Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Food Time Machine – One Bite Whisked Me Back to a Favorite Place & Time

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Do you ever taste something and it takes you right back to a specific time and place?

That just happened to me. Tummy rumblings broke my concentration from a writing task, so I grabbed a slice of Swiss cheese from the fridge. At the first bite, I was instantly transported to France. Such delicious memories!

My husband and I were on a short-term missions trip in Paris. Near our motel was a wonderfully fascinating store, Auchan. Auchan had pretty much anything one could want or need at reasonable prices. The chocolate aisle and cheese cases kept us returning nearly every day for meal items. Yes. Chocolate and cheese do make a meal.

Today’s bite of Swiss cheese took me right to the cheese counter. The gentleman who worked the cheese aisle was so very kind and cut us off a chunk of Swiss from the large wheel. With our garbled French and hand gestures, he whacked off the hard rind and sliced the rest for us – perfect. He even gave us a bit to taste, just to make sure it was what we wanted. We wanted.

Fresh baguette, sliced Swiss, some fruit and veg, all the makings of a perfect meal. Thank you, Mr. Auchan cheese guy. You made our day.

How about you? What have you eaten that transported you back to particular event or location? I’d love to hear about it. Just so I know I’m not the only one who is consumed with love for food.

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Let’s not forget the crepes! Be still my hungry mouth…

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One Year in RV: Survival!

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August 20 was our one year anniversary of moving into the RV. And guess what? We made it!

I haven’t taken him (my honey) out, though I’ve sent him out when I need to clean (or write, cook, organize, read . . .).

He still loves me even if the heat factor in an RV – during summer – is higher than my happy tolerance level.

He survived record-breaking snowfall and freezing winter temps regardless of how close I came to helping him build his own snow igloo far far from the RV.

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I managed not to throw out the superfluous (not for him) heating items – throw, bed blanket, heat lamps, floor heater – and we were both able to speak in civil tones. Most of the time.

Long-time RV living is not for the faint of heart, but definitely for the adventurous!

Let’s pretend you just arrived for a fancy cooked-mostly-by-BBQ meal. We’ll fill you in on some observations and interesting events that came about from our inaugural RV year.

– It is possible! One can live without piles of stuff – and survive!

– Storage? Premium. If we don’t use it, it has to go. To storage, to someone, to the thrift store…

– Less is more. Truly. The less we have inside the RV, the more space we have to move about.

– Cooking is a bit tricky. Too hot in the summer for the stove. Very humid in the winter.

– Humidity is an issue. One chore I never dreamed of having? Wiping down windows on a daily basis.

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– Electrical circuits can and will be blown. Until you figure out which items can be used at the same time.

– The electric skillet will most likely blow the fuse if anything else is plugged in and going. Anything.

– Do not use the skillet and the AC at the same time.

– Splurge on the skirting. We only experienced one tiny freeze in a waterline. That’s saying something when we were below zero several times and hovered in the frozen zone for months.

– Cats. Litter. Fur. Toys. Cat tree. A bit crowded. Now that they are free to roam, we are all much happier. The catio is disassembled.

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– Mice. Peek before letting cats back inside. Trust me on this.

– Company. Things will be different when guests arrive. Say, for instance, seating. Or standing. Finding room to maneuver. But that’s what makes entertaining exciting.

– Breezes in the bedroom. This is awesome. Open both windows and the wind just blows across our bed. As does dust, smoke from fires, and stinky skunk fragrance, but still!

– My office. A drawer. Half the dinette bench plus the table. That’s it. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I yearn for a bigger creative area.

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– All of outdoors. Right here.

– We have everything we need. Running water, electricity, internet, laundry facilities, bathroom, bed, fridge, grands in and out.

– Our home moves. We can hitch it up anytime we want and hit the road.

I’d say our inaugural year was pretty successful. So you’ve seen me wear the same clothes over and over again. I am dressed, right?

