Friday, February 29, 2008

THE DAVE CLARK FIVE AND MIKE SMITH


The Dave Clark Five, here wearing their trademark black jackets, white slacks and black boots, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show more times than any other of the British Invastion bands.
Left to Right: Mike Smith, Denis Payton, Ed Sullivan, Dave Clark, Lenny Davidson and Rick Huxley.
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I was thrilled when I heard that the members of the Dave Clark Five, part of the British Invasion of the 1960s, are going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10.
As a teenager, I loved this band, which had quite a string of hits over the years they were together. “Because” is one of the prettiest ballads ever. Other hits include “Glad All Over”, “Bits and Pieces”, “Catch Us If You Can”, “On Broadway”, “Over and Over”, “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” and "Anyway You Want It."

I was one of those rock-struck teenagers who bought all the DC5 albums and 45-RPM singles. In addition to the music, one reason I liked them so much is because they were the underdog, usually Number 2 in popularity behind the Beatles. However, “Glad All Over” did knock the Beatles off the Number One spot on the pop charts in England.

Another reason I loved the DC5 was because of Mike Smith, the lead singer and keyboard player. He was really cute, and he was the true talent of the group. Even Dave Clark has said that it should have been called the Mike Smith Five, but Mike didn’t want it that way.

Smith has said that he will absolutely be at the induction ceremony. This will be extremely difficult for him, as he was injured in a fall in 2003 and is almost totally paralyzed, having just a bit of movement in one arm. He spent four years in the hospital, finally going home just this past December. He still needs a team of full-time caregivers in addition to the loving care he receives from his dedicated wife Arlene, nicknamed "Charlie."

Smith and his wife met and fell in love back in the 60s during one of the DC5’s many sold-out U. S. tours. They were separated by distance and his career but were reunited and married after 35 years! Unfortunately, their happiness was shattered by his accident not many years later.
However, Smith maintains an incredibly upbeat attitude, which is spotlighted in the website maintained by Charlie. On the site, his messages never reflect anything but joy for life and gratitude for the love of his family and friends.

Speaking of Smith’s friends, one truly special friend is Peter Noone, the lead singer of another popular 60s British group, “Herman’s Hermits.” Peter spearheaded the efforts to raise the money to purchase a wheelchair for Smith and, just recently, a fully equipped van. Another longtime fan and great friend Paul Shaffer, leader of David Letterman's orchestra, organized a benefit concert for Smith in 2005. Other admirers/supporters included Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt and other members of the E Street Band. Smith was over the moon when he was able to attend a recent Springsteen concert in England.

Many other friends, fellow musicians and fans contributed to a fund set up for Smith’s expenses but it has been alleged that the funds have been mismanaged, so on top of everything else he and his wife are enmeshed in legal battles trying to recover the money.

Mike Smith, I’m still one of your biggest fans, and I really, really hope you make it to the induction. And congratulations, Dave Clark Five. You’re finally getting the recognition you deserve.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


NOTE: I wrote this post a few days ago and planned to post it in early March. I was stunned and heartbroken to learn, while watching the David Letterman show last night, that Mike Smith died yesterday of pneumonia, just days before the induction into the R & R Hall of Fame.

The accolades are already beginning to pour in for Smith. How sad that he couldn't have read them before his death. Here's what USA Today had to say:

"Until the group's Hall of Fame election, the Dave Clark Five was one of the most underrated bands of the British Invasion. It was dismissed as a teen-appeal act because of its numerous pop hits — 16 top 30 hits from 1964 to 1967 and an astonishing 13 albums on the charts in the same period, with worldwide sales now estimated at 100 million records. The DC5 was second to The Beatles in popularity until the Rolling Stones usurped that position.

There were sound musical reasons for that popularity, and Smith's raspy R&B-styled growl, along with his pulsating piano and versatile songwriting gifts (in tandem with group leader/drummer Clark), was a key ingredient.

He powered the band's unique musical engine, which de-emphasized guitar heroics and leaned on drums, sax, keyboards and rhythm guitar to produce a raw, rocking roar.

