Time flies when you’re lost in a good book

Humidity and heat = AC and books!

I chose to take June off from blogging. Then the heat and humidity of a South Carolina summer sapped me of the strength to do anything more in my garden than just water the plants and let them be. Doing so left me nothing to blog about from my garden – how many posts can I write on wilting vines?

Summers in SC are perfect for staying indoors, reading, sipping sweet iced tea, and enjoying Mr. Willis Carrier’s wonderful invention of commercial air conditioning. To keep this short, I’m just posting a list of some of the books I read since June, with maybe one or two lines of description. Tell me what a person reads and I’ll tell you about that person….

June

Kindle

Out of the Silent Planet
by C. S. Lewis

The beginning of Lewis’ lesser-known trilogy for adults. Fanciful yet deep. It rewards constant re-reading.

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot
Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard

I’ve read so many books about the Kennedys – this was one of them. I can’t remember much about it.

January 6: How Democrats Used the Capitol Protest to Launch a War on Terror Against the Political Right
Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly has been the voice of those who have no voice in this matter. Read it and be infuriated.

OUTCRY: Why does Pope Barnabas release Catholic clergy from their vows of celibacy?
Ned Cosby

A piece of fiction which imagines a future pope determined to rid the church of sexual abuse.

Paperback and hardcover

Uncharted (1) (Arcane America)
Sarah A. Hoyt and Kevin J. Anderson

I love Sarah’s blog and love to read her books.


July

Kindle

The Devil’s Hand: A Thriller (Terminal List Book 4) AND

In the Blood: A Thriller (Terminal List Book 5)
Jack Carr

I had to read both of these to finish the series before I watched an episode of Amazon Prime’s Terminal List series. My conclusion: I’m happier with the books.

Blessed With All This Life (The Wilder Bunch Book 7)
Max Cossack

The last of the Wilder Bunch series, and yes, of course I have them all. I was turned on to the famous novelist Max Cossack by his lovely wife who writes the Ammo Grrrll columns at Powerline blog.

Paperback and hardcover

The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and The War Against the Human
Naomi Wolf

Still finishing this one up – it makes my blood boil!!


August (so far)

Kindle

The Iron Web
Larken Rose

A chilling look at a possible dystopian future, where men have forgotten how to be free.

The Puppet Masters
Robert A. Heinlein

My introduction to a master – thank you, Sarah Hoyt!

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Robert A. Heinlein

I’m 75% of the way through this and it makes me cheer. The transportees settled forcibly on Luna (our moon) have risen up and declared their independence. I’d heard of this one before I read it – it is a masterpiece.

Waiting in the wings

The Little World of Don Camillo (Don Camillo Series Book 1)
Giovanni Guareschi

Another delightful recommendation from Sarah. Can’t wait.

Paperback and hardcover

One Row at a Time
Rochester A. Baker, Sr.

Rochester is in my Toastmasters club, Two Notch Toastmasters. He has written a lovely book which is both a memoir of lessons learned in his long life, “one row at a time,” and a tribute to his late wife Sheilda. She came with him to Toastmasters meetings years ago, before she passed. A wonderful elegy.

Gotta get back to my latest …

As you can see, I’m still finishing a couple or three. I’ll usually have four or five on the go at all times. Oh, yes, I read two Jack Reacher paperbacks as well this summer, but they’re in the car, destined for the Little Free Library on the corner and I can’t be bothered to dig them up.

A good book, a glass of sweet tea, and a little something to munch on – it don’t get better than this!

– Aunt Gem’s dad

Watching Life Instead of Living It

Now that the COVID-mania of 2020 and 2021 seems to have lifted, I want to live life instead of watching it happen. Doing, instead of being in the audience, is my thing. That’s why I joined the choir in my church – I didn’t want to just watch other people sing; I want to be in on it too! Why be a spectator?

I’ve made strides toward more living, less watching before. When I first moved into my house in December of 2016, I moved my circa-2000 television with me. That thing was an old bulky set – definitely not a flat screen. The remote control stopped working sometime in the late 2010s.

My TV looked a LOT like this one. Heck, it could have been this model.

I worked around it by actually getting up to change the channel, like in the 1970s. I started watching less and less television over the years, and I decided once I moved, I was going to put that old wreck on the curb and run an experiment: how long can I go without a TV in the house?

Continue reading “Watching Life Instead of Living It”

My how the garden has grown….

In the image above, Podrick is inspecting the Iris. I’m so grateful a previous owner planted these beautiful bulbs. And I’ve managed to keep them alive – no credit to me!

