Thank you to Betty Buckley and Leonard Bernstein

Well, here we are STIll in the throes of winter–our fourth nor’easter just passed by leaving a foot of new snow. . .

I’m ready for the “lamb” part of March, having enjoyed the “lion” part.

And, in the meantime, there are strange noises in our bedroom wall during the night—a scrabbling sound.  When I nudge OtherHalf to tell him he assures me it’s “just mice”.  Oh, well then, fine, not to worry (!).  But—!  they sound like awfully big mice–rearranging the furniture or something.  Other says maybe they’ve brought in laborers.

After a week or so, though, the noise begins to rankle even Other Half and he calls in Critter Control.

The nice man climbs up into our attic and announces that we do indeed have mice AND squirrels.  (!).  So he plugs up a few holes or entries into the house at the roofline and sets some traps strategically around on the roof.  We are to check them and let the company know when we’ve caught something.

He explains that even though we have a lot of squirrels on the property–lots of trees–the squirrels in our house are a family—plain old regular squirrels won’t go in just willy-nilly–that squirrels are very territorial and it’s just a certain group going into our house.

So, I picture a little squirrel up on the crest of the roof standing up tall, beating his chest and singing:

“When you’re a jet
You’re always a jet . . .

When you’re a jet
Let them do what they will
You got brothers around
You’re a family man!”

And, in middle of the night, if I work on it, I can imagine that
I hear strains of “Maria” from atop the roof where that same little guy is straddling the peak of the roof–with a wary eye on keeping distance from those traps and singing in the moonlight:

“Maria! the most beautiful sound that I ever heard . . .

Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria,

I just met a squirrel named Maria . . .”  (sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Stay tuned.

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Just two poems for a winter day . . .

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams:
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

by William Butler Yeats

The Spires of Oxford

I saw the spires of Oxford
As I was passing by,
The gray spires of Oxford
Against the pearl-gray sky.
My heart was with the Oxford men
Who went abroad to die.

The years go fast in Oxford,
The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
They put their games away.

They left the peaceful river,
The cricket field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford,
To seek a bloody sod–
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

God rest you,happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Oxford town.

by Winifred M. Letts

Just wanted to share with you these two lovely poems which have been
buzzing around in my head.  They are delightful to memorize, too.

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The Guest Room Bookshelf . . .

Recently when I was with Other Half previewing an art auction I saw that the
auction house was featuring a Book Sale, too!  Hurray!  Lots and lots of books to look through–the vast number of them was overwhelming–after a while some books seemed to stand out, not for their interest, but because they were so UNinteresting!  I began to play around in my mind to assemble a bunch of books that would be humorous as selections in a guest room if you were staying overnight.

Book Auction at Alderfer’s Auction House in Hatfield PA ©









Ah, you would think–nice—a nice little bunch of books on the bookshelves to read later tonight after I’ve unpacked.  And later, when the appointed time came to settle back and relax until an early morning breakfast in the morning, you would reach for one of the books and—-put it back!  reaching for another.

Here are the titles that might be there.  Do any of them tempt you?

Everyday Lives of the Incas

Thomas’ Register of American Manufacturers

The Peterkin Papers

Woman’s Day Book of House Plants

 1952  Bituminous Coal Annual

Samantha in Saratoga

A Second Book of Operas

The Seven Ages of Washington

The Young  McKinley

Next year stay at someone else’s house!

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“Oh, suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather!

thank you to Helen Hunt Jackson

and what to read these October nights?  Try a good old classic Agatha Christie mystery like Poirot Loses  A Client and be introduced to the elderly Emily Arundell whose young nieces and nephew are expecting a grand inheritance and who wouldn’t mind having a few bucks in advance.  But Miss Arundell doesn’t’ oblige . . . and  writes to Hercule Poirot to tell him that she fears her life may be in danger.  Trouble is, the letter doesn’t reach him until weeks after she has died!  Add in a cute little dog, Bob, who has a favorite trick of bouncing a ball down the stairs and I think you’ll enjoy this clever little whodunit . . .


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musing about Nancy Drew . . .

Announcement:  10 days later, I’m adding a postscript about the puzzle, see end of post for important information!–Have just received a giant jigsaw puzzle–all about Nancy Drew!  There are over 1000 pieces and the picture is of SEVERAL old
titles—can you name them?  any of them?  For the fun of it, in the middle of the night, I tried to see how many I could come up with off the top of my head.  I’ll list them below–and give the little clue words that  helped me think of titles.  The clue words might be enough to have you guessing them, too.  Try it.

2. Attic
3. Bungalow
4. Letter
5. Larkspur

6.Red Ranch
7. Scarlet Slipper
8. Witch Tree
9. Hollow Oak
10. Blackwood Hall

11. Whispering
12. Whistling
13. Tapping
14. Tolling
15. Crumbling

16. Bannister
17. Staircase
18. 99 Steps
19. Puppet
20. Wooden Lady
21. Showboat

22. Phantom
23. Dragon
24. Pearl
25. cipher
26. Parchment

are you with me?  can we add just six more??
27. Locket
28. Diary
29. Jewel Box
30.  aargh . . .  Ski Jump (last one I ever read in “real” time)

31. hmmmmm . . . this one’s up to you–can you fill it in for me?

ah, took Woody for a walk and two more occurred to me–good old chestnuts–don’t know how I forgot them! (no looking it up, of course!)  Here are the clues:

31. BBT

32. MMM

Do you see how I kind of grouped “like” images together to help?  Five gerunds are my favorite” whispering, whistling, tapping, tolling and crumbling–a nice batch of five!

