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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Surly Bonds of Earth




Try as I might, I can't stop the only mental picture I have of my good friend David who slipped the surly bonds on Wednesday night.

It's not a good image. It's an image of him curled around a cigarette, outside buildings, on porches, sliding into his car. Banished to the outside of life, white stick in hand, smoke curling around his yellow face. Always standing at a distance, sucking in lungfuls of carcinogens. His hugs had the deep, invasive pall of nicotine. Enough to make one gag, enough to make one cough to cover up the gag. His skin showed it. His clothes wept it. His death exalts it to a sacrament.

Another good friend said to me one time after we both quit the evil weed. "Past forty, if one continues to smoke, one begins to look like a cigarette." I have to agree. David, along with many other good friends who continued on puffing, looked like a cigarette.

"Begone," I would scream at my not insignificant habit, "You effing white little tube, you do NOT own me anymore." This, along with other mantras and behaviour changes helped me kick it to the curb. Twenty five years ago now. I was seeing too much death from it then. Still do.

I didn't sleep last night. Too much leakage out of the memory bank. Too much what ifs.

If you're a smoker out there, stop. Stop! If I can, with my forty-a-day habit, anyone can.

His death was agony.

Chalk another one up to Rothman's.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weather, blah-blah.



~~~~~~Monochromatic, beautiful winter on the bay. Click to enbiggen~~~~~~

We're all in that weather obsessed mode, aren't we. My blog friend Friko wrote about the sloppiness of it all. At least for those of us in the northern hemisphere. My friends hanging off the southern half of ye old globe try not to gloat too much, they send me pictorial reminders of a non-white, non-wet landscape choking itself on lush vegetation.

Yeah, I can't make any plans without a massive consult with the weather network. Though I did manage a WHOLE day out yesterday and plan another one on Wednesday.

Weather talk is boring. I need to focus on my magnificent landscape, the fact that a plea for more firewood on FB (long, long story for another time)resulted in friends jumping in yet again with trucks and chainsaws, another play happening-nearly, and yes, thinking Toronto is a good idea, there's a ticket sale, yahoo!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Attitude

I'm getting this photo of mine blown up for a friend who was raised in this magical valley.

I'm trying to push myself into an attitude of gratitude. I do try. All the time. But have to remind myself when I slip and kvetch.

I've spent most of the day on the phone. With two friends. One is a new friend who lives in Montreal. Funny that: how one can connect in the matter of minutes and just know that the relationship will hold. We talked books and writing. Mainly. But family stuff too. Heavy shyte as I like to say. Amazing that our lives are open books to each other and we, seriously, have only known each other a few months. That happens sometimes. Gratitude. She will share a session she's having in New York with a well-known author with me.

The other friend lives in Toronto and offered her house to me for a month while she's away. Right on the subway. And her car. And she adores my dog. And she has a piano. I've missed my piano something fierce. And I truly despise the electric keyboard that was given to me.

I'm thinking about it.

And I marvel at how generous these two people are in my life.

And yes, I will try and keep myself in this state of perpetual gratitude. It's a good spot to be in.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Love Stories


Have love stories been co-opted by romance?

To me, most love stories are the ones that live on and on and on. Romances can break, fall down, get up, fall down again, get obliterated along the way by another romance. This cycle to repeat itself over and over again. Unless one is in a long term marriage or partnership and still respect and honour each other. Not too many of those around in my observation.

I'm talking other love stories. The ones that stick around and hang out and support and sympathize and cry with you and almost identify you. The ones within families. The ones with lifelong friends. And with dogs. And cats and turtles.

I've never had a bad day with my dog. We just love each other to pieces. I grieve when I'm away from her. And she from me. Her dictionary is enormous. Her sensitivity to my moods acute. As mine is to hers. She is there through thick and thin. A love story.

