karenmarie's archaeological dig - 2 from each year on LT plus 4 - first layer

Discussão2020 ROOT CHALLENGE

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karenmarie's archaeological dig - 2 from each year on LT plus 4 - first layer

Editado: Jan 12, 2020, 1:32 pm

Welcome to my first ROOT thread of 2020! Twenty-Twenty. Amazing.

This will be my fifth year of retirement from the 8-5, 5 day-a-week world. I don’t miss work at all. I read, am a charter member of the Redbud and Beyond Book Club, started in 1997, am Treasurer for our local Friends of the Library (henceforth abbreviated FoL), and manage our home, finances and etc. as my husband heads off to work Monday – Friday. Being an introvert (you’d never guess it from these pages!) I need and cherish the alone time to recharge my batteries.

I have been married to Bill for 28 years and am mother to Jenna, now 26, living about 3 hours away and finishing up a 2-year business administration program at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington. We have three kitties. 12 ½-year old Inara Starbuck, 1-year old Zoe, 14-week old Wash. We live in our own little corner of paradise on 8 acres in central North Carolina USA.

My sister’s been going through a rough patch, health-wise, since last July, and I feel compelled to have one of my favorite pictures of the two of us here – Laura on the left, me on the right. This was taken in the mid-1980s – we were in our 30s.

My goal is to read 30 ROOTs this year, down from last year’s 45. A big change for this year will be that I won’t count re-reads for ROOTing purposes, although they will count towards my totals for the year, which I track in the 75ers group.

This year's ROOT challenge is of an archaeological nature – I want to dig through each year of book acquisitions and read 2 as-yet-unread books from each year. 13 years, 26 books. My ROOT goal is 30 books, none of them re-reads, so there’s a bit of wiggle room for 4 additional ROOTs.

During my high school and early college years, 1967-1973, I kept a notebook which included some quotes I liked. Here are a few of them:
There is not much to be said for the business of the male having to be superior except that it’s a terrible strain. For men to be superior, women have to be inferior, which requires a lot of play-acting for both parties and never seems to work. And an awful lot of men would likely trade their male supremacy for a chance to be accepted as they actually are. Some Men are More Perfect Than Others by Merle Shain

I’m quite sure that one never makes fundamental mistakes about the thing one really wants to do. Fundamental mistakes arise out of lack of genuine interest. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Any man who thinks civilization has advanced is an egotist. Will Rogers

…And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

He was so congenitally conceited that he appeared modest. J.D. Salinger

Pleasure not known beforehand is half wasted; to anticipate it is to double it. Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

I am going to make it a personal challenge to read Jane Austen’s 6 novels in 2020 and as much of her other work as I can find. The novels are re-reads so I won’t count them here per my new rule, just thought I’d let all y’all know my personal year-long challenge. I do have a volume called Sanditon, the Watsons, Lady Susan & other Miscellanea that will count since I’ve never read it before.

For me, ROOTs are henceforth defined as books tagged ‘tbr’ – to be read - on my shelves prior to January 1, 2020.

Editado: Dez 31, 2020, 2:14 pm

Well. *blinks* I didn't leave a message space for books read. So Happy New Year and my list of ROOTs read this year

books read

1. A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd 12/27/19 1/2/20 326 pages trade paperback, Advance Reader's Edition...
2. Abraham Lincoln: Mystic Chords of Memory edited by Larry Shapiro 1/8/20 1/9/20 **** trade paperback, 79 pages...
3. Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Headaches? by Mike O'Connor 11/24/19 1/12/20 211 pages trade paperback
4. So Many Steps to Death by Agatha Christie 1/12/20 1/14/20 200 pages
5. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton 1/3/20 1/18/20 458 pages trade paperback
6. Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly 1/18/20 1/20/20 433 pages hardcover
7. The Night Fire by Michael Connelly 1/20/20 1/20/20 405 pages hardcover
8. Cecily by Clare Darcy 1/22/20 1/23/20 285 pages mass market paperback
9. Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz 1/13/20 1/27/20 417 pages hardcover
10. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood 1/28/20 2/4/20 374 pages trade paperback
11. Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb 2/4/20 2/6/20 343 pages mass market paperback
12. The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story by Berkeley Breathed 2/12/20 2/1/20 30 pages hardcover
13. Slay Ride by Dick Francis 2/12/20 2/13/20 279 pages mass market paperback
14. Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb 2/25/20 2/27/20 371 pages hardcover
15. Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb 3/3/20 3/4/20 370 pages hardcover
16. The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz 3/27/20 4/3/20 373 pages hardcover
17. The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout 4/10/20 f/14/20 207 pages mass market paperback
18. The Rubber Band by Rex Stout 4/14/20 4/18/20 189 pages mass market paperback
19. True Fiction by Lee Goldberg 4/18/20 4/20/20 248 pages hardcover, Kindle
20. Beastly Tales From Here to There by Vikram Seth 4/5/20 4/19/20 152 pages hardcover
21. Foucault for Beginners by Lydia Alix Fillingham 4/28/20 4/29/20 150 pages trade paperback
22. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick 4/22/20 4/26/20 245 pages trade paperback
23. Not Quite Dead Enough by Rex Stout 5/24/20 5/26/20 102 pages hardcover
24. Booby Trap by Rex Stout 5/26/20 5/26/20 116 pages hardcover
25. Murder by the Book by Rex Stout 9/3/20 9/4/20 199 pages mass market paperback
26. Triple Jeopardy by Rex Stout 9/5/20 9/7/20 148 pages hardcover
27. Prisoner's Base by Rex Stout 9/7/20 9/8 286 pages mass market paperback
28. The Edge by Dick Francis 9/9/20 9/11/20 324 pages hardcover
29. Three Men Out by Rex Stout 10/8/20 10/10/20 150 pages mass market paperback
30. The Black Mountain by Rex Stout 10/20/20 10/22/20 Kindle
31. Three Witnesses by Rex Stout 11/8/20 11/11/20 179 pages mass market paperback
32. Second Wind by Dick Francis 11/12/20 11/16/20 283 pages hardcover
33. My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber 11/11/20 11/16/20 106 pages trade paperback
34. A Year with G.K. Chesterton edited by Kevin Belmonte 1/1/20 12/18/20 402 pages trade paperback
35. Camino Island by John Grisham 12/12/20 12/20/20 290 pages trade paperback
36. Three for the Chair by Rex Stout 12/26/20 12/28/20 183 pages hardcover
37. Elevation by Stephen King 12/30/20 12/30/20 146 pages hardcover
38. Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls 12/30/20 12/31/20 119 pages trade paperback

Currently Reading:
Emma by Jane Austen
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Jan 1, 2020, 9:42 am

Happy new year! That's a great photo of you and your sister, you can definitely see the family resemblance! I hope her health issues improve this year, and you and Bill and Jenna have a wonderful year.

Jan 1, 2020, 9:45 am

Thanks, Jackie!

Jan 1, 2020, 9:55 am

What a very pretty and priceless picture of you and your sister, Karen.

Welcome to the 2020 ROOTers. Happy New Year.

Jan 1, 2020, 11:01 am

Welcome back and have fun digging through the various layers of the ROOT pile! Hope it's a happy and healthy year for you all.

Jan 1, 2020, 12:55 pm

Happy new year, Karen, and happy reading in 2020! I like your Jane Austen challenge.

Lovely picture - I do hope your sister's health improves.

Jan 1, 2020, 1:11 pm

Happy New year and happy ROOTing! Hoping your sister recovers soon.

Jan 1, 2020, 1:17 pm

>5 connie53: Thank you, Connie! I'm really looking forward to another year ROOTing with you all! I'm so happy we had those pictures taken - we were living in different parts of LA, she was married with babies, and I was working in my professional field. We don't look alike but we do.

>6 rabbitprincess: Thanks, RP! I already have the methodology for my dig layers and will export/arrange very soon.

>7 floremolla: Thanks, Donna, and thanks re my sister. I'm very happy that I'll finally read the gorgeous editions my husband bought for me 11 years ago.

>8 Sace: Hi Sace! Thanks for visiting. I've just found and starred your thread.

Off to visit all my visitors!

Jan 1, 2020, 1:48 pm

Awesome to see you again. Happy New Year and much great reading!

Jan 2, 2020, 11:29 am

Welcome back, Karen -- love the pic with your sister and the quotes. I didn't realize you had two young kitties, how does Inara Starbuck manage?! Your 2-TBRs-from-each-LT-year idea inspires me...

Jan 2, 2020, 12:55 pm

Welcome back, Karen, and best wishes for you and your sister.

Jan 2, 2020, 5:44 pm

Happy New Year, and happy ROOTing!
And wishing your sister a speedy recovery.

Jan 2, 2020, 8:57 pm

>10 enemyanniemae: Thanks!

