Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bout of Books Day 3

Favorite Books:

Ooooh this is like asking me who is my favorite grandchild or which is my favorite dog.  BUT I can choose a category and put some favorites in that.

Favorite Books to Teach:

I taught high school English for nearly 30 years and I did have books that I loved to teach.

1.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
            There was so much I could do with this novel.  I could focus on the obvious Civil Rights issue.  There was the "coming of age" angle or father/daughter relationships.  Depending on my group of students there were many paths to choose.   I love the point of view.  Scout's voice as an adult looking back on her childhood is heartbreakingly beautiful.

2.  Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
           Now this is a polar opposite!  Again, there is so much here.  To look at this from a "social issue" perspective, I love the discussions surrounding relationships:  husband/wife, sister/sister, society/individual.  Oh what a character Blanche is!

3.  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
           Do you get the idea that I like discussing society!  Another great book about relationships and societal expectations.   Our curriculum also uses this book to discuss the American Dream.

4.  The Stranger by Albert Camus
            12th grade English covered this book.  "Mama died today.  Or was it yesterday?"  One of my favorite openings.

I am going to stop with four.  There are a few others I enjoyed teaching but my enthusiasm often depended on my group.

  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Lesson Before Dying by Earnest Gaines
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • Macbeth by Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by Shakespeare


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Shelfies!

#boutofbooks and #shelfie4boutofbooks

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bout of Books - Day 1

Wife, retired, reader, grammy, crafter  #insixwords #boutofbooks

Today is Day One of Bout of Books Read-a-Thon.  My goal is simple:  read books I already own.  I will not go to the library or any bookstores!  I intend to tackle what is already here.

First up:  Highgate Rise by Anne Perry.

I rushed through household chores and as soon as my blogging is concluded I am off to the balcony with coffee and kindle.  Maybe I can clear out all those books I have purchased or downloaded and the left untouched.

Update to come.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

A virtuous Woman...

28Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31: 28-31

I miss my mom.  She has been gone 10 years and it doesn't seem possible.  After my granddaughter had spent some time with us, my step-daughter Lisa said I was just like "Meemaw".  That was a nice compliment.

Now Lisa is gone.  I am just glad that Meemaw was waiting for her.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Friday Finds on a Saturday Morning

My Friday Finds are in anticipation of the "Bout of Books" read-a-thon that begins Monday.  My goal is to read books that I have in my personal library.  That means no trips to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or the library.  I will choose from what is on hand.

I intend to begin with Stephen Coonts' Flight of the Intruder.  I have read many of the Jake Grafton Series as well as the Tommy Carmellinni ones but I have read them out of order so now I am back to the very beginning.  Jake is a lieutenant fighter pilot in the Viet Nam war.  That does go back a ways.  After that I will move on the Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson.  Somewhere during the challenge I want to read book two in the Game of Thrones series.  Yes I might be the only one who is not up to date in that.  I have only read book one and seen season one.  

I have set aside two to three hours each day for reading, but I suspect that if I play my cards right I will get more.  I will take time out to watch "Dancing with the Stars" and "Survivor" but there isn't much else I want to see.

Hopefully, with the challenge I will take some titles off my TBR stack.  It will barely make a dent!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

#tbt - Memories of my Dad

"You are My Sunshine" and Old Spice aftershave will always be linked for me.  They both take me immediately to my early childhood living in an apartment in Washington, DC with both of my parents.

My father worked in a drug store and went in late every other day.  On those days I remember my dad shaving and dressing all the while humming or singing "You are My Sunshine."  It is such a comforting memory.  I always link that song with him.

There were other songs as well.  My dad loved Elvis but the Elvis of spiritual songs.  My dad's favorite was "Peace in the Valley."  He did a pretty good Elvis sound when he sang along.  It's funny what memories come with songs and smells. 

Every now and then those songs just spring into my head.  I figure my dad is close at hand.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday Teaser

"You need to get out of your office more often.  According to the website listed on the leaflets, a nudist resort is supposed to pen somewhere near here next summer." (171)

Lorna Barrett.  Murder is Binding. New York:  Berkley Prime Crime. 2008.

