Saturday, December 20, 2008

Its not all puppies around here

And today was a great sunshiny day, so a good day to take some pictures. I needed to send a couple of pictures to someone so they could see whatever is going on with Roi'si'n's eyelid (just some puppy thing, I think, but it is always wise to get a second opinion). Annie took some really gorgeous pictures today, so here she is, in the sunshine. Another picture is of her outside. She loves to go outside with us, but can't stay out for long because it is too cold.

Roi'si'n is getting very silly. She makes me laugh so hard sometimes and it is great to have something in my life that is lively & silly. She chased a squirrel today, and I think was pretty close to getting him. I wish the squirrels would get a clue and not risk their lives in this yard. That part I didn't laugh about, but I am impressed! She is learning to back up on command, but the spinning, if I make her spin more than once, she bites my sleeves. I don't think the agility judges will be impressed if she nips me in the ring. ;)

A few days ago, I sang Silent Night and Ro'isi'n actually barked at me! Then she got up in my lap and got eyeball to eyeball with me, which makes it really hard to concentrate on singing. Either she doesn't like my voice or she doesn't like the pitches in that song, because she paid attention to Silent Night on the TV too. I'll have to practice singing in bass. (ha ha)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trip to Hazel Ridge

I went to Gijsbert & Robbyn van Frankenhuyzen's farm, Hazel Ridge, for the open house they had this past weekend. They had invited people to also hike on the farm if conditions were right. So, of course I asked if Ro'isi'n could come along & they said yes! She had a great time & it is the first time I had her off leash. Bridie was offleash very early on, but we were in an area where this worked out ok, and in this more urban environment, it is much harder to find places where it is safe for Ro to be off lead. She stayed close, checked on me periodically, and it was a good experience for both of us. She also ice skated on the ponds, much to my dismay, but did ok, and didn't break the ice & fall in. It was very hard to get a picture of her because my battery ran low and also, she would dart away or turn, so I'd get rear end pictures or blurs. Still fun to try it out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Roisin makes friends

Today, we went up to visit an open house at a local artist's studio, but got lost. So we went to two locally owned petstores, and visited the people inside (and purchased chewies. Roi'isin's teeth are coming out and her big teeth are coming in!) and then we went to the Threadbear & I showed her off there too. The two guys who own the place were happy to meet her. They have two resident dogs there, and those two boys were also happy to meet Ro'isin, who was her usual silly self. One lady there recognized the breed, which is very cool. Very good socialization and I had a tired puppy when I got home. We're going to try for the open house tomorrow at 11, and I hope to have a chance to hike with her on the back forty. Should be fun, and she needs the exercise.

She also had a bath today, since she's been digging up the back yard. It is something puppies do, but meanwhile, I have black footprints on my floors. Good thing I don't mind. ;)

Update on Ro'isi'n's fun & games

Just lost this post when the computer froze up & dumped everything. Anyway, brief update on Ro'isin, I have just taught her to shake hands & she loves it. I know it is one of the easier things to teach dogs, but I'm still very proud of her for learning this in less than a day. Will have to get family to take a picture of her shaking so you all can see it. Meanwhile, to tide you over, here's one of my favorites, probably already posted, but a good picture is well worth sharing again, right?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ro'isin & her litter pictures (take two)

Yes, I'm reusing the blog title from a previous post and for some reason, if I knew enough French, I would start out with some really apposite French phrase, to the effect of Life changes every day. Oh well. ;) Ro'isi'n is growing up! The vet visit today revealed that she now weighs at least 18 pounds, which is much as my old cat, Cooky, weighed at his heaviest. She is also cutting teeth & has at least two adult teeth peeking through and no teeth at all on the bottom. If dogs smiled with their teeth exposed, she'd look like those cute pictures of kids with missing teeth.

She's big now, although I know it is hard to tell from the pictures. I don't know whether she's bigger than usual, but I do think she's very mature and very advanced physically. She was able to "tightrope walk" on the beams in my backyard when she was 8 weeks old. She's darn cute too. What, me biased?

Aren't those little puppy faces cute? I feel like Ro'isi'n is growing up way too fast! But every stage is fun and she learns more every day. She's also naughtier every day. I'm going to have to get Annie a bigger (taller) cat condo, so she can get away from Ro'isi'n more easily. Trouble is, I don't know if Annie's having fun smacking Ro'isi'n or if she dislikes this harassment. Wish I could ask & get a straight answer....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

more Ro'isin pictures for Jane

This one is of Ro'isin & her littermates. The little pup at the back is the male in this litter. His sisters are all crowded at the front, looking at the funny human taking pictures of them. They would much rather get out of there & run around & make mischief than have their pictures taken. Ro'isin is the puppy on the far right (your right) and you can see why her breeder called her Big Red.

Thanksgiving recipes

Busy day today. I have it off from work, so am spending the time working on recipes & on various other chores. First thing I made was John Garland's fruit salad, which is a jello salad. John doesn't like cranberry sauce, so this replaces it. It includes pecans, apples, mandarin oranges, pineapple, cranberry sauce from cans, and jello. Then I made real cranberry sauce. Read all the recipes on the 'net and they're pretty uniform. One package of fresh cranberries, one cup of sugar, and one cup of water. Some people add variants on a theme, so I decided to add the orange zest, lemon zest, pieces of orange, cinnamon to the mixture. Then at the last minute, I put in raspberries, and I think it turned out pretty well. Nice & tangy, but not too tart and not too sweet.

Next up, the famous broccoli salad (yes, even with red onion in it), green bean casserole (cooked from scratch, but includes French's fried onion), and artichokes gratinata. If I have time, I may make Kate's red pepper dip and also pumpkin bread.

Ro'isin is doing well. She's very naughty, but that is part of being a puppy. I have discovered that it is best to cut her nails while she is upside down. What you do is put a big piece of doggie bone or dog food between her teeth and then cut her nails really fast. She loves food, so when you do it this way, she doesn't chew on your fingers, the cutting implement, and various parts of your body. She's a rowdy girl. I don't think I've posted this one yet, so here is the picture of her in her crate, the first DAY I got her (sorry about the random caps, she's "helping" me type) and on the trip home.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wriggly Ro'isin a week or two after I got her

Can anyone say wriggly puppy five times fast? This picture, with Charley, a friend, is one of about fifteen pictures I took. Charley's having fun, and Ro'isin is all over the place. I think she was about nine or ten weeks old here. And yes, this is probably the best picture of the two of them together, because I kept cutting someone's head off or else Ro'isin would look headless, because she moved each time the camera snapped. Too funny for words!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ro'isin with expression

Thought you might like this picture of Ro'isin, with a very silly look on her face. You can tell from the expression in her eyes that she's plotting something. Probably biting the camera or the camera strap.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ro'isin & her litter pictures

Thought you all might enjoy the Most Recent picture. Right now I am busy teaching Ro'isin not to chew shoes, shoelaces, nip clothing or my face, tear up picture, tease the cat, you know, all the normal puppy things. ;) She's a darling & we go for walks nearly every day. I have to say, after watching her tear around the backyard after one of our walks that I think she exercises herself better than I exercise her. Wish I had even a tenth of her energy! Am working on it. I do push-ups daily and am thinking I should do them three times a day, so I am prepared when she is full grown....

In this picture, you can see the white tip on her tail. Also, she is wearing a half-way collar, which has been expanded twice in the last week. It is a Lupine collar. I really prefer the martingales, but she is a little young for it, so she currently is walked on a Premier harness, which has made her much easier to walk with. She may be young, but she pulls hard. She's growing fast and is now lean, long-legged, and just as beautiful as ever. Very intelligent too! She figures out most things very fast. I am hoping she does not learn to jump the puppy gates, but I have a feeling (remembering Bridie) that she may. She is still teasing Annie, but sometimes I think Annie doesn't really mind too much & is entertained by this. Not sure though. Ro'isin is fascinated by Annie's long fluffy tail, and Annie is very protective of this beautiful tail. I hope Ro'isin doesn't get a hold of it one day, or she may get a very big surprise.

