The Big Question

I get all of my groceries delivered from Amazon Fresh. Today they sent a survey via email. I like their service and their food, so I was happy to participate. Then came their final “optional” question:

Pictured is a survey question that asks "What is your 'current' gender?"  Current!
The survey says…

BOOK REVIEW: Calling Me Home

Calling Me Home

by Julie Kibler

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is calling-me-home.jpg
Book Cover

Isabelle McAllister, 89, asks her long-time hairdresser Dorrie to drive her from Texas to Cincinati. There is little information provided but Dorrie immediately feels the trip would give her the time and space to consider her own circumstances. Dorrie has a teenage son whose relationship with his girlfriend causes her concern, and a relationship of her own that she needs to figure out. Oh, Isabelle is white and privileged, Dorrie is black. Does that matter? Yes.

The story is told through flashbacks to 1939. Isabelle shares with Dorrie things from her past that have remained buried all through the years and once in Cincinnati her past becomes her present as the intervening years bring truths and revelations to her. And while Isabelle sorts through her life, Dorrie sorts through hers.

One of the best books I have read in a long, long time.

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

Good News

We received the following memo from our building management company.

Oh, joy! Management has intercepted our packages and ordered their delivery to a new location. They have selected what was the janitor’s cleaning supply closet as the new Mail Package Room. We have beautiful new signage in the entry vestibule and at the entry to the lobby.

The new Mail Package Room is about the size of our small elevator. In fact, it is right next to the elevator. This building gets a lot of packages on a daily basis and packages would have to be stacked high to accommodate deliveries. There is room for only one person at a time to go through all the packages to find what is theirs. This “room” has no windows. It is unventilated and dark and cramped.

Pictured: New signage at entry to lobby calling attention to the new package room.

So I called the management company. I left a rather lengthy complaint on his voicemail yesterday, ending with “If you want to spread COVID through an entire building, this is the way to do it.” (I don’t remember the rest of my rant.)

Pictured: Two doors along the left wall of a short corridor (about 8-10 feet long). The first door (on the left) is the new package room. The door to its right is the elevator.
Pictured: The interior of the new package room. The room is about 6 feet deep and about 8 feet wide (very approximated by me). Along the right side is a wall-to-wall desk (6 feet?) and chair where several packages are placed awaiting pickup. This is the janitor’s cleaning supply closet and his vacuum cleaner is also seen. The left wall (unseen in photo) contains some shelves with cleaning supplies and other unknown “stuff.”

I got no response so I called again this morning and our management person answered the phone. He denied receiving a voicemail from me, so I started from scratch. This time I recorded the conversation.

Phone Conversation

He is going to talk to the Board (he is on the Board) and will call me back. In the meantime, our packages are being diverted to the Package Room.

Such good news! Not!

Any Way You Cut It

Smell that fresh baked bread straight from the oven! Tasting it is even better. A slice of heaven!

I have been baking bread in my bread machine.  Lately I have been doing so quite regularly and I have gotten quite good at it (honestly, Hamilton Beach makes me look good!), I thought the whole experience might rise to the next step with the purchase of a bread slicing guide.  Imagine evenly sliced fresh bread.

So I purchased a bread slicer on Amazon. It got good reviews. 

The advertisement described the benefits of their slicing guide for use with breads made from bread machines.  Given that, they should know, generally at least, what size bread to expect.

Pictured: Advertising image of bread slicing guide with 2 long thin loaves of Italian bread ready for slicing. This size and shape of bread does not come out of a bread machine.

My bread, it turns out, is too big for the “large” bread slicer.  My bread rises a full 2 inches or more above the slicing guides and I found it awkward to saw back and forth as instructed and land my knife squarely between the bread slicing guides.

Pictured: Bread in slicer rising 2 inches or more above slicing guides.

I contacted the seller to discuss  my predicament.  Their response: Make smaller bread.”  Of course, to do so would require using an oven and not a bread machine.

BOOK REVIEW: A Journey to the New World

A Journey to the New World

by Kathryn Lasky

Dear Emilia,

My name is Remember Patience Whipple.  I am 12 years old.  I traveled with my family to the New World on the Mayflower exactly 400 years ago.  Crossing the Atlantic Ocean was very difficult – the stench onboard was unbearable and the winds and waves made everybody sick.   Our crossing took over 60 days.

 I kept a diary so I would live up to my name and remember what it was like.  The trip was hard. Very hard.  What we experienced in the New World was even harder.  But one thing kept me excited and that was seeing feathered men.  I was just so curious.  Wait until I tell you about the swaddled Indian baby I met.

