Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Haiku Moment: green boas

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green feathers, boas,

cushion path, moor silver threads

hide eight-eyed hunters

 

green boas by Angie Quantrell

 

I’m going to to miss these lovelies, but not the walking into and through spider webs. But it was worth every minute spent trying to remove clinging strands to see such verdant green life.

@Hypatia-in-the-Woods

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Haiku Moment: self-portrait

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favorite weapon

shadow self, shooting pictures

me? it’s what I do

 

self-portrait by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo taken at Potlatch State Park, Hood Canal, Washington State.

Thanks to Hypatia-in-the-Woods for the opportunity to be me.


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Fun Things to Do in Victoria BC

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Downtown Victoria BC view from our Hotel Grand Pacific balcony

Millions of thanks to my cousin, Melissa, for taking me to Canada with her! We had such a wonderful cousin time, exploring, giggling, eating, and shopping. So much fun and tons of memories (and calories). Don’t forget your passport!

Here are some of the fun things we did.

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Picturesque views while riding on the Clipper

1. Ride the Victoria Clipper. Besides getting us to Victoria in 2 hours 45 minutes, it was a fun way to travel. Parking at the Bell Street parking garage was only $10 a day with a pass from the Clipper. And only a block from the dock. Do check in online as soon as possible. We were in boarding group 1, and it only made life easier.

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Melissa and I headed north on the Victoria Clipper

2. Splurge for a nice hotel. Melissa chose the Hotel Grand Pacific, literally one block from the Clipper dock. It was so easy to wheel our luggage across the street and down the block. Check in was a breeze. Do check. They had our room ready early, though I can’t promise that all the time. The room was fabulous and we had a combined view of the city and the harbor. Comes complete with pool, hot tub, restaurants, high tea, and very friendly and knowledgeable concierges. You can’t lose with this hotel.

3. Schedule High Tea. Do it! Sure, it’s another splurge, but where (in my neighborhood) can I get fancy high tea? Uh…nowhwere. We researched a bit and settled on High Tea at our hotel, Hotel Grand Pacific. So much food, plenty of tea, oodles of sugar, ample time, short walk, wonderful company. Instructions included wearing proper shoes (no flip flops or beach wear items), so we planned ahead and brought summer dresses and dressy sandals. We both ate most of our tea foods, and swapped items we didn’t finish. Or left them on the tier. Not saying who. But I do enjoy a good smoked salmon. And tuna. Our server was kind enough to pack what was left in a container for later snacks.

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Loved this fountain!

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Two adorable 50-somethings enjoying Butchart Gardens

4. Ride city bus #75 to Butchart Gardens. Originally, we planned and booked a day-long tour which featured many popular destinations. Due to low registrations (I think we were on the only two), it was cancelled. We hemmed and hawed and eventually overhead someone saying, “Take the bus.” Excellent suggestion. $5 Canadian for an all day bus pass. Worth the entire fiver. Saved tons of money by going to Butchart on our own. And saw some great sites along the way. Skipped the parking lot fiasco. Butchart Gardens. Two words. DO IT. Gorgeous. We had lunch at The Blue Poppy Restaurant.

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Water lilies in front of Hotel Grand Pacific

5. Wander. From the bus windows, we saw the drug store we needed, plus many other fun places to explore. Touristy shopping is right on Government street, filled with all such souvenir treats one could want. It was pretty easy pickings to find surprises to take home with us.

6. Murchie’s. Visit both sides of this landmark. Coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks. We hit Murchie’s for breakfast one morning and I was enchanted to have my hot tea come in a pot! If you do this, check for tea strength. I think there were 4 (FOUR!) teabags in my pot. A bit strong, so I pulled some out. The bran muffin was excellent. We then walked right next door to the shopping portion of Murchie’s where we sniffed teas, handled tea items, and purchased loose leaf tea and gifts. Bagged and loose leaf teas are available, as well as tins, tea cups and pots, tea paraphernalia, and assorted whatnots. Knowledgeable tea staff are on hand to help with purchases and tea choices. Sadly, they no longer sell spices.

7. Eat at 10 Acres. They have 3 restaurants with farm to table foods. They grow most of the items they use to prepare meals. We first visited 10 Acres Commons Bistro. I loved my fresh salad and French onion soup. The drink I had included a (ONE) fennel seed, which had accidentally transferred over during the herb harvest process. It was so tasty. We would definitely visit this bistro again. A different evening, we timed our visit to 10 Acres Commons for happy hour when some foods would be on special. Delighted to have an outside table with a lovely view. My bunless burger and salad were exceptionally delish and Melissa’s fish and chips looked super tasty. Just a warning. And I thought it funny. My usual take when I ask for no bun, lettuce wrap instead, is that I am saving you money and buns. Their take is sure, we’ll leave off the bun, but charge you extra for the lettuce wrap. LOL. My happy hour price was eaten up by my lettuce wrap and bacon. Oh well, it was so yummy, I didn’t care.