First hits Glad All Over and Bits and Pieces established the foot-stomping blueprint, while Any Way You Want It took hard rock to new, more power-packed heights. Later songs such as 1966's Try Too Hard, a piano showcase for Smith, showed progression without sacrificing impact.

He won't see it, but Smith's music will get its long-overdue historic validation at March 10's ceremony."

The Dave Clark 5's USA Page said this: "Mike will have a better view than any of us at the R&R Hall of Fame Induction, not to mention an even more glorious induction into eternity."




You almost made it, Mike.
I know you'll be there in spirit.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

CELTIC LADY


How do you like my new banner? I am very excited to finally have a personalized rather than a generic banner. Many compliments to those of you who can create your own banners, but I am so non-techy I could never hope to do so.

As you can see, I have made a change in the title of my blog as well. From now on it will be known as Celtic Lady instead of Celtic Woman. I should have named it that in the first place. I just didn't have my thinking cap on at the time I started my blog (I was too nervous). Since I have a new banner, I thought this would be the perfect time to change the name.

I recently installed a blog counter and it's amazing to see how many people google the words Celtic Woman, probably looking for the popular women singers of the same name. Imagine their chagrin when they get my blog instead. My blog address hasn't changed, so you'll still find me in the same old place. If you have my blog on your blogroll, you may change the name if you want, or just leave it - either way is fine with me.

I had the banner custom made for me by Mary at Isabella's Closet. I chose the pictures and she did the rest. The picture on the left is "Fair Rosamunde" by Arthur Hughes, the one in the middle is "Pevensey Castle" by Wilfred Ball, and the third is Celtic Lady" by Mario Wieme.

Now, before I get a lot of critical comments, I know that two of the images aren't Celtic. But they do fit the image in my mind of Celtic ladies and Celtic lore.

I also had Mary incorporate a Celtic knot into the design. This variation of the ancient Celtic symbol was found carved on gravestones near Perth, Scotland. I'm using it as a symbol of the interconnectedness among all living things. Since starting my blog I have found a greater connection with nature and the wheel of the year, and with the special women I have met online. They are the sisters of my ancient tribe and I wanted to honor them too.



In addition to custom-made banners, Mary sells dozens upon dozens of wonderful pre-made banners, and they are very inexpensive. Just go to http://www.isabellascloset.blogspot.com/ and click on "Blog Banners" on the right side of her blog to check them out. Also, Mary is having a giveaway for an Easter banner. All you have to do in order for your name to be entered in her drawing is to leave a comment in the giveaway post.

These name and design changes in my blog are, I hope, a harbinger or portent of greater changes in the blog itself.

I'm also opening two - yes, two - new blogs. I plan to open my art and poetry blog, "Just Julie" within a few days. I will also be opening a book blog to informally review the books I have read. I'm not sure when that one will open.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CARMEN

" THE MERMAID"
By Warwick Goble


I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to Mermaid Carmen ("Strawberries - Musings of a Mermaid.")

Carmen is one of the sweetest, nicest, most generous persons on the planet. She is also one of the strongest women I have ever known. I am honored to be the recipient of her friendship.

Carmen has the capacity, which is not as common as you might think, to seek AND FIND joy in every day. She is very intelligent and well read, especially in the area of self development. She is on a spiritual journey of mind, body and soul.

She is a lady who works very hard to achieve her goals, one of which is artistic and creative fulfillment. In the past few months she has really begun to realize her talent as an artist. She has opened an Etsy shop to sell her jewelry and her fantastic soldered glass pendants. And, her pendants are now on sale in several shops in her area. You go girl!

Another goal of Carmen's is to become a counselor one day. I have no doubt that she will make it.

Please go over to Carmen's blog at http://www.prettylady21.blogspot.com/ and wish her a Happy Birthday. Be sure to wear your red shoes and be prepared to dance!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

WINTER HOSPITALITY AND WARMTH


(Photo from Mrs. Staggs' Blog)
"Thistle-Down Fancies - A Token of Friendship"
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When I saw these lovely ladies on Mrs. Staggs' blog, I thought how lucky her friends were to be receiving them. Imagine my delight when one appeared in my mailbox the other day, along with a pretty pink, white and yellow handkerchief.

