Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Open Book: February 2019

Some people binge watch television shows.  I binge read books.  When I find a new author that I enjoy it's like finding a pot of gold.  I want to read everything I can by that person.  Books by Rex Stout, Kendra Elliot and Carlene O'Conner are what I am gorging on lately.

Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout is the first novel in the Nero Wolfe series and was originally published in 1934.  The story revolves around the murders of an Italian immigrant and wealthy college professor.  As with all the books in this series, much of the fun in reading them is the banter between Nero and his assistant, Archie.

 “Some day, Archie, when I decide you are no longer worth tolerating, you will have to marry a woman of very modest mental capacity to get an appropriate audience for your wretched sarcasms."

The Red Box has Nero Wolfe trying to determine who is poisoning people with cyanide laced candies. 

It was after two when I went to the garage for the roadster, and there I got another irritation when I found that the washing and polishing job had been done by a guy with one eye. 

I received Merciful Fate by Kendra Elliot through a GoodReads giveaway.  Mercy Kilpatrick is an FBI agent that has recently moved back to the small Oregon town in which she grew up.  The skeletal remains of someone that had been involved in a bank heist thirty years prior are found.  Of the other people involved in the crime, three have vanished and one, caught at the scene, now resides in jail.  Mercy sets out to solve a seemingly unsolvable case.

Although this is the fifth book in the series, it read well as a stand-alone story, but at the same time made me want to read the rest of the series to learn more of the history of all the characters within it.

Merciful Death, also by Kendra Elliot, is the first book in the Mercy series.  Mercy Kilpatrick comes back to the small town in which she grew up but hasn't been to since she left fifteen years ago.  Someone is targeting the survivalists, murdering them in their homes and stealing huge numbers of weapons.  This has created federal suspicion of a possible domestic terrorism event.  Mercy is sent by the FBI to assist local authorities in stopping these murders.

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O'Conner is the first in the Irish Village Mystery series.  One morning as Siobhán O’Sullivan is about to open the family bistro she runs with her siblings, she discovers a man dead in one of the booths, a pair of pink scissors sticking from his chest.  With the local Garda suspecting her older brother of the crime, she sets out to find the real culprit.  This was a fun, sweet read.

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


Friday, March 1, 2019

First Photo: March 2019

There's a saying we use around here - wait five minutes and the weather will change.  That seems to describe February.  Up until yesterday, the falls were solid ice this week.  And that's because we had some warm weather last weekend and turned the water on.  The temperature fell quickly and froze it over in just a couple of hours.

The scenery changed in just minutes today, too.  When I came home from my outing, there was a migration of Grackles going through the area.  Some were checking out the falls and others feasted on the suet on the shepherd's hook.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lent Prayer Buddies

I skipped doing Prayer Buddies last year year.  It was probably both pure laziness and a percieved lack of interest.  But, sometimes God gives you people to remind you that some things do matter and are worth the effort.  

In just a couple of weeks we will be starting Lent.  I don't know about you, but I haven't given a whole lot of thought yet about what I want to do. Do I give something up?  Do add a prayer or reading to my day?  One thing I do like and appreciate is increased, focused prayer for someone else. 

During these forty days, you can say prayers, novenas, and rosaries, light candles, and offer up suffering for your secret Prayer Buddy and whatever intentions he or she specifies.  On Easter, or shortly thereafter, you will let your assigned person who you are and how you remembered them.

Those interested in participating, please email me at:
I will need from you is:
Your first name or first initial
Your blog address and email address (or just email address if you are not a blogger)
Your intentions
Your full name
Your address
(Address can be provided if your Prayer Buddy plans to send you a small remembrance at Easter)


Sunday, February 17, 2019


The ice festival was held this weekend on our town square.  We have gone a couple of times, but never on Friday night when it kicks off with contests and a bonfire inside an ice sculpture.  We decided to go and make an evening of it.  I made reservations at our favorite restaurant on the square.  I had left a message and someone called back to confirm.  When I asked for a table in our favorite spot, the young gal laughed and said that's just when I put you.  Perfect!

We left a few minutes early, which turned out to be a good thing.  Parking was at a premium and we were able to snag the last spot in the lot we usually use.  When we got to the restaurant we saw reservation signs on a couple of tables in the section we had requested.  But, when they went to seat us, they walked right past that towards a table in the back.

I told the hostess what we had requested and she went back to check the reservation book.  An older woman, also working the reception desk, looked at us and said something to the effect of  you'll get what table we give you.  She reminded me of the woman in the old Wendy's commercial satirizing Russian lack of choice.  We looked at each other and walked out.

