Saturday, November 29, 2014

P. D. James and Agatha Christie

P. D. James, a very popular British novelist, just died a few days ago.  Since I did a post stating that I prefer non-fiction books, I now must tell you that there are many writers of fiction that I admire and this is one of them! 

image from Wikipedia ...first UK edition.

This was her last novel and you might recognize the title. It was filmed as a TV movie and shown on Masterpiece Theatre just recently.  The story is a continuation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and you might guess that it involves a murder mystery! 

"Cover Her Face" was the first novel published by P.D. James in 1962.  (It was her first "Adam Dalgliesh novel...another TV series you should remember from Masterpiece Theatre!)  When I read that title, I found that interesting since I knew that phrase from Agatha Christie's excellent story, "Sleeping Murder: Miss Marple's Last Case".   The line is this:

 "Cover her face, mine eyes dazzle. She died young.". seems that Agatha Christie wrote her story first, in the 1940's but did not want it published until after her death.  You may read more details about it just here.

Agatha Christie is also another one of the best fiction writers!  I love her books and stories.  Yes, I know I told you to read non-fiction books, and I still want you to...but you have my permission to read works of fiction, as long as you check with me to make sure that they are the crème de la crème of books, okay?  (And I love it...the computer put that little accent over crème for me...ha! did it again!)   And please, I HOPE you know I am teasing you about getting my permission to read any book, I am JUST KIDDING, I hope you all enjoy reading as much as I eyes won't allow me to read as much as I would like!

"The Mystery of Agatha Christie" by Gwen Robyns is a biography of Agatha Christie that I read once and really enjoyed.  I see that P. D. James has her autobiography under the title "Time To Be In Earnest".  Both of these books are ones that I would like to read.  Agatha Christie and P. D. James were both excellent writers and I highly recommend their books!  And you can find them in the FICTION category!
Although, you might notice I still managed in get in a few plugs for a biography and an autobiography.

Thanks to all who left such sweet comments on my last post about Christopher's birthday!  He was very pleased to read them and asked me to pass along his appreciation.  Thank you all very much.

One of the novels by P. D. James is "The Lighthouse" and that is why I have chosen the photo above for you.  It is the lighthouse at Beachy Head in Eastbourne, England.  It is another Adam Dalgliesh mystery, and I want to read that one too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Birthday to Christopher!

Some people have a birthday very close to Thanksgiving...and our son is one of them! (Sometimes, it is on Thanksgiving day itself!)
Wishing our son a happy birthday and a wonderful year ahead! 
Christopher with his Nana and Granddad!
Christopher with his Papa!
Framed Photo at C's Grandparents' house in England!
That smile! Christopher was a photographer's dream subject as a child, he was always smiling. 
Christopher, you are the BABE!  And don't you ever forget it!

Christopher with his girlfriend, Shoghik.

This was Richard's birthday cake & ice cream when we were in England but it was good, so C. can share it!
"Cotton Fields" by Creedence Clearwater Revival...that sounds like a good choice as a musical selection for this post!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2014

You Know You Are A Non-Fiction Fan When...

