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EBT1002/Ellen's 75 in 2012 - February

This is a continuation of the topic EBT1002's 75 in 2012 - Part 1.

This topic was continued by EBT1002/Ellen's 75 in 2012 - March.

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Feb 4, 2012, 1:49pm Top

February 3 and it looks like this today,
except photos of Seattle always make the Space Needle look like the tallest structure in the city.
It's not. Not by a long shot.

Edited: Feb 28, 2012, 9:48am Top

Completed in January 2012

1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
3. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
4. Dogs by Emily Gravett
5. Wolves by Emily Gravett
6. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
7. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
8. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
9. Letter From a Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
10. Still Life by Louise Penny
11. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

Completed in February

12. True Grit by Charles Portis
13. The Pleasures of Japanese Literature by Donald Keene
14. Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
15. Mister Blue by Jacques Poulin
16. Tibet: Through the Red Box by Peter Sis
17. The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin by Peter Sis
18. Losing Battles by Eudora Welty
19. The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck
20. Fair Play by Tove Jansson
21. Silence by Shusaku Endo

Feb 3, 2012, 8:37pm Top

Hi Ellen- Love the Seattle shot! Nice! And congrats on Thread 2! These crazy 75ers are churning through the Threads, like a mad Pac-Man.

Feb 3, 2012, 8:42pm Top

Wow, Ellen, that's a beautiful picture of the Seattle skyline! We've been having great weather in Idaho too (not quite as warm as where you are but lots of sun). It's been a very unusual winter. Have fun with your friends tonight.

Feb 3, 2012, 11:16pm Top

Wasn't today glorious? And it's supposed to stick around all weekend. Btw, what do you think of all the SPL hoopla?

Feb 3, 2012, 11:32pm Top

Congrats on the new thread Ellen! Hope you're having a great evening with your friends. As for the books... they'll be there when you have time for them. Worse comes to worse, you can always borrow them again, right? ;-)

Feb 3, 2012, 11:36pm Top

Well-done on your new thread! That's a beautiful photo of Seattle.

Feb 4, 2012, 12:37am Top

Ellen - finally a new thread ....and no disasters I see; congratulations!

Crystal clear and stunning view of Seattle - LT meet up almost guaranteed for next year as USA is very much on SWMBO's agenda then and I hope to get the time to have a month there in August next year.

Feb 4, 2012, 12:47am Top

Great photo of Seattle - have always wanted to go there but haven't made it yet.

Feb 4, 2012, 1:48pm Top

Mark, Pat, Lisa, Ilana, Gail, Paul, and Cushla --
You found me!

Lisa, I'm not sure exactly to what hoopla you're referring. I did complete a customer survey for them, giving my opinions regarding prioritizing services, hours, on-line functions, etc. Is there something else going on with the SPL of which I'm not aware?

It's another glorious day in Seattle. Sunny, 50s. We have windows open all around the house to let some fresh air move through. Nice.

I finished reading True Grit this morning. What a fun read. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen (and I do think the Coen Brothers did a good and true production), the final scenes were gripping. Mattie's voice is so clean and clear, capturing the rhythms of early 20th century southern speech. Her prim Presbyterian values are articulated not only in her content but in her manner of story-telling. 4.5 stars and Highly Recommended.

Edited: Feb 4, 2012, 2:15pm Top

Starting to read:

Feb 4, 2012, 2:17pm Top

Hi Ellen, congratulations on your new thread. I'll be starting my new thread later on today. The weather is gorgeous right now isn't it. I should be outside enjoying the sunshine instead of inside on the computer.

Let's see - you recently read The Sisters Brothers and now True Grit, have you got any more Westerns you are planning on reading?

Feb 4, 2012, 3:34pm Top

"True Grit" is also on my tbr-list since I watched the Coen Brothers' movie. Do you read more "western"-literature? If you do, I'd certainly like some recommendations (:

Feb 4, 2012, 6:20pm Top

Other than Sisters Brothers and True Grit, I'm not much of a reader of Westerns. I enjoyed The Cold Dish and the couple other Walt Longmire mysteries I read - set in Wyoming, but not really Westerns, per se.

Today is the most beautiful day we've had in weeks. Months. I did a 4-mile run down by the lake and around Seward Park. I'm pooped but it feels good.

Feb 4, 2012, 6:35pm Top

Ellen- I'm so glad you loved True Grit. I can't believe it took me so long to get to that one and I love westerns (good ones anyway).
Do not give up on westerns, until you read Doc. That one was amazing!

Feb 4, 2012, 6:42pm Top

Mark, I have Doc on hold at the library. I don't know where I am in the queue, but I think I'll get to read it this spring.

Feb 4, 2012, 7:35pm Top

Hi Ellen!
Found your thread easily! Glad you are enjoying the great weather... Sun and moderate temps :)

Feb 4, 2012, 7:55pm Top

Hi Ellen, another huge tick for True Grit and I'm pleased to hear the film stuck closely to the book, I'm not a fan when movies start to take massive liberties with an already good story.

Feb 4, 2012, 11:02pm Top

found you, Ellen!

Feb 5, 2012, 7:25am Top

Way behind, but I'm loving your beautiful picture of Seattle!

Edited: Feb 5, 2012, 4:56pm Top

I'm almost through with The Pleasures of Japanese Literature by Donald Keene. Darryl recommended this for the Author Theme Reads group that's focusing on some Japanese novelists for 2012. I have one book to read in the first quarter of the year (which is, er, now), along with a small stack of books by Endo for reading throughout the year, and I think having read this little book will be helpful. I admit to skimming parts of it, but will share some notes from the first chapter that were especially grounding. I'll need to be sure to get to one of my Japanese novels sooner rather than later, so what I'm learning will be fresh in my mind.

Another beautiful day in Seattle. Heading to a park for a walk, and then to the library to pick up a stack of books on hold (uh oh), and then to some friends' for a Superbowl party. I'll be rooting for the Giants but without much gusto.

Feb 5, 2012, 2:04pm Top

Perhaps you will root for the Patriots with much gusto instead, Ellen? *hopeful grin*

Feb 5, 2012, 2:15pm Top

Hi Ellen, lovely new thread here introduced by that awe inspiring picture of Seattle. I'd forgotten what a beautiful city you live in.

I'm curious about The Pleasures of Japanese Literature. While I am intrigued by the writing of H. Murakami, I could not get into the book I recently read by Nobel winner Kenzaburo Oe. Was he mentioned in your book?

Enjoy the Super Bowl party. We're having a party of two at our house.

Edited: Feb 5, 2012, 4:56pm Top

Cee - yes, enjoying the weather immensely! We went for a walk around Beacon Hill Park this afternoon and the views of the city and the snow-covered Olympic mountains behind the Puget Sounds were breathtaking. I even enjoyed watching the skateboarders at the new skate park for a little while.

Leonie - The Coen Brothers were very true to the novel, even to the detail of the nest of snakes napping within the ribcage of a long-dead skeleton. (eew)

Hi Roni and Deb!

Caro - sorry, but I dislike Eli a bit less than I dislike Tom. xo

Donna, here are my notes about The Pleasures of Japanese Literature:

This is a great introduction to Japanese poetry, fiction, and theater, but it focused much more on the historical roots of each of these art forms than on modern Japanese literature. I admit to reading the first chapter, about Japanese aesthetics, with the most interest. Keene articulates four characteristics of particular importance in the Japanese sense of beauty: suggestion, irregularity, simplicity, and perishability. Here is one quote I noted regarding each:

Suggestion: "The full moon or the cherry blossoms at their peak do not suggest the crescent or the buds (or the waning moon and the strewn flowers), but the crescent and the buds do suggest full flowering. Beginnings that suggest what is to come, or ends that suggest what has been, allow the imagination room to expand beyond the literal facts to the limits of the capacities of the reader of a poem, the spectator at a No play, or the connoisseur of a monochrome painting" (p. 9).

Irregularity: "Japanese children are taught in calligraphy lessons never to bisect a horizontal stroke with a vertical one: the vertical stroke should always cross the horizontal one at some point not equidistant from both ends. A symmetrical character is considered to be 'dead'" (p. 11).

