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Some Things I Have Truly Enjoyed Despite The Apocalypse, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:40am


Hold on, let me go close the door on  the evils of the world. Be right back.


OK, hi. How goes this Saturday morning in the summer of 2018? Here in California I see  blue skies, our morning marine layer burned off early. Probably temps will get up over 80 today, would be nice to spend time by the water.

I may or may not get there. But before the weekend accelerates I wanted to recommend some nice things. I can hear the snorting and stomping of warhorses through that closed door, it’s time to draw friends nigh and share.


I’ve just finished “Less,” by Andrew Sean Greer. It’s the story of a gay man in his 50s traveling the world during a few months while the love of his life is getting married to someone else. It’s got some of the loveliest writing I have encountered in years. Note: I was given this by someone who ordered on Amazon, when it arrived it was a PIRATED copy, printed from the web. I returned it, and bought a copy at my local bookstore. So this link sends you to that store.

And while back, I read a mystery by Claire M. Johnson. She’s one of our commenters – I absolutely loved knowing I knew her, virtually. I read the first of her books, “Beat Until Stiff “– it was highly entertaining.  I’ve just reminded myself to read another. I bet I’ll see signs of what she learned in writing that first one, judging by my current novel-writing project.

Finally, Sue at High Heels In The Wilderness wrote an excellent review of a couple of mysteries by Susie Steiner, here. One of them is next on my list.


I’ve been watching, or have just finished watching, three series about powerful women. First, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Harlots,” on Hulu. That makes for a tongue-twister, no? Many people find Handmaid too bleak, I’m all in. The gorgeous cinematography supports the surreal but hyper-real storytelling.

“Harlots” is, let’s say, Georgette Heyer but the heroines are prostitutes. Georgian England, filters off. The acting is excellent, the costumes and setting spectacular, especially if you don’t mind scenes in which people are having sex standing up somewhere in the background.

Finally, “UnREAL.” The first three seasons were on Lifetime, season four is also on Hulu. The first three seasons are much better than the last, and the first is one best of all. A scripted series set on a reality television show. Again, acting is excellent, and the psychology and faces of the characters fascinated me.


Yes, tea is its own category in my world. I found Five Mountains at Whole Foods, their Diamond Darjeeling actually tastes like what I drank in Darjeeling, decades ago. You can taste the tea bushes, the sun on the mountain, fog.


When I found the clothes made by No. 6 my conscience actually had to wrestle with my greed to ensure I brought you the link. I had known the brand made clogs, which are not my thing, but their clothing and other shoes were a revelation. Look at these. (on sale, BTW)

The company also makes a dress style called “Elena” (yearly, apparently), with different prints every time. It’s sold out now and no longer on their site but I’m just waiting for it to surface in a small-figured pattern with a preponderance of blue. It will come. For the right dress, I can be patient.

The World

And, as I (approximately) texted my son just recently,

On the good side, life, fuchsias, pajamas, 63K words finished.
Moments with Nancy (my mother).
Other good, curry, tea, lavender, magnolias.

Let’s add “weekends.” All the best to you and yours.



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25 Responses

  1. LISA! Good morning, you lovely, lovely woman! Thank you so much for the kudos. I do appreciate it. I hope your novel is coming apace! I have just come back from Thrillerfest in NYC. This is a conference you should think about attending next July if you’re still at the point of trying to pitch your book to an agent. Yes, it was hot and horrible but it’s well worth it; more on the expensive side as cons go, but I stayed with my daughter, and it sounds like you have many friends that you could stay with in NYC so it won’t be killing expensive. You’re writing a mystery, yes? Thrillerfest is a writer’s conference as opposed to the other big name crime fiction cons, which are, essentially, fan-based. If you’re interested, email me and I can give you the deets: Again, thank you for the shout out! Much appreciated.

    1. @Claire, You are more than welcome! It was a really fun book. As for whether I am writing a mystery, it’s really hard to say. It’s kind of Lisa Jewell meets John Grisham? Except I am a quizzical person and quizzing is not thrilling, so we shall see.

      I hope your attendance at the conference means you will write more books? I’ll email you!

  2. We just finished watching “Scott and Bailey “ on prime. Think a modern “Cagney and Lacey” set in Manchester (UK). Very addictive. Have currently started to watch ”Vincent. Not crazy about it, yet.

    Your tea sounds wonderful.

    Recently cut a fistful of lavender for our kitchen.

    Sadly addicted to Trader Joe’s cranberry orange mini scones. So good.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    1. @MaryAnne, I watched all of “Scott and Bailey.” Loved it. Such great characters. I’m staring at the dried lavender in a bowl on my hearth as we speak:). So far so good on the weekend, I hope for you too.

  3. Funny you should mention my post in your post (btw thanks for that) because when you launched into books you’ve recently read, I was thinking of a comment on that vary same post of mine by Kathy Leeds, recommending a book, which she said she had “powered through” and which I am, at the moment, currently powering. Ha. As a former English teacher I am a bit appalled at that convoluted sentence, but it’s breathless style is totally appropriate.
    When not reading Hubby and I are enmeshed in the Tour de France on TV even though the episodes of Endeavour are piling up on our PVR. I imagine a cool night in the fall when we are home from vacation, have lit the fire, and poured a glass of wine, and settled into a real Endeavour binge. Bliss.
    Happy weekend to you, too.

    1. @Sue Burpee, I didn’t even know the Tour de France was happening right now! Oops:). I hope you have a wonderful vacation. You’re more than welcome for the mention!

  4. I’m in a book drought having started and stopped a least the last 4 that I’ve tried. Looking forward to receiving Missing, Presumed recommended by Sue Burpee on her book post (which are always terrific).
    I loved Handmaid’s Tale – and find the writing excellent since it is “off book” now.

