"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Scavenger Hunts

Although this is possibly true of Southern living ....

I am rather partial to beautiful flowering things so I'm glad I'm here where we can do Outdoor Scavenger Hunts and find leaves and flowers and grass in mid-March.  I say that because I posted this on Facebook,

and two of my friends in Massachusetts mentioned their lack of leaves* or grass. Too bad. Later that day I was social-distancing in Graham near the library and children's museum when I decided to enjoy the pretty day by doing the Outdoor Scavenger Hunt! It was fun!

* our trees weren't all that leafy just yet (it was March 18th when I did my hunt), but don't you have bushes with leaves in the Northeast? And you can see from my pictures, that I actually found leaves leftover from last year

Here are pictures I posted on Facebook.

Leaves that look different; I did more than 5 because I wanted to include all these little cuties!

something that is heavy

flowers - real and fake

something that smells good

something(s) that need the sun to live

something you like to play with; well, Sophie does;
it's the mouse outside the library

something brown; something smaller than my thumb; a stick bigger than my hand;
something to recycle; something that begins with M (mulch)

Back at my house:

a flat rock and one with spots

ten blades of grass (until a couple blew away) and something very light

For my Massachusetts and other friends who don't have flowers or leaves or grass at this time of year, I also posted this Indoor Scavenger Hunt.  I may do this one sometime.

And then .. THEN yesterday, I found all these which I wanted to save here!  I should get going on that last one because it's already April 1, and Spring will be over before we know it!  (Though, truthfully, I could do that one later in the year if need be.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March Books

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson -- pretty good story set in the Netherlands during World War II, and also the modern perspective as told through Ava Drake's eyes.

Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France by Karen Wheeler -- I think my mom found this memoir in a Little Free Library box and I decided to read it before passing it along to others. This London-based author was visiting a friend when an opportunity arose for her to buy a fixer upper in rural France - and she did.  I enjoyed reading of her social life there, meeting interesting characters - both French and English - and the things she did those first couple of years there.

Once a Midwife by Patricia Harman -- my mom recently read this Hope River Novel, and despite not having read any of the prior books (which probably told the stories of Bitsy and a few other characters mentioned in this book), I read this one. Daniel and Patience Hester live in Liberty County, West Virginia, around the time much of the world is at war. Daniel is a respected vet, and Patience delivers babies. Both work on their farm. When America enters the war, the Hesters' lives change. Pretty good story. I'll look for more from this author. 

Devil's Corner by Lisa Scottoline -- One of the earlier books my library has by this author. Vicki is an Assistant US Attorney working on cleaning up the streets of Philadelphia which has a crack cocaine problem. Not my favorite of her books, but pretty good.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald -- some people probably enjoyed this little tale of a young Swedish woman who travels to a small town in Iowa to meet her elderly pen pal. Sadly, the pen pal died before Sara arrived, and Sara has to figure out what to do with herself in the small town she's planned to stay in for her two month holiday. Sounds pretty cute, but I really didn't care for this book much at all. Still, I did read it all, and I liked the Meet the Author section at the back of the book.

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini -- half the book was about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow around the time of the US Civil War, and the other half was a contemporary story revolving around a music teacher and her accompanist and part of the children's choir at a Catholic church in Boston. Pretty good.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans -- part memoir, part poetry, just some beautiful reflections on her life and that of the Church.  A lovely book by an author who left the world too soon. I know young people die all the time, but I still have a hard time believing that happened to her!

What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin -- Kelly Lund was convicted of killing a friend's father 25 years before, and now she's out of prison and the book flashes from today (where yet another murder has taken place, and Kelly is suspected) and flashbacks to the story from those years when she was friends with Bellamy and Vee.  Pretty good. 

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke -- a good story about a teacher whose mother recently died, a mother with whom she'd had a troublesome relationship. When Hannah goes to Germany to meet a grandfather she never knew anything about, she learns more about his dealings during World War II. Alternately we learn of Lieselotte's time during the war, and get clues to why her time in America was so difficult.

