My Kind Of Mystery 2017 Summary!


I have not forgotten about my read group quartet!  I have been preoccupied not knowing where our kitty has been for 3 months.  They are sons and daughters to us.  Conan O’Brien is named after a comedian for good reason;  is intelligent and loving too.  A good outcome, home with us safe, is the only one we’ll take.  He should be back now that it has snowed.  We are certain he has been on a voluntary exploration of our forest, with me away so much that week.  Everyone supporting us in this, with enocouraging stories or prayers, has helped.  Next to my cherished family, reading is another kind of joy and balm.  I have kept it up and it’s time for an update.



All of our review pages are alphabetized by the author’s last name.  Bookcovers decorating each linky button show an author in those letter range, for extra clarification.  It looks like a few folks filed books until the letter of a title.  I don’t know of anyone else dialing into the internet by telephone line and assume everyone’s connection is faster than ours.  So I’ll leave folks to add their links into the author buttons.  I’ll delete misfiled ones in February;  sooner if I see the switch has been made.



Has anyone worked on guessing this year’s “My Kind Of Mystery” logo?  I’ll give you a whole batch of hints, since it is October and include a cheatsheet that will serve you well.  To let me know you are trying this, ask for more hinting in the comments if you come up dry and chat about it. If you hit upon the answer, e-mail me so that others can play along.  It costs nothing to guess, right or wrong, so try whether you’re sure or not.  RIEDELFascination(at)Gmail(dot)com.

The author of our unnamed msytery logo is:  a male, Canadian, who recently passed away.  “Recently” does not just mean a year.  The fourth clue is that I have read a lot by this gentleman.

Your instinct might be to poke around on Goodreads but the shelf combinations are numerous.  The cheatsheet to always consider is to use my review menus, here at the top of my blog!  It’s an easy scan of authors alphabeticall.  You’ll see how much I’ve read by authors in one glance.  Another cheatsheet is that I seldom read male authors.  That makes my general review tab manageable enough, called “Mine”.  However the knowledge that you can use my “Canadian” review tab makes this a piece of cake.

Then, you sleuths will investigate which authors are with us.  Next, try to find this particular version of the cover, to name the book.  If you need further hints to narrow any of this down, comment away!



Because joining numbers were low, which I will change by putting out our 2018 shingle earlier, you know I am drawing one prize for all four groups.  The same folks tend to be in more than one group.  If we build up to at least 20 per group, I’ll feel comfortable soliciting prize donators and have at least four draws.  There’s the odd person who just wants to play.  Please shoot me an e-mail confirming you want your name in the bowl for our year-end draw, or not.  It will be a second-hand book or other gift option, from me and encompasses all of my guests internationally.  :)

I’d like to draw early and avoid a rise in shipping costs that Canada Post rolls out every new year.  What the heck, I’ll send a Christmas card with that mail.  :)  Please be reassured you have until January 31 to finish and I keep the review buttons open a few months longer than that.  I’m determined that other hostesses start their challenges February 1st because January is when most folks have time to browse and update blogs.  As always, you can count your reading from January to December if you want.  You merely aren’t stuck filling things in over Christmas.



The comment forms are working.  I don’t know if their absence last year has us quiet.  Share anything you like:  about yourself pesonally, as the Lord knows I do, or anything noteworthy.  Authors you were keen to try but disliked, like Ellery Queen for me?  Blech!  One look at my sole review will explain why I’m selling all the rest I had collected.  Authors or books you loved, new discoveries or comfortable favourites?  Book scores you were excited to find, for those like me who covet the real physical deal?

I feel satisfaction about running through a lot of opening series volumes.  I get a sense of liking the large number of series books I pieced together over decades.  Well, not many decades:  I’m only forty-four….  until November 18th!  :)  It felt good to dig into the first novels of several series to confirm that I was right about liking the sound of them.  It is only the odd one I couldn’t bear to continue:  like Ellery Queen, Marion Chesney Beaton, and Kathy Reichs.  By interesting contrast, Patricia Cornwell is less violent compared to her and I located the last volume I needed just last week.  Others didn’t thrill me but I am willing to continue, largely because I already own hundreds of their titles, like I said!  I’ll try more of Margaret Frazer, Alexander McCall Smith, Margery Allingham, P.D. James, Mary Stewart, Josephine Tey.

To make my vast selection of real books possible, they can be no more than $9.00 with shipping at, in like new shape.  I also seek them at charity sales in person and drive a good distance for those.  I’m now selling duplicates or books I don’t wish to keep, from home.  Some happy scores were the next several Amanda Stevens adult ghost mysteries I need and the next mint condition hardcover of Sarah Rayne’s ghost mystery series too!


The three novels I want most are:  the third “Tradd Street” volume by Karen White, “Strangers On Montague Street“, the second “Alfred Hitchcock & The Three Investigators” volume by Robert A. Arthur:  “The Mystery Of The Stuttering Parrot“, and the third “Pennyfoot Hotel” mystery by Kate Kingsbury:  “Service For Two“.  If you find these, let’s please trade!  Karen’s can be bought new, in softcover but I want it to be far less than $20.00.  I need help with the other two, which are finally getting cheaper but aren’t worth $8.00 shipping in inferior condition.  If I can help you find anything, send your lists!


I hope Canadians had a happy Thanksgiving.  Ron & I were lowkey and ate our garden food.  We will be grateful forever when Conan O’Brien is home and celebrate it with a special vigour henceforth.  I wish everyone, blog readers as well as group participants, a happy Hallowe’en!  We only get a few children trick-or-treating to us in our country community but I’ll bet no other children get to choose books with their candy!

Posted in Animals Or Pets, Bargains / Garage Sales, Book / Novel / Literature, Canadian, Cats | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

How to assist unknown pets

Would you please do a favour on behalf of everyone who doesn’t know where loved-ones are?  Many don’t know what to do if they see an unknown cat and it doesn’t occur to some people that there is something they ought to do. With the WordPress website accessible to me today, I have looked forward to sharing these guidelines and ask you to please send them around.

One of my precious cats went on vacation two months ago, after I was busy clearing out my parent’s city home for a week.  I only let them out when I’m home, by day.  Half an hour after seeing Conan near the door, he didn’t answer.  In the morning, a mouse the other cats couldn’t have caught was at a door.  It means Conan was well and did his best to tell us he wanted to take a walking trip.  My cats have never done this so I have been worried but my peers have been praying for his safety and guidance home from the start.  Many people have told us about cats coming home after a long duration.  I know how much my baby loves us and have unshaking faith in how strongly he has been loved and cared for too.  A vacation does not mean you aren’t dedicated and bonded to your loved-ones.

Some cats are out so much, they don’t have a strong enough sense of home.  Feeding them outside and saying hello is not like sleeping, watching TV, or talking on the phone with animals at your side or being petted.  They have routines they look forward to.  Some absent cats are lost.  They might need help getting home but from what I understand, are very good at figuring out how to return.  We have left a litterbox outside since the humane society told us cats can smell their family’s litterbox a mile away.  If Conan needed a clue about which way to proceed, or if a reminder of home would take him out of vacation mode sooner:  he has plenty to smell when he is in range.  His family has no problem filling another one!

One night a cat bounded up to us in September 2011 and was here for our four kittens’ much-celebrated first birthday. The story was that this cat and her son were camping with their people near my town and took off to explore. This person was distressed to take her kids home. She returned on the week-end to search for them; a pregnant woman. She found the son but his Mother had headed towards us. This family lived an hour away in the city. You must not underestimate how much you can help, nor how near or far a cat belongs. This kitty was wise enough to ask for human help rather than walk down the highway. I am glad I knew to answer the call.  I gave her food and observed how eager she was. It doesn’t mean a neighbouring cat might not accept a treat enthusiastically, so I bid her good-night.

Sleeping under my car told me what I needed to know.  I looked for a tattoo in the morning and questioned neighbours to be sure.  The humane society told me she belonged all the way in the city but don’t release contact information unless they receive permission.  I believe our cat is in the forest rather than in town but I have told the humane society that anyone finding Conan should be given our contact information.  The phone number for the cat I helped years ago had no answering machine and the humane society only seemed to call once a day.  However I could call this girl by her name, fed her, and kept an eye on her.  This was not a cat who needed to walk home, or go anyplace around here but under no circumstances, should any cat be taken to an animal centre.  Some of these so-called shelters kill animals and sometimes you risk bringing them further from their home.  Consult animal centres for information and to report a cat is found but never hand them in anywhere.  A distraught person can phone animal places and be alerted that a pet like theirs is near you.

