Tuesday, November 29, 2022


 A few weeks ago, I was reading on the RTE website when I came across a book review. I immediately decided I wanted it, but when I looked for it, discovered that it wouldn't be published until the end of this month. I figured I'd go back to look at some other time. What I didn't know was that Bill made a note of the publication date and ordered it. We were both surprised when it arrived today! I didn't know it was coming and he didn't know it was coming this soon.

This is the book:
Andrew Fitzsimons is an Irishman who is Professor of English Language and Cultures at Tokyo’s Gakushuin University. This book contains translations, dates of creation, and annotations for all 980 of Basho's haiku, as well as an extensive introduction, glossary, index of poems in both Japanese and English, and more. According to the review, "It’s a real landmark publication, described by the poet and Oxford Professor Bernard O’Donoghue as "a moment of huge significance in world poetry."

Fitzsimons is a poet himself and brings that experience to this work. 

I am so thrilled that this book exists and that I have a copy! It will be so great to take a deep dive into this work. I expect to learn a lot.

John Kelly's review can be found here and is definitely worth a read.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving/Thursday

 To those of you in the US or celebrating elsewhere like us, Happy Thanksgiving! To the rest of you, happy Thursday or whatever day it is when you're reading this. 

We had our 9th Thanksgiving in Ireland while everyone else went about their usual Thursday routine. A friend came for dinner and brought three desserts! A trifle, a custard tart (pie) that the bakery in his neighborhood is known for, and some caramel slices. I spent a good chunk of the day cooking and now I am thrilled with the leftovers. I'm tired, but no cooking necessary for a few days now. Yay!

Last week, I saw that veg man had purple sweet potatoes so I got one to try. I liked it, so today I got another one, along with some other stuff for dinner. I made a roasted fruit and veg thing--chopped purple sweet potato, chopped orange sweet potato, chopped apples, and fresh cranberries mixed together and tossed with some orange juice. I poured it onto a tray and baked it until the sweet potatoes were cooked. The colours were beautiful and it was yummy!

We had a great visit with our friend, ate some yummy food, and had a peaceful day. It was a lovely Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Some Kind of Trauma

 We went to Donegal town this afternoon. When we got on the bus to come home, a very thin woman struggling with three or four heavy-looking bags got on and sat in front of me. It was not crowded, so no one was sitting next to her or me (or Bill, who was sitting behind me). She was in the very first set of seats. She settled in for the 1 1/2 hour ride to Dungloe. Based on the language she was using, I figured she was from Ukraine (we have many Ukrainians who have been given refuge and support here in Ireland). I saw that there was some kind of text on her phone--not sure if it was news or a message or what. She picked up the phone, looked at it and started howling, muttering, crying, moaning, and writhing in her seat. This continued for the half hour it took to get to Killybegs, but then she got quiet and I heard her snoring softly as she was curled up across the two seats.

I have no idea what traumatic events this woman has gone through, be they personal or having something to do with the war. I have no idea if she is from Ukraine or a different country or whether this behaviour springs from a mental illness, PTSD, or some other cause. What seemed clear to me was that she was in a great deal of emotional pain. My heart was breaking for her. I felt very relieved for her when I could hear her snoring, because it seemed to me that she needs a great deal of deep rest, among other things. I was hoping that she would not have any nightmares so she could have a respite from the thoughts in her head, which were clearly causing her so much pain. Whatever is so painful for her, may she get the help and rest that she needs to heal.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

A Few Weeks of Abundance

Whenever we go into a charity shop, I scan the room and make a beeline for the bookshelf/shelves. Sometimes there is nothing there that I am inclined to purchase, even if the shelves are groaning under the weight of the books. Occasionally we've been in a shop with very few books, but mostly they have a wide variety. This is definitely a nation of readers. Our new local charity shop is quite an excellent place for books. The first time we went in there was the day we were here to sign the lease and get the keys. We had a more time to kill so we went in. Like a magnet, I glided to the back of the small shop and scanned the shelves. I came out with a book. I couldn't fit it in my backpack, so I just carried it around. Thus began a very cool book winning streak. We have never gone into that shop and come out without at least one new-to-us book. Sometimes, it's been two, three, four, or more. Yesterday it was 6. Three for Bill and three for me. It's been a few weeks of book abundance around here. Here are the books I've picked up in the last few weeks--all but two are from our local shop. The other two are from the one in Killybegs, picked up the other day when we went there to have lunch with a friend.
the Bronte books was one I got in Killybegs--it's been a few decades since I read Medea

I'm not sure about the ones above. I got the novel first because I've heard so many wonderful things about it. I got the other one yesterday because some of the characters from the novel appear in some of the stories. Neither is the kind of thing I usually read, but one great thing about picking up books in the charity shop is that it's easier to expand my horizons. If I don't like a book, I can set it aside having only spent a euro or less and know that the money went to help someone. And I can donate it back so it can be sold again.
I love short stories, so thrilled to find these

I picked up the biography above in Killybegs. I know nothing about Marie Antoinette or the times in which she lived, so this should be a fascinating read.

