From time to time, I sit back and evaluate my purpose and progress in maintaining a blog.
Three years ago, on a lark after I retired from the world of education, I started my first blog, Janice Heck: My Time to Write. I tiptoed into the blogosphere, filled with beginner’s anxiety, to test the atmosphere. I joined Kristin Lamb’s little army of baby bloggers in WANA112 (We Are Not Alone) and launched out into unknown territory.
Feeding My Blog
At first I wondered how I could maintain a blog because these word-swallowing vacuums have voracious appetites and must be fed constantly. I thought I would rapidly run out of ideas. I also wondered if I had the sustaining power to keep a blog going. After all, I have been known to start projects, and then let them drop when other interests crashed the party. (Moi? Yes, moi.)
But look! Now, almost three years later, my blog is still alive, still begging for fodder, still holding my attention, still getting regular visitors.
I call myself an “eclectic blogger.” That is, I write articles or post photographs about whatever strikes my fancy: cats, family, travel, book reviews, current events, food, recipes, senior health issues, eldercare, grammar, writing tips, writing quirks, and writing “fix-its.”
I love blog challenges and have entered a number of writing and photography challenges.
My first A to Z Challenge (to publish a post six days a week in the month of April) in 2012 helped me prove to myself that I really could blog every day. I began to see myself in a new light: as a writer and a blogger. Since then, I have joined the A to Z every year and met that same goal. In the process, I have met many amazing bloggers and photographers. Here are my three survivor badges from those challenges.
Feeding my blog has been easier than I thought possible.
My stats look pretty good with 52,593 visits (as of 8-31-14) and almost 500 regular followers. I’m not a Jeff Bullas, a Kristin Lamb, a Bradley Will, or Matt Wolfe, but I have had fair success (i.e. regular readers) for a novice. My Time to Write has had visitors from 176 countries. Alas, Greenland is still white on this map. (Hint, hint, Greenland bloggers. I know you are there.)
Of course, no visitors from Iran have dropped by. No surprise there. But look at Africa. Each time I check this map, more readers from Africa have visited my blog. Amazing. English as second language (ESL, ESOL) readers pop up everywhere. I have had visitors from countries that I have never heard of until I started blogging. (Brunei Darussalam? Djibouti? Vanuatu?) Yes, Mr. Disney, “It’s a small world after all.”
Funny thing, though, the posts that I thought would be the least interesting have turned out to be the ones that people search for: grammar posts, “writing quirks,” and other topics related to writing. With the exception of one oddball post, Two Oceans Meet in Gulf of Alaska. Not., which has now had 15,279 hits, the English writing and grammar posts get the most daily visits. (For a sampling of these posts, check the end of this post.) Other posts have shorter term interest.
The stats on my blog dashboard indicate that my free WordPress blog is currently at 87% capacity (2667.67 MB). In other words, a decision point. Should I shell out some bucks and buy more space? Or should I morph into a dotcom? WordPress encourages me almost daily to do either of these things. Should I? Shouldn’t I?
Focus, Focus, Focus
Years ago, I went to a writer’s conference and met with an editor who gave me this advice: “You are a good writer… BUT… [always the but ! ] you need to FOCUS.”
He called me on my eclectic writing behavior, my tendency for random thinking, my propensity for great ideas, and, well, my many unfinished writing projects. How did he know?
At any rate, I see now, that he was right. And that is the issue on my current blog. It is eclectic. On the one hand, that is good because it has wider audience appeal; on the other hand, people who visit my blog looking for help with writing have to surf through all sorts of material not immediately relevant to writing.
Final Decision: New Focus, New Dotcom Blog
With T. S. Eliot’s line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” firmly in mind, “decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse…,” I started playing with a blog (Janice Heck Writes) that has been sitting dormant on my WordPress shelf since I initiated my first blog.
Now with my first blog pool almost filled to capacity, I have decided to officially launch Janice Heck Writes as a dotcom. focusing completely on the writing process and writing craft. My goal is to help writers move to the next level in their writing abilities, whether they be wannabe writers or published writers.
As I attend writing conferences and meet and read the writing attempts of many wannabe writers, I encourage them to keep writing and writing and writing. Then when I notice the randomness of their writing, I tell them to focus. There it is. That advice given to me more than ten years ago has come spouting out of my own mouth! We become like our own editors!
Posts on my new blog will focus on helping writers develop their writing craft using this formula:
While natural talent and a wide background in reading help create a good writer, a strong grasp of writing craft (grammar, usage, punctuation) helps build a writer’s power. Effective writing strategies can be learned.
So this new blog Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Writing Craft will focus on the specific writing techniques to enhance your writing as well as quick fixes for the most common errors in writing. I will also include book reviews and writer interviews that focus on building effectiveness as a writer.
Of course, I will keep my darling kitties (a regular feature on my first blog) in my posts as often as possible because their witty remarks often bring chuckles to readers… and extra comments to my blog. But don’t worry, my dear eclectic readers, I promise to post on this ole blog as well. Since I love the writing and photography challenges and the relative freedom of topics of my first blog, I will continue to post there. Gradually, I will pull my grammar, usage, punctuation, and writing tips posts over to the new blog.
Come on over and check out my new blog: Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Craft. I’d love to see you there. Leave a comment if you have time. (Launch date: September 1, 2014)
So, what do you think? Am I making the right decision? Do I have any other options?
Popular posts of the past in order of highest frequency of hits. (Alphabetical posts come from the A to Z Challenges.)
Q is for Quirky Dreams, Susie Q., and Prepositional Phrases
R is for Reflexive Pronouns Cause a Ruckus
K is for Kernel Sentences: Nouns and Verbs Control the World
D is for Direct Object or Happy Birthday
A is for Adjectives, Anteaters, Armadillos, and Aardvarks
Hyper-hyphenated Words Make Surprising Adjectives
I is for Invented Spelling of Kids and Cats
“Don’t Use Adverbs.” Book Reviewers Use Them!
Common Errors or Effective Writing?
G is for Great Gobs of Gramma’s Grammar Goodies and Goofs
Welcome to the 2013 A to Z Challenge where bloggers write a series of 26 posts during the month of April.
This year our faithful organizers encouraged hope-filled A-Z participants to develop a theme for posts rather than posting on random topics as many of us did last year.
My theme for this year is . . .
Writing PLUS Grammar You Can See.
Through the month of April, I plan to give examples of how a strong knowledge of grammar can help writers produce more effective writing. More effective writing improves communication.
Along the way, I plan to throw in a cat or two. Sorry, they just have a way of sneaking into my blogs.
And now with a *blast of the trumpet* and a *roll on the snare drum*, we begin with . . .
A is for Adjectives, Anteaters, Armadillos, and Aardvarks
Pigs Little Three
Bad Wolf Big
Little Hood Riding Red
Did you grimace when you read these familiar characters?
Take a common phrase and mix up the adjectives, and it sounds like an off-key prima donna singing an aria at the Met. Our ears tell us something just isn’t right.
Parents read nursery rhymes and classic stories to their wee ones over and over and over and over, a trillion times in parent-count, to calm them at bed-time. At the same time, they unwittingly teach their little sponges unspoken rules for how our language works. Diaper-wearing toddlers learn the order of adjectives as they babble away practicing their early communication skills.
Pattern: Adjective, adjective, adjective noun.
Dad reads Little Red Riding Hood.
Rule: size comes before color.
Children learn these rules seemingly by osmosis so teachers never have to teach about correct order of adjectives in school. Adjective order flows naturally in their speaking patterns without ever having to learn the official linguistic rules.
Order of adjectives is generally only a problem for non-native English speakers whose own language may have a different word order.
