Books for 2019

Written by karen on January 1st, 2020

It’s been cold here, and we had snow between Christmas and New Years (though it didn’t last long). Today was the first day it was warm enough that we wanted to take a good long walk. The sun felt good.

Here is my reading list from 2019. As usual, my favorites or ones I’d particularly recommend are in bold (but with not as much thought to this as usual).

Lots of sci fi this year with an emphasis on series about people colonizing other galaxies and all the attendant challenges of how to organize a society, manage conflict, etc. Both the Expanse series and the Coyote books were very good and helpful to reflect on in light of the current world situation. (The best that I’ve read in this genre is Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series which I read last year.) I also finally read Harry Potter. (I started listening to the ebook with a kid. We didn’t get very far into it but it prompted me to take the books off my shelf and read them.) 

Many of these books I read as ebooks for whatever that’s worth. The fact that I finally got a phone with this century’s capabilities probably affected that.

1. Down by the River by Charles Bowden
2. Letters to a Young Farmer, compiled by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
3. Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen
4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
5. Goat Song by Brad Kessler
6. The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko
7. A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin
8. The Power by Naomi Alderman
9. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
10. The Brave Cowboy by Edward Abbey
11. One Life At a Time, Please by Edward Abbey
12. Postcards from Ed by Edward Abbey
13. Into the Beautiful North by Luis Urrea
14. Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
15. Appetite for Life by Noel Riley Fitch
16. Doing Justice by Preet Bharara
17. The Reckoning by John Grisham
18. Gray Mountain by John Grisham
19. A Call for Revolution by Dalai Lama
20. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
21. Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
22. Abbadon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
23. Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
24. Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
25. Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
26. Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
27. Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey
28. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
29. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
30. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
31. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
32. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
33. The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez by Aaron Bobrow-Strain
34. Full Circle by Michael Palin
35. The Old Man’s Love Story by Rudolfo Anaya
36. A Stranger at My Door by Peg Bowden
37. Mindfulness for Kids by Carole Roman
38. On the Margins by Johannes Wilm
39. After the Flood by Kassandra Montag
40. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
41. Coyote by Allen Steele
42. Coyote Rising by Allen Steele
43. Coyote Frontier by Allen Steele
44. Spindrift by Allen Steele
45. Galaxy Blues by Allen Steele
46. Coming Home to Eat by Gary Paul Nabhan
47. Coyote Horizon by Allen Steele


A little late

Written by karen on October 6th, 2019

We planted garlic this weekend. A little late, but “a little late” has been the trend this summer.

The monsoons, which started right on time, are just now finishing up. (They usually end in late August or early September.)

Everything was late in the garden this year as well. Green beans in September, watermelons and tomatoes just coming ripe now. I hope that the first frost is late as well so that we can continue to harvest for a while.

The weather the last few weeks has been near perfect. Daytime temperatures have been very pleasant in the mid-80s, while the nights have been cool in the 50s. The sunsets have been nothing short of spectacular, and we have been enjoying fires in the evening and sleeping out under the star-filled skies.


The nature of nature

Written by karen on August 30th, 2019

Imagine my surprise when I began to step out of the greenhouse and saw this.

It startled me quite a bit.

Gila monsters are a rare sighting here, but this is the second year we’ve seen one. Interestingly, the last one was at the same time of year. This year, it was a mature adult, and we got a good look.

The monsoons have been continuing this month. It’s late in the year for them to still be going, but we’ve had rain every day this week. It’s good for the garden and a relief to be able to turn the drip off for a while.

We’ve also had a lot of wildlife around, including a bobcat that we’ve been seeing fairly regularly. There are also a pair of owls perching at a neighbor’s place. We’ve been visiting them on our nightly walks, and they seem quite unbothered by us.

Last weekend, we went camping up in the Chiricahuas at Rustler Park. At 9100 feet, it was quite cool. We did some great hiking and foraged both raspberries and elderberries. It was quite a treat to come home with enough berries to freeze for pies.



It’s done

Written by karen on July 24th, 2019

Last night, we spent our first night in a couple weeks in our own bed. (While we were finishing the bookcase, the bedroom was a temporary workshop so we slept outside when weather permitted and in the guest room when not.)

The work is finally done now, and all the books are unpacked and on the shelves. I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

And going through and organizing all the books I haven’t seen in 10 years was fun too!


New woodworking project

Written by karen on June 10th, 2019

For a long time, we’ve planned to add more built-in bookcases to the bedroom to accommodate all my books still in storage. Part of this plan was for a tricky-to-build corner bookcase.

