Prairie Summer

This is a quick check-in, what have I been up to in the two months I’ve been not posting sort of post! My husband has had two more stomach surgeries, an infection and changing treatments, but hopefully it will heal eventually.

I’ve been reading a lot of escapist teen fantasy (aka paranormal romance) novels while in hospitals and worrying over his care, you can see the full list of them on my reading sidebar if you’re really keen to know! (Or if you too are a closet fan of… well, I still feel too embarrassed to admit to it right here, which is part of the reason I stopped blogging!) The best books from my foray into this popular genre was the series Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, a refreshingly feminist take on fairies and always having a choice, even in difficult situations. The second book in the series, Ink Exchange, has an interesting metaphor for addiction that got me thinking. I’ve also read some of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan, a Harry Potter meets Greek mythology type series for kids. What I love about kids literature is that the relationship between girls and boys is still at a friendship only level, it’s refreshing to see what could eventually be something more start off as something innocent, where they discuss their interests and learn to work together instead of just staring and moaning over each other.

Oh and how could I forget, I also finally read Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire & Hemlock, after going out of my way to track down a copy. I was suitably impressed (but am having trouble thinking how to sum it up now — it’s about the power of imagination and friendship against the odds and just very satisfying) and even considered somehow conniving to keep a copy for myself, as it was from the library! I will find a way to reread it someday I’m sure. (Reprint it publishers!)

And as well as reading about fairies, Greek gods, vampires, werewolves, etc, I also officially joined team unicorn…! The amusing anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns helped me firm up my opinions on this important debate and had some very entertaining short stories. If you secretly or not so secretly dig that sort of thing.

I’ve also been keeping house while my parents were on holiday, redecorating (without permission but I’m the one with the good eye in the family, so my mom didn’t mind), hosting my in-laws for a weekend visit, taking care of the garden and even a little baking! This above is Spotted Dog Railway Bread, with raisins and baking soda instead of yeast so it was quite easy to make and a great tea time treat, and I found the recipe in one of my beloved Victoria magazines.

My enjoyment in simple things like gardening this summer has me longing for a small house and garden of my own (filled with sweet smelling flowers like my current favourite, lavender!) someday. In the meantime, I’ve returned to the world of adult books with Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, which I devoured yesterday — in the bathtub, waiting at a doctor’s clinic for my husband, sitting in Starbucks drinking black tea lemonade (oh so good) and then ending it right before bed. It’s a feel-good book about two sisters and how a magical garden helps them grow and learn to love and trust again. I enjoyed her book The Sugar Queen a few years ago and this one kept calling to me this summer until I finally gave in. Now I want to make some peach iced tea (and coconut pie, although that may be a little too ambitious just now!) and read more books set in a garden. The Secret Garden is the classic of course and The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys is one of my underappreciated favourites, any other recommendations?

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine.

~ A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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8 thoughts on “Prairie Summer

  1. Nymeth says:

    So glad to hear you were impressed with Fire & Hemlock! Isn't it an atrocity that it's out of print?

    I've only read the first Melissa Marr book to date, but I agree – refreshing indeed.

    Best wishes to you and your husband, Carolyn.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I either wanted to keep the library copy of Fire & Hemlock and claim it was lost (couldn't quite justify that in case someone else ever wanted to read it) or type the whole thing out, as mentioned at the beginning of The Magician's Book! (the true sign of a favourite book in the Depression era) But my husband had surgery so there was no time. But I'm hoping that her recent death will prompt a re-issue.

    And you were particularly the person I thought would appreciate Melissa Marr!

  3. thecaptivereader says:

    I've been reading about gardens too this summer, but most of my books have been non-fiction. If you're interested, The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek is absolutely wonderful and Paths of Desire by Dominique Browning is also very good. A number of people have recommended Beverley Nichols books to me but I've yet to get around to them. The Modern Libary garden series of books (which includes the Capek) has me intrigued but, unfortunately, my library doesn't carry most of the titles.

    Glad to hear you're having fun keeping house! I am loving being back at home but do miss the homemaking things I got to do when I had my own apartment. I still get my decorating magazine each month though – have to keep planning for the future!

  4. litlove says:

    I'm so sorry to hear that your husband has been in and out of hospital – how stressful for you both. I will cross my fingers that he is finally and properly on the mend. As for garden books, two are among my all time favourites – Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim, and The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift. Definitely restorative books, both of them!

  5. Midlife Jobhunter says:

    Read on, read on. Perfect time to gather yourself whlie the world stops to take care of your husband. Take every chance. Interesting to see hour your book choices have evolved through this time.

    I wish you well.

  6. Darlene says:

    Best wishes to your husband on a speedy recovery. He must appreciate such a caregiver as you with your skills in comforting, baking and decorating to boot!

    I loved The Lost Garden and look forward to Humphreys' latest book out this month. Read to suit yourself and enjoy!

  7. Hannah says:

    Hope your husband is on the mend!

    I love the recipes in Victoria magazines also. I just donated a bunch of them and now I'm regretting it!

    I also love YA paranormals. I just started a book called The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood which is a YA historical/paranormal about the daughter of the apothecary–and it also has to do with gardening, albeit poisonous plants.

  8. Carolyn says:

    Thank you all, Claire, Litlove, Midlife Jobhunter, Darlene and Hannah, so much for your kind comments! Sorry I'm so late at replying, I'm just getting ready to move again. Thanks for the garden book recommendations (there's also The Forgotten Garden, although that jumps around in time a lot and Noel Streatfeild wrote one called The Painted Garden I just discovered!) and ooh, a new Helen Humphreys book out soon!

    Hannah, I once threw out some Victoria magazines and of course inevitably regretted it. I did manage to find some of them again in a used bookstore on holidays, so that was something.

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