Readable Piffle

Now here’s a book rating system I really like.

Lifetime reader, Stefanie Dreyfuss, used her own personal system of book rating abbreviations, and it’s totally inspired and brutally honest.


Here’s her delightful rating system:

RB: Readable Banality

RP: Readable Piffle

NFM: Not For Me

DNF: Did Not Finish

DNR: Did Not Read

RP+1: One Step Up From “RP”

RPM: Readable Piffle Mystery

G: Good, Different, Holds My Attention

VB: Very Bad

NMS: Not My Style

PB: Pretty Boring

NBAA: Not Bad At All

RR: Readable

WOT: Waste Of Time

Author Lauren Tarshis, Dreyfuss’ daughter-in-law, shared her discovery of Dreyfuss’ codes as she sorted through her belongings after Dreyfuss’s death last week at the age of 96. 

I think I would have really liked this lovely lady, and without question, I’ll be pilfering her rating system

Excerpted from BuzzFeed.  Full article HERE.


Prague ~~ Day 1

We flew to Helsinki and then here to Prague.  Arrived Wednesday evening and a driver associated with our home exchange apartment (normally an AirBnB), met us at the airport.  A very nice plan as we didn’t have to worry about finding the place.  When we arrived, we were met by our home exchanger’s son who showed us around, recommend a couple of restaurants in the neighborhood and the closest grocery market.  A student with perfect English, he was in the midst of exams, so handed us the keys, gave us his phone number (if we needed anything) and was blessedly quick (given our travel weariness).

Here’s the building with our apartment – we’re on the second floor in back overlooking a little rooftop garden next door. Husband as photographic perspective for the very large front door.

The apartment is on a dead end which faces the Vltava river, so it’s very quiet.  We slept like logs and woke early for Day 1 in Prague.

Here’s the river overlook across from the apartment.


This river divides Prague into two sections Old Town (10th century) and New Town –(new meaning only 600 years old). First something very interesting.  We thought our trip was to travel through Eastern Europe — Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.  But it turns out the residents of these cities/countries prefer it be called Central Europe – we are, in fact, in the exact center of Europe.   Eastern Europe harkens back to Soviet rule.  So Central Europe it will be.

We donned rain jackets (off and on showers) and head out to do Rick Steve’s old town walking tour. Decided a rainy weekday might avoid the hoards of tour bus groups Rick warns about.

First, we had a wonderful breakfast at a local café, eggs scrambled ever so lightly with cheese and homemade bread to die for.  Even with two coffees and bottled water the entire breakfast came to $9.  Prague, it seems, is going to very affordable.  Noticed as left the café that good Czech beer is less than $2.   Husband is in a very good mood.


We crossed one of many bridges and watched some locks in action.

We wandered back streets towards the Old Town area and marveled at the buildings and architecture .  Prague is known not only for its medieval and Baroque architecture, but also for some fabulous Art Nouveau buildings and facades.

Suddenly we came into the Old Town Square


We spun slowly to take in all the diverse architectural styles – from Gothic to  Rococo to Baroque and more Art Nouveau.  Prague is largely so beautifully persevered because it was spared bombings during WWII that leveled so many other Eastern– Central European cities.  Sorry for the clouds and rain, but you’ll get a taste of it all.


Dodging rain showers we ducked  into some of the less tacky shops.  Such as this fascinating, but somewhat creepy, marionette shop.



More of our self guided tour and exploring some side areas.


We went over to Wenceslas Square which was once (Rick says) a thriving horse market, but now contains every possible fashion store, fast food chains and sausage stands.  Spied a Marks & Spencer (a British department store chain) so went up to their café for a proper cuppa of British tea – a much needed break.

Did some more exploring of Old Town area but then suddenly feeling very tired, we headed back to the apartment, rested up, and had a dinner at a neighborhood restaurant.  I’ll leave you with two images ~~

First, we walked by this office building, a reminder that, not very long ago, Prague was under Soviet rule.

Another reminder of tougher times.  Our dinner at a restaurant near our apartment, was delicious but dominated by stewed meat, dumplings, cheese and potatoes — that little dash of  orange –lower right – that’s  a scant 1/4 cup of carrot shavings – the only vegetable in sight.



Normal programming will now resume…

Book Barmy is back~~~~~

~~ after some necessary maintenance involving a hosting migration, upgraded PHP, coding issues, and all sorts of complicated stuff that even challenged my hosting service (big shout out to Daniel V at GoDaddy).

