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Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: "All Under Heaven" by Pearl S. Buck - 1973

I love Ms. Buck's books that are about China, but I never read any of her other ones.  This one was only 50 cents, so I thought I would give it a try.  It didn't sound all that interesting, and it was definitely not the kind of book I would pick out if it wasn't bu a favorite author.

It's about a man who worked for our embassy in China for 25 years, who is forced to come home with his Russian wife and 2 children when the Communists took over China. n They decide to try to live in the US--basically a foreign land for all of them.

Nothing really happened that was interesting to this single woman with no children until the last few chapters.  The man decides to write about his experiences in China as a warning to us, here.  He wanted to promote the possibility of peace--if we chose it.

When his book was finished, he went on a book tour.  All along the way, he kept encountering those who would say, "Just nuke them." and the rest of the people who were silent.  When he got home, he was so discouraged from what he saw.

Within the last few pages, Ms. Buck wrote:

"I have come back realizing that history and facts mean nothing here.  To our people everything is a matter of feeling and emotion, a curious mixed sort of idealism that is powerful because in some ways it is very sound.  Bur it is unrelated to the facts of the world.  The problem is much more severe than I thought.  People cannot learn by hearing,  because there is no foundation of knowledge.  They do not read history.  They read only newspapers, which deal with today's events, but these events are the result of yesterday's and it is necessary to know those which come first."

Ms. Buck, in the epilogue, explains that she wrote this due ti China opening her doors to us.  She wanted us to try to understand each other.  Things haven't changed, though.  We have managed to keep the peace with China, but it is questionable whether the average American knows or cares anything about them.  It is also questionable whether the average American knows or cares about much of anything at all--let alone our history.  Her words still apply, today, sadly.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: "The Comedians" by Graham Greene - 1966

This is not a comedy.  The title refers to people playing a part in life.  It is a good book, but not his best.  It takes place in Haiti a few years after the dictator, Baby Doc, took over the country.  Our main character, Mr. Brown, is a hotel owner that is suffering from the lack of tourists.  He meets up with Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones.  What follows next is violence, political intrigue, secret police encounters, rebels and secret love.  I liked this book for the story, but I liked it even more for bringing me into the world of Haiti under its dictatorship.  One of the best part of good fiction is that it can bring a different time and place to life.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tickseed Sunflower

These are my favorite wild sunflowers.  They grow profusely in Parma, so a few years ago, I gathered up some seeds and spread them around my yard.  Would you believe--the deer leave them alone everywhere but in my yard!  Enough of them survived that I have a few in my garden.  One year, I put them in containers on my patio, and that is what is pictured.  They do great in the pots.

The only problem with the is the tickseeds.  The seeds have little antennas that stick to your clothing.  It is a small price to pay for such lovely flowers.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


I love flowers in my yard, and so do the deer.  I have a huge deer problem.  My options for landscaping are limited, so that is shy I allow wingstem to take over, in places.  It is a common native wildflower in Ohio.  They are a hardy perennial that grow taller than me.  If you don't want them that tall, you can just cut them down in the spring.  They will regrow, but a shorter.

They are in full bloom right now.  The deer don't like them, but the bees sure do.  When they are done blooming, I will chop them all down, so they don't go to seed. They spread readily.

As you can see, they are resistant to drought, too.  They are wilty in the garden I don't water, but they still bloom and thrive.  With a little rain, they will perk right up.

They are far from my favorite flower, but they work well.

Book Review: "Collision Bend" by Les Roberts

I found this one on the sales rack at the library for only 50 cents.  Who can resist that?  Les Roberts is Cleveland's own detective book author.  I've read a number of his books and enjoyed them all.  They are lovely junk food for the reader's soul.  Totally enjoyable, well-written mysteries that take place in Cleveland.

I loved the Cleveland references in the beginning, but by the end, I was so wrapped up in the story that I thought they slowed the pace down.  I don't need to know about the Lorain Carnegie bridge--I need to know who dun it.

This one was unpredictable and fun.  The ending had a particularly Cleveland flavor to it. The story was fast paced, unpredictable and creative.  Great book for those who like detective stories whether you live in Cleveland or not.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Review: "Burmese Days" by George Orwell - 1934

I found this one and Half Price Books, so I took a gamble.  It was a good gamble, too.  The story takes place in the British colony in Burma.  Our main character is British, but he likes the natives.  His friends disagree with him, and that sets the tone for the whole story.  It is about race relations, loneliness, desperation and what some people would call love.  I wouldn't.  They thought they were in love, but there were other factors driving their actions--like loneliness and desperation.

It is a very sad story with a sad, but appropriate ending.  I liked how Orwell aptly described the life in Burma at the time--both the culture and the political atmosphere.  (He had lived there for a while.)  He didn't get all caught up in the description, but wove it into the story in an artistic way.  He brought Burma to life.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Garden Update

I really don't expect anyone to read these garden updates.  I really just do them for myself.  That being said, it has been a pretty good garden this year.

My tomatoes have blight, but I have still been picking plenty, and it looks like they will survive and give me at a small but steady supply until the frost.  I have made plenty of salsa, and I just love it.  Also, the cherry tomatoes make great sun dried tomatoes, and that is what I have been doing with them.  I just put them in the food dehydrator with...

My green beans. I used to freeze them, but I have a smaller freezer, now.  I prefer to freeze my salsa and freezer pickles.  Though most of my green bean plants were killed upon sprouting, I got a fair amount of very strong pole beans that have been furnishing me plenty.

My cukes and definitely slowing down, and some of the plants appear to be dead.  I had a great harvest of them, and the bulk ended up as the above mentioned freezer pickles.  I will be enjoying them for months to come.

My ground cherries are scrumptious and I have been getting about a handful a day.  Most of them I eat right in the garden.

I have had so many peppers!  Whatever I don't use right away in salsa and such go right to the food dehydrator.  They are another thing I used to freeze, but they are just as good dried.

I haven't harvested any tomatillos, yet, but they are loaded with blossoms and fruit.  I have a feeling I will have plenty of them, in spite of not having many plants.

I started harvesting my dry beans, and there are still lots on the plants that are still growing.

The zukes are mediocre, but since I have enough plants, that isn't a problem.

I will have some impressive winter squash, too.