Books, TV, Music, Movies, Blogging and Mr. H

Enter right, a view thru the "gathering room"

Good afternoon from our chilly neck of the woods!

A bit of a ramble today on books, movies/tv, music, Oscar nominations, blogging and the latest sightings of my partner in this world, Mr. H. 

Let's start with books and the ones I will be adding to the selection for The Brown Paper Book Club.

Adding to my book collection..


My latest book selection started with an interview in the New York Times with author, Dani Shapiro, in relation to her latest book; Inheritance ~A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love .. I am adding this book to my reading list and was also intrigued by another book she mentioned ~ The Overstory by Richard Powers.  I am a few chapters into Overstory and enjoying it immensely. I read one to two chapters a day with my morning tea and will do so to the very end. I look forward to it every morning, he is a masterful storyteller.

Synopsis via Richard Powers
An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers—each summoned in different ways by trees—are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

I picked up Learning to See by Elise Hooper in our local bookshop...because I love the tale of an independent woman and admire Dorothea Lange's work.

Synopsis via Elise Hooper
Learning to See is a historical novel about Dorothea Lange, the pioneering documentary photographer who captured iconic images of the Great Depression and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. A gripping read for fans of The Aviator’s Wife, Loving Frank, and Before We Were Yours.

For a lift and an addition to our guest room reading pile...A Little Book of Japanese Contentments by Erin Nikki Longhurst..

Synopsis via Amazon

With the longest healthy life spans in the world, Japanese people understand the art of living well. This beautiful book distills traditional Japanese philosophies intrinsic to wellbeing, providing easy-to-follow exercises to inspire those who want to live a happier, more balanced life. With sections on kokoro (heart and mind) and karada (body), plus a guide on how to form and nurture good habits, the book includes entries on ikigai (living with purpose), wabi-sabi (the beauty of imperfection and impermanence),shinrinyoku (forest bathing), ikebana (the art of flower arranging), and much more. Richly illustrated, A Little Book of Japanese Contentments is a warm invitation to cultivate contentment in everyday life.

Did I mention that I enjoyed The Lost Man by Jane Harper? If you have read The Dry and Force of Nature...and want more.

Synopsis via Jane Harper...

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland. They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects… 
A whodunit...and one I never expected. It was a great read!

Listened on Audible
I am a critical listener and have to like the narrator before I select a book. I highly and happily recommend all of the books below. 
The Clockmakers Daughter by Kate Morton
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Man on the Mountaintop Audible original 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah ~ still listening

On my Kindle
A friend recommended Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher and I have not been able to put it down! As you can see from all the books listed above, I have a bit to read over the winter months. This one will be a joy.

Synopsis by Mary Pipher

Women Rowing North offers a timely examination of cultural and developmental issues women face as they transition from middle age to old age. In life stage, women contend ageism, misogyny, and many kinds of loss. Yet, contrary to stereotypes, most older women are deeply happy and filled with gratitude for the gifts of life. Their struggles help them grow into the authentic, empathetic and wise people they have always wanted to be.

Outlander via 

Outlander Fans
Who has faithfully watched Outlander from beginning to end....and read the books? If you have, what do you think of Season 4 to date? I am keeping up and last week I have to say I was happy to see Roger finally tell it like it is! This review cracked me up!

I am reviewing Drums of Autumn again to keep up and will attempt reading The Fiery Cross for about the sixth see what comes next. I don't know what it is about that book...just slow reading for me! Now that Season 4 is coming to an end, I am ready to get stuck into it. 

Victoria via

Victoria Fans
I am just catching up with Season 3 of Victoria.
That sister...what is she up to? I am watching the years closely...I don’t think I could handle Albert’s passing and Victoria’s long road into widowhood. I am such a cry baby when it comes to loves lost!

Oscar Nominations for 2019 via

Are you like me and keen to see all the Oscar nominated movies before the awards ceremony? I rarely get to them all, but this year, I just might manage it. 

So far I have seen...

A Star Is Born
Speaking of crying...romance, fame and alcoholism...cry me a thousand rivers! I lost track of how many times I went to see the Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson version of A Star Is Born...and I thought that was rough! 

I was thoroughly moved by the performances, the music and directing in this version.  I enjoyed this film on so many levels. But then again, I am a romantic at heart ( as you can see by my TV choices above).  Needless to say, I enjoyed this movie. I am not certain it will take home Best Picture and I wish Bradley Cooper had been nominated for Best Director but I am sure it will take home many others...starting with Lady Gaga...just brilliant!

Green Book
We travel into the Deep South in the 1960's with Viggo Mortensen who plays an Italian-American bouncer...come driver.. for an African-American classical pianist played by Mahershala Ali. 

My mother-in-law was very keen for me to see this movie and I had to see it just to say that I did but am so glad that I stepped into this film. Charming, painful, shocking, endearing, has it all. A movie that will leave you thinking for some time to come. 

Stellar performances by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Best Picture? I can see it, but I want to wait until I see them all. 

I wasn't sure what to expect with this film. Set in 1970's Mexico, we follow the life of a domestic worker's journey, all facets of it. I have to say, from the moment it started to the very last frame, it was a journey like no other. I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about before I watched it...and now I get it. Definitely one to watch! I imagine it will be a very strong contender for Best Picture as well. 

Black Panther
Ok, I have to admit, I am a fan of the Marvel Avengers and all the films that are threaded into the storyline. I have seen them all and am always excited when a new one comes into the fold. Black Panther was just as exciting as I expected it to be. Take me to Wakanda! It's a fun film, well done on every front. Will it win Best Picture?  This viewer thinks it will be a long shot just based on the competition. But one never knows. 

Waiting to see..
The Favourite 
Bohemian Rhapsody

What have you seen? Any favorites?

I have been living in a musical world these past few days. If you are subscribed to Apple Music, I highly recommend the following playlists..

Essential Jazz Standards- Love the jazzy beats of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and more

Singer’s Delight- just love the sounds here....Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Sarah name a few.

Joni Mitchell: Next Steps...need I say more, it’s all Joni!

Pure Spa-a soulful compilation that will have you slipping into a spa bath in no time.

Zen Meditation-Distant Mountains, Healing Sound of Water, Sleeping Waves, To the Temple, Meditation Yoga and a host of zen music selections to send you into that space in your head where you are most as peace.

These past weeks I have been slipping in and out of my blog, bringing it in line with the next chapter of my life. I started writing in my early 50’s and nearly a decade later...well, life has changed and my purpose for blogging has changed. It took me a while to figure this out and then it finally came to me. We needed to change together. So..we are evolving and that is that. A few steps backwards, a few steps's all good. It is one of those gifts of life that Mary Pipher talks about in her book Women Rowing North. It is full steam ahead for me! :))

And while I am thinking about the next chapter of my life, I am also wondering where Mr. H is these days. Each day he sends the family photos of his whereabouts. Today it was from Chongquing City in China while dining on a Chinese Spicy Hot Pot feast. I need to get in on this action. I am hoping to tag along soon!

The Dining Room

Spicy Hot Pot 

The good news is that I will be able to keep track of him more closely in a few days. He is on his way to Tahilla Farm!

With that, Mr. and Mrs. H send you best wishes from China and New Hampshire. I hope some of the books, music, movies/tv and blogging thoughts resonate with you. If they do, please feel free to write to me!

Have a good one!

Jeanne xx


  1. Hi Jeanne! After reading your new blog post, I thought “Women Rowing North” might be of interest and put myself on the Library wait list. I think I fall into the category to which this book is directed. Things begin to happen that you never expected it seems after a certain age. My best friend of nearly 50 years has in the last year seen her husband pass away, and this past week, on my birthday, she had a heart attack. Her health has not been great, partly due to stress of taking care of her husband before he passed away, but she said, of all things, she never ever expected to have a heart attack. But an angel was watching over her and she’s doing well with a new stent in place and I think has a lot more good years to look forward to. So you just never know what may come your way, whether for you or your friends.
    For the first time in many years, I haven’t seen any of the movies and the Hollywood scene has grown tiresome. My movie pal moved some distance away, which prevented our getting together for movie night, and her health has really gone down hill in the past year. The same day as my other friend, she was undergoing a third surgery in the past four months. But she is determined to live forever and see her great-grandchildren grow up.
    Thank goodness, I’m still doing a lot of reading. TV is off much more than it used to be as I’m tired of the blather and much prefer a good book. Maybe some travel this year and who knows what else might come along to grab my attention.
    Enjoy getting to see you and your family enjoying the beautiful Tahilla Farm and the wonders of New Hampshire.

  2. Hi Judy! I think you will find “Women Rowing North” very insightful and I think your friend would find it interesting as well. It sounds like an angel certainly is looking after her and I am glad to hear that all went well and she received attentive medical care which is half the battle. From what I have read so far in Mary Pipher’s book, she offers many coping mechanisms to help with just that. There is a lot of positive thinking in addition to the reality of life at this age which we all need to hear. I like that you have put the thought of travel into your year...any trip is good for the soul! Happy reading to you Judy, I hope the book you are reading is an enthralling one! Best wishes....Jeanne :)

  3. I finally read Lincoln in the Bardo, and found it so original, so lovely, so compelling, that I couldn't bring myself to pick up literary fiction as my next read and am trying some science fiction instead!