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Garden of Roger the Marmot…we did not see him.

8. Stop and smell the roses. Or lavender, geraniums, dahlias…Victoria is a beautiful city. We traveled north in August, and flowers were on abundant display. Bees and bumbles adorned nearly every flower bed we saw.

If you wander near The Empress, facing the Empress from the harbor, follow the path along the left of the far left entrance. You will find the home of Roger the marmot and his accompanying bee hives. Though native to the area before land development, marmots do not usually live within city borders. Somehow, be it RV, big truck, or baggage, Roger found his was to this tiny hidden corner of rock walls, trees, and flowers. Four attempts have been made to capture him, but he is wily and wants to stay where he wants to stay. We didn’t see him in person, but what a fun character! The Empress has turned his garden into a wildlife bee and marmot sanctuary. Go see it.

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No photos of Rogers’, but plenty of treats from High Tea!

9. Rogers’ Chocolates. If you love chocolates, you will want to enjoy some treats. We only stopped once for an after dinner truffle. Mine was pretty tasty. But they don’t give correct change (true elsewhere). I asked why I didn’t get any pennies back for my change. I was kind of grumpy about it. I love my pennies. But she said they didn’t have any. Then as I wandered on, I vaguely recalled Canada doing away with pennies. Yep. That was true. No more Canadian pennies. The Rexall cashier explained in detail. I don’t know who benefits most. The government does surely, as it costed about $1.40-1.50 to make $1 worth of pennies. Do shop keepers? Customers? No idea. But don’t expect exact change OR pennies.

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Harbor view from Fisherman’s Wharf

10. Walk the harbor sidewalk. Sit and rest, watch the people, watch the boats and air traffic. Even sitting still, there is so much to see. Victoria is beautiful and popular.

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Pot of tea at Hotel Grand Pacific breakfast. My kind of WAKE up time.

We need to plan another trip. There was so much we did not see. Castles, distilleries, China town, pickle boat rides, museums, Parliament buildings . . . So many more restaurants and malls and exciting things to see.

Have you been to Victoria? What was your favorite thing to see, do, or eat?

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Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a hot day when we walked here, only food and one shop! But beautiful. Most of these are personal homes.


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Haiku Moment: stilted legs

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land meets sea, blue green

burgeoning life; stilted legs

walks both, scurries on

 

stilted legs by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo taken at Potlatch State Park, near Shelton and Potlatch, Washington

Opportunity provided by Hypatia-in-the-Woods, Holly House

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Bird Sighting: 2 Pileated Woodpeckers & Haiku Moment

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red crest, heavy head

hop, skittle, scrape, taste, chitter;

wary woodpeckers

 

pileated woodpeckers by Angie Quantrell

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I feel like I struck gold! Or black and red, the colors on my 2 feathered guests.

I almost didn’t see them, as they were very quiet. I went out the Holly House front door to my car and spotted huge black birds, one on a dead stump, clawing to grasp and dig in, the other on the ground scooping bits of snack with a sideways tilt of the head.

As soon as red-crested heads popped into view, I knew exactly what they were. And they were huge! Due to my constant perusal of A Guide to Field Identification, BIRDS of North America book, in particular the page on woodpeckers and flickers, I recognized them. But only when I saw them in person did I realize the immense size compared to the flickers and scrub jays I usually identify. The guide says their length is 15-inches. Fascinating.

According to the guide book, pileated woodpeckers are “uncommon and local; a wary bird of extensive deciduous or mixed forests” (p. 180). I feel like I won the lottery. Here there were two uncommon and wary woodpeckers gently hopping along the driveway, chittering quietly to each other, sort of like chickens chat as they go about their day.

I watched them until they hopped beyond the bend of the driveway. They didn’t take off while I observed, and didn’t seem too bothered by me. They seemed a bit gangly in movement, young, perhaps teens? Not sure if they were mated or siblings, but I was thrilled to listen and watch.

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I love that Holly House has a copy of my favorite bird book. Their book is in much better shape. The pages are stuck in the proper place. What a special opportunity! Smack dab in the middle of a mixed forest, plenty of deciduous and coniferous trees and stumps for all to enjoy. Says the resident who learned the black bear is back and loves to scrub at trunks for bugs and wander behind my cabin on his dusk forays. Yikes! I would like to see him (or her) but only from my car or cottage window.

