This Week Has Been a Blur

Here’s what I’ve written, read, and done this week. Just another peek into my everyday life.

This Week in Writing

I haven’t written much since I last posted here. Whenever I am working on a major blog post it’s hard to get really serious about another one at the same time. I’m hoping to publish the big one tomorrow. It’s partly author interview and partly book reviews. I’ve been corresponding with local children’s author Beryl Reichenberg for a few weeks now, and  I’m now in the final stages of compiling all the material and getting it written. Here are the posts I have completed since I last posted here:

  • Special Education Teachers Are Special: A tribute to special education teachers I’ve known. I’ve included gift suggestions for great teachers.
  • A Discouraging Day Online : This one is a vent I wrote after trying to open an account to pay a credit card bill online and hitting lots of obstacles.
  • Abandoned Barn? This is a short photographic essay inspired by a barn I saw on our trip to Madera last week.

Reading this Week

As the title states, the week has been a blur. If I didn’t write it down, I don’t remember it. I did some laundry, worked out at Kennedy Club three nights, and read one book. I started reading Flowers  in the Snow by Danielle Stewart Friday night, but haven’t been in the right mood to finish it yet. It appears to be a worthy read, but it’s dark. It’s based on history, but it’s a period of American history I’d rather forget since it shows how inhumane people can be.

“Betty” tells her story of growing up in a KKK family, completely unaware of what it meant during her early years. Her rude awakening came when she saw a beaten black man in town and tried to help him, believing she was practicing what she’d learned in Sunday school in the story of the Good Samaritan.  She learned fast enough her family did not consider the man human, got the spanking of her life, and was ostracized by not only her schoolmates but her family. I won’t say any more now except that I can’t face reading about the violence I know is coming until I can prepare myself emotionally for it.

This Week Has Been a Blur
Jacob had to dress like an Amish boy.

I  did enjoy A Lancaster Amish Home for Jacob by Rachel Stolzfus. Jacob is a homeless boy who lives in a group home and gets into trouble all the time. One night he and a friend led the police on an especially wild chase after they had spraypainted some cars. He got caught. His social worker decided drastic measures were called for, and he had the choice of living in an Amish foster home or going into juvenile detention. He chose the Amish home. I won’t tell you any more, but I would like to get the sequel.

My Packages Have Almost All Arrived

I had to make some returns at Costco and Sears yesterday. I hadn’t realized you could return items purchased at Land’s End to Sears. My purchases for myself there were too big, so I had to return two pair of pants. I also had to return a shirt my husband had purchased at Costco  that was too small, and a pair of PJ’s I’d bought that were too big. This trip half an hour out of town, with shopping on the way home, kept me on the road for four hours. I spent most of the time at Costco.

I just received my new WaterPik and steam mop so I will have to start learning to use them during the next few days. Now I must go finish my blog post for tomorrow.

Cooking, Writing, Shopping, Exercising, and Reading

Back to the Kitchen

It seems I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen. I had picked some of my chard and kale from the front yard, and I needed to use them.  The kale had sprung up by itself next to the garage. Here’s what I did with a previous batch of home-grown kale.

Cooking, Writing, Shopping, Exercising, and Reading
Volunteer Kale Plant, © B. Radisavljevic

 

I tried a new recipe this time, one with chicken, kale, and onions. We both loved it. I will be posting it soon on Niume, another site where I  often make short posts on my daily adventures. I also made a batch of black bean soup so now there is something hot to eat at night. It’s been so long since I cooked anything from scratch I’d almost forgotten how.

Writing Kept Me Very Busy

It seems I spent a lot of the weekend listing and updating deals between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I deleted the post today since the sales are over. I don’t think I will handle those deals the same way next year. Here are some of the posts I wrote over the weekend that are still up.

I was also editing the deals that were coming and going on a couple of older posts on another blog. Now you know why I didn’t post here over the weekend.