And yes, there is a prescribed order for adjectives. If you think about it for a bit, you can probably come up with the rules. But I’ll save you some time and give the order to you here:
1. determiners: a, an, the this, that, these, those his, hers, ours, yours several, ten, some
2. judgment (opinion, observation): beautiful, delicious, obnoxious, immature
3. physical description (fact: size, shape, age, color): small, round, ancient, golden
4. origin: Greek, Italian, Chinese, Mexican
5. composition: cotton, silk, metal, wooden
6. other specific qualifier related to the function or purpose noun . . .men’s clothing, children’s shoes
and finally, ta dah, *drum roll*, the NOUN.
Teacher-pleasing elementary students love to write lengthy sentences loaded with adjectives. Let them have their fun.
Giant, bushy-tailed anteaters with long, sticky tongues and elongated snouts vacuum up their mid-day snack of crunchy, tasty, black ants.
Toothless, armor-plated, Texan and South American armadillos roam around in the pitch-black, moon-less nights but roll up into balls when threatened by ravenous predators.
That chunky African aardvark with the round, stubby, pig-like snout, catches ants with its long, inelegant sticky tongue.
For additional thoughts on order of adjectives, read all about “Frozen Yogurt with Adjectives on Top” by Jan Freeman, author of Ambrose Bierce’s Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic’s Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers. http://throwgrammarfromthetrain.blogspot.com/2012/08/frozen-yogurt-with-adjectives-on-top.html
So what? Who cares? Why do writers have to think about order of adjectives?
Writing instructors say, “Show, don’t tell,” encouraging writers to give more detail in their writing, but writers need to use adjectives more selectively than those eager-beaver elementary students.
Most writers sow adjectives almost unconsciously into the soil of their prose to make it more lush and pretty, and the sentences become longer and longer as they fill up wih stately elms and frisky kittens and hard-bitten detectives and sleepy lagoons. This is adjective-by-habit — a habit you should get rid of.
Goals for Using Adjectives in Writing
1. Use adjectives selectively. Piles of adjectives bore your readers. They skip over them to get to the action in your story or to the gist of your article. Don’t be like those adjective-abusing, but fun-loving elementary students. Use fresh, original, surprising adjectives in your writing.
2. Get rid of common adjectives (nice, pretty, lovely, romantic, exciting). They have no place in your writing because they show nothing. Instead practice writing original similes and metaphors. Look for posts on S and M, oops, I mean similes and metaphors in the future. In the meantime, Catherine Johnson posts metaphors and metaphor-generating pictures on “Metaphor Mondays.” Look there for fresh ideas.
The Last Meow
And now a word from Grumpy Cat. Too bad the meme writer didn’t go to school on the day the teacher taught about apostrophes and contractions. Oh well, there’s always room for another blog post on the proper use of these elementary, confounding constructions.
Oh great. Now the Three Little Kittens are fussing because I haven’t given them any airtime. Sometimes you just can’t win.
Sentence fragments and short, choppy sentences have gotten bad raps having been labeled as (heaven forbid)
But these two style elements should have a place in every writer’s paintbox.
Developing writers rely on basic sentence patterns in their writing because they haven’t yet developed the ability to write more complex sentences, nor have they learned common revision techniques such as sentence combining. Unintentionally, they use sentence fragments and short, choppy sentences in their stories, reports, and essays.
The result? Boring, ho-hum, unsophisticated, first draft writing.
Yet effective writers deliberately use sentence fragments and short, choppy sentences to make their writing stronger. What’s the difference? Check these examples from Sandra Cisneros and Shammai Golan.
Sandra Cisneros (1954- )
Although born in poverty in Chicago, Sandra Cisneros, celebrated Mexican-American writer, did not remain there. Encouraged by her mother, a voracious reader, and mentored by teachers, Cisneros rose above the impoverished conditions that hold so many back. She graduated from Josephim Academy and Loyola University in Chicago, and then earned a master’s degree at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop program.
But college life was not easy for Cisneros. As a Chicano in primarily white college classes, she rebelled against the traditional reading assignments that just did not relate to her early life experiences as a Mexican-American. Out of frustration and anger, she chose to write about what others could not—her life growing up in a poor, urban, predominantly Puerto Rican Chicago neighborhood in Chicago—a place significantly different from those she read about in her college literature classes.
