If we were having coffee, I would tell you it was 97 F, feels like 94F per the weather forecast, at 10:30 AM today. I decided to take a chance on a walk outside. Told myself if it was intolerable the walk could be a short one. I was able to walk 30 minutes tolerably. Inspired by the NYTimes Newsletter post ‘Slow Down’ by Melissa Kirsch about slowing down and mindfulness. It talked about just observing and not feeling like you need to take a photo. Oftentimes, my photo does not capture so well what I am seeing anyway. If I saw a roadrunner, I may have made an exception. I did see a little woodpecker and watched it for a bit. I did not want to disturb it as pecked its way around a tree. First woodpecker I’ve seen here.
On my walk it was relaxing to just enjoy the view.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Thursday will be the beginning of Fall here. It is predicted to be 98 F that day. Not time for hot cider here, maybe some pumpkin ale. Trader Joes has lots of pumpkin stuff. I do feel a shift. The breeze here seems a little cooler. The days will be getting shorter, and it feels like things are slowing down. Our citrus trees look healthier, with sun-burned leaves gone now. The grapefruit tree is full of green fruit. The fruit looks a bit small, like large oranges. I read this could be due to the summer heat. We will see if the fruit grows more by the time it is ripe this winter.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it rained for over 4 hours yesterday afternoon. I watched the rain while waiting in the car for my husband to finish with an appointment. It felt like a miracle. It rained more during the evening and night. My husband and I remarked to each other that we think it has been over a year since we had any rain like this. Not since we moved to the desert. It only poured down for a bit and mostly was a steady shower. The temperature dropped over 20 degrees too. Still humid of course. It looks like the temps will remain cooler next week, only in the low 90s.
Reading through my eclectic selection of books from the county library. One book I had purchased for myself, Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion.’ It still reads well after 200 years and like all her books gives a glimpse into English society in those days. The rest of my book list is all over the place. I finished ‘The Paris Apartment’ by Lucy Foley that has some good twists and was fast paced. ‘The Last Chance Library,’ a debut novel by Freya Sampson. I was drawn by the title. It is set in modern-day England. To add a bit of minutiae from the book. There was a word that stood out to me, quieten, a verb meaning make or become quiet. I would say ‘quiet down’ to noisy kids. With quieten, the kids quietened down or the mother tried to quieten her child. I just started ‘This Is How It Always Is’, by Laurie Frankel. It is a story about a family, their sons, and gender identity. I am starting to get hooked.
Now that we in the West find ourselves under the influence of the meteorological phenomenon called a ‘heat dome,’ I find an article in a series from the Books section of the New York Times entitled ‘Read You Way Through Reykjavik,’ even more appealing. It’s currently in the 50s F there compared to 101F here. The Times asked authors from countries around the world to recommend books close to their hearts. In this article, Olaf Olafsson creates a booklist including some crime fiction. He lists the author Yrsa Sigurdardottir as one of the crime fiction authors. I had read several of her books and can highly recommend her. I like reading books from around the world because it introduces me to different locales and cultures.
The first book I read by Sigurdardottir was ‘Ashes to Dust.’ The setting was an island that had been evacuated during a volcanic eruption which left many buildings destroyed and covered in ash and was based on a true event, the Eldfell eruption on Heimaey Island. In the book, human remains are found in the basement of a house thirty years later that are not related to the eruption.
I want to read a few more books on Olafsson’s list and take a look at some of the other authors’ recommendations. I can read my way through Mexico City, Lisbon, Cairo, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, and Newfoundland. That should keep me busy for quite a while.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you lately I find that after starting a book I am not enjoying it. I am thinking about a book I just started that sounded like a mystery, because of the title. It was described as a page-turner in a review and was on a celebrity’s book club selection list. It turned out to have a disturbing beginning and as I read on it didn’t get better. It didn’t make me want to turn more pages.
I found an article in my inbox, ‘These Memes Make Books More Fun’ by Anna Grace Lee (New York Times), that talks about ‘recommendation charts’ that guide you to books you will like. She included examples of the charts. She mentions a bookseller in Austen, Texas, Mariah Charles, who has created several charts posted on Twitter. Here are a couple of examples.
Lee’s article included a chart that lists books based on their emotional impact like which books are the saddest. Many websites use algorithms to guide you based on books you have read before. I found one that will find books based on my mood.
