Thursday, November 16, 2017

Flirting with French, funnily

Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart
You know how it goes when old dogs try to learn new tricks.  Not so well, maybe, but it makes a good story. His struggle with learning the language is both hard and hilarious. If he were to fail, it wouldn't be for lack of effort.  But you can't laugh at him for trying....

Well, actually you can. Here's a couple of bits.
I ask one of the instructors who speaks English (as well as Spanish) whether she thinks English or French is harder to learn. "Oh, English!" she says without hesitation. ... Her biggest problem learning English was the strange pronunciation (I imagine she's referring in part to r's that don't originate from your rectum) and the vocabulary.

I belly laughed at that, but I know what he means. I can't do a Spanish R or a French one either--they take superhuman effort and sometimes make you fart.

On their last dinner at school, they're drinking a bottle of wine that happens to have an  English translation on the label. It goes like this:
The vintage is resulting from the assembly from Viognier type of wines and white Clairette 88 years, entirely collected with the hand, in cases. That gives a wine of yellow color pale with flavours of fishings and fruits white. To be useful between 10 and 12 degrees C, with aperitif, with foie gras, cooked fish or white meats.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Good solid memoir

No Dogs in Heaven?: Scenes from the Life of a Country Veterinarian


As the reviews say, here we have a few scenes in the life of a country veterinarian. Sometimes the people were the stars of the scene; other times the animals. Occasionally the vet himself pulled a tricky one and I found myself grinning sneakily .  Sorry I have no direct quotes--I took it back to the library too quickly.

Short and sweet and happily forgettable. Sometimes books like this hit you in the gut and leave you hating the human race and wanting to go adopt all the poor, unloved animals in the world. Not this one--and that's just what I was looking for at the moment. If it were a mystery it's be in the 'cozies'.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Not unlikely to be good

Unlikely Companions: The Adventures of an Exotic Animal Doctor (or, What Friends Feathered, Furred, and Scaled Have Taught Me about Life and Love)
One of those books you gulp down like a drug. Her adventures occur in a small practice in a small part of New York but her patients come from all over the world. There's a nice mix of pets with problems, people who cause problems, and her own,  home-family problems. She's beautifully frank about how her unpredictable work schedule affects home life--and doesn't apologize. It's an issue to be dealt with by effort on all sides.

But the one problem that keeps you reading is this: what is suddenly sickening sugar gliders adopted from malls? Her adventure of unraveling the mystery is what makes the reading shift into higher gears, and that's almost a shame--its over too soon! now that I know the answer, I'm thinking about reading it again to pick up things I missed along the way.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

So good I can't believe it went out of print

One Pair of Hands
by Monica Dickens

I couldn't recommend this to a thriller addict. The most suspenseful bit is whether or not her perfect souffle will survive waiting for the overdue dinner guest.  Thriller addict--what's the point?  Me--hilarious!

It's about this young lady who gets bored with the society rounds of tea/party/theater and decides to take up a profession. She'd tried acting school and got kicked out on her duff--couldn't act--so she decides to take up cooking. And by "take up" I don't mean dabble in a little haute cuisine on her own--I mean "hire out as a paid laborer."  And labor she did--plus a good bit of acting.  I say it takes one fine actor to smile and say, "Yes Sir, I'll get right to that," when she's really thinking, "You fat lazy slob, where do you get off expecting me to do all this work for twenty-five shillings a week?"

Not that she thinks that sort of thing out loud. Not very often, anyway. She just describes her employers, jobs and labor in as dry and descriptive voice as she can muster. She lets her readers supply the laughter.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Doing more reading about running than I am running

The Little Red Book of Running
by Scott Douglas

Advice, lots of advice.  And suprisingly, none that I really disagreed with.  It consists of a thousand or so short essays on different aspects of running, from when and where and how often. And in almost every case, his conclusion is this: it doesn't matter. Do what works for you, try not to get into a rut, and enjoy yourself.

Here's an example:
Always be open to new running experiences. Who knows what aspects of the sport will appeal to you at different times in your running career? After all, have you always like the same kind of music, watched the same kind of movies, eaten the same foods, read the same kind of books?

And so on. Although it has a lot of tips of the how-to of running, this is primarily a book about the feel-how of running.  On the how-to side he has an amusing note about why you shouldn't run to your medical checkup appointment--hard running causes short-term changes that could be taken as signs of disease--and he gives a few concrete examples of this.

Now that I look back at it, this will be a useful book to keep around and re-read a time or two--get some inspiration; pick up the points I missed.  I recommend it, but with this warning--the articles are very, very short. Some of them could have been five times as long.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

State of the Garden Report , October ends

With a frost. Bye, bye, tomatoes.

But these guys weren't affected at all--

until the second night, which hit worse than the first.  Now it's 90 degrees again...but it's too late. The turnips looks good and the meagre amount of kale I've managed to grow looks better.  Next time, plant EARLY!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

and a killer poodle

Fifty acres and a poodle
A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm

The poodle was good. Also the mule, the horse, the ladybugs, and even the invasive multiflora briars. Loved the neighbors and workmen, especially Billy and all the Joes. Billy is a hoot--

"When I was a kid, everybody took a gun to school," he says. "Not with the intention of shooting anybody. But just to kill supper on the way home. What else was there to do with your spare time?"
"Um, well, we watched TV," I say meekly. "Did you ever see Green Acres?"
He smiles. "I'm a little older than you," he says. "But I've seen reruns."

One funny thing--I noticed after finishing that the entire story is written in present tense. Present tense usually annoys me, but I didn't even notice it. But possibly, just possibly, that's why I found the book so easy to put down and so hard to pick up again.

The author's interior dialog and attempts to relate her struggle with aloneness just didn't grip me. They seemed to be repetitive, unchanging, and boring. And sadly, (having to admit a defect of my character here) I found myself skipping or skimming those parts. Frequently I skipped too far and missed some of the good stuff. Which sucked.

But the book didn't suck. It was great. Laugh-out loud a couple of times and excruciatingly painful only twice when it had to be.