Simplicity: "Perhaps the most extreme example of the Japanese love for unobtrusive elegance is the tea ceremony.... The tea ceremony is sometimes attacked today as a perversion of the ideal of simplicity. The prized utensils are by not means ordinary wares but may cost fortunes. But the spending of a great deal of money in order to achieve an appearance of bare simplicity is quite in keeping with Japanese tradition" (p. 16).

and "The taste of natural ingredients, not tampered with by sauces, is the ideal of Japanese cuisine; and the fineness of a man's palate is often tested by his ability to distinguish between virtually tasteless dishes of the same species" (p. 17).

Perishability: "Signs of wear and tear such as the fraying of a silk scroll wrapper or the loss of mother-of-pearl inlay from the roller would probably dismay most other people, and it is likely that the owner would send for a restorer, but in Japan an object of such perfection, such gleaming newness that it might have been made yesterday has seemed less desirable that a work that has passed through many hands and shows it" (p. 19).

and "The common Western craving for objects in mint condition, that look as if they were painted or sculpted the day before, tends to deprive antiques of their history; the Japanese prize the evidence that a work of art has been held in many hands" (p. 19).

I don't know if my consideration of these five themes will help as I delve into some Japanese novels, such as I am a Cat by Soseki Natsume, or The Samurai, Deep River, or Silence, all by Shusaku Endo. But I feel a little bit more prepared to gain something from my readings. I also plan to read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami at some point this year, even though he's not one of the Japanese authors being read by the Author Theme Reads group:

Year-long Author: Shusaku Endo
Mini-author 1 (Jan-Mar): Natsume Soseki
Mini-author 2 (Apr-June): Kobe Abe
Mini-author 3 (July-Sep): Ryu Murakami
Mini-author 4 (Oct-Dec): Yukio Mishima

Feb 5, 2012, 5:00pm Top

Today I'm starting to read Lying Awake by Mark Salzman. I read this a number of years ago and remember loving it, but don't remember the narrative at all. It looks like a pretty quick read.

Feb 5, 2012, 11:54pm Top

I lurked here earlier today, but thought I'd at least say hi. Wishing you a great week Ellen!

Feb 6, 2012, 7:55am Top

:( You were lost.... or I was lost..

found and starred now...

Feb 6, 2012, 9:55am Top

Ugh, lousy night of sleep. Or should I say lousy night of not much sleep. I'm getting spikes of anxiety thanks to this upcoming presentation to the Regents of the university. I know it will be fine (and that I won't be perfect) but it's hard to soothe the nerves. Sat up at 3am to read a chapter of Lying Awake, which I'm very much enjoying, but the alarm still went off at 6. Hopefully today I can get the outline and the handouts pretty close to complete. I can't over-prepare or I get wooden in my presentation style --- I'm much better at extemporaneously answering questions and discussing material --- , but I do need to have an outline about which I feel confident.

Feb 6, 2012, 9:56am Top

Hi Ilana and Lisa!!!

Feb 6, 2012, 10:19am Top

Dont worry Ellen I'm sure that your "less than perfect" will work out splendidly! I know what you mean about over preparedness for presentations - my own training seminars are normally done in two sections - in the mornings I bore everyone to tears with my prepared notes and after filling my stomach place a chair in the centre of the seminar hall - sit down in it and field questions for the rest of the afternoon! Always goes down well and I get a huge kick from it to be honest. The key always is to be yourself - that is always more than good enough!

Edited: Feb 6, 2012, 10:22am Top

Thanks, Richard! I love your description of your full-day seminars. I would be exactly the same way. So, I'll present for 15-20 minutes and hope they have questions. I'm sure they will.....

Feb 6, 2012, 12:00pm Top

Ellen, I wish you all the best with your presentation, but I'm sure you you'll do more than fine. Worse comes to worse, you can bring a book you think they might enjoy being read to them! ;-)

Feb 6, 2012, 8:51pm Top

Of course it will all be good, Ellen. Just the fact that you are preparing and conscientious will assure your success. :)

Sending confident energy *******
Let me know if you also need a glass of wine ;-)

Feb 6, 2012, 9:08pm Top

Hope things went well today with the preparations for your presentation, Ellen. It sounds like you're doing everything possible to ensure it will go well. Sending lots of calming vibes your way.

Feb 6, 2012, 9:51pm Top

Thanks for the positive energy, Ilana, Cee, and Pat. It's 6:50pm and I'm about ready to head home. I've done all I can do for now and the other person who's presenting with me needs to look over the outline and the handouts. I'm feeling nervous and confident, all at the same time!

32: Hmmmm, I wonder what book one would read to a table-full of people, most of whom have "CEO" in their title (yes, this is a high-powered group)...... Maybe The Velveteen Rabbit!

Feb 6, 2012, 10:05pm Top

Okay, it's now 7:05 and I've spent the last 15 minutes doing some drive-bys on LT. Whew. Can't keep up. Heading home to some dinner and the rest of Lying Awake (which I hope I don't do again tonight!).

Feb 6, 2012, 10:34pm Top

sssshhhhh..... Ellen's trying to finish Lying Awake ....... *tiptoes away*

Feb 7, 2012, 8:24am Top

Did it work.. did you finish and then not?
Curious minds..

Feb 7, 2012, 9:54am Top

LOL, Caro & kath! -- yes, it worked. You all were so quiet. How did you do that?

I finished Lying Awake, which I'll give 3.5 stars and recommend. I'll write more comments later. THEN I took an Ambien and read the first chapter of Mister Blue by Jacques Poulin before drifting off into sleep. I'm going to swear off Ambien for the rest of the week. It helps a lot but I also know I can function well enough even if I've had a couple of nights of insomnia.

Feb 7, 2012, 9:59am Top

#31 Richard? Glad the presentation went well Ellen and I'm sure that feedback will be positive.

Feb 7, 2012, 10:25am Top

PAUL!!!!! I am so sorry. Sheesh, what is up with me? You are not Richard. You really aren't. And I know that.

Great, my awful memory for names generalizes to the internet.

Paul, xoxox.

Feb 7, 2012, 10:27am Top

Currently reading:

Feb 7, 2012, 10:27am Top

Only pulling your leg Cynthia.......erm I mean Ellen - I should be proud to be mistaken for Richard!

Feb 7, 2012, 10:30am Top

I think there are any number of souls in this group for whom we should be proud to be mistaken. Still, I do have some standards for myself.....

Feb 7, 2012, 11:17am Top

Struck by the irony of reading Lying Awake while enduring at least low-grade insomnia...life is so odd.

Hope today is/was a smashing success with as little stress as possible.

Feb 7, 2012, 8:41pm Top

Sorry that you have had insomnia! For some reason I got the Anne's mixed up as the one of them off to Hawaii, but it's you, is it not? Now my younger son says he and his girlfriend are off to Oahu in April after they graduate University. Enjoy yourself! Sorry for the insomnia!

Feb 7, 2012, 9:10pm Top

Well, another busy day and I'm feeling better and better as I prep for Thursday's big presentation. I can't keep up at work, but at least I'm feeling competent these days.

Gail, I know - I didn't even realize the irony until I was writing about it on LT. At 3am, I guess I wasn't that awake! Just not sleeping. :-D

Deb, yep, I'm heading to Kauai in nine days (but who's counting). One of my favorite parts of an upcoming vacation is deciding which books I want to take.

I have an evening meeting at a colleague's house. He has two cats and an 8-week-old puppy. I will try to focus on the purpose of the meeting, but I can't wait to see that puppy!

For now, I'm off to get some dinner and read some in Mister Blue.

Feb 7, 2012, 9:27pm Top

Just found your shiney new thread, Ellen. I love the beautiful picture of Seattle. Thanks for taking me there if only for a few seconds! How long will it take to fly to Hawaii from Seattle? Hopefully it's non-stop so you can get in as much beach time, mai tai's and reading as possible!
Good luck with Thursday's presentation.

Feb 7, 2012, 9:42pm Top

Lynda, it's about a 4- or 5-hour flight, non-stop. It worked out perfectly this time. We leave mid-morning and arrive mid-afternoon. No early morning to the airport and plenty of time in the sun!

Feb 8, 2012, 11:04am Top

I LOVE Mister Blue. I got my copy from the library, but I think I'll be purchasing this because I will want to read it more than once.

I read the chapter called "The Snares of Love and Tenderness" on my bus ride this morning. Wow.

Feb 8, 2012, 4:56pm Top

I think I'm stopping in to your thread for the first time and just in time to wish you good luck with your presentation tomorrow.

Feb 8, 2012, 5:02pm Top

This may be my first time, too, EBT. I'm another fan of Mister Blue. I'm glad you had such a positive reaction to it.

