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JennW in SoCal

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Everything posted by JennW in SoCal

  1. Yes, Presbyterian (PCUSA). For just over a year now, there are choices of virtual service on YouTube or Zoom, and weekly services in the courtyard where everyone is masked and seating well distanced. There have been drive-in services, too. It is Southern California, so the weather is rarely an issue. The singer and pastor take their masks off as needed to sing or talk, but otherwise are masked. Our congregation is older, and most of them are now fully vaccinated and impatient about getting back into the sanctuary. There was an email just last week begging everyone to stay patient, reminding everyone we are still following public health guidelines, and a gentle reminder to love thy neighbor as many of us are still impatiently waiting for our turn at a vaccination. I'm a church musician (violin/fiddle), and have to say we rock both traditional and contemporary praise music!! We've had monthly recording sessions since last March for all the virtual services, and I play the in-person services about once a month, too. I stay masked for both recording and performing. I know the traditional choir is chomping at the bit to get back to singing, but our music director is young and not yet vaccinated. Instead we've done those zoom-style video recordings for special occasions.
  2. @Matryoshka You inspired me to check out the Chinese duolingo and had fun just now testing to see my level. It gave me a "ta-da" and said I've tested out of 12 skills. It was actually a great way to review!
  3. Disneyland in Anaheim will be enforcing mask wearing by guests and cast members. Furloughed employees (including my ds) are waiting for word on when (and if) they will be returning to work. Employees all have to go through COVID training before returning to work, which I assume will NOT be sessions held in tiny meeting rooms with cast members stuffed in like sardines, lol! There is a petition here in So Cal to delay the reopening, but the opening is scheduled for July 17, the 65th anniversary of the park.
  4. I listened to a nice bit of fluff last week, The Jane Austen Society. The only thing to rave about is the narration by Richard Armitage who has a fine voice and the acting chops to bring a wide cast of characters to life. But the book itself is just a solid ok. For me, for this fraught time, it was a nice gentle escape, with decent enough writing, and not too predictable a plot. I also started listening to another book by the late drummer for the band Rush, Neil Peart. This time it is Traveling Music, his musings on the musical inspirations of his life as he takes a road trip from LA to Big Bend. His description of driving out of Los Angeles on I-10 perfectly captures the land and the city - one of the best descriptions I've read. This week I've added another audiobook, the next installment of the Vorkosigan saga, Brothers in Arms. It's hard to focus on print books at the moment. With an audiobook and some kind of hand work -- knitting or embroidery or quilting -- I can get my mind off the greater world and some assorted family stuff. @mumto2 I know it isn't recorded on Goodreads, but I read Affinity Bridge a few years ago and recall enjoying it. I think I read the 2nd book too, but couldn't get my hands on the any of the subsequent titles. @Lori D. So cool you are reading the Sharon Kay Penmen mysteries!! I know I read the first 2, and perhaps the 3rd? I'm thinking I'd need to reread them now before getting to the 4th. @Negin I appreciate the review of the newer Julie Andrews memoir! I really enjoyed the first a few years back and downloaded this one to my kindle a few weeks ago when it was on sale. @Violet Crown Which Godzilla? The original or one of the recent Hollywood versions? Excuse me while I free-associate...Just the mention of Godzilla and the Blue Oyster Cult song gets stuck in my head once again. Those of you of a certain age (ahem) may know it, but for those of you who don't, I must share a recent music video made for this rock and roll gem from 1977.
