Friday, May 25, 2012

A View From A Window (Door) (The Driveway

I have been following and participating in a weekly look at my yard from the window as hosted by Jane at The Maple Syrup Mob,  I have had to fudge a little on the window part because I couldn't get a good view of the yard from the window so I have been taking the photos from the door or, on occasion, even outside the door.  Well, this week, it gets worse -- it is the view from the driveway.

My views of the back yard didn't change much over the winter as we didn't really have winter but then, in early spring, Hubs decided to re-landscape the landscaping and that provided this blogger with some really nice before and after photos.  The backyard is  finished, however, except for the never ending weeding so Hubs has now moved to the front.  The reason that this is "a view from the driveway" is because I can't see it from the windows.  Yes, there are windows in the garage but trust me, that part of the garage is the Hubs little  woodworking wonderland and there is no getting near the windows so, 'nuf said.

So, let's begin at the beginning, almost.  When this photo was taken, several bushes had been removed along with a bunch of ground cover and at this point we were trying to figure out what to do with these purple bushes whose name escapes me at the moment -- something about fringe plant -- I didn't like them and when this subdivision was built, the builder put them everywhere.

It was a mess from the beginning which we just made worse by trying to "improve it".  So, after all the bushes were out, Hubs took to the rock path and made it more structured than it was originally

After much ripping out, rearranging, mulching and agonizing over moving rocks and the pain after moving the rocks this is what he had --

We were then left with this little curvy piece of real estate and were dead set on putting mondo grass in it only to learn that mondo grass isn't going to grow in that perpetually sunny location so we ended up with this...

It is dianthus and has a lovely little red flower on it.  We aren't done as we want to add a piece of  "something" to add interest and we are going to have to remove a bush that didn't make a transplant but all in all, that is the front flower bed and we are quite happy to be rid of the giant shrubbery!

So, that is my view from the....driveway!

I have written a perfectly lovely post which is now in draft because my photos are all wonky! Has anybody else been having problems posting photos on blogger?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

23 May 2012

I received this book from my son and daughter-in-law for my birthday in February and I just finished reading it.  I read some reviews and a number of people didn't like it, compared to some of de Rosnay's
other works.  I, however, had a different opinion of it.  It is very well written and while some of the characters are not particularly well developed the main character is.  "Rose" is loyal to a fault and is willing to stand by her beliefs at any and all costs.  She is vulnerable yet strong.  She has had a sad life which is brought out slowly throughout the book.  The setting is well described and I could visualize the street in Paris that was the center of her concern as well as the house.  The thing that didn't seem to mesh, to me, was her  relationship with her children but you will have to read the book to see what I mean.

I enjoyed the book but I thought it was very sad.  I would recommend it -- it isn't a long book and because it is written as a series of letters, it is an easy read.  I am going to explore more of de Rosnay's works to compare but I liked the book and don't agree with many of the other reviewers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

The question of the day is "What do you do with the book before you start reading it".

For the most part, I read the cover.  I am all about covers.  The cover has to grab me first and then when I pick up the book, I read whatever printed word is on it and then I decide if I want to read it at all.  When I decide I want to read it, then I just read it because I will have already done all my preliminary weird stuff.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I know, I am a bit late with this but here I go with this week's question -- "If you had to chose to live within a novel, which would it be?

I would have to say that I would choose to live within  a series of novels -- the Mitford series by Jan Karon.  I love the town and all the characters.  I love the closeness of the characters even though it is so stereotypically  "small town" but, never having lived in  a small town, I think it would be nice.

So, yeah, it is off to Mitford I would go!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

To my mother, sitting on the bench, and my "other mother", my Aunt Velma, standing.  I miss you both!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Biggest  Store in the Biggest State  -- where are you when we need you?

Back before 1959, Texas was the largest state  in the contiguous United States.  Joske's of Texas was the largest store in the state -- it was wonderful and could be compared to Macy's in  New York or Harrod's of London.   You could buy anything there.  It had two restaurants -- the Camellia Room which was the venue for many high-end, society events and the Chuckwagon which is where we ate lunch many a Saturday while shopping.  It was five stories and you could literally buy whatever you needed there.  Christmas there was indeed magical -- there was a huge Christmas display that would be up for weeks that people would make special plans to visit.

This was in the early 50's when it was just as usual for people to NOT have a car than to have a car, when kids walked to school, played outside and drank out of the hose, when we had phones attached to a wall and many times attached to your neighbor though a "party line" -- you shared!

So, would somebody please explain to me why, in our advanced society with all our technology, is it getting harder and harder to acquire what we need?  I have been looking for a few common items that seem to have evaporated from our lives.  One item in question is a slip for a little girl.  I remember a time when they could be purchased anyplace from the five and dime stores to the big department stores and, of course, through Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs.  Can I find  a little girl slip now? Yes, I can.  Online from  a website that sells products made by Old Order Mennonite women.

 Are you kidding me?

Another thing in question is toys.  In the recent past there was a influx of lead laden toys imported to the US.  These toys posed a health hazard to our children so I went looking for American made toys.  Yeah -- not so much.  I will admit that my children were little during the age of toy excess -- the 80's and that the choices were seemingly endless.  However, now, it is different.  I was searching, online of course, for a doll stroller.  I found many, mostly imports, that looked frighteningly like the real thing.  I can see little children thinking these items are real and not toys, attempting to get into them and getting hurt.  They are all metal and pretty flimsy at that -- dangerous at best.

