Friday, August 19, 2022

Friday Art

Hi everyone. Happy Friday to you.

I was away for a couple of days earlier this week, and even though I was only gone for 2 1/2 days, it's taken me a good day to get back in the groove of being home. Funny how a couple of days with different scenery can get you out of your normal routine so quickly. 

Today I have some art to share with you.
First of all, I have a collaged page for Nicole's Friday Face Off.

I made this in a journal that has ledger style pages. I added a piece of Gelli printed deli paper on the right, a black die cut flower, the TH man and this art quote. I thought the man looked like he might be an artist in his cool leather bomber jacket which is why I picked this quote. I also had just a small amount of black paint left in the bristles of my brush when I added these, and that created that smokey tint to the middle of my page.

And for Chris' challenge at Art Journal Journey, I have the following page. 
You probably know, but this month the challenge is When We Were Young.

 For this page  I used the same Dylusions stencil as my journal page from Monday's post.  I traced each of the children's figures on some polka dot paper, and then I fussy cut them out. 

Childhood shouldn't be so dark, so I added some bright colored "art by Marlene" punch outs and also the quote.  

My page was inspired by the idea that  young children are truly themselves, and only as they grow and then become pre-teens and teenagers do they start to change a bit to fit in with others. Of course, not all teenagers care if they fit in. And even when kids  conform with the clothes they wear  or the games they play or by doing  something their friends are all doing, they are still individuals. I remember when I hit junior high or what they now call middle school, the pressure to conform was crazy. I was never one of the cool kids, but I didn't want to be the odd duck either. 

Thank goodness that as we get older we can be ourselves again, even if we lose so many wonderful things that were part of childhood. 

I'm also linking up my post to GIllena's Friday Lunch Break.

That's all for me today. Have a great start to the weekend.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Lots of Summer Photos

 Hi everyone. Happy Thursday.

I'm home again after a couple of days away in Western Massachusetts. I grew up only a little over an hour away from the Berkshires and never had really explored them much at all. I am making up for it now I guess. My friend and I had a wonderful trip. I haven't had time to go through my photos since I just got home last evening, but I will have some photos to share of our adventure.

I thought today I would do a low key  post and share a few photos from some adventures I had in the past few weeks. These are not from this week's M-W roadtrip to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. 

I'll start with a few photos I snapped with my phone when I was away for my niece's wedding in Maine . These are what I discovered on a morning walk along the road where our rental was.

I really liked the hay bale in the upper window and how it adds so much interest to the front of the barn.

Too there was a fence cutting off the  face of the bovine looking at me. I'm just not tall enough to be able to look down on him over the fence.
And this bump sign should have said hole, and it was a big one too.

And here's a few photos from the adventures in my yard and gardens, starting with this sunflower seed that somehow made it into one of my deck potted plants. I let it grow, since all the sunflower seeds I planted in my  garden either got eaten  or nipped off once the plant started to grow.

 This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly completely ignored me so I was able to snap close up photos.

My yummy blackberries are starting to ripen. 

The bees are buzzing everywhere in the gardens, and they are busy in the hive too.
 I like how you can see the smoke from my smoker on this one (from when I opened the hive one day). You use the smoke as it helps mask the bees alarm pheromones.

I'll also answer a question CJ asked me quite a while back. She wanted to know how you tell what is what inside the hive on the frames where the bees live.

Honeycomb is white.  Brood comb (the babies) is more yellow. At first the brood is not capped, and then as the larva grows, then it becomes capped. In this next photo most of the comb is yellow brood comb. You can see the white honeycomb on the top right corner.

 This peanut shaped comb (above) could be a new queen comb. It could also be burr or bridge comb that is growing off the "grid" of the frames. Wherever there is extra and  enough empty space in a hive, bees will put some comb there.

Newer brood comb isn't quite as yellow. If you look carefully you can see the uncapped brood to the right side of the photo. They look like little comma shaped worms almost.

Lots of brood comb.

Honeycomb is forming on the top of the frame in this next photo. 

You can see a bit of uncapped honey right in the middle of this next photo.

And more brood comb. The little pinpoint looking indent on each hexagon is a good way to tell it is brood.

More honey making.

Here in this next photo is some more capped honeycomb with some brood comb slightly out of focus in the lower right corner. You can really see how white this honeycomb is.

And here's your test. In this last photo, is it honeycomb or brood com? 

