Ellen (EBT1002) reads her way to retirement - 4

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Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2021

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Ellen (EBT1002) reads her way to retirement - 4

Editado: Jun 16, 7:12pm

Paul Cezanne
Country House by a River

Editado: Jun 16, 7:12pm

. .


Editado: Jun 16, 7:02pm

I'm a bit ambivalent about rating books. I feel like my ratings are nonscientific and therefore inconsistent. Also, I too often find that I rate a book based on my immediate reaction but am later surprised as I recall it with either more or less affection than the rating seems to indicate. But I do like being able to look back and get a sense of how a book landed on me at the time I read it, so I persist with these stars in most cases.

= Masterpiece, took my breath away.
= Stunning.
= Excellent.
= Very good.
= Good.
= Average.
= Bad.
= Very bad.
= Don't bother.

Of course, it still holds true that I'm rarely going to complete a book earning fewer than two stars but I reserve the right to rate them based on my experience.

Editado: Jun 16, 7:03pm


1. The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell 5 stars
2. Jazz by Toni Morrison 3.5 stars
3. Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir by Natasha Trethewey (audio) 5 stars
4. Magical Negro by Morgan Parker unrated (poetry)
5. Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen 4 stars
6. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson 4.5 stars
7. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones 5 stars
8. Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls 3.5 stars
9. News of the World by Paulette Jiles (reread) still 5 stars
10. The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey 4 stars


11. The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer 4 stars
12. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman 3.5 stars
13. Paradise by Toni Morrison not yet rated
14. The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips 4 stars
15. The Long Song by Andrea Levy (reread) still 4 stars
16. The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths 4 stars


17. How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang 3 stars
18. Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley 3.5 stars
19. Unclay by T.F. Powys 3.5 stars
20. From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell
21. The Survivors by Jane Harper 4 stars
22. The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths 4 stars
23. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi 3 stars
24. Frederica by Georgette Heyer 4 stars

Editado: Jul 13, 1:51pm

AlphaKIT (my only formal challenge this year)

January......P M
✅ -- Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
✅ -- Jazz by Toni Morrison
✅ -- Magical Negro by Morgan Parker

February.....T K
✅ -- The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips
✅ -- The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

March.....U R
✅ -- Unclay by T.F. Powys
✅ -- From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell

April.....A W
✅ -- Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Washburn, Kawai Strong
✅ -- Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
✅ -- Homeland Elegies by Akhtar, Ayad

May.....I N
✅ -- In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty
✅ -- Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
✅ -- No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

June.....C D
✅ -- The Cold Millions by Jess Walter
✅ -- The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
✅ -- The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

July.....S O
✅ -- Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
✅ -- The Death of Vivek Oji by Emezi, Akwaeke

August.....V J
-- The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
-- The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen

September.....F L
October.....H E
November.....B Y
December.....G Q

Yearlong.....X Z
-- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
-- How Much of These Hills Is Gold by Zhang, C Pam

Editado: Jun 16, 7:07pm

Personal Reading Challenge: Every winner of the Booker Prize since its inception in 1969

1969: P. H. Newby, Something to Answer For
1970: Bernice Rubens, The Elected Member
1970: J. G. Farrell, Troubles (awarded in 2010 as the Lost Man Booker Prize)
1971: V. S. Naipaul, In a Free State
1972: John Berger, G. -- DNF
1973: J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur
1974: Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist ... and Stanley Middleton, Holiday
1975: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
1976: David Storey, Saville
1977: Paul Scott, Staying On
1978: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea
1979: Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore
1980: William Golding, Rites of Passage
1981: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
1982: Thomas Keneally, Schindler's Ark
1983: J. M. Coetzee, Life & Times of Michael K
1984: Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac
1985: Keri Hulme, The Bone People
1986: Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils
1987: Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
1988: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
1989: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
1990: A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance
1991: Ben Okri, The Famished Road
1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient ... and Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger
1993: Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
1994: James Kelman, How late it was, how late***
1995: Pat Barker, The Ghost Road
1996: Graham Swift, Last Orders
1997: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
1998: Ian McEwan, Amsterdam
1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace***
2000: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
2001: Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang
2002: Yann Martel, Life of Pi
2003: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little
2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty
2005: John Banville, The Sea
2006: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering
2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
2009: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
2011: Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
2013: Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
2014: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
2016: Paul Beatty, The Sellout
2017: George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
2018: Anna Burns, Milkman
2019: Margaret Atwood, The Testaments, and Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other
2020: Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain

***On my shelves

I'm going to keep this post going so I can keep track but I admit I'm less committed to finishing the whole list than I once was.

Editado: Jun 16, 7:10pm

Editado: Jun 16, 7:11pm

Currently reading:


Jun 16, 7:00pm


Jun 16, 7:35pm

Happy new one, Ellen!

Jun 16, 7:42pm

That Cézanne!! Ooohhh glory.


Jun 16, 8:06pm

>12 PaulCranswick: and >13 richardderus: Thanks and welcome, Paul and Richard!

Jun 16, 8:28pm

Happy new thread!

Jun 16, 8:42pm

Happy new one Ellen. As always, love those toppers!

I just recently finished the Emma Donoghue, though I did so on audio (.I had some issues with the format of the print version, petty person that I am ;-). It was a good one.

Jun 16, 8:54pm

>1 EBT1002: I'd just love to be sitting there Ellen.

Jun 16, 9:01pm

The Cezanne is truly wonderful...but those pictures of Carson lovin' on ya' just make happy all over.

Jun 16, 9:29pm

Happy new one!

Jun 16, 10:26pm

Happy new thread, Ellen.

>1 EBT1002: looks like a good place to retire.

I'll watch for your comments on The Pull of the Stars.

Jun 17, 1:21am

Happy new thread!!

Jun 17, 1:40am

Happy new one Ellen. I agree with Beth re Piranesi.

Jun 17, 3:09am

Happy New Thread, Ellen!

Jun 17, 3:42am

Your retirement countdown is so protracted- how can you sustain the necessary level of excitement for that long ;)

Carson is so sweet and snoozy. I love warm, soft, snoozy cats.

Jun 17, 6:11am

Happy new thread, Ellen, I love the Cézanne at the top.

>9 EBT1002: Countdown, even with the time :-)
(Time confused me at first, we write 05:00 for morning and 17:00 for afternoon, and I often mess up PM and AM)

Jun 17, 7:04am

Sweet Thursday, Ellen. Happy New Thread. Love the Cezanne. I was planning on using an art piece for my next topper too. I hope you are enjoying The Pull of the Stars. That one is on my list. I am getting ready to read The Night Watchman. I have had a copy on shelf forever but since it just won the Pulitzer, I decided it was time. Have you read it?

Jun 17, 9:08am

>10 EBT1002: - I read The Kindest Lie last year when I won it as an ER book. I wasn't super impressed. I hope it lands on you better!

Jun 17, 5:48pm

Happy new thread!

Jun 18, 10:49am

Ellen, there's more Bechdel-erie at the Believer Magazine!

Jun 19, 9:49am

Happy new thread, Ellen!

The photos of Carson continue to crack me up.

Jun 19, 10:53am

>26 msf59: I'm hoping to read The Night Watchman in July, as we're doing a Native American theme month in the AAC.

Jun 19, 11:54am

Happy New Thread, Ellen!

I also need to read The Night Watchman which has been on my TBR pile for quite a while now.

Love the Bechdel interview that Richard posted.

Jun 21, 11:28pm

I am so glad you are creeping up on retirement! What a joy it will be when there are only 12 months left! 1 year to go, that should be doable.

Jun 22, 7:37pm

Happy new thread, Ellen. That's a beautiful topper.

Jun 27, 4:55pm

Hey, where'd ya go? Hope you are surviving the Pacific NW heat wave. : )

Jun 28, 12:56pm

I am imagining that the heat is a bit worse in your part of Washington State, but I am here to say, this heat we are having is truly shaking us up. Can you imagine what the forests, and the rest of the greens in our beautiful Pac Northwest, are feeling! Yikes.

I am doing OK. Only venture outside when Gretchen needs me to walk her a little ways, otherwise, my apt. is staying a cool 80 degrees while outside it is a good 10+ degrees warmer. Yikes!

Jun 28, 1:32pm

Did y'all give up on camping? Too damned hot to do this week, I'd think.

Jun 28, 1:45pm

Ellen is camping and will post when she gets back.

Jun 30, 5:21pm

Hey everyone. Lord, it was HOT at Mt. Rainier!!! We drove up there, pulling our little trailer, on Sunday morning, set up camp, and proceeded to try to stay cool. Monday we went for an early morning hike. We were the first ones to the parking lot for Box Canyon, had decided to hike along part of the Wonderland Trail (a 97-mile trail that completely encircles the mountain). Just a little ways in, I spotted two bears -- a mama and young -- about 125 yards up a sloping hillside. Youngster was preoccupied but mama noticed us. We watched her, she watched us. Then I remembered that a stare-down with a bear is generally a poor idea, even at 100+ yards of distance. So I slowly backed up. This broke the trance and she lumbered up into the forest behind her. Youngster followed a moment later. We imagined her calling to him: "junior! get up here. Now!" It was a great treat. Certainly the best bear-sighting I have had in wild territory. The hike was beautiful, mostly through forest and without much elevation gain. We ended at a wooden bridge crossing Stevens Creek which was roaring down the mountain! At 100F in the park, the snow pack (and, alas, the glaciers) were melting at a rapid pace. All the rivers were rushing along, full of gray, silty, freezing-ass-cold glacial water.

We spent the rest of Monday at the campsite, trying to stay cool. When it's 100F, sitting in the shade reading a book is less romantic than it sounds.

Tuesday morning, up again bright and early. This time we weren't first at the trailhead but only two cars were parked there and we passed two solo hikers on our way up (they were on their respective ways down). This hike was to Snow Lake and it wasn't very long -- about 2.4 miles round trip -- but the trail involved three major up-then-down sections. Our legs were feeling it! Near the end we walked across a decent snow field (yay for YakTrax!). Again, upper 90s and sunny. The snow pack was thin in places and my right leg (the one with the new knee) went right through to the soggy ground below at one point. No harm done but it got my attention! We saw amazing Bear Grass and huge patched of Glacier Lilies a peak bloom. It was a beautiful if tiring hike. The heat was truly brutal.

Back at camp, it was miserable. I had not slept well either night. Our little trailer just would not cool down. Around 3:30 yesterday afternoon, I looked up at Prudence and said "it may sound crazy, but should we just head home now?" Our plan at that point was essentially to try not to survive until it cooled down enough to go to bed, then get up very early and get on the road before it got "too hot." Well, 45 minutes later, we were packed up and pulling out of the campground with our little trailer behind us. The drive home was hot and dry and exhausting. We stopped in Naches and the guy at the gas station said it was 105F. He said it was 112F in Yakima, the next town we would go through.

Today, in Pullman, our high is expected to be 102F; it's already 100F. We went and got Carson at the vet/boarder first thing this morning. He was terribly traumatized but has finally settled down. Poor little guy; he just hates being anywhere but home.

I did do some reading although less than I would have liked. You guessed it: it was too hot to read. Now that is hot!!

Jun 30, 5:28pm

44. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

The setting is the best thing about this novel: Bombay in 1921 with a few flashbacks to 1917. Perveen Mistry is Bombay's first woman lawyer, though her scope of practice is notably restricted by her gender. As she is attempting to wrap up an estate issue for one of her father's clients, she realizes that the deceased man's three widows have all apparently signed their inheritance off to a rather suspect charity organization. The women live in complete seclusion; here, Perveen's gender becomes an advantage because she can interact with them as male lawyers cannot. While she is looking into the matter, an estate agent turns up murdered and Perveen turns to helping one of the widows establish her innocence. Meanwhile, a bit of Perveen's own history comes back to haunt her.

Jun 30, 5:34pm

45. Summerwater by Sarah Moss

I loved this little novel and I'm still deciding why I'm not giving it the full five stars. Set in Scotland during an exceedingly rainy summer, the novel introduces us to a series of characters, each on holiday in one of a group of cabins at the end of a 10-mile track. None of the characters is especially happy, although the degree of their discontent varies. Varying from elderly and confused to young and brash, with various adults in between, each character's thoughts belie their disillusionment, selfishness, and regret. But we also glimpse their respective hopes and their individual ways of coping. It is clear their stories will converge but the climax took me completely by surprise. I think this would benefit from a second read; I am sure I would catch all manner of foreshadowing and interconnections I didn't quite catch the first time through.

I also ended the novel with the impulse to read every work by Sarah Moss that I have not yet read. I have a couple books from the library so we'll see where I land.

Jun 30, 5:43pm

>15 quondame: Hi Susan!

>16 jessibud2: Hi Shelley. I enjoyed The Pull of the Stars. I thought it was deceptively simple in its narrative style, carrying a surprising emotional weight.

>17 Caroline_McElwee: I know, doesn't that painting just pull you in, Caroline?

>18 laytonwoman3rd: Hi Linda. Carson is so sweet when he is sweet. We boarded him for the past three nights for our camping trip and it was clearly very traumatic for him. They said he was anxious the whole time. He was very needy when we first brought him home this morning but he is settled down now. Such an anxious little cat. Okay, not so little, either. He weighed 14.14 pounds this morning. Sigh.

>19 drneutron: and >20 BLBera: and >21 Berly:
Thanks Jim, Beth, and Kim!

>22 charl08: Hi Charlotte. Good to know. I think I'll skip Piranesi. It didn't sound like my cup of tea in the first place and if you and Beth are saying "meh," I can dedicate my precious reading time elsewhere!

Jun 30, 5:48pm

Moss is becoming someone whose work I will automatically pick up, Ellen.

Your camping trip sounds pretty miserable. PLEASE don't send the heat our way!

When do you go back to work?

Jun 30, 5:51pm

>23 SandDune: Thanks Rhian!

>24 LovingLit: You make a good point, Megan. I have told myself I'm not to look at the countdown app again until after August 1. It needs to be under 365 days next time I look at it. Sometimes it has the effect of lifting me up: whoa! only 13 months to go! But other times it is more as you suggest; it can feel like a slog.

>25 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita. I can see how that would confuse you. As in: why would she retire at 5:00 in the morning???? I have this fantasy of walking out of that office at the end of the day on the last Friday in July 2022.... it will be a weird feeling, I know.

>26 msf59: Hi Mark! I enjoyed The Pull of the Stars. As I mentioned above, I thought the narrative style was deceptively simple for a book with a good emotional punch. And I have indeed read The Night Watchman. I loved it perhaps more than most; I gave it 4.5 stars. I am such a fan of Erdrich's writing.

>27 katiekrug: Hi Katie. My reaction to The Kindest Lie was rather "meh." I gave it 3 stars.

>28 ArlieS: Thank you Arlie!

Jun 30, 5:54pm

>29 richardderus: Hmmm, The Believer magazine. I don't know that one. But I'm about to introduce myself!

>30 karenmarie: Hi Karen. I'm glad you enjoy the photos of Carson. He is a funny boy when his anxiety is not making him troublesome! But I do love him.

>31 laytonwoman3rd: I hope you enjoy The Night Watchman, Linda. I quite liked it although it was not my favorite Erdrich. I'm also such a fan of her work that I may have given The Night Watchman an extra half-star just because she wrote it.

Editado: Jun 30, 5:58pm

>32 streamsong: Hi Janet. I love that interview with Alison Bechdel, too!

(>29 richardderus: Thanks for posting it, Richard!!!!)

Jun 30, 6:04pm

>33 maggie1944: I know, Karen. I feel like I'm almost in my last year although not quite. But knowing that this time next year I'll have a month to go ... that will just be wrapping up what I can and getting that office cleaned out! :-)

>34 Familyhistorian: Thanks Meg!

>35 Berly: Hi Kim! Thanks for checking in. I have survived but just barely. This heat wave is BRUTAL! We've been over 100F four consecutive days here in Pullman. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be "only" 94F. We'll take it!

I remember when Seattle broke triple digits for the first time in recorded history. It was perhaps our second summer living there. The light rail did not yet take me from work to home, so I was a bus rider. It was 103F and I got on the 48 with a bottle of cold water to hold on the back of my neck. It must have been 120F on that bus. Almost an hour later I was home and I was SO hot. That Seattle was going to hit 107 this time around is horrifying.

This last couple of days, at Mt. Rainier, enjoying her grandeur and beauty, I had to fight off the depression. It was so very hot and I looked up at the mountain's glaciers, and I could actually envision what she will look like when she is no longer a permanent whitecap. Hood, Adams, and all the rest of them.... we know it's coming and all too quickly. I had to fend off the depressing thought "what we humans have wrought."

Editado: Jun 30, 6:08pm

>36 maggie1944: See my comments here ^ Karen. I was at our beloved Mt. Rainier for the past three days and I nearly wept for the Douglas Firs and Hemlocks, not to mention the poor fauna. Every raven I saw had its beak open, trying to cool itself. I imagined the mama bear I saw with her youngster looking for a glacial creek in which to immerse themselves, one away from the trails and roads we humans have built.

Jun 30, 6:10pm

>47 EBT1002: Yeup...deeply depressing thought, perfectly in keeping with lived reality.

Anyway, glad you're home and safe.

Editado: Jun 30, 6:11pm

>37 richardderus: See >39 EBT1002:.
We are intrepid and foolhardy, Richard. We did go camping, and we took two viciously hot hikes, and I'm glad we went because we saw some of the most beautiful sights we've seen in a while, including mama bear and her youngster!, but I'm so very glad we came home last night.

Jun 30, 6:15pm

>38 BLBera: Thanks for letting everyone know I was safe (if crazy), Beth!

>43 BLBera: Okay, Beth, which of Sarah Moss' works do you like best? I have Signs for Lost Children on the shelf. I need to acquire Ghost Wall.

You know, the camping trip was a blend of spectacular and miserable. The miserable part was certainly the bulk of it in terms of minutes (hours!) but the spectacular ended up balancing it out in the end. I'm going to see if I can post a few photos from our hikes.

I go back to work on Tuesday, July 5. It's nice to have some staycation time added on to the camping trip! And tomorrow a high of "only" 91F! Whew.

Jun 30, 6:20pm

>49 richardderus: We have well and truly destroyed the beautiful planet, Richard. I wholly believe that. I was struck in my reading of Summerwater this afternoon how often climate change is present in contemporary novels -- not necessarily as a main theme (although certainly sometimes that) but as a casual element of reality. If a novel takes place in the now, climate change shows up the same way that rock music shows up if a novel is set in the 1960s/70s.

Thanks for the glad tidings on being home safe and sound. Our A/C is running nearly constantly and I feel a bit guilty. It's set on 74 or 75 and it's still working full time. I'm a part of the problem. But I'm not willing to sit here in 100 degrees. Sigh.

