Day 154: Two Delightful Books

Book One

Karen from book group chose A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra as her book choice for our September 2017 discussion. I tried to read it, but it didn’t appeal to me. While I understood the writing was beautiful, I couldn’t get past the violence. It was set in Chechnya during the first and second Chechen wars and really terrible things happened during that time.

Determined to read it, I picked it up again about a year later. I started over and didn’t get much farther than I got the first time, but this time I didn’t just understand that it was beautifully written, but saw that it was.

Not too long ago I was again determined to finish it. It sat there in my Kindle and Audible libraries looking at me with contempt because I’d abandoned it twice. This time I didn’t start over, but picked up where I left off. I alternately read and listened to it, finding it easy to switch between formats. I was surprised that I remembered what I’d read in the past and only a few times had to look back to remember who a character was. I finished it this evening and said aloud to no one, “what a beautiful and terribly sad book that was.”

Book Two

The book Karen (again!) has chosen for her book discussion next month is Have You Seen Luis Velez by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I borrowed it from Amazon Prime Reading as soon as my tears stopped after finishing A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. I loved it right away.

Day 132: Delightfully 2021

The first day of the year is always full of promise. This year more than ever. Hopefully we’ll be able to travel again (at least domestically) after we receive our covid-19 vaccinations. The US will have sane, if not perfect, leadership that, if we are lucky, will be able to at least begin to fix the many setbacks that happened during the trumpet administration.

On a personal level, I am more than ever determined to get out of my inactive, bordering on suicidal reclusiveness. My kids are worried about me. I guess I should be too.

Other delights of the day were reading blog posts by Lali, Mali and Helen. Talking to Clare for over an hour while we did our own things. Finally seeing the film, Moonlight. Beginning Braiding Sweetgrass. I think I am going to love that book.

Day 41: Audible

I’ve been a recorded books fan for at least thirty years. I remember getting cassette tapes from the library for my long commute to work when I was a teacher. I went through many Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat novels on that commute.

I went through a period of not listening to recorded books much, but I am back to listening to them now, thanks to Audible. I share an account with my daughter, my son, and his partner. Together we have 127 audio books in our shared library. We have similar tastes, so we often read each other’s selections.

What’s delightful is when a particular narrator is perfect for the book. Often, for me, it is the author. Trevor Noah reading his memoir Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood might be the best book I have listened to in years. Back when I respected Neil Gaiman I enjoyed listening to him read his books. The latest narrator I find delightful is Joan Walker who is narrating My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, the book I am listening to and reading at the moment. She’s talented at making the characters’ voices resemble their personalities.

Day 40: Fredrik Backman

Have you met Fredrik Backman? I mentioned him on my Clutch Cargo Lips blog several years ago in my review of his novel, A Man Called Ove. I was annoyed at him for making it seem as if fifty-nine year old people were old. I have since forgiven him because he’s brought me so much joy by writing books about so many delightful characters.

I read Britt-Marie was Here last year and really enjoyed it. At our book group Zoom meeting last month I suggested we read another Fredrik Backman book and Diana (the unofficial book group leader) suggested that instead of everyone reading the same book, choose any one of his books to read and then tell the group about it. I chose My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and am loving it (this is where we are introduced to Britt-Marie). I’m reading it on Kindle, and listening to it on Audible.

What I like about Backman’s writing is that his characters all well described — not physically necessarily; but their personalities shine in his writing. I feel that I know these characters very well.

In this time of hunkering down with only my husband, having a roomful of other people, thanks to Fredrik Backman, is truly a delight.

Day 39: Zooming with Ross

Remember Ross Gay? The poet whose book, The Book of Delights, inspired this blog? Well, I was in the same room with him tonight. Okay, Zoom room. Needless to say, it was a delight. You can watch it on YouTube. (note that I am not shown, but I was there — just off camera). Aimee Nezhukumatathil was so sweet. I think I will buy her book, World of Wonders.

Other delights today were rainbows and sparkles in my study and kitchen

Finally, I got a photo of the cardinal climber’s flowers.

Day 19: Todoist

Retirement is still weird. I have no interest in doing anything that was on my retirement to-do list. I don’t even want to bake bread or feed my sourdough or read or organize or write. I think all that looked so inviting before I retired because it was what I did to avoid work. Now that list is work.

That said… I gave up on Habitica because I just don’t like the game aspect of it but found a different and in my opinion better task/project tracker: Todoist. It has everything Habitica has except the game aspect. You can divide your projects into tasks and the tasks into sub-tasks. This is kind of typical of me. I like making lists but I don’t always like doing what is on the lists. Maybe my retirement will be an endless list of things I didn’t do.

I listened to more of The Book of Delights to try to get back into the groove of finding delights. It’s always delightful to hear Ross’ voice telling me about his delights.

Day 10: The New Camera (mostly)

Still struggling with odd feelings of not-quite-rightness. Possibly with a little ennui tossed in. For instance, there are things I normally do on weekends — feed the sourdough starter is one, make bread is another, however I have no desire to do either, even though they must be done if I want to keep the starter alive and if we are to have homemade sourdough bread in the house.


The camera is turning out to be a true delight. Today I tried out the long lens (I am sure it has a better name — telephoto lens perhaps) and it took some decent photos. I’m still learning. Dean even gave it a go and remarked on how light it was. He was still not very enthusiastic about it, but at least didn’t complain about it.

Other delights today:

  • Reading and commenting on Lali’s blog again. I’d missed the entries from the beginning of the pandemic. Her writing is soothing.
  • A phone call from my SIL asking about my first (true) day and a half of retirement
  • More backyard birds (blue jays, northern cardinals, Carolina wrens, hairy woodpeckers, ruby-throated hummingbird, fish crows)
  • The return of the spider — it seems it likes the kitchen door in the late afternoons — I’d already taken out my contact lenses so didn’t try to take a photo this time.
  • The walk around the elementary school with Dean at lunchtime
Dean’s photo of a squirrel