Shopping the Cyber Weekend Deals

After listing all those good deals, I decided I might as well take advantage of them to get some things we needed while the prices were low. We’ve already gotten some of our orders, and I expect more tomorrow. I also have some things to return to Land’s End that didn’t fit. They were too BIG. Kosta loved his new wool sweater from them, though. Shopping is a lot of work, even when you do it online. Still beats fighting the crowds in the stores.

Exercising and Reading – Finally

I love reading, but I haven’t had much time for it this weekend. After our trip to Madera before Thanksgiving, I had a lot of work to catch up on. That also kept me from exercising. I finally got back to the gym on Monday night and spent an hour on the stationary bike, reading.

Exercise is good for me, but I always get interested in the book I started reading on the bike and don’t want to stop reading it when I get home. And the book I read? Lake House Secret, by Debra Burroughs, a mystery / romance novel. I may review it one of these days. I enjoyed it.

I think it’s bedtime now. I will leave you with a photo of my chard, most of which is still growing in my front flowerbed.

Cooking, Writing, Shopping, Exercising, and Reading
Chard in Front Flowerbed, © B. Radisavljevic

***

In the Dark, Monday. 11-21-16

We spent too much time in the dark today, and I had to switch to Plan B for today’s work.

A Plan B Morning

The rain stopped sometime last night and the sun was bright when I opened my eyes a little before ten. (My normal bedtime is around 2 AM.) I headed for the computer only to see that the power was out. When we called PG&E we learned we’d get our power back around 2 PM. No hot tea for me in the morning!

Since I couldn’t use the computer or the phones, I decided to go to the gym earlier than usual and get my workout done so I could blog on the computer when I’m normally at the gym in the late afternoon.

My Reading Notes

At the gym, I almost finished reading Secrets in the Grave by Karen Ann Hopkins. It’s a detective mystery set in Amish country. I continued reading it while I ate my cold cereal after arriving home. The power came back on just in time for me to have that cup of hot tea I’d missed. I also wanted to finish my book, since I was 88% into it. I like to get the mystery resolved when I’m that close to the end.

Although there were a couple of surprises at the end, I was pretty sure who the culprit was by about a third of the way through the book. I suspected another culprit of foul deeds. The author was good at giving the reader just enough clues to figure out who the villains were while saving some unexpected twists for the end. The only thing I found annoying as I read was not immediately catching the changing voice. If you read it, remember that after the prologue the chapters are named for the character who is speaking.

One Last (I Hope) Power Outage for the Day

As I was finishing my dessert tonight while watching the news there was a crackling “Poof,” and it went dark and quiet again, except for the beeping of my battery backup. It was then I remembered that most of our emergency lighting is at the other house in Templeton. I did find a few candles and one light was hooked up to the battery backup in my office, so we managed. Time to bring those emergency supplies where they will be most needed. As I post this I’m hoping the power will stay on through the night. I will make sure I have a flashlight with me at all times.

The power was only off for about half an hour this time. I’d only had time to find and light the candles, recline in my chair, and open my Kindle before the lights and sound came on again.  As I post this I’m hoping the power will stay on through the night. I will make sure I have a flashlight with me at all times.

UPDATE: I’m now much better prepared for any future power outage. Here’s what I bought to keep light in my life when the power goes out.

A New Focus

I’ve changed my focus on Of Cabbages and Kings. Here’s what’s new.

Welcome to My New Subscribers, and Welcome Back to Those Who’ve Been With Me a Long Time

I have to admit I’m surprised to see so many new subscribers since I haven’t posted in about two years. When I started this blog, my life was much different. I was an active bookseller with inventory selling from my own website. Heath issues forced me to close that kind of business and become a blogger and affiliate marketer. Thus I had no real reason to keep this blog active.  When I saw so many subscribing, I decided I should resurrect it again.

The previous focus of this blog was education and books for children. I have moved that focus to a new blog: Books to Remember.  If you are a teacher or homeschooling parent, you may want to follow that blog instead. It is hosted on my revamped book site, by the same name. You can access the content pages from the blog.