You should see Ro'isin's head tilt when I talk to her. She looks like the RCA Victor dog. Just now, I sang to her, and she thought this was fascinating, at least for a while. She was born August 15, so this makes her, what, nearly three months old? Wow! Nearly one month that she has lived with me and it feels like she's been here forever.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

roisin, election day, busy

Busy week, busy weekend, and lots going on. Managed to vote, and no, I didn't take Ro'isin in with me, as I once took Bridie. I thought standing in line for a long time was not a great idea with a puppy as active as Ro'isin. Although she might have passed the time away more happily and cheered up some of the grouchy people in line with me. Met a neighbor, who I think will be great to be friends with, so that was an added bonus & then we went walking in the neighborhood and Ro'isin got into someone's garden & chewed up a marker and tried to chew up their string fence. Fortunately the people were very understanding & really enjoyed Ro'isin's wild Puppyness.

This weekend, we had a visit from sis & her black lab. Fiona is wonderfully patient with Ro'isin, but did do some attitude adjustment, most notably when Ro'isin decided to help herself to Fiona's food or to Fiona's rawhide. And then there was the ear nipping incident. You could see Ro'isin taking notes mentally, "this is how big dogs behave." But when Fiona left, Ro'isin celebrated by chewing up a paperback book at my feet. It is amazing how quickly she gets into & tears up stuff.

I think I need to buy a house with no furniture or books on the first floor. ;) She's growing like a weed & has these long skinny legs. She knows sit well, down less well, and stand quite well. We're also working on the recall command, which I think will be very important in our futures. Good times ahead, and good times now.... but busy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Naming & nicknames

Thought this might be fun to record in the blog. All puppies have a litter name, and then when they go to their homes they get their forever names. So Bridie was Stripe (for the little blaze up her face and down the back of her neck), Ricky was Bobby (which I changed because I didn't really want to call a dog by my Dad's name), and Ro'isin was Big Red. Which I find funny, because Bridie's littermate brother, also a very active dog, was Big Red. He was a little over the standard, from what I understand, and easily double Bridie's size.

Here's another picture of Ro'isin with her Great-Grandma, Kinsey.

Can't stop posting pictures of puppy

And I have more on my camera, of the whole litter in fact, so I need to get them off the card & on to a CD, so I can upload them more easily. THis one is of Ro'isin & Goose playing together. Goose is a 7 month old puppy, can you imagine? She's bigger than Bridie at that age. Little Bridie was 29 pounds, 15 inches at the shoulder at this age, and by the time she was a year & half or so, she was up to 39 pounds, 18 inches at the shoulder.

Guess I know what I have to look forward to, a really big puppy! Goose is a lot of fun and really enjoyed playing with Ro'isin.

Another good picture of Ro'isin

This one is with her Great-Grandma, Kinsey. I think it is cute, although I also think that Kinsey is thinking, "Lemme alone, I want to sleep!" Or, "Why do you have to put that puppy so close to me?" And Ro'isin is thinking, "Let me down, I want to run around & bite things!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Animal antics

I don't think I'm going to be able to post once per day this month, but at least I can use the pets in the household for an excuse. It has been busy, and I'm still figuring stuff out & still recovering from the long trip to Kansas.

Here's some information about Róisín (and that's how it is spelled... not sure how to make the mark over the o! so am cutting & pasting) : her name pronounced at this link. She's had her first tracking lesson (this is where dogs are taught to follow people & find what they've dropped), she's had a vet visit (probably the third or fourth or fifth visit in her life, but this is the first one with me) and charmed everyone. She'll be at work tomorrow (outside, not in the building) and will meet people there too.

So we've been busy this week. Next week I go back to work full-time, and I'm sorry about that. The half days have helped a lot in making adjustments. I don't think Róisín thinks my being gone at ALL is a good idea. I don't either, but it sure is a joy to have her in my life.

Animal antics abound around here. Annie-the-cat has really come a long way, and I think it is due to feeding her Wildside Salmon when Róisín is around. She still does the ugly face & yargles when Róisín insists on being too close & getting too inquisitive. The yargle is a YRRRR-GRRR-L! sound that only Annie makes. She's pretty impressive when she's getting mad. She REALLY loves it when Róisín is in the crate.

Annie decided that she wanted my plain yogurt and managed to stick her foot in it before I could dodge her. (Man, what a bunch of food grabbers around here! Róisín was very insistent on sharing my lunch one day. That's why she's in the crate when I eat, I don't have enough arms or feet to keep her off of me). Just before that, Róisín decided to tear up newspaper, attack my face, and to run madly around the house. I put her in her crate and she's sleeping quite peacefully, thank goodness! Crates are a blessing, used the right way. I'll try to get more pics up of Róisín & Annie soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Puppy yet to be named (but already much loved)

Newest Sweetie, and she's a charmer : photo is by Sandy Holmes. Her AKC reg name will likely be Trystyn's Butterfly Kiss. Her call name? Yet to be determined. I think the top runners so far are Natalie, Roi'sin (Roe-sheen, Gaelic for Rose), Natalie, and Myrtle.

She's fun, naughty, outgoing, sociable, and very independent. Very cute, as you can tell. And yes, I'm holding her in the picture. Probably about the only way we can get a picture of her at the moment. She's fast, sort of like a pingpong ball. And loud when she's unhappy (like when I'm out of her sight). I'm investing in ear plugs... Annie the cat is avoiding whatever room the puppy is in, and who can blame her? But she's being pretty nice about it all.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The New Gold Standard by Joseph A. Micelli

Joseph Michelli's note on my blog reminded me that I have yet to fulfill my promise to do a full length review of The New Gold Standard : 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. The book was published by McGraw-Hill in 2008, ISBN : 9780071548335.

Throughout my career, I've been through various rethinks & reorganizations as part of the different places & management cultures I've worked. So I was interested in this book, to see whether it had anything new, something that could be used in my current workplace, or even to refresh my thinking & management skills. I was delighted by this book. It is refreshing, honest, well-written, and has a nice blend of both theory & story to illustrate the theory. I finished the book wanting to go work for Ritz-Carlton.

I think many of us have had the experience of being told that we needed to fully invest in the company culture, or learn the company culture. But in this case, Ritz-Carlton has shown both how they want people to invest in their company and how they invest in the people who work for them.

Loved the five leadership principles, which are positively stated. It is not that the negative aspects or mistakes aren't mentioned in this book, because they are. But the positives are what are most focused on & the fact that the Ritz-Carlton is willing to make mistakes & let their people make mistakes, without undue punishment. I do think that in many businesses making a mistake is so horrible that it becomes hard to have new ideas because the fear of failure is too great. We hobble ourselves by this sort of thinking. I found the mention of empowering through trust helpful and have been able to do that at work already. It may not be the way I would do it, but it is quite possibly just as legitimate and possibly just as efficient a way to do it. Since I don't want to be a micromanager (but am in a job which lends itself to micromanagement) this was a very useful reminder.

I really do recommend this book highly, not just for business people but for others who may be starting a new business, may be starting a new career, or possibly even a new relationship. I think it works on all sorts of levels. I plan to give the book to the local library, in hopes that it will reach more people. Well worth reading.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Busy Friday with a little books in there

And I have already missed a day of blogging! Will try to do better for the rest of October. Today I did a lot of yard work & used weed killer on the stray weed trees, poison ivy, trumpet vines in my backyard. I got tagged with the poison ivy when my family's dogs were over & apparently they brushed into the poison ivy & then leaned on me, which was sufficient to make my legs look yucky. I've had worse poison ivy, but I really want to use the weedkiller before puppy comes, so that I can lessen its exposure to the weedkiller. Believe me, if I had a choice, I wouldn't use the weedkiller, but my last several exposures to this stuff have proven to me I can't handle the poison ivy in any way, shape & form without paying for it with several rounds of prednisone. Who wants to take steroids? Not I.