While in the charity shop yesterday afternoon, I had a nice chat with the lady volunteering there. She observed that our Thanksgiving was coming up and asked if we still celebrate it. When I said we did, she wished me a happy day. We both celebrated the fact that they've started to put up the Christmas lights on Main St. When we left, she wished me happy reading and said to feel free to bring the books back when I'm done with them and we can do a swap. It was a very pleasant part of my day--a friendly chat, seeing the lights being organized, a nip in the air, and books. Simple joys.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Well That Was Fast!

 Last week, a friend came to visit, bringing with him a coffee maker. He'd given us an old one when we first met him and we loved it. It was excellent. But eventually, even the coffee maker of the year for 1987 (there apparently is such a thing) gets tired and decides it has had enough. Such was the case with Old Faithful. This happened just before we moved to Bunbeg, where we really didn't have room for one anyway. Our friend offered us this one at the time. We thought he'd given it away, but he brought it, along with some coffee, last week. It was chosen by his late wife and had never been used. He seemed happy that someone would be happily using it.

Coffee is starting to be more of a thing here, but it's still nothing like what we were used to in the western US or even the east coast, which had quite limited options in the grocery store. When we arrived here, there was mostly instant coffee, although there was a bit of ground coffee for coffee makers. Now everyone seems to be into the pods and our local grocery store does not even sell ground coffee. Before, we'd just used the plain coffee they had at Aldi, which comes in small bags. This time, Bill decided he wanted to try different kinds of coffee so he went online to see what was available. After looking at various places, we opted Kaffekapslen We chose a sampler pack of 5 different coffees--1kg of each. It ships from Denmark. Communication was excellent and shipping was cheap and fast. It arrived this morning.
apple for scale
Because we had no coffee filters, we couldn't use the machine right away. We couldn't find any here or in Killybegs, so Bill ordered some and they came yesterday. This morning we had a visit from a friend of a friend so the coffee maker had its inaugural run. We used the coffee our friend brought and I will use that before I open any of these. We like darker roast, so we might mix the blond with the intenso, but we'll decide once we get there. Very happy to have the coffee maker and a big supply of coffee. Goes well with the book haul, too! 😏😋😀

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Happy Mail/Book Haul!

 Last week, Bill got me a voucher for Kenny's, an independent bookshop in Galway (free worldwide shipping). Since we have never had a local bookshop in the Irish towns/villages we've lived in, that serves as ours. I had a great time thinking about what books I wanted and clicking around on the site. Today, my happy book mail arrived. Yay!
For the last few years, I have really been into classics with regard to fiction. I read a few more current fiction books, but it doesn't take long for me to want to get stuck into a classic again. Some of these I could get for free at Project Gutenberg but for books like this, I much prefer having a physical book instead of an e-book. Also, I really like the Wordsworth Classics editions. They have very informative introductions, but I don't read those until after I've read the book because there are spoilers. When a Wordsworth Classics edition was available, I chose that. When that wasn't available, I happily chose whatever copy they had.
each of these volumes contains 3 novels

I also got a couple of nonfiction titles.
Fanny Trollope was the mother of Anthony Trollope. She was also a writer, but while I've read a fair number of his books, I don't know anything about her. She was apparently a big influence on him, so I was happy to find this biography of her. 

The hat book was my last pick. I was looking at the bargain books and was intrigued. I make a lot of hats myself (knitted, crocheted, and occasionally, tatted) and the idea of hats changing the world seemed kind of hyperbolic. But it did look like a fascinating book. After looking at it in person, I can say that I am glad I decided to get it! It has a picture of a person wearing a certain style of hat on one page and a page of text opposite that provides information about the hat style and its importance. I think this will be a fun read, as will the rest of them. Now to decide which one to read first! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Routes by Rhiya Pau

 Routes by Rhiya Pau
ISBN 9781913665715
published by Arachne Press/Books Go Social 

A lovely collection of poems inspired by bother inner and outer journeys. Listening to the stories of her elders, who immigrated to the UK from South Asia and found ways to keep their identities while learning to fit into their new culture, the poet was inspired to consider their lives and her own as she travels herself to find her own way of being in the cultures of her grandparents.

In the preface she states, 'Conversations with our elders suggests that they...have compartmentalized fragments of their identities in order to survive. For me, writings Routes has been a process of holding these fragments up to the light, laying them down on a page and acknowledging the overlapping narratives and the silent spaces in between.'

I like the play on words in the title--Routes (as I pronounce it) could just as easily be Roots. 

