Thursday, March 29, 2018

His Risk

My last review for my friends at Litfuse Publicity Group is Shelley Shepard Gray's His Risk. We return again to the Amish of Hart Country and meet our main characters, Calvin Fisher and Alice Yoder. Calvin has fallen away from the Amish life and Alice remains as a nursery school teacher. Their paths cross when Calvin returns to the area because of family illness.

I enjoyed this book a lot, but found it grittier than most Amish novels I've read. The plot is quick moving and very topical and I would describe it more as a suspense novel, than a family or love story. I especially liked Calvin's story and found him a very interesting character that held my interest. If you're looking for a more "typical" Amish story this may not be for you, but if you are open to wider options, His Risk is well worth reading.

Again, my thanks to my friends at Litfuse for this opportunity and for many other reading opportunities I was able to share. For those that missed my post, Litfuse is closing its operation and this is the last book I will write about under their aegis. I'm very grateful to have been a part of the Litfuse reading community.

Though the weather doesn't feel especially spring-like the calendar is marching on and Passover begins tomorrow night. I will happily join my friends who are family and I am so looking forward to being all together, especially including little ones.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Please note: I was given a copy of His Risk in exchange for my honest review. The thoughts here are all mine.       

Monday, March 26, 2018

Now There Are Only Two

The Last Three: Sudan, Najin and Fatu
I chanced to come upon The Last Three by Australian artists, Gillie and Marc Schattner while I was out taking pictures for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I'd missed the announcement that the largest rhino statue in the world had been put up in Astor Place just a few weeks ago. Tragically, a few days after the statue was put up, Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino had died. He is survived by his daughter, Najin and granddaughter, Fatu.
Rhinos are hunted -- to the point of extinction -- for their horn. Erroneously, it is believed that the rhino horns are able to cure a wide array of ailments. I highly recommend you visit the link for The Last Three. It has an extraordinary photograph of the sculpture, interesting information and ways we can all contribute to helping keep rhinos from complete extinction. 
Dream well, dear Sudan.  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Show Us Your Mug Pink Saturday

A gift from a sweet blogger friend, Taryterre.
During, what I hope will be, the last snowstorm of the 2018 winter season I posted a photograph of the mug I was using for coffee in a Facebook group I belong to. It was nothing especially profound, but it was a fun way to say hello on a sleety morning. I also think it's a fun way to say hello on a sunny day and to share my affection for mugs as part of  Pink Saturday
We all know that I like coffee -- an understatement -- but my favorite way to drink coffee is in a big mug. I'm not much of a cup fan and realized about ten years ago that I never used the cups and saucers that I had. Since kitchen real estate space is very valuable in my teeny tiny New York kitchen, I donated my cups and saucers and cleared an area for mugs. It was a great decluttering decision and I've never looked back. I firmly intend not to acquire any new mugs, but somehow they have a way of coming by and staying. 
I'm going to share a few of my favorites. It's a big collection, but these few are among the most used. They know how to make their way to the front of the shelf.
I think this pattern will always be among my most favorite. Dear friends gave me six mugs, a creamer and miniature sugar bowl when I moved from Nashville to New York in 1975. I love the turquoise inside glaze and the delicate dogwood blossom. It reminds me of good times spent in East Tennesse where the Pigeon Forge Pottery is made. Miraculously, not one piece has been broken or even chipped in forty plus years. 
This glazed lemon mug captures a moment in a visit to the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. I was carried away at a pottery shop in Ravello and ordered mugs, bowls and a salad bowl. It was a somewhat extravagant gesture -- especially the shipping -- but I use them often, especially the salad bowl. The bowl is chipped along the edge, but when I look at it I see the words, "Well loved and well used." A friend suggested that I put the bowl away for safekeeping, but I'd rather use it, chip it and enjoy it every day. 
This is the mug I'm using this morning. It was a gift from blogger friends who no longer blog. Happily we've kept in touch through the years and I will have the good fortune to see Trish this week. Trish and Sheilagh, think of you often!
I hope you've had fun going through my cabinet with me. What's your favorite mug?
It's a sunny day in New York City and I'm going out to do photographs for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I've got a number of photographs done, but I'm using this afternoon to get the pictures for A and know I'll be ready to start the Challenge next Sunday. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great Sunday! 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Drum Roll, Please!