I have a friend in Dublin. I fell in love with her when I was 5 and she was an import to our school from England. She had this English accent and was forced to sing a song in Irish. The class laughed and laughed with the encouragement of the evil teacher but I was in absolute awe of her lack of embarrassment. Completely unselfconscioous, she went right through to the very end of the song and even bowed. We email each other every day and send each other books we love. When we get together it is like the conversation is picked up from where it ended the time before. Sixty years is a true love story.

I think it goes without saying that my love for my daughters and granddaughter is a love story, though there is now an enormous gap in the story of my younger daughter and me. A gap that may remain. The same with another who was as precious as my daughters to me and severed contact without reason. We all have stories like those. But have to move on. To the love stories that are possible and continuous.

I was reminded of this when an old friend called today. She has had unimaginable health issues. It has almost become a joke as bits of her body break down or succumb to the cancer or heart trouble that invade her periodically. Now it is stenosis and arthritis and a hernia. It is mind-boggling. But our love story of artistic support and sympathy and occasional tears counter balanced by hilarious laughter binds us together. Forever I like to think. But forever is an illusion. Forever is a dangerous word.

I only have to count the love stories in my life in the zone of now. And I run out of fingers.





Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Something to Look Forward To




Newest Ad from Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism.

My father would say this at the beginning of the year:

To make life worth living, you always have to have something to look forward to in the coming twelve months.

He was right.

Daughter and I had one of our marathon phone sessions today. No, we don't do Skype as that locks you in place. We do Bluetooth. Which means we can move around and cook, clean, knit, let the dog out and some important etceteras.

My birthday came up in conversation and she really wants to plan a vacation trip for it, one with Grandgirl involved. The three of us have travelled a lot together over the years. South Carolina, Mexico, Ireland, etc. So Daughter said there are three choices I think Mum. New York, Iceland or Labrador.

You can guess what I chose (and Daughter agreed). Yeah, Labrador, the Big Land. There are people I know who have taken their vacations for the last 36 years in Newfoundland and Labrador and who have yet to see all of it. Truly.

We're much the same, we think. It is very easy to get sidetracked here. Every bend on the road produces a new vista, another outport to explore and stay a wee while. This year we want to head to L'Anse aux Meadows to the Viking settlement and then hop the ferry to Labrador.

Yeah, something to look forward to. I'm excited already. We 3 generations on the hoof. Again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Book Club Book?


My Den (don't I just wish!)

I was at my book club today. I love my book club. I think I've mentioned it before. To add to it now, my oldest friend in the whole wide world has hers on the 3rd Monday of each month also. She's in Dublin. We exchange daily emails and have for years and years. And of course talk books with each other. So she feels even closer.

Anyways, today, over our lunch, we were discussing "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" which was our book for last month and all these stories start to pop out of us about sibling rivalries (which was one of the book's themes) and even passive aggressive behaviours we've exhibited, and sad, unhappy mothers, and the biggest theme of all in the book: sibling memories which can differ so greatly from each other.

And someone nudged me and said, I think you should be jotting all of this stuff down, these real-life stories are so bloody interesting. And they are. And maybe I should. Or is it an overdone theme?

I would like to write a novel about a book club, I know it's been done before. BUT.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Knowing When To Fold 'Em

Knitted scarves but not by me.

Y'all know I'm a knitter. I've been knitting since I was seven. I never saw a pair of needles or a twist of wool I didn't jump on. I DESIGN knitting pieces.

I bought some local wool recently (well October, okay?) to knit three scarves for some beloveds. Reading it beforehand, the pattern was a piece of cake.

But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get into the rhythm of it. Not at all. Like a piece of piano music, or a song, or a speech, or that perfect photo, the rhythm never took my fingers and made them dance. I can watch a movie or even read a book or look at the fire or the dog or talk to you while I knit. But this was a grim business that took all of my concentration. Many, many hours of work and I had a couple of inches.

We have a phrase in my family when something engages us, no matter what it is. We call it a "Pleasing Project". It can be a sandcastle or a homemade dishcloth or an intricate recipe. Most of my projects (I've posted them here) are pleasing. This wasn't.

