Sandy's Books: 2020 🎉 the First

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Sandy's Books: 2020 🎉 the First

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Edited: Jan 22, 2020, 12:04pm

Welcome to 2020 and a new year of reading chatter.

Celebrating my second year of belonging to this group!

From the 🎄Christmas gift haul, here's the stack of books which I'll start with for this year's reading ~

That book (black spine) on the bottom is Syllabus (Lynda Barry) and is actually a library loan request that arrived just yesterday, so I've added it to my starting list of reads.

I'm not setting out any other plans or objectives until this starter stack is finished. Learned from last year that PLANS go haywire around here really quickly.

Meant to post my counter set up for the start of my reading year ~ note how optimistic I am, having a target of 110 books. That's one more than last year. A rung up always gives me incentive, doncha know?

Updated, January 22 ~

Jan 1, 2020, 1:34am

Ahh-I spy an art quilts book. Are you a quilter too? I also have The Paper Garden somewhere on my TBR stash.

Edited: Jan 1, 2020, 1:47am

>2 arubabookwoman: Good spying! I'm more of an art-quilter than a conventional patchwork sewist.
On my 2019 thread #3 (, you can see a few photos of the work I did in recent years.

The Masters: Art Quilts book looks really inspiring but I haven't had a chance to really explore the contents yet. The Paper Garden is also very intriguing, about a woman who started her creative work when she was 72. It is excellent encouragement for those of us wondering if we're being weird for having a new career later in life.

I peeked at your profile and note that you and I both read Old in Art School. Looks like we have lots in common!

Edited: Jan 1, 2020, 3:27am

Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 2020, 1:52am

Hi Paul.
Hope all is well with you. I'm going to try and delurk more widely this year!

Jan 1, 2020, 2:06am

Wishing you 12 months of success
52 weeks of laughter
366 days of fun (leap year!)
8,784 hours of joy
527,040 minutes of good luck
and 31,622,400 seconds of happiness!!

Jan 1, 2020, 5:03am

Best wishes for 2020!

Jan 1, 2020, 5:10am

Hi Sandy! Happy New Year. Your Christmas haul looks really good :-)

Jan 1, 2020, 8:41am

Happy reading in 2020, Sandy!

Jan 1, 2020, 9:31am

I'm looking forward to more bookish adventures with you, Sandy.

Jan 1, 2020, 9:58am

Happy new year, Sandy!

Jan 1, 2020, 10:05am

May new-decade delights and discoveries abound for you, Sandy.

Jan 1, 2020, 12:17pm

Happy new year and happy new thread!

Jan 1, 2020, 1:50pm

Welcome back! Mrsdrneutron is a quilter too. I’m her Sherpa/fabric enabler... 😀

Jan 1, 2020, 2:06pm

>3 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks for pointing me to pictures of your work—it’s lovely and interesting. I hope you post more pictures here. I am an art quilter too (having started with bed quilts many many years ago), and I’m a member of SAQA and SDS. I’m not sure whether to call what I do as quilts anymore, though, since I frequently don’t have a third layer and often frame my work. But it’s definitely fabric and thread, almost all handwork (“slow stitching”), appliqué/embroidered, almost always contemporary and abstract. I don’t know how to post pictures on LT, but if you’re interested I can post a link to some of my work that has been in shows by CQA, my local art quilt group. Would love to talk to you about our mutual art. Also off to check your library. My latest acquisition is The Intentional Thread and it is fabulous! (Hmm-looks like there may not be a touchstone, but it’s on Amazon)

Jan 1, 2020, 2:39pm

>15 arubabookwoman: If you want to upload images to LT ~ here's a tutorial I wrote last December,

I made it very visual with lots of annotations. The most reliable way that I have found to insert images into LT Talk, is using the "Junk Drawer". Hope this helps you with posting in your thread.

Also, here's a link to the textile work that I finished in mid-December,

Thanks for stopping by!

Jan 1, 2020, 2:52pm

>6 Berly:, >7 DianaNL:, >8 susanj67:, >11 katiekrug:, >13 foggidawn:, Hi all. It is so great to belong to your "family".
I'm sure to be hit with masses of BB's from your threads judging by last year.

>12 richardderus: Finished snickering? You should feel smug, predicting an addicted LTer and all. Drop by again soon. There'll be lots for you to poke me about ;D

>14 drneutron: So does Mrsdrneutron have a LT persona? And can we get to see some of her creations???

SO fun to be in on the start of the year this time. It's exciting.

Jan 1, 2020, 3:01pm

>1 SandyAMcPherson: plans go haywire? Say it ain't so... :grin:

Starred! I am looking forward to following your reads this year.

Jan 1, 2020, 3:09pm

Hi Fuzzi!

So glad to see you. I dipped in and out of yours last year but aim to be more assiduous about keeping up.

And yes, I *was* really surprised when I look back at my 2019 record how many books that I actually read were BB's or on my "noted as recommended" list. I think 2019 was the first time I read so many newer or really-recent books.

And series! I discovered so many new-to-me series. I became an instant member of the RGFC Elly Griffiths.

Jan 1, 2020, 3:19pm

>19 SandyAMcPherson: Fellow Ruth Galloway fan!! Good luck dodging the BBs. OR maybe you don't want to?! : )

Jan 1, 2020, 3:21pm

Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 2020, 3:22pm

>17 SandyAMcPherson: Unfortunately, she's only vicariously an LTer. Though she does come to meetups with me, so who knows? Maybe someday! 😀

Jan 1, 2020, 3:26pm

Hello and welcome and have some fun. Don't think we exchanged comments last year, but we can hope for it in 2020.

Jan 1, 2020, 3:30pm

Hi Sandy, thanks for visiting my thread. I'm impressed by your art quilts. I used to do that kind of work myself before my life was taken over by family history research, but I am still interested in fabric art.

It's amazing how much your reading can change by being a member of the 75ers. I mostly read mysteries and romances before I was tempted with BBs on the threads. Now I find myself reading things I would never have picked up before. Enjoy the change!

Jan 1, 2020, 3:49pm

Happy New Year, Sandy. I hope you have a wonderful year of reading.

Jan 1, 2020, 4:13pm

I could have sworn I posted here already but I don't see any post from me! Well, better late than never, though how it still being the first day of the new year, could be considered *late*, I not sure!

Happy new thread, Sandy! And new year/decade, etc.

Jan 1, 2020, 4:30pm

Hi Sandy! Happy new year and happy first thread of 2020.

Jan 1, 2020, 10:09pm

Happy New Year, Sandy!

See, I did show up eventually!

Jan 1, 2020, 10:17pm

>28 quondame: So great to see you! I noted this bookish star on several threads tonight so knew you must have finished whatever you were reading.

When you have a 2020 thread set up, pop by and leave me a link! Pretty please?
All the best for your activities in 2020.

Jan 1, 2020, 11:21pm

>29 SandyAMcPherson: I am Here
But I still haven't finished my book.....

Jan 2, 2020, 8:35am

>19 SandyAMcPherson: Sandy, Ruth Galloway has lots of fans here (including me)! The author's The Stranger Diaries is also a good read, but not part of the series.

Jan 2, 2020, 12:55pm

By the way, I linked to your tutorial post on the group wiki page. Thanks for putting it together!

Jan 2, 2020, 4:14pm

>32 drneutron: That's great. I hope it proves super user-friendly.

If you ever want my actual images, with annotations, just shoot me a wall message with your e-mail.

Jan 2, 2020, 4:16pm

>23 weird_O: Hiya. Love the gif.
How does the gif stay animated if you save it to your junk drawer? I couldn't even get it saved on my desktop.

You're right, I may have visited a lot of threads and just lurked. Glad you popped by, thanks.

Jan 2, 2020, 4:21pm

I'm hoping to expand my threads visits more widely this year. So many75-ers share significant portions of the titles in my (relatively meagre) library.
Thanks for popping by to say hello.

Edited: Jan 2, 2020, 10:35pm

>34 SandyAMcPherson: I was sure you were here, too... but I must of been remembering that I starred your thread.

Thanks for popping by to say hello. Hope to share lots of good reading titles!

Jan 2, 2020, 4:28pm

Hi Karen. I did visit your thread but it was late and I may have forgotten to say hello!

Thanks for popping by on mine. Looking forward to BBs.
No. Wait! I have to watch out for that... haywire plans!

Jan 2, 2020, 6:59pm

Happy New Year, Sandy!

Just to note, seeing them in your pile above, Jinian Footseer and Dervish Daughter are the first two of the Jinian trilogy in the Books of the True Game. But you really should have read Peter's trilogy first (King's Blood Four, Necromancer Nine and Wizard's Eleven). You can get away with not reading the Mavin Many-shaped trilogy, which comes in the middle publication order-wise, because they are actually prequels to the other two. You may already know all this, but just in case...