"The Boys In The Boat" is a book by Daniel James Brown.  It is about the young men from the United States Rowing Team in the 1936 Olympics, who against great odds, won the Gold Medal! 
The 1936 Olympics...everyone should remember them as the Olympics where Jesse Owens won four gold medals for track! (Also, Louis Zamperini was on the same track team and recalled that Jesse Owens looked out for him while they were in Berlin. Louis called him "a prince of a guy".  So these men on the rowing team were in the same group of athletes as Jesse Owens and Louis Zamperini!)
 Now, I have only found out about this book but it is most certainly on my list of books that I will read very soon! (And it looks as if it has now being made into a movie, so look out for it!)
How do you know if you are a big fan of non-fiction books?  When you look up a book and see the comments made by other non-fiction authors and you recognize every one of those authors!
The following is what some of my favorite authors had to say about "The Boys In The Boat"...
" I really can't rave enough about this book. It's like Chariots of Fire with oars."    .....David Laskin (Author of "The Children's Blizzard"...a fascinating book, but a very sad one, which I do recommend.)
"The Boys In the Boat" is not only a great and inspiring true story; it is a fascinating work of history".  Nathaniel Philbrick (author of "In the Heart of the Sea".)
"...a book you will recommend to your best friends".  James Bradley (author of "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Flyboys".)
"Well told history, packed with suspense and a likable bunch of underdogs at the heart of an improbable triumph."...Timothy Egan, author of "The Worst Hard Time"
There was also a review of the book by the author Mitchell Zuckoff (who wrote "Lost In Shangri-La" and "Frozen In Time")...but I can't find that quote for you!  (If I find it, I will edit this and let you know what it is.)
This makes me also want to read the other books by Daniel James Brown.  They are:
"The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Story of A Donner Party Bride"
"Under A Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894"
You know you are a non-fiction fan when you want to tell everyone about all the great non-fiction books out there AND you hate it when you read the review written by Amazon that says..."a nonfiction book that reads like a novel." !!!  NO!!!  Please, I cringe every single time I read or hear reads like a well written book of non-fiction!
Bring on the true stories!  I can't get enough of them.

These photos are from last weekend from our trip to Stone Mountain. That last photo was taken from the parking lot and we even like the view from there! We always say good-bye to the mountain until next time.   We really do love it so.  I guess you can tell!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jimmy Ruffin, Great Singer


Hello, my friends!  Richard and I have not had much time for fun lately but we did get to Stone Mountain last weekend on a very cloudy day.  The leaves would have been better in bright sunshine but hey, they were still nice anyway.  I took the above photo of the Gristmill there. You can always tell my photos: they are always slightly crooked and most of the time, out of  focus!

I texted my son this week with this..."Did you see Jimmy Ruffin died?".  It occurred to me that not too many of his age would recognize the name but of course, Christopher does! (Christopher even did a guest post about the music from the summer of '66.)  Jimmy Ruffin  was one of the great Motown singers...he had a big hit in the summer of 1966 with "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted".  It has been covered by many singers...I remember Paul Young's version.  And as much as I love Paul Young,  you just cannot beat Jimmy Ruffin singing it...

If you click on his highlighted name above, that will take you to his link on Wikipedia and you will read  that it was difficult for him since his younger brother, David Ruffin had such popularity with The Temptations. ("My Girl" And "Ain't Too Proud To Beg"  were some of the big hits with David Ruffin as lead singer.)  This makes me think of how it must have been for him...not only because his brother was so successful but also since in that same time period the market was absolutely swamped with so much great music!  Look it up! It will amaze you!

 Jimmy Ruffin moved to England in the 80's and performed there with great success. He died this past week in Las Vegas, Nevada.  May his soul rest in peace.

My son and I loved a TV movie made about The Temptations simply entitled "The Temptations", it was made in 1998.  If you ever get the chance, make sure and see it, it is excellent. (I've told you this before, but hey, not everybody listens to me, but the SMART ones do!)

 Have a great weekend and for my American friends, hope you do not have too much snow and are looking forward to a happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Unbroken" Movie Premiere/ "Unbroken" For Young Adults

If you have been reading my blog, you will know of my great admiration for Louis Zamperini and how much I am looking forward to the movie, "Unbroken".  The movie will be released in the USA on Christmas Day this year but it had its premiere in Australia yesterday.  (The movie was filmed there.) 
When Angelina Jolie told Louis Zamperini that she wanted to make this movie so that everyone could see how exceptional he was, he told her, "No, make the movie to show everyone how exceptional THEY are".  That quote does not surprise me one that interview above if you can, it is an interview that Angelina Jolie gave on the red carpet at the Sydney premiere.
Also, I was very pleased to see that Laura Hillenbrand must be reading my blog! Look at this...
          Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive

I have said that as much as I liked "Unbroken", I truly felt that it was for adults only, so I am glad that the version is available.  It looks as if there are lots of photos too, so you know I will be getting this book also!

