Thursday, August 08, 2013

S'il vous plait

S'il vous plait, lisez ce blog. Merci, beaucoup!
I’m just home from my Museum of Fine Arts Houston Book Club, and I’m feeling very French. We discussed Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland, an account of the six weeks it took Auguste Renoir to capture a single moment in his famous painting.
While there are some Paris scenes the book is mostly set on the island of Chatou lying in the Seine west of Paris. On weekends, Parisians flocked to Fournaise family boatyard and restaurant to float on the river and eat, even by high Parisian standards, an excellent Sunday meal. Among the regulars were the men who developed Impressionism, Monet, Degas, Sisley and, of course, Renoir. At least, in this work of historical fiction, the whole idea hatched right here on this island.
So it was that when Renoir, smarting under a criticism from Zola who indicated that an Impressionist ‘masterpiece’ did not exist, decide to create one, he decided to place it on the terrace of Restaurant Fournaise. He recruited models from his Paris friends (some paid, some not) who agree to come for six Sundays when the afternoon light was perfect.
 The book is a blow-by-blow of the time. Who are the people? What did they eat? Where did they eat it? Who slept with whom? Why and how often? It spares no detail.
I like book clubs as I’ve said on the blog before. My experience with this book bears me out. I’m a great admirer of Impressionist paintings. Since my first trip, I’ve loved France. Still, it hadn’t occurred to be to read this book, although I was aware of it. And then here came the Book Club selection list. I headed for the Museum shop, bought the book and started reading.
It isn’t my favorite book, even yet. But I learned a lot, looked lots of things up (thanks to Google), and yes, by the end I was enjoying the reading. Then came the meeting. One member said she disliked it so much that she was not going to say a word. Another declared it to be one of the best books she’d ever read. You can imagine—lively discussion ensued. By end of our time, not only was my reluctant friend talking, she was in the middle of the conversation declaring that she guessed she “really liked it after all.”
A good many of us headed for lunch at a nearby French bistro, where else? We all felt quite Frenchified. The orders reflected it—coq au vin, boeuf Bourguinon, a soufflĂ©. I had Salade Landaise.
The fun of book clubs—the benefit of book clubs. First, I read books that otherwise I would have passed on or maybe never have heard of at all, and then, I think about the book in a whole new way when I hear others discussing it, pointing out something I’ve missed entirely, and, often agreeing with me.
Now, on to next month. We’re shifting gears, going back to nonfiction, going to Russia. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie is up next. Should be interesting—and long. It’s a mere 574 pages. Let’s see, if I read about 20 pages a day, I should be able to knock her off with a day or two to spare before our next confabulation.

Gathering members can't wait for the
conversation to begin.

A version of this post also appears at

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Not totally serious--yet

Zing, zing, zing. Seems like this year, there goes my summer. That’s probably true every summer, but this one, times three. So, here goes on what I trust (cross my fingers) is the last update on the ongoing melodrama of Trilla’s personal life—in the next few months, it’ll be more about Trilla’s book life.
Foster is happy to be home with his
own food bowl. "Feed me!"
Ginger doesn't mind being an
only cat again. Not on bit.
            The doctor told Kate to stay with us two months. That lasted about two-and-a-half weeks.  She’s back at work, but still can’t put weight on left leg at all, and so this means we’re still helping out lots, but we’re all easier on our own turfs. Happiest of all with the arrangement? No surprise—Foster Cat.
So my “reading just for fun days” have slowed and I’m turning to other books, but still reading lots and lots and lots and lots. And I’m not totally serious yet. I had a great fling, and a good transition with Susan Wittag Albert’s Widow’s Tears.  (  A great story, particularly if you, like I am, a longtime friend of China and Ruby.  But it’s more than just a story. Albert packs lots in there.  Not really escapism, and it’s set in the beautiful countryside around Round Top, Texas—a place I love.  Indeed, I recommend it.
            Then being a reviewer for Story Circle Book brought me just what I needed! Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America appeared at the front door as if on cue. I’ve been journaller about as long as I can remember. A one-year diary showed up under the Christmas tree every year with the same dependability as the doll at top of the red stocking, and continued even after the dolls went away. I made my most recent entry this morning. Part of my life. I was ready, ready for this book.
Joan Wehlen Morrison was a greater journaller than I. What’s more, while I assume “no one’s ever going to care about these” and store them helter-skelter and here-and-there, Joan wrote thinking that her journals would be read, stored them carefully, and made sure her writer daughter knew where they were.  That daughter, Susan Morrison has turned these journals into a story of both her mother’s life from when she turned 14 in December of 1936 to 1943 when she met her future husband of 66 years. But Morrison has done more. She’s captured a slice, a small slice but an important one, of American history. This is an important book.
Well read now, and I'll be reading it again.
            And inspirational to me. My next get-organized is not going to be the mess under the kitchen counter that’s on the schedule now. No. I’m going to take those boxes of disorganized mixed-up journals and diaries and get them in chronological order, and then, I’m going to read them.  It may be that some do indeed need discarding—I’ll do it now, and I’ll be the one to do it. But others I’ll keep and who know, while likely they will never be published, someday great or great-great grandchild may enjoy knowing what twentieth-century life was like in the Panhandle of Texas.
            Thank you Morrisons.
            More to the moment, I’m thinking about my weekend reading. Young Joan reported hearing and puzzling over the stance of Charles Lindburg in the time leading up to the war. I knew Kate  read and enjoyed the fictional account of Anne Morrow Lindburg’s life, Aviator’s Wife. I knew it was lying on her bedside table.  Yesterday when I visited Foster, I nabbed the book. Now it’s on my bedside table with the first two chapters consumed—and it is not the weekend yet.
Waiting for bedtime and Chapter 3, maybe 4.

