This is how I beat the heat after working outside.
In the morning I worked in the vegetable garden, removed Japanese beetles from my roses and fruit trees, watered hanging baskets, and hauled one of the dog crate pans outside to clean it with the hose.
After lunch, I pruned the bad grapes from our vines and went on my second round of Japanese beetle patrol of the day.
Then I decided it was too hot for any more foolishness of this nature. Ie.: Working. So I went for a dip in the pool where the water was a pleasant 79 degrees. Refreshing!
Then I spent the rest of the afternoon on a lounge chair in the shade and read while enjoying the company of some of our dogs.
Zekie is my constant companion. He is rarely more than a few feet away from me. This is just as well. Otherwise I have to keep looking for him to see what trouble he is getting into.
Claire likes to be outside. She has made it her job to keep track of all squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. She also barks at loud motorcycles and cars that she deems to be going too fast. Her true bliss seems to be keeping an eye on rodents residing in the rock pile.
Cassius likes to hang out near to wherever I happen to be. He was supposed to be my husband’s dog, but it turns out he is a momma’s boy. Wherever I go, there he is. He especially likes to lay in the middle of the kitchen floor as I attempt to work around him while preparing meals.
This is a typical summer day here at Sanctuary Acres. And once again, life is good!
I’m afraid I didn’t do a very good job of keeping up with my reading for the month of June. Must be all that gardening and taking care of the dogs! It’s been a long time since I’ve read only four books in a month. I did better than that while I was still working. I did read a number of magazines though. Everything from Writer, 2 issues of Writer’s Digest, Dogster, Mary Jane’s Farm, Traditional Home Garden, Coastal Living, Smithsonian, and Yankee, to Country Living. Below is the summary of the books that I did read.
Voracious-Cara Nicoletti (Non-fiction)
The author is a voracious reader as well as a voracious cook. She is a butcher, cook, and pastry chef in New York City. She discusses her favorite literature from various times throughout her life and cooks a food that related to her during the story. She shares the recipes. I found it to be an enjoyable book to read, but I will never make any of the recipes because they all require an ingredient or tool that I would need to go out and buy. I cook and bake quite a bit, so I do not see the average person pulling off these recipes. It was fun to read none the less.
2. Miss Benson’s Beetle-Rachel Joyce
Margery Benson is a rule abiding teacher living an unremarkable life. One day, things change, and she advertises for an assistant to go with her on a quest to look for the golden beetle of New Caledonia on the other side of the world. Her life becomes a series of life changing adventures. This starts out seeming like a simple straightforward book. The more I read, the more it made me think. I think this is really about friendship and life choices, and isn’t the goal of good books to make us think? It certainly did.
3. On a Coastal Breeze-Suzanne Woods Fisher
This is the second book in a series of the “Three Sisters Island” series. It takes place on an island near Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor, Maine, so I’m all in on this series! Each book focuses on one sister but includes views from all the family members and sisters. In this one, Madison Grayson is a newly licensed family therapist hanging out her shingle in a basement office and the church has the offices above. Her childhood nemesis shows up as the new pastor and she has to decide what the dynamics of her relationship with him are now. I have enjoyed both books I have read in this series. I will certainly read the next one. This is an inspirational series and mentions God throughout. It does not detract from the story though if that’s not your thing.
4. In a Book Club Far Away-Tif Marcelo
Three military wives become best friends and family. They are there for each other in every way until a betrayal alters their lives. Ten years later, a medical emergency brings the three together again. And they are there for their friend. Can they overcome the past and continue on with their long ago started book club and the rest of their lives, together? A good book about relationships of all types. I enjoyed the book.
Of these four books, if you want to read a book that sucks you in and keeps calling you back, read On a Coastal Breeze. If you want to read a book that makes you think, long after you have finished it, then read Miss Benson’s Beetle. I enjoyed both, but they are different kinds of books. I enjoyed all four of these books. It just depends what you are in the mood for.