The result? Cisneros developed a highly distinctive voice that reflected her Mexican-American heritage, the voice of a poor, female child of Mexican parents growing up in big-city America. Speaking through Esperanza, Cisneros writes,
Everybody in our family has different hair. My Papa’s hair is like a broom, all up in the air. And me, my hair is lazy. It never obeys barrettes or bands. Carol’s hair is thick and straight. He doesn’t need to comb it. Nenny’s hair is slippery—slides out of your hand. And Kiki, who is the youngest, has hair like fur.
—Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street, “Hairs”
Here’s another piece from “A House of My Own.”
Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man’s house. Not a daddy’s. A house all my own. With my porch and my pillow, my pretty purple petunias. My books and my stories. My two shoes waiting beside the bed. Nobody to shake a stick at. Nobody’s garbage to pick up after.
—Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street, “A House of My Own”
Cisnero’s writing captivates. It is conversational, warm, and comfortable, as if she speaks directly to you. Her fragments and short, choppy sentences slide out in a steady, smooth stream, but they fit her intended purpose—to reflect the natural conversational tone of her childhood. Just kids sitting on the front stoop, swinging their bare-feet, and talking about life and hope. Subject these pieces to an academic sentence-combining activity and the charm, rhythm, and honesty disappear. Her writing is not unsophisticated. It is a social commentary, rich in description about the truth of life in poverty. She uses sentence fragments and short, choppy sentences effectively for her own writing purposes.
Golan moved to Palestine (pre-Israel) as an orphan at the age of fourteen (1947), leaving Poland and the difficult years of World War II behind. In 1951, he joined the Israeli Army in the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict, the background for this disturbing and powerful account of an Israeli’s soldier’s agonizing death.
In this brief quote, Golan conveys fear, shock, disbelief, and horror using fragments and choppy sentences to describe the last thoughts and minutes of a soldier’s life.
The Uzi’s a good weapon. Effective. For defense. For attack. In face-to-face-fighting. But today’s Friday. And there’s peace at the borders. And I’m only on watch over their road. They fired. Suddenly. Why’d they fire, suddenly? In war one fires. People get wounded. Killed. In the War of Independence. . . .
I’m breathing. With difficulty though. That’s because of the blood. I’m all wet. Maybe it suddenly rained. Sometimes it rains in September. Even before Yom Kippur. And I’m already damp. And flowing. All is flowing. And all is vanity. And you can never enter the same river twice. The Philosopher teacher. A great sage. . . .
And the leaves fall over my body. Soft. Purple. Like the water under my belly. Soft. Warm. How long can one flow like this. An hour. Two. Three. . . .
—Shammai Golan, “Ten Centimeters of Dust” in Laurel Holliday, Children of Israel, Children of Palestine: Our Own True
Golan communicates the gravity of this tragic situation as the soldier moves in and out of consciousness, hallucinating, remembering, regretting, wondering. Truncated sentences and stream of consciousness thinking create a stunning emotional impact on the reader. This must be what happens when someone thinks he is dying.
Bad Guys Turn Good
So, yes, there are rules for writing, but good writers often ignore these rules in order to develop their own style. Short, choppy sentences and sentence fragments can be effective in writing for specific purposes. Consider your purpose in writing when you use them.
Narrative writing with dialog seems especially suited for these two stylistic devices. People do not normally speak in full sentences in conversation. Instead they use body language, clipped sentences, repetition, and reliance on commonly known information to carry their meaning. They speak in fragments and in short, choppy sentences.
Academic writing, on the other hand, is not the place to overuse these structures. Teachers and professors prefer the more complex sentence structures that demonstrate higher levels of thinking and organization.
Sentence fragments and short, choppy sentences are not such bad guys after all. But use them wisely, as part of an overall strategy to vary your sentence structure. Tell your teacher or editor I told you so.
When have you used short, choppy sentences or fragments as stylistic strategies in your writing?
What authors have you read that use these two stylistic strategies effectively?
Finding good pizza on the Ocean City, NJ, Boardwalk is easy because the competition is fierce.
