Sunday, 2 January 2022

2021 Books

Books read in 2021.... finally got to make a list and publish it! But I may have forgotten some in December.

Canadian authors in RED
British authors in BLUE
American authors in GREEN

January 2021
The Lola Quartet - Emily St.John Mandel (unputdownable story)
The Murder of Cleopatra, History's Greatest Cold Case - Pat Brown
Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng (another unputdownable)
Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng (I enjoyed this author a lot)
The Glass Hotel - Emily St.John Mandel (loved this book)

February 2021
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman (good book)
All Adults Here - Emma Straub
The Girls - Emma Cline
Akin - Emma Donoghue (loved this book) (just noticed, 3 Emma authors in a row)
More Than a Woman - Caitlin Moran

March 2021
Remarkable Creatures - Tracy Chevalier
The Tobacconist - Robert Seethaler
The Widow - Fiona Barton
Lawn Boy - Jonathan Evison (loved this book)
A Whole Life - Robert Seethaler
At the Edge of the Orchard - Tracy Chevalier
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl - Mona Awad (DNF)
Weather - Jenny Offill (DNF)

April 2021
Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout
Olive, Again - Elizabeth Strout
Real Life - Brandon Taylor (DNF, got as far as page 27, not my style)
The Green Road - Anne Enright
The Long Call - Anne Cleeves
This is Your Life, Harriet Chance - Jonathan Evison

May 2021
Astray - Emma Donoghue
Utopia Avenue - David Mitchell (all books by David Mitchell are worth reading, especially this one)
Slade House - David Mitchell (2nd time reading)
The Lager Queen of Minnesota - J. Ryan Stradal
This One Wild Life - Angie Abdou (DNF but may try again)
The Dutch House - Ann Patchett (good book)
Big Sky - Kate Atkinson
Shotgun Lovesongs - Nickolas Butler
The Wangs vs. the World - Jade Chang (DNF)
The Revolution of Marina M - Janet Fitch (DNF, 805 pages, too big too heavy too complicated)

June 2021
Adults - Emma Jane Unsworth (DNF, nope)
The Child - Fiona Barton
The Lady and the Unicorn - Tracy Chevalier
Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
Piranesi - Susanna Clarke (good book, I read it twice, clever)
Modern Lovers - Emma Straub
Gifted - Nikita Lalwani

July 2021
This is Happiness - Niall Williams (lovely book!)
Legends of the North Cascades - Jonathan Evison
Rainbow Milk - Paul Mendez  (loved this book, surprised myself!)
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan 
Mayflies - Andrew O'Hagan (good book)

August 2021
Instructions for a Heatwave - Maggie O'Farrell
Bad Dreams - Tessa Hadley (short stories)
The Hand that First Held Mine - Maggie O'Farrell
Late in the Day - Tessa Hadley
The Village - Nikita Lalwani
Dual Citizens - Alix Ohlin

September 2021
The Glass House - Beatrice Colin (DNF)
The Paris Dressmaker - Kristy Cambron (DNF, pathetic)
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue
The Secret of the Great Pyramid - Bob Brier and Jean-Pierre Houdin

October 2021
The Return - Joseph Helmreich
A Passage North - Anuk Arudpragasam
The Woman on the Stairs - Bernhard Schlink
The Motion of the Body Through Space - Lionel Shriver
A Boring Wife Settles the Score - Marie Renee Lavoie

November 2021
All I Ask - Eva Crocker
Swimming With Horses - Ross Oakland
One for the Rock - Kevin Major
The Opposite of Fate - Alison McGhee

December 2021
Bone and Bread - Saleema Nawaz
Transcription - Kate Atkinson

Click on "books" at the bottom of this post for my reading list for previous years.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Three stages of being a Chicken.

 Three stages of Chickendom.

These hens started out in April as 25 one day old chicks, the meat chicken version, not the egg laying version. They were cared for in a brooder with a nice warm heat lamp through the cold nights, losing only 2 birds. They were fed and watered and looked after in the chicken coop under some shady trees for about 8 or 9 weeks, and then it was time to say goodbye. 

It was a good life, but a short life.

They had a ride to the processor, a Mennonite business, and turned into prepared roasting hens for the freezer, each around 7lb in weight. This one was marinated overnight in a marinade of salt, some sugar,  olive oil, garlic, an assortment of herbs and spices and sauces. Secret recipe, my son won't divulge the ingredients. 
Split down the backbone, and "spatchcocked" on the BBQ, then after a couple of hours on a very low flame and lots of basting with a home made BBQ sauce......
...... the best BBQ juicy chicken ever tasted!

Apologies to any vegetarians/vegans reading this.

Monday, 12 July 2021

Toadstool or Mushroom?

