Books on my ‘right now’ reading pile

The War on Art by Steven Pressfield

war on Art  It is described as nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. (Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who lived in ancient China. He is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an influential book on military strategy.

This book takes the reader on a trip through the hows, whys, and ways of the evil genius called Resistance that lives within us and he shows us how to beat it. It’s an easy, interesting read and intriguing layout of a battle plan for defeating this enemy. Great read and it does give the reader’s brain interesting nuggets to think on.


The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick by Gene Stone

0761165819 Here we’re shown twenty-five different remedies from people who swear by each method. Did I believe everything in it? No. But there are sections I want to know more about. Topics include:people living in Blue Zones, people who eat dirt, swear by chicken soup, have daily encounters with H202(hydrogen peroxide), who run, who do yoga, them that detox by various methods, and a ton more. A book worth reading.


Book Art Studio Handbook by Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow

1592538185  Like to make your own books? Every so often I give it a try because the idea of creating something to create in is an urge too big to ignore. This book shows you how to set up a studio with good descriptions of each tool needed (lots of pictures). It shows you how to make some necessary (good step by step and picture instruction). It takes you through planning a book (materials) with chapters on different style of books, albums, and containers for books. It’s a picture book for those interested in book-making methods and definitely a few steps beyond creating books from cereal boxes (which are fun to do too!).  If I had to use one word for this book, it would be yummy. But then that’s not a proper book word so I won’t. . .


Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory

1452135479 I love this guy! When he writes a book, his voice is all over it—you read and it’s as if Danny is over your shoulder talking out loud to you. He makes art so simple, so joyful it’s impossible not to just do it. I credit this artist, along with Cathy Johnson, Brenda Swenson, (okay, we can’t forget Kooje Koene and her  ‘quickie’ art lessons on YouTube), and Liz Steele with pushing my art to a more comfortable level inside my head and on the paper.

Listen, in my opinion—anything Danny produces is worth reading or watching.


Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

1780671067  Like to draw? Like to doodle? Like to Zentangle? This ‘coloring book’ is bursting with images and ideas. When it’s doodling time, this is one of my mainstays to pull close. And, it’s not just for drawing. I’ve found some of the pictures excellent for transfer to fabric to embroider. It’s a shelf have-to-have for me.


Vintage Trailer Style by Lisa Mora

1446304523  I’ve probably mentioned this one before but, somehow, it always seems to take itself off the shelf and insert itself into my ‘at the moment reading’ pile. Love, love, love this book! The travel trailers in this book are joyful and from page one you feel the burn to hit the open road. I mean – from trailers for girly girls to an airstream called Mimsy’s Trailer Trash Tattoo Studio—from Gypsy romance to the Wild West—what’s not to love about this book?

Excuse me—I have to get a napkin for the drool. . .


Buddhism plain and simple by Steve Hagin

buddhism plain and simpleI think the title says it all. I have had a burning curiosity about Buddhism for a long time but always shied away because, well, for one, I couldn’t see myself in an orange wrap, with a fuzzy head and meditating twenty-five hours a day (okay truth—I LIKE the fuzzy head part). Thank God for this book is all I can say.

I’m reading it in slo-mo because it’s a pondering book chockfull of AHA moments.


SKULLS by Simon Winchester   (subtitle—An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection)

0999730444  Now here’s a Picture Book!  Over 300 different pictures of animal skulls with information about each skull, plus a listing of what kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and behavior they belong to. Turning the pages it hit me — suddenly I could see where so much of our local, and stunningly beautiful Native Art originates from. I think this could be a valuable book for many artists in many different fields.


And, to end my list, are my at-this-moment favorites in the who-dun-its—Ellery Adams, Molly MacRae, Kate Carlisle and Laurie Cass

laurie cass kate carlisle indexLZ2P2FG0 indexEG7DRHCU bookmobile ellery adams index index0PAEHFHR

Hike; to trek. Walk; to amble. Brain—to differentiate

The words walk and hike—for some reason I’ve allowed those two words to co-habitat the same brain cell, like twins, for much of my confused life.

