Reading & Watching....

I've been watching a lot of movies as I finished up Wilderness Doodles.

Bill Cunningham recently passed away at 87. He was a NYTimes Fashion photographer. Watch his documentary. He was so interesting. RIP Bill. Here here is his obit.

Another great is Iris Apfel. She is the grand dame of style. You can watch her documentary on Netflix streaming.

Here is some light and fun Summer reading choices for you.

A sparkling talent makes her fiction debut with this infectious novel that combines the charming pluck of Eloise, the poignant psychological quirks of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the page-turning spirit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Full of heart and countless “only-in-Hollywood” moments, Be Frank with Me is a captivating and unconventional story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world. - Harper Colins

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review). Simon and Schuster

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…
A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. Penguin Random House

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs' joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love. - Google

That is what I am reading and watching, anything good you have to share?

what are you reading?

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I have been reading a lot lately, on the deck after dinner. Here are my recent favs. I always enjoy Anna Quindlen.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

 

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Another favorite author is Joanne Harris. This is the 3rd book in Chocolat story. Unfortunately I thought it was the second one.

Vianne Rocher, her partner Roux and her daughters Anouk and Rosette have been living on a houseboat on the Seine. Eight years have passed since the events of Chocolat. Anouk is fifteen years old, Rosette eight, and Vianne believes that finally she has found a way to escape her wanderlust and to settle down and be happy. However, the arrival of a letter from Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the fictional village in which Chocolat was set, brings a new challenge to Vianne. The letter is from Armande Voizin, an old friend from Lansquenet. Armande died eight years ago, but she left the letter in her will, to be opened and delivered by her grandson, Luc. In it, she predicts that Lansquenet will some day need Vianne again, and asks Vianne to visit, if only to put flowers on an old lady's grave. Vianne, intrigued goes back to Lansquenet, taking her daughters with her.

 

 

This is the second of a 4 book series. They can be read out of order which I have done. Here are the 3rd and 4th.

Death hangs heavy in the disturbed air of Ireland's lonely Loughnabrone peat bog, an ancient holy place, steeped in legend, drowned in sorrow, and long since abandoned by man. Pathologist Nora Gavin has been called to an archaeological site in the bleak midlands west of Dublin—a place known as the LAKE OF SORROWS—to assist at an excavation where a well-preserved Iron Age body has been found in a bog.

So.... what interesting things have you been reading?

 

gardening, reading and baking...

More great guests this weekend. Terry and Barry were here. It was the 4th Annual Golfapalooza. The men golf as much as possible and on breaks they watch golf. The women garden and shop. Saturday found us at the Farmer's Market. And from the shoes I wore it looked like I got dressed in the dark. Too bad that wasn't true.

I planted some pots of flowers...

while Terry weeded, transplanted, and planted some lupine and foxglove. She has been working on this bed for 3 visits and it is looking good this year. All these great plants for only $40 at the market. Score.

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This book has been on my reading list for several years. I am finding it interesting.

Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the opulence of the 19th century's Gilded Age with a 21st century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is heiress Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, when she died at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen for decades. Her father, W.A. Clark, was born in a log cabin, discovered incredible riches in copper in Montana territory after the Civil War, was thought to be as rich as Rockefeller, founded Las Vegas and was pushed out of the U.S. Senate for bribery.

Huguette held a ticket on the Titanic and was still alive in New York City long after 9/11. She grew up in the largest house in New York City, a remarkable dwelling with 121 rooms for a family of four. She owned paintings by Degas and Renoir, a Stradivarius violin, and a vast collection of antique dolls. But wanting more than treasures, she lived out her last 20 years in a simple hospital room, devoting her wealth to her art and buying gifts for friends and strangers.

Pulitzer Prize-winner and NBC News investigative reporter Bill Dedman stumbled onto the story of eccentricity and inherited wealth in 2010, discovering that Huguette’s fantastic homes in Santa Barbara, Connecticut and New York City were unoccupied but still maintained by servants. Dedman co-wrote the book with Huguette’s cousin Paul Clark Newell Jr., one of the few relatives to have conversations with her.

The Clark family story spans nearly all of American history in three generations, from a log cabin in Pennsylvania to mining camps in the Montana gold rush, from backdoor politics in Washington to a distress call from an elegant Fifth Avenue apartment. The same Huguette who was touched by the terror attacks of 9/11 held a ticket nine decades earlier for a first-class stateroom on the second voyage of the Titanic.

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I enjoy Maddie Allen's blog Muffins & Mixtapes. The No-Bake Mini Cheesecakes were a hit this week. Check her blog out, I like both the food and the music.

shopping, lettering, reading, writing

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I am becoming less and less of a shopper. Probably because I am in a serious decluttering mode. And shopping eventually leads to more decluttering. But I could not resist this Souvenir de Paris deskset. The little box in the front is an inkwell. This treasure was accompanied by this sweet note from Jill. You can visit her tempting etsy store at JBBPensPaper.

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My new font, Dear Rae,  is coming along rather nicely. By the end of the week I hope to have all the letters drawn and in the font program. Now I have about 350 characters. The above pen is what I am using for this font. And ink, of course.

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I just discovered vintage postage at Jim's Coins at Hilldale here in Madison! I spent some time going though pages and pages of stamps and bringing many of them home. Since I write to people weekly this adds a little something special to my notes. And while I did buy enough that they gave me a discount it is just postage and will get used up.

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This book is every bit as good as everyone says. It is 500 pages and I both cannot put it down and know I will hate it when I've finished it.

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris in June of 1940, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure’s.

Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of multiple characters, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. - anthonydoerr.com

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction; a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and the 2015 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction; winner of the Australian International Book Award; a #1 New York Times bestseller; the 2014 Book of the Year at Hudson Booksellersthe #2 book of 2014 at Amazon.com; a LibraryReads Favorite of Favorites; named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review; a best book of 2014 at Powell’s BooksBarnes & Noble, NPR’s Fresh Air, San Francisco Chronicle, The WeekEntertainment Weeklythe Daily BeastSlate.comChristian Science Monitorthe Washington Post, the Seattle Times, the Oregonianthe Guardian, and Kirkus; and a #1 Indie Next pickAll the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

 

summer reading...

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summer is slipping away. Like everyone else I am trying to pack it all in. I am trying to spend time on the deck reading.

A friend read this book and ordered it for me as a surprise. Always love a box from Amazon. I really enjoyed this almost 800 page book. Hard to put down. And now I am sorry I've read it all.

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

"The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."--Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate. —Amazon

For some reason I have never read this book. It has been around for 25 years. And I found it in our Little Library. So it is time.

One of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear -- of growth, discovery, and acceptance -- that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life's fundamental questions, this uniquely exhilarating modern classic is both touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence . . . and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward.

Adore this illustrator. For me this is sort of a picture book. Illustrations or photos and some text. This is going to be a good car book. And also found this in our Little Library!

Maira Kalman paints her highly personal worldview in this inimitable combination of image and text

An irresistible invitation to experience life through a beloved artist?s psyche, The Principles of Uncertainty is a compilation of Maira Kalman?s New York Times columns. Part personal narrative, part documentary, part travelogue, part chapbook, and all Kalman, these brilliant, whimsical paintings, ideas, and images?which initially appear random?ultimately form an intricately interconnected worldview, an idiosyncratic inner monologue.