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline -- a recent book by this author; not as much lawyer-based as her earlier works, but this story is about a group of wealthy kids in a development who witnessed a tragic accident that still haunts them twenty years later. As told through the eyes of Allie, Sasha, Julian, Kyle, and David. Pretty good.

The Body by Bill Bryson -- this "guide for occupants" covered bits about the skin, brain, lungs, so on and so forth. An enjoyable, informative read. I was often thinking how "fearfully and wonderfully made" we all are even if the author credits "a happy accident" for most of it.

As Long As We Both Shall Live by Joann Chaney -- A man and his wife go hiking and only he returns. The story is that his wife fell over the cliff and disappeared into the roaring river. Twenty years prior, Matt was married to a woman who died in suspicious circumstances. How do the police detectives connect the two? Pretty good story!

The English American by Alison Larkin -- Pippa Dunn always knew she was adopted, but didn't realize her biological parents were from the United States until she happened upon a box of important papers while looking for (what Americans call) Scotch tape in her parents' room. Years later Pippa finds her birth mother, an artsy type from Georgia, and later is introduced to her bio father. This book was decent, but not a favorite. Parts of it were interesting to me - like the differences in the English and Americans: what we call things, how we react, what emotions are permitted (or not), what words are usually said (or not).  But the storyline itself was not exciting to me though I'm sure others will find it charming. 

Her by Harriet Lane -- The only redeeming thing about this book was that it was relatively short (261 pages). The same day/event is told by two characters, Nina and Emma, who happened to meet and somehow keep crossing paths. One is a devil with a sweet face, and I didn't really enjoy this book all that much, but I did finish it hoping for some resolution that failed to come.

Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke -- This book was just ok, and it felt like it dragged on and on. Granted, I'm reading during Covid-19 Social Distancing times, and am super-distracted by Facebook and news stories, but I just never really got into this story about a young man, Michael, who left England with Owen on the Titanic. Only one of them arrived safely to the U.S., and it just went on from there in a way that did not capture my attention very well. 

No Book but the World by Leah Hager Cohen -- The book begins with Ava heading out of town with hopes of visiting her brother who was recently jailed and charged with the murder of a twelve-year-old boy. Her brother is different, though her parents rejected testing and labels so they never took him to anyone to tell them Fred was autistic or whatever. In fact, her parents subscribed to unschool schooling although Ava rejected that and was allowed to attend public school after awhile. This book also has perspectives from Ava's husband, best friend, and Fred himself. Pretty good story.

Daddy's Girl by Lisa Scottoline -- an exciting adventure with law professor Natalie who is asked to teach at a local prison. While there a riot occurs and Nat witnesses the last words of a fallen correctional officer. As she puzzles out what this man means in an effort to help his wife, Nat finds herself charged with murder and running from the law!  Fast-paced book!

Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack -- The books begins with the author doing one last assignment as a reporter for the LA Times before quitting to write books and have a baby. She and her husband are living in Beijing, and Megan is encouraged to do what every expat does: hire a nanny and housekeeper because they are so cheap. Later, Megan and her family move to India where she repeats the process. Only later does her husband suggest she write about this experience. Parts of this writing irritated me, but mostly I enjoyed her recounting of three nannies/housekeepers (certainly don't call them "maids" as her husband did!). This was an interesting way to learn more about the ladies who take jobs for richer women and women who leave their own children behind to be raised by grandparents. Good book.

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio -- a rather cute book pretending to be the inspiration behind the hugely-popular children's book of a similar name. June travels to Seattle after she inherits her beloved aunt's bookstore. There she is sent on a book scavenger hunt to find out more of her Aunt Ruby's secrets.

Two Steps Forward by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- (this book title makes me want to ask if you say FOR werd or FOE werd (or something else) for the word 'forward'?)  -- I somehow skipped book 2 in this series (The Deacon's Family), but went ahead and read the third one since I was quickly gathering books before my library closed.  Jimmy Fisher is back in town, and he offers to help the recently-widowed Sylvie around the farm. Also, Izzy and Luke want to help mothers who think they must abort their babies by opening a baby box for no-questions-asked surrender at the fire station.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

February Books

The House of Brides by Jane Cockram -- a pretty fast-paced book with somewhat of a mystery. Miranda was recently disgraced at home in Australia so she escapes to her mother's home country and estate in the west country of England. There she lives at Barnsley House as the children's nanny as she tries to learn more about her mother who died when she was a child. An OK story. I'd read more from this author.

