Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Journals and Magnolia

 I have been writing a daily journal starting when my hubby, Will, died in 2016. Here is the cover of my new journal with a gardening theme.

 The above is a closeup of a portion of it. Below is the entire front cover, and the back cover is just as pretty.

This is my seventh journal, each one has a different cover, and all from the same publisher, and each has a magnetic clasp which holds it closed.  Each journal says "This is a Flame Tree Notebook" from My journaling is simple, I use stickers to brighten the pages. This is the first page of my new journal ready for me to write in.

 Below is another photo of my black tulip magnolia, taken on Feb. 17 2021. You can compare how the buds are more opened vs. the Feb. 1 photo in my previous post. The flowers are about three inches across now and when fully open about six inches across. I had this tree planted two years ago. I live in California, thus no snow at my house and I have a flowering magnolia. There are quite a few magnolias in my town, most of them white and some of them pale pink, so mine stands out with its bright color. All the magnolias are pretty, in my opinion.

I hope today finds all of you blog friends around the world warm and safe and healthy. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, I got my second Covid vaccination on Feb. 19. I am happy and feel a bit more safe. Experts say even after we get the second shot we should avoid eating in restaurants and seeing movies in theaters. This is a LONG haul of isolating. In a few days I am going to a friend's house for coffee on her patio staying six feet part, since we both are vaccinated. My dog, Bounce, is invited, and we will take a walk wearing masks after coffee. My friend loves Mr. B and he loves her.
Today, Feb. 25, I added the above photo of my last year's journal. It has a metallic sheen to it and a Japanese temple and waterlilies and an egret. I tried to put the photo right after the other journal cover photos but of course, blogger did what blogger does, and here it is at the end of my post. I wanted to show you how varied the covers are by that publisher.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

My black tulip magnolia and poem by Swinburne


Here is a photo of the buds and flowers getting ready to open, on my Black Tulip Magnolia tree. I took this photo on Feb. 1, 2021 and the buds are a promise of spring to come. I don't know why this is called Black, since the flowers will be red/magenta/purple when they open. I bought this tall tree in 2018. I understand that plant experts are searching for and breeding for a purple flower magnolia and this tree is a part of that search.

Yes, friends, I know it is still winter, yet in the spirit of my budding magnolia tree, here is a poem about early spring, written by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909).

For winter's rains and ruins are over, and all the seasons of snows and sins; 

The days dividing lover and lover, the light that loses, the night that wins;

And time remembered is grief forgotten, and frosts are slain and flowers begotten,

And in green underwood and cover, blossom by blossom the spring begins.


To mark the end of the poem, and because I like this portrait of me so much, here is the portrait above. Diane gave it to me! I think I will share it here upon occasion. 

Oh and help is appreciated if you know how to NOT double space when you hit  "enter". That way I could display the poem better.

Added Feb. 16, 2021: Thank you commenters for your instructions on how to stop the double spacing, I will try this next time. To my friends in Texas, stay warm and safe, I have heard about your dangerous snow and power outages. I felt a little bad I am posting such a sunny photo when many people are so cold! Hugs to you all.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Journey to Heal by Wei Wei


My friend, Wei Wei, has published a beautiful book, with photographs of nature taken by her, and words to accompany each photo.

Wei's words and photos in "Journey To Heal" are glimpses of beauty and her book is a delight to read. Her photos celebrate calm moments in nature and she has a gift for poetic words. The story in it has sadness caused by the death of her father, yet the book's words and photos reflect a deep joyfulness and healing. 

I like how the photos she chose often have a bit of mist or fog, ocean spray or clouds. Here is a sample of Wei's words: Take me, take me, to the other side of the mountain ... Take me, take me, to the other side of the cloudy sky.

Wei's book is available on Amazon and at her publisher as an ebook, paperback and hardcover. Here is a link to Wei's publisher: Friesen Press

Friday, January 29, 2021

Books I got Christmas 2020, My New TBR books


Santa brought me these five books for Christmas 2020. Isn't he thoughtful? They are just what I wanted, well in this case, Santa is me. Of course, I get easily diverted to other books so some of these may not get read for a while. 

My son Colt surprised me with a Kindle Oasis ebook reader for Christmas, and now all my 400 ebooks are loaded on to it. It sure is more slim and light weight than my old Kindle, which is 7 or 8 years old.

Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher. My close friend told me about this book.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Many bloggers recommend this book and I am reading it now and enjoying it.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith. I like everything Smith writes and I read this quickly. It has plenty of humor and is about a professor who specializes in a minute, tiny, esoteric subject and who struggles mightily to get recognition. There is even a sword fight and the tip of a nose cut off, and sewn back on.

Unto Us a Son Is Born by Donna Leon. I am reading this police/mystery series set in Venice, Italy, and this is about no. 17. I suggest reading them in order so you get to know the honorable policeman and his extended family.

Crimson Snow: Winter Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards. This sounds like a perfect book for me to read in the winter. Two bloggers recommended this book.

