Closed Casket.

Last week I read another of Agatha Christie’s Poirot follow-on novels, by Sophie Hannah. I can see why the estate/ family of the ‘queen of crime’ appreciates- and authorizes- this author’s literary offerings.

I don’t know how many of Agatha Christie’s own books I’ve devoured, but there are never enough of them, are there? Hercule Poirot’s moustaches, Miss Marple’s knitting needles, Tommy and Tuppence’s quirky relationship… I sometimes crave an Agatha Christie novel as one would crave chocolate.

(aside: Netflix! Please put the TV adaptations back on…. Please.)

In Closed Casket, we meet Michael Gathercole, a grown up orphan, for whom Athelinda Playford’s Shrimp Seddon books had been a lifeline during his unhappy childhood. How many of us bibliophiles can recall certain books (or series of books) which captivated our youthful imaginations?

(Some of my favourite childhood series were the Little House books, Anne of Green Gables stories, and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.) Yours…?

Furthermore, I am a witness that clever, engaging books can add depth and variety of experience, flavour and interest, to any day — or night- in the life of a busy adult. There’s nothing to compare with a hot bath or cozy bed with a favourite novel…

I appreciated this particular novel’s exploration of such issues as compulsive lying, the need to always have scientific proof, childhood neglect and its long term consequences on adult character and mental health, unconditional love in the face of awful behaviour, and character vs. personality.

One aspect of Agatha Christie’s detective novels, which Sophie Hannah carries on delightfully, is Poirot’s genius being bearable due to his foibles (such as vanity about his facial hair, and fastidiousness about order and method)… Just like in real life, I find it a lot easier to enjoy the company of flawed characters.

In my high school literature class, reading T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock, I first discovered the pleasure of making connections via literary references. Closed Casket is laced with Shakespeare references (especially King John), including the book title itself. It’s a perfect example of the ‘sommelier effect’, making me want to read this particular play by the Bard to further appreciate the precision of each such quotation inserted into her mystery story.

The House Of Unexpected Sisters




Do you ever find a literary character so well-written that s/he seems almost as real to you as an actual person? Do you ever miss ‘spending time with’ this figment of some intrepid author’s imagination?

As I mentioned a few days ago, I went to the library to pick up a copy of Alexander McCall Smith’s newest No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel.  Naturally, I’ve been reading myself to sleep with this fine book each night since then. Precious Ramotswe, the main character in this beautiful series, is my favourite literary character to spend time with. If only he could write these books as fast as I read them…

Last night I read a part that embodies the gentle humanity I find so delightful in the pages of Alexander McCall Smith’s books… Precious (a private detective) has been conversing with a man who requires some sensitivity as he is a bit short on confidence. As they discussed a small matter relating to her business, she kindly refrained from laughing at him and instead behaved with a measure of grace most of us could learn from, thus helping him to save face while altering his course a little for professional purposes. After this brief exchange, she reflected (as she often does in these stories).

“She was relieved, and as she drove away, leaving him to his task, she thought of how important it was to go halfway in any disagreement- to see the other person’s point of view and to find the positive side of it…. if you expressed their viewpoint rather than your own, then you found that they often came round to seeing things as you saw them.”

I’m positive that with this kind of empathy and effort to get along, life would be better for all of us. I’ve had several experiences with this in my personal life as I’ve become more aware of empathy and its earth-shaking role in positive human relations. It’s amazing how much more open we tend to feel toward someone who is trying to understand us, even when that takes some imagination.  It’s the caring that counts.

I appreciate Mma Ramotswe’s positive influence on me. Every single time I pass a little time in her company.

#AlexanderMcCallSmith #PreciousRamotswe #empathy #humanity #communication #understanding #No.1Ladies’DetectiveAgency #stories #reading #books

Pincher Creek. (just found this draft from summer)

I am currently (very punny 😉 in the creek. Sitting on a rock, midstream, dipping my toes in the barely cool water as it flows all around me. It’s so sunny and hot that the gentle breeze is barely enough to refresh me; hence the toe-dipping. I removed my feet for the first time, rather hurriedly, when some passing minnow decided to nibble my toes. It was a tad bit startling, but otherwise I am soaking in the peace of this beautiful day in this beautiful place.

Strolling leisurely down here this afternoon, I kept inhaling the hot summer grass and wildflower smells… I’m so blessed to live here. It’s a little like living in the country again; the way I can just meander out the door and down the hill and within a few minutes be here in this wild and wonderful spot.

When the time comes to move to Calgary, I know I’ll be going to lots of good things. Life is seasonal like this, isn’t it? But I can’t help feeling how desperately I will miss it here….

#wponthego #seasons #summerSunday #smalltown #goodlife

Walking on sunshine.

