Salutations Sept-Nov 2019

I know. It’s been a long time. And I have good reasons…um…excuses.

  • I’ve got lots of students in three classes this semester.
  • We took a weekend trip to look at sailboats we’ll never be able to afford. (We wisely spent our money on crabcakes and oysters!) Our trip included Pusser’s famous Painkillers, a day on DC’s mall, and an afternoon at Antietam Battlefield. As we often do, we crammed a lot in a few days!
  • My friend Pat and I had a booth at our local Christkindl Market a week ago, and a lot of my energy went to prepping products and displays. We did great, so it was worth the effort!
  • I’ve actually been doing some writing/editing/cover prep on Home Place. (Some. Not lots.)
  • And… Okay, that’s pretty much it. But you can trust me on this. It’s enough!

Christkindl first – since that occupied so much of my brain (and body) power till Nov 10. We did great! And since I sold some of the pieces I’ve been feverishly making since summer, it was worth it! Here’s a sampler from the booth. (Do you like my ‘girls?’ I had lots of fun deciding how to show ‘everywoman’ with every kind of hair on my home-made mannequins!) Sales reduced my inventory a lot so I’ll need to start creating again soon. After the holidays. And after I like the feeling of standing again. I’m still feeling those three days on unlevel ground!

Even with my reasons…um…excuses, I have found time for reading – because I couldn’t cope without it! Here’s a round-up (of the books I remember.)

MoraisI think this one was an Amazon freebie steeped in fishing. Spain, Switzerland, Greenland, and points all over the place, this man, his forebears, and sons fished amid generations of infidelities. Perhaps if I lived to fish, then I’d have loved the book. As it was, much was lost on me.



Shemelt constructed a gripping tale about the disappearance of a teenage daughter on the eve of her school play’s opening night. Was Shemiltshe abducted, killed, or did she run away on her own accord? We don’t know till the very end, but in the meantime, everything the mother always thought – that they were lucky – gets turned on its head. There’s much to question in the actions of every family member before, during, and after. And since none of us knows what we’d do in such circumstances, our questions might or might not be reasonable. Getting to hash out the questions with my beloved book club made it all worthwhile.

MayhewI’m certain that the sunflowers on the cover impelled me to pull this one off my library shelf. And the title. But neither related much to the story of a poor black family about to get evicted as Charlotte, NC becomes gentrified in 1961. We know from the start that despite how they might hold on to what they had, the greater glory of white Charlotte will prevail. But we feel the loss of community and connection along with them, their homes, their church, their neighborhood stores, their carefully segregated high school football teams.

Far up north, poverty takes on a similar shape, but our heroine and Stradal Lagerher grandmother get out of the grip by becoming craft brewmasters. For beer lovers, I imagine this book would fascinate. I have no doubt that the process was painstakingly revealed. Like with fishing, it mostly went over my head. But there was plenty of relationship intrigue – mostly between women – to hold my interest.



It stuns me that it took three years before I got around to reading this Russo tale. I’m usually ready to gobble him up as soon as he brings out a new book. This one brings back Sully and the North Bath crew as supporting cast in the development of Nobody’s Fool‘s least appealing character. But in true Russo style, Chief of Police Douglas Raymer comes to gritty and sympathetic life. We can’t help rooting for him. But if you hate, hate, hate snakes, beware. You’ll suffer (as I did) for a while. And then you’ll start enjoying and wondering if Raymer will come into his own.

Are there books you feel you really ought to read? I think Whartonthat’s why my book club chose Wharton. We thought we should.  And did we regret it? Well… No. I’m not sorry I read this tale of a church-mouse poor socialite of the early twentieth century. But I surely did get impatient with the consistently shallow choices she made and sicker of the incessant excuse that she was ‘brought up that way.’ I felt sympathy for her predicament – all too real for women of that time. But that’s not the same as liking her. This was a book I slogged through even as I wished to have it behind me.

Christina LaurenAnd now for something completely different… Oh boy was I ready! What makes The Unhoneymooners intriguing to me was a) a romp of a story (sexy and romantic), b) compelling and feisty characters, c) set on Maui (hello!), and c) Christina Lauren is not one person but two! Co-authors! I can’t wrap my head around how that works, but it did. What’s more, I’ll be reading them again next time I need a light antidote to a story steeped in darkness. This book was fun! (There was a rather drawn-out interlude near the end, but it wasn’t tedious to douse all the fun. And in comparison to Wharton? Hardly tedious at all!)

Another book club pick, this one had lots of Moriarty’s Moriartytrademark lightness (and an over-long ‘dark night of the soul) when nine folks get more than they bargained for in ten-day ‘cleanse’ at the health spa from hell. No, it’s not a horror story. As long as I never have to deal with the horror of such a whacko, megalomaniac health spa owner. I’ve always liked stories where strangers come together under unusual circumstances, and this one fits that bill. It’s hard to imagine how an author can make a cast on nine plus three come alive, but Moriarty wove distinct back-stories for all of them and had us rooting for them all – except the megalomaniac.

KinselllaChristkindl inspired more light and frothy cravings, so how could I not pluck Sophie Kinsella off my library’s new books shelf? We learned long ago to not be surprised by anything Becky Brandon nee Bloomwood does – and yet… Becky remains religiously committed to rampant consumerism, this time in quest of the perfect Christmas day which she’ll be hosting for the first time ever. A vegan turkey, the must-have Christmas tree ornament, holiday garland that will not stay where she put it, and more riotous fun. Delivered as expected.


And the quest for light continues. I’m sure I’ll get hungry for meat Valerieand potatoes soon. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying tongue in cheek, clever characterizations.  Holly Banks’ angst seems rather overblown, but the Stepford-Esque town she’s moved to would make me angsty too.






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