  5. Stumbling in, late as usual. I had actual things to do last week which felt stressfully busy after 3 months of not doing much of anything. I even put make up on my face as I was recording music and thought I should make an attempt at looking decent, lol! It was odd, too, to have to play "for reals" after hardly touching my violin since March. Books were read last week, though! I really enjoyed the romance Love Lettering, which Kareni read some months back. The novel, and the romance, is centered around signs and fonts, and on the art of hand lettering. I'm wondering if the print edition has words and phrases written in the fonts being described as the Kindle certainly did not. It didn't really matter, I have a good imagination, but I can imagine a fancy print edition with illustrations. I also finished Tea Ohbreht's Inland, which was a totally unexpected and different novel. It is a Western, featuring 2 different story lines (2 different narrators in the audio edition), with a stubborn feisty woman in Arizona territory at the close of the 1800s, and a Turkish immigrant whose story we hear as he talks to his camel. There are ghosts, there is a scarcity of water, all told through some exquisite writing. The opening chapters were gritty and off putting, but I kept coming back to listen to chunks and was hooked once the camels were introduced. I've got 2 audio books going this week. The Jane Austen Society is a quiet, gentle book set in Chawton at the end of WWII. Chawton, for those of you who don't know, was the home for a period of time, of Jane Austen. While the book caught my eye because of the title, I readily used an audible credit for it as it is read by Richard Armitage. And I'm listening to another memoir by Neil Peart, the late drummer for the band Rush. I'm so not a fan of Rush, but he was a really interesting man, someone who read widely and loved all sorts of music and wrote interesting books about his travels. The book I'm listening to is Road Music: The Soundtrack to My Life and Times.
  6. I'm going to do this in backwards order and post first then read the thread. Some weeks I start reading the thread with the intention of posting afterwards, but get pulled away and never come back. Last week was one of those weeks. It wasn't like I was doing anything with my time. Just felt the need for naps almost everyday, lol! My armchair travel is taking me to Ireland this week, thanks to some good finds on Kindle. Last summer I visited County Sligo, Ireland, a part of Ireland near and dear to the heart of WB Yeats. In honor of that visit, I'm reading a collection of his, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. A good collection of short entries, the sort you can pick up and put down as needed. I've also downloaded another Kindle freebie, The Tour: A feel-good Irish Springtime Read about a tour bus driver in Ireland and the American tourists he is transporting around the country. I adored our Irish tour bus driver and guides, and based on the good reviews, am hoping to vicariously enjoy another visit! Last week's read was another in the Peter Grainger British police procedural mysteries featuring DC Smith. I really like these -- the police detective is NOT a brooding, psychologically damaged renegade! And, even better, they are NOT gruesome, either. I haven't noted it on Goodreads, but it was Luck and Judgement. These will work as stand alones, but as with most mystery series it is better in order. Can't remember if I raved sufficiently about the cozy Sicilian mystery Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions. This was utterly delightful with lots of food, Mt. Etna and all sorts of colorful characters. Definitely will look for the others in the series. In my ear buds is Inland by Tea Obreht and BBC radio dramatizations of three Lord Peter mysteries. The first dramatization is of Murder Must Advertise, which I've only read once, a few years ago. It wasn't a favorite, but the dramatization is entertaining.
  7. And every single professional musician is out of work at the moment, unless they are teaching via Zoom. I was purposefully down to only 3 students this year, none of whom want to do video lessons, and of course all my spring gigs were cancelled. Fortunately for us, we are not dependent on my meager income as a musician!
  8. Yes Robin -- that is really wonderful news that the financial pressure is off for your business. But, aren't you (couldn't you be considered) essential? I took my laptop to a computer repair place last week, and it was really nicely set up with a line out side marked with tape, and the way they disinfected everything when it was your turn at the door. It was safe, they were friendly and happily my fix was super easy.
