"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, August 21, 2017

My Eclipse Experience

Today was the day! Eclipse USA!
We decided to not brave the bad traffic and stayed closer to home to view a 94% eclipse.
But we wanted to do something special so we planned to view the eclipse from Mt. Rainier.

We got up very early and drove to the Sunrise Gate at Rainier National Park, a two hour drive. Sunrise is on the East side of the mountain.

We arrived in time to view first light and sunrise. En route we startled two female elk on the road up the mountain and had to drive super slow because driving the switchbacks in the dark were difficult to navigate.
Mt. Rainier at first light
Sunrise at first light over the Eastern skies


Don enjoying the beauty of Sunrise Lake.
Right where he was standing were very prominent elk tracks.

Mt. Rainier after sunrise

The eclipse has begun. Carly is sporting her special eclipse glasses with the mountain in the background.

You can't see a thing with the special glasses on except the sun. It really is amazing.

Even though we were at 6400 ft, it was a warm day.
About midpoint of the eclipse, when only a sliver of the sun showed, the temperature dropped 8 degrees in about 15 minutes, from 72 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

We made ourselves comfy in camp chairs. It was a very collegial event with all the folks we met nearby. The Park Rangers also did special programs at the lodge.
When we got tired of looking at the sun with our glasses. We could view the eclipse with the special viewer Carly made with a cereal box.

This is what the eclipse looked like in the box. It was almost complete at this point.

And this is what the sun looked like with only a few minutes left of the eclipse. 
Carly took this photo through her Solar Eclipse glasses.

We may not have seen a total eclipse of the sun but we doubt that few people viewed the eclipse from such a lovely setting.

And this is our Eclipse USA story.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Salon, August 20, one day before...

View of the Puget Sound from Titlow Beach, Tacoma. This is why we love living where we live.
Weather: It is overcast here which is a problem since tomorrow is the day of the total eclipse of the sun. We will not drive to Oregon to see the full eclipse but have decided that the 95% from our home will be good enough...but if it is overcast tomorrow, that will be a bummer because it may obscure our less than 100% view of it.

"If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention": The events at Charlottesville and then Trumps statements which did not condemn White Supremacy and Nazism have really shook me up. We can't be unequivocal about the evils of these organizations. But this is what our President did. He placed those organizations on the same moral level as those organizations standing up for equality and for justice for all. It is disgusting. Arnold Schwarzenegger, of all people, had the best response. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to click the link on his name and then click the video link on that page.

Human: While I'm at it, I recommend that you watch and listen to this new Pentatonix video of an old John Lennon song, "Imagine". It is very appropriate for this week's events. We have got to stop thinking of people as "other" and just think of them as "human."

Books completed this week:
  • Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange: a retelling of the Pride and Prejudice from letters written by the characters to each other. I've read several of these types of books before and I didn't like this one as well as the others.
  • The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins. What can I say? I am a poetry fan and wish you were, too. Collins is a good poet to start with, if you feel intimidated by it because he is funny and fun.
  • Thunder Boy by Sherman Alexie. A Children's book by a favorite author about a little kid who doesn't like his name.
  • Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. An excellent book club selection, a mystery and coming-of-age story.
Currently reading:
  • Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink. 10%, audio.
  • Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Print, just started.
  • Ordering of Love: New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle. Print. 10%.
Sign found at a favorite local restaurant. It is funny on many levels, especially since I graduated high school in 1975.
Why did they pick that year?
Tomorrow you will find us somewhere in Washington State, hopefully with clear skies, looking up at the 95% of total eclipse of the sun...and yes, we have glasses.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Longest Book Tag

Since it is unlikely you will build the longest bridge,
how about listing the longest books you've read?

Thanks very much to Lauren at Always Me for tagging me to complete The Longest Book Tag!   This tag was created by Ditsha @ Betwitchingly Paranoid.  I no longer tend to read really long books, so let's see what long books I read in the past.

