Saturday, June 12, 2021

Reading and Watching

68 and humid. A full day, so far, without rain, but the humidity is 92%. Mixed sun and clouds.

I haven't done so well in reading choices lately.

I'm not one who reads or watches the latest releases--I'm the kind that picks up books and DVDs in thrift stores, usually ones that were published quite a while back. Lately my picking instincts have not been very good. But there were a few winners in the batch.

First I tried a book by Jacqueline Mitchard, No Time to Wave Goodbye. Her earlier book, and the story on which this effort is built, was an Oprah selection, and I was hopeful after reading the jacket blurb that this one would be an engaging read. Not so. Mitchard's first book, The Deep End of the Ocean, was well written, but in this book, the story line sagged. For example, the author went into detailed descriptions of how attractive Beth Cappadora, the mother of the kidnapped boy, was. Why would that be important to the story? The dialogue was stilted and unrealistic, as were the reactions and emotions of the major characters to the return of the kidnapped son, and the kidnapped boy's own reactions. Most bothersome, to the point that I finally just skimmed over or skipped major portions, was the part of the book about the Academy Awards--what people wore, how glamorous it all was, the food, the name-dropping of stars and famous people all read like a teenager' gushing. I soldiered through to the bizarre and unbelievable end, but I wouldn't recommend anyone doing the same. A disappointing book all round.

Second was Jamie Ford's book, The Songs of Willow Frost. Oddly, the theme of this book was also about a child separated from his mother. I enjoyed Ford's first book, The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. set in Seattle, that book captured so much history of the area during the time of the Second World War, and the characters were memorable and moving. This second book is set in Seattle during the Depression era, and focuses on a boy in an orphanage who believes his mother might be the movie star and singer, Willow Frost. I tried to get into this story, but after the first five chapters, I put it down. The writing is excellent, but the story just didn't fire my imagination. Maybe at another time I will try it again.

My next choice was more successful, but that was no surprise as it was yet another title in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith--Teatime for the Traditionally Built. Mma Ramotswe and crew did not disappoint. The "mysteries" this detective agency takes on are often not the stuff of most mystery books, but the conversations and philosophy are engaging and frankly, just delightful. It helps immensely that I listened to the first few books on CD so that the pronunciations and accents are in my head as I read. The series is set in Botswana, and if you haven't yet tried them, I heartily recommend the series. 

Another tea-themed read, The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs, was yet another disappointment. Like No Time to Wave Goodbye, the author seemed to revel in name-dropping, pushing high-end brands, and making her heroine so wonderful that she was just not believable, or likable. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, and centered around an elite tea shoppe and its owner, the murder seemed like an afterthought to the activities of Theodosia, the tea shoppe owner and supposed solver of crimes. Little to no grief or sorrow was evident in Theodosia, although she claimed the victim was a good frend. The author seemed more concerned with expensive clothes and furnishings, high-class social events and showing off the many accomplishments of all the tea shoppe staff, and less interested in developing a decent plot and storyline. I will definitely be avoiding any other books by Ms. Childs.

Currently I am reading An American Family on the African Frontier: the Burnham Family Letters, 1893-1896. It's an intriguing read, although decidedly shocking in places, given the family's casual references to the disposability of native people. Today their attitudes and vocabulary would be racist and elitist in the extreme, but the book offers a startling look into the realities of that time. Descriptions of the family's travel and the places they see is really well worth the read. I am a lover of books of diaries and letters, and I am enjoying this one, although I cannot say I like the Burnham family much so far.

Tying in with the Africa theme was the movie, Beyond Borders, starring Angelina Jolie. The story begins with a relief worker doctor crashing an upscale AIDS fundraiser in London. His impassioned plea so moves one woman, played by Jolie, that she raises money herself and travels with supplies to the doctor's remote refugee camp in Ethiopia. The scenes of desperation and violence are shocking and yet feel realistic, which is even more deeply shocking. Hard to swallow is Jolie's character's lovely wardrobe in the places of squalor to which she traveled as a UN rep. It's not a story with a happy ending, but the acting is superb and the scenery, terrible at times, beautiful at others, kept me watching.

Tonight's movie was simply entertainment for our tired minds. Sometimes I just need something brainless after a hard day, so Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin and Michael Caine fit the bill. It's silly, that's a fact, and Steve Martin over-acted his part in my view, but Michael Caine was debonair and perfect. The story of two con men who scam women quite successfully but end up having to compete with each other--well, you can imagine how that goes. Or maybe not. Cringe through Martin's performance and the movie might be worth some time in the end. I'm planning to follow this up with the classic To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. A bit more on the same theme, but if I remember right, the acting and the story line will be much more sophisticated.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Booth Update

69 and humid this morning. Light showers off and on all day. Flooding last night in some areas of the county including downtown Ripley, our county seat. They had 3.5 inches of rain in an hour, a storm that incredibly passed us by here on our ridge.

