Recent Blog Posts

Book # 20 in 2018: “Twilight of the Belle Epoque” by Mary McAuliffe

Posted May 29th, 2018
Book # 20 in 2018: “Twilight of the Belle Epoque” by Mary McAuliffe

According to the introduction, Mary McAuliffe produced “Twilight of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Picasso,Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friendsthrough the Great War” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) as a sort of conclusion to “Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends.”…

Hyggelig 6: A Copenhagen Miscellany

Posted May 26th, 2018
Hyggelig 6: A Copenhagen Miscellany

Note to self: if there is the chance to drop off luggage before the room has been prepared, drop off everything except for telephone, wallet, camera and guidebook. As we waved hej-hej (that’s “bye-bye”) to Lars the landlord and strolled into town, I realized that my tablet, hardcover book and the heaps of stuff one…

Book # 19 in 2018: “Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew Sullivan

Posted May 20th, 2018
the Bright Ideas bookstore

The Bright Ideas Bookstore is named for the former lightbulb factory in a slowly gentrifying section of Denver, Colorado, its founders have transformed into a sort of bibliophile’s fortress. It provides a quiet and contemplative environment for its patrons, rather like an old-fashioned library; comradeship in arcane interests for staff and users alike; and, literally,…

Hyggelig 5: Rick Steves Writes a Crappy Guidebook

Posted May 19th, 2018
Hyggelig 5: Rick Steves Writes a Crappy Guidebook

I don’t like Rick Steves’ television persona. I find him sanctimonious, arrogant and supercilious, veneered with faux naiveté and faked authority. I don’t like his insistence that the primary and dominant function of travel is “getting to know” the locals—whether or not they want to get to know some random tourist. I take offense at…

Hyggelig 4: Foot, Bicycle and the Red Bus

Posted May 13th, 2018
Hyggelig 4: Foot, Bicycle and the Red Bus

We were in the car—mostly the only time I listen to the game shows on National Public Radio—and Ask Me Another with Ophira Eisenberg came on, broadcast from Orlando, Florida. This and that bit went by and a new contest started. The object of the game was to identify whether a particular quotation was from…

Book # 18 in 2018: “Parallel Play” by Tim Page

Posted May 12th, 2018
Book # 18 in 2018: “Parallel Play” by Tim Page

My Dear One had read Parallel Play: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Aspergers by Tim Page (Random House, 2009) and handed it off to me a few weeks ago. I recognized the title and author. I remembered listening to an interview with him on NPR and had thought then what a fascinating and likable guy he seemed to be….

Hyggelig 3: From Counterculture Colors to the Black Diamond

Posted May 11th, 2018
Hyggelig 3: From Counterculture Colors to the Black Diamond

Christianshavn is a relic of 17th-century development. Thus its shape is that of a segment of a circle with the København Havn (the redundant “Merchants Harbor Port”) representing the chord and Stadsgraven Canal forming the arc.  Originally a moat protecting the ramparts of the city’s ring of fortifications, Stadsgraven marks the beginning of the southern…

Books # 16 & 17 in 2018: Memoirs by Daughters Who Survived—Tara Westover and Jeanette Walls

Posted May 10th, 2018
Books # 16 & 17 in 2018: Memoirs by Daughters Who Survived—Tara Westover and Jeanette Walls

Violence, incest, abuse of every stripe: such horrors fill both narratives by these relatively young writers. In the words too are moving reflections on salvation: the selfless love and sacrifice of siblings, the insight and enduring patience of peers and educators; serendipity and luck. Then there is hope, the force that did not escape Pandora’s…

Hyggelig 2: Bulls and Dragons

Posted May 9th, 2018
Hyggelig 2: Bulls and Dragons

My Dear One pointed it out to me on our first stroll: “Mr. Softee.” The spire of the of Børsen, the Old Stock Exchange, with its quartet of dragons, tails entwined, does indeed look at first glance like an attenuated tower of soft-serve ice cream. Above the dragons, three orbs symbolize the nations of Denmark,…

Hyggelig 1: Living Cozy

Posted May 9th, 2018
Hyggelig 1: Living Cozy

Apartment 1 in the Central Canal Apartments, Wildersgade, 15, in the Christianshavn neighborhood in Copenhagen is snug. No rugs for bugs and no room for much else. A rack accommodates clothes on hangers but stuff that would go into drawers must stay in suitcases. The kitchen is efficient and spacious…but a space heater fills up…

Books # 14 & 15 in 2018: Stories in “The Weardale Sagas” by Elizabeth Gill

Posted May 8th, 2018
Books # 14 & 15 in 2018: Stories in “The Weardale Sagas” by Elizabeth Gill

Y’know how it goes with social media. One thing leads to another and suddenly you are Facebook Friends with someone you haven’t seen or communicated with in forty-nine years. Elizabeth Gill joined the class of 1969 at Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, as an exchange student on the English-Speaking Union. I didn’t know…

Book # 13 in 2018: “Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts” by Christopher de Hamel

Posted April 13th, 2018
Book # 13 in 2018: “Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts” by Christopher de Hamel

At the time I was about halfway through this wonderful book, my Dear One and I were watching an episode of Homeland, a political thriller starring Mandy Patinkin and Clare Danes. I’ll admit it—it’s the seventh season and we’re into it. At that particular moment (the Russians are the current bad guys which seems very…

Book # 12 in 2018: “The Good Good Pig” by Sy Montgomery

Posted April 9th, 2018
Book # 12 in 2018: “The Good Good Pig” by Sy Montgomery

I read Sy Montgomery’s Soul of an Octopus (2016) and it permanently decreased my options on the sushi menu. The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood (Ballantine/Random House, 2006) may not permanently put me off pork, but it will make me consider the nature of each life that ends up on my dinner…

Black Jelly Beans

Posted April 7th, 2018
Black Jelly Beans

What is it with making ordinary treats seasonal? I already went cuckoo when I nearly couldn’t find peppermint stick ice cream for my Christmas dinner menu—and I don’t see why the flavor should be available only from late November to late December. When I was a child and subject to terrible carsickness—okay, I’m an adult…

Book # 11 in 2018: “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

Posted April 2nd, 2018
Book # 11 in 2018: “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

My maternal great-grandfather, Elwyn Greeley Preston Sr., established for his family a summer retreat on Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire. He acquired several contiguous parcels of land on Mooney Point and filled in a number of marshy areas to create firm ground on which to build camps for himself and for his four sons…