January Blether

My Glasgow Granny would often say ‘Stop yer bletherin,’ if we were babbling on about something, but I’m using the word here in the more positive sense of ‘a lengthy chat between friends.’ 🙂 This is a look back at the month that’s been that will include books (of course!) but also other topics of interest I’d like to share.

I finished the fifth applique block of the quilt I started last year. Eight more to go and then all the connecting patchwork between the blocks…

I finished five books in January:

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Katherine by Anya Seton

A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie (1964) – after reading Nemesis last year I realised that I should have read this one first as it introduced a couple of characters that appear in Nemesis. While on holiday in the Caribbean Miss Marple was half listening to an old soldier’s story about a murderer he had known. When he is murdered she desperately tries to piece the story he was telling together but before she does another murder occurs. She turns to the cranky invalid, Mr Rafiel, for help in preventing yet another death. In Nemesis, it is Mr Rafiel who appeals for help. I probably would have enjoyed this more if I’d read it before Nemesis, but it was still a good read.

I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh – ‘”Will God really fulfill his promises to take care of me–to protect me under all conditions?” Madame Bilquis Sheikh, a noblewoman in Pakistan, faced such questions in Pakistan, faced such questions at the crossroads of her life. After her husband (a high-ranking government official) left her, she retreated to her family estate to find peace and live out her days in quiet luxury. But the deep-down peace she sought eluded her. Searching in vain in the Koran, she found many references to the prophet Jesus Christ. Out of curiosity, she turned to the pages of the Christian Bible. Then her life turned upside down…’

This book was published in 1978 so has been around for a while but I hadn’t read it and had mistakenly thought it was set in the Middle East. I have a fascination with India and Pakistan because my grandfather (my Mum’s stepfather) left India when his family lost their land in the chaos that followed Partition and he became a Pakistani. He went to Scotland, of all places, where he met and married my Granny, a single mum.

Coming of age behind open doors: A true journey of hope and redemption by Zoë Kreuz – I was given a free copy of this by the author. Some detail is here but essentially it is a true account of a teenaged girl who became involved with a married man who directed the band she was involved in and who took advantage of her vulnerability. What stood out to me was the lack of parental wisdom and the general lack of oversight of a person involved with minors.

Coming up this month:

I’ll be reading Anne of Avonlea and perhaps another L.M. Montgomery…?? It’s not too late to join in. Details here.

Books in Progress:

Seeking God by Esther de Waal – I’ve decided this will be a slow read as there is much to digest.

Elizabeth, The Last White Rose by Alison Weir (2022) – this is a fictionalised account of Elizabeth of York and has been a bit of a slog, unlike her brilliant non-fiction book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. It feels stilted and repetitive; the conversations are contrived. Disappointing as I’ve enjoyed a few of her books. It’s also way too long, over 500 pages. The best thing about it is the family tree/lineage dating from Edward the III down to Elizabeth of York and Henry VII’s offspring. I’m about two thirds of the way through it and will finish it… I think.

One of my reading goals this year was to include poetry regularly. This poem by Langston Hughes is one of my favourites so far this year. I’ll be posting those I especially like on the sidebar of this blog from time to time.

Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.


I’ve been reading Shakespeare about two or three times a year now, following along with an audio of the play. I did this with my kids but now that our seventh child has turned 18 she’s off to uni this year and I’ll be continuing on my own. There are two plays I’d like to read that I haven’t done in the past – Richard II (reading Katherine by Anya Seton inspired me to do this one) and after reading some posts by the Great Books Guy I thought I’d tackle Othello. He has also reviewed two movies: Orson Welles 1951 and Laurence Olivier’s 1965 portrayal.

Thirty years of teaching my children at home and now they have all graduated. A couple of months ago my youngest competed in a 5km open swim marathon. Here she is at the finish line. I thought it was an ideal image of our home education journey: a steady effort over a long distance and a good finish.

9 thoughts on “January Blether

  1. Do you have a theme for your quilt? I’m curious the words: speak life.

    I am inspired to keep up the Shakespeare on my own, too. I think I will add one this year to my reading.

    My kids were just talking about the films I made them watch after we finished each play. Some of them were cheesy and some were horrid! I still cannot tell if my kids appreciate the exposure to Shakespeare. LOL!

    And congrats on your completion of 30 years. The picture was perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ruth,
      Thanks 🙂
      I’m using ideas from a quilt that was in the Australian ‘Homespun’ magazine. It’s called ‘A Letter to My Daughter & I’m using the applique patterns and changing some of the messages on it. This one was ‘Just Be Yourself’ which can be an excuse not to change or consider others 🙂 I used ‘Speak Life’ from one of Toby Mac’s songs as I think it’s a much better idea.

      It’s difficult to find suitable Shakespeare plays for non-adults! Have you seen the animated versions?

      I don’t usually like this sort of adaption, but they were quite well done.


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