Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Throwback Thursday: The ’74 #TBT

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Check out this cute guy. Turns out he was giving me a ride in a shiny green ’74 Chevy.

The curls, the swagger, the adorable guy hauling around his honey. The guy would be my honey, Kevin. The girl would be me.

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Back in the early days of our relationship, we traveled far and wide. Most of that was back and forth to college, Seattle, Tacoma, the mountains, the beach. This trip was over Chinook Pass where we stopped near an overlook featuring Mt. Rainier. Beautiful mountain and cute guy. My mom used to roll her eyes. Yes! She did. Because all I would say was, “He’s so cute!” I think she got tired of hearing those words.

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The green truck has been in and around our family since it was brand new. My then future father–in-law bought it when it was about 6 months old, a dealer model. Love that avocado green! It’s been a favorite color for me since, well, forever. Kevin’s family took it to Ocean Shores each summer, hauling along the Prowler camper. I was so excited when they invited me to go along. Believe it or not, all 4 of us (Kevin, both of his parents, and me) road around Ocean Shores sitting on the long bench seat. Clam digging, crabbing, eating out, beach runs, yard sales, hot fudge sundaes. I have such wonderful memories of the old green ’74.

Let’s not forget one of our first dates. Kevin had just barely received his drivers’ license and asked dear old dad to borrow the lovely green pickup. So we were dragging the ave. Yakima Avenue. We stopped at a stop light, my honey. He was driving so careful. But the drunk lady behind us was not. On our first outing, we got rear-ended! Her car was pretty smashed up. But good old greeny had a tiny dent and bent bumper. The fear of telling dad what had happened was worse than the actual accident. But we all lived to tell the tale.

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After we were married, Kevin and I had it for several years. We also toted along the Prowler when we took our family to the beach. This truck went wood cutting, Christmas tree hunting, and moving people to and fro.

Later, my dad had the ’74 for quite a few years. He loved to tinker with it and keep it running. He managed to fix it up quite nice. After a certain number of years, one had to always carry a quart or two of oil behind the front seat and commit to regularly checking the dip stick during long trips.

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Eventually, my dad gave the ’74 to Bub, as he liked to call our son. Because old green ’74 was showing her age. Bub, a talented and gifted mechanic, a man after dad’s own heart, was nearly the only one besides dad who could keep the old gal running and on the road. And he didn’t mind constantly repairing this and that. Dad and Bub spent many happy hours puttering and repairing not just the ’74, but an entire fleet of old Chevy trucks and vehicles.

Today? The ’74 is still going strong. My honey recently remade the original wood racks that had graced the back for decades. (Literally.) Rust has worn holes in several sections of the fender. Green spray paint has been added to protect and keep additional rust from making holes. There is nearly a hole beneath the drivers’ side feet-rust, water, salt water, sand, dirt, many years of use.

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Ok, maybe she needs a bit more spray paint. But I do love my rust.

It’s alive and kicking. And we are all the more fonder because of the special memories each of us have surrounding this approaching classic truck. Chevy. Like a rock. The heartbeat of America.

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Kevin made this picture frame from the old wood rack rails. A very talented friend painted this picture for Taylor from a phone snapshot. This is the Chevy line-up, folks. Chevy.

What stories can you tell about your favorite Chevy? (I’m not allowed to name any other brands.)

 


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Book Birthday: Saving the Countryside, The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit by Linda Elovitz Marshall

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Saving the Countryside, The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit

Written by Linda Elovitz Marshall

Pictures by Ilaria Urbinati

Little Bee Books; January 28, 2020

 

Happy Book Birthday to Saving the Countryside, The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit by Linda Elovitz Marshall!

Thanks to Little Bee Books for sending me a review copy.

Friends, this book is gorgeous! Being a bit of a Beatrix Potter fan, England fan, and general nature and caring for the planet fan, this book hits the trifecta for matching all three interests.

Well written, beautifully illustrated, and chock full of Beatrix Potter, I recommend grabbing yourself a copy.

Why I Love This Book:

~ Well written and interesting

~ Gorgeous and colorful illustrations

~ I learned so much about Beatrix and England and Peter Rabbit-perfect!

~ The backmatter fills in additional information

~ The setting, the history, and the tone of the times were spot on

~ Great read! This is a book I will reread over and over. It’s like a little trip to England without leaving my RV.

~ Gardens. I adore gardens. English gardens. Just ask my husband and son, who were in trouble more often than not when they tried to “tidy up” the edges of my flower beds.