Jun 30, 6:27pm

>29 richardderus: One of my favorite bits in the interview is when Bechdel is talking about a friend of hers who "... encouraged me with this idea that it might be more powerful for a woman to write a book about fitness and never once mention weight and body image." I noticed that when I read The Secret to Superhuman Strength but didn't really process how revolutionary it was. Very cool.

Jun 30, 6:54pm

>53 EBT1002: It's all too rare, and so very very important, for women to decline to participate in the Beauty Industrial Complex. Fitness ≠ beauty; the point needs to be health and strength.

>52 EBT1002: We're not going to fix anything by sweating.

Jun 30, 6:56pm

Glad to hear that you are home, Ellen, and glad too, that you decided to come home early. I don't think it is worth risking your health in this sort of heat. It's just not safe.

I hear you on the guilt re a/c. I feel the same way. I truly believe that this unrelenting heat is, for lack of a better phrase, the new normal that we humans have created yet the only way to survive it is a/c; still, isn't that part of the problem? It doesn't sit well with me but I don't see other options that are viable. I do my best to mitigate my personal footprint whenever and however I can but this is way bigger than just me, and frankly, it's past *too late*...

Jun 30, 7:16pm

>54 richardderus: I agree on both counts, Richard. I do think we can still do what we can (although I'm technically contradicting myself, since I believe we have already f*cked up the planet and we've waited too late to stop it), so I set the thermostat at 74 or 75, I dry my clothes on the line rather than in the dryer, etc. But it does feel pretty hopeless. And I also know that sitting here in 100 degrees would bring on other problems, at least for me it would.

>55 jessibud2: Thanks Shelley. We made the right decision to come on home! I agree that this unrelenting heat is our new normal. A University of Idaho researcher apparently said that it's too early to tell whether this heat wave is a sign of climate change. Whatever. The temperature trend data along with singular events like unprecedented storms, heat waves, crazy winter weather.... if this isn't climate change, I don't know what is!

July is apparently "no plastic month." We'll do our best....

Editado: Jun 30, 8:37pm

I have a few photos I want to post but I'll need my iPad rather than this MacBook. So, later this evening I'll give you all a peek at one of the loveliest places on Earth. :-)

Jun 30, 7:18pm

>55 jessibud2: We put in solar to support our AC habit. Somewhat less guilt and once the city stops charging us for the privilege of taking what we generate, cleaning it up and returning it we will feel even less pain.

Jun 30, 7:31pm

>56 EBT1002: - If it isn't a *sign* of climate change, then it sure is the result of it! I am not a professor and I figured that out!

Jun 30, 8:23pm

Welcome home, Ellen. I think you made the right call by coming home early. It's not like someone was awarding prizes for gutting it out.

I'm also glad to see you gave Summerwater 4.5 stars. That ending hit me with a wallop too. I knew *something* was coming, but wow. Not that.

Jun 30, 8:39pm

I started Signs for Lost Children a little while ago. Already I love it!

Jun 30, 9:11pm

I think Summerwater is my favorite, but I did also love her memoir of her year in Iceland. My book club is reading Night Waking, so I'll be starting that soon.

Jul 1, 12:15am

Dear Ellen, I'm too sleepy to catch up, but I'm glad you're home and hoping that your horrid weather will abate in the next few days. Your encounter with the bears calls to mind my reaction to seeing and hearing pileated woodpeckers here: how awesome to see and hear them! how devastating to know that their reclusive habitat is gone and that they are reduced to surviving in "our" territory!

Jul 1, 1:02pm

When I heard you and P. were camping this week, I got a little worried. Glad you came home when the heat got so bad. And of course it's climate change, and we are changing it. New York has been unusually hot (we used to get this heat for a day or two in August, but not in June). I run the a/c as little as I can, keep turning lights off, recycle everything I can, but the fact is we are a greedy and careless species. In Le Guin's book The Dispossessed, she inserts an almost casual remark that humans have destroyed the earth in just this way, and the remnants of our own die-off live in the remaining heat.

Jul 1, 5:54pm

I couldn't help but think about a book I read last month about how we have fished the ocean's dry. The ocean fin-fish will never recover and scientists are just trying to figure out how to keep the species we have alive and protected so that they don't go extinct. It is depressing.

Jul 2, 4:08am

>52 EBT1002: >56 EBT1002: I am also very despondent about the state of the environment and the climate emergency. Particularly as we seem to be completely blind to its consequences in so many cases. I also do what I can - I am a member of many campaigning environmental organisations, we have totally green electricity and pay to offset the gas, I don’t buy air-freighted food, I’m trying to eat much more vegetarian/vegan and cut back on packaging and plastic. And I’m also trying to give up flying (at least as far as possible). I did promise Mr SandDune years ago that we would go on a trip to New Zealand when we both retired so I don’t think I can really go back on that. But I’m not flying anywhere in Europe. But in needs government to start taking this seriously, not just vague for 2050.

Jul 2, 9:08am

Hi, Ellen. Your hiking trip sounds great, despite the hot weather. Implicit is that your new knee held up. Hurrah!

All is well on our end. I just started the new Ruth Galloway mystery, and it's good to be back spending time with her.

Jul 2, 3:55pm

>55 jessibud2: *sigh* Yes, I'm also "part of the problem" in that I use energy to cope with some of my local climate change manifestations. Sadly, when I moved to this area 24 years ago, a/c was never *needed*, though sometimes a pleasant indulgence. Now you'd be crazy not to have and use it, if you can afford to.

I'd move somewhere less problematic, if I could find such a location - but the problem is global, and my expectation is that we'll ultimately wind up with a temperature range similar to last time the carbon dioxide level was this high - back in the dinosaur era, with IIRC the whole planet either tropical or subtropical. (Yes, there were other relevant influences compounding the heating, and I'm not qualified to estimate how much was the arrangement of continents at the time, and how much was greenhouse gases. But it makes a good rough estimate.) Fortunately I'm already in my 60s; the whole world probably won't be (sub)tropical in my remaining lifespan.

Editado: Jul 2, 11:16pm

Mama Bear at Mt. Rainier National Park

Editado: Jul 2, 11:16pm

Stevens Creek

Jul 2, 11:12pm

Mt. Rainier

Editado: Jul 2, 11:16pm

Bench Lake (lunch spot)

Editado: Jul 2, 11:17pm

Glacier Lilies

Editado: Jul 2, 11:17pm

Prudence on the hike to Snow Lake

Jul 2, 11:30pm

It all looks so lovely. Too bad the heat cut you time there short.

Jul 3, 2:56am

Gorgeous pictures! I've only seen bears in Yellowstone, although in Colorado we did come across bear poop a couple of times. Our dog wanted to head back to the car when she noticed it!

Jul 3, 6:48am

Beautiful photos Ellen. Sorry the heat meant cutting it short, but I'm sure being in such a lovely place even for a short while gave you a lift. Returning early was a good call.

Jul 3, 7:39am

Thanks for sharing the photos Ellen -- what a gorgeous area.

Jul 3, 8:14am

>72 EBT1002: - Topper-worthy!
>74 EBT1002: - Seriously? Snow? In that heat? How is that possible?

Jul 3, 8:18am

Great photos, Ellen! You were really close to the bear!

Jul 3, 10:25am

Great photos, Ellen, but I agree you were wise to come back.

I'm having the same brutal heat here in Montana. Wednesday was the zoom ethnic/ refugee-supporting cooking class that I love. The heat has made me nauseated so I stretched out on the floor and watched it in front of a fan. I have all the ingredients and will cook one of these days before the fresh stuff like baby bok-choy goes bad. In the meantime, I am drinking kombucha and sports drinks, lots of water and hoping that I least I may lose a few pounds. :)

I also really enjoyed Summerwater and agree that more by Sarah Moss are in my future.

I'm reading Homeland Elegies right now. Although I had seen it mentioned on several threads, your enthusiasm is what pushed it over the top for me. Spectacular book so far!

Jul 3, 11:26am

Your pictures are so beautiful, and it doesn't look hot, but I know that's deceiving. Thank you for sharing.

Jul 3, 6:05pm

When we were in Alaska we got the "What to do if you see a bear" lecture about 18 times. Never saw a bear. We were disappointed. They are beautiful animals. I last saw a Brown Bear with my Boy Scout Troop up on Bear Mountain in the 1970's

Jul 3, 7:03pm

>69 EBT1002: -- >74 EBT1002: How very beautiful! I'm impressed it can look like that and be 90°-plus. Somehow I thought it would be all brown and sere.

Jul 5, 9:52am

Oh, those are great pics!

Jul 5, 8:17pm

Mt Rainier was called The Grandmother, rumor has it. The first people may have used that term. I like it. And I love Mt. R. She has been a fixture in my entire life here.

I swear I need to get up there and look at her up close.

I finished reading The Orphan Collector but have not yet written it up, nor decided how many stars to give it. I did stick to it, which is my challenge these days. I swear I was reading the NY Times on Sunday morning and I had to quit because I was stumbling over words. Stopping and spelling it in my mind while staring at the word. Not difficult words something like "judicious". Wow!

But I have not had that problem since then. I may just have not had enough coffee.

Back to The Orphan Collector - I definitely recommend it. It is a nice reminder how much we benefit from modern medicine.

I hope the weather in Pullman is not driving you two mad! I liked the heat of summers in central Idaho, but I was a kid.

Jul 5, 10:59pm

Today I finished Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss. Five stars. Maybe 4.5.... still deciding. But it consumed my past few days (along with some companionable binge watching of "Big Bang Theory," which neither of us had ever seen).

