The Launch of a New Blog – The Best I’ve Seen in a Long Time

I have lost track of how many blogs I have looked at over the years, especially during the month of April every year for the AtoZ Blog Challenge; a thousand blogs would be a conservative guess. In order to return to a blog, I have a high standard. The presentation must be easily readable, uncluttered, an attractive presentation, content well written, posts not to long and interesting! I highly recommend this beautifully presented blog with a young professional woman approach to life, health, clothes, travel. I hope you will share this with the women in your life who will be interested. This is a brand new launch as well presented as I have seen. It is obvious that first class creativity has gone into creating this blog. A sure winner in the blogging world.


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Never Under Estimate a Trip to the Library To Make Your Day – Donna Leon’s latest – Earthly Remains

I arrived at the Braswell Public Library in Rocky Mount, NC to do some research on the ZB Bullock family and their Renaissance Revival home built in 1927. If you love architecture like I do you might enjoy reading this post.  When I was ready to leave, I thought to check the new releases that are conveniently shelved near the entrance to the library. There to my delight were TWO new books on my Want to Read List: Deborah Crombie’s, Garden of Lamentations and  Donna Leon’s Earthly Remains, the twenty-sixth novel in this fabulous mystery series set in and around Venice. I felt like I’d won some lottery money with this good fortune. I left the library, books in hand, plus my research notes with a giddy-up in my step. (Here is the link for the Review of the Crombie book.)

Over time I have come to consider the intelligent and capable Police Commissioner, Guido Brunetti as one of my most interesting and likable friends who waits for me on the pages of Leon’s books. Brunetti and the ensemble of characters never fail to deliver a satisfying mystery that I find addictive.  Each case reveals another facet of Venetian life. Brunetti reports to a self-serving Vice-Questore Patta, while inspector Vianello is at his side helping to solve the crimes. There is the all-knowing and well-connected Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary, who provides endless information she should or should not be looking into on her computer.



Earthly Remains is another well-written mystery.  During an interrogation of an entitled, man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Brunetti acts rashly, in trying to protect Vianello who is about to act out in anger against the man under interrogation. In the fallout, Brunetti realizes that he needs must get away from the problems of his work.

When Brunetti is granted leave from the Questura, his wife, Paola, suggests he stay at the villa of a relative on Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the laguna. There he intends to pass his time rowing and reading Pliny’s Natural History. The recuperative stay goes according to plan until Davide Casati, the caretaker of the house on Sant’Erasmo, goes missing following a sudden storm. Brunetti feels compelled to investigate and understand what happened to the man who had become his friend. I’ll leave it up to you to discover the rest of the story.

More information about Donna Leon and police commissioner Brunetti

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Garden of Lamentations – The Newest Deborah Crombie Mystery

My interest was peaked the moment I discovered that one of Notting Hill’s private gardens was part of the setting in London for Deborah Crombie’s latest 2017 book. Having already done some research myself on London’s Garden Squares for the latest novel of my own, I was doubly interested in how Crombie used the garden in the story. She never fails to deliver a well-written mystery with an on-going cast of characters that you care about. As usual, I had no idea who “done it” until all was revealed in Garden of Lamentations. Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are drawn into separate investigations that will keep you up reading later than you intended. As avid readers, we really never mind when good writing and a setting we can’t get enough of takes over our lives for a few days. This latest book will not fail your expectations of a Crombie mystery.

FYI: I thought you might like the benefit of my research to add to your enjoyment of this read. Garden Squares have long been a feature of London. A few, such as Trafalgar Square, were built as public open spaces, like the squares found in many cities. Most, however, were originally built as private communal gardens for use by the inhabitants of the surrounding houses. This type of space is most prevalent in central London, but squares are also found in the suburbs. Some of these gardens are now open to the public, while others, for example around Notting Hill, are still fenced and private. In this latest mystery, Cornwell Gardens in Notting Hill is private and should limit the list of suspects.

The making of residential squares fell into decline in the early twentieth century, one of the last notable such squares having been designed by Edwin Lutyens for the suburb Hampstead Garden. Numerous squares were in danger of being used as building sites. This was banned by the London Squares Act of 1931. Since 1998, numerous squares and other private gardens have been open to the paying public due to an initiative by Caroline Aldiss. This is called the “London open Garden Square Weekend” and takes place on the second weekend in June. The event is organized by the London Parks and Garden Trust and made possible by many volunteers.