If you scroll down through the white space gap, I'll give you the answer to your test question. Hopefully everyone gets a 100%.

And since it is Thursday, I am  linking up to Rain's Art and Dinner Date.  This week her theme was Figure Drawings, which as you can tell, I never had time to do. 
Thanks for visiting. And have a wonderful rest of the week.

And the answer is: honeycomb.

Monday, August 15, 2022

First Loves

 Hi everyone.  Can you believe we are in the middle of the month already?

I'm leaving this afternoon for a couple of days away with my walking friend, but I wanted to share another page for Chris' When We  Were Young challenge  at Art Journal Journey before I leave. 

I call this page First Love. I think it's great how Elizabeth had the same idea for a page and posted it this past  Saturday. 

Back when I was cleaning my bin of stencils out, I came across one from Dylusions that I had never opened and forgot I even had. OK, I guess I have way too many stencils, but I took this one out and set it aside as it was perfect for Chris' topic this month. 

Instead of using the stencil, for this page I used the masks from when you popped the images out of the stencil. I put them down on my white watercolor paper and used some various shades of purple paint around them. Once the paint dried I used a Stabilo pencil to smooth out the edges of the masked children, and then I also used a wet brush to give me that fuzzy black edge.

I masked over the children again to use a couple of stamps and some purple and black ink to add some details to my background. The love word is also a stamp which I cut out and then added to my page. I added the black border to it with a Sharpie. 

I used the same stencil set to copy the red balloon onto some white paper. I painted the balloon, cut it out and added it to my page. The last thing I did was use a few of those little foam shaker card elements on each of the children.

I remember when I was young I had my first crush on the boy from across the street named Timmy. Sadly, he moved away very shortly after I developed my crush, and who knows what ever happened to him. Of course I had lots of crushes after him,  that is until I met my husband when I was in college. He's been my long term crush ever since. Grin.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

A Tag for Saturday

Hi everyone. Happy weekend to you!

I want to share a tag today for Valerie's Spots and/or Stripes challenge at Tag Tuesday.

Can you see the stripes I painted to make the background? I wasn't thrilled with the bright colors I picked so I used some black ink over them on much of the tag.  I think you can still see the stripes even through the black.

I added some old vellum number stickers and cut out the big six from a Gelli printed page. I also used some metallic die cuts I made from a die that's been in my stash for quite awhile. I ran the metallic side of the paper through the wrong way, but  I still like how the edges are embossed to outline the suits.

After I added the card suits, I thought of ladies getting dressed up and going to a casino to play some games. Do you think these 2  prefer blackjack, roulette, or maybe  they are poker players?  After adding the ladies,  I added some little foam card pieces. I also added a few foam  "spots" to the tag, and used a dotted line around the edge because the dotted line looked slightly more like stripes. I'm not sure what the big number 6 stands for, but perhaps they have so much fun this is their 6th visit.

My grandmother used to go with her senior group  on a bus trip to Atlantic City once a year. She'd figure out how much money she could afford to lose, and that's all she would gamble with. It wasn't a whole lot of money, but she had such a good time that she waited for every fall to go.  Now there are many more places with casinos, but back then, you either had to go to Vegas (Nevada) or Atlantic City (at least that's how I remember it.) My tag today is in memory of my Nana. 

That's all for me. Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Friday, August 12, 2022

Friday Art

Hi everyone. Happy Friday to you. Another week has flown right by for me, and perhaps for you also. Today we should have a really nice day, back to beautiful summer temperatures instead of the heat and humidity that we had had. And we should have  sun too. 

Today I have some art to share for Friday Face Off and Art Journal Journey.

My first journal page is one I started for last month's challenge at Art Journal Journey. The challenge in July was doors and/or arches (hosted by Wendy), and you can see the little door on the page. However, I never finished my page  beyond the paper scraps background and adding the door, so instead of finishing it as I thought I might, I took another route so I could share it with you for Nicole's Friday Face Off.

I thought this big face worked great on my page for Nicole's challenge.

The face is one I copied from a magazine page using my Gelli plate.  If you use a glossy magazine image and a very thin coat of paint on a Gelli plate, you can transfer images from the magazine page to the Gelli plate and then to your paper. 