But many of us have our favorite place: Manco & Manco.
My niece, Lori, who now lives in Sedona, Arizona, managing the Alma de Sedona Inn, asked me to post a picture of Manco & Manco on Facebook. I guess she was a little nostalgic for the ocean breeze, the surf and sand, and the pizzzzzaaaaahhhhh!
Next, Lori asked me to post a picture of an M & M pizza that she could put on her refrigerator at work.
All this talk of pizza reminded me of the wonderful pizza I had in Rome.
Walking near Campo de’ Fiori on a beautiful, sunny, May day, we came to a pizza shop…actually a doorway entrance to a bakery with two standing-only tables outside.
Come on. We’re getting close. I can smell something delicious. Ah, it must be coming from this doorway…
Antico Forno Marco Roscioli, 34 Via dei Chiavari, Rome, Italy. (Forno means oven.)
You buy pizza by the inch (al tagio, by the slice) at forno Roscioli. I ordered “this much,” and the attendant cut off four inches of the margherita pizza, cut it in half, folded it over to make it sandwich-like, placed it in on brown waxed paper, and handed it to me. Delicious. Crispy. Flavorful. Hint of basil. Stringy cheese. Outstanding.
Tutto molto buono!
Wait, here comes another pizza hot out of the oven: pizza with tomatoes, ricotta, and fresh basil. Unfortunately, my four inches of margherita pizza had filled me up, and I couldn’t eat any more.
Here comes another: zucchini and cheese pizza. I think we’d better leave this pizza place! It is all too tempting.
Pizza. Now I’m hungry. Maybe I can sweet talk my dear, darling husband into running out for some now while I plan my next trip to Italy.
Small cities have big imaginations, and Ocean City, NJ (OCNJ) is no exception.
To launch its summer season, OCNJ holds its Annual Doo Dah Parade the first Saturday after Tax Day in April. It’s a
ridiculous fun event not to be missed. We celebrate because taxes have been paid, and summer is just around the corner. “Hallelujah” from us beach lovers.
Doo Dah Parades have a history in other areas of our country (Pasadena, Columbus), but they don’t quite measure up to the Ocean City parade.
The Ocean City
spectacle parade always has several lowpoints highlights. The first is the appearance of a nationally known celebrity as Grand Parade Marshall. In past years, Carol Channing, Mickey Rooney, Larry Storch, Captain Kangaroo, and Soupy Sales have been our esteemed parade leaders. This year, Chuck McCann, TV and stage actor and vocal artist, did the honors.
The second, but most important feature, basset hounds, garbed in their tax season finery, strut their stuff. Well over 400 of these floppy-eared, waddling doggies entertain the crowds as they
meander huff and puff wobble down Asbury Avenue and the Boardwalk. Some bassets sport humiliating outrageous costumes that make them want to run and hide their owners think are cute. Others, rigged up in more sartorial splendor, reign with an air of pomp and cirumstance, all the while looking down their snouts at those lesser-dressed, riff-raff, tag-a-longs. Take a look.
Of course, any parade with 400 to 500 dogs is bound to be a bit chaotic at points, and this
fiasco procession does not disappoint.
And, don’t forget. There are awards: “The Golden Hot Dog” award for local tri-state (NJ/PA/NY) participants and The “Double Doggy Doo Dah Glutton-for-Punishment Award.” How do you get the 4DGPA? Participate in another Doo Dah Day Parade somewhere in the country, and the honor is all yours
besides, no one else wants it.
And there’s more.
People Furry fellows and felines of all shapes and disguises flounce in this parade, too. Every year Sir Rapid T. Rabbit sponsors the annual furry (and a few feathers) critter consortium in the parade. Marching bands and vocalists Riding bands and musical groups roll up the Boardwalk throwing out sounds and love to the crowd. Sometimes they throw Schriver’s, Fralinger’s, and Steele’s Ocean City Salt Water Taffy to the sticky-fingers eager hands of candy-eaters freeloaders parade guests.
If you can’t afford wheels, you just have to do it the old-fashioned way and walk.
