sunday salon: october


“…and who, after all these centuries, can describe the fineness of an autumn day? One might pretend never to have seen one before, or, to more purpose, that there would never be another like it. The clear and searching sweep of sun on the lawns was like a climax of the year’s lights.”

~ “The Brigadier and the Golf Widow” by John Cheever

October — now, already. With the turn of the calendar page, we’ve been thrown a bit too quickly into fall, it seems. I broke out the turtlenecks this week and on Friday, a coat was definitely needed in the morning as I set out for work. Yet, yesterday’s rains (remnants of Joaquin, maybe) have yielded to a crisp day that hints at the slightly warmer temperatures to come this week.

California Dreamin’ 
I was resenting last week’s seasonal change a bit more than usual because three months ago, we had booked a trip to San Diego — just me and The Husband. We had talked about the possibility of this trip for awhile. Had this actually occurred, we would have been in California last week – missing the dreary rain and autumn chill that besot Pittsburgh. All the reminders of that trip over the last few days shouldn’t have bummed me out as much as it did — not to mention, made me as cranky — but, dammit, I really wanted to be there and we should have been there. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everything happens for a reason and all that bullshit, I know, and as these things go, such a trip would have been difficult (if not impossible) with all that’s happening on the homefront … but that doesn’t make me any less disappointed.

There are several fun things to look forward to during this month, however, so I’m trying to concentrate on those instead of wallowing in my woulda-coulda-shoulda pity party.  On Thursday evening, Rainbow Rowell will be at the library for a kids and teens event and my girl is beyond excited about this (she loves Rainbow Rowell). I actually haven’t read any of her books, but I know a lot of bloggers rave about her novels.

Then, on October 21, guess who’s coming to the library? Margaret Atwood! I cannot wait for this. Tickets sold out in less than seven hours. I only wish I could find my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale (which I think is one of the best books in the history of the written word). I might have to buy another one for Margaret Atwood to sign. We’re limited to two books per person for the book signing portion, which I understand, but still.  I think we get a signed copy of The Heart Goes Last with our ticket price.

The MiniaturistYesterday I finished The Miniaturist, which I think has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen.  This debut novel by Jessie Burton is set in Amsterdam, in 1686. Petronella (who goes by Nella) is 18 when she marries a wealthy merchant named Johannes Brandt. After moving into his mansion, Nella quickly learns that this is a household full of secrets. Even more puzzling are the miniatures that are sent to Nella to furnish a dollhouse — an exact replica of their home — that Johannes has given her as a wedding gift. The items are very specific and tend to be messages about future events.

I read this as a selection for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X (RIP X).  I’ll have more to say on this one in a future post, but suffice it to say that I really liked it. There have been comparisons to Sarah Waters, and I can definitely see that.

Tonight I’m hoping to start Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I am a huge fan of hers; I’ve read all of her books and love every single one of them — which is not something I can say about many writers (usually there’s a dud or two in the mix). It’s #7 or something on the New York Times bestseller list and my copy is due back to the library on Wednesday with no renews, so I need to read this fast (won’t be a problem, methinks).

Because I’m listening to more podcasts these days, my audiobook consumption has kind of suffered. My solution? Listening to short story collections. That way, if there are several podcasts that have caught my interest and I go a day between listening to a book, I’m not hopelessly lost.

The John Cheever Audio CollectionI spotted The John Cheever Audio Collection at the library and decided to try his stories.  This is where I confess that I’ve never read any John Cheever, which is something I think I should have done by now. Someone who loves short stories as much as I do really should have some familiarity with Cheever.

The narration is key to this collection of 12 stories. Meryl Streep is brilliant on “The Enormous Radio” (how could she not be?) but that doesn’t take away from this being one of the best stories in the bunch. “The Five Thirty Eight” is another great offering. These stories evoke another time — a simpler world — which is why I’m enjoying them. I’ll probably wind up reading some others in print — although I’m not sure if Cheever will wind up on my favorite authors list.  I’m only halfway through this audiobook, so we shall see.