Good luck tomorrow.

Feb 8, 2012, 5:25pm Top

best wishes for tomorrow...we have faith in you...

Feb 8, 2012, 5:32pm Top

Wow, you read 2 good books back to back, Ellen.

I wish someone would send me to Hawaii for a meeting. I've not been there and I really want to go. Post pics if you can. Good luck for your presentation tomorrow, not that I think you'll need it. I'm sure you'll bedazzle them.

Safe travels

Feb 8, 2012, 5:32pm Top

Wow, you read 2 good books back to back, Ellen.

I wish someone would send me to Hawaii for a meeting. I've not been there and I really want to go. Post pics if you can. Good luck for your presentation tomorrow, not that I think you'll need it. I'm sure you'll bedazzle them.

Safe travels

Feb 8, 2012, 6:43pm Top

Have a great presentation, Ellen!

Feb 8, 2012, 7:05pm Top

safe and fun!

Feb 8, 2012, 10:52pm Top

Good luck Ellen - I spent a good hour this morning waxing my surf board but never got the call to tag along!

Feb 10, 2012, 4:20am Top

Just stopping by to say hi! Enjoy your trip to Hawaii !

Feb 10, 2012, 9:48am Top

Hi Ellen, just stopping by to see how your presentation went. Hope you have a nice relaxing weekend to look forward to!

Feb 10, 2012, 11:42am Top

Hi Lucy, Joe, Gail, Caro (x2), Roni, kath, Paul, Deb, and Pat! Thanks for the quick hellos. I really appreciate the support. I survived the presentation yesterday. It went quite well - it turns out that wealthy, powerful people are still just people. No, really, they were very supportive of my work and asked lots of good questions. I'm incredibly relieved that it's done. Now I can start anticipating my trip. :-)

Last night I completed Mister Blue. I found it to be a moving and lyrical little novel. One of my favorite aspects is the juxtaposition of the protagonist's search for love and meaning with his so very practical day-to-day experience. He lives in a dreamworld, falling in love with a woman he's never even seen. He plays tennis with his brother. It feels so real, even while much of the novel is kind of dreamy and almost magical. I'll write a full review this weekend.

On the bus this morning, I started reading Losing Battles by Eudora Welty. Having grown up in the south, I feel compelled to read something by her and this was on the shelf at the library. I'm only 11 pages in, so I can't yet say whether I like it.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Feb 10, 2012, 12:30pm Top

So glad everything went well, Ellen! Enjoy basking in the glow of a job well done.

I have a copy of Mister Blue sitting next to me and I'm hoping to get to it this month. Your comments are making me wish I could start it today (and maybe I will).

Feb 10, 2012, 12:32pm Top

Glad you liked Mister Blue, Ellen. As you say, it's an interesting mix of dreamy and practical.

Edited: Feb 10, 2012, 3:38pm Top

Happy for you that your work went well. Oh how I love Welty! Enjoy!

Feb 10, 2012, 4:25pm Top

Congrats! I knew it would go well..
Now you can buy a book to celebrate it being over.

Feb 10, 2012, 7:17pm Top

Oh, very happy things went well for you Ellen, but I have to say I'm not surprised—I knew you'd nail it!

I'm glad to see you enjoyed Mister Blue so much. It's waiting for me at the library and I'll go pick it up this weekend. I also have Translation is a Love Affair and a much earlier novel of his called Jimmy waiting for me (actually, have had TiaLA since last weekend, but no time to get to it yet). It'll be an immersion into Jacques Poulin for me—the first time I'll have read as much work by a local author!

Feb 10, 2012, 8:22pm Top

66> I think I have TiaLA on hold at the library.

Feb 10, 2012, 8:58pm Top

Ilana hits the nail on the head Ellen - not a surprise at all.
powerful people are still just people.
The client paid for our recent trip to Bangkok - after me a mutual "friend" who happens to be a relative of the Kedah sultanate (One of Malaysia's states) and who spends almost all his time bumming off others and acting as a cynical broker of projects and businesses was coming in the day after me (they know he is not my favourtie guy so they made sure our paths didn't cross). Mr. Bunpot's Malaysian partner told me that whilst I made no comment whatsoever on their choice of hotel (clean, convenient but certainly not exclusive) - hey it was free!, my successor there had insisted he would only come to town if they placed him in a 5* hotel of his choice and provided entertainment for him! Either I'm stupid or he's a git!

Feb 10, 2012, 10:15pm Top

Ilana and Paul --- your confidence in me is touching. Thank you both.

Paul, lol -- but only sort of. It's an odd thing to realize that there are people who are so narcissistic as to make such demands on others -- and to think that's acceptable. Absolute lack of awareness of privilege. I work hard and I enjoy the pleasures that affords me, and I try to stay cognizant of the privileged start I got in life based on race, class, and educational opportunities. I'm not saying I don't deserve good things, I just don't think I'm entitled to them.

I don't know if I believe in Karma, per se, but I'd rather be you than him. And I'd absolutely rather spend time with you than him!!!!


I read further into Losing Battles on my bus ride home. I am so brain dead I don't know if I can read anything more demanding than Peanuts, but I do believe I'm going to enjoy this novel.

Feb 10, 2012, 10:16pm Top

Yeah, he's a major git, Paul. I've known people like that too and I detest them. There is one guy in my company who's one of our consultants and he's very high maintenance. I try not to use him if I have a choice and will pick some of our other consultants instead because not only are they really smart and experienced, but they're humble and considerate.

Feb 10, 2012, 10:17pm Top

Can't wait to read your review of Losing Battles, Ellen ... that's been in my TBR Tower for quite a while.

Feb 10, 2012, 10:32pm Top

Ellen / Caro - hi and thanks - I'm much more concerned about a warm bath/shower, good food and a good book than a swanky hotel that is a waste of money for a one-night stopover.

Feb 10, 2012, 10:51pm Top

Hooray for warm showers, good food, and a good book! When I travel for work, I almost always travel alone. One of the things I most look forward to is the end of each work/conference day, when I can curl up in bed with a good book. I love P but the solitude of those trips is luxurious.

Feb 10, 2012, 11:12pm Top


Feb 11, 2012, 8:56am Top

Morning Ellen- I am enjoying a rare Saturday off. I like it. I hope you have a nice & relaxing weekend.

Feb 11, 2012, 9:02am Top

I wonder what percentage of the general population
ends sentences describing pleasant times with "and a good book"?
It seems that there are a lot of us, but those are the circles I find myself in, so
that may color my perception. I also know that there are those who look at you
blankly and say stupid things like I wish I had time to read, as they rush off
to watch Real Housewives of Timbuktu ...so?

Feb 11, 2012, 12:09pm Top

Good morning, Mark! Enjoy your day off!
kath, you cracked me up. Real Housewives of Timbuktu ---- yep.

My sister, who is several years older than I and whose visits from college or grad school were highlights of my childhood, tells of me (~age 2 or 3) bringing her a stack of about ten books I wanted her to read to me. As she tells it, she would refuse to read that many books and ask me to choose one or two. I would do so, and she would read them. And I would reach over for the next in the stack and hand it to her, imploring her with my "big brown eyes," and she would end up reading all ten. I suspect that, for those of us who love to read, it may be somewhat determined by nature, but it helps to have had someone who encouraged it when we were very young. ♥

We're off to get our taxes done today, and then to a college women's basketball game. Tomorrow, sadly, I will have to go in to the office for a few hours.


I read Tibet Through the Red Box by Peter Sis this morning. I'm giving it 5 stars and I wrote a short review.

Feb 12, 2012, 3:44pm Top

At the office, working on a Sunday. :-(
It's okay, I'm almost done, and then I get to go home and read. :-)

Feb 12, 2012, 5:01pm Top

Loved your story of being read to by your sister. My mum swears she used to read to me (and I'm sure she did), but sadly I only remember reading on my own when I was little. :-(

Another book by Peter Sís I'll just have to take out of the library. I'll probably work my way through everything he's published anyway. I've had a coupon from Better World Books for a while now and almost spent it on a book by him, but since they're all available at the library, I figured I'd save it for something else. That is, they have everything (or almost) save for A Conference of Birds, so of course I'm most curious about that one!

Sorry you've had to work today. Hope you get the R&R you need during the rest of the evening. xx

Feb 12, 2012, 7:30pm Top

Hope you are home and cozy now... settled in with a book? tv? popcorn? all ?

