deweys_weekly_geeks27This weekly meme asks the question: If you could interview one of your favorite fictional characters, who would it be and what would you ask.

I’ve been reading Agatha Christie mysteries for decades and I always wanted to grow up to be Miss Jane Marple. Now that I’m in that “certain age” I believe I can have a nice chat with her. A formal interview will not do. It would make her uncomfortable; but a friendly chat over tea is just the thing.

It just so happens that she and I were at the same charity fete. Our duty that day was to knit a large number of baby hats for local hospitals. I was sitting in an area with some extra chairs and trying to keep an eye out for her. I was involved in casting on my stitches when Jane Marple came over, sat down and introduced herself. I should have expected it as she is well known for knowing everybody. She would want to get to know the new face.

We chatted and worked on our baby bonnets for quite some time. I find that most people, with a few prompts, will generally tell you most everything you want to know and then some. She operates on the same principle so by the time we were half way through the first baby bonnet we knew quite a bit about each other and were on a first name basis. 

I told Jane about my children and grandchildren and she told me about her nephew and his wife and her various friends in St. Mary Mead. She’s quite proud of her nephew, Raymond, who’s a well-known writer. I also mentioned I’d heard of various goings-on in St. Mary Mead. She said it’s really rather scandalous but there have been some murders.

Jane is very modest about her part in solving crimes. I have my own theory about how she does it but I asked her anyway. She confirmed my suspicion when she said she doesn’t do very much except observe human nature. We both agreed that it’s often the little details of a person’s actions that will tell you what you want to know.

By the time our knitting was at a end, we were quite well acquainted. We exchanged information on our favorite wool shops and she gave me a tip on a great hotel. The next time we are both in the city we are going to meet up at Bertrams Hotel and have lunch together. Our day together was quite lovely. I’m looking forward to our next visit. But I do hope there won’t be any scandalous murders about. On the other hand it might be enjoyable to see how she does it.

If you’d like to meet other fictional characters, visit the Weekly Geeks here.

 

22vantage-600We watched a good Netflix movie at our son’s house the other night and enjoyed it enough to share with you. Vantage Point is probably classified as a thriller and I’d agree. It was pretty thrilling.  

It’s the story of a presidential assassination in some Spanish town. We see the president get shot and a bomb explodes in the middle of a huge crowd with lots of witnesses. And then we see the same thing over again several times from the point of view of various people. It’s sort of like a rerun but not exactly. First we see it from the news-crew that’s filming the event; then from the viewpoint of a secret service agent; then the terrorists show their side; then how a friendly tourist sees it, and finally from the president’s point of view. Even though it is the same event being repeated, it isn’t exactly the same and it does not feel repeated. It was enough of a mystery to surprise me at the end.

Good acting came from Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Edgar Ramirez, Ayelet Zurer, Sigourney Weaver, and William Hurt. Each one played a part but no one was a star. The photography was very good and I especially enjoyed the aerial shots of the Spanish town. There was only one part near the end that seemed contrived. But overall, it was very good. I’d recommend it as a good rental for adults and teens.

childhood

I am thoroughly enjoying this chance to re-read some of the books I enjoyed as a child. Most of us who are adult book lovers got our start as children. We can all give lists of those favorites. And then, if we have children of our own, we get to share those favorites with our children. For me, it’s now the grandchildren. How great is that?! 

The Little House books have been around since the 1930s. They portray a life that only a few people now remember. But, thanks to the popular TV series and re-runs, the books are still popular. Recently while visiting with my mother (88 years young) we discovered an old complete set of the books and started in reading them. Out of all of the books this one, On The Banks of Plum Creek, stands out as a favorite from childhood. Here’s my review:

plumcrk

On The Banks of Plum Creek

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Harper and Row, 1937

 

Summary: This book features Laura Ingalls in Minnesota when she is seven to eight years old. The book opens with the whole family moving to a beautiful place on the prairie. Unfortunately, there is no house. There is, however, a “dugout” – a house dug into the ground and fortified with sod. 


Pa is determined that he will have an amazing harvest of wheat and oats that will bring riches to them all. So he buys supplies on credit to build a nice two-story house. I don’t want to spoil it for you except to say that it does turn out fine. But getting there is tough what with the grasshoppers and the ice and snow storms and other calamities. This is the first book to introduce Nellie and her brother. They play a very minor role, unlike the TV series.