The Rules:

1. Make a list of five of the longest books you’ve read.
2. Select two of the longest books on your TBR.
3. Discuss
4. Tag others

The Tag:

Here are five of the longest books that I've read (I don't usually keep track of books by length so I am sure I am forgetting some books I read earlier in my life) -

A. And the Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer, 1184 pages. Though I read it years ago what I remember most about it was the length. I don't think I'd ever read such a long book before this one.

B. Centennial by James Michener, 1086 pages. Of course it was long! I started at the beginning of the world! Ha!

C. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1034 pages. Unlike the above book I was not aware of the page length on this book as I read it. For years I would tell people that this was my favorite book but it has been so long since high school, when I read it, that I am only left with impressions. I suspect it would bother me more today than it did years ago to read about the South's fight to keep slaves.

D. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 974 pages. Another book I read as a young teen and the page length didn't seem remarkable. Believe me, if I was reading a 974 page book today I would remember it!

E. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, somewhere around 900 pages.  The original is around 1450 pages but I read the abridged version of this classic book and it was still long. Loved it, by the way.

The longest books in my TBR pile aren't very long by comparison. I actually spurn long nowadays books unless they come with a great recommendation from someone.

AA. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, 843 pages. Recommended by Deb Nance at ReaderBuzz.

BB. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, 609 pages. Recommended by Holly M., a teacher friend.

Tag You're It (No hard feelings, if you aren't interested in doing this tag though):

Sue @ Book by Book
Helen @ Helen's Book Blog
Annette @ Annette's Book Spot
Rummanah @ Books in the Spotlight
Tina @ Tina Says

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Friday Quotes: The Trouble With Poetry

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Title: The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins

Book Beginnings:
"You, Reader"

I wonder how you are going to feel
when you find out
that I wrote this instead of you.

Friday 56:
"The Drive"

There were four of us in the car
early that summer evening,
short-hopping from one place to another,
thrown together by a light toss of circumstances.

Comment: the title of the poem is in quotes. The first stanza of each poem is all I gave you. In "You, Reader", Billy Collins teases the reader for not writing the poem before he did. It makes me smile to think of that sort of jab. "The Drive" is about a group of friends out for a drive when the driver starts making belittling comments about"you", which causes the narrator to start picturing the driver's head as a butcher might a cow, with a little map of cuts. He obviously is a comedic poet and i enjoy Collins a lot.

Anne's Cookbook: Fish Tacos with white sauce

Fish tacos, condiments, and white sauce
I go crazy for fish tacos. If they are on the menu, I order them. I crave them and make my hubby go to the local Mexican restaurant for Taco Tuesday quite often. If, however, the fish tacos do not have a tangy white sauce, I end up feeling disappointed. I even asked at my local Taco Del Mar if they would sell me some of their white sauce. The answer was NO. That sent me to the Internet is search of the perfect white sauce, which I've modified and included here.

Recipe for Fish Tacos with white sauce

Fish and marinade:
1-2 pounds of firm fish. I usually buy the frozen, packaged cod from Trader Joes. Or buy fresh.
1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1 lime
1 garlic clove

Thaw fish. Cut into small pieces. Marinate for 15-30 minutes. Never over-marinate fish or it will get mealy. For the marinade use 1/4 cup of canola or grapeseed oil, juice of one lime, one garlic clove smashed, salt and pepper to taste. Place fish pieces on a sheet lined with parchment and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

White sauce (can be made ahead of time for better melding of flavors)
1 cup sour cream, plain yogurt, and/or mayonnaise combination. (I like 1/2 cup of sour cream and a 1/2 cup mayonnaise, but I've made it with 100% yogurt and it is still good.)
1 tsp. dry coriander
1 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. dry dill
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. capers, chopped fine
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you like your food or chopped spicy fresh pepper, like jalepeno
4-6 drops of Tabasco sauce
Juice of 1/2-1 lime
4 springs of fresh cilantro, chopped up
Salt, to taste

Mix together and refrigerate until fish is ready. If the sauce is too thick, you can milk it down to desired consistency.

