Tuesday, October 1, 2019

First Photo - October 2019

The calendar might say October but the temperature is yelling mid-July, with a forecast of near ninety today.  I'm loving every minute of it!

There was something special about this summer.  We enjoyed our property, in many ways.  Working in it was theraputic.  Relaxing in it was peaceful.  Sharing it was joyful.  And, for all that, I am grateful.


Monday, September 16, 2019

First Photo - September 2019

 Yikes this is late!  The picture was taken on time, almost, but lazy me just never got around to posting it.

The dog days of summer may be over, but the froggy days of fall have just started.  We have been enjoying the patio and falls more than ever, and it seems the frogs are as well.  We have christened our water feature as the Five Frog Falls.  See if you can spot all of them in the first photo below.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

An Open Book: July 2019

Well, I think you can tell it is summer by what I am reading.  Since the few television shows that I do watch are just showing reruns, if they are on at all, I seem to have substituted some easy reading in their place.  I have been binge reading a favorite author, Kendra Elliot, catching up on a couple of her other series I haven't yet read.  And, of course, there's always more Nero Wolfe to be read!

Not Quite Dead Enough by Rex Stout
Archie Goodwin is now a Major in the Army and they want him to enlist Nero Wolfe's help in finding the murderer of two of their own.  While this was a good story, it has probably my least favorite ending of any books in this series.  However, as all good Nero stories go, it was plum full of great descriptions and one-liners.

It was the first time I had ever seen the top mackaroo of United States Army Intelligence. He was in uniform and had two chins and a pair of eyes that wasted neither time nor space.

Then I sat on the step again. I looked at my watch and it was 10:40. An hour later I looked again and it was 10:55.

“Not without Major Goodwin. I use his memory. Also for years I’ve found his presence an irritant which stimulates my cells."

Wolfe was in his chair behind his desk, leaning back with his finger tips meeting at the spot where the ends of no one-yard tape measure would ever meet again.

The Silent Speaker
When a powerful government official, scheduled to speak to a group of millionaires, turns up dead, it is an event worthy of the notice of the great Nero Wolfe.   Balancing on the edge of financial ruin, the orchid-loving detective grudgingly accepts the case. Soon a second victim is found bludgeoned to death, a missing stenographer’s tape causes an uproar, and the dead man speaks, after a fashion.

And Be a Villain
When a guest on Madeline Fraser's radio talk show drops dead after drinking a glass of the sponsor's beverage, Nero is hired to determine who would want him dead.  When everyone connected with the case lies about the circumstances of the event, the detective also needs to determine what secret is worth killing for again.

As a result the eight o’clock temperature permits him to have his tray on a table near the window without bothering to put on a dressing gown. Seated there, his hair not yet combed, his feet bare, and all the yardage of his yellow pajamas dazzling in the morning sun, he is something to blink at, and it’s too bad that Fritz and I are the only ones who ever have the privilege.

The Callahan & McLane series 
Kendra Elliot writes engaging and suspenseful stories that keep the reader guessing as to "who done it" until the very end.  Throughout each story the characters and their relationships develop.  Unfortunately, it seems each book usually contains a sex scene that comes across as soft core porn and a somewhat liberal use of God's name taken in vain. Because of this, as good as they are, I can never give these books five, or even four, stars on Goodreads.

Eleven-year-old Henley is abducted on her way to the school bus stop and the FBI jumps in to lead the search.  Local detective Mason Callahan is the ex-husband of the missing girl's step-mother and volunteers to be the spokesperson for the family with the growing media presence.  As he works with Special Agent Ava McLane to help the family, he finds himself drawn to the woman.

When dead bodies are found hanging from area bridges, Mason Callahan and Ava McLane know they are after a serial killer.  While in the midst of a tense manhunt, Ava's mentally ill twin spins out of control.

Ava McLane is used to solving crimes, not being a witness to one.  As a series of mass shootings occur in the area, she teams up with her beau, Mason  Callahan, to hunt for a reason so many young men are turning to such devastating violence.

When Detective Mason Callahan is on a fishing trip with the guys, he wakes p one morning to find his friend and boss murdered outside their cabin.  As more law officers are murdered, he and his fiance, Ava, team up to discover what is going on.

Bone Secrets series

Many years ago a busload of school children vanished.  Two years later a sole survivor, Chris Jacobs, walks out of the forest.  Eighteen years later the remains of the rest of the children are found and the hunt for the kidnapper resumes.

Head on over to Carolyn's for more An Open Book.


Friday, August 2, 2019

First Photo - August 2019

I guess I'll call this my not-quite-first-photo since it was taken and posted a day late.  August snuck up on me.  I don't like that it is here already.  There is too much talk of back to school and fall like temperatures.  I want to yell "It's still summer!"  Can't we just enjoy the here and now without planning this month away?