Jan 2, 2020, 10:34pm

>38 ronincats: This I didn't know. Thank you so much.
In fact, I was going to ask for advice (on my thread) about the reading order.

I am known for preferring the old paperbacks rather than larger format more recent editions. I am especially known amongst my family, to hold the "don't buy me the 'omnibus' all in one volumes" point of view.

So I've been on a tear searching out the 1960-1970's authors I'd not ever heard of, and trying to find their novels. Sheri Tepper (which I discovered on LizzieD's thread last summer) sounded just my thing and Susan (quondame) suggested a few titles.

To get to my point, the bookshop with mostly fantasy and sci-fi paperbacks was closing so these two were secretly snaffled by my husband (known here as The Man). Hence the Christmas reading loot was enhanced.

I'll look for that trilogy King's Blood Four, Necromancer Nine and Wizard's Eleven in our remaining Used Books shop and leave a 'want' on their requests list. Our provincial libraries do not have these books.

Edited: Jan 2, 2020, 11:22pm

I'm not surprised that the libraries don't have them. These three were Tepper's first published works in 1983 and 1984, and only published in mmpb at the time. And it took me years, back in the pre-Internet days, to acquire the entire set of 9 books. And I agree with you in general about avoiding the omnibus editions (as I didn't with the Marianne series because of cost), as you can see here.

ETA I just checked, and the San Diego library does have one omnibus edition of the three Peter books.

Jan 3, 2020, 8:20am

Hi Roni,
That stack of books is enviable! And very useful for reference, thanks. I saved the image to my WL file.

Jan 3, 2020, 12:49pm

Hi Sandy, I saw the LT question you posed on my thread. I answered it there and then thought I might as well cross-post it here:

Did you actually jon the 2020 group? Because I think in this group, you can create threads and post and all that without actually being a member. That's not true of all groups, but pretty sure this one works that way.

Jan 3, 2020, 1:00pm

Hi Sandy, and Happy New Year. I didn't know you were an art-quilter - I really liked what you posted on last year's thread. Thanks for the link. I've always imagined I could do something like that, but space is at a premium here. Maybe I'll clear a corner somewhere.

Jan 3, 2020, 1:05pm

>42 lauralkeet: *Blush*
Ummm ...very little voice, "no".

fixed now... THANK YOU!! 🎉

Jan 3, 2020, 3:18pm

>44 SandyAMcPherson: Well, it's easy enough to make that mistake.

BTW, this discussion of art quilting reminded me that way back in 2019 (!!) I offered to share some of my mom's quilting, which a family friend had made into notecards after she passed in 2016.

These were all made as either throws or wall hangings, not full-size bed quilts. The first quilt is the most traditional design; I have this one. My brother has the next one. The last one strikes me as the most "art-quilt-ish." I'm not sure where it is now, although it might have been part of a donation to the care facility, for use in a silent auction or similar.

Jan 3, 2020, 4:17pm

>45 lauralkeet: Those are all totally beautiful, Laura!

>41 SandyAMcPherson: Glad it was helpful, Sandy.

Jan 3, 2020, 4:28pm

Hi Sandy. I'm stopping by and starring your thread. You mentioned on mine that you got overwhelmed quickly last year with all the threads you had starred. It happens to me all the time. I really can't "keep up" so I do something that vaguely resembles that. I do skim threads and sometimes I let a set of posts go and just join back in as I can. Work has not heated up for spring semester yet; once the students return I will only be able to check in on LT now and then. But I try to be present enough so folks know I'm still here!

I am also an enthusiastic member of the RGFC (my next one is The Ghost Fields, number 7 in the series). And I am so sure I read something by Sherri Tepper waaaay back in the late 1980s (graduate school) .... but I have no idea what I might have read.

Jan 3, 2020, 4:36pm

>45 lauralkeet: Love these, especially that third one (on the right).
I'm a big fan of the fun and contemporary designs. They can be a bit visually noisy in a queen-sized piece so smaller wall hangings are my preferred style these days (or 'lap' quilts).

Thanks for showing these off, Laura.

Jan 3, 2020, 5:42pm

>46 ronincats:, >48 SandyAMcPherson: thanks Roni and Sandy. My mom really gravitated toward "fun and contemporary" over the course of her quilting life. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the images.

Jan 3, 2020, 5:57pm

>47 EBT1002: I find the RG novels immensely satisfying.
It is great to read the saga even tho' there are flaws that cause me to do the eye-roll.
I reason that hey, the writing is good and "nobody can write a dozen novels perfectly"
(that I know of....).

Looking forward to your review!

Edited: Jan 3, 2020, 7:24pm

>50 SandyAMcPherson: I appreciate that she resists full-on formula writing. I mean, there is some formula there but she does mix it up such that the heroine is not always in great jeopardy of her own making.

Jan 3, 2020, 9:01pm

>51 EBT1002: And my most favourite part is the forensic archeology and what Ruth says about bones. Oh, and Cathbad. What an utterly fabulous character. I wish I had these 2 types of people for friends IRL.

What a dreamer I am...

Edited: Jan 5, 2020, 8:59am

Finally!!! I stayed off the threads long enough to finish my first book of 2020 ~
I had a library cascade arrive just before Christmas and decided I'd better plow through those before starting my Christmas-gift books.

The biggest stall out was bad-reads. So I took advice about not feeling guilty for DNF-ing a book and the first 2 library books got pearled. I'm going to keep track of those on my profile list (last year, that proved really handy for me to have everything in one place which I read or didn't finish.)

I'm going all out in enthusiasm and rate as a read

Book 2 in the series featuring DI Edgar Stephens, and actor/magician Max Mephisto.
A much better crafted tale than Zig Zag Girl, this continuing saga is set in Brighton, about a year later, around Christmastime, 1951.
The story is very human and somewhat a sad account for the opening crime. However, the character development is admirable and the personalities were very engaging. A couple of the clues were casually dropped into the narrative that served to add an unexpected twist but derailed my guessing 'who-dun-it'. I was fooled right through to the end. It was a fast read, just when I needed it!

Jan 5, 2020, 9:03am

>47 EBT1002: I also find myself overwhelmed by some of the busier threads here, but do my best to check in and hit the highlights.

>39 SandyAMcPherson: I have not read anything by Sheri Tepper, yet. Maybe in 2020...

Jan 5, 2020, 9:26am

>54 fuzzi: Hi Fuzzi, Good luck finding Sheri Tepper novels. I've got my family scouring for the early paperbacks. I sure enjoyed Book 1 of the Marianne Trilogy.

Jan 5, 2020, 9:46am

Book 1 in my DNF list:
Food, genes, and culture: eating right for your origins (Gary Paul Nabhan).

Quite awhile ago (pre-LT membership), I enjoyed Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey by Gary Nathan. The spice marketing history of frankincense was fascinating.

However, Food, genes, and culture, etc was a plod. With my background in plant natural products plus collaborating with crop scientists and crop geneticists for more than 25 years... I just could not accept a lot of the assertions in this text. I'm not saying the author was exactly wrong, but I believe there were many speculative conclusions that current facts don't justify. Just my personal take on this literature. Human physiology and plant-based nutrition is a fast-evolving field of study ~ this book is already out of date.

Jan 5, 2020, 10:07am

Book 2 ~ DNF
A Year By the Sea: thoughts of an unfinished woman (Joan Anderson)

The title was very captivating but her story wasn't. Maybe I should have finished the book, but I felt the theme was constantly derailed by her forays onto the beach and foraging for seafood. Somehow her philosophical reflections seemed terribly shallow. Overall, the narrative felt contrived and I didn't bother even skimming.

As others have said, life is too short for unsatisfying reading.

Edited: Jan 5, 2020, 5:22pm

>53 SandyAMcPherson: O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Finished and four-starred! Very happy for you.

>56 SandyAMcPherson: Epigenetics was once considered idiocy, a regression to Lamarckian pseudoscience. So...well...pays to keep an open mind. This, however, sounds like some woo-woo "drink toad's milk harvested by the light of a rat's-fat taper" stuff to me.

>57 SandyAMcPherson: *sigh* Oh well. Better books lie ahead.

Jan 5, 2020, 8:49pm

Hope you had a great year of reading!

Jan 5, 2020, 11:15pm

>59 thornton37814: Hi Lori, thanks for dropping by. Hope you discover some brilliant new authors this year.

Jan 5, 2020, 11:19pm

>58 richardderus: Yeah, four-starred...

I liked the development of the personalities a lot.
That type of writing detective/mystery stories, which makes the personalities the focus of the story more than hideously detailing the crime, is much more appealing (to me).

Edited: Jan 5, 2020, 11:46pm

Book #2: Amazingly (or maybe I'm being a softie) ~ another read.

