Wednesday Wanderings

I’ve had a couple days in North Dakota so far. And have actually ventured into Minnesota a couple of times. I’ve seen sugarbeet fields. I’ve seen a demonstration of high-tech pesticide application. I’ve seen a WWII-era plane fly eleven feet over the ground, right in front of me, also demonstrating pesticide application.

I have eaten wurst, Mongolian grill, green chili pizza (although that was in Denver), kuchen, popcorn as an appetizer, and a lovely fruit pizza.

I’ve met people from all around the country. I’ve  learned about pesticide safety practices. I’ve  learned a lot about respirators.

All in all, North Dakota rocks!

Book Talk Tuesday: Jane Steele

I love mysteries. I love spunky heroines. I love humor and dry witty banter. I love Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.

Imagine my delight to discover JANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye.

Jane SteeleJANE STEELE is part homage to JANE EYRE, part fair play mystery, part Sikh primer, part romance, part faux-memoir, and a complete pleasure to read.

Young Jane Steele lives in the Victorian era, with her French mother in a guest house on an English estate. Her mother tells Jane that she is the rightful owner and heir to the estate.

The story begins with Jane confessing to the reader her first (yes, first) murder. After the death of her mother and her cousin, young Jane is sent to a boarding school. A truly horrible boarding school. Think more Little Princess/Jane Eyre and less Hogwarts.

The story follows Jane through her school, to London, then back to her estate home, now occupied by the dashing Charles Thornfield, his young ward, and his butler Mr. Singh.

Some of the reviews on Amazon describe this book as “Jane Eyre as a serial killer,” or “Dexter meets Jane Eyre.” These both miss the mark. There is death, but there is also justice, love, honor, and grace.

I loved this one!

Monday Musings: So Many States …

I’m getting to check off two entries on my “States I Have Yet to Visit” list this week.

I’m in Fargo, North Dakota this week for a pesticide safety conference, for my part-time day job. Yes, I’ve seen the movie; no, I haven’t seen the television series.

img_8647I’ve never been to North Dakota, or Denver, where we had a layover yesterday. Denver was less mountainous than I’d expected, but still beautiful. Our less-than-an-hour-gonna-have-to-hustle-to-make-the-connecting-flight layover turned into five-plus hours, thanks to mechanical issues on a plane.

Since it’s important to me that any plane I fly on have no mechanical issues, I was just fine with the delay. The upside was my friend and boss has a daughter who lives in Denver,img_8641 and she readily agreed to come pick us up for dinner. And, of course, being introduced to Dion’s and their green chile pizza.

The downside was that I had finished my book and both magazines long before we finally landed in Fargo at 3 AM.

We were surprised and blessed to discover that the car rental agency had stayed open to accommodate our late flight, so we didn’t have to Uber or taxi or hitchhike to the hotel. I crawled into bed about 4:30 AM, Fargo time and managed to sleep a solid six hours.

We ventured to Fargo’s old town area, looking for lunch. The Smokehouse we found turned out to be closed on Sunday (not unusual, we soon discovered), so we went img_8643next door to Würst Bier Hall where we promptly ordered pretzels, wurst, porketta bánh mì, and french fries. Fabulous!! Stud Muffin would love that place, so I obviously have to come back.

After lunch, we walked around the old town area (gotta get some steps in after that lunch!), found a great coffee shop with scones (and a definite Seattle vibe), fun shops, and historic buildings. Dinner turned out to be peach kuchen and a root beer float at Krolls, a recommendation from our lunch server.

Don’t judge.

It’s now 8:00 Sunday evening. It’s only 6 PM in California, but my eyes are heavy. I won’t have a problem getting to sleep tonight. Tomorrow, we work!

Monday Morning Musings: Book Review

Even though it’s not a Book Talk Tuesday, I’m posting a book review on Monday. I really enjoyed this one, and can’t wait to share about it.