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Haiku Moment: age

 

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in fall life season

we rust, flake, slow, grip tightly

our love hangs on, lasts

 

My honey, we face the fall like these rusted chains. Aging, losing a few pieces, showing our age-but we are strong. Hands held tight, the iron love clasp of eros, pragma, and agape flows between our entangled fingers and hearts. Hold tight. I’m here beside you.


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Haiku Moment: fuzzy chap

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hello fuzzy chap,

head-heavy, deliberate

feasting on beauty

 

fuzzy chap by Angie Quantrell

 

Be still my heart. Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC are gorgeous! Though there were nearly as many human visitors as bumbles and honey bees, the gardens were enchanting. I was captivated by the colors and busy bobblings of these miracle workers following the career of pollination. The true imagination and wonder of God’s creativity put on an amazing display. Such a vast array of design, purpose, enticement, fragrance, color, and beauty. Make the trip!

Tip: $5 Canadian will give you an all-day pass for the city bus. Take #75 to Butchart Gardens and avoid long lines waiting for parking spots. An added bonus is seeing beyond the touristy (though peachy) downtown area.

 


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Haiku Moment: immerse

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dance, whisper, reach

effervescent life, calling-

immerse in nature

 

immerse by Angie Quantrell

 

This Haiku Moment is brought to you compliments of Holly House and Hypatia-in-the-Woods. My kitchen table view is glorious – windows that make me feel as if I’m living in a tree house. Such wonderful windows of light, movement, trees, glimpses of water and sunlight. This is what it is like to live as a wild thing in between the canopy, understory, and floor of dense forests. Like a bird, or squirrel, perhaps a bear, life is found in movement, fragrance, sound, texture, even taste if but a few berries are ripe – a rich sensory environment inviting you in.

Come, be welcome.


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Book Report: The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

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The Virtue of Sin

Written by Shannon Schuren

Philomel Books

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2019

 

Much thanks to Shannon Schuren, Literary Rambles,  and Natalie Aguirre for sending me this beautiful copy of The Virtue of Sin.

I don’t know what I expected when I read The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren, but this was not it. I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued to find out this debut YA is a tale of young love but also how that love goes awry in the midst of a secluded group.

Daniel, the group leader and mouth of God, has established New Jerusalem to provide members a safe and untouched by the outside world haven. Strict rules have been set in place regarding social interactions, life careers, even Matrimony.

Miriam is very excited for the Matrimony, as she is certain Caleb will name her as his wife. But when that does not happen and Miriam’s name is called by Aaron, a newcomer, Miriam’s life plan falls apart. And she begins to question and allow her voice to be heard.

There are sooo many unexpected twists in The Virtue of Sin. I really want to name a few, but I’m going to let you discover them on your own. Two thumbs up.

What I loved about this book:

~ The characters were rich! Mystery, emotions, hidden agendas, evil motivations, forbidden love.

~ I enjoyed Shannon’s portrayal of the group, leadership control, and member dynamics. Ok, not enjoyed, as I so wanted to speak out to Miriam and other characters. But I was totally engaged in the problems of the day.

~ The setting. Great descriptions that made me feel like I was right there in the book.

~ The plot line was fascinating. Like I mentioned above, so many unexpected twists. As I was reading, my side brain was constantly exploring the whats and whys and possible nexts. Loved it!

~ Great writing!

 

Amazon Blurb:

A compelling novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free — perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Tara Westover’s Educated.

Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.

But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.

Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.

A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.

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Book Report: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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Spin the Dawn

The Blood of Stars, Book 1

Written by Elizabeth Lim

Alfred A. Knopf, 2019

 

Spin the Dawn was a fantastic read! A special thanks to KidLit411, Sylvia, Elaine, and Elizabeth Lim for this beautiful copy of Spin the Dawn! You can read the interview about Elizabeth Lim and her new book here.

Let me put a plug in for KidLit411. The blog posts, interviews, advice articles, and collection of writerly information is spot on with what writers for children need to know. Through their posts, I am able to keep up with what’s happening in the KidLit world. New releases, author and illustrator interviews, and opportunities to interact, discuss, and encourage other kitlit writers are all a part of KidLit411. And I’ll let you in on a little tidbit: Many authors offer the chance to win a copy of their work. You can find KidLit411 on Facebook or Twitter.

What I Loved About Spin the Dawn:

~ I really enjoyed the characters, especially the main character, Maia. I loved her determination to help her family despite cultural expectations and rules.

~ I enjoyed the Mulan meets Project Runway story. Girls (and women) can do and be anything they want. Maia’s story will inspire young girls to stick to what they want to do.

~ The adventures! I love adventure stories, and this tale took some very surprising turns.

~ The relationships were well developed and interesting to follow.

~ I loved the mystery, danger, and intrigue. Throw in some fantasy, and an engaging tale is ready and begging to be read.

 

Amazon Blurb:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.