Take A Look At My Books!
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...
The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R. R. Martin
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free!” Frederick Douglass
Recently, I came across
a review of a book by Anne Bogel, “I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life.”
“For so many people, reading isn’t
just a hobby or a way to pass the time,” Anne says, “ – it’s a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can’t imagine life without
When I was about 8 years old, my mother and her best friend, Florene, had taken me and Florene’s two children, Glen and Marsha, who were about my age, to the beach to spend the day. I was lying on my towel squinting against the sun and reading. Glen and Marsha were in the water but I could have cared less. I was reading. My mother said to me, “You’ll never have any character lines on your face because you never stop reading long enough to develop any character!” I wittily replied, “Huh?” and continued reading. Well, I’ve developed plenty of character lines and have never stopped reading.
When we were first married, John discovered that I read constantly and I even brought several books on our honeymoon. He got used to the fact that I had a book propped up in the kitchen, one in the dressing room
and had several on my nightstand. He read mostly technical journals when we first met and eventually married, but subscriptions to everything IEEE puts out eventually lose their charm when one’s life partner reads one amusing passages from Fannie Flagg’s
“Standing In The Rainbow” or death defying excerpts from John Caldwell’s book, “Desperate Voyage,” like the one below, especially when we had actually MET John Caldwell!
“From Perlas to Galapagos, and from Galapagos on west, I had uttered such curses as I doubt have ever been heard over the keel of a ship. In every squall, gale, calm, cloudburst, and contrary current, I had unloosed
a flood of invective to shame a mule skinner. But more than that...in the height of my extremities I had profaned God Himself. On many an occasion I became so bold as to defy Him, deny Him, and swear I would profess atheism all the rest of my life. I even
invited Him on deck – man to man – anything but the obstructing persecution of the elements, anything but the slow crawl when I wanted speed. And now, lost, foodless, without instruments, I humbly bent my knees to the deck and laid my folded hands
upon the cabin. With eyes raised, I sent off a most heartfelt plea for forgiveness, a piteous appeal to Pagan’s real Captain.” Now I ask you, doesn’t that beat the heck out of what’s doing with transducers?
Books can infuriate us. Yes, indeed, I read the first chapter of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and threw it in the trash. Thoroughly enjoyed the recent movie, “Book Club,”
with Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and so forth, but was dismayed when the book Jane Fonda forced on her friends was “Fifty Shades of Grey!”
read “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Winsor as a pre-teen and it made such an impression on me that I forbade my own pre-teen daughter, Leah, ever to read it as it was just too sexy. It was pretty racy, even making the Black Plague sound hot and bothered,
but nothing like what’s being published now. She still hasn’t read it.
“Little Women,” “Gone With The Wind,” “Lonesome Dove,”
“Tom Sawyer,” “Huckleberry Finn,” anything and everything by Pat Conroy, including his cookbook. And my favorite team, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child...these guys created FBI Special Agent A X L Pendergast, one of the quirkiest,
most enigmatic, brilliant persons ever drawn on a page. Jack London, C. S. Lewis, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, and about a hundred others are my favorite authors. Recently read and thoroughly enjoyed: “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles.
Childhood favorites, all “The Black Stallion” books by Walter Farley, “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry, “Lassie,” “Lad: A Dog” I loved them all. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Reading, friends and neighbors, never gets old. Reading can keep you from feeling alone, from feeling sorry for yourself. Can help you while away the time waiting for doctors, airplanes, other people. Reading is always our friend. What book made you fall in love with reading?
“I’ll miss you most of all, Scarecrow!”
Baum The Wizard of Oz
Sierra Madre has a scarecrow contest in October and, being a connoisseur of scarecrows, when I came across this lovely couple, I had to
stop and take their picture for posterity. Now I ask you, are these guys not incredible!!
It’s officially Fall and persimmons are appearing here, there, and everywhere
and, being a persimmon lover, I want to share my persimmon story with you, dear friends and neighbors..
Some years ago, my Dad lived on four acres of lime trees in Valley
Center, a community up in the hills between Temecula and San Diego. As Valley Center is not far from the Mexican border, my Dad always had plenty of guys who were looking for work to help him with the trees. He would practice his Spanish with them, give them
food, spend time talking to them about their lives in the country they had just left and what they hoped to find in America. My Dad loved to talk to people, any kind of people. Many of these guys who wandered into his yard were from Guatemala, which is a very
long way from the border. They told tales of murder, desperate hunger, desperadoes waiting to rob these migrants and were beyond grateful for a few sandwiches and a bottle of water. But I digress...we were talking about persimmons.