African Nights by Kuki Gallmann -- I think my mom picked this up from one of those Little Free Library boxes awhile back, and I read it. It has some good stories about Kuki's family and life in Kenya. I enjoyed reading about encounters with elephants and lions, and the interesting people that are part of her life.

The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith -- I'm nearing the end of this series! I may have to try some of the stand-alone novels and other series since my local library seems to get all his books!  In this book Mma Potokwane, the lady who oversees the Orphan Farm, suggests (in that way that Mma Potokwane suggests things) that Mma Ramotswe should run for the open seat on the council. Mma Ramotswe does not want to get involved in politics at all, but the pressure is strong because the only other candidate is Violet Sephotho...and ugh. Cute story!

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper -- I enjoy this author's historical fiction novels, and this one is about Charlotte Bill aka Mrs. Lala or just Lala, the nanny to the six children of George (later King George V) and May of Teck (later Queen Mary).   Good "faction" story!

The Body Lies by Jo Baker -- "A young writer" (this is how the book jacket describes her because she's telling this story, and I don't think she's ever named..ugh) accepts a job in another part of England taking her three year old and leaving behind her husband who wants to keep his job. They try to make things work by his visits every other weekend, and visits during holidays. Meanwhile the young writer is teaching creative writing classes and keeping her life together while struggling with the aftermath of being attacked while walking home one day (which is one reason she wanted to move away from London.)  Anyway...this book was decent if not creepy, and it kept my attention pretty well and I finished it fast.

Hill Women by Cassie Chambers -- This memoir by a young (born in 1986) lady from Kentucky is "finding family and a way forward in the Appalachian mountains." It was pretty interesting. I've read more fascinating memoirs, but I liked reading about Cassie's life especially her mom, grandmother, and Aunt Ruth.

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones -- This book is told from the perspectives of Robin, her sister Leslie, and Mary, the young lady who takes the place of Robin so that Leslie can get her $50,000 inheritance. Quite the elaborate scheme to satisfy her (Leslie's) father's will. Pretty good story!

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin -- I enjoyed this book; very clever story about a team-building activity in an escape room. Only it's not really what they thought it was. Jules, Sylvie, Vincent, and Sam realize this escape-room elevator is really an opportunity for them to reflect on what they have done in their climbs to the top of the financial world. Meanwhile Sara Hall, a former teammate, has her say.

On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White -- since I read the first in The Codebreakers series, I figured I'd go ahead and read book 2 when I saw it on the New Books list at the library. In it, Arabelle works as a nurse and meets Major Phillip Camden who has been ridiculed in society and the press as the Black Heart due to his fellow pilots being killed. An OK book; nothing special

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson -- a good suspenseful book by an author I've never read before; Hen and Lloyd attend a neighborhood party and meet the only other childless couple and they happen to live right next door! When Matthew and Mira give Hen and Lloyd a tour of their house, Hen is shocked when she notices an old fencing trophy that reminds her of a murder that was never solved.

The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott -- I nearly gave up on reading this one towards the first fifth, but kept on. It switches back and forth a lot which was a bit confusing, but I gradually got used to it, and wanted to see what happened as Harry searched for his brother - or his brother's grave - as he traveled around France after the first World War photographing graves or battle areas for people back home in England. His sister in law Edie joined him for awhile during the search.

When You See Me by Lisa Gardner -- A good new book from this author! I read a bunch of her books that my library had already so I was familiar with D.D. Warren from the Boston Police Department, Kimberly from the FBI, and Flora Dane, the vigilante. In this book the three ladies are called together to help with a case in the mountains of Georgia. A skeleton was discovered in the woods, and the police are wondering if this is connected to Flora's kidnapper, Jacob Ness. I enjoyed this mystery!