So was I ever thrilled when on FB (us Newfoundlanders post just about EVERYTHING on FB)a local woman offered for sale 20 of these scarves in various colours, two of which were the ones I had tossed.)

She delivered them today and I gave her my rewound three balls of yarn.

"How on earth did you find the making of these?" I asked her.

"Oh, a breeze, love, a breeze, I turns one out in about two hours while watching some teevee."

"I thought you were a knitter - you posted some nice stuff on FB, baby blankets and leaf things?" she continued.

"I thought I was too," I said, "But sometimes you just have to know when to fold 'em, as you might want to avoid inflicting some serious damage on yourself."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Found Objects - 2.

I am snowbound, at least for today. Confined to barracks and happy about it. I suppose it's a good test of how content you are with yourself and your life and your home. And home is where my heart is.

I amused myself with the camera today.

I do like this shot of the outside of my office window, the tree laden, the deck railing puffed up like a marshmallow, the sea a grey mystery beyond:


And she comes back! My ladybird friend! Usually it's February she shows up in my office but with the days of odd unseasonal heat, she's early this year. Looking for dinner. And getting it.




Friday, January 18, 2013

Found Objects


I love the matches that are sold here. By law, all packaging in Canada is supposed to be bilingual - French/English - but not on these babies. Ballsy. The word "impregnated" used outside of its standard form always delights me. Sea*Dog. Great name. Didja know that there are some that collect matchbox labels?


And today I made rhubarb jam. I think it is right up there with my favourite jams. The sheer tartness of it. The way you can take it and make a rhubarb pie. Or throw it on icecream. Or chop a few peppers into it and fold it into rice and curry. Endless possibilities. Or mix it into your morning porridge. As I do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I give up


I pull in to the parking lot outside the local store last night. I get the last parking spot. With the smallest car. The lot holds 7 cars.

And I turn off the motor. As I always do. And as I walk into the store past the rest of the vehicles I notice every single one is running in absentia of the owners. Every. Single. One. Trucks and SUVs all.

And if I ever needed proof that there is no hope at all for this planet, the evidence is all there in front of my nose.

And yes, of course, I am the only one also with my own reusable grocery bag.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A partridge not in a pear tree.

Overlooking the strand late in the day, yesterday

I'm fairly well brought up. If I wasn't I would have taken a picture of my dinner yesterday and shared it with you all.

I was at table ("at table" I must have read that in a book somewhere)with dear friends. Years ago, I remember being on the strand in front of their house with family members. We raved about this strand. It was exactly like one in West Cork in its rock formations, cliffs and overall layout. I remember looking up at the houses, then all unknown to me, and thinking - wouldn't it be lovely to have dinner overlooking all of this beauty?

Swear to gawd, at times my manifestations frighten even me. For here I am having dinner overlooking this beach.

The dinner. They asked if I liked partridge. Well I didn't know did I? So I said I was game(clever pun) to try it.

Oh, oops. The gourmet method of eating partridge is: it is stuffed with its own head and organs. Seriously. And you eat everything including the head. With this information I still held my own, so to speak.

Well, then I looked at my plate. I took a piece of the breast and it was a huge, huge feat on my part not to throw a projectiled barforama across their wonderful lace-dressed table overlooking the strand.

I waxed green I'm sure as mein hosts looked at me, laughed and said "We also roasted a back-up chicken". Oh bless you, bless you I thought as they whisked away my plate.

And fact: patridges get their odd mulberry coloured meat from their diet of partridge-berries. And I love partridge-berries. Unprocessed.

But I didn't look at anyone else as they devoured their delicacies (hunted by my host and his dog).

I was a vegetarian for years.

I may be revisiting that safe scene very soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Donald Trump and I


There is one quality in Donald Trump I admire. Very much. And no, I am not taking the mickey or the piss out of him. Seriously. It's his hair. Or rather the way he feels about his hair.

