Golden Moments #11


We went for a walk in a state park near our house. It was warm and sunny but not hot. The trail wasn't crowded and we all were cheerful. If that isn't a golden moment then I don't know what is.

I took my daughter shopping for new clothes. She needed them desperately but it is always a fraught experience. She is 13 with all the insecurities that go along with the age and we usually end the day of shopping grumpy and miserable. This time she liked everything she tried on and found a few things she loves. She was so happy she was dancing in the dressing room. I convinced her of the wonders of thrift shopping. Buying clothes isn't nearly so horrible when you can pick and choose your own style instead of trying to fit into the style the store insists you should have.

I bought myself two jean jackets when I was shopping with my daughter. I couldn't decide between the two and, since it was a thrift store and they were cheap, I bought both. I have a mental image of me in cute summer dresses, strappy sandals, and a jean jacket. We will ignore the fact that I am always so hot that a jean jacket in the summer is totally impractical. I am sure I will get a lot of use out of them in the two weeks of spring and two weeks of autumn we usually enjoy. I hope you read that last sentence with an appropriately sarcastic tone.

I bought an obscene number of books in the last few weeks but I did not spend an obscene amount of money on them. I am currently deep in a romantic suspense binge and I couldn't be happier.

My husband has a doctor's appointment today to check on his concussion recovery and we are going out to lunch afterward. That is a future golden moment but I am counting it. He said something about stopping at a bookstore as well. That man knows me so well. Please don't refer to the point above about an obscene number of books. When you are offered a trip to a bookstore you always accept.

This moment right now. The sun is shining, the house is quiet, I made a pot of tea, and I have 45 minutes until I have to start getting ready to leave. All days should start this way.






A Poem for a Thursday

Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash


Robert Graves was a British poet, classicist, novelist, and critic. Graves was one of the most well-known WWI poets along with Siegfreid Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. He was one of the first to write poets about what it was really like to be in the front lines.  Graves is also known for his autobiography Good-bye To All That. I found today's poem in a Norton Anthology of Poetry I bought recently. I am not totally sure what he is trying to say but I like the way the words sound and, to be honest, that is mostly how I pick poems.

Children, if you dare to think
Of the greatness, rareness, muchness,
Fewness of this precious only
Endless world in which you say
You live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel
Tempts you to untie the string.
In the parcel a small island,
On the island a large tree, 
On the tree a husky fruit.
Strip the husk and pare the rind off: 
In the kernel you will see
Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled 
Red and green, enclosed by tawny 
Yellow nets, enclosed by white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where the same brown paper parcel--
Children, leave the string alone!
For who dares undo the parcel
Finds himself at once inside it,
On the island, in the fruit,
Blocks of slate about his head
Finds himself enclosed by dappled 
Green and red, enclosed by yellow
Tawny nets, enclosed by black
And white acres of dominoes,
With the same brown paper parcel
Still unopened on his knee
And, if he then should dare to think
Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
Greatness of this endless only
Precious world in which he says
He lives--he then unties the string.

Warning to Children
Robert Graves

Reese at Typings has a poem by Tom Disch this week.

Bookshop Visit//The Book Barn


My sister and I took a day off recently and went to The Book Barn in Niantic, CT. We spent hours browsing in their three locations and we bought way too many books. We easily could have bought so many more and I am already thinking about going back. The main section of The Book Barn is a collection of buildings and outdoor shelving. There are also two smaller bookstores, one right next door and one further downtown. They are in the midst of consolidating from four bookstores to three so what genres are in each location could change but for now, the downtown store has religion, philosophy, cooking, gardening and children's books. The store next to the main location has romance and mysteries with a smattering of other subjects and the main location has a grand mix of everything else.



There were books everywhere. Just when we thought we had looked at it all we would find another section. Many of the older books were only $1.00 each and, since older books are what we mainly look for, this was perfect.




There are also bookshop cats. One of the locations had a leaflet with photos and descriptions of each cat and where they can usually be found. We only saw a few but it definitely added to the charm.



The people who work in the different locations were extremely friendly. We asked for restaurant recommendations and they suggested a Tex-Mex restaurant next door which was very good. The buffalo chicken nachos were especially nice.


My sister and I both have a weakness for old-fashioned romantic suspense so we were thrilled to find the "castles, coaches, and windswept moors" section. A lot of these older books are practically impossible to find in the library anymore and they are perfect escapist fiction.

So, what did we buy? As I said, way too many books. I bought 32 and my sister bought 49. We could have easily doubled those numbers and neither of us spent a huge amount of money. I think the most expensive book either of us bought was $6.00 and most were $1.00. This post is way too photo heavy but I am going to show you all 32 books anyway.









I did already own the book about Jane Austen and City Room is for my dad. My sister sent me a photo of all her purchases. Here it is.


If you are ever in Connecticut then visit The Book Barn. You too can buy way too many books, eat Tex-Mex food and hopefully, go for a walk on the shore. Our walk was rained out but that just provides an excuse for us to go back. And finally here is one more photo because any bookstore that provides wagons for you to cart around your purchases understands its customer base.


