“The first was that if one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them; and the second was Montaigne’s maxim that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.”
― Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow.

Just a bit of a quick update. Wanted to give a shout out to those who are participating in the Gaia/nature reading challenge and share some links to reviews: Over at A Year of Kayaking I learnt about Yearning Wild by R. Glendon Brunk a book that looks at life in wild Alaska, and Curlygeek @ The Book Stop posted a great review of The Puma Years by Laura Coleman. Two books to add to my own to-read list, check out the reviews and over at Hopewell’s public library of life check out their list of potential reads, it is an inspiring one.

We have been building a little free library to put up on the footpath. We sourced all the materials at the tip shop or from old bits and pieces in the shed so the final colour scheme may be interesting, we are at the painting stage now and I am determined to only upcycle or recycle so my colour choice is a bit limited, might ask around and see what old tins of paint other people might have lying around. The current covid crisis has me back working from home, it has advantages but overall I think I prefer to go into work.

Disappointingly, my veggie patch has been raided, not sure if the culprit is a rat or a possum, but we have also had a nocturnal visit from an owl, not sure of species as it has been only a fleeting glimpse, possibly a powerful owl as they are appearing more and more in urban areas. The owl also seems to be staking out the veggie patch. I am leaning towards a rat as the culprit. I suspect we may have a rat in the shed. Rodents rarely last long, if they dare to trespass in the house, three belligerent cats make sure of that. I won’t use poisons due to the birdlife that might also be preying on the rodents. There are also possums in the area, we see them occasionally, they tend to attract the larger owls. Whatever it is it has finished off my tomatoes. A few weeks ago there was a bit of a possum tragedy with one managing to sadly electrocute themselves, taking out power to the whole street. Even in suburbia, we can still encounter wildlife.

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No nature-themed reads this week, instead, I finished the charming: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, a book as charming as the main character: In the new Soviet Moscow, Count Alexander Rostov finds himself imprisoned indefinitely, in the glamourous Metropole Hotel. Who would have thought a book about an “unrepentant aristocrat” trapped in a Moscow hotel could be so compelling. It was a lovely read and I found myself compulsively turning pages and cheering on the charming count as he voyages through the turbulent years of Soviet Russia from 1922 to the 1960s. Very much a character-driven novel, filled with fascinating characters especially Count Rostov himself. There are also fiery chefs, loyal friends, seductive actresses, petty apparatchiks and KGB operatives. Punctuated with literary and philosophical references it is a stimulating and entertaining read, funny and moving in parts and very, very charming. A bit Grand Budapest Hotel, in fact, it would be easy to see Ralph Fiennes as Count Rostov. An interesting journey through relatively recent Russian history, it is not that long ago when you think about it.

Just a quick post. Life is a little monotonous at the moment but trying to keep up the discipline of posting.

9 thoughts on ““The surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.”

  1. Wonderful to hear about the progress of the Little Community Library:) You may be interested in joining up in the following Facebook Group : Street Library : Librarian’s Corner. It’s a good place to exchange ideas about making your Library popular. I’m currently working on a Valentines Day Promotion – A Blind Date With A Book. Enjoy your week

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  2. Street libraries are a great community asset. “A Gentleman in Moscow” is one book I would like to read. I have a book voucher to use so maybe that could be the one. I was in the former Soviet Union in 1989 before the collapse of communism. Really interesting as an Australian to visit then.

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  3. Sorry to hear about your tomatoes! I have seen some traps which trap the rodent within a box or a cage. We ended up having to use traps while the mouse plague was on. They were getting into the chook pen and the chooks were playing with them – ah, it was not fun. I was concerned too about the use of bait and birds, so I was careful about the kinds of traps we used. We actually have more trouble with birds and our loquat tree – the seed is poisonous. Sedates the birds and they fall out the tree! Good luck with the community street library – great project!

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    1. Yes I think I have to investigate traps of some sort, we did get the odd mouse during the plague but the cats seemed to make short work of any silly enough to try and get into the house and we did have 1 rat which Morty took care of.
      Went out to pick fresh tomatoes for breakfast and discovered that through the night something had beaten me to them, oh well, win some, lose some I guess. It was the same night we noticed the large owl in the tree need the veggie garden, they seemed to be on a mission, so the culprit may not have escaped.
      Silly birds with the loquat, I have heard parrots will seek out fermenting fruit and get quite intoxicated but I had not heard about the problem with loquat.

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      1. My grandmother had a loquat tree and I don’t ever remember anything being said about it affecting birds. It seems to be mainly pigeons. I often pick my tomatoes half-ripe and allow them to ripen inside, except for cherry tomatoes. Some people say it affects their flavour, but I’ve not noticed any difference and it seems to help avoid loss by rodent.

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