Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dragon, Chinese Guardian Lion and Fire

My dragon and Chinese temple guard lion enjoying the fire in my fireplace. I always wrote "our" for 45 years, now I write "my", sad to say but true.
The guardian lion is usually one of a pair, this is a male lion who guards the home, while the female guards the people. Chinese guardian lions are often called Foo dogs or lions or Fu dogs or lions in English.
My husband and I had not used the fireplace since the big earthquake in 1989. All fireplaces to be safe should have an inspection before use after the quake. In December of last year our sons decided to have a fireplace man inspect it for damage; he found one thing which he fixed, he cleaned it all, and voila, now I have fires again. This photo was taken a few days ago. I bought the fireplace tools and a log holder on Amazon, the tools are like sculptures, made of wrought iron. You can see the tools on the left in the second photo.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Best Dog in the World?

Ok, ok, I had to put the question mark in the blog post title, cuz we all think our dog is the best and the cutest in the world, right?
This is Bounce's favorite spot, on the back of our sofa, in the sun where he can look out the window and watch people walking past, some with dogs. Our street is a popular one for walking as it leads straight to the bay. Today Bounce brought his little squeaky toy to sit with him. I will try to get more photos of him with more light, but you get the idea. I think it is extra cute he brought his toy friend with him.
Bounce is a Chihuahua terrier mix, found on the streets in a nearby city and brought to the animal shelter. He weighed 7.8 pounds when brought in and was underweight. I adopted him in November last year and now he weighs 11 pounds which the vet says is ideal for him. I try not to overfeed so he stays at 11 pounds. He is so cute and food oriented so of course I give him treats like milk bone and Greenies.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Joyful Easter and Spring to All

"... these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him, you will have life by the power of his name." John 20:31

"Then Jesus told him, Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29 Jesus spoke to Thomas after Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Beginnings: Off the Grid by C.J. Box

C.J. Box is a great writer with a series about the dangers Joe Pickett faces, as he works as a game warden in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Joe patrols on his own, sometimes by pickup truck and sometimes on horse back.
This series begins with "Open Season" which is the ideal place to begin reading the series. "Off the Grid" was  published in 2016. My favorite series character is Nate Romanowski, a guy I have a bit of a crush on. He is an expert marksman, will kill people to defend the Pickett family, trains falcons, and at one point was given to climbing naked in trees in remote areas. Oh, he sounds handsome too.
Here is the beginning of "Off the Grid".
"Nate Romanowski knew trouble was on the way when he saw the falcon's wings suddenly flare in the distance. Something beyond his eyesight was coming fast."
I am joining in Rose City Reader's Book Beginnings, which is easy to do if you want to join in.
The second group is Friday 56 at Freda's Voice. Here we share something from page 56.
"It had been a long day that started with Joe saddling Rojo in the dark by the headlights of his truck."
He doesn't know it but his daughter Sheridan is in danger.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Books You Loved: April Edition, John Caldigate by Anthony Trollope

This is my first time joining in with Books You Loved and I chose "John Caldigate" by Anthony Trollope.

I adore this book. It was published in 1878 and has a love story, is mainly set in the English countryside, John Caldigate has a wild and rough few years spent in the Australian mining camps, Hester has a mother who is severely religious, there are scoundrels, the mysterious and alluring Mrs. Smith, a trial, a verdict, and a favorite female heroine of mine. She is Hester, and she falls in love with John Caldigate. They met only twice before their marriage; he loved her since the first moment he saw her in England and his love helped him survive the tough life in Australia. After they are married the question is raised: is he a bigamist? Did he marry a woman in Australia? Hester stands up to her family and stays true to John. When it looks like John may have a trial and if convicted, face prison, Hester says to him “Thank God, I am strong, John, and I can bear things that would break down other women. You shall never see me give way because I am a poor creature.” Trollope then adds “Certainly she had a right to boast that she was not a poor creature.” 