 

My opinion: It was still a fun read as an adult. I like that the author doesn’t talk down to the reader. She tells of everyday experiences as if they were adventures. For example the task of walking a mile into town with her sister when there was no road. Or the time the roof fell in on the dugout. Or how they picked the plums off the trees by the creek. Although there are a few good drawings to illustrate the story, it’s still a great read for using your imagination. I recommend it for children eight-years of age or older. It would make for a great read-aloud book for the whole family.

 

If you are interested in re-reading your childhood favorites, visit here to learn more about the challenge.

vocabularyI’ve been reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie. (I reviewed it yesterday.) For such a light, easy-reading book, it sure had a lot of big words in it. I copied down quite a few but am only sharing a few with you. I don’t want to make your head bulge.

  1. enigmatical – difficult to understand as in “. . . and I dreamed that night of that enigmatical woman . . .”
  2. physiognomy – a person’s facial features or expression as in “His physiognomy underwent a complete change.”
  3. jocosely – playful or humorous as in “And he leered more jocosely than ever.”
  4. sagacity – wisdom, cleverness as in “Still, I had a great respect for Poirot’s sagacity — except on the occasions when he was what I described to myself as “foolishly pig-headed.”

If you enjoy watching for new words as you read, you may want to play along with this new weekly meme over at Bermuda Onion. For more go here.

worksMy daughter, Cerrin, recently discovered the usefulness of Batch Cooking. Cerrin wanted to eat home-cooked meals but literally did not have time to cook them every night. She has a Customer Service job by day, is taking her last college course on-line, and was about to start a three month job workings nights and Saturdays for a tax-preparation company. (We will not discuss her sanity in this post!)

She and I have done some marathon cooking in the past but this was her first session on her own. She did a good job of organizing: she gathered recipes, purchased all the food necessary, gathered freezing supplies, and borrowed an extra crockpot.

She started one crockpot Friday night. The next morning she emptied that crockpot and packaged the food for the freezer. She then started that crockpot up again plus another borrowed crockpot. Once they were going she started a pot on top of the stove and also got the oven going. On Sunday she finished with two more crockpots of food. Once everything was packaged and her freezer was filled she had 60 servings. Since she is single that worked out to 60 meals. You can adjust that to serve your family. Here’s a list of what Cerrin made:

  • Crockpot Tamale Pie (6 servings) (recipe here)
  • Crockpot Red Chili (8 servings) (ground turkey, red and pinto beans, tomatoes)
  • Crockpot White Chicken Chili (6 servings) (recipe at Recipezaar)
  • Meatloaf in oven or crockpot (10 slices) (recipe is here)
  • Corned Beef and Cabbage in dutch oven (6 servings plus 6 slices)
  • Crockpot Lasagna (6 servings) (recipe coming soon)
  • Crockpot Chicken and Rice (6 servings) (recipe coming soon)
  • Mini Pizzas (6 servings) (English Muffins, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese)

In each of these meals she made them into “plate meals” by adding servings of  frozen veggies. As Cerrin said,  “It would be more like eating a home cooked meal and less like leftovers. Because you know how much I dislike eating leftovers.” She’s been eating from her stash now for a month and it’s going very well. She is staying out of restaurants or drive-throughs and eating healthier. In addition she’s saving money by not being in the grocery store every week. It’s what Working For Her.

For more Works For Me Wednesday, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

 

mystraffstylesThe Mysterious Affair at Styles

by Agatha Christie

Penguin Books, 1920

(The picture here is from the audiobook cover. It was prettier than the paperback cover.)

I’ve read a lot of Agatha Christie’s books over the years but this year I joined an interesting challenge. The challenge is to read every single one of her novels in order of their publication. So I am going back to the beginning and starting with her first book. 

Summary: The story is set in England, specifically Styles Court, sometime during the first world war. The book is narrated by Captain Hastings who is back in England on a medical leave. He is invited by his old friend, John Cavendish, to spend time convalescing at Styles Court. Within weeks of Hasting’s arrival, John’s stepmother, Emily Inglethorpe is dead, obviously poisoned with strychnine. All this occurs while she is in her bedroom with all the doors locked from the inside. There are plenty of suspects and plenty of clues. Fortunately, Captain Hasting’s old friend, Hercule Poirot, is staying nearby and is willing to assist in solving this mystery.  