Feb 12, 2012, 7:34pm Top

61: Whew! Glad that's over and that it went well. I hate public speaking. That's one reason I audit my classes. I can just sit back and enjoy the presentations that these silly professors are so fond of assigning.

78: Working on Sunday? I've heard of working overtime after a vacation but not before. Have you got that suitcase packed yet?

Feb 12, 2012, 9:37pm Top

Ilana -- I don't actually remember my sister reading to me, but the story has always been one of my favorites. I have The Tree of Life sitting at my bedside; I'll read it before heading to Hawaii. I can imagine that I'll be reading more by Peter Sis, as well. Work wasn't too bad; I was there for about 3 hours and they were quite productive.

kath -- yep, home and cozy in jammies, glass of wine at my side, laptop on my lap, ready to delve back into Losing Battles by Eudora Welty after I write my review of Mister Blue. :-)

Donna -- lol. Yes, I usually figure I'll have to put in the extra hours after a vacation, but this time around there are so many things that simply have to get done before I go. My budget proposal is due 2/24, the day I return from my vacay, so I'm having to get it done before I go. I also have two more presentations this week (with much less intimidating audiences than last week), so I prepped those this afternoon. It wasn't bad, and I treated myself to a brief trip to the bookstore and dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant.

Suitcase not packed, but starting to lay things out on the guest bed! Swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts, and a small stack of books! :-)

Feb 13, 2012, 12:09am Top

When are you leaving again? I can't stand the buildup! You sure I can't come with? Will you have your laptop with you? Will you check in on us? Are we there yet mommy???

Feb 13, 2012, 12:18am Top

Ilana hahaha - Ellen you are as bad as me working on a Sunday... hope you made it back and are sitting feet-up with a nice drink and a good book.

Feb 13, 2012, 2:53am Top

Ilana - we leave Thursday morning. I will take my laptop and I will check in on you all - although I will try to gaze out to sea as much as possible. That and shave ice.

Paul, it was a productive 3 hours at work and a good evening.

Feb 13, 2012, 2:54am Top

Adele is six for six at the Grammy's. I almost never pay attention to these award shows, but this is true and pure talent rewarded. I'm pleased for her.

Feb 13, 2012, 3:02am Top

Good to see you had a good evening Ellen....as a Brit of course I am cockerhoop for our Adele... also proud as a fellow plump.

Feb 13, 2012, 8:22am Top

Ellen- I hope you have a fantastic time in Hawaii! We've always wanted to go but sadly never made it. We'll be bringing along our laptop too but I'm not sure how much online time I will have. Hugs!

Edited: Feb 13, 2012, 8:52am Top

I usually put on the award shows and then proceed to ignore them..
But there is no way to ignore Adele, and some of the others were worth watching
as well.. Glenn Campbell was touching, for instance. I watched more of the Grammy's
last night than I ever have before. Oh and Paul? love him!

Feb 13, 2012, 8:57am Top

Ellen/Kath - also a fan of Glen Campbell with or without his Rhinestones. Reminds me that I read his autobiography a few years ago, Rhinestone Cowboy and was surprised at the demons he faced and sorta conquered.

Feb 13, 2012, 5:20pm Top

Adele has an awesome voice and deserved to win all those awards.

I think we should pull the plug on Nikki Minaj .. what was with that confused exorcist performance? I thought she was trying too hard to pull a Lady Gaga and failing miserably.

Feb 13, 2012, 8:54pm Top

Paul - Yes, I like that she is who she is and her work is all about the music. You want flashing lights and "skinny minis" (Adele's words on 60 Minutes), find someone else. Adele just writes and sings. And cusses a bit.

Paul & Kath, I admit to being only lukewarm on Glen Campbell (give me "Gentle on My Mind" over "Rhinestone Cowboy" any day), but it was a touching tribute and I absolutely admire his straightforwardness about his Alzheimer's diagnosis. He and Pat Summit. Gotta admire 'em.

And Kath, I surprised myself by wanting to watch. It was Adele that sucked me in.

Mark, just enjoy your vacation. We'll all be here when you get back.

Caro - I agree completely! Not my cup of tea (and I do like some of Lady Gaga's performances).


Having stayed up too late last night watching those darn Grammy Awards, and having now worked my requisite 10 hours without a break, I'm heading home to eat dinner, watch DA, and read myself to sleep.

Feb 13, 2012, 9:13pm Top

Hi Ellen,
Sorry it's taken me so long to get here.
Cudos on your presentation! Being well prepared is key. And you express yourself so well it's no surprise you did great :)

Also, you seem to be focused and knocking off work needing to be done before you go away. You'll be able to have a much better time with all that behind you :)

You are a hard worker! You deserve a great vacation!

Feb 13, 2012, 10:16pm Top

Ellen - Watched most of the Grammys myself poignant moment with Macca singing his new "My Valentine" song with a very quavery voice and then closing out the show with the last sequence from the Abbey Road album.

On Adele she came across as just an ordinary girl caught up in a whirlwind....until she took to the stage and blew everyone away. The moment she ceased singing the surge was electric and to see this normal girl take over and own the stage was enthralling.

Feb 14, 2012, 1:10am Top

Cee, no worries, we all get to threads when we can. Thanks for your kind words. I do feel like I'm working extra hard to earn this upcoming down-time. I'll have to work a tad while we're on vacation, but it will be 75 and the air will be clear and clean! And there will be whales. I can't wait.

Paul, I loved Paul et al doing "Golden Slumbers." Outstanding.

Downton Abbey: I can't believe Matthew is being such a martyr!!! Argh!

Feb 14, 2012, 8:05am Top

I usually choose silence over music..
I am very choosy about music when I do listen, and often choose "oldies"
but Adele is amazing..

Nothing much going on here yet today :)
hope your day is a good and a happy one !!

Feb 14, 2012, 8:20pm Top

Edited: Feb 14, 2012, 11:07pm Top

Hiya! Gosh, you must be roaring to go on you vaca.

I didn't watch the Grammys. I "discovered" Adele a few years ago when her first album came out on iTunes. She's great, but I haven't been listening to much music these last years, not sure why. So no Grammys for me since I wouldn't have known what was going on. Wouldn't have minded seeing Adele all the same, but I'm sure I can catch that on YouTube.

Hugs to you and hope you've had a Happy Valentine's day. xx

Feb 15, 2012, 9:57am Top

kath, I remember swearing as a teenager that I would "always" keep up with music and listen to what's current. Of course, I also said I would live my whole life in Levi's 501 jeans...... ha! I go through spells of listening to music, and I have my favorites (Adele, Annie Lennox, Beatles, Jack Johnson, Jonatha Brooke), but silence has much more appeal for me at this stage of my life than I would ever have predicted.

Cee, thanks for the bouquet! It wasn't the most romantic Valentine's Day ever, but we'll save that for vacation (perhaps another sign of aging -- see above). :-)

Ilana, it always makes me happy when you stop by my thread! And you are spot on, I am roaring to go on my vacation. Eleven straight hours at work yesterday and we'll see how today goes. But, whatever time I finish today, I come home to finish packing. Oh boy.


Last night, I read The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin by Peter Sis. I didn't love it as much as I loved Tibet Through the Red Box and I don't know if tagging it "children's literature" really makes sense (Young Adult, perhaps?). Still, I love his work and I do recommend this. It's a little illustrated biography of Charles Darwin (duh). The narrative and illustrations don't flow as gracefully as they did in Tibet, but there are still some wonderful treasures within.

Feb 15, 2012, 10:13am Top

Ellen, I'm wishing you a Bon Voyage a day early. Be sure and clue us in on what books make the final cut for that small stack! I just visited Mark in San Diego and will travel vicariously with you to Hawaii. I'm so glad my LT friends are well traveled...and that they are going to warmer places with blue skies and beaches. Have fun!

P.S. I'm living out your dream of wearing jeans every day!

Feb 15, 2012, 4:03pm Top

Hi, Ellen! Back on LT and catching up with old and new friends. You joined LT about the time I sort of faded away, but I've just spent the last hour reading your threads, enjoying your comments and reviews, and reliving our January snowstorm, so I feel oddly close to you. I'll have to explain that "oddly" over lunch sometime, as I am actually only a mile or so away from you most of the time--except for this week, when you're going to be in Hawaii. Have a great trip with your DP! Which reminds me, you can't really leave Washington State after last week's good news, can you? :-)

Feb 15, 2012, 5:55pm Top

Ellen, I drop by here fairly regularly when I can, though don't always comment.