A big oops! I missed joining bloggers all over the world in the A to Z Theme Reveal. Yes, the official date of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal was Monday, March 19. But there are still ten days until the Challenge begins and there's time for the momentum to build up. 

After considering any number of ideas -- drum roll, please -- we're going on a subway tour of New York City. Some of the stops will be old favorites. I would be remiss to leave out Times Square or Grand Central Station. But other posts will include stops I've not been to before. There are 469 subway stations in New York City and I've probably only been to half of them, so I'm looking forward to exploring New York, too. We will be in four of the five boroughs, as Staten Island isn't part of the subway system. There will be sightseeing, there will be history and there will be coffee. We're starting on Sunday, April 1 -- no fooling! -- at Astor Place and plan to complete our tour around the city on the Z line on April 30. I hope you'll join me for the ride of the year.

I'd mentioned to friends that I was going to do a post about coffee mugs. I didn't finish the photographs and my friend, Donna, texted me and asked if she missed the the mug post. Donna, I'm sorry to have let you down. I hope to get the "mug post" up tomorrow. There's also a book review coming and a Pink Saturday post featuring spring fashion on Madison Avenue.  

After yesterday's snow and sleet the temperature rose and as you can see from the picture above, not a drop of snow remains on Broadway. There is still patches of snow, but from this picture it's impossible to think that just 24 hours before it was snowing and the sidewalks were icy.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Goodbye, Technophobia!

This sweet little printer may have cured my technophobia.
Yes, friends, technophobia is a real phobia. It's no different than Acrophobia, the fear of heights or the fear of spiders, Arachnophobia. It's not a new phobia, and it can be traced back to the start of the Industrial era. I never thought of myself as a technophobe until I retired. When I had computer/printer issues at work the wonderful Darren came to my assistance. But since I retired almost five years ago  it's me and my computer/tablet/cellphone/printer.
I got my computer and my last printer up and running myself, but I remember it being difficult and a big chore and I've dreaded doing it again. But over the weekend I got a weird message on my printer and I was forced to confront my tech anxieties. After following the online directions at least twenty times I realized that my printhead -- a key printer component -- was totally done. A new printhead was $80. -- maybe less if I spent hours searching for a better price -- and a new printer was less than $100. I opted for a new printer. The lesson I learned from trying to fix my printer was that I needed a lighter and smaller printer. It was too cumbersome to lift my big printer. 
The terrific sales person at Best Buy assured me that the printer he recommended was easier to set up than the one I had. I was skeptical at best, but I needed a printer yesterday for my appointment with my accountant today. Michael at Best Buy was absolutely right. The most difficult part of the process was taking the printer home on a crowded bus. In less than a half hour my new printer was up and printing and not a tear had been shed in the process. I'm not sure I'm entirely over my phobia, but the thought of a new computer doesn't fill me with dread anymore. 
Do you know the most common phobia? I've come across several answers while doing my research, but the one that seems to be the most prevalent is public speaking. It comes before fear of death, flying and enclosed spaces.    
Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building

I took this picture after my appointment this afternoon. It doesn't have anything to do with the post, but for the fans of New York architecture I wanted to share a photograph from one of my walks in Manhattan. It was a cold and gray day, but it was still walking weather. We're waiting for what has been forecast as a winter snow with a foot of snow. Mother Nature, that's not the way to start the spring!
 As ever, thanks for visiting. Friends in the path of the storm, stay cozy. Everyone else, enjoy the spring weather. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Trinity College Library, Dublin
It's a day for celebrating all things Irish and I'm remembering my visit to Ireland in 2014. One of my favorite places to visit was the Library at Trinity College. I'm not saying it's the most beautiful library anywhere, but it may be the most beautiful library I've ever seen. Do you have a favorite library?
Wishes for a very happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The News is Sad Tonight

I was somewhat idly scanning my Facebook feed and came across a post from my friends at Litfuse Publicity Group informing their blogger network that they are closing. I am so sad to see this. I've so enjoyed working with the staff at Litfuse. They offered a wide-ranging array of books to review and were friendly, efficient and all around great to work with. I searched my posts and saw that I started working with them in 2014 and reviewed 29 books, including the beloved classic novel, Christy. I've still got one more title to review later this month -- I'll keep the title for a surprise -- and that will be a review and a giveaway.

Thanks, Litfuse for great books to read, fun genres to explore and hope and encouragement from inspirational titles. You introduced me to new authors --  Sarah Sundin -- comes to memory immediately and you gave us all happy hours of reading. Many, many thanks! I will miss you.

