Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Gingerbread and Pillowcases

Not much was the same in 2020.

We became creative, inventive, technologically gifted, resourceful-all in the effort to live life and connect with fellow humans. Plans were ditched or tossed aside, trips canceled, 35th anniversary trips to magical locations did not occur. Birthday parties became drive-by’s. Travel screeched to a standstill as nature locations filled to overflowing with folks desperate to get outside. To get OUT. Childcare and transfer between shared-custody parents became fraught with contact points and who was sick and who was with whom when they got sick. Schooling reached new heights of teamwork between parents, teachers, and Nana’s. Vocabulary increased to include 2020-specific words like virtual learning, hybrid learning, Google Classroom, Zoom, Loom, Chrome Book, internet capabilities, mute yourself. DIY projects blossomed and not once was Lowe’s closed. I suspect they, and other home improvement stores, had a banner year of profits due to the frenzy of home projects. That, along with shortages of flour, yeast, sugar, and toilet paper gave insight to what most of us were doing. Staying home, fixing up, and baking.

The traditions were the hardest to “fix.” Outdoor gatherings, socially distant of course, and much fuss over wearing masks (cute, cotton, and washable) has become so normal, I fear for our social skills and facial expressions once the pandemic settles down.

And then Christmas. How to do gingerbread houses? Carefully. In a huge area. With only healthy grands.

And Christmas gifts? Christmas pillowcases became my idea of the year. Totally reusable gift bags, tied with jump ropes. Open your gifts, put your gift bag, er, pillowcase, on your pillow for a good, snowy night’s sleep. Why didn’t I think of this before? Sure, sewing them on Christmas Eve Day is not advisable, but it did allow me to work my way through several Hallmark Christmas Movies as I cut, pinned, sewed, and ironed. And I’ve already purchased my fabric for next year to avoid the same rush. (We might check back on that one, because having purchased fabric is not the same as having sewn the pillowcases. . ..)

Gingerbread cookies were baked yesterday. December 30. They taste just as good, no matter the date, especially plain, with coffee.

Are things looking up for 2021? I certainly hope so. But even if the recovery is slow, I know we can do it. We’ve had all of 2020 to figure out how to make things work. Like in the days of the Depression, our ancestors made do, made it work, or made do without it. We are ready.

May the Lord go before us, bless us, and keep us as we journey into the new year! See you next year!


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Book Review: Way Past Worried by Hallee Adelman

Way Past Worried

Written by Hallee Adelman

Illustrated by Sandra de la Prada

Albert Whitman & Co., 2020

I first heard about Way Past Worried when I read a post by Kathy Temean on her Writing and Illustrating blog. (By the way, this is a great place to read about new books, agents, editors, publishers, and so on.) Here is the link to Kathy’s original post about Way Past Worried: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/book-giveaway-way-past-worried-by-hallee-adelman/

Thank you so much, Kathy for featuring this great book! Thank you, Hallee, for the swag bag of fun gifts and a copy of Way Past Worried! It’s already a hit with the two young readers next door (my grands).

Brock is beyond worried about going to his friend Juan’s superhero party. He has so many questions and concerns about who will play with him (or not play with him), what if his costume is not good enough, who will he visit, and what if someone laughs at him. Brock’s worries build and build, making him feel way past worried.

This well-written book gives simple strategies for dealing with worry as the young characters attend a party. If you have a child (or even an middle grade or early teen) who deals with social anxiety, reading this book will help readers talk their way through possible strategies.

What I Loved About This Book:

~ So cute! The characters, setting, story, all of it.

~ Excellent premise! Who has not struggled with anxiety at one time or another? I imagine there will be many more instances of social anxiety once COVID is contained (or managed) and people of all ages are allowed to return to in-person social activities.

~ Great story! As I said before, I think this is well written and it’s very easy to read aloud. My granddaughter was enthralled from beginning to end. That’s her, wearing the mask sent by Hallee and holding my copy of Way Past Worried (which will probably end up at her house).

~ Perfect illustrations! Child-friendly and fun. I enjoyed looking at the illustrations as we read the story together.

