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I closed the cover of Delia Owens’ enthralling novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing” with a few tears in my eyes and the sadness one sometimes feels at the end of a story well written – and an ending one did not expect. As I put this book down, I realized that it has been a long while since I last posted any book recommendations or reviews. Actually, it has been some time since I posted anything, for which I apologize. I hope to return to posting more often.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” came to me from my dear friend Elaine, who rushed up to me, book in hand, and said “you have to read this“. She was correct, I did. Once opened, it was a book I could not put down. How Kya survives abuse, abandonment, loneliness, poverty and being ostracized from the community while creating a family of sorts with wildlife and waterfowl is amazing. It lives up to all the hype and worth a read. Our book group will be discussing it at a future date – a discussion I look forward to.

These two books (below) were audio, from local libraries, “read” while I was out and about in my old car that had 6 slots for DVD’s – one of the few things I will miss from that now ancient vehicle. You know, the one with the latte body and mocha interior. (or was it mocha with latte interior?).

“The Library at the Edge of the World” was a delight to listen to about returning home, belonging, family conflict and, of course, books! “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” was equally delightful. It is historical fiction about Joy Davidman’s life, friendship and love of C.S. Lewis.

 

 

“A Fatal Twist of Lemon” by Patrice Greenwood is the first of several books in a murder mysteries series, the Wisteria Tearoom Mysteries. The books are set in and around a haunted house/tearoom located in Santa Fe. Mystery, murder, historic preservation, opera, seances, weddings, culture – you name it, the series is delightful. Short in length, they are best read on a winter afternoon with a cup of tea and a tasty morsel (a few recipes are included in the books).  This first book of the series, found in the library, was truly a book judged by its cover.

 

 

 

Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore is a small, charming, well established purveyor of histories and mysteries in Forest Park, just barely outside of the boundaries of the City of Chicago.  It is a bit out-of-the-way for me, but, worthy of a trip a few times a year to see what they have on the shelves over their unique plaid carpeting, and their knowledgeable and conversational owner. I think of Sherlock Holmes whenever I enter.

The bookshop has books concerning Chicago and the surrounding area and holds many events at the store, including book signings and author lectures. If I lived closer, I would be there all the time. I stopped in one chilly spring afternoon and was drawn to this short novel about a teenaged girl, Sarah, who is the second daughter of Jewish immigrants. Sarah’s family lives in a multi-cultural neighborhood surrounding Hull House during the late 19th century. Sarah wants to be an artist. Her father is a butcher, the shop close by, her mother holds a secret from the past, her brother is often ill, her older sister has romantic interests with a young Irish lad – and the Columbian Exhibition is about to open. Juvenile/young adult fiction, I enjoyed reading this. My father’s family settled in this area, his parents immigrants, his friends of many different cultures. When I was in 5th or 6th grade, our class had a field trip to Hull House, leading me to want to learn all about Jane Addams (who makes a few appearances in the book). A short read, “Her Mother’s Secret” by Barbara Garland Polikoff is a book you might enjoy.

One afternoon, some time ago, I had our local WGN/Chicago radio station turned on in the car. Do any of you listen to John Williams, or listen to local personality in your area on the radio?  John was reviewing and praising a book he couldn’t put down, “The Feather Thief:  Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century”” by Kirk Wallace Johnson. I was so intrigued by John’s enthusiasm that I purchased “The Feather Thief”, only to let it sit and collect dust. My garden club will be discussing it early in 2020, so, I opened the pages and was immediately immersed in the history of bird and feather collecting and categorizing in the 19th century, detailing the places scientists, ornithologists, and others traveled to collect exotic birds, skins and feathers for ladies’ hats –  and for salmon fishing lures in the Victorian era. They travelled in harsh, hazardous conditions, obliterating species for fashion, sport and greed.

But wait – there is more.

The book begins with a  20 year old flautist, Edwin Rist, a gifted, talented American, who, in 2009, hops on a train after performing at the the Royal Academy of Music in London. Under the cloak of darkness, Edwin travels to the Tring Museum at the British Museum of Natural History, climbs a wall, breaks a window and methodically steals hundreds of rare bird skins, coveted by salmon fly-tiers, of which Edwin is one, and hold many awards.  This is a fascinating, true story of ornithology, fashion, the fly-tying craze, environmental issues, autism, the internet, crime – and more.

What are you reading?

Centuries and Sleuths – https://www.centuriesandsleuths.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Image from Google.

We have a GPS system. We call “her” Gertie. Her name is Gertrude, but, we have come to know her as Gertie and, generally, we get along fine, though we have had a few tense moments and Gertie has had to have a “time out” a couple of times. We don’t employ Gertie often, but, she has come in handy on road trips and unfamiliar destinations. Our only real issue with Gertie is that she cannot get us back to our house. She does find our road, but not our house.

Was it something we said – or the way we yanked out her chord?

I was thinking about our GPS while Christmas shopping. Actually, I was thinking about Sears and navigational systems. For those of you not familiar with Sears, short for Sears, Roebuck & Company, it was one of the first mail order catalogues, then department stores, in the United States and at one time one of the best known retailers, selling everything by catalogue from Long Johns and corsets to houses. Actual houses could be ordered and mailed, in parts, to the appointed location. There are still some Sears houses standing in the Chicagoland area. Sears was a valuable shopping resource, particularly to rural areas, where folks could not easily get to large towns to shop.

