Wednesday, November 28

Comfort Reads

I've felt a bit out of it just lately. It started about a month ago when I had this really nasty cold. I got over it, mostly, pretty quickly; but what followed was a bad cough and some sinus issues which left me feeling tired. Coughing is exhausting, plus it's hard to get a good night's sleep. And the sinus thing had me feeling dizzy which wasn't pleasant. I got my butt over to the doctor and got some prescription grade decongestant which helped a lot. No infection or anything so that was good news. I'm on the mend finally, but for a while I had trouble concentrating. This meant I was falling behind on my reading "GASP!"

When this happens, if you are a reader, the only thing to do is to turn to your comfort reads. Whether they are old favorites or new books by dependable authors, they are books that you turn to time and again because they give you exactly what you need. You know the plot will hold your attention. The fact that you have probably read it before just means that you know what to look forward to: that scene that had you laughing out loud, the character that lived in your head long after you closed the cover on the book, that moment when the hero triumphs and you just want to shout "Yes!" because you've lived through it with him/her and now you feel vicariously triumphant.

Not everyone understands the allure of a re-read. To some, once they've read that story it's done. They already know what's going to happen and so they have no interest in returning to the story. That's a good point and I can understand where they are coming from. But for me, a re-read is a comfort read. There are times when I don't want to try something new; I don't want to use my brain that much. I want something that I know will satisfy me, a bowl of favorite soup on a bad weather day. I want characters that I'll enjoy spending time with because they feel like old friends. My collection of comfort reads includes several authors and various genres, because what I want will depend on my mood. Like that bowl of soup, I might want something cozy and comfortable. Or maybe I'll be in the mood for spicy.

Of course there is a danger inherent in this practice. It's very easy to become complacent in your reading, to stick with what's safe rather than risk disappointment. That would a shame because you never know when a great new book may cross your path. So I indulge for a while, feeding my face with humor and mystery and closing myself away with characters that I know will be there for me. But not for long. Because the only thing better than an old comfortable read is discovering a new comfortable read. And you can't have too many good books, or good friends.

Sunday, November 18

You Asked For It

Okay, not all of you, but some of you did. Ask for photos of my new furniture, that is. And if you aren't one of them, well don't look if it bothers you.

Here is one of the new rocker/reliner chairs. No, they didn't charge us extra for the cat. I'm just thankful that she likes laying on the towel which should keep the cat hair on the furniture to a minimum. Please ignore the junk laying around. Oh, what am I talking about? That's not junk, that's BOOKS! The ones on the table to the left are from my J.P. Hailey collection. Sadly he only wrote about 5 under that pen name; you may or may not know him as Parnell Hall who writes one of my favorite mystery series. No, not the Puzzle Lady books. He writes others and IMO they are better. The Hailey's are hard to find and out of print for a long time but if you run across one in the library or your local used book store (under mysteries) grab it. The blue bag on the floor is the stash I scored at RWA NJ last month. Mom and I are still working our way through it. The green bag which you can just barely see contains library books. Since they have due dates, we are naturally working our way through them first. Which explains why we aren't done with the NJ books yet.

This one is the reclining loveseat. Now, I have to mention that the colors in this picture are not true. It's actually a deep wine color but not nearly as dark as it look in the photo. It was night time when I took the pictures, that's why. I relied on the flash which did okay, but the loveseat and the floors both look darker than they really are. The floors are actually a sort of medium tone in slightly varying shades and not red. Yes that's the same cat on the chair. No, I didn't crochet the afghan you see over the back of the loveseat. Mom did that one. No, you can't have it, it's mine. She made it just for me. Because she likes me best, that's why. We just got the last piece of furniture yesterday so there will be some shifting of furniture and wall decorations, i.e. the mirror, to center things better. Eventually.