Hope all is well in your world (reading and otherwise) as we begin this new month.

a quiet knotted faith

Pope Mass in Philly

I’ve been glued to the TV this weekend, captivated by the coverage of Pope Francis’ historic visit in my hometown of Philadelphia. My kids are perplexed at my interest (“Why are you watching this? We’re not even Catholic,” and “I’ve never seen you so religious, Mom,” have been common refrains, as if they’re expecting me to join a nunnery).

But with the exception of the Festival of Families ceremony last night, which struck me as .. well, kind of weird … I couldn’t get enough.  Like millions of others, I love this charismatic Pope and how his words and actions challenges and inspires every one of us to become better people.

The concept of faith is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past few months. Raised Lutheran, I attended a Catholic college where I met and fell in love with a guy who was raised Jewish. (We were the only two non-Catholics in the Religion in America class that was the catalyst for our becoming friends.)  We were married in the Lutheran church by a pastor who embraced a new, modern approach to Christianity that emphasized a message of hope and optimism and God’s role in making us better people. So much of who I am and what I believe is because of this pastor and his sermons that are still on my bookshelves today.

At one point during our Infertility Years, my sister-in-law invited The Husband and I to attend a local Unitarian Universalist congregation … and no one was more surprised than we were when we kept coming back. That church became a rock for us in those tough years.

But over the past two years, my attendance at a UU fellowship here in Pittsburgh has been sporadic at best to non-existent. It has nothing to do with the church itself, as I really like the people, the services, and the minister. Part of it is timing: in our house, Sunday mornings and afternoons usually find the four of us relaxing in our respective ways:  with football, baseball or hockey on TV, depending on the sport of the season; with a book and some time spent on the deck communing with the birds and weather; with writing; with a hearty soup in the crockpot. It’s a simple time, a quasi-Sabbath, a reprieve during the week. Mass offered at different times is something I’ve always thought the Catholics do right; in 2012,  82% of Unitarian Universalist congregations had 249 members or less, so there’s a ways to go there. (Then again, there isn’t that whole weekly obligation thing.)

Still, ours is a family that’s unchurched and unaffiliated. The consequence of such ranges from my kids not knowing the basic principles of religion (“What does ‘bless’ mean?” my son asked this morning, as I watched on TV the Pope embracing prisoners) to my frustration on how faith communities often fail to accommodate children with disabilities — yes, even UUs — and my guilt that maybe raising our kids with a lack of religious fundamentals demonstrates how much The Husband and I have screwed up as parents.

I’m not sure what the answer is – and to be honest, because I’m not even sure the UU faith is working for me right now, I can’t prescribe it as a balm for everyone in our family. (Although there will be a monthly Wednesday evening service this fall, so that might be something.) The Unitarian Universalist religion’s heavy emphasis on social justice and seemingly relentless focus on certain societal and political issues (important as they are) often leaves me weary because there’s only so much I can do, only so much attention I can give, especially when — as has been the case recently — my own world feels out of control and chaotic.

Where the brand of Lutheranism of my youth, the Catholicism of my college years, and the Unitarian Universalist affiliations in my adulthood have been the faiths I’ve identified with the most, my faith has become akin to a smoothie. It’s somewhat of a potpourri of the past and the present these days: reading Anne LaMott; listening to UU blogs and podcasts; meditating before bedtime; performing infrequent random acts of kindness; being observant of the skies; submitting a struggle online for a stranger to add to the Mary, Undoer of Knots Grotto.

I wonder if it is all good enough, and then, amazingly, as I watched Pope Francis celebrate Mass with hundreds of thousands in the streets of my beloved Philadelphia, the  Pope says yes, it is.

“Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures.

Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.

Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, he wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of his own living and active presence in our world.

So we might ask ourselves: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children (cf. Laudato Si’, 160)? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change (cf. ibid., 13). May our children find in us models and incentives to communion! May our children find in us men and women capable of joining others in bringing to full flower all the good seeds which the Father has sown!”  (Text of Pope Francis’ homily, 9/27/2015, Philadelphia)

May it be so. Blessed be.