The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel -- This is the story about Michel and his wife, Inès, along with Theo and Céline who run a winemaking operation during World War II. It's also about Olivia and her Grandma Edith who go back to that region in France to learn more about a time when the winemakers were forced to grow grapes and create great bottles of wine for the Nazis. Good story!

To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith -- I've finally read all the books in the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. This one came out late last year and coincided with my reading through these books after I was given the first one by Amber for my birthday. It's been fun reading these the last several months. In this book Mma Ramotswe helps friends in her detecting and Charlie, the apprentice-mechanic-turned-part-time-assistant detective, meets Queenie Queenie's hotshot brother and wealthy father. 

Mercy House by Alena Dillon -- a rather cute book about 3 nuns who run a house in a Brooklyn neighborhood where they offer help and hope for abused women. When an evil bishop wants to close the house - because they don't always do things the (ahem) proper Catholic way, Sister Evelyn fights back. She's a hoot, by the way. Great character. 

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser -- When a novelist is shot by a man desperate to get funds for his son's heart surgery, the family comes together trying to figure out why their mother/wife was targeted. Meanwhile Henry - who was unable to complete the kill - starts reading the novelist's books. A decent story; not a favorite. 

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline -- A good, fast-paced story about Christine leaving her job as a teacher so she can concentrate on her pregnancy after having a difficult time conceiving. Only her parents and best friend know their secret (they used a sperm donor) and then Christine is dismayed when the blond-haired, blue-eyed young man arrested as a serial killer looks almost exactly like their donor!

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson -- I read a book by this new-to-me author recently which I liked a lot. This one wasn't as great. It was decent, but several times I rolled my eyes. Maybe it's because the main character was a man - George - and I just didn't relate to some things he did. Anyway...when an old college girlfriend comes back into town years after her disappearance from his life, George agrees to help her with returning nearly half a million dollars that she stole from her former employer. What could go wrong with that?

The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas -- good story about Gracy who was a midwife in a Colorado mining community in 1880. When she is charged with murdering an infant in her care, the town prepares for her trial. Meanwhile Gracy continues doing what she can to help the women and babies in her community. Enjoyed this!

Vintage by Susan Gloss -- For some reason I tend to like these books about ladies' stories as they buy or sell articles from vintage clothing shops. This one is located in Madison, Wisconsin, and is from the points of view of Violet the shopkeeper and a couple customers. Pretty good story.

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict -- a pretty good story about Hedwig Kiesler of Austria and her role as an actress and later wife to Friedrich Mandl an arms dealer who hosted many important people at his houses. Later Hedy fled to London and later to Hollywood and became Hedy Lamarr, an actress, but also a lady who invented and patented an idea to improve torpedoes.

Friday, January 31, 2020

January Books

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith -- a good way to end one year and start 2020 is with Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi and the gang in this book from the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Yes, I'm still reading those!

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline -- Maggie is so excited when her daughter contacts her, wanting a relationship after their years of estrangement. Noah is happy to support his wife, but when Anna moves in things get bizarre. Actually Noah ends up on trial! Pretty good story. 

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson -- The book starts with Shandi and her son Natty leaving her mother's house to live near her father in Atlanta. On the drive there, they - along with Shandi's BFF Walcott - stop at a gas station where Shandi and Natty are involved in a robbery. Well, they are victims of it, not holding people up. William happens to be there as well, and this book is mostly about their developing friendship.  OK read; nothing great.

 The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald -- Abi is woken from sleeping by a police officer informing her that her daughter had had an accident and was at the hospital. Abi is stunned that her good, rule-keeping daughter wasn't home safely in bed. Oh, and Abi finds out her daughter is pregnant, on life support, and must remain on life support until the baby is able to live on her own. This story was told from Abi and Olivia's perspectives. Pretty good story.

All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio -- The books begins with Caroline riding her bike in Paris when she had a bad accident that took away some memories. It alternates between Caroline in modern times trying to recover her memory as she makes a "new" life, and a story of Occupied Paris when Céline, a widowed mother with a little girl named Cosi, helps her Papa run a florist. Good story. 

