Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sanibel Sunday: February 11, 2018



Good morning, friends. I didn't post last weekend when our daughters were visiting, so this is a two week catch up. The weather has been just about perfect here. Southwest Florida is basking in record warmth... I'll take it over windchill any day!

We celebrated one daughter's birthday on Monday, went shopping and lunching with my SIL, made four (!) trips to the airport, and, for the first time this winter, relaxed  and read  on the beach!


Recent reading//



Nonfiction always has a greater impact on me when personal stories are included, and Timothy Egan did an excellent job piecing together multiple accounts of life on the plains during the Dust Bowl. I enjoyed this book and learned a lot. Especially surprising was the fact that east coast cities experienced some of the more severe "dusters" too. This book made me want to reread The Grapes of Wrath, and the mention of Red Cloud, Nebraska reminded me that it's been a while since I last read Willa Cather.

The Worst Hard Time was a read/listen combination for me. The audio version, narrated by Patrick Lawlor, was well-done, but I always checked the print version for photos and maps after my walks.

Finally, without getting political, this man-made natural disaster should serve is an important reminder that our government must consider the environmental impact of its policies.
My rating:





Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Wow... what a complex and emotional novel! It started slowly, but I loved how the story gradually unfolded. Chapters alternate between the present (featuring an aging man and his two daughters) and letters written to him by his wife who disappeared years ago, and is presumed drowned. The "truth" of their marriage is revealed piecemeal through the letters. Unique structure.
My rating:





Sisters by Lily Tuck

"First and second wives are like sisters."
-Christopher Nicholson (Winter)

Wife #2, our unnamed narrator, refers to Wife #1 as She. The short chapters (some just a sentence or two) read like vignettes, but reveal so much! I liked the spare writing... you can read this little book in one sitting. Thanks for the recommendation, Diane.
My rating:




Current reading//


The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
"I don't wish to be a mere sheep in the flock; I wish to choose my fate and know something of human affairs beyond what other people think it compatible with propriety to tell me."
The read-along continues, but I didn't make much progress last week. At the 30% mark, I've settled into James' style and am enjoying the reread... but surprised at how much I've forgotten! We plan to discuss the book at the end of the month.

Instead of starting another novel in print, I'll focus on this one all week... at least until our next guests arrive over the weekend.



Beyond the books//

As they say on the island, "season" is here. The restaurants are always busy, there are lots of people on the beach, it requires more effort to navigate the bike paths, and don't even try to drive off island between 3 and 6! We've gotten used to it over the years, and plan accordingly.

My sister and brother-in-law arrive this weekend... lots of activities planned for their visit.

Have you discovered the new Instagram account dogs_infood? I'm slightly obsessed...



My FIL is coming for dinner today. We're having grilled salmon and I'm making this Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie for dessert.


How was your week? What are you reading?



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62 comments:

  1. Sisters sounds up my alley! I've yet to try Lily Tuck.

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    1. Sarah - It looks like Tuck's other books are written in a similar style. Hope the library has one or two more.

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  2. I haven't made much progress either...but I'm turning back to The Portrait today. The last time I had it open I literally wanted to diagram a sentence because I could NOT figure how what Henry was saying.. enjoying it nonetheless.

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    1. Audrey - After this morning's walk I'm ready to start chapter 19. Enjoying the story, but I don't remember James being quite this convoluted last time I read it... maybe because my brain was younger? Laughing at the sentence diagraming. JS's narration does help!

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  3. I ♥ your photo! I'm going to check and see if my library has Sisters.

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    1. Vicki - Early morning at the beach is just so beautiful! Hope your library has Sisters. It's unusual, but the short format works.

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  4. Glad you guys are having such a good time. I really need to listen to The Worst Hard Time. My parents lived through the Dust Bowl with their families in the Texas Panhandle and my paternal grandmother used to talk about it now and then. They were very, very poor, both families, but my mother was an only child and father had 4 brothers and sisters. I think the book would be very interesting for me.

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    1. Kay - I think you'd especially appreciate this book with your family background. My FIL remembers the dust reaching MA when he was a kid. I had NO IDEA it traveled that far. Think I'll seek out more fiction from that era.

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  5. I love the beach but always try to go slightly off season to avoid some of the madness. It sounds like you're having a wonderful time!

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    1. Kathy - We always try to vacation slightly off season, too. I hate crowds!

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  6. You are reading some interesting looking books. I would like to read The Worst Hard Time. I only know the most basic facts about the dust bowl and I want to know more.

    Portrait of a Lady is also a book that I would like to read.

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    1. Brian - I also only knew some very basic facts about the Dust Bowl. Reading the survivors stories was very interesting. I'd even consider reading some fictional accounts now.

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  7. Zelda looks so happy there!

    I am putting the Egan book on my list. I don't remember much about the Dust Bowl, though Dorothy Lange's photos come immediately to mind.

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    1. Lisa - Zelda absolutely hates the snow and cold. She's so happy here! I'm going to take another look at Dorothy Lange's photos...

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  8. I read Swimming Lessons a while ago, and enjoyed it. I am curious about The Worst Hard Time.

    Enjoy your week, and I'm so glad that I could abandon Fates & Furies....the characters were so unlikable!

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - Swimming Lessons was such a pleasant surprise! I didn't expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did... must have been in the mood for that slow unfolding. And I loved how the letters slowly told of the past. Might have to try the author's earlier book. Have you read that one?

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  9. That is quite a lovely sunset! Looks like your pup is enjoying the beach as much as you are.

    I haven't read The Worst Hard Time (a friend told me it was a bit too repetitious), but I did watch Ken Burns' documentary, The Dust Bowl, which was very enlightening and sad. Ooooh, I would love to re-read The Grapes of Wrath sometime this year, if you're up for it. And, I am a huge fan of Willa Cather's books. I could be persuaded to read another one of hers, if you're looking for a buddy read. Of course, I thought I would join in on The Portrait of a Lady... ;)

    I haven't heard of Swimming Lessons, but your 5-star rating and description has me curious. I'll see if my library has a copy. I've also put Sisters on hold, so I'm probably not going to do to well reading from my own stacks this year!

    Our "season" hasn't begun, but I know what you mean about busier restaurants and tourists on the roads. We're already beginning to get emails from friends who want to come visit, so our guest list will grow in the coming months. I'm sure after we've been here for a few years, the hustle and bustle of visitors will die down a little bit. Never had so many people interest in visiting us in Nebraska! :)

    That pie looks amazing! You'll have to let me know how it turned out. I think I'd send my family into a diabetic coma, though!

    Have a great week. I'm trying to update every Monday, so stay tuned.

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    1. Les - I didn't notice/mind any repetition in The Worst Hard Time, but was struck by the residents determination to stick it out and survive. Ken Burns narrated an intro to the audio version... I'd like to watch his PBS documentary. And I'm definitely in for a Grapes of Wrath reread this year! Do you have a time in mind?

      Swimming Lessons exceeded my expectations. It started slowly, but I was curious enough about the characters to keep reading... and I loved how the letters slowly revealed the past.

      Sisters was a good read, but I wonder if the appeal of its spare prose was really a reaction to James' long, complicated sentences!

      The pie was very good, but so rich! It was delicious with vanilla ice cream and a little chocolate sauce. Be sure to cut small pieces!

      I'm enjoying your Monday updates. I may slip into every other week posts, or at least skip the weekends we have company. We'll see...

      Have a good week!

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    2. No specific time in mind, but I'll let you know when I'm inspired. :)

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    3. Les - Sounds like a plan! :)

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  10. I love your Sanibel posts and lovely pics. Glad u enjoyed Sisters; now I need to check out Swimming Lessons! Have a nice week.

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    1. Diane - Sisters was the perfect antidote to Henry James! I needed to change of pace from his long convoluted sentences. I'd be curious to hear what you think of Swimming Lessons. I may check out her earlier novel.

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  11. Another great book about a family during the Dust Bowl is I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows. It's about an OK family during the one of the early Dust Bowl years and was beautifully told. One of my favorite from 2016.

    Sisters sounds fascinating! Have a lovely week.

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    1. Susie - I just looked up Meadows' book and it sounds wonderful! The library here has the audio version, and the library up north has print... I'll get to it one way or the other. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  12. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time with your daughters, JoAnn! And the weather has been fabulous for you, too - yay! I've loved seeing the pictures on Instagram, so thanks for sharing. The Worst Hard Time sounds *really* good; I love these stories, so I will check it out. Hope you have a great week!

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    1. Thanks, Tara. I just love it here and will most likely make this our primary residence now that my husband has retired. Hope you get a chance to read The Worst Hard Time. I'd like to watch the PBS documentary series now.

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  13. Sounds like you have great weather and yay for both visits from the kids and having time to read on the beach! All your books look good (except I'm not a Henry James fan), but Swimming Lessons caught my eye.

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    1. Beth F - It was so good to have the whole family here, I just treasure those times! Henry James seems to be requiring a little more effort this time around... sure hope I enjoy the book as much as I did before, lol.

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  14. You make me want to be in Florida! I saw a wonderful documentary on the dust bowl several years ago. Fascinating and sad. I think I really need to read Swimming Lessons

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    1. Peggy - That must be the PBS documentary? I really want to watch it. It's hard to believe the conditions those people survived. Swimming Lessons was so good... hope you get a chance to try it.

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  15. Sounds like you are keeping busy. Florida sounds lovely. Minnesota is cold! Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - Winters are SO long up there. I can remember having a snow storm on Mother's Day - yikes! Hope you have a god week.

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  16. How lovely to be at the beach...we used to live in Tampa but I didn’t really appreciate it as much as I should. I am reading rather fluffy books compared to your intense ones. And even though it’s in the 60’s here...it’s still damp and chilly. That cookie pie looks incredibly decadent!