>11 detailmuse: Thanks, MJ! Inara isn't really happy, but now that we've had the kitties for 2 weeks, she's resigned. She never did attack anybody, only batted at Wash once when he got too close too fast. She still occasionally growls though. Zoe Rose is about a year, Washburne Ryder is 15 weeks, now, I guess.

Glad I could inspire...

>12 MissWatson: Thanks, Birgit, and thanks re my sister. It's very worrisome but she's soldiering on.

>13 mstrust: Thanks, Jennifer. We'll know more in February.

Editado: Jan 3, 2020, 6:09 am

1. A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd

From Amazon:

Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge is assigned one of the most baffling investigations of his career—a cold murder case with an unidentified victim and a cold trail with few clues to follow.

Chief Inspector Brian Leslie, a respected colleague of Ian Rutledge’s, is sent to Avebury, a village set inside a great prehistoric stone circle not far from Stonehenge.

A young woman has been murdered next to a mysterious, hooded, figure-like stone, but no one recognizes her—or admits to it. And how did she get there? Despite a thorough investigation, it appears that her killer has simply vanished.

Rutledge, returning from the conclusion of a case involving another apparently unknown woman, is asked to take a second look at Leslie’s inquiry, to see if he can identify this victim. But Rutledge is convinced Chief Superintendent Jameson only hopes to tarnish his earlier success once he also fails.

Where to begin? He too finds very little to go on in Avebury, slowly widening his search beyond the village—only to discover that unlikely—possibly even unreliable—clues are pointing him toward an impossible solution, one that will draw the wrath of the Yard down on him, and very likely see him dismissed if he pursues it. But what about the victim—what does he owe this tragic woman? Where must his loyalty lie?

Why I wanted to read it: An ER book received in November. In order to get to it I had to read books 20 and 21 in the series. Perhaps reading 3 in a row made weaknesses obvious, but other authors I read one-after-another don't leave me feeling irritated like I feel right now. I am now officially done with Ian Rutledge.

I used to like the presence of Hamish McLeod, the corporal shot for failing to follow orders by Rutledge at the Somme, but I finally agree with most people I've spoken with about this and find him irritating and a very convenient plot device to get over rough patches.

Coincidences abound, and Hamish alternatively berates, warns, and gives insights to Rutledge as he drives all over England in pursuit of clues. I couldn’t buy into this book, frankly, because of the unwarranted leaps of faith and logic. And the Chief Superintendent’s illogical and perverse animosity towards Rutledge is irritating and not up to the professional and gentlemanly level I would expect of Scotland Yard in 1921.

There were two mysteries with a total of three victims. Deus ex machina reigns supreme. Emotions are written shallowly, in my opinion, giving the book a two-dimensional and frenetic feel.

Since I re-read all of Dorothy L. Sayers novels last year and the early ones are written about the same period in English history - just after WWI - the comparison of wit, style, depth of emotion, and complexity of plot are painfully visible and don’t work well in Todd’s favor for me.

Editado: Jan 9, 2020, 7:57 am

2. Abraham Lincoln: Mystic Chords of Memory edited by Larry Shapiro

A summary:

Book of the Month Club publication, 1984. A selection from Lincoln’s writings, in 5 sections.
I “Always a Whig in Politics” The Early Years
II “A Continual Torment” The Slavery Controversy
III “Essentially a People’s Contest”
IV Lincoln to His Generals “Maxims of War”
V “The Fiery Trial Through Which We Pass”

Why I wanted to read it: A goal for this year is to read two books from each year I’ve been on LT, 2007-2019, in order to really start getting some of these oldies read. One fiction and one nonfiction, this slim little volume of 79 pages is my nonfiction choice from 2007 and a great introduction to Lincoln’s writings.

It includes an autobiographical sketch from 1859, excerpts from campaign announcements, letters to Mary Todd Lincoln, letters to various and sundry others, including his generals in the Civil War, inauguaral addresses, a speech or two, and his last public address.

Larry Shapiro, who at the time of publication was an editor at Book-of-the-Month Club prefaced each entry with salient information and in some cases why he chose it or why it explains some aspect of Lincoln’s character or reputation. There are photos of Lincoln in the Frontispiece and at the start of each section. All quotations are from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, copyright 1953.

Three quotes stood out for me.
prior to fall of 1854, when he first spoke against the possibility of slavery being extended beyond the South.

If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. – why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? –

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. p 23

From his first Inaugural Address, 1861

I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. pp 41-42

From his second Inaugural Address, 1865

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all we may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. p 78

Jan 9, 2020, 10:22 am

>16 karenmarie: Excellent quotes, especially from 1854. And 1861, with today's strains.

Jan 9, 2020, 10:55 am

Thanks, MJ. There were so many beautiful or well-articulated passages, but I thought those three were particularly meaningful/recognized.

Jan 9, 2020, 12:28 pm

Sorry your first ROOT of the year wasn't great, but it looks like Lincoln raised the bar there!

Jan 9, 2020, 1:12 pm

Hi Jackie! Ever since I memorized the Gettysburg Address I've appreciated his way with words. This was just dipping my toe into his writings - I have 11 other books about or compiled writings by Abraham Lincoln. And last year I listened to a brilliant audiobook version of Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession and the President's War Powers by James F. Simon.

Jan 12, 2020, 1:18 pm

3. Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches?: And Other Bird Questions You Know You Want to Ask by Mike O’Connor

From Amazon:

In 1983, Mike O'Connor opened the Bird Watcher's General Store on Cape Cod, which might well have been the first store devoted solely to birding in the United States. Since that time he has answered thousands of questions about birds, both at his store and while walking down the aisles of the supermarket. The questions have ranged from inquiries about individual species ("Are flamingos really real?") to what and when to feed birds ("Should I bring in my feeders for the summer?") to the down-and-dirty specifics of backyard birding ("Why are the birds dropping poop in my pool?"). Answering the questions has been easy; keeping a straight face has been hard.

Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Headaches? is the solution for the beginning birder who already has a book that explains the slight variation between Common Ground-Doves and Ruddy Ground-Doves but who is really much more interested in why birds sing at 4:30 A.M. instead of 7:00 A.M., or whether it's okay to feed bread to birds, or how birds rediscover your feeders so quickly when you've just filled them after a long vacation. Or, for that matter, whether flamingos are really real.

Why I wanted to read it: My husband got this book for me for Christmas in 2018 and it seemed like the right time. Knowing the answer to this question finally came to top of stack.

This is a collection of questions and answers grouped into categories like how to get birds to come to your yard, what and how to feed them, problems with birds, identifying birds, etc.

It was informative and humorous. And for those who may never get their hands on the book, much less read it, the answer to the titular question is on page 176:
Woodpeckers have developed a much larger brain case, which prevents the birds from getting a concussion every time they have to chop out lunch. They also have different muscle and bone structure at the base of the bill, which acts like a shock absorber to help cushion the blows.Curiosity satisfied.

Jan 12, 2020, 1:42 pm

>21 karenmarie: I've just added that to my wishlist. I am getting so much pleasure out of the birds coming to our birdfeeder this year. Earlier this week we had some new visitors (well new to me anyway, I'd not seen them before) - long-tailed tits. They were lovely, I hope they come back again!

Jan 12, 2020, 1:50 pm

I like to watch the birds in my garden too. And I own some bird books.

Jan 13, 2020, 12:40 pm

>22 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! He has a lot of general information for birders regardless of where they live in addition to Cape Cod Massachussetts specific stuff - I don't think you'll be disappointed. I'm watching the Cardinals and a Titmouse and a house finch zooming back and forth between feeders and Crepe Myrtle.

>23 connie53: Hi Connie! They give much pleasure, for sure. I've got several guides, this book and a few others related to birds.

Jan 13, 2020, 11:03 pm

>20 karenmarie: Have you read Lincoln: Biography of a Writer? It's a fascinating look at how Lincoln developed into such a compelling wordsmith. It sounds like it would be right up your street if you haven't read it already.

Jan 14, 2020, 4:05 pm

I have not, Julia, and thank you for the BB. It's not clear from his upbringing that he could have become such a 'compelling wordsmith', so I'll track it down.

Jan 14, 2020, 6:52 pm

4. So Many Steps to Death by Agatha Christie
1/12/20 to 1/14/20


From Amazon:

In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist.

When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who appears to hold the key to the mystery is dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash.

Meanwhile, in a Casablanca hotel room, Hilary Craven prepares to take her own life. But her suicide attempt is about to be interrupted by a man who will offer her an altogether more thrilling way to die. . . .

Why I wanted to read it: A goal for this year is to read two books from each year I’ve been on LT, 2007-2019, in order to really start getting some of these oldies read. One fiction and one nonfiction, this is my fiction choice from 2007.

