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Wednesday, September 23, 2015


As part of our last hurrah to summer, Bob and I attended a local Community Day in a neighboring town.  As community days go, this one was fairly typical with funnel cakes and hot dogs for sale, dunking booths and Go Fish booths for entertaining the kiddies, and fundraisers for school groups and organizations.  However, what set this community day apart from others is that this one kicked things off with an early morning bocce ball tournament. heard right...BOCCE BALL!

Who knew bocce ball had such a ferocious following?  Here I thought bocce was an easy-going lawn game played by old Italian grampies (excuse my stereotyping please, but I've led a sheltered life).  Ho no, it is a serious and competitive sport played by young and old.  And the reason why I know it is competitive is that only ladies who are too good to play with other ladies are allowed to play with the men!

The tournament was replete with brackets (as in basketball brackets!) and team uniforms.  Rookie teams, like these fresh -faced young men, valiantly fought against wily veteran teams who sported t-shirts that proclaimed their many victories. Teams came from all over the state.  One even persevered through a closed interstate to arrive in time to avoid a forfeit. Now, that's what I call competitiveness.

 Play was intense....

 Deep strategizing and reflection went in to every throw...

And then there was the measuring....

And fancy throwing techniques...

But ultimately, there was just lots of fun and good -natured competition.

My son-in-law and his rookie teammates might not have won their matches, but they held their own against some veteran players and learned a few new moves to boot.  I learned something too...bocce is not what I thought it was.

Have you any experiences with bocce ball to relate?  What unusual events have you encountered at community days?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Summer

It's the last weekend of the summer of 2015...sigh...days are getting shorter, blooms are spent, and fall is calling loudly.

My hubby and I decided to embrace the last few days of summer...a picnic lunch on the Delaware for starters.

 Bob and I chose a picnic table that faced a river view and enjoyed the scene as we munched on our tasty tidbits.  The air enveloped us in a cozy warmth.  The songs of ducks and birds provided running background music as we chatted and lazily enjoyed the scene. The river was gorgeous with a glimpse of the bridge between New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the distance...

and kayakers floating by...

After lunch, a leisurely walk across the bridge....

The river views from the bridge were simply lovely...

A quick visit to the PA side...
And a picture perfect day is complete.

Enjoy the last two days of summer!!!  Get out there and soak up some of the outdoors.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

reading roundup

The Good. The Bad. The Helpful.  That's how I would sum up this month's reading.

 Let's start with the good.  Two of the five books I read this month were absolutely delightful, The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright

I loved this book for two reasons.  One, it appealed to the English teacher in me.  The setting follow's Chaucer's Canterbury trail for goodness sake! Two, the main character is struggling with coming to terms with her view of her dead mother.  Let's face it. What daughter among us has not struggled with her relationship with her mother, living or dead.  Mom is a powerful force, one that can't be denied, one that reaches beyond the grave. This book explores this reality in a special way.  The main character Che, has lost her mother to cancer and her fiance to another woman in one fell swoop.  Reeling from these blows, Che impulsively decides to fulfill her mother's request to complete the pilgrimage to Canterbury where it is said miracles and healing happens to those who make the journey. Che, empties her mother's ashes into a zip lock bag, hops a flight to England, and joins a group of traveling pilgrims (Broads Abroad) and determines to make the pilgrimage with mom safely tucked in her backpack.  True to Chaucer's "Prologue" to the Canterbury Tales, each of the pilgrims shares a story along the path to Canterbury.  Chaucer lovers will recognize some of the characters, even though they are in modern garb.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

 Attachments was Rainbow Rowell's first novel, and it had me chomping at the bit to read more by her. Her writing is funny, witty and full of energy.  It manages to be modern and yet familiar at the same time. The main character, Lincoln, is a shy, quiet IT guy who works in the basement of a newspaper facility.  His job as Internet security officer, is to screen all employees' emails to ensure nothing inappropriate is being written.  Lincoln,  has created a program that red flags certain words (Ah ha! and you thought things like that were myths...think again, my friend, Big Brother is everywhere...FOR REAL).  Lincoln's boring life quickly takes a turn when he begins following the email correspondence between two of the newspaper's employees, Jennifer and Beth.  Can you really fall in love with someone you've never met? Atttachments gives you the answer.  An adorable story by a refreshing author.  I've put Rainbow's latest book, Eleanor and Park, on my To Read list!

On to THE BAD.  Only one of the books on my list this month really turned out to be one I couldn't wait to put down, The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay.

The House I Loved, by Tatiana de Rosnay

 I thought I would love this novel because it was set in Paris during the late 19th century.  I love a good period piece, but in this case it wasn't enough to keep my interest. I was also intrigued by the title.  It reminded me of one of my favorite songs, The House That Built Me, by Miranda Lambert (love that concept). I could just imagine a house that was the centering force in a person's life.  For someone like me who lived in 13 different houses as she was growing up, the concept of a single home having a singular impact on one's life is intriguing. But, sadly, I was to be disappointed. The house was not a major force in the characters' lives, in fact, it was rarely even described in the course of the story! I must admit, the format of the novel was unique, an elderly woman, Rose Brazelet, writing letters to her dead husband, but this format ultimately turned out to be a disaster.  I never felt I got to know any of the characters deeply.  It read too much like a newspaper report. The crux of the plot centered around the imminent razing of Rose's house, the ancestral home of her husband, in order to make way for the modernization of the layout of the city of Paris.  Not even Paris, nor love, nor secrets could engage me in this one.  I must confess I skimmed the last 50 pages just to confirm the too obvious ending of a very disappointing read.