We drove over to our favorite winery and, when we walked in, were greeted with a warm welcome.  The hostess asked us if we had a favorite spot, either on the main floor or upstairs, and told us to choose whatever table we wanted.  We chose the table near the fireplace and proceeded to have a relaxed and enjoyable meal.

Not that the table you sit at in a restaurant is a big deal, but what a difference in the attitude was at these two places.  At one we were expected but treated with distain.  The other was generous and cordial with our arrival.  They showed the true spirit of hospitality.

This all got me thinking about how we act toward the surprise visitor, the uninvited guest.  Do we welcome them in?  Offer them a drink or even a meal?  Do they know we are glad to see them?

It's easy when an event or visit is planned.  We clean the house, buy the right food and their favorite beverage, put music on or light a fire.  But how do we act when the doorbell rings when we weren't expecting it?  If we can do it with generosity and kindness, to me, that's true hospitality.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

An Open Book: January 2019

I like to track the books I read on GoodReads.  The site hosts a yearly reading challenge in which you determine how many books you want to read.  Last year I set two goals for myself.  The first was to ready forty books.  The second was to read a number of books that I have owned for years but had yet to read.  I far surpassed the first goal and failed miserably on the second.

Throughout the year, I discovered a number of new-to-me authors including Toby Neal, Carolyn Astfalk, Barbara Golder, and Therese Hackenkamp.  I learned that Carolyn writes a blog and hosts a monthly linkup about what you read the previous month.  I'm going to give it a try. learned about The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright on one of Carolyn's blog posts about her favorite books of 2018.  Since mystery is my favorite genre, I looked to see what she had listed.  Two of the books I have read already (and actually helped proof one of them) so I got the third one on Kindle.  What an enjoyable read!  This is really two stories in one, the first set in the present and the second a century earlier.  Both stories involve suspicious deaths and by uncovering details about the earlier one, Kaine Prescott, the main character in the present day story uncovers details of her family history.

My husband enjoys mysteries as much as I do, though he generally prefers ones written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Usually I say that I don't like "historical fiction", but when he's sitting there chuckling while reading a book, I had to find out why.  Tim introduced me to the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Trout, written over five decades starting in the mid 1930s.

Nero Wolfe is an eccentric detective whose expensive fees support his reclusive lifestyle, his epicurean tastes, and his twelve hundred orchids.  The stories are well written and full of great and humorous descriptions.

Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout
When the student of a female immigrant fencing instructor accuses her of stealing, her friend enlists Wolfe to help prove her innocence.  When that man and another end up dead, the case becomes much more complicated.  Wolfe's confidential assistant, Archie, narrates the story and is quite candid in his descriptions of others.

God knows she didn’t look anything like Nero Wolfe, but of course a girl that looked like him would be something that you would either pass up entirely or pay a dime to look at in a side show.

Bad case of pernicious inertia. He never goes anywhere anytime for anybody.

Too Many Women  by Rex Stout
Archie, Nero Wolfe's assistant, goes undercover to investigate a murder at a Wall Street firm, where he discovers a fringe benefit: hundreds of women work there. Everyone's alibi is air-tight, so Archie and Wolfe set a trap.

The atmosphere up there was of thick carpets, wood panels and plenty of space, but as for the receptionist, though she was not really miscast she was way past the deadline, having reached the age when it is more blessed to receive than to give. 

His voice matched his appearance. The voice was a thin tenor, and while he was not a pygmy they had been all out of large sizes the day he was outfitted. Also they had been low on pigments. His skin had no color at all, and the only thing that made it reasonable to suppose there was anybody at home inside it was the eyes. They too were without color, but they had a sharp dancing glint that wasn’t just on the surface but came from behind, deep.

I admit I lied to him. I told him that you’re just a front here and the real brains of this business is a skinny old woman with asthma that we keep locked in the basement.

I received Murder in an Irish Churchyard by Carlene O'Connor as part of GoodReads' Giveaway program in order to review it.   Siobhan O'Sullivan recently graduated from school to become a Garda in her small town of Kilbane.  The night before she is to start her new position, the local parish priest comes pounding on her door.  Someone has been shot in the church's graveyard. Macdara Flannery, a former beau, comes from Dublin to lead the search for the killer.  This was an entertaining and engaging story and had me guessing the whole time as to "who done it."

Ambush and Target: Alex Cross by James Patterson are the latest in the Michael Bennet and Alex Cross series, respectively.  Both are easy reads, though Ambush is rather dark with murders seeming to happen in frequent succession.

The following two books were on my last year's list that I never got to.  Sometimes I find non-fiction either intimidating, too dry, or not all that accessible.  I decided to plot out a reading plan for each of these books and read them over the course of the year.  And, as you may have guessed, I'm already behind.