(This entry is also posted at

Friday, June 14, 2013

Serious Reading

Last post, I was in a bit of a panic, and I owe you an update. Things have calmed down,  Katy’s still with us, and she’s thriving—well, maybe I should say getting along very well for someone who’s on crutches and  dwelling in a bedroom not her own.   
                Fortunately, we all have senses of humor so that the laughter sounds spill over several times a day. Here’s an example—first day—Katy waits politely until one of us appears and then requests a favor—“Would you please bring me my I-pad?” “Might I have a fresh water?”
                A few days later as I was making my bed, my phone gave its distinctive “Katy” ring.
                “Mom would you mind coming into my room.” Of course, I was happy to oblige.
                Now we’ve got it down to an art. My message signal chirps. I scarcely need to look knowing the message will be one word: “Fetch.”
Sparc-time fun. Every one a
different color 

                I’m delighted. Means she’s feeling so much better.  She managed to do some work from home within a week of the misstep. Yesterday, she got a new cast that gives her lots more mobility—still no weight on that foot though. Between crutches and a light-weight
Off to work for the first
time in a long time.
wheelchair, she’s getting frisky and is going to try going into her office this afternoon.
                Our other guest livens up the house almost as much as Katy does. Foster Cat considers himself an “only cat.” Guess what?  Up until about two weeks ago, so did Ginger Pando. The two have had some interesting, and noisy conversations, but they are moving toward mutual tolerance and even food-sharing.
It all keeps me busy, but I still have lots more reading time than has been my norm.  I knocked off two or three more Leann Sweeney’s, and then I decided the budget didn’t allow for these forays to the Kindle Store. I then began what I should have done first—if I’d had my wits about me—I went through my towering “to read” stack.  A friend had mentioned how her book club enjoyed Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.  And there was Cee Cee waiting under three “when you decide to get serious” volumes. CeeCee kept me out of trouble for a couple of days. Now I’m ready for a new author.
        Survivor: One Woman's Path Through Life, Love, and Uncharted Tragedy.  Check out the review at You’ll see what I mean. 
Tolerating each other--only because
I'm reading in the nearby chair.
         Casting about for ideas, I visited the Story Circle Book Review page hoping to find another fun mystery for a great price. But the opening page stopped me. It told me that I’m ready to graduate from fun reading and get back to something serious. The editor’s pick leapt out.  I’ve been thinking the Pandos have troubles; well, maybe not as many as I thought.  Nancy Saltzman knows about troubles, and more she knows how to survive them. She recounts her experiences in Radical
                I thought I’d order on the Kindle, but now I’m thinking I need a hard copy. I have a feeling this is a book I’ll be passing along. I have a Father’s Day shopping trip planned with my 12-year-old grandson this afternoon. Where are we going? Where else in this family of readers? Why to Barnes and Noble. I’ll see if they have Radical Survivor. If not, you know what I’ll be ordering this evening.