That whole paragraph to Kath you wrote above in #99 speaks volumes to me—in fact, could have been written by me, down to the Levi's 501s and Adele, Annie Lennox, Beatles, Jack Johnson... except for Jonatha Brooke, that I'll have to go discover on YouTube as soon as I'm into listening to some music... which I'm not. At least I know I'm not alone in my self-imposed silence, but I never would have thought I'd live without music some day either.

Love that you're reading Peter Sís. In fact, I should get off LT right now and read The Wall, which has been sitting there borrowed from the library for too long now. In fact... that's what I'll do. xx

Feb 15, 2012, 9:53pm Top

One more stop before I sign off for the night to wish you an awesome trip and safe travels. Send us postcards! :-)

Feb 15, 2012, 10:23pm Top

Hi Donna and thanks for the well-wishes! I'm envious of your jeans-every-day life, although I have to admit that I mostly love my life. After a real down spell last month, things have improved. Whew.

Bonnie - I'd love to hear more about the closeness -- a mile is not much! Perhaps a meet-up sometime? And have no fear, I'll be back in WA in just a few days! It was a good week for us.

Ilana, if you do check out Jonatha Brooke, I recommend investigating her album "The Works." I heard an interview with her when she first released that album and, as I remember it, she had gained access to some of Woodie Guthrie's journals. She took bits of lyrics he had scribbled, etc., and turned them into the songs on this album. It's the only one by her that I really know and I like it a lot.


I've now been at the office working for almost 12 straight hours. I think I'm as done as I can be. Heading home. To pack. :-)

Feb 16, 2012, 12:02am Top

Hi Ellen, just dropping by to wish you a great trip. Soak up the sunshine, and enjoy the balmy breezes, and if possible let us know how it's going. Have fun!

Feb 16, 2012, 8:01am Top

I do try to spend a lot of time in jeans.... lol

Safe and fun trip to you!! Photos ?

Feb 16, 2012, 8:15am Top

Since I can't get into your suitcase I'll just have to make do with wishing you a lovely trip. Take some photos.

Feb 16, 2012, 9:54am Top

Hi Ellen- Have a safe trip and a wonderful vacation. Will you be able to check in? Hugs!

Feb 16, 2012, 3:54pm Top

Have a great time, Ellen (but how could you not?).

Feb 16, 2012, 5:20pm Top

safe travels Ellen

Feb 16, 2012, 8:24pm Top

Safe and happy travel wishes...

Feb 16, 2012, 10:14pm Top


Feb 18, 2012, 1:16am Top

You are all so awesome. How nice to check in & have so many nice "bon voyage" messages. First day: lots of whales! But poor Internet connection on laptop. Writing this from iPhone. I'll try to check in tomorrow.

Did I mention lots of whales? Think Pacific Life ads. This place is paradise.

Feb 18, 2012, 1:24am Top

Oh WOWWWW!!! I've never seen whales in real life, in the wild I mean. Or anywhere for that matter. NOW I'm REALLY envious!

Enjoy every bit of it my sweet, you more than deserve this vacation!

Feb 18, 2012, 9:29am Top

Paradise is good.. immerse in it and soak up enough to last a long time!

Feb 18, 2012, 10:30am Top

I love whales! There are supposed to be some sightings around here too, (of course South Cal), but we haven't spotted any yet. Boo. Enjoy, my friend!

Feb 18, 2012, 9:43pm Top

Okay, now I'm sitting on the little deck and I have internet connection here. It's in the mid-70s and there's a lovely breeze (it's actually been a bit windy on the island).

ENVY ALERT. I'm not getting much reading done (still reading Losing Battles by Eudora Welty but trying to concentrate on the plane was, in fact, a losing battle). But we are in this beautiful place and enjoying it fully. Our little apartment is on the second floor, surrounded by blooming plumeria, Hibiscus, Bird of Paradise, and oleander, and with a partial view of the ocean. In the trees are Cardinals, Mynas, Zebra Doves, House Sparrows, White-rumped Shama, and a Japanese White-eye. The song of the White-rumped Shama is, we are sure, the inspiration for R2D2. Both mornings I have been awake early and have gotten up, made the coffee, and watched the day break. And both mornings we have seen Humpback whales breaching and leaping. I love the whales. I love this island, but I especially love the whales. We've encountered a few people lamenting their lack of whale-spotting. I don't say this, but it does require a bit of sitting still.

This morning we went to a local farmer's market and bought a bunch of fruit. Then we went on a long hike along wind-swept cliffs overlooking the ocean to isolated Mahaulepu Beach. There were a couple of old guys fishing and a handful of para-surfers, and not too many other souls. We sat in the shade and ate our cheese sandwiches, and watched the very rough surf.

I could go on and on, but I won't. We're having a wonderful time, relaxing mixed with small adventures. Tomorrow we're going on a mild river kayak trip on the Wailua (?) River. No white water. :-)

I will indubitably miss all kinds of goings on on others' threads, but I'll look forward to catching up either next week or after I get back to RL.

Feb 18, 2012, 9:52pm Top

Our little apartment is on the second floor, surrounded by blooming plumeria, Hibiscus, Bird of Paradise, and oleander, and with a partial view of the ocean. In the trees are Cardinals, Mynas, Zebra Doves, House Sparrows, White-rumped Shama, and a Japanese White-eye.

I don't read much poetry, but that was poetry to me. I'll have to look up these birds; other than the Cardinals, I'm not familiar with those other charming bird names. Mynas maybe, but they don't come to mind.

I could go on and on, but I won't.

What you've shared so far is already a great gift, thank you.

I will indubitably miss all kinds of goings on on others' threads

You are in paradise for a set duration of time. We'll be here for a good while. Don't worry, be happy. (words I should heed myself)

Delighted for you Ellen. The books can wait indefinitely. Breathe in every atom of the paradise you're in.

xx i

Feb 19, 2012, 5:19am Top

ahh! Enjoy your holiday, Ellen! Sounds lovely!

Feb 19, 2012, 8:07am Top

I am so happy for you! Clearly, you are enjoying every beautiful minute... I hope you have
some pictures to share when you come home!

Feb 20, 2012, 9:33pm Top

So very happy for you - it is clear you are appreciating the beauty and comfort.

Thanks for keeping us in touch with your adventure :)

Feb 20, 2012, 10:25pm Top

I can hear the bliss through your note, Ellen.... I'm so glad you're having a wonderful time. Can't wait for the pics when you return. :-)

Edited: Feb 20, 2012, 11:37pm Top

Ilana, kath, Mark, Deb, Cee, Caro, Roni, Pat, Paul, Judy ---- just wanting to acknowledge each of you for your well-wishes and your stopping by. I'm now sitting on the deck of the little apartment, watching the sun set, G&T at my side. It seems that I can get internet out here and don't have to go down to the community deck from which I last wrote. The whale-sightings have been somewhat reduced in number in the last couple of days, but we went to the Allerton National Botanical Garden today and that was quite a treat. Thankfully, there was enough of a breeze to keep the mosquitos at bay.

I finally completed Losing Battles by Eudora Welty today. This was a slog for me. A not-entirely-unpleasant slog; rather, I would say that I somewhat enjoyed her humor and her occasionally lovely turns of phrase. I can't say why it took me so long to complete it, but it was a very slow go for me. On the other hand, I've now read the first chapter of The Wayward Bus and I can tell this is going to be another great Steinbeck read. Hooray! I will carry it with me tomorrow as we go to the Kilauea Lighthouse - a spot where I know we'll see amazing sea birds (albatross, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies) and probably whales. I hope to get some good shrimp to eat, as well.

I'll post pictures eventually. I have figured it out before (back when I posted pics of my dear Edgar in the middle of a thread), but can't seem to replicate the skill.

After dinner (and a charge to the laptop), I'll do a bit of thread-cruising. :-)

edited to correct typo

Edited: Feb 20, 2012, 11:43pm Top

Currently reading: The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck

Feb 20, 2012, 11:44pm Top

Ellen! Great to get news from you. I'm so glad you fell right into The Wayward Bus. I was hooked from the get-go.