And when the parade’s all over, you get to have pizza at Manco & Manco. Okay, so there’s a line. What did you expect? It’s a warm, sunny Saturday in April. There’s been a parade on the Boardwalk. And people are out on the beach sticking their toes in the water. Of course, there’s a crowd…and a line. The wait is worth it.
Oh, I forgot to mention one thing. Dogs are not allowed on the Boardwalk.
What’s your favorite kind of parade?
A recipe for Chicken with Herb Roasted Tomatoes and Pan Sauce posted by Epicurious (recipe here) reminded me of a delicious Peasant Chicken dinner that I had in San Gimignano, Italy this past May.
Peasant Chicken is similar to Hunter Chicken (a cacciatore), but the unique feature of this dish is that it includes green olives.
Here is my photo of the dish as served in San Gimignano.
I searched the Internet as well as my own vast collection of cookbooks for recipes for peasant chicken and came up with several possibilities.
Epicurean.com has a recipe for Chicken with Green Olives that sounds like the dish that I had. That recipe is here.
I checked The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes and found Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes. Mayes’ recipe uses both black and green olives. I am sure that the recipe varies with regional preferences.
I will try the Frances Mayes’ recipe today and see how my rendition compares to the original in San Gimignano.
Grocery list: Chicken, wine from the Chianti region of Italy, Jersey Fresh cherry tomatoes, broad leaf parsley, black olives, and green olives. I already have extra-virgin olive oil. Consult the cookbook for exact quantities for these ingredients.
First, oven roast the cherry tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half, season with salt and pepper, and toss in garlic and herbs. Roast for a few hours on low oven heat. Here’s a peek at a bowl of the tomatoes (half the batch).
Now brown the chicken in olive oil and add a bit of chianti. Move the chicken and wine to a baking dish. Cover with a mix of the olives, parsley, and roasted tomatoes. Bake for thirty minutes.
Serve over nests of angel hair pasta or your own favorite pasta.
This is how my dish turned out. It smells so good, and it is delicious. It looks similar to the San Gimignano version, but I think the San Gimignano recipe uses white wine and more olive oil. Regardless, this recipe is definitely a keeper.
Next week, I will try the Epicurean.com recipe and see which dish comes closer to the one Mama made in Italy.
YOUR TURN: Have you tried to duplicate a dish from another country or another area of our country?
Data: 430,802 bloggers wrote 964,269 posts today on WordPress.Com. Add all the new posts on Blogger.com, and you have an overwhelming number of blog posts to read.
Who has time to read them all?
Freshly Pressed by WordPress features excellent posts of the last day or so, and mash-ups by individual bloggers help to identify other good ones. Here is a Saturday sampling of my own blogosphere wanderings this week.
Humor: Leave it to Wana112 groupie, Laird Sapir, to find some off-the-wall humorous oddity to write about. In this post, she writes about Party Rats. Read her tongue-in-cheek post to learn how you can use these little critters for night blogging. http://www.lairdsapir.com/2012/07/lets-party-rats/
Writing: Barbara Forte Abate reviews the true meaning of some common expressions we use in everyday speaking and writing. I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag by telling you which expressions she writes about; just take a look-see for yourself. I think you’ll enjoy reading her comments at http://barbaraforteabate.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/hair-of-the-dog
Dogs: Speaking of “Hair of the Dog,” here’s a post by Cassandra Heck (my stepdaughter) about her dog, Luca. Luca is a comedian in canine wrappings. This 90-pound behemoth wraps his owner and family right around his little toe. He gives lots of love in return, so the trade-off is worth it. Read about him at http://cassandraheck.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/this-crazy-thing-called-luca/
Culture and Literature: Jacqui Talbot, storyteller extraordinaire, writes down memorable Choctaw tales as told to her by her grandfather. This particular tale tells about great waves crashing down on Choctaw land and destroying everything. One survivor, who had predicted a catastropic flood, had built a raft in the mountains and survived. This tale is mesmerizing. http://justjacqui2.com/2012/07/
Parenting: How do blogs and parenting connect? “Homemadekids” suggests a number of ways bloggers can help parents, from passing on recipes to sharing ideas about how to bring up children to become thoughtful adults. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/focus-on-parenting-blogs/
Photos: I lived near San Francisco for a number of years and always loved going over the Golden Gate Bridge. Sometimes it was in fog, and sometimes it was in the clear; either way, it was always beautiful. This particular photograph is spectacular. http://ilikephotoblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/golden-gate-bridge-san-francisco/
Travel: “Where’s my backpack?” writes about the Franciscan Monastery of Mount St. Sepulchre in the Brookland neighborhood in northeastern Washington, DC. The Franciscan Order, established in the 12th century, was charged with caring for all Christian shrines in the Holy Land. The buildings and grounds of this monastery, built later to provide “a taste of the Holy Land,” features replicas of those shrines and chapels in the Holy Land.