Happy reading!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Things change

June 1 is almost here. It’s happened again. Half a year has slid by and what where did it go? Poof! I look at my tilting “to read” stack, taller than on January 1, but I notice something. I’ve read all the “fun” books—the cozy mysteries, the thick historicals, read and shelved, or in a few case, given away. The more serious book that sound so good in the book review section still wait.
                Get serious! I tell myself. For the summer let’s change direction.  Feeling a bit high-minded I make a half-year resolution: For the summer I’ll read poetry  (and maybe write a bit) and, since I’m spending lots of time volunteering at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, maybe it’s time I learned more art history.  I set June 1 as my beginning date, cleared a couple of shelves and began organizing—not too surprising—I already own enough art and poetry books to fill more than one summer.
                Last Sunday we enjoyed a lovely brunch. It was a beautiful day, why wait until June 1? The minute I got home I’d grab Peter Gay’s Modernism, head for the shady park about a block away and start.  On the way home, the phone rang. Our daughter had dropped by; she’d wait ‘til we got home.  Okay, the park could wait a while. We came in the back door. “In here,” she called from the living room. I rounded the corner. I saw the crutches before I saw the daughter. Things changed.

                Did they ever! She’d badly broken her ankle. An emergency clinic had it stabilized, but she was to stay off of it until we could get to our orthopedist on Tuesday.  Memorial Day Monday, remember. Not much to do but sit by and be company and bring a pain pill every few hours. Serious reading—out of the question. But I could just sit, I needed to read—TV noise made it hurt worse she’d announced. Not a fun book around. But thank goodness for Kindle and e-mail. I remember Amazon had tempted me with an e-mail about a cat book, something about feral cats; I live in a nest of feral cats—feed them every morning. I searched my e-mail. Found it. Grabbed the Kindle and for the first time met cat-loving Jillean Hart a quilting artist in Mercy, South Carolina. Jillean’s deadly adventures (and a little romance) all from the pen of Leann Sweeney helped me through the rest of Sunday and all of the Pando family’s longest ever Memorial Day. 
     Finally Tuesday arrived just as Jillean left. But what’s this? I notice in Sweeney’s credits that she has a series set in Houston. Houston! Where I am. Quick as I can hit the “buy now” button, Pushing Up Bluebonnets is on my home page. Good timing. It’s a day of first one waiting room and then another.  I like Abby Rose; I think I could find her house here in Houston if I gave it a good hard try. 
     Come Wednesday, finally we’re getting some action on the foot. We head to the hospital in the morning; my daughter goes into surgery around noon. Nothing to do but . . . and, hey, this is even less of a time for serious reading than ever.
                Suddenly I recall my blogger friend Nancy’s most recent post. Since many years ago when there was a PBS series based on the E.F. Benson books about her, Nancy has loved the Lucia books about a madcap English woman we ought to dislike but end up loving. Nancy lamented that not many people remember Lucia, but I did. I enjoyed the series and then read every book. But mine are long gone in that huge book sale we threw when we moved to Houston. But what great news! The whole collection is out in one Kindle volume. (Query—can a Kindle have a volume?) So through the surgery, through recovery, and through a long first night, I capered through an English village while I fretted about and over my daughter.

                Now we’re home, all of us. She’s staying with us until she can put weight on that leg.  This may not be the summer for heavy reading after all. I’m wide open for suggestions about where in the world I go for my next escape.

Note: This entry also appears at 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A Wonderful Emptiness

Tall and plainly dressed, a young woman stepped off the train that had brought her from Virginia to Amarillo, Texas one early autumn day in 1912. Georgia O’Keeffe was in love with the flat, colorful land of the Panhandle, a love that would last her long lifetime.       
“Wait a minute!” you say. “She painted in New Mexico.” Right you are, for part of her life. But this young O’Keeffe needed a job and she’d found one in a place that intrigued her. We can claim her as a Texas artist for she left a marvelous legacy of this young love. During the two years she taught art in the public schools of Amarillo she spent hours roaming the prairie and the orange rocks of Palo Duro Canyon with her charcoal and her sketch book at her side. Later she recalled, “It is the only place I ever felt that I really belonged, that I really felt at home. That was my country—terrible winds and a wonderful emptiness.”
             After her time in Amarillo, she headed back east to New York with a portfolio stuffed with those drawings. Some of these may have been in her 1916 exhibit at Alfred Stiglitz’s Gallery.
            Two years later, O’Keeffe came back to the Panhandle as head of the art department (of one) at West Texas Normal College in Canyon near Amarillo. She returned to her wandering life, but now she was painting in the abstract style that defines her work. She was not always fully appreciated.  The owner of her boarding house remarked after viewing one picture that it “did not look like any canyon that I’ve ever seen.”
Intrigued by O’Keeffe paintings of the lonely prairie and the wide night skies?  If you’re driving through the Panhandle, plan your trip to include the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum at West Texas A & M University, the campus where O’Keeffe taught. (You can even spend the night in the Hudspeth house where she took her meals.) And be sure and take the short trek to Palo Duro Canyon itself and watch the sunset. Surely you too will catch the magic.
When young Georgia made those long treks down Panhandle roads and Palo Duro trails, surely she had some sustenance tucked into the pockets of her black sweater. Here’s a long-ago Panhandle recipe she might have taken along.