I worried someone might bring Conan inside, if he ventured around people.  However I put out posters and he has a tattoo.  Let a cat take shelter if there might be danger or discomfort; if he looks like he could use one night’s rest.  However be sure that he or she is not goaded to stay and is free to walk home.  If you aren’t on-line, as some of our folks aren’t: please check bulletin boards for missing pets.  After asking neighbours if they know the cat in your vicinity, post a notice about him or her.  Also call the nearest humane society or animal place. If there is no tattoo or you can’t approach the cat’s ear, a description will do.  A list of upset people might be searching for a cat similar to that. I am surprised by how many look like Conan.  Knowing my kitty intimately and having detailed photographs are very valuable, if a picture catches my breath for a minute.

I am also surprised, especially among caring people who want to help, how unobservent folks are;  two whom this similar-looking cat visited every day.  However it was nothing more than not knowing to watch for tattoos and neutering states when you see a kitty.  Guidelines like this should help.  I could hold the camping girl’s ear as long as I needed to read her tattoo.  It was the contact information rule that held back her reunion for a week or two, plus the time it took to walk about six miles to my home.  She seemed to know that the woods wasn’t the place to find help and she carefully navigated a highway and found us at a camp fire in our yard. In fact, it just occurs to me after all these years!  She had probably seen campfires with her family and associated this with them. Any light would be welcome too, if it matched your impressions of the people there.  She was relieved to see us and that was a clue that she wasn’t a curious neighbour, or a cat from a little ways.

The humane society had our permission to hand her family our contact details as soon as they reached them. I was starting to urge them to mail a letter, if the phone wasn’t getting answered at the time they called. Anything to let them know we had this kitty safe and sound. On week-ends, that pregnant lady drove from the city and continued searching where she had camped. She could have put posters in the nearby towns, in the event her girl wasn’t with someone who read her tattoo. The day came that we received a phone call from the girl’s parents, whose number it was and after, I spoke with the girl. I heard about the camping trip and happily agreed to look after her cat until she could pick her up on the week-end. It was wonderful.  I gave her a CD of photos from our kittens’ birthday, many depicting her cat relaxing with them!  I will share my elated, relieved story with you when Conan arrives, count on that!  :)

A woman phoned about a cat we know is monitored by a business.  He doesn’t seem to be ours, even if we didn’t think our boy is in the woods around here.  You don’t take a vacation from an adoring home to hang out with strangers.  I thanked her for caring and told her:  “You are the best kind of human being there is”.  She was touched and said she has a pet.  It was worth making the effort.  I believe her caring call is another positive sign to keep the good faith.  We know Conan’s love and his solid awareness of ours.



Ask neighbours if they know the cat visiting you and to pass your description on.

Look for a tattoo, usually inside the left ear.  Of course a collar is a no-brainer.

Check local bulletin boards and internet bulletin boards.

If a cat seems to be sleeping in the vicinity instead of home, offer water and food.

Most cats will rest and keep proceeding home.  Overnight respite is all right, particularly if your region is dangerous.  Make sure the cat is outside in the morning to decide how he or she will proceed.

If the cat appears to be lingering there, take a photograph.  Print a local alert that a cat has been spotted and post the alerts by internet too.  If you are not printer- or internet-savvy, handwritten alerts about spotting a cat are valuable too.

Posted in Animal Rights, Animals Or Pets, Cats | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sifting for good things.

It is a relief to catch-up because WordPress has been rejected by either my internet connection or a software glitch for weeks.  Today’s accessibility might be tenuous so I am taking advantage of updating my review menus and finally writing a post.  A summary from the personal side, to begin.

I shared that spring and half of July were dulled by the stress of dreading to say good-bye to my childhood house and yards, where my twenty-one year old cat is buried.  I also told you about our Cottonwood tree that gives me peace.  It is so immense that you see it well before you reach my childhood street and it has triple trunks.  It is logical enough and doable to separate from a loved-one’s remains.  As I hoped, her cross with a plaque and garden lights pacify me enough at my own property.  After planting wildflowers and visiting and talking at Thumbelina’s actual resting place over and over until my last night sorting through the house, I was ready to leave it with peace in my heart.  Her cross and garden lights are sanctified relics that marked her actual remains for fourteen years and I spent her birthday at that exactly place on July 2nd.  These are the items you look at when you visit, so bringing them to my own home was good enough.

It was harder to leave our Cottonwood tree, who stands just as friendly and very much alive;  probably for 800 to 1000 years!  But I made peace with him and was finally ready to exit, after spending eleven hours sorting everything I could on July 13;  leaving at 3:00 in the morning for my own home an hour away.  I looked forward to being happy for the rest of our summer.  This July 1st, Canada turned one-hundred-and-fifty years old;  with the ten provinces and territories it has now.  I am a patriotic Canadian who wanted to revel in that milestone and I went to our town’s fireworks but it was a shame to have a heavy worry.  Cleaning out a constant, decades-old home is seldom enjoyable but this was an abnormal, awful, unprepared chore.  Our Dad was bad-tempered anytime we wanted to get something done.  He didn’t prioritize but obligated our Mom to grab the handiest parcels.  He didn’t drive her back to look around the last three days.  He Dad drew a ridiculous line about anything else going in their apartment, not based on importance of the items.  Try working with that.  Expectedly, he is complaining about things he didn’t end up with!

More stressful than saying good-bye to the place, which went well, was a brother and wife focused on emptying the rooms, not as dedicated to personal artifacts.  I was constantly scared about retrieving them each time I drove to the city, for weeks.  I was relieved to observe that they waited for me to sort as thorougly as I needed but this was not clear until my last day.  This is what I mean about our move being abnormal.  Some families make it fun and I hoped to.  I stuffed our cars with photo albums, baby things, personal family papers.  Even ornaments and furniture with personal history that ought to be with one of us.  I couldn’t believe how many artifacts personally belonged to me and would have taken them years ago, as I said last time.  Everything was retrieved in bits and pieces.  It took week-ends and every day the week of July 13.  I had no truck or van to scoot things out in bulk.  I did the sorting there and piled our cars with what I brought home for myself, Mom, and youngest brother.  I was ready to celebrate finishing all of that.  Along with planting wildflowers for my twenty-one year-old cat’s resting place, I took Cottonwood tree branches I hoped would grow into his offspring trees.

As you know, when I arrived home late on July 13:  Conan was missing.  My dear cat is still not home two months later but we remain convinced he is on his way home with autumn upon us and very good signs.  People replying to say they support me while I’m worried about him means everything.  People acknowleding that these were odd cirumstances and that our belief in him coming own all right is very justifyable, helps a lot.  His safe return is all that matters and that happy reunion must be close.

We have had a terrible time with dogs on two sides of our land!  People need to ensure dogs are never whining or barking for more than a minute;  then they don’t spoil the peace for anyone.  I have told both neighbours about a training collar that will eliminate that excessive, inappropriate behaviour.  The citronella spray collar works the first day you try it!  Neither of them have jumped to it.  I’d like to point out for them that it is only one thing they need to do to solve the problem, so that we aren’t affected daily.  Leaving it be, as I have for YEARS, is uncomfortable.  Speaking up is uncomfortable.  I wish dogs lived in families who stay on top of them.

Happy thoughts are that when Mom & Dad visited, she was thrilled to see a little of what I took home on her behalf.  They like seeing familiar furnishings and ornaments around here and enjoyed the other cats.  Conan and his siblings had their seventh birthday on September 7th!  I wished he were here for it but on vacation, he had a happy birthday as well.  I telepathically told him I hope we celebrate their others at home.  Our gardens and flowerbeds are beautiful and flourishing, with no frost.  Flowers and food that need more growing time are receiving it, here in hardiness zone 3.  My Cottonwood branches are working!  I think some are budding minisculey and others are unquestionably leafing!  There have been too many serious downs but I gratefully embrace what is good and appreciate friends, at any distance.

Posted in Animals Or Pets, Canadian, Cats, Gardening / Plants / Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Praying for a safe return.

There is always a lot I want to write about and something to get out.  My last post tells of the anxiety of salvaging everything of personal value from our family home, which my parents had to sell.  It needed facelifts my parents couldn’t afford.  Moving to an apartment is fine but my parents turned it into a desperate race.  From the point of view of getting money’s worth, I said my parents should have held a few garage sales over the years, which would have whittled down volume too.  I discovered recently, personal and loved things belonging to me in several places!  I would have happily taken charge of everything pertinent to me, if Mom had told me she had it.  She lost track of what she was storing for twenty and even as many as thirty-seven years, since we owned that house.  We figured out there were some boxes she didn’t open there, or I would have kept my belongings together.

