Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When It Rains.....

Morton Salt -- this is the brand of salt I grew up with and still use to this day.  Below the little girl with the umbrella reads the saying "when it rains, it pours" meaning that even if it is humid or damp the salt doesn't get clumpy.  All my life when the things of life began to pile up, overlap, hit hard we would always say "well, you know, when it rains it pours". 

That is especially true of this last week.  Last Thursday my son-in-law - the one who NEVER gets sick -- got sick.  I don't mean he felt under the weather I mean he contracted some sort of vicious stomach/intestinal virus that is apparently going around.  By Sunday he was stirring around but he looked like he had been through the wringer.  He returned to work yesterday, exhausted and not 100% and he came home to .....

my daughter not feeling up to par and when the phone rang at 11:15 last night I knew something was wrong.  Yep, she had it.  It was official.  All the symptoms including a fever.  She needed her mommy.

So, I expressed the concern that I didn't really want to get sick and even though I was at their house babysitting the Bean while the SIL was ill, I didn't go around him -- he was sequestered in another part of the house so I felt like I wasn't really exposed but I knew it wouldn't be that way with my daughter because I am the mommy she needed.  So, I took down the grocery list and we headed her way this morning knowing that we would not be staying -- SIL had taken off work to take care of his lovely wife.   Groceries procured I walked into the house only to find my SIL looking overwhelmed, daughter looking terrible, feeling terrible, running a fever and whining that I was her mommy and I was supposed to make her feel better (wish I could!), and the Bean tossing her cookies, pale as a ghost, sitting very still and not talking. 

All I wanted to do was spray them all down with Lysol.

But, I am afraid it is too late.

Maybe it is just my imagination.  Maybe I am just having sympathy pains.


Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Official!

I have crossed over that line between a little crazy and REALLY crazy.  I recently read a book entitled "A Single Thread" by Marie Bostwick.  It is the first book in the Cobbled Quilt Series and I read it, I really did. But....I can't find it.  I can't find it on the Nook or the physical bookshelves.  It has disappeared.  I even looked in the car but I am certain I read it digitally.  And in the process of looking for it I discovered that I have a digital copy of "The Persian Pickle Club" and a physical copy that I just purchased a couple of weeks ago.  I guess I am going to have to keep a list.  Bother.

Well, moving along, I recently read "A Single Thread" by Marie Bostwick, the first in the Cobbled Quilt Series.  It is the story of Evelyn Dixon, a middle aged woman looking for a new life after an abrupt divorce.  She decided to take a trip, on her own, to sort things out and she decided on New Bern, Connecticut as the place to spend some time to gather her thoughts.  Her friends were surprised she was going to take off on her own, especially for someplace so far -- it is quite a distance from Fort Worth, TX to Connecticut!

It took one day for Evelyn to realize that New Bern would be her new home.  It took one week for her to realize that it was exactly the right time and place for her to begin her dream of owning a quilt shop -- being her own employer -- being dependent on just herself.

She set about making the dream happen with the help of several new friends -- Abigail, Margot and the angry Lizzie. They were an unlikely lot but proved to be just what she needed both business wise and personally.  It wasn't smooth sailing -- personal problems, business problems, health problems....but it was fun.

I don't want to say too much because it was a really compelling story and I might get carried away and share too many spoilers.  Let me just say as a Fort Worthian that has always wanted to visit the Northeast, but probably never will, I had a strong visual of what the area looked like and what the quilt shop looked like.  I could even envision how I would decorate it if it were mine.  It was easy for form a mental image of all these women -- the book really came to life in my mind.

I have now gone on to purchase the rest of the books in the series and will review when I read them.  I recommend this first title without reservation.  It was a good, cozy read.

Now I am listening to Absolute Radio 60's from somewhere in the UK on my internet radio.  I love it! Had to stop writing to sing a little "White Rabbit".