Jul 6, 12:00am

I'm glad that you liked Signs for Lost Children that much, Ellen. Have you read its prequel, Bodies of Light? If so, how did Signs for Lost Children compare to it? I'm seriously considering reading it this month, so I look forward to your thoughts about it.

Jul 6, 9:16am

>87 EBT1002: >88 kidzdoc: I loved Signs for Lost Children too and was unaware there was a prequel! It worked perfectly as a standalone but I'm eager to read the prequel anyway. I'm considering waiting a bit, then reading both together. Moss has a new one coming out in the fall.

Editado: Jul 6, 9:56am

>89 vivians: Right, Vivian. The only reason I know is because Rachael (FlossieT), who was formerly an active member of LT and remains one of my most reliable sources of new books and a dear friend, highly recommended Bodies of Light when we met in Cambridge several years ago. It was only available in the UK at the time, and I bought a copy of it in London during that trip. It was the first book by Sarah Moss that I had read, and it remains my favorite book of hers. It still seems to have not been published in the US, even though Signs for Lost Children was.

Thanks for letting us know about her new novel! It's titled The Fell, and I found this synopsis of it: “At dusk on a November evening in 2020, a woman slips out of her garden gate and turns up the hill. Kate is in the middle of a two-week quarantine period, but she can’t take it any more—the closeness of the air in her small house, the confinement. And anyway, the moor will be deserted at this time. Nobody need ever know. But Kate’s neighbour Alice sees her leaving and Matt, Kate’s son, soon realises she is missing. And Kate, who planned only a quick solitary walk—a breath of open air—falls and badly injures herself. What began as a furtive walk has turned into a mountain rescue operation. Unbearably suspenseful, witty and wise, The Fell asks probing questions about the place the world has become since March 2020, and the place it was before.”

Needless to say I'll buy a copy of it as soon as it is published.

Jul 6, 12:14pm

>90 kidzdoc: Oooh, The Fell sounds excellent. Thanks for sharing the description, Darryl. I'll be looking to get my hands on that one ASAP as well.

Jul 6, 12:55pm

Good to know that Signs for Lost Children is a good one, Ellen. I'm reading Night Waking, which I am loving. I think it's one you would like as well.

Jul 6, 1:26pm

I'm definitely seeing more Sarah Moss in my future!

Jul 6, 8:05pm

>91 lauralkeet: You're welcome, Laura. According to Amazon The Fell will be released in the UK on November 11th, but not until March 1st in the US.

Jul 8, 6:06am

>47 EBT1002: I feel your pain re the changing climatic conditions :( It is feeling more and more normal now for severe weather events to occur, and people just don't get the concept of a 1/100 years storm that occurs once a decade....people huh? We sure are a strange breed.

Your trip sounded amazing though, and the pictures are incredible.

Jul 8, 2:42pm

>62 BLBera: Good to hear your reaction to her memoir, Beth. I have wondered about that one and now I know I need to acquire it along with Night Waking.

>63 LizzieD: I agree with you 100%, Peggy. I mourn for what we have lost that is irretrievable, and the impact on other species who, frankly, would have done very nicely on this planet without us!

>64 ffortsa: We do the same re minimal a/c use, Judy. We almost always turn it off and open the windows at night. I read The Dispossessed back in 2013, not in my usual territory as you know. Interesting that Le Guin was attuned to climate change well before it was a dinner table topic of conversation.

Editado: Jul 8, 2:47pm

>65 benitastrnad: "It is depressing. Indeed it is, Benita.

>66 SandDune: All that sounds like doing your part, Rhian. We have been working on reducing our plastic footprint -- and I admit that P is better at it than I. I can't seem to break my pen-buying habit. But I am trying. We have found and love the Bees Wrap and similar products. It takes a bit of learning how to use them (you do have to hold the wrap around the edge of the bowl you are covering, allowing the heat from your hands to form the wax-encrusted material to the shape of the bowl) but I feel so great that we haven't used plastic wrap for leftovers and such for over a year now!

Jul 8, 2:50pm

>67 jnwelch: You are correct, Joe, that my knee held up just fine. It aches now and then and it's not as strong as I'd like but it really can take me on a good long hike. This is good because walking and hiking are still two of my favorite things to do!

I need to put The Night Hawks on hold at the library as it is next in my Ruth Galloway adventures.

>68 ArlieS: I agree, Arlie, about the idea of moving somewhere less impacted by climate change but that "...the problem is global." When I told my sister that we plan to move back to western Oregon when I retire, she said she thought the fires last year might have changed our minds about that. Nope. No matter where we go, human impact is there. And it is not pretty.

Jul 8, 2:51pm

Not all caught up but must go eat some lunch and get ready for an afternoon FULL of meetings. UGH.

Jul 8, 2:58pm

Aw, what the hell. Let's see if I can get all caught up.

>75 quondame: Yes, Susan, and I was thinking that you can't tell from the pictures how hot it was! :-D

>76 ursula: Hi Ursula. I've spotted bears in Mt. Rainier Nat'l Park a couple of times but this was definitely the closest. Yellowstone is, in my experience, one of the best places on Earth to see wildlife. We will be there in late September! Your dog was smart -- my understanding is that dogs and bears do not get along and the dog almost never wins.

>77 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline. We knew our decision to return early was the right one -- and it was only one night of sleeping in the trailer that we missed. The break was indeed good for me. I so love being out of doors.

>78 lauralkeet: Glad you enjoyed the pics, Laura.

>79 jessibud2: It's counterintuitive to see that much snow when it was in the upper 90s, isn't it, Shelley? The only good climate news for the area this year is that there was a decent snow pack. The snow was melting rapidly in that heat but when there are several feet of it, it still takes a while.

Jul 8, 3:03pm

>80 BLBera: We were as close to the bears as I'd like to be, Beth! When we hike in bear territory (especially places like Yellowstone or Glacier where they are still abundant) I am an annoying hiking partner. I talk the whole time to ensure we don't come around any corner in the trail and surprise a bear.

>81 streamsong: Hi Janet. I can relate to the nausea in the heat. I hope you get a break out there in Montana soon.

I'm also glad you're enjoying Homeland Elegies. I didn't set out to accomplish this, but I may complete Sarah Moss' oeuvre by the end of this year. She is easily one of my favorite authors.

>82 laytonwoman3rd: You are so welcome, Linda.

>83 magicians_nephew: Jim, you should perhaps come to Pullman. I know it sounds weird but we actually have one of the best Brown Bear research facilities in the world (and we're working on developing donors to expand and improve). We frequently stop by to see them. It's best when one of the researchers is on hand to talk with us about what they are up to, how they are learning from these bears in order to hopefully help survival of those in the wild.

Jul 8, 3:08pm

>84 richardderus: Give it a few more years, Richard, and it will indeed be all brown and sere. I stood looking at the mountain when we were there, imaging what it will look like when it is no longer a year-round snow- and glacier-cap.

>85 drneutron: Glad you enjoyed, Jim!

>86 maggie1944: I always think of you when I visit Mt. Rainier, Karen. I remember you saying that you had heard that the mountain was called Grandmother by the native peoples of its territory so I always think of "her" in that term.

I'm sorry to hear that reading is a bit of a challenge for you these days. I will investigate The Orphan Collector.
My eyes are definitely needing a check and I have that scheduled for next week. I fear the right eye is developing a cataract so minor surgery may be in my future. I simply MUST be able to read.

Jul 8, 3:15pm

>88 kidzdoc: I have read Bodies of Light, Darryl, and I loved it as well. I didn't realize this was a sort of "sequel" to that until I got into it and, of course, the back story from BoL became relevant. In terms of how the two compare, as a fellow Sarah Moss lover, you will know that her books are more varied than those by many authors. These two do have similar voice, though, which works in this instance. Her writing is exquisite. I frequently reread a sentence just to relish her use of language and imagery.

>89 vivians: Vivian, I didn't realize Bodies of Light and Signs for Lost Children were related to one another until I got into the latter. I'm glad I read them in the order they occur, but I agree that reading either without the other is entirely satisfactory. SfLC includes a wee spoiler with respect to the story of BoL but I think your idea of reading them together is brilliant.

>90 kidzdoc: Thanks for sharing that synopsis of The Fell, Darryl. Like you, I will obtain it as soon as it's available. Right now I'm working on acquiring Night Waking and Ghost Wall, two of hers I have not yet read.

Given how much you loved Bodies of Light, I highly recommend Signs for Lost Children. It is the story of a marriage but so very much more than that.

Jul 8, 4:42pm

>91 lauralkeet: Me too.

>92 BLBera: I ordered a copy of Night Waking after seeing your comment on your thread, Beth.

>93 streamsong: As well you should, Janet! :-) I think Sarah Moss is one of the most diverse writers around these days. One work is simply not like another (although Bodies of Light and Signs for Lost Children have more common ground than most) but they are all above average.

>94 kidzdoc: It sounds like I might be ordering via Book Depository come November.

>95 LovingLit: Hi Megan. Yes, we humans are strange. I admit that early in this last pandemic, I found myself resonating with the idea that the virus was actually the Earth's immune system kicking in to rid her of the virus that is the human species. Our global lockdowns eased pressure on the environment in some ways for a couple of months but it did not last. And it shifted, rather than eased, some of our pressure on the environment, as I understand it.

Jul 8, 4:44pm

>99 EBT1002: hope those meetings go well! And that it's not too hot....

Jul 8, 4:54pm

>102 EBT1002: A terrifying exercise in futureshock, I know.

As Elsa's thunderstorminess is nigh, I'm off the 'puter for a while. Lightning isn't a happy-making thing for electronics.