I monitored the books, teddy bears, dolls, and items I knew about by the time I was ten….  Sometimes expunging what I outgrew, keeping what mattered.  I was stunned to rediscover others teddy bears and things that mattered!  Mom should have gone through things periodically, insteading of leaving me in a mad dash to find important things.  Ron & I, with help from one of our dearest friends, cleaned out handy household goods too.  Nothing was wasted but each of us three kids should have been given our personal effects decades ago, so that it was only geneal family items to sift through.  I’m summarizing how frenzied and time-consuming this was, especially with only cars to pack full per session and no truck, to explain why the push became daily, the final week the house was owned by my parents.

Whether my parents told my brother & sister-in-law we were working to remove what we needed, or it was obvious;  I was relieved to find them courteous when we eventually ran into each other.  I did what I needed in peace.  They were very fair in our short chat about a few items they didn’t mind us keeping and respectful too, by asking where in the house I was finished so they could take items to donate.  I said I was done with the basement and away they went.  We three and my sister-in-law had the same goal for my parents:  an uncluttered life in a place they could afford, meeting the needs of people their age.  It can merely be hard for history-keepers like me and non-wasting mindsets to work with those on a mission to discard what they can.  It worked out well that we pitched in at our individual convenience and there was no clashing when we met up.

In that week, I let my cats outside much less.  They are housecats who have the freedom to be out in our country surroundings each day;  forest smart but bonded with us and pampered.  I like them inside before dark and the rare time I’m not home.  Many neighbours let their cats out whether they’re home or not but I’m not comfortable with that.  Unfortunately, on the last day cleaning my family home, where took me 11 hours on July 13;  our boy Conan, did not come in before I left.  He was by our door at 2:30PM but I couldn’t find him after I bathed and reluctantly left at 3:30PM.  No doubt he was frustrated because they got a little jaunt each day, before I sifted for keepsakes and household items in the city.  I am a worry-wort with my kitties but was sure he would be back when Ron came home at 7:30PM.  Daylight hours our cats are always out.  What’s more, the risk is low of anything being amiss the sole time we were away 4 hours, compared people leaving their cats out daily.

We searched and listened for an injured kitty, although most often they can walk home and would do so if injured.  Our others would hear and find him even better than our searching, calling, and listening.  The fact that Conan has been away means he is on a trip by choice.  There is no reason to be near roads or people but we checked a wide perimeter of roads and alerted many neighours.  He is registered with four lost cat places and there are pictures posted locally.  The litterbox is out, which supposely lures cats home for a mile.  Predators cross through any forest but we find them rare here.  We are highly populated and there are a couple of cats who are outdoors here 24/7.  Conan doesn’t like heat, I was away a lot for a week when he is used to me being home-based, and the weather hasn’t stopped being +30C.  Ron feels when he wants to be home, or the weather stops being so darned enjoyable, or if he had a fight;  he’ll be home.

Of course human nature worries about the worst.  “What if the one time he was alone a few measely hours, a preditor came around in daylight”.  No way!  “What if someone has him in their house”.  Ron thinks our friendly cat would be wary of people when his mind is alert to being in the forest for awhile.  He certainly isn’t on vacation to be at someone else’s house but to be comfortable in the heat after being cooped up.  It isn’t like the city either, where people might believe it is safer to take in an unknown cat.  Ron & I come to the same conclusion about not being stuck in a house, with differing logic.  I feel the kind of people who bring in a cat would pay attention to the signs I put up, even if some people don’t think of checking with humane society-type places.  We will worry until Conan shows up at home.  We know our worst fear is not being with us again.  I call him every night and feel like crying, despite our thoroughly-discussed logic.  But I successfully fight to remind myself that it is possible to presume the best!  It allows me to enjoy our other cats, a few outings, our home and gardens and what makes summer nice.

In conclusion, however:  Ron & I believe the happy outcome is more likely!  Such few hours, daylight, the weather and….  Ron found a mouse at the library door the next morning.  I asked him what time he put the other cats away and it was still light, with him walking back & forth through that door.  I didn’t see one when I arrived home late that night either.  I wonder if Conan heard me sobbing and beseeching him to be safe, no more than an hour before and this was his message that he was alive and well.  It keeps pointing to him being on a walk by choice, even if he hadn’t taken off before.  Part of me is confused because this isn’t like him.  He loves to cuddle inside my arm every night when I read and insists on sleeping in our bed.  However either our environment is more dangerous than we think or our closeknit cat is more capable of roaming than we think.  Many people think any cat is willing to take a vacation is he got the chance and that they can be gone all summer without a problem.

I hope he’s home any day but have been asking friends to keep me boosted and encouraged, hanging on to faith.  I have also asked everyone to pray and use whatever positive energy they believe in, to protect Conan so that he comes home safely.  It is the only thing that matters and the rest of my days will be happy.  Bidding farewell to my family home was fine and the ascension date of Conan’s brother, Love, on July 31 was fine.  It is year three and I am at peace even with that.  I only ask that my present generation of cats be with me and well for long lives.  Ron & I have consulted God, angels, and worked physically to ensure this is so.  I send my love and gratitude to all of you who help too.  Love, Carolyn & Ron.

Posted in Animal Rights, Animals Or Pets, Cats | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Always remembering her birthday.

Anyone who knows me at all, knows animals are equal to me and that my family cats are more important than anyone in the world.  They are real sons and daughters.  I am also well-known for caring about physical connections to places and keepsakes and dates, which I retain keenly.  Very different from fixating on wealth or acquiring things out of a need to spend, is respecting and recognizing why some objects, places, dates, and memories are cherished by us.  Thus,  one day after Canada day, I always remember Thumbelina Sandy’s birthday!  She was my childhood cat, like her Mom, Sandy but we were blessed with her much longer.

An emotionally-hard thing I am working through right now is the sudden need for my parents to leave our family home.  I wish it weren’t rushed and that they weren’t urged by my siblings & one wife ungently, to dispense with several possessions in a wave.  They should have gone through things over time and prepared for this.  But to be fair to my releatives, while not approving of the demeanour, it came to my understanding that my parents left things so long;  they had to move this summer.  They hoped to find a way to keep their house.  Unrelated to that, they refused to let me have garage sales each year that I offered.  There was a need to clean-up anyway.  This sibling & his wife have practically carried my parents through all the steps and probably don’t enjoy that.  The other brother came from out-of-town for a whirwind week and has been supportive by phone.  My spouse & I help as much as we can in numerous ways and are going there again today.  My parents were so nervous about opening their yard to a garage sale in the past but had they listened, could have cleaned without panic and made a few dollars.  We will all enjoy their new apartment.  I’m not against them downsizing and recognize they can’t afford to renovate and upkeep a city house.  What feels awful is the way this is so hastily occurring.  Suddenly it’s time for a good-bye.  My long-distance brother already had his and asked for a picture of the house with our cottonwood tree showing happily from behind it.

Most people wish their parents and descendents can go on living there so we can keep visiting it. I have been out of there a long time and know our belongings feel more like home than the rooms without them.  Ron & I, for instance, tackled the attic and brought home most of the toys that were stored there for 30 years.  These were things that mattered, as well as a few belonings from other places, like my doll crib.  When I was little and Sandy was a baby, she slept in it like a baby and so did her predecessor, Candy, who lived too briefly.  Thus I was desperate to get my crib safely to my adult home and I did.  I have taken care of most of my belongings since I was small.  My parents stored a few items I was unaware of.  It has been nice seeing all of the doll faces, toys, and unexpected books again.

For me the landscape of our house and yard is what looks and feels like home.  Especially with my dear, favourite cottonwood tree. It might be at least 800 years old and has a triple trunk! It is very tall, comforting, and positive. I feel it has always protected us and while the inside began to feel suffocating with clutter, the outside always feels great. I will add photographs to this writing later.  I’ve snapped some recently but fortunately have many from the thirty-seven years this has been our family home.  I prefer that pictures not be of someone else’s, or an emptied home but it’s nice to know we can drive by and still see our place occasionally.  Mom’s heart is in the frontyard where she constantly added small trees, flowers, which wonderfully gave them privacy and shade on a city street. I took photos of them for her.  Not least, is our 21 year-old cat and one of the love’s of my life: Thumbelina Sandy. Her resting place is in the backyard.  I only have two more weeks to drop in a couple more times and see it.

Her spirit is with me of course but sharing this isn’t about what I can still do. Sharing this is dealing with what I am reluctantly parting from. She’s been physically gone since July 21, 2003 so I can do this but will certainly miss our very alive cottonwood tree too. Thumbelina was born July 2, 1982!  I can and will bring flowers to her resting place today.  Ron & I will help Mom pack up what she still needs to do and I’m sure we’ll all enjoy the new place. This is about the difficulty of leaving the original one.

