Saturday, January 8, 2022


Snowy Night by Mary Oliver

Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
tossed an indeterminate number
of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which,
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.
I couldn’t tell
which one it was –
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air –
it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing
whatever is knowable – would have hurried
over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean.
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out
my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world,
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl,
whatever its name –
and I wish great welcome to the snow,
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Snow and Snow by Ted Hughes



by Ted Hughes 

Snow is sometimes a she, a soft one.
Her kiss on your cheek, her finger on your sleeve
In early December, on a warm evening,
And you turn to meet her, saying "It''s snowing!"
But it is not. And nobody''s there.
Empty and calm is the air.

Sometimes the snow is a he, a sly one.
Weakly he signs the dry stone with a damp spot.
Waifish he floats and touches the pond and is not.
Treacherous-beggarly he falters, and taps at the window.
A little longer he clings to the grass-blade tip
Getting his grip.

Then how she leans, how furry foxwrap she nestles
The sky with her warm, and the earth with her softness.
How her lit crowding fairylands sink through the space-silence
To build her palace, till it twinkles in starlight—
Too frail for a foot
Or a crumb of soot.

Then how his muffled armies move in all night
And we wake and every road is blockaded
Every hill taken and every farm occupied
And the white glare of his tents is on the ceiling.
And all that dull blue day and on into the gloaming
We have to watch more coming.

Then everything in the rubbish-heaped world
Is a bridesmaid at her miracle.
Dunghills and crumbly dark old barns are bowed in the chapel of her sparkle.
The gruesome boggy cellars of the wood
Are a wedding of lace
Now taking place.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Snow Day by Billy Collins

 Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,

its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch,
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed,
the All Aboard Children's School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with - some will be delighted to hear -

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School,
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and - clap your hands - the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Monday, January 3, 2022

The Silence Of The Snow by Ruth D. Velenski

The night sky is a dull grey white.
An opaque dust sheet floats so light
Upon the roofs and lamps and cars.
It settles so softly like falling stars.

It sneaks in crevices and onto window sills.
Piles up in soft layers over roads and hills,
Weighs down branches, envelopes bark,
Skips and flutters across the depth of dark.

With dawn a scene of raw meringue.
From bough and bridge and roof does hang.
Through night's deep slumber - a silent world
Descended - a ghostly shroud unfurled.

In slow motion, life begins to show.
The traffic crawls in a funereal row.
Children squeal in soundless delight.
Pedestrians slide in voiceless fright.

A world transformed into monochrome,
An aerosol sky spraying its white foam,
Floating in breathless, boundless speed,
Submerging all with voracious greed.


Sunday, January 2, 2022

2022 Book Recommendations


I am so lucky to be an occasional recipient of an Advance Reading Copy of a new or upcoming novel.

It not only allows me to read books by my favorite authors a wee bit early, but it introduces me to books by "new to me" authors I might otherwise miss.

I've discovered several authors through ARCs who are now permanent residents on my auto-buy list.  I'm happy to have their books on my shelves, or on my Kindle.  

Here's a few upcoming novels that I enjoyed that I'd like to share in hopes you might enjoy some of them as well.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

New Year's Day by Billy Collins

Everyone has two birthdays

according to the English essayist Charles Lamb,

the day you were born and New Year’s Day—

a droll observation to mull over

as I wait for the tea water to boil in a kitchen

that is being transformed by the morning light

into one of those brilliant rooms of Matisse.

“No one ever regarded the First of January

with indifference,” writes Lamb,

for unlike Groundhog Day or the feast of the Annunciation,

New Year’s marks nothing but the pure passage of time,

I realized, as I lowered a tin diving bell

of tea leaves into a little ocean of roiling water.

I like to regard my own birthday

as the joyous anniversary of my existence,

probably because I was, and remain

to this day in late December, an only child.

And as an only child—

a tea-sipping, toast-nibbling only child

in a bright, colorful room—

I would welcome an extra birthday,

one more opportunity to stop what we are doing

for a moment and celebrate my presence here on earth.

And would it not also be a small consolation

to us all for having to face a death-day, too,

an X drawn through a number

in a square on some kitchen calendar of the future,

the day when each of us is thrown off the train of time

by a burly, heartless conductor

as it roars through the months and years,

party hats, candles, confetti, and horoscopes

billowing up in the turbulent storm of its wake.

from the book, "Ballistics," © Random House 2008

Friday, December 31, 2021

One Word

Over the past few years I have followed Laura Lippman's tradition of choosing a one-word resolution for the new year. (I haven't seen her word for 2022 yet).

