Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bits and Bobs: Lipstick, Dog and Widow

Sometimes I have no unified blog post theme so here are three bits and bobs for a post.

These Chihuahua floor mats for my car make me smile, and as a widow I count each smile as a blessing. Aren't they cute? Yes, the painting looks like Bounce.


I have started to wear lipstick and lip gloss with SPF protection from the sun's rays. I bought an Avon lipstick with 15 SPF online in a pretty shade "Mad for Mauve". When I see Mauve as a color I often like the color on me. I understand that most people do not put on any SPF covering for their lips, which is a mistake. I also bought a pack of 3 Kiss My Face SPF 25 clear lip gloss and gave one to each of my sons.


Another attractive lip gloss (see above) is by Sheer Shine and each shade has a nice sheen to it. No. 5 is clear and No.22 is coral pink. These are SPF 25. No I have no connection with Avon or the other companies, I just like these products and hope to inspire y'all to care for your lips.


I am reading (obsessed with) lots of books on widowhood and people getting through tough times, and this one is hard to put down. Carol Joyce Oates wrote a memoir "A Widow's Story: A Memoir" about when her dear husband Ray died and the days and the six months after. She is so honest about her emotions and I am experiencing surprisingly many of the same thoughts.  I see amazing similarities between us: she met Ray at the UW student union where they were graduate students; some years later I was a grad student on that same campus and spent many an hour at the student union. Will and I met at the UCB student union. They were together 47 years like William and I. And lots more. She was so distraught she gathered a stash of pills, imagining taking them. I have not had that thought but went through many of the same things. I have not read her novels but wow, this book is one I could not put down. Three differences between us are that my children, faith community (church friends) and seeing a counselor are huge helps to me and Oates lacked these and yet survived in her own admirable way. No matter how you look at it, widowhood is bleak, but her book shows how she made it through. I thank her for writing it, it gives a ray of hope to me and to others who read it.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

More of my favorite books plus the two I wrote

In July I posted on my blog a list of my Top 20 Favorite Books.
That was hard to winnow the number down to 20.
Here are a few more favorites that came close to being in that favored 20.

The Sisters (a biography of the Mitford sisters) by Mary S. Lovell.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser. When reading books about Tudor times I remember "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived" to help me recall the lives and fates of Henry VIII's wives.

Yikes, Jan Karon's Mitford series about the kindly Father Tim did not reach my top twenty either.I love each book in this series, best to begin with the first one, "At Home in Mitford".

Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell. My favorite of hers thus far and I adore these covers of the new Virago editions.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. I suggest reading "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" first, Jenny's first book. The author explores her lifelong battle with mental illness with humorous writing.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Uplifting true story of Corrie being in a concentration camp because her family sheltered Jews in WWII, and how she survived and became a beloved writer and speaker about her Christian faith.
The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Estes also wrote "Women Who Run With Wolves."
I realize my two precious "babies", books I co-authored, must be on my list of favorite books. I don't want them to think I am neglecting them. I have new blog readers who don't know about these pretty books. The first book I co-authored is "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday."
Here is the Amazon link: Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts 
The second book I co-authored is "A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts: Stories to Celebrate and Wisdom to Bless Moms." It was a delight to dream up and then write these books with the other gals.
Today on Amazon the Christmas book is $10 (hardcover, full color) and the Motherhood book is $8 (also hardcover and full color).
Here is the Amazon link: Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts
I looked over my list and see the books in this second installment are all written by women. Just an observation. My three favorite all time authors are men though, see the earlier list for their names.
Thank you to all the authors whose books give me such pleasure.Imagine the hours and years they spent perfecting their craft and bringing stories to life. As I know, writing is by its nature a lonesome profession.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Patio pix of watchdog on duty, flowers

