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!
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?
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.
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!
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…
I also posted my latest Butterfly Update. We are getting close to the end folks!
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Hello! Today is a bright sunshiney day, which is perfect since it is my niece Dino Girl’s birthday party today! It will be the first party we have gone too since the pandemic, and it is outside at a park so the kids can play. I have spent the past week getting ready for next school year – I decided we need a bigger space so I am in the process of rearranging and redoing Wyatt’s bedroom to accommodate this need. I mainly really need to shift things around and go through the six years of clothes and toys and books he has accumulated, and organize. We also took apart the little toddler bed, since he is a big kid now anyway which seemed to open the room up much more. I want to do our bedroom too, but.. I guess Wyatt’s room came first. And of course I decided he needs all new art work too, so I will slowly be adding that in as well, with his input. He said he wants animals and the moon. I guess I will see what I can do with that theme.
Read Last Week:
I finally finished Prodigal Summer, and it was an amazing read. I had read it before, but I feel like I had so much more understanding and more takeaways this time around. It was complex and rich, and made me think about our responsibility to nature and the world and our communities and how that all works together.
I also downloaded a new book, Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler, but I keep forgetting to charge my kindle! I should do that right after this so I can start it tonight.
I also am picking this book up from the library tomorrow, and hope to start it as well. I loved House of Salt and Sorrows so I am looking forward to reading this one.
We finished up Virgin River and Sweet Tooth. I loved them both although they were very different. Sweet Tooth I especially loved. We started watching McDonald and Dodds, a police procedural/mystery on BritBox, and we thought the first season was so-so, but loved the second season. We also started watching season two of Nancy Drew. I am getting ready for spooky season!!
And that is it from around here! Hope you are all doing well!
In the spirit of trying new things and having different adventures, our plan for day number 3 up north was to explore two completely new to us places. First up, the Botanical Gardens at Barnes Park.
I picked this place because it seemed to have a lot of different areas for us to check out – stuff for Wyatt, and stuff for us too. We arrived bright and early, and I was happy we went in the morning as the day was already heating up. We pulled in, grabbed a map of the grounds, and started off. This caught our eye first..
This must have been some cow! Good for you Traverse Colantha Walker.
Our next stop was the big community garden! It was gorgeous and gave me some inspiration for next year as well! Then, despite having a map, we wandered around trying to find our next trail, the Fairy Trail! We had a strangely hard time finding it; were we deliberately led astray by the fairies?
This was a neat little stop and if you have kids and visit the area, this is a must do!
Once we found our way out of Faerie, we wandered into the next garden over, the pollinator garden.
By this point, we were getting weary of the sun and heat, and headed back to the car and our water, took a quick little break, and left for our next stop, an old growth cedar forest.
Now, this trail was truly magical. Just the feeling when you entered into the trees was something bordering a reverence. My loud boy, Wyatt Riot, even could tell, and whispered “Wow” as we stood the three of us, within this shelter of trees. It was our first time in such a forest and it was beautiful. We took our time making our way through, at time just standing still on the trail and listening to the Blue Jays shriek, catch them flying from tree to tree. Absorbing the stillness at other times, breathing in the cedar fragrance that just wafted with each of our footsteps. This was a short hike, but one of the best ones I have ever been on.
All too soon we were back in the hot, dusty parking lot, and decided it was time to head back to the cabin. We still had some swimming left to do, but not until we took a nap.. which we did after lunch. Then the guys headed down and into the lake. I did not get a swimsuit in time so I watched from the shore, but I was able to take in the sheer joy and excitement that Wyatt was radiating. His laughter echoed over the water as he played in the lake. My whole goal of this trip was to get Wyatt in the water, to be in a lake, to sit on a beach. And it was a resounding success.
We were all exhausted by the time evening rolled around. We had a quick dinner of hot dogs and macaroni, then just vegged until bed. The next day we had to leave so we took this last opportunity to really just relax.
And that my friends, was the end of our trip. Until next year, northern Michigan. We had a blast!
I am so excited to be linking up with Leslie’s 10 on the 10th again! This month our prompt is all about life-long learning, one of my favorite things!
And here are the prompts!
How old were you when you started school? Did you attend pre-kinder and/or kinder or go straight into first grade?
I was four when I started kindergarten. I did not attend preschool, I just went straight into kindergarten. I have a late birthday and turned five a few months later.
2. Were you a good student? What was your favorite subject?
I was a good student! My favorite subjects were English, literature, history, geography, and all foreign languages. (I have taken Latin, French, and Russian)
3. As a child, did you take music lessons? Or play a sport? Do you still play an instrument now?
I played the flute in fifth grade. It was short lived. I didn’t really enjoy it. I wasn’t much for sports but I was on the swim team in middle school and high school.
4.Did you attend any kind of training or classes beyond high school? If so, what did you study? Did you wind up working in a profession or job for which those classes or training prepared you?
I have a crazy college background. I have attended three Universities in my state. I do have a degree in History with a minor in literature. I was accepted to the Masters program for Historical Preservation, which I decided I didn’t like a few classes in. Then I was accepted to the Library Science Masters Program, and I ended up leaving that as well, due to some health reasons. A few years later I entered a program to get a second Bachelors in Journalism but ended up leaving that program because I was pregnant with Wyatt and I was a high risk pregnancy. I never worked a job in my degree field but I loved my job as a library paraprofessional in an elementary school. The librarian and I were kindred spirits – then the school district decided they didn’t need a librarian anymore and that they could just have me do all the library things (order books, process them, etc) for much less money. 😦 I was sad to see her leave!
5.Have you taken any personal growth or adult education classes for fun? During the year that was Covid, did you home school, learn a new app to work from home, teach yourself to do something you might have paid someone else to do for you?
After I had Wyatt, I took some classes online through our community college for fun, all anthropology related and I LOVED them so much. During the year that was COVID, I decided to homeschool Wyatt all on my own, without an online program or school. I had some help though, people I met online who were much more knowledgeable than me about the process and I also attended a few online conferences as well. I also learned how to make soap and shampoo bars, and we made butter once too.
6. What would you like to learn how to do that you don’t know how to do already?
Hmm. Lots of things!! Sew mainly. All fiber art is beyond me. My fingers can’t do it. I also wish I could draw.
7.Name something that you learned easily. Then name something that was a struggle for you to learn to do.
I learned to read very easily. I don’t remember a time I couldn’t read! Math was so hard though. I remember being the only student to show up for a tutoring session before the ACT just so I could get some last minute tips. It was very helpful honestly
8. What’s the last thing you remember learning? What kind of learner are you: visual, auditory, hands-on/kinesthetic, verbal, logical/mathematical?
I am a visual learner, no question about it. Wyatt is a kinesthetic learner so that has been a bit of a learning curve for me when teaching. Billy is both kinesthetic and auditory, so that helps. I am the worst at following verbal commands. I must be a terrible listener.
9. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks, school of hard knocks, pass with flying colors, learn by heart, burn the midnight oil, pull an all-nighter, play hooky – which of these expression best fits your life lately? Why?
For this month, play hooky! We are taking a break from homeschooling.
10.What is something you’ve learned from past mistakes?
I have learned… to trust myself and my instincts.
Bonus: Share your favorite learning/education quote.
” We all know that every child is unique and yet, we still assume this doesn’t apply to learning.” Ainsley Arment, The Call of the Wild and Free. I love that book so much!