We Three

I will be gone for the next few days while I go to Seattle to visit my former teaching team! We three try to get together at least once a year now. We taught together for many years, and we were a wonderful team! When you work so closely together, in the trenches and on the front lines, you become lifelong friends. These two ladies are so dear to me! I can’t wait to see them again and talk lives, memories, books, and hopes.

We Three, 2018

 

Whiteout

This week I read Ken Follett’s Whiteout. He writes the most thrilling books, and this one was another stay-up-late-and-finish-the-book read. I didn’t think it was one of his best, but it was exciting and had humorous undertones to a story about a very serious chemical warfare crisis.

from the publisher:

A lab technician bleeding from the eyes. Twelve missing samples of a deadly virus. Toni Gallo, the security director of a Scottish medical research firm, knows she has problems, but she has no idea of the nightmare to come.

As a Christmas Eve blizzard whips out of the north, several people, Toni among them, converge on a remote family house. All have something to gain or lose from the drug developed to fight the virus. As the storm worsens, the emotional sparks – jealousies, distrust, sexual attraction, rivalries – crackle; desperate secrets are revealed; hidden traitors and unexpected heroes emerge.

Although it had all the usual high tension intrigue that I like so much about many of Ken Follett’s books, this one seemed to me to have a bit of slapstick humor alongside the serious action. Nobody’s cell phone would work or was within grabbing distance. The burglary team had all kinds of trouble and things definitely did not work out the way they had planned. All of this, along with the usual thrilling suspense, made it fun to read, and I did indeed stay up really late to finish it.

 

This was another fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge.

 

 

It also another book read for my Holiday Reading this year.

 

Christmas at Thompson Hall

The novella, Christmas at Thompson Hall, by Anthony Trollope, made me laugh out loud! It’s just a fun read for the holidays or for any time!

from The Trollope Society:

…Mrs. Brown, journeying with her husband from the south of France to her old home in England for the Christmas holidays, spent the night in Paris where Mr. Brown developed a sore throat. Thinking to make a mustard poultice from a pot of mustard she had seen in the salon, Mrs. Brown lost her way on her return and, entering the wrong room, discovered after the poultice had been applied that the patient was not her husband…

 

…image from Crane Creek Graphics

 

I am enjoying some holiday reading!

 

Stepping Stones

During this week of unspeakable horror in Syria, I found a little book at the library that shone with beauty and hope. Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey, written by Margriet Ruurs and with illustrations created by Nizar Ali Badr, is a honest and poignant story of a Syrian family’s experience of having to leave their beloved home and country and flee for their lives. Fortunately, they find open arms and help in a new country. This book would be a wonderful teaching tool for families and classrooms to help all understand the refugee crisis worldwide. It also gives information about how one can give help during this humanitarian crisis.

from the publisher, Orca Book Publishers:

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.

from Social Justice Books:

This bilingual children’s picture book (English and Arabic) is worth reading for the illustrations alone. The three dimensional characters, made from beach stone by Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, are so expressive and exquisite that they tell a story of their own. Badr conveys the plight of refugees, although he himself has never left Syria. He explains, “How could I leave the country that gave to humanity the world’s oldest writing, the cuneiform alphabet?”

What can you do to make a difference?

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” my effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book about life in Syria.

Trouble in Nuala

 

I was looking for a new mystery series to become absorbed with and found Trouble in Nuala, the first book in a series by Harriet Steel. The setting is in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) during the 1930s, and I was fascinated to see if it is a series I’d like to follow. I immediately liked the main character and his wife, and enjoyed the glimpses of the culture of Ceylon at that time. The mystery kept me interested, and I thought that the author set everything in motion for an enjoyable series — good main characters that I will enjoy getting to know more about with each book, and good solid mysteries steeped in an interesting culture. I look forward to reading more from this author.

…from the publisher

When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife, Jane, to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala, he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve.

Set on the exotic island of Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) in the 1930s, Trouble in Nuala is an entertaining and absorbing mystery spiced with humor and a colorful cast of characters.

 

 

This was a fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge.

 

This book also qualifies for my personal challenge:  “Wanderlust” — an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book from Sri Lanka.

E.B. White on New York

I’ve only been to New York City once in my life, long ago, and I would love to return, especially after reading E.B. White’s Here is New York!  E.B. White is a wonderful author and one of my favorites. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by him, and this little book was another one I thoroughly enjoyed.

It is a love letter to New York and it captured the city of my imagination and my long ago experience there. The book was written 70 years ago, so of course much has changed, but even so, I think he described in many beautiful passages, the essence of the city.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.

…New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute.

This book is a must-read for anyone who loves New York, or who is interested in it, or who has always wanted to visit there, or who visited it long ago and needs to return!

 

I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

The Rock Garden

My Dad, summer of 1954.

My Dad and Mom created a rock garden the summer I was five years old.They turned a small sloping lawn into a beautiful garden.  I remember going for family drives, looking for rocks. We all loved that! I just recently found this old photo of my dad in front of the rock garden, and it reminded me of that happy time.

I’d already been thinking of creating a small rock garden in what I call our “triangle garden,” the space between our angled driveway and our vegetable garden. Finding the photo of my Dad in front of his rock garden made it seem absolutely right for me to go ahead and build my own.

However, we discovered quickly that rocks are not very accessible around here. When I was little, we lived right next to the mountains, so it was only a quick drive up the canyon to find loads of big and very interesting geological specimens! For some reason, there aren’t many rocks along the roads around here and our really interesting rocks were collected from farther away.  Fortunately, our daughter is in the process of building a big garden at her new home in Washington State. She’s spent the summer digging rocks out of the area they want to garden. We think perhaps all the rocks that should be here in Oregon are in her back yard! All those rocks you see lined up so neatly in the photo on the left came out of that dug up space in the photo on the right. She’s developed strong digging muscles! And each time she visited us this summer, she brought a load of rocks for our rock garden.

 

So, I  am not quite finished collecting rocks and planting, but my little rock garden is close to being done. I’ve planted a variety of perennials, some pansies for winter color, and a whole bunch of bulbs for spring color. There is still room for some colorful annuals that I’ll plant next Spring. I’m just loving this autumn gardening project.

The House on the Strand

Many years ago, I listened to the audiobook version of The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier. It was narrated by Ron Keith (a favorite narrator of mine!), and I remember really liking it, although I didn’t remember much about the story except that there was time travel in it. So I decided to reread it for my R.I.P.-XIV challenge this fall. Perfect suspense/mystery/good book! Daphne du Maurier’s books are so good.

Short summary from the publisher:

In this haunting tale, Daphne du Maurier takes a fresh approach to time travel. A secret experimental concoction, once imbibed, allows you to return to the fourteenth century. There is only one catch: if you happen to touch anyone while traveling in the past you will be thrust instantaneously to the present. Magnus Lane, a University of London chemical researcher, asks his friend Richard Young and Young’s family to stay at Kilmarth, an ancient house set in the wilds near the Cornish coast. Here, Richard drinks a potion created by Magnus and finds himself at the same spot where he was moments earlier–though it is now the fourteenth century. The effects of the drink wear off after several hours, but it is wildly addictive, and Richard cannot resist traveling back and forth in time…

It was quite an addictive book to read…one of those that you just have to keep reading so you know what happens in the end. I thought du Maurier did a great job of the time travel transitions! I enjoyed it because I do like a good time travel book!

Click here to read a full review of this book on the Daphne du Maurier web page. 

This was another fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge.