Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

This was on my very first post one year ago today:

I am proud of our country and the freedom we enjoy, and I know it's because of those who fought and even died that we are free today. To all who have served our country, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What I'm reading

So, I figured it was time for another edition of what I've been reading recently. I've been really lucky lately to have found some excellent books that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Lost and Found: A Novel by Carolyn Parkhurst is a story about a mother and her teenage daughter whose relationship is strained, to put it mildly. They end up as contestants in a reality show game (think "Amazing Race") called Lost and Found, along with six other couples. The book moves along at a good pace, and both mother and daughter learn some things about each other. This is a fast and easy read, and I enjoyed it.

Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore and Ron Hall. This is one of the best books I have ever read, truly! Denver Moore grew up a very poor black sharecropper in Alabama and escaped to a "better life" living on the streets of Ft. Worth, TX. Ron Hall and his wife, Debbie (a very affluent white couple) started volunteering at a homeless shelter in Ft. Worth and she and Ron gradually befriended Denver. The results of their friendship are nothing less than miraculous and amazing. Such an excellent book -- I give it five stars.

The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe. As my friend Susan commented while reading this book, "Could it get any more real?" This one is about five very different women going through five very different life situations, bound together by their love of a good book and their commitment and membership in The Book Club. This was a really great read, chick lit, yes, and I enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. Back in the 90s, Amy wrote a monthly newsletter by this same name for about seven years total. This is a compilation of all of those newsletters. Packed with tips and advice on all things frugal, it is a perfect resource for someone trying to save a buck (or a thousand). The layout is such that you can search for what you are interested in, or conversely, pretty much open it up to any page and either learn something you didn't know, or get a great mini-refresher on living a frugal lifestyle.

Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross. Can I just say that I love Miss Julia? This is the latest installment in the series about the peppery little church lady who finds family and love in her later years, along with plenty of fun and drama. A cute, fun read.

More later --

Friday, May 28, 2010

Maggie's babies

So, Maggie led her babies away today, in search of a new home with water.

You're a good mama, Maggie. I'll miss you.

Maggie's story

About a month ago, we discovered a female mallard had "moved in" to the flower bed in the front of our office building. We quickly named her Maggie, and she settled right in. Over the next several days she laid eleven eggs and started incubating them.

By the middle of May, the Memphis temps were regularly reaching mid-80s and an occasional 90 degrees. So soon, a water bowl appeared by Maggie.

Then, a couple weeks ago, the building maintenance crew cleaned out the flower bed ... except for the part nearest to Maggie. They were taking care of her too.

Next, a bowl of bird seed appeared next to the water bowl. Then, as the weather got hotter, an umbrella was placed so that Maggie wouldn't have to spend her days in the hot sun.

Yesterday, Maggie's eggs hatched! Ten baby ducks were born!

Then, this afternoon -- she led them away. There are a couple of ponds nearby and she was headed toward one of those.

More later (including pictures of the babies on the move) --

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Garden update

My "garden" (such as it is - two tomato plants and one bell pepper plant) is having mixed results. Because of my neck/back issues, I decided to try a method I saw here, which entails planting right in the bag of garden soil...pretty genius, if you ask me! This allows me to keep plants up at a more reasonable level for me and also pretty much eliminates weeding.

Anyway, the first tomato plant is doing fantastic. I have 17 tomatoes on it! In fact, it is doing so well that I went to Lowe's last weekend and bought another tomato plant to try as well. But...sad to say, my bell pepper plant does not look happy. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. But I'm not seeing a bountiful harvest of red bell peppers in my future... Oh well, maybe it will perk up.

I'm just thrilled with my tomatoes though, and really hopeful that they will ripen and taste wonderful. Time will tell.

Here's some pictures.

The one in the bottom of this shot was my first tomato to pop out. It's pretty big now, and is yellow and turning red!

Here's another shot of my first/biggest one:

This is my new "baby" tomato plant. I hope it will do as well as the first one.

In my front beds, I planted some iris that my friend Kim gave me, oh...about a month ago. This weekend I noticed that one of the iris has bloomed! This is a big surprise to me, since I figured they wouldn't bloom until next Spring. The others don't have any blooms, so maybe this is a little freebie preview I get for next year. Anyway, it's nice.

More later --

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Weekend trip to Mountain View

We just got back from a long-weekend trip to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. We stayed at a charming bed & breakfast in Mountain View. This was our second visit to the town and the B&B and we loved it.

Going to Mountain View is like taking a trip back in time. It's a picturesque small town with a town square and there's "Music on the Square" every weekend night. We spent a lot of time outside, sitting on the front porch, swinging on the glider in the back yard while reading a book, or just walking through the town. It was a really relaxing get-away and just what we needed.

Here are some photos:

More later --