                         Love,

                         Mem (that’s short for Remember)

Pictured:  Book cover

P.S. – This book is part of the Dear America series, a series of historical fiction presented in the form of diaries. and written especially for young people.  Don’t forget to read the epilogue, too, because there is even more information that you will definitely want to know.

 

 

________________________________

This book is available through BARD and bookshare.

.

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BOOK REVIEW: Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane

by Kristin Hannah

Tully Hart and her drug-addicted mother move to a house on Firefly Lane across the street from Kate Mularkey and her family.  The two girls are very different in many ways, yet they become friends, best friends in fact.

The friendship began as teenagers on Firefly Lane.  This is the story that traverses the course of their lives together and apart, through thick and through thin, for the next 30 years.This is the story of their friendship.  Best Friends Forever:  Tully and Kate.

No spoilers here,  I will just say that the character development is excellent.  Kristin Hannah nails the emotional impact each character provides.  It is a page-turner.  Have a box of tissues handy.

Have You Seen My Paddle?

I have no bread flour.

I have no rapid-rise or bread-machine yeast.

But I do have a bread machine.  And I have a desire to bake bread.

So I consulted with my bread guru.  Z told me to use all-purpose flour and the more common active dry yeast,  both of which I do have.  He gave me instructions on how to make the active dry yeast work with the bread machine.

I followed Z’s instructions.  I added the yeast to some warm water and stirred it until the yeast was fully dissolved.  Then I added a teaspoon of sugar.  When the mixture bubbled, I added it to the other ingredients.

Fresh Bread

Pictured: A loaf of fresh-baked bread on a cutting board.

The bread was kneaded and rested and kneaded some more and then baked to perfection, all while I went about doing other things.  (Bread machines work quite independently.)  After 3 hours, the bread machine signaled it was done.  Lo and behold the bread rose.  It looks like a loaf of bread, smells like a loaf of bread, and best of all, it tastes like a loaf of bread.   Warm inviting bread fresh from the oven.

Just one little thing …

The bread machine’s paddle is missing!

Fresh bread, bottom up

Pictured: A fresh-baked loaf of bread sitting upside down on a cutting board. There it is! In the center is a perfectly round hole. Inside is the bread machine paddle. It is neatly tucked inside the bread.

OMG Zoodles

Zoodles

Zucchini spaghetti – also known as Zoodles.  They are quick and easy to prepare.   Delicious and nutritious.  And low calorie too!

Zoodles GIF

Pictured:  A series of 5 shapshots that change every 8 seconds.  The first shows a spiralizer, bowl, and 2 zucchini.  The second shows a zucchini inserted into the spiralizer held over a bowl.  The third shows the zoodles spread out on a cutting board, and a knife.  The fourth shows a bowl of cooked zoodles.  The fifth shows a plate of crab cakes and a bowl of zoodles – ready to eat.

Ingredients

  • 2 Zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil


Directions

  1. Wash zucchini.  Do not peel.  Cut off ends.
  2. Insert zucchini into one end of the spiralizer and hold over bowl or cutting board.
  3. Twist zucchini until there is nothing left to twist.
  4. Generously salt zucchini noodles and blot dry with paper towels or tea towel.
  5. Cut zucchini into smaller strips with kitchen shears or knife.
  6. Add zoodles, oil, and spices to pot or pan and saute for about 2 minutes.  (A pot will keep any spatter away from you and will keep contents from spilling out.)

_____________________

Crab Cakes recipe is under tab RECIPES > DINNER at top of this page.

Spiralizer is available on amazon.

Getting Started – Pastel Painting


With a new hobby and very little space in my home, getting started can be tricky.  Here is what I have learned and how I have gotten started.

UPDATE: Surprise!

An update to yesterday’s story:

A neighbor rang our doorbell late this evening to inform us that the bags sitting outside our door were distributed by the city and contained food.   Though the bags were unidentified and unexpected and were not even accompanied by a knock on the door, all the bags distributed to the apartments on our floor were sitting in an unairconditioned hallway for many hours.  Still, there is good news to be had:

  1.   The bags of food sitting outside 5 apartments all day on a near 90-degree day  and in an unairconditioned hallway and not yet started to smell.
  2. 2.  Unwanted critters had not yet begun to gather.

Mystery solved.

Surprise?

We opened the door to our apartment sometime around noon today and found 3 packages neatly lined up in front of our door.  And there were three identical packages lined up in front of the apartment door next to ours.  And there were three identical packages lined up in front of the door across the hall.

COVID, people!  We are not touching them!

We went out for our walk a few hours later. All the packages were still just where they were when first discovered.  The two apartments at the other end of the hallway also had like packages.

