Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ken Burns' new film - The Roosevelts: An Intimate History


The seven part series begins tonight on PBS at 8pm ET. Tomorrow, it will be streaming on PBS here. And it will soon be available to buy on DVD. I'm so excited to see this!



On Thursday there was a wonderful interview with Ken Burns on the Diane Rehm show, which you may listen to here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Inspector Lewis returns!

In case you haven't heard! October 5, 9pm, PBS.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

April Reading

Hmm, I wonder why I am just now getting to post about the books I read in April.  Could it be that on May 6 our grandson, Campbell Walker was born, and also that day Margaret went back to work and we began taking care of Hazel Nina three, and then four days a week?! I'm going to try and post as often as I can, and get these monthly book notes up to date. Then I plan to visit my blogging friends, and catch up with all your lives. 

These book notes are not going to be anything brilliant, believe me! 



17. Miracles on Maple Hill
by Virginia Sorenson
illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush
middle grade fiction 1956
library book
finished 4/6/14

I wrote about this in a separate post here









18. The Whistling Season
by Ivan Doig
fiction 2006
library book
Kindle
finished 4/8/14

I tend to not read literature about the western US in the early days. I’ve just never had much interest in cowboys and bars and brawls. But I decided to give this a try, and I was thrilled from the first pages. I loved this book. It isn’t about any of those three things I mentioned. It is about a very rural place in Montana during the time before the first World War.  A man’s wife has died and he is just barely holding things together, trying to raise his three boys. It is told by one of the sons, about fifty years later. The reader learns about life in those days, and particularly the school system. I hung on every word. The language is poetic, the story fresh, and the characters so familiar and yet unusual at the same time. I’ve never read anything like it.  




19. Weeds Find a Way
Words by Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Pictures by Carolyn Fisher
children's book 2014
finished 4/10/14

I wrote about this here.








20. Leave It To Psmith
by PG Wodehouse
fiction 1923
Kindle
finished 4/21/14

I’ve read most (all?) the Jeeves & Wooster stories, and some of the Blandings stories but I hadn’t read any Psmith. The ‘P’ is an affectation added to make him stand out from the other plain Smiths in the world. It is, of course, silent, but in my brain I always call him ‘P - smith.’ I found this a bit more of a serious, straightforward sort of tale (well, as serious as PGW can get!), and really enjoyed it. It is the last of the four Psmith books. I actually chose it because it is part of the Blandings series, and I'm trying to read them all in order. I've said it before - one really could spend one's reading life just reading Mr. Wodehouse. If I had a second lifetime I might do just that. Even his lesser works are better than most writers' 'great' books. Telling the plot to this book, or any Wodehouse, would take a week, so suffice it to say, I loved every minute of the time I spent within the pages of Leave It To Psmith.




21. Nest
by Jorey Hurley
children's book 2014
finished 4/21/14

I wrote about this wonderful book here.










22. Blandings Castle and Elsewhere
by PG Wodehouse
short stories 1935
Kindle

finished 4/29/14

As the title implies, some of these stories are set at Blandings, and others are not. The Blandings tales come chronologically between Leave It To Psmith and Summer Lightening. There are a few Mulliner tales, and one standalone about a favorite character, Bobbie Wickham. I love Lord Emsworth of Blandings, and wish Wodehouse had written even more about him. He is a perfectly drawn English eccentric. I have a book of the Mulliner stories called The World of Mr. Mulliner, and though I've read a few of them, I keep thinking I'll do as PGW himself suggests in the preface:
A word of warning. As regards the medium dose for an adult, I would recommend, as I did in my Preface to "The World Of Jeeves," not more than two or perhaps three stories a day, taken at breakfast or before retiring. Don't try to read the whole book straight through just so as to say you've done it. Nervous people and invalids of course be guided by their doctor's advice.
I've got the book out, and intend to do as PGW says!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What I Learned From TV - September 6

Now that my kids are grown, and Tom has retired, I’ve been able to go back to my natural sleep pattern which is to stay up late and get up late. Tom’s natural rhythm is just the opposite. So, he’s the lark and I’m the owl. And what this owl does in the late hours is watch television- not in the traditional way but through Hulu, Netflix, TunnelBear, and Acorn TV. Most of the shows are British, though I am a great fan of a few American television shows, and have been watching some from other countries now that we have TunnelBear. Some of these shows Tom will watch in the mornings, but some of them are all mine. So, when I hear a great quote from a show I know he’s not going to watch, I’ll leave him little post-it notes near the computer keyboard. I had a notion this morning to begin a new ‘letter topic’ called What I Learned From TV so I can put up some virtual post-its for you to read and, hopefully, enjoy. Some are funny, some are educational, some are wise.