Grass seed is down too. And I think the Deadly Nightshade is mostly pulled up also, plus the mushrooms seem to be gone. Read recently about a local 11 week old Golden Retriever puppy who died after simply carrying around a mushroom in its mouth. Poor baby. Gives me more things to look at & and watch out for in that oh-so-dangerous backyard. I don't want that to happen to the new pup.

Have read several books, Macomber, Debbie / Twenty wishes , Harris, Charlaine / From dead to worse and Child, Lee / Nothing to lose : a Jack Reacher novel. All are gems. I like Macomber's Blossom Street novels very much. They read a little more like regular novels. She also writes romances, but I prefer the knitting novels & the Blossom Street novels. I think I like these for the same reason I like Maeve Binchy's books. They are not grief-free novels, but the characters in them seem like people I would know. They have issues, they're not always 100% loveable, but they are realistic & at the end, there's usually some improvement.

Charlaine Harris writes several series & so far I've liked them all. This particular one is the vampire series & the vampire side of it doesn't interest me too much, but the main character, Sookie Stackhouse does interest me a lot. Harris writes about the problems of telepathy in a way that is unlike the way anyone else has written about it. Very nice job & great fantasy/SF novel. Out of the various characters in the books, I think I'd like to be a shapeshifter.

Lee Child's books all have Jack Reacher in them. For some reason, I really like the man-against-the-world novels. The moral man, with flaws, but also the man who stands up for good & for making things right. What's also appealing about Jack Reacher is that the guy has literally nothing. He has independent means, but doesn't have a house, possessions, etc. and doesn't want them. He's not a man entirely without ties, however.

Next time I need to write about a new book we just got, Alone: The Journey of the Boy Sims, From the original blog "a historical novel for children and young adults, author Alan K. Garinger imaginatively retells the story of the boy known in the survey crew's official journal only as "the boy Sims."" I really liked this book. So well written, set out (in its historical times), and well portrayed. I haven't read all of it yet, but a fair amount of it. I think it looks like something that could be read aloud to 4th graders, but probably very much a middle-school novel.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Write More Blog Entries Month

Apparently this is write more blogs month, as in write a blog entry a day. Good goal, so here goes. This is also National Vegetarian Month, so a good time to try out some new vegetables you've never had before or some new dishes, right? I will freely confess that I don't think I will ever try making eggplant dishes at home. So far, none of mine have turned out & I think I'd just rather have a restaurant do it for me. Much more fun that way.

Also wanted to mention Mayapple Press. For those of you interested in poetry or in supporting regional writing efforts, Mayapple Press is well worth checking out. Judith Kerman is the editor & owner of the press, I believe. The books are beautifully produced and edited, a real work of art. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

naming the puppy game

puppy names are HARD! Here are the ones I've thought up so far. And yes, you may vote in the comments if you so wish. ;) Puppy comes home weekend of October 10th. and I wanted to share this post from Cute Overload with y'all. Cutest kitten ever!

Kara or Cara, Calla, Callie
Sachi (means bliss child, joy in Japanese)
Leonie (Lay-oh-nee)
Arcadie ((ar-KAY-dee)
Flavie (FLAH-vee)
Roi'sin (Roe-sheen, means Rose in Gaelic)
Isla (eye-la)
Kizzy (Kezia)
Taffy (old Welsh, means beloved)
Ciara (kee-ara)
Delwyn (pretty, blessed)
Parry (pear cider!)
Charlotte (Lotty, Charley)

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Liked this quote & wanted to share it:
Quote of the Day
"Just don't give up on trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong."
– Ella Fitzgerald

Pretty cool, eh? It is raining, so who knows if I will get to paint today! But since I have no love or inspiration for painting the garage, well... (hm, maybe I should try painting a mural on the sides of the garage, my dream garden! Wouldn't that be nice?)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

reading and various things

Life has taken a sad turn, recently, since my youngest uncle has brain cancer, and despite valiant efforts by the doctors, surgeries, etc. he is expected to pass away this coming Sunday. I am very glad that he has a wonderful wife and that his four children will be able to be with him as he passes, but very sad for my mother.

On a slightly cheerier note & getting back to the books side of things, these are the books I'm reading right now:

Time Travelers (book one in the Gideon trilogy) by Linda Buckley-Archer. (YA) Fun, engaging, great time period to set a series like this, and Gideon is a pretty darn intriguing character.

Waterwalk : A passage of Ghosts by Faulkner (non-fiction, journey book of father & son on a canoe trip, really terrific book).

The New Gold Standard by Joseph A. Michelli (nonfiction, really good book about customer service & the Ritz-Carlton experience, and chock-full of interesting things to think about, in regards to how you conduct your work and think about your work experiences).

and last but not least, The Waters of Michigan by Lubbers & Dempsey. Terrific environmental/photographic book.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Driving & book reviews

This link is about how to drive safely. Well worth reading & applying to oneself, as I am right now....
I also want to look up the article writer's book : Tom Vanderbilt is the author of "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)."
And a reaction in the Chicago Tribune about what features (including Book Reviews) would readers like to keep. I always liked reading the Chicago Tribune's books section. Not sure if the link still works, but I thought what people said was interesting. Sure hope they keep the book reviewers around.
Gotta look this one up , because I always love the China books : The Last Days of Old Beijing by Michael Meyer (Walker, $25.99, 9780802716521/0802716520, June 24, 2008)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A New Puppy and updates

Hi all,

Busy summer so far, and it doesn't look like letting up yet. I have just picked over twenty tomatoes (some are the small cherry/grape tomatoes, so it sounds like more than it really is. Good thing I have some friends to help me eat them though!). Those yellow pear tomatoes are really lovely & good too & I'm having a blast eating these & using them in recipes.

Got back from Madison, WI just fine, and had a nice family oriented vacation. We did get to see some of the downtown capitol & a tiny bit of the University of Wisconsin campus. Easily the highlight of the trip was the trip over on the Lake Express Ferry. It does cost money, but it is worth it in terms of cutting out the Chicago detour (and that horrendous expressway traffic. I used to live in Chicago & expressway traffic is not my favorite thing at all). And the staff are wonderful, gracious, kind, and the seating is terrific. You meet a lot of interesting people too. Lots of families, which makes sense, since handling a young toddler & a baby is probably a lot more fun on a ferry boat than while driving through Chicago.

We met a couple & his friend who were driving classic cars to a competition. Turns out they have 100 classic cars. Wow. Where can you keep a 100 cars? They must own a parking garage.

New puppy coming soon, I hope, if all works out, probably around October 10 or 16. Parents are a pair of Welsh Springer Spaniels; dam is Kate & the sire is Walker. The two of them are lovely dogs. There are 7 females & 1 boy, so right now I don't know which I'll be getting, but I already have puppy names.

More suggestions are welcome.... I'll share the names I've thought of so far in a separate post. It would be utterly lovely if, like Bonnie (sis's dog) and Annie (my very own kitty) the puppy would suggest its own name. I love it when that happens.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer is flying by

Sorry to be so dilatory about posting here. I've had company, I've had to work longer hours (we're approaching fiscal year end close for my workplace) and... its just been busy. We also went to Williams & Sonoma for their big end-of-summer sale and got some nice things, including Tartine for 9.99. Not bad! Also visited a local yarn shop which just reopened and they had some nice things for reduced sale there.

Met up with a long-time friend at Travelers Club, which is in East Lansing, Michigan. She'd heard it was a Tuba museum, and we'd both wanted to go see it. Very nice eccentric place, food was plentiful, and full of wonderful fresh vegetables from the garden. We had a good time. Her oldest daughter was also along, and it was great to get reacquainted.