Read more about Hallee Adelman at: https://halleeadelman.com/

See more of Sandra de la Prada’s illustrations at: https://www.sandradelaprada.com/

Amazon Blurb:

Brock is worried. Way past worried, with his heart thumping and his mind racing. Today is his friend Juan’s superhero party and he’s going all by himself. What if nobody plays with him? What if everyone laughs at him? Brock doesn’t feel like a superhero, but… what if he can save the day and find a way past worried all by himself? This engaging story speaks to kids’ emerging emotional intelligence skills and helps them learn to manage worry.


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Peoh Point Hike

Last month we took advantage of a sunny fall day and drove the 4×4 pickup to the top of a ridge just south of Cle Elum, Washington.

Peoh Point is a rocky outcropping overlooking Cle Elum and Roslyn, both of which are nestled near I-90 in Washington state. The drive to Cle Elum along the freeway is fast. But the fast ends once you get off the paved road.

The drive to the parking area of Peoh Point is definitely for high clearance vehicles. We did not need 4×4 at all, but the potholes and rocks would have caused trouble for my car.

We found the Peoh Point hike through the Washington Trails Association site: http://wta.org . You can visit to read my report for our day of hiking here: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report-2020-10-17-0055288474

Despite the slow ascent and very bumpy road, it was a beautifully crisp fall day with leaves full of color and drifting to the ground. Everything was damp due to recent rain, but snow was absent.

The “trail” begins about 10 miles up the unpaved road. Once you find the 5-way intersection of dirt roads, that is the place to park if you want a longer “hike” (or walk). Look closely, as I couldn’t count 5 roads so we missed this place. There is a sign which tells you to go left. We did. And parked just down the road.

The Peoh Point trail is really a cell tower access road, so the hiking was easy. Other than fallen branches, rocks, potholes, and puddles, it was a pretty relaxing hike. I’m glad we parked where we did though, to get a decent walk in. You can continue on the road to Peoh Point and get very close, about one mile, from the point. We wanted a longer walk.

The point. Wow. We had views! The cell tower is ON the point, but there is plenty of space to wander around and look at the views. We could see (and hear) the traffic of I-90 and even a train. We used binoculars to find landmarks in Cle Elum and Roslyn. We could see Ronald, the lake, and more. We could tell eastbound traffic was backed up on the freeway. It was fun to play “bird” and see from a bird’s viewpoint.

BEWARE: Peoh Point is a cliff! Steep drop-offs are all along the north side of the cliff. There is a fence around the cell tower, but even with that fence, it would be easy for a pet or child to wander through. Most of the area does not have a fence, so take care around the edges.

Fun fact: At the 5-way intersection, there was a sign pointing to a different dirt road, one that said Ellensburg, 23 miles (or so). We want to go back some day and take that back road home. We just didn’t have enough time for 23 more miles of potholes. 🙂

This hike is gorgeous. Plenty of evergreens, deciduous trees, wildflowers, chipmunks, and birds. We mostly had the place to ourselves, other than one other couple and a few passing motorcycles and vehicles. We did not see any facilities.


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Thank you, Vivian Kirkfield, for bringing this book to my attention. Perfect timing!

Parents, grandparents, families, this book is a free e-book for young readers. Be a Coronavirus Fighter touches on the most basic things we need to know about fighting the virus and staying healthy. Thank you, Helen Wu and Songju Ma Daemicke!

Be a Coronavirus Fighter!

Read Vivian’s interview with Helen Wu and Songju Ma Daemicke:

via Helen Wu and Songju Ma Daemicke: Will Write for Cookies and COVID-19 

Read to the bottom of the post to find the link for the book as well as links to learn more about the author and illustrator.


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Book Report: Jessica Tandy, The Girl Who Loved Candy by Susan Dils

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Jessica Tandy, The Girl Who Loved Candy

Written by Susan Dils

Illustrated by Juan Diaz

Mascot Books, 2020

 

What happens when Mom finally gives up on the whining and lets her daughter eat all the candy she wants?