Sounds like your trip is continuing heavenly. I'm very happy for you. The threads can wait! Go out and enjoy yourself! xox

Feb 21, 2012, 1:57am Top

Japanese White-eye:

White-rumped Shama:

Edited: Feb 21, 2012, 2:01am Top

Ilana, I thought I'd post a couple of pics for you. The Japanese White-Eye is just a little guy and we're getting to see him up close because he hangs out in the upper branches of the Plumeria off our deck. The Shama (aka the Shama Thrush) has the most amazing song. It's more varied than any bird I think I've heard. He wakes us up in the morning singing in the tall shrub outside the window. I think he was the inspiration for R2D2 in "Star Wars."

The garden we visited today has been used for filming a number of things, including segments of "Jurassic Park" and "Pirates of the Caribbean IV" (the latter of which I did not see).

Feb 21, 2012, 2:07am Top

I meant to mention, as I reflect back on Losing Battles, that I found and read the 1977 (I think) interview with Welty from The Paris Review. I'm glad I read that interview and I think it added to my enjoyment of the novel. I will try some of Eudora Welty's short stories later this year.

Feb 21, 2012, 6:46am Top

Hi Ellen- Sounds like you are having a great time! Thanks for sharing the bird pix. Very cool.

Feb 21, 2012, 8:11am Top

Thank you for taking time to share some of your vacation with us!
Wonderful! Makes me smile just to read it.

Feb 21, 2012, 9:01am Top

Lovely! I can resonate about the silence - our daughter tries to keep us au courant and I do like some of 'her' music..... but I can't seem to hang on to names.... brain overload, I guess.

Feb 21, 2012, 11:31am Top

Lovely warm tales of your time watching sunsets and sipping gin tonics. Enjoy the rest of your time there. xx

Feb 21, 2012, 5:37pm Top

Hi Ellen, it's great to see that you are still enjoying the lovely, temperate climate of Hawaii. You are certainly not missing much weather-wise here on the West Coast, lots of rain, grey skies and cool weather.

Feb 21, 2012, 6:02pm Top

Wow, sounds like you are having a wonderful trip! I'm envious of your whale watching!
Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Feb 21, 2012, 7:29pm Top

What pretty birds, Ellen. Any surfing in your plans?

Feb 21, 2012, 9:04pm Top

Very nice... very, very nice! I'm so glad you are relaxing and enjoying yourself. It all sounds wonderful...
I find I am smiling - and remembering our trip to Hawaii.
Love the birds! Love the stories you are sharing. Thanks!

Feb 22, 2012, 12:40am Top

Thanks for posting those bird pics Ellen! Lovely birdies. We don't get much variety here in town, that's for sure. Keep on having fun, there's still plenty of time left. xx

Feb 22, 2012, 3:16am Top

Our day at the lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge:
Frigate bird, seen at Kilauea Lighthouse and Bird Refuge today:

Laysan's Albattoss:

Red-footed booby:

Red-tailed tropicbirds:

Feb 22, 2012, 3:17am Top

Have I mentioned what a wonderful time I'm having? P and I are talking about how we can retire to this island. No joke. By then, I'll have a Kindle and all reading will be e-reading anyway, right?

Feb 22, 2012, 3:23am Top

Humpback whale breaching:

They really look like this. Several times a day, if one is patient:

Feb 22, 2012, 3:23am Top

And you wonder why I'm not getting much reading done? :-)

Edited: Feb 22, 2012, 3:28am Top

Our local beach:

Feb 22, 2012, 2:05pm Top

Thanks for all the pictures and descriptions of your vacation Ellen! I feel like I'm there with you and it's so much fun. You're really selling me on the idea of going to Hawaii. :)

Feb 23, 2012, 12:34am Top

Hi Ellen, your trip sounds fantastic. I am intrigued with the Japanese white eye bird as it is identical to our wee Waxeyes that live in my garden here. They love trees with flowers or berries especially and are just little things. Small world!

Feb 23, 2012, 11:57am Top

I love those birds!

Feb 23, 2012, 1:04pm Top

I completed The Wayward Bus this morning with coffee, looking out on a somewhat gray tropical morning. I wrote a review here and gave it 4 stars. I didn't love it as much as I loved Cannery Row but it's still a beautiful piece of literature.

Feb 23, 2012, 1:07pm Top

Pat, I highly recommend giving these islands a visit if you can. I understand that each of them has their own character and I've only visited Oahu and Kauai. I will return to this island as many times as my time and budget will allow.

Leonie, since so many of the creatures on this island are introduced, the little Japanese White-eye is likely related to your little Waxeyes. They are adorable little birds.

Glad you're enjoying the pics, Lucy. I hope to download some pictures we've actually taken. That will likely not happen until we are back home. Today is our last full day on the island and I plan to savor every moment.

Feb 23, 2012, 1:23pm Top

Of possible interest here -- I've just started John Bayley's memoir of his marriage to Irish Murdoch.

Feb 23, 2012, 6:41pm Top

Ellen - my skin is strangely tinged with green reading your thread! Sure you will enjoy the rest of the holiday - far more interested in the beach than the birds but the photos are great.

Lucy I have read the John Bayly - gentle, erudite, touching but slow.

Feb 23, 2012, 9:05pm Top

Thanks for sharing the lovely photos!

What an incredible vacation!

Years ago we spent time in New England and while there went on a whale watch. It was such a spiritual experience.

Feb 23, 2012, 10:23pm Top

I'm loving the photos too Ellen. My heart felt pinched a little when I read it was your last full day of vacation. I've been totally jealous this week and quite green, like Paul, but also very happy for you. I've visited some places in the Caribbean, but not been in Hawaii. Maybe someday when I start travelling again...

Enjoyed your review of The Wayward Bus. Eleven more books to go, yay!

Feb 24, 2012, 6:56am Top

oh no! it is over? I have enjoyed your vacation with you, thanks to the fabulous photos
you took the time to share.. thanks for that!

Safe travels.

Edited: Feb 24, 2012, 10:22am Top

>140 EBT1002:: Those whale pictures are amazing, Ellen. Thank you so much for sharing your time in paradise with us. I hope your memories last a long time.

When you get home, maybe you can pick up a copy of Grayson if you haven't read it. It's a bit on the hokey side, but it is a sweet little whale tale. ;-)

Feb 24, 2012, 10:24am Top

I'm enjoying it Paul -- they are so unworldly, and yet not w/o a certain canniness, eh?

Feb 24, 2012, 12:05pm Top

Hi Ellen - hope you are still deriving comfort from the whales and the birds and the sun and the surf and the gin and tonics!

Lucy - it is a strange blend of knowing innocence. Bayly's devotedness is absolute but it was not a blind devotedness - he adored her despite and maybe even because of her imperfections.

Feb 24, 2012, 12:59pm Top

Lucy and Paul - You've got my interest piqued. I'll look into John Bayly when I get home. Touchstone not appearing to work.....

Linda, Ilana, Kath, Donna, Lucy, and Paul - thanks for stopping by and following my vacation. It's been a wonderful week. Linda, I'm glad you found my thread (now I have to find yours!).

Last night I completed Fair Play by Tove Jansson and I wrote a short review for this short novel, which I gave 4 stars.
I'll start reading Silence by Shusaku Endo, along with February's double issue of The New Yorker, on the plane today.

Last night it rained cats and dogs. I mean, it was an extended torrential downpour. That, coupled with my mild anxiety about today's travel and our return to RL, made for a poor sleeping night. Oh well, in addition to reading, I can doze on the plane.

I'll check in tomorrow, when I'm back in the Pacific Time Zone.

Feb 24, 2012, 3:55pm Top

I hope your return home and to your cat is nice and cozy. xx

Feb 24, 2012, 4:24pm Top

Safe travels home, Ellen.

Feb 24, 2012, 6:13pm Top


A few years ago I attended a conference in Seattle. The students and I loved it! My memories are of a very clean city.

Feb 24, 2012, 6:40pm Top

Ellen- Hope you have a nice uneventful trip home! I love the whale photos. It reminded me of our Alaska Cruise, where we were able to see quite a few. What a majestic sight!

Feb 24, 2012, 7:31pm Top

Hi Ellen - You were on Kauai! How wonderful! I can't wait to see your pictures. We haven't been there since 1989 and it is such a beautiful island. Wishing you safe travels home.

Feb 25, 2012, 9:52am Top

Hope your trip home is an easy one.
Oh the memories and the pictures you will have!
Welcome home!

Feb 25, 2012, 10:49am Top

Welcome home! Hope the trip was quick and very dull (except for the reading, of course!).