In Bible study on Sundays after church the teacher said that having a study Bible is helpful. He has the Life Application Study Bible, and two students recommend that one too, so I treated myself to a copy. I chose the large print edition, which is not what I think of as large print, but the font is a just right size and very readable. Every page of the Bible, verse by verse, has helpful notes adding to my understanding. The more I read the Bible, and study it with other people, the more I learn and the richer my faith is. My friend, Terry, painted the book mark for me.

Of course since Christmas I bought quite a few more books, including A Gentleman in Moscow, The Silent Patient, The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, and Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado, which are all print books. For ebooks I recently added The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, Agorafabulous (memoir), We'll Always Have Paris: A Novel by Sue Watson, Widowish (memoir), The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir by Ayser Salman and PriestDaddy (memoir, yes there are married Catholic priests). I buy faster than I can read. Ha ha. 

I counted the books I read in 2020 and it is 56. I think that is a nice number, I am not rushing through the books but am savoring them.

Did you get books for Christmas or in January? Let me know which ones you got.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

National Hot Tea Month is January


I just had to share this sweet spoon I bought, which is designed so it fits in a loose tea container and scoops it out neatly. Plus the heart shape appealed to me. I am trying a new tea from Plum Deluxe Tea, called Creme Brulee Grey Black Tea. It is quite delicious. With my order of the heart tea spoon and tea from Plum Deluxe Tea Company they sent me a sample of Coconut a la Creme Black Tea which I look forward to trying. The new spoon makes my tea drinking more of a special ritual. Do you have any coffee or tea ritual additions?

Billy Blue Eyes commented he avoids flavored teas and I usually do. In an earlier post I featured some of my favorite black teas, all loose leaf teas and also a delicious green tea from Vahdam "Himalayan Pearls Green Tea". The package says 100 per cent Indian teas and Vahdam also has tasty black teas. I like their Assam Exotic Summer Black Tea FTGFOP1.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Dog Bench I Saw and Ocean Photo


Bounce and I took a walk and found this bench facing the ocean, set up to honor three family dogs. The top line says "Dogs own nothing, yet are seldom dissatisfied." The bottom line says "Properly trained people are dogs' best friends."

Below is the ocean in a photo I took that day, near where the bench is.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Favorite Books I Read in 2020


Here are some of my favorite books I read in 2020. Yes, as long time blog followers know, I do love to read and post about books and I get lots of reading ideas from your blog reviews.

My favorite book year I read in 2020 is "The Splendid and the Vile" by Erik Larson. Winston Churchill's fearless character and brilliant mind meant he was the right and perhaps only leader in the UK equipped to lead the fight in World War II and to bravely encourage his people during the brutal Blitz. He would walk London before, during and after attacks, and people would mob him and cheer. This book covers one year during the Blitz. It was so well written I did not want this book to end, but I also would love Larson to write a second book about this time period continuing on.


"A Dangerous Man" by Robert Crais. For me, this is the best novel in the series and is number 18 of 18, and I did not want to put it down. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, two men skilled in bringing criminals to justice, especially where the law can't reach, are in top form in this book. They are friends who have saved each others' lives more than once, and will always immediately help each other. Joe has worked for the government to save hostages in Africa, etc. and uses his skills freelance in the L.A. of today. Elvis is a private investigator. In "A Dangerous Man" a young woman is kidnapped and they come to her aid. 


"Vittoria Cottage" by D.E. Stevenson. I like this author a lot and bought the next one, "Music In the Hills" featuring some of these same characters. The setting is a small town and farms in the Scottish Borders. Stevenson wrote this book in 1951 and said that she received letters from readers all over the world who told her that her books helped them through troubles and loneliness. Perfect books for these times, I think. Stevenson also said that she answered all the letters, what a sweetheart. Like C.S. Lewis did. There is a wonderful publishing entity, The Furrowed Middlebrow, that published these two books and is bringing many more wonderful books back in print.

"Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill" by Sonia Purnell. Lady Clementine was a strong, elegant, gifted, and giving woman. I learned while reading that her name is pronounced clem-in-teen. The photos in this biography are a big plus. We learn a lot about Lady Clementine, her husband Winston Churchill and their children, the times and their lifestyle and well known friends. Fascinating family and book.

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain. A brilliant first novel or novella, written in 2007. An art collector in Paris makes a brilliant find: a portrait from the 1700s of a count. The young collector recognizes himself in the portrait as he looks exactly like the subject. He finds clues to investigate if he is related to the Count, or possibly IS the Count, and he finds and visits the family estate. It is very mysterious and I found it delightful.

For a sense of joy I bought a dear book titled "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse" by Charlie Mackesy. For beautiful black and white sketches and some with delicate color, and wise words, you too may like this book.

A book that I love as I am in the second half of my life is "Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life" by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and teacher for more than 40 years. He is a true elder, in the sense of wise and kind teacher, and has founded a place in the Southwest for prayer, meditation and action. I like how he writes that the first half of our life is for building and finding who we are and the second half is for going deeper and growing in our faith.

Let me know in comments what your recent favorite books are. I love your tips and though my TBR shelves are overflowing, I am always ready to find room for one more. Or put one on my Kindle.