Yogi Berra Plaque - Old Timers Day 2010

My husband has graciously allowed me to share with you this guest post he wrote, in remembrance of Yogi Berra. Photo taken by The Husband at Old Timers’ Day, Yankee Stadium, July 2010. Yogi wasn’t at that event because of a fall he suffered. 

Yogi Berra died last night.  When you call someone a true American ‘hero’, it should mean something.  With Yogi, it most certainly did.  He was not only one of the greatest ballplayers to ever live, not only one of the most astute observers of the human condition, but also was a war hero before his 20th birthday.  Indeed, two years before he hit his first home run, Berra distinguished himself on a field of battle that saw countless other pre-20-year olds lose their lives.  All that Berra achieved after D-Day would never have happened, obviously, had he perished that day.  Had he died at Normandy, though, he’d be no less an American hero today – even without ten World Series rings, three MVP awards, 71 World Series hits or any of the other long list of on-field accomplishments.

Yogi grew up in a section of St. Louis known as ‘The Hill’.  His best friend and confidant growing up was Joe Garagiola, who would also go on to a career in baseball as a player and announcer.  Berra had another nickname before ‘Yogi’.  “We called him ‘Lawdie’,” Garagiola remembered in a documentary on Yogi’s life for the YES Network’s Yankeeography Series. “He was called ‘Lawdie’ because his mother [an Italian immigrant] couldn’t say ‘Lawrence or ‘Larry”.”

His more famous nickname came about one day on the baseball ‘fields’ on The Hill. While playing in American Legion baseball with his friends, Berra sat on the field with his arms and legs crossed waiting to bat. “He looks like one of them ‘yogis'” said one of his friends – and thus ‘Yogi’ Berra was born.

In 1941, Yogi and Joe Garagiola responded to a newspaper ad and attended a tryout for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Branch Rickey ran the tryout and – after observing both young men – offered Garagiola a $500 contract to play for the Cardinals.  Garagiola wasn’t the player Rickey wanted, however. Rickey knew that he would be leaving the Cardinals to take over the presidency of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  And Rickey wanted Yogi Berra for the Dodgers, not the Cardinals.  So, Rickey offered Berra a contract but no bonus, guessing [correctly] that Berra wouldn’t sign without a bonus.  Sure enough, Rickey left the Cardinals for the Dodgers and contacted Berra with a $500 offer.  Rickey was too late. In the interim, the New York Yankees had scouted Berra, offered him the $500, and Yogi Berra was neither a Cardinal nor a Dodger – but a Yankee.

Baseball would have to wait, though. At the age of 18, Berra enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943. Shortly after completing basic training, Berra volunteered for a mission that would change the world. Berra served on a rocket boat at the Battle of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  The job that Berra had volunteered for put him on a 6-man, 36-foot LCSS Boat [Landing Craft Support, Small; Berra later would say the letters really stood for ‘Landing Craft Suicide Squad’].  Berra and the others were part of the initial wave to land on the beach, and their mission was to fire rockets at German gun targets to protect Allied troops attempting to storm the beach.  Of the six men in Berra’s craft, three were killed.

Berra was one of 35 baseball Hall of Famers to serve in World War II. Of his ordeal, Berra would later say, “It was like Fourth of July to see all those planes and ships on Normandy, my gosh. You couldn’t see anything,” Berra said in 2010. “I stood up on the deck of our boat, looked up and my officer tells me, ‘You better get your head down here before it gets blown off.’ I said, ‘I like it up here.’ He said, ‘You better get down here [or] you won’t have it. You won’t look at anything.’ Being a kid, ‘What the heck,’ I said. ‘Nothing can kill me.’ I found out later on.”

Having somehow survived D-Day, Berra returned to the Yankees’ minor league system after the war and was called up to the big club at the end of the 1946 season, hitting a home run in his very first at bat. The Yankees went to the World Series in his first full season, 1947.  Berra had a strong offensive series but was miserable defensively behind the plate. In the series versus the Brooklyn Dodgers, Berra hit the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history.  But Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers ran roughshod over him, at one point stealing five bases in one game.  Although the Yankees won the series four games to three, Berra was embarrassed by his inability to shine behind the plate the way he had in front of it.