I transferred a face from an old Somerset Studio magazine. I like how I only got the basic face. I used  a more watered down version of a golden yellow acrylic (not the brand, the color)  on my plate so that is the color of the face.  When I transferred the face I also had more of the magazine image on my paper, but I cut out the face because that's all I wanted. I had at first thought about covering up the door, but then I thought of how they worked together. The quote isn't very profound, but it worked. I also added these little shaker card cards and some washi tape.

My other journal page for today is one for Chris' When We Were Young challenge at Art Journal Journey. I have loved books ever since I was little. One of my favorites when I was very small was Go Dog Go by  P. D. Eastman. I could recite that story, and I used to sit there and do that or even make up stories based on all the drawings of the crazy dogs in the book.

That little girl on the chair (stamp by B Line Design) reminds me of Edith Ann from the old TV series Laugh In. You might remember a young Lily Tomlin playing Edith Ann.

I colored my background using some excess paint I wiped on with a paper towel. I also used some scrap paper, some washi tape, stickers for my page title, and lots of stamped and colored images.

I'm linking my entire post up to Gillena's Friday Lunch Break.

And that's it for me today. I hope everyone has a great start to your weekend.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Cartoons and Caricatures

 Hi everyone. Happy Thursday. 

Today it is once again time for Rain's Art and Dinner Date. This week she is asking for cartoons and caricatures.  

My photos aren't great, but my drawings in my daily journal are definitely cartoon-like. I don't spend a lot of time drawing them. That is my daily journal "rule", basically so I can keep up with daily journaling   I color them with some water based Faber-Castell markers.

And you can see why I'm not happy using a  Moleskin journal this year as you can see ghosts from the other side of the page. GRRR.

And for food this week, let me share this homemade coffee ice cream shake or what we here In New Hampshire call a frappe (pronounced frap). 

I love ice cream when it's hot, but one of the problems going out to buy a cone or dish is that you usually get more than you really need. Now don't get me wrong, I still love going out for an ice cream Sunday lunch, which is what my husband and I do weekly during ice cream weather. But sometimes during the week, I would just love a few bites to take the edge off my sweet tooth.

I have an ice cream maker I can use with my mixer, but it does entail freezing the bowl and beater, which means making room in the freezer. Then I need to make and chill the base, turn the base into ice cream in the frozen bowl and then freeze the newly made ice cream. When I noticed that there was a new Ninja Creami ice cream maker on the market, I was curious and looked into it.

This ice cream maker was a little more than I wanted to spend, but then Amazon Prime Days came along and they had it for $70 off, plus I had an Amazon gift card, so I decided I could get the price down to where I wanted. Now I can make pints  of ice cream without quite so much fuss. To use the Creami, you make your mix and then pour it in to fill the pint container to the fill line. Then freeze for 24 hours. After a few minutes in the machine, you have a pint of ice cream.

Yes, I could go out and buy a pint of ice cream, and I don't really  need another appliance on my kitchen counter, but at least now my husband and I can customize what we want. Plus it is fun to make your own ice cream. As I explained to my husband when I bought it and he was looking at me with one of those you're wasting your money looks, I can make all kinds of flavors of lighter ice cream and fruit sorbets, which aren't always easy to find at the store.

Now the hubby is into his own private pints of chocolate chip and cookie  ice cream, and I haven't seen that you're wasting your money look again. Smile!

I made a batch of coffee ice cream with 1 tbsp cream cheese, 3/4 of sugar (or sugar substitute), 3/4 c. of heavy cream, 1 c. of coffee flavored whole milk, and 1 tsp. of instant coffee granules. I put them all in a bowl together, heated them for just over 1 minute in my microwave and then used a whisk to mix them completely. Once mixed, I pour them into my Creami pint container and put it in the freezer for 24 hours. The next day I made my pint of coffee ice cream.

The creami has a milkshake button (a big selling point for me-grin), and I put 3 small scoops of ice cream and a 1/2 c. of skim milk into a clean pint container, ran it through the Creami and ended up in a few minutes with this very yummy coffee frappe. 

And I might add, a frappe that is not as big as one bought at the ice cream counter would be.

And no, I am not advertising or getting any money for writing this. I'm just excited to be making little ice cream treats for myself.  And I hope my waistline doesn't mind all little treats either-smile again.

Maybe  in the long run my new appliance will be collecting dust on my counter, but then again, maybe not. Only time will answer that question.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Wednesday Art

 Hi everyone. It's already the middle of the week again, and we've made it into the double digit days of the month. August, please slow down. I love autumn, but I am in no rush for winter to return.