It is thrilling to see the plants coming up. Now I have to search for YouTube videos on how to know when they’ve finished growing … I’ve never grown spring onions or garlic before – when are they “finished”? When do I get to harvest them? I just did a search – and I cannot believe how many wonderful gardeners there are out there who have posted helpful tips on when to harvest garlic – and how. The word on Spring Onions – 8 weeks after sowing. Which is in about 2 weeks … I think. Perhaps I should start writing down when I sow the seeds. Ah, improvement for next year, and anything else I plant this year.

Spending hours on Gardening YouTube

Since it is raining now I have the chance to look at YouTube videos (again!) Looking at gardening videos is now my favorite form of web surfing. One of my favorities is GrowVeg, run by a lovely British man. This morning he taught me the best way to take care of my newly sown carrots.

Thanks to this gentleman’s tutelage I’m now investing in pallet collars for my next raised bed, and to replace the broken-down bed I’ve currently jerry-rigged together with baling wire. Actually after perusing the available options I may not – Uline.com wanted $151 for freight shipping for 2 pallet collars! That was more than the price of the items. Home Depot doesn’t have them. Argh, back to Amazon.

I’m so excited about the potato plants coming up I had to take pictures to share with you all. After many more YouTube videos I quickly realized I should have poked more drainage holes in the bottom of the five-gallon buckets (another lesson learned) but at least I’ve put them up off the ground slightly, to aid in drainage. The plants look terrific.

Those odds and ends of wood always come in handy in the garden.
Continue reading “My how the garden has grown….”

It’s Saturday and time to garden

I begrudge the time spent indoors on a day like today

The gardening bug bit me

Question: How do you know your green thumb is turning from lime granita to grasshopper green?

Answer: When you start eyeing potted plants your neighbors put on the curb for the yard trash guy, and think, that’s some really good soil. I could use that.

Me, last Monday

This happened this past week, along with another gardening bonus: One day this week I walked my dog at lunch and came across my elderly neighbor raking good, brown dirt off one part of her lawn – onto the street. Just to leave it there, like trash! I hustled back to my house, dropped off the dog and took the wheelbarrow back to Miss Jane’s house to pick up some of that good dirt. It’s going into the base of my latest raised bed, to nourish my new plants. I haven’t yet gotten to the point of picking up dog poop to work into the garden, but if the price of fertilizer goes up any more, I just might. Fortunately, our local zoo sells “comPOOst” – produced by the rhinos, giraffes and zebras.

Continue reading “It’s Saturday and time to garden”

Ready, Set, Spring: Let’s Garden!

the first of many, many posts about my new favorite hobby, gardening

Hello, longer days and Goodbye, Seasonal Affective Disorder! Now it is time to get my hands grubby and dig into the dirt. I actual begrudge the time away from my garden to do this blog post. Because I feel behind, already. In two weeks my CSA farm in lower SC will deliver its first shipment; and I’m still starting seeds. Every day now I hear “hurry up, hurry up” in my head.

The first thing I planted: one type of spinach – which I started outside, and sadly, I think I started it too early. It has failed, so no picture. I started another packet of seeds a couple of weeks later (after the last frost) and they have LIVED. See how nice:

Back right, spinach. Middle row, carrots. Front left row, buttercrunch lettuce.

I’m so excited to see these grow. Last year, when I was just playing, I grew only two salad bowls’ worth of lettuce. It was nice lettuce, though. Right after the spinach-that-failed, I started spring onions:

Continue reading “Ready, Set, Spring: Let’s Garden!”

Moving toward the Spirit, part 7

Thoughts on growing in faith. Last in the series. To catch up: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.

My quest to draw closer to Jesus continues, no matter where I go. At times I’m very good about devotions in the morning, praying and reading my Bible; most of the time, I honor daily devotions in the breach by thinking about it for a few minutes. And then feeling guilty. Every time I deviate from my ideal I realize that I’m falling away from relationship with the Lord. He doesn’t move away from me; I’m the one straying. That’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The structured Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and sometimes Compline have been a super way to keep me praying, reading Scripture, and spending time with God. Not that I do them all the time. Like I said, I’ve been much better at observing them as something I should do.

I decided to get a leather-bound copy of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. Built to last!

