Snippets of Life Lately

Life lately hasn’t been anything too out of the ordinary, just the regular comings and goings, homeschool, appointments, drinking coffee, taking care of my wee creatures, visiting with friends, reading some books. Wyatt and I picked flowers from the garden and pressed them. Nothing exciting but I am a person who is happy and content with a low key life. In fact, Billy and his co-workers all put money in to buy lottery tickets together as the jackpot was some large amount of money, and they were all talking about what they would do with it if they won. Some of the answers were buy property (this was Billy’s answer too), pay off debts, vacations, shopping sprees, etc. When Billy asked me, I said I would buy two mourning geckos and two dart frogs. In case you are wondering, this would cost about $100. And a few books too. I apparently dream big y’all. Although, buying property would be awesome, but Billy seems to have that under control.

Yesterday I dropped Wyatt off at my mom’s in the morning and met my sister-in-law for coffee and a walk in the woods. Where we promptly nerded out looking for mushrooms. At one point we were crouching down on the ground grabbing a shot of a mushroom and had to laugh at what anyone stumbling upon us might think. It was a great way to start the day though, with conversation and coffee and a walk in the fresh air.

I also got my glasses this week! It is so nice to have them while working on the computer and when reading. Since I only need them for reading up close, I bought one of those eyeglass chains to let them hang when I don’t need them. I love them – they have decorative bats on them, so I felt like they were seasonally appropriate.

I also took my mom to a pain management specialist. She has been having issues with her back for a while now and was dragging her feet about going to a doctor. We finally got her to go and we learned that it is more than likely her SI Joint – and the treatment sounds very promising and like it is easily treatable. It was a great relief to finally get an answer and to find solutions! Pretty soon my mom will be back to her own level of mobility again.

We were supposed to go on a camping trip starting Monday; however I looked at the weather forecast and it was promising storms so I made the decision to cancel. I am not a great camper and I didn’t want Wyatt’s first camping trip marred by storms and rain either. A wet camping trip does not sound fun to me. Billy agreed on that as well, but he still has the time off so I think we are going to take a few day trips next week. I have some ideas but nothing concrete. Today we are actually going to a Franken-Fest at Fort Wayne in Detroit. I have no idea what to expect but if it is not fun or too crowded, we can still walk around the grounds. It is sort of spooky there – the old fort and out buildings are crumbling, although they are being worked on by a historic preservation society. They have been there since the civil war, I think? I will find out today!

I am starting to feel surrounded…

How are things going for you? Anything exciting? Or just living life?

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

We had another great week of homeschooling! We are still finding our way through the new school year, but everyday gets easier. I am having my own time management issues, juggling house stuff, blog stuff like visiting everyone’s blogs, and just plain taking a minute to breathe and relax, but I will get it together. We have been sticking pretty close to home right now, without many outings lately – just taking care of business around here lately. I feel a bit like the squirrels running around our yard, stealing apples, burying nuts in our lawn, preparing and organizing and doing. And reading – I have been reading more in the past few weeks than I read all summer! I am ready for the slowness that fall and winter bring.

Read Last Week:

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig : I loved this book and could not put it down! It was such a good read! It’s a toss up which book of hers that I have liked more, House of Salt and Sorrows or this one – right now, I would say this one, but I love them both.

Reading this Week:

I have both of these and I don’t know which to start first!! Gichigami Hearts or The Lost Apothecary – both sound excellent.

Posted Last Week:

First Day of School, Flowers, and a Frog

For the Love of Mushrooms

Late Summer at the Village

Homeschooling: Our Curriculum

Watching:

We have not watched too much or anything different. We are still watching Schitt’s Creek, a rewatch for me, the first time for Billy, and Agatha Christie’s Marple. We are always startled when we see a “big” star in that show – Carey Mulligan, Julian Sands, Richard Armitage, Timothy Dalton (although I 100% think of his role in Hot Fuzz when I see him now) As we move deeper into fall, we will be adding in more scary, spooky movies and show too. I am ready!