A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (2019)

Perhaps I was generous with 4-stars because I voraciously read the novel non-stop, over 3-evenings.
(I usually reserve 4-stars for books I nominate for re-reads)...
The plot ran along the classic "Agatha Christie" mystery structure: a murder is committed, there are multiple characters who are all suspected of concealing secrets, and the main protagonist, usually the detective, gradually uncovers these secrets over the course of the story.

In Connie Berry's novel, the female lead (Kate Hamilton) fulfills the trope of the insightful, but ignored, participant who has ties to the victim and is there by accident. Kate is annoyingly idiotic about her own safety (and declares so several times), plus acts like an airhead in a number of situations (no spoilers here, you'll find them without my help).

Despite some tactless and less than wise actions, Kate is an engaging character. Readers may find themselves drawn to her plight and rooting for a happy ending. I ticked that box, although the tale was left with a certain amount of uncertainty.

I find I'm comparing CB's writing to the Elly Griffiths mysteries, and preferring EG's style. For my tastes, Berry has to learn not to gallop through the action and to write more evocatively. I would have enjoyed more backstory about Kate Hamilton's intriguing, almost-clairvoyant affinity to antiques and its tie-in to sensing past events. It was well-nuanced so as not to come across as some weird woo-woo scenario.

Looking forward to the second Kate Hamilton instalment, A legacy of murder.

Jan 7, 2020, 7:53am

Warning, non-bookish silliness this morning ~~

I needed some laughs to relieve the prospect of having to go out and about today, after an Arctic cold front dropped by for a visit.

I'm also reading a very amusing book from my Christmastime bonanza, The Codfish Dream: Chronicles of a West Coast Fishing Guide.
Thank goodness for reality-escapes ~ January reading time!

Jan 7, 2020, 12:19pm

>63 SandyAMcPherson: Sandy, I checked that link, and minus 29C?!! I didn't even think humans could live in that sort of cold. Yikes! I hope you didn't have to go out for long.

Sorry you've had a couple of DNFs but you're right - there are so many good things out there that we shouldn't waste time on stuff we don't like.

Edited: Jan 7, 2020, 2:26pm

>64 susanj67:, I didn't even think humans could live in that sort of cold
Where do you live? It must be very mild there... this temp today (January 7th) is nothing. Really!

Now last February, I walked over to the gym ~

but The Man insisted on picking me up afterwards.

We do own the requisite padded pants and parka for such temps. That Feb. chart (taken from the same link you accessed today) was especially chilly. And definitely the cause of a LOT of reading. 😉

Jan 7, 2020, 3:10pm

Oh wow, Sandy, you ol' softie you, another 4-starrer and a day tailor-made for slothing about in jammies with readables on every flat surface. Talk about a result, I'm gonna start passing out New Year's orisons more liberally.

Jan 7, 2020, 5:57pm

>63 SandyAMcPherson: Thinking of going out at 4:53AM is what boggled me as much as the temperature. The donut shops here aren't even open at such an hour.

Jan 7, 2020, 8:19pm

>66 richardderus: Yuppers, RD. January is just about always this cold or colder and I usually get a lot chores done because I need to fight off cabin-fever! I'm meeting friends for coffee on Wednesday and a blizzard is forecast.

Ain't life grand? I'll be happy to have your "orisons" as long as they are like rain dances, only please send sunshine.
(And yeah, I had to look up that word. Do you own a mediaeval dictionary or something?)

>67 quondame: Susan! No ~ really ~ I wasn't going out at 4:53 AM! That timestamp was marked for your time zone. We are 2 hours ahead, in CST. No way I'd plan to go at at that temp. The car wasn't plugged in either. (Assuming you know what plugged in means).

In fact, I needed to return 3 library books so waited to leave until 10 a.m. opening.
By then, the sun was up (cheering) but the temps had dropped to nearly -30 (degrees C, but at that temperature, C is merging with F and it is all-too-cold).

Two other errands accomplished on the way home and then inside, as quick as the proverbial brown fox.
I wanted to ask how many holds were on Syllabus (Lynda Barry) because I had hoped to renew it online and couldn't. I needed to find out if there were too many for me to bother right now.

I'm rather cross that our library's software doesn't show the number of holds requested, so that we can judge whether to add our name. We have travel plans starting next month and I could time the hold, but it means going in to ask. Sorry about the rant...

Jan 7, 2020, 8:55pm

Brrr! It's COLD up in your neck of the woods. Philadelphia has had a mild winter so far (highs around 40F/4C this week), and no snow yet. Temps below freezing would be more typical for January, but we don't usually get much below 15F/-9C.

On another note, I think your library rant is completely justified! If you add your name does the system tell you your position in queue? If so, I guess you could add your name and then cancel the hold if the queue were especially long. Barring that, can you suspend your hold request? One of *my* library rants is the inability to suspend, either due to travel plans or just juggling to ward off the dreaded book avalanche.

Jan 7, 2020, 9:12pm

>65 SandyAMcPherson: that's pretty cold. Before we relocated to the Carolinas we had an unusually cold winter in CT. One week it was below 0F, and I recall going outside to start the car about 4:30am, -15F I think. No plug in, but I was driving a 1968 Buick, with no pollution control devices, so it cranked. But boy did it shake!

Jan 7, 2020, 9:18pm

Hi Sandy. I am sorry that I missed your thread in 2019. I'll be sure to be a frequent visitor in 2020. Where do you live in CT? It is one of my favorite states!

>62 SandyAMcPherson: I've added A Dream of Death to the tbr pile. Your review is excellent!

Jan 7, 2020, 11:36pm

>68 SandyAMcPherson: 7AM is still on the early side, though most days I've just returned from taking Mike to the Metro. I was thinking of you in British Columbia, but I see that's only a sometimes location.

Edited: Jan 8, 2020, 9:43am

>69 lauralkeet: Hi Laura, we can suspend our request which holds our place in the queue and that's useful.
My irritation is that we can't see *if* there's a queue or how many are ahead. I'd like to monitor how I'm moving up the wait list, then be able to suspend at a place just near the top.

>70 fuzzi: Hi fuzzi. Thanks for dropping by. I need to catch up on your thread - see what you're reading.

>71 Whisper1: Hi Linda. I hadn't visited your thread until today, when you posted. Welcome to my January world!
I live 80% of the year in Saskatchewan, a prairie province north of Montana/North Dakota. I love all the illustrations you posted on your thread, now starred!

>72 quondame:, Hi Susan. Indeed, I live in the Great Canadian Steppes! I'm originally a BC gal and have family in the "Lower Mainland" (normally abbreviated LM) and on Vancouver Island. My ❤️ lives on the coast with sea and mountains. I visit as much as finances and time away from home allows.

Warming up here ~ that's because we're having a much-needed blizzard. Snow cover so necessary, and rather late this year, to protect the plants, provide a reservoir of moisture in the spring.

Jan 8, 2020, 9:06am

>73 SandyAMcPherson: ohhhh, I get it. That's annoying!

Jan 8, 2020, 3:14pm

Thanks for stopping by my thread, Sandy. I have dropped a star and look forward to following your reading adventures. I also love Ruth!!

Jan 8, 2020, 3:45pm

>75 Crazymamie: Thanks for your visit. I know the threads are really crazy in January, so many to look at!

Jan 8, 2020, 5:01pm

Sounds as if you've made a great start to the New Year. I'll have to check out the Connie Berry. And you tempt me to try the other Griffiths series.

Jan 8, 2020, 5:05pm

Hi Sandy, I don't own a medieval dictionary (though now I covet one, "thanks" for that) I'm just revoltingly well read.

Jan 9, 2020, 10:00am

Happy 2020, Sandy.

I love Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series, and I should try her other one.

Jan 9, 2020, 11:56am

>77 sibylline:, >79 jnwelch: I'm sure you would enjoy these alternative (to RG) novels. For me, I liked the second one better but the first one is a good backstory so that #2 Smoke and Mirrors, is clarified regarding comments that refer back to the WW II story.

>78 richardderus: I find this bookmark very useful, especially when I'm reading your remarks!

Jan 9, 2020, 3:33pm

>80 SandyAMcPherson: A great resource!

Jan 9, 2020, 4:14pm

Ha! - found you. Hi, Sandy. :)

Hmm. We're having exactly the opposite temperature issues here; I hardly know whether to be sympathetic or envious.

FWIW, though I don't rate books publicly, I do mentally: my baseline rating is 3.5, which means that a book gave me what I wanted of it.

Jan 10, 2020, 9:54am

>81 quondame: Indeed a fun dictionary resource. I never needed it until I started looking at the Talk threads on LT!

>82 lyzard: Welcome! I wasn't that hard to find, was I? I hope you find that this is a fun place.

Jan 10, 2020, 1:49pm

>80 SandyAMcPherson:, >81 quondame: Bookmarked! How wonderful the internet is. No irony intended, I'm just gobsmacked at how much terrific stuff there still is available on here. It won't last forever, the monetizers are doing their goddamnedest to make every blink cost you, but for now there are wonderful and delightful things to be found.