My Evaluation: For me, good, fun books introduce me to new people. In this book we meet two who will be back in future books. In addition to the narrator, Captain Hastings, Hercule Poirot is the obvious star of this book. He is intelligent, clever, extremely observant, a thinking-man’s thinker and more.

“I looked at the extraordinary little man, divided between annoyance and amusement. He was so tremendously sure of himself.”

Almost everyone is a suspect in the book. And, according to Mr. Poirot, that is the way we must approach solving this mystery.

“Still you are right in one thing. It is always wiser to suspect everybody until you can prove logically, and to your own satisfaction, that they are innocent.”

But for me, it was all the clues that had me confused. There is the coffee cup, the coco, the scrap of paper in the fireplace, an over-heard conversation, some green cloth in the door lock, a fake beard. It goes on. I had my own hunch about who did it but I couldn’t figure out how they did it with all the clues. By the end I was right in my guess of who, but was thrown off by how they did it.

All of it – the many suspects and all the clues – made for an entertaining read. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good diversion from heavier books.

So, this is number one in my quest to read all of Agatha Christie’s novels. One down/only 79 to go!  Not all in one year – it’s an on-going challenge. If you’d like to learn more about the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge go here. This book also fits my 1920’s decade for the Decades Challenge.

tuesdaywhereareyou

 

Where am I?

I’m in Minnesota in the nineteenth century. My family has come here to build a new homestead, grow wheat and become rich. As a young girl my favorite thing to do is play in the creek bed near our house.

I’m reading On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. To read more of It’s Tuesday…Where are you? visit An Adventure in Reading.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Here are a couple of teaser sentences from the same book:

teasertuesday“Laura told them about those mud-brown things without eyes or head or legs, that had fastened to her skin in the creek. Ma said they were leeches and that doctors put them on sick people.”

I’m reading On the Banks of Plum Creek for a challenge called Childhood Favourites. The idea is to read our favorite books we remember from childhood. It has been so much fun.

For more of Teaser Tuesday visit MizB at Should Be Reading.

grand-tetons-barn-2wtmk

The purpose of this weekly meme is to share some of the places we’ve been. They are places that stay with us for one reason or another. Join us. Post a picture on your blog, go to the comment section here and leave your link. Visit others who share their Favorite Places. Feel free to borrow the button.

Here’s this week’s Favorite Place: Devil’s Tower.

devilstwr1          devilstwr2

Devil’s Tower can be seen for miles before you get to it. It is quite weird to look at as you are driving across this empty section of northeast Wyoming. It’s considered part of the Badlands. In my opinion the best part of this area is how it fires the imagination. First I think about what it would be like to come upon this thing in slow motion as if you were traveling on a horse or a covered wagon or even on foot.

It’s no wonder the Indians had many legends about the place. It’s also called Bear Lodge and considered a sacred site by American Indians. Once you are up close it is quite a spectacular sight. The base of the tower is a mile around and there is a nice hiking trail visitors can take. If you are planning a road trip out west this should be on your list of Favorite Places.

What is one of your Favorite Places?

old-car

 

When I was growing up we used to hear about Will Rogers all the time. I haven’t heard anything about him in years. Although he acted in over 70 films and wrote over 4000 newspaper columns, he is best known for his humorous sayings. An email with some of his sayings came floating my way recently and I thought I’d share some with you. Here are a few on the subject of old age.

  • Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.willrogers
  • The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for. 
  • When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your youth, think of Algebra.
  • I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.
  • One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.
  • One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been. 
  • Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable

heart-arrowROSES ARE RED,

VIOLETS ARE BLUE,

I’M LIVING ON CHOCOLATE,

HOW ABOUT YOU?

heart_cluster

 

ROSES ARE RED,                  

VIOLETS ARE BLUE,             

MY DOG’S BREATH                

REMINDS ME OF YOU.         

 

 

heart-ballons

 

ROSES ARE RED,

VIOLETS ARE BLUE,

THIS RETIREE SENDS A VALENTINE 

JUST TO YOU.

Welcome To My Blog

me2 Hi and Welcome. I'm retired, joyfully, and now have the time to indulge myself in books, family, travel, food or whatever. This blog is my way of sharing the things I'm doing - places I visit, books I read and all the other things that make up this new retired life. For more about me visit my About page.

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