What brought this book up from a dismal 2 star ‘bad’ rating to an acceptable 2.5 star ‘average’ rating were the descriptions of Hilary Craven’s total despair as she’s preparing to take her own life. I just noticed the significance of her last name - craven. Otherwise it was a dismal 1950s-era anti-communist screed with Christie’s predilection for negatively describing people of color, stereotypes galore, and a sappy ending that had a twist or two but was mostly predictable.

However, it is part of the 88-book set of Bantam editions of Christie’s books that my mother bought for me, starting in 1987, doled out in 2s and 3s on birthdays and Christmases for years. They hold place of honor in my Library, and will always remain on the shelves my mother saw them on when she visited for the last time in 2009.

Editado: Jan 15, 2020, 3:31 am

That's a lovely homage to your mother, Karen!

Jan 15, 2020, 3:55 am

Thanks, Connie! My mother is the person who encouraged my love of reading from a very young age.

Jan 15, 2020, 4:02 am

That's what mothers do! Mine did too.

Jan 15, 2020, 4:28 am

That is a wonderful keepsake.

Jan 15, 2020, 5:19 am

Hi Birgit!

I have very few things of my mother and father's - they were not much into things - so this collection of books is precious to me.

Jan 18, 2020, 7:40 pm

5. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
1/3/20 to 1/18/20

From Amazon:

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read, and altogether triumphant."―A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let's begin...

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others.

For fans of Claire North and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive novel that follows one man's race against time to find a killer―but an astonishing time-turning twist means that nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Why I wanted to read it: The description intrigued me. Jenna gave it to me for Christmas.

Convoluted, thy name is The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It sounds relatively simple in the description above – 8 witnesses, 8 days. Day 1, day 2, day 3… right? Wrong. Days are broken up into vignettes separated by other days. After day 6, say, we might go back to day 2. It’s hard for Aiden Bishop to identify who he’s inhabiting, and how much harder for us!

I found it a tad exhausting until I realized that if I just kept reading I might, just might, understand most of it by the end. And, surprisingly, I did. I know who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. I know why Aiden Bishop was in Blackheath, and I know how long he was there. It was interesting to see how Aiden gained information from and used the personalities of the witnesses to help him move ‘forward’ in his quest to solve the murder. Clues abound. It was fun to see how a clue planted in day 2 bore fruit in day 6. Or how a clue planted in day 7 bore fruit in day 3… messages, attacks, missing people, new people, a murderous footman, and a mysterious figure named The Plague Doctor, all inhabit this macabre and wacky romp. I can't imagine how the author kept track of everything.

Will I ever read it again? Probably not. But I’ll keep it on my shelves for a while, mostly because Jenna gave it to me, but also because of the marvelous cover and as a tribute to my perseverance and ultimate appreciation of what Mr. Turton has accomplished. Heaven forbid there’s a sequel, although another book by the same author would interest me.

Jan 19, 2020, 3:32 am

>33 karenmarie: Hmmm, I think I might like this. And it is translated, so I put it on my wishlist and ask my brother to hunt down a digital version.

Jan 19, 2020, 6:49 am

Exciting news, Connie! I hope he finds it. I'll be interested to hear how you like it.

Jan 21, 2020, 4:18 am

I will let you know!

Jan 27, 2020, 10:20 pm

9. Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz
1/13/20 to 1/27/20

From Amazon:

The New York Times-bestselling final book by the beloved, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Tony Horwitz.

With Spying on the South, the best-selling author of Confederates in the Attic returns to the South and the Civil War era for an epic adventure on the trail of America's greatest landscape architect. In the 1850s, the young Frederick Law Olmsted was adrift, a restless farmer and dreamer in search of a mission. He found it during an extraordinary journey, as an undercover correspondent in the South for the up-and-coming New York Times.

For the Connecticut Yankee, pen name "Yeoman," the South was alien, often hostile territory. Yet Olmsted traveled for 14 months, by horseback, steamboat, and stagecoach, seeking dialogue and common ground. His vivid dispatches about the lives and beliefs of Southerners were revelatory for readers of his day, and Yeoman's remarkable trek also reshaped the American landscape, as Olmsted sought to reform his own society by creating democratic spaces for the uplift of all. The result: Central Park and Olmsted's career as America's first and foremost landscape architect.

Tony Horwitz rediscovers Yeoman Olmsted amidst the discord and polarization of our own time. Is America still one country? In search of answers, and his own adventures, Horwitz follows Olmsted's tracks and often his mode of transport (including muleback): through Appalachia, down the Mississippi River, into bayou Louisiana, and across Texas to the contested Mexican borderland. Venturing far off beaten paths, Horwitz uncovers bracing vestiges and strange new mutations of the Cotton Kingdom. Horwitz's intrepid and often hilarious journey through an outsized American landscape is a masterpiece in the tradition of Great Plains, Bad Land, and the author's own classic, Confederates in the Attic.

Why I wanted to read it: Mark and I decided we’d read it in January, after the kerfuffle of the holidays was over.

I was anxious to read this book, certain that it would charm me in the same way that Confederates in the Attic charmed me.

And, for a while it did, then it lagged and frankly became more than a bit mean-spirited. It then recovered itself and spoke about Olmsted’s Central Park success, his personal life, and his 180-degree turnaround from his dedication to public spaces to the private opulence of Biltmore. It ended with Mr. Horwitz visiting Central Park and philosophizing over its value to New York and indeed to the world in its being a successful template for public spaces.

There is a wealth of information, years and perhaps decades of research, and the physical commitment of traveling the same paths Olmsted took on his Southern adventures.

There are quotes from Olmsted’s diaries, newspaper articles, letters, and books that are referenced when Mr. Horwitz follows Olmsted’s routes, down to historical buildings, bends in rivers, bridges, ferries, and tourist stops. It’s all fascinating.

And yet, I found myself impatient and irritated when he dedicated whole chapters to things and adventures he clearly despised in order to emphasize how far the South has … fallen? declined? given in to the lowest common denominator? You can argue that it is sheer reportage, but it is chosen reportage when there could perhaps have been other things chosen about the same places that balanced some of the more ridiculously asinine things, like the Louisiana Mudfest. I could have happily gone my entire life without knowing about the Louisiana Mudfest.

And so I am just a tad disappointed. I learned a lot about Olmsted and the South of the 1850s and slavery. I also learned a lot about a South I’m not sure represents as much as this book implies it does.

Fev 4, 2020, 3:33 pm

10. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
1/28/20 to 2/4/20

From Amazon:

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

Why I wanted to read it: A goal for this year is to read two books entered into my catalog for each year I’ve been on LT, 2007-2019, in order to really start getting some of these oldies read. One fiction and one nonfiction, this fiction book added to my shelves in 2011 came into focus because katiekrug in the 75ers group was reading it. It seemed like the right time for me to read it, too.

This was a compelling read, enthralling me from the beginning. I was curious about Snowman, his references to Oryx and Crake, and the Crakers and their relationship to Snowman and their environment. The writing is vivid, the concepts startling yet logical.

There are two time lines, both told from Jimmy/Snowman's perspective. The first timeline is Snowman’s current situation and journey to get supplies. The second is Jimmy/Snowman’s autobiography, showing how he got to the situation we met him in on the first page.

Atwood calls this work “… a speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space travel, no teleportation, no Martians. As with The Handmaid’s Tale, it invents nothing we haven’t already invented or started to invent. Every novel begins with a what if, and then sets forth its axions. The what if of Oryx and Crake is simply, what if we continue down the road we’re already on? How slippery is the slope? What are our saving graces? Who’s got the will to stop us? Afterword, pp 382-383.

Atwood has a phenomenal imagination combined with a fierce intellect, resulting in an entirely plausible book, a very scary book.

And, it turns out that this is a trilogy, which I didn’t know before. Off to buy book 2, The Year of the Flood and book 3, MaddAddam.

Fev 4, 2020, 6:42 pm

>38 karenmarie:

I just read this trilogy in December/January and I highly suggest continuing straight into books 2 and 3. The plot of book 1 repeats itself in book 2 but through a different point of view so all the characters come back and all the plot points from book 1 get re-revealed in book 2 and then subsequently through book 3. It would definitely be easy to forget everything about the details that you thought were minor but are actually major. I'm glad I didn't wait at all between the books.

Fev 4, 2020, 7:17 pm

Thank you, lilisin. I appreciate the input and to tell the truth have already got them in my shopping cart on Amazon. Just waiting to do another couple of things before I place the order. *smile*

Fev 4, 2020, 7:42 pm

Hi Karen, oh dear, I just popped in to say 'hi' and found myself with several BBs.

I'd failed to realise Atwood's The Year of the Flood was a trilogy until I was well into it. My inner obsessive completist - who's also very fussy about completing things in the correct order - made me put it aside pending acquisition of the first book. So, you've reminded me to get that onto my wishlist.

I also like the sound of The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Lincoln: Biography of a Writer mentioned by >25 rosalita: intrigues me - we've just been celebrating the poet Robert Burns's birthday and I was surprised to read an article about how well Lincoln knew and was influenced by his work. The quotes you've given show their common humanity and ability to capture passion in words. I don't normally read biographies but this one sounds appealing.