This year you can explore 230 private, secret and little-known gardens across 27 London boroughs over one special weekend. Gardens range from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental and include private gardens, roof gardens, community allotments, gardens belonging to historic buildings, institutions, cafés, schools and shops. One ticket gives access to numerous gardens across the weekend. Read this new mystery, and imagine meeting me at the Open Garden Square Event in June. I WISH!

Open Garden Squares Weekend is on 17-18 June 2017.

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A Writers Writer – Jeffrey Archer – The Clifton Chronicles


“If you make a deal with a fool, don’t be surprised when they act foolishly.” – Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell

“The worst moment of any campaign is waiting for the sun to rise on the morning of the battle”
― Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell



In a twenty-four hour time period, I started and finished Jeffrey Archer’s first book in the Clifton Chronicles Only Time Will Tell. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down, It didn’t hurt that I was tucked up in bed trying to get over the ‘syndrome’ that Lewis Grizzard named….Elvis Presley is Dead, and I’m Not Feeling So Good Myself.  As a reader, you know how great it is to find an author like Archer who writes books for the likes of me. Well controlled, I enjoy a story with many characters that I quickly came to care about, with changing points of view, additional historical background, and of course, great writing. This is a family saga that begins with Harry Clifton as a young boy, surrounded by a group of adults together with a mother, who is willing to sacrifice for her bright son, they see that he receives a proper English education. If your reaction is…nothing original here, keep reading!

It was what I found on Wikipedia about the author, Jeffrey Howard Archer, that was like discovering the Archer Chronicles. I don’t want to give the book away or tell too much about the questionable life of Jeffrey Archer, but it will make you shake your head. Here are some bullet points. +Member of Parliament (1969–1974), but did not seek re-election after a financial scandal that left him almost bankrupt. +After a revival of his fortunes from the royalties of his best-selling novels, he became deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1985–1986) before resigning after another scandal, which would lead to the end of his career in elected office. + He was made a life peer in 1992. +His political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment (2001–2003) for perjury and perverting the course of justice, which followed his second resignation. These are only a few of the misdeeds during Archer’s life, yet, his writing career touts 330 million copies sold worldwide….give or take.

There was one piece of information on Wikipedia that I found amazing because it involved Rupert Brooke, who is important to me. In 1979 the Archers (who don’t exactly have a traditional marriage)  purchased the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, a house associated with the poet Rupert Brooke.  (“There is no wind and no sun, only a sort of warm haze, and through it the mingled country sounds of a bee, a mowing machine, a mill and a sparrow. Peace! -Rupert Brooke) Every summer, they host a lavish garden party in the grounds of the Old Vicarage to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Archer’s life may be stranger than fiction, but it has informed a remarkable literary career.

Clifton Chronicles
• Only Time Will Tell (2011)
• The Sins of the Father (2012)
• Best Kept Secret (2013)
• Be Careful What You Wish For (2014)
• Mightier Than the Sword (2015)
• Cometh The Hour (2016)
• This Was a Man (2016)

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Way Beyond Your Childhood Paper Dolls Clothes

When I was a little girl, I loved to play with paper dolls. With a blunt pair of scissors, I would set about cutting the clothes from the page in the paper doll book, occasionally cutting off a tab that helped hold the clothes on the doll. In thinking back, it was a harmless way to learn from a mistake. There is a new generation of paper craft people playing paper doll clothes in a creative way. They make beautiful dresses out of lovely papers, add embellishments, and place them on cards or tags, and other creative projects.

7a6099f4d746e88d17fc88435f92ba1fThere is another reason I am enamored with these beautiful miniature creations. I have imagined an alternative career choice for a darling granddaughter, Miss Kelsey M. When she was growing up, she used to design clothes on a sketch pad. She has always had an eye for fashion experimenting with her own wardrobe from an early age. When I saw these amazing little jewels, I knew Kelsey M. could work her magic with  this paper craft.  I’m sharing Pinterest images (Artists unknown) to prove that paper dolls have come a long way since I was using blunt scissors.

This post is dedicated to Miss Kelsey M.















Take a minute and check out this video-How to Make an Origami Dress   

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Now You Know The Rest of the Story – David Halberstam’s THE FIFTIES


I envy my grandchildren who will live long enough to read a book written by another David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who has written about the social, political, and athletic life of America in books like The Fifties, The Best and the Brightest and The Amateurs. I have high hopes that one of my granddaughters, Emily Roesner, with her great interest in political science, will be the one to write such a book about these past ten years and beyond. Through the lens of time and with perspective, I desperately want to know how history will judge the key people who have played a part in this current social and political scene. What responsibility will be placed at the feet of the media, the reasons for the rise and fall of Obama, of people like Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove who have interpreted events and policy for us? Will Clinton herself ultimately bear the blame for her loss? What led to the mood of the country that wanted to see America great again? What about Poloci and Reid, McConnell and Banner in their respective leadership roles? Reading  The Fifties has been SO interesting; a book about this era will be too.

I was a teenager in the Fifties. Like these women in this photograph, I wore a polo coat, and saddle shoes and learned to drive. I left for the University of Kentucky in the fall of 1956. Dwc1a27b22_1910ight Eisenhower was running for re-election as President. I dragged my mostly southern democratic Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters to Rupp Arena to hear him speak. Halberstam offers portraits of not only Eisenhower, but Dulles, Oppenheimer, MacArthur, Hoover, and Nixon, Harley Earl, who put fins on cars; Dick and Mac McDonald and Ray Kroc, who mass-produced the American hamburger; Kemmons Wilson, who placed his Holiday Inns along the nation’s roadsides; U-2 pilot Gary Francis Powers; Grace Metalious, who wrote Peyton Place; and “Goody” Pincus, who led the team that invented the Pill. Reading this book has provided THE REST OF THE STORY as Paul Harvey used to say on WLS-AM 890 in Chicago.

thIf you are a certain age, I guarantee you will be all the more captivated by this book because this is part of your story from President Truman’s firing of General Douglas MacArthur, the Eisenhower years, Senator Joe McCarthy’s red-baiting, the early U.S. involvement in Indochina, the H-bomb, the purging of atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Supreme Court ordering the integration of schools, troops in Little Rock to enforce it, the Montgomery bus boycott, the rise of Martin Luther King, Russia’s sputnik launch, and Castro’s revolutionary Cuba.

th-1Halberstam’s book, The Fifties chronicles the social, political, economic, and cultural history of the ten years that he regards as seminal in determining what our nation is today. No one living through the fifties could have fully grasped the far-reaching ramifications of what was playing out around us. Now we will have to wait and see what these last years have wrought. I for one am optimistic and excited about the possibilities ahead. Reading The Fifties reassures me that even when we get it wrong, we can repair our losses and survive our scoundrels. I am placing my hand over my heart to pledge allegiance….I hope you will too.

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December 21 – Giving you the Gift of Poet Chris Heeter

b786819b1723b7043c388187663aaf7eSeeing Solstice
There is a pause now
this quiet Solstice time
before light slowly lengthens.
The temptation?
To count the days.
To hold our breath
until daylight stretches into evening
and early morning forces back the darkness.
What a relief it will be
these light-starved eyes
to see again
no longer fumbling in darkness.
somewhere deep inside
past resistance and reason
you know this darkness, too, is your home.
A place you were taught to hurry through
lest you be swallowed by the whale of darkness
never to be seen again.
Your soul knows better.
Your soul knows night is the place of dreams.
Far beyond what seeing eyes call horizon
night eyes know no such boundary.
Solstice is a powerful teacher:
the trickster who invites you to go out sledding on a moon-less night.
Daring you to take a risk, to lean in,
to stay with what is uncertain and unseen.
She whispers in your ear as the sled starts to move,
Your vision limits you here.
Your desperation to see keeps you from seeing.
In this place, we see not with our eyes, but with our whole being.
It is a place that asks for your full participation,
accessing all of your senses and trusting different ways of knowing.
A place that reveals hard-earned truth and wisdom that lasts.
Light would never be so generous with its depths.
She has other things to give.
So, on these long nights of winter solstice
may you find your wildest dreams
walking companionably alongside you.
Having waited for you all this time
to turn toward darkness
and find not fear, but peace and courage
and wild desire for a life
you are ready, now, to live.