Well—no more!

We survived our colds and the winter monsoons but needed a walk real bad, so when the latest version of ‘Hikes around Vancouver Island’ showed up I grabbed it.  (Notice how I casually and idiotically grouped those two words into one sentence?)

However, I’m not a complete idiot—I only marked out the hiking trails closest to home and then ignored anything not labeled at the beginning as ‘easy’.

In the end, it was the hike with the suspension bridge and picnic-friendly lake that won out. Fun stuff to the clogged brain.

So, with book firmly in hand, we hit the trail. The first 100 meters was as lovely as it claimed. The suspension bridge was as nerve-tingling as expected. Part way over an awful thought passed through my mind like an ill wind—if the bridge was ever going to weaken – wouldn’t it be the parts dead center—where most people walk?

I shifted both feet out so I was walking side to side.

Did you know if you walk off-center on a suspension bridge it really, really sways? And the person not creating the swaying will squawk like a chicken and begin hustling toward the end. And, did you know, that moving faster causes more swaying?

Suddenly there were two squawking, hustling idiots on a swaying bridge. . .Yeah, too cool for words right?

Thank heavens the next 300 meters were easy-peasy—as the book promised. And, it’s too bad I, before we started, glossed right over the part that warned the following 100 meters were steeply uphill.

Lying buggers!

I swear it was closer to 1000  2000 meters and I felt like a monkey grabbing at branches as we hauled ass over slimy mucky rocks half-buried under gushing rivulets of water. I imagine our heart-pounding, sweat-dripping, wind-sucking gasps for air (okay, mostly mine) scared off any wildlife lurking in the bushes.

Methinks the authors need to state just who the ‘easy’ is directed at. Couldn’t be for us poor sods bulging with fatty baggage and left over cold left-overs.

But we made it!  And that’s when Man-Wonder barked. (I swear he did)  “Holy Crap Honey—recognise this lake?”

“Uh, no.” I said, my memory being equal to that of a squashed bug.

He pointed, “The big, flat rock? We hiked up here on our first date.”

“Nope. No way, even twenty years ago, would I have forgotten that hill. But, yeah, that rock is familiar. . . ”

“We came from the other direction. It was an easy hike in. Even for you.” And then like a goober, he smirked!

All I can say is he’s lucky I wasn’t packing pockets stuffed with bear scare, mace, and rocks like I was twenty years ago. . .


Book Review : Emails From India

Funny how things happen. I was at the library and picked this book up because India fascinates me (seems there is a large number of people in that group). I gave the book a quick study and decided not to bother with it, but for some reason the book wasn’t put back and it ended up in my check-out pile. I am so glad it did!

*On a side note—I’m beginning to see how the word ‘book’ and the word ‘pile’ always seem to run hand in hand with me. . .*


emails from india  Emails From India by Janis Harper

Many women, from around the world travel, often alone, to India, according to Janis. They have been doing so since the time of the British Raj. And they like to talk about it. She describes herself as an Indophile from sometime in her teenage years; yet it took her until close to reaching fifty before she finally made the trek.

And so, there is this book—Emails from twenty-seven different women about their experiences. Emails sent to friends or family and passed on from them to others because they were too delicious to not share, or they offered a loose travel guide of what not to do, where not to go, what to do and where to go.

Descriptions of young soldiers at airports with taped together AK-47s; beachy laneways in Candolim; a Muslim-rich ancient community called the Moplahs along the Kerala coast; a lush description of an Indian lover; narrow alleyways twisting left and right and ending at skinny staircases rich in aromas of sandalwood and rot, and so, so much more.

This is an incredible book to read if you have even the slightest curiosity about India. It is a book rich in the art of patience, of facing fears and diving into our endless wells of courage. It is a book of living life large.


The Wheels go round and round. . . or not.


Man-Wonder and I went for a bike ride.