Grace Slick

I do family history for my own family but I will admit that I have done some searching on my favorite celebrities and Slick is one that I have done some research on -- I was pleasantly surprised that she is a descendant of the Mayflower families but I can't remember which one.  Hm..I wonder if we are related -- we have the same nose only mine is a bit shorter.  Oh, and my people didn't come over on the Mayflower.  And I can't sing.  Oh well.

Ah, I digress but I am enjoying feeling like a kid again with my favorite songs in the background -- but it sounds better than the transistor radios we used to carry around -- pre-ipods!

Ok, I am just being silly now.  Time for laundry.

Musing Mondays

MusingMondays-ADailyRhythmMusing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: How old were you when you realized that you are an AVID reader?

I haven't done a Musing Monday for a while so I thought I would join in this morning.  If you want to participate it can be found at adailyrhythm.com.

I am not currently reading anything as I just finished the Lush Trilogy, much to my surprise.  It has been reviewed on my blog.  Up next I will probably continue one with "My Antonia" by Willa Cather which I started but abandoned to finish the first in the Cobbled Quilt series or I will begin "The Persian Pickle Club".

In the last week I bought the second and third books in the "Lush" trilogy -- Hush and Crush.  I purchased them for my Nook.

I am really looking forward to Jan Karon's new book coming out soon.  That one I will buy in hardback as I have collected the entire series and will continue as long as she continues to write them.  They have such a great, homey feel to them -- I love reading them in the fall -- it just seems appropriate.

Random Question response --

I always loved books and loved being read to as a child.  I remember, sometime before the age of five, watching my mother read the newspaper and asking her what it felt like to be able to read.  It was fascinating to me and somehow I just knew it would open up a whole world to me.  When I went to kindergarten at age five there were no curriculum guidelines deeming it illegal to teach us to read so off we went with the Dick and Jane books which I now understand were terrible learning aids.  Anyway, I remember sitting in a chair watching my teacher, Mrs. Pearce, with that great big Dick and Jane flip chart asking us to read the sentences.  I was thrilled.  When I was eight and just getting out of third grade we went on our end of the year picnic at San Pedro Park in San Antonio.  At the end of the day we were told that if we were eight and had a parent with us we could go to the library which was situated in the park and get a library card.  So, I was and I did so we went and I got my first library card.  I remember the children's section so well and the shelves that housed my favorite books by authors like Lois Lenski, Kate Seredy and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I remember bringing home my new finds -- probably just one or two at a time -- and sitting curled up on the couch completely losing myself in those books.  My favorite time to read was when it was raining.  Most of the time it wasn't a cold rain as we were in San Antonio and my mother would leave the front door open and the windows open as long as it wasn't raining IN and I would read for hours to the rhythm of that slow rain.  I guess that is why I have always associated reading with rainy days -- there were many in San Antonio.  So I guess the answer to the question is that I have never known a time when I wasn't an avid reader or an avid listener -- either way I have never known a time when books weren't an integral part of my life.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lush, Hush, Crush -- S. L. Baum

Way back when I first obtained an e-reader I went a little mad.  I was downloading books left and right -- many were free, many hugely discounted, many full price and much more costly than I could have gotten elsewhere but I was having fun! The ultimate cost of that "fun" was that I have an e-reader full of books that, after further review, I am probably not so interested in.  However, with my inability to throw books away -- even digital ones-- I decided that it would be a great idea to just start reading through the list and then alternate with reading a physical book off the shelf because that is quite a list to go through as well. 

So, I was in the car one day looking for something to read and since I wasn't anywhere near a wi-fi connection I had to settle on the one and only book that I hadn't archived.  It was entitled Lush by S. L. Baum.

 I remember buying this book on the strength of a review but thinking at the time that it was an extreme diversion from my usual fare.  However, since I was desperate for something to read and this was the only title I could access I decided to give it a go.

