We Got Our Truck Back!

Last month I told you that our truck had been stolen. It was a sad event, especially for my  husband. This was his dream vehicle. But – good news! After a couple of weeks, the police recovered our truck! Actually, they recovered quite a number of vehicles, plus four of the bad guys. The police were super-excited about their catch and also super-nice to all of us.

100_0082.JPGWe learned that big trucks are very popular with thieves here in northern California. We were told that in our area a vehicle (not just the big ones) is stolen every 46 seconds. That’s crazy, isn’t it? The insurance company (Progressive) did a super job  restoring the truck. They had it towed to a good dealers shop and they did an excellent job of replacing and fixing everything. And – they even cleaned and detailed the truck inside and out.

100_0111.JPGThis truck was a huge part of our retirement strategy. We also purchased our 35-foot Fifth Wheel RV and have spent more than ten years traveling all over North America.

100_0630.JPGThe most exciting part of our travel was the back-country roads all over Alaska. We loved Alaska and our truck loved Alaska too. All those bumpy dirt roads were nothing but fun challenges. Our truck would love to do it again, but now that she has experienced this most recent tragedy, I’m not sure we want to let her go to far from home. For now, we’re just happy to have the big girl back.

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I’m linking this post with others who participate at Saturday Snapshot located at West Metro Mommy Reads. For more information, visit her website.

Saturday Snapshot

 

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Two Good Legal Thrillers: Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

Rogue LawyerIn Rogue Lawyer, John Grisham created Sebastian Rudd, the kind of fictional character I like to spend time with. He ’s a solid defense attorney. He has a passion for people who seem to be getting railroaded by corrupt or incompetent members of the justice system. Most often his clients don’t come from the better parts of town. The key thing is that Sebastian digs deeper when someone comes to him and says they are innocent. Once he is convinced of their innocence, he’ll fight hard with his entire bag of tricks to ensure their freedom.

Do you remember Rudy Baylor in The Rainmaker, another one of John Grisham’s novels? That book/film featured a just-out-of-law-school attorney who was straight-up honest, a guy who found it hard to believe that an insurance company would not do what it promised it would do. (Rudy Baylor was played beautifully by Matt Damon in the film version.) Well, to my way of thinking, Sebastian Rudd is that young lawyer, but now he’s twenty years older and wiser. He knows, without a doubt, that there are businesses and cops and prosecutors and judges whose main goal is to advance themselves and their agendas.

PartnerRogue Lawyer is a series of short stories about various cases that Sebastian Rudd has undertaken. The stories are excellent. Rogue Lawyer was soon joined by The Partner, an additional story about Lawyer Rudd. This story is probably my favorite. It could easily have been inspired by headlines we’ve read the last few years. A cop was killed in a neighborhood known for high crime, drug use and gang activity. A young father the cop shot was arrested for his murder. There were a couple of witnesses no one saw, but who are too afraid to come forward. A most unlikely person hired Sebastian to represent the young father. Can the “Rogue Lawyer” find the truth and a way to justice?

These two books are those of a master storyteller. It’s classic John Grisham. I highly recommend you give them a try.

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Wondrous Words #348

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I recently read Agatha Christie’s Taken At the Flood and discovered a new word:

mendaciously: Superintendent Peace smiled appeasingly. “Oh, I doubt it will come to that,” he said mendaciously.

Mendacious means not telling the truth, lying, I don’t know why I don’t see this word more often. I can think of many times it could be used, especially with current events.

Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

Many of my friends no longer like to read books by Johm Grisham. Many of my friends also don’t like short stories. Well, here I am sharing a John Grisham book full of short stories. I don’t know what that says about me or my friends, but hey, it’s what I love to read. Primarily, I like the characters John Grisham creates. The main character is an attorney who does not fit the typical lawyer mode. He generally fights fights for the innocent and he’s honest. Here’s how the story starts. It’s a good introduction to the main character.

Rogue Lawyer1.
My name is Sebastian Rudd, and though I am a well-know street lawyer, you will not see my name on board, on bus benches, or screaming at you from the yellow pages. I don’t pay to be seen on television, though I am often there. My name is not listed in any phone book. I do not maintain a traditional office. I carry a gun, legally, because my name and face tend to attract attention from the type of people who also carry guns and don’t mind using them. I live alone, usually sleep alone, and do not possess the patience and understanding necessary to maintain friendships. The law is my life, always consuming and occasionally fulfilling. I wouldn’t call it a “jealous mistress” as some forgotten person once so famously did. It’s more like an overbearing wife who controls the checkbook. There’s no way out.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

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What Is Your Fondest Childhood Food Memory?

