This looks like a great library shelf to frequent this summer!
When Spring finally arrives here in Oregon, my reading slows down. Spring is so gorgeous here, and there are so many outdoor things to see and do. Going for long walks and gardening set the pace of each day, and our “Wandering Wednesdays” define each week, so reading time is moved to “in-between.” I tend to fall asleep while reading at night instead of being able to stay up late to finish a book, and it takes me weeks instead of days to finish a longer book. But I’m okay with that…as long as I have a book going at all times.
Despite all the beautiful distractions during April and May I was able to enjoy and finish these books:
Silent Voices is such a good mystery! This was the first book I could get hold of in the Vera Stanhope series, by Ann Cleeves, although it’s actually the 4th book. Looks like the series will be republished and the earlier books available next February? I will definitely read the earlier books when they come out. And, in the meantime, I do love the TV series starring Brenda Blethyn! She does a great job as Vera!
There are a number of fictional towns I would love to move to! During May, I spent a great deal of time enjoying the village of Fairacre while reading Village School, by Miss Read. I slowly savored the pleasure of reading about this quiet community as described through the eyes of the local school teacher. I loved the stories of the children and their families, and the teachers and their lives, and I loved becoming part of their community, if only for a while.
As a retired school teacher myself, I loved the honest portrayal of school life and a school year, and I appreciated the wry and compassionate humor of the Miss Read. Her descriptions were so true to my own experiences in the classroom. Here is one passage that perfectly describes a warm sunny afternoon in my own classroom a few years ago:
The lesson on the time-table was ‘Silent Reading’ and in various attitudes, some graceful and some not, the children sat or lay in the grass with their books propped before them. Some read avidly, flickering over the pages, their eyes scampering along the lines. But other lay on their stomachs, legs undulating, with their eyes fixed dreamily on the view before them, a grass between their lips, and eternity before them.
Spending time in Fairacre was a lovely experience! Fortunately, I don’t have to leave the village for quite awhile because Village School was just the first of the series and there are many more Fairacre books to read. Sounds like a lovely place to spend my summer!
If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.”
~ Winston Churchill
A wonderful quote to share with you this morning! It beautifully describes my own love of books and puts my mind at ease when I start to worry about how slowly I am reading these days or how tall my TBR pile has become over the years. It’s not about how many I am able to read, but about how much I love books. And there are so many ways to “read” a book, by finding the perfect word, by reading a wonderful sentence, by enjoying an entire story, or by savoring the illustrations. I love being surrounded by books. I love reading, and Mr. Churchill perfectly explains why. I am rich in friends.
As I was doing some blog organization this morning, I found this draft of a post long abandoned. The photo is from 3 years ago, when we were still living in our condo in the Seattle area, and the post was intended to show my cozy “reading space” for the Estellagram challenge of that month. I don’t know why I didn’t post it on that day, although I did include it in my summary post of the Estellagram photos of that month (which is why there are some comments attached to it). However, finding the photo this morning made me homesick for that reading spot. Incidentally, the photo also shows my blogging spot — with my laptop on the round table and the view out over the greenbelt. I have other reading and blogging spots now in our new home, but those were particularly nice ones and I didn’t realize that I was missing them until I found this photo!
Going through my reading notebook this morning, I discovered a quote I had copied from Anna and Her Daughters, by D.E. Stevenson. It was a book I really enjoyed, by an author I love, and I particularly liked this paragraph:
The storyteller has always been a valuable member of society. Even in prehistoric times when men hunted wild beasts and lived in caves they sat round the camp-fire at night and listened to stories. Your profession is one of the oldest in the world and one of the most useful. “Away!” I cried, laughing. “It is, really. And we need stories more than ever now. We need stories to entertain us, to help us to forget our troubles, to fill our lives with colour.
Nancy Pearl is one of my reading heroes so when she recommends a book, I listen! Nancy Pearl’s Book Crush Rediscoveries is her project, alongside Amazon Books, to reprint books for kids and teens, books that were out of print but that in her opinion should not have been out of print! This series for teens is a recent offshoot of her adult series, Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries, “devoted to reprinting some of the best (and now out of print) novels originally published between 1960-2000.” I love her idea of rediscovering old treasures! I have enjoyed each of her suggestions, and look forward to reading more books from her rediscovery series.
One of the books included in her Rediscoveries series is a book called Greensleeves, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, an author I love. A few years ago I read her book, The Moorchild, and wrote a review of it here. So when I found another book by her on Nancy Pearl’s list, I knew it would be worth reading and I was not disappointed!
