R.I.P III Reading Challenge

My RIP III Reading is done! I was starting to worry that this wasn’t going to happen, as Paperspine has inexplicably been hopping over the first six books in my queue for my last three selection, and this included the final two (of which I only actually need to read one) RIP III books I’d queued up for the challenge. Fortunately, the Big Chicken Barn came through, and I found a copy of Nocturnes by John Connolly (autographed, even), staring out at me from the display at the top of the stairs when we visited there last weekend. Someone was looking out for my challenge reading.

This year, I read:

I was pretty happy with the selection. It was certainly less weighty than the tomes I went through last year. I’ve already moved this year’s alternate (Tamsin by Peter Beagle) down in my queue, ready for next year’s challenge.


Nocturnes – John Connolly

Read for the RIP III Reading Challenge.

My only prior experience with John Connolly’s work was his novel The Book of Lost Things. That book definitely has some dark overtones, but the stories in Nocturnes make it look full of sweetness and light in comparison.

The stories all have some level of creep to them, and each has a small drawing on the proceeding page that captures a little bit of the story. It’s actually interesting to look at the picture after reading the following story, as it’s often more meaningful looking back.

As I said before, my only prior experience with Connolly was The Book of Lost Things. From that, I knew he was Irish. What I didn’t know is that he’s written a number of novels about PI Charlie Parker, which are actually set in my home state, and to varying degrees, in my home town. The first hint of this I got was in the story “The Furnace Room”. While it’s never mentioned where the story is actually set, it was clear from the very beginning that he was describing the waterfront in Portland. I can only say that I’m rather relieved that while I do know the general area where the main action takes place, he didn’t choose an obviously existing building to house the furnace room. I’m not sure I’d be able to look at such a building the same way ever again if it were real.

What finally sent me online to read up on Connolly was the “The Reflecting Eye: A Charlie Parker Novella”. This time, the story was set in Maine, beginning in Portland, fully named, and fully realized. The beginning scene in the Old Port was absolutely perfect. Again, fortunately, while I know the general area where the village of Two Mile is set, it’s not a real location. Again, I’m not sure I’d be able to look at the same way if it were.

There are plenty of other stories in the book set in other parts of America and in England or Ireland as well. I definitely enjoyed the book – it was a perfect choice for this season, and fitting that it was the last RIP III selection that I read, this close to Halloween.


On my own for dinner tonight, and I was feeling in a definite veggie mood. I ended up making butternut squash with sage and a touch of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, and some garlicky sauteed spinach. They looked a little lonely on the plate, as purely veggie meals sometimes do, but they were sure pretty in the pans.

Saturday Night

Last night, we headed up to the Boothbay Harbor Opera House to see George Winston. Winston composes a great deal of the music he plays, focusing on piano, but he also played guitar and harmonica last night.

Boothbay Harbor is about an hour north of Portland, and BF worked until 4:30, so we hoped in the car as soon as he got home and headed north. We ended up stopping for dinner at the Montsweag Roadhouse. It’s on Route 1 in Woolwich, just before the border with Wiscasset. I had the butternut lasagna special, which was wonderful. Instead of a butternut squash puree, which is probably the most common way it’s prepared in lasagna, there were chunks of squash between the noodles. I love fall vegetables.

The Boothbay Harbor Opera House is a really neat space. There’s a bar upstairs, which was the original meeting room for the local chapter of the Knights of Pythias. The bar opened an hour before the performance, so we had time to hang out and examine the surroundings. The room has a cool tin ceiling and various decorations pointing back to the knights.

The performance space itself held about two hundred people with a main floor, and a wrap-around balcony. The only bad thing about the space was the folding chairs. My back was killing me by the end of the concert. Everything else about the space was great. It’s perfectly sized for great acoustics, no matter where you’re sitting (we were only several rows away from the back on the main floor).

The concert itself was Winston’s winter concert, and started with a piece called “New Orleans Will Rise Again”, which was a great jazz beginning to the show. Some of the other other highlights were “Tammarack Pines”, which reminded me of snowfall, a medley of Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts music, a really cool harmonica jig which had the whole hall resonating with pounding floor boards as pretty much everyone kept the beat (I’m frankly surprised we didn’t have improve square-dancing) and a really great fantasia on the “Carol of the Bells”. It was a wonderful show, totally worth the extra long drive.

Knitting Notes

Susanna sock number one is done! I definitely like the pattern. It goes pretty fast once I get going. I also like the yarn. It was a little sticky when I was winding it from the skein to a ball, but I’ve since had to frog it, and that went fine. It’s nice and soft.

I’d initially thought I would finish these and cast on another Steffi van der Linden sock before the end of October, but I’ve been neglecting my Brocade Leaves Sweater, and I’d like to get that done. So I cast on the back of that, and I’ll try to get a little bit of that done before I cast on Susanna sock number two.

Acadia National Park

View from Cadillac Mountain

Cairn Overlooking Eagle Lake
The Bubbles over Jordan Pond
The Margaret Todd in Bar 
Sand Beach

At Thunder Hole

We spent the weekend up in the Ellsworth/Mount Desert Island area. The definite highlight of the weekend was Saturday, when we wandered around Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. The weather was incredible (though it was quite cold on top of Cadillac Mountain at 9 in the morning). The foliage was also just past peak, but I couldn’t adequately capture that on film. It was beautiful though.


I’ve succumbed to the lure of Malabrigo. I picked this up at Bee’s Yarns in Bar Harbor. Isn’t it lovely?

Bee’s is a cute little shop. It’s just off the main knick-knack drag in Bar Harbor, and they also sell penny candy, so BF and I were both able to enjoy the trip inside.

Page – Tamora Pierce

And thus continues the story of Keladry of Mindelan as she works to become the first fully acknowledged Lady Knight of Tortall in centuries.

More than anything, this book has made me want to go back and read the Alanna books, for parallels between the to, since at this point, no one knew Alanna was a girl. Kel actually turns into a recognizable woman in this book, and it’s amusing to watch the reaction of the men around her. It’s also amusing to watch the reaction of the adults around her as they realize that she’s a natural leader.

Good book. Definitely looking forward to reading more, which might happen sooner rather than later, as Paperspine leapt over five other books in my queue (including two RIP III books, sigh) to send me this one.

Chalice – Robin McKinley

I’m back to loving Robin McKinley unconditionally again. I’d been a little leery after her last book Dragonhaven, but Chalice has won me over again.

The book has definitely overtones of Beauty and the Beast, but isn’t a strict retelling. Mirasol is the new Chalice to the Willowlands, the second most powerful person in the demesne. Unfortunately, the old Master and Chalice died in a terrible accident, and Mirasol is thrust into the job untrained, with no mentor to guide her. In addition, the Master’s only heir is his brother, who was sent off to the Fire Priests seven years ago. Never before has a man gone that long come back from the fire, and it’s immediately obvious as soon as the new Master returns that he’s no longer quite human.

The story follows a fairly predictable path given its inspiration, but Mirasol is a lovely different kind of character. A woodswoman, she begins as a total outsider to the great House of Willowlands, and even her gift, which comes to her through honey, is evidence of this difference.

I still like Beauty and Sunshine best, but this was definitely an enjoyable book, and I’m happy to add it to my McKinley collection.


Swiss chard and kielbasa pasta. The swiss chard stained the penne a lovely shade of pink in places. About the only thing that could have made the dish more fun was if I could have gotten my hands on some Northern Lights swiss chard (veggie 5063 I plan to have in my hypothetical garden) and see what kind of colors I could have gotten from that.