And finally, The Helpful.  I read two non-fiction books this month that I found to be very useful, Voracious by Cara Nicoletti, and Dave Ramsey's latest book, The Total Money Makeover.

Voracious (A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books), by Cara Nicoletti

Besides being an author, Ms. Nicoletti is a professional butcher, (following in her grandfather's footsteps), which gives this author the authority to write about food. Of course, what caught my attention about this book (besides being about food!) was the fact that all the recipes were inspired by literature. Ms. Nicoletti happens also to be a bibliophile (and if I'm not mistaken a kindred English major).  Voracious came to be after years of reading. She noticed that great books often revealed great food.  She would often host literary dinner parties (what a COOL idea) pairing books and food.  This lead her to develop a recipe blog: which developed such a following that she decided to develop the idea further into a book...hence Voracious. The book is organized into three sections that mirror the life of a reader and feature beloved books of each era: Childhood , Adolescence and College Years, and Adulthood.  Each book selection features not only a recipe inspired by the book, but also fascinating and often little known information about the literature.  For example, in the Childhood section Nicoletti paired the recipe for Double Chocolate Walnut Sundae with the books of The Nancy Drew Series.  Sigh...I loved those books...I loved Nancy, and Bess and all of the other characters. Surprisingly, Ms. Nicoletti did not enjoy the 10 Nancy Drew books she received as a gift from her great aunt.  In fact, she only read them out of respect and was puzzled why her aunt enthused about them.  As an adult, Ms. Nicoletti decided to research about the ND series.  In Voracious, the author reveals her discovery that Carolyn Keene, the supposed author of Nancy Drew, was not a real person and that the books were actually written by a number of "ghostwriters" who were paid by Stratemeyer Syndicates. The mystery of the discrepancy of opinion between Nicoletti and her aunt lies, not in that they were born in different generations, but in that the books were rewritten after 1959 to suit a more modern audience.  The original first 23 books of the Nancy Drew series were written by ghost writer, Mildred Benson, in the 1930's and 40's.  Nicoletti tracked down copies of ND prior to 1959 and "Voila" love at second sight! If you love great recipes and great books, this is the book for you.  I think I will start planning my first "literary dinner party".

The Total Money Makeover (A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness), by Dave Ramsey

OKAY...I admit it...I am a terrible money manager...I have lots of evidence to prove it, too!  However, I can accept advice, and Dave Ramsey has some great strategies to help the weak and disabled (that's me when it comes to money).  His plan to acquire financial fitness is simple but not painless.  He fully admits this and asks you to embrace the pain.  No Pain. No Gain.  His plan is based on a seven step plan that he has broken down into what he calls Baby Steps (What About Bob fame).  It starts with Baby Step One: Save $1000 FAST (in what he calls an emergency fund).  This he claims should be done in no more than a months time.  YIKES!!!  It ends with Step Seven: Create Wealth but I will be happy to end on Step Six:  Pay Off Home Mortgage.  Forget wealth....I'll be happy with debt free.  I am going to give it my best shot.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Quack Me Up!

Today I spent a few hours soaking up the last gorgeous days of summer by strolling along the footpath along the Delaware River in Frenchtown, NJ.  It was a glorious morning with fewer people (kids are back in school!!!) and quieter surroundings.  I breathed in deeply the fresh warm air and thought how lucky I was to be able to spend free relaxing moments like this.

On my way to Frenchtown, I had passed a local business that sells seasonal plants and produce and thought I would stop by on my way back home and pick up some mums, as I had noticed  they were advertising a fall plant sale.

So, on my way home, I pulled in the driveway and started to peruse the many varieties of flowers.  The garden's owner is a lovely Korean-American lady.  She greeted me with a welcoming smile, we chatted briefly, and then she helped me put the chosen mums in my car.  As I was paying the bill, out waddles the most adorable group of black ducklings. I was speechless for a few moments as I took in the scene.

The cute little fuzzies had followed their owner out from the office onto the driveway as she brought me my change from my purchase.  I couldn't prevent my laughter. They followed her just like toddlers follow their mommy.

The owner told me they were Cayuga ducklings, and they were her pets! She had been keeping them in a pen in her house, but they had been making such a mess, she had decided to bring them to work with her today.  She is trying to socialize them so they will be pleasant around people. These four little lovelies are brothers and sisters each born a day apart from each other. The smallest one's name is "Baby". She's the one in the front of the pack here in the above picture.

The duckies' "Mommy" told me their father's name is Winston and that he has a beautiful green sheen to his feathers. Didn't get a look at him, but he probably looks something like this:
Image result for cayuga duck
What a fun way to end a perfect waning summer morning.  Have you encountered any fun surprises lately?