Greensleeves is a story about a young woman searching for her own identity in a confusing world. It is a timeless coming-of-age story, although written in 1968. Shannon Lightley, the daughter of a famous actress and a famous journalist, divorced and both remarried, splits her time between two very different households. She is a “different person” in each household, overwhelmed by the strong personalities of both her parents, and simply doesn’t feel that she “belongs” anywhere. So rather than spend the summer with either parent, she turns to a close family friend, “Uncle Frosty” who has always been very supportive of her. Listening to her woes and confusions, “Uncle Frosty” gave her some wise advice:
“The chief thing is to get busy enough with something else to quit thinking about yourself for a while.”
He offers to help her get an apartment for the summer so that she can do some “undercover” work for his law firm. An elderly woman had just died and left a rather unusual will. In her will, she left all her money to her neighbors instead of to her daughter, who is now contesting the will. Shannon will move into the old woman’s apartment and see if she can find out whether or not the neighbors coerced her into changing her will.
So Shannon moves in, finds a waitressing job in the neighborhood, and assumes another “persona” for her sleuthing. Her summer is spent getting to know all about the old lady and her neighbors… and herself.
A fascinating read, this was a book I couldn’t put down, and I highly recommend it.
“That’s the beauty of a novel like Greensleeves: it might have been written almost half a century ago, but its heroine, and the choices she faces, are totally modern.”
Time to catch up with myself and let you know what books I have enjoyed reading in the last two months! I am a happy reader these days and my February and March choices reflect my “relaxing retirement reading” … plenty of mysteries, books about gardens and gardening, a sprinkle of classics, and books by favorite authors. My days are filled up and busy with lots of different kinds of activities now, but I still need and love my reading time. It’s just not about how many books I read anymore, but how I much I enjoy the ones I choose!
My blogging friend, Trish, (Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity) is hosting this 2nd annual blogging event. Last year, I so enjoyed reading about people’s lives, but didn’t post about my own. This year, I’m sharing a day in my own life, and will once again enjoy reading about yours!
Two and a half years ago, I retired after teaching for 27 years, and my husband and I moved to a small town in Oregon. The following is my account of a pretty typical day in this retired teacher’s new life.
THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2016
5:00am: I wake up at this time no matter what. Inner clocks are incredibly difficult to reset, and even though I’m retired and could sleep-in as long as I want, this is the time my body says to get moving, so I get moving!
5:00-5:45am: Wake, make a big pot of tea, and read (currently reading my first book by Ann Cleeves, A Bird in the Hand).
5:45-6:15am: Work on my Bullet Journal. One of the joys of retirement is getting up each morning and being able to set my own agenda! Our first year of retirement was pretty unscheduled — footloose and fancy free! Recently, I decided that I needed a little more structure to my day, so I set up my bullet journal and spend time each morning and each evening planning my day and then reflecting on each day. I love this! I’m much more efficient with my time, so I’m getting more reading done, more knitting, taking more long walks, remembering to send birthday cards on time, etc. I’m still setting my own agenda and enjoying my days even more! Delightful!
6:15-7:00am: This is time usually spent on the computer reading, answering, and sending emails, and catching up on social media. I do a lot on Facebook, which is a nice way to communicate with my Mom and family, and friends and relatives that live near and far.
7:00-9:00am: I ate breakfast and then got ready for my morning exercise activity. On Mon/Wed/Fri, I go to exercise class at the gym 3 blocks from my house. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I meet a very special exercise buddy. My new friend, Gloria, is an 81-year-old runner! I meet her twice a week to walk/run on the hills near her home. I walk, she runs! Because my legs are long and I have a long walking stride, I can keep up with her (most of the time) while she runs. She’s been running for 40 years, and she has become my mentor as I learn to challenge myself and my body more and more. With her encouragement, I have signed up for a summer’s worth of 5k challenges. Portland Parks and Recreation sponsors 6 summer 5k walk/run events, each one at a different local park. My first ever 5k walk will be on May 15th. Gloria will run and I will walk. What fun! Can’t wait!
9:00am: Back home, shower, get ready for the rest of the day!
9:15-10:30am: Housecleaning, laundry, menu-planning. It’s been so rainy recently that I haven’t been out in the yard doing some of those morning tasks, but that will change very soon. Today, I swept the front porch to get ready to put out some potted plants soon.
