Once I met the people of the town, I was hooked. Robyn Carr does relationships (and sex) very well, the men are all decent and kind, the women (almost all get pregnant) are strong and independent, and everyone cares about and helps each other. So Virgin River has not been a bad place to spend this crazy summer!
I hope that you and yours are all healthy and safe this summer, and I hope you are enjoying your summer reading.
Stay safe, my friends.
“Summer Reading”… those two words evoke wonderful memories, and always fill me with anticipation for the great reads of the next few months. Our library is still in lockdown for the quarantine, but hopefully it will reopen soon and my summer can include walks to the library every few days. And, of course, I plan to do much of my reading on the porch!
I don’t have a specific plan or list for my summer reading, but there are a couple of books I have in mind that would be perfect summer reading. The first one, which I’ve already started, is The Solitary Summer, by Elizabeth von Arnim. It’s turning out to be a perfectly delightful porch read!
And I ordered a 4 book series called “A Gardening Mystery,” by Mary Freeman. The books were hard to find, but they seemed like the perfect combination of my favorites: mysteries and gardening. I hope they turn out to be a lot of fun!
And there are lots of books on my Classics Club list, and my personal challenges lists. I have so much to read, so it won’t be difficult at all to fill up the summer with pleasurable reading.
Welcome, September! I love late summer in the Pacific Northwest! There’s usually very little rain (this year especially) and after Labor Day the temperatures are mostly mild. It’s one of the loveliest times of the year here, and especially lovely for reading on the porch!
Currently reading: three children’s books from the library about Wangara Maathai
Currently on my Kindle: The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
Current audiobook: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, narrated by Thandie Newton
I’m looking forward to my September reading. My stack of mysteries is ready for R.I.P-XIV, as are other books on my TBR lists for the various challenges I’m working on. September will also include some nice long walks and perhaps a day trip or two over the Coastal Range to the ocean fifty miles away.
So glad you’re here at last, September!
Hello, August! It looks like you will be a very busy month for me! Road trip for the first two weeks, then anniversaries and appointments. And then there’s that wonderful feeling of freedom that arrives mid-month when I once again realize that I don’t have to set up my classroom, begin the planning and preparation for another school year. I’m retired! Reading on the porch, watering the garden, picking cherry tomatoes. August, you are a lovely feeling, really.
We have had a milder July than usual. While so much of the country has been enduring sweltering heat, the temperatures here in western Oregon have been moderate and thus delightful. The flowers in our garden(s) have done well, and we are especially enjoying the flower garden our daughter planted last year. It is filling in more and more each year, and so it is getting prettier and prettier. This summer she is in the process of planting her own gardens at her new home…a very happy project for her.
We have three tubs where we planted blueberries a few years ago. This summer two of the plants produced masses of blueberries! One little plant didn’t have any blueberries at all, and I don’t know why. Perhaps next year?
The vegetable garden is much neglected this year. I have two empty raised beds (a sin, I know!) that I will plant with fall crops when we return from our August trip. But I did plant beets that are coming along nicely, and two cherry tomato plants that have little green tomatoes on them right now.
The outdoor project that has taken up most of our time this summer is the new “Garden/Bicycle Shed” my husband (and his trusty assistant here!) is building. It’s supposed to be half garden potting shed and half work-on-his-bicycles shed, but I think there’s more room dedicated to bicycles than gardens. Not complaining, though! I’m going to love have some potting shed space of my own.
The most delightful thing about July this year has been sitting on the front porch reading. Usually, it’s just too hot to sit out there at this time of year.