Wednesday, May 28, 2008

(nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Today is the seventy-fourth birthday of the Dionne quintuplets, of Ontario, Canada: Cecile, Emilie, Marie, Yvonne and Annette. Although the girls were world-famous for many years, their lives were marked by tragedy and misery owing from abuses by their family and their government caretakers. Annette and Cecile, the surviving quints, prefer to be called the Dionne sisters.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Over the teacups with TeaReads

Although I disdain teas labled "artificially flavoured," I must admit to enjoying Twinings of London's Tastes of Summer Black Tea. The label says it is "fine black tea with a delicate and refreshing mix of fruits and flowers." I love the tastes of flowers, so that sold me.
The tea box says it is a "medium flavour strength" tea, but I would call it a mild tea. The black tea dominates pleasantly while the strawberry and orange peel add gentle, pleasant enhancement. And the flowers, what about those? The marigold petals are listed last on the ingredient list, so that may be why I had trouble detecting them at all. I would not have guessed there were any flowers in this tea. I tested this tea with a friend who enjoys tea but who is not a tea fanatic. Friend loved this tea, both iced and hot. We tried it with and without a dribble of honey. Friend loved it all ways, and would give it four stars. I enjoyed it, too, though somewhat less than Friend.
If you appreciate subtlety, chances are you will love this tea as much as Friend does. I liked it enough that I'll look for this company's Four Red Fruits Flavoured Black Tea. I recommend this tea for your summer iced tea enjoyment served in a pitcher with strawberries and orange peels floating among the ice cubes.

Monday, May 26, 2008

For Memorial Day


The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo'
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few;
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread;
But Glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead
(by Theodore O'Hara, 1847; found on

"Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives."
(John Adams)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Short break

TeaReads goes on hiatus for what is hoped to be a short time. A very dear friend was hospitalized last week. I am spending so much time with my friend that I have little time for anything else. I'll try to post, but we shall see what happens.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Booking Through Thursday, 15.May

"Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….

"Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?

"Do you ever read manuals?

"How-to books?

"Self-help guides?

"Anything at all?"

I'm a habitual reader. I even read the directions on shampoo bottles although it's unlikely that any new techniques in shampooing have developed in, say, the past five thousand years. So, yes, I always read the instructions and manuals. Sometimes it's fun to read the instructions because they were obviously written in one language before being translated - - not very well - - into English. Figuring out how to follow the instructions then can be maddening, but also entertaining.
I don't care for self-help books, but I like how-to guides, especially those written about "lares and penates," home and hearth.
I learned many things from books and online articles. Almost everything I know about cooking and baking techniques came from books. Right now I am reading about how to correct drainage problems in one's yard. The situation looks hopeless so far, though, and my thoughts have ranged as far as an Archimedes screw, but in reverse (tongue in cheek).
I admit it was with more shock and distaste than needfulness that I read The Joy of Cooking's instructions on skinning game and plucking fowl; I think the pictures were worth volumes. So far so good: I've never had to do those things!
Short answer: if I'm going to fail at some project, it won't be for lack of reading the directions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Poetic Monday

"A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!"
(1333, by Emily Dickinson)


"For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins."
(from Atalanta in Calydon, by Algernon Charles Swinburne)
Cute Puppy Pictures
see more dog pictures

A little humor in honor of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Testament anagrams

Here are five New Testament anagrams for your Sunday evening diversion. I noted those which have more than one-word answers. If you get stuck, leave a comment and I will email you, but be sure to say whether you are asking about the anagrams or about the capital letter quiz below this post. All but one anagram are proper nouns.

2. NRYRAAAAHMT (three words)
3. PTHITHOANSJEBT (three words)

An easy Bible quiz

Replace the capital letters with the correct words in this simple quiz. Part I is on the Old Testament; Part II is on the New Testament.

1. The 10 C
2. 6 D of C
3. 12 T of I
4. 150 P
5. 8 P on N A

1. The 12 A
2. 5 L and 2 F
3. 9 F of the S
4. 10 W V and 10 F V
5. 9 U L
Leave a comment so I can email you if you get stuck, but I think you'll do just fine.

Sunday recipe

Banana bread

This recipe is based on a recipe for banana muffins on Visit the site for loads of excellent vegetarian recipes and nutrition tips.

1C. whole wheat flour
1 heaping t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
2 large bananas, mashed - - use very ripe (even nearly black) ones
2 T. honey - - Use a free hand when measuring the honey. I used wild thistle honey.
2 T. butter
A scant pinch of salt
1 T. rum
1/2 - 3/4 C. dried cherries

Heat oven to 350F. Combine the dry ingredients well. Melt the butter. Mix it well with the honey and rum, then mix that into the bananas. Add the cherries to the dry ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until mixed, but do not beat.
Turn into a greased loaf pan. This makes a small, flat loaf, so the batter will not fill the pan. Bake approximately 45 minutes, then let cool completely before removing from pan. I baked my bread by smell, but I think it took about that length of time.