  9. Comfort reads with armchair travel might describe my recent reads. I stumbled upon what looks to be a gem of a gentle, cozy-ish mystery series. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano features a German woman of Italian descent, a widow with a decided crush on policemen in uniform, who decides to retire in Sicily when she turns 60. It is filled with descriptions of food and of Sicily, and is filled with quirky characters. Most importantly it is making me smile and laugh. The 2 and 3 star reviews on Goodreads are no doubt by the young and boringly ironic or cynical who can't appreciate light whimsy done well. It must have been written in German as the author, who lives in Cologne, is a German of Italian descent with a decidedly Italian name. Also delightful was another in the Vorkosigan space opera series, this time about a geneticist from an all male planet in search of ovarian culture to continue growing boy babies! I kid you not! The scientist in Ethan of Athos has never seen a woman, the religion on his planet teaches that women are evil abominations, so naturally his misadventures off planet pairs him up with a feisty woman. Best of all, there is not a predictable budding love interest with the woman -- at the end of the book he returns home to his all male planet with a new boyfriend. I say best of all because I'm always happy when an author does not twist the plot in predictable ways. Kitchens of the Great Midwest was a title I picked up at the library used book sale back in early February before I knew I needed a tall stack of books to read. It is a novel with recipes, following the life of a woman from birth through her 20s. A pleasant diversion -- a solid ok as my son would say. The least delightful last week was Hard Rain, a thriller translated from Afrikaans that is set in Tanzania. It wasn't bad, just sort of o.k, though I really wanted to like it as the female author, Irma Venter, says in the blurb that she likes creating strong women characters.
  10. @mumto2 Have you ever read the historical mysteries written by Sharon Kay Penman? The series of 4 books, all set in the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine, has all the great period detail as her other books, plus great characters and a mystery, and starts with The Queen's Man. It's been 20 years or more since I read the first 2, but I really loved them. Just discovered on Goodreads just now that there are 2 more, but I'm almost afraid to revisit the series as my reading tastes have changed so much. @Kareni I read the first Chalion book last year, but never got to the rest of the series. The Vorkosigan series, also by Lois McMaster Bujold, has been just the right comfort read the last few weeks. I'm another who loved Kim, but never thought of it as a children's book. High school, yes, which is when I assigned it. I remember feeling the book is infused with Kipling's love of India, his longing for that home he had known.
  11. Oldest books on my shelf? I have 2 books from my dad's childhood (he was born in 1920), one of which is a paperback One Hundred and One Favorite Poems, printed in 1928 and apparently re-gifted to my dad as it has two handwritten inscriptions. The other has no copyright but I assume is also from the 1920s. It is Rudyard Kipling's Wee Willie Winkie, and it has the softest suede-like cover. I've got 2 of my mom's high school texts from the 1930s, one a Handbook of Composition by Woolley, Scott & Tressler, and the other is Hamlet. The oldest book on my shelves is Longfellow's Evangeline, a tale of Arcadia printed in the 1860s. I have no idea how this came to be on my shelves!! I've got a few books from the 1950s that were part of my and my older brothers' childhood. And several of my own books, from Land of Oz to Nancy Drew to paperbacks I got from Scholastic. I even still have one or two college text books. I also have the 1927 and 1928 high school year books of my husband's grandmother. The paper in those is such excellent quality -- nothing printed today feels as nice. Or were you just challenging us to find the oldest in our teetering, dusty TBR stacks?!
  12. I finished a really good mystery today, the first in a series about a Scottish detective working on cold cases. It was The Distant Echo by Val McDermid. Have any of my fellow mystery readers read any of these? (Looks at Goodreads....sees that Mumto2 has read them!!) I really enjoyed this one and will certainly read the others in the series.
  13. The seeds I'd sewn in pots set on the kitchen window have just sprouted. Grow little herbs! Grow little beans! Now if I can get my hands on some tomato seeds or seedlings...or spinach. Renee's Garden catalog seed company is overwhelmed with orders and out of some basics. I am doing lots of mindless reading. I've got 2 hours to go in the audio of the sci-fi Vorkosigan saga, Cetaganda. Great mindless listen for sewing or puzzling. Not surprised Robin has the weeks wrong starting these threads, but I'm so impressed with you remembering it is Sunday!! Time is so weirdly meaningless these days. At the end of each day I'm always a little stunned at how little I actually accomplished, or at how much time I spent doing the oddest things. Like, for instance, the hour or more I spent browsing all the books on Kindle Unlimited. Apparently it is important to pick just the right mindless read, free of charge. Two that I'm currently reading are Your Perfect Year, A Novel, a romantic comedy translated from German, and Where's Me Plaid? a Scottish travel book about a young man and his wife exploring Crawford family history in Scotland. Both books helped me stay awake long enough to give my dog her antibiotics last night, which are due every 8 hours. She had emergency surgery yesterday to deal with a nasty infected abscess, and now she is rocking the cone of shame while high on painkillers! We were trying to tweak the antibiotic schedule to avoid the middle of the night dose, but...well...this whole time thing. We forgot to give her the meds this afternoon, so I'm up til 1am again tonight. (Jigsaw puzzle and audiobook kept me going tonight.) Alright...time to give the dog her meds. Goodnight!