Can you remember your first cooking or baking experience? How young were you? For some of us it will be difficult to pin down that number. Once or twice a week my mom baked our family’s bread supply. Having a ball of dough in our hands was Mom’s way of keeping my sister’s and my hands busy while she kept the family bread box full. Bread dough was our first modeling clay. I still love that warm feel of dough in my hands.

MeBiscuitsMom was a regular cake and pie baker as well. This was the 1940s and 1950s when friends and family often dropped by for a visit. It would be “shameful!” to have nothing to offer the guests. In our community most homemakers had their own specialties that they were well known for. My Aunt Marge’s Apple Pie, Ella’s Heaven’s Food Cake was my grandmother’s specialty, and my mom’s Lazy Daisy Cake were famous around town. I still have the recipe for Mrs. Schmidt’s Date Cake even though I no longer remember who Mrs. Schmidt was!

CakeAnd then, of course, there was the cookie jar that must constantly remain full. All mothers were expected to feed their children milk and cookies when they came home from school. I can hear modern mothers gasping now at the unhealthy generation we must have been. Actually, it’s worse than that— that was whole milk. Skim or 2% milk was way in the future. Keep in mind, however, that my sister and I had just walked home six blocks from our school and, as soon as we changed our clothes, we were back outside playing for the next three to four hours. No TV or electronic gadgets for us.

My sister and I helped a lot with the cookie baking. That too was different back then. Sugar was a scarce commodity during the depression when my mom learned to bake and then truly unavailable and/or expensive during the war and shortly thereafter. Most of our cookies were made with molasses and shortening and a little butter and flour. Mom almost always made cookies with some variety of spices in them as well as raisins or other dried fruits. For variety, Mom made a chocolate and nut cookie using cocoa powder. Chocolate chips didn’t become popular in our family until the mid 1950s.

MargreetsHere’s one of my earliest food memories: an alternative treat we had back in those good old days. I have no idea where the name came from, but we called them Margreets. They are made with just two ingredients: saltine crackers and marshmallows.

Set desired number of saltines on a cookie sheet. Cut a marshmallow in half and place them cut side down on the saltines. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Watch very carefully as they can quickly turn brown or burn. My picture above is what they look like at 8 minutes. I like them crispy like this but most people like the marshmallows softer – about 5 minutes.

They may seem an odd combination at first but they’re really quite good. I happen to like the mixture of salt and sugar. I suggest you give these 1940-style treats a try. Better yet, if you have some children around let them help you. Margreets could be a good food history lesson.

What is your earliest cooking/food memory

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I’m linking this post to Weekend Cooking. You can find more Weekend Cooking  posts at Beth Fish Reads.

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Two Good Agatha Christie Books

Taken At The FloodTAKEN AT THE FLOOD (1948)

The entire extended family of Gordon Cloade has been dependent on him for all their extra funds. He has actually encouraged that practice as he has enjoyed managing all the family money. It’s a good arrangement with everyone up until just before his unexpected death. Gordon had taken a trip to New York where he married a young widow and changed his will. He was killed in a blitz while in a London Hotel.

When the widow and her lecherous brother arrive at the family home, they are not welcomed with open arms. When one of the sister-in-laws learns her first husband may be still alive, all hell breaks loose. Hercule Poirot is brought in to solve the case.

The final quote:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Yes, the tide sweeps in, but it may carry you out to sea.” -Hercule Poirot

Christie's Crooked HouseCROOKED HOUSE (1949)

There was a crooked man
and he went a crooked mile. . . . .

And they all lived together
in a little crooked house.

Agatha Christie has based several of her mystery novels on children’s nursery rhymes. Its been fun to read them, but I must say I really loved this one! It’s one of her stand-alones. No Hercules Poirot or one of her other famous detectives. On top of that, there is a nice little love story running throughout.

Charles and Sophia met while oversees during the war. They fell in love, but agreed to wait on a decision about their future until they were both back in London. When Charles comes home he immediately meets Sophia for dinner and asked her to marry him. (Very romantic-sigh.)