That changed in 1949 when Casey Stengel became manager of the Yankees.  Stengel saw Berra as a star – with tremendous potential as a catcher.  He tapped Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey to come to spring training to work with Berra exclusively on his defense.  By the time Dickey was finished tutoring Berra, the latter was a defensive stalwart behind the plate.   Indeed, as Mel Ott would say, “[Berra] stopped everything behind the plate and hit everything in front of it.” Even during his final days as a catcher [he would play the outfield for the last four seasons of his career] Berra compiled a remarkable streak of 148 straight games – 950 chances – without an error from 1957-1959.

The Yankees would go on to win five straight World Series from 1949-1953. Berra was voted the American League Most Valuable Player in 1951. He would win it two more times – in 1954 and 1955. By the time he was done, he’d won ten World Series and been in four others.  At a time when the Yankees fielded Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, it was Berra who led the Yankees in RBIs for seven consecutive seasons [1949-1955]. Perhaps one of the most amazing statistics, however, is that in 7,555 at-bats, he struck out only 414 times.  For many of today’s major leaguers, that’s only two years’ worth of strikeouts.

Perhaps Berra was best described by his lifelong friend, Garagiola.  “If I had to use one word to describe him,” Garagiola said of Berra, “it would be ‘underestimated’. His entire life, everybody – except those of us who knew him – underestimated him.”

No one underestimates Yogi Berra now.  We may just underestimate how much we’re going to miss him.

Book Review: Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf

Our Souls at NightOur Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
Alfred A. Knopf 
179 pages

Some authors have a talent of using exactly the right prose and cadence thereof to evoke an atmosphere that complements the story itself. Kent Haruf’s final novel, published posthumously after his death last November, is that kind of book.

With both of their spouses deceased, Addie Moore and Louis Waters are the sort of good, decent, gentle persons who – despite decades of living on the same street – are barely more than acquaintances on the polite periphery of each other’s lives. Each knows the framework of details that become embedded in a community: one’s long-ago scandalous affair, the death of the other’s young daughter in a terrible accident.

Loneliness and a need for connection prompts Addie, a widow, to ask Louie if he would consider sleeping with her – not, as many of their neighbors conclude, in a sexual sense but rather as a comfort and a physical presence during the long, dark nights. Initially hesitant, Louis appears at Addie’s door and what unfolds is a genuine connection based on conversation, companionship, trust, respect, and similar life experiences and stages. It is absolutely beautiful.

However, not everyone In their small town of Holt, Colorado (or Addie and Louis’s families, for that matter) views their relationship that way. And that matters because assumptions can be destructive and divisive, especially in the face of so-called traditional or typical relationship constructs that are unhealthy or dysfunctional.

Our Souls at Night is a quiet, understated novel about love and grief, family and community.  It challenges the reader to view older people as still having desires and needs rather than individuals who should renounce all vestiges of intimacy the minute their AARP card arrives in the mail.  It is a gorgeous finale for author Kent Haruf.


sunday salon: currently

Pittsburgh - September 20, 2012 (3)

Weather-wise, it doesn’t get much better than today here in Pittsburgh. Gorgeous blue skies, temperature in the low-mid 70s, and just a hint of crispness in the air. Bursts of crimson leaves are becoming more prominent on the trees. If we must bid summer an official farewell, this sun-drenched afternoon on the deck is the way to do it.

The photo above was taken exactly three years ago on this day, as Facebook reminds me. That September 20, 2012 was just as spectacular, made even moreso because I spent the day in Pittsburgh at the Phipps with one of my best friends from my college years, his partner, and another one of their friends.

(The Sunday Salon logo is problematic for me; no matter what I do, I can’t get it to appear in connection with my posts on Facebook. It’s one of those annoying things that I just don’t have any patience for right now. So, at least for today, I’m using a picture that reminds me of a happy memory.)

Before talking about books and whatever else, I wanted to thank those of you who have reached out either through commenting here or via Facebook regarding my last few posts. I am so grateful for each of you. And if you meant to but didn’t, or missed that our family is dealing with some difficult issues, I absolutely get it and am with you. So many of you have big stuff happening as well … I know.  I don’t want to dwell on my own issues today, though, nor do I want to be vague-blogging about this all the time because nobody’s interested in constant Debbie Downer posts.