 Any Amateur Mycologists out there? Or even a Professional Mycologist, perchance?

There has been a lot of damp humid weather recently, and the fungus population has sprouted overnight. Does anyone recognise these? There are lots of them growing in an area of spare ground at the back of a nearby house. Some were only an inch across, and others as wide as 4 inches. 

Could be Common Agrocype  or Spring Agrocype. Apparently edible, but I'm definitely not going to try it.

And a bit further along, there were these tiny little mushrooms hiding along the edge of the sidewalk. About the size of a little fingernail.

I think this might be Pear-shaped PuffballLycoperdon pyriforme. Large clumps of these small puffballs can be found on logs or growing in woodchips along park trails. Puffballs have a small pore on the top where the spores are released. When a large rain drop lands on a mature puffball the force is sufficient to release a "puff" of spores. The spongy filling helps the puffball regain its shape after being compressed.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Spidey, is that you?

This morning the wet grass had lots of these delicate spider webs decorated with tiny dewdrops. This one was about 4 inches across, but there were many more smaller ones.

What are they? What kind of spider makes these webs?

I had to ask know-it-all Professor Google, and he told me that these are not really spider webs. The webs are branching mycelium of dollar spot fungus, Sclerotinia homeocarpa, often appearing on lawns in warm and damp summer mornings.  These webs disappear when the grass dries, but the fungus is still there. It causes brown spots about the size of a dollar coin, and can grow to cover much larger areas. There has been a lot of rain over the last few days, and the lawn watering system has been working too, so the dollar spot fungus is probably feeling very happy!

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

The Dead End of Town

Sometimes my morning walk takes me through the local cemetery. It's cool and shady and quiet there, with not many people about. And if there are people walking their dogs, they are always happy to stop and chat. 

I don't think I'm the only person who likes to wander among the graves and read the names and dates of former residents of town. The earliest legible memorial stone here dates from 1849, but there are probably a few earlier than that.

Nathan Forsyth 1852-1948 was the builder of many of the Victorian red brick houses that still stand on  the older streets. In fact, I lived in a Forsyth house for many years. He also built the United Church, the Presbyterian Church and the original Fire Hall. His grave memorial is in the shape of a house with windows and doors.

There are some lovely stone angels marking graves. But they look so sad. A lasting memorial to a family's grief.

Walking around the newer section of the cemetery I came across many familiar family names of friends and neighbours. One was Eddie Luther, the original "Eye in the Sky" traffic reporter for CFRB. He was a radio pioneer, the first to report on Toronto rush hour traffic from his helicopter starting in 1961.

Bee in the Brick Update: This was a couple of weeks ago. The hole in the brick is now completely sealed, so I'll be watching for a happy event.

Saturday, 3 July 2021


I just returned from spending a few days chicken sitting. And egg collecting. And garden, dog, cat and goose sitting while YoungerSon and family visited my daughter-in-law's aunt. I took lots of photos with my trusty little point-and-shoot camera, and then stupidly left the camera behind when I came home. Oh well.... I'll get it next time I visit again in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, here's the only photo I can show you of Lucy the goose. She's an Embden goose, 3 months old and is getting bigger every day. She is very used to people being around and likes to have her head scratched and her wings petted. She loves her blue bucket of water, and sometimes tries to get into it, not an easy task seeing she is quite a bit bigger than the bucket. 

Snoozing with your head on the edge of a bucket seems hard but she manages to look very relaxed.

She's got an old kiddie pool that she splashes about in.... sorry, no photos until I get the camera back!

A couple of photos from my container garden on my deck. These tomatoes are Oxheart variety, a heritage tomato. They are really lumpy, strange shapes, but I'm told they are very tasty.  I'll be able to taste them when they're ready to harvest in August.
And my Scarlet Runner beans.... doing really well, full of flowers that I hope will provide lots of beans.... and the bonus is that the hummingbirds love the red flowers.
Lots of vigorous growth this year, probably due to the well rotted cow poo that was dug into the soil in the spring. 

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

In a Jam

June means red juicy delicious strawberries. When I was growing up in sunny Devon, my dad's main product of his market garden was strawberries so June and July were busy times at our house, and he even got a second crop in September. His strawberries often won prizes at the annual village Horticultural Show. We lived close to the seaside, and there were plenty of people on holiday who would buy his fresh strawberries, and he had a regular delivery to markets in South Wales and London.

Strawberries every day! I ate so many strawberries that I broke out in red blobs. My mum would make strawberry jam with the smaller berries, and the jam would last all winter, until the next strawberry season.

I think it must be genetic, and I have jam making in my DNA too.

I've already given some to my neighbours, some will go to friends and family, and the rest will brighten up my breakfasts on snowy winter days.