Other condiments for the tacos, use what you like:
Shredded cabbage
Avocado slices
Pico de gallo and/or salsa and/or fresh, chopped tomato pieces
Grated cheese

Pico de gallo, I made it for the first time myself last night and it is so easy and good. Try it.
4 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4-6 springs cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped very fine (use gloves to protect hands and eyes)
Juice of one lime
Salt to taste

Corn tortillas
We buy the soft corn tortillas and heat them one by one on the burner. It just takes a few seconds per side. But you can wrap them up in foil and throw them in the oven to heat as the fish is cooking.

Each person should make their own tacos to taste. Heat tortillas, add a few pieces of fish, a slice or two of avocado, a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of white sauce, a spoonful of pico de gallo or salsa, and handful of shredded cabbage for the crunch. Fold in half. Eat, enjoy, repeat.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life...after life, after life, after life...

Last night as I was passing out our upcoming book to my book club friends, one of the members announced to everyone how she just couldn't do it. She just couldn't finish Life After Life by Kate Atkinson because it was so-o-o confusing. She had tried reading the book and gave up at the one-third mark, returning it to the library. I smiled and told the group the opposite.  Life After Life is not a book written in a linear fashion. If you like a story which starts at A and ends at Z, with an ordered march through the alphabet, this is not the book for you. But if, I told my friends, you understand that the main character, Ursula, keeps dying and starting over in her same life, then you can just relax and watch for the differences along the way.

Often, it seems, that lives turn on a dime when a certain event occurs and then life then spins off on a new trajectory, an uncharted path up to that point. When Ursula dies and returns to the exact same circumstances and time period as when she was first born, we see that small choices she makes along the way affect what happens next. One time she drowns, the next time she doesn't go in to the water. Another time a friend is murdered, the next time Ursula stands and talks to her causing the culprit to move on. Life is all about the decisions we make. But what if we all had a chance to remake those decisions to experience a different outcome?

Even as I was reading the book I found myself thinking about Kate Atkinson as a clever writer. She, in a sense, played with her reading audience by saying through Ursula's incarnations, that as an author she isn't bound by all the choices she originally made for her characters and she could go back and show us a whole new set of circumstances if just one thing were changed. I agree with my friend that is sounds confusing, but once I settled in, I found the book to be tremendously exciting and fascinating.

Just think about your own life for a minute. Think back to some critical decision that you made or didn't make and then spend a moment pondering what would have/could have happened had you chosen differently. I know a person who divorced her husband after 25+ because he was emotionally abusive. She realized that in the beginning of her relationship she never said "stop it" when he was abusive. When she tried after 25 years, it was too late. How would her life have been different had she made a different choice, stood up for herself sooner? Another friend was engaged to be married but decided to end it when her fiance said he was planning to teach English in a foreign country after the wedding. She didn't think that is what she wanted to do. But now she lives alone caring for an ailing mother wondering "what if." We all have made choices which determined our path and I'm sure I am not the only one who has regretted some of those decisions.

What Atkinson does in Life After Life is to try out different choices and the results vary, some are not necessarily better. Ursula isn't able to keep her father from dying, nor is she able to prevent WWII from happening. But along the way the reader is able to see a few different sides of history and appreciate the choices that got the characters to that point. It is tremendously exciting to see the same scene but written from a different point-of-view. One never knew what was going to happen next. There was no chance of figuring out the plot before everything shifted. What fun.

I am terribly sorry that my friend gave up on the book before she found the magic with in it. I encourage you to do the same. Read past your confusion and frustration. Let the story carry you along. Watch for shifts in the trajectories that occur as decisions and choices change.

I listened to the audiobook of Life After Life expertly read by Fenella Woolgar. She did a fabulous job not only with the British accents but also with the German words. I recommend this audiobook with no hesitation.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Hatchette Audio, 2013. The print version is 544 pages long.
hosted by Sue at BookbyBook

Monday, August 14, 2017

TTT: My favorite books read in 2017, so far

Top Ten Tuesday: My favorite books read in 2017, so far,
in reverse order that I read them.