A few books stay with you after you finish the final page and close the book. SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS is one of those.

The Tulip Sisters are a fun group of women. I wish they lived closer. I wish they were real.

Kelly is the uber-responsible older sister who works the family tulip farm and loves it. She and her dad are close. Her long-time boyfriend recently broke up with her and she’s sad that it didn’t upset her more. What’s bugging her now is that Griffith, her high school crush, is back in town and keeps showing up wherever she is.

Olivia is the flighty younger sister. Or is she? Olivia shows up in town after ten years away, expecting a reunion with her own high school boyfriend. The homecoming is not quite as heartwarming as one might hope. With either the ex or her family.

Helen is Kelly’s best friend, and an honorary sister, with a huge secret of her own.

Life is … if not good, at least acceptable, for all three women. Until Kelly and Olivia’s mother shows up, bringing havoc and leaving a trail of mayhem in her wake.

I love this book! Fun dialogue and situations, believable characters, emotionally engaging writing. It’s going on my keeper shelf.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Which this is.

Saving the Best for Last

We got up early and hit the road. Dirt roads, that is. 

CousinExtraordinaire is an amazing photographer (and hostess). She has an ATV (and access to another) and the five of us had an excursion today to see the wild horses and other wildlife in the area. 

We left the house and 7 AM and got back at 10. Then we showered, ate, and headed home. In between, we saw:

  • three bands of wild horses, including the beautiful filly, Pearl
  • 1 family of nesting Swainson hawks 
  • a RC airplane taking off
  • a satellite dish, in the middle of nowhere, on the ground 
  • some amazing scenery 

and we (Drama Princess and I) gave a grasshopper a ride. He flitted into the side-by-side I drove, landed on her arm, jumped to the door, then abandoned us. 

We had a wonderful week and can’t wait to do it again. We saw glorious scenery, ate delicious food, swam, and laughed. 

We’re home now. Queen Bee will go home tomorrow. 

Next up: two weeks of VBS Adventures with Grampy and Drama Princess. 

Friday Funday

Today we drove to Lake Tahoe, to the Tallac Historic Site, near the south shore. We visited the site two years ago with Queen Bee and she had a great time. 

We spent a few hours at the Camp Richardson beach, swimming and playing in the sand. After lunch, we made our way to Tallac. My cousin had thoughtfully signed up both girls for the Kids Cooking class that the site offers during the summer. 

Drama Princess was unhappy about leaving the beach and walking in wet sandals. She sulked and fussed, but once the class got going, she loved it. 

They made popcorn balls, supposedly a recipe that would have been made at the summer home in the 1920s. 

Stud Muffin, Cousin, and I hung out, spied on the group, and took pictures of the marauding chipmunks. 

Napping may have occurred on the ride home. 

After a wonderful dinner at Francisco’s (pretty much the opposite experience of Monday night), we returned to the wonderland that is my cousin’s home. Both girls are loving the goats and chickens. 

Bedtime was early because we were up early for one final adventure before heading home. 

Thursday: A Little History Lesson 

As usual at a holiday in express, we started our day with their breakfast. The day before, we had met and chatted with the woman Who oversees the breakfast room. She offered to make hot chocolate for the girls with warm milk from the back, instead of using the hot water dispenser. That was a big hit! Then we hit the road for Thursday’s excursion. 

Virginia City!

We took our time getting there. We first drove through Dayton. And then took a back road into Virginia City. Very interesting. 

We easily found parking in Virginia City, and made our way to the visitor center, where we purchased tickets to a silver mine tour. We wandered the wooden sidewalks and visited the old shops. We had an encounter with a man named stinky and his donkey, Bernadine. 

We had our pictures taken in old west garb. Drama princess didn’t want to do it, until she heard she could dress up as a cowgirl. Then she was all in. 