Jan 10, 2020, 6:17pm

>84 richardderus:, Hi Richard. Glad you gave the RD stamp of approval to the Middle English Dictionary.

Usually in my experience (admittedly limited) the pages on *dot edu* are safe from subscription demands.

What does happen is that some vague IT requirement dictates that "such and such" has to be moved to a different server, but (gnashing of teeth) the IT tech doesn't update the public website "because that's not my responsibility". The idea of co-ordinating this endeavour seems to be completely neglected.

One wonders how "we" ever launched a staffed space-station orbiting the earth, with such fuzzy organization in our learned institutions.

Jan 10, 2020, 6:54pm

>85 SandyAMcPherson: A question I ask myself every time I interact with bureaucracies, public or private, is: "Do none of you goofballs have parents/children/spouse(s) who have to do this?! Treat me the way you'd want some disembodied gatekeeper to treat them!"

Jan 12, 2020, 8:08pm

I'm very excited ~ Still waters is waiting for me at the library!
This is a book bullet from reading Laura's thread the first day of this year! The library request sure took its time to be filled.

I better get busy finishing some of my in progress reading. Then I'll be all set to leap into this enticing Viveca Sten mystery novel.

Jan 12, 2020, 9:02pm

>87 SandyAMcPherson: I hope you enjoy your introduction to the Stockholm archipelago!

Jan 12, 2020, 9:48pm

Book #3: hurrah, I'm on a roll ~ another read!
A great book for inspiration and ideas — Same place, more space by Karl Champley.

The sub-title is important: 50 Projects to Maximize Every Room in the House, because the author starts off with a succinct reminder about decluttering your living space first and then deciding what room(s) actually need more space. So part of the maximizing has to do with reorganizing and culling your belongings.

It was particularly effective to see a master builder acknowledge the need to discard extraneous items and follow up with a solid plan — on paper . A frequent mistake, apparently, is simply overlooking a more effective rearrangement of the furniture in a room which can resolve many space constraints. A chapter with diagrams was devoted to these concepts. I loved having visuals to emphasize his point and the book is full of these.

The projects were laid out in terms of each space found in a typical North American home. My two favourite remodelling projects were the mini-office space under the angle created by a staircase (p. 181) and the garden shed conversion to a retreat/guest room (p. 246).

Here's the office cubby space and as a schematic,

I asked for an evaluation by The Man (on my review, I said "a hobby renovator friend") with regard to the technical details. He recommended the book as very approachable with excellent skill-level ratings and high-quality diagrams to follow for the construction (an aspect which I couldn't evaluate). He also pointed out how important the section on tools was ~ nothing too exotic and sound advice on the basic needs.

So, despite this book not having been on my original stack of TBRs, I really enjoyed the advice. Now back to my stack in the topper photo. That black one on the very bottom...

Jan 12, 2020, 10:05pm

>89 SandyAMcPherson: Long after I moved out of the apartment with 1 under stairs closet and another under stair work space - the apartment was the ground level with access to apartments upstairs on either side - I still dreamed of those spaces, each just perfect for that extra amount of stuff I couldn't fit elsewhere - or later my husband's comic collection. I think it would take a dozen such to deal with 35 more years of accumulated stuff, and as for the comic collection - well, good thing we have a garage.

Edited: Jan 12, 2020, 10:23pm

Book #4: Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor (by Lynda Barry)

I've never managed to overcome my inner editor and Lynda Barry totally gets it.

Her workbook is built up from her own notes as a student and her original drawing diary. She now teaches students ways of creating artwork through the medium of caricatures, imaginative drawings and comics, which evoke less constrained experimentation.

I can't say I was fully liberated with working along the lines of this classroom curriculum, but that lies mainly with having borrowed the book on a 3-week, non-renewable loan. It was definitely inspiring. Now my own copy is in the mail and I will continue working on LB's approach to art and creative freedom.

My "minus one star" rating is a purely personal difficulty. Often the author's message was lost in such a visually-saturated book: the pages are so busy that the high-energy impact takes a lot of acclimating. I had to absorb the information in small bites and then take my time just scribbling and drawing with the book shut.

I'm looking forward to some drawing Zen and making progress on not being so hung up evaluating and judging how I am doing.

Jan 12, 2020, 10:43pm

>90 quondame: Nice little look-back. Thanks for visiting.

I smiled at your saying "the apartment was the ground level with access to apartments upstairs on either side", because it was such a timely observation.

I was talking to one of my daughters about how nifty this staircase cubby would be for their child who now has homework. She laughed a lot at my notion, since the younger one is constantly pounding up and down the stairs after school. I guess it is quite a case of 'thundering buffalo' as the saying goes.

Were the spaces at your apartment purely storage? The project in the Champley book had storage shelves (and a folding door, I think) next to the office cubby.

Jan 12, 2020, 11:05pm

Sandy I am a little late with this but I don't know how to transfer the recipe by mail etc so I have to type it out.

Hani's Gormeh Sabzi


4 cups of fresh parsley
3 cups of fresh cilantro
1 cup of green onions fresh
3/4 cup of fenugreek leaves fresh
2 cups of the green parts of the leek
5 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion large sliced thinly
1.5 lb of beef trimmed and cut in 2 inch pieces
1 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
1/2 cup of kidney beans dried and soaked overnight
salt to taste
4 whole limes dried
1 tbsp dried lime powder or 2 tbsp of lime juice (as per taste)


Rinse the herbs and drain well, Chop finely
Heat some of the oil on medium heat saute onions until golden brown
Add meat, turmeric, black pepper brown a little. Add salt and three cups of water then bring to boil.
Lower the heat, add the beans and simmer for 35 minutes

Separately heat the rest of the oil in a nonstick skillet add the herbs and saute lightly for 20 minutes stirring regularly until the aroma is strong.

Add the herbs to the stew and simmer for another 30 minutes adding a little water at the same time
Next add the dried limes and simmer for a final 30 minutes until all is tender. Add the lime powder or juice in the last 15 minutes adjusting to suit your taste.
The stew should be thick and not runny.

Serve with rice.

Fenugreek leaves and the lime juice can cause excess bitterness so use carefully and adjust to taste - less is more.

The stew should be thick. If you feel it is too runny but the meat and beans are already fully tender - separate those ingredients and evaporate the stew over a higher heat before recombining.

Hope that helps Sandy!

Jan 13, 2020, 1:36am

>89 SandyAMcPherson: Hi Sandy!! You are reading pretty good books I see -- four stars all of them! Nicely done. : ) Our space under the stairs in the lower level is a closed off storage area. I just have to watch my head when I put the Christmas decorations away (which I just did!).

Jan 13, 2020, 1:50am

>92 SandyAMcPherson: One of them was a closet under the landing and the staircase to the second floor apartment to the east of us over the carports, the other was divided between space for a wall bed and a nook with a built in desk and just enough room for a chair and an additional bookcase behind, which is where I kept my sewing machine etc., and the top right drawer is still my first thought when I wonder where glue, tacks, paper clips and screwdrivers are. I lived there maybe 7 years, followed by 12 years in our condo and now over 20 in my house, but that nook was just perfect, even though I have a whole room now. The family that lived directly above us was quite the thundering herd - 2 adults, 2 teens and a dog.

>93 PaulCranswick: I know I can get dried limes locally, with a high proportion of Persians in west LA, but until I found them I would have considered them hard to get, and I've never even looked for fresh fenugreek.

Jan 13, 2020, 3:02am

>95 quondame: I was passing on the recipe, Susan - I wouldn't recognise fenugreek if it marched up and bit me!

One thing is that SWMBO did say that some recipes call for fresh chives to be added to the dish but she doesn't and her Persian friends tell that it makes the stew taste bitter.

Jan 13, 2020, 7:25am

>93 PaulCranswick: Thank you so very much for typing this recipe on Talk.
Really appreciate your diligence.

I think the ingredients are available in our town, since we have a substantial Irani population. I'll have to try this out, for sure.

Jan 13, 2020, 7:34am

>94 Berly: Yes, definitely finding some good reading after a bumpy DNF start. The Same Place/Space book was on my request list from last year ~ only one copy in the PL system and took weeks and weeks to find its way to my local library.

>95 quondame: So many of the older homes where I lived over the years had the most charming nooks and crannies. I miss that. We're living in a relatively modern house now and it has not got those lovely idiosyncratic features.

>96 PaulCranswick: Fenugreek (harvested for its seeds) is actually grown here (Saskatchewan), since it is adapted to an arid climate with a short growing season. I may have to compromise with dried leaves, but I wouldn't use much since it certainly accounts for bitterness in such dishes. I've never heard that chives make a dish bitter. I betcha it was over-using fenugreek!

