Bargains, Birds, Blogging

Good morning everyone!

I love the idea of a Monday morning, lots of things to do and a whole week ahead. I always start out with high hopes—and it would be great if I’d have a plan for my week as well. Sadly, time management is a skill I’ve never acquired, but I’ll plod through the week and do my best. I have so many posts I’d like to write and hope to do lots of digging this week as well, both literal and figurative. (Flowerbeds + family tree roots.)

BIRDS

I glance at the calendar and wonder how it can it be that we’re approaching the middle of May already. Looking outside, opening the window, I’m seeing and hearing a lot of different birds in the woods beside us. At noon we saw mourning doves picking their way along under our feeder.

My swallows have come back and are hoping for nests, but those pernicious, malicious English sparrows have claimed at least one of our bird-houses. I sat outside for half an hour this morning where I could watch the goings-on and decide what action to take. I saw the swallows come several time to check out the East-side nest, but the sparrows loitering in the shrubs at the edge of the yard came and drove them away.

Okay for you, guys! I took down the nest and hung it in the shrubs where they hang out. maybe that will keep them occupied and away from the house at least. When the wrens get back, they can fight over it; wrens, for all their midget size, are feisty birds and quite capable of taking over a nest if they want it.

BARGAINS

I stopped in at my daughter’s for a bit Saturday evening and she told me they’d been garage sale-ing. Here in Canada the GARAGE SALE signs start going up soon after our spring birds arrive, and sellers usually pack it in by the end of June. I used to enjoy this sport quite a bit, until my house got too full for any more stuff. But having a garage sale yourself is fun, too.
dear old grandma
clutching a neighbour’s pickle dish
her sale next week

Sometimes you get amazing bargains on something you really need. One day I bought a book for $1 and it helped me so much with a personal problem I was going through. And some folks start special collections from their garage and yard sale finds. I recently visited another blogger via the READER and read an older post she wrote about How A Garage Sale Changed My Life.

Do you plan to do any Garage Sale-ing this spring? Let me know in the comments what your special collections are.

BLOGGING

Speaking of blogs — and blog awards — I see in this morning’s notifications that I’ve been awarded the MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD by Sue over at Crooked Creek.

According to the creator, Okoto Enigma:
The “Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.

Of course the deal is answer some questions about yourself and then to pass the award — and the questions — on to at least ten other bloggers, as with the old fashioned “chain letters.” (Minus the post card and dire consequences if you fail to comply.)

The problem is often to find ten other bloggers who will accept the award and pass it on. Some like doing blog awards and some can’t be bothered. I think I’ll use my one-thing-at-a time approach to this project. Stay tuned.

And with my current involvement in Family tree research, my cousin Linda has asked if I want to do some posting our our Vance-Turner Connect blog again. We started this in Sept 2013, hoping a few other cousins would have some family stories to share, but the idea didn’t pan out.  Still, it’s a good place to record family history. Click here if you’re curious about it.

I hope you all have a great week.

Morning Smile

I was talking to my cousin last night — she’s just celebrated her 85th birthday — and she tells me she picked up a second-hand computer from someone who had one to get rid of. A brave new adventure and I hope it doesn’t lead to unnecessary frustrations. I can’t leave a message on her answering machine because she hasn’t mastered how to use her message manager — one bit of frustrating technology for her.

I asked her if she could type and she said, “I can learn.” Spelling will be a problem for her, though. Unfortunately my cousin not only lacks basic education, but also has some type of perception issue. She may read a short poem or quote she likes, but when she decides to copy it for me, she garbles the word order and line breaks. So she’s likely to see a lot of red lines on her screen as she types.

However, writing isn’t her goal anyway; I’m sure she didn’t get a printer in the deal. Another senior told her you can play games on a computer, so she’s looking forward to that. I hope it works better for her than her attempts to operate the TV remote control. When I spent a week with her a few years back, I had to call her cable company frequently and ask them to reset her TV because she’d hit the wrong button on the remote and switched it to “Play DVD” mode — then didn’t know how to switch it back. (Being somewhat technologically challenged myself, plus we haven’t had a TV since 1974, I couldn’t figure out how to fix it without help, either.)

Still, I have to admire her willingness and courage to try something new and am keen to see how this technological ‘step forward’ works for her.

Going through old files I came across this bit of wit, my adaptation of one of Murphy’s Laws. Hope it gives you a smile.

Speaking

A Light, Enjoyable Series

Over the Christmas holidays I discovered a new series and have been reading through them one after the other. This is the Markham Sisters series by Diana Xarissa, who also does the Aunt Bessie (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery) series.

The Markham sisters are two retired teachers who spend their little inheritance windfall on a bed & breakfast in what they think will be a calm little English village. Which it is, for the most part; the locals do their best to make the sisters welcome. The constable drops in often just to check on them—and is easily persuaded to stay for a bite to eat, seeing what a great cook Joan is.

Owning a bed & breakfast has been Joan’s dream since she was young, and since she’s the older, she’s persuaded younger sister Janet to go along with the plan. But running a business and dealing with customers sometimes proves intriguing. Joan has a stronger sense of propriety — which means “no snooping.” It’s Janet who gets quite curious about people who are acting suspiciously or whose stories don’t add up. Joan tells her to mind her own business, but Janet can’t resist doing some investigating.

This series is quite tame, more along the lines of Nancy Drew mysteries. Just what I like: no dead bodies discovered, but smaller crimes like art fraud, an odd shortage of narcotics at the drug store, counterfeit money being passed, and people who aren’t who they claim to be. The novel “cases” are named alphabetically and each book is a short, easy read.

There are ordinary day-to-day details some might find rather boring, but I enjoy the setting and characters. I’d take away one star, though, for the way the sisters interact sometimes. They are in their 60s but Joan is still bossing Janet like a teen older sister — at times this seems overplayed. And Janet, when she’s miffed, still sticks her tongue out behind Joan’s back. I’d think if they’ve lived together all their lives they’d have developed more of a respect for each other, show more of an accepting, “live-and-let-live” attitude. (Mind you, I’ve never lived with a sister for years, so I can’t say what roles they might fall into.)

There is a certain “ghost” angle written into these tales that, for my part, could have been left out. In the stories I’ve read so far it’s only been references to sounds Janet hears and occasionally a strange wind slamming a door.

Anyway, I’d give this series four stars. I read each book separately, but I see the author has published collections now, available free to those of you who have Kindle Unlimited. Here are first four cases:

A Markham Sisters Collection - ABCD by [Xarissa, Diana]

 

I’m Recommending

The Ragtag prompt for today is RECOMMEND

An accessible, practical, delightful word.
I love recommending.
Doesn’t everybody?
Lecturer

I could recommend all kinds of things.
Places to go, things to do, books to read.
Today I’m going to recommend something to you fellow bloggers.
You see, for the sake of a better blog, I’ve just broken my #1 November Rule.

One thing I have consistently recommended to fellow Canadians is:
IGNORE ALL THIS BLACK FRIDAY STUFF!

We don’t have “Black Friday” in Canada and I hope we never will. Consumers hear enough hype about Boxing Day Sales—but in our day they stretch out from Dec 26th to 31st. Then on Jan 2nd businesses start on their New Year’s Super Sale, followed at the beginning of Feb by their MID-WINTER BLOW-OUT sales. Then we’re into the MARCH MADNESS sales and then…

Any reason for a till-ringing money exchange, right? I don’t totally blame Canadian retailers for trying to get into the action on some pre-Christmas sales, but we already do have “Pre-Christmas” and even “PRE-Boxing Day” sales. When I read what Black Friday has degenerated into south of the border — from family-gathering, blessing-counting gratitude on Thanksgiving Day to the grabbing, shoving, stomping greed on Friday — we can do without it.

But I sat up and took notice when I saw this morning’s e-mail from WordPress advertising a Black Friday sale: 30% reduction on the price of all upgrades. For some time now I’ve wanted to get rid of the ads on my other blog, Tree Top Haiku. An upgrade that would do this cost $60 CDN, so I’ve put it off. Today, seeing the price drop down to $40, I sprang for it.

I may not like the idea of “Black Friday” but I don’t like ads on my blog, either. I get blog posts from other writers still using a .wordpress.com address and there are always ads underneath the title and brief except. Some of these are video-type ads; I find the motion annoying.

It’s your blog, your money, your call…
but I recommend getting rid of the ads. And 30% off is a pretty good deal
— even if it is connected to that “infamous sale day.”

Oh…and I recommend getting your free e-copy of Silver Morning Song this weekend. 🙂

Reading
Pixabay photo

You Gotta Want It

Fandango’s challenge for today is HAPHAZARD

Which makes me think of a certain used bookstore I’ve been in a few times. The senior gentleman who runs it has thousands of books. He’s purchased an old commercial building and has it piled floor to ceiling (think 12 foot ceilings here) with books.