    Glad your husband is making his way home. xoxox.

    1. Thank you Lisa, I haven't read Lincoln in the Bardo yet but have heard great things about it. My only attempt at science fiction was years ago...with The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. One of those books you tend not to forget. It was...interesting but I have to say I haven't been back to science fiction since. Let me know if you find any good ones, I am willing to try again!

  4. Jeanne,

    I have always enjoyed your blog. It is funny because although everyone thinks Instagram is the new "it" place to connect and although I love seeing snippets of people adventures, cooking, etc, I still enjoy blogs. Instagram to me is like the Cliff Notes of life and of course a blog is the actual book.

    Women Rowing North is on its way to me, thank you for the suggestion! The Born Paper Book club has had so many wonderful suggestions lately and is a wonderful resource for like minded women.

    Life here is in a transition mode, we decided to downsize and then decided on a new town, it is a beautiful little town and I am sure that we will love it, the best part is that my brother lives in the same place. Then we found the perfect house after looking at only 4 houses. Unfortunately, life, family illness and work commitments got in the way, then our buyer backed out. So now we are in a holding pattern and we are ok with that. My father in law has been moved into hospice, my mother in law is moving into assisted living, and so that is taking up a lot of our time, sadly we are not in the same town so all we can offer at this point are trips in and out to visit, and help from afar. I am a firm believer that God has a plan and life will change here when he is ready, in the meantime, I love my current house, and my city so I am just enjoying it until something changes. The good thing is that we do not have to move so who knows we might just end up postponing the move for a year or two.

    Enjoy your time with Mr. H at Thalia Farm! I have loved seeing the snow there, we have only had flurries here this year. Your carriage house is spectacular! I hope that it turned out exactly as you had hoped because it looks like a magical setting for family, or just you, your paints, and other projects.

    Have a wonderful day!

    1. I love your analogy Elizabeth..with Instagram being the Cliff Notes of life and a blog, the actual book. Very true! SO glad you are enjoying The Brown Paper Book Club and that you have signed up for Women Rowing North. I feel for you and the upside down life you are having at the moment and applaud your positive thinking which I am sure is a challenge on many days. Having read your blog for some years now, I think you will find people and situations you can relate to in the book. It might seem a bit "down" for a few chapters, but, hang in there, lots of great suggestions and thoughts on life follow. I am keeping my fingers crossed for your house sale! The power of positive thinking! And yes...the carriage house has turned out exactly as I had hoped. Best to you Elizabeth!

  5. Interesting books, as always, Jeanne. I too am a fan of Victoria and Outlander and my husband is good enough to watch them with me. So I sit and watch Vikings and The Last Kingdom with him - although, to be honest, I enjoy them as well even though there's quite a bit of violence and gore in both of them.

    1. Hooray! Always nice to find another fan! Mr. H has watched both shows with me as well but I haven't ventured into the others just yet. I enjoy historical fiction but the violence and gore...when you are alone in a house in the night...will send me under the bed in a locked room till daylight! I am ok when others are around...but the series has to go on hold until they return. Such a scaredy I. ;)

  6. I love easy to line up books and movies with the wintry excuse of the weather. Roma was one of my favorites. I had no idea what the movie was going to be like and thought it was so soulful, poignant, meaningful, political, historical, and beautiful. However, on the book side, I think I'm the only person on the planet who could barely make it through "Eleanor Oliphant". Currently reading, "Killers of the Flower Moon" for Book Club pick...seems totally outside of my comfort zone so it will be really interesting. Loved Outlander Season 4. First 2 episodes didn't start well but they did a nice job with the rest. Was completely mesmerized by "Sharp Objects" and had to recover from it! Also, really enjoyed "America to Me" documentary. Having gone to a very small remote all girls school and then having was absolutely frightening and intriguing to get a full throttle view of American high school today. All of the Golden Globes are on my list...waiting for each one to pop up on Netflix or Amazon so I can be more opinionated!

    1. I have to admit Sarah....when the first scenes of Roma appeared and seemed to go on for a tad too long I was a bit nervous about what was to come and if I should have my iPad with my jigsaw puzzle loaded close at hand. Once it started, I never needed it. You have to be quiet, patient and void of all distractions and once I was...I slipped right into it.

      Agree with the start of Outlander Season 4, I was hoping it would pick up and am now sad to see the last episode for the season. I haven't seen the other productions you mentioned and will have a look for them.

