Storeetllr (Mary) Keeps Score, Part 4: Holiday Edition!

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Storeetllr (Mary) Keeps Score, Part 4: Holiday Edition!

Editado: Dez 2, 2020, 3:20pm

Thank goodness for family, that's all I have to say! Family and art and books.

Thanksgiving Day, me with Ruby, Meg and James, and the Turkey

This has been a rough year, beginning with my open heart surgery on January 6, the loss of my co-grandma on February 28 to cancer, then the Covid19 pandemic with months of isolation and fear, culminating with a hair-raising election and the distressing aftermath where the loser refuses to concede and is pretty much calling for a civil war to keep himself in power. I'm so so so glad to be seeing the end of this year. In fact, this year's holiday wreath is going to look like this:

Here's some of the art I've been doing that's keeping me relatively calm.

Elmo Painted Rock Tree Decoration & Half-finished & Almost-fiished Watercolor Snow Globe (I'll post the finished pic when I, you know, finish it)

Elmo Gift Tag for Ruby's Christmas Present from Me and Holiday Postcard (Both done in watercolors)

Editado: Dez 28, 2020, 5:07pm

Currently Reading

Paint Yourself Calm by Jean Haines. Book.
Creative Watercolor: A Step-by-Step Guide by Ana Victoria Calderon

On Deck

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith
Trade Secrets by David Wishart. Kindle
Foreign Bodies by David Wishart. Kindle.

Editado: Jan 1, 10:30pm

December Books Read

144. Finished Business by David Wishart. Kindle. 3.5 stars. An aristocratic Roman does hard-boiled detective in this series. This was #16 in the series, set in the time of Caligula. Took me awhile to finish because I kept getting bored, but I've really enjoyed this series through the years so I persevered. Not the best offering but not horrible. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I weren't in such a horrible book slump. Well, more an avalanche or landslide than a slump, but whatever.

145. Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. Audio. 4 stars. Thoughts on this one here.

146. The House in the Cerulean Sea T.J. Klune. Audio. 3.5 stars. Perhaps the dialogue would have been more endurable if I'd read it in print. Spoken aloud, it was so unrealistic I kept being knocked out of the story. It was otherwise a pretty good story, tho, so I persevered.

147. Eros by Helen Harper. Kindle. 2.75 stars. Okay, I got this one awhile ago, probably for free or maybe it was part of a Humble Bundle batch. I started it while I was waiting for a download on my Kindle, and the premise was a little interesting, and I wanted to see how Harper handled the ancient-gods-in-modern-times trope. By the time I was about 2/3 done, I realized it wasn't going well, but it was easy reading so I continued. Not vomit bad but not a series I'm going to continue.

148. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells. 5 stars. Kindle. Reread. Okay, I wasn't going to read this - I only went to the book to look for one particular quote. Then I got caught up in the book. Again. "And now I knew why I hadn’t wanted to do this. It would make it harder for me to pretend not to be a person." (That gave me an emotion.) Safe to say, I adore MB and can't wait for the next installment, which is coming out in April. Apparently. Also, I follow MB on Twitter (@murderbotbot). It's fun to see a MB tweet in the midst of all the gloom-and-doom tweets.

149. Creative Watercolor: Art for Modern Makers by Ana Victoria Calderon. Ebook. 4 stars. Basic techniques and crafty ideas for making art with mixed media and watercolor.

Editado: Dez 28, 2020, 5:25pm


Constant Rabbit by Fforde. Audio. (Love that title.) - MickyFine
The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith - Ronincats
The House in the Cerulean Sea T.J. Klune - MickyFine
Class Trip by Emmanuel Carrère - PaulCranwick
The Hidden Girl by Ken Liu - Mark

Something has been wrong with my reading ability/desire for a couple of months now. It's like how people with Covid lose their senses of smell and taste? I seem to have lost my sense of delight in books. Nothing appeals. Nothing except Murderbot, and a person can only read so much of that series before it becomes background noise. Perhaps that's what I need just now - background noise - but it's sad. I have a feeling I'm missing out on some excellent reading. Like those listed below, which have been enjoyed by so many and which I'm sure are wonderful - even as I send them back to the library unfinished.