These poems are very accessible and brought me along with the poet as she explored these themes of belonging, cultural unfamiliarity, and self-discovery.
I received a digoital copy of this book in exchange for a review. I thank NetGalley, the poet, and the publisher.

Monday, November 7, 2022

A Bridge of Words: Views across America and Japan by Hiraoki Sato


A Bridge of Words

Views across America and Japan

Published by Stone Bridge Press
When I saw the description of this book, I was intrigued. It did not disappoint. Hiraoki Sato is a writer, haiku-ist, translator, and worked for a trade organization in New York for over four decades. He grew up in Japan, but went to the US in his 20s. He wrote regular newspaper columns for both the Japan Times and the Mainichi Times and this book is a collection of some of these. They were originally published between the late 80s and 2019. Sato's interests and observations range widely across topics and small details can pique his interest and cause him to look both more closely and more broadly at an issue. In the foreword to the book, Geoffrey O' Brien writes, 'The restless desire to know more--to illuminate large things by attention to the smallest of details--might be the bass note of this collection; and what Sato uncovers...is full of surprises and odd angles.'

I really enjoyed this thought-provoking and informative book. I like the way he makes connections and how his position as always an outsider of one kind or another causes to him have a particular way of looking at the world. As someone who spent the first half century of my life in a country of origin in which I always felt misplaced, before emigrating, I am always fascinated by the views and observations of other outsiders. I also enjoyed the many topics he writes about. I can relate to the kind of curiosity that sees seemingly small things as illustrative of larger issues and that finds many things worthy of investigation and thought. Anyone who feels the same, is an outsider, has an interest in Japan, books, haiku, history, and Japanese language and culture would enjoy this book. It can be read straight through or one slice at a time. The columns are grouped by topic and if Sato has more to say on the subject now, he adds it as the end of each piece. There are also a few pictures and poems in the book. As with any such collection, there were some topics that interested me more than others and places where I disagreed with him, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. I received a copy of the e-book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I thank them, the publisher, and the author.

Friday, November 4, 2022

All I Want for Christmas is Yarn by Lindsey Newns

 This is a lovely collection of crochet patterns to make for the festive season and beyond. It is a book that has something for people of all crochet skill levels. There are patterns here for things a very new learner can make, providing instant results. There are also patterns for those with more experience and everyone in between. There are stash buster projects, patterns for seasonal decorations, gifts for others or for oneself. It is also a book of ideas. One thing I really liked about the book was the fact that while all 30 of the projects could be made specifically for Christmas, many could be for any time of year, whether as written or with a few tweaks. For example, change the colour yarn used for some of the decorations or stuffed toys and they are no longer limited to a certain time of year. The adorable gingerbread man is a gingerbread man because of the colour of yarn and the embellishments. Use a different yarn and leave off some or all embellishments and you'd have a cute toy for all the year.

Beyond the patterns, which are written in UK terms (which are different from those used in the US), the author provides much useful information, like a glossary of crochet terms, a table showing the US equivalents to the UK terms, one showing the same for needle sizes, and explanations of the stitches used in crochet.

I have taught crochet at a yarn shop, to groups, and to individuals through the years and had this book been available then, I would have recommended it to my students. It provides projects that could lead to instant gratification, which is important to beginners. It also gives them something to aim for and to build upon as their skills expand. 

I received a copy of the e-book in exchange for a fair review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Bargain of the Day

 Sometimes I like to make rye bread. Rye flour isn't something that I normally see in the grocery stores. One year Aldi had some around Christmastime, but that was a few years back now. I end up getting it online at a natural food store in Galway. I like caraway seeds in my rye bread, but although I haven't looked in a while, the naturql food store didn't have any when last I needed them, so I when I saw some in a grocery store in Dungloe, I bought them paying €2.79 for a jar containing 38g. I'm nearing the end of the jar, so I started looking around again. 

Last week, Bill was on a site called Nuts in Bulk. They sell things in various container sizes and have many other things besides nuts. I checked to see if they have caraway seeds. They did, so I got the smallest package they sell. Our order came today. 
You can see my supply is more than adequate to my needs! 😂 I will not have to go in search of caraway seeds again for as long as I live. The 500g bag cost €3.15. Shipping was free. As it happens, a friend loves caraway seeds, so I will be bringing some to her. 

I also got two tubs of peanut butter and a 4 kg bag of walnut pieces. We use both regularly. I will have to go back to the site and spend more time in the herbs and spices section. It would be handy to have the ones I use a lot in larger packages. Back in the day, when we still lived in the US, I could and did get lots of bulk food, including herbs and spices. Once we moved east, that was no longer an option and bulk foods just aren't a thing in the rural towns and villages we've lived and done our grocery shopping in, so this site is a good option for us. We choose to avoid Amazon and to buy from Irish sites when we can and if not, then from the EU. This is a site we'll use again.