Bookends: My Late Summer Reading List

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On my nightstand:
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. I will have to let you know about both in a future post.

Reading:
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren – I saw the not so great 2006 film eons ago (note, the 1949 film won the Academy Award so probably more worth checking out). The book is infinitely better. Man can Warren write!!  The novel justly won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.  It is rated as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century by Modern Library. Set in the 1930s South, it describes the dramatic rise to power, as state governor, of Willie Stark, aka Boss – one of the greatest characters of any modern day novel. Boss is loosely based on Louisiana Governor Huey Long.

Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine by David S. Shields – this book was wisely recommended to me by my friend Don Lindgren, owner of Rabelais Books in Biddeford, Maine. It is dense with information regarding America’s quintessential cuisine.

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Read
The Good:
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – I placed an advance order for this book with one of my favorite independent bookstores in Maine. I feel good about supporting them, I don’t feel good about supporting the publisher and what I believe is elder abuse.  Let’s set things straight. No way do I believe Harper Lee intended for this book to be published. She wrote it for herself and maybe at one point planned to publish it and did not and then the publisher swooped in told everyone she was on board – only for us to find out later (too late) Lee was deaf and blind at the time and her protective sister had passed = she was absolutely taken advantage of. Her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is the treasure readers seek out and find but a handful of times in life. The book speaks to you if you let it if you know how. To Kill a Mockingbird means everything to me and Go Set a Watchman doesn’t really get going till about halfway through if at all. And yes, there is the racism. I will say this – Atticus Finch is found to be flawed, but I do not believe he is a racist so much as a victim of his geography and time. His story is very complicated and very simple and this post is not the place to delve into it – and frankly I don’t believe I have the right. That the great Finch could ever be seen as weak I think was too much for Lee. Please do NOT buy this book. Check it out of the library, borrow it from a friend. Do not support the publisher. Ms. Lee did not mean for it to be released. Show her and Mr. Finch some respect. Sadly the book will sit on my shelf a reminder of sad times and advantageous people with none of the vision or great character Lee had.
What about quality? Check out what reviewer B.D. McClay wrote “What about quality? Did Lee’s editor, Hohoff, cut down a work of great literary genius? No. Watchman is an undeniably bad book, structurally unsound, with no real plot and not even a real ending. It shows everywhere the signs of having been written by a person who thought primarily in short stories (as Lee had up until that point). It has long and awkwardly inserted digressions into childhood that are meant, I think, to provide its thinly sketched Maycomb County with some texture, but instead just feel dropped in from some other book.

Light in August and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – Absolute brilliance. Without a doubt, this Nobel Prize laureate from Mississippi, was one of the greatest American (not just Southern!) novelists ever.  He turns storytelling on its head. He creates his own rules and let’s things happen – they pour out – the words – his words – sing. It is a wonderful thing to read Faulkner.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – Yes, I finally read this classic novel about boyhood in 19th century rural South. Finally. Even after checking a copy out of the library it took two renewals before I finally sat down and read it in two days. The illustrations are a delight.

Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons – One of my first trips back to the library I picked up the three books Siddons had written in the last decade (about the time I stopped reading her books for no reason, having read and loved everything she’d written up to that point). I love this book. It reminds me of her early works. Emily Parmenter is the epitome of a strong Southern ARS gal and the South Carolina low country sparkles. It may be a bit of a formulaic coming-of-age story to some, but not I am guessing to any Southern belle.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo – Inspired by the Chinese ghost stories she read as a child, Choo sets her novel in 19th-century Malacca, the British colony in what is now Malaysia. A beautiful young poor woman (cue Jane Austen) is asked by her opium-addicted father if she would like to become a ghost bride. Thus begins her adventure into a world of evil spirits and not-quite-human heroes.  I so enjoyed this book I picked up a copy of Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, a collection of several hundred supernatural Chinese tales – some of which inspired Choo.

The Witching Hour (First in series of Mayfair Witches Saga) by Anne Rice – I almost listed this in the “bad” section, but the first half was really good – so… The nearly 1,000 page novel tome spans several centuries and multiple generations  in the lives of the New Orleans based Mayfair family.  Each generation is cursed by a protective spirit. You’ve got enormous wealth, beautiful architecture, crazy people,  the roaring Twenties, incest galore, sailing…. It’s a good summer beach or snowy winter read.  Note, by the ending I was DONE. Definitely not reading the other two books.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – READ IT!!! Check out the NYT review here.  All I am saying. A gift to readers.

Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy by Kathryn Miles – Well written! I found myself fascinated by weather folk and learning about Superstorm Sandy in a completely different way. Read it!!

The Bad:
Burnt Mountain and Off Season both novels by Anne Rivers Siddons – my favorite Southern novelist needs to put down the pen.  The former I found unreadable and the latter I enjoyed all the way till the end. Trust me, just Google “ending of Off Season” for the rants. I have loved reading tales by Anne River Siddons since a stranger who knew just enough about me to know I would love Siddons gifted me her copy of Colony (a marriage of South Carolina’s Low Country and the coast of Maine), That this endowment happened while on a schooner sailing across Penobscot Bay in my young(est) adulthood only amplified my affection for Siddons writing.  She has gifted us Southern gals with so many wonderful tales. I want her to walk away the extraordinarily classy woman she is before things get worse (as in these two novels).

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is an indulgent boorish read the NY Post calls a bunch of lies – and fyi I believe them for once.  The publicist of this book calls her Dian Fossey (without actually knowing anything about her) and Martin thinks of herself as a Jane Goodall – AS IF! What I get for turning to In Style Magazine for my  airy summer read.

Realizations

I recently came across lists of things people think other people their age need to realize. I am not one of those people who opens up a journal the beginning of November and creates a list of what I want to accomplish in the next 360 some odd days. Rather, my realizations and the tasks I set forth for myself are more campaigns than events – beliefs formed and gradually played out. Some happen while sitting in a sunny window at a coffee shop with a friend, others driving (usually caffeinated) deeper into the woods. Wherever and whenever your changes/plans/resolutions come I wish you strength as that is more often needed than luck.

You can’t redo the most important moments in life. So do them right the first time around.

If people aren’t adding to your life, they’re taking away from your life.

If your life is easy, then you’re not trying hard enough.

Your religion isn’t any better or more righteous than anyone else’s. It’s just a different version of the same theory.  **I read this and think it’s something to ponder and discuss at length. On principal I agree, but there is so much I am ignorant of when it comes to different religions. Overall regardless I try to practice respect not judgment.

People are mostly made by nurture, not nature.  **Really think about that and where your nurturing came from and comes from. I find myself telling those I love – taking care of yourself is humanness and kindness not selfishness. Selfishness is something ugly, but nurturing is beautiful.

Most of the foods we eat shouldn’t even be labeled as “food.”

Being physically and mentally active  are often the differentiating factors between being happy and being miserable.  **Read anything, take classes in person or online, run, ride a bike or a horse, swim, walk don’t take the elevator. A lazy mind or body is such a waste.

If you love them, tell them. A shocking number of individuals never get that chance.   **I read this one and WOW WOW. I did this once. Had my heart broken. Lived through it and am stronger and in a better place for it. Maybe next time if I am brave enough again there will be a happier ending.

Change is always possible. Your life is your story, write the future chapters for the best possible view of yourself. The person you believe you can be.

Blame only gets you so far. Responsibility will take you home. Accept that sometimes you are the problem.

Now, right now – we all do. This is for you dSK (my best friend/positive inspiration) You need to stop stereotyping.  And while we’re at it judge a whole lot less if at all.

And then there’s this one.  If you can’t have fun without drinking, then you probably have a drinking problem.  **I recently realized I really don’t like drinking alcohol. The occasional whiskey – when it’s really, really good sure – but in general the gin and tonics I used to love just make me feel sick.  When I go out I’d prefer to drink fizzy water and enjoy the conversation and food clearly.

ox

Pluto Flyby

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It is the eve of the historic Pluto flyby and I am psyched!!

Nearly a decade ago NASA launched the spacecraft New Horizons to capture data and images of the dwarf planet Pluto and it’s system.

The robotic probe is on track to pass about 7,750 miles from Pluto at 7:50 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday.

The New Horizons team, based at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) just outside Baltimore, MD, won’t know whether the spacecraft successfully passed through the Pluto system until 8:53 p.m. Tuesday. That’s when New Horizons is supposed to check in with a data report.

Here is a mission update from NASA – the lead researcher described it as an “enchanting in its strangeness and alien beauty” love that!  So far they have discovered it is larger than they thought, is releasing nitrogen, and has a polar ice cap.

Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI.

Bees

A few bee pics from this past weekend…I will soon have about 20 pounds of spring honey!!