Constant Rabbit by Fforde. Audio. (Started; got to the third chapter but just couldn't get engaged)
The Hidden Girl by Ken Liu (Started; got to the second or third chapter but just didn't feel like continuing)
In the Woods by Tana French (Started; got about halfway thru but found myself irritated by the detective who was telling the story)

Upcoming Books to Watch For

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells (March 27) (preordered from Audible) (Just saw today (12/28) on Tor that the date is now April 21 - waaaahhh!)
Star Eater by Kerstin Hall (June 22, Tordotcom Publishing)
A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel (February 2, Tordotcom Publishing)

Dez 1, 2020, 7:59pm

Welcome to my last thread of the year! Next one's yours.

Dez 1, 2020, 8:10pm

Happy new thread!

Yay Elmo!

Dez 1, 2020, 8:13pm

Susan! Thank you! And yes, yay Elmo, Ruby's new favorite friend.

Dez 1, 2020, 9:55pm

Happy new thread, Mary. At least 2020 will be done soon.

Dez 1, 2020, 9:57pm

HAppy new one! Great tree decorations!

Dez 1, 2020, 10:13pm

Happy New Thread, Mary!

Dez 1, 2020, 10:23pm

Happy new thread, Mary.

>1 Storeetllr: Love the topper

Dez 1, 2020, 10:52pm

Happy new thread!

Dez 2, 2020, 5:11am

Happy new thread, Mary!

Dez 2, 2020, 9:32am

Happy New Thread, Mary!

Lovely family photo up top. I liked the others on you last thread, too. Great family!

Dez 2, 2020, 10:00am

Happy new one, Mary!

I'm really impressed with your painting!

Editado: Dez 2, 2020, 11:13am

Love your pix, especially the darling family. Hope the season is merry for you.

Edit: Ooops, pun. Unintended...

Dez 2, 2020, 3:55pm

>8 BLBera: And won't that be a relief all around, Beth, on so many different levels.

>9 figsfromthistle: Hi, Anita! Thanks!

>10 ronincats: Thanks, Roni!

Dez 2, 2020, 3:57pm

>11 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. Family is everything, I know you know that.

>12 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>13 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! Nice to see you! I haven't been very good about getting around the threads in the past few months. I'll have to come visit yours soon!

Dez 2, 2020, 4:02pm

>14 jnwelch: Thank you, Joe! I know you know what family means, and what being a grand feels like. No better feeling, huh?

>15 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I'm pretty impressed too, tbh. Didn't know I had it in me. I know I have a long way to go, but so far it's been a fun - and calming - journey.

>16 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks, Sandy. The family is darling, isn't it (especially the littlest member) and my raison d'etre. Tho sometimes living with one's daughter is challenging. I hope you have a merry little holiday season too!

Dez 2, 2020, 4:03pm

I added another pic up in >1 Storeetllr: - the snow globe almost finished. Hope to put the finishing stroke to it before I go to bed tonight.

Dez 2, 2020, 7:17pm

Happy New Thread, Mary. You know I love that topper. I also like your artwork. It looks like something you are finding a lot of joy in.

Dez 2, 2020, 7:21pm


Dez 5, 2020, 6:38pm

>21 msf59: Hi, Mark! Thanks.

>22 richardderus: *smooch* back to you, RD

Editado: Dez 5, 2020, 6:46pm

Okay, so I finished the watercolor snow globe, my first ever. I may have gone a little overboard with the sparkle. What do you think? I decided to put a bird on top of the tree rather than a star or angel. I hope Mark approves.

Dez 6, 2020, 5:07am

>24 Storeetllr: Looks great to me, Mary!
A snow globe needs a lot of sparkle, and I prefer a bird anyway :-)

Dez 6, 2020, 12:41pm

Thanks, Anita! We agree on both the bird and the sparkle!

Dez 6, 2020, 4:32pm

>24 Storeetllr: Sparkle amount

Dez 6, 2020, 11:29pm

>24 Storeetllr: Lovely, Mary.