In years past I have spent a fair amount of time trying to come up with something pertinent and meaningful.   Something of value.

This year I'm going with a word of total and unapologetic self-interest, of no value to anyone other than myself.

Call me selfish.  I do not care.

I call it self-care.

My word for next year is "pamper."

I'm going to welcome 2022 with gifts from me to me.

Some scrumptious scented body oil of my favorite fragrance 

A new pair of slouchy jeans

And a new frock.

Slouchy jeans and maxi dresses!  They're back!  And I'm happy to see them, and wear them, again.  My ol' hippie self rejoices in the fact that everything old is, indeed, new again.

And I've started planning a trip for later in the year. 

 I, like many of you, am ready to travel again.  

Beyond ready. 

 If the trip falls through due to yet another COVID variant, so be it.  I'm doing all I can to lessen the financial impact should that happen.   Travel insurance.  Refundable flights.  Accommodations with a good cancellation policy.  

I need to spend some time doing one of the things I love best - planning a trip.  The planning is, to me, a major big fun part of travel, and thanks to my Baccarat Rouge 540 scented body oil, I'll smell absolutely divine while doing it. 

I hope you'll do something nice for yourself in 2022.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Books I Read in 2021

Here's my annual "Books I Read This Year" post.

Some of these are Advance Reading Copies I was lucky enough to receive, so may not be available just yet - but worth the wait!  

Mixed in with the books is some "book art" I like. Some I've used in previous posts, some are new to me. I enjoy finding new (to me) artists as much as I enjoy finding new authors and poets.

I think I've read more books during this year than usual, including some "comfort" re-reads.

As usual, I read quite a few books about Paris.

Those books, besides being listed here, have also been included in my Paris Reading List - Meanderings and Muses: My Paris Reading List - Updated 12/14/2021 - with much more to come
I'm in the process of updating this list with links to the authors and the book covers. It's a project that won't be finished any time soon, but 'tis fun.

So. Here we go -

Books I Read in 2021.

They are all books I enjoyed. I'm not one to continue reading a book if it's not appealing to me. You'll see by the little asterisks that some of these appealed maybe a little more than others. Some get one asterisk, some two and very few get three. But even those with no asterisk at all is still a book I feel very comfortable recommending.

Enjoy! I hope you find some new books and authors to add to your own list.

". . . And Ladies of the Club" (re-read) by Helen Hooven Santmyer *
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness **

A Garden in Paris by Stephanie Grace Whitson
A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes *
A New York Secret by Ella Carey *

A Night at the Sweet Gum Head by Martin Padgetta
A Paris Affair by Mary Oldham
A Summer to Remember by Erika Montgomery (ARC)
A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers **

A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe (ARC)*
An Ambush of Widows by Jeff Abbott (ARC)
An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham **

Barefoot in the Sand by Holly Chamberlin (ARC)
Birds of a Feather by Lise McClendon
Bloodless by Preston & Child (ARC) *

Blush by Jamie Brenner (ARC)
Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)
Can't Look Away by Carola Lovering (ARC)

Carolina Mist by Mariah Stewart
Castle Shade by Laurie R. King (ARC)
Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan *

Coming to Age: Growing Older with Poetry by Carolyn Hopley (Editor), Mary Ann Hoberman (Editor) *
Crazy as a Loon by Lise McClendon
Dark Night by Paige Shelton (ARC)

Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari (ARC) **
Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan by Liz Michalski (ARC) **
Death at the Chateau Bremont by M. L. Longworth
Desolation Canyon by P. J. Tracy (ARC)

Die Around Sundown by Mark Pryor (ARC)
Dream Girl by Laura Lippman (ARC) *
Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis
Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch (ARC)

Faithless in Death by J. D. Robb **
Falling for a French Dream by Jennifer Bohnet (ARC)
False Witness by Karin Slaughter (ARC)
Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer (ARC)

Fatal Scores by Mark de Castrique
Flight Risk by Joy Castro (ARC) **
Fly the Nest by Lise McClendon

Forgotten in Death by J. D. Robb ***
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand *
Gone by Morning by Michele Weinstat Miller (ARC)
Haven Point by Virginia Hume (ARC) *
Hemingway's Daughter by Christine M. Whitehead (ARC) *

Her Family Secret by Melissa Wiesner (ARC) **
Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan (ARC)
Hilltowns by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)
Homeplace by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)

How They Met by Irene Vartanoff (ARC)
Hummingbird Lane by Carolyn Brown (ARC) *
Hungry Hill by Eileen Patricia Curran (ARC) *
I Have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis (ARC) *

In Polite Company by Gervais Hagerty
Islands by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)
Jackie and Maria by Gill Paul