To see more Books You Loved chosen by bloggers visit Books You Loved
Caroles Chatter is hosting this event. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Joan Baez singing Mary Hamilton, a haunting love song

Joan Baez singing Mary Hamilton

When I was in college my favorite musicians were Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and others who often resurrected or re-wrote ballads from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Click on the above link to hear Joan Baez singing the song. The painting shows Mary Hamilton in custody.
This is a tragic love story and here are the lyrics Joan Baez wrote, following the story as it unfolded in a well-known sixteenth century ballad from Scotland (Child Ballad 173).

Word is to the kitchen gone, and word is to the Hall
And word is up to Madam the Queen, and that's the worst of all
That Mary Hamilton has borne a babe
To the highest Stuart of all
Oh rise, arise Mary Hamilton
Arise and tell to me
What thou hast done with thy wee babe
I saw and heard weep by thee
I put him in a tiny boat
And cast him out to sea
That he might sink or he might swim
But he'd never come back to me
Oh rise arise Mary Hamilton
Arise and come with me
There is a wedding in Glasgow town
This night we'll go and see
She put not on her robes of black
Nor her robes of brown
But she put on her robes of white
To ride into Glasgow town
And as she rode into Glasgow town
The city for to see
The bailiff's wife and the provost's wife
Cried Alack and alas for thee
You need not weep for me she cried
You need not weep for me
For had I not slain my own wee babe
This death I would not dee
Oh little did my mother think
When first she cradled me
The lands I was to travel in
And the death I was to dee
Last night I washed the Queen's feet
And put the gold in her hair
And the only reward I find for this
The gallows to be my share
Cast off cast off my gown she cried
But let my petticoat be
And tie a napkin round my face
The gallows I would not see
Then by them come the king himself
Looked up with a pitiful eye
Come down come down Mary Hamillton
Tonight you will dine with me
Oh hold your tongue my sovereign liege
And let your folly be
For if you'd a mind to save my life
You'd never have shamed me here
Last night there were four marys
Tonight there'll be but three
It was Mary Beaton and Mary Seton
And Mary Carmichael and me.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

My walk and some happy moments

On my walk today at 9 a.m. before church on March 19 I enjoyed the quiet. Few people were out. Later I know there will be many people out walking, jogging, bicycling, skate boarding, pushing baby strollers and walking dogs. On my quiet walk with my dog Bounce we discovered the same box full of free lemons we saw yesterday. Each day I took four gorgeous yellow lemons. Doesn't their cheerful color make you happy too? I treated myself to some pretty pink roses, as you can see. On that same walk I gave 3 magazines to a Little Free Library and took one book, set in Istanbul, a city I love. The book is "Arabesk" by Barbara Nadel and is the third in a detective series that is new to me. Along the bay two blocks away I saw people on a walk/run to raise money for charity. When we have moments like these it is wise to cherish them, before the tears come again. Somehow I found this walk and these moments to be healing.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ooops, I have more books to read