And that is about it from our little house here in the mitten. What has been going on in your world?

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

We finished our first week of school and I finished two books! I am not quite sure how that worked but it did! Lol. We took Friday off and went to Greenfield Village with my sister-in-law and Dino Girl so the kids could hang out before Dino Girl goes back to school this week. And..I also got glasses. So did Billy. We left Wyatt with my mom and went to our eye exams together, where we learned we both have perfect distance vision yet have some typical sight issues that occur with aging, or so we were told. Like when I have to hold things with small print at arms length to read it… Our glasses come in on the 17th and I am sort of excited. I have been getting headaches when I read for too long so it will be nice to read without it causing one. Our vision exam was sort of crazy! It was done by a remote technician. I felt like I was in the future. The tech who was there set me up in the room with the eye thing in front of my front of my face. There was a giant monitor on the wall, and a remote technician zoomed in and did the exam, switching things digitally. Then when she was done she sent it to the doctor, who also remoted in on the monitor to explain about the results. It was wild. But it also seemed super efficient.

Anyway, on to the book stuff.

Read Last Week:

Fire Keeper’s Daughter was excellent. It might be the best book I have read all year honestly. I loved it and am looking forward to reading more by this author. I also finished up The Running Hare, which I also loved. But I love John Lewis-Stempel and usually find zero faults with his books. Wyatt and I also started reading The Magic Tree House books last week, while Billy is listening to Six of Crows and The Bone Witch.

Reading This Week:

I started this a few weeks ago and then decided I wanted to keep it for September. I am weird sometimes. But now it is September and I am excited to start it! (again) I loved House of Salt and Sorrows so I am eager to read this one.

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler

Hello September!

A Few Short Book Reviews

Watching:

We have gotten completely sucked into Agatha Christie’s Marple series on BritBox. It is so good!!

And that is about it from our little refuge! How are things in your world?

A Few Short Book Reviews

I figured since it was back to school week for us, I should probably get to working on my own overdue projects~ and knocking out a few reviews.

Let’s start with…

Oh man, did I love this book! I’ve recommended it all over the place and at one mom’s wine night I went on and on about how much I loved this author’s writing. It is beautiful, full of nature, and also moments from an 80s childhood that I could totally relate to. The imagery and how we can learn lessons from the creatures around us was just so gorgeous and poignant as well. And it made me feel proud as well, of how I am raising my child, to observe nature around us, to know the names of bugs and birds. Nezhukumatathil shares a story in this collection of talking a class of students, young kids, who had never ever heard of fireflies. Thought they were fake, made up! I wish every child, and every adult could find such wonder in the world around us, as Nezhukumatathil does. If you haven’t read this, I urge you to do so!

I love a book set in Michigan, especially on the most mysterious of all the lakes, Lake Superior. If you have ever stood on the shores of Superior, you will know what I mean when I say it holds its secrets and has its dark mysteries. So a gothic suspense set on these shores is a match made in heaven. I really enjoyed this read, which took the reader between two times, set in the same place. Two women, each with their own set of problems. There were so many threads to this story, and each one was as interesting as the next. Definitely a book to read when you want to settle down with a cup of tea and a book with a bit of a spooky vibe.

This book was legit crazytown and I was 100% there for it. 10/10, highly recommend. It was a trippy ride all the way through and I could not stop reading it. There were shocks and surprises and twists everywhere that the reader just doesn’t see coming. My mom and I could not stop talking about it! If you like true crime and dark reads, this book is perfect for you. Even if you don’t, I suggest you give it a try!

Hello September!

September!! I can’t believe it is September already. Because whether the weather knows it or not, summer is beginning to wane. I see it in the darker mornings, I felt it in the breeze yesterday. The last of the butterflies are getting ready to migrate. My summertime nail color seems all wrong, it is no longer time for bright berry pink.