My Note:  tee hee

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bout of Books

It is my intention to participate in the Bout of Books marathon.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Time Devoted to Reading

I will be reading everyday for the entire week.  I will devote at least 2 to 3 hours a day.

My Goals

  • to chip away at the books I already own.  No new books or trips to the library.

Possible Books to Read

  1. Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts
  2. Dying for Chocolat by Diane Mott Davidson
  3. Highgate Rise by Anne Perry
  4. Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child
  5. Photo Finished by Laura Child
  6. Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Musing Mondays

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Name any 5 books from your “to be read” pile (even if it’s a “virtual” pile).

Wow just 5....
1.  Crewel World by Monica Ferris
2.  Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett
3.  Thyme of Death  by Susan Wittig Albert
4. Cat and Mouse by James Patterson
5.  Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

There are so many more but this should keep me busy.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday Thoughts

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
                                                                    Psalm 37:4

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Finds

There is quite a haul this week.  I have my To Kill A Mockingbird book bag and two cozies from the library - Bedeviled Eggs by Laura Child and Crewel World by Monica Ferris.  I was also able to pick up the May copy of Book Page early.  Then from Barnes and Noble I have All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett.  Not pictured here is a third book from the library that I am already reading - One Dark Night by Kevin F. McMurray.  This is a "true crime" book.  It is pretty dreary today so I am going to curl up with my book and let the rest of the world go by....Until the NFL draft begins tonight with rounds 2 and 3!  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

#tbt - First Love

Pool parties were a big thing the summer I turned 15.  The Officer's Club at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC hosted one every week and two boys (brothers) from my church loved to go.  Lucky for me, they would always invite me and my friend.  At first it was just a friendly thing, but eventually it became clear these were "dates."

It was one of the best summers of my teenage years.  I loved those nights at the pool and the band and the music.  I don't know what the band was or even if it was the same band but they covered all the popular songs.

"Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones was a hit that summer and it was the one song everyone wanted to hear.  I loved dancing to that.  My boyfriend was so funny and while I tried to do just the right dance, he let the music carry him.  Even when we were going on other dates, if that song came on the radio, he would jump and shake.

Whenever I hear that song, I am immediately transported to that pool on a warm summer night in 1965.  I think of Richard and I smile.

Ultimate Classic Rock

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

First Chapter Tuesday

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where we share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that we are reading or plan to read soon.  

"No, it's not the wedding I  dreamed of, but it is the wedding I want!"  Hannah Swensen's hands shook slightly as she replaced her cup of coffee in the bone china saucer.  She'd been so startled by Grandma Knudson's question that a few drops had sloshed out of her cup and landed in its matching saucer.  The matriarch of Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church was known for being outspoken, but Hannah hadn't expected to be grilled about her upcoming nuptials when Grandma Knudson had called her at The Cookie Jar, Hannah's coffee shop and bakery, and invited her to the parsonage for coffee.

"Everyone's talking, you know," Grandma Knudson confided, leaning forward in her chair.  "No one can understand why they haven't been invited to the wedding.  I told them you preferred a small, intimate family affair, but they feel left out.  And almost everyone from my Bible study group asked if there was something wrong."

Joanne Fluke.  Wedding Cake Murder. New York:  Kensington Publishing Corp. 2016.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Musing Mondays

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Your favorite poem, or collection of poetry?

Musing Mondays comes courtesy of Jenn at Books and A Beat.  I have chosen to respond to her "Random Question."

Ordinarily, I would say that I am not a poetry person but my favorite collection of poems is Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.  This is a collection of monologues beyond the grave from the residents of a fictional town in the Midwest.

The poems are all free verse.  Some are humorous, some are dark, and some are sad.  Because the speakers are dead, they speak the truth which can be harsh and brutal.  The reader learns the real behind the scenes information about the town and its residents.  Often the poems revealed the connections between the speakers.  "Ollie McGee" and then "Fletcher McGee" are wife and husband and the reader learns the secrets of their marriage from each one's perspective revealing quite different ideas.  The humor of their sad marriage lies in the revelations of the individual points of view.

The English teacher I had in my junior year of high school used poems from this collection frequently as lead-ins to thematically linked other works of literature.  I think that is why I enjoyed them so much - to see the universal connections.

There is an online edition of Spoon River Anthology at

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Thoughts

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
                                                     Psalm 37:4

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Songs Revisited

Picture from Wikipedia.

Are you like me?  Do you hate it when a song gets stuck in your brain?  Yesterday I heard a song by Herman's Hermits and now the first two lines of the song are playing over and over (and over and over) in my mind.

"She's a Must to Avoid, a complete impossibility..." over and over.  There are a few things that are funny and odd about this.  When I heard the song yesterday, I was excited.  I like the song.  I was able to sing along.  It's just now I can't forget it.

My teen years began simultaneously with the British Invasion.  I watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan along with half the free world.  I never felt animosity to other British bands just because I loved the Beatles.  

I think I had several albums by Herman's Hermits.  This song was one of my favorites along with "I'm Henry the Eighth" and "Silhouettes on the Shade." I really did like most of the rest.  I wish I still had all my albums.  They are probably lost in the basement of my parents old home.  I hope the subsequent owners enjoyed them.

One other curiosity about this song is that I always had the lyrics wrong.  I always thought he was singing "She's a must for a boy...." which changes the entire drift of the song!  Imagine learning the correct version just when my family thinks I can't hear!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Finds

I had a small book haul this week.  I went to the library and checked out Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich and Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas.  Two very different books but I wanted both.  

I am a huge Janet Evanovich fan especially the Stephanie Plum series.  This series has two of my all time favorite characters, Lula and Grandma Mazur.  They are worth the whole series.  I don't think I can look at diets or "ho's" the same way again.  Lula's diets are legendary.  My favorite is the "just eat one" of anything you want.  Lulu ate one box of donuts and then one bucket of chicken.  Now that is my kind of diet.  Ho's are another story.  I don't know any ho's but if I did I'd want them to be just like Lula.

Who can make a viewing a date night?  Grandma Mazur.  Funerals and viewings are her form of entertainment.  I'll go with her but only if they are serving food.

It seems almost wrong to write about Bonhoffer in the same post but that is the other book I found.  I read a review over at Great Book Study and was intrigued.  It seems appropriate given that I just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which centered on the Nazi occupation of France.  Can I handle another Nazi book?

Finally, at the library, I picked up the April edition of Book Page.  I like to go through and mark the books I want to read and then put them on hold.  I usually get some great picks.  

It is a warm day here in Chesapeake with a hint of rain.  A perfect day to sit on my balcony with one cup of coffee and one good book.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

#tbt - Turn Back Thursday

Recently, I have started listening to "The 60s on 6" on my satellite car radio.  I usually listen to all news stations but the election is killing me.  I need to go back in time - at least for a while.

Monday was a beautiful day and I was off to spend the day with my daughter in law who was having work done in their home.  My car windows were down and the radio was loud.  The next song up took me back to the backyard of the house where I lived as a teenager.

"Windy" by the Association was a favorite.  It was light and energetic and still reminds me of the summer.  

The song reach number one in 1966 and was the second hit by the group.  The first was Cherish.  I love that song too.  I have read that the song was written by a women and Windy was originally meant to be a guy but the producer changed the gender and then the tempo and it was a hit.This link The Association Song clips will take you to "Songfacts" and you can hear Windy and a few other of their hits.  

Photo from Songfacts site.

I can't believe that I am "throwing back" so many years ago.  Does anyone else still feel 16?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

 First Chapter

Every Tuesday over at Bibliophile By the Sea Diane shares the first paragraph, maybe two of the book she is reading.  She challenges us to do the same.  This week, I am sharing the first paragraph from The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

"If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this:  In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.  Today's young people want to know everything about everyone.  They think talking about a problem will solve it.  I come from a quieter generation.  We understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.

Lately, though, I find myself thinking about the war and my past, about the people I lost.

Lost." (1)

I started reading yesterday and I am having a difficult time putting it aside for things like cleaning, eating, sleeping.  I didn't think I was a Kristin Hannah fan.  I'm not sure why.  I don't think I have ever read any of her books, but I think perhaps I labeled her "chick lit."  That isn't one of my categories of choice.  This book is a very pleasant surprised.  I will have to give some of her other books a try.

Hannah, Kristin.  The Nightingale. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2015.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn over at Books and a Beat that asks you to respond to one of the prompts listed on her page.  This week I am combining two.