It is a young adult (YA) title, dystopian in genre and not something I would ordinarily seek out.  The story centers around a 17 year old girl named Bluebell living in a futuristic country called Concord.  Bluebell, as she finishes her time at Training Tech and is moving toward being assigned her career is shocked and somewhat dismayed when she is branded "lush".  It is a special brand and she is the only person who has received that brand in twenty years.  "They" don't remember the last person to receive that brand, "they" just remember there was one but don't remember what happened to her.  There are a lot of things "they" don't remember.  This, however, is the story of Bluebell and I won't say more because anything I say would be considered a spoiler.

I didn't expect to get hooked by the book.  I figured I would get a few pages in and get bored or just put off by it but I didn't.  It didn't help that it ended in a cliff hanger.  I had to read the next book in the series.

That book is titled Hush.  The story continues with enlightenment and awakening and a general feeling of unrest.  There is a movement afoot that is going to come to some sort of climax.

 In this book, the younger citizens of Concord are beginning to realize that the control over their lives, by The Council, isn't in their best interest after all.  They realize they have been lied to and that life in Concord isn't what they thought it was.

Again....cliff hanger.

Again...I purchase the third book -- Crush.

Crush is the final book and from the title you would expect some huge conflict -- a battle so to speak.  This is where it all fell flat.  There was a rather big build up to the end and the reader would expect some sort of an event -- I mean, when you think of a group overthrowing a government you think in terms of a bigger conflict and I kept waiting but it never came.  There was just not the bravado that  I was expecting.  It all just ended in a rather uncomplicated way which didn't gel with the rest of the story which was filled with complicated descriptions and situations and relationships.

While the books were compelling enough to obviously keep me coming back for more -- I mean, I had to see what was going to happen next, like on "Days of Our Lives" -- I was disappointed in the ending.  I was expecting something a little bit more like "The Lottery" or "Anthem" -- a little more drama.  I almost felt like the author was tired of writing and just tied things up quickly to get it done. I didn't enjoy the ending.

However, when I sat back and thought about the intended audience I suppose the author was trying to keep an age group in mind but, with that said, I just thought there could have been more. 

Would I recommend?  Well, if you like this genre and are a young adult of about 13 years old, then yes.  There wasn't anything particularly frightening about it like the above mentioned titles.  There was no violence or sex.  For the most part it was pretty sugar coated and I think, for the intended audience it was fine.  For me, not so much.

Yet, I still kept on reading so what do I know?  I know I will be moving away from the YA group for my next read!

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Gone!

Ugh! I was messing around with the blog and somehow deleted by blogroll. Bother!!  I go through that Blogroll everyday and read all the blogs -- now I have to reconstruct it.  Guess that will be after dinner!

Reading a YA Distopia novel -- "Lush".  This is the 3rd dystopian novel I have read and I am here to tell you I am not a fan of the genre.  It is creepy and the three I have read are all glaringly similar.  I think Ayn Rand was not as terrifying as Shirley Jackson but this new read isn't really frightening but I just don't like it.  So, I will finish and I will review but I probably won't seek out another.

I am continuing to read down my Nook list and this book was on the Nook - I think this one was also a free offering.  I am having a great conflict with the Nook concept -- again.  I originally obtained an e-reader so I could cut down on printed material in the house as I was running out of bookshelves and the books were cheaper.  I am noticing that they aren't so cheap anymore so now I am finding myself researching the cheapest way to obtain the book I want to read.  As a result I am sitting here staring at a list of books recently acquired from our local used book store.

I don't think there is a right answer.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Great Aunt Again!

I am a great aunt -- again.  I have two great nieces and five great nephews!  Why in the world does the term "great (or grand) aunt" sound so much older and more decrepit than grandmother?  You say great aunt to me and I see lavender.  Anyway, the newly arrived is Blake and belongs to my nephew.  From the pics on my phone he is robust and lively.  So glad to welcome him to the ever growing throng of young ones to the family.