The Book Barn
41 W. Main St.
Niantic, CT 06357

A Poem for a Thursday #31

Photo by Roksolana Zasiadko on Unsplash


Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet-diplomat and politician. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Neruda has been called the greatest poet writing in Spanish during his lifetime. He is not more well-known in the English speaking world because his work is viewed as hard to translate. His political affiliations caused controversy since he supported Communism and Stalin. When the Chilean government declared Communism illegal Neruda was expelled from the Senate and went into hiding. Neruda died in 1973 shortly after leaving a hospital where he was being treated for cancer. He suspected the doctor was trying to poison him under orders from Pinochet who had just successfully led a coup d'etat. In 2013 the government issued a statement saying it was "highly likely" Neruda was killed because of "intervention of third parties."  Neruda is commonly viewed as the national poet of Chile. His love poems are particularly well-known. Here is one of them.

I don't love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose 
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don't know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams. 

Sonnet XVII
Pablo Neruda
Translated by Mark Eisner

Visit Typings to read another lovely poem.

A Few Good Books


The first Simon Garfield book I ever read was a compilation of Mass Observation diaries that I bought at The Imperial War Museum in London. It is still one of the best books I have read about life in England during WWII and I have read a lot of books about that time period. I have been meaning to read some of his other books so when I saw that In Miniature:  How Small Things Illuminate the World* was available on NetGalley I immediately requested it. Garfield explores why people are so fascinated by miniatures and what drives them to create or play with them. He looks at everything from dollhouses to toy soldiers to model villages to the Vegas Strip. I was fascinated by the section about meticulously recreated crime scenes and amazed to read about the realities of flea circuses. I must admit, I now want to travel to Germany to visit the biggest model train layout in the world. This book is detailed, well-researched and takes the subject beyond the obvious. I wouldn't say I was someone who was fascinated by miniatures to begin with but this caught and held my attention and that readable, detailed account is what Garfield does best.


I have mentioned before that I love the British Library Crime Classics. I regularly request them on NetGalley even though this means I don't get to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous covers. I mean, just look at that cover above. I would happily hang a copy of that picture on my wall and I could say that about all of the covers.

The Colour of Murder* is told from two points of view. The first is John Wilkins talking to his psychiatrist about his life up to that point. Wilkins is not a likable man and he is an unreliable narrator. He is married to a girl that he decides is dull and unsatisfactory after he falls in love with another woman who works at the library. He gets caught up in a fantasy life, follows the woman to Brighton, and she is found dead on a beach. Did he kill her? The second part of the book is the account of John Wilkins trial. I enjoyed this even though it was a bit dark and I didn't really like anyone. It was a bit like watching a train wreck. You know things aren't going to end well but you keep turning the pages.


Another British Library Crime Classic and another gorgeous cover. I want to step right into that picture. The Belting Inheritance* is narrated by Christopher who is eighteen at the time the events in the book take place. He was orphaned as a child and raised by the Wainwright family. One day, one of Lady Wainwright's sons who went missing during WWII returns home. Or does he? Is this man who he says he is? What other family secrets are going to be brought out in the open? Is it possible to get most of the main characters to Paris on what seems to be a relatively flimsy pretext? Read it and find out for yourself. Despite the unnecessary detour to Paris, I enjoyed this.


I have decided that I will pretty much read anything Lynne Olson writes. She makes history completely fascinating. Madame Fourcade's Secret War* is just as interesting as her previous books. Marie-Madeleine Fourcade led the largest spy network in France during WWII. She was only thirty-one, she was female, and she was beautiful. It sounds a bit like the beginning of a blockbuster movie but Fourcade was ferociously intelligent and had nerves of steel. This was real life. Her spies provided vital intelligence to British and American forces and many lost their lives in the process. By the end of the war, Fourcade was in command of 3000 men and women. Surprisingly, few people have heard of her. Maybe Olson's book will change that. I highly recommend this. I already have another of Olson's books on my shelf waiting for me.

*Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions and raving about cover art completely my own.

A Poem for a Thursday #30

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

Ludwig Lewisohn was a literary and drama critic and an editor. He wrote about 40 books and many articles. He also taught, wrote poetry, and translated German literature. Obviously, he was a man of many talents. He wrote this poem about the peace and joys of marriage. Interestingly, he was married three times and had at least two affairs. Take from that what you will.

You and I by this lamp with these
Few books shut out the world.  Our knees
Touch almost in this little space.
But I am glad.  I see your face.
The silences are long, but each
Hears the other without speech.
And in this simple scene there is 
The essence of all subtleties,
The freedom from all fret and smart,
The one sure sabbath of the heart.

The world--we cannot conquer it,
Nor change the mind of fools one whit.
Here, here alone do we create
Beauty and peace inviolate;
Here night by night and hour by hour
We build a high impregnable tower
Whence may shine, now and again,
A light to light the feet of men
When they see the rays thereof:
And this is marriage, this is love.

Together
Ludwig Lewisohn

Read another poem at Typings.