While he still lived in Valley Center, before his wife passed away and he moved to Ajijic, Mexico himself, he had an extremely prolific Hachiya persimmon tree. I would go down for the day to visit
them and he would give me a big bag of persimmons. I would send some to my cousin, Cindy, eat a lot of them and occasionally make persimmon cookies. I’m still mad that he sold that lovely home and moved to Mexico. He’s been in heaven for a while
now, but I treasure the memories of those days in Valley Center, Dad’s persimmons, and the delicious champagne we occasionally sampled together.
At one time a persimmon
tree grew down in the lower reaches of our yard. It sat down there doing its job for years and then one day, apparently tired of life, it broke in two. What a disappointment, as the fruit was delicious and I had finally learned how to do something with
them, other than just wait greedily for them to ripen and devour them.
Fortunately, it was overlooked. No one was in a hurry to tear it away from the last shred
of stump the tree was still clinging to. For a while, I forgot about it and then one morning walked down to look at it, and discovered there was more fruit than I could count! Hard and pale orange, but they would ripen beautifully by November.
One windstorm too many separated the tenuous coupling between branch and root and that was that Some years later I planted a persimmon down there
in the lower region, a Fuyu. I have never had even one persimmon from that tree. It’s really in a bad spot, forced to fend for itself as far as water and sunlight are concerned. If it ever bears anything, the squirrels get to them first.
It struck me that the broken persimmon is a picture of what God could do with our lives if we would let Him have his way. If we could cling to Him, as the persimmon clung, tenaciously,
to its roots, God would fill us with his grace, his spirit, and we, too, would provide a harvest of good fruit; love and peace, patience and self-control, joy… oh yes! a huge crop of joy, regardless of circumstances.
Now that our persimmon tree is gone, Dad and his persimmon tree are no longer within my reach, I look longingly at the few persimmon trees in our area and consider introducing myself to their owners, somewhat like
Oliver Twist, “Please sir, could I have some more?”
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup persimmon pulp (Hachiya persimmons, not Fuyu)
2 cups flour
½ tsp. cinnamon (I like cinnamon so my tsp. tends to be heaping)
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
You can also add a cup of chopped
nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or some of all three.
Puree persimmon pulp in blender. If you cut the top off the persimmon and squeeze the ripe fruit over the blender, it will spill right out. Then dissolve the soda into the pulp. It will become very thick, like pudding.
Blend together flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
Stir in dry ingredients, persimmon-soda mixture and raisins/nuts/chocolate chips.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto well-greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 10-12 minutes. Makes 5-6 dozen. These freeze well.
Drop a dozen in a Ziploc bag and give them to someone you love, or someone who needs to be loved. Or hide them in your freezer and eat them all yourself one rainy day (I use that term laughingly as Southern Californians get a spoonful of rain
infrequently) in February.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the
head, running down the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” Ps. 133
It is said that this precious oil is oil of persimmon... anyway, enjoy the cookies!
“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude, it’s gratitude that brings us happiness.”
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
is always, always, always something to be thankful for!”
Are there ever moments in your life when you feel like you’re kinda down at the bottom of some
pile of never-ending stuff you wish you didn’t have to do and you’d like to sit down somewhere and whine. Well, friends and dear family, I’ve been sort of in that place lately but yesterday, the nicest thing happened. I got a card from my
sister, Heidi. On the front it says, “Whether sisters live near each other or far apart...” and then the inside says, “Sisters are there for each other through everything that matters. They are connected at the heart, and no one can ever
break their bond. I’m so glad we’re sisters. Love, Heidi” Inside the card was an exquisite butterfly with a tag attached to it that says, “There is always something to be THANKFUL for.”
Her card arrived at exactly the right moment. I’d started making strawberry preserves and feeling sorry for myself. Not exactly crying in my strawberries, but close. Then I opened Heidi’s card, the butterfly
flew out, my spirits flew upward and I had a moment to thank God for Heidi and for all of my family.
The picture here shows a few, just a very few, of the things for
which I am thankful: My adorable husband, John, yes, still adorable after 50 years together; my Texas girls Jessie and Emily, a few flowers left from the bouquet my son gave me almost two weeks ago, and, of course, Heidi’s card, the butterfly, and the
“Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done.” Jonathan Oatman,
If you’ve never made strawberry preserves, you should give it a try. Strawberries are fairly inexpensive right now and look fabulous. There are recipes
all over the place for strawberry preserves. You can google. But here’s how I make them:
2 pounds of strawberries (strawberries are packaged in those plastic boxes by the pound!)