So the past three days have been booth, booth, and booth. Wednesday we brought in new pieces of furniture, and I trained again on closing procedures. Thursday we brought in more stuff and after my doctor's appointment I worked in the afternoon. We sold some of the things we brought in the day before, and the mall was pretty busy all afternoon with lots of sales. Today, we went in to finish up some things I could not get to in my booths yesterday since I was so busy behind the counter. It's been an amazing 2 weeks of sales, and the backlog of furniture we thought we had has pretty much vanished. I need to get back to painting!

One thing I've been wanting to do for a while is to line the backs of these dark gray shelves with something a little more colorful. I got most of them done today. And now I'm wondering if I should have also lined the sides and bottom of each one. What do you think? It certainly brightened them up, and have me a chance to do some re-arranging of the merchandise too.

As you can see, I didn't do the bottom shelf. That would require being on my knees, something I will not do because it hurts too much. So they may have to stay as they are unless I come up with a way to do them.

Sorry for this blurry photo. As you can sort of see, I used different papers on each shelf, just to give some variety.

I tried to color-coordinate the items on each shelf. Probably not necessary but it was fun to do anyway.

We added this nice dinette set which we bought at the auction last week. It's in such good condition.

We also added the table in the center here. We sold the table and chairs that were here, as well as the table we brought in the other day, so we had lots of re-arranging to do.

For our younger visitors, I picked up some dinosaurs at a yard sale and priced them very cheaply. This gives the little ones something they can buy when they come in.

The Ford tractor, however, will most likely be bought by a much bigger kid, i.e. grown man.

We moved this table into the space where the other table we brought in was--and that table replaced a Hoosier-style cabinet that had sold earlier. 

A yard sale find just this morning. Kid-sized Adirondack chair.

Found this metal ice cream maker on eBay for a good price. There isn't another in the mall, so I thought it would be a good addition.

The white mantle replaces the oak mantle that sold last Sunday. Sometimes this week it felt like we kept going through a revolving door with stuff, LOL. But that's a good thing, right?

I seem to have this thing for lamps. Getting lamp-poor these days but I keep running across nice ones.

There is much more that I missed with my camera, so I'll have to take more when we go in next week.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Cherry Time

69 and raining this morning. Heavy rain yesterday evening, and now showers. Thank goodness, I thought we'd have to be out there with the watering cans again.

Yesterday was cherry -picking time. At least a start at it anyway. Our efforts to keep the tree from freezing in April paid off--remember, we sprayed the tree with water early in the morning for a couple days to wash off the frost? We have more cherries than any past year. This time of year always reminds me of my childhood, and the cherry-picking days I wrote about in this post a few years ago.

We've picked about a third of them, I think. then quickly ran them through the cherry stoner and put them in the freezer. They'll be for pies and jam on another day. Next picking I will make a cobbler, the thing I look forward to all year. For pictures of the cherry pitter, etc. check out this post from 2015.

Yesterday was also snickerdoodles time. Why? No reason except that I got a sudden craving for them. So while I waited for paint to dry on a mantle I was working on, I made cookies. This was before cherry-picking or I'm pretty sure I'd have made cobbler instead! And guess what, there's an old post on this blog about these cookies too, and how to make them. Yeah, I guess I've been blogging a long time because it seems I've written about a lot of things. In this post my granddaughters are so young--now one is in the National Guard full time and the other is expecting her second child. How the years fly by.

Larry got out the paint sprayer and painted the yard bench that's been waiting to be done--a bright aqua color. I'd have preferred a darkish green but the mall owner suggested aqua as it certainly sells on outdoor furniture, so aqua it is. He's been busy with the gardens too, tying up all his tomatoes and putting in even more peppers. That and mowing kept him occupied all day. 

Today is booth work. We have so much to take in, we'll have to take both vehicles and take another load tomorrow too. I'll post photos of what we take in tomorrow, if I have time. I'll be working at the mall after my doctor's appointment in the morning. 

I may miss the writing conference this year. It's this weekend and I always look forward to it, but this year my heart doesn't seem to be in it. Maybe I'll go for one day, just to see everyone. It's been a long two years since the last conference. I really haven't been writing much; inspiration seemed to leave with the pandemic but perhaps now as things return to normal I'll get back to it.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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