Commonwealth by Ann Pratchett
c. 2016, adult, novel

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
c. 2016, adult, memoir

LaRose by Louise Erdrich
c. 2016, adult, Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
c. 2016, adult, novel

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
c. 2017, YA, novel

Lab Girl Jahren Hope
c. 2016, adult, memoir

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
c. 2017, YA, nonfiction

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
c. 2017,  YA, first book in a series

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
c. 2016, adult, Pulitzer Prize winning novel

The Uninterrupted View of the Sky by Melanie Crowder
c. 2017, YA, novel based on facts

The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood
c. 2016, adult, novel

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at Broke and Bookish.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Salon, August 13

Weather: Finally relief from the heat and the smoke. It rained last night and today was cool and clear. Whew.
"It's a Jedi"
"It's a Jedi": Today our church hosted a baby shower for our daughter and son-in-law who are expecting our first grandchild very soon. The theme of the baby's nursery is Star Wars. The organizers of the event picked up on that theme and all the decorations were related to Star Wars, including the event banner which announced: "It's a Jedi!" In addition a clothes line full of onesies had Star Wars themed slogans including my personal favorite: "Storm Pooper" (front) with "Dark Side" (back). Ha! We are on the countdown. Three weeks to go.
String of onesies

May the forks be with you!
My daughters with a gift helper
"Hey Jude": When I was young I would attempt to wash dishes within the time period of The Beatles song, "Hey Jude" (7:11 min.) My family even teased me about it when we were together earlier this month. Well, on Friday I finally was presented with another timed activity set to "Hey Jude". This one in water aerobics. We formed a line of participants holding onto the ends of the float-noodle of the woman in front of her and another woman hung onto my noodle ends behind me and so on. Then we snaked around the pool for the whole song. Hilarious. I couldn't believe it was happening and it made me so happy. Ha!

Charlottesville: My heart is breaking for our country where white supremacists think they have a President who supports their cause, and it appears that he does. Yesterday was a disaster. I get chills every time I look at this picture taken the moment that the white terrorist drove his car into a crowd  sending people flying and killing one person. Susan Bro, the mother of the 32-year-old victim, Heather Heyer's mother said today of her daughter: "she was about bringing and end to injustice. Heather was not about hate, Heather was about stopping hate," Bro said through her tears. "Heather was about bringing an end to injustice. I don't want her death to be a focus for more hatred, I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion." ---The Huffington Post.

Book completed this week:
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker...for an upcoming book club meeting; please read my review by clicking the link here. It is the Pride and Prejudice story from the point-of-view of the servants. It filled out the original story.
Currently reading:
  • Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger---an award-winning mystery and coming-of-age story. I am enjoying the writing. Progress: 43%
  • The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins---what can I say? I love poetry! Progress: 25%
  • Five Days in Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink...another book club selection, this one is nonfiction. Audio. 5%.
18 pairs of shoes: I have started the process of de-teacherfying my closet. I started with shoes. I got rid of 18+ pairs and then attacked my clothes and my initial swing through the closet net three bags of sweaters, blouses, and tops which I never want to see again! Next up my drawers.

From the kitchen: It felt like Girl Scout Camp around here for a few days while we experimented with meat packages wrapped in foil and cooked on the BBQ. Delicious. Here is how we made them: Into a large bowl cut up one turkey kielbasa sausage. Slice up one new-potato per person (I par cook them so they cook fully in the packet.) Slice up a half sweet onion. Add 1/2 pound of snapped green beans. Peel and cut into bite sized pieced of carrots. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1-2 tsp of your favorite seasoning salt, black pepper to taste. Stir to combine the spices. Divide onto foil  pieces. Be sure to seal the foil packets carefully so they won't leak. Cook on medium heat (400 degrees) on the BBQ for 15-20 minutes, turning once. This reminded my girls and I of the days we spent cooking over a fire during Girl Scout activities. You can play around with your favorite vegetables and meats. It is a very versatile recipe. Have fun.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

In the beginning of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, eighteen-year-old Henry "Monty" Montague is preparing for a grand tour of the continent before returning to Britain and his birthright as a lord. He will be traveling with his best friend and secret crush, Percy, and his younger sister, Felicity. Monty looks at this trip as his last hurrah. Nothing about the life of a lord is attractive to him, especially since it will mean separation from Percy.

