Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Five

You'd think that being on summer break would give me more time to Friday Fives.  Nope.  But I did get a chance today to play.   Sharon posted this sequel to last summer's Decisions, Decisions on RevGalBlogPals:
. . . A decision from history:  There is a chair that still sits in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall). Legend has it that it was George Washington's chair, the back carved with a half sun.  Benjamin Franklin would look at it and wonder whether it was a rising or a setting sun.  Eventually Franklin decided it was the hopeful symbol of the rising sun, a sign of the future of our new republic.

How do you decide? Check out the following pairs and tell which one of each appeals to you most:  

1) Sunrise or Sunset  - 

Both are beautiful, but I tend to see a lot more sunrises than sunsets.  I drive easterly to work and am usually up before the sun rises.  

2) To the Mountains or To the Beach
The beach.  Definitely the beach.  I do like mountains, but the beach calls to me.

3) Coffee or Tea
Again, I like both, but I'm definitely more of a coffee person.  Need that morning jolt or two!

4) Advent or Lent 

5) "Raindrops on Roses" or "Whiskers on Kittens"
Actually the bright copper kettles and brown paper packages tied up with string are more appealing though.  I can take or leave either of the suggested pair.

BONUS:  Tell more about one of the pairs.  Why did you choose it?  Difficult or easy choice?  A story from your own experience?

Sunrises have been pretty frequent in my life. Our bedroom is on the east, so the early light helps me wake up. Some memorable sunrises:  Digby,Nova Scotia, August 17th, 1977.    We have the most gorgeous sunrise photo taken on our honeymoon.   Most people who see it, assume incorrectly that it's a sunset.  Also for many years, we took our students to an overnight environmental school in Saco, Maine for a week.  It's on the beach, and ouir tradition was that one morning during the week we woke up all the students before dawn, herded them sleepily down to the beach (in their pjs and coats!) for the sunrise.  I have wonderful memories of singing "Sun" songs with 150 6th graders  -"Here Comes the Sun", "You are My Sunshine" as we waited for the sun to rise.  That's one experience I have treasured over the years.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Residents

We have been watching, with great interest, a bird house right in front of our kitchen windows. A pair of chickadees have called it home, and when we left for Switzerland, we wondered if we'd miss the excitement. We did not! Since we've been home, Momma and Papa hav been busy flying back and forth with all sorts of delectable goodies for their offspring. Today, they fledged. I've managed to grab a few shots of the action through my kitchen window. I shot through a screen so that's why they're on the fuzzy side. It's been fun watching them practice as they stretch their wings. I've never seen nesting chickadees before so I've been like a kid again. Momma has been flying back and forth with treats. We watched her bring a green caterpillar, about 2 inches long, to junior. He grabbed it and it was gone in a blink of an eye. Just a minute ago, junior hopped onto the window screen, hopped up to the roof, and then . . . solo flight across the yard to the magnolia tree.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where in the World??

I've been here. . .

And I've been here . . .

And I've been here . . . .

I've also been here . . .

And here . . .

And here . . .

You might have found me enjoying this:

here . . .

Or you could have found me here

or here

I was here . . .

I was here too . . .

I'm sure you've guessed by now that I haven't been here!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Reviews

I've taken a short break from the Game of Thrones saga.  I've read books 1 and 2 and they are enthralling!  But I needed a short change of pace before getting caught up in book 3.

Here are three books I've read this week:

The first is from the Aunt Dimity "cozy" mystery series from Nancy Atherton.  They are not truly mysteries. Rather they are usually puzzles or hunts.

Aunt Dimity Down Under (An Aunt Dimity Mystery, #15)Aunt Dimity Down Under by Nancy Atherton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this installment,  the Pym sisters are dying, and they ask Lorie to "Find Aubrey."  Aubrey is their ne'er-do-well brother, banished from the family at a young age.  Lori promises and finds herself in New Zealand in her quest for Aubrey's kin.  This is a gentle story and was a welcome break after some of the heavier reading I've been engaged in.  Lori discovers the beauty of New Zealand, and accomplishes her quest in a different way than she envisioned, all the while guided by her husband's Kiwi friend Cameron and of course, Aunt Dimity and Reginald.