Dez 7, 2020, 7:46am

>24 Storeetllr: looks quite lovely. What a great idea to put a Cardinal on top of the tree! Love it :)

Dez 7, 2020, 11:25am

>24 Storeetllr: Beautiful!

Editado: Dez 7, 2020, 12:38pm

Thanks, Richard, Paul, Anita and Micky! Pleased you like it!

Glad you approve, RD. I am a sparkly kinda girl - well, no, that isn't true. I'm not sparkly myself, but I do love sparkle in the right amount and in the right situation. Not for serious subjects, and certainly not for vampires.

I tried a star first, Anita, but I just couldn't get it right. (I practiced on another piece of paper first.) Then I had this bright idea that a red bird might be fun, and it took me two pieces of scrap paper and an hour or so to get it right before I tried on the actual piece, then had to redo it once because the first time was a mess.

And this is one reason art takes me away from harsh reality while I'm engaged in it. You can't be worrying about political or health or socioeconomic issues while trying to decide whether to paint a star or a cardinal on top of a tree and then figuring out how to do it right.

Dez 7, 2020, 1:24pm

One of our favorite parts of the annual calendars
(cost around $5 online) is choosing what to place at the top of the trees
we have decorated. You might enjoy the selection!

Dez 7, 2020, 1:52pm

>32 m.belljackson: Oh, I used to subscribe to that site and really enjoyed sending her virtual greeting cards! Thanks for the reminder, Marianne!

Dez 12, 2020, 11:07am

Mary, we need lots of Sparkle this year. Your snow globe is Perfect! I wish I had some artistic talent but my brother got all that was allotted to the family. He gave up oil painting a few years ago because it was emotionally draining. He loves photography, especially nature shots that get him out of the house. I walk the dog for that fix!

Happy Holidays to you and your lovely family. Ruby is precious and I look forward to watching her continue to grow up under her Grandmother’s influence. I hope you get out of your reading funk soon. (((Hugs)))

Dez 21, 2020, 2:45pm

Tachyon Publications, an SFF house, posted this on Twitter. Says it all, no?

Dez 23, 2020, 12:27pm

>34 Donna828: Hey, Donna! Thanks so much for your kind words. I am really enjoying making art - well, actually, it's more like learning to make art. Even so, it's been fun and calming, probably since nobody has asked me to paint anything for them - except my granddaughter and a niece, who wanted me to paint a rock for them. I remember seeing and loving something your brother painted that you posted a few threads back. I can imagine painting for others is stressful, so I'm glad I can simply paint for my own pleasure (and stress-release).

>35 richardderus: Yep! I for one am going to be so glad to see the back end of 2020, which is just too bad because 2020 is such a cool name for a year. I mean, sayings like "Hindsight is 2020" take on whole new meanings, you know?

Dez 23, 2020, 12:28pm

So, I haven't gotten completely out of my book funk yet, but I did read a book (in one sitting!) yesterday and really enjoyed it: Thursday Murder Club on audio. It was amazing - a couple of murders, a cold-case mystery, four elderly sleuths, a likeable murderer, a despicable victim, a couple of plot twists, a story of aging, a family drama, a police drama, a couple of romances, a story of life in a small English country retirement community. My only quibbles were (1) the plethora of secondary and tertiary characters, so many it was hard to keep them all straight, and (2) the occasionally convoluted plot. Anyway, thank you to whoever recommended it, and it's my hope this is the start of a series.

Dez 24, 2020, 11:40am

>24 Storeetllr: I LOVE the snow globe! My inside tree has a bird theme and my sister found a gorgeous cardinal tree topper.

It has been a helluva year and I feel like I am still holding my breath. Yay to family and art and books! I also went through a book funk earlier this year and basically gave myself permission to read anything I wanted. I discovered Louise Penny.

Dez 24, 2020, 12:19pm

Hi Mary. Wishing you peace, joy and happiness this holiday season and best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

Dez 24, 2020, 12:59pm

Happy Holidays, Mary! Praying for a much better 2021. Have a good time with the family.

Dez 24, 2020, 6:06pm

Dez 24, 2020, 6:36pm

Mary--Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May 2021 bring you less need for masks, loads of peace and joy, good health and, of course, books!

Dez 24, 2020, 10:34pm

Mary, lots of images going the rounds, so I'll just say Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Goodnight. (quoting Clement Clarke Moore, 1949 edition).

Dez 25, 2020, 12:43am

Dez 25, 2020, 1:00am

Happy Holidays Mary!

Dez 25, 2020, 12:14pm

I hope you get some of those at least, Mary, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

Dez 25, 2020, 1:40pm

Thank you so much for the holiday wishes, Karen, Lori, Mark, Anne, Kim, Sandy, Joanne, Susan, and Paul! I hope your holiday celebrations are filled with good fun, and the coming year brings good health, good times, and lots of great reading!

We had a lovely Christmas Eve, but I just could not get a good portrait of the family in front of the tree with everyone looking at the camera and smiling, so my daughter suggested some candid shots. She decided this is the Christmas picture of the year.

One of Ruby's favorite things is to be hung upside down. I don't even want to speculate.

Merry Christmas, everyone! May this somewhat upside-down holiday season be the last one where we have to shelter-in-place and we'll be able to celebrate in person with friends and family next year!

Dez 25, 2020, 4:21pm

I hope you are enjoying Christmas with your beautiful granddaughter (and the rest of your family), Mary!

Dez 26, 2020, 10:49am

Love your family photo, Mary! Glad to see it was a happy day.

Dez 26, 2020, 2:31pm

Thanks, Judy and Micky!

Dez 27, 2020, 10:32am

>47 Storeetllr: I can almost hear Ruby giggling in that photo, Mary! It's such fun to have little ones around at Christmas.

Dez 28, 2020, 1:03pm

It is fun, Joanne, and Ruby's giggles are catching, as are her belly laughs and outright roars. We all end up roaring with laughter along with her. She's such a little ham, and she's developing a mischievous sense of humor already. I'm so looking forward to watching her grow in the coming year!

Dez 28, 2020, 3:35pm

>47 Storeetllr: How adorable! She's just waiting for the right vampire to come along and make her immortal.

Dez 28, 2020, 5:02pm

Heh, they better wait a couple of decades, RD. We all know what comes of turning them too young.

Dez 28, 2020, 5:06pm


Poor Claudia!

Dez 28, 2020, 5:20pm

Hah! I knew you'd get my drift!

Dez 29, 2020, 12:50pm

>47 Storeetllr: What a wonderful photo!

Dez 30, 2020, 7:34pm

Thanks, Karen. I love it! So real. Like, how it is almost every day around here. Having a toddler around makes this isolation stuff bearable. Well, more bearable than it otherwise would be. It's hard, tho - when her mom was that age, we were in play groups and went to gymboree and the zoo and festivals. Now... Her mom takes her to the park every decent day (they only stay if no one else is around), and that helps keep her - well, both of them - saner than they would otherwise be.

Dez 30, 2020, 7:43pm

Tomorrow's the last day of 2020, and thank heavens for that! I'll be glad to call this year "hindsight." Anyway, one good thing that's come of being stuck inside is my new calling to paint. I've had so much fun learning techniques and playing with colors. It's been a real lifesaver. Here's my latest. It's based on my memories of being in Hawaii and a few photos I saw on the web. I hope you enjoy it.

Dez 30, 2020, 10:21pm

That's lovely, Mary. Is it watercolour or is there some acrylic in there? I'm impressed regardless.

Dez 30, 2020, 11:22pm

Hi Mary
Just doing a quick whip around before the flip to 2021.
I wanted to sneak in to collect more ideas about what folks read this year and loved.

>24 Storeetllr: I meant to say when I was lurking earlier in the month that I liked that snow globe. It's great to engage with a new way of creative expression.
>47 Storeetllr: Absolutely charming. I rather envious of your being able to see your grandchild and the parents.

Dez 31, 2020, 12:08am

Your snow globe is great and the picture with the palm tree makes me wish I could travel, Mary. That is a priceless Christmas shot in >47 Storeetllr:.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Dez 31, 2020, 12:35am

Your palm tree is lovely. I know having my daughter here is a big help in keeping myself and my husband sane, well to the extent that we do sane. The puppy, Nutmeg is also a big help.

Dez 31, 2020, 1:40am

Time to take out the trash!

Dez 31, 2020, 12:08pm

>60 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I appreciate that! It's watercolor, but I used gouache straight from the tube for the waves and clouds.

Dez 31, 2020, 12:13pm

>61 SandyAMcPherson: Hi, Sandy! Nice to see you on this, the last day of one of the worst years of my long life.

Thanks so much for your kind words about the snow globe. I'm having so much fun learning to watercolor, with the added attraction of it helping take me away from the stress for at least awhile.

I'm so grateful to have the kids right here! Whenever I start to wish I were back in my sweet little house in Pueblo (because it was an awesome house with lots of storage and 3 bedrooms and a lot of light and Pueblo is sunny twice as often as Nyack NY), I remember that I would be completely cut off if I were back there and couldn't watch Ruby growing up.

Dez 31, 2020, 12:15pm

>62 Familyhistorian: Meg! So good to see you here! Yes, I was thinking about next year and how I'd like to take a trip to the Bahamas around this time of year, so I painted a beach and palm tree to kind of take me there in my imagination. Thanks for your kind words and wishes for 2021!

Dez 31, 2020, 12:38pm

>63 quondame: Thanks, Susan. Haha, me too - to the extent I'm ever sane. The family - especially Ruby - and painting are all that stand between me and utter depression. That and the Murderbot books, which I reread pretty regularly (same way Murderbot rewatches episodes of Sanctuary Moon).

I saw a pic of the puppy over on your thread. What a little cutie! Puppies are such a joy (except when they're stealing your shoes).

Dez 31, 2020, 12:42pm

>64 weird_O: EXCELLENT! Thanks, Bill! See you next year!

Dez 31, 2020, 1:04pm

>59 Storeetllr: - What a beautiful - and calming/relaxing to look at - painting, Mary!

Dez 31, 2020, 9:35pm

Thanks, Lori! Glad you enjoyed it.

Dez 31, 2020, 9:42pm


As the year turns, friendship continues

Dez 31, 2020, 10:27pm

Jan 1, 10:24pm

Happy New Year, Paul and Susan!

Editado: Jan 1, 10:45pm

So, before I start another thread for 2021, I want to list my top books of 2020:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Me by Elton John
The Splendid and the Vile by Eric Larson
(The above 3 were 5-star reads)

Who Speaks for the Damned by C. S. Harris
Watercolor Flowers Chinese Style: A Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide by Lu He
Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Crooked River by Douglas Preston and Lee Chiles
(All 4.5-star reads)

The Murderbot Diaries - all of them together gave me the most pleasure (and continue to do so because, like Murderbot is with "Sanctuary Moon," I am with Murderbot).

ETA that, on looking over the list, I see my favorites are all over the map in 2020. Two memoirs, one biography, a mystery thriller, a historical mystery, a romance, a historical novel, a how-to watercolor book, and a scifi series. Wow.

Jan 1, 10:46pm

What the heck's wrong with Touchstones tonight?

Jan 1, 11:13pm

>76 Storeetllr: They were out drinking last night and are still hungover.

Jan 1, 11:16pm

>77 quondame: Hah! That's as good a reason as any, I guess. Hope they were masked, kept their social distances, and drank on an outside patio rather than in some crowded bar.

Jan 12, 10:33am

>75 Storeetllr: I have Brown Girl Dreaming waiting for me on a shelf. Both you and Anne love the Murderbot Diaries and so I'm going to have to check them out one of these days to see if they're for me. Reading The Splendid and the Vile this year, when we have our own vile problem in DC, made the book especially important to me this year, as well.

Hope all is well with you and yours!

Jan 13, 7:58pm

Hi, Joanne! You won't be sorry. Murderbot is wonderful. So is Brown Girl Dreaming. I have to say I listened to the audiobook; I'm not sure I'd have loved it as much if I'd read it in print. I started a thread over in the Green Dragon Group for 2021. It just gets too crazy over here, and it's hard for me to keep up. I will stop by your thread tho to see what you're up to.