One thing that I did manage to make enough time for, in the midst of gardening season, is reading! I can’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t make time for reading. It is a form of meditation for me. Quieting my mind and bringing inner peace, at least for a bit. It takes me away to other places and on adventures. It is good for the soul. On to the books I read during the month of May…
One for the Books-Jenn McKinlay
The wedding of librarian Lindsey Norris and boat captain Sully is finally here. Of course, the proceeding is beset by murder. Lindsey and Sully need to figure out who the murderer is so they can get on with their wedding without interruption. This is probably my favorite cozy mystery series and this book did not disappoint.
2. Spin-Patricia Cornwell
This was a library book and when it came due, I returned it. I was only on page 40 and doubt that I will check it out again to finish it. It didn’t keep my attention, which is very unusual for a Cornwell book.
3. The Spotted Dog-Kerry Greenwood
This book should have been right up my alley, it has a murder mystery and a bakery. After trying to read it for three days, I only made it 38 pages in and gave up. It just didn’t hold my interest.
4. Murder Likes It Hot: A Downward Dog Mystery-Tracy Weber
Kate Davidson is solving a murder case once again while trying to overcome problems in her own life. She owns a yoga studio that she must keep running while trying to conceive a baby and volunteering to boot. This is one in a series. I might not have picked this book based on the title but gave it a go based on the author’s previous works. An enjoyable book.
5. Maisie Dobbs-Jacqueline Winspear
This book was recommended to me by someone, and oh my! I am so glad I read it. This is one of the best stories I have read in a long time, and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. Maisie, through hard work and good fortune, rises through the ranks from service to become a college educated professional. She is a private investigator, and the story opens in 1929. It goes back in time to when Maisie was a young girl and explains how she arrived at where she is today. When the story resumes in her current life, she manages to solve a very intriguing murder. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
6. Virgin River-Robyn Carr
I love the Virgin River series of books! You get sucked into the characters’ lives and can’t wait to see what happens next. Melinda Monroe, after suffering a life altering tragedy, decides to accept a job in backwoods Virgin River, as assistant to the only local doctor. All is not as she expected, and she plans to move on, but becomes absorbed into the intricacies of life in this small town.
7. Winning Hearts-Debbie Macomber
A compendium of two short books, Laughter in the Rain and Love by Degree. The first is a love story between Abby and Tate. I found Abby’s character to be immature and annoying, but of course boy gets girl. I enjoyed the second story more, but still found the relationship between the characters of Ellen and Reed to be shallow. I suppose you can only do so much in the span of a novella.
My winner for favorite book that I read this month is definitely Maisie Dobbs. I already went to the library and checked out the second book in the series. Someone recommended that I read them in order, so that is what I plan to do. This first book was published in 2003, so they were written by as a historical novel. If you seek it out, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
The books below are all ones that I checked out of our local library. Libraries Rock!
Scratch the Surface-Susan Conant
Felicity Pride, cat mystery writer, finds a body in her own home and must solve the crime. She acquires two cats along the way. I love Conant’s Holly Winter character and dog mystery series. If I see a new one, I grab it off the shelf. I did not find this character as endearing, but it was still an interesting book, and it took me a while to figure out who did it.
2. Becoming-Michele Obama (Non-fiction)
This is the story of Michele’s life through her own eyes. She is a caring, hardworking lady who has made her own way in life. I had no idea of all the accomplishments that she has achieved on her own merits. She grew from a young, poor black girl living in the south side of Chicago, into the impressive lady she is today.
3. The Daughters of Erietown-Connie Schultz
The timeline of this novel starts in 1957 and continues through the early 1980’s. It focuses on the story of Ellie and Brick McGinty and their families. The tale gives a glimpse into the lives of working class families during this era. Connie Schultz teaches classes at Kent State and is an award winning author. She is also the wife of Senator Sherrod Brown.
4. The Forever Girl-Jill Shalvis
Maze, Walker, Heather, and Cat all return to Wildstone, California for Cat’s wedding. The first three were foster children with Cat’s family until life altering tragedy struck. They are together again to work out their issues and cement their relationship as a family. I never read a Jill Shalvis book I didn’t love. In my opinion she is the queen of relationship writing, and not just romantic relationships although she is great at those too. I always feel like I know the characters when reading one of her books.
5. The Lost and Found Bookshop-Susan Wiggs
After a family tragedy, Natalie goes home to take care of her grandfather and The Lost and Found Bookshop which he owns. After many struggles, both financial and emotional, she finds her way in life. The books also has glimpses of Natalie’s family through several generations in San Francisco.
6. Paws for Love-Mara Wells
Danielle runs a greyhound rescue and works as a vet tech for her father. Knox is home from the Marines because of an injury and working with his brothers’ construction company. They were high school sweethearts that went their separate ways. And now they are encountering each other again in their hometown. Dogs and romance, you can’t go wrong!
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite recommendation from this list. Going with my gut reaction, rather than weighing out which book has the most merits, I would tell you to read Paws for Love. I read through this book quickly because I was enjoying it.
The author describes how he and his wife bought a house in Provence. There are many amusing tales from his first year. He shares a real flavor of local life and you meet many people from the town. A good read. I will keep this book on my shelf and read it again in the future.
2. The Rural Diaries-Hilarie Burton Morgan (Non-fiction)
The author and her husband are both actors. They find and live their best lives in rural New York state. The author turns out to be a down to earth girl and seeing their farm and connection to the community grow is heartwarming. Definitely worth reading.
3. Dragon Teeth-Michael Crichton
This book was published posthumously, and I can still say, I haven’t read a Michael Crichton book I didn’t like. This one has science, dinosaurs, and the old West. I got sucked in and read it very quickly.
4. Bodie on the Road-Belinda Jones (Non-fiction)
The author suffers a break up and adopts a shelter dog to be her companion. After a few weeks together, they take a road from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, with many stops along the way. Belinda and Bodie both have a fabulous time. It is healing for both of them. Loved this book!
5. The Solace of Bay Leaves-Leslie Budewitz
This book falls into the cozy mystery category. Although I enjoyed this book, it took me a while to finish because once I put it down, I was not drawn back to it. May have been my fault and not the book’s. Pepper Reece, former lawyer, now owns a spice shop. She has a busy life between her boyfriend, friends, shop workers, and the police investigation. She still finds time to solve a murder and another attempted murder.
If you can only read one book from this list, I would read…play drumroll here!…A Year in Provence. I had a difficult time choosing between this one and Dragon Teeth, but since A Year in Provence is the book I am likely to re-read, it has to get my vote.
A Slice of Country Life…
This was another month that I did not do a good job of keeping up with my reading. Too much time devoted to dogs and hiking, I guess. It is only likely to get worse, as far as me having time to read. Gardening season has begun.
Hubby did the first tilling of the vegetable garden this morning, and maintenance of the asparagus bed. Then I planted various lettuces, spinach, and a few turnips and beets. After that we raked up branches and pine cones in the front yard from the winter, and I cleaned dead leaves and debris from the little flower bed beside the house. Don’t worry, these are hauled to a pile in our woods, so any pollinator eggs and larva are still nearby.
We went for our usual hike in the afternoon. Our life is always an adventure and nothing ever goes exactly as planned. I ended up with dog poop on my shirt early on in the walk from a pick up attempt gone awry. A little farther up the trail, Zekie walked up behind a garter snake that he didn’t see until the last minute. He started high stepping in reverse to get away from it. It was quite comical.
There’s never a dull moment. And so, life is good!
I didn’t do much better at reading in February than I did in January. In my defense, February is a short month.
1. Beaglemania-Linda O. Johnston
Adoption manager Lauren becomes the prime murder suspect after a dog abuser and puppy mill worker dies. Lauren spends all her time taking care of her shelter charges and looking for the real killer. Keeping herself safe becomes harder and harder. The first in a new series. A worthwhile read.
2. Christmas At the Island Hotel-Jenny Colgan
This story takes place on one of the far north islands of Scotland. It has an enjoyable cast of characters who all play a part in bringing off the success of the new hotel on the island. A nice slice of life in another land.
3. Rescue You-Elysia Whisler
Sunny and her sister Constance are involved in running a dog rescue. I grew really attached to all the characters in this book as I read about them working out problems in their personal lives and for the dogs. A very enjoyable book.
