Tuesday, August 04, 2020


To participate, and to see how others responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. My friend Will virtually put this book in my hands.* I know why: it's about a girl who grew up loving baseball, and I was certainly a girl like that.

But that girl was Doris Kearns Goodwin, who gave us Team of Rivals, The Kennedys and The Fitzgeralds, and No Ordinary Time. She is a gifted storyteller, expert in making American history accessible to the masses. She maintains she learned to spin a yarn while listening to Brooklyn Dodgers games on the radio and then recounting them to her dad each evening.

But it's more than tales of Jackie Robinson and PeeWee Reese. It's about how baseball helped define her. It was her identity within her family -- she was the daughter who inherited Dad's love of baseball; within the community -- theirs was a Dodgers household, while the neighbors were Giants fans; and on the playground -- the first boys she ever spoke to, she talked baseball.

It's nostalgic but not overly sentimental. I recently finished The Nine of Us by Jean Kennedy Smith, and her story of growing up whitewashed a great deal. Ms. Goodwin, on the other hand, addresses her father's own difficult childhood and her mother's harrowing health issues, and the impact these things had on her, but she does it recalling her younger self's outlook. It makes her narration more poignant, like Scout's in To Kill a Mockingbird.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay. Scarlett is an executive in Florida's thriving (at least it was thriving pre-Covid) hospitality industry. Then her life implodes and she needs a change of scenery. Her cousin suggests she move to England to help run the hat shop their grandmother left them. The plan: Vivian will create the hats, Scarlett will build the business.

So Scarlett packs up and moves to London to join Cousin Vivian. Only Vivian is nowhere to be found. Then a high-profile millinery customer is found murdered ... stabbed and nude except for the hat Vivian designed for her. (Hence the title.)

This is the first in The Hat Shop Mystery series, set in London. The protagonist, Scarlett, is good company. She's gutsy and smart but amusingly flawed (example: no one gets her jokes). There were things about the story that bugged me, though. She becomes an enduringly infamous internet celebrity through a YouTube video that in real life would be forgotten in a day. It's an unnecessary and silly distraction. And then there's the mystery itself. I won't spoil it, but I felt let down when the murderer was revealed. There is no way any of us could have guessed whodunnit.

Still, it was an entertaining cozy mystery. Taken on its own "Hallmark movie" terms, it was fine.

3.  What will you read next?  Road to Jonestown about Jim Jones. I think. Maybe. After all, I hadn't figured on Wait Till Next Year.

*Virtually because we haven't seen each other since March. But he waved it at me during a Zoom gettogether.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 4

Today's happiness -- My little man. Reynaldo is pressed right up against my right arm as I compose this post. He's 16 years old now, and I've had him since he was nearly as little as this year's happiness icon. Rey-Rey and I have been through a lot together, and even though we exasperate one another, we're partners ... buddies ... roommates.

His vision is failing and he sleeps more, and more soundly. The vet reassures me that he is doing just fine for a senior citizen (if he were human, he'd be approximately 80 years old). He enjoys playing with the girlcat, Connie, his appetite is healthy and oh! Is he ever affectionate!

But to borrow from Sir Paul in the song "Two of Us," Rey and I have memories longer than the road that stretches on ahead.

So I love it extra specially now, during covid19, that he takes such comfort in having me here with him all day. It touches my heart when I hear him call me back whenever I leave the apartment. (His meows carry all the way to the elevator.)

There are gifts to be found during this pandemic, and this tender time with Reynaldo is just one of them.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.