Good Eats: The Middle Years by Alton Brown is a collection of recaps of his Food TV shows.  His show always intrigued me as he spoke more about the method and science of cooking than the actual recipes.  I haven't yet started this, but plan on covering about one chapter a month and trying some of the included recipes.

I bought Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith by (Bishop) Robert E. Barron shortly after it was released, but never read it.  Like the book above, I am trying to read one chapter a month.  I am, like the book above, again behind.  More to come next month.

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


Friday, February 1, 2019

First Photo: February 2019

What a difference a couple weeks make!  Not long after I took the January photo we got pounded with a blizzard of epic proportions.  Okay, maybe not epic, but it certainly was a lot of snow - 15+ inches in just over 24 hours.

They warned us, the weather people did, but I didn't believe them.  Why should I?  They kept changing their forecasts. One day they said 8-10 inches, the next 5-8, then back to 8-12.  They were right, finally, but still off.  When I measured it was almost 14 inches and we got several more inches after that.  Since we didn't have to do anywhere, it was kind of fun to watch.  But, please, I don't want that again!

The snow was followed by wickedly cold weather - a couple of days of below zero highs.  Ah!  Winter in Ohio!

The board on the patio is there for the birds.  Tim shoveled out some snow there after the blizzard and put seed and suet there.  They usually make short work of what he spreads out there
 and often wait patiently in the trees for more.

I didn't realize while I was taking the photo above that I had a visitor.  We hang suet on a shepherd's hook off to the right of the waterfalls.  A Downy Woodpecker wasn't at all bothered by my presence.

14" and not done snowing yet


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Funny Foto #23: Paybacks

Matt promised paybacks for the "gifts" he received over Christmas.  He delivered, and then some.  I don't know what started this war of pranks, but I'm working hard to stay out of the line of fire.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Once Around

I did something last month I don't think I've done in more than twenty years.  I went ice skating, if you want to call it that.  

Across the street from where I work is a plaza that in the summer hosts festivals and concerts.  Shortly after the Oktoberfest, an ice skating rink is set up for the holidays.  For the last six years, I have looked at that rink and thought that I should give it a whirl, figuratively speaking.

I used to go ice skating fairly often, though I was never very good at it.  I could skate forward proficiently and even learned to skate backwards and switch from forwards to backwards without falling down.  No Peggy Fleming was I, but I enjoyed it.

So, one day after work, when the office had emptied out early for the weekend, I grabbed my four dollars for skate rental and wandered across the street.  Rental ice skates aren't what I remember them to be.  These were unisex, molded plastic, heavy, terribly fitting things.  The first pair was way too big, so I swapped them for the next size down.  Those were big, too, but I was to embarrassed to ask for yet another pair.  I tied them on and wobbled over to the ice.

It wasn't nearly as easy to do as I remembered it.  I clung to the wall along the side to keep from falling and slowly, ever so slowly, made my way around the rink.  Once.  I managed not to fall, but could barely glide either.  Thankfully, I was the only one there.  No witnesses to this.  

I blame it on the skates.  Not the twenty plus years between skating sessions, or being a bit older, or out of shape, or, or, or . . .

But I haven't had such silly fun and laughed at the absurdity of it all in a long while.  Once around was definitely worth it!

“Do not enjoy yourself. Enjoy dances and theaters and joy-rides and champagne and oysters; enjoy jazz and cocktails and night-clubs if you can enjoy nothing better; enjoy bigamy and burglary and any crime in the calendar, in preference to the other alternative; but never learn to enjoy yourself.” 
– “If I Only Had One Sermon to Preach,” In Defense of Sanity by GK Chesterton


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Funny Foto #22: Welcome Back?

I was just in the office one day last week and did a double take when I walked past a co-worker's office.  I'm not sure what Matt did to deserve this "gift" while he was on vacation, but I may want to find out so I can avoid the same.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

First Photo: January 2019

Happy New Year!

At the start of this new year, I find myself reverting, going back to things I have done previously.  I dug out my old day-timer and have decided to keep my calendar on paper rather than electronically.  I have years worth of paper calendars that I can look back at and see what was happening at any given time.  The years that I kept electronically, not so much.

I am going to try to resurrect my "First Photo" in which I take the same picture from the same spot on the first of every month.  I might just be odd, but I like to see how one thing changes, but it doesn't.

A couple of years after  we moved into our house, we replaced the ugly wall and water fountain that the previous owners had built.  Tim had a vision of what he wanted - a waterfall surrounded by plants.  It came out better than we could have hoped and we have enjoy it throughout all the seasons.

We are lucky today that the falls are running and there's no snow or ice.  I think the birds are enjoying it, too.  Some Woodpeckers and Chickadees have been visiting the suet on the pole at the far right of the falls.  It is always a treat to see the birds this time of year!

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”
- GK Chesterton