I have expanded my reviews to include educational items I wanted to carry before could not cost ship at reasonable rates.  The merchants I affiliate with do a higher volume and can ship for less. So I will be reviewing more educational toys, games, and puzzles as time goes on, in addition to the books.

The New Focus of This Blog

photographer-16022_640

My Writing Life

I have decided to continue this blog as what a blog used to be — a web blog of what’s happening in my life. That does include my work as a blogger, but not the issues I discuss on Barb’s Writing Life, a blog where I review various content writing sites and the issues many content writers and bloggers face. It’s also a site where I put writing that originally appeared on Squidoo but was not appropriate for HubPages, which acquired Squidoo and transformed Squidoo lenses to HubPages. I’m gradually moving that work to pages of Barb’s Writing Life.

From this day forward, I will be sharing my thoughts here that I don’t share on the other blogs. I will be keeping track of my personal life for myself and anyone who wants to listen in. I will also keep readers up-to-date on new work that I publish elsewhere in case they are interested. Not all my thoughts  fit into the subjects of my other blogs. This is where I hope I can carry on a conversation with both real-world and internet friends. So feel free to comment.

I will post these blogs as I have something I want to remember. Some posts may be quite short and filter through the day, a bit like Facebook. Or a few days may go by with no new post.

My Activities and my Blogs on What I’m Up to in California

Two other blogs discuss a lot of what’s happening in my daily life and in my area of California in San Luis Obispo County. They are heavy on photos and personal experience and would probably be general enough for my friends who want to keep up with my life to read. I cover wine country, local art, and other things I find interesting, at Paso Robles in Photos. It started out as a daily photo blog. It’s part of an international blogging network, City Daily Photos, but I don’t get around to posting every day anymore. I do try to  participate in the monthly theme day since all the networked bloggers from around the world post pictures on the same theme on the first day of each month. One of my most popular theme day blogs was on the Library Theme: A Brief Tour of the Paso Robles Library. I post what I do and observe in my garden at Barb’s Garden Observations. I post sporadically there since I’m more active in the garden during some seasons than others.

A New Focus for this Blog
Moonstone Beach is one of the places in my world I love.

A blog I plan to put a lot of effort into is A California Life. I was born and have lived my entire life in California and I love my state. In A California Life I plan to share some of the places and activities I love here. The two most popular posts on the blog this month so far have been The Natural Beauty of San Miguel and Art after Dark In Paso Robles.

My Reading Life

I do a lot of reading. I always mean to review the best of it at Bookworm Buffet, my blog where I review a small fraction of the books I read. The most popular post so far this month has been my review of  It is Well: How WW II Affected One Family. I also publish many book and product reviews at ReviewThisReviews, a site I contribute to. My two most popular books reviews there are Review of Samantha Kincaid Legal Thrillers by Alafair Burke (Fiction) and The Day Before 911: A Review (Memoir). My two most popular product reviews there are Review of Inspirational Greeting Cards to Encourage a Terminally Ill Friend and A Review of My Life in Greeting Cards. See all my reviews on ReviewThis!

Books I Read in One Week
Books I Read in One Week after a Major Surgery

I have decided to share most of what I read and a brief opinion here on this blog . This helps me keep track for my own use of what I read since I often read up to five books a  week. When I finally have time to review a book I really enjoyed, I often have to reread it because I’ve forgotten so much of it.

I Blog a Lot on Niume

Niume is a new social blogging site. I really enjoy not only writing there but also seeing what my friends and writers I haven’t yet met share. If you’ve always wanted to start a blog or earn a bit of money sharing your thoughts or photos to a wider audience than your Facebook friends, you might consider Niume. It currently requires writers to share only five lines of text and one photo or video. Find more here: Niume: Should You Dabble or Plunge In?

My three most popular Niume posts are An Autumn RoseUnique Pistachio People Dioramas, and Garden Herbs.

Come Walk  with Me

Check in now and then to see what I’m up to and what I’m thinking. Then I hope you’ll chime in, too. Please use the comments to respond. Feel free to ask me questions reading my posts raise and I’ll try to answer them. It helps to know what others want to know more about.