This bread is moist, but it is not as dense nor as "wet" as my recipe from this winter. I think this is superior to that one.
Feel free to experiment with this.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Writer's Island

Writer's Island writing prompts appear each Friday. This week's second prompt is "fantasy." Any genre of writing is acceptable; the idea is just to apply the seat of your pants to your chair and WRITE.
On the theme of fantasy I submit an allegory.

"Fantasy: noun plural: fan-ta-sies
Definition #8. A coin issued especially by a questionable authority and not intended for use as currency." from The Free Dictionary, by Farlex

Imagine cupping your hands to receive coins from someone. You can feel the cool smoothness of each coin, the weight of them as they pile in your hands. You are young and small and unsure of what the coins are for. The giver is someone older, someone who has much authority over you.
You carry these coins with you over the years, always feeling them hit your thigh and hearing them jingle in your pocket as you trudge through life. Sometimes when you are alone, you take them out and examine them. They are intricately wrought with years of grime showing on the edges.
You use these coins in many and various ways as you go along in life, moving among others and interacting with them. As you mature, the coins become the only things you use in your negotiations with the world. People may sometimes cast them onto the ground or throw them back at you. They never really seem to work well as means of getting what you need and want. but they all your worth is in them. Other people use their coins when dealing with you, and you notice, with irritation, how inadequate your system is. These coins, you think, these coins really aren't worth much at all.
One day you meet someone who carries only a few coins in his pocket. He shows them to you, points out what he likes about each one and tells you how his few coins are of immeasurable value. Not only that, but he always has enough no matter how many he uses in his daily dealings with others.
Walking along a road after your meeting with this person, you begin to think about your coins. Where did they come from? It's been so long you hardly remember. They weren't really given to you but forced upon you, and without thought or explanation. The giver was a sour individual who, nevertheless, insisted that you take the coins as your means of having something in life. Were the coins a gift given freely, or a burden transferred?
Questions such as these keep you thinking as you continue your way. How did the man you met manage on so few coins? And his coins were brightly clean and spare in decoration, unlike your own tarnished, crusted ones. He seemed, if anything, much better off than you, despite his rather poorer circumstances.
What are such coins really worth?
Eventually you try leaving the coins behind you as you go along the way. Some are tossed into clear streams or rushing rivers, others are cast deep into pits among rocks. And you notice two things: the fewer of your own coins you have, the lighter your journey, and, whenever you really need them, new, brightly clean and spare ones are given to you, a few at a time. Were they there all this time but you never saw them as you counted and fretted over the old ones?
One day you pull out your coins and look them over, and something astonishes you. Only a few old coins remain among the new! These old coins are very useful, as good as the new ones and much better than the old ones. The years continue, and the new coins dim with age but never lose their luster or their value. You live like a king on what you have, knowing that your needs will never exceed their supply, or perhaps that the supply will always be adequate for your needs.
You realize that sometimes people pass along fantasies, coins without any real use as currency, and that they do so because that is all they have and all they know. You also realize that some folks never want to look for new coins; they may even deny they exist. Fantasies will not take you far or well in life. They must be let go in order to receive what is real.


Friday, May 09, 2008


Among many other designations, May is National Duckling Month. Ducklings always me remind of that 1941 Robert McCloskey classic book for children, Make Way For Ducklings. Two generations of readers remember Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who chose Boston's Public Garden as the perfect place to raise their family. This book, for ages three or four up to ages seven or eight, is among my favorite gift books for children. But the age guideline doesn't keep me from admitting that I love this book, too.
If you visit Boston, be sure to take in the wonderful bronze statues of the Make Way For Ducklings birds, by sculptor Nancy Schon.
Celebrate National Duckling Month by rereading this charming book, and by sharing it with a little one who will be hearing it for the first time.

This doggerel's bark...

heh heh heh, loldogs n cute puppy pictures - I Has a Hotdog!
see more dog pictures

is not worse than its bite. Using a writing prompt, I wrote a bit of doggerel on the suggested theme, "faithful"

is like a tree
which from an acorn grows.
How does the oak tell just what to be?
It's faithful to
its own self true,
in faithfulness it knows.

Please don't throw any soft tomatoes at this blog! Instead, visit
and try one of the prompts yourself.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Are you a book reviewer?

Have you head of HarperCollins First Look? It's a program where readers receive books and supply reviews in return. Books from many genres are available.
HarperCollins requires registration to participate, and the reviewers are selected at random. If you're game to try, visit
If you are selected as a reviewer, you may choose your genre. HC will contact you when a book in your chosen genre is available. Books are offered monthly.
I have not tried this program, but it intrigues me. I found it while clicking around on the Net.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Computer troubles

see more crazy cat pics

We're offline due to computer troubles that have been building over the past week. As you can see, we're working on a fix.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Booking Through Thursday, 1.May

"Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

"And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember…"

I've been in similar situations at airports, train stations and bus depots. On one occasion I was distraught over a recent event, so I grabbed the fattest novel at the newsstand. Luckily it was a good one. I tore the book from its carrier bag and began to read as I walked the moment I left the newsstand. I read madly throughout the whole leg of that journey, from the airline gateway, on the plane, at the baggage claim, everywhere.

The book's title was a line from a song. That was at least ten years ago, but I always think of the novel, the trip and the distressing situation whenever I hear that song.