    I just bought Anne Tyler’s new book “Clock Dance” because I’m feeling I “should” read something a bit more literary at the moment, or at least try.

    And I was the lucky beneficiary of your finding the No. 6 Elena dress. Will be wearing it yet again to a paella dinner party on Monday. I love it. xo

    1. @Kathy, I hope to twin with you in the Elena eventually. If you want more literary, I really recommend “Less.” It’s sweet, funny, beautifully written. But perfectly easy enough to read even before sleeping. I now judge a book by whether I look forward to going to bed to read, this qualified.

      And yes, the writing has not fallen through even though Handmaid has left Atwood’s original territory. I’m glad you like it too.

  5. So nice to know about Claire and her books :-)
    No.6 is awesome,I like Audrey dress in navy/lapis,thank you
    There is a new BBC mini series Ordeal by Innocence (one of the many version of Agatha Christie’s book) with one of my favourite actors Bill Nighy-I’m looking forward watching it after my hollidays
    Life is good,I agree
    Have a happy weekend,too!

  6. Some days (weeks, months) it’s tough to find the good “despite the apocalypse” — glad to see you enumerating some significant pleasures.
    Paul planted sweet peas just outside the door to the terrace garden, and that scent is a considerable pleasure right now.
    And Ursula LeGuin’s No Time to Spare. . .
    And a long lunch with a good friend. . .
    And I see you got to the beach, for a good view of the . . . fog. That made me smile. . . Fog is its own kind of beauty and I loved the splashes of blue and read in your photo. xo

    1. @Frances, Sweet peas are the most beautiful smelling flower in the whole world, IMO. That faint tang of cinnamon. I was cheering the fog as we drove over the hills to the Pacific, we get sun all day every day out my back window at this time of year, and I love to go find a little brine and breeze.

      Ursula LeGuin. Someone I should rediscover.

  7. On the good side: White Tea Rose Melange by Rishi Organic Teas makes a wonderfully refreshing iced tea. I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s Almond Croissants in the freezer section – much better than the baker’s at my farmers market (even though the rest of his breads are excellent). I just finished East of Eden by John Steinbeck and was reminded of what an amazing writer he was. Next on my list are Cop Town by Karin Slaughter and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Tonight, Endeavor is on PBS and a glass of that Rishi tea will be just perfect. Have a great weekend!

    1. @Jane, Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an incredible book. I hope you love it.

      And you are the second person recommending Endeavor, clearly I need to give it a try. Thank you.

  8. Hello Again, Thanks for the reading recommendations I will likely order “Less”.
    I just finished Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I had to work for my pleasure yet, I could relate to this woman who lived so many years ago.
    I suppose we are all time travelers waiting just waiting.
    I plan on sipping the five Mountain Tea while treating myself to an almond croissant.
    Sounds lovely doesn’t it?
    Mid-summer were almost there.


    1. @luci, Five Mountain Darjeeling would be amazing with an almond croissant, astringent tea and rich pastry, yum. Happy to give my recommendations, I commend you for reading something that makes you work.

  9. Thank you for the links to Number 6 Store. Crack. Such incredibly transcendent clothing! Healdsburg on the Hudson; wow…I’m burning my closet & running downtown tomorrow.

    1. @Celeste Pace, You are very welcome. And thanks for the Garmentory link – I should have said that I am being profoundly picky and waiting for it in silk:). But I love the colors in this cotton one.

  10. I do this, too. When everything seems mad and disorganised, I tick off simple, happy things that make me feel human again. Currently reading my way through a large book on the development of the Rose Window (I think they need capitals) in church architecture. Combined with a cup of coffee, this is an excellent pastime. And sunshine. And experimenting with middle Eastern cookery. If it all seems too much, I remind myself of the words of Elizabeth I: time will pass. There was a woman who knew how to sit things out.

    1. @Annie Green,” If it all seems too much, I remind myself of the words of Elizabeth I: time will pass. There was a woman who knew how to sit things out.” Now that deserves a YASSS QUEEN if ever anything did. xox.

  11. I spent this past weekend in a state of low-level nervous anxiety – too many decisions to make! Which car of those I have test-driven would be the best replacement for my beloved 2000 Ford Focus wagon (now discontinued)? (current fave: Subaru Forester) Which color and size Le Creuset dutch oven should our children get their father for his birthday? (current thought: 5 1/2 quart in Marine) Does the silence from my longtime caterer mean she no longer wants to work with me on next month’s birthday party, or is she just away on a well-deserved vacation? Can I do the party by myself? (current belief: yes, if I think of it as a family picnic instead of an elegant buffet lunch) How critical should I be about the short story a friend has given to me for constructive comment? (current reminder: it’s HIS story, not mine!) etc

    But I do have a treat in store at the end of the week: at 3:30 PM (EST) on Friday, TCM will be showing the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, with Greer Garson as Elizabeth and Laurence Olivier as the best Mr Darcy ever – my favorite film in the world! For this movie, I DO “watch tv during the day” – and so can you …

  12. I didn’t know anything about Number 6; and so I thank you, and thank you for this list. Sometimes this is all that is needed.

    We’ve had a couple of unusually cool foggy mornings, odd for mid summer here, but I am incredibly grateful. I walk in the fog and my soul feels calmed and soothed. I will look up the books and the links. I have enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, but it took me a couple of episodes. After the first two episodes I had nightmares, but then somehow I adapted. Still, I have to pace myself. But it is incredibly done.

  13. I’ve written down the name of the tea and the book Less (why can I still not figure out how to italicize in all formats?). Thank you for your suggestions, Lisa!

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