Lovely Ladies Luncheon League

March 29, 2017

Circling the Sun

Filed under: All This Month...,Page Turners — LLLhost @ 8:10 pm

Funny how time goes by, circling the sun in the blink of an eye. The ladies have been busy with their hectic lives, many glasses of wine and margaritas to contemplate our lives. Family obligations have kept me from keeping up on the reading, and from writing here or anywhere. I wonder if I will ever find a routine and find the time to share how incredible the journey is with these fine women. With all the madness and chaos around us these days, the pages of a good book allow an escape. Right now I am taking one day at a time, one page as I can. I was inspired to quickly share this little gem, Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. A story celebrating a woman far ahead of her time, flying around in a unique time and place. We all need that for ourselves, a sense of independence and the will to be brave when the world around us is fighting against us as strong women. All I can do is one day at a time, one book at a time and one post at a time.


So many books, so little time.


Book Club May/June 2016 ‘Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’ by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

Filed under: Page Turners — LLLhost @ 7:53 pm

Remarkable women

Notorious RBG


Excerpt from the New York Times Review

“Notorious RBG” began in 2013 as a saucy Tumblr blog by Shana Knizhnik, then a law student, shortly after the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, which discarded a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act. (For the hip-hop unlettered, Notorious RBG is a play on the Notorious B.I.G., the rapper who was murdered in 1997.) Justice Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, which in the genteel, marbled universe of the Supreme Court, is most unusual — the equivalent of shaming your spouse in front of dinner guests. More unusual still was that she’d read two other dissents from the bench the day before.

October 11, 2015

Book Club October 2015 The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

Filed under: All This Month...,Page Turners — LLLhost @ 10:00 pm

Book Info:

Having survived World War I, Fidelis Waldvogel returns to his quiet German village and marries the pregnant widow of his best friend, killed in action. With a suitcase full of sausages and a master butcher’s precious knife set, Fidelis sets out for America. In Argus, North Dakota, he builds a business, a home for his family—which includes Eva and four sons—and a singing club consisting of the best voices in town. When the Old World meets the New—in the person of Delphine Watzka—the great adventure of Fidelis’s life begins. Delphine meets Eva and is enchanted. She meets Fidelis, and the ground trembles. These momentous encounters will determine the course of Delphine’s life, and the trajectory of this brilliant novel.





March 25, 2014

Book Club April 2014 — Driftless by David Rhodes

Filed under: Page Turners — LLLhost @ 12:09 pm

Book Info:

David Rhodes’s long-awaited novel turns an unblinking eye on an array of eccentric characters and situations. The setting is Words, Wisconsin, an anonymous town of only a few hundred people. But under its sleepy surface, life rages. Cora and Graham guard their dairy farm, and family, from the wicked schemes of their milk co-op. Lifelong paraplegic Olivia suddenly starts to walk, only to find herself crippled by her fury toward her sister and caretaker, Violet. Recently retired Rusty finds a cougar living in his haymow, dredging up haunting childhood memories. Winifred becomes pastor of the Friends church and stumbles on enlightenment in a very unlikely place. And Julia Montgomery, both private and gregarious, instigates a series of events that threatens the town’s solitude and doggedly suspicious ways. Driftless finds the author’s powers undiminished in this unforgettable story that evokes a small-town America previously unmapped, and the damaged denizens who must make their way through it.

Novelist David Rhodes Returns With ‘Driftless’  Story from NPR

Driftless by David Rhodes


Madison Public Library Book Club Kit Description: 

Narrated with humor, suspense, and empathy, a diverse cast of characters in small town in Wisconsin get entangled in family secrets, legal battles with a corrupt milk cooperative, gambling, dogfighting, and a miracle cure, amongst other things.

Madison Public Library Discussion Questions for Driftless:

  1. Driftless is, in part at least, a character study.  Which character do you find the most compelling?  What was it about the way the author portrayed the character that made the character so compelling?  Which character was least compelling?  How so?
  2. Have you met any Driftless characters in your own community?  Based on your own experience of the rural Midwest, were any characters difficult for you to believe?
  3. It could be argued that one of the main characters in the novel is the rural Midwest itself.  Did you find the portrait of the rural Midwest authentic?  In what ways did you find it particularly authentic?  Was any part of the portrait inauthentic or stereotypical?  Why?
  4. Would you recommend Driftless to someone from New York City or Los Angeles as a way to understand Midwestern culture?  Why or why not?
  5. David Rhodes sets his story in the small town of Words in the “driftless” region on Wisconsin.  Talk about the significance of the town’s name and setting.  What is the significance of the novel’s title?
  6. Driftless is composed of short chapters, each with a title.  How does this affect the reader’s experience of the novel?
  7. Driftless begins and ends with July Montgomery’s story.  Talk about the ways July is important to the Words community and to the novel’s structure.
  8. The story that develops around Grahm and Cora Shotwell introduces some of the changes farmers have faced in the past 30 years.  Does the Shotwell’s story ring true?  How so or how not?
  9. Encounters with a panther, not uncommon in the past few years in the Midwest, weave through the novel.  What does the panther and various characters’ reactions to the panther suggest to you?
  10. Several characters undergo transformational experiences in Driftless.  Talk about these.  Relate a similar experience you or someone close to you has had.
  11. Driftless explores serious themes–isolation, spirituality, marital discord, aging and death among them.  But the book’s tone is often wryly humorous, and Rhodes seems to be gently poking fun at his characters and their experiences.  Do you have a favorite example?  Was the book’s tone upsetting to you, the reader?  Was it satisfying?  How does Rhodes sustain his humorous tone?
  12. David Rhodes describes the inhabitants of Words as “attached more firmly to the past than to the present and only tentatively engaged in the future.”  This statement is certainly true of many characters as the novel opens.  What changes happen by the book’s end?  Talk about yourself and your community in terms of this statement.