Hoping things are going as well as they can be for your sister.

Fev 5, 2020, 3:19 am

>38 karenmarie: That trilogy is on my 'soon to read' list. I love Atwood's style of writing a lot and you made me think of them again.

Fev 5, 2020, 8:25 am

>41 floremolla: Hi Donna! I've gotten that way with series too. I hope you read it soon. I haven't placed the order for the next two yet, but will do so very soon.

The Lincoln biography intrigues me, too, but I already have at least two Lincoln biographies on my shelves just waiting to be read. I really should read at least one of them before getting another book about Lincoln.

Thank you for asking about my sister. She only has one more treatment to go. They are brutal, and she has severe neuropathy right now in addition to all the other symptoms. But she's hanging in there as best she can and hoping for good results and better days.

>42 connie53: Hi Connie! Glad I've put them back on your radar. *smile*

Mar 30, 2020, 3:01 pm

Hi Karen!

Just checking in to see how you're doing in these strange times. I hope that you and your family are staying well, and lockdown isn't too stressful!

Editado: Mar 31, 2020, 7:42 am

Hi Jackie!

Thanks for checking. I've run the last errands today - filled the car with gas, dropped off my taxes, went to the grocery store because I was out, and got our elderly kitty some more arthritis medicine.

I now have absolutely no excuse for going out for the entire time of the Stay at Home order from our governor, March 30 at 5 p.m. through April 29. We're still allowed out for groceries, but except for running out of milk and fresh fruit/veg, we can survive.

My husband's still working in a 4-person office in a business that is considered essential under the Department of Homeland Security guidelines although he might start working at home 2-3 days a week simply to minimize any risk.

Our daughter's about 3 hours away, finishing up her 2-year Business Administration degree. I can't imagine there will be a graduation ceremony, more's the pity, and who knows what the job market will be like in the middle of May. She's being quite an adult about this all, though.

Hope you're doing well and that homeschooling is working out.

Mar 31, 2020, 4:06 am

>45 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Looks like your well organised for the days ahead. Stay safe!

Mar 31, 2020, 5:04 am

Good to hear you are doing well and have everything under control. Karen. Stay safe.

Mar 31, 2020, 7:42 am

Thanks Birgit and Connie.

Mar 31, 2020, 8:20 am

Oh, I'm so glad to hear you're doing well, Karen, and are well prepared. And I know I don't need to worry about you running out of books during lockdown :D All well here, thank you - homeschooling's not our favourite thing in the world (A's or mine!), but we're muddling through! Pete built her a little play den out of sticks (which we intended to train beans up!), and she loves it so much. So it's nice to get outside, although the weather isn't amazing yet. And we've planted a lot of veg seeds this week, so hopefully (if the slugs don't get there first) we'll be alright for fresh veg later in the year.

Mar 31, 2020, 10:05 am

No, I will definitely not run out of books. Glad that home schooling's going well even if not much fun. I admire families forced into home schooling right now.

Ah, a vegetable garden. I never thought to buy seeds and it's too late to germinate them now even if I could get hold of them for end of April planting. If there are any plants available after the Stay at Home order's lifted on April 29th, assuming it's lifted on April 29th, I'll try to grab some.

Glad you'll have a vegetable garden started.

Abr 3, 2020, 2:57 pm

16. The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
3/27/20 to 4/3/20

From Amazon:

New York Times–bestselling author Anthony Horowitz and eccentric detective Daniel Hawthorne team up again in a new mystery, the sequel to the brilliantly inventive The Word Is Murder, to delve deep into the killing of a high-profile divorce lawyer and the death, only a day earlier, of his one-time friend.

“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late . . . ”

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine—a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realizes that these secrets must be exposed—even at the risk of death . . .

Why I wanted to read it: Called out to me because it's almost too stressful to read more than mysteries, my favorite genre, right now.

Clever, funny, amusing, yet curiously emotionless. Once again Hawthorne runs circles around Anthony, once again all the clues are there. An enjoyable and entertaining read with everything tied up nicely at the end.

And that’s pretty much it. I had a bit of fun guessing who was as real person and who wasn’t, and which people were disguised to save lawsuits and retribution.

Editado: Abr 26, 2020, 12:10 pm

20. Beastly Tales from Here and There by Vikram Seth
4/6/20 to 4/19/20

From Amazon:

Ten witty and enchanting animal fables in verse which, like a modern Aesop's Fables, can be enjoyed by young and old alike

'Because it was very hot in my house one day and I could not concentrate on my work, I decided to write a summer story involving mangoes and a river. By the time I had finished writing 'The Crocodile and the Monkey' (in a cool room lent to me by a friend), another story and other animals had begun stirring in my mind. And so it went on until all ten of these beastly tales were born - or re-born.

Of the ten tales told here, the first two come from India, the next two from China, the next two from Greece, and the next two from the Ukraine. The final two came directly from the Land of Gup. I hope you enjoy them and have a beastly time.' Vikram Seth.

Why I wanted to read it: I needed something whimsical and clever.

What, you say? Poetry? karenmarie? I know, I know, not my usual fare, but these clever poems meet my main criterion for poetry – that it rhymes - here in rhyming couplets that use English smartly and with subtlety – some have to be read out loud to appreciate the rhythm and rhyme.

Here’s a sample:
This is a tale without a moral.
I hope the reader will not quarrel
About this minor missing link.
But if he likes them, he can think
Of five or seven that will do
As quasi-morals; here are two:
…The first is that you never know
Just when your luck may break, and so
You may as well work for your cause
Even without overt applause;
You might, in time, achieve your ends.
…The second is that you’ll find friends
In the most unexpected places,
Hidden among unfriendly faces –
For Smallfry swim in every pond,
Even the Doldrums of Despond.
The illustrations, so evocative of the tales, are watercolors and pleasing to the eye.

All in all a pleasant diversion, full of wisdom and irony, sweetness and one-up-manship, winning and losing. And I learned of a bird I’ve never heard of before – a Tragopan. Learning new things is always fun.

Abr 19, 2020, 4:32 pm

>52 karenmarie: I nearly bought that book in Hay on Wye the other year, but decided at the last minute that I really didn't need even more books. Your review has made me regret that decision! I remember flicking through it and thinking how lovely it looked.

Abr 19, 2020, 9:13 pm

It is a whimsical and amusing book and I love the art work. Maybe another time, eh?

Abr 20, 2020, 5:43 am

>54 karenmarie: Definitely! It's not like I'm never going to go in a bookshop ever again...

Abr 26, 2020, 12:07 pm

21. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
4/22/20 to 4/26/20

From Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Valiant Ambition and In the Hurricane's Eye, the riveting and critically acclaimed bestseller and a major motion picture starring Chris Hemsworth, directed by Ron Howard

"With its huge, scarred head halfway out of the water and its tail beating the ocean into a white-water wake more than forty feet across, the whale approached the ship at twice its original speed--at least six knots. With a tremendous cracking and splintering of oak, it struck the ship just beneath the anchor secured at the cat-head on the port bow. . ."

In the Heart of the Sea brings to new life the incredible story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex--an event as mythic in its own century as the Titanic disaster in ours, and the inspiration for the climax of Moby-Dick. In a harrowing page-turner, Nathaniel Philbrick restores this epic story to its rightful place in American history.

In 1820, the 240-ton Essex set sail from Nantucket on a routine voyage for whales. Fifteen months later, in the farthest reaches of the South Pacific, it was repeatedly rammed and sunk by an eighty-ton bull sperm whale. Its twenty-man crew, fearing cannibals on the islands to the west, made for the 3,000-mile-distant coast of South America in three tiny boats. During ninety days at sea under horrendous conditions, the survivors clung to life as one by one, they succumbed to hunger, thirst, disease, and fear.

In the Heart of the Sea tells perhaps the greatest sea story ever. Philbrick interweaves his account of this extraordinary ordeal of ordinary men with a wealth of whale lore and with a brilliantly detailed portrait of the lost, unique community of Nantucket whalers. Impeccably researched and beautifully told, the book delivers the ultimate portrait of man against nature, drawing on a remarkable range of archival and modern sources, including a long-lost account by the ship's cabin boy. At once a literary companion and a page-turner that speaks to the same issues of class, race, and man's relationship to nature that permeate the works of Melville, In the Heart of the Sea will endure as a vital work of American history.

Why I wanted to read it: I needed something nonfiction that was not related to plague, pandemic, politics, or religion. It was staring at me from the shelf.

The Amazon blurb exaggerates the attack – the whale rammed the ship twice, not ‘repeatedly’ which implies several or more times. An 85-foot long enraged sperm whale ramming a boat at all was, and is, highly unusual, and doesn't need embellishment. The blurb also does not mention cannibalism, which is what two of the three tiny boats resorted to as their last bits of bread were running out. There are a few bits that the squeamish might want to skip.

