Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Lost, a search for six of six million, by Daniel Mendelsohn

I liked this book. In fact I read almost all 512 pages in one evening and a whole day. I don't think I've done that since I was a teenager. It coincided with me having the right book and the time to read it.

The Lost is about the writer's search for the truth as to what happened to his grandfather's brother, wife and four children. Growing up listening to his grandfather's stories and the rich way he told them about the old life in Europe. Where it was said you could be born in Austria, grow up in Poland get married in Russia and die in the Ukraine, with out ever leaving town.

The search takes him to the small Ukrainian town where his family has lived for three hundred years, to speak with eye witnesses of events. His travels will take him to Israel, Australia, Sweden and Denmark, to name a few.

He has to become a detective listening to what these eye witnesses have to say and what they hold back, cross referencing these stories one to the other. It's part memoir, part mystery, and part scholarly work.

Daniel Mendelsohn speaks of his grandfather never telling a story from its beginning to end, but rather jumping around and pulling in other pieces, which hold you spell bound and I think this is how he has told this memoir. It unfolds like one of those paper finger puzzles you used to play with as a child. Lifting one corner peeking underneath and closing it back up again.

Daniel Mendelsohn is a Hebrew, Greek and Latin scholar and I found this to be of interest in the book with his definitions of words and references from the Bible and Torah.

"Sunt lacrimae rerum, there are tears in things."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rayburn and Aga

Growing up as a child we always had a Rayburn . This is like the Rayburn we had, this model is the 1946 one. It's richer brother is the Aga . Ours used coal. With an oven on the other side and heated the water, plus you could run one radiator off it. Over the years we had three. Mum and dad had one in their last little thatched cottage, that one was in their sitting room, in the big old open fireplace.

Mum always had a kettle of water simmering on the side, so a cup of tea was almost instant. It was the center of our home and brought comfort on a cold winter day

Sunrise, Sunset In Blog Land

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Generosity of Strangers a Peg Bag from Fieldy

I am truly quite new to this Blog World, it is amazing and has opened up all sorts of views, little snippets into peoples lifes around the world. From Finland to New Zealand, from the Far North to the Far South. How people live their every day, day to day life.

I entitled this post The Generosity of Stangers. Of course over a period of time one follows certain Blogs and you no longer feel that they are stangers. You begin to wonder what are they doing today. What has Gillybean planted in her garden, even though it's the middle of the winter in New Zealand. What new doll has Little Jenny Wren made, or is she cozy this winter with her wood stove going in her kitchen in Tasmania. Did Tiny Happy enjoy her time spent with family, what new things has she made. Has A Home From The Heart reconciled her decorating ideas in Finland. What new items has Fieldy made in Scotland, maybe a tea cosy, or a bag, or a hot water bottle cover for those cold nights in winter, a needle case to treasure in ones sewing box or some corsages.

So to get back to my point of Generosity of Stangers. I have won this wonderful Peg Bag in a giveaway by Fieldy in Scotland. I am so excited. Take a look at Fieldy's Blog . Her lovely work uses those beautiful Harris Tweeds which are so lovely and rich. So this treaure will be making it's way across the Pond. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Harris Tweed fabrics and yarns are so beautiful. I remember Kasse Fassett saying it wasn't until he came to Britain and saw the wonderful colors, that set his mind racing on what could be done with them.

When I was a child visiting Scotland, my mum bought a length of Harris Tweed for a skirt and matching yarn to knit into a cardigan and it was a hard choice. Look at Fieldy's Blog and you will understand what I mean.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Surprise Middle School Graduation Party for Rob

Tables are set.We are waiting.Rob is surprised and oh! you gotta love those retro aviator shades.The cake.The punch. Good time with friends.

Two dear friends who have been there, right from the beginning.

Rob's Dragonfly Photos

Rob took these photos with my camera, which I thought turned out well, considering I do not have an expensive camera.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I had never even heard of Cath Kidston until I started blogging. It seems she's very popular especially in the UK. I like her style, it's not over worked. My friend Zi gave me these three books. So now I'm in the loop on the Cath Kidston.