Palo Duro Picnic Sandwich
1/2 cup softened butter
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 green onions, finely chopped
6-10 leftover dinner rolls (depends on size and how many are left!)
grated Longhorn cheese (about 2 tablespoons per roll)
1/2 pound thinly shaved or chopped leftover ham
Combine butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and onions. Split the rolls and spread the butter mixture on each half. Put cheese on the bottom half of the roll, top with the ham and put the two sides together.   Put sandwiches in a 350 degree oven (if it’s a wood stove—about baking temperature) for five minutes or until the cheese is melty. Wrap in brown paper and slip in your pocket. Of course, these days, we’ll wrap them in foil. They freeze well; then bake them for about 10 or 12 minutes.

Want to learn more about Georgia O’Keefe’s time in Texas? Start with Georgia O’Keefe in Texas: A Guide by Paul H. Carlson and John T. Becker.  For Georgia in the kitchen, try A Painter’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O’Keefe by Margaret Wood. For a complete biography of this fascination woman, I recommend Roxana Robinson’s Georgia O’Keefe: A Life.
To see lots of images use Google Images or the search engine of your  choice. 

This entry is also posted at

Monday, April 08, 2013

My bluebonnet girl

[I posted a version of this entry two years ago. It’s bluebonnet season and a special day, a very special day at our house, so here’s an ever so slightly updated version. This may become an annual tradition!]

Another baby!  Yea! And, maybe, maybe this time a girl? Not that I really cared, but for several months all liquid that entered my body, even at parties, came via my pink mug. I got a handbag big enough to carry it everywhere.
            Boy or girl, didn’t really matter, no, what bothered me was that we lived in Oklahoma. This wouldn’t do. I might have a girl (I hope, I hope, I hope) or a boy (fine by me) but by gosh or by golly, I was going to have a Texan. My plan? About a month ahead, visit my mother in Amarillo and refuse to leave.

            Then, a bolt from the blue! Bob was transferred to Houston. Off we went in the big Chevy wagon—Daddy, Mother, the four-year-old, Mr. 17-months, and Daffodil the part-cocker.  That was in March.
            April 8—we welcomed our bluebonnet baby, our bluebonnet girl, born in the peak of bluebonnet season! Katy joined the clan. (Aptly named Daffy didn't make the picture.)

            She was a joy then, and a joy (and lots of laughs) along the way. She became a lovely young woman.


And a fantastic daughter. And  now a good Montrose neighbor—on her way over right now to do the NYT crossword. Thank goodness it’s Monday! 
            Guess what! We unearthed that long ago pink mug, and it is now Katy’s exclusively,  A pink mug of coffee goes well with a puzzle.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Dancing toward spring

I had so much fun with the spring reading entry, and inspired by my friend Linda who blogs every week about her quilting ( That I’m aiming to give it another try.
I’ve just made a romp through this blog and maybe I’ll get the momentum back from more than seven years ago when I first posted. I found lots and lots of cat stuff—that a constant in my life. Surely an update is due? When I started this blog I was in a little, I mean little, southern town—beautiful but this city girl thought about home in Houston just about all the time. Gradually we’ve been making the transition back to the city. I’m still loving it--most of the time.
Now as Easter approaches spring is all over the city. or nearly spring.  Flowers everywhere, beautiful spring flowers.


 March doesn’t give up that easily—when I walked across a neighboring parking lot I got to watch a

Lift Off

Brown leaves, leftover leaves,
abandoned leaves scattered
across gray pavement.
Lonely leaves.

rising, swirling
high on the frisky March wind
spiraling, turning
Dancing toward spring.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Primavera—First things first

Thanks, Primavera!
Welcome Spring! She arrived Wednesday morning, very early; now we're two days in. In this household she brought her fever with her. Happens every year, and of course, it involves reading—for a couple of reasons.
                For many folks and cultures, Spring’s arrival—the vernal equinox—is the start of a new year—try peoples as diverse as the Persians and the Celts. Certainly the flowers in my urban garden will vote for that. Okay, flowers and Spring, I’ll go along and join you by doing what I always do with a new year. Make a resolution. That’s easy as well. I always make the same one. Read more!
A book, a friend, a dog-pal, the
sunshine. Life is good.

Many, in a little while,
a nap.
                Spring makes it easy. The best antidote for Spring’s fever is a trip to the front porch or the nearby park with a couple of books from the stack or maybe the magazine (ah, yes, another one) that came with the morning mail.
                I’ve been doing lots of that lately. Sometimes I take a picnic and spend the afternoon. And I’m not alone. Lots of folks manage to free up a little time for eating, reading, even napping on Primavera’s best afternoon. But, you don’t have to have a park or a front porch to fight Spring’s fever. In my neighborhood you might hit the Black Hole Coffee House or maybe even the Post Office if there’s a line.
Where ever you are, enjoy Spring and grab a good book.

Easy livin', good readin'

"It's ok, Daddy. I don't
mind waiting, I always bring
a book to the Post Office.

Saturday morning at
the Black Hole fun.

(A slightly different version of this entry is at

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reading! Always! Wherever I Am--

I been around a bit since the last time I hit these pages. Half way around the world, if fact, right at 8,000 miles—straight from Bush Intercontinental in Houston to Dubai, ‘way over in the United Arab Emirates about 60 miles from Iran.
                Let me answer the question everyone asks before you can get it out. Why was I headed for Dubai?  As I came to find out, it is a tourist destination—but not usually for Americans. And no, it’s not on my list of “places I must go.” But there is a family there that is on my list to visit any time, every time that I can. My son and his wonderful family—‘especially seven-year-old Dasha. This was my first trip since they’d moved from London, and yes I was as, well almost as, excited about visiting this faraway place as I was about seeing my extended gang.
The screen was as fascinating as the Kindle.
                A bit wary of the 15 hour flight , I told myself, Be prepared. So I prepared and over-prepared. That Kindle was so loaded you’d have thought I was going to Dubai aboard the Nina or the Pinta, not a fancy airliner.   Then the flight: Yes, I did read some, but I was mesmerized by the screen that unfolded those 8,000 miles one mile at a time. The overhead camera let me look down on London and Istanbul. Very heady, and I did catch a Katherine Hepburn flick. Yes, I read, but don’t worry. I won’t run out of e-reading material for several months.
                Now, let me answer the second question everyone asks. What is Dubai like? Like nothing I’ve ever seen—or expect to. It’s a Muslim/Arab country, but more—a nation and a city of contrasts. From the tallest building in the world and the world’s largest shopping center (you’ll get lost, I promise) to camels wandering in the desert just a few miles away.  My head went into permanent wagging from trying to take it all in.
On the Arabian Desert not far from the bustle of Dubai.
Burj Khalifa--the world's tallest building
                Final question: the best part? That’s easy spending time around the house with the guys. And of course that always means reading. My son wisely married as big or (if that’s possible) bigger reader than he is. I don’t have to tell you about their daughter. This is the family that between travel and a major move have disposed of their ‘real’ books and gone largely electronic. I told part of their story in my October 25, 2012 entry on this blog.  There's no lack of chances to read with a couple of computers, two Kindles and three I-pads in the house. Even the little one does most of her reading electronically.
Great way to spend the afternoon.
                This isn’t an absolutely no-book household. No, not by any means. Each of the three brought quite a few that couldn’t, just couldn’t, be left behind or given away.  My daughter-in-law is a lot like me. She loves to cook. So, it’s no surprise that a good many of the books she brought are cook books. Pretty wonderful ones, as I discovered.
                After a few days, I got ‘real book’ browsing fever and hit the bookcase just before bedtime. I promptly felt in love with on a book full of whole grain recipes aptly named “The Book of Whole Grains” by Marlene Anne Bumgarner. No I didn’t quick-like order it for my Kindle. I couldn’t. It has a 1976 publication date. But I had to have it! Had to.  And so, the next morning at breakfast in Dubai, UAE, I went online on my Kindle and ordered a copy of the book from a dealer in New York to be delivered to my home in Texas. It arrived about the same time I did, and I’m still in love. It’s got a great recipe for gingerbread from Muleshoe, Texas, up in the Panhandle near where I was born.
                This old world gets smaller and smaller.
                Now one final question for you about cookbooks and e-readers. Even if my wonderful new-to-me book had been e-available, I don’t think I’d have ordered. I can’t yet see myself cooking from a Kindle. Where would I write my doubling numbers, or my yeas or nays? And what about those messy smudges that become dear memories. Can’t see it. I have one buddy who says she slips hers in to a plastic bag and cooks away, but I can’t see it. At least not yet. How about you? Oh, and awful thought! What about reading in the bathtub?
A version of this entry appears a
How do you vote?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Different Kind of Reading


