Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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A Little Encouragement Goes a LONG Way

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I might be one of the worst encouragers. Seriously. I think all these wonderful thoughts and admirations, but often forget to pass along many (or any) of the encouraging statements floating through my brain.

Case in point. Last week I texted my honey while he was at work. Almost daily he sends me lovey dovey, encouraging texts. I tell him I love him, but I don’t usually reply with much lovey dovey stuff. I feel it, think it, know it. But forget to tell him. This time I texted him first and told him how much I love him and what a blessing he is to me and how much I love our life together. He was so touched! I felt horrible for not doing it more often. I mean REALLY, not just thinking good things, but sharing. It’s not that hard. You can guess what one of my simmering on the back burner goals is now, can’t you?

Here’s yet another example of encouragement that goes a long way. While enjoying my writing residency at Holly House (Hypatia-in-the-Woods) I opened the writing desk drawer to find many different encouraging notes from previous residents. What a wonderful surprise! I loved reading each note and added a few of my own. Permission to take a nap! Yay!

The short of it: saying or writing an encouragement to someone doesn’t take that long. As long as it’s heartfelt, encouragement is the gift that keeps on giving.

Who can you encourage today?

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RV Living: Day (approximately) 1,125

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Speaking of “Adventures with a Book Lover” (part of the title of this blog), we moved into our RV on August 20, 2016. That was approximately 1,125 days ago. Do I sense a celebration coming on?

Let me tell you. We are still married. We still love each other. We are better at dancing around each other in tight spaces. We wear the same clothes over and over again. We ignore the wardrobes in the shop for the ease of grabbing the same somethings from the tiny cupboards. We cook, shop, store, and recreate differently than when we lived in a stick house. We entertain in unique (and sometimes HOT or COLD settings, due to outside venues) ways. We rotate seats when groups > than the number of available seats visit. And I still haven’t gone through EVERY cupboard and drawer to remove things we have never used. That goal was from summer #1 in the RV.

Due to several circumstances, we are no closer to building a small house than when we settled in this tiny RV space. That’s an entirely different and very long post.

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Was it worth it? You bet. How you ask? I love lists. Here is the short version:

1. Finances. The RV is paid off. DEBT-FREE living.

2. Coziness. We have this in droves. Come on over if you need a cupful.

3. Less stuff to worry about. Though I do have to shop more often, I need to purchase less because of storage. That was an interesting revelation.

4. Moveable. We don’t have to stay in one spot. We do, for the most part. But that will change in a few years. Travel options are unlimited.

5. Tiny living. This is it baby. We have about 228 (or some ridiculously low number like that) square feet, about 60 of them dedicated to the cat. LOL. We have learned that we really do not want a tiny house. We want a small house. About 800-900 square feet. With some breathing room. And a bigger shower. But for an RV, our bathroom is deluxe.

6. Cute RV. Really! Our RV is pretty cute. I’ve learned how much I can decorate without the cat knocking things over or the circuits getting blown.

7. Weather. We know what the weather is. Hot is hot. Cold is cold. The RV, four season though it is, is still a tin box. With excellent insulation, but still. We are so thankful for our super furnace and AC. The addition of the skirting really makes us successful during our northwest winters. We always know what the weather is. It’s a habit of RV life. Check the weather. Feel the weather.

8. Rain. On the roof. I love listening to it fall! The same goes for snow and wind. Weather is an interactive experience.

9. Creativity. Let’s say our creativity is enhanced due to multiple opportunities to solve tiny house living issues. We are building our brain cells!

10. Adventure. We are living the dream. RV living is definitely an adventure. One day (we tell ourselves) we will look back fondly on the funny and not so funny episodes of RV life and miss the adventures.

But until then . . .

It’s time for a celebration! Happy 1,125th day of RV life, Quantrells. Enjoy the ride!

