Golden Moments #3


I was going to write a post about books for your horse-mad child.  The stack of books has been sitting on the floor next to the couch for a week now.  It will probably still be there next week.  And there we have the perils of January.  Good intentions go by the wayside, blog posts never get written, and I continue to attempt to sink the January blues in countless books and too much chocolate.  There are worse ways to go.

However, this is not a post in which to moan about winter but instead, one that requires concentrating on the bright spots and there have been a few scattered through the all-too-dark (literally) days.  I was in Boston again recently and as usual, the Boston Public Library pulled me in.  Last time I was in there it was night time and I have been meaning to go back because I wanted to see the courtyard.  I like courtyards.  They feel a bit secret gardenish and I have always wanted my own secret garden ever since reading the book as a child.  Of course, any courtyard in the middle of the library in a city is not exactly a secret but still, it gives the same feeling. Well, at least it did if you ignored the gaggle of teen-aged girls taking selfies.  I resolutely looked the other way and pretended they didn't exist.  It's fine, they did the same thing with me.

Boston Public Library courtyard

Boston Public Library courtyard

Isn't that pretty?  Imagine what it must look like in the summer.  Obviously, I will have to go back and take more photos then.  Hopefully, the gaggle of girls will have achieved the perfect selfie by then and moved on.

I bought two books recently.  You know any Golden Moments post is going to involve a book or two.  Actually, I think it might be three.  I am pretty sure there is another one that should show up sometime soon but I can't remember what it is and we will leave that for another pleasant surprise on a cold and wintry day.

I picked up the book about the Duchess of Devonshire on a whim.  She is a woman that seems to pop up in books quite a bit but I don't feel that I know much about her.  This was on my favorite library book sale rack for 50 cents so hopefully, I will shortly be more informed.  I also got The Feast by Margaret Kennedy.  I know this was because of a review I read on a book blog somewhere but, as usual, I can't remember which blog.  The book showed up with a beautiful but absolutely destroyed dust jacket. Plus, the sellers had stuck a sticker smack in the middle.  Sacrilege.  However, I wasn't expecting a dust jacket at all and the book itself is in good condition so I'll let it go.

riding lesson

My daughter had another riding lesson and she loved it just as much as the first time.  She spent the car ride in discoursing on the causes and cures for colic in horses.  A close friend of mine came to the lesson. We spent the hour freezing in the dark and cold, admiring Celia at every turn, and talking like mad.  A good time was had by all.

My plans were rescheduled on Saturday.  Yes, that qualifies as a golden moment.  I was tired and just a tad grumpy. Please don't ask my kids about that measurement, I am sure they would put it higher.  Anyway, plans were changed (not because of my grumpiness) and I got to stay home with the previously mentioned books and chocolate.  It was glorious.

What golden moment have there been in your life lately?

Vacation Plans

London at night

I might possibly have mentioned before that I love London.  Does that sound familiar?  Do you have a vague memory of me rhapsodizing about England and bookstores and gardens?

I thought you might.


We are going to do it all over again.  We are going to England again in April and this time we are taking the kids with us.

london underground

I know.  Just think of all the posts I am going to get out of this trip.  Prepare to be inundated with London photos.

It is going to be a very different trip since we will have the kids with us.  London has always been our place.  We spend the rest of the year being parents and while we love our kids it has always been wonderful to spend one week just being a couple.  However, our son is getting older and we can see the writing on the wall.  In the not too distant future he will have his own independent life and even if he comes on vacation with us it won't be the same.  He will want to do his own thing.  He will be an adult.  We want to do this one big trip while he is still a kid, while we are still parents doing things with our kids, not adults doing things with other independent adults.  We want to take our kids to the zoo and the museums and show them the sights.  So that is exactly what we are going to do.  We are going to show our children the things we have come to love and we are going to hope they have just a little bit of the feeling we do about England.  The kids are very excited and so are we.


When my husband and I go to London we spend a lot of time touring stately homes, wandering through gardens, browsing in bookshops, and sitting in coffee shops.  I think we are going to be experiencing a very different London with the kids.  Our son has already requested that we tour Emirates Stadium where Arsenal plays.  You can be sure that has never been on my list of things to do in London before.  Our daughter wants to go to the zoo. It doesn't matter what city we are in, she always wants to go to the zoo.  We are going to show them a lot of the major tourist attractions and we are hoping to fit in a train trip out into the countryside.  I have been researching castles because our son is fascinated by the medieval time period and I think it would be fun to tour a castle that recreates that time.  Please, let me know if you have any suggestions.

You can also be sure that I will be visiting as many bookshops as I can get away with.  It isn't a trip to London if I don't go to Persephone Books and Daunt Books and Waterstones and well, the list just goes on and on.