Congratulations to Linda Elovitz Marshall, Ilaria Urbinati, and Little Bee Books for a job well done!

Amazon Blurb:

“Fans of Beatrix Potter will delight in this tribute to her dedication and talent, encapsulating a legacy that reaches far beyond the pages of her beloved books.”-Foreword Reviews in a STARRED REVIEW

“Empowering and fresh.”-School Library Journal

“The life of the British picture-book author and illustrator makes a serendipitous subject for an engaging and attractive picture book…A well-told tale that makes the life story of the renowned author accessible to children.”-Kirkus Reviews 

“Perhaps Peter Rabbit needs no introduction, but even children who know Beatrix Potter’s name probably know little about her. This appealing picture book fills that gap…. Recommended for young Beatrix Potter fans.”-Booklist

“In forthright language, this picture book biography recounts her boundary-breaking life as she grows from a nature-loving child with a menagerie of pets…into a successful artist and canny entrepreneur. An attractive introduction to an iconic creator.”-Publisher’s Weekly

“An exceptionally accurate portrait of Beatrix Potter told with humor and surprise. Beautifully done.” Linda Lear, author of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature

Through she’s universally known as the creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter did so much more. This is the true story about how she helped save the English countryside!

Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn’t go to school and weren’t expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished.

There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it’s been preserved just as she left it.

This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter’s lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.


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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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Book Report: Freedom’s Highest Flight by Casey McCall Corbett

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Freedom’s Highest Flight

Written by Casey McCall Corbett

Illustrated by Patrick Powell

Mascot Books, 2019

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I received a review copy of Freedom’s Highest Flight from Mascot Books. Thank you!

Happy May 7, 2019, book birthday, Freedom’s Highest Flight!

I was attracted to Freedom’s Highest Flight because of the bald eagle and football connections. I’ve always been interested in birds of prey and football is on my list of favorite fall activities.

Written in rhyme, Freedom’s Highest Flight tells the tale of both Freedom, the bald eagle mascot for Georgia Southern, and Erk Russell, one of the most famous football coaches for that university.

I enjoyed the imaginative story telling by Erk as he shared Georgia Southern football history with Freedom. I learned more about football strategies, plays, and players. By the end of the book, I was proud of GSU and all of their championship accomplishments. Interesting backmatter is a great addition to the story. Freedom’s Highest Flight is a fun read!

For lovers of college football, team mascots, and football history, Freedom’s Highest Flight is the perfect book choice.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Mascot Books Publishes Freedom’s Highest Flight

By Casey McCall Corbett

Herndon, VA, May 7, 2019: Mascot Books announces the release of Freedom’s Highest Flight by Casey McCall Corbett; Illustrated by Patrick Powell.

Fans of Georgia Southern University will love this tale about one of the most famous football coaches in school history, Erk Russell. Join Freedom the eagle and his pal Erk on a high-flying journey through history to recount the rise of GSU’s football program to winning multiple championships.

Growing up with a father as a football coach immersed Casey into the world of football at an early age. Several of her father’s high school athletes went on to play with Georgia Southern during its infancy of Erk Russell football, when the school was just a college and the program itself had very little funding. Little did she realize she was watching the history and legacy of Georgia Southern football develop and where it would lead her later on in her life.

Her affection for the outdoors and wildlife led Casey to a career as the education coordinator at the Center for Wildlife Education at Georgia Southern University in 2009. It was in this position while being trained to fly Freedom, and the other raptors, that ideas of a book about Georgia Southern Football began to form. The memories of her football past and growing up with a connection to Erk Russell football made her realize she had come full circle with an exciting story to tell.

To set up an interview, reading, signing, or for information regarding Freedom’s Highest Flight, please contact Chris Baker at chris@mascotbooks.com.

Freedom’s Highest Flight is registered with the American Wholesale Book Company, Baker & Taylor, Follett Library Resources, and Ingram, and available online with the following retailers:

AMAZON

BAM! Books-a-Million

BARNES & NOBLE

MASCOT BOOKS

About Mascot Books

Mascot Books is a full-service, multi-genre, independent book publisher and distributor. It is a hybrid publishing company headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. Co-founded in 2003 by Naren Aryal, Mascot has published more than 2,500 books in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, children’s, cookbooks, and coffee table books. Learn more at www.mascotbooks.com.

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Throwback Thursday: Colors of Desert Sun

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The opposite of sun-bleached, we were sun-drenched.

Long shadows, blinded eyes, rich dense colors.

Yes, this was us in the early 1970’s. I was most likely in 2nd grade, dressed for Arizona heat. My brother was in kindergarten, already pursuing his unique personality and sense of humor. Little sister must have been preschool-age, but back then going to preschool was not a thing families did.

Yes. That was how our yard was landscaped. Gravel, dust, scrappy weeds. The interesting parts were the critters and wildlife we discovered as we played and explored the desert environments. In this location alone, I remember collecting gallons of tadpoles after desert storms, and hunting horned toads, tarantulas, scorpions, snakes, spiders, jack rabbits, and those scary spider wasps. We also rescued a tortoise from the middle of the road and let him burrow around in the back yard. Thaddeus Humperdinck. That was his name. No idea why.

Yes. Windows open. The weather must not have been too drastically hot, and judging from the distant clouds, we might have recently enjoyed rain. We had a swamp cooler on top of the trailer and I remember lying on the floor beneath it during the hottest part of summer days with my coloring book and crayons, cooling off in the damp wind it created. But in this photo, the time of day was when the desert sun was kissing the horizon, ready to give us well-deserved shade and respite.

Yes. This was a very cool station wagon. Not only a wagon, but a magic vehicle capable of transporting us on weekend family treks to historical, dusty, engaging, scary, crowded, isolated, or deserted Arizona hot spots. Haha, “hot” spots. Soda pop bottles, white bread, bologna, and we were ready to roll. Up hill, down hill, across stretching southwest landscapes, stopping for rare shade trees and dusty gullies, drips of streams and gorges filled with flash floods. Life was an adventure. Include: dogs, kids, play pen, stroller, and avid interest.

Yes. A home on wheels. And we used those wheels to move the trailer several times over our life within the metal, possibly uninsulated, walls. We survived desert thunderstorms, lighting shows, freezing temperatures, snow storms, and heat hot enough to cook (insert your favorite food). Home it was. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room-kitchen, and utility room. Kids lived on the right end, parents on the left. We six (plus critters) crammed a magnificent amount of life into that gorgeous tenement on wheels.

I loved living in the desert, back when heat didn’t bother me and I spent all my days outside, digging in the dirt, catching insects and reptiles, chasing kids in the ‘neighborhood,’ and making up daring adventure stories while riding horseback with my similarly minded friends. The nostalgia of childhood paints beautiful masterpieces in my mind, blotting the difficult times (were there any?) and adding exquisite details to enhance my thankfulness to God for a good, excellent, childhood.

What about you? Which photo takes you back to your childhood?


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The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

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The Girl with the Red Balloon

Written by Katherine Locke

(Albert Whitman & Company, 2017)

 

Last fall, I won a copy of The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke from Natalie Aguirre’s Literary Rambles.

I immediately read The Girl with the Red Balloon. Who can not read a book with a tag that says The wall keeps us in. Magic gets us out.?

The tale is told of Ellie, a girl who visits the Berlin Wall Memorial during a school field trip. Ellie has family ties to World War II and Germany, as her grandfather miraculously escaped from a death camp. As Ellie considers the impact of that horrible time period, she notices a red balloon. Innocently, she grabs the string and is immediately deposited in East Berlin in 1988, where she is found by Kai, a member of an underground society. Ellie, Kai, and several others must work to figure out how and why Ellie was transported back in time when the purpose of the red balloons was to take death camp members over the wall and away from a certain terrible fate.

Much history is shared in the telling of this story. I loved the mixture of magical realism, history, teen relationships, family heritage, and mystery. Danger, high stakes, death, and good versus evil all blend together in this great story. Ellie is stuck in the past and must find a way to return to her own time. But this is complicated by magical developments and a budding romance.

Locke tells the story from different viewpoints, but the switch off is easy to follow as every chapter is clearly labeled with the point of view character. I had to focus a bit to understand the historical connections, but the book is well written and engaging.

The Girl with the Red Balloon is a great read for anyone who enjoys history hooked together with a bit of magic.

P.S. Look what comes out this fall!

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The Day the Mountain Blew

Standing on the top edge of Mt. St. Helens, looking at Mt. Adams

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

What were you doing on May 18, 1980?

Maybe you were not even born yet! That does make me feel old, so let’s keep that to ourselves.

On that beautiful Sunday morning, so many years ago, I was at church with my family and friends. It was during Sunday school, so the time was early in the day.

Rocks, rocks, rocks!

Murmurs of something going on and the escalation of tension crept throughout the groups of people. We all went outside and saw huge, billowing, black clouds racing our way from the west.

Upon the advice of emergency officials and church leaders, everyone was sent home.

Soon, the entire sky was overtaken by the black gray heavy clouds. Not rain clouds as they appeared, but ash and smoke. Grit started to pour down. It wasn’t a gentle ash, but steady and thick.

Mostly we were excited to find out what was happening. I don’t remember being afraid at all, just curious. We got to skip out on church, and though we were all advised to stay inside out of the ash, we ventured out several times to check out the weather.

Volcano weather.

At that time, we didn’t have immediate access to world events. No one really had computers, just radios and the basic television channels. Phones were all old fashioned and connected to a wall phone jack. Information traveled much slower.

A view of what’s left at the top of Mt. St. Helens

One of my weekend jobs was to care for an elderly lady one street over. Mrs. Nelson lived by herself in a big house. She was alone that volcano-y day. I received a call asking that I go over and check on her. I did so, and explained to her what was going on and made sure she had her lunch and the things she needed.

My then future-husband was on his own for the weekend, as his parents were out of town. So he ended up at our house for much of that week. He was normally there, so that was nothing new.

As this was our first volcano eruption, we had no idea what we were in for. School was open as usual Monday morning. We headed to school. I remember trying to use the windshield wipers. Scrape, grit, scrape, grit. Not a good idea.

It was all excitement for the students. A volcano! Ash and grit. LOTS of ash and grit. A volcano ashfall.

The problems became evident soon enough. Students waiting for buses to stop were overwhelmed with clouds of billowing, drifting ash. We couldn’t breathe! People started wearing face masks just to be able to be outside. Vehicles were being damaged by the large amounts of ash and grit being inhaled and forced through the internal engines. Others tried to begin the clean up process, only to find there was nowhere to put their mountains of ash.

The girl with the cow shorts heading up Mt. St. Helens

So much ash. Inches fell on every little thing. Daytime looked like nighttime. Headlights had to be used to improve visibility.

After Monday, school was cancelled for the rest of the week in order to give everyone time for cleaning away ash. I’m sure officials were scrambling to figure out what to do with the ash, checking to see how dangerous it was for breathing, and searching to find out what damage was being done to the machines that were out working through the depths of the volcano fallout.

Things slowly returned to as much normal as could be expected. Mt. St. Helens was forever changed. Much of the mountain was spread throughout Washington state and the northwest. The Yakima Valley was in the ash fallout zone, while others on the opposite side of the mountain were hit by pyroclastic flows of steam, ash, mud, melted snow, and raging rivers. Lighter ash was transferred around the world by wind. Farmers washed off or plowed under the layers of ash all over our farmlands. People collected jars and containers of ash as momentos. Creative folks figured out ways to transform the ash into artwork and jewelry. Books were written, studies conducted, interviews given, and research began.

Not everyone survived that day. But for those of us who did, we remember the day the mountain blew.

So much information has been collected, stored, and shared. You can read more about Mt. St. Helens here.

Me (left) and Kevin at the summit of Mt. St. Helens

We have no personal photos of Mt. St. Helens the day it blew. If we did, we probably would not be alive to share them. We did, however, hike to the top of the mountain in 1993. After reading the warnings on paperwork from the ranger station, we seriously considered our health and personal welfare! Watch out for steam vents, thin crust, the edge of the top (where the edge often broke off), the dome in the center of the volcano (we couldn’t go there), and tremors. It was and is a live volcano, after all!

I’d love to hear what you were doing on the day the mountain blew.


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Old Words

 I was preparing to take a relaxing bubble bath in my claw foot tub last night when I saw a wadded up log of newspaper on the floor.

The paper log was actually old newspaper. Old 1949 newspaper.

It was super dusty and fragile, so I didn’t undo it, but went ahead and enjoyed my bath, contemplating the sudden arrival of newspaper in the bedroom.

This morning, long after honey had gone to work, I noticed the newspaper had been carefully unrolled and somewhat flattened.

That was when I saw the date on the antique (or is it vintage?) Seattle Times. Sunday, March 27, 1949. Fascinating.

I do love looking at old newspapers, especially the ads. Odd, I realize, but the price comparisons between then and now are amusing and sad. The articles in this bundle also told tales of the times – fashions, comics, businesses, and even child rearing and feeding advice.

This was no ordinary newspaper. It was mystery newspaper that had been recycled to provide padding for an old wood and woven jute chair. We didn’t even know it was stuffed. Look at how creative folks were at repurposing way back before the word was even in use.

Now we know more about the chair (it is older than both of us) and the news of the day from several decades ago.

Words are valuable. No matter how old or in what format they are discovered.

 

What are some words that are valuable to you?