Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “seasons”

Reader Roundup: December

December is not my best month. Yes, there is Christmas, but it is also the real start of winter. Unlike the false winter snows in November, December snow falls and stays around through March. The transition from outside activity to inside (not a skier) means LOTS of book time. A warm fire, cocoa, a comfy recliner—maybe there are a couple of positives to winter after all.

Top reads: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis

image: Goodreads

Set in South Carolina in two time periods, 1929 and 1989, the narrator is older woman who faces the reckoning of family secrets when her estranged sister finally returns home.

A family saga told with subtlety, The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, reveals how secrets, no matter how deeply buried have the tendency to rise and change the landscape of life.

The Hiding Game by Gwen Strauss

image: Goodreads

The Hiding Game is a biographical picture book story of how Aube and her family, along with other refugees his from Nazis in occupied France. Based on the true story of her great uncle Danny, the author relates with the naïveté of a child the circumstances of the situation. While the hardships are present it is the moments of joy and community that comes across so deftly through the blend of text and illustrations.

Janey’s Girl by Gayle Friesen

image: Goodreads

Claire and her mother Jane are finally making the journey to Smallwood, where Jane grew up. A small town holds no secrets, and Jane could not live there easily as a teen with a child born out of wedlock.

This is an opposite coming of age story in that it is the mother who needs to grow up. Claire’s journey is discovering family connections her mother wouldn’t allow her to have as a means of protecting her daughter. Claire has tough decisions to make that change the dynamics with her mother and in the process her mother learns that letting go doesn’t have to involve loss.

The Man Who Died Twice (The Thursday Murder Club #2) by Richard Osman

image: Goodreads

Osman’s second foray into the cozy mystery genre is a double thumbs up. The Thursday Murder Club has upped its stakes and is now dealing with the Mafia, MI5 and MI6, with a dash of drug dealers. The usual side plots are installed for interest sake, such as Chris’s romance progress and whether Joyce with get a dog. The tangled plot of who shot who and where are the diamonds all comes together neatly in the last couple chapters. The journey there is quite delightful.

Osman thankfully spares readers of spinning out the previous plot and simply plunges it, making this a standalone but it is strongly suggested to start with the first book to relish the character growth, especially how Joyce comes into her own.

Written tongue in cheek concerning geriatrics being crime solvers, along the lines of Miss Marple, Mrs Pollifax, and Reds.

December proved to have its share of good reads and as winter continues I am looking forward to more good reads to pass the loonngg winter evenings. I am open to suggestions, so do, please do, suggest some titles for me to check out.

Winter Wonderland Once Again

As stated earlier, the travel bug has not bit us. We hunker down in winter and practice wishful thinking for warmer climates.

All in all, winter is for the birds. Really. That’s what we are doing for entertainment. We have enticed juncos, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows, finches, a part time dove, and an infrequent flicker to our front yard with seed and such and sit back and enjoy the show.

Took Rocket J. Squirrel a few attempts to reach the feeder

We have a very basic feeder and try to keep it filled; however when it’s 19 degrees, with a brisky wind, finding alternative methods of feeding our feathered friends, like tossing food out the window for them onto the snow is the solution.

The seed buffet has garnered the attention of other critters: squirrels and deer. The squirrels are comical in how they try to avoid going through the snow to get to the food. They traverse on the branches above and tail twitch in frustration that they can’t quite reach the feeder. We spent a good hour observing how one squirrel finally took the plunge and dove into the snow, tunneling a track to feeder’s base to glean dropped seeds.

All you can eat seed buffet

The deer easily amble over to the feeder and lick seeds off the tray. They are not perturbed by our presence at the window.

We think this little guy looks like a burro so we have dubbed it Burrito

The most entertaining morning session was when the squirrel and deer arrived at the same time. The deer held their ground and would not acknowledge the squirrel’s attempts to mosey up to the seed feed. Old Rocket would inch up, tail twitching in anxiety and then Burrito would level a look that translated as “Excuse me?” and Rocket would hightail up the tree and pace the limb waiting, waiting, waiting for his turn.

Showdown at OK Feed and Seed

As for the birds—their territorial flutterings are reminiscent of playground squabbling. There is one white-crowned sparrow who is pro at fluffing up his feathers and chasing off the smaller birds from the seed buffet.

Like little kids playground squabbling

For most, the chosen winter sport is skiing, for us staying warm, while we watch from our chair side seats the front yard antics, suffices. Although, truthfully, after the third snow dump (and it’s still early December) I might just look into those Costco travel brochures that we pass by when we load up on birdseed. I imagine there are birds I can watch from a beachside balcony.

National Hammock Day!

Included in my bio is “hammock aficionado.” Summer is not summer without setting up and reveling in the joy of my hammocks. Yes, that would be plural.

Palm trees are not included in most locations

I have two: one for the sun and one for the shade.

I’m not sure when my fascination with hammocks began. There is something so richly rewarding being suspended above the ground, being cocooned.

I’ve owned the camper’s delight (find two trees and secure it), the classic macramé weave, and currently own a deluxe double wide frame complete with umbrella (for the sun), and my portable frame (for the shade).

Summer starts once the hammocks are set up. Double deluxe takes some thought as it is so unwieldy that once it is positioned that is that. Relishing the gentle early morning sun rays is a pleasant way to start the day. The umbrella helps stave off the intensity of the afternoon sun, and there is nothing like dozing in the double deluxe in the early evening when the sun drifts behind the trees, filtering the shade so there are paths of sunlight and shade whilst I recover from my landscaping projects. Aah!