The book is much more than the Essex and the trials and tribulations of its crew. We learn about Nantucket, the whaling industry from its infancy through its demise, how a whaling ship was operated, and in greater detail than I perhaps wanted to know, how a whale was processed after the killing. Many other whaleship adventures were mentioned, how the Essex was woven into the history of the US, the lives of the survivors, and an interesting chapter on a sperm whale that died at Nantucket in 1997.

I found the sail plan and deck plan of the Essex valuable visual aids, as well as the two maps – the first of the Essex’s voyage from Nantucket through the ramming/sinking, the second the voyages of the whaleboats. The glossy pages of photos, sketches, portraits, maps, and shipping papers are thoughtfully chosen additions to the narrative, making this a thoroughly satisfying book.

Philbrick brings all known sources of historical information about the Essex into his account, including the cabin boy Thomas Nickerson’s 1876 narrative, which was eventually published by the Nantucket Historical Association in 1984.

Well done. It held my interest, was written in a folksy yet erudite manner, sharing information and opinion.

I just might pull out Moby Dick and see if it, too, holds my interest, in the light of this fascinating book about whales, whaling, and the high seas.

Abr 26, 2020, 1:16 pm

>56 karenmarie: Great review! I really liked this book, too.

Abr 26, 2020, 1:47 pm

>56 karenmarie: I know what you mean about not wanting to read about plague/pandemic/etc. My happy reading place, as usual, is primarily nature and travel writing, although I'm trying to read other things too.

Abr 26, 2020, 1:57 pm

>57 rabbitprincess: Thanks, RP! Have you read anything else by him? I've read Mayflower and have these still on my shelves to be read:

The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn
Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842
Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution
Valiant Ambition

>58 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! Happy reading places are important. Now I'm going to finish a thriller that is interesting but not compelling, Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg. Then I'll need to find something that provides that next happy reding place. *smile*

touchstones haven't been working for me all day.

Abr 26, 2020, 1:59 pm

>59 karenmarie: That's the only one of his I've read. I read it so that I could watch the 2015 movie starring Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, and Ben Whishaw, among others.

Abr 26, 2020, 2:04 pm

As I was looking for the book description on Amazon today I saw that there was a movie made of it. How was the movie and how did it compare to the book?

Abr 26, 2020, 2:18 pm

>61 karenmarie: From what I recall, it was all right. I don't remember any glaring divergences from the book.

Abr 26, 2020, 2:23 pm

I just watched the trailer and can pay $2.99 to watch the movie - it may be something that my husband would like, so perhaps we'll watch it.

Abr 26, 2020, 4:00 pm

>63 karenmarie: Great! Hope you like it. I think I watched it around the same time as "The Finest Hours", a movie based on a true story of a Coast Guard rescue off the coast of Massachusetts. Of the two movies, I am pretty sure I liked In the Heart of the Sea better.

Maio 10, 2020, 8:40 am

Hi Karenmarie, I hope you and yours are doing fine. Keep safe.

Maio 10, 2020, 8:54 am

>64 rabbitprincess: Hi RP! Haven't watched In the Heart of the Sea yet.

>65 connie53: Hi Connie! We're doing fine, thank you. Bill is working 3 days a week at the office and 2 days a week from home. His work situation is pretty safe - the factory folks can't come into the front offices and the front door is locked so that deliveries have to get left on the porch. They wear masks if they're in the same room, but there are only 3 upstairs and their not-open-office-offices are all at least 20 feet apart. Jenna's finishing up her 2-year Business Administration degree this semester. School ends on the 13th, but of course there is no graduation ceremony. :( She will stay in Wilmington, perhaps finding a full-time job but probably having to make due with 2 part-time jobs. The school has approached her to being a tutor for the summer session, which is flattering and financially helpful.

I'm hanging out. Going grocery shopping every other week in a town 20 miles away since our town has a senior care center with at least 57 cases and the other closest town has at least 71 cases because there's a chicken processing plant in town.

Reading, doing some FoL Treasurer work but not much as the Library has already spent their budget for the fiscal year July 1 2019 - June 30 2020. I've been asked and have accepted the nomination to become President for fiscal 2020-2021. Sigh. There's really nobody else who wants it who can actually perform it. We'll see.

Maio 10, 2020, 9:40 am

>66 karenmarie: Good to hear you are all doing fine. And wow, that are a lot of cases around your town. And a chicken plant nearby. That's scary too. I think in our town it's not that big we have 125 known cases and 21 deaths up till now. We have 58.254 people living in our town. So I think we are doing real good.

Maio 11, 2020, 5:27 pm

>66 karenmarie: Should I congratulate you or comiserate with you on your election to FoL President? I know it will be a lot of work, but I know that it's a great contribution to your local community and library, so well done you - especially as it would be so easy at the moment to put your head down and not do anything at all.

Stay safe!

Maio 12, 2020, 10:30 am

>66 karenmarie: Congratulations on becoming the FoL president! And I'm sorry ;-)
>56 karenmarie: I've had that sitting on the shelf forever, so thanks for the review! Have you read Batavia's Graveyard by Mike Dash? That's an insane story.

Maio 12, 2020, 11:03 am

>67 connie53: Hi Connie. Your town statistics sound fantastic. We do have lots of cases, but as my friend Louise pointed out to me this morning, my driving 23 miles one way to a grocery store because of the cases in my town is rather silly – I don’t know how bad it is near the other store and the grocery chain itself is taking the same precautions in all stores. So today I think I’ll go take some library books back (where they’ll be quarantined for 3 days then wiped down), actually go into the pharmacy to get some clear nail polish (long story short: I usually get gel-fill on my nails, but took that off a while back and need to keep my nails protected because normally I chew them to shreads and pick at the cuticles), and go to the grocery store.

>68 Jackie_K: I’m not sure, Jackie – some of the time I’m looking forward to it and some of the time I dread it. I’m trying to decide whether to be a caretaker President or think about shaking things up – of course shaking things up takes energy and support and the first is questionable and the second even more questionable. Much of the Board is older than I am, but we really need to get younger people involved on the Board, but …. Hello Pandemic… now’s probably not the right time. I love the Friends of the Library and our sweet little Library. Trying to stay safe. I go out much less than almost everybody else I talk to yet feel I’m going out too much. Like today – it’s only been a week since I’ve been out.

>69 mstrust: Thanks, Jennifer. See above – I have mixed feelings, too…

I do hope you can get to In the Heart of the Sea sometime soon. It was such a good read. Have you read anything else by Philbrick? I have read Mayflower and have 4 others of his on my shelves that are tbr. I have not read Batavia’s Graveyard, but it sounds wonderful, so onto the wish list it goes!

Maio 13, 2020, 5:01 am

>70 karenmarie:. I hear you about the nail chewing. Good tip to get some nail polish on them. Going to do that.

Maio 13, 2020, 8:21 am

I got the nail polish yesterday, Connie, and today will take off the last of the chipped old clear polish, use cuticle remover tp clean up my cuticles, do a bit of filing to shape my nails, then actually polish them. I was going to write "Anything so I can proudly shake hands", but another Hello Pandemic reality check. Not going to be much hand shaking in our futures.

Maio 13, 2020, 9:03 am

Isn't that true! Even elbow hugging is not possible if you have to keep 1,5 meter distance. Maybe we can do a toe cuddle.

Maio 16, 2020, 10:20 am

A toe cuddle would be fun! I removed the last remnants of old red toenail polish a while back and now have bare toenails, too. It's hardly worth it to put clear polish on them...

Jun 20, 2020, 3:16 pm

Hi Karen, just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you and hoping that you're staying well and safe! Hope you're not too snowed under with FoL stuff!

Jun 21, 2020, 9:22 am

Thank you, Jackie! We're all well and safe. I'm staying very cautious and the only thing I've done since easing of lockdown was go to the farm and garden to buy 50 lbs of black oil sunflower seeds and 40 lbs of wild bird seed to keep my avian friends happy. Masked and furiously using hand sanitizer as soon as I got back into the car, of course.

End of year and tenure Treasurer stuff has kept me busy, and prep of new year budget with a phased-in approval that Pete gets to take over in 10 days... I'll be President and have already given serious thought to what we're looking for in new board members since Pete published an e-mail to 800+ members/lapsed members saying we need new blood. Two called me directly before I'd even thought about how to approach it, and I quickly drafted a standard letter and just sent it off to them this morning. We want activist members who can take on special projects or even standing positions (membership, publicity, etc.) if asked. And my first board meeting as President will be July 20th. I want to send out the by-laws to everybody currently on the board since I'm pretty sure most of them have not seen them...

So, busy but not snowed under. Things will actually become less day-to-day when Pete, the current President, and I switch jobs.

