But instead of the Italian Riviera, The Rocks is set on the island of Mallorca. It begins in 2005 and then moves backward to 1948 in order to explain how our main characters got where they are. I liked it a lot and was eager to continue reading, but I didn't like it quite as well as Beautiful Ruins. There's a mystery that doesn't get unraveled until the end, and I found it a bit anticlimactic. But overall, a good read.
Before that I read a real doorstop of a book, Any Human Heart by William Boyd, which I loved, all 500+ pages of it. It's the story of Logan Mountstuart, who lived in every decade of the last century (born 1906, died 1991), and is told entirely through his intermittent journal entries. I honestly still can't get over that this was a work of fiction, because the character (warts and all, and there are plenty of 'em) is so realistic and believable and full developed. Mountstuart is born into the British upper class at a time when that was all that mattered, but he ends up living through his share of the decline of that entire way of life, as well as war. Boyd manages to weave in subplots involving famous people, like Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce and Virginia Woolf and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, in a way that doesn't feel forced or implausible. I heartily recommend this one!
Julie found my old cribbage board somewhere and asked if I would teach her how to play. I hadn't played in many years, so I downloaded an app for a quick refresher. I was amazed at how quickly it all came flooding back! I was especially delighted to remember all the old lingo, like "Fifteen two, fifteen four, and a pair makes six!" I've been playing online whenever I'm stuck waiting somewhere and have a few minutes to kill. The app has a typo right smack in the middle that just about kills me:
How hard is it to spell card properly? Sigh. (Having gone to the bother of complaining about that, I'm sure there will be a typo in this post!) The iPad version has the same typo but a better layout, with the actual board going around the perimeter for pegging. Perhaps I'll splurge for a paid app that has no typos and no ads at the bottom.
For Andy's birthday, I made him a dessert that I knew he would love (although the rest of us had no interest). He got to eat it all:
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled andcut into pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
⅔ cup turbinado sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8" square baking pan (mine was 9") with parchment, allowing a few inches to hang over two sides. Grease the parchment and dust it with a little flour, then tap out any excess flour.
First, make the crust: In a food processor, process the butter, flour, and sugar until combined. Press the mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Next, make the filling: In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, maple syrup, eggs, and walnuts. Pour the filling over the warm crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is golden brown and set, 30 to 35 minutes.
Let the maple-walnut squares cool in the pan for about 2 hours. Then grasp the sides of the parchment and lift the whole thing up and out of the pan. Place it on a cutting board and cut into squares. Stick a candle in one of them and sing to your hubby. After he eats it, let him have one more, then store the rest in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I thought I'd mention to those who aren't on Twitter or Facebook that a few weeks after I posted about Violet's medical problems, she did indeed continue to worsen and had to be euthanized. She was only 4, so it was just shocking and really, really sad. Our vet had told us that one or both of the other cats would instinctively find some way to fill the void, and sure enough, Luna seems to be doing just that. She normally sleeps all day and keeps to herself, but she has become noticeably affectionate and playful and even outgoing; weirdest of all, she has started making the funny squeaking sound that Violet always made instead of a normal meow. It's very touching, in a cat sort of way.