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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Emerging from Malaise

 I've been reading, even if I haven't been keeping up with reviews.  For about 6 weeks, I was in an apathetic phase.  One of those "do the least possible and know that the doldrums/indifference will end eventually."  This May has been the rainiest I can remember, and that probably had some impact on my attitude.  There have been so  many garden chores that needed to be done before the summer heat, and my frustration would mount when it was too wet and rainy to get them done.   

The Mother's Day Weekend in New Orleans with Amelia, Bryce Eleanor, and Suzie (a wonderful girls' weekend) brought me out of that funk, and when I got back home, Fee had raised the fountain and moved the Happy Buddha in front, and I can't look at it without smiling.  

Cosmos, Homestead Purple verbena,diplodenia, and golden stonecrop 



Then we had several days without rain, and I could weed and transplant and garden at will.  It rained last night and the prospect is for more today and for the next several days, but that's OK now.  I've finished the bigger chores, and Fee has done the even bigger ones.  

Some of the books I've recently enjoyed. 

A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey was recommended by Ruthiella at Booked for Life.  One of my favorite books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is Tey's The Daughter of Time, so it is not surprise that I enjoyed this one.  I agree with Ruthiella that this not one of Tey's best, but it was only her second book.

from description:  When a woman's body washes up on an isolated stretch of beach on the southern coast of England, Scotland Yard's Inspector Alan Grant is on the case. But the inquiry into her death turns into a nightmare of false leads and baffling clues. Was there anyone who didn't want lovely screen actress Christine Clay dead?  

Initially, I wasn't to taken with this one, but it turned into one of those books that I enjoyed more as I continued reading.

First published in 1936.  

Detective Fiction from the Golden Age.

Mark de Castrique was recommended by Cathy at Kittling Books.  I was looking for the character Virgil she described, but she also mentioned that readers should begin with the first in the series. 

Blackman's Coffin (Sam Blackman #1) didn't have Virgil, but it was the beginning of a new-to-me series. 

from description:  Sam Blackman is an angry man. A Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the U.S. military, he lost a leg in Iraq. His outspoken criticism of his medical treatment resulted in his transfer to the Veteran’s Hospital in Asheville, NC. Then an ex-marine and fellow amputee named Tikima Robertson walks into his hospital room.

Tikima hints that she has an opportunity for Sam to use his investigative skills--if he can stop feeling sorry for himself. But before she can return, Tikima is murdered, her body found floating in the river.

When Tikima's sister comes to Sam with an old journal from 1919, things get really interesting.  The Biltmore Estate figures largely in the mystery and Thomas Wolfe also figures into the old case.  

I'm definitely in for more in this series!  

Kindle Unlimited/ Poisoned Pen Press

Mystery.  2003; 2008.  Print length:  256 pages. 

A couple of weeks ago I started J.M. Dalgliesh's new series Hidden Norfolk.  Then I decided to go back to his earlier series Dark Yorkshire with detective Nate Caslin I'd read three books in that series several years ago and decided to move on to the fourth, Blood Money.

from description:  As the extremes of nationalist hate descend upon York, a refugee is tortured to death while a straightforward case of a bankrupt’s suicide proves to be anything but simple. How does an enigmatic campaigner with a secret to keep link these two disparate worlds? Shining a light onto corporate finance draws Caslin to those who prefer to live in the shadows.

Detective Nate Caslin's latest case is filled with twists and turns, a number of deaths that seemed either suicides or accidental may have a more sinister connection; Russians, oligarchs, and a "follow the money" theme with a surprise at the end.

Kindle Unlimited.
British Detective.  2018.  Print length:  251 pages.


  1. Oh, how I love your garden Buddha! I would smile, too. :) Spring is always such a busy time for gardeners. We could use the rain in Oregon, but it's been nice to be able to get outside and do some clean-up around the yard. It won't be long before I have to start watering, something I never imagined having to do on the coast!

    I'm glad your Mother's Day getaway helped get you out of your funk. I think we've all been cooped up for so long that it's almost critical to go away, anywhere. Just a change of scenery makes all the difference. And, of course, when you get to see loved ones, it's even better!

    Love the cartoon! Have a good week, Jenclair.

    1. I know you have a Happy Buddha, too, Les! So cheerful to see that smile and those raised arms. I wish we could share some of this unusual rain with those who need it. It is surprising that Oregon is in need of rain, and hopefully, you will get some soon.

