Thursday, August 31, 2017

Writing Desks

From the book Intimate Home by Victoria Magazine

Just as writing allows us to reflect in quietude, to compose thoughts and distill feelings, so a writing desk is an emotional centerpiece of a busy woman's life. Stocked with fine stationery and elegant pens, stacked with books, and set by a sunny window, it is a place to dream, to plan a week's schedule, or even to lunch quietly
in the company of a favorite author.
(from September 1990 Victoria Magazine, p.65)

Immediately below this quote that I recorded in one of my commonplace books I also wrote: "This is what I live for!" Sigh. I adore writing desks and have wanted one for eons.


From the book Intimate Home by Victoria Magazine


Same as above

The desk I have now is my grandfather's 1960s Early American desk. I don't care for it much, especially the drawer pulls, but it's what I have for now. I did try to replace the handles one time, and disliked the look even more, so switched them back.

Before my laptop and kitties, I had it draped with a pristine white tablecloth (the one seen on the table below), and topped with my writing utensils in a silverplated tray, a few perfect books on which sat a small lamp, and a cute basket filled with individual notecards. The desk looked rather pretty then, where it basked in the late afternoon sun coming through my bedroom window. Alas, those were my pre-photography days, so I don't have any photos of it. 



When I graduated from college as a nontraditional student in my early 40s, I came within a hair's breadth of spending $1500 on a gorgeous writing desk being sold by one of our better stores in town. (No such stores exist here now, to my knowledge.) It was on the small side and had a low back with only a few tiny, but stylish, drawers and slots. It was feminine, curvy, sculpted, not regal, in some sort of darkish wood. I told myself I deserved it as a lovely graduation present. But it was simply too expensive; I couldn't justify the splurge (on my credit card which would not have been wise). The next time I went there, perhaps for a small gift for someone, that beautiful writing desk had been sold.


One of Ms. Stoddard's writing desks

Since then I've never seen one in photos that I've loved as much as the one I let get away. (It's OK; I wouldn't have wanted it to be scratched by the kitties that came to live here.)


From Alexandra Stoddard's Book of Color

If you love them, I hope you have (or one day will have) the writing desk or other desk of your dreams! And I hope whoever has "mine" loves it still.

Same as above

Praying for God's miracles and blessings for all those affected by Harvey. Please make a donation to the American Red Cross or other charity of your choice to help our fellow mankind. 

May God bless you,
Bess

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 8/29/17





I'm currently in the midst of reading some books, and what with being distracted by the news, I haven't been getting much reading done. So I don't have a review for you this week. (I could review books I've read earlier, but ... not today. However, you can find my Alda Ellis post here.)



So I will just share some photos of my books from around the house (not all, of course). Mostly I'm down to "keepers" around here. However, some books in the photos have since been donated to the library; most I still have.


So artfully arranged! It's a wonder my stacks don't fall over. There were two stacks, and they've since been rearranged.


Perhaps you'll recognize some titles in common with yours, or see one that piques your interest. I must admit, most of my books are older because these days I'm not purchasing many new-to-me books. That's OK. It's all good!




As I've said before: The library is my friend!





Enjoy your reading this week!
Bess

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Word for Us on 8/27/17

A pretty demitasse cup for this time of year:
R/Y Hohenberg-Bavaria-Germany

... We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:20,21 (brackets mine)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

I like these verses because they say so much: Through Jesus we have right-standing with God and eternal life. These are gifts to us from God. Now that's something to celebrate!

We need Jesus:

He is "the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him" (John 14:6).

"In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

Sometimes I flip through the Bible for a verse to share; sometimes I scan my scripture journals (only two so far); sometimes my reading will suggest a verse.

And I believe the Holy Spirit brings verses to mind.

So maybe someone out there especially needs to read these verses and hear from God today. If not, I just like to be reminded myself.

If you want to know more, scroll down my sidebar to Four Steps to God.

Praying for all affected by Harvey,
Bess

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Money Matters


As anyone of sense knows, money is a blessing and I dearly wish I had more--a lot more. I should have flowers in the classroom, and my house, all the year round, buy a hundred or so books, which have been on my list for years, and spend every school holiday travelling abroad--just for a start.