This monastery is on my list of things to see before I travel (I hope) to Israel in December. “Where’s my backpack?” does a great job giving descriptive detail, historical background, and photos of this site. Read both posts. http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/07/25/catacombs-and-old-byzantium-i/ and http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/07/25/catacombs-and-old-byzantium-ii/
Recipes: Panini Girl has an obsession with Italy and with food, two of my favorite topics. Recently she posted a recipe for a tomato tart (July 6, 2012), and this week she put up a recipe for a delicious-looking zucchini tart. I went out today, bought all the ingredients I needed, and made one up for dinner. It’s as delicious as it looks! The recipe for the zucchini tart was posted on July 26, 2012. Here’s a picture of my attempt.
Recipes: What to do with those extra blueberries? You have more than enough to make my easy-peasie blueberry tart (recipe here), so why not make this blueberry…umm…
casserole pie found on the Three Clever Sisters blog on July 26, 2012. This is a great pie for a big family gathering.
Cats: And finally, no mash-up of mine would ever be complete without the feline connection. Cats just make me happy. Last week on Saturday Silliness, I posted “Where do cats sleep?” Andmycat.com posted a collection of delightful kitties here: http://www.andmycat.com/2012/07/todays-featured-kitties-july-27.html
YOUR TURN: What was your favorite blog this week?
Something isn’t right on Concho Mountain.
Someone or something is out there.
Silki knows it, and Silki’s horse, Smiles, knows it.
Silki’s active imagination and Smiles’ skittishness force a hasty retreat back to the safe confines of the family compound.
Silki races to tell her “extreme tale” (another one!) to Birdie, her best friend (former best friend?), but Birdie’s mind is already on her new, cool, more sophisticated (and normal) volleyball friends. Besides, Birdie is secretly just a little freaked out by Silki’s fantastic stories of a revenge-seeking Ancient Ant Man who demands the return of sacred relics they have collected near Red Rocks on the Rez (Navajo reservation).
This engaging book, written by Jodi Lea Stewart, has several themes. Being an adolescent, one theme, is not easy with its sometimes wobbly friendships, divided loyalties, and changing interests. Add some mystery, let’s say scary mystery, and you have a spell-binding story. Now add Navajo culture and traditions, a few characters with long-held secrets, a bit of odd behavior now and then, a kidnapping, and… I’m breathless!
Open the book to any page, and you will find exquisite writing with descriptions fresh and alive. The story begins on “a sweet pepperminty day in the high country when spring teases winter into moving over a little” and goes on from there. Upper elementary and junior high teachers will delight in using this book and having students pick out their favorite passages.
Here’s a little teaser.
What was I doing? It was more than just boredom egging me on. It was like I was uncorking a bottle and all the troubled Wol-la-chee liquid was pouring out and I couldn’t stop it no matter what. A thrilling craziness pulled me like a magnet.
The thrilling craziness in this book kept me up ’til the wee hours of the morning. I loved the book, and now I am sending it to my twelve-year-old granddaughter who lives in Arizona.
Hurry up, Jodi, and finish the second book in the Summer of the Ancient series. I want to know what happens next.