Editado: Jul 8, 6:44pm

Sweet Thursday, Ellen. I love all the Mt. Rainier photos. How cool on the bear sightings. It looks like I will add both Signs for Lost Children & The Death of Vivek Oji to my hefty list.

Jul 8, 7:10pm

Hi Ellen - I am loving all the Sarah Moss love here! I just finished Night Waking, set in present day, but with letters from May Moberly..., so there is a connection to Bodies of Light. I'll work on comments tonight and tomorrow. My book club will discuss it. I think it will be an interesting discussion.

Jul 9, 1:26pm

>105 LovingLit: Thanks Megan. Yesterday was long but not bad. Today I'm only working a half-day, then P and I are driving to Walla Walla to meet Seattle friends for a weekend of wine-tasting.

>106 richardderus: Hi Richard! I hope Elsa passes you by without much impact.

>107 msf59: Hi Mark. Have you read Sarah Moss's Bodies of Light? It is sort of a prequel to Signs for Lost Children and, while either can work well as a stand-alone, I still recommend starting with Bodies of Light.

>108 BLBera: Hi Beth. Darryl first introduced me to Sarah Moss and it is among the greatest LT gifts. There are so many others; as I have said before, LT has so expanded my reading landscape. I am ever grateful.

Oh, I love hearing that there are letters from May Moberly imbedded in the story of Night Waking. How cool that Moss is writing a series of novels that are, in fact, NOT a series but involve repeat characters. Enjoy the discussion!

Jul 9, 1:39pm

>109 EBT1002: We had a deluge last night, windy ick-ptui rain this morning, and now it's sunstruck and gorgeous outside! A perfect summer day.

How lucky are we!

Jul 9, 2:53pm

>110 richardderus: Very lucky indeed! Enjoy, RD. Relish it whilst you can. xo

Editado: Jul 9, 4:49pm

>97 EBT1002: I'm glad to hear from someone who has actually tried Bees Wrap. I've had my eye on that for a while, wondering if it could work well. I tried a kraft paper substitute for plastic packaging tape, from the Net Zero company, and found it sticks very well to flat cardboard or paper, but NOT TO ITSELF or on bulgy packages, which is problematic. I think the adhesive needs tweaking. Still, I'm using it with a little care and ingenuity.

Jul 9, 6:18pm

>97 EBT1002: Ellen, plastic is indeed ubiquitous, and therefore hard to avoid. For a while now, I've been reusing my ziplock bags (just turn them inside out to wash, of course), and they last a god while. I don't think I've bought a box of them for a year, and only toss them when they split down the side. Since I have them, I may as well make use of them.

But I do hate that so many foodstuffs are wrapped in plastic. If I can find what I want in the Greenmarket near me (farmer's market), it's usually plastic free, but the berry containers in the supermarket or even the corner stand are all clamshells. If I'm lucky, they are made of the recyclable kinds of plastic (1,2, and 5 in NYC), otherwise it's landfill time.

Jul 9, 8:34pm

>103 EBT1002: Thanks for that recommendation of Signs for Lost Children, Ellen. I'll read it soon, perhaps as early as next week.

Jul 10, 6:00am

We had made pretty decent strides in reducing plastic usage when we were in Fresno, including using the Bees Wraps. But it's a whole different ballgame here.

So many things are sold in plastic - even things like cherry tomatoes are on a tray and shrink-wrapped, or are sold in plastic cups. There was a whole thing a couple of months ago about how the EU was sending their plastic waste to Turkey to be "recycled" but it turned out it was being burned or dumped. (Shocking) Here's a Reuters article about it.

Sorry to just drop in with depressing plastic-related news!

Jul 10, 11:10am

Stopping by to say hello! And...I need that retirement count down app. My clock started July 1. The call for my position opens August 1. Thank goodness, we have a great board of directors and executive committee to lead the process.

May have to add Night Waking and Signs for Lost Children to the list as I've seen them recommended in a couple threads.

And thanks for the lovely pictures!

Jul 11, 6:14pm

I was glad to see that you use Bees Wrap. I can't find it here, but if I see it I am going to buy it. I have often wondered why cottage cheese and large yogurt containers are in hard plastic? Why can't they be sold in plastic bags?

I watch lots of TV cooking shows and the amount of plastic that is consumed in the form of bags and warp is huge! I don't know why they can't cut back on that and use reusable containers? Or at least use less of it.

>113 ffortsa:
I am another person who uses, reuses, and then reuses plastic food bags. Like you it has been over a year since I purchased a package of them.

Jul 12, 9:39am

>117 benitastrnad: yay, us! I think I started just out of a sense of waste.

I don't know that plastic bags instead of rigid containers would make much if a difference. Maybe cardboard like Chinese takeout? I'm continually annoyed by how much plastic I get is not recyclable, although NYC seems to be more generous than most in what it will accept. Maybe I should just do less takeout!

And I like getting the premeasured food boxes from HelloFresh because I waste less food, but their shipping contains more plastic than I would want. After a few disasters with packaged chives that weren't used immediately, I bought a chive plant for the windowsill. Too bad I don't have garden space.

Jul 12, 9:47am

Hi Ellen.

>39 EBT1002: Yikes. Wild bears and dangerous heat. Leaving early was a good idea. Poor Carson, but glad he’s settled back down.

I re-use baggies, but only if I don't have to use a lot of soap and water to get them clean for reuse. It's a tradeoff between one resource and another.

We have humid heat here in central NC. We use the air conditioner. We keep it at 74F. I was raised in the dry heat of SoCal, back when few folks had anything except a window AC unit or even a swamp cooler. My mom and dad 'broke down' in the 1990s and finally got whole house AC.

Jul 13, 12:15pm

>112 laytonwoman3rd: Honestly, the Bees Wrap works better for me than it does for P, Linda. It takes a bit of patience, willingness to invest 30-60 seconds in getting it set on the bowl. :-)

>113 ffortsa: Yes, it is hard to avoid the plastic, Judy. We use mesh bags for produce, the Bees Wrap instead of "saran" wrap, and carry a glass leftovers holder with tight lid when we go to restaurants (this avoids Styrofoam more than plastic but both are so very bad), etc. We don't avoid it altogether - hard to live in our world today and do that! - but we do what we can do. I pull back to one of my favorite sayings about this kind of thing: "No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something."

Jul 13, 12:19pm

>114 kidzdoc: I hope you enjoy Signs for Lost Children, Darryl. You are the one who introduced me to Sarah Moss and I am so grateful!

>115 ursula: Glad to have you drop in and participate in the conversation, Ursula. Thanks for the link to the article. I think that kind of thing has been happening worldwide. Early in the pandemic, they suddenly told us they could only accept for recycling the plastics with a 1 or a 2 in the little triangle. It was so frustrating how many things were 5 or 6 or 7!!! And I am still not entirely confident about recycling practices....

>116 witchyrichy: Hi Karen. Congrats on your quickly approaching one-year mark! Mine is subject to change but it's good to have a general sense of the long game.

Jul 13, 12:22pm

>117 benitastrnad: Hi Benita. I know you can order Bees Wrap on line here. Alternatively, if you PM me your address, I'll pick some up at my local retailer and send it along to you!

We reuse the ziplock bags we have on hand, as well. Multiple uses is better than single use! Also, P has gotten good at taking plastic bags we get from the grocery store -- bread bags, bags in which rolls come, bags they make us use for some produce -- and giving them to me to use for daily kitty litter scooping. I have used small paper sacks for that at times, but this at least reuses those plastic bags for something that I have to do anyway.

Jul 13, 12:31pm

>118 ffortsa: Washington passed a law this year that all styrofoam take-out containers must be phased out of use by restaurants by 2023. I don't know why it's taking two full years for the phase out, but it's definitely something I support. Even our favorite local Chinese restaurant stopped using the cardboard containers and moved to styrofoam during the pandemic. We simply won't get take-out from any restaurant that doesn't use compostable containers. For leftovers, we take our own glass dish, one in which we can later reheat the leftovers, but for take-out we are pretty rigid about compostable.

>119 karenmarie: Hi Karen. Yes, it was an adventure of a camping trip. This past weekend we went to Walla Walla for some wine tasting with friends and the first night back was hell with regard to Carson. He meowed ALL NIGHT. I know he is just anxious but this has got to stop. Last night we managed to get some calming treats into him (he mostly scoffs at these, insisting that we clearly have no idea what a "treat" is) and he let us sleep until about 4am. Frankly, I'll take it.

"It's a tradeoff between one resource and another." I think that is one of the great challenges about trying to reduce our carbon footprint. We are humans. Our carbon footprint is by definition huge. I once read that the single most powerful thing anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint is to not have children. That fact alone illustrates the huge impact of our species on the environment. After that, it's balancing the use of various resources and doing the very best we can.

It's finally cooling off a bit here with highs in the low 90s or upper 80s and lows in the mid 60s. The sky is smoky although the winds are carrying most of the fire-related smoke over toward Montana and Boise. It's going to be a tough couple of months. I will celebrate big time when we get our first fall rain (likely not until September).

Jul 13, 12:32pm

I'm about 70% through The Center of Everything by Jamie Harrison, recommended by Beth. It is a good, complex read.

Jul 13, 12:33pm

I'm so glad you like it, Ellen! I loved the characters.

Editado: Jul 13, 1:50pm

>125 BLBera: Yes! The characters are varied and multidimensional (and sometimes overwhelming in their number and organicity of presentation).