The above quote is from Village Diary by Miss Read, who was mentally comparing her own situation to her friend Amy's, to determine why Amy was so unhappy. After mulling a bit, Miss Read decides Amy's generous allowance from her husband isn't making Amy unhappy, but rather her lack of a sense of purpose and usefulness.

My mother used to think that the adage "Money doesn't buy happiness" was ludicrous. I pretty much agree. Of course, once you have "enough," then getting more money probably doesn't impact happiness so much. But to be able to buy the things one needs or to make repairs or pay monthly bills, without guilt or worry, seems to me just a basic building block in the foundation for happiness. 

And to have enough money for a few reasonable wants, why to many that would be sheer heaven.

Yes, there's definitely a happiness mindset, but having enough money levels the playing field so that achieving and maintaining such a mindset is that much easier. (Although not the only consideration by a long shot, having enough money assists in "thinking happy": think happy, be happy.) 

Because even if we haven't yet, we'll all have trials, even tribulations. We all experience illness, even severe illness; accidents; crimes; loss; and the deaths of our loved ones. But I can guarantee that folks wouldn't want to be nearly penniless on top of those things if they didn't have to be.

Just a few thoughts, and I hope this post doesn't offend anyone with or without money!

Either way: "Count your blessings, name them one by one",
Bess

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 8/22/17




A few years ago, my dear sister-in-law sent me the first five books in Sofie Kelly's Magical Cats series. (Thanks "N"!) I read them all, enjoyed them, then donated the paperbacks to my library. This was probably in 2014.

Then sometime in 2016 I remembered this series and happily discovered Kelly had released more books. So I'm just finishing up the seventh book. There's one more already published, with a new release coming out next month. Here is a link to the author's website. The first book in the series is Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (Magical Cats).

These books are written from the viewpoint of the protagonist, Kathleen Paulson. Kathleen is a big city gal who has been hired to oversee the remodeling/updating of a Carnegie Library in the small town of Mayville Heights, somewhere in Minnesota. When that project is completed, Kathleen is asked to stay on as head librarian. 

Early on, as I recall, she's torn between her former life in Boston and her new small-town life. But living in Mayville Heights has the greater tug on her heartstrings. One reason is her slowly-evolving relationship with a handsome detective, Marcus. She also has many friends and a very full life, made fuller because she's always investigating a murder, much to Marcus's displeasure. 

I don't know how such a small town has so many murders, which is what my mother used to say about Murder She Wrote, but ... well, if I comment more I might give something away. 

One of her new friends is Roma, a veterinarian. While helping Roma feed feral cats living on a farm outside of town, Kathleen is adopted by two kittens. She names the tuxedo kitten Hercules, and his gray tabby brother Owen. Taking them home, she learns they are very special kitties with interesting abilities.

Hercules can walk through walls and Owen can make himself invisible. However, don't take these books for paranormal books, although I can't say I know anything much about such books. The Magical Cats books are clean, sweet, lightweight, and the kitties absolutely harmless.

The cats have cute personalities and outside of the above-mentioned attributes, help Kathleen solve crimes by putting a paw on a tiny scrap of paper or licking paint (egg tempera) or knocking lids off boxes, etc. Really, at times all kitties appear magical because they are so agile, yet quiet, and can move under and behind furnishings to be sitting in a room before you arrive when they were somewhere else entirely when you saw them only a moment ago.

Now this is me nitpicking: Writers often seem to have a "thing" in their books that readers might find either annoying or amusing. Ashton Lee overuses the word "momentarily"; even Miss Read would throw in "harridan" or "pellucid" a time or two too many. Sofie Kelly's thing is to want to frequently share what characters are doing with their hands! 

The men rake their hair or rub their hands over the back of their necks several times in a book. Female characters arrange their hair, or are reaching for coffee, etc. I personally feel like I don't need to know those little details much more than once per book, but to each her own! But if you read these books, and I hope you do, see if you notice what I mean. I've lost count in Faux Paw, my current read! To me it detracts from the flow, but it's probably just me, and I still enjoy the books. 

Have you read these books and did you enjoy them? I might try her Second Chance Cat Mystery books, too, which she writes as Sofie Ryan. They take place in Maine.

And when you read, do you curl up with a kitty, a doggie, both or neither?

Happy reading!
Bess
PS: The tea set is Red Wing pottery. The town of Red Wing, Minnesota is mentioned in Faux Paw (Book 7). You can read more about the tea set and my grandmother here.


