Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Kipper Cottage Mysteries: A New Cozy Series

Death at the Abbey by Jan Durham
ISBN 9781915275141
This is the first in a new cozy mystery series featuring Liz McLuckie, a 50-something widow who has moved to Whitby five years after the death of her husband. She has purchased two run down cottages—Kipper Cottage and Gull Cottage—with the intention of living in one and fixing up the other to offer as a short term let to tourists. She lives with her wonderful dog, Nelson. One morning, while walking in Nelson’s favorite area atop the cliff, they stumble across a body. Liz and her friends end up in the middle of the investigation.

I quite enjoyed this book. It was a good read—very entertaining with a unique storyline and a quirky cast of characters. The people in the town are part of the joy of the book, along with the descriptions of the area. I am looking forward to reading future books in the series.

Death in Neptune Yard by Jan Durham
ISBN 9781915275172
This is the second in the Kipper Cottage cozy mystery series and it was just as enjoyable as the first. In this book, Liz McLuckie, a 50-something widow who has moved to Whitby, is welcoming her first guests to the newly renovated cottage she bought. It’s Halloween and time for the annual Goth Festival, which brings tourists from near and far. The tourists are thrilled when the creature from folklore, the Barghest, is seen and heard, which means someone will die. Sure enough, someone does and Liz finds herself in jeopardy as she gets pulled into the mystery of whodunnit. 

This was another entertaining book. I liked learning more about some of the ‘regulars’ from the first book and Nelson the dog is always fun to read about. The folklore element was interesting as well. I look forward to the next book in the series.

If you're a cozy fan, I can definitely recommend these books. The next book is in the works. Yay!

I thank NetGalley, Inkubater Books, and the author for providing me with e-galleys of these books in exchange for fair reviews. 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

The Trouble With Happiness by Tove Ditlevsen

The Trouble With Happiness by Tove Ditlevsen
expected publication date (on this side of the pond): 3 Mar 2022 by Penguin
ISBN 9780241545317

Moments of sudden clarity. Gradual realizations. Unexpected awareness of things previously ignored. Life changes in all of these ways. In this fine collection of short stories, Tove Ditlevsen shows us how and breaks readers’ hearts in the process.

The stories have domestic settings and it is in the home that we see marriages shift and fail, children trying to deal with the confusion of changing family structures, and women coming to new understandings of themselves and their lives. These changes do not come about because of cataclysmic events, but rather through small things that, from the outside, may not seem like life-changing moments. But it is exactly these usually unnoticed events and interactions that alter the lives of the characters in profound ways.

The writing is magnificent, such as when one character states, ‘Loving someone couldn’t be helped. It came and went like whooping cough.’ (p79) I was drawn into each story and felt like I was in the room with the characters. I have not read any of this author’s other work, but I will not hesitate to do so in future. I am a big fan of short stories and I know from experience that in most collections there will be one or two stories that I am not so keen on. That was not the case here. There were no stories that I did not like. I highly recommend this book.

I was quite pleased to receive an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and balanced review. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

A Few More from the Art Exhibition

Here are a few more pieces I loved at the art gallery next to the library:

the location is Kerry

the location is Cork
There was a lot of other beautiful work in the exhibit. I love having the gallery right next to the library. Since we're not on social media, we usually have no idea what's going on there and when a new show is hung so it's nice to be able to take a short detour for art as we wander in and out of the library!

Monday, February 7, 2022

A Perfect Combination! Books and Art

 Our local library is housed on the ground floor of a building that has office space on the two floors above. To get to the library door, we pass the door of the art gallery next door. We've seen a couple of nice shows there and today we saw another as we stopped to have a look on our way in to pick up books. 

This show is an exhibition of work done by many different artists, all from Gaeltacht (areas where Irish is used) areas along northern, western, and southern seaboards. There was quite a wide variety of work on display. There was no prohibition on taking photos, so I snapped a few of my favourite pieces of work and the information provided about each one. The first line is the name of the artist. The second is the title of the piece. The third is a list of the technique and materials used. The fourth is the location where the work was created.

I didn't crop the first photo because I liked the shadow and I wanted to leave the social distancing poster in--sign of the times. There was no one there except us, but we were masked as still required indoors.

can't really see the insert or detail, but you get the general idea

the location is Galway

the entire piece is covered in small beads

the location is Donegal

the location is Galway
So as not to overload one post with too many photos, I will post the remaining few tomorrow.

Thursday, February 3, 2022


 One of our succulents is blooming in this firework burst shape. I love these kinds of blooms and even spent blooms. We see bare burst-like shapes along the side of the road as we walk and I find them so striking. When we had a share in a CSA farm* in Maine, we used to go into the u-pick field, which was a mix of veg and flowers, every time we went to do our weekly pick-ups. At the end of summer/beginning of autumn, there would be spent dill and I would cut some of that along with small sunflowers and other blooms. I thought the dill made a nice contrast and I loved the way it looked. I had no idea this succulent would bloom, but it's a nice surprise!

*CSA is community supported agriculture. People pay a certain amount at the beginning of the season and get a share of the harvest at certain intervals. For us it was every week and we got delicious produce, most of it picked the day we picked it up. Other producers have adopted this model and now there are various options, at least in the US and depending on location, including fish, meat, and even yarn! This model allows the producer to have the money to offset costs at the start of a season. We had a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

There Must Be a Better Way!