“Come to bed! It’s after midnight.”

“Soon. I promise! I’ve only got fifty more pages.”

Maybe you can guess. I have book club in the morning and no way, no way I’m going to sleep before I’ve finished the book. Happens almost every month.

I’m a big reader. Such a big reader that when I made a New Year’s resolution to read more, my daughter smiled. No, she didn’t laugh at me, but almost. “Mom, you already read more than anyone I know. How can you want to read more?”

I don’t know. But I do.

There are different kinds of reading. There’s fun reading snuggled now under the down comforter on a cold night or stretched out on the couch on a rainy day. There’s serious research reading; I keep my notebook by my hand (or my notepad). I underline. I reread. And don’t bother me. There are magazines—the ever growing stack of magazines—and the two newspapers a day. Lots of reading. But nothing quite like book club reading.

First off, often it’s something I’d never chose to read if I were making the calls, but I’m not. It’s on the list; I read the book. Second, I read carefully, after all, I’m going to have to talk about this. Third, I finish—nothing like deadline.

It’s not just book club reading that I relish. I like the book club itself. No matter how meticulously I’ve read, someone catches something I’ve missed entirely. Occasionally, I’m the catcher and amaze someone with what I’ve picked up. Other times, I’ve read something one way and, to my amazement, others take it quite another way. Exhilarating! I don’t need the coffee and cookies.

I’d been missing the book club experience. I was lonely for book club buddies. About four years ago we moved back to Houston after a ‘temporary’ stay of over twenty years in a small town in Georgia. Some things I badly missed about city life, something I liked about small town living, and one thing I loved—my book club. It was an old (founded in 1929), somewhat tradition-bound organization. (Great controversy when someone served refreshments ‘after’ instead of before.) But twenty-five intelligent, thoughtful women gathered every two weeks. The best two days of the month!
I miss my Georgia book club--always will, but
I'm relishing my three new ones. Count 'em, 3!
            When we gave Houston a probationary year, I went on leave. But when we put the house on the market, sadly, I put my resignation in the mail. It wasn’t fair to keep another woman from enjoying what I had loved. But now here I was in Houston, and no book club. I missed it, missed it, missed it.
            So in 2012, when I resolved to read more, I also resolved to find a book club. No one was going to call me up and invite me aboard, so I’d better find my own. Resolution fulfilled! I have three, and I’m thinking about a fourth.  They couldn’t be more different. Once a month I go to my nearby indy mystery book store, Murder by the Book, we read to a theme. This month we’ll read two first novels, both set in England but very different, one is cozy beyond cozy (Wicked Autumn) while the other is dark, dark, dark (The Hollow Man). Every Sunday morning—my family doesn’t believe I’m doing this—I hike over to the nearby Unitarian Church where they welcome new readers—church member or not—into their book discussion group of serious philosophical and historical works. In fact,  next month I’m the leader for the over 800-page From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present by Jacques Barzun. I’ll be reading very carefully; you can bet on it. (It’s going to take us several weeks to do this one.)
            Finally and where I think I’ve found my book club ‘home’ is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston where I am a volunteer. The Guild book club takes on a book a month and then we go to lunch. Last we discussed Carvaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. It’s the book that gave rise to the “Come to bed!” conversation. I thought it interesting but difficult going in, but I came out so excited that I returned to the museum after lunch to look at some familiar works in a whole new way.
            I’ll remember 2012 as a banner year—I kept two resolutions. That may be a record. I’m in three book clubs and, smile if you will, Daughter, I’m reading more.
             (A version of this entry appears at