Not long into the trip things go all crazy after Monty, who is very drunk, ends up in a very compromising position during a party at Versailles where he steals a trinket, which is actually a highly sought after key to a special type of curative alchemical treatment. At this point the planned grand tour devolves into a run and hide and seek endeavor to get away from their pursuers and to find the answers contained within the trinket box. Along the way the trio end up meeting some Spanish siblings, whose father concocted the special chemical being sought by everyone. As they escape again they end up at the mercy of some very inexperienced pirates. The whole book had a feel of a swashbuckling adventure set in the 1700s.

But below the surface of all the fun and excitement were much more serious topics of sexuality, love, feminism, racism, abuse, disease, and even alcoholism. Monty could be arrested for his bi-sexuality and he often drinks himself into oblivion to help disguise his feelings; Percy, who is half black,  has to deal with racism on a daily basis but is also plagued by the misunderstood condition of epilepsy; and Felicity wants to be a doctor but women of the day are not encouraged to have careers or even use their brains.  There is a lot of stories underneath the story.

The magical thing about The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is even though the book is crammed full of very serious topics, it is extremely fun to read and often very funny. It strikes the right tone, serious topics with a light hand. The book, a tome weighing in at over 500 pages, reads very fast and is designed to keep the reader engaged from the first page to the past. Set in the 1700s it doesn't really come across as historical fiction, except for the existence of pirates and the court still in existence in France.

Today's teens will find a lot to like in this YA novel which has received quite a few starred reviews from reviewing publications. Here are a few of the comments they've published about the book:

✩ "Austen, Wilde, and Indiana Jones converge in this deliciously anachronistic bonbon".-Kirkus Reviews
✩ "...the romantic relationship that develops between Monty and Percy is sure to leave readers happily starry-eyed. -Publisher's Weekly
"This is a witty, romantic, and exceedingly smart look at discovering one’s place in the world." School Library Journal

I happily gave this book ✩✩✩✩✩ 

Because of it's length, it qualified for The Big Book Summer Challenge, hosted by Sue@ Book by Book.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation ---Pride and Prejudice

Six Degrees of Separation with Jane Austen's book, Pride and Prejudice.

We begin here.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Published 204 years ago, Pride and Prejudice is Austen's masterpiece. It has never been out of print and has remained popular since its publication date.

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange
Pride and Prejudice has inspired countless retellings and stories about other characters in her books since the time it was first published. This book is part of a series about Austen heroes and tells the Pride and Prejudice story from Mr. Darcy's point-of-view.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Tells the Pride and Prejudice story from the point-of-view of the servants working in Longbourn, the Bennet home. It fills out the details and gives the reader a broader understanding of what life was really like during the Regency period for the majority of people.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Nancy Butler
In recent years it has been popular to take the original and change the format. This comic book was illustrated by Nancy Butler and published by Marvel Comics, making the book very accessible to readers not familiar with the original.

Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jack and Holman Wang, Jane Austen
Speaking about accessible, 
this board book summarizes the whole classic down into twelve words: 
friends; sisters; dance; mean; sick; muddy; yes?; no!: write; read; walk; marry. 
Think about it. These words pretty much sum up the story.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
This was the first Pride and Prejudice retelling I ever read. It remains a favorite in that genre. It is set in modern times, with modern themes.

Emma: a modern retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
This is the only book on the list I haven't read yet. It is the third book in the Austen Project, started a few years ago, each of Austen's novels were rewritten by modern, popular authors.

Emma by Jane Austen
That brings us back around to Jane Austen, the original author and the genius of six classic novels set in the Regency period in England. None have gone out of print or out of favor. Emma, thought as her second most popular books was published in 1815. This is her only novel where the heroine has plenty of money and time to be involved in trivial pursuits like match-making.

6 degrees of Separation is hosted by Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best.
Play along.

This activity also goes along with the Austen in August Challenge hosted by Adam at Roofbeamreader