Sunday, March 27, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

In Search of Spring

Last week Tempest and I spent a lot of time wondering around looking for signs of spring.

Patches of snow in shady places.

Love this natural bench.  I wish I would have worked with my trees when I moved here.  Interesting things like this are pretty easy to create.

Pine cones.

Last spring's bird nest.

More pine cones.

 These magnolia buds reminded me of pussy willows.

  Tempest posing on an exposed rock.

Tempest doing an impression of a pointer.

Spruce cones.

The sun has moved far enough north to give me sunsets right outside my windows.  This one looks like a forest fire. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Reviewing "A String of Beads" by Thomas Perry

All of Thomas Perry's bestselling thrillers have been exciting reads but I like the Jane Whitefield novels best.  Jane describes herself as a guide.  What she means is that she guides people in terrible trouble  out of their current lives and into new ones.  Women whose husbands are trying to kill them; men who have run afoul of the mafia; people wrongly convicted of crimes; these are the people Jane guides into new lives.

Jane Whitefield is perhaps one of the best female characters in modern fiction.  She is half Seneca Indian with very strong ties to her native roots.  In this newest book of the series, Jane is called on to guide her childhood friend who is being set up to take the blame for a murder he didn't commit.

Jane is a master at spiriting people out of dangerous situations and moving them into new locations with new identities and a new hope for a safe future.  If you have never read a Jane Whitefield novel, I would recommend starting with one of the earlier books,  A String of Beads is number nine in the series.

Jane Whitefield earlier books:  Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman.  All available on amazon for as little as $ .01 plus shipping ($3.99) for hardcover used in good condition.

Also some thoughts on the movie Joy.   

The story of an amazing young woman who finds herself in a low paying, dead end job with the responsibility of her entire extended, dysfunctional family squarely on her shoulders.  Joy Mangano is supporting her daughter, her mother, her father, her grandmother and her ex-husband all in a tiny run down house that is falling apart.  In spite of, or maybe because of the demands of her helpless family, Joy claws her way to the top of a multi-million dollar empire through the strength of her personality and her imagination.  And she achieves this all while never sacrificing her charm, humor and humanity.  This is a fantastic story but I thought the script could have been much, much better.  Instead of watching this in the theater, I wish I would have waited for it to come out in DVD.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Reviewing the novel "Ghostman" by Roger Hobbs

Who do you call when your brilliantly planned casino robbery falls apart and no one knows where the stolen money went.

The Ghostman is a fixer, a cleaner, living off the grid with dozens of false identities and a flair for disguise.  When criminals make a mess, they call the Ghostman to clean it up. 

A Seattle crime boss has set up a spectacular, million-plus dollar casino heist.  His men rob the armored vehicle as it delivers the money to the casino’s back door.  The robbers transfer the money to their own vehicle, but before they can make their escape, a sniper ambushes them from the shadows of the casino parking ramp.  One of the badly wounded robbers manages to escape in a badly wounded automobile but he doesn’t drive to the agreed upon hideout and he doesn’t phone the crime boss for help.  The money and the robber are in the wind and the Ghostman has 36-hours to find them.

Reviewers of Ghostman by Roger Hobbs have compared the book to the novels of Lee Child.  Personally I see very little similarity to Child’s Jack Reacher novels.   This book reminds me a little of another fast paced thriller I read several years ago, The Bricklayer   by Noah Boyd. 

Halfway through the book and enjoying it very much.  There is some (not a lot) of graphic violence but I just skip over any gory parts.  The temperature here this morning was minus 4 degrees.  A hot cup of Constant Comment tea, a fresh muffin and a thriller novel is the perfect way to wait out the bitter weather.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Midway through the 2015 holiday season

Santa had an especially stressful Christmas this year.  All the rain, lack of snow and, of course, more children than ever kept the poor old guy working nonstop for months.   The first of January, he decided to take a little relaxing vacation fishing alone in the wilderness.  I happened to catch these photos of him as he canoed down the creek trailing his fishing lure.  