(28) Reading: Why do people who love reading love it so much? – Quora

Reasons to read are unique for each person. Ojas Patil has given a very eloquent one on Quora.

Why People Read?

(28) Reading: Why do people who love reading love it so much? – Quora.

How would you answer this question? Those who responded on Quora have eloquently described what drives people to their books for a world view and an imaginative view of the world. Please go read the answers. I could never be this eloquent trying to summarize them. Don’t miss the answer by Ojas Patil. What’s in the image is only a fraction of what he wrote. His is just one of the many imaginative answers you will find when you click the link above..

Feel free to leave your own reason for reading in the comments.

Birth of a Book on Vimeo

Here’s your chance to see a physical book being printed and bound. Enjoy.

Birth of a Book on Vimeo on Vimeo

via Birth of a Book on Vimeo.

An Open BookIn the video  below you will see a book being printed. I hope they hang on to a few of these old presses. You never know when we might need to go back to them. Even though it seems all writing is being done digitally with books able to be printed on demand, we all know that computers and electronics are almost ephemeral.

The Kindle or Nook or iPad you have today may be obsolete tomorrow. What will you read if the power supply is interrupted for more than a week? In a real disaster, books can even be burned to keep you warm.

Of course, preserving the presses isn’t enough. We need to also have a few people who remember how to use them. We’d need the materials for printing and binding. Otherwise, we might find ourselves someday in  world with no books.

 

How to Take the Joy from Literature

Sometimes as teachers, our attempts to help students find deeper meanings in literature may have unintended consequences.

Snowy Woods

This afternoon I’m weeding through some of my books and came across one by a favorite children’s author, Jean Little — Hey World, Here I Am! On page 28 I came across a poem, “After English Class.” It’s written in the first person in the voice of Kate Bloomfield, who describes how she used to like the Frost poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” She liked the sound of the words and their rhythm, and the imagery. She could see the snow and hear the jingling bells. I think that’s what Robert Frost would have wanted.

The next lines explain how the teacher ruined the poem for her:

But today, the teacher told us what everything stood for.
The woods, the horse, the miles to go, the sleep—
They all have ‘hidden meanings.’
It’s grown so complicated now that,
Next time I drive by,
I don’t think I’ll bother to stop.

Sometimes as teachers, our attempts to help students find deeper meanings in literature may have unintended consequences. Just as a student of biology may prefer a living whole frog to the dead one they have just dissected, the students who read a poem may just want to enjoy it and respond to it with  their own imaginations. Does the dissection the teacher provides keep students from gleaning meanings they might have discovered on their own?

Photo courtesy of http://pixabay.com/en/users/PublicDomainPictures/

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother – YouTube

Watch Patricia Polacco’s picture book My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother expertly read aloud in this video. Use it as a role model for reading to your own children.

I’ve always loved Patricia Polacco’s books. Her illustrations are a perfect complement to the stories she writes, and both the stories and pictures tell us a lot about the author herself. In the video you see one of her favorite themes, that of the love that binds families together. You also get an example of how to read aloud with expression. Watch the video, but don’t let it be a substitute for reading aloud to your children yourself.

You can learn more about Patricia Polaccoand find her books, new and used, at Tomfolio.com’s Patricia Polacco’s Biography page

 

What Does Your E-Book Learn From You?

What Does Your E-Book Learn From You?

I have long been a fan of paper books, and I’m not ready to replace them with an e-book of any kind yet. Reading this article has convinced me to wait a bit longer before taking the plunge into e-books.

Your E-Book is Reading You

Some of my Favorite Childhood Books
Some of my Favorite Childhood Books

I have long been a fan of paper books, and I’m not ready to replace them with an e-book of any kind yet. Reading the above article has convinced me to wait a bit longer before taking the plunge into e-books. I haven’t yet forgotten the readers who downloaded Orwell’s 1984 on their Kindles only to have it disappear. One of my colleagues at tomfolio.com points out that if Amazon can erase an entire book overnight from countless kindles, it could also erase or rewrite a paragraph or a chapter, making it possible for  Big Brother to  rewrite history without anyone being aware of it — unless, of course, there was an earlier paper edition to compare it to.