His aisles do not look like this:
Books

No, his aisles look very much like this:
Book stacks

With barely enough room to walk through the tunnels between the stacks, this is not the place to hang out if you suffer from claustrophobia. (Or from allergies.) You’ve got to really want that book!

I don’t know if he buys many new books, but he has many old, rare books, and he usually can tell you about which part of which aisle you’ll find the one you’re looking for. Or the author you want to read. Agnes Sligh Turnbull for example, or Ralph Connor.

So you go to that area he indicates and start perusing the shelves and stacks. Perchance you’ll see exactly the book you’re looking for.
Books in stack

My thanks to to the folks at Pixabay for all the free photos. 🙂

The word HAPHAZARD means “determined by accident rather than design.” It can be stretched to indicate possible danger to the person engaged in something haphazard. Such as a tower of books landing on your head. But our used book seller’s wares seemed to be stacked securely enough.

His merchandise does, however, suffer from the usual fate of many books crammed in a small, poorly ventilated place: they’re musty. And I’m really sensitive to must or mould, so I have to air my purchases outside for hours every day over several days, turning the pages every half-hour or so, before I can read the thing.

For those of us who appreciate books, his store is a real treasure trove of possibilities. someone doing historical research for the 1900s would be in their glory. Sad to say, though, there’s a limit to how useful out-of-date information is. He apparently has a mail-order business, yet I do wonder how many books he actually sells in a month.

Looking through a multitude of used books, or seeing the millions of e-books and print books available today, I recall the never-so-true words of Solomon — supposedly the writer of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes:

“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecc. 12:12

Of Chemicals and Consumers

Fandango’s prompt today: CHEMICAL

I wonder if this word, for most of us, doesn’t bring up negative connotations? We have a love-hate, relationship with the things. Like the old English song about the wife, “You can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.”

Pollution of land, air, sea, and body — this all stems from chemicals, right? They’re keeping us alive longer and at the same time making us more sickly. We want our strawberry ice cream to be pink, our blueberry jelly to be blue, our white flour to be white. Which means we are, by default, consuming dyes and bleaches.

Even with death, we prefer the chemical version. When my birth mother died here in Saskatchewan the family opted to have her cremated. Our family doesn’t really do death and funerals well, so the children opted against having a viewing, so there was no cosmetology used. But I was coming from Quebec and my sister from Alberta, and neither of us had seen her for a good while — in my case it was over fifteen years — and we wanted one last goodbye.

So the funeral home prepared her for viewing that morning. When my birth father heard that I was going to view the body, he decided to go, too. We got there and looked down in her in the coffin they’d put her in, and she looked…well…dead. Her skin tone starting to degenerate in the way dead skin does.

My Dad was okay with it and so was I. He patted her hand and said his good-bye. But I made the mistake of saying in front of my sister, “I guess this is what the Bible means when it says, ‘From dust thou art and to dust though shalt return’.” And my sister burst into tears.

If given a choice, most of us prefer attractive to plain, enhanced to reality, bleached white paper to the natural colour that would come off the rollers in paper mills. But we fuss about pollution and climate change. Over the years we’ve come up with a delightful — at least to the employed — alternative. Companies in North America have shipped their manufacturing jobs to countries where pollution control and worker safety concerns barely affect the product or its cost.

We buy cheap; pollution, wages — or lack of — and safety issues are someone else’s problem. What’s not to love?

The trade deficit, you say? Forgot about that. (Thankfully my own country, Canada, has natural resources to sell, so our deficit isn’t so bad at present.) Immigrants flowing in the front door while jobs are flowing out the back could be an issue, too. However, I’ve heard some people emphatically deny that there’s a lack of jobs for the incoming crowd.

Which brings me to the dilemma I see in North America today: should consumers insist on buying items produced here in our own countries and pay the price — pollution control, wages, company pensions, and public safety costs included? Which means doing with fewer choices and a LOT less stuff. Or shall we continue to support overseas production and let those countries deal with the consequences? (And keep on borrowing from international money lenders to cover trade deficits.)

A person’s answer may well depend on what income bracket they are in.

And I have wandered far off the prompt topic of chemicals.

As I type this, I have bun dough rising in a warm spot. Yeast is a bacteria, not a chemical, so I can’t exactly call dough rising a chemical reaction. But the effect of warm cinnamon rolls on the human palate could maybe be explained as a chemical reaction.