I am an Amazon Associate. Thank you so much for looking at these books (and you can always check with your local library). If you do enter Amazon via one of my links and buy anything at all, it costs you nothing extra and gives me a little credit for buying books for myself. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Word for Us on 8/20/17


Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
1 Peter 3:9-12

Hope the eclipse will be awesome where you are, but please don't look directly at the sun! Eyesight is such a precious gift.


The old wooden utensils were painted by my great-grandmother. She was born in 1866.

God's peace be with you,
Bess

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hope This Makes You Smile

Rose of Sharon (was too far away, but took the photo anyway)

"If there's one thing I can't stand, it's snobbery and one-upmanship. People who try to pretend they're superior make it so much harder for those of us who really are."

Hyacinth Bucket on Keeping Up Appearances

Wishing you a fun and restorative weekend,
Bess

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 8/15/17



In the past year or two I've been getting acquainted with books by Elizabeth Cadell. I have only read five so far, but my library has several (I'll look: 15, with 11 more in its system of 50+ libraries; yea!), and she wrote over fifty books.

My favorite of her books so far has been The Lark Shall Sing. It is the first of three books that tell about the Wayne Family. I got such a kick out of the six Wayne children and their shenanigans and the people they bring home who wind up being a part of the mix. It really could be a movie in the same vein has Cheaper by the Dozen or With Six You Get Eggroll, etc. Lots of fun craziness.

What is odd is that I can't remember the second Wayne book at all, although I have read it: The Blue Sky of Spring. I think it was more romance and fewer shenanigans.

I've had a request in for the last of the three, Six Impossible Things, for ages, but my library hasn't tracked it down as yet- one of their very few failures to do so. I was putting off a post on Cadell until I read this final Wayne installment, but decided to go ahead.

Some of Cadell's books are available for Kindle or in paperback, so I will have to splurge sometime on the final Wayne Family book that way. (Or her books can be found via third parties.)

Cadell's books, I believe, are mostly romances (see this site). (Evidently, she also wrote a few of what we'd call cozy mysteries.) Some are more fun, though, than others. Mrs. Westerby Changes Course was fun, whereas Any Two Can Play (but even it had its moments) and Remains to Be Seen were more typical, imho.

If you enjoy light, clean romance and quirky books, you may very well enjoy books by Elizabeth Cadell. I'd say her writing is between D E Stevenson and M C Beaton as to depth and style, for whatever that's worth. :O)  

If you've read some Cadell and have particular recommendations, let me know so that I can read your suggestions sooner rather than later in the queue!

Blessings on your reading,
Bess
PS: I am an Amazon Associate. Thank you so much for looking at these books (and you can always check with your local library). If you do enter Amazon and buy anything at all via one of my links, it costs you nothing extra and gives me a little credit for buying books for myself. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Word for Us on 8/13/17


For instance, take the matter of eating. God has given us an appetite for food and stomachs to digest it.
But that doesn't mean we should eat more than we need ...
1 Corinthians 6:13  TLB

This is a tough one (and food isn't the main topic of this verse, but I'll leave it to you to look it up if you're interested).

It has taken me many years to accept the fact that I can't eat as much as I want to and be slender. My life is a far cry from my twenties when it seemed I could eat all I wanted of anything and stay a healthy weight (there were brief exceptions when I did gain, though, I'll admit).

These days I am older and sedentary enough that it just doesn't take much food to keep me going. And the lighter amount I do eat (I shoot for 1200 to 1400 calories most days) still maintains far more weight than I'd like. (I eat a little more some days, which I need to amend. But honestly, sometimes I fear that to weigh 130 lbs I'd have to live off 800 calories a day and two hours of daily exercise!)

And if I want to feel well, I need to get all the nutrition I can out of my calorie intake. That's sort of hard for me to accept, too!

But I hereby resolve to do my best, with God's help, to make better choices, including getting more exercise. However, I'll still have the occasional treat because I want to do that for myself just as much as I want to make better choices on the whole. A gal can only take so much deprivation. ;^]

Have a great start to your week!
Bess
PS: The photo is from 2014.



