Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Beginnings: Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman

"Inspector Manchego's office wasn't, strictly speaking, an office. "
This is the first sentence of "The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman", which begins in Madrid, as Atticus Craftman's parents in England begin an official search for him. He was last seen in Madrid several months earlier.
There are several love stories in this novel, one twisted and two beautiful, and I recommend this book. Detective work is involved, gypsies, some weaving of love spells, and the atmosphere of Madrid, Granada, Spanish food, wine, guitar music and song in the caves of Granada, culture and Catholic traditions.
I am linking with Rose City Reader for Book beginnings.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: The Bay and Cute Seagull

I took this photo above while walking near our home on the central coast of California. Below is the happy seagull on our front porch who greets visitors. He is so cute; I found him at a Goodwill store.

I am linking to Wordless Wednesday

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Beginnings: On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

"When I was at boarding school, sent away during the war as a little boy, I had a sense of imprisonment and powerlessness, and I longed for movement and power, ease of movement and superhuman powers."
The above is the first sentence from Oliver Sacks' autobiography "On the Move", and as a young man he discovered a feeling of movement and power when riding his motorcycles in England and America.
On page 56 he wrote about his brother Michael, and Michael's first psychosis event. "He felt a magical and malignant world was closing about him."
Here is a review I posted on Amazon.

"This is one of the most compelling autobiographies I have read, and I read a lot of them. I admire Oliver Sacks who was a brilliant neurologist and researcher who helped many patients. This is a glimpse in to the life of a man who was a gifted physician. The movie Awakenings was based on his work with patients. He lived alone and had long friendships with respected poets including W.H. Auden, and medical researchers including Francis Crick (who won a Nobel Prize for revealing the secrets of DNA). Sacks was unconventional, broke rules to help patients, and had a passion for his motorcycles and weight lifting in his younger years. I was pleased that when he was 77 he finally fell deeply in love and found a partner. All of this is told in a way that is entertaining and thought provoking, as Sacks himself surely was."
I am linking to Rose City Reader for book beginnings.
I am also linking to Fredas Voice for project 56 where bloggers share something from page 56 of a book we are reading.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Black Eye Lily

This is the black eye lily I planted on Feb. 5 2016. February 5 is my dad's birthday. These are Asiatic hybrid lilies and I plant the bulbs/corms in containers. That way the gophers don't eat the bulbs and the plants have excellent drainage and when they are not in bloom I can move them to an out of the way area of our garden.
I am linking to Wordless Wednesday

Monday, May 16, 2016

Greek food festival

My husband and I love Greek food and went to the local Greek Food Festival run by the Greek Orthodox church members, in the town in California where we live.
No, we were not at the above place charming though it is but in a sunny area behind the church complete with palm trees, shade umbrellas and live music.
Moussaka, a favorite dish which has eggplant, a custard or Bechamel sauce, and can have ground beef.
Breaded and lightly friend calamari or squid. Very tender.
Above is a traditional delicious Greek salad. I don't have a photo of the eggplant stuffed with meat or of the spanakopitta we also had, which is a spinach stuffed baked pastry in thin sheets of filo dough.
All delicious. This fair is every May and September. Come and join us next time.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Beginnings: Straight Man

"Truth be told, I'm not an easy man. I can be an entertaining one, though it's been my experience that most people don't want to be entertained. They want to be comforted."

The above are the first sentences of "Straight Man" by Richard Russo. The above opening sentences are from the prologue. Here is the first sentence from chapter one.
"When my nose finally stops bleeding and I've disposed of the bloody paper towels, Teddy Barnes insists on driving me home in his ancient Honda Civic, a car that refuses to die, and that Teddy, cheap as he is, refuses to trade in."
Many people praise Richard Russo and this is the first book of his that I am reading. He is noted for "Empire Falls" which was made into a mini-series for tv, with a great cast of actors.
I am linking with Rose City Reader and her Book Beginnings.
I am also linking to Fredas Voice where we share from page 56 of a book.
"She shrugs. "Remember how tough things used to be when we were broke all the time?" In truth, I don't. I remember being broke, but I don't recall things being that tough."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wordless Wednesday Amaryllis

Our amaryllis plants surprised us and bloomed in April in 2016. Usually they bloom at Christmas.
I am linking to Wordless Wednesday

Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Beginnings: World War Z

"It goes by many names: "The Crisis," "The Dark Years," "The Walking Plague," as well as newer and more "hip" titles such as "World War Z" or "Z War One." I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable "Z War Two."

The narrator turns out to be a survivor who travels around the world interviewing other survivors. Each chapter is two or three pages so this is fun and easy to read, although just like with a potato chip, I could not stop with one chapter as I wanted to hear about more of the survivors and their stories. "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" is written by Max Brooks.

This Book Beginnings runs on Fridays and I am linking to Rose City Reader

Also I am linking to Freda's Voice where you can join in and share a sentence from a book you are reading from page 56. This is also from "World War Z."
"We knew it would work against rabies, and that's what they said it was, right, just some weird strain of jungle rabies."
The above sentence is what a scientist said when he was interviewed after the war, about when they developed a vaccine against the Z Plague, and it turned out that the vaccine had no effect whatsoever and was worthless and dangerous since people thought it would work.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gardening is exercise, good news for spring

Good news! Gardening uses calories, since it is a form of exercise, and you can get a good workout gardening.
While you are out in your beautiful garden, weeding, planting, digging or mowing your lawn, you are expending calories.
There are two books (and probably more) on this topic.
Jeffrey Restuccio’s book is titled “Get Fit Through Gardening: Advice, Tips and Tools for Better Health” and in it he recommends that you spend 30 minutes to an hour to get physical benefits from gardening.
This means active gardening, not just admiring your roses.
Bunny Guinness, niece of David Austin, wrote “Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness”, which explains how to stay strong and injury free, while working in the garden.
There are two helpful websites that show how many calories different garden activities expend.
One site is Here we learn that for a person weighing 150 pounds, weeding uses 315 calories per hour, general gardening 280 calories per hour, planting seedlings or shrubs 315 calories, digging/spading/composting 350 calories, watering lawn or garden while standing 105 calories, and mowing the lawn with a power mower while walking, 385 calories per hour.
The second site is, with its Calories Burned Estimator.
You type in your weight, select an activity, and the number of minutes and it gives you the calories you will use up. I typed in 120 pounds for weight, and found that gardening for one hour uses 320 calories, water aerobics 234 calories, talking on phone 62 calories, riding a walking horse 148 calories, and intermediate Pilates exercise 304 calories per hour. Sleeping uses 63 calories per hour, sitting in church 70 calories, and preparing food at church 140 calories.
One thing I noticed while using various calorie counters is that they give different results, but general gardening uses on average 300 calories for an hour of steady work.
So we now have even more incentive to get out in our gardens and work there.
See, gardening is not only good for the soul but for our bodies too!

Truth to tell, I have never counted calories or been on a diet, and my main exercise is at a health club three times a week, and walking. I just think this is a fun added plus to gardening, to know we are burning calories.