It’s not quite over yet, however. My garden is still producing so many tomatoes we can’t keep up, no matter how many tomato and cheese sandwiches we eat – tomatoes fresh from the garden, sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper, set between two slices of cheese on toasted sourdough or pumpernickel rye bread. Yum! Served with a handful of Aged Cheddar and Black Pepper Lattice chips from Aldi’s. We eat it more nights than we probably should for dinner, but it is easy and we like it so much, and we know that its time is coming to an end. Soon we will be eating more soup, heartier dinners, chili. So we are making the most of our summertime sandwiches while we can, and feeling quite carefree about it.

I do feel like we are trying to soak up what is left of the summer. The other day my little niece Dino Girl came over and spent the day, and we gathered flowers from my garden and “captured summer in a jar” as best we could, in the hopes that the bright colors will linger and sustain us in the dark of winter.

I will miss all of our little garden creatures, the butterflies and caterpillars, the grasshoppers, katydids, cicadas. The birds darting in and out. The toads and the hardworking bees. The fireflies at night, probably my favorite most of all. Although, the giant broad-winged katydid was in our house, singing from on top of the curtain rod. We let him go and could not believe how well he was camouflaged on our apple tree. I won’t miss finding weird bugs inside.

Everything is tinged in that golden glow – that late summer yellow of sunflowers and black-eyed Susans, and will turn to the brilliant yellow of autumn leaves in a few weeks.

But good things are around the corner as well, school has started for us again, and the spooky season of Halloween is coming up. Books about ghosts and witches, scary podcasts and movies, trips to the orchard, another round of The Wild Hunt. Cider by the fire with my brother and his family. A camping trip this month. Chestnuts. A girl’s day with my crew, doing who knows what but something. A field trip to a castle and a field trip to find fossils and rocks. There are so many good things on the horizon, these that I have mentioned and hopefully many others. And let’s be honest. Isn’t fall the best of all?

Book Review: Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler

Goodreads Summary:

The last year has been a whirlwind of trials and triumphs for the Tanner family.

With injuries, near foreclosures, and a family tragedy behind them, Jason Tanner, the oldest of the Tanner children is facing his own struggle after his longtime girlfriend, Ellie Lambert, overhears the secret he’d planned to tell her himself.
Now, in addition to trying to keep his family’s dairy farm sustainable during a hard economic season, Jason is dealing with the heartbreak of Ellie’s decision to end an almost 10-year relationship.

In an effort to bury his feelings, he throws himself into his work on the farm and into volunteering with Spencer Valley’s small volunteer fire company, where tragedy strikes the foundation of his faith during an already vulnerable time.

Ellie has her own challenges to face as she tries to navigate a time of life where her expectations have been turned upside down and shaken out.

As she copes with the decision to walk away from her relationship with the man she saw as her best friend, her flighty, less responsible younger sister shows up to further complicate an already complicated situation.

My Thoughts:

In the first book in The Spencer Valley Chronicles, The Farmer’s Daughter, we meet the Tanner family, and follow along as Molly and Alex begin their new romance. In this second book, Harvesting Hope, we focus on Molly’s brother Jason and his long time love, Ellie. Although, there is trouble in paradise.

Howeler has a gift for writing characters that could have stepped off the streets of any town and into the pages of a book, they are so real. They are complex, full of life, multi-dimensional, and just have that spark that makes one empathize and relate to the characters they are reading about. Jason’s struggles with his own guilt over a past mistake, the way he throws himself into one thing after another, working hard so he doesn’t have to think too much, Ellie’s devotion to her parents, her frustration with her little feckless sister that fights against her natural protectiveness as an older sister – these are all such humanizing traits that make these characters so real.

I was wrapped up in this story from beginning to end – I never knew what was going to happen from one moment to the next, and there were some situations that kept me on the edge of my seat, anxious for the outcome! There were moments that made me chuckle, others still that made me laugh out loud. And then the scene where three shirtless men have a wood splitting competition – pure masculinity, right there. And the kind that a woman doesn’t mind being witness too, either. The dialogue is so true and raw and honest though at other moments, when they talk about how to keep a farm afloat, mistakes they made that roll over and over in their thoughts, long-ingrained ideas that they can’t shake.