Today is her birthday! Happy birthday to you, my dearest girl!  We really do remember our most cherished loved ones always.  Her birth, at our home, was a very happy one.  Thank you for reading this.
Yours from the heart, Carolyn.

Posted in Cats, Gardening / Plants / Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No time period excuses any behaviour.

Just as I am in awe of Chuck Berry, as the pioneer of rock and pop music I have loved, I sample mystery classics.  If not for demanding its own writing criteria, like ensuring scenes apply to the plot and move it along;  it is almost as broad as the fiction category.  I really have to be entertained by literature that has no spirit encounters or genuinely mysterious puzzles!  I grew up on gothic mysteries so old, I never sought addresses to contact my favourite authors because I imagined they must be deceased!  I joked to Ron that a 2000 release was new for me.  Mysteries that drum-up their plots from a crime, when there are so many more creative puzzles in the world, are my least favourite and least of all;  police crime-solving.  I at least want an everyday heroine to solve it but since few authors utilize true mysteriousness;  those blueprints are prevalent.  I wanted to give a pioneer like Ellery Queen a try.  Goodness knows I collected twenty-five of these novels, before opening “The Roman Hat Mystery“.

It took me eight days to finish it today because I hated it.  However rare for me, I issued it one star!  My review can speak for itself, under my menu up top, called “Reviews – Mine“.  Another tab singles out Canadian authors.  I have not always swooned over a supposed classic but we have estalished it’s nothing to do with lacking appreciation for bygone eras.  What surprised me this afternoon was that my low rating was in the minority.  It reminds me of people who think everyone must love The Beatles.  I don’t!  Did they contribute memorably to their field?  Yes indeed and even Ellery Queen created a magazine that lasted decades.  Unfortunately I loathed their writing style.  I could hardly bear to get through the novel and will sell their remaining novels without going through it again.  I am sure any reader sees for herself that no matter how creative a plot, or however interesting any subject, even if it should be up our alley;  it comes to nothing if we can’t stand how it’s written.

It was also boring, when I wasn’t shrieking over awfully-chosen adjectives and adverbs.  The novel comprises speeches and takes 90 pages to leave the first location!  It seriously felt as if I were sitting through the Roman Theatre’s interrogation in real time;  stuck with the detained audience and cast!  A few reviewers doling out two stars, agreed it was boring, lecturesome, and racist.  This is the subject of the discussion I offer.  My largest shock, glancing at other write-ups, is that because this came out in 1929….  nearly everyone thought it was okay or “expected”!!!!  Ladies and gentlemen:  degrading behaviour and attitudes are never okay!  There is no year in time that excuses it!

One woman’s review rebuked editing books for politically-decent content, saying we should depicts periods as they were.  Was every person across time prejudist?  I submit that it was never the majority at all.  Negative news gets the front page and dictates history books.  The rebuked low ratings in the context of a book’s time period.  As someone who frequently champions those points, politely, I would agree;  if she had not missed the boat on her intentions.  Sure, it would be prepostrous to replace letter mail with computers and parasols with Iphones;  on the notion that youngsters would relate to a story better.  I advocate time snapshots.  I loved the legitmate 1929 flair;  prohibition, the idea of theatre when there was no television, the titular tophats.  If a book depecited separate washrooms for blacks in the United States;  well, that was a fact.  Outdated words, not deemed unkind at the time, can be overlooked.  No ill will was intended by the descriptors “indian” or “coloured”.

Prejudism means thinking of someone as inferior.  It is wholly different from words or customs that are today considered gauche.  See the difference?  The idea that rejecting or giving low grades to in reaction to prejudism, is unfair to a 1929 novel, is false.  My principal message is that racism does not and never has, represented any era of time!  Racist actions occurred if racist people had governing positions and thus, passed abominable laws.  If we think of Jews ostracized, imprisoned, or killed in the second world war:  no one would dare say:  “Oh, that was all right for the 1940s”.  If we think of women murdered in the 1700s over the absurd accusation of witchcraft (an actual Wicca gave a helping hand when I was at my lowest):  do we say  “Oh well, those were just the times”?  No!  Mistreatment is mistreatment and a year never excuses it.

One of Gabrielle Roy’s humourous short stories is about two housewives fighting to be first on their street to board a black gentleman!  “Street Of Riches” is from 1955 (see either of my blog’s review tabs).  One of Phyllis A. Whitney’s civil war epics, “Step To The Music” is from 1953 and this great lady was born in 1903.  She is a relic of old attitudes.  Well then, what was hers?  The story contains a scene in which a respected black woman is afraid to dismount a Long Island ferry and asks the protagonist’s family, high class no less, to escort her home.  They help her unhesitatingly.  I don’t buy into the idea that Richard Queen grabbing a Turkish ward’s neck and calling black ancestry “a bad break”, is a sign of those times.  You must know of animal and human rights defenders, or just plain moral people, of older eras.

I do not believe that bad behaviour receiving publicity over history, is representative of most of us!  We don’t hear enough stories, except in Hollywood films, about people who opposed racism, no matter if it was silently or stoutly.  There have also always been people who adored and respected animals, so I don’t buy the “old way of thinking” crap about that either.  Some people still dismiss animals and other races as expendible and inferior (let canaries and Chinese citizens check the safety of mines).  Contrarily, I have an anthology of poetry dating hundreds of years, dedicated to people’s love of household animals.  I add this because in Ellery Queen’s novel, a very inappropriate joke was made about vivisection!  And a rabbit was sacrificed to test poison;  casually!  As if she or he were an disposable object.

There is no failure to appreciate any epoch, which assuredly comprised fine people and customs, when I refuse to accept or overlook prejudism.  Opposition through negative feedback is not akin to wanting horses & buggies out of literature of the 1800s.  So too, off-colour titles like Agatha Christie’s.  Politically-incorrect expressions do factually represent the jargon of olden days.  Low regard of a person or animal?  That never represents the best, nor majority of us;  time period be damned.  It is a personal attitude and SHOULD be graded for what it is:  unacceptable.

Posted in Animal Rights, Book / Novel / Literature, Language / Grammar / Writing, Public Issues | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amazon Change Might Be All Right.

Where do you buy physical books?  If you appreciate the real objects versus reading the contents any old way;  the best way to afford as many as we have is to seek far and wide for second-hand deals!  This is true of anything, isn’t it?  We plant a lot of garden foods and every variety of flowers Manitoba can handle, so we can’t be paying $2.00 each for seed packs.  We find deals and stock up.  There are a few places we drive out-of-town and my spouse, Ron & I certainly know the Winnipeg second-hand book circuit.  These and charity sales bring us the greatest success;  list-wise and bargain-wise!

We search thrift shops and garage sales too but the odds of them furnishing something on our lists is slow business and many garage sales, to our surprise, don’t have books.  Nothing other than children’s books or romances anyway.  Garage sellers:  if you sell adult fiction, please advertize!  It is a waste of time to trail after a sign, stop the car, only to see that there are no books at all.  Although we remain polite, fortunately we are assertive enough with our time to briskly thank hosts for a look and stride away.  Bored sellers are chatty and as much as we love meeting people, we need to march on in the few hours most of these places offer.

Due to endless selection, even though this option is the most expensive, I have bought second-hand at Amazon Canada more than anywhere else.  Presumably to avoid fees, many “marketplace sellers” list books for one penny and for Canada, $6.49 is added in shipping.  I would not pay more than $6.50 for used books, certainly not in poorer condition than “very good” and “like new”.  Second-hand shops in person are prefereable so long as they keep their prices beneath $6.50.  Otherwise my mantra was:  “I might as well get it from Amazon”.  Occasionally, books I wanted a great deal that did not seem to go for a penny;  I treated myself to new.  When spending $35.00 in new stock, Amazon Canada ships for free.  Otherwise $6.50 can get us 4 books for an even $26.00 gift certificate.  There you have my book-pricing gauge.

I went to buy the last book I need by Simone St. James last night, because a seller had a “very good” copy for a penny.  I watch my wish list every day and pounce on those $6.50 “like new” deals.  There are fantastic sellers like ‘Your Online Bookstore’, ‘Canwest Books’, ‘Motor City Books’, and ‘Better World Books’ whose idea of “very good” usually amounts to “like new”.  We need a way to score several without incurring $6.49 each.  Canwest Books sells privately if you obtain the wonderful lady’s e-mail address.  Since e-mail addresses are blocked through Amazon, sellers are wise to enclose them with purchases.  I like the savings from bulk purchases through reputable sellers.  Goodness knows we need to save all the bucks we can.

I did not buy the Simone St. James novel because an $8.26 total stopped me in my tracks.  What on Earth was this?  The Amazon website said nothing but in a search, I saw a sellers’ thread about a change that was made just on May 1, 2017.  The set $6.49 and $3.49 shipping for books and music is no more!  Sellers can make their own shipping prices!  If you did not know, I want to clue you in.

I have observed what sellers were making of this, before I panicked or reported this article.  If a person were greedy, or understandably wanted better coverage for postage that might indeed cost $8.00;  wouldn’t the outcome be raised postage?  My first reaction was dismay.  If second-hand books were higher than $6.50, it would not be worth obtaining them from Amazon any longer.  With respect to what postage costs the other end, there is a line a person who might buy 200 books a year, has to draw.  Any higher and I’d rather wait out second-hand shops, or spend buy products new.  Thankfully, a look at books I want on is encouraging!  I read an inkling in the seller’s forum along these lines too:  there are sellers who want to remain at $6.49.  This is what the marketplace offerings show today.

Other sellers have taken an even better tack, albeit not for .1c books, and used Amazon’s change to offer free shipping!  However the books I’ve seen so far are priced at $10.00:  too expensive and not even if great shape.  If marketplace sources would charge no more than, let’s say, $5.00 for books;  not only would this be an opportunity rather than a blow.  It would become feasible to purchase several books at a time, which I would not do at $6.50 each!  Since the change includes taking a percentage of seller’s postage, which thankfully prevents exorbitance (as well as lining Amazon’s pockets), one would think there is no point to high postage.

 How much do you think is too much?  The mathematically-inclined might ponder gas spent on our treks but should know that we seldom score fewer than 30 books on our outings.  (Except at garage sales.  People really need to bring out the mystery and paranormal literature)!  We are beginning to offer books at home for local people, many bought new which we aren’t keeping, for an average of $3.00.  I guess people who don’t purchase books as often as our WordPress and Goodreads community, aren’t aware that used books have been $6.50 a pop and new ones can be $20.00.  I don’t dare charge more than $4.50 unless it is a first edition and I’m keeping our fantastic collection for locals.  Southern Manitobans, write-in if you’re curious about what we have!  :)

This price change is new and sellers must be testing the waters for feedback!  Let’s send them the right message right away:  that we are glad of an opportunity to do better than a fixed $6.49 each but that we definitely will not exeed it.  How?  Easily.  Look-up a book from your wish list that appears to be at a low price, in the used link beneath the new price.  Scan the list of marketplace sellers and take note of who is exempting shipping, offering low shipping, or at least sticking with $6.49.  (Of course, less at in the United States).  Click on the marketplace name and then select “contact the seller”.

Tell fair sellers you appreciate their affordability.  Contact those who raised the price, politely informing them that you will not go higher for second-hand books, music, or blu-rays.  Suggest that if they provide free shipping and charge up to $5.00 per book:  that you are not only likelier to patronize them but that you might start purchasing multiple items, if they use Amazon’s shipping change for the better.

Posted in Bargains / Garage Sales, Book / Novel / Literature, Canadian, Music | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Where to buy music albums nowadays!

How do you play music at home?  It’s great to have a little Ipod when you’re on a bus or plane, to tune out the random public, or brighten your commute.  Anyone can play music on a PC but that is a room away from visiting guests.  When you have company for supper, or a party:  do you have a stereo in your livingroom?  Or allow me to pose this another way:  do you like collecting music?

Ron & I have not yet created space for a record player and our cassette decks no longer work.  The best for our small house would be a unit with its own speakers, which can turn rare material among our records and cassettes into MP3s and run an Ipod too.  I presume these units must have USB ports for removing music one has converted.  I love making music CDs from the best songs of albums I own.  I carve out fantastic dancing moods that a long list of Ipod tracks would not accomplish, like 22-song CDs would.  The way I tailor them gets me exhilerated enough to dance around our house and to waltz with a few of our cats!

Having factory albums in hand is, you might be surprised, more important to us than physical books.  We’re likelier to give books away we aren’t excited about.  Music-shopping seems to be rarer but on those days, the selections we make feel much more like a personal, permanent purchase, isn’t it?  For practicality, songs can downloaded or heard on TV and radio.  We know we’re fans of a few songs at least and that sparks our album purchases.  Did you buy 45s or cassette singles as children?  I did!  I found no thrill in cassette singles and their pricing was never worth it, so I only have a few of those but along with LP records, 45s are my greatest collection.  The way I used to decide “album versus 45” was this:  if I loved three songs on the same album, I bought the album.  If I only loved a couple of tracks, presuming this was not “a completionist” music artist for me;  the 45s would do.

From another tack:  Ron is not comfortable buying on-line and neither of our parents have a way to do it, come Christmas.  So a place to choose something for my birthday of Jesus’s, from my well-varied wish list, has closed.  We were sorry that HMV music stores closed all across Canada last month!  I started my record collection as a child, switching to tapes when records stopped being produced for a long time around 1990, and eventually getting into compact discs, which we still enjoy.  I remember having a plethora of literal “record stores” for new stock, from which to choose:  A&A Records & Tapes, The Record Baron….  I seldom have occasion to travel but those tiems I have been in Toronto, Ontario:  one of my biggest treats was always perusing the huge, head office HMV store on Yonge Street!

It is one thing for Winnipeg’s three or four branches to be gone.  However I have to say, I never shopped in there, even while their stock was dwindling this year, without about 20 people squeezing by me, saying “Excuse me”!  Every browse down their aisle was always a densely-navigated stampede!  How could they not have been doing a thriving business?  However what shocks and disappoints me the most, is the thought of that huge, three-storey store no longer being at Eaton’s Place Centre in Toronto.  A huge, exciting place like that;  with not only rows, but FLOORS of music and things that our city didn’t carry!  To any record shop employees of any kind around the world reading this:  I appreciate you and my family and friends patronized you!  I told employees on my final two shopping trips to HMV, where I scored blu-rays and music at $3.00 each, that many love having a place to buy real copies of music.  Most thanked me for saying my family is not among those creating demographics that suggest our world doesn’t need music stores.

Future Shop is gone, who had a fantastic selection.  Best Buy cut their music department and Ron noticed on birthday shopping trips for me, no longer have a great blu-ray & DVD department. There might be one supplier of new releases in Winnipeg, otherwise we’ll have to hope used shops have a good selection.  For new music most notably and blu-rays, since Wal-Mart’s selection is tiny, this leaves Amazon Canada.  I will try to get my spouse comfortable using it but it is useless to people like our parents, without internet, or sufficient computer know-how.  Last night I was dealt a blow by Amazon too, in the used department, called “marketplace sellers”.  Please watch for my article about how to give feedback to second-hand sellers, who aren’t pleased with some major shipping changes either.

A cute story about a very special trip to California when I was a teenager:  it was 1992 and stores no longer sold records in my city.  I am sure I danced, when my host’s little brother took me around town and we spotted a music store….  full of LP records, 12″ singles, and 45s!!!!  New ones, in plastic!!!!  I dove into those bins so long, probably for a couple of hours (it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance after all), that staff brought me a catalogue and a box.  I worried customs would be a problem and emptied my suitcase of anything that didn’t need to stay with me;  mailing home rolls of film and even laundry!  My parents appreciated the postcard.  {Wry shrug!}  I don’t believe the charge was very much and stored my prizes on the plane with me.  Customs and airlines were kind 25 years ago.  Besides, a place that still sold NEW RECORDS was a wonderland!  I did not pass it up.

Music sources for Winnipeg and our environs!

The last employee, so friendly seven though they were losing their jobs, said Sunrise Records might replace HMV!  I believe this is a second-hand store but that is all right.

I would like to plug to the wonderful discovery of a great record store in Steinbach!  What a surprise to find such a thing in the infamous “closed on Sundays” town.

A favourite CD and record shop I loved when I lived near Grant Park mall in Winnipeg, still has the same very likeable manager.  It feels good to visit our old neighbourhoods, doesn’t it?  Especially when our country life is far from the ones we led in those great urban places.

My old neighbourhood where I lived with my twenty year-old kitty, before we rented a dwelling with Ron….  the always colourful Osbourne Village!  There is certainly used music there.  All of these places are where we can buy music.  Perhaps the interval will be brief for newer releases.

Posted in Canadian, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Manitoba’s April Magic!