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin -- a story that touches on Charlotte Baird, Bay Middleton, and Elisabeth "Sisi" of Austria. Pretty interesting.

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson -- Leia travels to Birchville, Alabama, the town her family founded in order to check on the situation with her grandmother, known as Birchie. Leia travels with her 13 year old niece, Lavender, who discovers Leia's secret. Meanwhile Leia's stepsister Rachel is struggling in her marriage to Leia's former best friend. Pretty good story. Rebekka recommended this as one favorite of hers in 2019. 

Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline -- Dr. Mike Scanlon is serving in Afghanistan when he gets the news that his wife died. He travels home for the funeral and to make arrangements for his infant daughter, Emily. Thankfully his wife's sister and her husband agree to take Emily and provide a good home for her. After Mike returns home, he has to adjust to civilian life as a widow and father. Plus he's dealing with issues relating to pain medication and flashbacks of war. Good story.

The Bungalow by Sarah Jio -- I read one of her books recently so I decided to look for another. This was a pretty good story about Anne's trip to Bora Bora in 1942 as a nurse for American troops. She travels with her best friend Kitty, and they make friends with the nurses and some of the soldiers.

Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis -- I saw this book while at Barnes & Noble, and then saw it was available at the library so I checked it out. Eleanor is on her way to a job interview after losing her job at a prestigious school, when the taxi she's in is inolved in a small accident. She meets Patricia Bellamy who takes pity on Eleanor and invites her to her house. Later Eleanor goes to work for Patricia as a tutor for her daughter Margaux who refuses to attend regular school due to her crippled leg (polio). The Bellamy family adults and their friends have a bit of an issue with Eleanor being Jewish, but Margaux loves her new tutor. This book was just OK to me.

Learning to Bow by Bruce Feiler -- This book "inside the heart of Japan" wasn't my favorite by this author (I really enjoy the ones where he "walks" the Bible), but it was a pretty interesting way to learn more about Japan during the year he was there as an English teacher.

The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith -- Mma Ramotswe is startled when she discovers another Mma Ramotswe whom she has never met - she thought she knew all the Ramotswes in her part of the world. Also, the detective agency helps a lady who feels she was wrongfully terminated from her job.

Running From the Law by Lisa Scottoline -- this is one of the author's first books, and not my favorite, but it was OK. Rita is an attorney hired by a federal judge who is charged with sexual harassment and later murder. Oh, the federal judge just happens to be her boyfriend's father. Nice.

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms -- if you like "chick-lit" types of books, you might enjoy this story of the struggling artist Lily Stewart who is cleaning her junk drawer (because she's being evicted) and sees an official looking form from 10 years prior - you know, back when she married a guy - a stranger - in Las Vegas. The form was for an annulment which she forgot to return. So, yeah, she's been married for 10 years and didn't remember that! Yikes.  This book was OK if you like overly-dramatic books of this sort. It was light reading if not that interesting.

Westering Women by Sandra Dallas -- a pretty interesting account of a group of ladies who traveled from Chicago to California in 1852; good story

Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict -- a story about Winston Churchill's wife; pretty good if you like political happenings.

The Whispers of War by Julia Kelly -- three best friends - Nora, Marie (from Germany, but who lived in England for several years), and Hazel - deal with life just before the outbreak of World War II. As Hitler rises to power, more Britons are wanting Germans sent home and interred. How can Marie avoid this fate? Good story!

Her Mother's Daughter by Daniela Petrova -- At first I wasn't sure I'd like this book. A lady who was unable to have children, who'd had several unsuccessful IVF treatments is looking for an egg donor, and finally finds the right one: she's from Bulgaria just as Lana wanted (since her own mother is Bulgarian.) But things get weird when Lana happens to see her egg donor on a nearly-empty sub, and follows her - and they become friends for about a week. I enjoyed this book! 

Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin -- this book begins with an NPR- affiliate podcaster Quentin who is looking for a lady whom he believes was reported dead in 1976 after a fire at a compound in Arizona. The girl in question, April Cooper, was just a young teen when she went on a murdering spree with her boyfriend. Both were said to perish in that fire (and a good riddance), but now there is chance she escaped and has been living a good life on the East Coast all these years. Meanwhile Robin is checking things out from her angle. Pretty interesting story!