Take time and enjoy the pretty things!

God is like the sun; you cannot look at it, but without it you cannot look at anything else.
- GK Chesterton


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

An Open Book: June 2019

As busy as June was, I still found time to read as much as I usually do.  I am thankful for that as I find reading very relaxing and calming.  If it is not, I am not reading the right books.

I think someone recommended Tortured Soul by Theresa Linden in their Open Book post a few months ago. To whomever that was - thank you!  Theresa Linden has written a thoroughly engaging novel that I had a hard time putting down.

Jeannie is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and shares with her brother and his family.  Learning to live in a new place and on her own for the first time has its challenges.  But when she starts having visits from a tortured soul, her family begins to question her sanity.  With the help of a new friend, she faces her fears and learns how she can help her spiritual visitor.

I won Next Girl to Die by Dea Poirier via a First Reads giveaway on the GoodReads website.  Detective Claire Calderwood has made a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit.  When murders similar to her sister's start happening in her hometown, she returns to the small island in Maine in hopes of solving not only the current murders but her sister Rachel's as well.   

No month would be complete without a couple of Nero Wolfe stories. I think this month gave me both my most favorite and least favorite books in the series so far.  

Black Orchids contains two stories in which the title flower plays at least somewhat of a role.  The first story has Nero making one of his few expeditions out of his Brownstone house.  A new, rare black orchid has piqued his curiosity and he must view it for himself.  While at the exposition center where the plant is on display, a murder takes place, seemingly in front of a large number of people without their knowledge.  Nero agrees to solve the case, for a price - the black orchids.

The second story is completely unrelated to the first with the exception of the black orchids making an appearance at the funeral of a party planner that has been murdered after coming to Nero for his assistance in finding who was blackmailing her.

While the stories were good, they weren't great as I have come to expect from Rex Stout's writing.  Even still, he did manage to come up with a few great quotes.

Fritz’s saucisse minuit would make Gandhi a gourmet. 

You bounce, Mr. Huddleston, from wrath to indignation, with amazing agility. 

Some Buried Caesar, on the other hand, was a fun read from start to finish.  Once again, Nero's love of orchids has enticed him to leave the sanctuary of his beloved Brownstone in New York.  On the way to an expo, the roadster Archie is driving experiences a problem and they come to a crashing halt on a country road.  While crossing a pasture to get to the nearest house, Nero and Archie encounter Caesar, a large, prize-winning bull that isn't exactly happy to see them.  While waiting for assistance at the farmhouse, someone is found dead in the pasture, looking like Caesar didn't like him either.

I like to stay at home, and when I am away I like to get back. 

“Confound it. Nothing. Return.” “Nothing at all I can do here?” “No. Come and help me admire stupidity.”

Not a word of honor. I don’t like the phrase. The word ‘honor’ has been employed too much by objectionable people and has been badly soiled. I give you my word.

Morning Glory and Always, both by Sarah Jio, are easy, entertaining reads.  Both books move seamlessly between the present and the past to give the reader a complete picture.  

In Always, Kailey is enjoying a romantic dinner with her fiance at one of Seattle's finest restaurants.  As she leaves the restaurant she encounters a homeless man whose identity shocks her.  She now has to reconcile her past life with the present, which is much harder than she thought.

In Morning Glory, Ada rents a houseboat in Seattle, fleeing a tragedy that had occurred back east.  When she opens a trunk left behind by a previous tenant, she finds a story she works to uncover. 

Head on over to Carolyn's for more An Open Book.


Monday, July 1, 2019

First Photo: July 2019

Summer has arrived!  What more is there to say?  It's been bright and shiny and hot and sticky - all things wonderfully summer.

Life has busy this summer, both in good ways and not so.  When it's good, it's great.  When it is not so, it has been stressful.  Perhaps it is time to enjoy the Adirondack chairs and watch the world go by.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

100 Things

A couple weeks ago, Tim was talking to our neighbor across the street.  Mike told him that he had come to the conclusion that his “to do” list always had one hundred things on it.  He would finish one or two tasks and one or two more would pop up.  Since we live in an area where peoples’ properties are somewhat large, anywhere from two acres to ten, that can happen rather easily.

Mike has been retired almost the entire time we’ve known him, fifteen years, and he’s the kind of old guy that likes his lawn just so.  So much so that he’ll mow all five acres twice a week, whether it needs it or not. 

We long ago came to the conclusion that time spent on a loud mower is not something that we enjoy or want to spend our time on.  Our “mower guy”, Jim, does a bang-up job.  And those four or five hours are better spent elsewhere.   Even without the mowing, our list seems to stay steady at those one hundred things.

Finish the weeding in the front yard?  The back needs it now.  The roses that were blooming so beautifully last week now need dead-heading.  And the tomatoes that I tied up last week have grown a foot and need to be tied up again.  A tree that I so lovingly planted a few years ago died and need to be dug out.