We are already seeing our way through the magical month of April.  Although I call my birthday month, November, magical because I feel like it belongs to me and powerfully marks when I was born:  March and April in Manitoba are diverse in a way you couldn’t believe if you didn’t visit or live here.  The proverb about March is:  “In like a lamb, out like a lion” or the reverse and I can tell you that it is true!  If it starts out warm, even with snow melting; temperatures dip later.  Spring and summer enthusiasts hope for the reverse.

I love warm weather and am a garden-lover but wildlife-lovers appreciate and treasure all months.  There are birds and tableaux we only see in winter and we have to say, a reduction in neighbour’s dogs and kids being out.  We value quiet.  Rain and any inclement weather protects us similarly, freeing us to open windows, be outside, and read in peace.  We believe our neighbour is convinced to finally try anti-bark training collars so we are never blasted again, when we chat aloud and step out our doors.

April has the final word on the metamorphosis of our seasons, capable of surprising us even more.  We awaken to different sketches of the landscapes of our home every day!  We have hit +20C, which is already summer weather and I have indeed sat in the sun wearing shorts.  Pine siskens are still with us and purple finches and juncos were only away briefly.  The robins and black birds are back too, perennial flowerbed plants have been growing, the grass was well on its way to being green.  Our earliest three kinds of frogs have been singing strongly right until last night: wood frogs, peepers, and Borealis chorus frogs.  Today?  Have a look at this beautiful, graceful surprise and sparkling energy.  One more time, the birds, cats, and I can play and delight in this very special blanket.


A north east view of what is a back yard to us, from the east door of our house.


You are seeing a dry, budding Manitoba receive 30 centimetres of snow in one day!  This is the magic and surprise of April’s final word on winter changing to spring.  How does it look where you live today?  Share a link to small or medium phographs (this is slow-speed internet).  Explain the climate and geography of your home! I am in Southern Manitoba, in central Canada but also called Western Canada or the prairies.  Prairieland and marshland abound, even in our cities but there is lots of forestland too and that is where I live.  Our hardiness zone for gardening is 3, which means we dare not plant gardens before mid-May but we go ahead with cool weather or early-blooming vegetables, like peas, the first week.


North:  space between our house and library, which is west of our house and front door.


In the country and in the forest, there is always a beautiful animal to welcome and a beautiful scene to see.  We keep our property free of a junk-looking environmen that we see elsewhere.  We established one place for piling and storing things out-of-doors.  It is behind our second building, our workshop & library.  You see no clutter unless you walk up to our one storage zone.  We’re striving to eventually say the same about our small house but all around us outside, I am so proud and inspired by how free and natural it stays.

This week is Earth day and this spring, Ron & I will again plant extra flowers to help strengthen our province’s colonies of bees.  Gladdening your heart and helping little creatures has a much more powerful purpose than smelling and looking lovely.  Any of your own love and colour that you add to the world, even in pots that you can set upon doorsteps or apartment balconies;  matters a great deal.

In apartment life before we left the city, Ron & I took tremendous pleasure in leaving a tin pie plate full of birdseed for the house sparrows common to cities and our two elder cats, who have moved with us, were thrilled to see them too.  Give city kitties something to look at and don’t worry about them catching birds if you let them rush outside to the balcony.  Sparrows are fast!  :)  I visited and brought as much nature as we could to our city life and am thrilled to be where nature densely lives now.  I would love to hear about the nature you protect and boost around your homes.

I am loving this weather today and the junkos and other birds seem to be playing around in it delightedly.  Our six cats are sticking indoors!  Go figure:  they were born and raised in this province as much as us and our eldest is a snowshoe Siamese, no less!  McCartney is hanging out with me and peeking at the door with me frequently while I take pictures and enjoy the view.  Our sixteen year-old always has been our most playful kitty, although I did encourage Spirit, Marigold, and Petal to relax in our library building;  which meant walking down our snowy sidewalk.  Happy spring, whatever it’s stage at your place!

Posted in Animals Or Pets, Canadian, Gardening / Plants / Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Etiquette Of Carrying Our Cell Phones!

When I began to find it uncomfortable that friends were consulting their gadgets, even if it was to show a picture, or look up trivia….  I thought carefully about why.  They are very good about establishing a new courtesy after I proposed shutting phones off in our time together and perhaps your friends and family will be too.  It is handy to look up trivia but with an addiction at hand, we mustn’t justify reasons to keep brandishing cell phones.  I figured out whence my concern derives.  If we do not establish a fresh etiquette for technology;  people would consult them all of the time and there would be no more visits with just PEOPLE.  If this is a habit you started: here is an easy way to clarify the faux-pas.  What do you suppose second-hand communication modes are for?

A letter, mail, a phone call, electronic mail…. secondary, remote communication takes the place of a visit you can’t have in person!  A way to get messages to one another when you can’t talk in person.  To keep in touch until you can be together.  If you can’t attend an occasion, you mail a card in place of bringing one to the party.  We love and care for a variety of people and enjoy milder acquaintaces too. We only live with a few of them. The remainder, who do not rise and retire in the same home, arrange time to be together. That is what a visit is!  If you mess around with an Iphone when you have the blessing of someone setting aside personal time to be with you:  it defeats it’s purpose! Secondary communication modes are meant to close gaps and make do, until you can be together with someone in the same place…. therefore put them away when you are indeed with a person!!!!

If you left children with a babysitter or if a relative were unwell, certainly that is different. It unfortunately still takes your attention away from the group but there is nothing rude about it You will feel relieved and better fit to visit when an awaited call is dispensed with, no call from a babysitter after a couple of hours is a good sign. If there is a way you can arrange with your relative or babysitter to contact you in one particular way, perhaps by calling, and turn off the sound or applications of the other communication modes; then those superfluous modes won’t be a factor. If you think it would be easier and faster: phone the babysitter or relative and verify that things are all right.

Another way to make the distinction easy between right and wrong, is to ask how we did things before cell phones carried e-mail and text messages with them; made our home offices portable?  I would check e-mail and phone messages, if I wanted to, when I got home!  If I were anticipating a call or message that was on our minds, or if we were with people for hours:  I might ask to check my answering machine or e-mail.  One session:  not randomly monitoring whatever might be incoming!  Because the people phoning, e-mailing, text messaging don’t know you are with friends and because the nature of today’s cell phones mean you carry your home office with you:  you have to turn them off!  To keep the connection open to beep the arrival of any message or call that rolls in, interrupts the people you are with and pulls you out of the present.  If your eye or ear flickers to your gadget every time something rolls in, or you actually have the nerve to answer the phone;  you aren’t giving your companions the attention they deserve.  You are depriving yourself of throwing your spirit into it.  Do you know people who are terrible at remembering detail?  This is why!  They have never focused on anthing wholly enough to absorb it.

There’s something else you might relate to. A visit at someone’s home is the most personal kind there can be. You experience their milieu, their world, along with them. I occasionally bring some of my cats with me largely, pets are only seen at their home and because they are family for many of us, we want our visitors to delight in them. Think of the decor of your home too. You put care into what you collect and they way your environment is displayed: an atmosphere you would like guests to soak in while they are there and enjoy. I would like our guests to roam around if we have left the room, or during a lull and take a close look at our many books, music albums, and blu-rays. How are our plants looking? How about those pictures on the walls? I would be as disappointed and uncomfortable to find guests bending over the gadgets after we have stepped out of the room, that they will be taking home with them. Why should they want to rip themselves away from the relaxation and joy our environment might give to them?

It also gives the impression that they are so focused on their devices, as if addicted, that they couldn’t wait to snatch a chance to look and were glad we left the room.  Simply put:  do you need to look for messages now?  Can you not contain yourself until you are home?  Why aren’t you more interested in our visit?  If your friends notice changes in your decor when they return and clearly made the most out of their previous visit by having paid attention; it is most rewarding and brings you closer. There’s nothing so special as friends and family who have spent enough personal time with us, to notice changes in our decor or personal collections. Our pets will welcome them back too when they have bonded.

What is the goal of this article? To help you have this conversation with your visitors, as easily as forwarding this to them if you would like. You see, we need to collaborate together and establish a new etiquette because there is none for technology that brings your e-mail, text messages, and your phone calls along with you. Two women who believe in giving their full attention to the present and respect to their personal time, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, frequently shared that they were very late getting involved with cell phones or text messaging. Matthew McConaghy said in an interview with Ellen that his home does not even have an answering machine paired with their land line telephone. Just like the good old days, it rings and if no one is there, it ends there. If you catch them at home, then indeed they will answer the phone.