March 11, 2014

Book Club March 2014 — Flight Behavior, Barbra Kingsolver

Filed under: Page Turners — LLLhost @ 11:08 am

Out of our mutual admiration for the way she writes, we chose Flight Behavior by Barbra Kingsolver as our book for March.

An unsettling tale having to do with science, faith, and the everyday balance between reason and conviction. The story is about a restless farm wife on a failing farm, who thought she had settled for permanently disappointing life. She attempts to escapes temporarily, by becoming infatuated with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her home toward their secret tryst, she encounters a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. A seemingly small miracle in the moment to her, the event actually cascades as it brings outsiders to the community with their various explanations and draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintances. Everyone with a stake in what this debate means.

Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.  (From the publisher.)

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

January 13, 2014

Book Club January 2014 — A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

Filed under: All This Month...,Page Turners — LLLhost @ 12:56 am
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In December, we met at the new downtown Madison public library to explore the new facility (which is wonderful) and specifically to peruse the special book group collection. The library has over 190 kits of popular book selections available for book groups. The library makes it so easy to select your next book and will even  put all the copies you need in a canvas bag along with discussion questions and related information about the author in a folder for you.

As a group, we all gravitated to the latest Go Big Read selection for 2013,  A Tale for the Time Being. This is a powerful story is about the ways reading and writing can connect two people who will never meet. The story spans across the globe from Tokyo’s Electric Town to Desolation Sound, British Columbia.  A Tale for the Time Being begins with a diary, washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, and it has a profound effect on the woman who discovers it.

A Tale for the Time Being

The 2013 Go Big Read

“A Tale for the Time Being” is a sprawling book that spans both time and the globe, but at heart, it’s a story about the relationship between a writer and a reader. UW News

So an interesting thing happened to us while reading our book this month. Although two people finished reading it, everyone wanted to savor the pages, to not rush and truly enjoy every page of the unfolding story.

Book Review

Since we extended our reading of A Tale for the Time Being another month, we were able to fully relish the characters and the intricate interwoven story they share. So many small details of culture and history along the way. Themes that are relatable to everyone. It was a joy to read, fresh and real, sometimes painful. All and all worth the extra time to savor. We me at the historic Greenbush Bar (or the Italian Workman’s Club as it is fondly known) for wine and a sampling of their spectacular pizza (arugula, tomatoes & goat cheese and one with sausage, very thin, crispy almost burnt crust but very tasty) and over the intimate crowd were able to share our appreciation for the meaning of time in our lives, relationships with our families, along with death & suicide, from a the fresh and modern perspective driven by a story of two characters bound through time.

September 4, 2013

Book Club September 2013 — Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear

Filed under: Page Turners — LLLhost @ 2:35 pm

This month we are reading Maisie Dobbs, as recommended by the owner of Madison’s new Independent bookstore Mystery to Me. For those lovers of murder, mayhem, intrigue and all around entertaining literature, this addition to Monroe street is a friendly & inviting place to explore mystery (and other genres). The owner,  Joanne Berg, is currently attempting to bring the author, Jacqueline Winspear, to the store which would be quite an event! In the future, she has many other exciting events planned so check out the latest news at

Several of our readers have already fallen in love and are reading further into the series. Should be a lively discussion. It’s very excited that we are planning to have the book group actually meet at the store!


‘My job is rather more complex than you might have imagined,’ says Maisie

Maisie Dobbs

“Hailed by NPR’s Fresh Air as part Testament of Youth, part Dorothy Sayers, and part Upstairs, Downstairs, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths.”  —Author Jacqueline Winspear

March 22, 2013

Ménage à trios les chats

Filed under: Feline Adoration — LLLhost @ 1:31 pm

Never in a million years did I ever think I would become “that” cat lady. How does someone end up with a house full of felines? I’ve always had an affinity for them, but generally one at a time. My cat of 20 years, Max had recently passed away and I was still considering if I could bring another into my home.

Then I met Smokey.