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Happy RV anniversary to us! Come on by, we’ll cozy up and share a seat. Maybe even throw in a meal or tour of the facilities. Feeling up to the challenge? Either the visit or the RV living? Love to hear about it.

 

 


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We Survived the Eclipse: Story Through Photos and Haiku

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A painting of the eclipse (red because it’s darker) – Art by Khloe

 

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Our tiny view of the eclipse through a pin-hole camera

 

Boxes, foil and tape,

wondering children marvel

as sky lights shake hands.

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Pin-hole cameras

 

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Hayden and Khloe peeking at the solar eclipse

 

The daytime and night

heavenly bodies dance past,

a peek-a-boo tryst.

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Gage trying to see the eclipse…he’s only 2, so was not impressed

 

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Stacking rocks was more enticing than solar and lunar escapades

 

The waiting is long

Look, play, work, gaze, pinhole view;

Light sliver eclipse.

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The PacMan stage (coined by Hayden) of the solar eclipse

 

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Taking a solar break – by hauling bricks

 

But how? Why? We gasp.

Fleeting, amazing, we stop.

Cooler, darker day.

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Mabel was definitely more exciting to Gage than the sun and moon

 

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Putting down bricks, mid-eclipse

 

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Solar Eclipse, by Khloe


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Caturday funnies — cat shaming edition

Or a live and squirming rat...

Who me? I would NEVER bring in a headless rat…

Source: Caturday funnies — cat shaming edition

Oh, this is too funny! I can’t decide if my two girls should be shamed more for the headless rat in our bedroom or the live and romping rat in the guest room (in the middle of my birthday party)!

How about you? What naughty things has your kitty been up to?


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Library Culture

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I spend time at the library. MUCH time.

Because I love books. The smell, the feel, the sight, and the anticipation of opening the pages and jumping into an adventure pull me in. Every. Single. Time.

So I live, I mean visit my library. Actually, I patronize nearly all of my libraries, the ones in the Yakima Valley. Plus I have connections with other libraries not in my area, which is perfect when I need resources or just want to snoop and see what is out there.

Really you can’t lose when you visit the library. Free books! Free help, internet, bathrooms, AC (or heating), gathering place, information, friends…The library is community.

In my much library time, I’ve noticed several different groups frequenting the hallowed halls of bookdom.

Story Time. If I pull up and the lot is full, I know it’s story time. Stories, songs, games, crafts, and fun times for the kiddos be going on. During the summer, libraries gain a larger audience in the form of kids and adults on break. Reading incentive programs keep readers involved and active with the printed word.

Computer Users. In the olden days, there were no computers. Period. But patrons can now log on to banks of computers to research, read, and check email. Library users can even log in with personal computers and use the internet free of charge (at least at our libraries). Electronic resources are available for check out and the card catalog can be searched from the comfort of home. While the term card catalog is out of date, library resources are still present and much easier to access. One of my favorite library features is the ability to reserve books from home and pick them up when they arrive at the nearest library.

Homeschoolers. The homeschool population is growing. I see homeschool families return to the library on a regular basis. Wonderful resources and reading materials are ready for the picking, so why not?

Book Clubs. What better place is there to have a book club than the library? Our library sometimes hosts a community read with a local author. Most times, the author does a guest visit where readers can meet and greet. Special programs are provided for different age groups, complete with authors, books, and activities.

Study Groups. High school and college students are often working collaboratively around large tables at the library. The library design has planned for this activity by including both small and large tables and seating areas which are perfect for meeting and working.

Retirees. These folks have it going on! Unlimited books to read, books on CD to listen to, computers to use, help on hand if necessary, and interactions with others make the library the place to be.

The Homeless. The library is free and climate-controlled, provides restrooms and drinking fountains, and offers multiple forms of entertainment and resources. While I’ve noticed several incidents of improper behavior, most of the homeless patrons seem to enjoy library benefits without causing any trouble.

Teachers. Yes, teachers, the library is an invaluable resource! During my teaching years, I made weekly trips to check out and return books. Lots of books. I became quite good at gleaning themed picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) for my students. In fact, there was one librarian who watched my shelf and request list so she could make her own book list.

Writers. I fit into several of the above groups, but the writing group is the closest fit. I regularly research different topics and locations around the world. I research picture books and check out stacks of them for my studies. I even haul my computer to the library and set up camp on one of the bigger tables when I need to work on deadlines. Love my library!

Readers. Of course. Why else? Book addicts. Adventurers. Researchers. Learners.

As the plant in the above photo illustrates layers of leaves, stacked and connected by a network of roots, libraries also connect information to people, layers of knowledge spread through the network of libraries – full of words.

I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card. ~ Laura Bush

 


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To All The Dogs I’ve Loved Before… Maria Gianferrari’s Inspirations for “Hello Goodbye Dog” (plus a giveaway!)

Source: To All The Dogs I’ve Loved Before… Maria Gianferrari’s Inspirations for “Hello Goodbye Dog” (plus a giveaway!)

DOGS! This is such a fun post about favorite dogs and literary dogs. Who are your favorite dogs? Real life and imagined!

Maggie, Jessie, Jody…


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You Nest Here with Me ~ The Golden Shovel

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This may be golden, but it’s no Golden Shovel.

The Golden Shovel. What is that?

I recently read a post about said shovel. And it has nothing to do with physical digging, but plenty to do with mental excavating, sleuthing, and creating with words. The Golden Shovel is a fun writing exercise.

You can learn more about the Golden Shovel poetic form by visiting here.

The rules for creating a Golden Shovel masterpiece are as follows:

– Choose a line from a poem you enjoy.

– Use each word in the line as the last word for the lines in your poem.

– The end words must stay in the same order as the original poem.

– Please give credit to the author of the original text you’ve chosen to use.

– Now create away! Your new poem doesn’t have to match the original theme. This baby is your baby.

Here is my Golden Shovel.

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Inspiration for my Golden Shovel

I love to play with you.

Let’s build a blankie nest.

Snuggle here,

read and play, with

warm cocoa, you and me.

(July 19, 2017)

My words are both the title and specific lines from the beautiful picture book You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple (Boyds Mill Press, 2015).

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The help I receive on a daily basis when I write.

How about you? Give the Golden Shovel a try. I’d love to read your poem!

 


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Glacier Lake Trail: Hiking Tips Discoveries

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Glacier Lake

Mosquitoes. There will be MOSQUITOES. And dirt. Sometimes horse and deer flies. Plan accordingly. Wear bug repellent (we are still out on this – both of us want something more organic and less toxic). We were hit hard when we got out of the car. After a quick rethink, we jumped back in the car, put on boots, covered up, and got back out to spray. Still managed to get 3 bites.

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Lovely shaded hiking trail

Long hair. If you have this, wear it down – hot or not! Mosquitoes loved the back of my neck, despite my hat and shirt. So I let my hair down and spread it through the sweat which glued it in place. Immediate relief!

Hats. Wear them. I wore my tightly woven sun protection hat with a wide brim. Shade and bug protection.

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Beautiful old guy

Long pants. Wish we had them. Still have a few scrapes from branches growing over the path. I’m sure this isn’t the only trail with opportunities for clambering over rocks and tree roots.

Water. Our hike wasn’t too long but was strenuous and the sweat flowed freely. We had 2 bottles each, which was enough for the short hike. Had we stayed longer at the lake, we would’ve needed more.

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The trail heading into the forest towards Glacier Lake

Snacks. Of course. Good stuff to chomp on is part of the fun of hiking! Nuts, whole grain crackers, jerky, trail mix, protein bars…I always underestimate how much my honey needs to eat. Me? I could outlast several weeks of restricted calories, but his high metabolism requires regular and high calorie fuel.