The last half of this book kept me glued to the pages until I was finished. So much happened, so much craziness that I needed to know if everything worked out in the end! I won’t tell you though, you will have to read that for yourself! However through it all, there is the foundation of love. And hope. Love for your spouse, your new love, your old love, your neighbor, you sister, your parents. Your community. Just so much love. And I loved it.

Harvesting Hope is available now on Kindle. If you are looking for a feel good read with wonderful characters, look no further. I greatly enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for the next one!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

I feel like last week was a mad dash to the finish line – we start school tomorrow! Am I ready? I don’t know! I am excited to begin our new curriculum and learn all the new things with Wyatt this year. His science curriculum this year includes a huge section on geology and rocks and minerals and I have to admit I am super excited about it. And I learned my brother has a rock tumbler… I may be sending some rocks his way to tumble for us. We also had my mom and niece over for a day and the kids had such fun together. All day playing, making messes, eating, being crazy. It was good.

I also had a pretty emotional day on Thursday. When I woke up in the morning I discovered that my little Dash had passed away overnight. She had been declining so I wasn’t totally surprised but I felt really hampered by not being able to do much. She was a tiny unhandleable anole. I feel like she was an older girl when we rescued her, as wild caught reptiles you never know. I don’t support the idea of wild caught reptiles and adopted her because she looked so miserable in the pet store. I was absolutely shattered however even while knowing it was coming. Billy arranged her sweetly in a little tea tin surrounded by flower petals and we buried her in the lavender. It’s funny how these small creatures can charm their way right into your heart but they do.

Read Last Week/Reading This Week:

I finished The Family Plot and it was fabulous!! It was crazy twisty and I couldn’t stop reading it. A good way to gear up for spooky season!! I also started and read about half of The Running Hare. I love John Lewis-Stempel and always slow read his books to savor them a bit more.

I also started Fire Keeper’s Daughter. And wow, I love this book so much. Boulley is a Michigan author writing about her Ojibwe community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I love supporting Michigan authors and it is always so neat to read a book set in your home state. I have been to so many of these places mentioned in the book. I am also learning so much about the Ojibwe. I may end up going down a few rabbit trails…

Posted Last Week:

I posted my Hometown Views: Main Street post, alongside Lisa at Boondock Ramblings. I learned some new stuff from her post, the most startling about Marie Antoinette. Did you know she had a connection to Pennsylvania?

I also posted my latest Butterfly Update. We are getting close to the end folks!

Watching:

We have been kind of skipping around, not seeming to land on anything too long. We watched a few episodes of Nancy Drew before deciding we want to save it for fall. We watched McDonald and Dodds on BritBox which we really love. We watched a few Death in Paradise, and then last night started Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

And that is about it from our little refuge! How are things going for you?

Hometown Views: Main Street

Hi all! Recently,Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I started a new blog feature called Hometown Views, where we share different buildings, traditions, memories all from our hometowns. We started this because during our online friendship we have enjoyed comparing the areas we live – rural to suburban outside Detroit. This week is all about our respective “Main Street”.

Our main drag here in Wyandotte is Biddle Avenue, named for Major John Biddle, who had served in the War of 1812 and then settled here in the Detroit area. The city has been around, settled by non-native settlers, since 1854. Before that the Wyandots lived here, forming their village of Maquaqua. I have read that the descendants of the Wyandots that used to live here now live in the Amherstburg area of Canada, across the Detroit River.

This image is from the Bacon Library’s Online Archive.

So pretty right? Times may have changed, but the street still remains charming in my opinion. This is how it looks today.

Our main street of Biddle Avenue has its own roving photographer, Kelly Christopher Luttrell. You can spot him and his camera roaming about the streets of Wyandotte on pretty much any given day – and almost any given time. He is up early most days, photographing the sunrise above the river. He is out in blizzards and rainstorms, hot days and windy. His collection of photos of the city are an archivists dream. He was even designated the city’s photographer by our last mayor, and no one has as much city pride as Kelly. We graduated together, and he was kind enough to allow me the use of a few of his photographs for this post. He is an all around good dude. He even made a Wyandotte calendar!