Have you visited Mrs. Staggs (Lena) yet? She lives in a wonderful place named Merryville, a simple place in a simpler time. “Now while you may say Merryville isn’t a real place,” says Mrs. Staggs, “you can’t really say that it doesn’t exist.”

It is always good to pay a visit to Merryville, especially for those of use who usually reside in Grumpyville. Mrs. Staggs’ door is almost always open to visitors. When she ushers you inside, she will be wearing a soft sweater and warm socks to match, and soft faded jeans.

Last summer, we enjoyed many strolls through her delightful garden, but Merryville is wonderful in all seasons. I have especially enjoyed visiting her this winter, because she knows how to stave off those winter blues.

When you pay your visit, I’m sure she’ll offer you tea and hot buttered toast. You’ll be warmed by a cozy fire and smell the scent of hyacinths, reminding you that spring is not that far off.

There will be soup bubbling on the stove, and cookies baking in the oven. Mrs. Staggs will be working on her latest handicraft. And as the afternoon draws to a close, she will light glowing lamps and candles to ward off the dark. There, on the table by the comfy chair, you’ll see a tempting stack of books awaiting your perusal.

I have never stayed the night in Merryville but if I did I think I would find a nightgown warm from the dryer, a handmade quilt for my bed, and a sweet kitty for company.

Your portal to Merryville is http://www.ahappymiscellany.typepad.com/. It is truly “A Happy Miscellany of Fine and Frivolous Things.”


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I drove out to my sister’s place yesterday, in the cold, blustery afternoon. There too, I was welcomed with the warmth of hospitality and also the warmth of a hearty knoephle (nefla) soup made by my 17-year-old niece.

Even though we are Norwegian and Scottish, we have embraced this German soup. It's very popular in Bismarck, having been brought here by Germans From Russia immigrants. In fact, if you're not from North Dakota, South Dakota or Minnesota, you may not know about knoephle soup.
Strictly speaking, the four basic ingredients to qualify a soup to be called knoephle are potatoes, celery, chicken stock and knoephle. Often called dumplings, knoephle are actually made from noodle dough.

Knoephle soup – also spelled knoephla, knephla, knepfla, etc. – has as many variations as it does spellings. Should one use milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream or half and half? Some people add chicken, ham, hamburger, bacon or sausage to this supposedly meatless soup.

I am very particular about my knoephle soup. I don’t care for the soupy (thin watery) kind. Often, the knoephle are very gummy. Until yesterday, my favorite knoephle soup in Bismarck was from a now-defunct restaurant called The Drumstick. It was suitably creamy and extra flavorful. Now my favorite is Kelsey’s soup, nice and thick with chunks of bacon.

KELSEY’S FAMOUS KNOEPHLE SOUP

Ingredients:

6-8 potatoes, cut up
carrots (chopped, sliced or our preference, shredded)
chopped onion (Kelsey says 1/4 cup, Glori says 1/2 cup)
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
½ pound bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
1 soup can of milk
knoephle
chicken bouillon
garlic powder
pepper

Knoephle Dough:

1 ¾ cup flour
1 egg
½ cup water
1 tsp. salt

Combine dough ingredients, roll into the shape of a pencil, and cut into ½ inch pieces. Set aside.

Cook the bacon.

Boil potatoes with just enough water to cover them.

When the potatoes are done, do not drain the water. Add the carrots, onion, soups, milk, bacon and knoephle. Season to taste (because of the sodium in the soup, don’t add salt, and limit the amount of bouillon you use.) Boil for 20 minutes or until the knoephle are done.

Vegetarians can leave out the bacon, and depending on how strict they are, also eliminate the chicken-based ingredients. Although it wouldn’t strictly be knoephle soup anymore, they could substitute cream of potato or other cream soup for the cream of chicken soup, and vegetable bouillon for the chicken bouillon.