Sis & I are going to Madison, Wisconsin weekend after this coming one, and taking along one of our aunts. Ferry boat ride in our future, which should be fun.

But you can see why I have been busy. This coming weekend is the Fiber festival, which is fabulous.

And here's quote for y'all, taken from sparkpeople :

Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul

- Simone Weil

What we can learn about patience from a diamond

Trying (but failing) to see your goals realized can be frustrating. Margaret Thatcher once said "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it," and she was absolutely right. You've got to believe that you will succeed! Never admit defeat as long as time and effort remain. Our greatest asset is patience; our greatest weakness is throwing in the towel. Banish discouragement and feelings of impossibility by working hard, doing more, and not giving in! A diamond was only made beautiful after millions of years as a lump of coal.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Red Pepper Spread

I think I hinted at having lots of lovely red bell peppers to use in canning. As chance would have it, I used the Roasted Red Bell Pepper Spread from the Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving. Fantastic book with loads of great recipes. Not sure how I feel about this particular one, because it requires red wine vinegar, a full 1.5 cups of it. Highly vinegary recipes are not my favorite, so we'll see how I like it. I hope it turns into a spread rather than a sauce. ;)

Given my dislike for some of the pickled stuff, I think I will just try to freeze the red peppers I have left & eat as much as I can in the meantime.

Made Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry Crumb Bars. They've been a hit so far, so I hope the Master Gardeners Group I made them for likes them too.

Onward to the next reading project....

Saturday, August 02, 2008

quoting and red bell peppers

Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man. Sir Francis Bacon

Just because I like the quote, I thought I'd share.

Found red bell peppers for 2.99 a pound and they are delicious looking. So I brought a lot of them, felt guilty about spending the money, looked for canning recipes & lo & behold, found TWO. So I went back & brought MORE red bell peppers.

I'm going to make (and can) roasted red pepper spread and Pickled Roasted Red Peppers. Will use that lovely white wine that I got at a local wine tasting too, because they always say to use the best ingredients possible. I love that wine, and now I will have a chance both to cook with it & to drink it too. ;)

I promise not to drink it before I go out to paint the garage, however.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

various items of interest

Really cool story, about twins who have swum in Lake Michigan every day since they were 12 years old. They're 70 now.

Another cool article, this one about Jim Abbott, the former pitcher in the major leagues. Very inspirational story, I thought, about a very humble man.

Made blueberry jam today. If it doesn't set, I"ll give it away as ice cream spread or pancake topping. ;) Two of the batches yesterday didn't set & I think (because they had cherry in them) that the cherry & the high amount of water & not enough pectin caused that to happen. We'll see how they set in the next few days. So far I haven't had any trouble with the lids not sealing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jams, jams, and more jams

My goal for this summer was actually to do some canning. What with food prices, fuel prices, etc. I'm even more motivated to go ahead & get some canning done. Yesterday, I decided it was now or never, so I went to the City Market & picked up a flat of raspberries. Now part of the flat was in the refrigerator, but the rest had been sitting out all day. Still, for a cost of $45, I had an entire flat all to myself & wound up making raspberry jam that very night, and for the first time all by myself.

I'd helped Mom, of course, many a time. I forget when she stopped canning, but it was likely when she went back to working full time & probably about the time my grand father started living between his two daughters' houses. Life just got too busy at that point. Her tomato sauces were lovely & I was always being told to run downstairs & get a jar of tomatoes for dinner that night. When I said there wasn't any, she'd always send me back down again.

Oddly enough, I remember only a time or two when there really wasn't any. Those filled jars hid really well.

Anyway, my goals were simple, to make Christmas jam. I missed the strawberry season for a number of reasons, but was thrilled to find out that I could still buy raspberry flats. Thrilled enough that I went back & brought another flat! Plus ten pounds of blueberries. The dining room table is looking really pretty; raspberry jam, raspberry/cranberry jam, and raspberry/cherry jam. Tomorrow, I need to either freeze the remaining raspberries or make more jam. Or maybe make muffins....

Made blueberry muffins from the King Arthur Baking cookbook. Used Ricotta cheese, because that's what I had, instead of sour cream. The dough was really stiff, so I think maybe the more watery sour cream would've been a better choice. I'll try again tomorrow & will take the results to work.

Another really fun thing I did was, I picked up rosemary & basil plants at the Hickory Corners Greenhouse, which is also at the City Market. Lambs Ear, Phlox, and a couple other things too... and they have some really lovely birdbaths, which, believe it or not, I think I'm going to 'save' to buy when I reach a goal. I'm hoping to reach that goal before the end of the summer.

More reports on my baking & canning will come up later! I really want to make a lot of tomato sauce & can some whole tomatoes because I use a lot of tomatoes in cooking. I think making my own will be fun.

Should add here that I also ate my very FIRST four cherry tomatoes of the season, straight from my very own backyard plants. This is way more fun than TV... and harkening back to Diane Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard, I am also picturing my plants saying, "grow grow grow" in little plant voices....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gardens & tomatoes!

I'm SO thrilled. I have tomatoes that are ripening! They're the cherry or grape tomatoes (I forget which) and there are approximately four or five. I'm sooooo happy! Really made my evening and I'm glad I walked out to look at them. They're not quite ripe yet, but maybe tomorrow, and some of the bigger ones are starting to turn that vestige of yellow. Hurry, you tomatoes!

Brings back lovely memories of the time Bridie got all excited because I had a shiny red ball in my hand (a tomato) and jumped up & down hoping I would throw it for her. So I did, until it split & Bridie gave it back to me while licking her lips thoughtfully... so I threw it for her one more time, kinda guessing what might happen.

Sure enough, little miss mischief stood there with her back to me, looked over her shoulder once (and was smacking her lips) and then I could see motions of chewing... Then she looked around & at me, with the biggest, most innocent eyes, "Mommy, I can't find the ball, sorry." What a silly pooch! It was worth it to throw that 'ball' for her and see those eyes light up like that. My sweetie!

Annie got to go outside with me while I threw some compost items into the compost bin. She was chewing grass as fast as she could, as she saw me returning. My little cat-cow! She's not an outdoor cat, but loves to come outside & seems to have learned that she's not going to be left alone to roam out there.

Hooray for vegetables! Grow, grow, grow!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Culinary memoirs & tracking

Steinberg: Learning to Cook in 1898Learning to Cook in 1898: A Chicago Culinary Memoir

Ellen F. Steinberg • Recipe adaptations by Eleanor Hudera Hanson

Based on the pocket notebook and handwritten recipes of Irma Rosenthal, a young Chicago housewife from the turn of the twentieth century, Learning to Cook in 1898 is a glimpse into American culinary history. "

Found this at the Wayne State University Press website. Doesn't it look interesting?

Quick update on my journeys! I have been to Canada for the weekend & had a great time, despite a huge downpour of rain that lasted about twenty or so minutes. They needed the rain, so it was actually a good thing. We were at the German Shepherd Club in London Ontario for a tracking test & got to watch a lot of urban style tracking. Good learning experience. Am reading a book about bridge restoration. Hey, it is more interesting than it sounds! It is all about how to save a bridge, what the ropes are for historical restoration, etc. Fascinating book & the title is A Bridge Worth Saving, author is Mike Mort. Otherwise, what with power washing my garage & getting covered with flecks of white paint is about the extent of the excitement around here.

Sister showed up for a lace knitting class at a nearby yarn shop & had a good time. Always enjoy spending time with her.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

today's activities (movies, books, powerwashing?!)

Yesterday & today turned out to be quite active days. I went to the northerly cinema to use the free movie ticket I had (movie clubs are great to belong to! free popcorn & the occasional free movie) and saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Pretty fun, and it was really great to see Karen Allen back again. I think she's a knitter now & owns a shop, but can't recall at present, Went & checked & she is!) (Ok, her name is Karen Allen, not my original guess of Smith, but I was... semi-close ;) ) Doesn't hurt that I love Shia LaBeouf too. Fun action movie.

The movie I really wanted to see, however, was Prince Caspian. I knew this movie was going off the big screen shortly, so I went to see that today. I have to admit that I was both pleased & disappointed. I always love the costuming, the scenery is splendid, and the four young actors are terrific. The actor who played Prince Caspian did an excellent job & I look forward to seeing him in the next movie, the Dawn Treader movie. The nice addition was that the role of Susan was far more active, than in the book. However, the romantic sub-plot was totally contrary to what CS Lewis wrote (and totally contrary to what he would ever have written.) Some of the plot lines were shifted in ways I didn't care for, mostly because that's not how the book handled it & because it makes Lucy (the youngest) very much to blame for much of the deaths in the movie. Didn't like that one at all.

Read two really fun books. The first one brought a former coworker (and luckily, current friend, Hi Kate!) vividly to mind. Although I must admit I can't think of the Kate I know doing things like walking on her hands (maybe that's a talent I never saw?) or carrying around a bucket strapped to her waist. She does have lovely purses though.

This one was The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart. I can see why it was a New York Times bestseller. It is beautifully done in terms of good writing & good action driven plot, has great puzzles, and gives you a lot to think about. I love Reynie Muldoon & Miss Perumal (the tutor), Sticky, Kate, and even Constance, who is the irritating one in this book. It is lovely, and a great juvenile.

The other book I also just adored, which is the one by Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks of Gardam Street. If you haven't read the first one, The Penderwicks, do that before you read this one. I love the story of the father with four girls. This book absolutely puts paid to the idea that only bad people & bad events are worth reading about. Talking much about the plot will ruin it, so suffice it to say that each girl faces challenges, they all grow up (even the father) and many interesting events take place.

One thing I really love about the book is that I have friends in the Books & Readers Forum on Compuserve, who have complained that their daughters who suffer from depression also suffer from the fact that so many of the books read in schools are issue books. They deal with depression, suicide, divorce, abuse, drugs... and on & on. Why, they said, can't there be books that are not so issue-driven and depressing? One woman actually had a teacher suggest a different book for her daughter to read. The daughter started to read it, sighed & put the book down & walked out. Turns out that in the first page, the father of the main character dies.

I wholeheartedly agree that we need a better balance. And Birdsall does such a beautiful job with this one. (p.s. there's even football & soccer in the book, to give you an idea of Birdsall's talents).

Last but not least, I decided to scrape the garage, to get it ready for painting. But then I realized that someone had suggested using my power washer instead, so that's what I spent the last two hours doing. I have little flecks of white paint all over myself, the yard, and the driveway. The garage never looked elegant before, but now looks distinctly shabby & threadbare. Here's hoping the primer makes it look glamorous again..... (maybe dark green trim will help?)

I wonder what Annie thought, watching all this stuff going on & watching white flakes fly by & water shooting into the air. Here's a picture of her in the window (look above).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Walter Farley

Loved Walter Farley & I think I've read just about all of his work. Another similar author that I really loved is Colonel SP Meek. I may have left off one of Col. Meek's initials! Parts of the following deleted & condensed. There's nothing better for a horse crazy girl, as I was, unless you consider Marguerite Henry. His son (I think, or is this the grand son?)'s blog is here.

Excerpted from Writers' Almanac: June 26th was the

"birthday of children's book author, Walter Farley, born in Syracuse, New York (1916). From an early age, there was nothing he wanted more in the world than his own horse. Unfortunately, his parents couldn't afford one, so he spent all his time reading and writing about horses.

Between the ages 11 and 15, he wrote dozens of short stories with titles like "The Winged Horse," "My Black Horse," "Red Stallion," and "The Pony." He later said they were all rough drafts for the novel that he finally finished while he was a student at Columbia University, which he called The Black Stallion (1941). It's the story of a boy and a wild stallion who survive a shipwreck and become friends on a deserted island.

The book was so popular that Farley went on to write 20 novels about the horse, including The Black Stallion Returns (1945), The Black Stallion Revolts (1953), and The Black Stallion's Ghost (1969)."

Off to see Prince Caspian, before it goes out of the theatres! Next time I post, I'm going to post about making beeswax candles & Jeffery Farnol, one of my favorite authors.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tasha Tudor

This is something I sent to a friend & it is an excerpt from a newspaper article:
"Legendary author and illustrator Tasha Tudor died June 18 at her Vermont home.
She was 92. A family statement on her said, "We thank you for supporting Tasha
Tudor's lifestyle and artwork during her long career. We hope that Tasha's
message of 'taking joy' in all that one does will be remembered as we pass
through this difficult time together." (from shelftalker)

Tasha illustrated nearly 100 books, some of which were her own. Her first book
was Pumpkin Moonshine. Her latest, Corgiville Christmas in 2003. Among her
awards were two Caldecott Honors. There's also a NY Times obituary which may still be retrievable.
She did amazing work and I have enjoyed her illustrations & writing quite a bit. I have a book about her
called The Private World of Tasha Tudor, which has really amazing photographs. There's also a book
about her garden called Tasha Tudor's Garden, which I plan to buy.

I love the fact that she died at home, with her family with her. It must have been a sad time for them,
but I know she loved her home & yard so much that there's no other place she would have rather been.

Sure wish I could have met her, but at least I can meet her through her books. That's the real blessing of books.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NASCAR & other things too (Happy Fourth of July!)

NASCAR article about Jeremy Mayfield traveling over to Iraq & his experiences there. Fabulous article.

Also loved this one, with all the beautiful pictures & people taking their citizenship oath. The guy who sent this to his mother said that he was at the mass re-enlistment ceremony & the atmosphere & spirit there were beautiful.

Thanks to all our veterans, for their service, and very hearty thanks indeed to our servicemen & women currently serving.

Where is Matt?

Thought Matt's story was a pretty fun one to post here. Basically, he has several videos on YouTube, which show him dancing & those are in exotic locations around the world. He's not much of a dancer, but he sure is fun to watch. Such a happy expression! Love the fact that Stride (the gum) sponsored his last two trips & basically told him to go have fun. (great video & fun story!)

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Calder Game by Blue Balliett

Another really interesting & mentally challenging book by Blue Balliet. I love her books because you not only learn art, history, and even a little bit of math, you also get to interact with some really interesting fictional characters. She does a terrific job of keeping the whole plot interesting & mystifying. Highly recommended.

Virginia Kahl quote

"Little children should enjoy their books. As long as possible, let them live in a world where characters are basically good, incidents are funny or exciting, and the story ultimately satisfying. I hope that the children who read my books have put them down with sighs of contentment, knowing that their expectations of cheerful uncomplicated tales with happy endings have been vindicated."

--Virginia Kahl, quoted from Contemporary Authors
The Gale Literary Databases

Loved this quote & I have Kahl's book, "The Duchess Bakes A Cake" which is hilarious. I also have a picture of her surrounded by cats, and drawing her cat. She has the happiest smile on her face.

Have just started reading The Region of Lost Names by Fred Arroyo, from University of Arizona Press, 2008. Really interesting book, which starts out from the perspective of Ernestitio (also called Ernest or Ernesto), as he comes to grips with his past, present and future. I suppose that sounds vague, but it is a little hard sometimes to describe books without totally giving away the fun of reading it for the first time yourself. Perhaps it suffices to say that I really like the book and that the author is giving a really good peek into his character's mind & how his mind is freely floating between events of present day & the struggles of dealing with his imperfect parents & his break-away from that past. The book appears to be structured so that you see it first from Ernestitio's mind & then from Magdalene's. Haven't got to Magdalene's yet, but am looking forward to it.

Another aspect that I find very real & very personal is the way the character alludes to past griefs... and slip slides away from talking 'too much' about it. How very human! Really beautiful use of language here too.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Carpe Diem

Found these quotes & thought they were appropriate :

If there is no wind, row." - Latin Proverb
"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." - Milton Berle, comic
"Things come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. -- Abraham Lincoln, US President.

Well worth remembering for every day life. Today I seized the day, and after a long day at work, went out with a friend & laid two tracks for her dogs. Then I went to the Master Gardeners meeting at the local university & learned about compost, plus some volunteering activities coming up for the Master Gardeners.

Before you're too impressed that I'm a Master Gardener, remember our motto... we're lifelong learners, not people who know everything there is to know! :) I became one so I wouldn't be so dangerous to the flora & fauna in my yard. Great people, great fun. Sure had fun on the track too & I think every day should be like this.

One thing I would love to "seize" is the opportunity to buy a rose farm. If only! I can put that on my list of dreams, yes? What's your dream?

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Willo Roberts

Loved the last line of her article : "Reading mysteries should be fun. Writing them certainly is!"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

various topics

Just liked this quote, so thought I'd put it here:

"My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library. -Peter Golkin, museum spokesman (1966- )"

Had a good day & got some shopping done. Also started reading a really fabulous book, which, believe it or not, is about Jiffy Mix! The book is a company history, but has a beautiful touch of personal history too, so that you learn about the people behind the company & the people who worked there, not just the CEOs & company owners. The story is so interesting & so well written. The writer, Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, also wrote Our Hometown : America's History as Seen Through the Eyes of a Midwestern Village, which is about Chelsea, the hometown of Jiffy Mix. Our Hometown got some national mention because of its beautiful & personal portrayal of the "average" midwestern town.

I'm really loving the Jiffy book, and the full title is : "JIFFY"(tm) : A family Tradition, Mixing BUsiness and Old-Fashioned Values. The woman who came up with the Jiffy Mixes & perfected them was married to a miller & was the daughter of a miller. As such, she took pride in her baking and wanted to make it possible for even a man to bake good biscuits. You'll have to read the book to find out more about that part of the story, but it really is a wonderful one & the story of how Chelsea & JIFFY came together is a beautiful one. Great history & also great reading. Book is from University of Michigan Press, and was published in 2008.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Annie, Labrador Retrievers and various historical facts

Thought this was pretty cool:

"Jack Dempsey
Born this day in 1895 was American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey, who held the world title from 1919, when he knocked out Jess Willard, until 1926, when he lost a 10-round decision to Gene Tunney."

Sis was here today, while waiting for her Labrador Retriever at the local university veterinary hospital. I didn't get a chance to see her while she was in my house, but will see her this coming weekend. I am absolutely certain that Annie was well entertained & played with! Annie loves her auntie, and whenever she sees her, yells in her little cat voice about being played with. Nothing like an aunt. ;)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scotts & Icebound

With my Scottish ancestry, I have to put up this excerpt from Britannica :

"1314: Battle of Bannockburn
On this day in 1314 began the Battle of Bannockburn, a decisive engagement in Scottish history whereby the Scots defeated the English, regained their independence, and established Robert the Bruce as Robert I."

Hooray for Robert The Bruce!

Today we got in a really wonderful book, Icebound. I would class it as a juvenile. It is really well written & absolutely fascinating. Just the right touches of history & all the things that interest youngsters. (Or at least... it interested me, I would hope it would interest others. Full title here & a link to the author's website as well. "Icebound The Adventures of Young George Sheldon and the SS Michigan" Text and Illustrations Valerie Olson.

I also spoke briefly at our all staff today & got to hype two good books, Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Nguyen and From The Vine : Exploring Michigan's Wineries (Kegerreis & Hathaway). Both are also highly recommended to anyone who is interested. The first is a great memoir, especially about the immigrant experience. The second is a great introduction to wines, especially of this particular region.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor died on Wednesday, June 18th this week. She was a really fabulous artist & children's book illustrator. I loved her book, "The Secret World of Tasha Tudor." Really amazing woman who lived life on her terms. The New York Times had a lovely long obituary on her.

Friday, June 20, 2008

historical moments & other things

Love getting the Britannica news every day. I am hoping it is teaching me more about history. As much as I love history, which I never realized until I took a class from a local mayor in Minnesota, I've not taken very many classes. I would love to rectify that and learn a good deal more.

Here's a couple of things from today's newsletter that I thought were interesting: " Howlin' Wolf
American blues singer and composer Howlin' Wolf, one of the principal exponents of the urban blues style of Chicago and noted for his brooding lyrics and his earthy, aggressive stage presence, was born this day in 1910."

"1567: Casket Letters found
The Casket Letters—which directly implicated Mary, Queen of Scots, in a plot with James Hepburn, 4th earl of Bothwell, to murder Mary's husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley—were said to have been discovered this day in 1567."

Yesterday got a little too exciting when, after watching the Top Chef reunion for season 4, I managed to kick a jar of pickling salt that was on the floor. Let's just say that thing feels like concrete. My toe is not broken, but it is bright purple, double its usual size, and it doesn't feel very good right now. I slept with an ice pack all night. My doctor doesn't think it is broken & judging on how my other foot felt when I broke the second toe, I would agree. Come to think of it, I joke that my kitchen activities are more like a combat sport. I guess the bright purple toe bears that out!

And speaking of Top Chef, when the contestants were asked what they would tell people who were coming on the show for the next season, the unanimous comment was, "Run the other way." After hearing that you have to ask permission for everything, from going to the bathroom to going to bed, etc. and that you have to be available 24/7, I think I would agree. No thank you. (not that I would ever be a candidate, but still.... )

About the picture, sorry about the washed out cat face, because Annie is gorgeous & the picture doesn't do her justice. Sure thought that little kitty (3 pounds, six months old) was pretty cute perching on the rim of her cat tree. Thanks to her surgery for her diaphragmatic hernia (fancy word for having a hole in her diaphragm, which resulted in her liver going up into her thoracid cavity & collapsing a lung) she's hale & hearty at all 7-8 pounds of her.

(segueing yet again) I'm still hoping to go pick strawberries tomorrow, at a local farm. I used to go to U-Pick farms with my family, and have good memories of going with my mom, sis, and aunt, plus her children. My littlest cousin would have a bright red mouth, and much fun was had by all. This will be my first adventure into canning (hence the pickling salt.. I am hoping to do pickles or pickle relish)
and I hope all my time watching Mom will pay off.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hi Mom!

The title of this particular post is because my mother has just gone out with FEMA to work in Madison, WI. She works in disaster relief & has done a number of different roles with FEMA. We wish you luck, Mom, and will be praying for you that all goes well.

Reports that I've heard indicated that something like 1/3rd of both Wisconsin & Illinois (and parts of Indiana, but not sure how much) were affected by the flooding. I gather that more like 2/3rds of Iowa is affected. Such a sad situation. Mom will do her best to make things better & isn't that what Moms are for?

Other things : we have a new person at work & it turns out we actually were in the same library school class together, so that was nifty, indeed. She's great, and it is going to be good to work together.

News from Britannica for today: "Composer Igor Stravinsky, whose work had a revolutionary impact on the musical world just before and after World War I and whose compositions remain a touchstone of modernism, was born in Russia this day in 1882."

I note also that recently there was Anne Frank's birthday. Still remember reading her diary & marveling at this amazing writer, who was so young.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It is work

But sure interesting. Today at work, I was looking through a list of serial titles that needed to be claimed & some are really funny. How about a certain association of Parks & Forests, which has a newsletter called "Tree Barks" ?

Sort of reminds me of dog-related newsletters, where they have the word barks in the title or birchbarks, which used to be used sort of like paper. I think. ;)

Author related news : a Don Winslow Interview which is very interesting. Winslow's mysteries are well written, interesting plots, and have unique twists. He's not writing about his former sleuth at this point, instead starting out with a new character.

I'm also looking forward to reading Eliot Pattison's latest. Pattison's series is set in Tibet & his main protagonist is Han Chinese, who has been exiled to Tibet to a Chinese work camp. This is a fascinating series, written by a long-time diplomat who spent a lot of time in China & I think in Tibet. Just a beautiful series & I've been wondering when the next would come out, since there was a long gap between books.

Closer to home, my area was hit with high winds, lots of rain, and more wind & rain. We have had substantial power outages, but fortunately, my power stayed on except for a few blips. My maple tree decided to toss a few branches hither & yon, narrowly missing a few cars & trucks. It threw things on my neighbors' sides, and with the exception of a slightly dented truck, only scratches resulted. I still have a large branch between the two garages (my next door neighbor's garage is about four feet or so away from the side of mine). Will need help to drag it out & a local friend & coworker has said she'd help me try to drag it down. I also have a four foot high pile of debris by the curb, but I count myself lucky because so many people had whole trees tip over & I've seen some trees down by the road that were cut up & whose logs were taller than I am. Yikes. We were fairly lucky in that most people didn't get hurt in this last encounter.

Tomorrow I get to go to lunch with another friend & coworker, the next day, possibly an arts & crafts fair, and then after that, on Sunday, I get to see... Puppies! (they're all spoken for, so none will be coming home with me.... ) I plan to take a cat toy with me. Remarkable how much dogs LOVE cat toys (feathers, tearability, fun!) and how much most cats do not like dog toys. Too much slobber, probably.

More later...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Dr. Pepper

I have friends who love Dr. Pepper, so this link is for them. (P.S. I like it to, but I drink diet, sorry)


I was pretty lazy today until just now, but did get out to plant about half of my vegetable plants. I have dirt that is pretty hard to dig in, so I hope I can get the rest in tomorrow and all the flowers in on Sunday.

Came in all hot & dirty, and found this splendid article on guerrilla gardening. Who knew there was such a thing? Kudos to Scott, of the article, for all his fine work. I wish I had that sort of energy.

Am volunteering for our Ag Expo at the local university's campus. I am hoping for four hrs each day, but we'll see. Have always wanted to go, but always had reasons not to go & this year, I really want to get my Master Gardener certification back.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Full of myriad musings

Really good day today, because I was able to finish off a long work day with laying a VST track for a friend. Her standard poodle is a cutie & really good tracker. Really fun dog. We left the other two standard poodles at home & I'm sure they were very jealous about being left behind. :) It is so fascinating & magical to watch the dogs work. How do they do this?

Fun stuff came in from the University of Michigan Press today. Really gorgeous books too. I also got a book from Forge, the newest Estleman book, Frames. I love this series & am glad that Estleman's Valentino now has a book of his very own. I could be mistaken, but I think this is the first time in full novel format, because I've read the Valentino short stories in Ellery Queen many times. Those are so great & the book is awesome so far. I'm already on chapter 4, the part where Valentino meets a beautiful girl whose name is Fanta. I just may finish it tonight.

Other books are: Michigan : our land, our water, our heritage, which is full of wonderful essays on what Michigan's natural environment means to some native Michiganians & to people who have moved here. I particularly liked Alison Swan's essay about introducing her daughter Sophie to her first painted turtles. These turtles are beautiful, do look up some pictures if you haven't seen one for yourself. We had a painted turtle in our house for a little while. My mother liked having us know about some of these wild creatures, but always released them back to the wild shortly. I still remember those scratchy little feet, and the feel of that moist skin. Turtles are just amazing creatures. I haven't finished this book yet, but I plan to do so tomorrow. I love many of the authors who are in this book. Should mention too that Nature Conservancy is part of this book & that the profits from buying the book go to the Nature Conservancy.

Other books: Ludington State Park: Queen of the North by the Reeds. Another really amazing nature/photography book. I haven't seen the DVD that goes along with it, but I'll bet it is really cool.

And my canning & preserving books arrived too. I have often helped my mother can, but never done the whole thing myself. I'm looking forward to it this year.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Thoughts for today

Just read a blogger's post about another blogger's fight for her life. This comes close to home for me. I have two coworkers who have/are fighting breast cancer & I know nine breast cancer survivors on Books & Writers Forum (CompuServe). Just too many people fighting for their lives & all one can do is pray for them.

There is also a fundraiser going on, that I wanted to link to. I believe the fundraiser lasts until July 2008.

For my part, I also go on the Breast Cancer walks when I can & yes, I also go to regular doctor checkups. I encourage all of you to do the same thing.

Friday, May 30, 2008 & chocolate

One of my favorite pictures of Bridie & me. We had an close encounter with a friend's Vietnamese Potbellied pig. Yes, we're both nervous. Pigs have SHARP teeth!

If you're not already a subscriber to's newsletter & you're a booklover, I encourage you to subscribe. I particularly love the links they provide to author essays & Q&As. In fact this one comes from something in their recent newsletter. I sent a note to myself to remind me to post this to the blog, with the subject header of, "Because she talks about chocolate." And indeed she does. Fun interview to read.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

General catching up after Memorial Day

Back again, this time from visiting my parents. Annie the cat stayed home as watch-cat & was very cool & relaxed when I got back, thanks to daily visits from friend Mary. I think Annie prefers to stay home to traveling with me, unfortunately. I had always hoped that she would be ok with traveling, if I took her traveling fairly often, but like most cats, she prefers home-time to being with me & traveling.

More news from Britannica... and I love the daily updates with bits of history in them. I can always hope the hard facts like dates & when things happen will eventually sink in. Timelines are not my forte.

On this day, Ian Fleming's birthday & of course there's hoopla about something or t'other to do with his birthday & various events. I forget what, exactly. Popular culture is apparently not my forte either. For the record, my favorite James Bond is Sean Connery.

Amnesty International was founded on this day, in London, 1961. They also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. Cool!

various readings : Gloria Whelan's Yuki & the Thousand Carriers. As always, a beautifully done children's book. I love the way Whelan writes. She has the ability to simplify the story, but her voice comes through beautifully & poetically. The illustrator's work is awesome. I believe this is part of the international series & Whelan does so well with this.

Also a lot of fun, Brennan-Nelson's Willow. This one is the story of a young girl in an art teacher's class. The teacher is very uptight, and Willow, shall we say, is not. She's fun, she's artistic, and her creativity is just bursting out of her. A really fun book, with an irrepressible spirit, much like that of Pippi Longstocking. Both books are from Sleeping Bear Press & are highly recommended.

Next on the cooking front, Gazpacho. If you have favorite recipes, send them my way! But at least for once, I do have a cucumber on hand. Mine tend to get slimy very quickly, so I tend not to buy them much. My grandfather also commented that they smelled like cottonmouth snakes, so that turned me off for a bit. I'm going to try not to think about that aspect of it....

Friday, May 23, 2008

Neglect, Mistaken Identity, L'Engle's latest

My poor neglected blog! I haven't forgotten, just have been really busy. The Ann Arbor Book Festival was hectic, but fun. I heard later we had about 8-10,000 people. And the day was beautiful, sunny but cool, so it was just the right kind of weather for hanging around outside.

We were cleaned out of all our free pens & those little doodads that you use to clean dust off your screen & off your TV monitor. Always a good day when you get to spend it hanging out with authors, people who love books, publishers, and readers.

Here's a really terrific essay posted at One of my favorite places to read on the web. Also wanted to mention that Britannica has given me (and other bloggers) a free subscription to it, which is going to be wonderful, just for reference questions & such. Let me know if you need me to look something up. ;) Many thanks to Encyclopedia Britannica!

