Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Random Thoughts

Above is the photo I took of Petra in Jordan. Note how tiny the people are which shows you the scale of the place.

Several bloggers I know do Random Thoughts posts, and I saw one that Betsy at My Five Men wrote which gave me the idea.
I visited the rose red stone city of Petra in Jordan when I was in college. It was incredibly beautiful and ancient and built by the Nabateans. A bedouin man led my friend, Carol, and I into the city through the passage in the cliff. We had only enough money to rent one horse so we took turns riding the horse.

My favorite flowers to grow from seeds are zinnias. They grow readily from seed and I love all the colors and types of flowers. These are growing in an old metal pail, and I plant them in the ground too.

I bought a wine rack and a book at Goodwill yesterday for a total of $3.14. The book is "The Inklings" by Melanie Jeschke and is a novel about Oxford in the time of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.

I feed the wild birds every day and give them fresh water. Our favorite birds right now are the graceful and peaceful mourning doves in their soft tan colors.

We like watching Downton Abbey and Walking Dead, now those are two SO different shows.

If you like to read mystery series you might like Stop You're Killing Me This is so good if you get a bit lost where you are in reading a series, because here you can search by author or main character and find out the order of the books. Plus extra features so you can find mystery series by subject.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shameless self promotion of our Christmas book

Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday

Yes, the book I co-authored has loads of tips to simplify your holiday. In our book we share easy to make or inexpensive to buy gifts, recipes, and ideas for celebrating the birth of Jesus.

One neat idea in our book is to carry a roll of quarters and when you see a Salvation Army bell ringer, give each of your children a quarter to put in their collection pot. That encourages children in the idea of giving during this holiday.

Another idea in our book is to create a Santa chair for busy households and hectic moments. Put a red blanket or Santa hat on a comfy chair and set it in an out of the way spot. The rule is that for 15 minutes if anyone needs a quiet time, they can sit in the chair and and enjoy some peaceful time when no one is allowed to bother them.

Those are just two of many tips in the book.

Also there are engaging two page stories in our book, like the one where a prodigal son returns home for Christmas, or when two siblings are adopted and have their first Christmas with their new forever family. My story of our family driving from Wisconsin to camp in the Everglades at Christmas is included too. Oh, and did I mention my baklava recipe? When I took my baklava to a program at church years ago, a man yelled out "I want to marry the woman who made this baklava." What a compliment; I told him I am married though.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dahlias and quotes from Gertrude Jekyll and Eleanor Perenyi

Dahlias from our neighborhood Farmers Market. Everything sold there is organic.

"The dahlia's first duty in life is to flaunt and to swagger and to carry gorgeous blooms well above its leaves, and on no account to hang its head." Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899.

"Looking at my dahlias one summer day, a friend whose taste runs to the small and impeccable said sadly, "You do like big conspicuous flowers, don't you?" She meant vulgar, and I am used to that."
Eleanor Perenyi, Green Thoughts, 1981.

Eleanor Perenyi's book is wonderful, I think. Do you like my vase? Well, the photo doesn't really show it, but I bought it this year at Goodwill Thrift shop, and it is pretty and suits larger bouquets with tall stems.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Books and more books, Bargains I bought

My husband and I agree that we like to give away a book for every one we buy. Today I bought 4 books and I am happy that a few days ago I gave about 10 gardening books to a friend. So the trend is in the right direction of not being overwhelmed by books.
Today a school near our house is having a sale to benefit the school so of course I HAD to walk over. I found 4 books for a grand total of $5.
For me, buying a used book is a good and inexpensive way to try new authors.
All of these authors are new to me.

The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips.1922, Egypt, a tomb, a mystery. That is right around the time King Tut's tomb was discovered and I love that period of history.

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. A novel about Anne Morrow, the wife of Charles Lindbergh. I like this type of well researched historical fiction. The Paris Wife, by a different author, is wonderful, for example. That one is about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, the love of his life.

The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman. I spent years working with maps in a library so this title grabbed me.

