It’s seem appropriate that I wrote about the most recent book I read, The Diviners by Libba Bray, on the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. Why? Because this suspenseful novel is set during the roaring twenties and illicit gin and hidden speakeasies both make appearances.
This book was originally brought to my attention by a student, an occurrence which is incredibly gratifying. I avoided the book initially because it is 578 pages and seemed like a big commitment. The first 100 pages or so did nothing to hasten the speed of which I read, but, things quickly changed for me as the various characters began to both make an impression as individuals and reveal the manner in which they were interconnected within the story.
I won’t divulge too many details, but here’s the gist: seventeen-year-old Evie gets sent to live with her bachelor uncle in New York City after she scandalizes her hometown by accusing a well-regarded peer of getting someone in “a family way.” Her uncle is the proprietor of a museum dedicated to American folklore, superstition and the occult and Evie becomes involved in solving a mystery involving a serial killer who has seemingly returned from the dead.
There are all sorts of plot twists and the novel is filled with elements relating to WW I, various social movements of the time and historical figures. The last two hundred pages were a struggle for me – I could not put the book down! Here are a couple of quotes which caught my eye:
Spoken by flapper girl, Evie: “There is a hideous invention called the Dewey decimal System. And you have to look up your topic in books and newspapers. Pages upon pages…I though research would be more glamorous, somehow. I’d give the librarian a secret code word and he’d give me the one book I needed and whisper the necessary page numbers. Like a speakeasy. With books.”
Wouldn’t it be lovely if that were true!
And this from Evie’s Uncle will: “People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense – words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions – words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.”
Pretty deep, right?
This was the 65th book I’ve read this year (!) and is definitely one of the most memorable. Loved it!
There’s something about a hot shower after a run on a fall night…Stripping off the layers of second skin UnderArmour and stepping into a steamy shower is one of my favorite parts of an evening run. There is really only one thing that beats it, though, a hot bath!
Seriously, nothing compels me to get out the Ajax and scrub the tub more than my desire for a good soak. As I prep the bathtub, my anticipation for 20 minutes of pure relaxation is almost as tangible as the ring around the tub from my last bath. A few minutes of cleaning and the way is paved for me to immerse myself up to my chin in bubbles – bliss.
Speaking of bubbles – do you have a favorite bath salt or brand of bubbles you like to use? I haven’t really found one to settle on and instead tend to try new ones all the time. My most recent purchase, Kneipp’s eucalyptus herbal bath, has proven to be a worthy contender for best smelling bubbles ever. It only takes the smallest of capfuls (which is good because this stuff isn’t cheap) and the bathroom fills with a scent guaranteed to alleviate any sniffles or tightness in your chest. Amazing!
I’m in the market for an equally satisfying body scrub. Any recommendations to share? I’d even be open to making my own if someone could point me in the direction of a “recipe” that isn’t overly complicated. I love fragrances like eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender, if that helps. Thanks!
I grew up in a house surrounded by books. Holidays and birthdays always came with books and I have vivid memories about my favorites. Two titles which greatly impacted me are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. Now, these are two seemingly different books, but, I’ve recently realized they have a consistent message about the importance of home.
The story of Miss Suzy is a sad one. Poor Miss Suzy, a grey squirrel, is forced from her home (complete with acorn lamps!) because of a rough group of red squirrels. She is able to find a new place to live, a home she realizes she shares with an army of wooden soldiers.
Miss Suzy befriends the soldiers and, in appreciation for the kindnesses she shows the soldiers, they reclaim her home from the red squirrel gang. They lived happily ever after, but I still harbor negative feelings about red squirrels.
The Little House is a completely different tale. In this book, a lovely home is built in the country. As times passes, development occurs and the house transitions from rural to suburban to urban. Eventually, the little house is surrounded by skyscrapers and busy roads, in a fashion which is similar to a recurring nightmare I had with frequency during my twenties. Change is scary. Finally, the little house is purchased and loaded onto a truck and taken to a new country setting and everyone is happy again.