The MiniaturistI’m still making my way through The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and if a sinus headache wasn’t sidelining me a bit this weekend, I’d be further along.  It’s a novel set in Amsterdam, in 1686. Eighteen year old Nella’s mother arranges for her to marry Johannes, a wealthy businessman. After becoming his wife, he buys her a cabinet (a dollhouse of sorts) that is an exact replica of his large home where the couple lives with two servants and Johannes’ sister Marin.  They’re a bit of a secretive, dysfunctional bunch – especially Marin – and the novel focuses on Nella’s adjustment to her new role as Johannes’ wife in the midst of some odd goings-on within the house.

I did make the mistake of deciding to read a few pages right before bed one night this week – and those pages happened to include a rather pivotal, major, shocking plot development. (If you’ve read the book, you probably know what scene I’m talking about.) I mean, I’m not shocked about what happened, per se, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting it in this context and time period that The Miniaturist is set in.

dogdaysI am really enjoying this book. It’s just the kind of suspenseful novel I like – kind of a psychological sort of creepy. It’s keeping me guessing, that’s for sure. This is also turning out to be a good choice for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X. This weekend happens to be the Dog Days of Summer Readathon … like I need any excuse to spend time reading. The sinus headache is starting to ease up a bit (we had a thunderstorm and torrential rain last night, so I’m thinking weather as a culprit) so hopefully I’ll get back to this later tonight.



Bloggiesta-F15Today’s the last day of Bloggiesta, which I admit I haven’t been all that diligent about during this go-around. The sinus headache has made extended computer time a little challenging, especially so when scrolling through posts and cutting and pasting reviews.  But, I did manage to write a review of Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf as well as this post, and I added a few things to some other in-progress posts.

What are you up to this Sunday?


a few things i’m doing

This thing called Life is kickin’ our collective asses around here lately. Maybe I’ll be able to write about it sometime, but for right now, in the midst of the muck, there are a few things I need to keep off the blog.  In between the hits, though, I’m finding myself in need of a few distractions … which, as we know, is the reason why we have The Internet.

Fortunately, all kinds of cool things are happening in the online world this fall.  Here’s what I’m doing to try and forget about Life for awhile.


My blogging friend Trish of Love, Laughter and (a touch of) Insanity is bringing back her fun Pin It and Do It Challenge for September and October. For whatever reason, I’ve recently re-discovered Pinterest, and this challenge will be a little kick in the pants for me to do some projects, try some new recipes, make some blog improvements and who knows what else.  Go to Trish’s blog for the official sign up, follow me on Pinterest, and have fun pinning and doing.


Speaking of blog improvements and whatnot, look what starts today – besides the first day of the planet Mercury losing its collective shit AGAIN and spinning the hell out of control in retrograde, that is. (Because, you know, I really need THAT nonsense right now.)  Bloggiesta is back, baby, and the Fall 2015 edition is happening now.

I really like this multi-day Bloggiesta format. I’m hoping to use this go-around to take care of a few housekeeping duties here on the blog. Not quite sure what, exactly, as a lot depends on how the week goes. I’m supposed to write an official Bloggiesta to do list as part of my participation post (which I guess this is), so we’ll keep it the same as all the other Bloggiestas I’ve done:

1) catch up on book reviews (and other posts) and
2) update the Book Reviews page here on the blog.

RIP X - 2015

image used with permission, property of Abigail Larson.

It’s September, and that means the return of the book blogging community’s beloved R.I.P. Reading Challenge. Short for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, this annual challenge created by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings is being hosted this year – the 10th! – by the wonderful Andi and Heather of The Estella Society. You can find all the R.I.P. details here.  I’m planning to participate in Peril the Second which means I’ll be reading two books of any length that fit within the R.I.P. categories (that includes mystery, suspense, horror, thriller, gothic, dark fantasy, supernatural types of reads and the like).