We headed back to the car for lunch. We were going to eat our picnic out of the back of the car, but to the side of the parking lot we spied a picnic table under a tree. It was in the yard of the courthouse, but the gate was open. We decided to spread out there, and if anyone came and told us we couldn’t be there, we would leave. People came and went from the courthouse, usually they smiled at us. One commented, “We don’t even use our own picnic table. Nice to see someone enjoying it.”

After lunch we headed to our mind tour. The Chollar Mine is about a mile from town. We thought it a bit closer and decided to walk. After half a mile downhill, Grampy decided to go back for the car. We girls forged ahead, and waited at the mine entrance. It’s a 400 foot walk into the mountain, led by an unenthused old-timer who would have sounded perfectly normal droning, “Bueller … Bueller…” instead of silver mining facts. 

We headed back to town, wandered through a few more shops, bought some old-fashioned candy, and called it good. 

We stayed the night with my cousin in Gardnerville. She has a lovely home on acreage. The girls were in heaven with a dog, a bird, chickens, and goats. 

We ended the day with another chapter about Mma Ramotswe’s cases. 

Friday: Lake Tahoe! 

Wednesday: Lessons in Patience (For Everyone)

Wednesday morning was time for Stud Muffin and I to earn this trip. We had to go to the 90 minute timeshare presentation. We knew we weren’t buying so it was just a matter of wasting an hour and a half with two squirrelly girls. 

We bestowed our electronics on the girls, threatened them with no swimming, and crossed our fingers. They did great for the first hour. But it worked out. Just as the electronics lost their appeal, it was time to ride in a golf cart to look at a sample unit. After that, just ten minutes of repeating, “I understand it’s a great deal. I know the same deal won’t be available later. We still say no,” and we were free again. 

We headed back to Genoa and toured the Mormon Station Museum/replica fort. Drama Princess loved the pelts on display. She was less enthusiastic about the other displays and definitely disapproved of any picture taking. 

After finding a Walgreens to replace the missing goggles, we visited  Farmers Market for more fruit. Then lunch at the hotel, more swimming, pizza for dinner, a movie on my laptop (Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan), more swimming, and finally bed. Drama Princess fell asleep during the movie and couldn’t/wouldn’t wake up for swimming. We expected her to be wide awake at 11 PM, but she slept over 12 hours straight. And woke up talking. 

Day Two: I Don’t Want to Be A Cat! 

Day Two Highlights: Pupils that contract and dilate. Naked women in the spa. Disappearing goggles. 

Tuesday morning started with the Drama Princess waking up crying because she had a dream she turned into a cat. Then she walked to the full-length mirror to be sure she hadn’t changed into a cat. 

Loud wailing ensued for 10 minutes. Because she had just woken up, her pupils were dilated. She was convinced this meant she was becoming a cat. Grampy and Grammy explained how the pupil of the eye works, in the light and the dark. She spent the next 40 minutes watching her eyes in the mirror, turning the light off and on, as her pupils dilated and contracted. 

Both girls love a hotel. After their Holiday Inn Express breakfast, we headed to the pool, while Grampy ran some errands.

We decided the girls needed swim shoes because their feet were already getting cut from the bottom of the pool, from all the jumping into the pool. Grampy headed out for swim shoes, and more Lunchables. The girls are eating more on this trip than we have ever seen them eat. They both have a hollow leg.

They swam till almost noon, then we went back to our room for lunch out of the ice chest. We thought a bit of a quiet time might be a good idea. So both girls and Grampy fell asleep and took long naps. We finally left the hotel at about 3 PM. We drove to Genoa, Nevada.

Genoa is billed as, “the oldest city in Nevada.” It has a one-block long old town, with antique shops, a general store, a bar and grill, and museums. We heard amazing reviews of the ice cream available in the general store so after walking through the town and into a few shops, (which took about 15 minutes), we each had a scoop. There’s a beautiful park, with a statue of the man who delivered mail to the town in the late 19th century. In the winter, he came twice a month, on long skis, with the mail on his back. It took three days to get here from Placerville. 

We then headed to the resort, where we have access to the mineral dprings, hot tubs, and a pool. We spent several hours there, and the girls had a blast. 

The two notable things at the resort: one pair of goggles has disappeared into thin air. She had them and then she didn’t and we have no idea where they are. It was literally 10 minutes from the time she took them off till we discovered they were missing. And we hadn’t gone very far. From the pool to the locker room. 

The second notable thing was them seeing a woman in the locker room. She was naked. This sparked questions and a conversation about locker rooms, spas, nudity, appropriateness of nudity, and the use of optional changing rooms.

We’d had our picnic dinner in the park, but both girls were starving again. So Grampy made a quick stop at Dairy Queen for chicken strips which they ate in the hotel room. We read Chapter 3 of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. No tears this time, but a bit of judicious editing by Grammy was needed. The elder child caught that something was awry, so we will be having another conversation about appropriateness.

Lights out. 

Three Weeks in July

I’m a big fan of memories. Some of my favorite times with family and friends are remembering other fun times we had in the past.

This has become even more important and precious to me in the last few years since we lost our beautiful niece, Laura. Memories of her bring a mixture of laughter and tears. But it’s also made me acutely aware of the need to be making those memories.

So I’ve been consciously trying to give gifts of memories and experiences, instead of more stuff. We’ve been blessed to be able to go on some trips to the Carson Valley, Nevada. One of these trips was thanks to Laura. It was a resort stay that we purchased at a fundraiser for her. They were very hospitable and welcoming, and we enjoyed ourselves very much. And of course, a few months later, we got a call inviting us back, this time with an invitation to stay nearby, enjoy the resort facilities, and listen to a timeshare presentation. We don’t usually do these things, but it appeared the perfect opportunity to bring along our two granddaughters and make some memories.

I’ll be recording some of our memories and fun times this week, on the blog. We will have both granddaughters all this week, and then just one for two more weeks.

Yesterday, July 10, we left our home and began the four and a half hour drive to Nevada. We fielded the expected, “how much longer?” questions and road games.

The beautiful mountain scenery over the pass, and the gorgeous lakes elicited only casual interest. Until we stopped at one lake and walked across a foot bridge over the causeway. And they were both enthralled with the water right under our feet and looking for fish. We got to town and checked in, and then went looking for dinner. We found a local burger and deli joint. Emphasis on “local.” Apparently you have to have lived in this area a certain number of months before the information is deposited in your brain. We were completely at a loss about where to order, where to get drinks, what to do, how to order. Even after we told the staff several times, “We’ve never been here before, we don’t know what to do,” they were spectacularly unhelpful. The hair in Stud Muffin’s salad, after waiting twice as long for our food as anyone else in the place, was the final straw.

Back to the hotel to get the girls in the swimming pool, to work out some of the pent-up road trip energy, and hopefully tire them out for bedtime.

Granddaughter number two, the blonde six-year-old, is enchanted with the mini fridge in the room. She promptly stowed her swim goggles in the freezer portion, to see how cold they could get. After our swim, she put her wet suit in the refrigerator, also to see how cold it could get. The answer: pretty darn cold. It was still dripping wet this morning when she went to put it on for the morning swim.

Granddaughter number one can’t find her suit, so is swimming in shorts and a tee. She had it at our house Sunday. I did a walk-through of the house before we left, and didn’t see it anywhere… It’s a mystery.

As I was stuffing a book bag with games and books to keep them occupied in the car, at the last second I added The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, thinking they would enjoy hearing some of Mma Ramotswe’s adventures. We finished Chapter 2 last night. They are enjoying it. But I had forgotten just how heartbreaking chapter 2 is. It’s the story of Mma Ramotswe’s father’s life in the mines, and how he died, and his love for his family, his daughter, his cows. Tears and sadness all around.

Monday’s memory: The refreshing feel of cold swim goggles and bathing suit!