Caution Zone

One of the popular memes on social media which I enjoy is simple:

When you can be anything — be kind.

Good advice for multiple situations.

Does a neighbor give a grumpy response to your greeting? Be kind — smile anyway.

Does another driver on the road block your lane change? Be kind — draw a deep breath and keep your hands in a polite position.

Does a child ask 100 questions in a row? Be kind — you were young once.

Kindness is good when dealing with plants also. Remember they are living. You’ve not need to break leaves or stems in fun or anger. (Well, if it prevents doing bodily harm to a human it would be an good alternate.)

However, do not consider all plants defenseless.

Mix caution with kindness when dealing with Crown of Thorns. The delicate, tiny blossoms cling to a strong defense system.


Review Tuesday 4

All good things end in due time. Since this is the final Tuesday in January, this is my final post of 2020 book reviews. Books can take you anywhere — so let’s drop in to a different time and place.

The Hidden Moon

By: Jeannie Lin

Step back to 9th century China.

Murder. Mystery. Forbidden love. Ms. Lin combines all of these and more in the most recent Lotus Palace Mystery. Follow Wei-wei as she sees places and meets people far different from her rich, aristocratic family.


Perk Up the Brain

Be careful what you read! You might learn something!

Lest my readers begin to think this fiction author only stuffs her head with fiction and omits “serious” reading I present to you a short stack of non-fiction I’ve really enjoyed. (Yes, I used the words non-fiction and enjoy in the same sentence. These were not assigned reading for a class.)

History, history, biography (a special branch of history) and guide to historical places. Yes you see a trend.

While reading certain chapters within these books I learned more than facts. I pondered how people reacted to events then and could compare to how people are reacting to events in the present. It makes a person skeptical of power structures, “the old boys club”, and the influence of money. I’m sure if I re-read any of these in the next few months I’d find something new — for my experiences in the real world are constantly shaping my attitudes and opinions.

Do you have some favorite non-fiction volumes you’d hesitate to part with? A shelf of them? A bookcase worth? More?


Review Tuesday 3

Writers should read. It’s good to read in the same genre you write. So if you notice a trend toward romance in this short series of posts — it’s because this romance writer reads a variety of romance. (Plus other things — many were quality, but not reviewed by this author.)

Today I feature a new face. A St. Louis area resident. All around good person.

My Forever Home

By: Debbie Burns

A winning combination…dogs and baseball.

While Tess Grasso coaxes a loose dog back to the leash holder, her laptop goes missing. The computer held all her plans for a new business. It’s a perfectly timed job opening at High Grove Animal Shelter which keeps her from returning to work at her uncle’s sandwich shop.

Professional baseball player, Mason Redding, wants to be liked as a person, not a celebrity. It’s a delicate business to get acquainted with Tess without tipping his hand.

Ms. Burns writes a delightful romance. Animal and human characters have personalities larger than life. This series is a winner. Five paws!


Honored Veterans

Some days numbers are just squiggles on a page. Especially large ones. Where does the comma go? How much is that really? How does it compare to…

Recently, I took a drive through Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. I’d seen pictures on TV. I’d even attended Memorial Day ceremonies at the Grand Circle twice. So perhaps I should have been prepared — for the size of the place. The row upon row upon row of white gravestones.

Think on this. Each grave honors a person who served their country. From the 1860’s (a few from before) until the present. Some died in battle. Others in accidents during training. Many passed away years after active service to their country ended. Yet every one — no matter the year — pledged to give their life, if necessary, to defend the United States of America.

Yes, I had to look up some numbers before I wrote this. The cemetery covers 330 plus acres and more than 188,000 graves. The first burial was recorded in 1827, when Jefferson Barracks was new and the first army installation west of the Mississippi. The most recent? Burials take place every weekday.


Review Tuesday 2

Last week you read about my top choice of non-fiction for 2020. Today I want to introduce you to my favorite fiction read (actually a re-read — it was just as good the second time around)

The Black Hawk

By: Joanna Bourne

Second Time better than the first.

While I recognized this as both excellent story and writing the first time around, it was even better as a re-read.

Ms. Bourne takes us back to the time of the French Revolution and the rise and fall of Napoleon.  A French Spy and English Spy develop a VERY complicated relationship.

The entire Spymaster series is excellent, but I rate this as best of the best.


Resolution or Experiment

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Have you broken it?

It’s difficult to develop a new habit. And for some reason, establishing a new positive habit feels harder than repeatedly performing a not-good-for-me task.

Regular readers of this blog are aware that the majority of the photos posted are my own. In that spirit — I plan to document a tree on the first day of each month. The tree happens to be an ash. I expect that it will need to be taken down in another five years or so — the ash borer is in the area. Plus it’s been shedding limbs in windstorms to a greater degree than other trees in the neighborhood. However, the location makes it convenient — a dozen steps from my front door I get a good view.

It was a gloomy morning and every twig was frosted when I captured this during a freezing drizzle. (Not the sort of weather to linger.) Welcome to 2021! The year of the ash tree???


Review Tuesday 1

Before striding full force into 2021, I’m taking a glance back as some of the best books I read and reviewed in 2020. First up — a non-fiction.

The Radium Girls

By: Kate Moore


The innocent girls were proud of their work as dial painters. The luminous dials on watches and aircraft instruments saved lives in WWI. In the 1920’s the dials moved into homes on alarm clocks and wristwatches.

Then they began to die–horrible deaths. Dentists and physicians played detective.

Ms. Moore follows two groups of dial painters in this non-fiction volume which reads better than some novels. Discover the legacy and ponder as a cautionary tale.


A Clean Page

Happy New Year!

How does your calendar look? Fresh and clean? Full of appointments and notations?

If ever a person can start a year with a blank slate — it’s 2021. So many of us continue to pull back from social engagements and keep professional appointments to the minimum.

This collection of 2021 calendars awaits my scribbles and notations of events. Believe me, I need reminders of where and when to leave the house or make an important phone call.

Do you use a wall calendar to keep yourself on track? Or a purse/pocket size edition? Or have you gone electronic?