  • I bought the following book last week
  • I am currently reading
When I post a book to GoodReads it links to my Facebook page.  It is usually two or three of my same friends who comment; however, last week when I listed The Lake House by Kate Morton a girl (well woman now) I taught almost 30 years ago responded.  The Lake House has popped up on several pages she reads and she wondered how I like it.  It is now one of my all time favorites and so I gushed a bit about it. 

Later, she got back to me and told me about her current favorite The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. She was off to get The Lake House and wanted me to get The Nightingale so we could then compare notes.

I taught her "Reading/Language Arts" when she was in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.  How could I ignore her enthusiasm over a book even if it has been 30 years?  So off I trooped to Barnes and Noble. There was a lengthy wait list at the library and we were meeting the family at Macaroni Grill for dinner and this just happens to be across the street from Barnes and Noble.  (We picked the restaurant before I knew I needed the book!) 

I had already started Predator by Patricia Cornwell so I wanted to finish it first.  I finally started The Nightingale last night.  I feel like I need to lock it in my car.  I have a list of things I need to do around the house and now I have no desire to clean.  The Nightingale is calling me.  Only a few chapters in and I am hooked.  

I can't wait to facebook AnneMarie!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Thoughts on Sunday

 Create in my a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.
                                                         Psalm 51:10

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What Matters Most

It's not hard for me to list the things that matter most but I've just spent the morning trying to find just the right picture for each.  That isn't what's important.  What is important is letting coming right out and acknowledging it.

1.  My husband is important.  He makes me laugh,  he knows just what I am thinking, and he knows just what I want to do.  Whether it is hopping in the car and seeing the local sights or booking a cruise to warmer climes, Jim knows exactly the perfect spot.  I'm not a great cook so his way of helping out is making dinner reservations.  He is number one on my list.

2.  My family is important.  Lisa and James and all the grandchildren.  My brother and sister-in-law and nephew and niece and their families.  Cousins, aunts, uncles are always fun encounters.  Of course I had the greatest parents and grandparents who taught me just how to be the "perfect" grandma Wo.

3.  My Church, my faith, and My God are the driving forces for my life.  I have been fortunate to be a part of great churches that have kept me grounded in my walk with God.

4.  I have the best friends.  I am still in touch with high school friends, college friends, and work friends.  They know how to have the right amount of goofy fun.  We don't all agree on politics or reading material, but we know how to laugh and they have been with me to let me cry.

5.  How could I forget my furry child.  Greta is the cutest and most cuddly bundle of love.  She is the smallest dog we've owned but she is big on affection.  Dogs have always been a big part of my life:
Inky, Gladys, Buster, Max, Baron, New Max, Fred, Murphy, Harper, Greta, and Gracie.  I miss the ones who are no longer with me and I treasure Greta even more.

What matters most?  I guess I can sum it up in one word - Love.  Love is what matters the most and I am very blessed.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Fill-in we go! 

1. Right now I'm going to fix a cup of coffee and read Predator by Patricia Cornwell.
2. Buying books is my well known quirk.
3. Are you conservative?
4. I take the dog out first, then coffee!
5. That's why I don't talk politics.
6. Dancing with the Stars is one of my favorite tv shows ever!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with my husband, daughter in law and grandchildren, tomorrow my plans include reading and watching the Washington Capitals hockey and Sunday, I want to visit a new church!

This little challenge is courtesy of Friday Fillins at

Comfort Food

Already I am hungry simply thinking about comfort food.  I wonder exactly what comfort food is.  For me that is redundant.  Food = Comfort.  Sweet, salty, greasy, broiled, boiled, fried, raw. But, technically, I guess, there is a category of food labeled as "comfort food."  

Comfort Food:  food which provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the consumer: food associated with the security of childhood.  That opens up a vast territory for me.  Simply smelling some things bring me fond memories from both sides of the family.

Frying bacon and sausage along with brewing coffee takes me to early mornings in Linville, Virginia at my great grandmother's house my father's grandmother.  I can close my eyes an be right there.
Summer mornings a traditional vacation.

Hot Lipton Tea with cream and sugar and a meal of Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, and stewed tomatoes takes me to the kitchen of my grandparents on my mother's side.  Mimmy's spice cake with lemon frosting is still my favorite.

I am not a very good cook but my specialties are the things from my past - my comfort food.

  • vegetable soup
  • chicken with rice soup
  • pot roast with carrots and potatoes (my mother's side)
  • pot roast with egg noodles (my dad's)
  • meat loaf with tomato sauce
  • ham and cabbage
  • turkey and dressing
This is my repertoire of recipes.  If you want dinner at my house these will be the "go to" choices.  To say I have a recipe is misleading.  I just know what to do and move on from there.  Bread and real butter goes with everything.  It will be white bread or brown and serve rolls.  A "treat" would be Italian bread or bakery rolls.

Comfort lunches are usually sandwiches on white bread.  My favorite school box lunch was a tuna salad sandwich no lettuce or tomato just the tuna and plenty of mayonnaise.  Egg salad is another good choice for school, but a snow day lunch would be grilled cheese with tomato soup.  That soup was a Campbell's special and to spruce it up, sometimes my mom would add cubes of cheddar cheese.  It was soooo gooey good.

What is comfort without some sweets?  My favorite cake is the spice cake with lemon frosting but yellow cake with dark chocolate frosting and a large glass of milk is a very close second.  My mother's fudge recipe is committed to memory.  Family members treasure gifts of that fudge.  Truly a family secret.  My aunt made the best chocolate chip cookies that I can not duplicate but mine are ok.  They will do in a pinch.

Finally, the one food everyone in my family wants and looks forward to is deviled eggs.  My father made the best.  Mine are hit or miss.  I can't always get the right vinegary zip.  My brother's come closest to my dad's.  The problem with making deviled eggs is that there is a lot of work for the finished product to be gone so soon.  They never last.  We fight over those eggs almost as hard as we fight over the crisp turkey skin but that Thanksgiving story is for another day.  Now I am uncomfortably hungry thinking about comfort food.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Life is Good

Sometimes I forget that there is much to appreciate that I take for granted. There is pleasure all around in small towns that are often ignored or overlooked. These are names on road signs that I often use simply to gauge the time to my destination. I am worried only about my destination and not about the joy along the way. Sometimes these name are just dots on a map forgotten as are the maps themselves.

But, I have resolved to change this; I will explore and enjoy these pockets of pleasure using the excuse that we are "new to the area." That is how we found Smithfield, Virginia.

According to Wikipedia, "Smithfield is a town in Isle of Wight County, in the South Hampton Roads of Virginia in the United States that is most famous for the curing and production of the Smithfield ham. First colonized in 1634, it is located on the Pagan River, not far from Jamestown. The town was established in 1752 by Arthur Smith IV as a seaport. There were both Revolutionary and Civil War actions in and around the town, mostly due to its proximity to the James River. Known as the ham capital of the world Smithfield attracts many visitors to its historic district."

A visit is well worth the trip. For me a trip must include a stop at a good restaurant. We ate lunch at The Smithfield Ice Cream Parlor. It was a treat. There are seats at a counter or in booths. There are no frills. You order your meal at the counter and take it to your booth but the food is worth the effort. We each had one of the specials. My pork barbecue was delicious and I heard no complaints about the BLT. After fortifications we walked Main Street. Shops and old homes lined both sides.

But, two of our favorite sights were the various bronze sculptures through out town and the assortment of decorated pigs. We picked up two brochures describing both.

The Bronze Sculptures are by George Lundeen.  

This statue is The Valentine Couple by The Smithfield Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street.

My friend is George Washington located on Main Street.
Ben Franklin can be found sitting in front of The Smithfield Times newspaper's offices.

There are eight, but we didn't get to see the all. We will go back.

The other attraction we liked was "Smithfield's Porcine Parade."

The Sweet Swine of Avon is decorated in period costume honoring Shakespeare. He is located on Hayden Lane off Main Street.  (Of course I would find him.)

The Cultural Pig is located on Main Street by the Visitor/Arts Center.
We did find time to visit the court house.  Our guide was very nice and very knowledgeable.  Jim could imagine himself bailiff there.  Costume and all!

Life is good.  I sometimes forget that!  What's next on our exploration - Elizabeth City, NC.