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!