The staircase/ bannister/ 99 steps group isn’t bad either.

Bye–very busy here!!  ps the puzzle is by Cobble Hill–and fun to do!

Finished now, and it WAS fun to do!  However, I want to warn you that Cobble Hill packages some of their puzzles in smaller boxes now, and this puzzle was one of them. The box is only about 9 inches square and 2 inches deep.  The problem is that all those book titles are really SMALL on the smaller box and it’s difficult to see them to work the puzzle.  In the end, I went out and bought the same puzzle in the old REGULAR sized larger puzzle box.  And guess what!  The puzzle comes in two different editions.  I had to be sure the titles were arranged the same as the puzzle I’d already started.  It proved to be a wise move and much, much easier to see the titles to use as a guide in working the puzzle!!  Still and all,  wonderful puzzle and I highly recommend it, just be careful if you order it online or at amazon and check on which box will be used for your puzzle . . .  bye again!


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End of summer reading report . . .

Hi Ho!   It’s the end of August–the end of a very interesting summer because our 20 year old granddaughter spent 10 weeks with us while she had an intern job nearby.  She’s a doll, and we were the lucky ones most nights after dinner when she sat down at our piano and played from my big stack of old sheet music:  Paper Doll: Make Believe: It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie; Smoke Gets in your eyes; A you’re Adorable, and Dinner for One Please, James.  She’s an accomplished pianist and a great sight-reader!  We marveled at the clever lyrics from days gone by and realized we were mesmerized by the tunes and words years and years after they’d been written—clever enough to be true American standards.

And the summer reading plan?  Well, the biggie on the list was Anna Karenina which I had already read—a book club selection.  It’s about 800 pages and I only reread about half of it—and then I tired of Anna feeling sorry for herself after she had thrown herself at Vronsky, left her marriage, and abandoned her little boy.  She moped about because people no longer respected her.  Well! Anna—before you take actions, consider the consequences!  And how did the book club like the book?  I don’t know because no one came to the meeting!!!!

So that leaves us with second best classic type–The Trees by Conrad Richter.  I bought a copy from my favorite used book store and later found out that it was a first edition, so that was nice.


A family from Pennsylvania with 7 children goes west to Ohio to start a new life—but the trees!!  the forests!!!  Momma doesn’t last long in this book–a hard life, but Sayward, the eldest girl takes over and keeps house and takes care of the family.  After awhile, she’s of marriagable age, but she finds out that among the new settlers is  a young lawyer from the “Bay State” and she sets her cap for him.

It’s a harmless, slightly interesting sort of pioneer story and it was pleasant reading.  I found out that Richter had written a threesome set in the series:

The Trees, The Fields and The Town.  After I finished the first, I moved on to The Fields.  Sayward and Portius are married and they promptly have eight children: Resolve, Guerdon, Kinzie, Huldah, Libby, Sooth, Sulie and Dezia.  Rumor has it that there is to be a town built nearby with brick houses and the kids are anxious to be ‘town kids’ with all the fancy frills and leave the hard life of pioneering behind.  But, Sayward is sentimental and doesn’t want to leave the land and homestead she has built.  I don’t know about you, but after clearing land and plowing and planting and weeding and grinding corn for every morsel of food, I’d be ready to move to town ! and I’d be figuring out the curtains . . .

I finished The Fields and am not at this time, tempted to read The Town.

But!  have spent many good evenings reading the Mitford series by Jan Karon.  I simply can’t say enough good things about these books about a little town in North Carolina where an Episcopal priest, Father Kavanaugh, lives and follows his little flock of parishioners.  He falls in love with his neighbor, Cynthia, and they marry—there are about 9 books in the series—and each is endearing and full of bits of literature and Biblical quotes—Father Tim is always praying the “prayer that never fails”.  I thought that would be a handy one to have in mind, (!) but it took me eight books read before it was revealed that the prayer that never fails is “God’s will be done.”.  Now there is a brand new Mitford book—In the Company of Others wherein Father Tim and Cynthia go to Ireland.  I’ve started that now and it’s very good.  I especially like the wisps of Irish lingo brought in and in last night’s reading, Cynthia was quoting Yeats:

“I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry on a thread,
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little trout.”               Lovely!  reminds me of Elizabeth Bishop.  or
maybe Elizabeth Bishop reminds me of Yeats.

The first book in the series is At Home in Mitford, but really, you can read any of them in any order.  The author, Jan Karon, catches the reader up to date in almost each one.  Add in to the mix, a big old stray dog, Barnabus, that attaches himself to Father Tim, as well as an eleven year old boy outcast from his family–Dooley Barlowe, and you have along with the rest of the characters in Mitford, a very readable pleasurable array of companions to read about before bed each evening.

Then I read AND RECOMMEND The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonsen (author of Major Pettigrew).   That’s World War I and the setting is a small town in England, Rye.  There is Aunt Agatha and her two nephews, Hugh and Daniel for main characters and then Beatrice comes to town—as an aspiring applicant for the position of Latin teacher.  The town is aghast that a woman (not a man) might be teaching Latin and when she arrives, she has a trunk full of books and in some minds, is prettier than a Latin teacher should be.

The book is witty and well written in my opinion.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And now, The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett is the September book club selection—spy thriller–goes along quickly and will let you know more about it when the club meets.

That’s the catch-up news for summer reading—and you?


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Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

This book club selection for July met with approval by most of the members.

We all were interested in the life of Dimitri Shostakovich and his life under
Stalin, who was unhappy with his music and approved a review which called his music “muddle instead of music”.  Shostakovich feared for his own life and that of his wife and children.  He had a small valise packed at the ready  for many nights of this life.

But gradually, he was worn down by the criticism of even some of his admirers and he knuckled under to willingly agreeing that his music was no good and not suitable for the people of Russia and even joined the Party eventually.

The book is short–191 pages, but it does tend to be endless navel-gazing on the part of Shostakovich and we are along for the ride as the readers.  At one point Shostakovich points out that there are three ways for a person to lose his own honor.  One, when forced to do it.  Two, when he does it willingly even though forced, and third (his case) when he does it willingly all on his own.

Julian Barnes is a well regarded, award winning author and the book club felt that the book was well written and we were glad to have gotten a first hand look at what life could be like living under a dictatorship.

The August book club selection is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

two small mother-of-pearl paillettes ©booksandbuttons

two small mother-of-pearl paillettes ©booksandbutton; a two star review for Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

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The Racketeer by John Grisham

Talk about beach reading!  Were we?   Well, last night at book club, Grisham failed as a beach reader–rather ho-hum fare from a usually  exciting author.

All agreed it “went right along” up to a point, but was an unbelievable, contrived plot and maybe better as a Hollywood movie.  Too bad, but all our choices can’t be winners.  Noise of Time for next month should be interesting—story of Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich, and his trials and tribulations under Stalin.  (One club member loves his fifth symphony and has a recording of it.)

Bye for now.

Two Button Review -- small plastic buttons from the 1950s ©booksandbuttons

Two Button Review for The Racketeer  — small plastic buttons from the 1950s ©booksandbuttons

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Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore

This is it–! This will be the “thriller” feature for my summer reading list– I borrowed this old copy from a friend almost a year ago —and still have not read it—it has lots of illustrations and is a really nice old copy, so I think I’ll give it a try this summer . . .




Okay, maybe it’s not scintillating beach reading, but it will look good being crossed off all those old reading lists!  Ta-ta.  What does your list look  like?




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Summer Reading List for 2017

summer reading plan for 2017  *** have added another!  and another!see below ***

The Racketeer    by John Grisham X                 June book club selection

Noise of Time   by Julian Barnes       X               July book club selection about Russian composer Shostakovich

Anna Karenina    X   Leo Tolstoy                      August book club selection—it’ll be a reread for me

Eye of the Needle  by Ken Follett       X             September book club selection

The Trees             Conrad Richter         X

The Case of the Thirty Nine Cufflinks  X   by James Anderson                for fun
reissue of old 1930s mystery published by Poisoned Pen Press

The Case of the Mutilated Mink    X      by James Anderson                   for fun
reissue of old 1930s mystery  published by Poisoned Pen Press

A Common Life (recap of wedding in Mitford series)       X                 by Jan Karon            for fun

Commonwealth                                       by Ann Patchett        maybe . . .

Too Lucky to Live                                     by Annie Hogsett    maybe  –pub by Poisoned Pen

*** Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore    on classic reading lists–

The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman—because I admire the author so much and have never read anything by him . . .

(X means it’s read)

Well, this is a poor excuse for a post, but am musing about what I should read this summer by the pool.  The trouble is there’s no “thriller”–that is a really decent “heavy” classic worth reading like last summer’s Don Quixote.  Well, of course, Anna Karenina is a heavy classic but I’ve already read that so it doesn’t count.  Shall we say that The Trees by Conrad Richter will be the classic?  Ok, let’s.  the rest are kind of vapid and light—(fillers and spillers if you get my drift . . .)

What are you going to read?   Three of mine are book club selections and I’ve finished one, so that’s a step in the right direction.  Actually, I’ve also finished the Cufflinks one–and it really was fun to read—good old Inspector Wilkins and sidekick, Leather, are in it–and in the “mink” too.   Not as good as the cufflinks one tho.   I’m looking forward to Noise of Time.

Maybe I”ll still come up with a worthy title—to be continued–bye!

PS!  R. D. Blackmore . . .  the R. D. stands for Richard Doddridge-or maybe you already knew that–  check out new post about Lorna Doone and why I’ve chosen it–

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