From New Tricks:

One of the characters has been trying to drink less tea, and is spoken of as being ‘on the wagon.’ Another character says:
“If she’s truly ‘on the wagon,’ she’s been sentenced to death. Condemned prisoners being taken from Newgate to be hanged at Tyburn were allowed to stop off at a pub for one last drink before being put back ‘on the wagon’ for the final part of their journey to execution.”

From The Café: 

My mum’s new therapist is working wonders with her bi-polar. Half the time she’s really happy.

And another one from an earlier episode of New Tricks:

The head of a natural history museum says,

“People visit the museum three times in their lives - once with their parents, once with their children, and once with their grandchildren. We are constantly trying to have them visit more often."

Friday, September 5, 2014

Hazel Nina at 9 months!

Hazel Nina is a girl in motion these days! Most of my pictures are blurry because she does.not.sit.still. Margaret weighed her yesterday and she is now 13.8 pounds, up from the 2.2 she weighed at birth. Last time she was measured, she was 26 1/4 inches. She has grown 12 1/4 inches in these 9 months. Our family miracle for whom I give thanks each and every day.




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

An August Evening at the Movies - Ida

This beautifully photographed film begins with Ida about to take her vows to become a nun. The Mother Superior tells her that before she does so, Ida should visit her long-lost aunt. Ida is an orphan and the aunt is her only relative. The nuns appealed to the aunt many times over the years to come and take Ida away from the orphanage. She never replied. Ida has no interest in the venture, but does as she is told. 

Her aunt Wanda is just about the polar opposite to Ida. She drinks, smokes, and picks up men at bars. We learn that ten years back she was quite a prominent judge. Wanda tells her niece about the mother and father she never knew. Ida’s mother was Wanda’s beloved sister. Having been brought up Catholic, Ida now finds out that she is Jewish. Wanda and Ida go on a search to find out the circumstances of the parents' deaths during the war, and where they are buried. 

The time is the early 1960s, and the place is Poland. The film is shot in black and white, and we see the desolation, the crumbling buildings, the isolated farms. There are many silences in the movie. The viewer actually sees the characters thinking. It is such a relief from all the talk, talk, talk that surrounds us. I thought Ida was very moving, and visually stunning; a truly wonderful film.

Ida is a very personal film. We see these women, each bereft in their own ways, dealing with lingering hatred of the Jews. There isn’t a lot of kindness shown to them, and when it does appear, it is from the younger generation, for whom the war is ancient history. There is some wonderful music in the movie - pop, jazz, and classical. 

There is a great interview with the director, Pawel Pawlikowski here. It is available on DVD from Netflix next month. 

I first heard of Ida in a review in the New Yorker, which you may read here. The piece is brilliant, with much information about Poland. The official film site is here. And there is a beautiful review here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Year of Afternoon Gardens - September

The other day I told my sister-in-law that my iPhone camera is the best camera I've ever had (and she feels the same way), including the expensive one Tom gave me for my 60th birthday. It was not entirely satisfactory, and I wrote about giving it up and getting another one here. In a while, that one also stopped working well, and I got yet another camera, a Canon, which seemed pretty good. But I love my phone camera so much that I never use the 'real' camera anymore. However, I did decide in January to use it for my afternoon garden photos. I think they came out alright, until today. The sunlight is at a different angle and the house looked glary and garish. I took many pictures, trying for a good view with the same result. So I thought I'd try the iPhone. And what a difference! In addition to the quality of the photographs, I love the way I can snap picture after picture without pause.

September's garden with the Canon camera


And with the iPhone camera


Tom used the brush cutter today to clean up the flower gardens. And now comes the raking. I think I'll wait till spring to divide the day lilies, as I did this year. Before the cutting I harvested some catnip for the kitties. Raya had to have some every time I walked in with a new batch.


Other than rhubarb and chives, this catnip is the only thing we harvested this year. I haven't missed the vegetable garden. I've found everything I needed at my local Co-op store, and didn't even visit any farmers' markets. The other day I stood in the middle of all the local produce and just marveled that this bounty was available. I wrote about our decision to give up the veg garden in May.