My family has lived in this city since 1950. My mom remembers running these streets, going to the movies at one of the three movie theaters that used to stand here. My dad bought his clothes at the store that is visible in this last photo, the one with red marquee. And, all through college, I worked at the store that used to be in the building next store, an office supply store named Gail’s Office Supply. The Gail family owned it, and if you remember the show WKRP in Cincinnati, Max Gail played a character in that show. I loved that job – all the pens! All the stationary! And even cooler, Billy worked two jobs right nearby – the first a few blocks down, at an art gallery as a framer, and also at the old Wyandotte Theater as a projectionist. Billy and I used to meet for lunch every day at the little diner on the corner, located a few doors down from Gail’s. I was young and as a young ‘un could eat french fries with ranch dressing with a black coffee every day for lunch. We ate there for years, until a coffee shop opened up right next door to Gail’s, Java Joes, then we practically lived there, lunch and in the evenings, hanging out with friends. My brother worked at Gail’s too, and later at Java Joes. So much of my personal history, right there one little block.

The Wyandotte Theater was said to be a playhouse before a movie theater, with a connecting underground passageway to the apartments across the parking lot. I haven’t been able to substantiate this claim but I like this story so I included it. It did have a giant stage in front, which I know from obviously going but also because one time my mom, brother and I went to the see Care Bears movie when my brother was like five. At the end of the movie during the credits, my brother, always a wild child, broke away from my mom, and ran up the stairs on to the stage to dance with the Care Bears on screen. And of course, my mom made ME go and get him…

The theater during my mom’s youth. I can guarantee you she is probably in this photo somewhere. (Photo by David Zornig)

But before this theater showed The Beatles, it showed a bit older fare..all the way back in the 1930s. It opened in 1938, with the “Main” as it was called, seating 1500 people. (Lisa your whole town could fit in here twice!) The “Annex” opened in 1941, and sat 800.

Here is a bit more legend for you. When Billy worked there, I would go hang out with him in the projection room, which had a huge vault door. He told me that the vault door was there because in the olden days the old film could catch fire easily and the projectionist would have to slam the door shut, hoping that the vaulted door would prevent the fire from getting too out of control before the building could be completely evacuated. This could be a tall tale, so don’t go telling your friends this is fact. It was neat to sit in there, but I hated closing up the theater at night. I always helped so that we could leave earlier and hang out, but dang it was so dark in there after lights were out. Like pitch black, especially in the Main. And there was of course, the ghost. It was said that a previous projectionist had killed himself in the Main, and that he haunted the theater. Because every old theater needs a ghost. I do remember one night though Billy went to go turn off the lobby and marquee lights while I waited in the lobby with another friend of ours who worked there. The lights went out, Billy walked into the lobby, and boom – all of a sudden the lights were back on. So Justin and Billy both went the second time to turn them back off, leaving me alone in the dark, which I was a little scared about. The lights went off, and as soon as they got into the lobby again, boom, back on. Again! We all looked at each other and mutually decided it was time to take off!

Sadly, the theater couldn’t hold its own against the bigger box offices, and eventually closed, and was demolished. That was a sad day for every Wyandotte resident, I think.

Back to Biddle, let’s end on a lighter note! The Wyandotte Parade. I love a parade, and apparently so does our town. Every 4th of July and Christmas, citizens from the area gather to watch the bands, the police, the floats parade by. And I love it.

All photos here are taken again from the Bacon Library’s Online Local History Archive. The first is in 1920, then 1959, and then finally 1988, when George Bush visited and walked in the 4th of July Parade. (Bill Clinton actually visited too although in a later year, and gave a speech on the porch of the library, that same one pictured. All the businesses on Biddle closed that day, including Gail’s and we all walked down to watch.)