I’m not sure what books I’ll be reading for this year’s R.I.P. This might be one of those years where I make it up as we go.  Right now, I’m in the midst of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which seems to qualify. It definitely has the suspenseful, creepy factor. And I haven’t ruled out doing Peril the Short Story either because I am all about the short stories, yo.

Finally, thanks to the magic of Coursera and FutureLearn, I’m enrolled in four MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) right now:

Plagues, Witches and War: The World of Historical Fiction through the University of Virginia;
William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place through Lancaster University, in the UK;
Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (known as ModPo, for short), with the University of Pennsylvania.
Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (with Monash University and which started on Monday but I haven’t shown up for class yet).

Like everything else, I’ll find my way there, albeit with a few side trips en route.

sunday salon: summer’s end

The Sunday Salon

To say we (as in, our family) are dealing with a difficult transition brought on by the unofficial end of summer to the forced beginning of fall is …well, a bit of an understatement. Anxiety is always heightened as August segues into September, what with a new school year and all the adjustments that brings, but the past 10 days have brought something entirely different.

It’s the autism and yet it isn’t the autism. There are limits to what I can say in this space, which is in direct contrast to what I want to say. Most of this is not entirely my story to tell. This is new, unknown, and scary territory.

I’m finding myself in need of a step back from the outside world and have prescribed a modified Facebook break for myself for this holiday weekend and possibly beyond. I tend to check Facebook somewhat obsessively, and I’m trying to limit myself to twice a day.

I noticed that quite a few books in my immediate to-be-read queue were rather dark, which is not unusual for me but also not what I can handle right now. (Yes, I’m looking at you, A Little Life.) Back to the library they went.

Rising StrongWhile at the library yesterday with The Girl, Brene Brown’s new book Rising Strong was prominent on the Nonfiction Bestsellers table. I hadn’t noticed it earlier in the week, so I took that as a sign of sorts that I should probably grab it despite having never read Brene Brown and being only slightly familiar with her work. Enough people are devotees of hers that I figured she might be helpful for me to read right now.

(UPDATE: Rising Strong is going to be a DNF, as I’m finding this too jargonish and … well, lacking anything I didn’t already kind of know. Perhaps Brene Brown isn’t for me or maybe this wasn’t the right book to start with.) 

Go Set a Watchman – the Harper Lee novel that is either much-celebrated or a representative of elder abuse, depending on your viewpoint – was among my planned reads for this blessedly long weekend. Alas, I made it through only two chapters last night before declaring this a DNF. I’ll probably do a longer post with my thoughts on this, which I approached with some skepticism and an open mind (at least I’d like to think so).  Suffice it to say that 43 pages was enough to put me solidly in the “this should never have been published” camp.

The UnspeakableThis week I finished The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum. Several of these essays in this collection resonated with me, particularly “The Best Possible Experience,” “Not What It Used to Be,” and “Difference Maker” – all of which best fit the theme of “the unspeakable thoughts many of us harbor…and the unspeakable acts that teach no easy lessons and therefore are elbowed out of sight.” (pg. 5-6)

Wonderful TownMy attention span for audio books is similarly limited; I’m listening almost entirely to podcasts these days. That said, I’m also listening to Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker, which has been on my TBR forever. I’m finding this to be a fantastic collection for filling in the gaps with authors and stories that I probably should have read by now.  The order of the stories presented on audio doesn’t match up with the print edition, though. So far I’ve listened to “Poor Visitor” by Jamaica Kincaid; “The Five-Forty-Eight” by John Cheever (another author on my list I need to read more of); and “The Whore of Mensa” by Woody Allen, which gave me a much-needed laugh.

Aside from the life lessons these dark days are teaching me, I finished my first MOOC, “Literature of the Country House” through the University of Sheffield and am now immersed in “Plagues, Witches, and War: The World of Historical Fiction” from the University of Virginia. One of the readings is The Physick of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, which fits perfectly with the 10th annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge being hosted this year by The Estella Society. I’m planning to sign up again, as I do every year.

Hope you’re having a good Sunday – and if you’re in the States, hopefully it is part of a three-day weekend.