Feb 25, 2012, 12:51pm Top

Home safe and sound. Uneventful flight, which is the best kind.
More to follow. I'm currently swamped with unpacking, laundry, getting used to wearing flannel and fleece again......
It's not bad being home. I know I'm privileged with a good life. And I'm already looking at the savings account entitled "Kauai 2014". :-)

Feb 25, 2012, 12:53pm Top

Whew! Glad you are safe home... sorry vacation is over for now.. grateful that you shared it with us :)

Feb 25, 2012, 6:17pm Top

Ilana and caro - thank you. It's good to be home and while I'm not a nervous flyer, I'm always glad to be on terra firma again.

Linda, Seattle is a clean and wonderful city, as cities go. It has much to be said for it, including a couple of terrific bookstores. Still, if I had to go live on Kauai, I'd handle it. :-)

Mark, we're planning a trip to Alaska for summer '13 and we told the whales we'd see them at that end of their migration next year.

Joanne, I wonder how much the island has changed since 1989. It's still, I think, wilder and more laid back than the other islands, but of course development is occurring everywhere. On our tour of the Botanical Garden, the guide/botanist mentioned that humans are the most invasive species of all. Seems about right to me.

Cee, Lucy, and Kath - thank you for the warm welcome. It's actually good to be home but the 30-degree drop in temps is less than completely appealing.

I'm about 1/3 into Silence and finding it to be an easier and more engaging read than I had feared. It's about the 17th century missionaries, bringing Christianity (Catholicism, to be more exact) to Japan. So far, the story is in the form of letters home by one of the Portuguese Padres. Very interesting and respectful.

Feb 25, 2012, 7:13pm Top

Welcome home Ellen, your trip sounded wonderful and I'm sure you feel rested and ready to tackle the world! I've never seen the grey whales off of Hawaii, but the west coast of Vancouver Island, especially around Long Beach is a great place to go on a whale watching boat trip. I think March is one of the best times to go, I guess they are on migration at that time.

Feb 26, 2012, 12:07am Top

Good point Ellen - an eventful flight would not be something to look forward to! Glad you are safely home!

Feb 26, 2012, 12:25am Top

I'm sure Abby is glad to have her mommies back. Does she sleep with you? If she does she might purr your ear off all night. Give her a gentle petting for me.

Feb 26, 2012, 2:40am Top

Judy, the whales we see in Kauai are Humpback whales. They migrate south to mate and bear their young, and then return to the icy waters off Alaska for food. We learned that they don't eat while in the south Pacific and sometimes lose as much as 50% of their body weight on this annual journey. Incredible. Around the Puget Sound (and up toward the south end of Vancouver Island), we've often seen Orcas, which I adore. Marine mammals -- perhaps Marine Biologist should be my second alternative career (English prof being my first). Probably, at age 51, I'm sticking with the career I've got.

Hi Paul!

Ilana, Abby does sleep with us. Well, she sleeps with P and I'm allowed to have a third of the bed. She's a great one for lap-sitting when one is reading or watching telly -- unless it's sports, in which case she skeddadles while her moms cheer on one team or the other. Earlier today, she made me get off LT, nudging the laptop away so that she could be my laptop. Sweet. :-)

Watched the last episode of Downton Abbey tonight. The show might not stand up to serious critical scrutiny, but I love it nonetheless. I could easily sit through two more "season"s.

Feb 26, 2012, 1:56pm Top

LOL, I guess that explains why I haven't seen any Grey Whales in Hawaii! I guess they migrate up and down the west coast from the Baja to Alaska. We often see the Orcas from the ferry, they are beautiful. My grandson is very interested in marine life, and talks about being a marine biologist, which I think would be wonderful. Of course, he's only 12 so things could change.

Feb 27, 2012, 12:42am Top

I'm going to start keeping simple track of my running miles here, since that is also a big part of my self-care and quality-of-life. Ran about 2.5 very slow, agonizing miles today. Ugh. Starting from scratch after a tough and sedentary winter.

I'm closing in on completion of Silence by Shusaku Endo. He's the year-long author for the Author Theme Reads group. It's an odd read for me, as it's about a Portuguese Catholic priest and missionary in Japan in the 17th century -- and the ordeal he experiences at the hands of the oppressive and murderous anti-Christian Japanese leaders of the time. It's beautifully written and is a complex and nuanced exploration of faith and the meeting of cultures, but it's an odd topic for me to be reading. I'm not Catholic and I admit to a fair amount of prejudice regarding the determination of Christianity (and I can say this about other religions, too) to evangelize to the world. I don't know. I just consider the tendency for men to kill other men (and women and children) in the name of any religion to be unforgivable. Still, this novel is really not about that as much as it's about individual struggle with faith and meaning and self and others. It's quite good. I would not have discovered it had it not been for the Author Theme Reads group, so I'm grateful for that.

It's back to work tomorrow. After only two days, the wonderful week on Kauai seems a bit distant. It actually snowed here a bit today (although not much, and it didn't stick). It's okay, though. We made reservations for two short camping trips for this summer and the truth is that I love my job and feel lucky to have my life.

Next up in reading: The Winter of Our Discontent for our 2012 Steinbeck-a-thon. :-)

Feb 27, 2012, 7:23am Top

Silence sounds difficult.... but glad it is a good one for you..

Running? Bless you! Be safe.

Feb 27, 2012, 7:41am Top

Welcome home, Ellen! So glad you had a great time and brought wonderful memories home with you. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, it was a nice reprieve from the greyness of February.

I seriously need to get out and walk but I'm a fair weather anything. Gots to be at least 65 degrees before I'll walk or, gulp, run.

Hope work goes smoothly for you today.

Feb 27, 2012, 7:49am Top

I hope your running stats will be an inspiration to me! This winter has been a serious bust in the exercise department - this time of year I count on x-country skiing to keep me fit -- sometimes fitter in the winter than the summer. I'll be jogging my mile and a bit when the ice and mud go away. Can't run on the paved roads here, just too scary for me.

Feb 27, 2012, 8:56pm Top

Kath, Lynda, and Lucy,
The running is the best way for me to manage my anxiety and stress, especially work-related. And it allows for a bit more indulgence in chocolate and wine..... :-)
This winter has been a real bust for me, exercise-wise, but now that the days are getting longer, I will get out there more.

Regarding Silence, I found myself thinking last night about my possible review (I hope to complete the novel tonight). I don't think my musings up in #172 capture the book at all. It's really quite good, although some of the torture scenes are difficult to read. NO unnecessary or gratuitous torture scenes -- just enough to make the point. Still, Kath, you're right that it's a bit difficult. I'll write a review of this one, I promise.

Feb 27, 2012, 9:11pm Top

Running? Did someone yell FIRE???
oh, no..ok then nevermind. no need to run! (shudder)

Back to Hawaii in 2014? Cool.
Let's see, how old will I be in 2020? Eeeew - too old for a bathing suit :P oh well - I'll do the balcony ;-)

Feb 28, 2012, 9:47am Top

Cee - you're cracking me up! I had two swimsuits with me - both two-piece, but all midriff parts covered and one of them has a little skirt --- I can so well recall the thoughts of age 16: "I will never wear a swimsuit with a skirt on it!" Yes, well, at 51, no one needs to see it all. Although I will admit to a mixture of admiration and mild horror at some of the bodies I see squeezed into little bikinis......

In any case, please do join us on the balcony. It's from the best spots from which to see whales. :-)

Completed Silence last night, thanks to a bout of insomnia. I'll start The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck on this evening's bus ride.

Feb 28, 2012, 9:52am Top

LOL @ Cee...

Bathing suit? yikes!

Feb 28, 2012, 9:59am Top

Welcome home.

Feb 28, 2012, 10:09am Top

Thanks Lynda.
Hi Kath.

I need to finish getting ready for work. That means feeding the birds, brushing the teeth, doing a bit of tidying in the (not yellow) kitchen....

Abby was particularly persuasive this morning in her attempts to get me to call in sick and just stay in bed reading all day. But, here I am, up and dressed and (almost) ready to go.....

Feb 28, 2012, 3:27pm Top

Wish you had listened to Abby

Feb 29, 2012, 9:50am Top

I sort of started to read The Winter of Our Discontent last night. Made it partway through the intro before sleep took over. I think I needed the sleep, though. P and I had watched "Mrs. Dalloway" and it was a fine production of that novel, which I read last year.

So, today, on the bus (not the wayward one, though), I will move forward with TWoOD.

Feb 29, 2012, 9:52am Top

Cee - lol. Ellen I can work up quite a sweat just thinking about exercising and then promptly realise that will suffice just nicely!

Feb 29, 2012, 9:57am Top

Well, it's Wednesday and the third consecutive day of staying in bed with the little TuxedoBear (Abby) rather than get up and go for a run. I'll get back into it eventually......

Feb 29, 2012, 10:04am Top

B-suits are such a problem! Shopping for one nowadays is enough to put me in a black funk.

As for exercising - I really do think this time of year has some built in hibernating instinct. I can barely drag myself around, but I know that someday in the next month I will start revving up again, naturally. As long as you can keep moving a little bit during this time, why push?

Feb 29, 2012, 10:11am Top

lol - why push? indeed. I get in a bit of walking in the morning to get to my bus stop, but I do hope I can push just a little bit in the next week or two. I feel better when I'm getting in my regular runs.

I've been looking at the stack of books I collected for March reading (thanks, TIOLI), and wondering how I would get to them all. Then I realized that I have two air-travel trips coming up this month. That might help. Here's the "planned" list of reads:

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (available now at the library)
The Soloist by Mark Salzman (about to be available at library)
Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman (about to be available at library)

Feb 29, 2012, 1:47pm Top

I'm going to read both The Winter of Our Discontent and Iron and Silk this month too. I read The Summer Book a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I've been meaning to read something else by Tove Jansson but haven't gotten around to it. (Now that I think of it, I did read one of the Moomintroll books which was a fun read.)

I can't see the word "bus" anymore without thinking of The Wayward Bus.

Feb 29, 2012, 1:54pm Top

I have Iron and Silk.. I can't even figure out what to read today.... much less
the whole month.. got da blahs.

Feb 29, 2012, 2:35pm Top

So glad your trip was wonderful, Ellen. Seeing a whale (any kind will do) in its natural habitat is on my bucket list...

With Kath, I've got a case of the blahs going on; hope they blow away soon.

Loved the photos, btw.

Feb 29, 2012, 6:08pm Top

Hi Ellen- I like your March reading list. A nice variety!

Edited: Feb 29, 2012, 8:52pm Top

Pat - LOL, I feel the same way about the word "bus." Forever changed for me..... heh

Sorry you had the blahs today. I hate that. I was at work and so busy I hardly had time to think or feel anything (although I did manage to scarf down more than my share of mini-Snickers bars....ugh).

Gail, I hope you get to see whales in their natural habitat. They are one of my favorite creatures.

Thanks, Mark! It will (as always) be interesting to see which of them I actually complete!

Okay, leaving the office now. I ended up sitting with one of my favorite neighbors on the bus this morning, so no reading got done (but some pleasant chatting). TWoOD will be my companion for the ride home.

Edited: Feb 29, 2012, 8:55pm Top

Speaking of whales, because I think of them as my totem now, I bought a necklace at a Hawaiian jewelry store. They make these with all kinds of jewels and mother-of-pearl, but I went for the simple one. I love it. Here's what it looks like (imagine it with a nice, simple gold chain attached).

Mar 1, 2012, 1:12am Top

>188 phebj: I can't see the word "bus" anymore without thinking of The Wayward Bus.
Me either! And I haven't even read it. But I will, soon (ish).

Would like to read TWooD too (I just couldnt wait to write that acronym, it sounds good).

Hello Ellen, first time visitor, had to drop by as have seen you almost everywhere else I am :)
Beautiful whale tail, we have lots of those made nearby where I live as they do whale watching. They're mainly made from greenstone (jade/pounamu), or bone.

Mar 1, 2012, 7:56am Top

I have an animal totem, too.. mine is not as magnificent, but I am pleased with it :)
That would be a very pretty necklace, and Megan, I LOVE jade... love it!

Mar 1, 2012, 8:09am Top

Happy Thursday to you.

Mar 1, 2012, 8:35am Top

Nice whale tail, Ellen. A meaningful reminder of your trip too.

What does a whale signify as a totem, I wonder?

Mar 1, 2012, 9:53am Top

IreadthereforeIam -- Megan, right? Thanks for stopping by! I do, indeed, see you in all the same old familiar places. :-D
I hope you join us for TWoOD, although I haven't yet gotten out of the introduction.......

Kath, whatever your animal totem is, is what matters. I don't know that I completely "get" the concept of a totem, but I know that when I see whales, it feels tremendously emotional. And I know that I see whales kind of a lot. On Kauai, I would talk with lots of folks who simply had not seen them yet, and I would have seen dozens. Some of that is about patience and persistence (you have to watch for whales), but I also like to think the whales know I'm there. (ha)

Thanks for the lollipop, Lynda! I'm glad it's getting on toward the weekend.....

Cee, lol --- I hope the whole whale is my totem!!

I'm having a very slow reading week. Have watched a bit of telly (DVDs, that is) with DP, and that's okay, but I haven't even completed the Introduction to TWoOD, much less any of the actual novel. I hope to have some concentrated reading time this weekend!

Mar 1, 2012, 9:08pm Top

"A Whale totem teaches you to go deep within yourself
to awaken your inner creativity.
But they also teach us not to become lost in our creative imagination,
but to live in the real world.

When a Whale totem shows up in your life, examine your own use of creativity.
Apply your own creative intuition to formulas --
this is what imbues them with power and magic.

Creativity for the sake of creativity is not what the Whale teaches.
It awakens great depth of creative inspiration, but you must add your own color and light
to your outer life to make it wonderful.

The sound of the Whale teaches us how to create with song.

The whale, along with the dolphin, are the other sentient beings of our planet.
They too are self-aware and have souls.
Accordingly to the Michael Teachings, they are on their fourth cycle,
while most of mankind is on its eleventh or twelfth cycle."

(quoted from somewhere)

Mar 1, 2012, 9:52pm Top

Wow - Cee very deep and metaphysical for a Friday morning in Kuala Lumpur! And there was me about to comment upon SMWBO laying across the bed like a beached whale this morning, her hand reaching out deliberately for tuition money for the kids as her withering looks ushered me quickly on my way...if only I'd realised there was some totem involved I may not have needed to have parted with the money!

Mar 1, 2012, 9:59pm Top

Hi Ellen- I'm going to wait a couple weeks before starting the Steinbeck, but I will get to it. Now, come on and start that introduction.

Mar 2, 2012, 9:54am Top

Cee - very lovely! I love the thought that they, along with the dolphin, are the other sentient being on the planet. I once played catch with a dolphin and it was one of the most spiritual and touching experiences of my life. My friends noted that the dolphin was trained and might have been hoping for herring, but my experience was one of interacting with a sentient being who was aware of me as an other, and who was simply enjoying the game.

Paul, um, lovely thoughts, too. Yes indeed. (lmao). And give up on that vain hope; that money was on its way out the door one way or another.

Mark, I got into chapter one last evening and, while I think this will be another stellar example of Steinbeck's remarkable talent, I have a feeling this won't be my fave. He has already made me chuckle a couple of times, though, so there is enjoyment to be had.

Mar 2, 2012, 9:54am Top

Why do novels always start on page 3?

Mar 2, 2012, 10:21am Top

Mmmm you're right Ellen, one way or another she would have relieved me of my pocket money. It is her birthday on Monday I'll have to get on the phone to Hugo Chavez to see if he can forward me a loan equivalent to the GDP of an emerging economy so as to fulfil her 'reasonable' expectations for her latest 27th birthday.

Mar 2, 2012, 11:00am Top

I suspect elephants are also sentient, or quite close to it.

Mar 2, 2012, 11:26am Top

What fun to learn about the symbolism of the animals we like best.

One of my favorite animals is the giraffee. I found this article:


Mar 2, 2012, 12:20pm Top

Paul, good luck with that! LOL

Lucy and Lynda, I believe there are many sentient beings (I'd say my beloved Edgar was quite sentient, but I probably did project a bit). And, sentient or not, I'm a pretty strong believer in little furry (or feathered or whatever) souls......

Mar 2, 2012, 12:22pm Top

Lynda: Messenger, Vision, Protection, Intuition, Gracefulness in action...... Giraffes is a wonderful totem to have!

Edited: Mar 2, 2012, 12:26pm Top

And here's the link for the meaning of the Whale totem. I like it.
whale totem

Mar 2, 2012, 2:16pm Top

Follow me to my third thread!

This topic was continued by EBT1002/Ellen's 75 in 2012 - March.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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