Yes, I do have a reading habit. Ha ha. Sometimes books end up in my house and I almost don't know why. I am still moving a lot of books out of my house, giving them to the public library and to Little Free Libraries, but when I visit these dens of iniquity some (most) times I leave with a book or two.
I "accidentally" bought 5 books on Kindle last week: "Angling Bumateurs", the fifth in a trilogy (yes, you read correctly)  by Tottie Limejuice, "Amberwell" by D. E. Stevenson, and "Squirting Milk on Chameleons: An Accidental African" by Simon Penton, his memoir of living in Senegal, "We Have Lost the President" by Paul Mathews, and "Old Age Private Eye" by W. Blakely.
 Then at an aforementioned Little Free Library while giving away some of my books, I took "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood, and am reading it as fast as I can because the plot grabs me. [I finished it quickly and found I am disappointed in the book as there was no hero, no character to cheer for or to admire. The narrator, Crake and Oryx were losers, in my opinion and the near future was full of evil and lack of hope. I know many people like this book, so that is just my take on it.]
Then today while working as a volunteer at a retirement home library I saw the fascinating "Mistress of Nothing" by Kate Pullinger. I like to read books set in Cairo and this novel is based on the true story of Lady Duff Gordon and her lady's maid, Sally Naldrett, in the 1860s, so I am borrowing this one.[I read "Mistress of Nothing" quickly and enjoyed it. The maid had a tough turn of events in Egypt. I also read "Old Age Private Eye", a short book, with the bored and retired senior citizen on a whim putting up a sign saying he is a P.I. for hire. Humorous bits and a mystery of a missing body to solve.]
Since I wrote this I got another book at a neighbor's Little Free Library, "The Woman in Cabin Ten" by Ruth Ware, and I am reading it. It is exciting, the narrator is a troubled woman who thinks she saw a body fall into the sea while on a luxury cruise. But all passengers and staff are still aboard. That is as far as I have gotten.
In my Bible study group we are reading Colossians so I bought a book "Paul: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon" by N.T. Wright. Imagine Paul writing those letters while he was in prison.
Oh, and at the beginning of my post is a photo of my brand new Star Magnolia tree's first flower.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Beginnings: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Ok, Jenny Lawson is not for everyone, but I like her books and find her books compelling reading. If you like the cover, you might like Jenny. Yes, there is humor in her memoirs, but also honest and revealing writing about mental illness and physical conditions she faces like a true warrior. I honor her courage. But you might find her books (and a few cuss words) simply not for you.
I am linking to Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader where the rule is to post the first sentence of a book you are reading.
So "Furious Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things" begins:
"No, no. I insist you stop right now.
Still here? Awesome. Now you're not allowed to blame me for anything in this book because I told you to stop reading and you just kept going. You're like Bluebeard's wife when she found all those heads in the closet. (Spoiler alert). But personally I think that's a good thing. Ignoring the severed human heads in the closet doesn't make for a good relationship. It makes for an unsanitary closet and possible accessory charges."

I am also linking to Friday 56 at Freda's Voice where we share something from page 56.
"The second advantage of being on antipsychotics is that they can actually help. In the time I've been on them I've hurt myself less. I feel more stable. The blue men who live in my closet try to sell me fewer cookies and most of those squirrels plotting against me have disappeared."

Personally I salute this brave young woman. Her supportive husband gets my admiration too.

Here is the cover of her first memoir.
Her dad has a love of taxidermy which affects her life today and as a child, and explains the two subjects of the two book covers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Magic Rabbit

Did you ever have a pet rabbit? My grandpa, Elmer Pelkin, was a professional magician and he pulled a white rabbit out of his top hat and gave it to my sister and me as a pet. So I had a magic rabbit.

We named the bunny Fluffy and his favorite times were when I let him hop around the yard eating clover. I picked clover for him and he found his own.
Now thinking of rabbits has me thinking ahead to Easter.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Best Books I Read in 2016

Some of you bloggers count the books you read each year. I have not counted them before, but since 2011 I have been writing down each title I read, so I decided to look at my list and found I read 92 books in 2016. That is a nice number of books. Now that I am retired I have time to indulge my reading passion.
The list includes several 500 page Anthony Trollope novels and the Bible which I read in a year.
Reading Highlights
"The Belton Estate" by Anthony Trollope. I love this book: who will Clara marry?
"Bilbury Grange" by Vernon Coleman, the memoirs of a U.K. country doctor. I read the first two in this series before figuring out it is fiction. It is fun to read and very realistic.
"God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew. One of my top 20 all time favorite books, this is the true story of how Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles to countries where it was illegal to buy or give away Bibles. He was in dangerous situations, fell in love, had almost no money, but a lot of faith and courage.
"The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper" by Phaedra Patrick. Upbeat book about an older widower who uses his wife's charm bracelet to track down more about her past. I reviewed this on my blog recently.
"Cruelest Month" by Louise Penny. This is the third in the series about Inspector Gamache, a mystery set in Canada in a small town south of Quebec. Gamache is a man of high character and his own unorthodox ways of solving mysteries.