Image from Google.

Then, there was the coveted Sears Christmas catalogue, which would arrive in the mail and quickly be swept up by young hands eager to circle or star Christmas wishes. Round and round the pencils would go, circling a Tiny Tears doll or shiny, red sleds. It was a wish book and I am sure many of you remember its arrival. How many of you also used catalogues, Christmas and others, to cut out your own paper dolls?

What I was thinking about was the Sears store on Harlem and North Ave. in Elmwood Park, which still stands on the northeast corner. We would pile into our yellow and white Chevy Bell Aire and wend our way to Harlem Ave., then head on north to Sears. On hot summer days with the windows open or cold winter mornings, always on a Saturday for we had only the one car and Ma didn’t drive, off we would go for something needed from Sears.

This was a relatively modern Sears, built in the late 50’s. It was at least three stories high, had a basement, and offices in the rear of the building, where a large parking lot was located. A quick right hand turn just after the stoplight on this busy corner took us into the parking lot and that is where the magic began. No matter the weather, the driver window (and whatever else we could get away with) were rolled down and we would take our place in the queue of a usually long line of cars, listening, carefully listening, as Daddy inched forward. Suddenly, there she would be, the magical, melody voice from above, loud and clear with a clarion call to “the yellow, two door, Chevy, license plate number (whatever), continue to the end of the row, now, turn left and left again, keep going, a few more spaces, you have arrived at your parking spot”.

It was magic, I’m telling you, pure magic.

There was our space, waiting for us. A coveted parking space waiting for our yellow, Chevy sedan. Out we would climb, Daddy locking the car doors with his key, and I would peer up into the windows trying to find the magic lady, the fairy finder of selected spaces, the pleasant, unseen lady who would guard our car until we returned.  Off we would go to do our shopping, knowing our car was safely corralled, like the horse and buggies on Gunsmoke or Bonanza, as we wandered into THE mother of all general stores.

I wonder if our pleasant navigational lady at Sears, who never snarled,  in a computer generated voice,“turn left, turn left, recalculating, recalculating” , was also named Gertie.

 

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Roses and herbs and an abundant variety of Autumn asters were abuzz this morning as a small group of gardeners and a large number of bees fluttered about in the Shakespeare Garden on the campus of Northwestern University. Tucked in a secluded section of the campus, just a short pathway from the stately technology building and a few steps from the Frank W. Howes Memorial Chapel, the knot garden is a delight for the senses. I found myself imagining it in the spring, or summer, or winter, but I was mostly enjoying it today and the season of fall.

We were the only ones in the garden. Clouds shrouded the Evanston campus as they came in off of Lake Michigan. We marveled at the abundance of flowers still in bloom and the stunning Japanese anemones dancing amid the herbs. We took turns rubbing this leaf or that, as gardeners will do, to catch the scent and determine the herb at hand. The garden was designed by Jens Jensen and it has been tended by the Evanston Garden Club since its first flowers blossomed. I admire what that club does and appreciate the beauty their efforts afford visitors like us as well as the students and staff that take the time to find this hidden treasure.

The crabapples were in abundance on several trees today in this Shakespeare Garden. As we walked down the narrow paths, gently felt foliage and called back and forth “do you know the name of this one?”, the trees came alive with birds, chipping away as if tsk tsking our presence and its intrusion on their elevenish. The small, red fruit made me think of Kezzie’s tree and the tiny apples turning red on it branches. We’ll see Kezzie and Katy and Tom very soon and I can hardly wait. I remembered taking a picture of the tree a few weeks ago and since I can’t find my camera with pictures of the apples we saw today, I will post Kezzie’s tree instead as I head off to bed and sweet dreams of taking her someday to Shakespeare’s Garden by the lake.

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On Sunday, we went to the Geneva Concours d’Elegance car show in Geneva, Illinois. A pretty fancy sounding name for a pretty lovely antique car show. One of the main streets, 3rd Street, and several of the side streets were rimmed with antique cars in pristine condition. Be sure to click onto the pictures to get a better look.

It was one of the rare sunny Sundays of this summer with low humidity, making it a pleasure to walk around among a friendly crowd of car admirers and collectors and to appreciate the craftsmanship, ingenuity, mechanics and engineering of man and his machine.

For some reason I cannot explain, I was fascinated Sunday with the tires and rims and reflections on the cars, which were buffed to a shine and reflected the sun creating images of all who stopped to look.

It was as fun to look through the rear view windows and see all that was happening around the cars as it was to stand back and admire the lines and curves.

Anybody want to race?

We broke for lunch in a quiet Italian restaurant called Chianti’s.

(the picture is for you, Jennifer)

Anyone remember this magic bus?

Then there were other modes of transportation.

While this fellow just stood and watched.

Then we stopped for some cold drinks and raced back home.

Not really. We took our time and enjoyed the walk back to the car.

It looks like we are at an amusement park in the house of mirrors, doesn’t it?

Can you find us?

We have been so busy this summer, all of which we enjoyed, but it was fun to just kick back for a while and just enjoy the day.

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