Jan 13, 2020, 7:35am

>97 SandyAMcPherson: It's no trouble at all, Sandy. Just sorry that I was unable to put it up sooner due to the flu. Enjoy it!

Jan 13, 2020, 7:41am

>98 SandyAMcPherson: If it is dried fenugreek leaves apparently you need to use much less, Sandy. Wait let me check........3 tbsps.

Jan 13, 2020, 7:55am

>100 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. I'll be careful!

Won't be cooking anything that needs a shopping trip this week! Too cold.
That's the greatest thing about retirement: I don't have to wait for the bus, in the dark, at -30 oC. And we don't have to make it tough on our car by starting it in this cold spell. It is plugged in to prewarm the motor, but that doesn't compensate much, except warm the oil a bit.

Edited: Jan 13, 2020, 8:10am

>93 PaulCranswick: >98 SandyAMcPherson: I didn't even realise Fenugreek had leaves ...

Well, I mean I knew it had leaves really but I didn't realise that they were used for anything.

I thought both dried fenugreek leaves and dried limes would be a show-stopper but apparently they are both available in local supermarkets, so I might give Paul's recipe a try.

Jan 13, 2020, 8:13am

>102 SandDune: I have to admit that it isn't my recipe, Rhian, it is Hani's recipe. I wouldn't recommend anyone to eat a recipe prepared by me!

>101 SandyAMcPherson: Warmth is best - the recipe will not spoil. x

Jan 14, 2020, 12:06am

>89 SandyAMcPherson: The library has that one, so I've put a hold on it to send it to me at my local branch, Sandy.

Jan 14, 2020, 9:14am

>104 ronincats: How exciting!
What have you in mind? Or is it a case of "exploring options"?

I wanted to see what we might do in our garage, which is the black hole from Hell (because it apparently sucks stuff in and makes it harder and harder to get in and out of the car). I didn't find anything for *that* problem, but it was fun to read through the rest. I loved the converted garden shed...

Jan 14, 2020, 12:05pm

It is of some comfort to find there's someone else dealing with the black hole from Hell problem. This bothers me much more than it does my other half, but he recently ventured out there and rearranged all the stuff much more compactly, which is enormously helpful until we can steel ourselves for the process of reviewing and disposing of things, again.

Jan 14, 2020, 1:58pm

Happy Tuesday, Sandy. I hope your weather has warmed up but I have a feeling it got colder if the weather forecast I saw on the news last night is any indication. We are even dealing with snow and cold here in the LM.

Jan 14, 2020, 2:32pm

>106 lauralkeet:, This bothers me much more than it does my other half

Indeed!! A friend says that the propensity to accumulate *anything* that is even remotely "potentially useful" is due to a gene mutation on the Y chromosome (with no disrespect intended for the Y-chromosome people on LT). So many of the decluttering blogs and conversations are female-driven, that I believe this sentiment is reasonable. (Taking shelter under the bed to escape the flak).

>107 Familyhistorian: We've "warmed" up to about -30 now but there's a breeze so the wind chill is brutal. I'm ready to explore a sublet in Victoria... oh wait. With the monster (read: stupid) ferry boats recently upstaging smaller ferries, there's precious little reliable (foot passenger cheap) transport between V.I and the LM.

Jan 14, 2020, 3:14pm

Sandy, my goodness that's cold. Lucky you don't have to go anywhere urgently. I first read about cars being "plugged in" in a cosy mystery series set in Minnesota, but I had to ask on LT why you would plug in a car. Someone kindly explained :-) I love the series (the Hannah Swensen books by Joanne Fluke) partly for the stories but mostly for all the details about the cold.

Jan 14, 2020, 3:23pm

Hi Susan. I've blown off most of the afternoon schmoozing around on the threads. I'm supposed to be shredding files o uselessness but it is so BORING.

Whenever we drive back to the coast, we get teased about our plug hanging out of the front radiator...
January is the month I should take a sublet out on the Island... (near Victoria)

Jan 14, 2020, 3:27pm

>110 SandyAMcPherson: Well, Sandy, there's a nice house which may be available soon :-) It's next to a golf course, and all the photographers hanging around should at least keep the road clear of snow, at least until they realise that you're not part of the royal retinue :-)

Edited: Jan 14, 2020, 3:47pm

>111 susanj67: Absolutely NO WAY!

As you know, I used to live 'down there' and I have long discovered, "You can't go home again"!
But thank you. I always love a tease.

Edited: Jan 14, 2020, 4:27pm

>110 SandyAMcPherson: - I sometimes listen to the radio or podcasts while shredding precisely because it's so boring. :-)

Also, re plugging in the car (somewhere back in this thread, I think?), I have been here in Toronto since 1980 and don't think I've ever seen it done here. But growing up in Montreal, it was just a given that people did that.

Jan 14, 2020, 5:13pm

>105 SandyAMcPherson: >106 lauralkeet: It's lucky that in So. Calif. we don't actually need to put cars in the garage - ours managed to hold my husband's comic book collection and many of my dolls, as well as my sewing pattern collection, not to mention many of the usual stow it in the garage items, and we could still get to everything, until, well until I joined the SCA and a rack with bags for costumes went in, and tents, and portable furniture, archery targets, and replacements, and well, if it's happened to you, you know.

Jan 14, 2020, 7:41pm

Hi Susan.
I can't imagine storing paper items like that. I'm glad it worked for you.

I just wish we had moved a couple times in the last 30+ years because that's probably why so much of our belongings haven't seen the light of day and the useless ones sold or discarded. Nothing like packing to move to generate second thoughts about what we've carted from place to place...

Jan 14, 2020, 8:42pm

Hi Sandy! Found and starred! I am looking forward to following your reading. Prairie winters can be harsh (hence my escape from Alberta to the island many, many years ago). The only Elly Griffiths' book I have read so far is The Stranger Diaries which was a 3 star read for me. 4.5 stars for the Gothic horror aspect. I do see good buzz about the Ruth Galloway books on LT so I may have to dip into the first one and check it out.

>89 SandyAMcPherson: - Oh, very interested in that one! I love finding practical use for nooks and crannies.

>93 PaulCranswick: - *snags copy of recipe*
Thanks, Paul!

Jan 14, 2020, 8:52pm

>89 SandyAMcPherson: That's fascinating. I do so love to imagine the pleasure others derive from throwing away perfectly good, usable things.

*Ys off to store more plastic bags*

Jan 14, 2020, 9:11pm

Just delurking to say hi! :)

Jan 14, 2020, 10:19pm

>117 richardderus: throwing away perfectly good, usable things.
If we're not actually using whatever item, then why are we keeping said item? Someone else will love finding it cheap at the thrift store!

The real problem are all the broken items or useless because (the song of my Man) 🎶 "there's parts missing and they don't make them anymore", followed by, or alternatively: 🎵 "It's put together so you can't take it apart to fix". So, again, recycle it.

Jan 14, 2020, 10:35pm

>118 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita. Nice to see you around.
I didn't know so many folks would drop by my thread this year. It's lovely.
Maybe it's because RD says I'm the culprit in starting the shenanigans... a great compliment, don't you think?

How's the new kitchen working out? I've never had the courage wherewithal to renovate the entire room.

Jan 15, 2020, 7:04am

>115 SandyAMcPherson: I just wish we had moved a couple times in the last 30+ years because that's probably why so much of our belongings haven't seen the light of day and the useless ones sold or discarded.

We moved into our current home 2 years ago. We'd been in our previous home about 13 years, but had been accumulating stuff and bringing it along for probably 25 years. Somehow in previous moves we were not challenged to get rid of stuff. We had the space, the "stuff" didn't seem so onerous, whatever. This last move was an empty nest downsizing, although not particularly severe. And we DID get rid of stuff. A lot of stuff!

Why does it keep coming back?!!

Jan 15, 2020, 11:02am

>121 lauralkeet: Why does it keep coming back?!!
I've bewailed that very aspect. Drawers and cupboards overstuffed within a year of the tidying up.
It's an endless conversation we have in our family as the stuff accumulates.

I've read many "downsizing" and "tidying" books to address that penchant for "Why is this drawer/cupboard stuffed again".
Many were useful, such as Let It Go (Peter Walsh) and New Minimalism (Fortin & Quilici) with regard to staying minimalist. Not that you asked/wanted my opinions, but here are two hard-learned lessons which answered the question for us ~

The best pieces of advice were: (1) "horizontal surfaces are not storage places!" (2) be a 'gatekeeper': make the decision about the incoming item before or, as it arrives at the house. For me, once something is in, the item's residence time expands the longer I don't get around to deciding. The corollary insight is that if storage areas, including that deadly catch-all kitchen drawer, have strictly defined contents, then those high-risk spots stay relatively unstuffed.. (*snort, laugh*)
(The key word was relatively, not permanently).