Now, I have mentioned about the book "Devil At My Heels" which was the first book that I read about Mr. Zamperini.  Just days before he died, he completed another book with David Rensin entitled, " Don't Give Up, Don't Give In:  Lessons From An Extraordinary Life".  This book was just released today... and this book will also be on my bookshelf!

And it may only be a small thing, but I see that Clay Zamperini, who is the grandson of Louis, will be in the Unbroken movie as an Olympic torchbearer.  This pleases me very much since I can just imagine how much it would have pleased Louis Zamperini!

And my goodness, the actor who plays Louis Zamperini is Jack O'Connell and I heard his real English accent on the red carpet and it is amazing to hear him in the movie trailers for "Unbroken"!
How in the world do British actors do such great American accents? (His mother is Irish and his father is English).  I can't figure it out!

The bird in this photo reminds me of something from Mr. Zamperini's story ...but I can't tell you what it will have to read the books or see the movie!


Saturday, November 15, 2014


Did you see on the news that the Andy Warhol painting of Elvis Presley  just sold for over 82 million dollars?  Also, the first recording that Elvis ever made was "My Happiness" and it will go up for auction on January 8th, which would have been his 80th birthday.   Instead of thinking of how much money that record will fetch, I am only reminded of how much Elvis gave away in his lifetime and how he took great pleasure in doing so.  (Click on that link below from YouTube...Elvis Presley-Generous Man.)

More than anything else, Elvis was from the South.  This might not mean one thing to anyone else, but growing up in the 60's, this meant the world to me.  He was SOUTHERN and to hear him speak in his genuine accent is just a pleasure to my ear. (There are and always have been people who like to make fun of people from the South.)  Speaking of which, if anyone wants to say one bad thing about Elvis, please go elsewhere, thank you.

And don't even get me started on his singing voice!  What an incredible talent! And I was never lucky enough to see Elvis Presley on stage, but I can tell you this...when I worked at the travel agency, we received a few magazines from Las Vegas and in one of them, a columnist wrote that he had never cared for Elvis but went along to one of his concerts as he thought he should write about him.  This man became one of his biggest fans and stated that if you had ever experienced his power over an audience, it was something that you would never forget.

I really liked his movies from the 60's.  Now, people make fun of them, I know, but they were perfect fun for a kid like me!  And you could tell that he liked children, it just came across in his movies.
I do think that his acting talent was much better than he was given credit for...I really liked him in those earlier movies that he made, before he made all those movies in the 60's that I remember!
Jailhouse Rock was from 1957...a very good year!

Elvis loved Hawaii, so I have a photo of some orchids for you here.  Aloha!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor?

Here's the matter what is happening in my life, I always have a song for it.  Recently, I had quite a bit of extra typing to do at work and combined with some problems with side effects of some medication, I could hardly lift my right arm. It made it difficult to drive, type or even to turn a doorknob.  Oh dear.  It is better now, thank goodness! Still, for a while there, it was very painful.
Now, at night...when I tried to sleep, that brought on more troubles! What do you do with your arms at night while you are sleeping? Are they down by your side? Do you throw one arm over your head and the other one behind you? You don't even think about it until you have such a degree of pain that it makes you think about it!  So...for me, I kept thinking of the song (sea shanty, really) called, "What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor"...only for me, I changed it to "What Do You With An Aching Arm"!  Ha!  Do I have a song for everything that happens in my life? Of course! Doesn't everyone?

What is a sea shanty?  It is a song that sailors would sing to make their work go faster and I believe to make their lives more pleasant.  John from his blog "Reflections" just wrote a post about sea shanties!  Go and read his post just here!  He has a picture of a sailing ship along with a diagram of all the parts of a ship too!  I don't know why I am so crazy about the sea when I am such a daughter of many generations of the farmers of the land!