Foxgloves and Hedgehog Days by Daniel Blajan. An eccentric look at gardening written by a city dweller who lived in a sixth floor apartment and then moved to a village. I think the village is in Holland which is where the author lived at the time of publication, which was 1997.
Have you read any of these? Which one shall I read first?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Friendship quotes

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."   C.S. Lewis

"Every true friend is a glimpse of God."  Lucy Larcom

"Friendship is a word the very sight of which in print makes the heart warm."  Augustine Birrell

I hope you have one or more true friends, they are a blessing, aren't they? My youngest friend is in her thirties and I feel energized when I am with her. This week we took a walk along the bay with her toddler. Next week I will visit my oldest friend who is in her nineties, and as she says, doing very well considering her age. And yes, I have friends my age too, and will have lunch next week with some of my friends who I met at our workplace years ago. Of the six of us, four are retired and two are still working in the salt mines. Er, I mean the library.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two Books: Dog Stars and Orley Farm

Two wonderful and very different books I read last week. Wow, such talented authors, Peter Heller writing now and Anthony Trollope in the 1880s.

Dog Stars by Peter Heller
"Dog Stars" is set in the American west ten years after a flu pandemic has cut the world's population to close to zero. Here are the first words in this book, which kept me reading fast!
"I keep the Beast running. I keep the 100 low lead on tap. I foresee attacks. I am young enough, I am old enough. I used to love to fish for trout more than almost anything."
I posted this review:

Dog Stars is one of the best books I read this year, with a brilliant plot of Hig trying to survive in a post apocalypse world, with his beloved dog by his side, and with his ally Bangley, a man who is a survival and weapons expert who relentlessly leads in protecting the three residents. The three of them create a perimeter around the small airport in a wild area of Colorado where they live and where Hig keeps his old airplane, The Beast. They defend the perimeter without mercy in this brutal new world. Hig is the gardener and the one who flies The Beast to get essential supplies like the soda they enjoy. Eventually Hig can not resist putting them in danger by flying to an airport where he received an answer to his plane radio broadcast. This is a stunning and mesmerizing story. A few people did not like the way some of Hig's thoughts are written, rather fragmented, but for me, it seemed natural, and Hig being Hig. And Hig is a good guy.

Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope
This is a review I posted on Amazon and goodreads and librarything:

I have quite a crush on this author. I discovered the pleasure of reading his books this year and this is the 7th book I have read by him. He knows people and their motivations so well. This book contains love interests between young people, and secrets that torment people (I am being vague to avoid giving anything away), and describes living in country homes and in city houses, the rules of society then, and some humor sprinkled in. The event that pulls this book along relentlessly is the trial to see who has the right to own Orley Farm, either Lady Mason and her son Lucius Mason, or the half brother of Lucius, Mr. Mason of Groby Park. Mr. Mason is full of rage against Lady Mason and pushes with all his might to get Orley Farm.
Trollope uses some fun surnames for characters and he injects himself with humorous asides along the lines of  "if I were a better author I could readily explain ...". If you are like me you will long remember some of these characters like Lady Mason, Sir Peregrine Orme, Sophie Furnival, Felix Graham and many more. Trollope's books make me happy!

Blog friends who like Trollope, there is a Facebook group "Anthony Trollope Society" with lots of interesting posts. We are hoping to have 1,000 members by Christmas so come on by.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Friends of Narnia, Call and the Mighty Lion Will Come

And this scene from "The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis, dear friends, gives me goose bumps when I read it. Our King is strong to help us and as the song says "He is mighty to save".

“Aslan—and children from another world,” thought Tirian. “They have always come in when things were at their worst. Oh, if only they could now.”
And he called out “Aslan! Aslan! Aslan! Come and help us now.”
But the darkness and the cold and the quietness went on just the same.
“Let me be killed,” cried the King. “I ask nothing for myself. But come and save all Narnia.”
And still there was no change in the night or the wood, but there began to be a kind of change inside Tirian. Without knowing why, he began to feel a faint hope. And he felt somehow stronger. “Oh Aslan, Aslan,” he whispered. “If you will not come yourself, at least send me the helpers from beyond the world. Or let me call them. Let my voice carry beyond the world.” Then, hardly knowing that he was doing it, he suddenly cried out in a great voice:
“Children! Children! Friends of Narnia! Quick. Come to me. Across the worlds I call you; I, Tirian, King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands!”

From The Last Battle, C.S.Lewis