Katrina and the Waves were onto something back in 1983 with their catchy track that still puts me in a cheerier mood within a few seconds. I’ve been keeping pretty close to hearth and home this week after my little snow hiking escapade on Friday and its less than lovely consequences. Feeling lots better yesterday, I ventured forth in the afternoon for a stroll to the library to collect a delightful new Alexander McCall Smith book.

And I’ll be honest; it was the sunshine that made the walk irresistible.

When I got down to Main Street, I crossed the road right away to be on the north side where the late afternoon sun was shining. Doing this brought to my mind another, older song… “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”. Why is it that sunshine feels so good, and has such amazing power over my moods?

I know, there’s good science behind it. I have a prescription light for keeping cheerful through long dark winter months. Last winter I had it on my little table by the bed, so I could roll over in the mornings and read scriptures by that brilliant glow. I don’t recall specifically noticing if it added a sense of ‘happy’ to my winter days, but it sure woke me up in a hurry.

Still, I prefer the real thing. In a pinch, it’s good to have the option of basking in artificial light; it’s better than nothing. But it’s a bit like the elliptical trainer; good for those days when the wind and the ice make it highly inadvisable to attempt outdoor exercise, but not really comparable to the benefits of a good walk in nature.

#sunshine #nature #soul #happiness #outdoors #exercise #brightlight #goodmood


Yesterday I spent hours on a ‘live chat’ with Apple representatives who were trying to help me sort out an issue with my phone/ computer. Why multiple representatives, you may ask? Occasionally I would find myself mysteriously disconnected (likely something I unwittingly did here), upon which I would reconnect and begin all over with the next cheerful problem solver.  Having said (typed) all I had to say about this technical concern more than enough times, and it being of no interest whatsoever now that it’s solved, I won’t bore you with it. The point is that it took a long time and required a great deal of persistence on both my part (I was motivated to fix the problem) and the parts of the Apple support staff. (They get a paycheck, plus I suspect they may find job satisfaction in surmounting the obstacles of helping persons like me to work through such things…?)

Imagine my delight when I got to do it all over again this morning, on the phone this time, for yet another (related) matter. Happily, when I made an apologetic/appreciative jokey remark to my helper, she smilingly replied, “It’s ok. You see, I’m really patient, so it doesn’t bother me at all.” Thank you Kimberley, in San Jose. I smile now with gratitude when I think of you while I look out the window at the snow that’s been falling all day.

This profound comment, delivered in a sociable and off-hand manner, has stuck in my brain since that very long conversation. Eventually, of course, the matter was resolved. But I’m struck by her wisdom. If I can develop greater patience, I can carry on -cheerfully- even when time is passing at a painfully slow rate.  Watch this space; hopefully one day, I will be able to cheerfully reassure someone that I, too, am really patient.


Truth and light.

I am blessed to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Twice a year (the first weekends of April and October) we get to watch and listen to General Conference; prophets and apostles and women leaders teach us and all the world- whoever wants to tune in- a little more about our Saviour Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel.

This is one of those weekends! Some of our children are down there in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they are attending Conference live. That’s a wonderful experience every time. The joyful, exciting, peaceful energy on and around Temple Square is like nothing else.

I, on the other hand, am tuning in on the Internet here at home. Yesterday afternoon I unwisely ventured out to the mountains for a gorgeous hike in the snow with my husband. It was nice to be feeling a bit better after several days of ‘under the weather’ conditions in the locality of my body. Well, it’s a good thing I enjoyed those hours of fresh mountain air, because I am now paying a price for my little expedition. The cold symptoms are back, with a vengeance.

Happily, I haven’t had to miss these inspiring church meetings (as I would normally have been kept home by this illness) because it’s Conference Weekend. 🙂 I’ve spent hours today basking in pure truth and glorious light. And I’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow!

I’m grateful for Thanksgiving, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is my favourite blessing; because it’s pure joy. Also because it helps me further appreciate the value of every other good thing in my life.

#truth #light #peace #joy #love #God #JesusChrist #gospel #thankful #thanksgiving #grateful #blessed


I’d like to know if anyone has a clever trick for remembering all their passwords…?

I haven’t been feeling great this week; between insomnia, a cold virus, and waking daily with oncoming migraine , I have stayed home and spent a lot of time accomplishing little tasks which can be done wrapped in a blanket while sipping herbal tea. I am becoming better acquainted with the computer on the desk here. There is an astonishing amount to study, communicate, keep up with, read, write, research, and accomplish right in this swivelling chair. That’s how I came to decide that I really should know my passwords; a thing (like so many others) easier said than done.

I am not actually going to divulge how long it took me to investigate the mysteries of my own memories and various little notes and websites, but I will say that I feel I deserve a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat. I finally have them all figured out, and I am intent on devising a brilliant solution for making this whole process a little simpler in future.

#opentosuggestions #passwords #clevertricks