Today I have some art to share. First let me show a piece for Chris' When We Were Young challenge at Art Journal Journey. I think most people can relate to this experience.

It's that time of year, or almost that time of year, when kids are getting ready to go back to school. Right now there are so many back to school ads just about everywhere I look. When I was young, I was always excited to go back to school, except the year I started high school. That year I was terrified.

I started by inking my page, which looks a bit splotchy, but also works because it doesn't interfere with the images I chose to use.

I die cut the apples with an ancient Spellbinder's die.  Back to school used to always be September (at least here in New England), which of course is also apple season. I wonder if that's where the saying "an apple for your teacher" came about.

I  had the math flash card in my paper stash. The black and white stamped images on the bottom of the page are from an ancient stamp set by October Afternoon, and the 2 stamped phases on the top of the page are from another older set by Oxford Impressions. I drew, colored and fussy cut the pencil which seemed to be what the page needed, especially based on the quote. 

And then I finished the page with some number and alphabet washi tape.
I also have a second journal page to share today.

 I am linking up this page  to More Than Words. I've been meaning to join this challenge for awhile now, and finally, I've managed to get a page made that works for their challenge. This month they are asking you to use a map of some kind and also the word adventure.

You can see my map is the globe.

I started my page with some tissue paper and a page from an old book. Then I added some Art By Marlene images. They ended up being too bright for where I wanted to go with this page, so I lightly brushed some grey paint over the whole page.  While it was wet I wiped much of it off. Then I sprayed some white ink on to give my page for some extra motion and details, since travel and adventure often require a bit of movement. (Unless of course you are armchair traveling.)

Finally I cut out this great lady from a Stamperia cut out book and added the ric-rac because it reminded me of waves. And from the look of her dress, some of her world travel will probably be on the ocean.  I also think she might be looking into the future with her spyglass, and perhaps she even has a time machine to take her to the time of air travel.

I am also going to link up this page to Creative Artiste Mixed Media blog challenge #85. The theme is anything goes as long as you use various types of media on your page.

That's it for me today. Have a great rest of your day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Summer Blooms

 Hi everyone. Happy Tuesday to you. 

And since it's been 2 weeks since the last Try It on Tuesday challenge, it is time for a new topic. Thank you to all of you who joined us for our Make It Feminine theme.

 This time our theme is

Summer Blooms.

My art piece is another journal page that is made on a piece of cardboard that was left over when I finished off a pad of paper. I painted the background with some color, and then I inked it over with some brown ink. I used some white gesso and a brush to hand paint in the circles that fill the background.

I like to pick garden flowers and bring them inside, so that was my inspiration for today's summer blooms page. I drew the vase, and then to give it a mosaic look, I cut little triangles out of paper and glued them down. I also covered my vase in some glossy accents to give it a shiny, more porcelain look. 

The flowers are hand drawn, painted with some bright colors, and then outlined with a stabilo pencil. I did use a wet brush to smudge those Stabilo lines a bit. I also noticed some of my painted petals show a few cracks, which although unintended, I really like.  I used a paint pen to draw in the stems and leaves, and I did not outline those to give some contrast between the leaves and the flowers. 

I created a table top using a die cut which I painted with bright colors and since the die cut didn't make it all across the page, I added a piece of washi tape to anchor it. Finally I used some old rub ones to create my saying. I didn't quite space things as perfectly as I would have liked, so the word "in" was put down on the bottom of the page.

Our Summer Blooms challenge at Try It On Tuesday runs for the next 2 weeks. We accept all types and styles of art, as long as you stick to the challenge. And don't forget to check out the art of the other design team members. There are some beautiful summer blooms there for your inspiration.

I'm excited to see all the summer blooms that people share with us. 
Thanks for visiting. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

T Stands for Better Than Pop's?

Hi everyone. Happy Tuesday or Monday night to you. It is time once  again for T over at Bleubeard"s and Elizabeth's blog.

On the last weekend of July, I went to my niece's wedding in Waterford, Maine. It was a lovely time, and if you want to read about the wedding itself you can check out my post from last Thursday- (Wedding).

The wedding was on Saturday evening, but we had wedding events on Friday night also. My husband and I (along with my daughter and her fiance) had rented a house from AirBnB for the weekend that had a 3 pm check in. Since it was a 2 hour drive to the wedding area from home, and since we wanted to arrive to have a bit of time before our Friday night event, my husband and I decided to leave around noon, stop some place for lunch and then try to beat much of the weekend traffic going north (which we really didn't manage to do even that early in the day).