I hope there is a similar outcome with this house on New Scotland, near the intersection with Whitehall Road. What once must have been a beautifully located home is now sadly wedged between an Amedore built condo development. I know nothing about the circumstances which caused this to happen, but the property has been on the market for quite some time and I would hope that it will ultimately have a conclusion similar to that of the Little House.
Full Hunter’s Moon by Raven Wu
October’s Hunter’s Full Moon run with the Lunar Bitches had a lot going on. It had been an entire month since we had all been together and life moves fast. We all have children and full time jobs (+) and relationships to maintain and we are definitely busy.
Our runs are generally an easy combination of conversation and silence, along with a few “watch outs” thrown in as we tread through less than clear paths. Kind of like life, it seems.
I realized on Sunday night that we have some strong common threads, in addition to the running, which serve to connect us. We each have children who have challenges with which they struggle. Our struggle as moms often is to find the “right” balance between helping our kids by helping them and helping them by not helping them. There isn’t a cool app we can use to measure our success as we do our runs. It isn’t easy, but we’re trying to teach our children independence and personal responsibility.
All three of have in the last year or so have had a change in our careers, be it be in our hours, employers or the populations with which we work. There was a limited amount of complaining by each of us when the new positions were initially meted out by the universe, but it seems now that we have unanimously been able to transition to a positive place professionally. We’ve landed on our feet.
During our runs, through fields and on rock strewn dirt roads, there’s always some stumbling. We’ve come to learn and, more importantly, appreciate the obstacles which threaten to trip us up occasionally. How we recover from that which threatens our balance has become an opportunity to exercise our strength.
I’m already looking forward to November’s Frost Moon and run.
From Louise Erdich:
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
- The Painted Drum
Go eat some apples – now.
Let’s forgive me for not getting to this until what is essentially the second week of September, ok? Seeing that the school year is beginning so late, I’ve kind of been pretending that this past weekend was Labor Day. But, without further ado…
For the third year in a row, I completed the Warrior Dash down at Windham Mountain. Kind of pleased with this year’s results: 62nd of 779 in my age group, 1463 of 7300.
I became obsessed with Orange is the New Black. Have you watched it yet? When does season two start??
My Quinnie became sick while we were on vacation and I reflected on how stressful sick children, far from our pediatrician, can be.
I had a meltdown about needing bangs – STAT!
The movie theater became the perfect babysitter so I could take a run.
Finding the “perfect” Cape Cod house can be a real test of patience and acceptance.
And there are a few things you don’t want to find in your temporary beach home.
There was a little bit of panic as the days of August started growing shorter.
And a lot of discussion about twerking and expressing oneself.
Finally, my piece from the Sept/Oct issue of Women@Work talked about how not to Fear the Fall.
What have you been up to??
Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, Events, Exercise, family, favorites, Martha's Vineyard, Moms@Work, Observations, running, sick, Summer, travel, vacation
After being back and settled in the DelSo for a week, I thought I’d share what I missed this summer while away. Some of the items on the list, I may take for granted when I’m home, while others are always appreciated. The list is not in any order, although alphabetical would naturally be my first impulse. I’m a librarian, remember?
- My pillows. I wish I could bring them along on the vacation, but there just isn’t enough room in the car – and there are only two.
- My coffee bean grinder. What do you mean not everyone grinds their beans freshly each morning?
- My griddle pan. Traditionally, I bring my waffle iron along on the trip, but next year I may need to find some space for my go-to pancake/grilled cheese making surface. Making either of these items individually makes no sense when you can make three at a time.
- Our sweet old lab, Cassidy Bono Lilly, especially when I read stories like this gem from Paul Grondahl.
- Him. Because I like having him around.
What do you find yourself missing the most when away from home?
Filed under Albany, breakfast, Cape Cod, Cooking, DelSo, family, favorites, friends, Martha's Vineyard, Summer, travel, vacation