I'm reading quite a lot - I've finished 62 books this year out of my 100 book goal. Not so many ROOTs, I'm afraid.

I hope you're doing well, too. What's the lockdown/Covid-19 status in Scotland? When I look at statistics for the world I don't see Scotland - assume the stats are buried in the UK stats.

Jun 21, 2020, 12:37 pm

>76 karenmarie: I must admit I laughed at your buying so much bird food, Karen - our birds are eating us out of house and home too! I am making my own fatballs, and adding different things to try and make them last a bit longer (the current batch are full of peanuts), but they're still wolfing them down in a couple of days! I'm going to try chopping up some apple into the next batch.

I'm doing well here, thanks, just a bit fed up with it all! Yes, I think internationally Scotland's figures will be subsumed within the UK figures, although the actual response to Covid-19 is being led separately in the four nations of the UK. Generally, Scotland is being more cautious than in England (whose response is "led" by the UK government in Westminster, scare quotes intentional). We have just gone into phase 2 of leaving lockdown in Scotland, which means that we are still social distancing, masks on public transport, able to meet with 2 other families (socially distanced), but we are still encouraged to work from home where this is possible, schools are still not open, and shops are only slowly starting to reopen. Restaurants and pubs are still shut, other than for take-away/home delivery. We have managed a couple of socially-distanced play dates in the park, as A really really needs to play with children her own age, not just us fuddy-duddies! I am still working as a redeployed ward nurse at the hospital, but I'm hopeful (keep everything crossed for me!) that the end is in sight and I'll be able to go back to my research nurse role in the next few weeks. That will do wonders for my energy levels and mental health, to be honest - I've enjoyed the increased patient contact, but it's just not my thing, and I find it exhausting, as well as missing my actual work. When schools go back in mid-August after the summer holidays they are talking about it being 'blended' learning, so part at school and part home-based learning. That's fine for us as I work part-time and so can be more flexible, but it'll be a nightmare for families where both parents work full-time. I think it's going to be a long time before we return to 'normal'.

Jun 29, 2020, 8:52 am

Sorry for the delay in responding, Jackie.

If I buy small amounts, the price per pound is ridiculous. We've always bought this much at a time, keeping it in metal trash cans in the garage because of raccoons. We used to keep it outside but they were relentless and even figured out how to remove or chewed through the bungie cords we tried to use to keep the lids on.

I admire the making of 'fatballs'. I just buy suet and occasionally remember to put it out, since that feeder is on a side of the house I don't see all the time.

I was going to say that that the UK is doing better than the US, but heck, every country in the world except Brazil, possibly India, and possibly Russia, are doing better than the US. Trump is criminally negligent in the federal government's response. It's an embarrassment and I think an impeachable offense. I just hope he gets resoundingly voted out in November. In the meantime, 2.5 million Americans have been infected, 128K have died, and public health is politicized. Sigh.

I'm sorry about A. How do socially distanced play dates work? She's in the same position as my great-nephew Oliver, who just turned 5 and was/is expected to start kindergarten this year. I can't imagine schools opening up with the situation as bad as it is in southern California, and I empathize with teachers and school administrators all over the world as they scramble to come up with plans and alternative plans. Oliver has a 10-month old brother to play with, but he was in a very expensive and high quality pre-school situation and that socialization is so necessary for them in the lead up to kindergarten. His pre-school closed in March, I think, and my niece's wife was furloughed, so that worked out well. She's just started working from home again full time, and is currently having her mother come during the week until the mother's job re-starts in the fall, although that's iffy too since she works as a school cafeteria worker, see comments about schools opening the fall above. My sister's health is not exactly precarious - she's in remission from her cancer but has serious neuropathy in her feet, calves, and hands, and has ongoing problems with kidney stones. She's there helping now, but says that she can only help some, not as much as she wants and as they need. My niece just had surgery for endometriosis and can't pick up the baby for 4-6 weeks, so they're really going through it. They could definitely hire a nanny if they needed to. I'll be interested in seeing how they navigate childcare.

I hope you do get back to your research nurse role soon.

Jul 7, 2020, 4:21 pm

>78 karenmarie: Hi Karen!

Our fatballs are basically suet too - one advantage of making our own is that after making them I don't need to use any handcream for a couple of days because my hands are so soft after being stuck in all that suet!

The socially distanced play dates are a bit hit and miss - basically the parents stayed properly socially distanced, 2m apart, and we had to keep calling to the kids to remember to not get too close (but it didn't really work because they were too excited to see each other). This week in Scotland the rules have relaxed more for children under 12, which means that we don't need to police the distance they're at (although they are still supposed to use hand gel in the park very often, so I have to make sure there's some in the bag). The park has been very busy (well, at least on the days that it doesn't rain!) which made me feel quite uneasy to start with, but we can't keep the children stuck indoors forever so we just have to be careful as much as we can. What has been brilliant is that the park we mostly go to is near A's school, which means that most of the children there seem to be from the school too, so she's seen quite a few of her friends who she's not seen for weeks on end. Watching her running around and laughing with them has been brilliant, I've really felt for her being stuck with us the whole time.

I hope your niece's family situation isn't too precarious and they get childcare etc sorted out without too much stress. I know I'm lucky in that because I work part-time I can be much more flexible. It must be so hard for people where both partners work full-time.

2 weeks off (this week and next) and then I should be back to the research. It's a real relief, although if we end up having another spike of covid-19 in a few months then I might end up having to go back onto the ward again. Keeping everything crossed that that doesn't happen.

I hope you continue to stay safe and well, Karen.

Jul 16, 2020, 12:30 pm

Hi Karen. I feel really stupid for not visiting your thread sooner. It must be so frustrating to live so restricted. We are slowly getting out of lockdown. Schools, restaurants, bars and shops are open but can only serve a limited number of people. In the Netherlands our government thinks people are responsible enough to keep 1,5 meter distance. And most of the times that works. There have been occasions that young people don't keep that distance and had to be fined. But overall live is getting back to normal. We see the kids and grandkids again and that is really, really nice.

Jul 18, 2020, 3:12 pm

>79 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! I'm glad A's having fun with friends. I hope by now you're back to the research. Fingers crossed that there's no spike!

>80 connie53: No worries, Connie! I'm hardly visiting my thread lately because I'm not doing very well on ROOTs recently, although my 68 books out of 100 goal in the 75ers group has me feeling good. I envy you having things opened but of course here that would expand the disaster that states that opened up early are now experiencing.

It's definitely a dangerous world here in most parts of the US, since people AREN'T being responsible as a whole. However, we're staying safe and playing it smart. I haven't had a haircut in 4 months and am grateful for hair combs, but I've finally, after 59 years, figured out how to NOT bite my fingernails and so don't see going back to get my nails done ever again. I'm so glad you get to see your kids and granddaughters and that things are mostly open. I haven't seen my daughter since early January and desperately miss her. I can't see us spending time together any time soon, though, because of trying to stay safe in our little bubble. We don't want to infect her and don't want her to infect us.

Jul 18, 2020, 4:59 pm

>81 karenmarie: I'm so sorry that other people are being irresponsible idiots and creating a spike in cases where you are. I can imagine how desperately you miss your daughter -- I desperately miss my parents! I last saw them at Christmas :(

Editado: Jul 21, 2020, 12:47 pm

We're in the same boat, RP, missing our original nuclear families. :(

Ago 8, 2020, 4:53 am

Things are getting worse here again. Not so much in the area we live in. But in Amsterdam and Rotterdam so measures are more strict again in those areas. And that is due to graduates partying. There are lots of beach party's and the younger people are infected the most. They don't realize they can die too or infect their parents.

Ago 8, 2020, 10:34 am

Hi Connie!

That seems to be happening everywhere - people feeling invincible or pandemic fatigue. I'm sorry things are getting worse in the Netherlands. This thing has the world by the throat.

Even with a vaccine there may be a new normal for years or decades.

Ago 19, 2020, 3:25 pm

Hi Karen - just popping in to say I hope you're keeping well. I think people are getting pandemic fatigue here too - I'm seeing much less social distancing (although mask wearing in shops is largely complied with), and we are seeing more clusters in various parts of Scotland. Only one place so far (Aberdeen) has had to go into a local lockdown, but I think people are fooling themselves if they think it can't happen to them. The return to school seems to be going well so far, at least in A's school - there are some high schools around Scotland where there seem to be a few cases though. I hope a reliable vaccine is found soon, but I think you're right, this will be our normal for a while.

Set 4, 2020, 10:23 pm

Hi Jackie!

Yikes, I thought I answered you. I'm sorry.

I'm doing okay, still pretending it's lockdown except for essentials. I'm going to break that next week because I'm going to have someone come out to give me a quote on cleaning my house regularly again. I tried in February and I was seriously disappointed and haven't heard of anybody close by, not a large service, who comes recommended, 'til this week. I met Bobbi and her helper Linda today at friend Louise's house, the cleaners and I masked although Louise wasn't. I'm favorably impressed so far, just by seeing what she was doing at Louise's and talking with her for a bit, so we'll see. I'll call her Tuesday about coming out on Wednesday or Friday for a quote.