In addition to Litfuse, I received an email this week that Blogging for Books would be closing in April. I didn't work with them as much as I worked with Litfuse, but I had the good fortune to review books for them as well. Thanks, too, friends at Blogging for Books.

I know that the only thing that is constant in life is change, but seeing two book blogging groups closing doesn't portend well. I worry about the future of blogging, but as long as there's a format I plan to be right here in Buttercupland. I will be looking for new opportunities for book reviews and will continue to share titles that I believe my friends in Buttercupland will enjoy. One occurred by serendipity today, but that's a post for another day.

It's still winter, which seems to be lasting eternally. I know that in two weeks it will really feel like spring, but these last days of winter seem endless. I love living in New York, but I have a bit of envy for my friends in warmer climates at this time of year.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.       

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Blue Skies Smiling at Me Pink Saturday

I'm looking towards Central Park, which is only a block away. 

At the beginning of this month I put my hat away and figured I wouldn't see my scarf again until the fall. Ha! We've had snow, we've had rain and we've had some gloomy days. But not Friday. Friday was a totally blue sky day and I walked home from the Y and enjoyed the weather, the blue skies and the neighborhood. It was cold, but I was dressed for it and I took advantage of every sunny afternoon minute I could get. 
I turned down one of the side streets off of Columbus Avenue and stopped to enjoy the sky, the clouds and the architectural details. 

I love this display in front of one of the remaining bodegas/corner grocery stores in the neighborhood. When I first moved to the area, there was probably a small grocery on every other block, but with rents going up they are becoming scarce. They're not fancy, but they are generally open 24 hours a day/seven days a week. When I needed to leave for work very early or if I was coming home late at night, their lights were a welcome beacon.

The blue skies fade into the sunset over the Hudson River. New Jersey is in the distance and on the left is a memorial to the Union soldiers of the Civil War.
Thanks for all the comments and good wishes for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. While I was walking on Friday I met two friends also out enjoying the weather. Our conversation sparked an idea and I've shifted my theme. I ran it by a member of my "editorial board" last night and it's good to go. It's going to take a lot more work, but I'm excited. I hope you will be, too. Thanks, B. for your input.
It's time for a visit to my sweet friends at Pink Saturday. If you want to meet some of the nicest bloggers anywhere, please drop by, too.
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great week. Wishing you -- and me -- blue skies!


Monday, March 5, 2018

A Rite of Spring: The Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Though New York City is under a second storm watch in less than a week, I'm beginning to look towards spring. Yes, my boots are ready for a foot of snow and I've got hat, gloves and scarf on standby, but March is moving right along. St. Patrick's Day is less than two weeks away and Passover and Easter are both a little over three weeks way.

It's not high up on most people's calendars, but it's one of the big events of the year in Buttercupland, the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Throughout the month of April I join with 1500+ bloggers and post 26 times, one post for every letter in the alphabet. I first joined the Challenge in 2013, and with the exception of 2017 when I completely ran out of steam I completed the posts. It's not mandatory, but it is highly recommended to select a theme. My favorite was the coffee theme of 2016. I'm saving my theme announcement for the official theme reveal day, March 19. It's not going to be coffee again, but for coffee fans in Buttercupland, there will be coffee.

There will also be fun. I've started to do a little exploring and take some preliminary pictures and Citizens of Buttercupland, we're going to have fun. One small hint: O is for Oddfellows Ice Cream Co. 
Today was errand day and I joined thousands of other New Yorkers stocking up before the storm, which is a winter ritual. I am very fortunate, in that I could refresh almost all of my grocery needs by walking literally one block -- not even thinking about delivery -- but like Mother Hubbard, my cupboard was (close to) bare.  I'm restocked for baking, for fruits and vegetables and I have a vat of yogurt.  
As ever, thanks for visiting. Keep cozy -- spring is almost here, for good.  

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Real-Life Romance

Just click on the photo to the right to find the link to the
Real-Life Romance fun!
I know Valentine's Day is long over, but it's always the season for romance. As someone looking and hoping for romance it's a tough world out there. Most love stories seem to focus on the young and the beautiful and often it seems like there's little hope for the still beautiful, but not so young.   
Rhonda Stoppe has put together a book for those looking for real-life love and romance. Thanks to my friends at Litfuse Publicity Group I received a copy of Real-Life Romance and found over a dozen stories of real people who met and fell in love. They weren't all young and they weren't models or actors, but they came through difficulties and misfortunes and with  providential timing found their true loves.