We are going back to London with its noise and commotion, its gardens and its beautiful buildings.  We are going to eat fish and chips and tea and cake.  We are going to walk until our feet hurt and then be crushed onto the underground with too many people.  We will decide everyone's accent sounds cooler than ours.  I will drive my family crazy by taking too many photographs.  We will show the kids a bigger world.  We will marvel at the history.  We will spend the week telling our daughter she can't buy every single stuffed animal she sees.  I will try to buy every book I see.  We will enjoy our time with our kids because they grow up faster than you ever would believe possible.

Thoughts About Two Books--Mrs. Miniver And Chatterton Square

books and bag

I read two books I loved recently.  One was a reread.  It is Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther.  My local library has a bad habit of getting rid of older books so periodically I check out ones I particularly like in the hopes of preventing their culling.  The last time I read Mrs. Miniver was before I started blogging so it was definitely time to check it out again.  I was tempted to check out Dickens' entire oeuvre in order to protect them as well.  They looked like they hadn't moved from the shelves in years.  However, I thought the librarians might have some questions if I staggered up to the desk under a tower of Dickens novels.  Maybe I will work my way through his novels one at a time.  Why do libraries get rid of old books?  I know they have to stay current but there is a real value to older books as well. The library recently took all their Georgette Heyer novels off the shelves.  What were they thinking?  Probably that no one reads old books, but I do and I miss being able to go into the library and find what I want.

Anyway, back to Mrs. Miniver before this turns into a rant.  I am sure most are familiar with this book, especially since it was made into a movie during WWII.  The book is a series of charming vignettes about Mrs. Miniver and her family.  They live a privileged life in London just before the start of WWII.  The vignettes were originally written as a series of newspaper columns for The Times.  They are all about small aspects of life; Christmas shopping, a dinner party, getting a new car, a country house visit.  Mr.s Miniver does seem to have a way of saying things I didn't know I was thinking.  I ended up with a book littered with sticky notes.  I won't inflict all of them on you but here are a few of the quotes I marked.

Tea was already laid:  there were honey sandwiches, brandy-snaps, and small ratafia biscuits; and there would, she knew, be crumpets.  Three new library books lay virginally on the fender-stool, their bright paper wrappers unsullied by subscriber's hand. The clock on the mantelpiece chimed, very softly and precisely, five times.  A tug hooted from the river.  A sudden breeze brought the sharp tang of a bonfire in at the window.  The jigsaw was almost complete, but there was still one piece missing.  And then, from the other end of the square, came the familiar sound of the Wednesday barrel-organ, playing with a hundred apocryphal trills and arpeggios, the "Blue Danube" waltz.  And Mrs. Miniver, with a little sigh of contentment, rang for tea.

Don't you just want to be in that room and settle down for tea with Mrs. Miniver?  Maybe pick up one of the library books to see what she is reading.  And nibble on a ratafia biscuit because I always read about them in books and have no idea what they taste like.

I also liked this quote about marriage.

It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch.

And this made me chuckle.

"Ha!" said the Colonel.  She noted with delight that he really did say "Ha!" This made a valuable addition to her collection.  She had lately acquired a "Humph!" and two "Whews!" but she was still waiting in vain for a "Pshaw!"

If you haven't read Mrs. Miniver, do so.  She manages to catch everyday moments and thoughts and make them special. The picture of life is of a time that doesn't seem to exist anymore but every time I read a book like this I yearn to step into the pages and wander the English countryside.

 The second book I read is Chatterton Square by E. H. Young.  I love Young's novels and have been rationing them because I don't want to run out.  This book is set just before the start of WWII during the appeasement era.  It is the story of two families living across from each other.  One woman is married to a priggish man she does not like or respect and the other's husband has left her and moved to France.  This is a quiet book with great emotional depth.  It is not full of huge events but instead, it contains the gradual development of characters and relationships.  Not everyone is likable, many make mistakes, but Young does a wonderful job of making all of them believable and sympathetic.

I particularly enjoyed one character's description of why she valued books and reading.

I've made hundreds of friends, yes hundreds of them, good and bad and all interesting.  They can't possibly die before I do.  I'm sure of them for as long as I want them and when. There's somebody for every mood and though they don't go off in tempers.' she said, giving Rosamund one of her meaning looks, 'and leave you in the lurch, you can send them away when you've had enough of them.

And this about the changing role of parents.

When they were babies she had looked forward to the time when they would not need constant care and now she found that keeping them out of the fire, from falling downstairs and eating unsuitable substances was nothing to the inaction she had imposed on herself, the advice she must not offer, the knowledge that they would never consider themselves in need of.

Mrs. Miniver was a light and charming book despite the looming specter of war.  Chatterton Square is a darker, more introspective book.  I loved both of them and highly recommend them.

This Is For The Quiet Ones

girl in the woods

The ones who listen more than they talk.

The ones who are always told that they need to come out of their shell.

This is for the ones who enjoy a party but sometimes need to just walk away.