Here in New Hampshire we only have 2 local TV stations. One is PBS and the other is WMUR, channel 9 out of Manchester. Channel 9 does a weekly viewer's choice for various things, one  of them being the best lobster roll in the state. (And for those of you who stop by my blog frequently, you know how much I like a good lobster roll in the summer. This viewer's choice is one I actually pay attention to- smile.) The winner is always the Poor People's Pub in Sanbornville, a part of the town of Wakefield.

The Poor People's Pub isn't really that far from my home, and I've eaten there before. However, it's not a direction I go very often because there usually isn’t  any reason I need to go to that area. We were passing it on our way to the wedding area though, so  you may imagine that's where I suggested we stop for lunch that day. 

Now the  thing about a people's choice award is that you never know whether the week's topic is really the best in the state, or if the restaurant/other place of business just has lots of die-hard fans that call or log in and vote. And even though lobster rolls are still on the pricey side (although they have come down  in price since I last posted over the July 4th weekend), I wanted to see if The Poor People's Pub lived up to the hype.

You can see the Poor People's Pub isn't anyplace fancy. It was crowded that day, even if my photo doesn't  look like it, and  we had to be seated out in the side room because the main restaurant didn't have any tables. By the time we left, this side was  full also.

And this is their menu, which is mostly sandwiches as well as daily special meals which are posted up on the wall.

I know many of you have never had a lobster roll or even a lobster. They probably sound exotic. Where I live  they are served all over the place, and they are as common on the menu in the summer as say a hamburger would be. That's because I don't live that far inland from the coast where these lobsters are caught, and it does help support a local industry. 

And  you know I had to try out their lobster roll for mylunch.

Unlike at Pop's where you just get fries, this came with a side of coleslaw and chips. The chips were not unique but since we don't have chips very often, they were yummy.  

The lobster roll was  chunks of lobster and light on the mayo. You could even get a hot lobster roll, with the lobster tossed in butter, but I prefer mine cold. Although Pop's lobster rolls do have many chunks of meat, this lobster roll was all chunks of meat. It even looks pretty in its nice lettuce bed, and it was only one very big piece of lettuce, not layers of it to fill the roll. Pop's lobster rolls also only have a small bit of lettuce, but they never look this photographically pretty.

I must admit,   I can see why this lobster roll always wins the viewer's choice. 

Not that I will skip buying one at Pop's, as long as the price doesn't inhibit it. And I hope I can squeeze in 1 more trip to Pop's before they close for the season in a few weeks. 
(Pop's did get #2 for the best fried seafood in the state this year, which is down from #1 last year. Of course since it's an hour inland from the coast where there are lots of fried seafood places, I think #2 is still noteworthy.)

Since this is T day, let me share my drink.  It is time to link up to Bleubeard's and Elizabeth's blog with your drink related post.

Nothing fancy. Just a diet Pepsi.

I most likely won't be joining you for T next week.  A friend and I have plans to take a roadtrip to the Berkshires in Massachusetts for a couple of days. If for some reason our plans fall apart, then I'll be linking up, but otherwise, have a great T day and 2 weeks ahead.

And of course, thanks for visiting my blog. 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

July Books

Hi everyone. Happy weekend.

Today I am writing my monthly post about the books that I read and listened to during July. As I have said before, I write this to help me keep track of what I've read. I know books are not everyone's thing, but I also know some of you enjoy reading about them. 

July was an interesting mix of books for me that included some mysteries, some classics and some new authors too.

My first listen for July was this classic from Willa Cather. Except for some short stories back in my college days, I hadn't read much of this author until a few years back  when I read Oh Pioneers and My Antonia. I loved both of these books, and I've wanted to read more of Cather's works since then. 

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a book titled Death Comes for the Archbishop, but this book was a pleasant surprise. It is set in the 1800's (1851 from what I read when I looked up the book as I didn't catch the exact date during my listen) in New Mexico.  Father Jean Marie Latour becomes  the archbishop of Santa Fe.  Although New Mexico  is a US territory, it  is still Mexican and Native American in customs. The Bishop is French by birth, but has been a priest in the United States (Ohio and Michigan) before being sent to New Mexico.