Ha! And Richard has always sung this as "What DO you do with a drunken sailor, it looks like it is, What WILL you do!  Oh well, if you are singing just for yourself, you can change things around as much as you like!  Keep a song in your heart, always! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Collecting Seeds At Panola Mountain "Power of Flight"


Since I just did my last post about Oscar Hammerstein, it seems appropriate to quote from one of his songs....

"The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,

And it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky!"

Wait, you are thinking that perhaps this does not look like corn to you, but more like wheat? It is Indian grass and it does remind me very much of stalks of wheat. (In this photo, I have reached up and stripped it of the seeds!) 

In the English language, the word "corn" used to refer to any grain but especially wheat.  When the first English settlers came to America, they called the grain that Native Americans ate, "Indian corn", but eventually the "Indian" was dropped and it was just called corn.

As I did last year, I volunteered to collect grass seeds from the "Power of Flight" area at Panola Mountain State Park.  (The seed will be stored until Spring and will then be planted for the birds and butterflies.) What a glorious day!  It started out quite cool but when the sun came out, it warmed up considerably.  There were only three volunteers along with Phil, the Park Ranger.  (There had been a larger group the weekend before, but I couldn't make that one!)

We collected seeds from Indian grass and also, little Bluestem.  We placed the seeds carefully in the clean pillowcases provided for us and we did this for hours as Phil told us what birds we were hearing, the names of butterflies that we saw and all kinds of facts of other words, it was heavenly for me! 
(One of the young volunteers arrived late and when we all turned to go back to the parking lot to show him the way to the grass seed area, a very large buck came from just behind us! It had a very large "rack" and it was quite easily the largest white tailed deer I have ever seen! Sorry, no time for a must know it has to be fast to escape the deer hunters here.)

In my first photo on this post, that is the nature center building at Panola Mountain State Park. It has now been painted a different color and they no longer have that painting of Panola Mountain on the front door.  That makes me a bit sad since I always liked it but never mind, the painting now has a home on this blog posting!  And you will never guess, I just found out that it was painted by none other than our friendly ranger guide on Saturday!  Good job, Phil!  And ahem....I hope I didn't drive you TOO crazy on Saturday.  My blogging friends will tell you I am really a very shy and reserved kind of woman.  Right, friends?  HA!  You all know how much I LOVE my monadnocks!  I will talk your EAR OFF if you let me!

Oh! And you might remember that I have been very much bothered by a bad cough for weeks which has left me with some severe breathing problems.  The wonderful thing...being outside in all that fresh air on Saturday just did me a world of good, truly it did!  I think I recognize that I need to be around Stone Mountain, Arabia Mountain and Panola Mountain, not just for my mental health but for my physical health as well!

Hey! I found someone singing "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" for you! Man, it makes me feel good to hear this from someone so young.  I love how she sings it too. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Oscar Hammerstein


When Richard and I visited London in September, we spent several hours inside Southwark Cathedral.  Richard was very happy with his camera, snapping photos as we walked along (and  the Cathedral asks for a small amount, two pound fifty, for a photography pass, which Richard was very happy to pay!) As we admired the windows,  the architecture, and the sculptures, we also read many of the memorial plaques within the church.  I wonder if you can imagine how I felt when I saw this one...

    I adore  Oscar Hammerstein!  Please tell me that you recognize his name! (Click on his name there to read more about this remarkable man!)  If I say "Rodgers and Hammerstein", that might ring a bell with you.  They wrote beautiful music together!  Richard Rodgers wrote the music and Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics for some of the most famous musicals that you know...
Here is a listing of them....         Oklahoma! 
                                                    State Fair
                                                     South Pacific
                                                      The King and I
                                                       Flower Drum Song
                                                       The Sound of Music

Before teaming with Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein also wrote the lyrics to tunes written  by Jerome Kern.  I loved the story of his wife overhearing someone say that "Old Man River" was written by Jerome Kern.  Her response was this: "My HUSBAND wrote "Old Man River"...Jerome Kern wrote "dum, dum...dum, dum,"...
Don't you just love that!
   (Now, I hope this is a true story, it sounds like it could be, and I do like it so!)