I so want to try some recipes in here, especially one for Devonshire Splits. It's a Paragon book, so recipes from the UK.
And I do want to take some time to do some painting.

Do you know what this is? It's to stone a mango. I still have to use it and see if it works. My friend M. found two in a thrift shop and gave me one. Great idea if it works because stoning a mango is quite difficult.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Carrie's War

This film is set in Wales during WWII. The reason I took a photo though is because I love her hat. Isn't it adorable, with the embroidery?

It's about evacuees from London being moved to Wales, a brother and sister and their adventures there. Living with a very chapel brother, Mr. Evans who remains cold and distant, and sister, who likes the joy and life of having young ones in the house and, who meets up with an American GI.

And just the enchantment of Wales, the Celtic history, it's tales and how they come to feel this, by visiting Druid's Bottom and getting to know Hepzibah and Mrs. Gotobed, Mr. Evans estranged sister.

I have very happy memories of Wales. Even though it always rained almost the entire holiday. Our regular issue as children was a plastic rain coat and "Welligogs." We went there for several summer holidays camping. I especially remember Swallow Falls on a rainy day.

A Step Saving Kitchen

This is an archive film clip that I found on Little Jenny Wren. It is well worth watching and takes you back to a more nostalgic time. Here is the Step Saving kitchen

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Salvaged Metal Chairs

I was going to put salvaged wrought iron chairs, but I don't think they're wrought iron, just metal and black. My neighbour put them out in the trash along with a table. So I sanded them down. I asked my husband for a wire brush, but he came up with an old electric drill, with a circular wire brush on it, far better. Then I bought the cheapest black spray paint from Wallmart and sprayed them. I second guessed my self, thinking I should have done them in the matte black and not the glossy black, but so be it.

Painted chair and table with tray and candle on it.

I bought cushions on sale, they're the water resistant ones.

I am pleased with the results. I like a lower chair, because I find them more comfortable.

P.S. The only problem is I sanded one chair and painted it, two cans of spray paint also another piece of garden furniture, which I started last year, which took six cans of paint, that was last Saturday and since then, the tip of my right index finger has been numb. It's gradually coming back, but this is Thursday. Tuesday I sanded the other chair and table and painted them both, trying not to use that finger. I even used a snap on trigger for the spray cans. Maybe it was the vibration of the drill.

Resistance, By Owen Sheers

Resistance is set in 1944. When you first pick up the book you think that the cover is depicting France and of course the title makes you think that. The premise of the book is this what if Nazi Germany was successful in invading Britain. How the lives of woman living in an isolated valley in Wales are changed by the war.

Sarah Lewis a twenty-six year old farmers wife wakes up one morning to find that her husband has left during the night. It turns out that all the men in the valley have left during the night to join a resistance movement. The women had no previous knowledge of this, they are left to do the best they can and band together helping each other run the farms.

Later a German patrol comes to the valley on a mysterious mission. Sarah begins a faltering acquaintance with the commanding officer, Albrecht Wolfram.

After this basically all that happens is set in the valley, between the women and the German patrol. The end is up beat, but leaves you wondering, does Sarah meet up with Albrecht for a future life together? Or does she become her own woman and take charge of her destiny? I came to the first conclusion, but you could quite easily come to the second, it's ambiguous.

I did like it the premise was interesting. I think a whole other book could be written on that idea, but moved out of the confines of the valley.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Gift From Tobago and B & B

My friend Ali has just come back from Tobago after visiting her family there. This is Ali with her daughter and this is what she brought back for us.

Her mum has a Bed and Breakfast Jone's Country Inn there and she's always inviting us to go. The web site is, the name Ali's mum had for the B&B before someone from Europe who moved in took it and registered it. It was known all over the island that, that was the name for her B&B, it was time honored. But with everthing today if you don't register it, someone will take it.

So I'm going to save my pennies and see if we can go. The only trouble is the cheapest fares are in April, May time and Rob starts High School this September, and it was bad enough taking him out of school this year. In the end we were able to get it changed to an excused absence. Even though he turned in a very nice daily journal of his trip. Plus truancy letters were piling up on our door mat. Even though all teachers and Principle were informed about our trip. So that's the drawback.

This cake was very good. Could taste the rum. It was more like a very dense bread pudding than a cake.

An Aged Wine

This is Rob as a little boy. He is sitting by the kitchen sink, where we had sorted grapes and destemmed them. You can't see the grapes, as this was originally not a digitized photo and was scanned in, so I only have this one, not the whole series, but I know this was when we made this wine. Rob sat and helped me. So it must make it eleven to twelve years old.
I was cleaning up our basement and decide to syphon the wine off. It has been sitting in these gallon demi-johns on the dregs, all these years. I didn't have regular wine bottles or a corker, so decided to just empty one demi-john into a decanter and clean the bottle, then syphon one into the next. I actually have one more bottle of wine, than shown.

When you syphon you always get a mouthful and I can tell you, it hits the back of the mouth and is warm and goes down the throat warm. I made it as a dry wine. I like it and will also use it as a mixer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Easy Company Soldier, Don Malarkey

This is a memoir of a "Band of Brothers" soldier, from his early life in Oregon, to his being drafted in 1942. He spent more consecutive days in combat than any other member of Easy Company. Battled his way across France into Germany.

I enjoyed reading about his family, his childhood, growing up in Oregon of Irish descent, and also some of his life after he returned from war.

Something that really makes you think though, is the fact that so many WWII veterans became alcoholics. My husband's father was a flight engineer in WWII and flew many missions over Germany. I'm happy to say he did not become an alcoholic. But Don Malarkey did, a functioning alcoholic. So many of his company became alcoholics, even ending up homeless. I have a friend who's father flew the regular route over the Himalayas, taking supplies to China. A great guy to talk to, a wealth of stories, but an alcoholic. You cannot possibly see all that and not be effected.

Something, a statistic I heard recently, which when explained you understand. A Japanese kamikaze pilot had a better chance of living, than an American or English bombing crew. The reason being because these crews and squadrons, were flying day after day. A kamikaze pilot only flew when the weather was right and they had located the target and that was not as often. An amazing fact.

So I'm very happy that Bo's father made it back to later have a son.
To get back to the book, did I like it? Yes. See My Bookshelf for this book.


When I originally set up my Blog I didn't put Moderate Comments on, then I thought I should, so I added it. And of course silly me, didn't even think to look that I had any comments to moderate. So to all those who left comments, thank you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Barcelona, Sunday 4th May 2008

Here we are arriving at our hotel in Barcelona. We chose this hotel to stay at out of Rick Steve's guide on Barcelona. It turned out to be a good choice. It was very central, not too far from Catalunya Square and some of Gaudi's wonderful buildings.

Our hotel room and with a balcony, so we felt very European, in this old hotel, with the tile floor and full length French doors to the balcony. The tile work has such a Moorish influence.

A view of the street that ran past our hotel.

Walking down the Ramblas on Sunday morning. Here we are at the bird market. Just being there and listening to all the birds was something.

Here is Rob and I, we're choosing a nesting box. In the end we chose the one that Rob has his hand on.

Here we are at the flower market, further down the Ramblas.

Here are some of the other market stalls.

Crossing from the end of the Ramblas into the waterfront area.

One of the last remaining towers of Barcelona's medieaval walls is found in the shipyards.

A wooden submarine.
Inside the renovated Royal Shipyard. Here is a copy of Juan de Austria's Royal Galley, built to mark the 4th centenary of the Battle of Lepanto. As the galleys would have stood in the slipway, ready to slide down to launch. The coastline has moved out since these galleys were launched.

Some views of the interior archways.

A model of a typical old Spanish fishing boat, going out.
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