Jan 15, 2020, 12:55pm

Good advice, Sandy! I like the corollary too. I don't mind cleaning the kitchen drawer from time to time. It's kind of fun to see what ends up there.

Jan 15, 2020, 1:41pm

That idea about transforming the wedge of space under a staircase into a hide-away... You could use it in a book, for atmosphere, or mood. A place for a kid to retire to. Ah, like in the Harry Potter tales.

When you were talking about plugging in your car, I thought you had a Tesla. Haha.

Jan 15, 2020, 1:57pm

>123 lauralkeet: Glad you liked my take on the kitchen drawer philosophy...

>124 weird_O:, Hiya Bill! ~ Teslas ~ Not seen one of those in our parts, probably because there are no (as in none) public electric outlets for cars. Including for regular cars that run on conventional fossil fuels. Makes the underground heated parking garages very popular this time of year!

Outside parking lots for employees all have 'electrified' stalls. These are pay-lots and getting access is pretty competitive. I used to take the bus to work. I'm glad not to have to wait at the stop in this weather, being retired now. We're a hardy bunch here, though! People pretty much carry on with regular activities, even at -40. Except going for walks outside...

Jan 15, 2020, 2:27pm

My MIL's maiden name is McPherson and she's really interested in genealogy. Are you related to the Oregon McPherson's?

Jan 15, 2020, 4:28pm

Don't think so. My McPherson connections arrived in North America on the eastern seaboard, ca. 1755 as part of the army trying to preserve the British colonies. Apparently the immigrants originated from near Banff (Banffshire) due to highland clearances.

I've the typically-mixed heritage for Canadians, including Mi'kmaq and French. Because there weren't a lot of European people around so... a melting pot of ethnicities.

TMI ??? ;)

Jan 15, 2020, 4:56pm

>127 SandyAMcPherson: - My best friend's maiden name is Macpherson (not really sure of how she spells it) and though I don't know the year, her heritage is also Loyalist/eastern Canada.

Sandy,, your weather (and BC's) are making our news!! All day, we are hearing how awfully cold it is out there. And how unprepared Vancouver is, for example, for winter conditions. Here in Toronto, my grass is still pretty much all I see outside. Though, that's about to change (a bit). I am from Montreal, and I can vouch for the fact that Torontonians aren't all that great with snow, either, ;-)

Jan 15, 2020, 6:48pm

>128 jessibud2: Yes indeed, must be a slow news day.

The temperatures are brutal this month, but mostly a 'normal' brutal.
Unfortunately, Environment Canada now posts all these red banners about extreme cold and blah, blah, blah. Overlooking the fact we don't need such histrionics.

Now Victoria ~ they really are having unusually frigid weather and snow. And you! You can see your grass still! And have had more rain than snow. Yeah, that's climate change alright.

How's the basement holding up?

Jan 15, 2020, 9:17pm

>129 SandyAMcPherson: - My handyman spent some hours here Monday and Tuesday, repairing the wall and plastering, then painting. We are now in a hold pattern as we wait for the flooring I ordered to come in. Then he'll be back to install it, put on the baseboards and then I will ask a neighbour to help him move the sofabed back downstairs. I can't wait to get all the basement stuff out of my living room and upstairs spare room and back down there where it belongs!

Jan 16, 2020, 5:51am

Happy New Year Sandy! Thought I’d whizz by to wish you and got caught by all the interesting conversation (such as marching fenugreek). Amazing quilts all round.

Jan 16, 2020, 7:49am

>131 humouress: Hi! Nice to know you're around these parts.
The threads are sure smoking hot in January, aren't they? I'm not making much progress in reading my Christmas stash as I had expected. Of course I have a library cascade that arrived...

I finally realized that lots of patrons must have returned books and others not checked any out due to exactly that ~ the Christmas haul!

Jan 16, 2020, 8:28am

Book #5: Finding Moon (Tony Hillerman)

Well-written escapade to rescue a small child. The story is really about a man coming into his own, a voyage of self-discovery, set against the back drop of the collapsing South Vietnamese government.

I wasn't as engaged in this Hillerman novel compared to his Southwest Navajo mysteries: perhaps because the debacle of American involvement in the SE Asian conflicts still rankles. Hence, for my own reference, 3½ stars; but others might find this a 4-star read.

Jan 16, 2020, 8:35am

So now I am 5 books into my 2020 reading challenge, but the only one from my own bookshelves is this Tony Hillerman (at #133). I guess that is predictable around here.

I'm struggling to stay reading The Codfish Dream. I really don't want to DNF this book because I relate so much to the area the author describes (Campbell River, BC and the islands thereabouts). I'm down to skimming some of the stories but it is good writing, some of the anecdotes are laugh-out-loud moments, and some just not entirely up my alley.

I'm giving myself until the weekend to see how much progress I make. And writing this here, almost like a place holder.

Jan 16, 2020, 10:05am

>133 SandyAMcPherson: I'm not eager to read Vietnam stories. They tend to make me angry at things I can't yell at. Bad for the digestion.

>134 SandyAMcPherson: A "keep myself honest" post, as I refer to them. Works, for the most part anyway. Something about saying it out loud makes the resolve stiffer.

Jan 16, 2020, 10:16am

>133 SandyAMcPherson: Yes that one was different, not my favourite but Hillerman wrote it with heart, I think.

Stuff about temps has been bandied about. In the lower 40 the coldest spot is top of Mt. Washington, interestingly enough, and the runner up are places like Massena NY and Adirodacks -- mainly because of ferocious winds that blow southeast from the worst cold in Canada. That said I had a friend up in that part of NY State and I visited her once and yes the car was plugged in, but the other problem was the the tires become "square" overnight so you clunk along for awhile until they warm up! I lived not so much further south then (south of Rochester NY) but it never got that cold. We haven't had a -30F (or worse) in a long time. -20 yes, Here in VT I remember a -45, very brief in the 80's and you really couldn't go outside! We cleared a tiny space for the dog near the house, half-sheltered so she could ran out, do the biz, and come right back in.

Jan 16, 2020, 10:24am

>134 SandyAMcPherson: Sandy I've made zero progress with my own books too, apart from a couple of chapters of a great big giant one that I've been reading for months.

Jan 16, 2020, 10:27am

>135 richardderus:, RD - thanks for that, well, both those remarks.
I certainly agree with your comment, "saying it out loud makes the resolve stiffer." I guess that's why I posted my thoughts on CD. A cementing of my intention.

I wanted to read Finding Moon because I know The Man worked hard to find a copy. It was the last one on my list of Hillerman novels that I hadn't read. I rarely get obsessive over reading an author's entire oeuvre, but TH's writing always left me feeling happy and philosophically uplifted. Yeah, that sentiment is a little woo-woo, but sincere.

These are the Hillerman novels I plan to keep. I want to read some of his non-fiction literature but those books can be borrowed from the library, since I'd be unlikely to re-read them.

Jan 16, 2020, 10:33am

>136 sibylline: Hi Lucy. I was wondering if you were snowed in and cut off. Hadn't "seen" you around lately. I like your comment, that TH wrote Finding Moon with heart.

Re "Square tires". That is so true. We have an attached garage and it really makes a difference, even though it is unheated (other than what permeates from the house). Many folks deliberately drive to the closest mall to park in the underground parade so as to thaw out their vehicle! The resulting effect is the overflow in the mall coffee shops, I think!

Jan 16, 2020, 10:34am

>137 susanj67: This is very reassuring. In the "I am not alone" sense!

Thanks for stopping by.

Jan 16, 2020, 12:31pm

A discussion has been developing here, #215, on a British vs American vs the melting pot mixture of Canadian English.
Thus, I'm continuing something I pursued on Susan's thread about pudding ~
Cranberry Cottage Pudding with Lemon Sauce ~ unfussy deliciousness; easy to mix at the last minute!

Recipe, should you care to give this a whirl — it's one of our family's most requested

Preheat the oven to 400 oF. Butter and flour a 9”-round cake pan.
Simmer 2 to 2¼ cups fresh (washed) cranberries in water just until skins pop (break).
Don’t cover the cranberries with water, just fill the pot about 1½ to 2“ deep. My pot is 4” deep and 6¼” across. I add boiling water and keep the lid on while simmering.
If using frozen cranberries, only bring to a simmer in the water for one minute. No need to thaw ahead of time
Drain and save the water-juice for the lemon sauce (see below).

Combine in large bowl:
1½ cups white flour
scant ½ cup white sugar (because the sauce is quite sweet)
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp each, baking soda, Cream of Tartar
• Melt ½ cup (salted) butter with ½ cup milk (microwave on 50% power; don’t overheat!).
• Allow to slightly cool ~ butter should stay melted
• Whisk to mix thoroughly in a separate bowl: butter/milk mixture with 2 eggs
• Add the liquids to the dry ingredients, stirring to moisten evenly.
• Stir the drained cranberries into the batter and spread in prepared cake pan.