I carry a cell phone when I’m out, an old one that has no internet and which is not ideal for text messages, mainly in case of emergency and of course for convenience.  If I’d like to let someone know I’m in the city and might wish to visit, I can call them.  If I can’t find their house, I can clarify directions.  If I can’t find Ron at the mall, I ask where he is.  Here, cell phones serve their puproses well.  Interrupting time you have set aside to spend with someone, they defeat their purpose and rob your focus.  But we need to shake people into awareness of this.  They certainly aren’t meaning to be rude and will be glad to have new modern rules.

How about protecting our alone time?  Talk show hostess, Ayisha Taylor, admits she can’t bear not to monitor her Iphone.  Putting it away doesn’t work.  But if such a person set aside particular periods when she can consult her Iphone as much as she would like and periods when the pull of external forces is turned off, it WOULD work.  You aren’t separated from your messages.  You are choosing sessions for attending to them, instead of allowing your life to be interrupted at random.  If I am sharing a special moment with my cats, when we are all in the sun at a window and I am reading;  I unplug our main phone and have my cell in the drawer of a different room.  In other words, nothing rings through and disturbs that sacred hour or more.  My am satisfied that my cell phone will record messages and I can go on-line for e-mail later.

Candidly:  I believe it is an uncreative person who can’t relish spare moments, apart from pecking through electronic devices.  Walk, watch a film, clean a room, plant seeds in flowerpots, cuddle your pets without any distractions!  I remember an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” in which Debra Barone lands a marketing job in New York City and is excited about a long train commute from Long Island.  (You see what I mean about a sharply-focused memory!  I saw this years ago).  She said:  “I have the gift of time!  I can actually read!”  Even aside from visiting courtesy, I believe it maintains an underestimated element of health to clear a few hours for ourselves, in which messages don’t jangle us.  We will go to them when we wish to.

Some etiquette is so well-engrained, like not punching anyone;  it scarcely needs to be taught.  More detailed etiquette, our parents and teachers instill.  Flushing toilets and washing hands at every use….  these seem like no-brainers but we have trained our behaviour for millenia.  Favouring gadgets ahead of people who put aside time, has more serious implications than people are aware of.  If it makes you uncomfortable, as if humanity is getting away from us:  politely make a rule with friends and family to turn devices off.  Open a conversation by forwarding this article if that would help.  Putting away the home office and allowing ourselves to just be people when we are together, is the fresh rule to guide us.

Posted in Public Issues | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carolyn’s “Global Reading” 2017!


Hello from a warm winter week-end in Manitoba’s marshland and forestland!  I am passionate about our adored cats, the plants we grow, and books and music I have gathered all my life.  You hear about my reading most because hosting and joining “reading challenges” generates posts.  I fell in love with them because they give me somewhere self-competitively and if there are prizes, competitively to direct the private reading I do.  These furnish an activity for a pastime that was for a long time solitary.  Their main attraction and function is giving me a creative way to categorize the books I choose to read in a year.  This one is one of my favourites, which places authors and the contents of their books according to countries in the world.

I quickly saw that most hosts stop at the most inconvenient time of year to choose:  December 31st.  Too many times, these precious weeks were spent busily filling-in links to my posts and reviews at numerous nost websites, when anyone would rather focus on Christmas and all of the activities that surround that.  I continue to recommend running groups February 1 to January 31 like I do.  It is one month that makes a difference.  I began prioritizing prize opportunities but the most futile thing is hosts who seldom or never read the posts we spent precious enthusiasm preparing!  Of highest importance is hosts who care when we share what we finished.

I search for this unadvertized group every year, which I hope makes her feel appreciated.  The layout is detailed and surely took a lot of time.  Goodness knows the review pages alone for my four groups took a lot of care.  Filling in my reading by continent is one of my most satisfying ways to play.  I pay attention to where settings are and whence authors come and the other part that appeals to me is that a few of the continents are tricky;  outside my reading norm.  It pushes me to read something South American (my hardest!), Australian / New Zealander, and Asian.  Phyllis A. Whitney saves me there, with her abundance of books, because she was born in Japan.  I have almost all of Amy Tan’s books and a few other Asian selections so I will use some of that this year.

I meet challenges with books we have, books plentiful enough that my spouse &  I shop within our own home store.  I seek no books elsewhere;  the point for me is to read-up our own supply.  You might find my weak continent odd because I have a huge selection of Hispanic literature.  I studied Spanish, speak and read it in fact, since grade 9 through to universitiy.  It doesn’t seem I built this collection however, for a love of this literature but because I learned who the greats are and wanted to try them as a grown-up.  I only dug into it a couple of years ago and must not think that finding those two or three oeuvres depressing means all South American literature is like that.  There must be funny, exciting, or spooky books among them too.  Thanks to the “Global Reading Challenge“;  I invest a few days reading three such books and see.

 I hope starting this year, my posts and articles are read and commented on!  This theme is one of my favourite mental scavenger hunts, which is what reading challenges are.  I concur with what must have been her thought:  it is well worth acquainting the settings and arts of other countries.  Either the site used to say, or Kerrie acknowledged that our choices can be based on an author’s residence or birthplace.  This year’s post doesn’t elaborate but I reiterate that many of my items are checked-off via an author’s origins.

Fictional is requested and is usually what I bring.  A reason is not evident, except preference so I’m not going to stress about hopping over that in a few instances.  Margaret Laurence’s writings on her work in Africa are special and important enough to share and one of my Hispanic items might be poetry.  I want to count the tough items on my list;  South America being a culture I read seldom.  We aren’t competing for prizes and our hostess lives too far to smack me.  Hehe!  Please revisit these categories to see how I match them.  I aim for triplicates but will keep recording the books I like best.



The Prophet’s Camel Bell”  Margaret Laurence  1963  SOMALILA
The Jackal’s Head”  Elizabeth Peters  1968  EGYPT
“The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”  Alexander McCall Smith  1998  BOTSWANA



The Red Carnelian”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1943  Born in JAPAN



A Question Of Murder”  Eric Wright  1988  Toronto, Ontario
A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986  St. Catherine’s, Ontario
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009  Charleston, South Carolina



Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984  Born in IRELAND
“Sense And Sensibility”  Jane Austen  1811  ENGLAND



“The Distant Hours”  Kate Morton  2010  Born in AUSTRALIA



“One-Hundred Years Of Solitude”  Gabriel García Márquez  1967  COLUMBIA


Posted in Book / Novel / Literature | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dread And Read 2017

I have wanted to write about giving authors another try, if we didn’t enjoy a book at first.  I’ve wondered under what circumstances people are gracious and would love stories about this turning out well. Unless I can’t bear the writing or its style, I do give a mulligan.  Any standalone story and first series volumes have a character and fresh idea to construct.  The largest reason is the way I buy:  often an author’s full catalogue of oeuvres years, before I read one page!  That is the thrifty and “completionist’s” mentality both at once.  I am a real book-reader;  the physical object.  There is a satisfaction in finding those objects and filling in the complete picture.  Sometimes I encounter volumes at cheap prices which can’t be read until I procure rgw volumes preceding it.  I try sticking to what’s on my existing wish list, or series-opening volumes I discover.  When you have ten or even twenty books by an author;  there is a physically mountainous incentive to give them a chance!

This served me well with Juliet Blackwell.  I love the paranormal, which is why I run “Ethereal” and mysteries, which brought about “My Kind Of Mystery“.  A witch series should be a shoe-in but I could not stand her first novel.  I still hate her gnome sidekick, who disguises himself as a pet pig and the focus was too high on him.  The culdren-brewing concept rushing in abruptly for someone unsued to that too.  I had several of her other novels and not only was I glad I gave volume two a try;  it catapaulted her to becoming one of my favourite authors!  I loved the changed tone and focus, largely because it was about old history, a secret room, and a ghost!  Unfortunately more of a demon but we were getting closer to my milieu.  When Juliet came up with a haunted house renovation series, the first volume was weak but I persisted more readily and again:  the second and third mysteries were exponentially more atmospheric and enthralling.  Is there anyone you are tempted to retry, or dreaded reading that would feel like an accomplishment if you vaulted over that hurdle?  What would be on your list?

J.G, who kindly calls me “dynamic” and is equally so, has a group about diving into books we are uncertain we’ll like!  I had joined her nature theme and revisited her blog descriptions to find her birth date group is simpler than it seemed.  So is this.  Books for which we have a dampened enthusiasm take a sharp breath before digging in because for most of us, a 300-page novel is a 2 to 3-day investment of time.  I almost always read at night and unless a book sweeps me away at a gallop, I go through them in a few sips.  The trick even when we’re nuts about books or enjoying them generally.  Well:  if I finish even three of these, I will be happy.