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Smoking

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Way better use of campaign signs (note, I abhor political campaign budgets). My bee mentor J is like one of those super smart inventors you see in films/on TV sometimes – he should absolutely have a TV show about beekeeping. He knows where/when to collect pine needles for his smoker – there’s a street after a storm that will provide him for a year. And he came up with this great idea of using those wasteful yard signs to protect frames of capped honey stolen from a hive from robber bees.

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Propolis

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blue queen

Blue marked queen. You mark a virgin queen so you know how old she is. International queen bee year codes: 1 or 6 white, 2 or 7 yellow, 3 or 8 red, 4 or 9 green, 5 or 0 blue.)

holy queen cups batmanHoly Queen Cups Batman!!

hives

Weekend Reading

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Happy almost weekend!

Taking a pause from kitty pictures momentarily to share what else is going on in my little corner of the world.

After spending many moments thinking about all the things I used to do and miss I decided it was time to literally get back on the horse again. This past week I started taking horseback riding lessons and got back in a pool. I consider myself a relatively active and happy person, but my routine has gotten a bit stale as has my environment. I need, like any living breathing thing, stimulation. The happiness from the hours I spend on horseback and swimming laps will permeate into the rest of my days and add a healthy dose of pleasure.

I had a conversation last night with one of my oldest friends. We were talking about the difference between taking care of one’s self and selfishness. The latter is ugly, the former is necessary.  The former is about not waiting until every single thing has been completed on your to-do list, about tossing guilt into an imaginary paper sack on the side of the road (no real littering folks!!). It is about a careless afternoon wandering through bookstores and having lunch at your favorite diner. It is about taking yourself to the movies. It is about reading a book on a bench in the sun. It is about going to a baseball game sipping beer and eating one of those divine pretzels covered in mustard. It is about putting on your favorite music, pouring yourself a glass of wine and reorganizing your closet. And so much more.

Better Late Than Never
I finally started paying attention to podcasts. Talk about late to the party. I love The Kitchen Sisters Fugitive Waves and Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy. The former chronicles hidden bits of history and subjects who have shaped our diverse cultural landscape. The latter tells stories of people and place in the American South through food.

Living Mindfully
Be humble. Be courteous. Behave yourself (inside voices). Be friendly. Be modest. Say “please” and “thank you” always.

Link Love
Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution – a site for introverts. Let the education begin.

*Note, on the social media front….I removed myself officially from Facebook. I privatized my Instagram account. Deleted several boards from my Pinterest account. And, am only holding onto Twitter as I love it for a research tool.

For the longest  time I have been observing this world we live in – and how the smartest, kindest, bravest people I know are caught up in social media. These computerized tools have turned them – and for a time me too – into affirmation addicts. We post something and constantly check to see how many people have liked or commented on said post. After realizing this was not healthy and a giant waste of time I came to two conclusions (1) The reality of most social media feeds – pictures are posed, professionally lit, styled…they are not real – they are the best outtakes = they are no more real often times than the models on the pages of Vogue magazine. (2) The things I enjoy – that bring richness to my life – are not technological or industrial – they are things we make with our hands. These are real things. Lovely and human.

Kittens Post Two

The last time I adopted a kitten it was the age of film and I did not take as many photos. This digital age I am making up for it with these three. No promises there will not be more kitten posts of Faulkner, Harper, and Tennessee in the future :)

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Weekend Reading: Kittens

I really will get to a thorough Weekend Reading post soon, but for this week I hope the pics of the three adorable kittens I adopted earlier this week will do.

Introducing: Tennessee (a ham for the camera!!), Faulkner, and Harper. Since the feathered gals of Great Cluck Egg Farm are all named after my favorite female authors I took the opportunity to use the names of their male counterparts. *I was going to name Harper “Truman” but just couldn’t get the image of the former U.S. President out of my head and well, Harper Lee does have that book coming out in a few weeks (pre-ordered via Hello Hello Books!!) I went ahead with it. The three are brothers adopted via a cat rescue. They are the sweetest things. Their number one favorite toys? The trash can and the printer cable. Wild furballs of energy they exhaust each other.

Without further adieu…

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The ham of the bunch – Tennessee. Before I got him home the image of him shouting ‘Hey Stella!’  just came to mind. He has this overwhelming personality to him = cuddles!!

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The only picture of Faulkner and Harper both in the frame and not in motion. Oh boys!!

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Harper, who is a tad lighter than Faulkner and little bigger too.