Friday, August 11, 2017

Another Quote Friday



To get away to myself, where I was sure no one could hear me, and sing and sing till I made the echoes ring, was one of the chief joys of my existence, but I had never made a success in singing to company.
From My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin (1901)

Fits my early life exactly! Now I just plain can't sing out loud, though. I've gone all croaky. (Although I do seem to be less inhibited while driving and sometimes croak away in the car.)

These sometimes ring when I walk by the cabinet; then I have to move them a little.

Enjoy your weekend!
Bess

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 8/9/17




Before recommending a series, I like to have read at least its first three books. If there isn't anything too offensive within the first three books, I can have hope the rest of the series will be likewise.

But today I'm sharing after having only read the first book in a series of 27 or 28 books so far: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M C Beaton.

First, however, you might have noticed I usually am reading older books. And mostly, I'm sure, I will continue to do that for the rest of my reading days. I simply have too much catching up to do when it comes to books. My lists of reading possibilities are very lengthy, so I must keep my nose to the grindstone! In fact, sometimes I get too enthusiastic and borrow too many books from the library. That's the way it's been going this summer: It seems every few days I've put another book on hold, along with checking out other library books.

Back to our heroine, Agatha Raisin. She is the protagonist in this series of cozy mysteries. The first book came out in 1992, and Beaton is still writing them. Agatha is 53 (plain and stocky), and takes early retirement by selling her small but successful PR firm and moving into a cottage in the Cotswolds. Having been a ruthless career woman, Agatha has never learned to cook, never done her own decor, and doesn't do her own housecleaning.

The villagers aren't overly welcoming, and she soon learns that as an "incomer," one is forever an incomer. But in her "get things done" fashion, she enters a quiche-baking contest, hoping to win and to win friends. Naturally, things do not go as planned.

I read the first chapter of the book the day I picked it up, and loved it, even though there was the inevitable use of the occasional swear word. But then I wanted to finish another book or two, so a few days later, when I came back to this book I was disappointed in the next chapters.

What?! The writing seemed terse, with short, "clippy" sentences. There was a glaring error with a major character's name, a timing error, and typos. It ran through my mind not to finish it. (This edition, shown above, needed better editing, but perhaps newer editions have improved.)

But the next night, my mood must have been better because I once again was enjoying the book. Beaton, a pen name for Marion Chesney (which is a pen name for Marion McChesney) does write in rather short, choppy sentences, and I reminded myself she wrote that way in the seven Regency Romances of hers I've read. In all, I believe since 1979(?), Beaton/Chesney has written almost 150 books!

But here's what I liked: The story moves fast. Something new is always happening almost from page to page, which as I got farther into the book, really held my interest. I also liked the fact that the series revolves around the character of Agatha Raisin. (I liked Chesney's Travelling Matchmaker series for Hannah Pym; but after reading the first Six Sisters book, I knew I didn't care about each of the other sisters and their separate stories.)

The clincher: I was sorry when the book ended. Fortunately, my own local library has the next in the series, so I will pick up The Vicious Vet soon.

Have you read this series? Or any others by the same author?

Blessings for a well-read week!
Bess
PS: I am an Amazon Associate. Thank you so much for looking at these books (and you can always check with your local library). If you do enter Amazon and buy anything at all via one of my links, it costs you nothing extra and gives me a little credit for buying books for myself. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.





Monday, August 7, 2017

Another Quote


Hello there! My usual book post will be later this week because I have to finish the book first! I like the book so far, but I'm only halfway through. I looked over my previously read books on my shelves for inspiration for a post, but no such luck this time.

Today I'll share with you a quote from Joyce Meyer that I thought was good. I think it was from a recent Enjoying Everyday Life program. Her theme this month is Summer Makeover with teachings on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Joyce said:

"Even if you feel lousy, every good decision you make helps undo the results of bad decisions that you've made in the past."

Thinking like that should fill a person with hope. As I recall, she was referring to physical health, but those words apply in any area. It's never too late to change because at the very least, we can change our thinking. And that's not "the very least," that's major!

Enjoy your days, and maybe there's one small, but good decision each of us can act on this week.

Back soon,
Bess

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Word for Us on 8/6/17



You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

This psalm was written by King David, referring to himself, and in parts apparently prophetically referring to Jesus.

We can rightly believe David's words apply to us, as well. God helps us in life; we can have joy whenever we think of Him; and we confidently look forward to indescribable pleasures forevermore once we soar to Heaven.