Jul 13, 6:20pm

Hey, Ellen. I didn't see a recent retirement update? I hope I didn't miss anything. I am glad you requested Diary of a Young Naturalist. It is such a good memoir. I think we will be hearing much more from this promising young man.

Jul 13, 8:07pm

>127 msf59: Still tentatively targeting August 2022, Mark. BUT... I'm having a "financial strategy" meeting with my boss and our top finance person tomorrow. We need to cut some central funding. Ugh. So.... I may see if there is some kind of win-win imbedded in this situation. If it means saving someone else's job, I'd be willing (oh, twist my arm) to retire sooner. And, while I am not willing to go down to 80% (because it would really translate to full time, we all know that), I would consider going to 50% or 60% for part or all of the next year. So, we'll see.

I'm going to purchase Diary of a Young Naturalist, I think. The local library doesn't have a copy. I will see if Seattle Public Library has an e-copy.

Jul 13, 11:16pm

>128 EBT1002: Oh boy oh joy! That would truly be the belle ideale of all possible outcomes. I shall give it my all energy-whammy-wise.

Jul 14, 7:39am

>128 EBT1002: adding to RD's energy. That would indeed be a win-win, Ellen.

Jul 14, 9:38am

>128 EBT1002: Adding more to RD and Laura's energy.

I'd love to retire, but the earliest likely is 2024. I've yet to meet anyone who regretted retiring as early as they could from working for someone else.

Jul 14, 11:55am

>129 richardderus: It really would be, Richard. Thanks for your energy-whammy!

>130 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. I expect she will balk at first but it could solve more than one problem, as you say....

>131 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline. Thanks for the additional energy. The only thing holding me back from retirement is the employer-supported health insurance. That cost will shift to me when I retire and it's no small thing. 50-60% would keep my health insurance benefits but also let me gradually slide into full retirement.

Editado: Jul 14, 12:01pm

The Booker Longlist is released in about two weeks (July 27). Yesterday I watched an unknown person talk about her predictions on a YouTube video. The only one I had read is Detransition, Baby. I have of course heard a lot about Klara and the Sun, another of her predictions.

She also mentioned:

Second Place by Rachel Cusk
Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
This One Sky Day by Leone Ross (apparently Popisho in the U.S.)
Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkens
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Assembly by Natasha Brown
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan
Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor
China Room by Sunjeev Sahota


Jul 14, 12:20pm

Sorrowland?!? Naaahhh, nowhere near Booker-worthy. Not even as good as How Late it Was, How Late and that was a truly craptastic read.

Jul 14, 2:03pm

>133 EBT1002: I am so bad at predictions, that it is almost a guarantee that any I mention will not make the list, Ellen.

I'm going to .8 in the fall, teaching 3 instead of 4 classes, easing into retirement. Right now I am enjoying my summer so much that this year may very well be my last. I am going to wait and see how the year goes, though. Once school starts, I usually am enthusiastic. I have the advantage of being of an age that makes me eligible for Medicare, so the health insurance issue is not a deal for me.

.5 sounds like it would be good for you?

Jul 14, 3:21pm

>134 richardderus: I don't think the video blogger had even read that one, Richard. Truth: she hadn't read most of them but was trying to channel the Booker panel's likely predilections this year.

>135 BLBera: Hi Beth. I think .5 or .6 would work well for me. Our conversation got kind of sidelined until early August. That is probably for the best. My boss is going on vacation so will presumably come back well-rested. Also, we believe there will be some significant reorganization at very high levels of the university and that some kind of announcement will be made in August. Until we have a clearer sense of where the president and provost are headed, it's harder to make on-the-ground decisions. What they decide will most certainly affect my boss as she is a VP and currently reports to the president.

Yeah, figuring out how to manage health care until I'm eligible for Medicare is the sticky wicket for me. I've been putting funds away to cover the interim but it's not like I wouldn't love to spend some of that money on something else (like a trip to Scotland and Ireland!).

Jul 14, 6:50pm

Hey, Ellen. Sorry, I did not see that you were continuing to work for another year. I hope you can still work something out but you will still be at a young age for retirement. I am currently enjoying Damnation Spring, set in the redwoods of the PNW. You may want to keep this one in mind.

Jul 14, 8:34pm

>133 EBT1002: The Mookse & the Gripes group on Goodreads, the former members of the Discussion Group on The Booker Prize website before the forum was shut down after excessive criticism of the controversial 2011 longlist, has a list of eligible books for this year's Booker Dozen, which is ranked by the number of members who chose each book. In order, the top 15 books on the list are:

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
Second Place by Rachel Cusk
The Yield by Tara June Winch
Assembly by Natasha Brown
The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Popisho by Leone Ross
Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
Panenka by Ronan Hession
The Promise by Damon Galgut
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

This rather traditionalist group, which I belong to but only lurk in, has, at best, a mixed record of choosing books that ultimately make the longlist, so I wouldn't put a lot of stock in this speculation list. It has become much more difficult to make an educated guess on the longlist, after authors from the United States were made eligible several years ago, and since I haven't read any of these books, and only own Transcendent Kingdom, I wouldn't begin to venture a guess on which ones will be chosen.

>136 EBT1002: I cut back to a 0.6 FTE (full time equivalent) last year, after my father's near fatal illness, in order to have more time to visit my parents. My parents' health, my desire to work at least until I'm eligible for Medicare and possibly until I'm eligible for full Social Security benefits, and my possible retirement to Portugal with friends later this decade, will determine how long I work, but I anticipate retiring within the next 5-7 years, as I just hit 60 in March. I'll know a lot more about retirement plans once I return to Lisbon, which will probably be in late September as long as vaccinated American tourists are still allowed to travel there.

Jul 15, 11:10am

48. The Center of Everything by Jamie Harrison

Beth recommended this one to me and I'm so glad she did. It's not long but it is a long read. Polly has a head injury and we spend most of our time in her head as she works with her family to plan a birthday party for an elderly aunt and the community searches for a missing young woman, presumed dead after a kayaking accident on the Yellowstone River. The timeline goes back and forth between 2002 and 1968. This novel is rife with fascinating and funny and multidimensional characters (so many that it's sometimes a bit confusing). It is also filled with those moments of re-read -- when a passage is so beautifully rendered that it requires a re-read and just a moment of deep appreciation. It's not perfect; there were moments when I wanted Harrison to tighten up that narrative just a bit. But ultimately it was an emotionally satisfying read with so many memorable scenes, both in terms of story and in terms of, well, scenery.

Jul 15, 1:44pm

>137 msf59: Duly noted, Mark. You know I love books set in my part of the world!

Jul 15, 1:48pm

>139 EBT1002: I'm so glad you liked it, Ellen. I think the head injury was well portrayed. And I also loved the setting.

Jul 15, 1:52pm

>138 kidzdoc: Hi Darryl. Thanks for sharing that ranked list. I was surprised that when I googled Booker 2021 predictions, I found very little. I haven't really paid much attention to predictions in past years so I don't know why I'm curious this time around. On that list of fifteen, I have read Transcendent Kingdom and No One is Talking About This. Both are very good; the latter is more original (imo).

I would really love to go down to 0.6 FTE if I could truly work three days a week (rather than working close to full time and getting paid 60% of my base salary). I might even hang in there beyond my 62nd birthday, which will be in August 2022. I always planned to work until I was eligible for Medicare but this job has taken all the joy out of my work so I find myself crunching numbers to see how hard the hit will be if I have to start paying the medical insurance premiums. As we were first seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, there was talk about retirement incentives from the state to help address budget deficits. But the state's economy has recovered more quickly than anyone expected (it hasn't full recovered, but it's not as dire as everyone predicted). So, no incentives to retire early. I'm back to deciding how long I can stand it and how to balance quality of life with long term financial stability. Next month I turn the age my mother was when she died. She died of stroke(s) and of course I have already had my first of those. Part of me just thinks I'm not likely to live terribly long so I should just retire and get on with it. But then, what if I'm wrong??? So many "IF"s!!!!! LOL

Editado: Jul 15, 1:54pm

>141 BLBera: Your outstanding record of successfully recommending books for me continues, Beth. I think you've only missed the mark once (and I don't even remember which one that might have been).

Jul 15, 2:12pm

Retirement is a big decision, Ellen. It's too bad this job is sucking the joy out of working. I think you would be wise to choose three days to work if you go part-time. When I tried part-time, I found that if I was scheduled for 8-12, for example, I always ended up having meetings scheduled at 1 pm, and being asked to stay, "just this once." Only it was never just one time. I tried working 2.5 days, which worked better, and switching to afternoons also worked.

I'm glad I don't miss the mark often, Ellen. It's so hard to recommend books.

Jul 15, 2:54pm

>144 BLBera: Oh yeah, you are spot on, Beth. If I go down to 0.6 FTE, I will absolutely say I will work three days. And I won't even fight about which three days, but not five partial days.

Well, it may be hard to recommend books but you are darn good at it! Keep it up, my friend (not that I don't have plenty of other people recommending books around here - witness the burgeoning state of my TBR shelves and stacks!!).

Editado: Jul 15, 2:56pm

Speaking of recommendations, my next read will be The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz which was recommended (not specifically to me, but generally) by Katie.

Jul 15, 3:49pm

>146 EBT1002: - Oh, the pressure! It's a fun summer read. Don't expect too much...

Jul 15, 3:53pm

>147 katiekrug: I read the first chapter while I ate my lunch just now, Katie. I can tell it's going to be exactly that -- a fun summer read. That is an excellent category into which to belong! (read: no pressure)

Jul 15, 4:03pm

I'm off to the eye doc in just a few minutes. I feel like a cataract has been developing in my right eye so we'll see if surgery looms in my future. Or if I just need to get the right Rx and get over my resistance to wearing Rx glasses (progressives) instead of reading glasses. But my vision has definitely deteriorated in the past couple months. Kind of scary....

More soon. Happy Thursday afternoon to those where it's, you know, Thursday afternoon! :-)

Jul 15, 4:26pm

Good luck with the eye doctor. I was recently diagnosed with glaucoma, but the drops seem to be working, so fingers crossed.

Happy Thursday back at you!

Jul 15, 5:32pm

>149 EBT1002: I'm bettin' on presbyopia, not cataract development. 'Tis the (life) season after all.

Jul 16, 2:27pm

>142 EBT1002: " I always planned to work until I was eligible for Medicare but this job has taken all the joy out of my work so I find myself crunching numbers to see how hard the hit will be if I have to start paying the medical insurance premiums."

I very much empathize with this, though sadly it's not just my current job.

Yesterday I emailed the benefits team to ask what COBRA would cost me. (I'm over 63 and a half, so could stay on COBRA until I can get onto Medicare.) I got an estimate a couple of years ago, and am checking to make sure it's still valid.

I really wish my jobs had remained enjoyable, but there's too much emphasis on social interaction, too much noise, etc. I got into programming knowing myself to be an introvert. I guess that's why programming managers stick us in open offices, sometimes reserving real walls for themselves - in a position requiring more social interaction.

I'm doing some last minute budgetting, but unless I get a bad surprise, I plan to retire as of the first of August.

And once I'm safely retired, and no longer working for The Man, I'll once again be able to do some of the work I love, without the crap management loves ;-)

Jul 16, 3:29pm

>150 BLBera: I do have a cataract (well, two, but the one in the left eye is still quite small) but I'm not yet in need of surgery. That day will come. My eyes are otherwise very healthy (yay!) and I just need to come to terms with wearing corrective lenses. So on Tuesday I will go to the optician, choose another set of frames, and have two up-to-date Rx sets of glasses made for me, one regular and one with the "Transitions" technology. I'm glad the drops are working to manage your glaucoma.

And now we can say Happy Friday!!! (another yay!)

>151 richardderus: Well, it's a cataract, Richard. I have Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts, which are less common than Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts. My high level of exposure to UV while growing up in Florida probably contributed to their development. The good news is that the one in the left eye is still quite small (I haven't even noticed any symptoms from that one) and the one in the right eye does not yet need surgery. AND I really liked the ophthalmologist I saw!

Jul 16, 3:33pm

>152 ArlieS: Arlie, I am sorry your work has lost its luster. As someone who went into a very people-intensive career, my situation is different in some fundamental ways but the upshot is the same. Higher education has changed so much -- and, frankly, some of that is our own fault and some of that is the way higher ed gets utilized in political culture wars -- and I'm just tired of the drama, tired of managing so much risk, tired of feeling like the things that really need to change never change.

In any case, August 1 is just two weeks away!!!! Woo hoo!!!!

Jul 16, 3:41pm

>153 EBT1002: Oh, blast! Well, the surgery's a snap and the success rate is excellent, so when that day dawns it'll be fine.

Meanwhile, enjoy your new eyewear. The adjustment should be painless given how irritating the symptoms are.

Jul 16, 5:05pm

Happy Friday, Ellen. I am all ready at the halfway through Damnation Spring. I like it. It shows good chops for a debut.

Jul 19, 11:29am

>156 msf59: I'm glad you're enjoying that debut novel, Mark!

Jul 19, 11:30am

I finished The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz over the weekend. I gave it 4 stars, a round-up from 3.75. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I also figured out the ending pretty early in, something I don't often do. I guess there was one twist imbedded within the final twist about which I was uncertain.... In any case, this was an excellent summer read. Thank you, Katie!

Jul 19, 11:31am

I started All Systems Red last night. Too early to say but I think it's going to be a quick and fun read.

Jul 19, 12:22pm

>158 EBT1002: - This author is apparently a cousin of Helene Hanff, of 84 Charing Cross Road fame. Never heard of her before you mention this book, though

Jul 19, 12:25pm

I also just read The Plot on Katie's recommendation and after hearing the author interviewed on the NY Times podcast. I was so curious about the Hanff name, and googled to no avail. So thanks >160 jessibud2: for that familial information - I had been hoping to find a connection!

Jul 19, 12:39pm

>158 EBT1002: I landed at 3.5* because, I think, I had a similar issue. I'll do something this week about it...try to, at least.

Jul 20, 9:49am

Hi Ellen!

>120 EBT1002: I checked out the Bees wrap but honestly, I’ve got quite a few BPA-free food containers so either use them or put a plate on top of a bowl in the refrigerator. Obviously to-go or left-overs are problematic with Styrofoam, and I still use plastic bags from the grocery store. Our grocery store has only recently started letting people use their own bags again because of Covid. I might experiment with triple-bagged brown paper bags with handles since I have quite a few of them here at the house. I am encouraged and inspired by the saying "No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something."

>122 EBT1002: I use grocery store bags for the kitty stuff, although we don’t have sand-type litter so usually only have poops and once a week have the pads. No sand being traipsed around is a huge advantage of the Tidy Cat Breeze system. And the summer is a great boon for us because we have indoor-outdoor kitties and they do most of their business outdoors this time of year.

>142 EBT1002: You’ve got a lot to think about regarding retirement, for sure. Insurance, life expectancy issues, etc. I retired at 62 years 7 months and have never, ever regretted it. Of course my husband was still working at the same company I retired from so I still had excellent insurance until they laid him off… so for a while we paid through the nose for Obamacare. Husband got another job, we paid $350/month for insurance for me until I started on Medicare in 2018. It’s always something.

>149 EBT1002: and >153 EBT1002: Glad you’re taking care of your eyes and glad that you’re getting prescriptions that will help. Cataract surgery was a blessing for me, as night driving had become an issue. As soon as I said the magic words "quality of life is reduced" my eye doctor scheduled an appointment for me with the surgeon. My husband just had cataract surgery for both eyes recently.

Jul 20, 9:12pm

>154 EBT1002: University had changed a LOT from my undergraduate days in the mid-90s, and my post-graduate days in the 2010s. A lot.
I still toy with the idea of further post-graduate study, but am cynical and sometimes feel it is all just a game. I just wanna think hard and read hard and talk with people who do the same :)

Editado: Jul 21, 11:36am

I am so not a science fiction reader but I finished All Systems Red by Martha Wells last night. Four stars. I totally understand the LT love for the murderbot series. It was a fun read!

Jul 21, 11:26am

>160 jessibud2: Katie recommended The Plot. I didn't know about the connection with Helene Hanff, of 84 Charing Cross Road fame -- I loved that book!!

>161 vivians: Interesting that your googling didn't turn up that sibling relationship, Vivian. Did you suspect that particular connection?

>162 richardderus: It was a fun read, eh, Richard?

Editado: Jul 21, 11:32am

>163 karenmarie: Hi Karen. "Our grocery store has only recently started letting people use their own bags again because of Covid." Ours, too. I was frustrated at how long they kept that risk mitigation in place given how long we have known that covid is spread via air droplets, not contact with surfaces. One of our grocery stores would let us bring our own bags as long as we packed them ourselves (which I was happy to do) but the other prohibited them altogether until about a month ago. I'm glad my "saying" inspired and encouraged you. It actually comes from bystander intervention training, helping people feel empowered to intervene, even if only in small ways, when they see evidence of domestic or other violence occurring. I think it applies to so many elements of trying to be a good citizen.

'As soon as I said the magic words "quality of life is reduced" my eye doctor scheduled an appointment for me with the surgeon.' That sounds just like the doc I met with -- she said that when the cataract(s) affect my quality of life, that is the signal that it's time to schedule surgery. I'm not there yet but I expect to be within the next year or so.

Editado: Jul 21, 11:36am

I have been reading Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith (thank you, Beth). She wrote these short essays in the early months of the pandemic and they are just wonderful. More about them soon as I know I'll finish the last essay this evening.

I have been getting even more into jigsaw puzzles. A friend introduced me to "Karen Puzzles" YouTube channel and now I'm a wee bit obsessed. There are so many pretty and high-quality puzzles out there!

Jul 21, 11:36am

>164 LovingLit: Oops, missed you up there Megan. Sorry about that. "I just wanna think hard and read hard and talk with people who do the same." Agreed! I sometimes think about auditing a class for that reason but I don't think it would be as fun as I would want it to be. I may have to settle for finding or starting a good book group once I retire.

Jul 21, 12:32pm

>166 EBT1002: It was! There were, erm, problems but the read went by so very easily. I posted a piece of my review...I won't do the whole thing because of the spoilerphobes.

Jul 21, 8:59pm

>168 EBT1002: I've been obsessed for some time now with the jigsaw puzzles on my phone and tablet. Don't have to bend over a table or otherwise get myself in a twist. I especially love the bird and fish pictures. If I can get back to table puzzles, I have a bunch in the closet I'd love to do again.

Jul 22, 5:33am

>169 EBT1002: I want to start a new RL book group too :) It will be deep discussion about several pre-named topics, and there will be a no-interruptions rule :)

I bought Intimations on my recent city break to Auckland (for perspective...Akl is the largest city in NZ, and it takes just over an hour to get there from here by plane). I heard it's a pretty dark read....or is that challenging (?)- or is *that* realism??!?! Haha, I will have to read it to see!!

Jul 22, 8:16am

Sweet Thursday, Ellen. Hooray for All Systems Red. Glad you are now part of the Murderbot Fan Club. Intimations: Six Essays sounds good too. I have not read Smith in a long time.