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    1. Patty - I didn't know you lived in Tampa! We've driven through a couple of times and next month plan to visit friends that just moved to Apollo Beach. I think that's a little south of Tampa. The cookie pie was delicious, but so rich. You can only eat a tiny slice ;-)

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  17. The book about the Dust Bowl sounds very interesting but I must stick to the books on my shelf this year. I heard from my Ft Myers friend (we correspond daily) your weather has been much warmer. Thank you for sharing the Instagram page. I love it. If you like beautiful wildlife photos and I do mean stunning find Andyparkinsonphoto. on instagram

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    1. Pam - I was planning to read books on my shelf this year, too... that's why I read about the Dust Bowl, but now I'm afraid that book has me seeking other fictional accounts of that era.

      This morning they're telling us the record warmth will continue another week and possible for the rest of the month! That will make my sister happy... she's hoping for good beach weather during her visit.

      Thanks for the Instagram tip, I just followed that account!

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  18. Aww, cute greyhound. I was looking at my state’s greyhound rescue last week, and I really want one, but I probably have enough dogs already. Have a great week!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. AJ - Greyhounds make such wonderful pets, but I've been warned that they can be like potato chips... you can't stop at one! We've considered adopting another, but I think Zelda enjoys being an only child! ;-)

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  19. I like the sound of the Sisters book.

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    1. Mystica - It's the perfect change of pace from Henry James, lol!

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  20. I wish I could say the weather had been pleasant here! It is still icy cold here, with some more snow on Monday. Over the last two weeks, I have finished reading historical crime fiction A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King (the second Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes mystery).

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    1. Jessica - Laurie R. King is an author who has been recommended to me over and over again. Hope to try one of her books before too much longer. Hope you're having a good week despite the snow.

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  21. Thank you for including recipe ideas!

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    1. Amy - You're welcome. The pie was a big hit, but it's rich so you can't eat a very big piece. I ended up freezing half of it!

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  22. Such a cute picture! Unfortunately I haven't even gotten around to Portrait of a Lady. I am in the middle of several books and feel like I need to finish off a couple before starting that one. We'll see! Hope you have a wonderful week and Happy Valentine's Day!

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    1. Iliana - That sounds familiar, lol! I'm still enjoying Portrait of a Lady, but am primarily listening now. It seems easier to catch Henry's meaning that way ;-)

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  23. Lovely photo on the beach. I have to live thru your Florida posts - since there's so much snow here. Yikes it's been a cold February. Glad you liked the Egan book. I should try out Claire Fuller sometime, I haven't read her. You're brave to read Henry James, I never could get into his books, it felt like watching paint dry, right? I'm behind on my reading but finished the audio of The Power / that is wild & violent. it's chaos but I got into towards the end. Enjoy your week!

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    1. Susan - My sister is visiting now, so not much reading is happening. Henry James is requiring a little more concentration that he did the last time I read him, but the audio really helps. Think I must be an auditory learner...

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  24. You make island life sound so fabulous. They ought to pay to you. I've been watching that show Beachfront Bargain Hunt and every time they show Florida I think of your island life.

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    1. Ti - I do love it here and the beach really is my happy place! Now if I could only find a way to get paid for that! lol ;-)

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  25. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about The Portrait of a Lady. I've never read anything by Henry James, and I feel kind of bad about that.

    Dogs_infood -- this is fantastic! I just sent an image to my nearest/dearest on Instagram.

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    1. Unruly Reader - Henry James is pretty wordy by today's standards, but I do enjoy him every now and then. So glad you loved Dogs_infood, too!!

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  26. I think my sister would love the book The Worst Hard Time. She's fascinated by the subject of the Dust Bowl. I'll tell her about the book!

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    1. Angela - The book has been around for a while, so it should be fairly easy to find if she's interested. It won the National Book award for nonfiction in 2006... such an interesting story.

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  27. Saw Sisters at the library and almost picked it up -- will add that to my Goodreads. Also ... did you know you are mentioned by Thomas and Simon in the latest episode of The Readers podcast? http://bookbasedbanter.co.uk/thereaders/2018/02/18/ep-182-the-readers-retreat-2018-reading-relationships/

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    1. Melissa - Thanks! I missed it... so far behind on podcasts this winter. I did indeed send Thomas an Angela Thirkell novel or two (while he added to my Barbara Pym collection), and I'm sure he's collected many more!

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  28. Oh to read on the beach (it's freezing here in the UK!) I'd like to read that book about the dust bowl. I'm reading Laura Ingalls Wilder at the moment and I think the pioneers and homesteaders unwittingly contributed to the cause of the dust bowl by loosening the top soil for farming.

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    1. Vintage Reading - Life during the dust bowl makes for fascinating reading! The farming practices of pioneers and homesteaders definitely contributed. I suppose it would have been difficult to predict the longterm effects... such a difficult period for so many!

      We've had record warmth in south Florida all month and they say it will be the warmest February on record. Certainly feels more like April or May to me, but I'll take it over the snow any day.

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  29. I got The Worst Hard Time because I knew I would eventually read and appreciate it. You've reminded me not to forget about it. Happy Spring!

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    1. JaneGS - It makes for some good reading. I think you'll enjoy it... made me want to learn more about the Dust Bowl. Will start with Ken Burns PBS series.

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