My little shade model is not as comfy, but being on a lightweight frame it can be easily moved wherever is best. From mid June to end of summer it travels all over the backyard.

It is the end of summer once I acknowledge it’s too cold to hang out in the hammock. I have been known to wrap up in a blanket to catch the last bits of the sun before acknowledging summer is done.

Isn’t this hard to resist?

Hope you enjoy Hammock Day. If you have no hammock then treat yourself to this marvelous means of enjoying the summer.

Word Nerd: November

Photo by Askar Abayev on

Thanksgiving comes around in November and getting together with friends and family can be emotional for some. Needing a few choice words to express feelings might be handy.

verklempt: overly emotional and unable to speak.

velleity: a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.

stultify: to render absurdly or wholly futile or ineffectual, especially by degrading or frustrating means

thrawn: contrary; peevish; stubborn

longanimity: patient endurance of hardship, injuries, or offense; forbearance

foofaraw: a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant

megillah: a lengthy, detailed explanation or account

brabble: to argue stubbornly about trifles; wrangle

fustigate: to criticize harshly; castigate

gasconade: extravagant boasting; boastful talk

nescience: lack of knowledge; ignorance

frumious: very angry

snollygoster: a clever, unscrupulous person

beamish: bright, cheerful, and optimistic

Let’s hope if someone should start a megillah at the table no one will fustigate or brabble should it lead to gasconade. Instead, the gathering be one that is beamish.

UPDATE: Read about a picture book that features delightful words here:

Summer Sun Heats Up the Blues

Did Eddie deal with the heat of the Summertime Blues?

Summer is when I am usually found living in my hammocks (one for shade and one for sun). However, this year’s extreme heat dome temperatures have created new routines.

I can endure the outside heat up to 90 degrees (with a nearby fan) and then it’s hiding inside the air-conditioned house until evening when the sun goes down and the heat dissipates.

I could take advantage of being inside and completing projects such as decluttering, painting, deep cleaning, getting serious about writing, but here’s the truth: hot weather, extra hot weather, drains my energy and my coping activities range from reading, napping, puzzling to watching movies next to the air conditioner.

I never thought I would spend part of my summer staying inside watching movies. I’m embarrassed.

Reading is always a go to but reading from 1pm to 7pm, the “heat zone” of the day, drifts towards monotony. Did I really say reading can be boring?

Napping is good for a quick 10 minute doze to a serious pass out for two hours. Too much napping means being awake at night.

Puzzling is a passable activity, depending on the puzzle. Staring at 1000 pieces that should become the picture on the box doesn’t always make for a relaxing time.

It’s nearing August. In a typical summer this is our area’s miserable month with triple digit days shifting into one or two weeks, but that has already happened this summer.

As August peeps around the corner I know summer is ready to close down. I usually regret the end of summer, since being outside is my place of choice, yet I’m actually looking forward to fall with its cool mornings, temperate days, and crisp evenings.

We don’t mention the season after fall.

This summer has been extreme in many ways and I never thought I would be distressed at having too much sun.

What are your thoughts about this extreme summer? How have you been coping with the heat?

POM: April 4

Nikki Giovanni is a poet who knows how to capture a moment, a feeling, an event. She is a poet of note. This poem, never no matter it’s about Tennessee, gets me itching for summer. Summer and its treats is summer regardless of the state. Summer is a state all its own.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Nikki Giovanni, 1943

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy’s garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
and buttermilk
and homemade ice-cream
at the church picnic
and listen to
gospel music
at the church
and go to the mountains with
your grandmother
and go barefooted
and be warm
all the time
not only when you go to bed
and sleep


Ah, tis November. As much as I like that this month gets me a wee bit closer to the end of the year, which gets me that much closer to the end of first semester, which ushers in second semester, which provides a not-as-distant glimpse of June and summer release, I do like October and I am reluctant to let it totally fade away.

I like its blend of summery days of warmth and crisp evening. I appreciate the last hurrah of garden color mixed with swirling leaves. And I favor the bounteous moons that hover like bloated Chinese lanterns on the night’s horizon.

So, here is an October poem for November. How could I resist “spicy woods”? Yet, Amy Lowell does set the tone well for the Thanksgiving month with her “Hoar-Frost” offering:

In the cloud-grey mornings

I heard the herons flying;

And when I came into my garden,

My silken outer-garment

Trailed over withered leaves.

A dried leaf crumbles at a touch,

But I have seen many Autumns

With herons blowing like smoke

Across the sky.


Helen Hunt Jackson
Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance.

Poet Appreciation #7: William Cullen Bryant

Are you a New Yorker? If so, then you know that William Bryant helped establish Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and that Bryant Park is named for him. He was also long time editor of the New York Evening Post. Of course you knew . More importantly, Bryant was part of the Romantics. While the Brits reveled in Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley, America had its own Romanticist in the form of William Cullen Bryant.

William Cullen Bryant Cabinet Card by Mora-crop.jpg William Cullen Bryant: November 3, 1794 – June 12, 1878 (Wikipedia image)

by William Cullen Bryant

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapoury air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds ran,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue Gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skim the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.    

I do like fall. Each month has its own cadence. September has its drowsy warm days drifting into chilly nights, and then there is October with its brisk mornings rewarded with a gift of sun before rescinding into frost-quickened nights. Bryant has captured November with its bright, lingering colors mixed into the descending browns, graced with slights of snowfall. November is truly a mixture of seasons with its bits of summer mingling with the foreshadowing of winter. I added “gentian” to my imagery entries. Lovely word. Wonderful poem of images.

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