I think it must be the world's longest comb-over. There's some that say it is down to his waist at night and in the morning has to be flipped under/over/under five or six times to make it rest so massively on top of his head. And sometimes the hair spray doesn't hold it all together and a wind takes it in twists and turns around his shoulders and leaves him with a high forehead; by high I mean it goes back to the crown of his head. And all this blondy-white growth then tumbles hither and yon around his neck. Publicly.

And no, I never laugh at him and his hirsute obsession. Because it takes enormous chutzpah to face the derision of the world. And to carry on, and on, and on with the incredible management of your hair in the face of such mockery. He knows how everyone feels and he bloody well carries on and he's a millionaire who could shave his head or wear a wig or get hair-plugs or even tattoo his skull.

It's like his hair is a beloved pet he is going to honour and respect and downright love. For ever.

What brought this on? you might well ask. Well I'm with The Donald on hair. I am the only woman I know over sixty who has long hair. People (usually other women) don't know what to make of me and it. Seriously. It can irritate them. Much like The Donald's crop.

Isn't it a nuisance? Yeah, sometimes.
It must kill you to shampoo it? Yeah, it's a bit of work alright.
Why don't you cut it? It's not time.

Now everything else about Mr. Trump I just about despise, his politics, his racism, his misogyny, his prejudices.

But he and I sing from the same songbook when it comes to our hair.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hunkering



Can you believe the way the snow crept up my window? Photo taken this a.m.

The thing about storms and hunkering is that regular hours can be thrown for a loop. I couldn't sleep last night, the howling of the wind and those odd creaky things in an old house that come blaringly to life in a storm has thrown my night into day, day into night.

The 3.00 a.m. horror show also appeared - you know how that goes, don't you? Every thought you've had since you were two comes to life. First day of school is there, then a brand new film for me: beloved grandfather dying, mama weeping for what seemed like months afterwards. And no, you can't go to the funeral, we want you to remember him the way he was which always led me to the belief it was a huge big scam and Granddad had run off somewhere never to be seen again. So that film played for a couple of hours inevitably leading to the deaths of other beloveds and maybe it was my turn tonight, and the what about the dog? thought, this time left with my corpse? Would she howl? Eat me? Great, enough of that now.

I could go on and on about the stark raving horrors of the three ayems. I wrote a poem about it one time. And I salute the almighty power of the search engine for locating it:

In the three ayem darkness
To a mind run amok.
In the afternoon rainstorm
To depression unstuck.

In the loan of a shoulder,
To the lean of a hold,
In the ear of attention
To the warmth from the cold.

In the years gone behind us,
To the old you and me,
In the comfort we offer
To the days yet to be.

Written in 2002. I was young then. Well, old then. Well, much older now. In that way of passing sixty at high speed.

It is still windy out and drizzling. Cabin fever hasn't set in yet. I truly love being isolated in times such as these.

It sets the mind to dreaming without interruption.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Da Big One

This is the immediate forecast:




For Thursday night there's an additional 35 to 40cm of snow. Friday has another 20cm and this is all followed on the weekend by a dumping of rain. Winds are supposed to hit 100km/hour which will make it a first class STORM alright.

Right now it is -8c which is very chilly for here. It makes for a star struck night though. Every single star keeps the darkness of the sky awash in white. It is spectacular.

The dog barks outside. I can't see at what, but the bay bounces her voice back at her. There is an overstuffed cat who is patrolling the road out front lately. White with black splotches. You can tell by the strut that (s)he owns the place. It could be the cat out on night patrol putting the fear of gawd into the canines. I had a cat like that once. Owned the entire city block. Would walk with our dogs, head high. Other dogs would whine and run from him.

Grocery stores were so busy today with the impending storm coming. I am well stocked. Power outages are the biggest fear. I am grateful I have the wood stove which does just about everything except wash the dishes.

Hunker is the word I'm using. Lots of books, candles and even an oil lamp and Daughter has fortuitously stored a propane ring in my garage.

What could possibly go wrong?

