Showing posts from April, 2023

CC Spin #33: Motl the Cantor's Son

 Motl, the Cantor's Son , by Sholem Aleichem  I'm late delivering my Spin title, even though I finished it a couple of weeks ago!  I enjoyed this so much.  Various people told me that it was a lot lighter than Tevye the Dairyman , which I read a few years ago, and it definitely was. Motl is a little boy, 8 and 9 years old, telling his story of getting to America -- in installments, because it was published as a serial in a newspaper.  We start in a shtetl in the Russian empire; I'm pretty sure it would be Ukraine now.  Motl's family is poor but cultivated, because his father is Peysi the cantor and a very well-respected man.  After his death, the family is left penniless and Motl's older brother resolves to take everyone to America, 'everyone' being their mother, Elyahu the brother, his wife, his best friend (a comedic bookworm given to declaiming about Columbus), and little Motl.  It's about 1910, the pogroms are getting worse, and America promises a be

April Reading

Here we have a good chunk of my April reading, except the CC Spin title which will be out in a few days, and the long-term, slow books I'm reading, like Red Famine and Les Miserables.  So I do have some more serious titles, but also I get so sleepy these days when I'm reading!  I know we all have this problem...  Carrie's War , by Nina Bawlden : I'd heard this middle-grade novel described with high praise, and a copy had been sitting on my tablet for a while.  And yep, it's really good!  12-year-old Carrie and her brother Nick are evacuated from London and sent to rural Wales (which means there's very little of the outside war in the story; it's all about Carrie figuring out her life).  They live with Mr. Evans, the village shopkeeper, and his sister.  Mr. Evans is fanatically frugal and bullies everyone around him, though he seems to be totally unaware of the effects; he's surprised when people don't like him.  "Auntie Lou" is kind but

Spring spring SPRING in NorCal

 Well, after that very wet and cold winter, spring has sprung with great enthusiasm!  So here are a few photos, which (being my amateur efforts on my phone) don't come anywhere near doing justice to the reality.  Somehow a field of flowers looks more like a field of rocks in a photo...these are Table Mountain and Upper Bidwell Park.

Spring Break, chapter 5

 But we were not done with our spring break, no way! We also wanted to do a little hiking closer to home, so the next day we drove up to a local wildflower spot, Table Mountain.  It really is pretty flat for the top of a mountain and makes for nice, easy hiking (except the rocky deposits all over the place, which are sharp and hard on the ankles). However, it's been such a long, cold, and wet spring that the flowers had barely had a chance to get started.  Normally in the third week of March you'd expect to see many types of flowers, with drifts of blue lupins among the yellow goldfields, but when we were there, only the tough goldfields were out, with a few other companions. We had a good time hiking down to our usual destination at the top of Hollow Falls.  We got to see a couple of newts doing their thing.  Mostly we just enjoyed the outdoors! << The waterfall is invisible, over to the left It's a newt!

Spring Break, chapter 4

 This was really our last day in our Oakland house, and we had to be out by 10, which we managed with three minutes to spare, leaving everything nice behind us.  There were several things I wanted to do right in the area, and first we headed to the African-American History Museum and Library, which is a branch of the Oakland Public Library housed in a lovely old building.  Everybody looked at historical photos and such.  They've got a seed library too, so my mom was happy to get some seeds. Then it was off to Alameda, which was really just a few blocks away; you take a tunnel under the water.  Alameda was not originally an island, but the mud flats surrounding it were not very useful, so they dredged a channel and built the island out with landfill, which rendered the whole area perfect for shipping and naval-base building.  The base closed in 1997, so I remember when it was open and active.  Anyway, there's a specialty needlework shop in Alameda and I considered a visit there

Spring Break, chapter 3

 Tuesday was City Day.   We got kind of a late start, and it was very cold, windy, and rainy, which put a stop to our plans for the Japanese Tea Garden and a short hike, but we had a great day. We started in Japantown, at the large mall (perfect for such a wet day), and spent most of our time at the Kinokuniya bookstore, but also enjoyed a very expensive stationery store, a bakery, and the largest Daiso I've been to.  I guess I don't have many photos of the inside of the Japantown mall, though! Nor do I have pictures of our next stop.  There's a tiny Russian neighborhood way up Geary -- well, these days it's more like a few shops and a lovely Orthodox church.  We wanted to visit the bakery/deli that I hadn't been to in years (which has Ukrainian and Georgian flags in the window to demonstrate their sympathies) and we got several yummy things for lunch, mainly piroshki and a thing full of farmer's cheese.  There's a grocery store down the street too, and we g