So, the new dining table. See through the door all that dark? Told you it was night time. We got this table to replace the longer retangular one, even though there was nothing wrong with the old one, really, because it's slightly smaller and oval and works much better in the very small dining room. The plants are my mom's babies. If you are nice I might include a photo of the flowering Christmas cactus in the right hand corner one of these days. It's huge and has gorgeous peach-colored flowers just now. Ignore that junk in the lower right corner. It's a recently bought stash of yarn with which I plan to crochet pillows as soon as I finish the other project I'm currently working on. More on that later.

Tuesday, November 13

The Conquering Heroine

thank you, Theresa!

You've waited and you've wondered.

Would she? Could she? WILL she?

The waiting is over. (cue Rocky Theme Song "Gonna Fly Now")

Behold ...






And the crowd goes wild!

Sunday, November 11

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields
Written by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Some of the bloodiest battles of World War I took place in the areas of northern France and southwest Belgium known as Flanders and Picardy. The British front line was determined to keep the Germans from traversing Flanders and the Ypres river valley to reach the port of Calais. Troops from both sides were holed up in the Ypres salient, an outward projection of the battle line. Defending British troops were vulnerable on three sides; therefore this was a bloody and dangerous place for a soldier to be. The destruction from the battles in this area reached beyond the battlefield to the towns and roads of the area, and led to the demolition of buildings, roads, and all plant life, leaving only mud.

John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. One of the most asked questions is: why poppies? The answer is simple: poppies are the only flower when everything else in the neighbourhood is dead. Poppy seeds can lie on the ground for years and years until there are no more competing flowers or shrubs in the vicinity, or until the ground becomes uprooted.

There was enough rooted up soil on the battlefield of the Western Front; in fact the whole front consisted of churned up soil. So in May 1915, when McCrae wrote his poem, around him poppies blossomed like no one had ever seen before. In Flanders Fields is also the name of an American War Cemetery in Flanders. This burial place, near the village of Waregem, has taken its name from McCrae's (Canadian) poem. The bronze foot of the flag-staff is decorated with daisies and poppies.

November 11, observed in the United States in honor of veterans of the armed services and in commemoration of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. In 1954 it was renamed from Armistice Day and given the added significance of honoring veterans.

Take some time this year to honor all the soldiers who have died on the ground, in the air, and at sea and show your patriotism to those who have fought or are still fighting for our freedom today.

Some Gave All

Friday, November 9

I Whistled And I Gave My All ...

Bonus points for the person who can tell me (a) what song that line is from, and (b) who sang it. Here's a hint, it's someone you have heard of. Yes, you have, trust me.

I like to learn new things. Anything really. Except bad news, you can keep that. But I enjoy learning something I didn't know before. I like that aha moment when I find myself thinking "well, wadaya know." Sadly a lot of people seem to think that learning is best left to those still in school. Then there are those people who can only be bothered to learn something useful. No, really. Statement overheard a few years ago on the grounds of a winery that offered a tour ... "I'm never going to need to know that." Huh? That isn't the point. I firmly believe that every new thing we learn adds something to the person we are as a whole. Like travel, education is broadening. And those of us who enjoy learning anything new, even some small, trivial, entirely useless thing, are never bored. There's an aha moment waiting around every corner.

Which brings me to the subject of something I've really wanted to learn for a long time. Pretty much my whole life, in fact. And there don't seem to be classes available in my area. This is disturbing because I just know that were the subject offered, and were it made known that such a class was available, I think the turnout would be really amazing. So if you know of anyone who'd be willing to teach me ... huh? Oh. Uh. Hehe. Well ...

I want to learn how to whistle through my teeth or, barring that, between my fingers.

They didn't cover this at Viers Mill Elementary School. At least not while I was there. And I really want to be able to do this. I really really do. It's like my lifelong ambition (okay, as ambitions go this would make me pretty lazy, I admit). I've tried to teach myself but it comes out as something less than the desired ear-piercing tone. It's more of a pffffflllllttt. This is so not useful for summoning a cab. Also which, people standing nearby object to flying spit.

Sunday, November 4

All I Have To Do Is Dream ...