Bake 30 - 35 min → → Watch top for natural cracks and remove before too browned.
Test for doneness to ensure centre is not gummy.
Cut and serve warm with Lemon Sauce.

Can substitute fruit: very good with sour cherries or blackberries. Don't pre-cook soft berries.

~~~ Lemon Sauce ~~~ use a steep-sided saucepan with a thick-bottom
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 Tbsp corn starch (stir into sugar)
• Add water from simmered cranberry (should be ~ 2 cups)
• Juice from 1 lemon; don’t strain, pulp is tasty as well

Stir ingredients together over medium to medium-high heat until it begins to simmer.
Cook on low heat until thickened ~stirring all the time ~ ← ← important
To reheat sauce, use a microwave on reduced power level (boils over easily).
Leftover sauce is great on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and especially oatmeal porridge.

Jan 16, 2020, 12:34pm

>141 SandyAMcPherson: Sandy, that looks incredibly good! Thank you for posting the recipe.

Jan 16, 2020, 12:38pm

>142 susanj67: You're welcome.
It is very much a flexible recipe and great for kids to learn because it is so forgiving.

Jan 16, 2020, 10:11pm

>120 SandyAMcPherson: I would say it's a great compliment :)

Kitchen is going well. Counters are in and appliances should arrive tomorrow.

>89 SandyAMcPherson: I like the idea of utilizing the space under the stairs for something other than bulky storage items . Neat idea to put a little office there. A friend of mine converted the space into a wine storage with a glass door.

>141 SandyAMcPherson: Yummy! Great recipe

Jan 16, 2020, 10:30pm

Hello, Sandy. Sorry for checking in so late. I wish you a happy belated New Year and hope get some great reading in!

>53 SandyAMcPherson: I am going to have to check out that series. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

>62 SandyAMcPherson: Adding that one to the BlackHole!

>89 SandyAMcPherson: Hurrah for being on a roll - and a good one at that.

>133 SandyAMcPherson: I do not think that I have ever read a single Tony Hillerman title. Do you have any recommendations?

Jan 16, 2020, 11:00pm

>145 alcottacre: Hard to suggest a recommendation, because I am not sure what you might appreciate in murder mysteries. I am not a fan of thrillers, grisly details, or galloping action.

Tony Hillerman books are evocative and philosophical. Some are my personal favourites and others, I liked a lot when I first read them but in the last couple years, I've re-read the entire oeuvre and re-evaluated them much more in comparison to each other.

My advice is to pick through the reviews and see what folks suggest they liked best. You can easily look at my library ~ search Tony Hillerman to get them all on one page. I originally didn't read them in order, which was okay, so that might not be a factor for you. The star ratings are comparative, so if you like the sound of a 3-star, don't be put off!

Anne Hillerman has continued writing after her father died. I would recommend that you start with early Tony H novels before seeing what Anne's are like.

Hope that helps... let us know if you post a review!

Edited: Jan 17, 2020, 2:48am

>141 SandyAMcPherson: That looks good! I’ll see if I can get the kids to try it out, if we can find suitable cranberries. Post it to the Kitchen thread.

>138 SandyAMcPherson: Good luck with finishing the book. The only Hillerman I know is John, who played the major domo and would-be author on Magnum PI (original version).

Jan 17, 2020, 6:59pm

>115 SandyAMcPherson: moving is the perfect way to unload stuff, been there, done it.

My dh and I are both pack rats, but I cull from time to time...nuff said.

Jan 17, 2020, 9:04pm

>147 humouress: I wonder if you could find frozen, whole cranberries? I think it is a challenge to find cranberries outside of North America. Any number of other fruits work but the tartness of the cranberries is our favourite.

>148 fuzzi: Hi Fuzzi. Yeah, moving... not going to happen around here until we're too decrepit, I bet.
I put off editing an entire boatload of filed paperwork and stored knickknacks for so long, it was giving me bad dreams.

The decorative items have been somewhat culled and I've spent this past 2 weeks alternating between reading and shredding paper. The reading has been escapist since I needed a break from the decisions and it has been too cold to go for walks. Seriously cold wind chills... the culling has been a Good Thing, though.

Jan 17, 2020, 9:30pm

>133 SandyAMcPherson: I want to go back and re-read/read the Tony Hillerman novels sometime.

Jan 17, 2020, 9:36pm

>145 alcottacre: I am not a fan of the grisly and gory either. It sounds like Hillerman's books might be ones I would enjoy. I know that my mother has most of them or did at one point. I will take a look through your library. I appreciate the help!

Edited: Jan 17, 2020, 9:54pm

Book #6: A Legacy of Murder by Connie Berry

Kate Hamilton Mystery series, Book #2

Same enjoyable style of mystery, with better development of characters and scene-setting than in the first book. The suspense was developed well and a few twists to the eventual conclusion were sneaky. I was caught out, delightfully so, by the dénouement.

However the "Agatha Christie" mystery structure was rather pronounced again. This type of format detracted from fully engaging me. I felt even more strongly this was a prescriptive plot, even though Kate acted less idiotically.

On the bright side, one of my favourite characters is Ivor Tweedy. These supporting personalities are Connie Berry's strength. She achieves intriguing people that enrich the story with just a few 'brushstrokes'. Main participants in the narrative are heavy-handed by comparison. Christine and Alex are examples in this book.

I recommend the book for enthusiasts of the British stately home mystery trope and for its 'cosy mystery' flavour. It is a fun romp, if you want light reading.

Jan 18, 2020, 9:24am

>150 thornton37814:, >151 alcottacre: Hello! I think you are fellow aficionados of the gentle mystery stories!

I was thinking about what are my favourite titles, in Tony's southwest mysteries, so here are my personal faves:
A Thief of Time
Coyote Waits
Sacred Clowns
A very different setting, The Fly on the Wall is also an excellent mystery.

Jan 18, 2020, 2:04pm

>152 SandyAMcPherson: That's a new series I've never heard of. I added the first in the series to my Overdrive wish list.

Jan 19, 2020, 7:34am

Hi Sandy!

Brrr. -30 and etc.

>109 susanj67: Southern California desert rat that I am, I first learned about plugging cars in when visiting friend Karen in Montana in 1980.

>133 SandyAMcPherson: For some reason I gave up on the Navajo series by Hillerman a long time ago and the only series I currently read with a Vietnam war connection is the Harry Bosch series although most mention of his war experiences stopped quite a few books ago.

>134 SandyAMcPherson: DNF vs slog. Good luck.

Jan 19, 2020, 8:20am

>155 karenmarie: Yup, DNF vs slog. That's it in a nutshell!
I think what compelled me to keep reading was because it was a Christmas gift and one of my kids knows the author (hence thinking it was a great connection for a present).

I'll review it, but should probably count it as DNF. because I only read a few of the stories.

Edited: Jan 26, 2020, 10:30pm

Book #7: The Codfish Dream by David Giblin

DNF #3: For the right person, this book is at least a .

I wanted to like this story (each chapter was a day in the life of a remote fishing camp) because it ticked a number of boxes:
well-written, ✔︎
a familiar locale with evocative descriptions, ✔︎
fishing stories ✔︎ (I loved fishing when I lived on Vancouver Island),
guide outfitters ✔︎

But the series of short stories were too goofy for my enjoyment. I know of a number of similar scenarios and I got that squirming feeling of 'awfulness'. The story about an utter imbecile with a chain saw, for example: you can see the disaster way ahead of time. The developing events begged the question, this was so preventable, why didn't the fish camp resort guy lock up the saws?

After some skimming and reading other chapters, I thought, this is a shame, a narrative just not for me. The Man, however, laughed his head off and didn't seem to take much to heart. So I guess the outdoor humour will tickle some people's funny bone.

Jan 20, 2020, 9:41am

Back after a weekend, mostly staying off "Talk" so I could read/evaluate a variety of titles.
My latest reading is all over the place for genre.

Non-fiction (although I wonder if it is mostly anecdotal stories): A history of the county of Antigonish, Nova Scotia (Duncan Joseph Rankin)
in progress: Liquid rules (Mark Miodownik)

Fiction: The Codfish Dream (David Giblin, as noted in #157),
in progress: Book 1 of the Uncommon Echoes series (Sharon Shinn).

I was kind of disappointed with Rankin's book. Very little about the McPherson clan. And none of "my" branch mentioned although they settled there in the late 1770's. Looking forward to seeing what Lucille Campey has written.
I'm not much of a genealogist and don't belong to any website groups. I mostly rely on the keen genealogists in our extended family.

Edited: Jan 20, 2020, 9:56am

>153 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks for those recommendations, Sandy. I will check my local library to see if it has any of them.