2-1/2 cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
1 TB butter
Wash and hull the strawberries. Pick out half, preferably the largest and firmest and put them in the big pot you plan to cook your preserves in. Add half the sugar and the lemon juice and crush the berries with a
fork. Add the remaining sugar, the rest of the berries and stir well.
Cook over high heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. That’s a boil that
can’t be stirred down. Transfer this to a 9 x 13 glass dish and set it aside, uncovered, overnight.
Next day, get out your canning jars and new lids. 2 lbs. of
strawberries will make about 4 half pints of preserves, more or less. Sterilize your jars and lids and set aside so they’re ready when your preserves are ready.
berry mixture to a boil over high heat in that same pan you used yesterday. Cook, stirring, until mixture jells. Now, this is the tricky part. You keep holding your spoon up out of the mixture while you’re stirring, and when it’s really jam, it
will drip off the spoon at different points, rather than running off in a smooth stream. Trust me, this works! Add the butter at this point, which keeps foam from forming that you need to skim off.
When you know you’ve got jam, take your pan off the range, set it on a hot pad and spoon your preserves into the jars leaving about a quarter to a half inch of room at the top. Immediately put your lids on and screw the
bands on tightly. I like to invert my jars so they’re standing on their heads till they cool. That way the fruit is all the way through the jar instead of crouching up close to the top. The lids should not spring back when you touch them.
When you spread your own strawberry preserves on your toast, you will be filled with gratitude and thankfulness. Honest!
“So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort
give you to your journey’s end.”
Thank you, Heidi, for being my angel yesterday. I love you.
“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” George Bernard Shaw
“Fer-til-iz-er: A substance which makes soil more fertile.” (Webster)
When last we chatted, I waxed rhapsodic on the joys of homegrown tomatoes and now I've moved along in the garden to zucchini - a bane or a blessing?
Having grown zucchini and pumpkins,
fertilizer is a superfluous frill as far as they are concerned. Put a couple of seeds in the ground, go away for the weekend, and be astonished when you return to find that their vines have cascaded all over the geraniums, the Dutch Iris and zinnias are fighting
for their lives and thse greedy little tendrils are eyeing the garage. Zucchini is delicious when it’s small and tender but neglect to pick it and a day later, it has metamorphosed into a club the size of a baseball bat. You can grate one all day to
make zucchini bread and never finish. Neighbors see you coming and won’t answer the door. The zucchini phenomenon is sort of like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia! with his enchanted broom and buckets of water.
The zucchini inexorably keep coming and coming!
Anyway, when the zucchini overwhelm you, chop up some in your salad, sauté some in olive oil with tomatoes and lots of onions, drain and stir in some sour cream and top with a little parmesan cheese for a really great veggie dish. Or get out your Cuisinart and grate some for bread. This one is particularly good. This recipe originally came from Dorothy Reinhold’s column in the Pasadena Star News in 2011. In it, she described her son’s ecstasy about the zucchini bread that his 3rd grade Webster Elementary School instructional aide, Mrs. Corinne Le, had baked and brought to share. “It’s soooooo good,” he said, “and she gave me the recipe. It’s really really good!” And it is, too! So, thanks Dorothy and Mrs. Le. This is the best zucchini bread I’ve ever had. It’s neat to think that these third graders got to taste something fabulous that a teacher wanted to share. Teachers ARE exceptional people!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8” x 4” loaf pan.
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
½ cup chopped pecans (optional), dried cranberries are good in here, too, and maybe a little chopped apple.
In a medium bowl combine first 6 ingredients.
In another medium bowl combine sugar, zucchini, oil, egg and lemon peel. Mix well.
Add dry mixture to zucchini mixture, stir just till moistened (batter will be lumpy)
Add nuts and/or cranberries, and apples.
Spoon batter into greased pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack for 10 minutes. When your bread has cooled off a little, cut yourself a slice and sit down and enjoy it with a cup of coffee. You deserve a break after all that planting, fertilizing, harvesting, distributing and baking! This freezes well, too, so you can double the recipe, which just happens to be in my book, “A Tablespoon of Love, A Tablespoon of Laughter.”
“In simple humility, let our Gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life.” James 1:21
“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” David Hobson
“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” George Bernard Shaw