A Texan's Promise

No, not me making rash promises but rather a Christian novel by Shelley Gray.  I believe this is one that I got free off the Barnes and Noble "Free Friday" offering or maybe BookBub.  Wherever I got it I am sure it was free. 

"A Texan's Promise" is the story of Clayton Proffitt, a ranch hand who had come to the Circle Z Ranch after the Civil War to work for the Grant family.  He was a traumatized man, straight from the war but his faith was in tact.  It was here that he met the 13 year old Vanessa.  No, there was no improper behavior, he just became her confident for the next six years.  During that six years, Vanessa's father passed away and her mother married again, not for love but for support and she made a very bad choice in the form of Price Venture.  He was a poor excuse for a man and when the story actually begins, he is found beating and attacking Vanessa.  Clayton takes her away and their story begins. 

This is a Christian-based book.  I am a Christian so I had no problem with that, in fact, it was refreshing.  The book didn't white wash things and gloss over the negative.  It dealt with beatings, rape, suicide, gun fights, chases, hard travel, etc.  It was a good read with one exception.  It was draggy in places.  I noticed that during the characters travel from Texas to Colorado every few miles they would look at each other and their relationship would change.  I found that to seem like a device to just drag out the story because nothing was happening to make their relationship change. 

The book is the first in a series and, while I enjoyed it, I don't think I will rush to read the next one.  It was enjoyable, definitely Christian fiction so it won't be for everyone, and I am glad I read it but I recommend with reservation.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Past, Present, Future

My friend Mary writes two beautiful blogs -- Frugally Challenged and Trundling Through Life.   She has written a series of posts about her childhood and her grandparents home in England.  I read these posts with great interest because I am a lover of family history and have researched my own for more years than I care to admit and continue to do so to this day.

My grandparents in San Antonio, Texas, probably on their wedding day 1918
Mary and I have been talking about how important it is to preserve the past for the future generations and not forgetting that the present will someday be the past for the youngsters.  Mary has talked about life at her grandparents house, how the house ran, what kind of activities took place -- just everyday things that probably nobody thought to document anyplace -- it was just life.  It is the same of all of us, even now.  I would never think to get up of a morning, put  a load of wash in and go in and write a diary entry about it and our foremothers and fathers didn't either.


about two years ago I started babysitting my  granddaughter full time.  At the time I decide to start a daily journal for her describing our days.  That project lasted about half a week because it became extremely repetitive and most days were not chock full of journal worthy happenings.  So, I am afraid I abandoned the project before it even really began.

However, after having these conversations with Mary I began to rethink the whole project and decided to take a different approach.  I went to my local bookstore and bought this journal --



It is very hardbacked and sturdy and gives the appearance of being hand bound but we all know that isn't true -- only hobbyists hand bind books anymore but I digress. 

The format of this book is Letters to Caroline.  I am writing her a letter when we do something -- like the outings we had during spring break -- or when there is something I want to tell her.  I recently wrote her a letter about our Advent activities this last Christmas and I talked about how the tiny shepherd got broken, how she felt about it and how Mary had written one of her blog posts about it.  I printed out the blog post and it is attached to the page for her to go back and read one day.  I am not including this to make her feel badly about the figurine getting broken but just letting her see how our life was at that particular time.  She absolutely loves my pumpkin bread.  There is nothing unusual about it -- the recipe is from a Betty Crocker cookbook -- but I am going to write her a letter about it and include the recipe so she can one day make it herself and she will remember that ordinary, day-to-day activity.  Of course, we will make it together someday and I will write her a letter and maybe that letter will invoke the aroma of baking pumpkin bread. 

I know this probably sounds like a silly thing to do -- most people would think it a waste of time and view me as a silly woman with nothing better to do, perhaps living in the past a wee bit too much.  Well, the reality is, I have nothing better to do than to nurture a child and instill a sense of family, of roots, of love that surpasses all generations and time.  I wish that my parents, grandparents and more would have done something like this for me and my cousins.  I wish I had had the foresight to ask questions but the young don't, do they?  So, I am hoping by doing this project, our Beanie will have memories to pass on to her own -- or at least a pumpkin bread recipe.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Great Bed Pillow Saga

It just hasn't been the same since the "accident".  "It" being my shoulder and the "accident" being awakened from a sound sleep with my arm over my head -- apparently all night -- and not being able to move it.  It was frozen in place.  It was painful.  It took a bit of time to get it mobile again and, as I said, it has never been the same.

After that I found that sleeping on my requisite two pillows, materials of unknown origin -- probably synthetic fluffy stuff - only aggravated my shoulder.  Now, I have always slept on two pillows due to allergy issues affecting my ears but that is another story entirely. 

So, I went on a quest to find the perfect pillow.  It seems it would have to be something rather deep -- at least 6 inches to accommodate the shoulder and to deal with the stuffy-head problem.  It would need to stay firm and lofty.  I came home with yet another regular pillow with fluffy-stuff and Hubs came home with a Bucky Duo buckwheat/millet pillow.  

He was happy as a clam because he feels a pillow should be no thicker than an envelope and me -- well, not so much.  The new fluffy-stuff pillow fell flat and the shoulder was getting stiffer and stiffer. I finally decided I would try the Bucky, went out and purchased one, came home and declared it another fail and it has sat in the closet for a couple of years now.

About three months ago when I realized the shoulder was now painful and not just stiff I decided something had to be done.  So, back out we went on another quest.  This time I came back with the Tempurpedic Cloud pillow.

This was the ticket! The first night I fell sound asleep without having to adjust and readjust the fluffy-stuff.  I slept like a baby -- well, one without sleeping issues anyway.  It was perfect.  I was in LOVE.  I swore I would never go anywhere without my pillow -- it would travel with me, it would go on sleep-overs with Bean .  It would be my forever companion. 

Fast forward two months.

Daughter and son-in-law bought a new Tempurpedic bed.  Hubs and I were there for the delivery.  The delivery people unwrapped the lovely, white platform of indescribable comfort -- I know because I have had one for about ten years now.  The difference between their new mattress and mine, other than the "new" factor was the odor.  Stench is probably a better word but whatever you call it there was a definite chemical off-gassing that got worse with time.  By the end of the day we had the bedroom windows open and the door shut.  They called the mattress store and were told -- "oh yeah, they need to be aired for a couple of weeks before you can sleep on them".  Really?  So, daughter decided to do some research while she was waiting for the mattress to air and was shocked at the reports of the toxicity levels of the mattresses and the pillows. It didn't seem to affect the Tempurpedic brand alone -- all memory foam mattresses seem to have a level of toxicity.  The mattress was returned to the store much to the dismay of the sales staff -- they just couldn't understand why somebody would want to return something of such incredible comfort.  Clearly they never read any research on their products.

I don't remember any odor with my pillow but then, my sense of smell is greatly compromised so I might have missed it but Hubs didn't mention it.  However, I decided to err on the side of caution as I am very chemically aware these days and I took the pillow back.  Minor miracle -- I found the receipt. 

Then, yes, the quest began again and I came home with a down-alternative variety pillow.  It said on the packaging that it "sleeps like down and acts like down".  Well, it does but I don't know what snapped in my brain but -- I don't like down pillows.  Another fail but it is a well made pillow and it should be because I paid enough to buy a whole gaggle of alternative ducks!

Ok, by this time I am getting a bit fed up with the quest -- my attention span is only so long, you know and all those white bags of fluff, fake fluff, foam -- toxic or otherwise were all beginning to look alike and I was beginning to wonder if maybe the Japanese were smart to just sleep on a block of wood.  Chemically untreated block of wood, of course.

So, I decided to channel my inner hippie and give the Bucky Duo another try.