Yikes! Most can (correctly) predict the consequences of this sweet-tooth folly. Quick, make a list of what you think happens. I bet you’ve guessed at least one disastrous consequence!

Thank you, Mascot Books, for sending a review copy of Jessica Tandy, The Girl Who Loved Candy.

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Why I Liked This Book:

~ Like Jessica, I love candy (though I rarely eat it due to the consequences of too much sugar)

~ Jessica, free to eat all the candy she wants, gorges herself, and then suffers overwhelming health issues

~ This book really lets readers know what will happen if too much sugar is in your diet (cavities, rotten teeth, poor health, grumpy attitude, sleepiness, general malaise)

~ The real consequences of eating straight sugar, even with brushing, are mouth and health issues; I’m glad this is included in the book

~ The book shares the path back to good health (and renewed friendships)

~ Love the importance of eating healthy, which was shared in ways I thought not too pushy

~ Great illustrations

~ I did want to shake the mom a bit (really? Jessica could eat ALL the candy she wanted??? But then, where would the story be?)

~ Fun and engaging, told in rhyme

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Amazon Blurb:

Oh, how delicious it would certainly be
If we could all eat what we wanted freely!
Join Jessica Tandy in this humorous tale as she learns a lesson the hard way, finding out that poor eating habits can lead to a lot more than just cavities.
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Cowiche Canyon Hike

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It’s official. This writer/editor/crafter/Nana is a bit out of shape. At least for what my phone termed as 55 flights of stairs.

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Our afternoon hike yesterday on the Cowiche Canyon hike was gorgeous. Pretty nice on the way across the uplands and down the steep hill to the canyon floor. Pretty sweaty and filled with loud gasps and burning muscles on the way back up and over.

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But a good time was had by all two of us.

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We started on Summitview Extension, parking in the last available spot. It is a small lot, really a parking pad. Then up, over, and through the sagebrush and blooming spring flowers we went.

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Yes! There were so many desert flowers blooming-purple, yellow, white, chartreuse. Because we had lovely, sunny weather, the lighting was quite overpowering for taking photos, but try I did.

We followed the Summitview Trail. Since the trail loops and swirls all over, it’s possible to wander for hours. We decided to hook left on the Radio Flyer Trail. This really does wind through the sagebrush but leads all the way down to the Cowiche Canyon floor by way of the Lone Pine Trail. Do note, the trailhead at the bottom headed up the hill looks deceptively simple. That’s where we managed to rack up flights of stairs. I wore regular tennis shoes, but hiking boots would have given me more traction in the slippery dirt and ankle-twisting rocks. (I avoided the rocks, but did slip a few times.)

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Our hike was over 3 miles and took us about an hour and 20 minutes to complete. I’ll say it’s because I stopped often to take pictures. But I also stopped often on the way up the hill to breathe.

We even had an “attempted” Sasquatch sighting! Oh, the silly things one does to have fun.

The Cowiche Canyon is a great location for exploring close to home (Yakima Valley). Once we were up over the hill of Summitview Extension, traffic noise disappeared and we could hear only ourselves and the occasional fellow hiker. NOW is a great time to visit. Mud was not an issue at all, wildflowers are blooming, rattlesnakes are sleeping, and heat and ticks are not yet an issue.

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Go. Now. Just please. If you are a dog owner, clean up the poop.


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In Life, Be a Ginger (Write Like a Dog Plays Ball)

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Be a Ginger. That makes me think of Doctor Who, the one who wanted to regenerate as a ginger. I think it was the Matt Smith Doctor Who.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Ginger is a young chocolate lab with oodles and oodles of energy. BALL is her focus. As in, “You throw the ball, and I will chase it.” All. Day. Long.

She wasn’t born with the ability to fetch and chase. As a retriever, she certainly had the innate characteristics for, well, retrieving. But as a puppy, it wasn’t realized yet. Her interest gradually grew to notice moving balls. With tons of praise and practice, she soon embraced the love of chasing and fetching the ball. Her only motivation became the ball. She chases so she can chase it again.