I loved the story of New Mexico told in this book. It was  filled with both good and not so good people, hot sun and snowstorms, and traveling on horses or burros for days between settlements with the diocese.  I loved how Cather described the little Spanish outposts and the Native Americans, and she even included a few historical figures too.   I know I am  a little biased as I write this because I have visited that state several times, and one thing I liked was the name recognition of places I've visited and how this novel takes me  to those places long before I ever visited them.    The archbishop and his friend the priest were real people (Jean-Baptiste Lamy and Joseph Projectus Machebeus), although this is a fictional novel based loosely on their lives, and not, at least as I read this story, a particularly religious focused book.

I didn't know that some lists put this novel in the top 100 American best books ever written. I didn't read it for that, but I can see why it might be placed there.

 The first book I read last month was The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

 A wedding is being held at a newly renovated inn on what was a deserted island off the coast of Ireland. And there's a storm  to darken the atmosphere. As the reception  progresses, a staff person thinks she sees a body outside of the tents. In the midst of this reception and death, the power keeps flickering on and off. 

This sounds like  the perfect setting for a murder-thriller type of  story. The story focused on some of the main characters. I liked how the story pops back and forth between these people, each of them telling their own view of the events.  However, one of the 2 negatives  for me  was that I didn't really like any of these people.   ( I did read in the back notes of the book that Lucy Foley likes to create unlikable characters.) 

That leads me to my other negative.  I was more than half way through the book without a whole lot of suspense other than "circumstantial" or emotional baggage clues before the story picked up.  Yet when the story did pick up, it really did surprise and shock me. I've never read any of this author's work before this book, so I  didn't realize what could be coming. It would have been easy  not to finish the book and miss the best part of the story.  I will say by the ending the author really did have me fooled.  

Overall, this story was  good for a  hot afternoon (or 2) on the hammock book. Will I read another of the author's novels? I'm not sure. After finishing this book, there is a part of me that wants to know if and how Lucy Foley can twist another story around so masterly.  Yet I'm also not sure I need to read the same type of story over again. But I must say, this story does stick with you, especially if you haven't read anything like it before.

Sometimes it is good to listen to a book by a new author and not have a whole lot of expectations about the story. I had never heard of Susanna Kearsley before reading about The Shadowy Horses in a sale blurb. And it is  also sometimes  good to listen to or to read a book that doesn't require a whole lot of work from you as the reader. For me this is especially true when I listen to a book because I only listen to books while I am doing other things, and if the book is too detailed laden, I miss too much listening to it. Plus, let's face it, in the heat of summer you sometimes don't want to work too hard with a book. 

Verity Grey is a young  30-ish archaeologist who goes to Scotland for a job digging where the 9th Roman Legion might have fallen in battle  almost 2,000 years ago. The truth is the dig is happening not because of any actual evidence, but because a young boy saw the ghost of a Roman soldier walking through the field. 

And then Verity starts seeing and hearing ghosts This book (according to the author's blurb) is part Gothic mystery, part romance, full of archaeology, and laced with some history. It is set in coastal Scotland, (Eyemouth, an actual town not far from the border with England) so I  enjoyed all the "new words" that are part of the Scottish vernacular and how the author added lots of local details to the story. 

I'm not a big romance reader, but I did find that the romance was merely a small part of the bigger story. I knew who Verity would fall for early in the story, but then the author basically got right to the point and didn't lead the reader on a chase through various romantic starts and stops.  The book also introduces lots of other characters and events, and so honestly, I'm not sure I would even call this book a romance. 

This book was a light, enjoyable listen.  I  enjoyed the story of the dig, liked the characters, and the mystery of the 9th Roman Legion. And I even enjoyed the ghost story, as it gave the story a little more historical "color". Yes, how it wrapped up was a bit predictable. There was never really any question about how the story would end, but I liked the overall story enough that I picked up another book by this author on the last Audible sale, and at some point I will listen to it.

The Road Through Miyama was published in 1989. My copy 
 smells wonderfully almost ancient with that slightly musty used book smell.  

This book describes Leila Philip's (the author) time as a potter's apprentice in the south of Japan in an area that is known for its historically Korean pottery. Leila came to the area to work with a Japanese artist who moved from Tokyo to Miyama to become a potter himself, and she not only worked with him, but lived with him and his wife during her apprenticeship.

I wish I had read this book before visiting Japan because even though it was written many years earlier than my trip, the insights into Japanese culture were well done. I also enjoyed the author's take on the family she lived with, and all the well respected older women of the community she interacted with. I wonder how different Miyama would be if this story was written now (in 2022) or if someone did an apprenticeship right before covid began. That is, if the potteries in the area still remain because in the 30+ years since this book was written, as things could and probably  have changed. I enjoyed this book about an American traveling and living in Japan, and I particularly liked the focus on culture and art.  I also liked how the author focused on Miyama as a community. I'm glad Plilip only mentioned but didn't digress from the story by talking about side journeys she took while being an apprentice.

Last summer I read 8 Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. That book was a murder mystery, and as that story progressed it named and discussed 8 perfect murders that occurred in other published mystery stories. Strangers On A Train was one of those 8 books mentioned in Swanson's novel, and the 5th of those 8 mysteries that I have since read (or reread). In this case, I listened to the story.

Two gentlemen meet on a train trip  going west from New York. Guy Haines is an architect, going to get a divorce from his wife in Texas. Charles Anthony Bruno is a man whose hobby is  to do things that push the limits. For example, one of Bruno's push-the-limits thrills was to commit a robbery, not that he wanted the item he stole, but just to say he had committed a robbery. After a night of drinking, Charles Bruno suggests to Guy Haines that they should each carry out a murder and kill someone that the other person "wishes" was dead.

When a murder happens, the suspense begins. What happens after that murder is what keeps you tied to this novel.  I will say there were a few places I thought the overall story could have moved onward a bit faster, but just when I thought it was going to stall out, something big happened.  This book is definitely a classic, and the suspense still holds today. I can't say I guessed how things would wrap up.  

This book was read by Bronson Pinchot who did an excellent job. Strangers on a Train  by Patricia Highsmith was published in 1950, and it was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's film by the same name. 

The last actual fiction book I read in July was The Wall by Mary Roberts Rhinehart, published in 1938 and was a best seller that year.

Mary Roberts Rhinehart was an American author who was often referred to as the American Agatha Christie, or at least the introduction in my copy of this book says that. The introduction also says that unlike Christie, Rhinehart's popularity as an author died out after the author's death in 1958. In my pursuit of reading classic mysteries, I thought it was time to read one of her books. I chose The Wall since it is set on a resort island along the New England coast.

Marcia is at her family's summer home, which is now hers due to the death of her parents and her buying out her brother Arthur's half of the house. The story begins with Arthur's ex-wife Juliette showing up. For reasons that go beyond me but do make good mystery reading, Marcia allows Juliette and her maid to stay with her. You can probably guess Juliette is trouble right from the start. And that hold true even in death.

This is a very good story  expertly told through Marcia's eyes. It does have a feel of an Agatha Christie novel, although I think a slower read than most Christie books are. This is a novel where you have to read every word carefully or you end up going back a couple of paragraphs to see what little detail you missed. At almost 400 pages, it took me awhile to get through it. It is a good story though, and  I am going to keep my eye out for some more used copies of Rhinehart's mysteries because I like how she carries her story along.

And I finished off July's fiction picks by listening to a few short stories by Agatha Christie.

These short stories don't generally develop the suspense that Christie's books do, especially when, as all of these were, the story is less  than or just over an hour long.  Then again, short stories are short, and  Christie does a decent job with them. I enjoyed how King of Clubs was read by David Suchet, who played one of the best Detective Poirot's on TV.  Philomel Cottage was my favorite story; it didn't have any of Christie's detectives in it and really did leave me guessing. I also liked how I could listen to one story during a drive to wherever I was going and be done with it. 

It was good for a change to break up longer stories (that I usually listen to) with a slightly different writing format.

And I did read one art book.

I'm interested in making a few mosaics for my garden. One thing I really want to make is a mosaic wall hanging for my screen porch. I've done some mosaic work, but not a whole lot, especially for making something that would be out in the elements.

I picked up this used craft book off of Amazon. I like how it's completely focused on making mosaics for the outdoors. Of course you could also use it for indoor pieces too.  It has great information and some interesting projects too, including a couple of wall pieces. I also liked how Mark Brody explains how you  could use mosaics on pieces already made, like pots, chimineas or other garden ornaments. I'd give this book high marks for explaining and describing exactly what I was looking for. I hope this month (August) and I do some mosaic making.

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading through my list. Maybe you even found something interesting. And as usual, I love recommendations (even though my wish to read list is getting quite long because some of you read such great sounding books.)  

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and as always, thanks for visiting.