>157 SandyAMcPherson: Sounds like a book I can give a pass to.

Jan 20, 2020, 11:05am

>159 alcottacre: Hiya, thanks for dropping by.

Re >157 SandyAMcPherson:, I always hesitate to provide a lukewarm review when a book is actually well-written and was very amusing to my other half. I'd hate for a potential reader to be put off

I'm increasingly becoming aware that what 'clicks' as a great read ~for me~ is hugely a matter of what frame of mind I'm in at the time. It wasn't a book to lose myself in and that's one of the attributes I rate most highly.

Hope you like the Hillerman oeuvre. The paperbacks are increasingly rare in the used-book and thrift shops. I like buying paperback titles really cheaply! I know others are happy just to spring for the book from online sources, so "rarity" may be a matter of how one goes shopping.

Jan 20, 2020, 11:08am

>154 thornton37814: There are only 2 in the series, but I suspect this author intends to develop quite a saga.

I'm assigning the Kate Hamilton series to "The Cosy Mystery" genre. This is not a negative!

Jan 20, 2020, 1:55pm

Happy Monday!

>158 SandyAMcPherson: Sorry to hear that your last books were mediocre. Hopefully, your next ones are exceptional reads!

Jan 20, 2020, 8:48pm

>141 SandyAMcPherson: I will be sharing that recipe with P, who does 99% of the cooking in our house (I do pasta sauce, tuna salad, pasta salads in the summer.... she cooks about everything else).

Jan 20, 2020, 9:50pm

>157 SandyAMcPherson:'s a good compromise to mark it DNF but review it anyway, like I did with The Great Believers not so long ago. Lovely writing. Just don't want to revisit 1985 and AIDS, though.

Jan 22, 2020, 8:33am

>162 figsfromthistle: Have had some excellent reading since I last posted. I'll review later today. Kind of a busy few days, so I will catch up today.... after more coffee!

>163 EBT1002: Glad you look forward to the recipe. It is our favourite at Thanksgiving especially, when the Canadian cranberry harvest is in full swing.

>164 richardderus:. Done! (at #157). Thank you for affirming that one doesn't have to fully read a book for legitimately writing a review.

Edited: Jan 22, 2020, 8:50am

>157 SandyAMcPherson: >164 richardderus: >165 SandyAMcPherson: I usually call it "thoughts" when I did not complete reading a book, but yes, it's my own type of review. I at least tell why it didn't work for me. I think that sort of feedback is useful for others.

Jan 22, 2020, 10:53am

>166 thornton37814: I like that! Thanks.
I'm going to remember this, "calling it "thoughts" when I didn't read the whole book, but skimmed quite a bit.

Edited: Jan 26, 2020, 10:31pm

Book #8 ~ Liquid rules: the delightful and dangerous substances that flow through our lives


An engaging discussion of liquid organic and inorganic compounds in a well-researched format by a materials scientist. The author writes concise and easily-grasped overviews. Although this is a 'popular-science' approach to the topic, it was well-done without perverting the facts to suit a non-science audience.

This was a BB from from Kim (Berly), back at the beginning of January. Although I do recommend it for those drawn to science-based reading, my 4-star-rating is in no way a criticism ~ just an indication to myself that I wouldn't re-read the book.

Edited: Jan 26, 2020, 10:31pm

Book #9 ~ A History of the County of Antigonish, Nova Scotia (DJ Rankin)


My review is succinct!
Largely anecdotal. Many lineages for the Scottish and French families from the 1780's forward.
There were many stories that rendered the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries of settlement in Acadia quite clearly.

I enjoyed these stories but I was looking for more insights into which families were there and where did they come from. I know there are gaps, based on the genealogical research that my cousins have found. Rankin's book is credible, though, because many of his historical anecdotes are reported by the surviving generation of pioneer members from those days. So, yes, second-hand narratives, but based on some sound relationships to those early settlers.

Edited: Jan 26, 2020, 10:31pm

Book #10 ~ Echo in Onyx (Sharon Shinn)

This novel is Book 1 in the series Uncommon Echoes.


Excellent world-building, as is usual with Sharon Shinn's novels. Often gripping and very intriguing narrative. The publisher's synopsis is accurate, so no spoilers here. I had trouble "putting it down" ~ a high accolade. The lead characters were not as individualistic as in earlier series, however. Compared to the protagonist in Troubled Waters, for example, the Onyx characterization was less vivid.

Jan 22, 2020, 1:33pm

>170 SandyAMcPherson: Ooh, you got me with that one.

Jan 22, 2020, 1:43pm

>168 SandyAMcPherson: Got me with Liquid Rules. Into the Someday Swamp with it!

Jan 22, 2020, 1:57pm

>170 SandyAMcPherson: You remind me that I've gotten behind in my Sharon Shinn reads. I read all her Samaria books back when, and then absolutely loved both Wrapt in Crystal and Summers at Castle Auburn. I fell off during the Twelve Houses books, as that style of high fantasy was one I was becoming burnt out on. This one sounds intriguing.

Edited: Jan 22, 2020, 4:20pm

Getting back with the book bullets. Hee hee, >171 foggidawn:, >172 swynn:.

173> I (personally) think Uncommon Echoes doesn't have quite the depth of the Samaria series. At least not yet. I liked some of the books in the Twelve Houses series, but was pretty burnt out by the end.

Just started Echo in Emerald (Book 2) this afternoon and have completely veged-out on the sofa with reading. Good thing it is wintertime.

Jan 23, 2020, 12:16am

>169 SandyAMcPherson: Four stars...yes! I haven't blown our new book-recommending relationship. I wouldn't re-read it either, but I enjoyed the first pass a lot. : )

Before I moved to Portland, OR, I lived in MN. I am quite familiar with negative temperatures and plugging in the car engine over night so that it will start in the morning!! Brrrrr. I don't miss those temps. The snow...yes!

Jan 23, 2020, 8:30am

Hi Berly. Great to see you stop by... I guess you meant #168 (just clarifying for other visitors).

I appreciate I have found so many similar concepts to book reviewing amongst the 75 group. My approach has definitely evolved compared to my initial reviews, when I joined LT. I even learned the art of the casual snark, mainly from 75-ers. It is great fun.

Portland (OR) is a city I visited several times while working at WSU. I love that place. Besides book shops, so many artists and gardens, excellent restaurants and like STP, lots of friendly people. I haven't been back for over 10 years now, but I'd love to go again if my family would agree to visit. It is a great town.

I liked Saint Paul (MN) a lot. I was there a couple times for work-related reasons at the University. One visit was 2-weeks long, and I had a chance to explore a bit. My favourite part? Masses of really wonderful second-hand book shops. Came home with my suitcase labelled by the airlines as HEAVY.


Jan 23, 2020, 9:09am

Hi Sandy!

>168 SandyAMcPherson: I read Stuff Matters last year for my RL book club and already have Liquid Rules on my wish list. There aren’t too many nonfiction books I’d re-read, and I wouldn’t envision re-reading Miodownik either. I am encouraged that Liquid Rules is available at my library, but I am already reading one NF and Dr. Seuss Goes to War so won't put a hold on it for a while.

>175 Berly: and >176 SandyAMcPherson: I visited a friend in St. Paul for 2 days in February one year in the 1980s. I had never been in such terrible cold before, even having lived in Connecticut for 3 ½ years. What really got my attention was what I inelegantly call “having the snot in my nose freeze.” That one visit was enough.

Jan 23, 2020, 9:29am

>177 karenmarie: - LOL! Karen, we Canadians are used to having our nose hairs freeze. It's as Canadian as seeing your breath when you breathe (outside), or knowing enough not to lick anything metal in winter (more than once; I am sure everyone of us have tried it at least once, as kids. I did!). LOL! I bet we could come up with a TON of such *experiences*… ;-)

Jan 23, 2020, 9:48am

>177 karenmarie: I was there in the late autumn and the 2-week visit, springtime. Highly recommend those times of year for visiting Saint Paul!

>178 jessibud2: Funny thing, I was *never* tempted to lick anything metal, ever.
But then I never lived in the prairie region until I was well into my 30's. The stories abound (re: metal and winter) and I often wonder if it was just Farley Mowat perpetuating an urban myth that prompted later generations of kids to try it?

Jan 23, 2020, 10:33am

>177 karenmarie: I liked Stuff Matters and will add Liquid Rules to my tbr list. Thanks for the heads-up!

I lived in Connecticut for about 21 years, and recall a few cold snaps where it was 10-20F below. As children we would breathe in through our nose purposely in order to freeze our nostrils.

I don't miss it, a bit.

Jan 23, 2020, 10:49am

Hi Fuzzi! I totally get it (that you don't miss it a bit!)

Jan 23, 2020, 10:51am

Seems to me that it is time to continue on Thread the Second!
This topic was continued by Sandy's Books: 2020 💌 the Second.