"The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine" by Alexander McCall Smith. Number 16 in this series about Mma Ramotswe, a lady detective who lives in Botswana. I give all in this series 5 stars.
"The Enchanted April" by Elizabeth von Arnim. Another book on my 20 all time favorites book list.
"Even Dogs in the Wild" by Ian Rankin. Rebus, Fox and Shiobhan are back in this great detective series.
"A Man Named Ove", a curmudgeon at age 59. One of my favorite books this year.
"Pursuit of Love" by Nancy Mitford. Witty, upper class England between the wars.
"The Three Clerks" by Anthony Trollope. I like all 15 of his novels I have read. The 3 clerks all take wildly divergent paths in life, careers, and love.
"Ralph the Heir" by Anthony Trollope. There is more than one Ralph in this novel, which one will be the heir?

"Is He Popenjoy" by Anthony Trollope. Love and inheritance. Is the child legitimate? Is the man a pretender to a title and an estate? This novel echoes an actual scandal in England in the 1870s of a pretender to a title.
"Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson. Brilliant, dark memoir by young woman who copes with mental illness. I bought her next book "Furiously Happy", haven't read the new one yet.
"Mother Was It Worth It?", number 3 in humorous memoirs by Tottie Limejuice, who moved to Auvergne in rural France from England with her ill mother and troubled brother. Start the series with the first book so it makes sense.
I like reading books other bloggers enjoyed and hope you like my list of reading highlights from 2016. I recommend all of the above.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Finding peace in Scripture

I wrote this post a year ago, holding it in reserve to post in future. I wrote this before the unexpected death of my darling husband, Will, in November of 2016.
These words are even more meaningful to me now, and I hope will touch your heart too and help you if you need to feel peace. I know our Shepherd cares for us tenderly.
Sometimes I need help in finding peace or ease, in a stressful situation. This may be true for you too.
One thing I did years ago is to type my favorite Bible verses on a small piece of paper, laminate it, and keep it in my purse. You can buy little packets of laminating paper at office supply stores, 3 x 5 inches or so, that are sticky on one side only, so use two of them a bit bigger than your paper. Easy peasey and cheap protection for your verses.
The verses I have in my purse are about God protecting us and quite a few of them are in Psalms.

"Behold! I send an angel before you to protect you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared." Exodus 23:20

"But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 59:16

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:39 KJV 

Many translations of Psalm 91 speak to my heart. Here is the poetic KJV. " I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; ... There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.  For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:2-11

What a beautiful thing, that he gives his angels charge over us, to keep us in all our ways. 
"The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ", Ann Voskamp.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Favorite Book, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

It is only a few days in to 2017 and I am sure The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick will be on my favorite novels of the year list. Arthur is lonely and depressed after the death of his wife when he discovers a gold charm bracelet of hers which he did not give her and had not seen before. He gains a new passion for life as he searches through the help of the charms to find out more about his wife’s early life, and begins with a phone number which leads him to a man in India. He has an encounter with a huge tiger roaming on a rundown British estate, and I laughed out loud at the comic danger Arthur was in. He makes friends far and wide on his quest, from his nearby neighbor Bernadette to a woman who owns a dress shop in Paris. This is very upbeat, fulfilling and hopeful, and a needed antidote to hard times  at my home.
I am joining Rose City Reader for her Book Beginnings on Fridays posts.
Here is the beginning of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper:
"The Surprise in the Wardrobe." (Chapter one). Each day Arthur got out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m. just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. " Skipping ahead a few sentences, his kind neighbor brought him food, which he did not appreciate. The book continues "Last week he had found a sausage roll in his hallway, peeking out of its paper bag like a frightened animal."