We walked down to the third floor.  Not a package to be found

Not a package on the second floor.  Or the first!  Only our floor.

???

Door C

Pictured:  Three filled plastic bags (one white, one black, and one orange) are lined up in front of our door, and in front of the apartment door next to ours.

Please View and Vote


Below are 3 pastel paintings, all of American goldfinch birds.  Please vote for the one you like best.  Your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you!

Goldfinches 1-A

PICTURE A

Goldfinches 2

PICTURE  B

Goldfinches 3-A

PICTURE C

Please go to the poll:     –     Please click this link to take the poll

BOOK REVIEW: A Brush With Darkness

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.A Brush With Darkness

by Lisa Fittipaldi

What happens when you lose your sight? How do you feel?  What do you feel?  How do you go on?

Lisa Fittipaldi lost her sight.  It was unexpected, unplanned. She was thrust into a world without sight and suddenly everything was different. Even the simplest acts, like brushing her teeth, became an overwhelming ordeal, one event among countless others that had to be relearned and conquered.  It was her husband who  put paints and brushes in her hands and told her to go with it.  I suspect she had painted before, or at least expressed an interest, but this was different.  This was learning to paint when she did not even know how to walk.

A BRUSH WITH DARKNESS:   Learning to Paint After Losing My Sight by  LISA FITTIPALDI - FIRST  EDITION - 2004 - from Gian Luigi Fine Books Inc. (SKU: 037026)Lisa Fittipaldi articulated so many of my experiences.  I could relate to her trials and tribulations, her awarenesses, her triumphs and failures.  Yet I was born that way, always having to learn to do things my way, all the while dealing with people who just do not get it.

This book is inspirational. A must-read for anyone who has lost their sight, or hearing, a finger, a leg, or anything else that others may label a disability. You just may find an inner strength that makes you even better.

 “Being blind is like being blond. It just is.”    (p. 125)

Party Time


Anniversary Party

New York   >  Minnesota  >  Oregon

3 different homemade cheesecakes, all winners.

And I am still verklempt!

Zoom Znniversary

Pictured:  All of us

 

Celebration

Pastels and Fixative

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars..

Fixative

 

 

Arrived
Applied
Set aside
Dried

Reapplied
Redried
Set aside
Eyed

Thrice applied
Thrice dried
Daylight denied
Horrified.

The paper curled.
The colors dulled.
Dark of night.
Mortified!

Pastel Painting – Day 3

 

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.

.

Seashore – Day 3

 

I dabble a little and then I let it sit.  When I take a look hours later, I see things differently.  Then I know what I want to change.   That gap in time seems to make a huge difference.

Here is the evolution of my Seashore pastel painting, so far.

Seashore GIF

Pictured:  Three photos of my pastel painting taken on 3 successive days, each after changes were made.

Pastel Painting – Day 2

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars..

Pastel Painting: Seashore

 

Another day, another layer.

Shore day 2

 

 

Pastel Painting: Seashore

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars..

 

Pastel Painting: Seashore

 

A work in progress…  Still no fixative, so it is guaranteed to fade and smudge in the meantime. I think.

Shore 2 cropped

Pictured: A pastel painting showing a beach with lots of ocean waves splashing against the shore and a jetty  of rocks on the right.

BOOK REVIEW: The Boy From the Woods

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.The Boy From the Woods

by Harlan Coben

I had not read anything by Harlan Coben but his new book The Boy From the Woods caught my attention. I knew the author by name and that he is an acclaimed mystery writer, but somehow his work just had not found its way to me before.  The Boy From the Woods came onto my radar screen and without knowing anything, I made some assumptions based on the title and what little I knew of the author.

I expected the story to center around the experiences of a feral child.  I expected the boy to be the center of a great mystery.  Perhaps he would be the victim; perhaps he would be the villain, or the hero.  Regardless, I was looking forward to the read.

Amazon.com: The Boy from the Woods (Audible Audio Edition): Harlan ...

Pictured: Book cover: The Boy From the Woods.

It turns out the book focuses on the boy from the woods as a man.  (Is this book a sequel, or part of a series?)  His history is touched upon in vague ways as background for building the character and even weaves its way into the story itself.  But his life in the woods is not the story.

Instead, the story is about Rusty Eggers (what a name!), a man who is running for president of the United States, a man of privilege, a former TV star, a man with a dark side and secrets, a man who surely as president will create chaos and destruction.  Where have I heard this before? Nevertheless, I was drawn into the story, the mystery, the detective work.  I was thrilled with the twists and turns, and happy when all the loose ends were so neatly tied up by book’s end.

Overall, a good read and I look forward to reading more by this author, but first I’ll look for a book about a feral child not just in name only.