The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black -- A rather hush-hush operation as two young girls (well, 14 and 10) are moved from London to a house in Ireland during World War, II.  Some say they are the future Queen and her little sister!  This book was just OK for me.

The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen -- Not my favorite from this author by far, but it was a fairly good story about a young lawyer who travels to Belle Island after a partner in his law firm is murdered in London. Could the murderer be the lady who folks say hasn't left the island in ten years?

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain -- Anna Dale won a government contest and gets to paint a mural for a post office! She didn't win first place so instead of painting in her native New Jersey, she is traveling to a small town in North Carolina - Edenton. There she meets some friendly folks, and also some who aren't quite sure about this northern girl who has come south to paint. This book also follows Morgan Christopher in modern times as she gets out of prison and is tasked to restore the mural on a tight deadline. Good book!

The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester -- I read most of this one while traveling to and from the beach and while we were there. It was OK, not a favorite, but not terrible. Estella Bisette sets sail from France during World War II after her mom tells her that she has an American father and thus papers so she can be safe in New York City rather than staying in Paris. Estella takes her love of fashion and sketching and teams up with Sam and Janie to produce a line of clothing American women will love - they hope!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

50 Questions

Saw this from a Facebook friend (former teacher) and decided to do it since I finished my "free" Shutterfly book today and had a few minutes.  :)

50 Questions You May Have Never Been Asked:

1. First thing you wash in the shower? arms

2. What color is your favorite hoodie? gray

3. Do you plan outfits? not usually

4. How are you feeling right now? pretty well

5. What's the closest thing to you that's red? a small composition book

6. Tell me about the last dream you remember having? can't recall one (the details are fuzzy)

7. Did someone disappoint you today? no

8. What are you craving right now? a hike in the mountains and warmer weather

9. What comes to mind when you think of cabbage? pretty good

10. Have you ever counted to 1,000?  I guess

11. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick?  bite

12. Do you like your hair?  no

13. Do you like yourself?  usually

14. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush?  I'm an introvert so I'd probably just stay home and read instead

15. What are you listening to right now?  nothing

16. Were your parents strict?  somewhat

17. Would you go sky diving? probably not

18. Do you like cottage cheese?  sometimes

19. Have you ever met a celebrity?  no

20. Do you rent movies often?  never

21. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?  the thumbtacks sparkle some

22. Have you made a prank phone call? years ago

23. Ever been on a train?  yes

24. Brown or white eggs? white

25. Do you use chap stick? yes

26. Can you use chop sticks? never tried

27. Are you too forgiving? average

28. Ever been in love? yes

29. Last time you cried? earlier today

30. What was the last question you asked? "Anyway...do I sound old talking about aches and pains? :)" -- (to my sister via email)

31. Favorite time of the year?  summer

32. Do you have any tattoos?  nope

33. Are you sarcastic?  occasionally

34. Ever walked into a wall?  yes

35. Favorite color?   blue

36. Have you ever slapped someone?   yes

37. Is your hair curly?  yes

38. What physical characteristics do you first notice about someone?  face especially smile (or lack of one)

39. What was your first vehicle?  Ford Crown Vic

40. What kind of vehicle do you drive?  Toyota Camry

41. Do you sleep with the TV on? no (a fan!)

42. Can you handle the truth?  I think so

43. Do you have good vision?  not without corrective lenses

44. What is your favorite vacation destination?  I love our weekend trips to the mountains, but as far as best places I've been: Syria and Austria/southern Germany were among the best! I enjoyed Belgium, too.

45. Do you have any pets? no

46. How many pillows do you sleep with? 2

47. Do you enjoy roller coasters?  they scare me, but yes

48. Do you believe in miracles? yes

49. What is your favorite drink?  water

50. What color is the shirt you are wearing?  gray

Play along!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2019 Meme

I did these for a few years and then stopped. But I decided to give it a go this year...