So I plan to hold on to any of my paper editions that are important to me. And this article gives me another reason. Reading is an intensely private activity for me. I don’t mind discussing what I’ve read with others after I’ve read a book, but I really don’t want a computer taking note of how far I get in a book, what I underline, or whether I decide not to finish a book I started. I want to lean back in my recliner, open my paper book, and get lost in it. And I don’t want anyone looking over my shoulder when I’m reading it.

Why Not a School Art Festival?

Every child should be lucky enough to attend an art festival like the one in Paso Robles, California every year. If that’s too far for your family to go, see if your area has one. If it doen’t , see what you can do about getting one started — even if it’s just on a school level at first. Every child is creative. Help your children to find an outlet for that creativity. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

Children Love Helping to Build this Sand Castle at Festival of the Arts, Paso Robles
Children Love Helping to Build this Sand Castle at Festival of the Arts, Paso Robles

I have just returned from the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts for 2012, and was full of regret that my children had never had the opportunity a local art festival presented to see how creative people could be. Both of my children had some artistic talent, but I was not artistic enough to help them explore what they could do to develop any but their musical gifts.

Children Experiment with Instruments at the Musical Petting Zoo
Children Experiment with Instruments at the Musical Petting Zoo

Paso Robles held its first Festival of the Arts in 2009, and I’ve attended each one since 2010, making this my third. Each year it gets better. I always encourage people to come and bring their children because they will have the time of their lives. In my latest post in my local blog, Tidbits from Templeton, I posted pictures of  many activities that were available to children this year. I’m only able to include a photo of the 2011 musical petting zoo, which allows children to try out playing a wide selection of music instruments. I only have this year’s in video. I will be writing an article that incorporates video on  these activities as soon as I can get them processed.

Children Make Tie Dye Art at The Paso Robles Festival of the Arts
Children Make Tie Dye Art at The Paso Robles Festival of the Arts

The variety of hands-on activities ran the gamut from music and painting to wading in rose petal pools, building a super sand castle,  and making zany hats. There was also plenty to see that might inspire creativity.  The stilt walkers were awesome. There were performances of the high school jazz band, creative dance, dance teams, Singing Hands Children’s Choir, Mexican Folklore dance, and dance students on the Youth Stage. As I was walking near the center of the park there was someone juggling with a Chinese yoyo (forget the Chinese name for it) grabbing the attention of any young person nearby. There were also plenty of art forms on display in the more adult area of the park — painting, photography, mixed media, items made from found objects recycled into art, fused glass, sculpture, and more.

Sarah With Model Cliff Dwelling
Sarah With Model Cliff Dwelling

Sometimes all children need is an idea and available materials to execute it. I saw that when my daughter made her model of a cliff dwelling while we were on vacation in Colorado and had just visited Mesa Verde National Park. She went outside after dinner and then came in a couple of hours later to show us what she had done with just the materials she found around the cabin.

The children in every community should have such activities  available. If your city or county doesn’t have an annual art festival for the community, maybe your school or home school group could get the ball rolling.  There are many businesses that specialize in providing art experiences for children at large events or at parties. One of these is Paint Jam, which takes care of bringing everything to  your location that children will need to be an artist for a given time –paint, brushes, easels, aprons, etc. They take charge from greeting to cleanup, and the children each have a completed picture they created to take home. They are located in Santa Barbara and had to travel to participate in the Festival of the Arts. Maybe there is a similar group in your area. Maybe you could even start such a business yourself if it doesn’t exist in your area yet.

You can get great ideas for children’s art activities suitable for art fairs and festivals from the books on this web page.  These would also help someone wanting to start a children’s art party business or just entertain their own children over the summer. Consider a family art night where everyone participates in his or her creative activity.