It's going to be awesome.

For now, have an awesome start to your week!
Bess

Friday, August 4, 2017

Healthy Girlish Vanity



Aunt Helen's treatment for making me presentable was the wearing of gloves and a shady hat every time I went outside; and she insisted upon me spending a proper time over my toilet, and would not allow me to encroach upon it with the contents of my bookshelf.

"Rub off some of your gloomy pessimism and cultivate a little more healthy girlish vanity, and you will do very well, " she would say.

From My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin



I suspect even we women of a certain age, especially we retirees, could use a little more "healthy girlish vanity." I do notice the temptation to let different little things within "my toilet," aka beauty routine or regimen, slide.

When I was maybe thirteen or fourteen I begged my mother to let me shave my legs. "Once you start, you'll have to do it every day," she warned. Still I wanted to do it, and eagerly did.

By the end of high school, I was keeping my nails polished at all times and loved that whole process.

Well, since now I never show my legs, I don't shave them except before a doctor's appointment, and I polish my nails about once a year! There are other things that I'm "hit or miss" with as well. 

Where is my self-respect?! 

Lately, my pierced ears have become a conundrum for me. I no longer want to wear earrings at home, or even to run casual errands. But on the other hand, I don't want the "holes" to grow over, or whatever they do, because I might want to wear my earrings sometime in the future. (I have oodles of earrings, but no reason to wear them.)

But I make myself put in my most casual pair of earrings, the tiny gold balls I've had since I had my ears pierced (in a doctor's office, by a nurse) the summer of 1972. And they don't look casual enough to me. Yet I'm not sure what style of earrings would look casual enough for spending every day in jeans and a t-shirt. I used to like my earrings to be noticed; now I want them to be nearly imperceptible. Well, much ado about nothing, and no doubt time will bring a resolution.

I so envy French girls whose first beauty regimens were/are taught them by their mothers and who were/are even taken to aestheticians to learn more about skincare, soaps, and makeup specific to their needs. My mother didn't seem to be inclined that way. Perhaps she thought I'd figure it out on my own. (I know she sometimes would say, "Dr. Spock says ...", which studying his 1946 book may have contributed to her largely letting me raise myself.)



But going back to today's quote, I do think a little healthy vanity might be just what I need these days. I'll have to see if I can do better in that regard: a little less reading, a little more pampering!

Blessings,
Bess
PS: If you'd like to see more of this vintage beauty publication, click here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 8/1/17




Fairly recently I discovered another new-to-me series of novels while searching for something else on my library's website.




I am now almost through the third book, The Wedding Circle, of The Cherry Cola Book Club series, and although definitely not great literature, the series is light reading that holds my interest. Photos are Amazon links.




The book is about a young librarian, Maura Beth Mayhew, in the small town of Cherico, Mississippi. The early books are about her fight to keep the City Council from defunding and closing down the rather pathetic-sounding library in the town of 5,000. The town's main players are introduced, and I soon became interested in the various story threads.

One of Maura Beth's strategies is to begin a book club that meets at the library. One wouldn't see how that could help circulation, but as the group meets to eat a meal together and discuss books, they formulate and carry out other plans to help the library survive. (Recipes appear at the back of each book.)



 
This series is written by a man, Ashton Lee (a pseudonym I think). He does fairly well with the female roles (and male), although some of the humor that he has the characters laughing over just fell flat with me. But then I rarely read books expecting much humor, and for some reason I don't often laugh at books or movies or tv shows. It doesn't mean I don't like them, though!

There is a little swearing, but nothing vulgar, and intimacy is left to the imagination. So I would call these "clean" books, and I am always grateful for such as these.




If you are interested in libraries, small towns, books, book clubs, or Southern cooking, you might want to give this series a try. And of course, there is romance and the inevitable problems that afflict new and old relationships.

To date there are five books in the series, with the sixth slated for release this November. Let me know if you've read any of these books, and what you thought of them. Or you can always leave a suggestion for other books for our reading enjoyment.




I'm grateful for each and every one of you that visits my blog,
Bess
PS: I am an Amazon Associate. Thank you so much for looking at these books (and you can always check with your local library). If you do enter Amazon and buy anything at all via one of my links, it costs you nothing extra and gives me a little credit for buying books for myself. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.