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?

hiked to Mt. LeConte in eastern Tennessee and found a new grandparent through Ancestry

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

n/a and no, I did not

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

no, but my school friend is fostering a baby whom she got as a newborn! They are hoping to adopt. She has 4 children already, ages 17 to 9, I think.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, Joni
Speaking of, her husband compiled a lot of posts about Joni and the family since her death and shared this one on January 3rd, the anniversary of her death. Precious (and sad) memories.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2020?

a trip to the NOC (since I didn't go to the Nantahala Outdoor Center once last year!)

7. What date from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 3rd, my online group had a toast to Joni and a couple hours later she died. I knew it was imminent, and I went to bed and found out the next morning that she had died sometime after midnight on January 4th my time. She lived in the PNW so it was January 3rd there.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

hiking to Mt. LeConte -- it wasn't a planned hike, but I did it!

9. What was your biggest failure?

complaining and being unthankful

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I got the flu for the first time in memory!  Well, I didn't bother getting an official diagnosis, but Zach, Sophie, my parents, and I all got the same thing around Easter!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

a membership to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham - lots of great memories with the kids and my dad

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Andrew, I guess. He's almost always a cheery, helpful, kind fellow!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

the goofball in the White House

14. Where did most of your money go?

insurances of various types

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I'm not a really x3-excited type of person, but I enjoyed the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg in the summer!

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2019?
nothing comes to mind

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder?

ii. sadder at the moment because of Stella

iii. Thinner of fatter?

iv. fatter

v. richer or poorer?

vi. same, I guess

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


19. What do you wish you’d done less of? 

worrying and complaining

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with my inlaws for lunch, and my family in the afternoon at my sister's house.

21. How many one-night stands?

why this question??? it's still stupid

22. What was your favorite TV program?

nothing really stands out as a favorite any more. I guess NCIS.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I really try not to hate though I strongly dislike certain people at times (see #13)

24. What was the best book you read?
This is always a tough one for me because how can I pick the best out of dozens of books?  I recently read this one recommended by Niki and liked it a lot so I'll use it
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Liquid Pleasure Band played a concert in town around Veteran's Day; I liked them

Also, Sophie singing the Sponge Bob Squarepants theme song with me and Andrew. Although the video is from yesterday (so 2020), we practiced in the car on previous trips. And by practiced I don't mean I learned the lyrics. I flubbed them yesterday (note to self: "Absorbent and yellow and porous is he.")

26. What did you want and get?

membership to the museum

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don't think I watched anything, but I like that the Mr. Rogers film came out

28. What did you do on your birthday?

helped at my work's yearly spring banquet

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?

practical, comfortable, totally out-of-style

30. What kept you sane?
several short trips just to get away and enjoy nature; reading; prayer

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

some of those who testified in the impeachment inquiry (Alexander Vindman, Fiona Hill, etc.)

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
evangelical support for Trump makes me lose my religion

33. Who did you miss?  
Joni (so much!)

34. Who was the best new person you met?
a lady whose daughter Sophie played with at the Durham museum back in May.  They live in Pittsburgh, but were in the area because the lady works for a group that does special events at museums throughout the country (or parts of it). The girl Sophie played with was Caroline, and her mom was Yu-ling (I had to check my phone); she was nice to talk with that day.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.

enjoy every day moments and keep trusting God in the hard times. He is faithful.


This morning my dad went out to feed his dog, Stella, and she was dead. She had been sick for a couple months now, and Mama and I recently discussed our wishes about Stella dying peacefully in her sleep - which it appears that she did.  I'm not a huge animal-loving person like some people are, but she was a sweet dog. Just recently I was talking to her and despite her ailment which made it harder for her to get around, she was wagging her little tail. 

I like to think of her now running freely without pain, getting those belly rubs and pets that she enjoyed (especially from Michael), basking in the sun on a favorite cushion, and eating all her favorite treats - chicken, and eggs, and even peanut butter toast.

Here are a couple pictures of Stella from September 2011.

And one from October of last year.

Here she is with Michael, who was one of her favorite people.

I saw her recently and told her that we loved her.