      I have been keeping up with the Golden Globes on Netflix, Itunes, Amazon and have recently tried Hulu for the 30 day trial to watch Killing was well done! Another one that is worth the few dollars a month is Acorn TV. Great viewing from abroad!

  7. Hi Jeanne -- I wrote a long reply determined to be the first to reply to this post -- and then the blasted internet chewed it up and it disappeared!
    So, more briefly this time, I loved A Star is Born and The Favourite. The period details are sumptuous and so authentic. There has been some criticism here over historical accuracy but I don't think it has strayed too far from some contemporary reports -- it was a very bawdy time! Roma and Green Book have only just been released here so hope to fit them both in this weekend.
    Books -- I read The Dry very recently I think maybe on your recommendation? Much enjoyed - very atmospheric.
    Most of the others you mentioned are not yet published in the UK (I have pre ordered Women Rowing North) but two I have read recently and thoroughly recommend are:
    Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp -- like watching a wonderful black and white movie on a wet Sunday afternoon and
    Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park - an Irish writer and a moving meditation on life and fatherhood.
    Music - mainly classical though as my grandsons are still living with me it is more likely to be Bellowhead, Mama Mia or Nursery Rhymes!
    It must be lovely to look forward to Mr H's arrival at Tahilla. With a newly retired husband here - who is missing his secretary and her instant solution to all IT problems (!) - the thought of one of us in China for a week is rather appealing!
    Ceri x

    1. Hi Ceri...that blasted internet, I sympathise! So interesting what you have to say about The Favourite. I went to see it with my daughter yesterday. I thought Olivia Colman did a great job as Queen Anne and enjoyed the other actors as well. It was fun to see Mark Gatiss in there as well as Lord Marlborough. Your description is perfect, a very bawdy time! The audience seemed stunned when the credits rolled. I went along to a small cinema in our home town with a mostly elderly audience for the Sunday matinee. It was not your usual BBC type production which I think many had in mind. I had to laugh at that. ;)
      Let me know if you are ever having difficulty getting a book, I am happy to send it along to you. I am going to investigate all your suggestions, they are all new to me.
      You got me on the newly retired husband description...crack up! I fear what I have to look forward to one day...I am sure I will be writing about it when it happens!! ;)

  8. I am so glad to hear you intend to keep blogging as I so enjoy your posts and insights. I too was attracted to Women Rowing North and its on my To Read list. Admittedly, aging hasn't been easy for me, miss my youth! But I am starting to see the upside of less pressure both externally and self-inflicted. I work each day to be more comfortable and be as graceful as possible. Nice to know that there is a full on support group of women that are working through it as well....keep warm and be well. xx

    1. Very well put Holly and that is exactly what it is... a “support group of women” ...couldn’t have said it better myself. I would love to know what you think as you read Women Rowing North, feel free to write to me anytime! Blogging is fun for me when I think I have something to say that may be of interest to others....I have a few creative souls that follow along...and they seem to get me. I love are one of them too! :))

  9. Interesting post, Jeanne. You'll like The Favorite, I'm sure. Give me a costume piece anytime! but, i don't think it holds up to "Star" or "Green Book" for best picture. Am going to search out Roma based on your recommendation. Was disappointed that If Beale Street Could Talk was not nominated for Best Picture - we liked it better than anything else this year.

    Have been watching The Crown (me) and The Americans (both of us), so will look for Victoria soon. Read the Outlander series years ago, and have been wondering if i wanted to tackle it. Sounds like it needs to go on my binge-list, too. Thanks. The 'farm" is looking gorgeous this winter, know you will continue to enjoy it. Am so glad you added the sheep picture to your blog design. I love her! (it must be a "her".)

    1. Thank you Webb, I am with you, I think “Star” and “Green Book” are at the top of the list for me too. I haven’t seen If Beale Street Could Talk and will watch it now that you have recommended it. Isn’t The Crown wonderful! I haven’t seen The Americans yet...I must now that it has won so many awards. I think binge watching Outlander is a great idea if you have the time and inclination. I have enjoyed it and felt that characters were pretty much in tune with the book. The early days in Scotland are my shall see. :)) I love the sheep pic as was such a surprise when I came across it that it makes me smile every time I open my blog! 😊😊😊😊

    2. PS...I call her (the sheep) “Louise” to go with the other sheep I discovered that week.. “Thelma” 😁

  10. Jeanne, I loved every word of this as it shows again how very much we have in common from books to movies to TV shows to whatever. Like you, I'm going through a metamorphosis in a number of ways and you may have noticed that one of the changes is my blog. Take good care and stay warm during the upcoming cold.


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