(Photo from the web)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

THE GIRLS WHO WENT AWAY



Since my daughter grew up and moved away, Valentine’s Day is pretty much a non-event in our household. Dan doesn’t “believe” in Valentine’s Day. He thinks it’s a conspiracy among florists, candy shop owners and florists to part him from his hard-earned cash.

Therefore, tonight I thought I’d write about a certain kind of love that started out as romantic love (at least on one side of the relationship) but ended up being the pure essence of love.

When I wrote a post in honor of my late mother’s birthday on October 1, I mentioned that she was part of a unique group of young women known as Florence Crittenden Girls. My mom got pregnant “out of wedlock” and went away to a Florence Crittenden Home for Unwed Mothers in Fargo to have me.

After I wrote the post, Mary at “Across the Pond” recommended that I read the book “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade” by Ann Fessler.

I have only said this about one other book: Reading “The Girls Who Went Away” has changed my life. A large part of the book consists of interviews with the girls, now middle aged and older women, who went away to Florence Crittenden, Salvation Army and Catholic homes. Or they were sent out of town to live with relatives, or unbelievably, hidden in their homes their entire pregnancy.

It is difficult to believe today, when being a single mom is no big deal, that getting “in the family way” was a source of unspeakable shame for the girls and their families. Oftentimes, their boyfriends abandoned them once the pregnancy was announced. Or, even if the boy wanted to marry the girl, their parents forbade it. The decision was made and that was that.

What struck me so forcibly is that these girls had absolutely no control over their lives or their futures. Instead, they were covertly hurried away, either in the dark of night or, if in the daytime, forced to lie down on the back seat like criminals as they were driven through town.

These girls weren’t made to wear Scarlet Letters but they might as well have. They were doomed from the beginning. They’d never been given information on birth control, the incredible pressures a boy can exert on a na├»ve girl in the name of “love”, or their own raging hormones. Once pregnant, they received no information on their condition or the impending childbirth. Back at home, the parents made up lies regarding their daughters’ whereabouts. Meanwhile, a large majority of the boys got off scot free, continuing to attend school and living their normal lives. (Though many suffered a great deal of anguish as well.)

I spoke before of these girls’ lack of control and lack of participation in the event that had turned their lives upside down. It would become even worse. After the babies were born, parents and other officials put unspeakable pressure on them to give up their babies.

At that point, I had to put down the book and get a box of tissues. These girls – or more fittingly, women – were now mothers. And with that came strong maternal instincts and maternal love. After all these years, many of the women interviewed spoke poignantly and yearningly of how they could distinguish their baby’s cries from the others in the nursery, or how one woman’s baby “recognized her” as she nuzzled its neck. How incredible, lifelong bonds had been made in split seconds.

In her subtitle, Fessler uses the phrase “women who surrendered children”. The choice is apt. To surrender means to give something up unwillingly. A great majority of girls did not give away their babies, they SURRENDERED them. And for the rest of their lives, they have felt the huge gaping hole that opened when their child was ripped from them.

Not surprisingly, many became depressed and turned to alcohol and other drugs in order to cope.

I was amazed at how many of the interviewed women were able to make contact with their adopted-out children through the agencies that took their babies. For them, there is some measure of closure. For others, there is none. Instead, there is still that sense of loss, that raw, unhealed wound, even though they may have gone on to have other children.

Fessler has done a thorough job of researching this “hidden” social phenomenon that largely disappeared after the invention and widespread use of the pill and the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

I learned two very interesting things: At the beginning of its history, The Florence Crittenden Society made every effort possible to keep its girls and their babies together. Also, it was members of a fairly new profession - social workers - who became increasingly instrumental in fostering the movement to convince girls to give up their babies, because it was “in the best interests of both the girls and their babies”.

What frickin’ nonsense. These girls were supposed to “just forget about it,” to go on with their lives as if nothing had ever happened, and stuff their newly-aroused maternal feelings down into a deep dark hole, never again to see the light of day.