What is the connection of Southwark Cathedral in London to Oscar Hammerstein?  Apparently, he loved the church and visited it quite often.  He fell in love with the choral singing and left money in his will for the church singers.

There are many videos I could have here with the music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, but I have chosen "You'll Never Walk Alone" which is very famous in Liverpool as their football anthem.  I believe that they have this over the gate as you walk into the stadium there, I am sure someone from Liverpool could verify this for me!  (I will correct this, if I am wrong!)  The song itself is from their musical, "Carousel" but my husband suggested the version by "Gerry and the Pacemakers" and I agree, I love this and I love the video!

I remember reading somewhere that some consider Oscar Hammerstein overly sweet but that he was very sincere and earnest in his choice of words.  Sweet, sincere and kind of guy.

"I know the world is filled with troubles and many injustices. But reality is as beautiful as it is ugly...I think it is just as important to sing about beautiful mornings as it is to talk about slums. I just couldn't write anything without hope in it."   Oscar Hammerstein

If you are wondering about the word "lyrist" on the plaque instead of "lyricist"...apparently, the words mean the same, according to the Collins/English dictionary! Hey, I don't know, I just looked it up!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Getting Better/It's A Wonderful LIfe

Hello, my friends!  Notice that I did not call you my blogging friends, I just consider you all friends now. (I totally stole this from Scriptor Senex but I do agree with it, so I hope he will not mind me stating the same thing on my blog!) Thanks to all who left comments on my last post, the one that was written by my husband!  He still has not finished answering all the comments!  Richard takes such great care in everything he does, including his writing.  Ha! You should read the letters that we wrote to each other for all those years....his are so well written and mine are...well, let's just say, that they won't win any prizes!  (They are funny though...they must have kept him interested!)

I was thankful that Richard wrote a post for me since I have been having a bit of bother with my health recently! I had an illness in October and then, I had some serious side effects of some of the medications.  Go and read the side effects of any medicine you have...I think I had all of those, no half measures for me! At times, the muscle pains that I had meant that I couldn't sleep and combine that with vision problems also meant that I couldn't use the computer.  AND I lost my voice!  This was much more upsetting to me than I thought it would be, since I really do like to sing.  (Okay, I like to talk too, so sue me!)  Still, let's say that my intense coughing had a musical sound to it, we will say that anyway!

Here's the thing...I actually had folks tell me that it might take longer to get over an illness since I AM NOT A SPRING CHICKEN ANYMORE.   Well.  I am so glad to know this...this makes just all the difference in the world...NOT!  This reminds me of something that I want to share with you...

Ephesians 4:29New International Version (NIV)
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I know that I am no longer a spring chicken!  I am the little red hen, getting things done!
(Please tell me that you know the story of The Little Red Hen! Maybe children are not told that story anymore!)  To be honest, I really didn't realize how much I do in the course of a day, until it was such a struggle to get through each day.  The worst thing for me, this came after our trip to England, where I felt so healthy and happy!  Anybody remember the beginning of "It's A Wonderful Life", where the angel Clarence is being sent to help George Bailey?  "Is he sick?, Clarence asks and he is told..."No, worse, DISCOURAGED".  And if you don't know the movie, "It's A Wonderful Life", then do yourself a favor, and make sure you see it.   I know it by heart and it is one my of favorites.

Getting better...that is me!  I just wanted to let my friends know why my blogging has been a bit sporadic lately.  Hopefully, it won't be long until you see my long off-the-subject, strange rambling comments again!

Look, here we are in London!  Richard took this in a mirror in one of the public rooms at the hotel in London. 
 It's A Wonderful Life!