Now this pillow is double chambered -- one containing buckwheat hulls and the other containing millet.  It is literally a bag of birdseed.  It comes with a lovely, soft covering that can be removed for laundering.  I finally took the plunge and slept on it for one night and I couldn't believe it!  It was absolutely delightful -- well, almost delightful.  The first night was an exercise in re-adjusting the pillow every time I turned over which is a lot.  The second night it was better.  I was sleeping without a regular pillowcase so I added that and the cozy meter went up several notches.  By the third night I didn't notice the rustling of the hulls anymore.  I finally put on my silk pillow case which helps the frizzy, out of control curls and it has now become just as good as the tempurpedic pillow and it doesn't feel flat at all!  I can sleep on my back, which I don't much, but it feels good and on my sides all I have to do is punch it up a bit and I am elevated to an acceptable height.  The shoulder isn't hurting, my stuffiness isn't any worse and I feel so -- sustainable!

Who knew that sleeping on a bag of birdseed could do that for you! Of course, in the early days I decided to try stacking my husbands pillow and mine to see if I could get the height and it worked out well so I ordered another.  However, Bed Bath and Beyond has been so slow in filling the order that I have become so comfortable with the single pillow and I wonder if I jumped the gun on ordering a second pillow -- I really don't need it -- but it will come in handy for extra hulls if we need them.

So, the lessons learned here?  Always, always, always research products you are going to purchase that could affect your health -- that seems to be everything these days.  Keep an open mind to truly alternative ideas and never underestimate the power of the birdseed.  Also, one last thing -- it is ok to come out of the hippie closet -- even at my age.  Now I even have the hair for it -- long and wild. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring is Springing!

From the looks of our crab apple tree, shown in the header, it seems that spring is on it's way and very little was damaged with the recent snow and ice incident.  The weather has been lovely and we were able to get out and do a few things and I was able to snap a few photos along the way.

Last week was spring break here so my daughter and I had a couple of little outings planned.  My daughter lives on the far north side of town and is quite close to a small community -- it is really a town -- called Southlake.  A few years back the town of Southlake decided the thing to do was to build a "downtown" that houses their municipal buildings and is home to a good number of retail establishments.  This isn't a mall but an actual "downtown".  I love going there as they have stores that I don't have around me (read: L'Occitane) and it is really nice to walk around outside -- reminds me of my youth when we would shop downtown San Antonio before malls became the rage.  I digress.  Southlake is built to look old.  Clearly it isn't but it has a vintage facade to it and it is just a nice place to visit.  I snapped some pics -- none of them very good -- but I will share anyway -- you will get the idea of why it is such a fun place.

After a nice walk and a small purchase at L'Occitane we were off to lunch with my son-in-law and then back home.

Then, on Thursday we went to the Log Cabin Village.  The Log Cabin Village is actually a park located right across the street from the Fort Worth Zoo in the Texas Christian University area of town.  It is a plot of land that has been designated to house log cabins from around the state.  They have been moved there, refurbished, and arranged in a village format.  We first visited this park in 1989, the year before we moved here.  It has been added on to and improved and is just such a relaxing place to visit.  There is a grist mill that produces corn meal that you can buy.  They make candles, there is a gift shop and yes, there is even a ghost! So, I took several photos before my camera died but I didn't get photos of everything but I think you will get the idea.  Enjoy!

this is the haunted cabin

blacksmith shop

The Parker Cabin is a cabin owned by the uncle of Cynthia Ann Parker who was kidnapped as a child by the Comanche Indians here in Texas.  She lived until adulthood as an Indian, married an Indian and had children, one of which was the famous Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief.  She was located as an adult and brought back to her white family but she was never happy and finally died -- of a broken heart they say.  Cynthia Ann Parker is a sad story all the way around.

Cynthia Ann Parker

Quanah Parker

 After we roamed around the park for awhile we went to lunch and back home.

Seems we go to lunch a lot!