 Yesterday I posted about our strange experience of losing water for a while in the middle of the night and my late night phone call to Irish Water that resulted. I mentioned that I tried to call again to cancel the call-out the next morning when the water was back. I was told that I had to wait for a call from the person who received the report because only they had the power to cancel the work. I waited in vain all day yesterday for contact from this person and eventually assumed maybe they'd figured it out and I wouldn't hear from them. Wrong! This morning at 9:25, I had a text saying they would be investigating the situation and I would be contacted when the case was closed. There was no way to reply to this text. Perhaps the first part of any investigation should be to speak to the person who originally reported the problem. By then it was 32 hours after I had done this. Circumstances can change in that amount of time! 

All I could think about was the fact that there were people out there who really did not have water and were waiting for service to be restored. Meanwhile, someone was investigating a non-existent problem because there was no way for me to speak with anyone to tell them this. And if the timing of this chain of events was typical, they have a long wait time even without resources being wasted like that.

At about 1:30, some 36 hours after I called to report the problem, the phone rang. When I answered, the guy from Irish Water asked if I 'had time for a phone call.' I said I did, but rushed on before he could interrupt, explaining that the water had come back on, I'd tried to call, etc. He said that he didn't have any details about exactly what the original problem that led to the middle of the night phone call was, but he was glad it was fixed and that if the water ever stops flowing again, I should not hesitate to call Irish Water again and they would get it sorted as soon as possible. 

I am left wondering why they think this is a good way to do things. First there is the waste of resources. Then there is the bewildering idea of having someone call who has no idea what the problem was in the first place. Had the water not come back, even after the 'investigation' took place, it seems like this guy would have been able to do nothing except send another report and give another reference number (which I never had to use anyway). Then I guess there would be another 36 hour wait until another 'investigation' took place. 

Shortly after we moved to Ireland, protests against newly imposed water charges happened all across the country. They may have been going on before we got here as well. People were angry at these new charges for reasons I still do not fully understand. I think that property tax was not a thing until a few years before we arrived and people didn't feel like they should have to pay more charges on top of that, among other objections. At the same time, it was clear that water infrastructure was in huge need of modernizing and refurbishment. There were all kinds of water quality stories. I just thought it was weird that there were no water charges at all. In the end, the protesters won. Water charges were brought in and lasted about a year before everyone who had paid them got their money refunded to them and the charges were scrapped. 

There is still a lot of work to be done on the water infrastructure here. Sending people out to investigate problems that have somehow resolved themselves does not seem like a good use of limited resources. Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Where's the Water?

 We had an interesting night last night. Bill started the laundry at about quarter after midnight. By then the cheaper off-peak electricity rates have kicked in. Not every place has the two meters but this one does. We are up at this time anyway, so might as well just get it done. This is the laundering step. To dry, we hang clothes on an airer. Some places have dryers and some don't. Since we haven't used a dryer in about 40 years (except occasionally when on the road) even if there is one, we don't use it. So it's easy enough to turn the washing machine on and let it do its thing. When it's done, one of us turns off the plug opens the door a bit (they're all front-loaders) and leave it until the next morning when I hang it up.

Anyway, it began and got as far as the first drain and spin. Bill was in the living room/kitchen area where the machine is. I was in the bedroom down the short hallway. After the spin was done, I was thinking that things didn't sound right. I didn't hear it filling up again. I was straining to hear but my tinnitus was strong and it was hard to hear anything else. I figured that if there was an issue Bill would say something. I went back to my book with one ear paying attention. I heard him  get up. I went out to see what was happening. Instead of filling up again, the machine was just humming and lights were blinking. We thought it was broken and we tried to get the door open since it had just done a spin. Even with the plug turned off, the door stayed locked, so we left the plug off and figured we'd have to call the manager this morning. Then Bill tried the cold water tap in the kitchen. Nothing. I checked the Irish Water website to check for outages. None listed. But it did say that if there is no water coming from the cold tap in the kitchen to call. By now it was after 1:15 am. I called and talked to a nice woman who said she would file a report, but they wouldn't see it until 9 this morning and then would have it fixed within 24 hours. She gave me a reference number and took my contact information. We were wondering how we would manage without a bathroom for all that time! In Dungloe there are public ones just around the corner from the apartment in which we lived and they're always clean and well maintained, but nothing here if this whole building was out, which we assumed it was, as did the woman on the phone. She thought it could be a burst water main--a not uncommon situation in Donegal and elsewhere--or a pumping station problem.

We kept checking until a little after 2 and no luck. At around 3 I had to use the bathroom and I wasn't sleeping anyway, so I got up and on my way past the sink, I tried it again. This time water came out! Yay! I tried the kitchen. Water! Yay! I decided to leave the laundry until daytime. I thought about calling Irish Water back to say we had water again but decided I had better wait to make sure it didn't go out again. I went back to bed and slept a little. I got up a few hours later and checked that we still had water. We did. I had to fiddle with the washing machine but got that going. I had to start it over from the beginning. Then I called Irish Water to try to save someone a trip out here. I was told that I should wait until someone called me and I could tell them so they could cancel the job on their end. The person I was talking to couldn't do it. So I am waiting in case they call. It's almost 7 pm and there has been nothing. Maybe they discovered that there was a problem and now there isn't so won't call. I am just glad that the water came back on so quickly and that we are not sitting here all this time without it!  It was one thing to not have water in Alaska where we could haul our own, but quite another here where options are limited!