I'll let you know.

And a picture of flower gifts from the weekend (as a scent-filled reminder of "can Spring be far behind?"):






Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Nollaig Na mBan


One of my friends bakes her shortbread on her grandmother's stone circle with the old design embossed on it. I just love this connection. Here she is serving it.

I mark the years in my Nollaig na mBan celebrations now. It gives a good slap to the back of December and on to a new year with my women friends.

It reminds me of the loveliness of the Nollaig na Mbans of my childhood years with my mother and aunts and greataunts and grandmother packing our 'front room' in front of the fire. With the laden tea trolley. It is a continuation, an honouring of the female traditions which I am sure were passed down from pre-Christianity in the times of the goddesses in Ireland. I miss my family at such events, my own progeny and Grandgirl, my beloved nieces, my darling sister - though she is with me in spirit as she celebrates it in Cork. And of course my Toronto and Irish friends.

There was much laughter in my diningroom. I allowed the guests this year to bring food. Newfoundlanders feel very naked without staggering under a hamper of food as they come in a friend's front door. And now I will be eating for weeks on the bounty that was laid on my table surrounded by flowers and chocolate and scented female gifts - candles, lotions and soaps. I am reminded of the fragility of our lives, how many that came to my Nollaigs in prior years are no longer with us. I count them by the candles I light. But I do not share this private ritual as a pall might descend.

I was amazed at the number who liked my photo of the event on FB, over 40 at last count, many are suggesting they are going to start their own Nollaig celebration next year. I am delighted, for we need to spread this far and wide. For the women who went before us and the women coming up behind us.

For this annual celebration is a beautiful, loving link to each other.

Monday, January 07, 2013

What, Me Worry?



Worry was intertwined with my last post about growing old and the fear of it.

I would have said I didn't worry about stuff. But I do. I took a step backward and observed myself on Saturday:

Here goes:

Worries crawl in. I watched them carefully today and lo and behold they staggered down the hall, whispering to each other, and on into my office and proceeded to infest my brain.

I'll tell you what I worried about, even briefly, today (Saturday). Welcome to the inner workings of my brain:

First snowfall of the season, about 5cm.

Yer man's not coming by with the snowplow, look he just passed my driveway again and he never answers his phone and I need an ingredient for a recipe so I can't drive to the shop so my brunch will be destroyed tomorrow without this ingredient, how can I face my guests.
Worry lasted an hour. Yer man showed up and plowed. Face red.

Where, goddam it, is Leo, he's supposed to clear the pathways and next thing we won't be able to access the barn for the wood for the fire and the house will freeze with the cold and I'll have to cancel the brunch and maybe I should just sell up and leave and find a tiny apartment in St. John's and get a lot of cans and pasta in and hunker down for the winter as they don't plow their sidewalks, and oh gawd, they don't take dogs, how can I leave my dog?
Worry skulked in and out for another hour. Leo, meanwhile, behind my back, was sorting wood (old~new) in the barn and locating the snow shovel and then shovelled all pedestrian access to the doors on the property.

I should seal off the front door, the drafts can be bad, but it will take me hours, do I have the time, I've never done this before, make the time. OK.
Job took 5 minutes. Face still red.

I shouldn't have to fix the bloody chair (see above). Glueing chair legs is so complicated, plus it's an antique, I don't want to damage it. What happened to all those years you refinished antiques, huh? But I have to - I need the chair for the annual Nollaig Na mBan tomorrow. I've no choice. More hours out of my tight little life.
Job took 10 minutes. Looks great. See above. Face still red.

And I'll post about my Nollaig na mBan soonest. It was rather splendid even though I say so myself.




Saturday, January 05, 2013

Terrorized by Old Age



I have several friends, all single, who are frantically planning for the time they will retire. I should add that they all work in the private sector and do not benefit from the enviable pensions paid to retired government-type employees. They frankly envision a future of tiny tins of catfood doled out carefully.

Interestingly enough, my married/partnered friends have no such fears.

The ALONE status of the singles has them planning to pay off mortgages and RRSP themselves into deprivation. For now. All this when they are over 60, some well over, and finding the speed of the on-the-job young 'uns nipping at their heels alarming.

Did I miss that gene? I occasionally worry about my vulnerable status (will I have no money in another 5 years?). But worry is useless energy so it doesn't last too long.

But I do rail against a system that keeps artists of all types in poverty and particularly makes it so difficult for single parents (mainly female) to stockpile savings of any magnitude during their working lives. The patriarchy along with childcare responsibilities has ensured very few women will make what men earn in their lifetimes. Statistics show that upon divorce, a father will improve his lifestyle dramatically, whereas the lifestyle of the now single mother and her family will deteriorate. I experienced that as a single mother with two kids.

The sadness of the afore-mentioned frantic planners is that the stress and strain can take an enormous toll on their health and sometimes they don't make it to that magic Canada Pension Plan age.

The only time, after all, that we have, is NOW. So why fret and worry as the song said?It is a form of madness and steals our days like nothing else.

I knew I could not survive financially in Toronto and that was an intrinsic part of my decision to move out here to the edge of the Atlantic. Cities are expensive places to live, especially for elders without pensions.

And I'm also extremely aware that we have a damn good safety net in Canada, such as OAS.

Do we all just want too much when we retire? Endless travel and bonbons and golf courses and spas?

What exactly do we need? Do we have it all and just don't know it?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

My Name is WWW and I am a Compulsive List Maker



As I age, I find that more and more I rely on lists. I find a thought I had a minute ago about something really important has vanished, never to return again. So I make lists. Years ago, I found a particular Moleskine daytimer excellent. So excellent in fact that Daughter, this year for the first time, has one of her own. She agrees, Hightech Queen that she is. We've both had tragedies with high tech systems. Hey Moleskine - it would be lovely if you paid me for this blurb!

The advantage of this particular daytimer is it has a blank sheet for a list or a note or a reminder on the right hand side (the left side has your full week) that you can tick off. Ticking is extremely important. Even on a lazy day if I can tick off "brushed out dog", the day fills full to overflowing. It also has tiny little stickies for affixing birthdays or anniverseries. See picture above. I love applying these. I do it publicly to max out the important feeling of managing my life well. There is nothing like an elder woman in Starbucks peering over her daytimer with tiny little pellets of reminders being carefully manipulated on to a page. Try it before you knock it.

So groceries go on there, runarounds (bank, healthstore, Sally, reminders etc). At the back there is a full alphabetical address section and a BIG IDEAS department. The address section can be ported from one year to the next.

Frankly, I've never seen anything better.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Books of 2012



Here is a link to prior years' posts on BOOKS

Well it was a record year for me. 77 books read in 2012. Mainly because I cut back on my business demands (gulp) and jumped into the unknown. Reading so voraciously whets my appetite for writing. And vice-versa. Even as a small child my visits to the library were the hightlights of my week. I'm still in paper mode with books, though I do have an E-Reader. I don't think paper books will ever be of the past and I believe that publishers are making books more worthy and by that I mean they are including more beautiful endpapers and fancier editions.

Here's the list of 2012 reads in order of my reading them, I have highlit the very best:

Skin Room - Sara Tilley
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (BC) - Helen Simonson***
The Other Hand - Chris Cleave*****
A World Elsewhere - Wayne Johnston**Not up to his usual standards
The Virgin Cure - Ami McKay*****
All He Ever Wanted - Anita Shreve*****
February - Lisa Moore(skimmed as re-read for BC-1/2)*****
Exit Lines - Joan Barfoot***
A Cold Day for Murder - Dana Stabenow**
Bay of Spirits - Farley Mowat*****Newfoundland,(thanks, Toddy!) beautifully told
Springfield Place - S.A. McCormick (won't rate, she's a friend)
Afterimage - Helen Humphreys*****beautiful
The Weight of Water - Anita Shreve****
Light on Snow - Anita Shreve*****one of her best
At Home In France - Ann Barry*****oh I hated leaving this one
Sea Glass - Anita Shreve***
Pagan Babies - Elmore Leonard*
The Way We Were - Marcia Willett***
Galore - Michael Crummey
Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton*****Oh to write like this!
Memories of Peter's River - Bride Martin (a friend: not rating)
Swimmer in the Secret Sea - William Kotzwinkle*****short, powerful
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley(BC)****
The Best of Bernard MacLaverty - Bernard MacLaverty***
The Paris Wife - Paula McLain(BC)****
Heft - Liz Moore***** one of the best.ever.
The Transit of Venus - Shirley Hazzard*****
Grandmother's Footsteps - Carol Smith****excellent thriller, meaningless title
The Fault in our Stars - John Green*****One of the best
Sense of Wonder - Ann Patchett(BC)**
Thin Ice - Marsha Qualey***
Dressing Up for the Carnival - Carol Shields (again)***
Lies of Silence - Brian Moore*****Heart stopping, breathtaking
Because of Winn-Dixie - Kate Dicamillo*****beautiful
The Sleeping Beauty - Elizabeth Taylor *** A reissue, I love this writer
Mistaken - Neil Jordan**** (thanks Helen!)
The Collected Stories - John McGahern*****
Good to a Fault - Marion Endicott(BC)**** ( a little too long)
Pictures of You - Caroline Leavitt**** (dragged at end)
Black Juice - Margo Lanagan*bleurgh
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler*****(wow!)
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls***
Where the Heart Is - Billie Letts****
The Best Laid Plans - Terry Fallis****polical humour at its best
Still Missing - Chevy Stevens*****compulsive,unputdownable
Savoury on the Tongue - Anthology**nothing to chew on
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern*what a painful slog with no payoff
Lullabies for Little Criminals - Heather O'Neill****
Broken Harbour - Tana French****
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn*****
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon*****
Lost in Translation - Eva Hoffman****
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Deborah Moggach***
Long Gone - Alafair Burke****
The Hijacking of Cassie Peters - Mary Stanley***
Beyond Belief - Liam Fay***
The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas(BC)*
The Emigrants - W.G. Sebald*****
The Famished Lover - Alan Cumyn*****
Seating Arrangements - Maggie Shipstead****
Ghostwritten - David Mitchell*****
Skeletons at the Feast - Chris Bohjalian(BC)0 gack!
Never Knowing - Chevy Stevens****
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
The Broken Shore - Peter Temple****1/2
Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah(BC)****
The Calling - Inger Ash Wolfe****1/2
A Curious Dream - Kate Pullinger****
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See(BC)*****recommend
Truth - Peter Temple****
Christine Falls - Benjamin Black***
Guide to the Aran Islands - J.M. Synge
Still Life - Louise Penny***
The Taken - Inger Ash Wolfe***1/2
Consolation - Michael Redhill*****
The Rings of Saturn - W. G. Sebald*****
Eager to Please - Julie Parsons****
The Edible Woman - Margaret Attwood (again)*****

Some were re-reads - Wharton, Attwood - and worth it. Attwood writing of 1969 and perfect housewives I saw in the fresh light of 2012 and found myself nodding at how brilliantly she captures the interior rebellion of a woman caught sacrificing her spirit and not knowing it was sacrifice. Wharton, well because I think it's one of the most perfect stories ever written.

W.G. Sebald - all I can say if you haven't read him, please do. It is like sitting down with him and listening to him riff off on many topics.

Michael Redhill and his alter ego Inger Ash Wolfe were a fresh discovery. I have more on order.

Gone Girl and Still Missing were unputdownable crime novels.

Heft by Liz Moore was an incredible first novel. All about a huge man trapped in his own body. She actually wrote back to me when I sent her a fan rave.

Barry's At Home in France was also one of those books which held me in rural France and wouldn't let me go.

So there you have it. My year in books. Eclectic? Yeah, that's me alright.