I wrote earlier that this book had changed my life, and that this post was about love. I always knew that my mom wasn’t married when she had me. I was sharply aware of my separateness. I knew I was Myrtle Munro’s little bastard and I always felt the stigma.

After reading this book, I knew that I was something far more precious. I realized just how difficult it was for my mom to thumb her nose at society. She didn’t leave me behind; she didn’t surrender me. Instead, she stood her ground. When I was six weeks old she gently cradled me in her arms as she boarded the train that took us back to her hometown of Crosby.

I know now just how strong and brave my mom and my grandmother were to bring up little “Noanie” in a world that looked down on her kind.

Forget cupid and his arrows. Myrtle’s and Julia’s love was far more powerful.

Among the celestial host of Florence Crittenton babes, I was quite the unique little angel. I was one of the few children who were kept. Never again will I think less of myself or be ashamed of my origins.

I may not have known my real father’s name until 55 years later, but I did know the warmth, security, sense of belonging and knowledge of my roots that comes from being with one’s own family.

Thank you for your strength, your wisdom, your courage and your pure, essential love, Mom and Grandma. Happy Valentine’s Day from Noanie.

(P. S. I highly recommend this book to adoptive parents and adoptees too. Adoptees, I’m sure your new parents told you were specially chosen. Now, know that your mother did not give you up lightly. She surrendered you.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

YOU LIFT ME UP

(Photo from Annie's blog)

I must admit, I have been feeling really down in the dumps lately. The short winter days and the biting cold weather have played a large part, to be sure, but I have been dealing with some difficult personal issues as well.

Just when I thought there was no light at the end of the tunnel, along came a train. And that's a good thing! Annie Elf, from "Scenes From a Slow Moving Train," sent me these wonderful hand warmers because she knows that my hands have been hurting from carpal tunnel syndrome and frigid temperatures at my office.

Annie, I'm wearing them right now and they feel great. It's always chilly near my home computer whenever the temps are low and the winds are high. The only unfortunate thing, Annie, is that Gracie is way too interested in the yarn flowers. I'm keeping them at work so Gracie can't wreck them.

Annie told me she's thinking of opening an Etsy shop and selling these hand warmers. What do you think? Would you buy a pair if she did?


"Lady Unveiled" - Annie's handmade card.



After the train pulled out of the station, a little sparrow swooped by with a delicate package all the way from Australia. Thank you, Miss Robyn ("Tales From Inglewood"), for the Magikal Faery Opals, found at Lightning Ridge - New South Wales, Australia. If you can't read the tag, it says, "Just pop them into some water and the faery colors will shimmer." Okay, I will do that!


But wait, the U. S. Mail truck just pulled up and look what the mailman brought me - a truly lovely handmade Valentine card from Kelli at "There's No Place Like Home." Thank you so much, Kelli.

Hmm - the river's frozen over so I won't get a delivery by boat. Do you think the modes of transportation have been exhausted? No way, you forget about the wonders of cyberspace.


First, I received Make My Day Awards from Imelda in Ireland ("Greenish Lady") and Kate ("Meanderings"). Thank you ladies, YOU made MY day. I've already passed this award on to six other people after previously receiving this award.



And last, but certainly not least, dear Janet of "The Lavender Loft" has given me "A Roar for Powerful Words." After receiving the award herself, she was instructed to pass it along to five other blogs "that exemplify good and powerful writing."
Janet was asked to share three things that she believes make for well-written blogs. Her answer: "The things that I look for in a writer are do they keep my attention....are they entertaining. Are they "real" as in truthful and honest and do they cause me to make changes in the way I think about things. And are they witty or humorous. "
Janet wrote that she chose me because "She is wise and powerful. She teaches me so much in a gentle, easy way."
Because I was once a writer by profession I am especially proud to have received this award. I have a couple of people in mind to pass the award along to but am going to need a little more time to think on it.
Thanks to all of you. You have really lifted my spirits.
That reminds me, I have a couple of packages to post by snail mail and one by birdie mail.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

ARE YOU A RAT?