And a few more from recent history, mine. Gotta love my mom’s yellow sunglasses in that first photo! I’m with my two cousins Brian and Melissa in the second picture, but I am the one with my arm outstretched like a little beggar. The one with the dog – I am in the black coat walking my dog Penny (I miss her so much!) who I adopted from the pound, and my SIL is in purple walking her pound puppy Sassy. We were walking with the pound to show people what amazing dogs you can find in the pound (and cats, but they don’t really like parades…).

Wyatt’s first parade! You can only see the tippy top of his head – don’t worry he could breathe because I was a nut and checked like every two seconds. And, why am I also always holding a McDonald’s coffee?

I feel like I could tell you so many more stories, but we will leave it here for now. I hope you enjoyed this little journey! Now take a minute to walk along Lisa’s Main Street in Dushore, PA!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Hi everyone! I had a pretty blah week last week, just sort of getting along everyday. It was just a week, I guess. I did babysit my SIL’s caterpillars and chrysalids and released a ton of butterflies, which was neat. I am planning on a butterfly post this week so I will tell you all about it then. Otherwise, nothing real exciting to report over here.

Read Last Week:

I finished up Harvesting Hope and I loved it! The characters are so real and believable, like real people you would know in your own community. I think Lisa has a real gift for creating characters, for dialogue, and for humor. This book is just what I needed last week. I plan on writing book reviews this week and this one is on the list!

Reading This Week:

I had planned on reading a different book this week, but these two called to me louder. I am a huge John Lewis-Stempel fan and Billy got me The Running Hare for Mother’s Day, but wanted to wait until the right time to read it. And that is apparently now. The Family Plot looks so good! My mom just finished it and loved it so I am looking forward to it too.

Watching:

Since finishing up Sweet Tooth and Virgin River, we went back to Death in Paradise for a bit. We are also watching McDonald and Dodds on BritBox , and I started a rewatch of Schitt’s Creek because I love it. We had a special Saturday night movie night where we watched Jungle Cruise and ate lots of snacks. And I seriously loved the movie. It had that campy Disney feel, had action, adventure, and reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones, a series that I loved and still do. As a kid, I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I grew up. If I had been a kid today watching The Jungle Cruise, I would want to be Dr. Lily Houghton.

Posted Last Week:

Homeschooling: A Look Back as We Move Forward

A Sweet Summer Tradition

Our Butterfly Project – Update #7

And that is about it from our little refuge! What has been going on in your world?

A Sweet Summer Tradition

Or a sassy one, judging by Wyatt’s face in this photo. it cracks me up. He actually did have a good time despite this expression.

Every year we take a drive into the country to our favorite summertime orchard, Erie Orchards. When I was a kid, this was the orchard we used to get pumpkins and apples at, so we have been visiting and eating the fruit from these trees since I was Wyatt’s age, which is crazy to me!

Usually we are able to pick from the whole orchard. This year we were told to pick from only one row, so I am not sure if it was a rough growing season for them or what the deal was but we stuck to our row. Unfortunately, there were a few other families there and we were all picking from the one same row, so it was not quite as easy to find peaches. If you look at our bag though, we managed successfully, although it wasn’t quite as fun this time with all of us crammed in the same space.

We usually picnic as well too, but Wyatt requested a “car picnic” and since he is the prince of picnics in this house we decided a car picnic worked for us too. Especially since this time there were more people than usual around.

So we ate our cheese and bread and peaches hanging out in the back of the Subaru, and then wandered over to the “U-Pick” flowers. I can’t seem to pass that up this year. All the bright colors, I am like a magpie to the shiny things. And all the butterflies! I definitely need to plant zinnies next year! Remember that for me, ok? And sunflowers too, I am in love with their bright cheery faces this year.

Today my plans include making peach jam. I am going to try something different though. Instead of the traditional way of making jam, I am going to try Instant Pot jam. It will be freezer jam but that is ok. I love to grab a jar of summer preserves in the midst of winter and remember the days that i picked that fruit. I also love to put peach jam on my pancakes! Yum!

It was a quick little trip but a fun one!