I love winter mornings in my kitchen,  sipping tea, eating a muffin and watching the birds at the feeders.  We have several inches of sleet on the ground so the birds are desperate to find food.  The peanut feeders attract some of my favorite varieties.  I have these feeders up close to the windows so I can see them clearly.

Woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, blue jays and others are constant visitors to the suet feeders.  The same birds that like peanuts like suet.    

This is by far the best bird watching investment I've ever made.  I don't plug a lot of items, but this Brome 1024 feeder has gone far above and beyond all my expectations.  I bought this feeder about 10 years ago and it has spent every day of those 10 years outside, summer and winter.  It has a lifetime warranty but I've never had to replace a broken or damaged part.  The feeder has been squirrel proof mounted on my post with a baffle.  It has never broken or cracked altho it has blown down several times in very strong winds.    A three quart fill up lasts all day.  I was tired of replacing feeders that fell apart in one season or less.  This feeder has solved that problem at less than $10 a year.  It is the only feeder I've tried that attracts cardinals as well as finches, woodpeckers and occasionally the blue jays.  Severson Dells a local conservation site, has these feeders in use year round.

The days after Christmas are always a bit of a let down for me.  I'm taking down the Santas, the wreaths, the garlands and little trees that I put up with such love and care a few weeks ago.  Wishing you all a happy New Year and hoping you stay cheerful through the dark cold days of January.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

By chance the sun peeks out beyond the clouds. But the low temperatures have numbed my brain. Losing what wit I have to deal with crowds. My best excuse will be that there is rain. ~ Audrey Christophersen

The howling winds, the biting chill
Of wintry nights reign vales and hills 
All songs are ceased, trees in tears 
Gone are all autumnal hues and mere 
Some wounded leaves scream under-feet 
As I tread and thump on a dreary street
Rayless moon peers at the bleak world 
Specter shadows of bare boughs on bare earth 
Stand palsied blades of grass and some roses shrunk 
Grey sunrise, days in blanket of haze cold and stern 
Memories of summer, spring's visions 
For bright morns we all wish and yearn
Solstice sun beam in Newgrange ancient dark 
In somber cavern hope shines with a bright spark 

~  Yasmeen Kahn

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.

 Spent time with family members I don't see nearly often enough.  We celebrated at my sister's house so I avoided some of the cleaning and decorating.   


This year my Christmas cactus has switched holidays.  It’s blooming over  Thanksgiving.  

Matilda enjoys sharing the sunny window with my plants. This is the one year anniversary of her arrival at my house.  She is doing well and finally gaining some weight.

My sister's family dogs Maggie and Ludie waited politely while we ate our holiday dinner.

One of my favorites for left over turkey or chicken:

Mom’s Turkey a la King     

1 ½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen carrots thawed
1 cup frozen peas thawed
½ cup chopped red or yellow pepper
½ cup flour
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon sage or poultry seasoning or both
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fat free cream or milk
2 cups cooked turkey cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook vegetables, set aside
Melt butter, add flour
Add seasoning and all liquids
Cook until bubbly – cool 2 minutes
Stir in veggies and turkey
Add salt and pepper
Heat thoroughly

Serve over Pepperidge Farms puff pastry shells, biscuits, rice or noodles.

If desired, add additional chicken broth to thin.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white. James Lowell

Since my last post we have had our first snowfall of the year.  From green grass, blooming flowers and fifty degree temps to 10 inches of  blowing show and 14 degrees.  It's dark at 5:30 in the afternoon and dawn is just spreading its morning light at 6:30.  

Snow wars.  

The dogs love the snow.  Cold doesn't phase them.  

I wasn't prepared and all my bird houses were still outside.

The garden is covered in a heavy, white blanket.

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Went to a movie couple  Saturdays ago.  It was the first movie I've seen this year that I really liked.  De Niro is great.   Just a happy movie with none of the usual misery that passes for relationships, no shootings, explosions, murders...  Go if you get a chance.

More photos from earlier when the garden was at it's peak.  Better late than forgotten.

Pretty in pink.

New clematis already blooming.

Pretty Leaves

Somebody's on my roof.