4. The Lending Library-Aliza Fogelson
When the local library closes for long term repairs, the main character Dodie, feels lost. She opens a library in her home with donated books and gets to know many people in her community. She also struggles with how to handle her desire to have a child while she still has time. I found this book to be ok, not the most exciting thing I’ve ever read, but not bad.
5. Return to Virgin River-Robyn Carr
This is one of the books on which the television series is based. If the show is anything like the book, I can see why it is popular. Kaylee is dealing with the death of her mother and moves to the town of Virgin River for a few months to finish her next book. She finds lots of people in town who become like family.
If I had to pick just one book for you to read from this list I would recommend Return to Virgin River, although Rescue You is a close second. Why wonder what you’re missing? Read them both!
Chelsea Martin tries to relive her year traveling through Europe. She went to Ireland, France, and Italy on her gap year between college and career. She decides she wants to find the girl she was, so recreates the trip with many unexpected results. A fun read.
2. The Bone Collection-Kathy
Four novellas about Dr. Temperance Brennan. We are given information about her background and how she came to be a forensic investigator. Intriguing as all works of Kathy Reich are.
3. Murder, She Barked-Krista Davis
Holly Miller returns unexpectedly to the pet-centered town where her grandmother lives. Murders and confusion seem to be everywhere. An enjoyable read.
4 .AGood Year for the Roses-Gil McNeil
Right after Molly gets divorced, she inherits a manor house from her Aunt. She and her three boys move from London to the Devon coast and begin a whole new way of life. Molly’s journey is one of growth and humor.
5.The Hundred-Year House-Rebecca Makkai
I nearly gave up on this book. It is written in 3 major sections, going backward in time. It could be a little hard to follow as each section began. By the end of each section, I was invested enough in the characters to keep going. The large house in question goes from artists’ colony to stately home to artists’ colony. It may be that the author is just too clever for me.
Of these five books, I would have to say my favorite was #1, Paris Is Always a Good Idea. I love Jen McKinlay, and this book did not disappoint. If you’re not into romance novels, The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs is also a very good choice.
I didn’t read as much this past month and I’m not quite sure why. I’ll try to do better for February. Keep in mind the quote (I can’t remember who said it), “Those who can read and don’t, are no better off than those who can’t.
Getting library books turned into more of a challenge this month due to the increased number of Covid cases in this pandemic world. My local library has once again had to shut its doors to the public, but I persevered. I was still able to get books by doing searches, placing the books on hold, and picking them up at the library’s drive thru window. And so I was able to get a new supply of books. That feeling of driving home with a new bag of books on the seat beside me never gets old. My reads for the month follow.
1. From Alaska With Love-Ally James
Sara develops a relationship writing to a soldier stationed overseas. Will things work out when he comes state side, or will the reality be too much? A fun read.
2. The Summer Deal-Jill Shalvis
Brynn strives to make a new life for herself after surviving a breakup. She moves back to her hometown and rekindles relationships with family and friends. I love anything written by Shalvis.
3. Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies-Vicky Zimmerman
Kate Parker’s nearly 40 year old life is going down the tubes. She begins volunteering at a home for old ladies. The friendship she makes with one of them changes her life.
4. Sealed Off-Barbara Ross
A murder mystery that takes place on an island in Maine. The Snowden family business is to put on clambakes. Relations between two of the employees go bad, or do they? A hidden room is also involved.
5. The Jane Austen Society-Natalie Jenner
This is a book about a group of people who become friends through their love for Jane Austen and her works. There was a lot of groundwork to lay so it took me a while to get into the book. It was well worth reading to get to the surprise ending.
6. One Thousand Gifts-Ann Voskamp (Non-fiction)
I only read a chapter and a half of this book. The writer talks about life struggles and described them so well that they were quite painful and stuck in your mind. Making you feel is the sign of a good writer and I’m thinking she over comes her problems given the title of the book. It is not the kind of book that I want to read right now with a pandemic going on. I may return to it sometime in the future.
Of this group of books, the one that is going to stick with me is #3) Miss Cecily’s Recipe for Exceptional Ladies. It shows the beauty of new and unexpected friendships and how they can improve our lives.
Happy New Year, fellow readers. Hoping your 2021 is a wonderful year and that your blessings exceed your expectations.
I think all of us have reached the point where we are thoroughly tired of Covid 19 and its effect on our lives. I know many have it worse than me, those who have suffered losses of loved ones, personal illnesses, and financial woes. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t have valid feelings of sadness and emotional distress as we struggle to make it to the post-pandemic world. So I am sharing with you, some of my coping mechanisms.
Keep a Journal
Mine is a journal of things that I want to do, but can’t right now for some reason as a result of the coronavirus. Here is a link to what is in my journal. Ways To Deal With a Pandemic That way I won’t miss out on things I wanted to do but couldn’t at the time. You could also keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings during isolation. Whatever suits you.
2. Get Outside and Enjoy Nature
Nature has a way of healing us that defies explanation, but it is proven to make you feel better. Surrounding yourself with plants, trees, and wildlife can bring a sense of peace. I find something magical about knowing that the greater world around me goes on, no matter what is happening in my life.
Exercise can help relieve stress at any time so it’s no surprise that it will work during a pandemic too. I combine my exercise with #2 above and hike or walk in nature. We attempt to take our dogs for a hike at least five days a week. If we are running late, the dogs let us know that it is time. They look forward to the outings too. People may be missing their gym workouts these days, but you can always walk. Just find a secluded area and keep your mask handy.
4. Train Your Dog (or cat if you’re ambitious!)
These may be trying times for us but our four legged friends are enjoying that extra time we spend around the house. Give them some extra attention and brush up on their obedience skills or teach them a trick. It will strengthen your relationship and the two of you will come out of this closer than before.
If you know me, you knew this was going to be on my list! Reading can take you away to other places and teach you something in the process. You can read non-fiction and learn about new things or places in our world. Or you can read fiction and get sucked into a good story. Either way, reading occupies your mind so that you escape for a bit from your current reality which can be a real treat in these trying times.
6. Take a Nap (Get extra Sleep)
The act of sleep rests your body and mind so that you are better able to deal with whatever comes your way. Also, if you are stuck on the “worry train” and distressing what ifs, or actual bad times, keep playing through your thoughts, sleep can break that cycle and reset your brain.
7. Work on a Hobby
Hobbies, especially artistic ones, occupy us so that it is hard to think about anything besides what you are currently doing. One of my hobbies is cooking. I especially like to bake and kneading bread dough is soothing to me. Working and shaping the dough is fun. I was working on breadsticks for Christmas. They got too long to fit on the baking sheet and as I was turning the end to make it fit, I thought that reminds me of a candy cane. So I made all the breadsticks in the shape of candy canes just to be festive.
8. Watch a Movie (especially comedy)
How often does anyone encourage you to spend more time watching television? In this case I think it is warranted. Letting yourself become absorbed into someone else’s life, especially in a positive scenario, may provide you with some mental benefits as you escape this Covid riddled world for a while.
9. Make a Phone Call to a Friendor Family Member
We can all feel a little lonely in these times of social isolation. Even me, and I don’t generally mind being by myself and am not a phone call kind of girl. I usually avoid the telephone and am often happy to spend time by myself. (For me, by myself means with dogs.) I have been making an attempt to keep in touch by phone with family members. And I make more effort to text and message friends. You may be helping other people when you reach out, because we are all in this together.
10. Don’t Give Yourself a Hard Time
We are all doing the best we can. You may find yourself being a little short tempered or down in the dumps, and not doing as well as you normally do. Cut yourself some slack. These are not normal times.
And in closing, be aware that there is light at the end of the tunnel! We still need to socially distance and wear our masks for a while longer. But the end is in sight. People are being vaccinated right this very minute. You have been strong enough to make it this far so you are up to the task of surviving what we need to do for the rest of this ride.
There is a winter storm headed our way. It should hit sometime tomorrow and last through Christmas. I am all set. I placed holds on several books at the library and picked them up at the drive thru window. Fulfilling my need for library books while staying safe.
Books, and libraries, are magical things. They offer us the opportunity to experience other places and times from where we are.
Even if you aren’t able to enjoy the feel and smell of real books, there are always electronic options available. They aren’t quite the same experience but can still offer you an adventure!