Chris Heeter
Visit : The Wild Institute

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A Writers Writer- Pat Conroy’s new book- A Lowcountry Heart


December 11, 2011 -Last night I finished a splendid memoir written by the irascible and charming Christopher Hitchens. It is called Hitch-22, and the title reminded me of the time I found myself talking to a fascinating man at the deep end of a swimming pool in New Orleans. He turned out to be Joseph Heller. – Pat Conroy

It doesn’t matter the season, I am never without a book. Usually, I read propped up in bed and have been known to look up and find that it is 2:00 in the morning. When I finish one book, often at bedtime, the next night I begin anew. Some in hand, some from my Kindle. You know Pat Conroy died this year and his readers continue to grieve. Late this fall a new book of his nonfiction was published. It brings together short pieces that appeared on his blog or found in other places. It’s wonderful! What else would you expect? I dare you to try and read just one short entry; Conroy is always hard to put down. Anyone who reads and loves books or even writes as I do will want this book. I’ve always loved Conroy’s work and now I understand the heart of this man all the more. I highly recommend this collection of stories that never fail to please. Conroy himself was a reader extraordinaire and proves the fact that in order to write well you must read well.

Here is a line I must share: “The word blog is the ugliest word in the English language to me…But I use it as a way to sneak back into my own writing without being noticed.  A new novel awaits my arrival, prepares for my careful inspection.”

You might want to read earlier posts I have written about Conroy. Here are some of the links. There are more under the category of  A Writers Writer

Discovering Himself in the Movements of Beaufort-Dolphin

Paying Tribute to Conroy on his 7oth Birthday

A Writers Writer-Pat Conroy-Prince of Tides


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My Favorite Wild Poet – Chris Heeter – Saying Goodbye to Fall



This fall season arrived with bountiful sun and rain.
A blend that promises the extended version
of high definition fall foliage.
And so it is that I step outside to a day that is yellow.
Yes, yellow.
The color permeates everything:
the scent, the feel,
even the taste of the air is gloriously yellow,
with hints of red and gold
and a finish of russet oak leaves.

This is the season where the land
dresses in her finest earth tones.
A season where change is on display
reminding us of its beauty
even as we bid a fond farewell to shades of green.

Yes, change is a good thing.
We know this, even as we occasionally
offer a tug of resistance.

So today, if you are lucky enough
to be near trees releasing their autumn leaves,
let their swirling descent
and rich hues entice you
to likewise find grace in letting go,
reminding you that holding on
isn’t always what is called for
in the pulse of our wild imaginings.

Chris Heeter

CONTACT DETAILS – Be sure to check out Chris’s website The Wild Institue where this poem is found and information about her wilderness trips and lecture topics.

1835 Meadowview Road
Bloomington Minnesota,


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A Writer’s Writer – Chris Rose – Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?


I was doing research for a new book when Hurricane Mathew visited Eastern North Carolina last month. Mathew provided a timely background for my writing. The color had been sucked from the world, everything looked gray, while winds threatened. We lost internet for awhile, terribly inconvenient, until you consider those who were flooded out, and lost a lot more. Part of the new story takes a woman, who lives in New York, back home to New Orleans a few days before Katrina hit August 26, 2005. Katrina research led to a man named Chris Rose, and his book, 1 Dead in Attic.  I fell in love again. This happens to me a lot depending on who and what I’m reading, male or female, I’m bi-sexual when it comes to reading books and love.

The lines of a song kept running through my mind throughout this fabulous book, which is a collection of columns Rose wrote for the Times-Picayune between 2005-06,  I know time is short, but PLEASE, click on and listen to this Harry Connick’s version of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans from a Youtube video. You’ll have a better day for it, I promise.