Ginger doesn’t care if she misses the catch. She repeatedly attempts to get to the ball before it hits the ground. If she misses, so what. She still keeps her focus on the ball, scoops it up, and brings it back to the stick person. That would be whomever is holding the Chuck-It Stick.

Sometimes, Ginger is quick and snatches the ball in mid-air. Most of the time, she does not. But she never quits trying. She keeps playing, chasing, and enjoying the game. In doggy words, with tongue lolling and sides heaving with exertion and joy, Ginger says, “I want ALL the balls.”

I think we all need to be a Ginger. In our writing lives, but also in life.

We need to focus. Practice. Make mistakes. Enjoy. Celebrate the successes. Ignore the oops. And keep showing up to play the game. Every single day. Get in the game. Play the game, our insides heaving with exertion and joy. Maybe we should keep our tongues in our mouths though.

I want to be a Ginger.

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Happy 2020!

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Happy New Year, friends!
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We’ve decided to make hiking the Cowiche Canyon an annual event. We hiked it last January 1st and made a return trip today. It’s becoming very popular!
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May the Lord bless you and your family in this new year of a new decade.
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I might be slow, but I finally figured out why all the New Year’s Eve parties were 20s themed. May your 2020 be filled with roaring good fun and great health!
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Haiku Moment: self-portrait

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favorite weapon

shadow self, shooting pictures

me? it’s what I do

 

self-portrait by Angie Quantrell

 

Photo taken at Potlatch State Park, Hood Canal, Washington State.

Thanks to Hypatia-in-the-Woods for the opportunity to be me.


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Book Report: Her Fearless Run, Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon by Kim Chaffee

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Her Fearless Run, Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon

Written by Kim Chaffee

Illustrated by Ellen Rooney

Page Street Kids, 2019

 

Blurb from the book:

“Girls weren’t supposed to sweat. Girls weren’t supposed to compete. They were too weak, too fragile, to run distances like the Boston Marathon. That’s what most people thought.

Kathrine Switzer changed their minds.”

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Thanks to Writers’ Rumpus, I received a gift copy of Kim Chaffee’s Her Fearless Run, just born this year! Thank you so much, Kim, Ellen, Carol, and Writers’ Rumpus!

 

I’ve always envied women who have the desire, drive, and determination to run long distances. I do not have those qualities, and would rather hike or walk long distances.

“I didn’t set out to make history; I was just a girl who wanted to run.” – Kathrine Switzer

Her Fearless Run is the fascinating story of Kathrine Switzer, a woman committed to opening the doors for women to run long distances during a time when it was frowned upon and not allowed. At all.

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What I love about Her Fearless Run:

~ I love how skillfully Kim Chaffee wove together real life information with the story of Kathrine standing up to the expectations of a male-dominated sport. I love that Kathrine kept plodding along, facing each obstacle with grit, just as she would in marathons and long distance running.

~ I love the vibrant and informative illustrations and how they lend the air of the past to the story.

~ I love the messages of Her Fearless Run. Girls can do anything! Hard work and perseverance pays off. Individuals can make a difference and impact others. You can do things you enjoy.

~ I love the ease of reading and interesting story that kept me glued to the pages of Her Fearless Run.

~ I love that I can share this book with other young readers and inspire them to go after their dreams and passions.

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Amazon Blurb:

Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967. Her inspirational true story is for anyone willing to challenge the rules.

The compelling collage art adds to the kinetic action of the story. With tension and heart, this biography has the influential power to get readers into running. An excellent choice for sports fans, New Englanders, young dreamers, and competitive girls and boys alike.

 

KID KANDY:

Go for a Run!

Materials: chalk, running journal, drawing supplies (crayons, pencils, markers), snack

1. Read Her Fearless Run. How did Kathrine start out as a runner? Can you follow the steps she took?

2. Invite someone to run with you. Use chalk marks to count your laps.

3. Relax after your run by searching online for information about Kathrine Switzer and the Boston Marathon. Are there any marathons hosted near your home? Perhaps you could go and watch one. Our city has a race with adults and younger age groups.

4. Eat a healthy snack, drink cool water, and record your laps in a running journal. Draw a picture of yourself running.

5. Repeat!

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