Are you a rat? My husband is a rat. I am not. But there are many rats out there. You know who you are, or do you?

Today is Chinese New Year, the beginning of the Year of The Rat. The Year of the Rat occurs every 12 years, so people born in 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2008 are Rats.


A highly respected animal in Chinese culture (unlike its western image), the rat was given first place in the zodiac and declared to represent new beginnings and keen intelligence. Those born under this sign are alert and persevering. They save and work hard for things they most desire.

People born in the Year of the Rat are noted for their charm and attraction for the opposite sex. They are likely to be perfectionists. They are basically thrifty with money. Rat people are easily angered and love to gossip. Their ambitions are big, and they are usually very successful. They are most compatible with people born in the years of the Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.


(Click on card to read.)
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The following information was taken from the website of the Chinese Culture Center in San Francisco:

The Chinese animal signs are a 12-year cycle used for dating the years. They represent a cyclical concept of time, rather than the Western linear concept of time. The Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, and is constructed in a different fashion than the Western solar calendar. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February. The Chinese have adopted the Western calendar since 1911, but the lunar calendar is still used for festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese calendars will print both the solar dates and the Chinese lunar dates.

In the Western World, the years are dated from the birth of Jesus Christ, for example, 1977 means 1,977 years after the birth of Christ. This represents a linear perception of time, with time proceeding in a straight line from the past to the present and the future. In traditional China, dating methods were cyclical, cyclical meaning something that is repeated time after time according to a pattern. A popular folk method which reflected this cyclical method of recording years are the Twelve Animal Signs. Every year is assigned an animal name or "sign" according to a repeating cycle: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. Therefore, every twelve years the same animal name or "sign" would reappear.

A cultural sidelight of the animal signs in Chinese folklore is that horoscopes have developed around the animal signs, much like monthly horoscopes in the West have been developed for the different moon signs, Pisces, Aries, etc. For example, a Chinese horoscope may predict that a person born in the Year of the Horse would be, "cheerful, popular, and loves to compliment others". These horoscopes are amusing, but not regarded seriously by the Chinese people.

The animal signs also serve a useful social function for finding out people’s ages. Instead of asking directly how old a person is, people often ask what is his or her animal sign. This would place that person’s age within a cycle of 12 years, and with a bit of common sense, we can deduce the exact age. More often, though, people ask for animal signs not to compute a person’s exact numerical age, but to simply know who is older among friends and acquaintances.

According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.

All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox's back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last.



There are many different versions of this tale. Here's another one:

One day, Tian Di (The God Above) wanted to manage all animals on earth. He took out 12 chairs and told the cat to tell 11 other animals to go to the sky palace. When the cat told the ox about it, the rat overheard the news. The rat was very angry and he ran as fast as he could to the palace. As a result he got there before the ox. Tian Di then let him sit on the first chair. The ox took the second seat. Then the tiger, the rabbit all came and settled on the chairs. From then onwards, the rat comes the first in the zodiac cycle. The cat was not in the cycle because he went to tell other animals. Ever since, the cat is not in the zodiac cycle, and he and the rat are mortal enemies.


Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.
Did you celebrate Chinese New Year? I went to the Rice Bowl restaurant for chicken almond ding, an egg roll and consomme soup.
I mentioned earlier that my husband is a rat. Well, he is! He was born in 1948. If you're a rat, I hope you're a nice rat like the Baby Blue Dumbo Pet Rat above.
My Aussie friend Annie of http://www.bimbimbie.blogspot.com/ is a rat too. She has some really nice things to say about rats, including a special Australian rat, the Wopilkara, or Greater Stick-nest Rat. Please visit her blog to see the collage she made feauring her Wopilkara and the Ratty things she intends to do during this Year of the Rat!
P. S. I'm an ox. It's my year next year.

Monday, February 4, 2008

JANUARY BOOKS


"BOOKS IN WINTER"
By Jessie Willcox Smith
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When I started my blog last January I promised myself I would list all the books I read over the year. I was faithful to my list for the first nine months, but neglected to post the books for the last three months. So here they are, plus the books I read in January.

OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER BOOKS

“The Girls Who Went Away”, by Ann Fessler. This book deserves a post of its own, and I will write it soon.

“Promise Me”, by Harlan Coben. Our October book club book, it's a mystery/thriller, but not a very good one.

“The Wicker Man”, by Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer. I thought I was going to read a book about people on a remote Scottish Island still practicing the ancient ways. Instead, I got a book about human sacrifice and so-called “pagan” sexual practices.

“Into the Wild”, by Jon Krakauer. Years ago I had read Krakauer’s magazine article about Chris McCandless, the young man who went into the wild in Alaska and died there. I was happy to read that Krakauer cleared up some mistruths and misconceptions that were in the article.

“The Huntress,” by Susan Carroll. This is the fourth book in a series I’ve been reading about the Ariane, Gabrielle and Mirabelle, the Sisters of Faire Isle of France. Are they witches or healers? I highly recommend this series that starts with “The Dark Queen.”

“Clapton: The Biography”, by Eric Clapton. Like many others, I have always considered Eric Clapton a guitar god, but he is no god in real life. I found him to be extremely unlikable as he tells the unvarnished truth of his life. Apparently he’s now a happily married, faithful man, and I am happy he is one famous person who survived his demons.

“A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian”, by Marina Lewycka. Don’t let the odd title fool you. Our November book club book is the hilarious story of an elderly Ukrainian immigrant in England who marries a hotsy-totsy, gold-digging young Ukrainian woman so she can get her English citizenship. (He’s an expert on tractors – hence the title.)

“The Almost Moon”, by Alice Seebold. This is about a woman who murders her mother. Horrific? Well, after you read about Mom, you might not feel so horrified. Not as good as Seebold’s “The Lovely Bones.”

“The Weight of Water”, by Anita Shreve. I wanted to read this book because it deals, in part, with the famous 19th century axe murders of two women on the Isle of Shoals, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the book stays mainly in the (boring) present.)


JANUARY BOOKS

“The Longest Night of the Year”, Dean Koontz. This is a pretty good book for Koontz, especially if you love Golden Retrievers like I, Koontz and his characters do.

“The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank: A Novel”, Ellen Feldman. This is a fictional tale about Peter van Daan, the boy who lived in the annexe with Anne, and how he might have fared if he survived the concentration camp and became a U.S. citizen.

“The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria,” Marlena de Blasi. I think de Blasi’s series of books on Italy (this is her third, not counting her cookbooks) also deserves a post of its own.

I am disgusted with how few books I read last year, and I know that blogging was part of the problem. I am going to try to read more and blog less in 2008.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

IMBOLC

Today is Imbolc on the Celtic wheel of the year, or Candlemas on the Christian calendar, depending on which you observe. I was going to write a post about it, but disovered that Autumn has written not one but seven terrific posts about it and about St. Brigid's Day, which was yesterday. (Also celebrated as Goddess Brigid.) I can't improve on perfection, so instead I'm providing you with the link to her blog: http://www.autumnsmeadow.blogspot.com/

Meanwhile, I'll leave you to peruse these lovely images. As you can see, candles, snowdrops and fairies play an import part in Imbolc and St. Brigid's Day.








Friday, February 1, 2008

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?

So, how would YOU feel, if you called your husband this morning and told him you were in a car accident, and he asked, "How bad is it?" Meaning THE CAR!!!! No, he did not ask "How are you?"



THIS IS HOW I FEEL
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In case you're wondering, I'm okay, the high school kid who hit me is okay, his car is fine, my car - my sweet, reliable, starts in cold weather used car - has a big dent in the front, my license plate was tossed on the ground and my left front headlight was shattered.
I was able to drive it the rest of the way to work, so I thought everything was okay, but at 5:00 it wouldn't start. Gawd, I hope it's just the battery.
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I got a ride home and called my husband so he can deal with it. I've had way too much fun for one person for one day.