View all my reviews

The second book is very different.  Not exactly escapist reading.

SaplingsSaplings by Noel Streatfeild
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Noel Streatfield is better known for her "Shoes" books, particularly Ballet Shoes, but she also wrote adult novels.  Saplings tells the tragic story of the four Wiltshire children whose lives are devastated by World War II.  The book opens on the eve of the war, as the Wiltshire family enjoys an idyllic holiday at the shore.  Alex Wiltshire, head of the family, is an industrialist working on military projects, while his wife Lena, is a charming, but shallow woman who actually resents the intrusion of her children into her relationship with her husband. As the war unfolds, the children are first sent to live in the country with their grandparents, and later, when Alex is killed in a air raid, and Lena suffers a nervous breakdown, they are parceled off to various relatives.  The story is told almost entirely from the childrens' perspective, and Streatfield gets their emotions and thinking right.  All of the adults in their lives believe they are doing what is best for the children, but in reality, they totally misunderstand the effect they are having on the children.  This is a sad and extremely powerful story. It's a timeless story also as wars continue to wreak havoc on the lives of those on the homefront.

View all my reviews
The final book is the first book written by Tracy Chevalier.  Again, it's a different sort of story, but one I enjoyed a lot.

The Virgin BlueThe Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved The Girl with the Pearl Earring so I was pleased to receive this book as a RAK.  While not quite on the same level, this was a very good story, and I read it in less than a day.  Ella Turner moves to France with her husband Rick.  While he is off working, she explores her new community and starts to dig into her family's French past.  When she meets the local librarian who aids her in her research, her marriage is threatened.  Parallel with this story is the unhappy story of Isabelle de Mouline.  She lives in 16th century France during a time of religious turmoil.  With her red hair and her skill in midwifery, she is viewed with suspicion in her small village.  She marries into the Tourniere family from which Ella is descended.  The stories of the two women connect as Ella delves deeper into her family's history.  While I didn't particularly like the ending of the story, I did really enjoy the book.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 1, 2011

Losing Track

I have had a busy week for my first week of summer break.  I've spent most of it on all those chores that get put off to "when I have time."  Some of those chores are things that really need to be done in a more timely fashion- like balancing checkbooks, filing important papers, and actually dealing with other pesky chores like filing health benefit claims, renewing subscriptions, and going through the stack of "I'll deal with it later" mail.  It's good to clear out a basket and demolish a stack, and it's really good to discover you forgot to enter a big deposit and that's why you apparently ran short of money.  Oh, and it's good to discover that your ATM card expired yesterday while you were at the bank, and you hadn't received your new card . . . or you thought you hadn't received it, until you got home and went through that stack of unopened mail!

I've also discovered two new ways to while away chunks of time without noticing! First,  I started reading The Game of Thrones series.  I finished book 1 Game of Thrones, and then started watching the HBO series that I'd DVR'd.  I am so totally hooked on this fantasy world by George RR Martin.  It's reminiscent of Tolkien, Star Wars, medieval English history, Arthurian legend, but it's none of those exactly. He's created a huge cast of characters, some good, some evil, some still-to-be-determined.  There's love, hate, war, mystery, intrigue, adventure, humor, tragedy, you name it, it's in there.  I'm now eagerly reading Clash of Kings, book 2.

The second way I've been losing track of time is with a Facebook game called "Gardens of Time." If you're not familiar with it, you build fantasy gardens with plants, animals, museum artifacts, statuary, benches, etc that become little fantasy worlds. At the same time, you "time travel" to exotic places to search for hidden items.  I used to love the hidden picture feature in the children's magazine Highlights, and this is similar.  I just wish I could get this game as a stand-alone, and not have to give up privacy to play it on FB.  And I don't like the way FB makes you "invite" others to the game in order for you to progress.  But it IS addicting.

So, I guess I can say that my first week has been quite enjoyable!