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broodings from the burrow

April 15, 2016

they know me, dessert drink, and rescheduled
posted by soe 1:20 am

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. The stunned look on my coworkers’ faces when I volunteered to come in early to work tomorrow to help prep for an event.

2. At a local bar, I order a drink off the dessert menu: a pineapple soda float.

3. While normally I am a huge fan of April baseball, even I admit that I was not looking forward to last Saturday’s game, which was forecast to be damp, cold, and windy. When they postpone the game until May, I am not sad.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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April 8, 2016

first harvest, substitution, and surprise sick food
posted by soe 11:21 am

I dozed off last night without posting, so here is a belated list of three beautiful things from my past week:

Violets in My Garden

1. The strawberry plot in my garden is filled with violets. I pick a bunch to enjoy at home.

2. I screw up the time of an event and miss it. So instead I sit in the sun at a cafe with some chai and a piece of blueberry chocolate pie and read.

3. Rudi’s been under the weather this week and was particularly unhappy yesterday evening as I was leaving work. My go-to sick food comes out of a packet, but his is homemade chicken soup like his mom makes, which clearly I’m never going to prepare. So I stop at the Greek place near our house to pick up their homemade chicken soup for supper without telling him that was my plan.

And a bonus for being late:

4. One of the things I hate about ski season is that unused skis sit behind the door to our apartment and keep it from fully opening, which makes getting my bike in and out difficult. (This is less a problem in the dead cold of winter and more so when it starts to warm up a bit.) I arrive home from work one evening to find that the skis have been put away and the door opens wide once more.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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April 3, 2016

into the stacks: march 2016
posted by soe 2:35 am

I know, I know. I never finished February’s list. But March’s list is short, so let’s get these up, shall we, and then circle back to February’s longer list later this week.

I only finished two books last month:

The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Longest Season, by Barry Svrluga

I like to read at least one baseball book a year. At last fall’s National Book Festival, Sarah wanted to hear Washington Post sports columnist Barry Svrluga speak, so I tagged along and enjoyed his talk about following the Washington Nationals around to cover what is the world’s longest sports season. In your head, you might be saying, “But baseball is only played for six months.” You would be right … sort of. There are games for six months, nearly every day. In a modern regular season, there are 162 games, but that’s over the course of 183 days. That means a baseball player only gets a maximum of 21 days “off” over those six months, and even then they’re probably working out for part of each one or traveling. They report to spring training six weeks before the season, and modern players are expected to arrive at spring training in shape from the off-season. This book is a fleshed out collection of the columns that he wrote, each focusing how people within various parts of a baseball organization deal with it. Because that schedule doesn’t just affect the players on the roster. It affects the coaching staff, the administrative staff, the scouts, players in the minor leagues, and all of their families. And, according to the book, each and every one of those people is carrying the weight of it.

As a baseball fan for many years, I admit that I hadn’t thought about baseball in this way before — neither about how little time away from the job they get (if your job affords you the luxury of two consecutive days off in a week, think how grumpy and less productive you might become, no matter how much you love what you do, if suddenly you were expected to give nearly all of them up for six months at a time) or how much of the burden of that falls on support staff and family members.

The book is a fast read, only ten chapters in all, and it does feel like it came from a weekly newspaper series. That said, if you enjoy baseball or how any large organization becomes successful, I’d recommend picking it up.

Pages: 176. Library copy.

Death at Wentwater Court, by Carola Dunn

This cozy mystery, set in 1920s England, is the first (of 22, to date) in a series about Daisy Dalrymple, a journalist and the daughter of a late viscount. (In case you aren’t up on your titles, as I was not, a viscount is better than a baron, but not as good as a baron/count.)

At the outset of her first novel, Daisy has convinced a magazine editor that her unique combination of journalistic skills and aristocratic connections make her the ideal person to write a series of articles about the homes of the gentry. She has come from London out to Wentwater Court to interview and photograph Lord Wentwater and his estate. Upon arrival, she discovers that in addition to him and his wife (they were recently wed) and his four grown children, those in residence at the estate include his sister and her husband, the eldest son’s fiancee (and her brother, who was Daisy’s late brother’s best friend and is Daisy’s on-again, off-again admirer), and the gentleman friend of Lord Wentwater’s daughter.

It is this gentleman, a truly unpleasant fellow, who turns up the next morning dead, and Daisy is asked to take a few photos of where the man’s body was found. When she discovers an anomaly and reports it to the detective who has been asked to investigate, she is pressed into becoming his secretary during interviews and finds herself knee-deep into the investigation.

Let me say that the plot of the mystery is stretched a little thin at points and that the secondary characters are not especially fleshed out, but neither was what drew me into the story. Daisy is a plucky, but kind character, as is Alec, the Scotland Yard detective sent to the estate, and they both have interesting back stories I’d like to learn more about. They are characters with potential, and I can also see a potential for the mysteries themselves improving, too, as we get further into the series. If you like the Maisie Dobbs books or Lord Peter Wimsey series, I think Daisy will appeal to you, as well.

However, may I suggest that if you are interested in reading this series and in being surprised by plot twists that you not Google the character or the book, but simply request it from your library or book purveyor? A simple search of Daisy’s name gives away several plot points just in the descriptions on the first page of results, so if you want a spoiler-free reading experience, let my mistake be your guide.

Pages: 252. (I listened to the audio version, though.) Library copy.

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April 2, 2016

valentine’s day ninja book swap
posted by soe 2:16 am

I’ve had great fun doing the past two Ninja Book Swaps, and while I thought about sitting this one out, I decided that I’d enjoyed them too much to skip it. I sent a package off to Louise in Derbyshire and got one back from Kate in West Midlands, which I finally managed to collect from DHL this week after we had some difficulties getting it dropped off:

Opening the Box

I didn’t even know that colored packing peanuts were a thing! Incidentally, Corey thought this was the best part of the package, since he loves packing peanuts. He tried to steal several of them!

Ninja Book Swap Presents!

Kate sent me two books I’ve been wanting to read from her personal collection: The Magicians, which I’ve been wanting to read since it first came out, and The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, the latest novel by Fannie Flagg, who’s one of my favorite comfort-read authors.

Valentine's Ninja Book Swap

She also sent me some shortbread cookies and a box of tea, which she, not being a tea drinker, picked up at her sister’s suggestion. I’m looking forward to late-night snacks while reading.

Finally, she sent me an ordinance map of Wolverhampton, where she lives. She did not reside there in 1901, however, but she included an awesome card guiding me around the map to find the spots where they would eventually build all the places she’d lived in.

Thank you, Kate, for such lovely gifts! I love them! And a hearty thank you to Bex, for organizing the swap! If you think this sounds like fun, I recommend signing up for the mailing list, which will get you reminders when the next round is coming up.

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April 1, 2016

planted, nap, and mitchell park
posted by soe 2:29 am

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Rudi and I clear the garden of debris, turn the dirt, add some fresh soil, and plant peas and some random plants we pick up the local garden collective. Next, I need to plant my kitchen-weary potatoes and go through my seeds and decide what to plant where and when.

2. After 15 miles of cycling and a long day at work, I only mean to collapse on the bed for a few minutes. Instead, it’s a 2-hour nap.

3. Last weekend was gorgeous, and circumstances conspire to bring me up to the local park in the late afternoon. I eat lunch and read and peruse the Little Free Library selections and watch ecstatic pups and children romp in warm sunlight.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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