For the ones who are tired of being overlooked, who are tired of having people think that being quiet is their whole personality.

This is for the ones who have more going on in their heads than most of the world will ever know.

This is for the people who are talked over and ignored because someone said it louder.

This is for the ones who never quite fit in.

This is for all of us who overthink and over-analyze.

This is for anyone who has ever had someone think they are sad or angry or in a bad mood just because they had nothing to say at that moment.

This is for everyone who thinks that staying home on a Saturday night with a book, a cup of tea, and a few of your favorite (quiet) people is not a failure but a success.

This is for the ones to whom it is implied that being quiet means you are socially incompetent or need to be taken care of.

This is for anyone who has been accused of being stuck up or arrogant because they are quiet.

This is for all of us who have ever not been invited somewhere because obviously being quiet means we don't want a social life.

This is for all of us who realize that you can't pigeonhole people.  That being quiet is not the sum total of a personality just as much as being loud isn't.  That, as much as the internet wants us to think otherwise, we are not all divided up into neat little groups of introverts and extroverts.  That it is okay to be loud and it is okay to be quiet and it is okay to be both depending on who you are with and what you are doing.

 You aren't any better than anyone else but you aren't any worse either.  Being quiet is fine.  Being quiet is good.  I like quiet people.

You can come sit (quietly) on my couch on a Saturday night.  I will give you a cup of tea and a good book.

This is for you, the quiet ones.

January Goals

It is January.

It is raining.

The alarm went off at 5:15 this morning.

My kids are back in school and my husband is back at work.  I am home today since I am always home on Tuesdays.  I should be catching up on housework and laundry and grocery shopping.  If you saw the state of my house you would agree.  Having everyone home for a week is not conducive to tidiness and organization.

Instead, I am sitting on the couch watching random Youtube videos, rereading Georgette Heyer mysteries, and writing a last-minute blog post.

So yes, 2017 is off to a fantastic start.

Though it is possible that the Georgette Heyer novel balances out the rain and the 5:15 a.m. alarm.

I am not a big believer in the whole "new year, new you" mindset.  I can't get enthusiastic about any goals that start in January.  If I was going to pick when to start a new year and set some goals I think it would be in the spring.  In January all I want to do is hibernate.  However, it is a new year and that does get me thinking about what I want to change and accomplish.  I think goals for a year just set me up for failure but goals for a month I can probably do.

As far as blogging goes, I would like to be a little more organized.  I tend to write posts right before I post them.  This post is a prime example of that.  That does leave me feeling pressured if I don't have a  post ready to go on a day I usually post.  Actually, lately I don't even have days I usually post.  It has all become a bit random.  I would like to think ahead a bit.  In that way, I can take my time writing and taking photographs.

I also would like to make time to read books that take a little more effort.  Life has been busy and a bit stressful lately.  When that happens I tend to pick up old favorites, Georgette Heyer being a prime example.  The problem is that, while I enjoy them, I don't really have a lot to say about my five millionth reading of a Georgette Heyer novel.  I want to read the books that make me think, the books that lend themselves to being talked about, the books I have been putting off because I am too tired to read them.  I also want to stop doing the equivalent of saving a book for best.  You know the outfit you never wear because it is your favorite and you don't want to waste it on an undeserving occasion?  I do that with books.  I have books I am sure I am going to love but I want to read them under the perfect circumstances.  I want to read them when I am calm and relaxed and can fully appreciate them, not while my kids are bickering and I keep having to jump up to check on dinner.  But let's face facts here, perfect circumstances are few and far between and bickering, hungry kids are all too common.  I need to just read the books and enjoy them.  They can brighten the ordinary days and make them a bit special.

I want to enjoy the time we have with our kids, particularly with our son because he is growing up and soon the day will come when he isn't at home anymore.  Right now he is still our kid and basically does what we do but soon he will have his license and then a whole different world is available.  He won't be stuck with Mom and Dad. So, much as I hate the phrase, I want to make some memories. We have some big plans coming up but that is another post for another day.

Is it too cliched to say I want to exercise again?  I do though.  I was exercising regularly for a couple of years and then last fall my schedule changed.  Exercise fell by the wayside.  I need to add it back in.  I feel better and I am a pleasanter person when I exercise.

I want to clean my attic and get rid of all the junk.  This will have to be done while my daughter is gone.  She won't let me get rid of anything.

I want to try more recipes.  I am sick of food; of buying it, of cooking it, of eating it, of trying to make meals everyone likes.  I think I just need to change things up and try a few new things.  Maybe buy a few new cookbooks?  Does anyone have some recommendations?  Nothing too time-consuming, with ingredients I can find in a normal grocery store.

All of this sounds very doable.  Well, maybe not the attic.  It is a black hole of possessions I am not sure I really want to face.  But the rest I think I can manage.  If I succeed I am sure I will report back at the end of the month.  If I fail, well, this post will never be mentioned again.