I'm reading a lot but not doing particularly well on my ROOTs. However, I've still go almost 4 months to read 6 more and I've got 3 going that I hope to finish by year end. I have read 85 books so far this year, though, so am happy. My overall goal is 100, which I'll be able to meet easily.

As far as politics and the pandemic overall goes, it's all terribly stressful and some days I don't even follow the news, which is very unusual for me. Oh well, I'm just doing what I need to do to get through this, hopefully with my health intact.

Out 3, 2020, 2:10 pm

Hi Karen!

I did it too, thought I'd answered this - I'm sorry too! (anyone would think we were getting old and forgetful...!)

I hope you're still doing OK, and that the cleaners worked out. I'm still at the point where I'd want to clean the house before the cleaners came round, and would find that a bit stressful, so for now we still do it ourselves.

Hopefully you and your family are still safe and covid-free. We are following the news from America as well as from over here, and thinking of you as it's just so uncertain and stressful, isn't it? Here we're keeping well; there is some talk in Scotland about a 'circuit breaker' lockdown (locking down for 2 to 3 weeks rather than indefinitely, to try and get the infection rate down prior to the winter flu season), but I don't know if they will go for that or not. We're meant to be going away for a few days for a cottage break in a couple of weeks time, but I'm trying to not look forward to it too much in case they say they will lock down, or put in more travel restrictions. If they're going to do it mid-Oct would be a good time as the schools are on holiday anyway, so it would be less disruptive for the schools.

I'd just like a bit of certainty for a change! To be able to make plans and be confident that they can actually happen.

Anyway - at least we have our books to help us escape it all for a while. I can see you're very close to your ROOT goal, good job! :)

Out 4, 2020, 3:50 am

>88 Jackie_K: We do the same, three weeks of measurements and hoping that the second wave breaks.

I'm so grateful for my books, that keeps me sane somehow. I can really bury myself in my books.

Out 4, 2020, 9:27 am

Hi Connie.

Reading is definitely more important these days. I've already read 95 books on my 100-book goal for the year. Unheard of in recent years.

Out 4, 2020, 10:32 am

>88 Jackie_K: Here the health authorities seem to be asking everyone to behave as if we were in the previous stage of lockdown without actually imposing the lockdown, possibly because they don't want to be seen as the bad guys ruining people's fun or the economy. But if businesses are allowed to remain open, people will assume that everything is safe to do when it may not be so. That said, private gatherings have been driving a lot of the spread because there aren't as many ways to ensure that people actually mask up and maintain distance (and because a home-like environment "feels" safer, whereas in a restaurant people are more likely to be on their guard).

Out 17, 2020, 2:10 pm

>90 karenmarie: Wow, 95 is a great achievement (I bet you're even closer to 100 now!). I think, including library books and non-ROOTs, I've read 75 or 76 books this year so far, which is unheard of for me!

>91 rabbitprincess: I think that's similar to what is happening here now. We decided not to go on our break to Skye this week, but have transferred the booking to next Easter, when hopefully there will be less disruption. Our friends who live on Skye told us that was probably wise because so many places are currently shut.

Out 17, 2020, 2:27 pm

>91 rabbitprincess: RP! Sorry I haven't already replied. Oh yes, authorities here also want their cake and to eat it too. I'm still pretending we're in phase 1 of lockdown, and with things getting worse again it might get back to that point anyway. And if Biden wins the Presidency (Please, God! I'm begging!) then come January 20th there will probably be a nation-wise mask mandate and actual efforts at trying to contain this thing in an adult way.

>92 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! I'm at 102 books read and 29 ROOTs read, although I'm seriously disappointed in myself because it's not my archaeological challenge, but mostly mystery ROOTs. ROOTs nevertheless, so I'm only one away from reaching my year's goal.

I've finally decided that we need to cancel Thanksgiving, much as it pains me. It's worse again in the US, our state is worse again, and I'm not going to have 7 non-close family members over for the afternoon. We may not even have our daughter out - she and I have already talked about it tentatively and it will be probably become the first time in her life that we haven't had Thanksgiving dinner together. Makes me sad, but these are perilous times.

Out 17, 2020, 3:46 pm

>93 karenmarie: The Friday after I wrote my original post, the provincial government imposed "modified stage 2" guidelines in several regions of Ontario. No indoor dining, gyms are shut, etc. We spent Thanksgiving at home, didn't even go to the in-laws' (we'd already nixed the traditional extended-family gathering). Halloween is pretty much off: people are strongly discouraged from holding parties or trick-or-treating with people outside their household. If people do put candy out, it will likely be in a bowl at the end of the driveway. I suggested throwing the candy at trick-or-treaters, to the other half's great amusement.

As for Christmas, I've booked my usual train trip to see my parents, but who knows whether that will pan out. If I don't get to go, it would be the first Christmas I haven't spent with them. But if that's what needs to be done, then that's what we'll do. (I'll have to get my dad to share his epic Christmas music collection so that I can stream it at my place.)

And if mystery ROOTs are what's doing it for you, reading-wise, I say do it! These are such stressful times that it is bound to affect one's reading, so just read what makes you feel good.

Out 17, 2020, 3:56 pm

>93 karenmarie: That's a big decision, but I'm sure it's the right one, Karen. I know how much you love hosting Thanksgiving, and how hard it will be if your daughter can't come, but with the virus so rampant it's the wisest thing to do.

And RP is right, of course - ROOTs are ROOTs, and this year of all years I think we all need to read for pleasure and stress relief.

Out 18, 2020, 4:18 am

I think all people worldwide have to cancel gatherings for Christmas or Thanksgiving. Here we are allowed 3 visitors per household, children under 13 years not included. So we can't have all the family over. So I think no Christmas party for us.

Out 18, 2020, 5:07 am

>93 karenmarie: That must be very hard on you, Karen, but better safe than sorry. This year really sucks. I have been so glad that I could visit my sister for her birthday, but now case numbers are going up again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Christmas.

Out 18, 2020, 12:09 pm

>95 Jackie_K: Safety overrides all, right now, for us, Jackie. The only option with Jenna and Thanksgiving is for us to get Covid tests, but if she has to work through the Wednesday before the Thursday holiday that wouldn't work anyway.

ROOTs are ROOTs for sure.

>96 connie53: I'm sorry, Connie - 4 adults and 3 kids definitely breaks that rule. Oh yes, we're all feeling the pain of cancelled family trips, gatherings, holidays. I was going to visit my sister in southern California, my maternal aunt/uncle in northern California, and my friend Karen in Montana this year.

>97 MissWatson: Thanks, Birgit, it is. You're lucky you could visit your sister when you did. I'm not at all confident about Christmas, alas, for us visiting family either.

Out 22, 2020, 10:48 am

Even though it is not my original archaeological goal for the year, I have completed 30 ROOTs, the last one being a Nero Wolfe mystery, #24 of 47, that I had never read before.

Out 22, 2020, 11:04 am

>99 karenmarie: Hooray, well done on meeting your goal, in this unsettling and goal-disrupting year!

Out 22, 2020, 12:33 pm

>99 karenmarie: Ooh, The Black Mountain? That is such an unusual entry in the series, but it's become one of my favorites. Archie's exasperation with all the foreign language conversations is very funny.

Out 22, 2020, 9:37 pm

Hi Julia!

It's the only one so far where they go out of the country. Footsore and unable to understand the conversations are the amusing bits. Communism and fascism are the scary bits. A reporter 'outing' Wolfe when the arrive back in New York with the murderer posing as a steward and then that steward shooting Wolfe in the leg... comic relief at the end.

Out 23, 2020, 4:35 am

Congrats on reaching your goal!

Out 23, 2020, 9:19 am

>102 karenmarie: I remember thinking when I first read this one that the comic bit at the end was Stout's way of signaling that he had not taken Wolfe and the series in a new direction permanently. Sort of a "Don't worry, we'll get back to snark and grumpy genius in the next one, folks!"

Out 25, 2020, 4:50 am

Congrations on reaching your goal, Karen!

Out 25, 2020, 9:13 am

>103 MissWatson: Thank you, Birgit! Feels good. This year I didn't count re-reads, as I have done other years. These are true never-read-before-books-from-my-shelves.

>104 rosalita: Interesting, and it has certainly been proved in the next in the series, Before Midnight. I started it yesterday.

>105 connie53: Thank you, Connie!

Out 25, 2020, 10:08 am

Oh, Before Midnight is such a hoot!

Nov 2, 2020, 11:24 am

I agree, Julia - clever and fun.

Next up is Three Witnesses, on shelf L75 (library, 7th shelf, 5th row). Mass market paperback, we'll see if it's readable. If not, I'll buy a Kindle copy.