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Throwback Thursday: Kids & Nature in the Arizona Desert

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I was probably in first or second grade in this picture. And I can tell you, we had no nature deficit disorder in my family. We were always outside. Either the kids were out, by choice or by mom’s choice, or the entire family was off and exploring.

It seemed like our family spent most weekends in the station wagon or camper, heading off to explore and find what we could find. Though I know we also went to church on a regular basis, so maybe we spent Saturdays traveling and skipped a random Sunday now and then to camp. Life as a kid was always an adventure.

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken at Turkey Creek in Arizona. Turkey Creek was a great spot. I can remember camping there at least 3 different times. Judging by the grin on my face, I loved getting outside. And in Arizona, being outside around water was a treat. Being a desert and all. We four of kids (maybe not James, who was a baby) had a ball splashing in the creek. We did the usual-get muddy, catch critters, drench ourselves, throw rocks, find favorite rocks, go fishing with plain sticks. I remember one trip in particular when I found a snapping turtle. I was, of course, sticking my finger towards its mouth, seeing if it would snap. It did. Pinched my finger hard enough that I wet my pants! I remember crying. Hello. If you poke a wild animal in its mouth, it will bite.

Besides random attacks from snapping turtles, I remember all of us being together. That was important. The mom and dad, the 4 kids, the dog, the cat, the bird. We all crowded into the camper and dad drove us along bumpy dirt roads to get to our camp or picnic destinations. That was back in the good old days when kids rode in the camper while the vehicle was in motion. We played cards, colored pictures, ate snacks, climbed up and down from the over-the-cab bed, and I’m sure, fought like crazy. But somehow, we all made it to adulthood.

Looking back at this picture of myself standing on rocks and my sister collecting nature items, I can remember the beauty of the water, the rocks, the plants, the dirt. I can feel the sun on my back. Just look at those boulders behind me. I mean, they are gorgeous. Plenty of lichen and hiding spots for poisonous desert dwellers. But we didn’t worry too much about those. Stay away from the obvious dangers like tarantulas and rattlesnakes. Leave them alone, they’ll (most likely) leave you alone. Dappled light gives great luster to this photo. I love how the sunlight highlights my braids. And I see I am, even at that young age, wearing one of my lifelong favorite colors. Orange. And stripes. I’m still into stripes. Funny.

I’m so glad my parents instilled in us a love of the outdoors and exploring our surroundings. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are interesting and beautiful nature hot spots just waiting to be discovered. You can go as far as your backyard (welcome, gallon jars of tadpoles) or escape to a different state or country.

Hello, Arizona desert. I miss you.

How about you? Where did you go exploring when you were a child?


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Book Report: The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

The Bridge Home

Written by Padma Venkatraman

Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2019

 

I read about The Bridge Home at KidLit411.  After commenting, I won a classroom Skype visit with Padma Venkatraman. I rushed to the library to borrow this book so I could read it before arranging the Skype visit.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bridge Home. Tough topics are explored in this story, and those bits were difficult to read. Homelessness, abuse, extreme poverty, gangs, starvation, death. But there were also the important topics of family, friendship, dreams, and hope. This book is perfect for opening discussions about difficult situations faced by children, be it here or in international locations.

What I loved about The Bridge Home:

~ The characters! Each child had such personality, unique and interesting. I love the way the four main characters relied on each other and became a family unit. Four children, living on their own, a family. Think about that for a few moments.

~ Inclusion. Viji’s sister, Rukku, is differently-abled. I love how this younger sister is loved and accepted as she is by the other two members of the new family, Muthi and Arul.

~ Determination. These four friends are determined to make it work, whether living on the bridge over the river beneath tarps or heading to a new location after a scary incident (don’t want to ruin the details here).

~ The descriptions. Just imagine scrounging through huge garbage mountains. GARBAGE. Ick.

~ The writing. Clean, well stated, and easy to follow. This story is a winner.

Thank you, Padma, for showing us new windows on the world.

You can read Padma’s KidLit411 interview here.

