Photo by Tristan Fortsch (Click on the photo to follow the link to a news article about the fire.)
Those of us living in the greater Portland, Oregon, area are grieving the loss to fire of so much natural beauty in our beloved Columbia River Gorge. Although my husband and I live 75 miles west of where this devastating fire started, our air is filled with ash and smoke. And although we live 75 miles away, this fire hits very close to home and is very personal.
Our grandson and his mother live just across the river from where the fire started, and have had to leave their home and take refuge with us and with friends for the time being. Our grandson’s school is closed indefinitely. We are grateful that they are safe, and so very grateful to all the people that are working to contain the fire and to help all those whose lives are in upheaval due to this fire. There are many heroes in this story.
But it breaks my heart to think of what this sensitive 10 year old will see when he and his mom return home. The views he loves to look at out his bedroom window are now forever altered. It feels like Life is now forever altered.
I had a wonderful August this year! August is usually one of my least favorite months because of the intense and constant heat. But despite record-breaking heat in our area, I loved the month! It was full of family — extended time with our grandson, and a family reunion in celebration of my mother’s 98th birthday. We enjoyed travel, gardening projects, 5K races, and watching the awesome total eclipse of the sun! And when it wasn’t too smoky in our area (due to the many wildfires!), I loved the daily views on my walks and drives through this gorgeous part of Oregon.
My reading time was limited, but I did enjoy 4 different books during the month. My favorite book of the month was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I am rereading the series just for fun and as an antidote to the misery of the daily news. I also reread Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is my least favorite of her books…still. A refreshing and delightful read was of Philippa Pearce’s The Way to Sattin Shore. And a fascinating library book was The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. It was a fun book and brought back many memories, including a memory of volunteering in the school library at my junior high school –typing cards for the catalog!
So, I just have to say that August turned out to be a delightful month for me overall. I am now 5 books “behind schedule” with my Goodreads goal for the year, but that’s totally okay. The special memories from this delightful month of August will warm me through many cold winter months ahead.
What happened to May? It just flew by for me in a rush of travel, gardening, visits with family and meeting with old/new friends, 5k races, and unfortunately, spending evenings being completely sucked into the news of the day. It was overall a lovely month and especially nice to have some sunshine and warmth arrive after such a long winter and wet spring!
During May, both my reading and blogging took back seat to all the other activities. However, I did manage to finish reading 4 books, two of them mysteries by Donna Leon, and I’m getting close to the end of my rereading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings.
Welcome June! I’m looking forward to getting back to my books this month and to being able to read them on the front porch!
Early May is a special time in my family. The family often gathers to celebrate the birthdays of my brother and of my father who would have been 97 years old on this birthday. We also celebrate Mother’s Day (a little early this year) and honor our amazing Mom who is still so strong in intellect and spirit, although increasingly unsteady physically.
So our visit meant a road trip for Hubby and me, which we are enjoying very much, especially after this long and confining winter. We, of course, brought our Kindles with us. When it was my turn to drive, Hubby read The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, by Anthony Gottlieb. And while he drove, I read my current mystery: Death in La Fenice, by Donna Leon.
We stopped for an overnight visit with my brother and sister-in-law, both voracious readers, so we left with this extensive list of books to read:
- Dark Money, Jane Mayer
- The Emperor of all Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee
- The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholtz
- Nobody Cares About Crazy People, Ron Powers
- A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
- A Deadly Wandering, Matt Richtel
- The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
- On Immunity, Eula Biss
- Lab Girl, Hope Jahren
- At Home, Bill Bryson
- The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman
And when we arrived at my mother’s place, I found that she had just finished reading Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart, for her book club . I also thought you might be interested to see some of the books on her shelf so I took some photos for you.
With the family together (minus one brother and sister-in-law), we talked a lot about the current state of affairs in this country and the world, but we also talked a lot about books. It’s so nice to come from a family of readers!