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Our first gaze of the lake – standing on the huge boulders

Maps. We had general directions from a flyer found at the Ranger station and we still managed to park in the wrong spot. It seems it was the correct location though, when I researched AFTER our hike, due to previous road washouts. Hint: The flyer suggested elevation gains, time estimations, distances, and trail popularity. Some of this was NOT true. For instance, family friendly. We did not find this trail to be safe for younger hikers. This was agreed upon by another family (with elementary children and an elderly chap). Maybe they should define family friendly. Take information like this with a grain of salt.

Snow. While we did not encounter snow, the lake was very full and there were no places to get close to the water unless one was IN the water or on floating logs. Take into account the previous winter. We had record snowfall. That means lakes will be full to overflowing. Snow may still be on the trails. Mud will be present.

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Wildflowers serenaded us with beauty

Do not give up! We passed few other hikers, so the Glacier Lake hike was perfect for solitude (I missed wearing a bear bell, though, and we constantly scanned for evidence and escape routes – many shredded snags convinced us that big claws had enjoyed plentiful grubs and bugs). Once we arrived at Glacier Lake, huge (bigger-than-my-car sized) boulders blocked the path. We made two different attempts to get over them to the water, but my legs were too short. In defeat, we headed back. Only a short while later we met a young family (baby in backpack, so backpacking with child in tow counts as family friendly). They discovered a trail to the lake edge and two rough camping spots. They filled us in and we headed back to the lake. Don’t be afraid to ask and share info with other hikers.

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Lovely stream we heard for a long time before the trail led us beside it; I wanted to take it home with me.

Glacier Lake Hint: When you get to the boulders, you will instinctively want to go straight through them to the water. Don’t. There are many false trails over the rocks. Instead, look LEFT and you will see the trail continuing around the edge of the boulders. LOL. It’s obvious once you know.

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Fairy lanterns

Hiking is our respite from crowds, technology, and stress. We learn something new on every hike. We can’t wait to get back out on the trails!

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Check out this granny hat!

Would you like your adventure now or should we have our tea first?

~ J.M. Barrie

 


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2 Times I Won’t Return the Cart

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Shopping carts. Buggies. Storage on wheels. Nightmares of steering, rolling, and drifting. You gotta love them. Maybe hate them. I certainly trade them to get a smoother and cleaner one. Helpful at best, frustrating at worst. Carts are a necessity for filling the pantry and fridge with enough goods to avoid daily trips to the store.

How do you break up with your shopping cart? Leave it next to the car, push it across the lot, run it up over a curb to keep it from heading downhill, or return it to the store or cart corral?

I hope you are not one of those who set shopping carts free, never caring to notice how they careen with the wind or crash into vehicles or get in the way of traffic. You’re not, right?

I try to be responsible with my shopping carts. Maintain a good relationship. Most of the time I park near a return cage to help me be a good shopping citizen. If one is unavailable, I will take the cart back to the store. I’ll donate my cart to someone nearby who needs to load up children for the impending shopping adventure. When I arrive at the store, I’ll watch for someone unloading their cart and offer to take it for my own shopping trip. Generally, I think I do pretty well in my cart management skills.

And hey, extra walking means more steps on my mileage chart!

But there are 2 times I will not return my cart.

  1. Kiddos. Should I have precious grands or little ones with me, the shopping cart will always lose. Especially if it’s summer and the temps are hot. No one should sit in the car while I push a cart away. Unless the cart corral is beside the car.
  2. Senior shoppers. I had never thought about this until my mother-in-law mentioned it. She appreciated people who left a cart by the handicap parking spots, as many folks need to hold onto the cart handle and push it to keep their balance. So I watch for those opportunities. As long as the cart doesn’t block the parking spot, I love to help out.

How about you? When do you not return your shopping cart? Let’s hear some good reasons (laziness does not count, friends, not at all). ;0

Get out there and be a good shopping cart citizen!