Jul 22, 8:20am

>168 EBT1002: I have heard so many good things about that collection, Ellen. I noticed in the bookstore today (it had a grand reopening after two months closed due to lockdown) that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a collection of essays out too. One of my absolute favourite writers.

Jul 22, 11:30am

50. Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith

From her Foreword: "Talking to yourself can be useful. And writing means being overheard."

Written during the early months of the 2020 pandemic, this series of essays is personal, powerful, and thought-provoking. At moments delightfully humorous and at others deadly serious, Smith explores themes of isolation, racism, bodily integrity (take that, anti-vaxers), despair and hope. Beautifully written, this little volume is a keeper. Thank you for sending it my way, Beth.

Jul 22, 12:47pm

>170 richardderus: *smooch*

>171 ffortsa: "If I can get back to table puzzles, I have a bunch in the closet I'd love to do again." This is a new concept for me, Judy. Karen Puzzles gave some tips for storing puzzles for the next time you put them together and I was taken aback. I also only very rarely reread books, so maybe it is the same kind of thing for me?

>172 LovingLit: Huh, I would not describe Intimations: Six Essays as a "dark" read, Megan. It has its serious moments (many of them) and she is certainly facing reality square on, but I did not find it disturbing or dark.

Jul 22, 12:49pm

>173 msf59: Hi Mark and YES to Sweet Thursday. Now I just want it to be Happy Friday. :-)
Yes, I will continue reading the murderbot series although I doubt I'll commit to a completist agenda with it. I do recommend the Zadie Smith essay collection.

>174 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul! Oh, thank you for mentioning that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a collection of essays newly out. I will seek that out as I also love her writing.

Jul 22, 4:18pm

>175 EBT1002: Glad this was a hit for you Ellen. I know I will revisit it.

Jul 22, 4:27pm

>176 EBT1002: >171 ffortsa: Could be, Ellen, I both reread and repuzzle (or should I say rejigsaw) ;-)
It all goes back to my youth, when the library books were done, I had to turn to the already read books at the shelves, and read my favorites again. Same for puzzles, I could do the same puzzle endlessly.

Jul 23, 12:12am

I'm glad you loved Intimations, Ellen. I need to finish it.

Jul 23, 10:05am

I'm glad that you enjoyed Intimations, Ellen. I'll put it on my list of books to read next month.

Jul 23, 11:40am

>176 EBT1002: I wouldn't bother to rework most jigsaw puzzles, but the ones I've collected are all fine arts, and it's amazing what you can learn about a painting if you have to put it together in pieces. Not being an artist myself, I find it a good way to be more alert to the details and rhythms of a piece. But not at the moment. Rotator cuff problem, among other things. Aging bodies are frustrating.

Jul 31, 9:59pm

Hello, Ellen! Sorry to hear about your eye, but at least it is manageable. And good luck with cutting down on the job to .5 or so and absolutely, thee days not 5 half days!!

>175 EBT1002: Both my twins liked this one so I will have to check out the Zadie Smith; I love her anyways. ; )

Jul 31, 10:55pm

52. Fortune by Lenny Bartulin

I have mixed feelings about this novel. Ultimately, I really enjoyed it but it took some getting used to. Bartulin has said he wanted to illustrate the impact of momentous historical events -- war, earthquakes -- on the very micro level. This novel does that -- it follows a number of characters, each of whom was in Berlin the day Napoleon marched in on his white horse in 1806. None of them met the man (or even laid eyes on him) but each life is touched by the Napoleonic Wars. We follow each of them across time and around the globe. It is both delightful and confusing. This is not a long novel and with so many characters and stories, it's hard to keep them straight and a bit hard to connect in a meaningful way with the individuals. The stories are interesting; I found myself wishing each had more space. Could this have been a series of short novels instead? In any case, the historical landscape is fascinating and the narrative pace makes for a fun read. Recommended.

Editado: Jul 31, 11:18pm

This afternoon I started The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen. I seem to be on a historical fiction kick.

Editado: Jul 31, 11:05pm

This last week was a memorable one. The re-org of the university's administration got announced. My boss has been on vacation and the changes will impact her directly and she will not be happy about it. I and my peers just don't know what it will mean for us. I'm not terribly worried - the privilege of being so close to retirement, perhaps - but it could be a very long year. I have had a couple people express to me, either directly or indirectly, that they are hopeful that I might be positioned into more leadership at some point. We shall see. I will say that when I was called to the president's office on Tuesday, I went up there thinking my boss had either quit or been fired.... it turned out that, with her on vacation, they just needed me to take point for communicating the changes to leaders in our division. A bit anticlimactic but also a relief. I'm willing to step up if needed but not without ambivalence about the demands that would entail.

It has also been brutally hot and smoky here. Today we hit 103F. Tomorrow some relief is predicted with a high of 85F and next week we are expected to have a couple days with highs in the 70s!!! Hopefully this will help with fighting some of the fires that are burning up this corner of the country.

We've been watching some of the Olympics, although not as much as some years. I enjoy the swimming (I channeled Katie Ledecky when I swam my 1500 meters on Wednesday and Friday - ha!) and the track & field.

Jul 31, 11:08pm

>178 Caroline_McElwee: I can well imagine rereading some of the essays in Intimations, Caroline.

>179 FAMeulstee: I've already given away some favorite jigsaw puzzles, Anita, but I'm going to think about keeping the next one that feels like a "five star" puzzling experience. If I have it on hand, I might feel the impulse to repuzzle it :-)

>180 BLBera: Like I said, Beth, the later essays captured my attention more than the first couple so I hope you finish it and enjoy doing so.

Jul 31, 11:11pm

>181 kidzdoc: I'll be interested in how Intimations sits for you, Darryl.

>182 ffortsa: That is a great subset of puzzles to think about keeping for possible repuzzling, Judy. We did a quite difficult puzzle of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. It was early in our pandemic puzzling enterprise but now that I think I have developed my puzzling skills, I think I would enjoy repuzzling that one with an eye to learning more about the art work. Alas, it is long gone.

And to this: "Aging bodies are frustrating," I can only say I hear ya, sister!!!

Jul 31, 11:18pm

>183 Berly: Hi Kim! I'm chuckling about the 0.5 thing. Given that I expect some major changes at the VP level in the coming months, I have almost stopped thinking about that. Haha. It may rise back to the forefront as things progress. I am truly taking it one day at a time.

I need to read more Zadie Smith. I've read White Teeth and Grand Union and now Intimations. I want to reread White Teeth and I have On Beauty and Swing Time on my shelves.

Editado: Jul 31, 11:30pm

Beth posted this on her thread and I'm leaving this hear for reference as the second half of 2021 progresses.

The Millions Most Anticipated Books Second Half of 2021

Jul 31, 11:47pm

Sorry to see your heat is soaring again, Ellen. We were supposed to have another heat wave but were under cloud cover all day which was kind of a welcome change. I even felt a few sprinkles - but you had to be outside to know it had happened.

Best of luck with the reorganization. Too bad your boss was away for the big reveal. I wonder how she'll take it.

Ontem, 3:29am

>175 EBT1002: I must have been thinking about another set of essays described to me as dark, as Intimations sounds great. I will get stuck into that colllection soon, I think.

Ontem, 5:05am

>189 EBT1002: I must follow you and read more Zadie Smith.

Lovely to see RL allow you time to post, Ellen. xx

Ontem, 7:43am

Interesting developments for you at work, Ellen. I'm glad being called to the president's office turned out to be fairly innocuous. I hope you get some clarity soon so you can figure out what it means for your retirement.

Ontem, 9:26am

Hi Ellen!

>186 EBT1002: I’m glad that even though big changes may be coming you have retirement to look forward to and can avoid seriously-crazy-making worry.

Ugh. 103F. And smoky.

I’ve been enjoying the women’s soccer and, surprising for me, a bit of the women’s volleyball. Tomorrow is women’s soccer again – the US vs Canada. Now all I have to do is decide whether to get up at 4 a.m. to watch live or avoid news and watch it later.

Ontem, 10:19am

Good luck with the job stuff, Ellen. I hope one of the effects is NOT more stress. :( I have been enjoying my summer so much that I think this year will be my last as well, so we will share retirement years. I told my daughter, who is enthusiastic and keeps asking me when I have to make the decision. I am waiting for school to start. Often I'm not enthusiastic about the end to summer, but once I'm back, I love it again. I'm waiting to see if that will happen.

It has been hot here, too. I think we've broken the record for days in the 90s. Next year, air conditioning for me. We've had hazy days here as well, but not as smoky as you, I imagine.

Ontem, 10:40am

August is Women in Translation Month.

Just sayin'

Ontem, 11:21am

Hi Ellen! So sorry about the heat and smoke you're having to endure. We had a near Biblical flood here (okay, I may be exagerrating a little bit...) the other day. Very weird.

And oof about job uncertainty. I hope it doesn't add too much to your plate and/or stress level. My organization is working on a merger with another one and the idea of all that change was one of the reasons that led me to announcing my departure. It's just one thing after another...

Hang in there!

Ontem, 12:02pm

>186 EBT1002: Don't know how you cope with that heat Ellen. Glad it will get more comfortable soon, but even that would be too hot for me. We had a week in the 90s phew!

Hope the jiggery-pokery at work won't be too tiresome in the run up to your retirement. I can't imagine you being someone who wants an easy pitch, but this job(s) been more exertion and stress than fair for sure.

How's our friend Carson doing btw?