When I discovered podcasts devoted to morning prayer, I was thrilled. Finally – a way to listen to Morning Prayer while walking my dog! (Usually, I’m listening to something that isn’t filling my head with good news.) CotA’s church plant, All Souls, created the wonderful 10-minute podcast Lord, Open My Lips and I use that. Another way I’m focusing on God is to go to the Wednesday morning Eucharist our church offers. I’d been off and on, but on my birthday last October, I decided my goal for the next year was to go each week. I’ve been more often than not and I’m keeping on.

It’s not usual to find an Anglican running around in my part of the South; anybody seeking out liturgy is usually an Episcopalian. Most of my friends today in Columbia are Southern Baptist. That only makes sense, because 1) I spent 20 years in a Southern Baptist church, and 2) the top three religions in South Carolina are Baptist, Methodist, and SEC Football. But over the years my spiritual journey, ever since I was 12, has led me to going to where I truly think the Spirit of Truth is. I felt that in my time with Wesley Monumental, with Lamb’s Chapel, and then RHBC. Right now, that is in the Church of the Apostles, a member of the ACNA. In my Apostles 101 class I loved how our past Dean (that’s a fancy Anglican word for the head priest at the cathedral church of the Diocese) described the church: the place where the Scriptures are rightly taught and the Sacraments observed. At least that’s how I remembered the saying. And everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been looking for a place that carefully paid attention to the Bible and actually believed it.

I think I’ll end my journey written journey here, with part 7. It is, after all, the perfect number.

Moving toward the Spirit, part 6

This is the next-to-last post in this series. If you need to catch up, just look at the previous five weeks of posts!

It started with an Excel spreadsheet. Wait: before the Excel spreadsheet, there was an unfortunate administration change at my old church. RHBC’s beloved senior pastor was retiring after a long career. And the new guy was (is) hard-charging, young, enthusiastic, with clear vision and purpose. Unfortunately, his vision didn’t include the outstanding choir director who had led our choir for the past 10+ years. After he was shown the door, I waited until Christmas, to sing in one last Christmas cantata. (I wouldn’t have done that again to witness the chaos resulting from a choir that wasn’t fully in sync with the director and vice versa – missed cues, botched songs. Ah, schadenfreude!) I waited some more, thinking we’d get a new permanent choir leader and everything would start afresh. When that didn’t happen, and the temporary director became the director, my last day was Easter Sunday 2018.

Here’s where the Excel spreadsheet came in. I put together a list of the requirements I was looking for in a church and decided to start visiting around. Here’s what I put them on a spreadsheet:

Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, part 6”

I like big books and I cannot lie

This person likes books too.

“Like” is too mild. I love books. No, that’s too mild a statement. How much do I love books? (“How much, Aunt Jim?”) Years back – you’ll have to be a certain age to get this, it was in the 80s – there was a series of TV commercials for Old Milwaukee beer. 

 Each commercial ended with a group of guys around the campfire, the picnic table or wherever, saying “Fellas, it just doesn’t get any better than this.” Or in Texas around the chili, “Boys, it don’t get no better than this!” My dad would take one look at me with my nose perpetually in a book, a glass of iced tea in hand, and usually munching on something, and say, “a good book, a glass of sweet tea, and a little something to munch on – it don’t get any better than this!”

Continue reading “I like big books and I cannot lie”

Carrot Cake

As long as it tastes good, don’t ask any questions

Friday was Dad’s 85th birthday. To honor him, I decided to make his favorite: carrot cake. After scrolling allrecipes.com for a recipe with lots of stars, I went with Carrot Cake III.

Too many YouTube videos have convinced me that I must set all the ingredients up in a lovely mise en place before I begin. I’m not sure which great chef I think I am, but I imagined Gordon Ramsey yelling at me to make sure I measured carefully and set everything out. Not only did I set out the cake ingredients, but I also set up the “mise” for the frosting. It was that part which nearly did me in.

The fashionable “naked” cake look.
Continue reading “Carrot Cake”

Podrick, the one and only

I never thought I’d be a dog person. But then, in 2015, when my sweet kitty died, I wasn’t yet living in a house with a huge fenced yard. The neighbors to the left of me, back of me, across the street and about everywhere within a five-block radius all had dogs. After I fed a box of treats to my neighbor’s two German Shepherds, I realized I needed a dog of my own. Enter the Animal Protection League of South Carolina, where the neighbor two doors down volunteered. After a two-week adoption process (including references – these folks were serious – 18-month-old Podrick came home to live with me in December 2017. He’s been the best of companions, especially in the last plague year. (2020, the year I finally became a stay-at-home dog mom.) He’s never chewed up any shoes, or jumped on couches or beds. He’s simply been the best dog around.