Hubby and I took a short break from projects and reading to make our Spring pilgrimage to the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. We go there a number of times each year, usually as a day trip since it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive away from us. But once a year we like to stay an extra day at the resort next to the Garden and spend two days walking the trails/pathways and soaking up the beauty. Included in our special package for the resort this time were tickets to the nearby tulip festival. So we have enjoyed two days of beautiful early spring blossoms and blooms…and the weather cooperated and gave us blue sky, sunshine, and temperatures that weren’t exactly warm but comfortable enough.
When we returned home this afternoon, I discovered that a book I had pre-ordered months ago had arrived on my Kindle. It’s a perfect book to follow up such a lovely trip to the Garden! I have some fun reading ahead of me!
March has been another busy month. Despite the many obligations and activities that kept me busy, I managed to finish reading the above five books and am in the middle of three others!
Early in the month, I joined The Classics Club, which was something I had thought about doing for years and so finally decided to just jump in. I put together a list of 50 books to read in 5 years, and filled my list with books I already own and really want to read, so there are some very nice choices ready for me. In March I read three books from that list and am almost finished with The Moorland Cottage, by Elizabeth Gaskell, which was the book on my list that was chosen as the “Spin” book for March/April. I’ve always loved reading the classics, for both adults and children, and so this is a challenge/group that fits me well.
Some of the other things that kept me very busy in March were my knitting and my walking. Because March was such a rainy month (record-setting, flood level rains!), I was indoors a lot and managed to finish two knitting projects — a scarf for me and a baby blanket for a soon-to-arrive grand nephew! (I love being a great aunt! My nephew calls us “Graunt” and “Gruncle”. )
I’ve also become a serious walker in the last year thanks to my 82-year-old walking partner, Gloria. She is a runner, and I’m a fast walker, so we’re the perfect match at our ages/stages of life! We walk/run a 5k distance twice a week, and meet in exercise class 3 days a week. In March, we both participated in the Shamrock Run in downtown Portland. Gloria finished 1st in her age division, and I came in 24th in my division. A very successful race for both of us!
Baby blanket for the new grand nephew…
Walking the 5k run…
March definitely came in like a lion, with an incredible number of storms and an amazing amount of rain. It’s going out today like a lamb, with mostly sunny skies and no rain. In between the lion and the lamb, came a lot of enjoyable reading and other activities.
A few years ago, at a time that was particularly difficult for me and my family, I read two short novels by Alice Hoffman: Green Angel and then Green Witch. (They were later republished in one volume called Green Heart.) I loved them both! And they were very healing books for me. This morning, I found a quote in one of my reading notebooks copied down while reading Green Witch. I love this idea, so I’m happy to share the simple and profound wisdom of Alice Hoffman’s words with you today.
“I can’t help but wonder if it might be true that for every step you take, everyone you’ve ever loved walks with you.”
Virago Press has an Instagram meme for this month called “#BooksforChange“. I’m really enjoying the photos that people are posting in response to this meme, and these daily prompts inspire lots of ideas to think about regarding my reading.
Today’s prompt is “favorite female character,” and it didn’t take me very long to decide that Penelope Keeling, from Rosamunde Pilcher‘s The Shell Seekers, is one of my all time favorite female characters. I liked her very much when I first read the book as a young mother, but I like her even more now that I am approximately the same age as the character.
Some things I love about this character: I love that she’s a gentle, thoughtful person, that art and beautify help her survive the terrible losses in her life, that she has an inner strength that guides her well through the relationships in her life, and that she finds joy in the little things in life — “the gentle powers,” she calls them.
“I’ve lived with sadness so long. And a loneliness that nothing and nobody could assuage. But, over the years, I came to terms with what had happened. I learned to live within myself, to grow flowers, to watch my children grow; to look at paintings and listen to music. The gentle powers. They are quite amazingly sustaining.”
In the two different movie versions of this book, the character of Penelope Keeling was played by two lovely actresses — Vanessa Redgrave and Angela Lansbury. Both of them were perfect for the role.
Vanessa Redgrave as Penelope Keeling
Angela Lansbury as Penelope Keeling
We had a very busy [and rainy] Saturday morning, so this is my forecast for this afternoon!