      It feels a little like the proverbial frog in hot water--we gradually adapted to the isolation and insulation. Yes, even a change of scenery helps! It is awkward at first, but wonderful. :)

  2. Your garden looks great. Everything down here is green now, even the mosquitos have green stuff growing on them it's been so wet. We had flash flood warnings yesterday, and lots of flooded streets, but we're getting a one-day break from the rain today. And then it all gets worse tomorrow, just when I need to get my grandson to the hospital to grab his second COOVID shot. Glad to hear that your mood is improving...I think the rut is getting all of us down. Traveling a bit does seem to be the antidote.

    1. Thanks, Sam. The garden has benefitted from the rain, and yes, the mosquitoes have as well! Lots of flash flood warnings along the coast. Hope you were able to get your grandson's second Covid shot without too much rain and flooded streets!

  3. There must be something in the air because I too have had real trouble keeping up!

    Your garden is so lovely. For flowers, I really only have a potted geranium in my back yard which is mostly weeds. But it gives me pleasure when it blooms for sure. And geraniums are hardy, which is what I need being the indifferent gardener that I am.

    I am glad you read A Shilling for Candles. I agree, it had its weak points, but I had fun reading it despite them. :D

    1. Ruthiella, I've always had trouble with geraniums! Love them, but for some reason they have never thrived for me. There is something that says "home" about geraniums, isn't there?
      I did enjoy A Shilling for Candles. I got more involved as I continued reading, after a lackluster beginning. :)

  4. Love your garden photos (and Josephine Tey, too)! And I'm so glad you enjoyed the first Blackman mystery. It's a series that I really enjoy.

    1. The garden is my security blanket. :) I liked Sam and Nakayla and all the history of the Vanderbilts and the Biltmore estate woven in. I'm looking forward to the next book and eventually--meeting Virgil!

  5. I'm so glad to hear that the time with your loved ones helped you get out of the funk you were in. I think given that we've been cooped up for a year and limiting social contact is really starting to have an effect on everyone. So glad your garden brightens your day as it should - the flowers, the happy buddah - it's delightful! And, new mysteries to enjoy! I like the sound of the Blackman mystery!

    1. As difficult as it was initially, most people acclimated to the restrictions of Covid--not happily, often resentfully, but eventually accepting the limited social contact. I'm hopeful that the worst is over and that we will feel comfortable resuming some of the aspects of "life before." Your bookstore visit was a start! :)

  6. What a lovely garden and thanks for sharing the pics, Jenclair! Our weather is getting warmer for the past few days so it's no surprise considering June is approaching (the hottest month IMO). Since we're back to phase 2 and schools have shifted to home based learning due to the spike of cases lately, it makes no difference to me since we're advised to stay home and avoid crowds. It's pretty depressing to look at the news everyday and learn that more community cases have risen. :( Onto the bright side, books and K-dramas make me happy even if they're temporary fix. :)

  7. I hate the spikes in covid cases! Just when things begin to feel a bit better, there is a spike somewhere. As for K-drama, I'm watching It's OK to Not Be OK and enjoying it. It is the first I've watched in quite a while, and it is a strange one! I'll take any temporary fixes that get me through my attitude problems with the news and the rain. :)

  8. I'm so glad to hear you've gotten out of your funk. I was in a bit of one in April and finally seemed to shake it off at the beginning of this month.

    I love the pictures of your garden. Everything's looking so beautiful! We'd been in a pretty bad drought for the past year, but we've gotten more rain in the past couple of months than we did all of last year, so things are finally turning green around here. I'm loving it. :)

    1. Thanks, Ashley, I'm happy to be back in a better place. I'm tired of all the rain, but worry about summer and the droughts of the last few years. You are right about the green and growing things! They are loving all the rain.

  9. I am glad you had a nice Mother's Day, Jenclair. Yay for family visits! I am also glad you are coming out of the funk and were able to get out in the garden. I love your Buddha statue. :-)

    I really want to plant something outside the side window in our home library so when I'm working from home, I have something to look at besides the bare fence and the neighbor's window. My motivation to actually do it though is where I've stalled.

    Things are opening up more and more in my state--our numbers continue to improve. I hope it stays that way. I was relieved my governor is keeping the mask mandate in place at least through June 15th (at least that's what he's saying now). There are a lot of people unhappy with that decision, but I think it's a wise one. Especially since so many people are still not vaccinated.

    I hope you are well. Enjoy your reading!

    1. :) Isn't that Happy Buddha a smile-maker. He's happier in his new location and so am I.

      It is relaxing to have a pretty shrub or flowers to look at out a window. Oh, or a clematis that climbs and flowers. Even retired, I still have stalling motivation, and you have a young family and work!

      We are all hoping for improving numbers, and I agree with staying cautious and wearing masks inside. I don't really understand the reluctance to get vaccinated when most receive vaccinations for chicken pox, measles, diphtheria, and polio as children.

      Have a happy rest of May!