Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dog-Gone Puzzle: The Answers

How many fictional dogs did you name?  Here are answers:

Top Row:  Clifford, The Big Red Dog; Hank, the Cow Dog; Tiger (The Brady Bunch); Underdog; Blue (Blue's Clues); Lassie

Second Row:  Odie (Garfield); Perdy and Pongo (101 Dalmatians); Goofy; Ribsy (Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary); Nana (Peter Pan); Astro (The Jetsons)

Small insets:  Snoopy; Marmaduke

Third Row:  Max (How the Grinch Stole Christmas); Einstein (Back to the Future); Slinky (Toy Story); Hooch (Turner and Hooch)

Fourth Row:  Toto (The Wizard of Oz); Daisy (Dagwood and Blondie); Lady and Tramp; Pluto; Spud McKenzie (Budweiser commercials); Scooby-Doo

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Dog-Gone Puzzle

Dogs have always been a part of our household.  They are companions, friends, comforters and protectors.  Fictional families seem to feel the same way.  Below are 26 dogs from books, TV and movies (2 pictures contain 2 dogs). Take a trip down memory lane and see how many you can name.

I'll hide the comments for a bit so you can't peek at others' answers.  Answers will be posted Saturday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Needlework Tuesday

I have an issue with obsessing on a craft and ignoring all others.  At the moment, a stack of sewing projects are patiently waiting while I try every single knitting project on Pinterest.  

Issue #2:  My minute attention span tends to lead to a stack of half-done projects because I want to try the next one.  

Because my knitting skills are still in the beginning stages, most of the projects get started, goofed up, restarted, goofed up . . . .   All in all, not a lot of progress.  I do have a growing stack of dishcloths that need to be blocked and have the ends woven in; and the beginning of a scarf.

I'm working the "Feather and Fan" pattern in a soft, cotton yarn - ecru with purple and green flecks.  I think I will complete the scarf in two pieces, joined at the center so that both ends will be scalloped in the same direction.

But before I got this scarf finished, I found the "Waves" pattern and couldn't wait to try it.

I have struggled mightily with this pattern.  I have restarted this project at least 15 times - no exagerations!  The luxurious, red "Touch of Silk" yarn to too gorgeous to waste, so it is back in a ball and waiting for me to either find a new project, or get the patience to try this again. Do other knitters have patterns that they just can't seem to get right?

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what others are stitching this week.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Reviews

When I reviewed Sara Gruen's first book, Water for Elephants, I commented about how put off I was by the blurb on the inside flap:
I got as far as "circus", "depression", "parentless and penniless" and I was turned off.  If I bothered to read any further, I would also have shied away from a story about "freaks, grifters and misfits".
But once I started reading I fell into the story and loved it.  After that, I believed I had learned a lesson about judging a book by it's setting.  But when I picked up At the Water's Edge, I cringed - a story about hunting for the Loch Ness Monster?  How stupid was this going to be?  

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster.
The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed.

It took a bit to get started.  Maddie is surrounded by such unlikeable characters that it took me a while to realize she was different.  But when I did - splash! - I feel into the story head first.  This book contains surprise twists, a tale of friendships forged through adversity, a history lesson and a beautiful love story.  Lesson learned - again.  A well-written story is not confined by where and when.  Ms. Gruen - I promise not to doubt your next book!

Not so with my next pick.  I probably won't give Elizabeth Strout's next book a passing glance.  I can't believe I wasted a Book of the Month pick on this.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

This story contained virtually nothing.  It was boring and depressing.  The only reason I gave it one star was because there was an occasional "glimmer" in the writing - details hinted at but ultimately left untold so you could make up your own, infinitely more intresting, story.

To recover from my disappointment with Lucy Barton, I turned to a reliable, old friend - Nancy Drew.  Nancy always minds her manners, always helps others and always solves the case.  This volume was written in the 40's and the reliance on "snail mail" and telegrams to investigate the clues was comical, and almost frustrating, in the age of Google.  But, I have to admit, Nancy solved it before I did - so some things stand the test of time.

The Secret in the Old Attic by Carolyn Keene
Nancy Drew races against time to unravel the clues in a dead man’s letters. If she succeeds, Philip March and his little granddaughter can be saved from financial ruin. Following obscure clues, Nancy undertakes a search for some unpublished musical manuscripts which she believes are hidden in the dark, cluttered attic of the rundown March mansion. But someone else wants them enough to put many frightening obstacles in Nancy’s way. Will she outwit a trio of ruthless thieves and solves the Marches’ problems?

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Mystery in the Cemetery

My sister texted me this afternoon and instructed me to go to the local cemetery at 3:30 and await further instructions.  Whaaaat?  Has she been reading too many Nancy Drew novels?  But - Big Sis said go, so I went.

That's my car, parked at the cemetery gate.  Beautiful day for sitting in a graveyard!

I received further instructions via text:  my contact would arrive in a gold Pontiac within ten minutes.  A clandestine meeting with a stranger in a cemetery?  I questioned if I needed to flash my lights or otherwise signal the mysterious Pontiac, so they would know "it's on".  (Maybe I've seen The Hangover too many times.)  Surely he/she would need a way to identify me among all the other cars parked in the cemetery at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon.  Sis thought a cheerful smile and wave would be the perfect signal.

So I waited . . . I assessed all the entrances and exits, in case I needed to make a quick escape . . . I synchronized my watch with the car clock . . . I checked the reception on my shoe phone (if you are too young to recognized the reference, check NetFlix for Get Smart reruns) . . . I read some headstones . . . until a gold van turned into the drive.  "The Pontiac has landed", I texted Sis.  The van door slid open and out came . . .

. . . an undercover florist! 
Well, maybe not so undercover, since I knew her, but she did step out holding these beautiful roses -- for me!  

So why is the florist delivering my flowers in a cemetery?  Because I live in the boonies.  The florist is located in a town about 10 miles from my house and they don't normally make deliveries to rural addresses.  But, she had promised a distant customer she would deliver a Valentine wreath to their loved-one's grave in the cemetery near my house, so she agreed to deliver my arrangement at the same time.  Only in a small town!

Thank you, Sis, for setting up a little intrigue for your mystery-loving sister and cheering up my afternoon.