(1)  “Death Of A Cad”  Marion C. Beaton  1987

I guess I’ll close by entertaining you with my reasons for naming the books that I do herein.  These are in order of dread!  First:  does it shock you that I name Marion Chesney Beaton?  She is a very popular “cozy mystery” authoress, one of those whom I collected vastly.  I even have several first editions.  It took some time tracking down the first and second volumes of her earliest series, about a Scottish constable.  I love Scotland and the Celtic countries.  I’ve been to Scotland and treasured every second with my spouse there.  It is the reason I created “Celtic Coasts“.   But when I finally got around to reading “Death Of A Gossip”, I loathed it!  I think I gave it one star, which I have to tell you is rare for me.  I am forgiving and try to find the good wherever it is, as a future (even if long off) author who hopes to receive good ratings of my own.  I loathed it like I seldom loathe other books, in every aspect that counts which my review as tactfully as possible, itemized.  I loathed it so much, I have waited two years to try the second book, which took even more trouble to obtain.  But there’s that hope that the awfulness is due to this being an opening novel, both series must be loved for some reason, and I heard one or two people say that the first volume is not very good but differs greatly from all the others.  That is reassuring but still, I have needed two years to collect myself!  J.G. offers prizes and this forum for me to brace myself and try again.

(2)  “One Hundred Years Of Solitude”  Gabriel García Márquez  1967

I am familiar with this gentleman’s revered standing because I took Spanish all through highschool and university.  As a matter of fact, it was my major.  Granted, I haven’t read enough South American literature in my own language, as a grown-up but the few I tackled the last few years were depressing.  Does this region write of nothing but the starkest hardship?  Literary or general fiction sidestep my preferences as it is.  I have a vast seleciton of South American and Hispanic literature.  I clearly intended to use my eduacation and read it to see what I make of it as an adult.  Therefore just because I thumbed down the first couple (Alejo Carpentier was another one star recipient), doesn’t mean there isn’t great stuff among the others.  “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” looks like some of it will be army or war-oriented, which is not my thing but I am willing to be surprised.  Enjoyment and appreciation can be found anywhere.  Rereading the synopsis yesterday indicates there might be a surreal element.  Many novels are described as being about “joys and sorrows” but while I have no interest in reading of, or watching examples of sorrow in my choice of entertainment, perhaps joy and surrealness play the greater part.

(3)  “Sense And Sensibility”  Jane Austen  1811

I have never read Jane Austen and I feel that if I am to be a serious writer and authoress, I should.  Oh yes, I have collected all of them.  There are millions of editions at those bargain places I riffle through and I am all ready to go.  But I have worried that the enjoyment might be hampered by these being too old-fashioned, in a “women not treated properly” manner.  She has been described as a romance writer, which is not my cup of tea but she is also billed as a must-read authoress of all time, the queen of excellence in writing.  For goodness sakes, I own each book and as always, I like beginning with the first.  I’ll just try it.  If I find the pace lagging, I’ll try to read by day and get through it.  Maybe I’ll find humour or other surprises.  Maybe I’ll be intoxicated by the writing.  With me, that is possible;  definitely one thing I admire most.  If I love the writing, the subject almost never matters.  If all of this is not incentive enough:  I have visited her house in Bath!  Well, the entryway.  I figured I wouldn’t get what I should out of a tour upstairs if I hadn’t read any of her books yet.  If I can afford to return to England, up I go!

(4)  “One Corpse Too Many”  Ellis Peters  1979

Much more briefly:  this is another case of widely gathering the pieces of a beloved, long-lasting series but not falling in love with the character or premise.  I can live with that.  Why I hesitate to step forward to the second novel is hating the writing.  I cannot stand anyone using the adjective “gently” more than once;  especially if it applies to things I do not deem gentle, like snoring!!!!  Gosh, I hated reading this but once again, I took the time to acquire about twenty of this lady’s books.  I assert that this is rare;  I am usually right when I think I’ll love something!  Let’s hope I like the second book much better.  Maybe somebody advised her to stop overdoing the soft sort of adjectives.

(5)  “The Tin Flute”  Gabrielle Roy  1945

I have read Gabrielle Roy, who is from my very own home city, and already know her writing is graceful;  a genuine writer’s writer who is unparalleled!  That was her first short story collection, presented as ficiton but which was autobiographical.  Remember not liking any of the books you took in school, probably because it was for education’s sake or perhaps because the scenarios were depressing?  There’s a reason a curriculum is mostly comprised of things we wouldn’t choose;  certainly not as children.  Most of it can’t be appreciated until we’re grown-ups.  Well, I had an extra cultural layer added to what most of you got through because I attended French schools since grade 4.  Yes indeed, I speak and read in more than two languages.  :)  Therefore taking Winnipeg’s own Gabrielle Roy in her native French was a must.

I don’t remember the book but I remember two French films we took and even their names.  Although I far prefer cats and almost any animal to dogs, due to the contingent in my rural neighbourbood that is allowed to be noisy;  I was horrified to watch a children’s movie in which the dog was killed:  “La guerre des toques”.  That means “War Of The Toques” and the poor dog is the victim of a collapsed snow fort.  Awful, futile, and sad!  A sweet, big Saint Bernard type.  I must have seen it the same year and maybe in the same class, because I seem to pair this negative memory with “Bonheur D’Occasion”.  This is Gabrielle’s original title for “The Tin Flute”.  It was written at war time and is about an impoverished Montréal family, for whom nothing goes right.  That is all I remember.  So I am worried this will be depressing but it is last on my list for a reason.  Perhaps as an adult I will appreciate the story in a way I couldn’t before;  certainly with the omission of that disturbing toque movie.  I already love Gabrielle’s writing, my advantage in this and this is the award-winning first book that rocketed her career.

(6)  “Body Of Evidence”  Patricia Cornwall 1991

Her first novel and that of this long Kay Scarpetta series, “Postmortem”, was so violent and disturbing that I seriously doubted wanting to read any further.  I pondered the same of Kathy Reichs, twisting so uncomfortably with her first novel that only hashing out my decision by reading reviews avoided something I do not do;  not finish a book I have begun.  A glance at the next of Kathy’s told me the subject matter was no less horrifying and depressing but I wanted to give Patricia a try.  In the manner of my book-gathering style;  I already owned most of their series!  It was a matter of deciding I would open this one up and get going.  I am fortunate that I started with Patricia’s less popular and surprisingly, less-liked trilogy.  However I loved her writing in that much letter story and believe it was the main reason I endured “Postmortem” and thought I would continue.

To my relief, even though the most awful of subjects was mentioned, sexual assault;  it was distantly, a past that does not pertain to this story.  Thankfully “Body Of Evidence” focused on solving a murder and although unfortunately brutal, the book’s tone wasn’t as dark and depressing.  I was surprised to find Kay moaning about a lost love that occurred long ago when she is independent and respected today but the suspicion of a love interest lent a personal angle that made the threads of this case matter.  The police inspector is becoming a friend and we even travel to Florida, which we discover is her home.  I think the book was brisker and brighter because we only see one hasty part of an autopsy and seldom enter her workplace.  The whole book was about her being a sleuth and Frank Marino helping;  with a series of small leads that grow into excellent detecting.  Thumbs-up!  I will continue with a series I have already bought!

J.G. asks that we overcome three dreaded books but in case I plunge well ahead of my aim, I listed five.  She is offering prizes!  As someone who struggles to afford that in my groups, I want to be rewarded for an appreciable, measurable effort.  Please wish me luck!  In closing, J.G. requests our ideas of treats.  Who wouldn’t be delighted by that!  Mine are as bizarre as they are modest, which should make it fun for her.

*  If J.G. lives near second hand shops and happened upon this mystery, a great wish to grant would be this:  “Service For Two” by Kate Kingsbury!

*  I can’t find CD-labelling markers in my city.  It’s as if they stopped producing them but I love making music CDs and need to write on the blank DVDs that back up my files anyway.  A set of coloured markers for writing on CDs!  I’ll bet the US has a lot of stores that still sell this.  All the fun cereals, like “Cookie Crisp” and “Count Chocula” used to be there.  ;)

*  I love flower seeds!  Whether they grow house plants that keep living in pots, or annuals for summer;  it would be fun to receive seeds from somewhere else.  I offer plant seeds as one of my prize choices.  I already have a lot of Marigolds, cosmoses, bachelor’s buttons, and regular “tall” sunflowers.  The giant “Grey Stripe” and other varieties would be lovely and anything not named here.  Thank you, J.G!  This is generous and fun!

Posted in Book / Novel / Literature | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments