Amor Towles

House Projects

A week of vacation from work and it’s been rather intense on the home front.

I spent time at my sister’s new north Wisconsin lake cabin, a 3-hours drive one-way, to spend time together for two days. One day I picked up a couple of big walnut tree branches (we had a big wind the last week) and black walnuts while Mom finished working her church’s apple pie fundraiser (they made close to 1,000 in 3-days).

walnut branches.jpg

All those little black dots (some are still yellow-green) in the lawn and on the brick patio? Black walnuts. The black skins, which stain, are soft now and will peel off the hard-shelled walnut. One of my uncles, who’s retired, will take the time to remove the skin, crack the shells, and pick out the meat.

Then the past two days, my daughter and I have worked on house projects. Here’s the bathroom.


The first day she filled the wood grain (above), then yesterday we sanded and primed it white. Today we will paint the cabinets gray. I look forward to getting our bathroom and dining room (that’s where all the doors and drawers are) back in order.

bathroom cabinets-primed.jpg

And I pruned these two monster tomato plants. You can, perhaps, see that they have grown not only over my neighbor’s fence (for them to enjoy those sweet fruits!) but the nearest plant has also grown underneath the pink autumn joy sedum and into my lawn. The sedum has also been overtaken by my giant yellow pepper plant which I didn’t think I needed to cage. Good dirt around here!

Yesterday afternoon, we found out that our water system tested positive for e. coli. We bought a couple of gallons of water then will boil water for the next 5-days or until we’re given the all clear to drink water straight from the tap again.

This had happened where my church is a couple of weeks ago, upriver from us. It does make me wonder if there is something going on with the river water that is somehow affecting us. Something to research on when I have the time.

A Gentleman in Moscow

But in the midst of all this, I did have a chance to read A Gentleman in Moscow. Wonderful book. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing (though I occasionally tired of his tendency to write in triplets when describing) even though the story was a slow starter. I picked it up because Writer Unboxed’s facebook group used it as one of their studies of breakout novels.


I couldn’t get into the story before the book was due at the library and I had to put myself back on the waiting list a second time. I was not disappointed. For the ending, Towles ties together various bits of the Count’s life. It is character centered and, as a reviewer on Amazon wrote, I also wondered about the plot until we neared the end.

I’m also intrigued by the sympathetic portrayal of Josef Stalin. Perhaps that’s simply the Counts point of view? After all, he’s been under house arrest during the political purges and the war, so Stalin had no direct effect on the Count’s life.

Well…except for his confinement to the hotel. Count Alexander Rostov is a wonderful character and I fell in love with him. However, I’m also a Georgette Heyer fangirl too.

My Novel

And my own story? I feel very insecure about my plot again. So I’m using Janice Hardy’s points to summarize my protagonists’ goals and make sure there are no plot holes or logic holes or, heaven forbid, if I wasn’t tough enough on either of the women. Poor protagonists. Here we go…