Now, we can continue….I was in New Orlean in January 1886 when the Chicago Bears played The Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The Bears won 46-10. It was a sublime ending to a cooperate perk that often came our way because my husband worked in advertising in Chicago for Leo Burnett Co.  We stayed in a small boutique hotel, wandered the French Quarter, looked in the windows of little antique shops that offered vintage perfume bottles and miniature tea sets. We took a street car ride, let powdered sugar dust the fronts of our clothes, and enjoyed several famous restaurants. New Orleans delivered the tourist’s dream as promised.

for New Orleans Will

Thanks to Chris Rose and his writing, I have a better understanding of how New Orleans survived this unbelievable tragedy, forever changed, yet retaining what makes the area what it is. If you love New Orleans, or love reading non-fiction in the Studs Terkel tradition, don’t miss this book. Katrina happened a long time ago, you know the story, or think you do, and how it came out, but this is writing at its best about a myriad of topics as viewed through the eyes of a reliable witness. I wish I could read whole columns to you out loud as I do to poor husband Bob, who sits through my exuberance when I find something too good not to share. I say, “You have to listen to this!” To you, I say, “You have to read this!”

I’ll leave you with this Rose bit of magic: New Orleans is the Purple Upside Down Car. A bright color with no sense of direction. A stalled engine. A thing of once-beauty waiting to be righted and repaired. Something piled up on the side of the road.


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A Writers Writer – Christopher Fowler Again!


I just finished another in the Bryant & May Series….The Invisible Code. I have written about Fowler and his series before. (Click here for more details) They are irresistible and must be saved for the perfect moment. For at least thirty years, every Friday, my father brought home a box of  Chicago’s famous Fannie May chocolates. One of the pieces in the box was always white chocolate, still my favorite. You must remember taking the lid off a candy box and trying to decide which piece to select. That’s the experience you will have when in the midst of all the books you read, you decide it is time for a piece of ‘Bryant and May delight.’ I prefer to read a series in order, but once you have the Peculiar Crimes Unit characters in hand, it probably doesn’t matter. I take them any way I can get them now.  I will leave you with a sample of the writing, but wouldn’t dare tell you about the story. If you love a great mystery, a London setting, two aging Golden Age detectives, some peculiar methods of solving crimes, and WONDERFUL writing….open the box of candy and help yourself.

Hampstead had always prided itself on being a cut above other London areas. The homes of Bryon, Dickens, Keats and Florence Nightingale had now been usurped by financiers who had turned the village into one of the most expensive places in the world.Its street names were printed in elegant reverse text, white lettering out of black tiles, its avenues were sumptuously leafy, its houses gabled and slightly suburban, set back from the sight of vulgar vehicles. It had lakes and the largest open heathland in London, and looked down on everyone else from a windswept peak where the city temperatures cooled, and on a summer day like this you would almost believe your were deep in countryside until you saw the high-street prices.


Today Bryant had arranged to meet her at Liverpool Street Station. The white witch and self-proclaimed leader of the Coven of St. James the Elder turned up in a purple woolen tea-cosy hat, a green velvet overcoat and orange leggings. Her glasses, winged and yellow-tinted, hung on a plastic daisy chain around her throat. She looked like a small seaside town celebrating a centenary.


I highly recommend you read Christopher Fowler, that you FOLLOW this blog, and that you share it with friends who love to read, garden, go on blog trips to places like Chicago, Charleston and Italy and much more. Cheers!


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The Art of Inge Löök Will Gladden a Gardener’s Heart


I might not have discovered the art of Inge Löök if a friend hadn’t introduced me to Pinterest a few years back.  I’m sorry if you are missing out on this wonderful world of images that certainly covers the gamut of everything I could possibly be interested in from English Cottage Gardening to paper dolls and art….depending on your fancy, as the English say.


Inge Löök’s real name is Ingeborg Lievonen, a Finnish artist born in Helsinki in 1951. She was once a professional gardener, but today she is most famous for her Granny postcards. When she was a child, Inge lived with her family in a 7-story building in Helsinki. In the same building lived two older women, Alli and Fifi, who later became the inspiration for the characters in her postcards. If you love books and tea and dear friends, then you know why this image on the left is a favorite. Ah, but if you are a gardener, then I hope you will consider this my gift to you by way of Pinterest and the charming art work of Inge Löök.   See my Pinterest Board For More of her work.


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