I have been looking for things for myself as well.  Shoes to fit my wide feet.  You can't just go to a department store and buy wide shoes, you have to order them.  As a result, I have to buy my shoes from places like Zappos and Online Shoes.  No wonder I don't like to go shopping.  After looking to replace some garments that I particularly like with the same thing, I discovered that while they can be purchased online, they can't be purchased in the store.

It seems like our choices are getting fewer and costing us more in the way of shipping fees.  A clever plan by retailers to get more of our money for less?  I think probably so.  The list goes on and on.  When I was growing up, my mother grocery shopped every two weeks at one store.  She didn't run all over town because she couldn't get what she wanted at the store she patronized.  Can I do that?  Heck, no! I have to divide my time between four stores just to buy groceries for the two of us.  No one store stocks everything I need.  What a pain.

I have no solution, just needed to vent a bit here.  I think I heard someplace the other day that the US is thinking it would be a good idea to bring some of the manufacturing business back here.  Very clever -- think we could start with little girl's slips?

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Yikes!  Did I Do That?

Wow, I am even surprising myself these days.  Being a real rebel, here.  I went out on a limb and, after discussing it with my husband because it does involve money, I have signed up for the Ancestry DNA testing program.  Why you ask? Well, after years and years of digging for my roots, collaborating with other relatives and strangers and through the magic of's networking abilities, I pretty much know where I come from even though much of it is undocumentable.  I have even, recently, put together the story behind the elusive "American Indian grandmother" which, by the way, is true, she is, we are and I have photos.

 However, the one story that has been in question all these years is whether or not my father comes from Jewish ancestry.  My grandfather was firm in his beliefs that it is a fact.  I have talked with others on message boards that say they grew up with the same story.  None of my family is Jewish religiously.  In fact, my father's family is deeply entrenched in the Primitive Baptist church with many church builders and leaders among the ranks.  However, the story persists and, if you go by visual evidence in the faces of my forefathers, it bears more investigation.

So, that question alone has prompted me to do the test along with the fact that advanced technology now allows both Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing to be done on women.  The last male in my fathers line passed away in November so there are no more boys to test for that line -- sad, isn't it?  I figured that Y-DNA testing was lost to me until I read about the Ancestry program and am now really excited.  The cost is reasonable for this test considering that it will reveal so much more information and I anxious to learn my "ethnicity" as they put it.

Of course, I expect the majority of my roots to be in the British Isles -- nothing new here.  One stray German grandmother will pop up I am sure and I won't be surprised if the American Indian grandmother shows herself as well.  What I will be keeping a close eye out for, however, is my father's family which, until recently, has been very elusive what with different name spellings and common given names -- searching for them has been a challenge and I am hoping that this will help clear up a few questions that my family has asked for years.

I ordered the test this morning, it is on back order, and it will take 4-6 weeks to get the results once they get the sample.  I will report the findings here -- I wonder what sort of surprises are in store -- kinda scary!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday Fill-Ins -- 3 May 2012

1.  After a while, all restaurant food begins to taste the same.

2.  I TRY to eat healthy, at least.

3.  Well, anyway, as Ellen would say.

4.  Genealogy is the most intriguing pursuit, to me.

5.  I always have a book with me.

6.  My family keeps me going.

7.  And,as for the weekend, tonight I am looking forward to having a nice dinner (maybe Hubs will cook again!), maybe a good movie and  a good nights sleep, tomorrow my plans include sewing and Sunday I want to quit coughing, go to church, and sew some more!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Booking Through Thursday -- Do you have siblings?  Do they read?

No, I don't have siblings but I have a cousin who is a prolific reader and reviewer.   As a preschooler, I had an avid interest in reading and would watch my mother read the newspaper and ask her what it felt like to be able to do that.  I knew from an early age that reading was a very important and desirable skill to have.  My cousin, who is four years older than me, lived across the street so we were together a lot and one of the things we did the most was play school and I credit her with teaching me to read and fostering an interest in books that I still possess to this day.

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The latest addition to my 2012 Reading Challenge List is The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory.  I received this book as a birthday gift from my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter.  It is the account of Margaret Beaufort, the grandmother to King Henry VIII, and her involvement in the war between the York's and the Tudor's for the right to rule England.  Margaret endured a particularly difficult childhood, being married off by her mother at age 12 for the purpose of producing a male heir to the throne.  When she almost lost her life and that of her child during a difficult labor, her mother told the midwives to save the child.  They both survived but spent their lives apart yet scheming and planning to regain their rightful place on the throne.  Gregory describes this book as part history,  part speculation and part fiction but after doing a little research, I think she did a good job in the history area.  The speculation arena is pretty much universal and the fiction was well written and readable, one thing that I think Gregory does exceptionally well.

This book does a really good job of depicting the role of women in 15th century England and you wouldn't want to be there -- really.  It was a particularly brutal time and women had to endure a lot of things from their children being taken from them, being widowed at an early age -- sometimes before the age of 20, being assigned to husbands or guardians, and living in the knowledge that their primary purpose is bearing children regardless of the circumstances.

This book is well written, readable, and accurate and I would recommend it to anyone interested in British history.