Editado: Nov 2, 2020, 5:56 pm

>108 karenmarie: I've had some good luck getting Stout ebooks when they are put on sale, but I haven't seen Three Witnesses come up yet. Still hoping, as my own mass market paperback is getting a little loose in the spine.

If you have the paperback, is this one a re-read for you? I can never keep the novella collections straight, but I just refreshed my memory with a peek at the table of contents, and I will say that this one contains two of my most favorite shorts in the whole series.

Nov 2, 2020, 9:14 pm

Hi Julia!

My copy, which I just pulled, is a Bantam 5th printing November 1972. The pages aren't terribly yellowed, the spine is cracked at When a Man Murders... but the book is readable. I've never read it so it will count as a ROOT.

Nov 3, 2020, 1:19 pm

Hi Karen

Just a quick pop-in visit to say I'm thinking of my American friends today and in the coming week. I hope you keep safe, and your wonderful country can move forward.

Nov 3, 2020, 1:27 pm

Thank you, Jackie! As I wrote on my 75ers thread, I'm vibrating with stress and hope and angst today.

Nov 7, 2020, 10:59 pm

>99 karenmarie: Congratulations on meeting your ROOTs goal. Otherwise, I hope after tonight your election related stress has decreased. Between the pandemic and toxic political scene, this is the first time I've felt a little bit more hopeful in months.

Nov 7, 2020, 11:14 pm

Thank you, T-n-T! My election-related stress has reduced greatly. I'm glad you're more hopeful - I watched Harris and Biden speak a while ago and both were good speeches with powerful oration. Made me hopeful, too.

Pandemic-wise, the stress is only increasing as 132K+ cases were reported on Friday and 124K+ cases were reported today. It's getting scarier and scarier, actually. We had masks on today as Spectrum came to install internet and cable TV - the installer was masked the entire time, too.

Nov 8, 2020, 2:40 am

Hi Karen! Repaying your visit :)

>27 karenmarie: That's a gorgeous set of Agatha Christies. She's one of my blind spots; I've only ever read Murder on the Orient Express. Do you have favorites you'd recommend? I never quite know where to start with her.

>33 karenmarie: This one is on my list to get to!

>38 karenmarie: Another one on my list! I own it on Kindle; I have a bad habit of snapping up Kindle deals and then never getting to them. I think I need to start counting them as ROOTs to give myself some motivation.

>51 karenmarie: I have his Magpie Murders on my shelf to get to and am looking forward to it!

Congrats on reaching your goal!

Nov 8, 2020, 8:38 am

Hi Natalie!

Hmmm. Agatha Christie recommendations. As a general rule I prefer Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, but I do love Harley Quin, Colonel Race, Parker Pyne, and Ariadne Oliver, too. I do not like Tommy and Tuppence for some reason, but I'm in a minority. Her standalone mysteries are less appealing to me. Here's Wikipedia's bibliography: Agatha Christie Bibliography

Favorite Poirot: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Murder in Retrospect, Cards on the Table, Death on the Nile, Murder in Mesopotamia

Miss Marple: Murder at the Vicarage, A Pocketful of Rye, What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!, and two that should be read in this order: A Caribbean Mystery and Nemesis.

That should get you started. I never read any books by Christie in any order ever, and I've been reading them for 40 or more years.

I just looked in your catalog and don't see Oryx & Crake there. I forget Kindle books I've acquired over the years, and have started putting my acquisitions into my LT catalog when I acquire them to keep them visible, as it were. I still have quite a few I need to add through last year.

Thanks re my goal. It's my pandemic-modified goal - I'm just glad to get to 30 ROOTs this year so far. I may try to pursue an archaeological goal next year, but even though my blueness is showing with happiness at Biden/Harris, things are bleak pandemic wise and won't change in a heartbeat.

Nov 9, 2020, 5:12 am

Hi Karen! I'm with you on the Christie recommendations, could never whip up much enthusiasm for Tommy and Tuppence.

Nov 9, 2020, 11:08 am

Hi Karen! I finished A Gentleman in Moscow yesterday and absolutely loved it! It's not often I give fiction books 5* but this one was definitely worth it!

I'm encouraged that Biden/Harris seem to be hitting the ground running in terms of planning for a substantial Covid response. It will be hard to turn around, harder as they can't start till the end of January, but so far they are saying the right things.

Nov 9, 2020, 12:53 pm

>117 MissWatson: Hi Birgit! I just looked them up, and there are 5 books with Tommy and Tuppence. I have them and won't ever get rid of them because they are part of my AC collection, but I don't envision ever rereading them.

>118 Jackie_K: Jackie, I am so glad you gave AGiM 5 stars and absolutely loved it.

I hope that the Republican powers that be can convince Trump to concede and exit gracefully. So far the toddler-in-chief is behaving as expected - boorish, childish, moronic, graceless.

Nov 15, 2020, 2:46 pm

Karen: now exceeding goal! -- Congratulations!!

Nov 7 was a day of relief and optimism. I still feel a high level of anxiety and fury and honestly it's too much to put into words. *breathes*!

Nov 16, 2020, 1:06 pm

Hi MJ!

Thank you. #32 done and dusted.

I've been up and down and sideways since the mail ballots and early voting and election day and after. It's going to be alright, it's just not quite there yet. I feel the same fury that you do.

Dez 17, 2020, 4:48 pm

Hi Karen!

Thanks for dropping by my thread! I'm sorry to hear about the lack of FoL sales - I know you get some amazing books there every year. Hopefully next year - eventually - things will be closer to some kind of normality, and that kind of event can happen again safely.

I think you've made the right decision about being just the 2 of you at Christmas, I know it will feel strange without your daughter but the important thing is that everyone is safe, and (frankly) alive. What will she be doing for Christmas?

Dez 17, 2020, 6:28 pm

>116 karenmarie: I never responded, but thank you for the recommendations! Those should definitely get me started :)

Dez 17, 2020, 9:37 pm

>122 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! You're welcome. I have been remiss in not visiting all the threads I have starred.

Thanks re our alone Christmas decision. Jenna will be staying in her one-bedroom apartment in Wilmington, NC. She's not tempted to visit with the friend or two she has there, and she's definitely not tempted to visit friends in other parts of the state. She's smart and respectful of this virus, same as her mom and dad.

>123 curioussquared: You're welcome, Natalie. I hope they help.

Dez 24, 2020, 12:13 pm

Happy Christmas Karen - I know it will be different, but we hope for a better 2021. Much love to you and yours!

Dez 25, 2020, 9:28 am

Happy Holidays from the Netherlands!

Dez 26, 2020, 3:23 pm

Cheers to you, Karen!

Dez 26, 2020, 5:46 pm

>125 Jackie_K: Thank you, Jackie. I hope you had a Happy Christmas. Much love to you and yours, too.

>126 connie53: And happy holidays back! I hope you had a Merry Christmas, Connie.

>127 detailmuse: Hi MJ! Thank you.

Christmas was strange without Jenna but we spoke during the day and she sent lots of pictures of her with her presents – exactly what I wanted without having to ask. She got silly with the ribbons and wrapping paper. Here’s my favorite:

And yes, I got that sweatshirt for her. Attitude begets attitude.

Dez 27, 2020, 5:39 am

>128 karenmarie: that's an excellent photo! I love the sweatshirt - it looks like the apple didn't fall too far from the tree!

Dez 27, 2020, 9:27 am

I'm glad you were able to speak with your daughter on Christmas and hope you'll be able to see each other in person again soon.

Dez 27, 2020, 9:33 am

>129 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie! She's strong willed like I am, likes to be playful on occasion, and knows her mother pretty well - at least the things I've told her about! There are some things I did in my 20s that I'm just not going to bother her with... *smile*

>130 rabbitprincess: Hi RP! It was a good conversation, three-way on my cell phone with speaker phone on here. I am hoping we'll see her late spring or early summer, depending on vaccines and whether she stays in Wilmington or finds a job somewhere she really wants to live and moves there.

Dez 27, 2020, 12:46 pm

Good to hear that your Christmas was nice and you got to speak to Jenna. Love the picture!

Editado: Dez 27, 2020, 4:58 pm

>128 karenmarie: Glad your had a sensible and safe Christmas at home. (I know, it is especially difficult during this time of year.) We did the same and would have anyway, even without any stay-at-home orders for our county/state.

I just stopped by to catch up on your posts and to wish you a Happy New Year. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year.

Dez 30, 2020, 1:31 pm

>132 connie53: Hi Connie, and thank you.

>133 This-n-That: Thank you TnT - It was an easy decision but difficult to execute. Both Bill and I are a bit deflated today, to tell the truth.

Happy New Year to you, too! I won't jinx it by saying 2021 couldn't be any worse, but 2021 would have to work pretty hard to top 2020 for awfulness.