Suffice it to say, it wasn’t fun and I had a two week headache…




Apologies to my Book Barmy newsletter subscribers.  I know some of you are still not receiving email notifications.

But rest assured ~~~




I’m trying to re-establish  newsletter email notifications to all subscribers.  In the meantime, just check back here every so often.

In happier news, I have much reading to share ~~ your normal programming will now resume.




One special person…

“I love being married.  It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life” 

Rita Rudner



Happy Anniversary to my one special person…

A Tree-less Christmas

It’s a tree-less Christmas this year.  We do not have a tree.

Due to the Northern California fires and the drought, fresh trees are very expensive.  And because they’ve traveled a great distance  –they all looked pretty beat up.  We’re still reluctant to go the artificial tree route, so we decided to rethink Christmas decorations this year.

First, we put lights on big wreath and hung it in our front window, thereby maintaining some street cred on our city block.

Then I gathered my collection of pine cones from our Sierra hiking trips and created a little Christmas tableau in what we grandly call the library, but, in actuality is just a small and cozy reading nook.

Thought you might like to see some photos.


I pricked my poor fingers jimmying all the little lights into the pine cones, until I had them just right.  Then, I dug out my favorite vintage Christmas and Scandinavian cards and hung them.

Interspersed with some birch bark candles and cute singing robins.  Well, it feels like Christmas in our cozy little house.








It turned out quite pretty, if I do say so myself…and I gaze upon it happily each evening, as it’s just across from my reading chair.

Enjoy your own holiday decorations~~ tree or no tree.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

I write this through bleary eyes.  I stayed up way too late the last two nights, watching the entire first season of a wonderful new series on Amazon TV.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

I knew nothing about it other than it was set in 1950’s New York City.

Count me in — love the 50’s, adore NYC.

Well, turns out I stumbled onto a real treat – some of the best television around.

Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan from House of Cards), is a cheery 1958 New York City woman who has everything she’s ever wanted–the perfect husband, two kids, and an elegant Upper West Side apartment perfect for hosting Yom Kippur dinner — until her life implodes.  Her husband leaves her for his secretary, but what hurts Midge more than the affair, is that his chosen secretary is extraordinarily dim-witted – the ultimate betrayal.

While trying to put her life back together, Midge cultivates her natural gift for making people laugh (the series opens with her giving her own funny speech at her wedding).

Ms.Brosnahan sparkles in the pilot’s early scenes, as the very image of a perfect housewife; tirelessly making brisket, doing calisthenics to keep her bridal figure, and in a wonderful scene — getting up before the alarm to fix her hair and makeup, then crawling back to bed so her husband sees her all pretty – when he wakes up.

Until her husband leaves — then the real Midge begins to emerge, no longer hiding behind the happy homemaker, or the pre-dawn lipstick — she is snarky, funny and whip-smart.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is about her struggle to break into the world of standup comedy (obviously all-male) , while now living with her parents and holding down a job in a department store.

She makes friends with the legendary Lenny Bruce and finds an acidic, but endearing, manager. Throughout it all, Midge remains exuberant – and that’s the best thing about this series — Midge’s delightful combination of Upper East Side privilege stirred up with a bit of street smart and a raunchily funny sense of humor.

Her first stand-up act is accidental and performed while drunk on kosher wine — and is one of the best monologues I ever watched — both brutally honest and ferociously funny.

Midge’s confessional comedy style is a homage to the early women comics, such as Joan Rivers, who first broke into the male dominated stand-up comedy circuit.

There’s a great cast of wonderful characters.  Her father is played by Tony Shalob, there’s her prickly manager (again some wonderful dialogue there), and even Jane Lynch has a wonderful cameo role.

I’ll stop now, you’ll just have to watch for yourself.

The show was written and created by Amy Sherman-Palladino who also created the Gilmore Girls series — which I never watched, but now may have to do so, if the writing and dialogue are as stellar as Mrs. Maisel.

So, if you have Amazon TV – I highly recommend this show, but no need to binge watch as I did– you can watch it one episode at a time -but only if you’re made of stronger stuff and, unlike me, able to turn it off.

NPR did a quick segment on the series  Here

Fair warning:  There is profanity and some very dirty (but very funny) jokes – oh get over yourselves  – Just watch it.