It’s been 4 months since I last wrote on this blog. I have not read your blogs either. Let me explain. Last July my mom in Madrid got complications after a colon surgery, and I traveled to be with her for 15 days. She’s doing much better. When I came back, my daughters currently in 6th and 8th grade, after all their life being taught at home by me and other teachers here and there, joined two different schools. August and September flew by. My husband and I undertook some deep cleaning of the house, and some low cost renovations. We painted downstairs: living room, dinning, and kitchen. And he also sanded and painted the kitchen cabinets. I got lots and lots, and lots of trash bags, and bags with items I sold at a garage sale or that I donated. I spend many hours for many days, organizing, throwing, and disposing of stuff we had not clean or cleared in depth for the 14 years I’ve been home with the girls.

Pictures are best.

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Living room before above, and after (although it has undergone even more changes), below.

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Kitchen before, and not quite finished below.

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Dinning area before, and almost as it is right now below.

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My shelf of favorites above, and with our new addition, Missy, below.

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Library/office below after the changes of furniture. It looks even better after more decluttering.

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I love how I only have a shelf downstairs, with my most loved titles, and the rest of the books are in my game room, now more a library/office, and I still have a couple of shelves in bedroom. Books give me warmth, I feel embraced by them behind my computer desk and by my bed.

After that, I got my paperwork dusted off, an I have started to substitute a few times. We even have daughter #1’s birthday for the year under our belt. Next week, it’s daughter #2’s turn. I started to substitute in October, and here you have me, beginning of November, with Thanksgiving luring round the corner. And my lovely in-laws will be visiting us from Malta, Europe, the week of Thanksgiving until early January.

This is a new and exciting season for us at home. My husband decided to join a weight loss center last August, for health reasons, and he’s lost 45 or more pounds. But the best news is that his health has changed for the best. He feels better than ever. He’s not just lost weight, he’s learned how to eat.

The girls are learning the school ways, and doing well. Objectively, I still consider homeschooling (if done as we envisioned it, with a sound view of what true education is), the best option. For us, right now, school has been a true blessing.

The youngest is attending a classical charter school, and while all schools are very heavy on grades, tests, projects, and anything quantifiable, her school has a strong sense of community, a higher aim at not just academics but character, and many of the teachers share a true education view and philosophy.

The oldest is at the public junior high, and now that I’m substituting, I get to see what they do and how they do it. There’s again many cons. The day is busy, time passes fast, yet there’s not a great rendering of the time. The aim is too basic, the atmosphere is not intimate, cohesive, or very meaningful. There’s no abundance of living books, and there’s too many smart phones. Yet there’s always good things going on for her, along with that beast called adolescence.

To me, what to do in regards to their education, is a matter of how those pros and cons play on your family situation at the time. I could go on and on with my opinions on education, and my particular experience. Actually, once upon a time I wrote a short essay on our homeschooling experience, and I’m considering to write another one to share about this season of life. Maybe in the summer.

And finally, to the matter this blog has been about for the past years, the glorious books. Right now, -and I don’t know how-, I’m down to 61 books read this year. Since I last blogged, these are the titles I’ve read:

The Inverted World, Christopher Priest ★★★★
This was a book I read because I saw it at a blog and it sounded the right book at the time. Science fiction that combines moral and philosophical questions is pleasing to me. I did not get some of what’s called ‘hard physics’, but I still followed and savored the plot, and the many questions that came to my mind. It’ll do a great movie, I believe.

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, by Dani Shapiro ★★★★
I don’t know if I mentioned this book before. Shapiro’s life has not much in common with mine. Or maybe it does in that we both are mothers and wives. She writes an easy to read and compelling patchwork of memories, feelings and thoughts. It was another good and different read this year.

Corazón tan blanco, Julián Marías, ★★★✫
I anticipated this book for a long time. I wanted to love this author, but I only liked him. The beginning of the book is powerful. All through the book, one feels compelled to continue. But as the book progresses, it looses fizz. In just a book, some of his expressions start to be noticeably repetitive. His idiosyncrasy was a bit flat for my taste, a bit cliche. The book has a good take off, but it never soared for me. However, it was not without some stellar moments. It has some merit in the whole scale of my reads.

Meditaciones del Quijote, Ortega y Gasset (re-read 3x) ★★★★★
When a friend of mine picked this title from the library, I joined reading it one more time. It’s truly short, an essay, and I just adore it. I get so much from each paragraph and chapter, every single time I read it, I enjoy and admire the elegance of his writings. I once heard him described as a philosopher of daily topics. Ortega was curious about many minor themes that cross the path of the major questions of humanity.

The Gods Themselves, Asimov ★★★★
This was a very original si-fi book. I do like Asimov, though I have only read a few of his si-fi books, and a few of his non fiction ones too.

A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis ★★★
A bit of a departure, I guess. A more personal book and very different to his highly theoretic and academic The Problem of Pain. 

Death of a Nationalist, by Rebecca Pawel ★★★
Just OK. I enjoyed reading it, though, because it takes place in Madrid after the Civil War (1936-1939). Some of the streets I’ve also trotted. It had a personal connection for me.

Love Defined, by Kristen Clark ★★★
Fast read, self help. Read it because my oldest read it for a meaningful young ladies retreat. They discussed parts of the book and more. Good discussions prompter.

She’s Got the Wrong Guy: Why Smart Women Settle, by Deepak Reju ★★★★
Went ahead and read this other one recommended by one of the ladies in charge of the retreat, who presented the young girls with some lessons. This was better than Love Defined, it presented the audience with scenarios of why some guys were not the desirable match for some girls.

Letter from McCarty’s Farm, by Ellen Kort ★★★★
Poetry that my friend Sherry gave me. Wonderful book. Sherry knew the poet. I thank Sherry for the gift of poetry in my life. Before her, I wasn’t in the habit of reading poetry, now I can’t live without doing so.

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck ★★★★✫
Kathy. Wow. The most despicable woman, -possibly person- in literature. She’s so well described, -as the other characters-, that you feel you lived in their place, and met all these people. I understand why some can’t keep reading. Kathy gave my friend Lisa nightmares, -not a joke. I could finish it, and I’m glad. What an amazing epic story. I love Lee, the ‘Chinese’ man. Proud of reading this title which seemed intimidating, but that was not so in terms of difficulty.

Chains (Seeds of America, #1), by Anderson, Laurie Halse ★★★
Well written historical fiction. Read it because my daughter was asked to read it for school.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson ★★★★
Larson is genius in this book that pin pongs between two narratives, that of Daniel Burnham, and the other architects in charge of the Chicago Fair, and the other, H.H. Holmes, the serial killer who would go down in history as one who committed heinous murders.

El artista del mundo flotante, Ishiguro, ★★★★★ (re-read)
I read this book this time in Spanish. In awe. I just have no words to express all the fibers Ishiguro touches with his impeccable and peculiar writing style.

The Pilot’s Wife, Anita Shreve ★★✫
Book club gravel. Fast plot fast food style. A few of recyclable things in it that made me think.

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult ★★★
More inane book club blubber.

Staying Alive, edited by Neil Attley ★★★★★
It took me two years to savor the poetry contained in this book. I recommend. The editor grouping of the poems, his intro to each category, and his final concise and potent history of poetry made me able to enjoy the poems and to grow in my reading poetry abilities. It makes immersing yourself into poetry less intimidating and very enjoyable. Thanks, Sherry, for gifting me the book!

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri, ★★★★✫
Surprisingly good. I’ve come to not expect much from contemporary writers, but Lahiri proved me wrong. I’m so happy to see there’s writers these days that can produce quality literature. I’m doubly impressed because this was a short story collection. I believe that she’s achieved something important, for short stories are difficult to write. The whole of them elevate each and every one. There’s a tight and cohesive sense to this short and pleasant book. Her writing is effortless, pleasant to read. She captures the fantastic in the ordinary, and the ordinary of the fantastic like no other. I’m looking forward to more.

 

36 thoughts on “Can’t believe that November is here!

    1. Thanks, Paula. I need to start making the rounds and visiting your blog and those of the other friends who so kindly have left me comments and liked my post after these quiet months!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am so happy to see the results of your cleaning/remodeling efforts! Your home has always looked so cozy. And now there is an added elegance. As always, I love your book thoughts. I am thrilled that you enjoyed Staying Alive and Letter from McCarty’s Farm–Ellen was so wonderful and she left a great body of work behind for us to enjoy. Love you, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved East of Eden when I finally read it last year. I don’t know why I resisted so long! One must read the whole book to get to the point of having some empathy and pity for Kathy, seeing how the disease of selfishness corrupts the human spirit and seals its own doom the more it tries to escape from it. But we also see the noble side of our character, manifested in the healing power of forgiveness and love. It’s a tremendous vision and a great novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Lory, that if one can make it to the end of East of Eden, there’s such a great closure, painful but generous. And Kathy gets a new side towards the end. I do agree that the book is such a realistic exposition of human nature, the good and the bad, and it’s also full of lyricism and great to read. (I too don’t know why I resisted so long to reading other Steinbeck after Of Mice and Men. I’m glad my friend Katie recommended his thin “The Winter of Our Discontent”, and after that one, East of Eden was my desired next stop.

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      1. At one time, East of Eden was my favorite book. I thought Steinbeck’s portrayal of good and evil is as good as anyone has ever done. I also love his illustration of sibling rivalry and its effects. I have sometimes thought the Bible is a story of what happens when parents favor one child over another (it is much more than that, of course)–so many terrible problems with Joseph being a favorite, with Jacob and Esau being favorites of one parent and another, and on and on. I wonder if Abel was Adam or Eve’s favorite, too. And Lee–Lee is wonderful. Anyway, after reading it 3 or 4 times, the last time I tried, I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t in a place to be able to handle spending that much time with Kathy again. Someday I will reread it, I am sure, just not anytime soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sherry, you are amazing, such a deep reader. I think 3x it’s enough. That will make me tired of Kathy too. That’s where any human author can’t compete with the Scriptures. The Scriptures never tire us from reading. But give it longer, and it may be enjoyed once more. (You know the story well, I also saw appreciated Steinbeck’s portrayal of those biblical themes)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Silvia, I’m glad you found time to blog again. You have really been busy. I’m glad you shared what has been going on with your family. This is certainly another season of life for all of you. BTW, I feel somewhat like you do in the presence of my special books. They bring me a peace–of comradeship, I guess. They make me feel I will never be without a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Judy. It’s a very different season, and one full of blessings. He is always near. I’m glad we share that feeling. It’s just like that, we are never without a friend. I love how you expressed it.

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  4. Dear Silvia,
    So glad to have you back! ❤ I'm glad your mother is doing better. Wonderful job on your work on your home, mine needs so much TLC! HA. Tell your husband, fantastic job on his health journey. Something I'm constantly battling myself! I know what an amazing feeling that is to loose weight and feel so much better eating well! I just keep having children which throws a wrinkle in my exercising. 😉 I look forward to hearing more about your new season with your girls in school! We all have unique journeys to make and I'm glad I've got to follow along a wee bit in yours. Love, Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy! I’ve missed you. I visited your blog a little bit, (I have to do so now more often), and I was pleased to see you are still enjoying the profound blessing that a CM home education is. I saw you had been sick, and I’m glad you are better and that you being ill was a time to see how your family loves and supports you. I always love seeing how you honor the Lord. We are getting close to Thanksgiving, yet I have been trying to, like you do, be more mindful of the blessings we receive and enjoy.

      It was not easy to put the girls in school, but it was what my husband and I were hearing He wanted for our family. Now we have no doubt it was a necessary change.

      I’m glad to share my journey a bit with you and others through the blog, thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Stepping out in faith and obedience is HARD, but oh, so worth it. So glad you are finding a good fit and peace for your family! Thanks for your encouragement about my well, everything. Of course, many times, I’m hanging onto the Lord Jesus by loose threads and by noticing, writing the little things, I can keep His love front and center. True joy is a choice I believe, because if it was based on peace and quiet, or smooth circumstances, I’d be insane by now. HA! 😉 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree with your last statement. True joy is a choice. And obedience is rewarding. We serve a wonderful God, he blesses us beyond our dreams. Thanks for YOUR encouragement as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. i am really glad you returned to blogging and pray your mom have quick recovery.
    by the way i really loved your house decoration and i think i need to read more modern Spanish literature and Javier Marias seems the best start to it

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Silvia,

    Its so good to see a new post. I have been wondering why its been so quiet for the last few months on your blog.
    I hope your Mom is well again. Its so hard to live in a different country when these kind of things happen.
    Love the pics of your home! It looks very bright and more spacious.
    Well done for making the choice for your kids to go to school. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to make that decision but some seasons in life just asks us to make a different choice from ideal, and you choosing whats best II can only applaud. Also, what a great accomplishment of your husband!! Loosing weight and changing eating habits is so hard!
    So glad you’re back!! I haven’t finished East of Eden yet.. oops!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So glad to have you back! I know you’ve been reading since I see you on goodreads.

    I loved the check in! Glad you kept the lovely tea set. When I saw it gone from the kitchen “after” picture, I was worried! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so sweet, Ruthiella, lol, I kept the tea set, yes! And the after of the Kitchen is not proper. I will try to take new pics this Christmas with the seasonal decorations.
      What have you been up to with your reading?

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    1. It’s so different. I read your blog and Amy’s with nostalgia. I am glad you still home educate. Believe me when I say we couldn’t, we we’re suffocating. School is school, but our life is more than that, and the Lord is oh so generous in the way He blesses us no matter where in life we are.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad to see that even with the break from writing you have still found time for reading! Of all the books you named, the Ortega book on Quixote sounds the most interesting, especially since you read it three times. Did I ever write about how I met Jhumpa Lahiri a few months ago? She is a very reserved person, but I was able to get a smile when I asked her to write a note in my copy of the Metamorphoses–her favorite book.

    I hope the schooling goes well! It surely has pros and cons, but I am very thankful for my experience in a public high school.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t recommend that particular Ortega book enough. It’s very short, and that makes me want to go for it often.
      That’s very neat, -to have met Lahiri, and how you got a smile from her. It makes me want to read The Metamorphosis.
      You also won’t be sorry to pick another Ishiguro novel. I am also very interested in reading one of Ishiguro’s favorite authors, Salman Rushdie.
      Thanks for the reassurance on your public high school experience. It’s a drastic departure from our initial plan, but at the time, it’s a positive departure. Our world has expanded in a beneficial way, and there’s new people in it that are being good influences to my girls.
      Enjoy Jerusalem, and I hope and pray it’s an everlasting time of growth in your life.
      I am thankful for your friendship.

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  9. It’s so fun with friends blog…even after absences 🙂 And to see so many book reviews and beautiful photos of your home. I still need to come over!! After the holiday maybe we can plan something. Looking forward to more reading together in the new year! Love you friend!

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  10. Hi Silvia!!! I’m just now seeing this post! You’ve certainly had a full plate. But it sounds like things are smoothing out and going well! Loved seeing all the pictures! I can understand the blog silence. I haven’t posted on my blog probably in about the same amount of time too. Just a lot going on, including my mom having health issues as well. I really do need to get over to my blog and post about all I’ve read and update my reading challenge since I finished. it. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, and I just scanned the book titles you talked about in your post here. I will try to get back later and read through them all. I always love seeing what you are reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve read A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis. It was recommended to me and so I read it. I thought it was an interesting read in that it gives the reader a glimpse in Lewis’ struggle with loss and grief.

    I’m jotting down the titles Letter from McCarty’s Farm by Ellen Kort and Staying Alive edited by Neil Attley . I try to read at least one book or set of poetry each year. So I’m going to look into these for a potential for 2019.

    I read Interpreter of Maladies but only gave it 3 stars. I think I must be the odd one because it does seem many really like it. I felt it was just okay. I do agree that the actual writing itself was well done, but I wasn’t wowed by the collection overall.

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