Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Two Very Different Books

The last two books I've read were both for book groups I'm part of.  Here at Vantage House the book for our March discussion is Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen.  The March selection for the WOW Book Club is Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris.

Two very different books!

The first is set in present day New York City and revolves around the life of Nora, museum director, wife, mother, neighbor, runner, and dog walker.  They live on a deadend street in an old home and have a close relationship with their neighbors.  Though some neighbors are liked by Nora others are not.  Neighbor troubles bring to a head prejudices and income inequality and the fact that Nora and husband Charlie are no longer on the same trajectory in their relationship.

Quindlen's writing style does not tell a story straight from beginning to end so as the story progresses you are taken back in time, so to speak, to learn the backstories.  Once you get used to it, it makes for good reading.





Mary Morris is telling lots of stories in her novel set in New Mexico in the 1990s, and Spain and Mexico of the 15th and 16th centuries.   In present day there's primarily Miguel, age 15 who is enamored with the stars but in the earlier times there are a long list of characters forced to give up their Jewish heritage and religion by the Catholic Church.  And even once renouncing that are still brought to Inquisitions. It was a terrible time and I'm sure that Morris' research is accurate on what was done to them. 

At first you are bombarded with lots of characters and I found myself flipping back to the family trees to see who they were in the scheme of her story.  It was confusing and if I had read this book slowly it would have been doubly so for all the characters.  But overall it made for an interesting history lesson and uncovering of family traditions that date so far back that present day has lost touch with their origins.


Monday, February 25, 2019

From the Files - 1

This is an occasional posting to savor the moments from past travels.

Walking through the Cotswolds in 2014.


 Paying attention to the path markers, the map, the compass and the written directions was essential to finding our way.


The right of way paths took us past fancy homes.


Early morning starts before the fog had lifted.


We were never really alone!




Saturday, February 23, 2019

Morning Walk

Though the temps were below 40ยบ,  there was no wind and despite the clouds, no rain.  A good morning for a walk around Wilde Lake as seen here from our 11th floor apartment on an icy morning (not today).




On the dam were two birds with long legs.  From a distance I saw them tangle with each other and one chose to land away from the one there first.



I frequently see heron fly past our windows with their long legs trailing.


I was confuse.d at first whether these were great blues,  but after checking the bird books they were. One was in a crouch making it look more compact.



At the opposite end of the lake herons perch on little manmade islands.





There is a heron rookery in the other direction.  I'll have to visit that again this spring.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Snow Day!

A major winter storm is giving us lots of snow outside my window.  Despite pretreating the roads with salt the snow is piling up on the roads.

We got an announcement over the loudspeaker that dining services is running a buffet from 11 to 4:30, the Pub is closing at 11:00 and the Market Place at 2:00.  We will have our dinner early then at 4:00 today and have a very light lunch of a salad I purchased from the Market Place after exercising this morning.

Here's the stack of books I stockpiled yesterday from the library.  I'm taking a page from Sue at The Cottage at the End of the Lane who always shows us her stack of books she has checked out to read.


You'll see two more Charles Todd books -  I'm quite enamored with that mystery series.  The Anna Quindlen is for the book discussion here at Vantage House and the bottom book "Gateway to the Moon" is the March selection for my other book club.  I always like Anne Tyler but the other tow books I know nothing about.  The summaries sounded interesting.

Monday, February 18, 2019

A Fancy Shindig

Saturday night was to be a sisters' gathering in Chambersburg, organized by my oldest sister, Bonnie. She purchased a table for 8 at the Cumberland Valley Music School fundraising dinner.  My sister Suzie and her husband were not able to come at the last minute so it was three sisters and spouses.


Our table was right next to the photo op spot.

Here are Dan and I.


My sisters left to right, Marie and Bonnie.


A selfie with Marie who is ten years younger than me.


Another shot with sisters.  There is 16 years difference between Bonnie and Marie.  The missing sister is 7 years younger than me.



A close up shot of the balloon on the table.


The Buchwalter boys were not invited.  They live in Pittsburgh and Arizona.

We bid on silent auction items but only Bonnie won something - tickets to a local play production.  The auction items went for larger amounts and the guitar which interested Dan went for what he predicted $1000.  He didn't bid on it.

It was a fun evening.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Volunteering

I spent the morning at Neighbor Ride, the 9 am - 1 pm. shift.

Being Valentine's Day Neighbor Ride drivers were to show the love by having their magnets on their cars.  Here's one of the staff person's van plastered with magnets.


This is a service for seniors by offering rides at low costs to any place, shop, appointment, class, etc they need to get to and from within a 35 mile radius of their home.  I used to volunteer as a driver,  but when we reduced our auto count from two to one, I inquired how else I could help.   The answer was to be a ride coordinator.


I learned the computer program for scheduling ride requests, soliciting drivers to fill those requests, answering the phone and answering questions.

It was a busy morning today with the phone ringing a lot.  Fortunately I'm one of a team of 3 or 4 when I'm there.  I had a chance to wish countless seniors a Happy Valentine's Day, too when I called to let them know the name of the driver for their rides tomorrow and in the week ahead.


What do you do as a volunteer?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Coating

Don't know if my photos will do justice to the coating of ice that is everywhere except the streets, thankfully.



It started late Sunday night with bit of snow but changed over to misting rain that iced on every raised surface.


The streets were well treated but sidewalks were not so schools closed. after first announcing a 2 hour delayed opening.


It looks lovely from here on the 11th floor.


Warming temps this afternoon will bring all the moisture to the ground.


The lake is already having a load of water going over the dam.


But there's more frozen stuff in the forecast ahead.




Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Women in White

I didn't watch the SOTU in real time, but did check the highlights/low lights this morning.

This was the best scene for me:

Women in White!


The Democratic women most of whom were newly elected in 2018.


I am expecting they will be making important contributions in the years ahead.


Dressed in white to honor the suffragettes who worked so hard to get us the right to vote!



Monday, February 4, 2019

Best Super Bowl Ads


I watch the Super Bowl not just for the game but for the ads.

I think this one was the best.

The "Watch Now" link doesn't work on my blog so click here to see it.


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