“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.” ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been busy reading the books I checked out of the library this week. I am often attracted to books with the word ‘library’ or ‘bookstore’ in their titles. So, one book that caught my attention was ‘The Book Woman’s Daughter’, by Kim Michele Richardson. It is a historical novel set in Appalachia and ‘the book woman’ is what the locals called the Pack Horse Librarian. She was a young woman who rode up into the hills and hollers bringing library books to the people there. The Pack Horse Library Project was started during the Depression through the WPA (Works Progress Administration). The women were paid $28/month and had to supply their own horses or mules. Some women would rent their horses from local farmers. There were many people who couldn’t read in Eastern Kentucky so the women would read the books to them as well.
To help combat illiteracy in that area there was another program called ‘Moonlight Schools’ started by Cora Wilson Stewart. Local schoolteachers volunteered to teach adults to read and write in the evening at the one room schoolhouses where they taught children during the day. The program was successful and copied in several other counties and states.
Another interesting part of the book is that the main character and her mother have a hereditary condition, called congenital methemoglobinemia, that causes their skin to be blue. It only affected the younger woman’s hands and feet, but it caused her to feel shame and she and her family suffered terrible discrimination because of it. There was a real group of people in Kentucky who had this hereditary trait.
I really admire the Pack Horse Librarians and the great teachers who provided these wonderful services to their communities. The Pack Horse Library Project ran from 1935-1943. After that there were more accessible roads for the introduction of bookmobiles.
You can read more about the Moonlight School program of Kentucky here.
“I think the public library system is one of the most amazing American institutions. Free for everybody. If you ever get the blues about the status of American culture there are still more public libraries than there are McDonald’s. During the worst of the Depression not one public library closed their doors.” ~ David McCullough
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was sad to hear that a historian and author I admired had passed. David McCullough brought history alive for me with his books ‘1776’, ‘John Adams’, and ‘Truman’. David McCullough died August 7, 2022. I agree with this quote about libraries. They are amazing and uplifting places that nourish our minds and spirits. You get a library card for free and then can check out any book in the collection. I have recently gone back to the local library to check out several books. I have to be patient while the books requested are shipped to my local branch and need to return them within a specified length of time. I can extend the time with a renewal if no one is waiting for the book. My local library system has a lot of the latest popular fiction available, so I do not have to buy so many books. The only problem is I think I requested too many books this time and hope I will be able to renew some of them when they come due.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been hibernating a bit lately because the weather has not been good for walking. Just going out for errands or appointments. Read in the weather reports we are supposed to have thunderstorms but so far only a few sprinkles of rain over our area.
We have had humidity. I did take a walk yesterday when it was 92F, but with humidity my weather app told me it felt like 100F.
The weather app is predicting a storm for tomorrow. We will see. In the meantime, I need to take a ‘digital break.’
If we were having coffee, I would tell you it felt really good to walk outside today. The cloud cover kept the heat down in the 90s. I could hear the roadrunners with their distinctive rachet-y call, but I did not see them. I did see something on the side of the road. It wasn’t moving and I thought it could be dead. I was not going to get close to find out. I knew we have them here, but this is the first I have seen.
It makes me want to be more alert when I take my walks from now on.
With the temperatures being uncomfortable, I have been mostly indoors this week. I begin my day with the NYT Morning Newsletter online. I read the snippets of news and proceed to do the Mini Crossword, Wordle, and my favorite the Spelling Bee. I usually read the LA Times and Washington Post as well. I keep busy the rest of the day with genealogy research and reading novels. I am into The Ruth Galloway Mystery series by Elly Griffiths and have almost finished a book by John Grisham, ‘The Street Lawyer’. Both authors know how to create interesting plots and characters. I have several more books waiting for me.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you it is good that I managed a morning walk today when the temperature was still below 100 F. The only other people out were some gardeners and the pickle ball players. The slight breeze helped keep it cooler along with a smattering of cirrocumulus clouds. It felt good to move. I had gotten out of the daily walk habit when I was away from home last week.
I was thinking about the roadrunners as usual and had doubts of seeing them, but I spotted one up on top of a wall. And then there were two. I was unable to get a shot of them together. I did manage to get a photo of one climbing a tree again.
There is something that I did not notice when I was taking the photos. It looks like another bird in the crook of the tree. It is not moving. Could it be a dead bird that the roadrunner killed? If you click on the photos, you can enlarge them.