Household of three cats

Ménage à trios les chats

It will be four summers now since she claimed me as I visited my friend June in Door county. Smokey was a feral cat who actually enjoyed the company of humans. Though wild, she would follow June all across her yard— which was immense—as if curious about everything she did and could even be helpful in some detached feline fashion. She never wanted to be picked up or to come indoors but provided such a sweet company for June she was, and is special.

It was August, very hot and humid, but fall was just around the corner and, all to soon after that, winter. June worried about what would happen to this friendly feral as she prepared for her annual journey to winter in Florida. Worst of all, Smokey was pregnant. So pregnant that her belly scraped the ground. How would she and a litter of kittens make it though a Wisconsin winter without human help? All of the shelters were overrun with cats, over a hundred when I checked the nearest so they would not take more. With so many, they have no choice but to euthanize them if not adopted quickly. No room for this pregnant mama.

Then it happened. As I sat outside, Smokey would join me in the sun, follow me through the field and walk me to the door each night. With every passing day, she would keep me close as if she knew my weakness for with cats would save her from the fate of some overcrowded shelter. The decision was made the day she gave birth. As we sat together, she on one chair, me on the other, I watched her stomach rise and fall, the contractions growing more frequent, I realized we had bonded somehow. I just knew,  I can’t really explain it. Even pregnant, ready to drop those kittens, she wouldn’t leave my side. I had to walk her to the barn—barely able to—and with every step, knew she would be coming home with me and that all her kittens would find good homes.

After a successful birth, she and the kittens remained in Door county until they were old enough to be picked up and moved to Madison. June took great care to make sure everyone was healthy and as soon as old enough, given shots and spayed and neutered, as responsible people do for feral cats. By the time moving day arrived, Smokey had started feeding them meat,  snakes, mice, she was such a good provider though she herself preferred the food June left out for her near the house. The kittens were getting enough milk and meat to grow strong and healthy.

Collecting them was challenge. Returning to Door county I was able to catch the shy one that no one had handled before but simply could not find the last of the four kittens. Hours went by and knowing that the kitten would certainly die without its mother, we still had no choice but to take the rest of the family and leave the kitten behind. Smokey walked into my tiny apartment with her other kittens as if she lived there all her life. She immediately used the litter box and settled the babies into a cozy box under a large table. Once fed and asleep, she started to frantically explore the apartment. Every day she searched for something making these mournful noises. She would attend to the other kittens but everyday I witnessed her searching and searching my tiny apartment, unwilling to give up.

June called a week later. They had found the kitten! Starving, but alive. My niece drove three hours there and back to retrieve the lost kitten and bring him home to Smokey. If ever we needed a video camera it would have been to document the homecoming of Smokey’s prodigal son. Unbelievable. The joy in both hers and the kittens body language couldn’t have been more obvious…playing, licking, rolling, snuggling, purring (something Smokey had never done before). She never let that kitten stray far from her side again, as if to say, I will not lose you again.

Sharing a small space with a litter of kittens is, well, all-consuming. Quite the handful. I thought, when it was all over, that Smokey and perhaps one kitten would remain with me. Our lost lad, Leo, eventually went home to my niece, and the tiniest tough guy, Spencer to my mum. As for me, I ended up with an extra, though I often say two-and-one-half instead of three. Smokey is with me of course, she is truly extraordinary and so little effort to live with I think of her as the one-half.. Lily, is a beauty with perfect ears and was the kitten I intended to keep though she is all sass and sheer attitude, and finally Luka, the runt of the litter and forever shy guy, who I was the first person to hold. He is huge now but still afraid of everyone and everything except for me so I just couldn’t let him go. They are still feral in so many ways, they don’t like to be held, to cuddle, they run from large people or heavy footsteps. Smokey usually gives me ten minutes of devotion when I come home but is quickly off to do her won thing (although there to help if I am busy) But, they are definitely house cats now. Only Smokey will venture outside with me in the nice weather. She will visit the backyard flowers and help me hang laundry, however, when it’s time to go in and I call her, she will quickly come running back inside,  into my crowded little space to rejoin her Ménage à trios, (as in household of three).

March 21, 2013

Figaro, Figaro, Figaro….

Filed under: Feline Adoration — LLLhost @ 10:32 pm
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What a sweet boy!


December 4, 2012

Why Cat’s Read?

Filed under: Feline Adoration — LLLhost @ 10:01 am
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Felines Honor ALA Read Posters

Every year the American Library Association hosts a Celebrity READ Poster. Many small libraries like MERIT on the UW campus will hold a similar week where they set up a camera shoot for people to come in and create their own personalized version of a READ poster to encourage and promote reading. Many bring props, sometimes their pets, infusing their personality into each posters which is then displayed in the library.

Obviously reading is central to the Lovely Ladies League and thought I would share my own version of the poster. Unable to bring the feline family in to the library, I took several photos, merged them together added a colorful wash background and voilà! The books were gifts from friends and are hysterical if you have a chance to view them. Women, cats and books…hmmmm.

Why Cats Read Poster

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