I was especially taken with the story of Byron and Tammy. They had known each other in high school, but married other people. By her late thirties Tammy was divorced twice and she and her children were living with mother. She and Byron crossed paths again and the third time was the charm. I have to admit I'm sometimes a little skeptical when I see movies about finding true love the second or third time around, but these aren't movies and I was charmed and touched by the people I met in Real-Life Romance. Thanks, Litfuse and Rhonda Stoppe for restoring my faith in love and romance.

Our torrents of rain and wind are over and today is a sunny late winter day. Enjoyed a great program at my synagogue this morning and having a good afternoon relaxing and blogging. What's on your agenda this afternoon?

As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a great week!

Please note: I received a copy of Real-Life Romance from Litfuse Publicity Group for review. The opinions are all mine.     

Friday, March 2, 2018

Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday and Happy Memories!

Almost exactly seventy-one years ago tonight... parents were married. My parents weren't especially formal people and I have no memory of them attending other white tie events when I was growing up. But here the family (this is my maternal grandmother's family) gathers in white tie and gowns to celebrate my parents' marriage. My mother recounted the story every year of the blizzard that fell in the northeast on March 2, 1947 and almost put a damper on her wedding. Many of our relatives came from New York and tonight I marvel that they didn't let a blizzard get in the way of what then was a fairly arduous trip on the Merritt Parkway, the precursor to Interstate-95.
It was also my father's birthday. When I was younger I thought it odd that my parents chose one of their birthdays for their wedding. But for my father this may have been the best birthday present ever. After surviving four years in the army, including a year of European battles, starting a new life was a wonderful gift. My father would have been 101 today -- though he has been gone almost 40 years last month.  
There is no notation about the place or year on this picture,
but from memory I think it's Fort Sill in 1942.
My father is in the back, on the left.

When I wrote about my mother's birthday in October I had equal parts of gratitude and sadness, but looking at these two smiling pictures of my father it's all happy memories tonight. Happy anniversary to my parents and happy birthday wishes to my father. Thank you both for years of happy memories.
We don't have the blizzard of March 1947 today, but March 2, 2018 will be remembered for a Nor'easter of major proportions. Despite my resolve to get out and walk this was not the day to do it. The morning started with sleet, heavy (and cold) rain and high winds. I did make it to the gym for yoga and strength machine time, but will make up my miles another less turbulent day. I hope everyone else in the path of this storm emerged unscathed.  
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Cold Rain: An Update on My Journey of 1000 Miles

It's time to stop and see the flowers.  

When I looked at my Journey of 1,000 Miles last year it was primarily sleet and hot weather that slowed me down. This year it's cold rain. Luckily there hasn't been much sleet and the warm weather of Australia didn't stop me at all. I walked in the Outback one day at six in the morning to avoid the triple digits later in the day.

But since I've been home -- almost three weeks -- I've gotten L.A.Z.Y. I've let cold rain slow me down. There have been a couple of days that I've walked less than two miles, which is my basic goal for every day. Fortunately I walked a lot in Australia and made up for my less productive days. My total mileage for January and February is 178 miles, slightly less than 90 miles a month. I've set a goal of 90 miles for March and I'm not going to let a little, or a lot, of cold rain get the better of me.   
In the last few days I realized I'm really back from Australia. I'm back to yoga, strength training, grocery shopping and cooking. I'm over jet lag and have started to schedule more activities. Some are very routine, like a haircut next week and others are less so. I'm going to a basketball game this weekend and a meditation program at my synagogue, too.

One thing that has lagged is blog planning. I don't plan every post in a month, but usually I have some idea about the things I'm going to write about. But I've started to put the next week together.  Tomorrow we're celebrating what would have been my father's 101st birthday. Buttercupland will join me at the basketball game and we'll be doing some reading. I'm also starting to gear up for Blogging from A to Z 2018 and I've chosen my theme.

I was getting my miles in on Tuesday -- a beautiful spring day in February -- and walked by the local community garden to see if anything was budding. The flowers were more than budding. They were out and thriving. I hope you enjoy these glimpses of early spring. 


I hope you're enjoying your evening and as ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and sweet dreams!