  14. I started with Shards of Honor, which, along with the novel Barrayar are background before Miles appears.... or is conceived! But, they are fun, entertaining books, and great to quilt to!! Here's a Book Riot article on the best reading order. After my brush with the terror of no library card, I downloaded and started Cetaganda (soft "c", long "e"). I think my ds is hooked too, now with my Artemis Fowl reference. He's read Shards of Honor, but kind of hated, as only a college male can, the whole love story it sets up. I have been making masks for friends, neighbors and family, but have to confess that I'd much rather be doing creative stuff like quilts or small fiber art projects. Having a good audio book and creative project to keep my hands busy gets me off the internet, away from obsessively reading the news and all the useless speculative stories about what might happen in next few months or years.
  15. Almost had a major panic attack just now. I couldn't check out the next audiobook in my space opera series because my library card expires today!! But bless them, the library system website is set up with live-chat, and a real human librarian, no doubt on her computer at home, was able to renew my card. Whew!! I seem incapable of handling anything more than lite sci-fi or good ol' murder mysteries, preferably British. Which is a shame as I have so many good books here at home, but so it goes. The sci-fi/space opera series I'm enjoying is the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Miles Vorkosigan is a great character -- a disabled son of a Lord, who reminds me a bit of Artemis Fowl. Miles isn't a criminal mastermind like Artemis, but he definitely thinks way outside the box, winds up leading a mercenary fleet of space ships, and has a great sense of humor. They are the perfect background noise for sewing or puttering around the house. The current mystery is But for the Grace by Peter Grainger, the second DC Smith novel. I went ahead and signed up for kindle unlimited and will just plow through as many mysteries and whatever else looks good there. Our Easter was ....cold. Dh went on a quest for Krispey Kreme donuts to go with our brunch -- the drive thru was at least 15 cars long! We didn't get around to frosting our Easter cookies til yesterday, but that's how it goes in this twilight zone of plague. Time just has no meaning!
  16. Goodness. Is it Wednesday afternoon already? (checking phone to see what day it is -- yep, it is Wednesday.) I went into face mask sewing overdrive with a neighbor (we were each in our own sewing rooms) to make and deliver 24 (more?) masks for the immediate neighbors. I found it really stressful due the need for them, the sense of urgency that people need them NOW, and my usual perfectionist worries that they aren't going to be right, whether the design or materials or craftsmanship. I'm going to make a few more for extended family members but am taking a break this afternoon and catching up with y'all. I had been listening to Edith Wharton's House of Mirth while sewing, but I could see this wasn't going to have a happy Jane Austen ending. So, I read the synopsis on line, which confirmed my suspicions, and have abandoned it. Just not the right read this spring. Instead, I'm sticking with sci-fi-lite and mysteries. Sci-fi lite: A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It is a pleasant and light diversion, but clearly the work of someone who crowd- funded the book. Today I turned to The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've just started listening to it, and am already very happy to be immersed in the further adventures of Miles Vorkosigan. Mystery: Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke. This is the second mystery featuring an African-American Texas Ranger. It isn't a light read due to the backdrop of small town divides in income and race and our the family conflicts Ranger Matthews is dealing with. But Ms. Locke is a good writer who deftly handles all of it while delivering a decent mystery too. I haven't started listening to them yet, but know I will have fun listening to the BBC 3 dramatizations of some of the Lord Peter Whimsey mysteries. They are on audible, and you get more than one mystery/ download. The one I chose has Murder Must Advertise, Nine Tailors and Busman's Honeymoon. Real fiction: House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is set in Zimbabwe against the turmoils of Robert Mugabe's rule. It is a really good read, but just not what I want to pick up these days!
  17. Not a meme, but a link to another musical parody. It's brilliant, too -- a family singing their Corvid-19 version of the Les Mis song, "One Day More". There's a short article about them and the youtube song is embedded in the article: Family recreates "One Day More"
  18. LOL. I knew others had read it but couldn't remember exactly who! I'll have to look for the next 2 books. As long as you are here....what was the name of the mystery writer who was from around your are in England? I remember reading the first book, and the young detective has a mom at home with health or mental issues. Are there more books?
  19. Stop the press! I actually finished a book this week!! An audiobook, actually. Seems the only way to wrangle my brain cells is to sit in a chair with hand work (quilting or embroidery this week) while listening to an audiobook. Anything else and I either fall asleep or succumb to the lure of the phone or computer. The lucky book that was started and finished was not necessarily the best choice!. It was the first of the Cork O'Connor series by William Kent Kreuger, Iron Lake. I had assumed these were standard mysteries, but I'd say it is more of a thriller, a testosterone fueled thriller. Kreuger is a fine writer, but all that macho swagger of the hero was a bit much. I am **this** close to finishing Linesman. I'm reading before bed each night until my eyes get really heavy. @Kareni : are the other books in the series as full of politics as this one? Perhaps I can't keep all these planets and factions straight because I am reading at bedtime, but I want to spend more time with Ean than with the politicians.
  20. I'm thinking of you, @Kareni, as I read Linesman. It's been languishing for a few months now in my Kindle library -- I had completely forgotten it was there!
  21. Oh my gosh, yes to the bolded!! I may bandy about that phrase "So it's come to this..." in regards to my own books and reading. And goodness, sorry you were caught in the midst of traveling during the time of pandemic. At least you weren't on a cruise ship! I love I Capture the Castle. One of my favorite books from the past few years -- just cozy and comfortable and delightfully quirky. Instead of reading any of my actually dusty physical books, I am listening to Wolf Hall (had to use my audible credit) and was delighted to see I have Linesman in my Kindle library. I am enjoying both.
  22. I have zero self discipline. I come online to check in with my book buddies but find it (illogically) necessary to first look at the news headlines, then to catch up on The Thread here on all things coronavirus. Before long I find I have to close the laptop and walk away. Only after checking the meme thread (much to the amusement of my millennial young adult children). Gathering enough brain cells together at one time to focus on a book is a whole 'nother challenge! Perhaps now that my calendar is cleared and the pantry full I can settle down. I thought an engrossing and long audiobook would help distract me, so will finally start Wolf Hall! If I'm totally absorbed in it, I can download the next 2 in the trilogy. I've also been pulling out unread books from my shelves. Ds and I have done one 500 piece puzzle and have another 1000 piece one ready to start. @Robin M Your musician customer is lucky to have the choice about playing a gig. Everyone I know has had all their gigs cancelled which is financially devastating for many of my younger musician friends. It makes me feel a little guilty about enjoying this self quarantine, that finally there is no need to apologize for being a total introvert!
  23. LOL -- And I'm learning about it from someone in Australia?!! (I'm the mom whose ds works there. He may still be working, though as he does lots of maintenance work after park hours.) ETA got the text from my ds just as I clicked "submit"
  24. My ds who works for The Mouse figures one of these evenings before long, after park close, they will finally make an announcement and just not reopen the next day. For now attendance is probably low due to the rainy weather. But then again, all those college kids whose classes are cancelled wouldn't let a little rain stop them from going to the parks! I can't believe a youth musical I'm involved with is going on as planned this weekend. I figure attendance will be so low that the audience can spread out and distance themselves appropriately!
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