Amazon Blurb:

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.


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Throwback Thursday: Things I Adopted Back Then That Are Still With Me

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Can you date this photo? Judging by the sandals, tank top, shorts, hair style, watch . . .

Well, I know the exact week. This picture of me (waayyy back before selfies-my honey had to take this, with an actual film camera) was taken on our honeymoon in June of 1985. So if you guessed mid-80s, you were spot on.

Looking back, I recognize signs that make me, well, me. Things I always do, have with me, or wear.

Tote bags. I LOVE tote bags. Just ask anyone who has traveled with me. One of my favorite souvenirs is a tote bag commemorating the location or adventure.

Minnie Mouse. Disney. I LOVE taking trips to Disneyland. We spent our honeymoon in Southern California, hitting Disneyland, the wax museum, and Knott’s Berry Farm. But Disney is my favorite.

Sandals. These pour things! I can’t believe I traipsed all over Los Angeles with them. Of course, now I am so much better at wearing appropriate shoes. 😉 TEVA sandals are all I wear. Much sturdier than these babies, and oh, what a fashion statement. It only takes one week in March to get back my TEVA tan. On my feet I mean.

Notepad and pen. I cannot comfortably leave home, travel, visit, meet, plan, or do anything without paper and pen. I can see I was already in the habit on our honeymoon.

The watch. Back then, no cell phones. People actually wore watches that ONLY told time. Like this one. Now, of course, cell phones do everything but put food in the oven. I’m sure they can turn the oven on though, for some tech-advanced families.

The brace. That’s a freebie. I tore my knee ligaments at college while playing in a racquetball tournament. This is the LITTLE brace! I was so happy to graduate from the full-leg version just before our wedding. Still, I walked with a limp, as evidenced by the wedding video. After our honeymoon, I returned home to multiple sessions of physical therapy to regain my graceful gait. ;0

Hair. Oh my. I actually had hair! And it was fluffy. Now with thinning and lots of products, most days my hair is under control. Or in a bun. A nana bun.

Shorts. Short shorts. Mine were not too bad, but the people in the background had much shorter shorts. You can’t see the waist band of mine, but it was one of those huge wide belts that were in fashion. Eww. Now I’m all about comfort. And skorts. I adore skorts. Skorts are me.

Generally speaking, this is me. I still sit with my foot out of my shoe like I did in this picture, I feel happiest when I have pen and paper, and my hair curls (or frizzes) wildly.

How about you? Do you have a picture of a younger you that showcases what you are today?


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Book Report: Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

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Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

Written by Cathy Baker

http://www.cathybaker.org, 2017

 

I was recently gifted Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by the amazing Cathy Baker. Ok, by recently I mean…a bit ago. But I digress.

I started reading this adorable little devotional guide, again, a bit ago. Then I realized it would be the perfect special devotional guide to take with me on my week-long writing residency at Holly House (Hypatia-in-the-Woods). So I tucked it in my growing stack of things to take with me on my residency.

It turns out I was correct. This little gem was just the right length and focus for my week near several beaches in the Shelton, Washington, area. I loved reading the entry for each morning and reflecting on God’s beauty, vacation (though I was on a residency), relaxing, and resting. I especially enjoyed Cathy’s inclusion of travel days and coming back to reality after vacation.

Cathy has a sweet spirit, which is very obvious when you read her book or her newsletters. I first discovered Cathy when I bumped into one of her posts. Her site has a picture of the cutest Tiny House on the Hill. My honey and I want to build a tiny house, so I latched right on to her site. Cathy and her husband are working on her writing studio/retreat tiny house. I’ve loved watching each step they take as they add to the tiny house. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.

If you are heading out for a week away, or are still looking forward to vacation, consider reading Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by Cathy Baker. Check out her web site at CathyBaker.org.

Thank you, Cathy, for the gift of a book that added just the right touch to my writing residency. Be blessed!

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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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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.