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger (ARC)
Legacy by Nora Roberts (ARC)
Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger **

Lizzie and Dante by Mary Bly **
Lost and Found In Paris by Lian Dolan (ARC) *
Love Among the Recipes by Carol M. Cram *
Low Country by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)

Magical Midlife Dating by K.F. Breene
Magical Midlife Invasion by K. F. Breene
Magical Midlife Love by K. F. Breene
Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. Breene
Magical Midlife Meeting by K. F. Breene

Murder in the Rue Dumas by M. L. Longworth
Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (ARC)
Nora, Nora by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)
Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson

  • Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)
  • Off the Wild Coast of Brittany by Juliet Blackwell
  • One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot *
One Lucky Summer by Jenny Oliver (ARC)
Our Little World by Karen Winn (ARC)

Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams *
Out of Anywhere by Andrea Nourse(ARC) *
Outer Banks by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter *
Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan **
Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (ARC)* *
Reunion Beach, Stories Inspired by Dorothea Benton Frank edited by Carrie Feron

Riviera House by Natasha Lester
Runner by Tracy Clark (ARC) *
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness *
Silverview by John LeCarre

Sisters of the Resistance by Christine Wells (ARC)
Songs by Honeybird by Peter McDade (ARC) **
State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny *

Still Lives by Maria Hummel
Strapless by Deborah Davis
Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin

Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)
That Summer by Jennifer Weiner (ARC)
The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn *
The Beach House by Rachel Hanna
The Becoming by Nora Roberts (ARC) ***
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness *

The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman *
The Bookbinder's Daughter by Jessica Thorne (ARC)
The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser *

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan *
The Christmas Unicorn by Elf Ahearn
The Cover Wife by Dan Fesperman (ARC)
The Dressmaker of Paris by Georgia Kaufmann (ARC) *
The Dressmaker's Secret by Lorna Cook (ARC)

The Fashion Orphans by Randy Susan Meyers and M.J. Rose (ARC)
The French Gift by Kirsty Manning (ARC) *
The French Paradox by Ellen Crosby
The Garden House by Linda Mahkovec (ARC)

The Girl From Paris by Ella Carey (ARC) *
The Girl I Used to Be by Heidi Hostetter (ARC) *
The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)
The Herd by Andrea Bartz

The House Uptown by Melissa Ginsburg
The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross (ARC)
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova*

The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis
The Killing Hills by Chris Offutt (ARC)
The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin (ARC) *

The Last Dance of the Debutante by Julia Kelly (ARC) *
The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain (ARC) **
The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer (ARC)
The Last Night in London by Karen White *
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave *

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber (ARC)
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (ARC) *
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
The Lost Carousel of Province by Juliet Blackwell (Re-Read) *

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny (ARC) **
The Magic of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson (ARC) *
The Magnificent Lives of Majorie Post by Allison Pataki (ARC)
The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The Match by Harlan Coben (ARC)
The Moon Over Kilmore Quay by Carmel Harrington
The Moon, The Stars, and Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan (ARC)

The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski (ARC) *
The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (ARC)*

The Other Couple by Cathryn Grant (ARC)
The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub (ARC)
The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf (ARC)

The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen **
The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron (ARC)
The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham
The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella (ARC) *
The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert (ARC) *

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman At Otowi Crossing by J. Michael Orenduff
The Purple Shadow by Christopher Bowden
The River Between Us by Liz Fenwick

The Riviera House by Natasha Lester
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn *
The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe (ARC) *
The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman (ARC)

The Secret of the Chateau by Kathleen McGurl
The Secret Stealers by Jane Healey *
The Secrets We Share by Edwin Hill (ARC) *
The Shadow Box by Luanne Rice (ARC) *

The Sixth Wedding by Elin Hilderbrand
The Social Graces by Renee Rosen
The Steal by M.J. Rose and C.W. Gortner (ARC)
The Stolen Lady by Laura Morelli (ARC)

The Storyteller of Casablanca by Fiona Valpy (ARC) **
The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman
The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French (ARC)
The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe (ARC)
The Summer Seekers by Sara Morgan **

The Turnout by Megan Abbott (ARC)
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr*
The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey (ARC) *
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (ARC) **
The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray *
These Tangled Vines by Julianne MacLean
These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall (ARC) *
Up Island by Anne Rivers Siddons (re-read)

What Doesn't Kill Us by David Housewright (ARC) *
When All Light Fails by Randall Silvis (ARC)
When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash (ARC) **
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah *

Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews
Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece (ARC) *
Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr (ARC)

Happy Reading!