A few years ago, I felt frustrated in the summer that my chores never seemed to be done.  Once I started to look at it as always being one hundred things, it has become a joy.  Playing in the dirt, watering the too many pots that I planted, or mulching the gardens has become a gift.  There is peace and satisfaction to be found in taking care of what has been entrusted to us.

Perhaps looking at other parts of life, not just yard work and property maintenance, in that way would provide that similar peace and satisfaction.  There is always an opportunity to do more.  And even if it is never done, there is joy in doing it.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

First Photo: June 2019

This time of year, we sit on the patio and say "Yeah, God!"  Lately, it couldn't be prettier around here, and for that I am oh so grateful.  This picture doesn't do it all justice.

Sun tea brewing on the post.  Flowers blooming in pots and in the ground.  Birds serenading us in the trees.  Water running in the falls.

What else is there to say, but "Yeah, God!


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

An Open Book: April 2019

One of my "Donna-isms" is that life is too short to drink bad coffee and cheap beer.  I recently added to that litany, that it is too short to read bad books.  This month I kept to that adage and started and stopped several books.  I generally don't like dystopian stories or ones of vigilantism and revenge.  I recently discovered a couple of new-to-me authors, but some of the books in their series fall into those categories. So, there was a lot of starting and stopping of books this month.

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O'Conner is the latest edition in the Irish Village series.  Just after the start of a big poker tournament being held in the small village of Kilbane, the favored player is found hanging from the end of a rope in a locked room.  What are the odds that this was a murder and not just a simple suicide?  Gardas Siobhán and Macdara set out to find the truth.  This was a fun and easy read.

In League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout, Paul Chapin’s college classmates never quite forgave themselves for instigating the tragic prank that left their friend a twisted cripple.  They had every reason to believe that Paul himself had forgiven them—until a class reunion ends in a fatal fall, and the poems, swearing deadly retribution, begin to arrive. Nero Wolfe is enlisted to prove who is behind the threats and put a stop to them.

"As it turned out, the name of Paul Chapin, and his slick and thrifty notions about getting vengeance at wholesale without paying for it, would have come to our notice pretty soon in any event; but that Friday afternoon the combination of an early November rain and a lack of profitable business that had lasted so long it was beginning to be painful, brought us an opening scene—a prologue, not a part of the main action—of the show that was about ready to begin."

"I do read books, but I never yet got any real satisfaction out of one; I always have a feeling there’s nothing alive about it, it’s all dead and gone, what’s the use, you might as well try to enjoy yourself on a picnic in a graveyard."

"But the fact remained that what chiefly attracted Wolfe about food in his pharynx was the affair it was having with his taste buds, whereas with me the important point was that it was bound for my belly."

In Where There's a Will by Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe is hired to investigate the  recently changed will that leaves the bulk of a multimillionaire's estate to his mistress and nearly nothing to his three sisters and estranged wife.  However, most of his time is spent solving several murders.

"It says that Mamma was an amazing woman because she was the mother of four extraordinary children. I have never understood why, in cases like this, it is assumed that Papa’s contribution was negligible, but there’s no time to go into that now."

In Stalking Willow by Fay Lamb, ad exec Willow Thomas is followed by someone at her home in New York City.  She is plagued by unwanted emails, phone calls, and photographs, but when her apartment is trashed, she heads back to her hometown in North Carolina to hide out for a while.  When the danger seems to follow her south, she has to learn to get along with those she had left behind ten years prior.  This is a great story of second chances and forgiveness, though at times is a wee bit preachy. 

I have been greatly anticipating the last book in the Hudson Sisters trilogy and The Goodbye Café by Mariah Stewart did not disappoint.  Each book in the series is told from the point of view of one of the sisters.  Allie, the oldest of the three sisters, is still trying to get her life back in order after a divorce and job loss has left her on the verge of bankruptcy.  Reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, and meeting Cara, the sister she didn't know she had, changes her in ways she hadn't thought possible. 

Veiled by Kendra Elliot has forensic investigator Lacey Campbell and her fiancé, Jack Harper searching for the killer of a woman left floating in a hot tub in a wedding gown.  At first it seems like her ex-husband may have done the deed, but when he turns up dead as well, Lacey and Jack determine something more is going on.  This was a quick read and had me guessing to the very end as to who had "done it."

Head on over to Carolyn's for more An Open Book.


First Photo: May 2019

I keep my fingers crossed, hoping that Spring has finally arrived.  We have noticed the return of a number of summer birds and have spotted fox and coyote and rabbits running through the yard once again.  And, better yet, that patio furniture is back in place!  There is nothing better than sitting back with a bottle of water or an adult beverage and watching the world go by.  Life is good!

“The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy like a bird in spring.”
― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy