Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday's Fave Five, 9/8/17

 Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Mike is making progress with his shoulder therapy.  He got thumbs-up from the physical therapist this week.  AND - he can now do his exercises on his own.  I've had to help him with a couple of the exercises, which has not been good for marital harmony.  :-)

2. Beta Club induction ceremony today at school.  I'm the sponsor, so of course it falls in my lap.  The officers this year are very detail oriented, so that helps tremendously.  And it all went over well.
3. Finished a blanket this week and got it mailed off to the recipient, who should have it now.  I've discovered that a larger crochet hook makes progress go so much faster.

4. For the past two weeks, I've gotten beautiful tomatoes at the farmers' market, and we have enjoyed great BLTs, and ham and tomato sandwiches.  I've also enjoyed more tomatoes and cantaloupe, which most people think is weird, but it's great.

5. Finally - it looks like we will get more rain than wind from the hurricane system.  We have the possibility of being off of school Monday.  Daughter who lives near the coast may not have to evacuate either.  She sent me this picture today.  I didn't get it at first, but it is funny once I did get it.  Blessings and safety to all in the path.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Lark Rise to Candleford

 Lark Rise to Candleford is not a typical style of reading in our fast-paced age.  It was on a list of the most famous books of each year, one of many that pops up on the internet.  It sounded interesting, especially after one review stated that its style was similar to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Apparently I bought an abridged version, but a note in the book made it clear that most of the book was intact. The book is pictured here with the title page because the outside is a quilted cover; the title is embossed into it but is not visible in a photo.

The story is semi-autobiographical of the author, Flora Thompson.  It was earlier written as two books that were combined into one, and published as a single volume in 1945.  The quiet story of a small English town in the 1880s is told in this book, through the seasons; and the book caught on because it told so well the stories of this agricultural people in a time of great social and economic change.  Laura Timmins is the main character of the book; however, the book is not really about her.  It's about the town, and the ways of the townspeople in every area of their lives.  Their lives were hard.  Homes were small and rude, and both men and women had their own forms of backbreaking work that kept them busy and without much time for personal pleasure.  But the story is not depressing - it is a realistic account of the good times and the bad ones for these people.

This book is recommended to anyone who likes slower paced reading that is more character- than plot-driven, and to anyone who enjoys glimpses of other historical time periods and other cultures.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Street of Eternal Happiness

This book was reviewed on two separate occasions in World magazine.  With two reviews, and the China connections of our son, it looked like a book of interest.  And it was.

"Street of Eternal Happiness" is the actual name of a street in Shanghai.  (I found during my short trip there, three years ago, that over-the-top names are common.  I remember construction on new apartment complexes with names like "Heaven on Earth" and "Wonderful Bliss.")  The author, Rob Schmitz, subtitles the book "Big City Dreams Along a Shanghaii Road."  He then chronicles the lives of several people, moving from one story to another one, throughout the 311 pages.  He is well equipped to do so:  the street has been home to him and his family for several years, during his journalistic stint in China.

I read the book this summer - nonfiction books like this are my favorite genre - and Schmitz does this format very well.  For example, he tells the story of Auntie Fu and Uncle Feng - an older couple who run a pancake shop.  They argue endlessly.  She is caught up with "prosperity gospel" advocates and he is angered by that.  

Page 79: "Auntie Fu had grown up hungry.  She was born in 1949, the year Mao took control of China.  Home was a small farming village in the mountains of western Sichuan province, near the border of Tibet.  When she was in the third grade, Mao's Great Leap Forward swept through the country, and the village was split into ten farming collectives.  Families were required to eat at communal kitchens.  Land was snatched from local families and redistributed to teams of more than five hundred people each.  For those accustomed to tilling individual plots of the challenging mountainside terrain, working collectively didn't come naturally.

"Worse still, the village was required to hand over nearly all its output to government officials.  Within a year, the town ran out of food.

"Auntie Fu scrambled for anything to put in her stomach.  There was no school, and she'd spend days foraging for wild vegetables in the mountains.  When the trees bloomed in the spring, she ate their flowers.  In the river valley below, boats docked next to the granaries.  She learned to lie in wait for careless tractors that would sometimes cut through bags of wheat while transporting them to the warehouses.  Fu and her brothers and sisters would follow the trail with brooms, sweeping up stray kernels of wheat for dinner."

That helps to explain why the "prosperity gospel" was attractive to Auntie Fu.  It also shows insight into Chinese thinking that we in the West have no understanding of.

Schmitz talks about Mayor Chen - whose home was ripped away for redevelopment.  And Zhao, who thought nothing of leaving her family in a western province to come run a flower shop on the Street of Eternal Happiness in Shanghai.  She wanted a better life.  And CK, who sells accordions from his second-floor sandwich shop, whose fortunes vary from day to day.

The book is good.  I recommend it to anyone interested in nonfiction accounts, told in story style, with insight into Chinese thinking and culture.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday's Fave Five, 8/25/17

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Monday's total solar eclipse was the event of a lifetime.  More here on that.  I've never seen anything so beautiful in the heavens! 

2. Great day at school the day of the eclipse.  We had an all-school assembly in which yours truly got to explain eclipses and give some information.  The lunchroom ladies served rocket dogs (see pic below), sun chips, moon pies, grapes, and Sunny Delight.  Classes went out all afternoon to view the various partial eclipse interesting things, such as crescent-shaped shadows.  Everyone was out by 2:36, the moment of totality.  The whole school loved it.

3. Husband is slowly improving from shoulder surgery (three weeks ago yesterday).  We knew rotator cuff surgery was a big deal, but we didn't realize just how big.  The pain issues, mobility issues, and lack of motion have really slowed him down.  Therapy yesterday was a good start at regaining use of the arm.

4. My dad and our son have both been a big help at helping get husband where he needs to go, when I am at work.  Very thankful for son's mowing the lawn and hauling our trash when needed.

5. I am very thankful for Friday after a very busy week!!  I can crash!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse

I taught astronomy/earth science 37 times over the course of 30 years.  That's 37 times of explaining eclipses - lunar, annular solar, partial solar, and  total solar.  37 times of using photographs and diagrams to explain the celestial events.

Pictures don't do justice to any of those.

I've seen half a dozen lunar eclipses and three or four partial solar eclipses over the years.  I saw an annular solar eclipse in 1984.  They were all beautiful occurences.

None of them remotely compares to the glory of a total solar eclipse.  One passed through our area - right over our school - on Monday.

I took this picture with my phone, but it does not do justice to the sight.  No picture out there does justice to the actual event.  People have called it a religious experience.  Especially for a Christian, that is correct.  It was an incredibly gorgeous testament to an Almighty Creator.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fast Food Frenzy

Earlier in the summer, I saw this sign, and thought - McDonalds has lost its way.  The sign is probably a little small in the picture, so it says:  Try one - Maple Bacon Dijon Sweet BBQ Bacon Pico Guacamole.  Wow.  What a list of items to be serving at a hamburger place.

I think this list is because have introduced a new sandwich on which the customer can get any toppings they want.  So we can add this to their salads, chicken, coffee bar,  Happy Meals, breakfast options (some all day), ice cream, occasional McRibs - and the list goes on and on.  McDonalds has lost its original purpose.

I remember as a child when Dad would take us all to the lone McDonalds in our area.  We children were allowed to get a hamburger, fries, and (I think) a milkshake.  Or maybe we shared the milkshakes.  Mom was entitled to a fish filet because she was Mom.  No such thing as special orders on the hamburgers existed.  We either ate the burger with ketchup, mustard, and onions, or we didn't. We ate it.  We enjoyed it.  We didn't think about what we liked or didn't like.  And we loved it.

I realize that McDonalds has just gone the way of every other fast-food establishment in standing on their heads to get business.

This summer, a colleague and friend of mine returned to her home in southern California.  She asked if I had heard of In-N-Out Burger, and she sent me a picture of their menu board.  People there love In-N-Out.  I think I can see why.

Now there is a burger fast-food joint that knows what it is about.  I wish we had one here!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday's Fave Five, 7/28/17

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. We had a wedding!  It's been a couple of weeks now, but we still don't have any of the "official" photography - just phone pics so far.  Showers started to fall about two minutes before the wedding.  Fortunately, the rain was not heavy, and stopped right after the procession was over.  

The officiant had a great ceremony - just the right length, and very appropriate for the occasion.  

I've been thinking about it and enjoying the memories ever since.

Mother of the bride standing for the bride to come in.  :-)
Daughter and Dad

This is very typical of my daughter's "style." 

It was a lovely time - the quick shower actually cooled the temps by about ten degrees - our daughter was radiant, and it was a joy to spend the evening with family and friends.

2. We really enjoyed meeting and getting to know our new son-in-law's family.

3. This week:  Quick, efficient navigation of doctors' appointments and some medical testing for both of us.

4. I am checking things off on my to-do list before going back to school.  Only eleven days left.  Why does summer go so fast?

About ten years ago, a former colleague made the comment that, for teachers, "After the Fourth of July, it's all downhill."  I saw her this week and told her that, ever since that remark, the second half of summer has been ruined for me!  She just laughed and said she's felt the same way, especially this year for some reason.  It's true, the summer does seem to be all downhill after the Fourth - but I'd never heard it quantified that way.

5. And finally, everybody needs to experience this wonderful taste sensation, when summer cantaloupes and tomatoes are both at their finest.  Try it - you'll be surprised at how good they are together.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Easy Smoothie

I have the easiest and best smoothie recipe around.  And it's very healthy also.

  • 1 individual cup plain Greek yogurt (I like Chobani).
  • About a cup to a cup and a half of fruit - your choice.  At least half should be frozen fruit, for the best consistency of the final smoothie.
  • A splash of juice - your choice - enough to make the blender run easily.
  • A couple of packets of Splenda.

My favorite lately has been strawberry-kiwi.  The strawberries were frozen last spring, and I bought the kiwis at the grocery.   But tonight I had watermelon-cantaloupe-frozen strawberry.  With a few frozen blueberries thrown in for good measure.  Good stuff.

Oh, and I highly recommend the Hamilton Beach smoothie maker.  It's so much easier than using a blender with its multiple parts.  And it was very reasonably priced also.

Very satisfying, very healthy!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday's Fave Five, 7/7/17

LINK to Friday's Fave Host Blog

1. I realize that this is not very exciting, but having been washer-less and dryer-less for three weeks, the delivery of these beauties yesterday was a definite high point of the week.

2. Our kitchen is slowly coming together.  The new tile floor has definitely lightened things up.  Furniture placement is not exactly right yet, but we are getting there!

3. I've been enjoying this summer treat all week.  I got a baker's dozen at the Farmer's Market last Saturday, and it is great.  I'm contemplating getting two dozen this week and making creamed corn for when I entertain daughter's future in-laws this next week.  Creamed corn is a labor of love, but oh, so good.

4. We are going out to eat with dear friends this evening.  That is always on the favorites list!!

and finally,

5. We have a wedding next week!  Next Friday is the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and Saturday is the big day.  My sister and I may be attempting a pretty fruit centerpiece for the reception; if it works, I will post a picture.  Next week will be full of things to do.  A FFF may not be on the horizon until the following week.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday's Fave Five, 6/23/17

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog - Living to Tell the Story

 1. I think we are about to survive the tilers.  They have been here all week, but Mike had everything moved out of the kitchen by Friday of last week.  So we have been living out of our den, with a mini-frig that holds just the necessities, and a laundry basket full of snacks and breakfast foods.  We've had to eat out more than usual this week (but who's complaining?).  This contractor has a great reputation, which is why Mike wanted to use him, but the erratic hours, the loud radio, and the noise of the tile-cutting saw have made for a long week. But the floor is really going to look nice when it is done!

2. This La-Z-Boy chair harks back to the late summer and autumn of 1988, when I was pregnant with our son.  I always thought pregnancy was great - until that last month.  I very much needed a comfortable chair, both for the end of pregnancy and when we had a new baby in the house.  We bought this chair that summer, when we didn't have two nickels to rub together - but the La-Z-Boy showcase store was running a three-months-same-as-cash deal.  So we bought it for $300, giving them $100 down.  As you can tell from the picture, this chair is well worn from much use over the past 29 years.  It has survived the childhood of two children as well as many other people using it.

Anyway - the linkage that raises the footrest broke.  Not a screw that came out, or something repairable like that, but the metal failed and it truly broke.  We were getting ready to get it hauled off.

Last Friday night, after taking my folks to the airport for their visit with my sister, Mike had to stop at another store - which happened to be right in front of the current showcase store.  I got to thinking - don't these have a lifetime warranty?  So I went in and asked, and was told, yes, they do, as long as the part is still carried.  So - after a phone call and several emails, it looks like the La-Z-Boy firm may actually carry that part.  If so, we will be back in business!

3. College baseball.  It's College World Series week.  Yes, we are almost addicted to watching college baseball.  Something about it makes it special to us.  Maybe because the players aren't being paid thousands of dollars for each swing of the bat.  Our team went out a long time ago (and we are getting a new coach) but we still are enjoying watching the games.

4. You will have to look closely at this photo, but it's our latest bird.  It's a prairie warbler.  We had heard from another birder that they were present in the scrubby woods near our favorite haunt.  It prefers to stay hidden, but I confess, we cheated a little bit.  Mike played an audio clip on his phone, and within five minutes it flew over our car.  I wanted a better pic, but sometimes you've got to be happy with what you've got.

Warblers are not easy, and we haven't seen many at all.  Many warbler species exist, but they are not common in everyday life - you've got to go looking for them most of the time.  Two species winter in our area and are common at our feeders, but most either just pass through, or are only present in the summer.  This was a little jewel for our life lists.

5. Finally, I saw this in an advertisement this week.  Not worth spending the $$ on, but the sentiment is still true, and mostly funny!!