I got home from running errands today, which included yarn shopping but that's another story. Got home and it was a lovely Sunday afternoon so of course I decided to take a nap. I woke up from my nap and immediately came to the computer to tell you about it, because I had a dream, folks, and it was a lulu.

First of all, I'm not entirely sure that I'm awake even now because I woke up at least twice in my dream so I could conceivably still be there. Except in the other two occasions when I woke up it was to come downstairs to my grandparents' house. The house that hasn't existed for over 20 years. Yeah. However as I write this I am in my own house so possibly I'm really awake this time.

And in this dream some friends of mine where there. I have no idea why but it's all good because I have great friends and if they want to hang out in my dreams, that's fine with me. One of my friends, oh, we'll just call her friend D, was writing her blog and commenting that when one receives a bag of books from a friend, one should take care to confirm that said books are as advertised. I have no idea what that was about. Really. I asked D, in the dream, what was wrong with the books I had given her but I never got a straight answer. And speaking of books, there was one book (we're still in the dream) which I first mistook for a Nora Roberts but which was really Gena Showalter. At least that's what it said. I have no idea if the back cover photo was really Ms. Showalter. Sadly I don't recall the title of the book. But apparently it reminded me of one of NR's.

And then the dream shifted and we're outside somewhere, possibly up in my parents' home town which would fit the apparent theme, and we're out in a field or something and I'm trying to explain about the reason my grandparents' house isn't there anymore (which must have come as a surprise to the friends in the dream since they were just there, but they didn't mention it). It had to do with the town being located alongside a river and between two mountains and my grandparents house being on low ground and so had a tendency to flood.

FYI, this part is true and the reason my grandparents house isn't there anymore. Waaaay back in the 1970s when Hurricane Agnes struck the east coast my grandparents' house got flooded up to the first floor ceiling. They dried everything out afterwards and it was livable, but the governmental powers that be decided that it would be cheaper to give them a new house on higher ground than to keep paying for flood damage on the old one. So the last years of my grandparents' lives were spent in a nice, new, single story home which my grandmother just loved. Mind you it didn't have near the charm and character of the old house which is probably why I didn't feature it in my dreams. My grandparents passed away many years ago, but in my dream they were still with us ... somewhere in the house. In a neat twist, one of my much younger cousins is now raising her family in it. No, I didn't dream that part, that's true.

But back to the dream. While we're standing there out in a field somewhere "D" (you know who you are) was complaining to the other friend, whom we'll call "R" (you know who you are, too), that she looked and looked for what I wanted (huh?) but couldn't find anything called kneelers. I did not then nor do I now have any idea what she was talking about.

So I spent a little time with good friends in pretty part of the country in a place which held a lot of happy memories for me. And my one wish for you is that as you nod off into slumberland tonight, that your dreams will be just as nice.

Friday, November 2

Thursday, November 1

First Crush

Sparks will fly, but this catch of the day could be the dish of a lifetime!

First Date a la Maggie
Take one lovelorn diner owner (me)
A generous helping of nosy local gossips
A dollop of envy at married sister's perfect life
A splash of divine intervention (my matchmaking priest)
Combine ingredients and add one strong-but-silent lobsterman with a hidden heart of gold.

Over at Dee and Dee Dish they love to read just like I do, and they do book reviews as well. In this particular instance, they have a review of CATCH OF THE DAY by Kristan Higgins and give it rave reviews. Go check it out.

According to their review, the character in this book has a big-time crush. I think most of us had a crush when we were young, didn't we? A pop star or someone's older brother, maybe? I had my share. One that comes to mind is my 7th grade science teacher. Yes I had my share of pop star crushes, but I guess this one was my first on a "real" person. To be fair, I think all of his female students had a crush on him. He was young with dark, curly hair and the nicest smile. And we were all doomed because we were sure that he was having a romance with another science teacher. Since she was really nice and lots of fun we didn't mind too awfully much. I guess that counts as a fairly harmless obsession, huh? I never found out if their relationship was real or a product of our over-active, hormone-driven imaginations. I'd like to think that we got it right and that they went on to live happily ever after.