nightdog_barks: Color illustration of a Purple Finch (Bird purple finch)
Lots of heavy rain and thunder and lightning last night, but no hail of any size, which was a relief. Today the sky was completely clear and blue.

Finished Anna Burns' novel Milkman, set in a district of Belfast, Northern Ireland during The Troubles. I had initially been wary of trying it because I'd seen a lot of talk about how it was hard to understand and difficult to follow, but I found it to be neither of those things and I ended up really liking it.

Currently reading Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, which is basically an alternate world history in which the plague killed 99% of the European population, thus leaving the doors for exploration and conquest open for everyone else.

Woof

Apr. 13th, 2019 12:50 pm
nightdog_barks: (Star Dog)
It's a rainy, stormy Saturday here, so here's a story from today's Guardian about the first canine forensic reconstruction -- a dog that lived 4,500 years ago on the island of Orkney.

Handsome fellow, Y/Y?
nightdog_barks: (Dame Judi)
Kittens, the air is so thick you could cut it with a knife. The temperature here is 72 degrees (22.2 degrees Celsius), and the humidity is 78%. Which is actually down from the 84% it was earlier. No sun, no breeze, just still.

Currently reading (and almost finished with) Scott Hawkins' The Library at Mount Char. Dear friends, it has been a long, long time since I've read such a bananapants monkeyhouse of a novel. I am just saying.
nightdog_barks: (Red Devil)


Yes, our resident squirrels think the new feeder is their new boat. LOLOLOL
nightdog_barks: English robin on a white background (English robin)
If you could be better than March, that would be just peachy-keen.

Blib blab

Mar. 26th, 2019 05:22 pm
nightdog_barks: (Looking West)
1) Ugh, I am so tired today, which is what usually happens when I take Benadryl the night before, but on the other hand, Benadryl is helping my sinuses cope with what has been a TERRIBLE allergy season here so there's that.

2) Finished Marina and Sergey Dyachenko's Vita Nostra and really liked it, although I will totally confess I am still not 100% sure about wtf actually happened or even what was going on. I mean ... I think I can hazard a guess, but a guess would be all it is. If you liked Lev Grossman's The Magicians, you'd probably like this. It has basically the same framework -- young people are sent to a Mysterious Place of Learning to study magic, but in the case of Vita Nostra, is it really magic, or just a new way of seeing? A lot of questions never get answered, but oddly enough, I was okay with that because I was too busy being swept along by events. I honestly thought the Goodreads reviewer Rincey said it best with her one-line summation: This book is like Harry Potter, but if it was written by Kafka. :D

3) Anyway, now reading Geoffrey C. Ward's A Disposition to Be Rich, which is a biography of Ferdinand Ward, the Bernie Madoff swindler/con man of the Gilded Age, who also happens to be the author's great-grandfather. Very good so far.

Three

Mar. 21st, 2019 04:37 pm
nightdog_barks: Illustration of a young girl wearing a cat mask bandit-style (Mask Girl)
1) Dreamed last night that a snake turned into a child. In the dream I had been asked by my Dream BFF (who was someone I used to work with, decades ago) to watch her daughter for the day or the afternoon or whatever. So we met in a parking garage, and she laid a small snake (like the size of a harmless little garter snake) on the concrete floor (this all felt like an ordinary occurrence in the dream), and when I picked it up the snake transformed into a laughing, squirming toddler in my arms. My friend was in a hurry, so in the dream it was BFF, snake, toddler, boom boom boom. I also knew in the dream that I had done this many times before, and I was happy to do it (even though in Real Life I am definitely not a Kids Person). So. That was that.

2) Stayed up way too late last night reading Marina and Sergey Dyachenko's Vita Nostra, and holy shit, kittens, this is one creepy and fascinating tale.

3) Beautiful spring weather today. I should plant the basil, cilantro, and bee balm seeds I've bought, but for some reason it's very hard to get motivated. :-P

Recipe!

Mar. 19th, 2019 05:48 pm
nightdog_barks: (Happy Pink Stove)
We made this lemon-coconut cake (recipe from the NY Times) yesterday, and it turned out great. Wonderful bright lemon flavor, tender crumb -- just really good. :D

Under here ...  )
nightdog_barks: (Green Tree)
As if overnight, the goldfinches have vanished. A few of the juncos are still around. Mourning doves, white-winged doves, blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, and titmice and wrens are still in residence. But no goldfinches.

Read Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles and liked it quite a lot. Now reading Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, and so far it is very good.
nightdog_barks: (Mountains)
That's a line from a poem by W.S. Merwin, called The Estuary. He passed away this morning, aged 91. Here's one of his short poems --

Separation

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
nightdog_barks: Color illustration of a Purple Finch (Bird purple finch)
Spring appears to be ... springing? at last. 77 degrees right now (25 degrees Celsius). A line of storms came ROARING through here at about 4:30 this morning (the National Weather Service said they were pedal to the metal at 65 mph, which is really fast). Lots of thunder and lightning, and our little rain gauge says we got exactly a half-inch of rain.

Went out to Lowe's yesterday to look around. Was tempted by the baby tomato plants, but ended up getting a big purple-pink geranium, which I potted this afternoon. Layla only helped a little bit. :D

Must turn the clocks forward tonight. Ugh.
nightdog_barks: Illustration of a young girl wearing a cat mask bandit-style (Mask Girl)
Cold, but at least it's (hazily) sunny. Currently 31 degrees (-.6 Celsius), but with the wind chill it feels like it's 21 (-6.1). I stepped out earlier this morning to refill the thistle socks and the dried corn cobs, and by the time I was finished my hands felt like they were burning.

Had an anxiety dream last night in which I was on a college campus and was told I could no longer attend said college because I hadn't been going to any of the classes. Which ... I didn't know about? The classes, that is. I was worrying because apparently I was all alone in this dream world and would now have to find a job, and I couldn't think of any jobs that might hire a 60-year-old woman with chronic health issues. I was still kind of sad and annoyed (sannoyed?) when I woke up.

Anyway, on a much better note, here is a link to a nice long read by Rebecca Solnit, on libraries and childhood -- In Praise of Libraries and the Forests That Surround Them. A very small excerpt:

The child I once was read constantly and hardly spoke, because she was ambivalent about the merits of communication, about the risks of being mocked or punished or exposed. The idea of being understood and encouraged, of recognizing herself in another, of affirmation, had hardly occurred to her and neither had the idea that she had something to give others. So she read, taking in words in huge quantities, a children’s and then an adult’s novel a day for many years, seven books a week or so, gorging on books, fasting on speech, carrying piles of books home from the library.

Yep. That was me. :D
nightdog_barks: A white heron stands, looking to the right (Medieval heron)
Finished Ben Aaronovitch's The Hanging Tree last night. I liked it a lot, but ... I have some quibbles with it. I'm going to put the rest under a cut because I may give away some plot points, and I know I'd be pissed if I were spoiled for something I hadn't read yet. *g*

Yes, Peter Grant is still terrific ...  )

ANYWAY. Do I recommend? Yes, I do. Despite my (few) quibbles, I would give The Hanging Tree two thumbs up. Great series, strong rec. :D

Bleak and drizzly here today. There were at least a dozen finches at the feeders earlier, along with doves, juncos, and a pair of beautiful cardinals. Also there was a blue jay being a dick, making hawk calls to scare off the smaller birds so he and his blue jay pals could have the feeders all to themselves. Brazen little bastards. LOL

Low of 35 degrees tonight (1.7 degrees Celsius); 20 degrees (-6.7 C) tomorrow night. Hard freezes at night through Tuesday. SPRING PLZ COME SOON.
nightdog_barks: (Star Dog)
And to start the month, here's Layla on her big new comfy bed! I ... probably could've gone one size down. :D



Weather was damp and raw, and it's only supposed to go downhill. :-P
nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
You were ... mostly forgettable? I mean, there were some nice, unusually warm days, but I think for the most part you were just chilly, damp, and grey. Hopefully March will be better just by virtue of being March.

Currently reading Ben Aaronovitch's The Hanging Tree, which is the sixth book in his Rivers of London series.
nightdog_barks: Illustration of woman with parasol walking against the rain by Alison Jay (Rain lady)
It was not nice and warm. It was chilly and grey and very, very wet. Nevertheless, the bush cherry plant that I bought in February of last year is blooming!



Not a great pic, but oh well. And what you can't see is that there are a ton of little pink buds on the other branches.

Bonus pic of Layla under the cut ...  )
nightdog_barks: Medieval illustration of the sun (Sun face)
Beautiful day here today -- clear blue skies with not a cloud in sight. A cool 56 degrees (13.3 degrees Celsius), with a light breeze out of the north. Mister Nightdog went to Lowe's early this morning (after taking Layla for her walk and to the dog park) and picked up a big bag of potting soil (which we needed). I've been thinking vaguely of trying tomatoes again this year, but I haven't decided. I was tempted by some nice, healthy-looking little Better Bush plants at Kroger -- I checked the labeling and they were determinate, which means they wouldn't have tried to vine all over the damn place. But I held off. Maybe if they still have them next week. Or maybe I'll go to Calloway's, see what they have. Something to think about. :-)
nightdog_barks: A purple poppy flower; illustration by Hannah Firmin (Flower purple poppy)
1) Yesterday was nice and sunny, today it's grey and damp (again). Refilled the sunflower seed feeders, the thistle socks, and the corn cob holders. Layla helped by wanting to be petted; the next-door neighbor's Boston Terrier Sadie helped by collapsing dramatically next to the fence and whining to be petted. (She's fine -- the neighbors have a new baby and Sadie does not get as much attention as she thinks she deserves.) (I petted her.)

2) An unexpected pleasure today -- a couple of weeks ago, some movie channel was showing The Prince of Tides, which, let's face it, is not a great movie but it's an okay movie to have on in the background of whatever else you're doing. Anyway, it made me think about reading the Pat Conroy novel it's based on MANY YEARS AGO, and I thought, hey, I wouldn't mind reading that novel again. So instead of borrowing it from the library like any normal person, I poked around online and found a used trade-paperback copy at Powell's for $4.50. Even with $3.99 shipping, it was less expensive than anything Amazon had (at that time). And I've ordered from Powell's before -- their used books have always been in great shape. SO ANYWAY, it came today and I took it out of the package and flipped through the pages, and ... it's a signed copy. On the title page, there's an inscription and signature -- To Melinda For the Love of The lowcountry Pat Conroy. I checked it against real Conroy signatures, and it sure LOOKS real. It's not really worth anything -- it's not a first edition or even a first printing. It's a mass-market trade paperback, a 2009 edition of a book that was first published in 1986. I'm pretty sure it's worth exactly ... $4.50. Still, it's kind of nice. And, as I said, unexpected. :DDD

3) Did a couple of loads of laundry today; took some ribs out of the refrigerator to cook for dinner. I finished reading Elizabeth McCracken's Bowlaway last night and can't say enough good things about it. What an absolutely fantastic read -- two strong thumbs up, enthusiastic recommendation.

Three; post.
nightdog_barks: (Glass Full of Rain)
1) I saw a female Purple Finch on one of the sunflower seed feeders this afternoon. Beautiful little bird! The white stripe over the eye was super distinctive. :D

2) Grey and dreary, supposed to rain all or most of the day tomorrow. Which we do really need! But still. Rain.

3) I was sorry to see that Hugh Laurie's chocolate Lab has passed away at the venerable age of 17. A very advanced age for a Labrador Retriever! Layla is four; she and Mister Nightdog saw a coyote early this morning on their walk. She growled and huffed at it -- it watched curiously for a moment, then sauntered away.

Three things; post.
nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
Well, back to winter for us. Overcast, grey, dreary, damp, and cold. :-P

Was saddened to open up the Guardian today (it wasn't in the headlines of the Washington Post yet) and see that the great actor Bruno Ganz had passed away. Yes, Downfall was a great film, but I'll always remember him in Wings of Desire, as the angel who wanted to be human, with its gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and vision of public libraries as sacred spaces. I described it last year as exquisite and talky and enthralling and goofy, and I'd still go with that. :-)

I want it to be warm and sunny again. Sigh.

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April 2019

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What I'm Reading Now

Fiction
The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson

Nonfiction
The Day That Went Missing: A Family Tragedy, by Richard Beard

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