While they are out someone murders Sophia’s grandfather, an elderly multi-millionaire who has definitely been the head of the family. Charles’ father is with the police so he asked Charles to hang out at the family house and keep his ears open. Everyone seems to like Sophia’s “young man” so they willingly share all sorts of information with him.

This strategy works and Charles was able to finally solve the case. It wasn’t the ending I had hoped for, but it did make sense. The plot twists were good. They kept me guessing to the end. I’m going to add this to my list of Agatha’s Favorites.

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Wondrous Words #347

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

NPR has a very nice newsletter they send out that shares books discussed on various radio shows. Last week they had a headline with a new-to-me word in it:

1. suss:   “Cooking With The Bard: We Suss Out Shakespeare’s Forgotten Foods”

Suss means to realize or grasp.

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This word came to me from a friend:

2. twee:  “Her new grandbaby is quite twee.”

Twee generally means sweet or cute. But . it also has other, less attractive meanings such as excessively or affectedly quaint. It’s origin is early twentieth century and represents a child’s way of saying sweet.
Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? The Road To Character

My non-fiction choice this month is The Road To Character by the great NYTimes columnist David Brooks. I may not always agree with him, but I read him because of his unique insights and how he urges me to think. I’m really looking forward to digging into this one.  Here’s how the book begins:

Road To CharacterOn Sunday evenings my local NPR station rebroadcasts old radio programs. A few years ago I was driving home and heard a program called Command Performance, which was a variety show that went out to the troops during World War II. The episode I happened to hear was broadcast the day after V-J Day, on August 15, 1945.

The episode featured some of the era’s biggest celebrities: Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, and many others. But the most striking eature of the show was its tone of self-effacement and humility. The Allies had just completed one of the noblest military victories in human history. And yet there was no chest beating. Nobody was erecting triumphal arches.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

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Book Review: Crossing by Michael Connelly

The CrossingYou would think that after 28 books Michael Connelly would have maybe one that might be off a bit. Afraid not. He just gets better and better. I think he really enjoys this whole creative writing process. In The Crossing, the author’s most recent novel, he does something he’s never done before: he brought together his two main characters so they could work together on a case.

Matthew M cConaugheyThe two men are half-brothers, although they didn’t know about each other until a few years ago. Mickey Haller is a defense attorney and Harry Bosch is a retired police homicide detective. Because they have always worked on opposite sides of the law their paths never cross — until now. Mickey has a client accused of a brutal murder. He actually begs for Harry’s help. He wouldn’t do it if he weren’t so desperate.

 

Titus WelliverHarry is opposed to helping on so many levels. It’s nothing personal with his brother. He’s spent three decades putting scumbags like Mickey’s client away, plus he’s morally opposed to helping the defense side. If his former colleagues were to find out, life would be hell. Harry agrees to check out some of the basic facts to see if the client is telling the truth.

Harry checked out the facts with the help of an old colleague who agrees to keep quiet. Even though Harry tried to keep his involvement secret, word gets out. Harry’s former colleagues are vicious in their hatred and harassment of Harry. Frankly, I was surprised. I guess I’m naive, but what ever happened to an open and honest justice system?

Crossing over to the other side, or the dark side, cost Harry a lot. Good friends he respected now consider him an enemy. Will it be okay for Harry in the end? How does Mickey’s client fare in the end? Searching for answers kept my ears glued to this audio book straight through to the end. I hope the author puts these two guys together again soon.  Don’t miss this one.

Audiobook narrated by Titus Welliver. Published by Hachette Group (9 hours, 24 minutes)

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Wondrous Words #346

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

Last week I finished reading The Arsonist. I had a vague idea I’d read one or two of the author’s books before. (Sue Miller) I went ro Goodreads to check out the author’s book list. While reading  the blurb for The Senator’s Wife, I found these new words:

1.   obdurate: “ . . . two marriages exposed in all their shame and imperfection, and in their obdurate, unyielding love.”

Obdurate means to stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.

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2.   abraded:   “ . . . both reckoning with the cotours and mysteries of marriage, one refined and abraded by years of complicated intimacy, the other barely begun.

Abraded means to scrape or wear away by friction or erosion.

Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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