10:30-11:30am: I signed up for a Craftsy class on “Designing Edible Gardens,” so this morning I spent an hour working on that class. I take notes in my Bullet Journal, where I keep track of all the planning I’m doing for our 2016 vegetable garden.
11:30-Noon: Prepare lunch. Today’s lunch was a “rice bowl”… brown rice, stir fry veggies (no oil!), cubed tofu, mandarin orange slices, some slivered raw almonds, and 1/4 cup orange sauce. (Warmed it all up in the microwave.) A simple, but very healthy and satisfying lunch. Two years ago I was overweight, pre-diabetic, and taking 2 blood pressure medications as well as a cholesterol-lowering medication. My new doctor referred me to the Healthy Living department at Kaiser Permanente where I met with a doctor and his nurse who have changed my life! They gave me the information and support needed to change the way I eat. I have worked hard to change old bad habits and establish a new and healthier lifestyle by eating a completely plant-based diet. The health benefits for me have been enormous. I’ve lost 25 pounds and Kaiser no longer classifies me as obese or pre-diabetic. I no longer take blood pressure medications or cholesterol-lowering medication. “Food is my medicine.” And along with losing weight, I have become much more physically active. I go to exercise class three mornings a week, and meet with my running friend twice a week, so I have a good 1-hour/5 days a week exercise routine. I also go for long walks with my hubby, and ride my bicycle and go hiking when the weather permits. Simply put, I am feeling better than I have felt in years!
12:30-2:00pm: Running errands. Fred Meyer, car wash, JoAnn’s for some crafting supplies, and Best Buy to pick up a new exercise tracker to help me do some serious training for my summer of 5k races!
2:15-3:00pm: Home again. I sat in the recliner, put my feet up, and called my Mom on the phone. I talk with my 96-1/2 year old Mom every day. She lives 800 miles away, but we bridge the distance by having long conversations about health, happenings at her retirement home, and about what we are currently reading. We never get tired of talking about books!
3:00-3:45pm: Stayed sitting in that recliner and worked on my current knitting project while listening to my current audiobook, In the Wet, by Nevil Shute.
3:45pm: Stood in the kitchen looking out the greenhouse window at the flock of little birds, the Scrub Jays, and the Acorn Woodpeckers that frequent our bird feeders. I could never get bored looking out that window. There’s a lot of bird (and squirrel and cat) drama to enjoy!
4:00-5:00pm: The Grandboy and his daddy arrived. I was honored with an invitation to join his Minecraft world for awhile!
5:00-6:00pm: I set the table while hubby cooked dinner tonight. He cooked a totally whole foods, plant-based meal for us — Cuban Black Beans. No, he hasn’t given up his meat or cheese (or pastries), but he has been very supportive of my plant-based needs. He likes to cook and bake, so he usually fixes 2 or 3 meals a week (yes, I’m spoiled!). Today, he fixed this one, which is one of our favorites!
8:30-9:00pm: Planning and reflection time with my Bullet Journal.
9:00-10:00pm (or so): Reading in bed until too tired to read anymore. I love this!
** My “retired” days are busy and I love that. Although this has been a day where I mostly described my solo activities, my husband and I do many things together. When we retired, we started a wonderful tradition of going “exploring” on Wednesdays. We call it our “Wandering Wednesday,” and it started as a way to get to know this new area we moved to. We visit historical sites, botanical gardens, libraries and bookstores, wetlands and forests. We post photos on Facebook for our family and friends to enjoy, and it’s become a delightful highlight of our week.
** I love my new focus on physical activity and healthy living. It just feels so darn good! A number of years ago I read Reeve Lindbergh’s book, Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age — and Other Unexpected Adventures. In that book, she said that 60 is the “youth of old age.” I am closer to 70 now than to 60, but I feel more youthful today than I did when I turned 60. Although I haven’t always been good about this, I know how important it is, at any age, to take good care of yourself. My mother is a wonderful role model for aging gracefully and healthfully, and I hope I can do as good a job of moving into my elder years as my mother!
** This is a new stage of life for me that comes with many, many changes, but the one thing that has remained constant is my passion for reading! With retirement, comes much more time to enjoy my books. What a luxury to be able to sit down and read on the front porch or in my favorite indoor spot at any time I want!
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read about “my day in the life.” Although I don’t post or comment as often as I used to, I still love the blogging community and enjoy visiting your blogs. I love to hear about what you are reading and what is happening in your lives.
Thank you, Trish, for hosting this annual event!