Brad and I designed this together, but he did the hard work of figuring out the exact dimensions and how to cut and assemble the pieces.

Once that got done, we had to figure out where to finish it. It is very heavy, and I was nervous about moving it after the finish work was done. It was hard to lift — what if we dropped it? It also has an awkward shape and weight distribution. So we decided to move it from the workshop to the bedroom (in the other house) and to finish it there.

Thinking about how to move it, we talked briefly about who we knew who might help. It’s a very short list here when you take account for people’s age and ability, as well as willingness. While we were thinking about that, I suggested we move it with the truck. That worked well.

Here it is in place,  but unfinished and without the final base and cap. Now the project is pretty much in my court to do the finishing. There will also be another shorter bookcase next to it (not the one shown here). Stay tuned for more pics.


Spring is here

Written by karen on April 14th, 2019

It is warming up here, and everything is suddenly growing (despite a threat of snow last week which didn’t materialize).

Right now, we are eating lettuce, asparagus, and fava beans from the garden. We are enjoying the blooms of lavender, salvia, and penstemon. I have lots of starts in little pots in the house, and a few other things outside in the ground. I am trying to do a little bit in the garden every day (well, maybe every other day) so that we have a bountiful summer.

And we are taking lots of walks and enjoying the sun and warmth of spring.


Tulips in the desert

Written by karen on March 18th, 2019

This year I tried something different: tulips. A few are up and blooming.

However, the rabbits seem to like these, and several have been eaten to the ground. In the fall, they’ll be transplanted inside the fencing.


Is it spring yet?

Written by karen on March 16th, 2019

Last night I woke up to loud thunder and lightning. Hmmm, I thought sleepily, there wasn’t any rain in the weather forecast. Should I go over to the office and unplug things to forestall a possible lightning strike? (We’ve had several that have fried various electronic devices.) My tiredness won over as I rolled over and went back to sleep.

An hour or so later, I awoke to the sound of rain on the roof. It was still dark, and I pulled the blankets over my head to drown out the sound.

Then when morning light came, I looked out the windows to see this.

This is the fifth significant snowfall we’ve had this winter. I believe it is the most snow we’ve had in a winter since we’ve lived here. In the last two years, we had no snow at all.

I don’t love the cold and snow, but the moisture is welcome. Our mountains have good snow, and the creek in Portal is flowing strong. Now for some warm spring temperatures to get things growing.


2018 reading

Written by karen on January 1st, 2019

As usual, here is the list of books I read in 2018 with my favorites in bold.

Kim Stanley Robinson was a real highlight this year. (The first two Mars books were in 2017.)

  1. Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
  2. Tracks by Robyn Davidson
  3. Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez
  4. Mirrors of the Unseen by Jason Elliot
  5. Alburquerque by Rudoldfo Anaya
  6. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
  7. Good News by Edward Abbey
  8. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
  9. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
  10. Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha
  11. Walking Meditation by Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hanh
  12. Border Walk by Mark Hainds
  13. Zen Under Fire by Marianne Elliott
  14. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  15. Cutting for Sign by  William Langewiesche
  16. Home by Harlan Coben
  17. The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu
  18. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
  19. Caught by Harlan Coben
  20. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
  21. The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson
  22.  The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson
  23. Camino Island by John Grisham
  24. Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson
  25. Sellers in the Kitchen by Betsy Foster Breault
  26. A Land of Hard Edges by Peg Bowden
  27. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  28. Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
  29. Living on Wilderness Time by Melissa Walker
  30. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
  31. Love, Africa by Jeffrey Gettleman
  32. Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan
  33. How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen
  34. Quiet Until the Thaw by Alexandra Fuller
  35. New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
  36. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  37. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
  38. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
  39. Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson
  40. Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas
  41. A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
  42. Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson
  43. Gathering the Desert by Gary Paul Nabhan
  44. Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson
  45. Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson
  46. Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson
  47. Digging to America by Anne Tyler
  48. The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler
  49. Bleachers by John Grisham
  50. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Unrelated bonuses: a bobcat that walked by our front door last week…

and a picture from a hike in Portal last week…(there was snow at the top)



Written by karen on December 29th, 2018

After two years with no snow, this week we had snow two days in a row. Each day we got 2-3 inches, but most of it didn’t last through the day, which is ok with me.

The temperatures are colder now, and there is more snow in the forecast for this week.