 

 

Belated Weekend Reading

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Loretta Lynn said “You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread – stale and dry.” Well folks, all this growing has meant a lot less posting in recent weeks.

Things I have been up to:
Reading – Faulkner, Anne Rivers Siddons, more Alexandra Fuller… Signing up for horseback riding lessons – cannot wait. Signing up to volunteer for Special Surfers Nights. Loads of research for three writing/creative projects I am in love with. Planting vegetables and flowers. Fighting a losing battle with the resident woodchuck(s) – I may have the upper hand after tomorrow with higher fences – so there! Beekeeping – splitting hives, installing new ones in Portland (pics at top). Stitching a shirt for me and one for a friend. Taking classes online for free with my beloved Coursera. Nursing a wild duck some jack#$ hit with a car (as of this morning he is with a local waterfowl authority/nurse/Dr. Doolittle person). Filling out paperwork for/and meeting my new kittens – what do you think of Tennessee, Faulkner, and Harper? Okay so they are three boys and Harper is of course for Harper Lee – but the name Harper could go either way and I just don’t love the name Truman (though I love Capote’s writing). Hanging out with a friend up the coast – sitting outside on a dock eating mussels mmm. Hanging out with another eating Somali food in Lewiston and attending another uber talented friend’s photography show opening. Having tea – so civilized – with another in Portland. Eating more of those ridiculously good biscuits with the homemade jam and whipped butter at Tandem Bakery. Hanging out at the library. I did not realize how much I missed hardcover books! Getting a new (old/used) Filson ruck sack I am in love with and will use every chance I get = road trips, out of the country trips…

And…I keep thinking about how I value things I do with my hands – and how with the exception of using the computer for research and Netflix – I am so uninterested in technological and industrial things. I want to make things – food, pottery, clothes – garden – ride horses – real stuff. Marketing folks call this “slow living” I call it humanness. There has been a loss of kindness in this world with all the tech/industrial advancements. It has greatly and sadly affected how people behave and are raising their kids.

Every day I confront rudeness and ugliness. Whatever happened to people holding the door open for the next person, saying please and thank you, giving advance notice to canceling an appointment, responding in appropriate time, not using your mobile device during a meal, inside (vs. outside) voices, giving your seat up to an elderly person, etiquette at the dining table, and on and on.

In the vein of using one’s hands – this might be of interest to some: MOFGA’s orcharding workshops, including Summer Orchard Care on June 27 with MOFGA’s organic orchardist, C.J. Walke, and Bud Grafting on August 8 with Seth Yentes of MOFGA-certified organic North Branch Farm. For fee and registration information on these and other events, please click on the Events tab at www.mofga.org.

Weekend Reading (aka Bee Update and Swarm Info)

I promise more of a proper Weekend Reading post next week. This is really just a “here are some photos I took of today’s hive inspection” – in which we (my mentor J and I) split two hives and moved around some queen cells. We also fed a lot of drone brood to the featured gals of Great Cluck Egg Farm – side note I am beginning to think some of my gals are more like dogs the way they tug at something like a dog would a bone and then go hide it before devouring it – dog like?

Anyhow, we split the hives to create two new ones in Portland (I will be sharing pics soon as next week I believe) and so J would have some queen eggs to rear queens – he says he likes my queens because they are so calm.

For more on reasons to split hives go here.

This is smack dab in the middle of the season when a beekeeper will split some hives. It is also when folks will report seeing swarms. Note, swarms are when bees are at their calmest. Unless you go sticking your neck in the middle of one or something stupid chances are you can observe them (a swarm is a beautiful thing) safely from several feet away.  **If you do spot a swarm please contact an experienced beekeeper and/or this hotline.  I would imagine The Honey Exchange in Portland might also be interested, but the hotline or a beekeeping friend really should be your first contact.

OK, pics:

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What you are seeing:

Pics 1-4 interior hives

Pic 5 split I’ll take into town to install next week

Pic 6 look close and you’ll see brood!! (yup, look like tiny maggots)

Pic 7 J’s truck being loaded with frames he’ll take back home

Pic 8 J’s queen castle or throne – as he says shouldn’t a queen have a home? He had this made for him – it’s so cool with three compartments so he can transport the beginnings of three colonies.

 

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about this blog

About Me Sharon Kitchens and Delicious Musings. Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I write about all the things I enjoy - Culture, Food, Photography &Travel. Read more on my about page.

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