Above are two scenes showing my watchdog at work on the patio while he sits / naps on the chaise longue. He is a cutie. Do you think he is extremely fierce? LOL, well no. He is a love dog.
The first Star Gazer Lily blooms from my new bulbs in July 2017. In the first photo you see to the left of Bounce the leaves of the lily before blooms.
Another photo of my Star Gazer Oriental Lily blooms. You can see they grow well in pots; you can grow them on a small balcony or in a small yard. My yard is large but the lilies enjoy the well drained soil in their pots which also keep them safe from nibbles by gophers.
Above is a closeup of my Cantua flowers which grow on a shrub and are two inches long. My friend from Chile told me about these beauties and we ordered some together. They are the national flower of Chile and can grow up to a second story, where she told me they grew outside her bedroom window there. I later bought a more rare yellow Cantua which never did bloom for me.
My patio is a place that gives me moments of peace in this time of grief for the loss of my husband. I enjoy sitting out there facing the garden, reading a book and drinking ice tea with ice cubes and no sugar in it. My dog and cat nap nearby and birds flit around, bathing in the bird bath and eating seeds I put out for them, up high where they are safe from cats. I think everyone benefits from a personal place of sanctuary and I hope you have one too.




Friday, July 14, 2017

My top 20 favorite books


I've been thinking of doing a "My Top 20 Books" list and then was inspired when I saw Carole of Carole's Chatter and her sidebar. She has a nice Top 20 photo / illustration she said I can use. I believe that what we read (our books) and our gardens are forms of autobiography and reveal things about us.
These books are not in order.

Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

The Belton Estate by Anthony Trollope. Actually any of the 17 novels I have read by Trollope.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse. Any of his novels.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson.
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. All 20 books in this series, this is the first.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
Ireland by Frank DeLaney.
Emma by Jane Austen.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat.
Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.
Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.
The Hacienda, My Venezuelan Years by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (all the Chronicles of Narnia).
The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel.
In Search of Lost Time. Swann's Way Vol 1 by Marcel Proust. Translated from the French by C.K. Scott Moncrieff whose translation has been rightly called a masterpiece in itself.
I was not surprised to see that many of my favorite authors are from the U.K. Wodehouse, Trollope, Patrick O'Brian and C.S. Lewis are giants of literary talent for me.
Do you ever experience Bloggers Remorse or Bloggers Ooopsy? Five minutes after posting this list I realized one of the best and most exciting books I have ever read was not on my top 20 list. Shame!
Instead of dropping one of the above 20 I am adding it: "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew.

This book is full of adventure, danger, Andrew's commitment to his faith and hope to marry, as he smuggles Bibles to countries where that act carries a death sentence.  It is a real page turner.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The World Is Still a Beautiful Place




"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.​​​​​​​" Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
My dog Bounce wearing his new Hawaiian shirt at our family July 4 celebration which was at my house on July 2. The shirt is a gift from Julie and her two dogs. Four people and three dogs and one cat gathered together. You see, the world IS still a beautiful place. 
Ha ha, a couple days after I posted the photo, I cropped it and added it above.
 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

Happy 4th of July to all my friends in the USA and around the world.
"America" was written in 1831 by Samuel Francis Smith, when he was studying to be a Baptist minister. Here are the first and last verses:
My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty of thee I sing, Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims' pride, From every mountain side let freedom ring.
Then the last verse:
"Our fathers' God to Thee, author of liberty to Thee we sing, long may our land be bright, with freedom's holy light, protect us by Thy might great God, our king.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Best song I've Heard, Holy Mother Hear My Cry sung by Pavarotti


This is the best song sung in concert I have heard.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_OHAkzfT_U
The lyrics mean a lot to me and I love the powerful way Luciano Pavarotti stands very still and sings so movingly. He does not need any gestures as his voice is so expressive. All he holds is a large white handkerchief. Many of us know the story of why Eric wrote this song and I think it is meaningful to all who have felt deep sorrow. I think that is all of us. 
Holy Mother Hear My Cry by Eric Clapton, sung in concert with Luciano Pavarotti.

Holy Mother, where are you?
Tonight I feel broken in two.
I've seen the stars fall from the sky.
Holy mother, can't keep from crying.
Oh I need your help this time,
Get me through this lonely night.
Tell me please which way to turn
To find myself again.
Holy mother, hear my prayer,
Somehow I know you're still there.
Send me please some peace of mind;
Take away this pain.
I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait any longer.
I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait for you.
Holy mother, hear my cry,
I've cursed your name a thousand times.
I've felt the anger running through my soul;
All I need is a hand to hold.
Oh I feel the end has come,
No longer my legs will run.
You know I would rather be
In your arms tonight.
When my hands no longer play,
My voice is still, I fade away.
Holy mother, then I'll be
Lying in, safe within your arms.