On the reading front, I have read Mistaken Identity, the book about the Taylor University van crash, about the survivor, Whitney Cerak. Wonderful book in so many ways & on so many levels. I highly recommend it. I also read Madeleine L'Engle's latest book. You may know that she died a couple of years ago (2007, I believe) and the book was published posthumously. Very much in L'Engle's style, the main character is a tall, gawky girl who when acting (or playing music in other books) becomes at one with her body & movements. Very much a growing-up book, and a good book of a young adult becoming fully adult. It does seem a tad dated for this day & age, but it is beautifully written as always. I miss having her around & miss the expectation that she would be writing another book someday soon.

I also can't let this post pass without mentioning that Memorial Day 15 years ago, was the day I got Bridie. So today is very much a day of memories for me, and not a small amount of sadness. I picked up a little 9 pound puppy, with long ears, and the most quizzical look. She was most unhappy to be picked up & put in my car for the ride home, because she'd already been in a car for the distance between Washington DC & Bristol, TN. I just adored her from the very beginning & my heart was already quaking... would I be a good enough owner for her? Would she like living with me? I think all in all, she mostly did like living with me, except for all those times I'd leave her & go to work. I adored her and thought she was the bee's knees. Such a terrific dog in so many ways, and so very smart. My obedience instructor used to tell me that I needed to work harder, because Bridie was so smart & could outthink me. She sure was right. I'm so glad I had Bridie in my life, even in this time of grief.

Friday, May 16, 2008

book activities & links

Here's some book related news! :

Ann Arbor Book Festival

The 5th Annual Ann Arbor Book Festival will be held from Thursday, May 15 to Sunday, May 18, 2008

Do come to this if you're in the area, as it is tremendous fun. Well worth braving any predicted rain!
And back to Rick Riordan & Labyrinth, check out this link.

Rick Riordan's Battle of the Labyrinth

Love this one, and the series just keeps getting better & better. This is always a pleasant outcome, because sometimes the first book in the series is the best, but Riordan comes through with every word. I picked up the first book of the series purely because I know Riordan's mystery series & liked them very much. Much to my surprise, I loved this juvenile series as much if not more.

Wonderful imagination all the way through & a very clever folding of ancient mythology into the present day world. In this book, Percy Jackson and his famous pen/sword, Riptide, once again try to go back to school. Let's just say the cheerleaders are not quite what they seem. Chance encounters, old & new friends coming together, all blend to create yet another fantastic adventure. In this one, Annabelle takes the lead through the Labyrinth, and they encounter the master of the labyrinth, as well as many creatures who abide in the Labyrinth. Saying more would ruin the story for others, but suffice it to say that the great hearts, great love, and great anger behind the characters in the book turn it into a most compelling adventure story. Well worth reading for anyone who loves fantasy/SF and for anyone who loves good juvenile literature.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

VST (Variable Surface Tracking)

Sounds mysterious, doesn't it? Really, it is just the name for what is sometimes called urban style tracking. It is fun, and unlike TD & TDX (Tracking Dog and Tracking Dog Excellent tests) tests, it doesn't require quite so much walking in fields, meadows, farmland, and woodland.

Instead, you take a dog out & show him an article from a stranger. This person just walked in a specific pattern through buildings, on asphalt, sidewalks, grassy & dirt areas, etc. and possibly even entered a building. The goal, the dog needs to find where that person walked, what they dropped, and find the final article.

There's more information here, at the Moraine club's website. It is similar to what the Search & Rescue dogs do, but more formalized. I laid two tracks today, on Michigan State University's campus & am hoping that one of my tracks will have a pass. Two will be great, but VST passing rates are low, because people are still learning how to train for it & how to read their dogs. I'll report more tomorrow.

Still working on those dandelions. I've filled up two of those tall brown yard bags so far (and that's only for the backyard). I'm expecting to fill up at least one more, maybe two. The picture above is my Kolkwitza bush. (I think that's the right name) also known as a beauty bush. I think. It is pretty, but only for one short week in the spring time, which is likely why it isn't planted much any more.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lita Judge & One Thousand Tracings

Oddly enough, one of my favorite books from last year was One Thousand Bones by PJ Parrish (mystery and a really good one. This is a new series for the Parrish sisters), and for this year, it is One Thousand Tracings by Lita Judge. (what's odd about that, you may ask? The fact that two of my favorite books both have the words One Thousand in the title) The book has won at least 8-10 major awards so far this year & it is fabulous. I got to talk to Lita at Marshall District Library, in two separate sessions. The first was for writers, and there were only three of us, so we all got to talk & share stories, etc. The second was about the book & Lita's presentation is fabulous.
If you have a chance to go see her, do... she's great.

Work has been busy, but we also have a new student working with us who is fabulous. We also had an ice cream social, which was great fun.

And spring really must be here. I think I pulled up about five dozen dandelions in my backyard, maybe more. Was outside for about 75 minutes & filled two yard bags full of debris & .... dandelions. So far, I've managed to get most of them out of the front yard over the last six years. But the backyard.... I still remember waking up one morning my first spring in this house & seeing the backyard as wall-to-wall dandelions. Beautiful & golden, but the neighbors hate you if you let them grow & blow seed onto their yards, so I pull them. Good exercise. Must admit I miss my doggie companion, who always hung out there with me. Instead, I had my sweet cat, yelling cat swear words out the window, because she wanted to come outside & eat grass. She's a great deal of fun. Even when she's yelling cat swear words out the backdoor.

Monday, May 05, 2008


For the past few years, I've made potholders for Christmas gifts. People really like them & I guess because they're handmade, you can't get anything like them in the stores. Will take a picture & post it, so you all can see them. I'm also interested in trying out these potholders, which are a long time family handcraft, handed down through the years for this blogger.

Mom's told me she thinks the potholders I've made with cotton & wool loops are better than the ones you can buy in stores. Isn't that a nice compliment? These are the ones that as kids, I made on plastic looms, and you pull loops over each other, then crochet the ends together to make potholders. The ones from Harris are lovely, and the loops are perfectly matched, so that you don't have all those horrible ones that are either too long, too short, and are torture to put together.

But the one from the My Little Kitchen blogger looks really interesting. I may try it. Scroll down to Crochet: Old Fashioned Potholders. I think the first blog entry that comes up is a little silly (the underwear potholders, for a bridal shower, my goodness!) but what an interesting piece of family history.

My family has started making all (or most) of their Christmas gifts for a variety of reasons. We have fun, and it is a very creative activity. My sister gave me two cross stitch pictures (beautiful! more pictures, yes... ) , Mom made polar fleece blankets for everyone, I made food, gave away potholders, and something else that I am forgetting.

Here's something else that is interesting, a link to a blog about a book club. I love their idea of making the books sit with their faces to the wall, if they're displeasing to someone. Bring on the dunce caps!

And before I forget, the picture above is an example of a book with fore-edge painting. It is a scene of Lake Erie, and my two co-workers are holding the book pages bent, so we can see the scene. Isn't that nice of them?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Goodbyes, afghans, and eating

Sounds like a nice conglomerate of information, right? I've missed blogging & am happy to get back to it. To the left, you'll see a very nice couch/love seat, with a colored lap robe to the right. I made the lap robe on my Weave-its, and it is my first one ever. Used Noro silk/wool blend (Silk Garden), and this was heaps of fun to to. The photo was taken by the coworker & friend that I gave it to, because she was leaving for a wonderful new job. I'll miss her, but will be seeing her soon, as she's not far away.

Right now, I'm enjoying the spring vegetables. Green onions aplenty, wonderful baby spinach & baby romaine, and delicious bell peppers. I added raspberry vinaigrette, pistachio nuts, turkey, and a small amount of cheese. Still ahead, but probably for tomorrow are the various dishes to make for the week ahead, like Oriental cabbage salad, raspberry chicken, gingered chicken, and probably chicken mole. Or maybe chicken chili....

And I really need to get back to reading too. Believe it or not, I've been too sick to watch TV or read & after the wisdom tooth extraction, most of the time I talked to my mother or listened to her talk, which, believe me, is far more important than reading or watching tv.