We’re not bike fanatics and our bikes are at least fifteen years old but they are skookum in structure and wicked awesome in color—honking yellow/black, and purple/black. But mine is cooler since I have extensions rising from the straight handlebar so I can ride upright if I want.


Man-Wonder says I remind him of the old woman in the Wizard of Oz movie. I tell him I’ll be more like the wicked witch if he doesn’t shut up; which has no effect on him since he was born to flap (and we aren’t talking body parts here Toto).

Yesss indeedy, we make a fine sight when we hit the road.

Anyway, last week, Man-Wonder came up with “Let’s drive over to the fish hatchery; park on the road above and ride down and follow the river. A nice easy loop—under an hour max.”

It was a great ride until half way around I spot a trail heading into woodsy area in the center of the loop.

“Any idea where it goes?” I ask.

“Probably follows the rearing channels.”

Like an idiot I say, “Let’s check it out.”

“Sure, how bad can it be?” the goombah in him replies.

Holy Keee-risttt!

no no It turned out to be absolutely, no way, nada, as in not fit for a bike, and it didn’t take long for the trail to downsize until it felt like it had been cleared by squirrels. There were a few slimy slippy-slidey skids over protruding tree roots and, at the bottom of one slope, we were forced into a sharp S turn to avoid a dip in the creek dead ahead. Another corner and another slope was suddenly funneling us onto an itty-bitty wooden bridge with half its planks rotted out.

Did we turn around? Nah. We were sure the end was near.

And it almost was. For me anyway.

Because, that’s when we hit THE hill and by the time I reached the top I was sucking, really sucking wind. But I did arrive just in time to watch Man-Wonder take off pedaling down the other side like a demented hamster while hugging his handlebars. Hugging—because to reach the other side of the canyon (okay, big ditch) he had to ride under a massive fallen tree trunk . . . oh . . . say . . . a smidgen above bicycle height!

“Are you kidding me?” I said looking skyward.

Apparently not—Man-Wonder made it up the other side with head attached. Which meant it was my turn.

I took off pedaling like a demon child while literally kissing the crotch-banging bar (or whatever that bar is called) and made it almost halfway up the other side before doing a slow motion sideways collapse and watching my bike slide away to rest under the tree.

“Can I help?” Man-Wonder asked, trying not to smirk as he skip-skidded down to grab my bike.

“Use the cell to call an ambulance?” I gasped. “And a new owner for that bike.”


. . . . . . I wonder if rollerblading would be any easier?

Cleaning Up with the Japanese Art of Decluttering


Recently zoomed through the book, the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo.

untitledAn interesting and worthwhile read because Marie offers a fresh look, with some new twists, on a subject that feels like it’s been around too long already. She takes the idea of de-cluttering and shines it up to a brilliant level.

The theme of the book is not to throw out to tidy up, but to remove anything that doesn’t delight or give a feeling of gratitude for having it. Marie says once this is achieved you will never step back into a cluttered life and will come to understand yourself better.

I requested this book even though I smugly thought we didn’t need it. Not after our massive clean-out sixteen months ago when we downsized. We’ve been living with the smugness of that purge—even as we grew stash(es) of writing and drawing papers, cup-hoards of pens and—OMG—the books!

Those little buggers had been multiplying like horny little hard hares on the shelves—so we started with them:

Step one – gather every book from everywhere and pile them on the floor.

Step two – pick up each book (unopened) and listen to the feeling it evoked. Was it :

  • A sense of guilt because we hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet?
  • A sense of shame because we’d read a few pages before putting it down, thinking we’d try again another time? Only we hadn’t.
  • Or, if we did read it once but because it was pricey we somehow thought hanging onto it would give us a better deal??
  • A sense of delight, because somehow, someway, the book connected with us?

If the answer was one of the first three the book joined the giveaway pile(s).

In total, we gave away one hundred and twenty-one books!

Now, when we look at the bookshelves our eyes don’t skitter away anymore. We feel a nice sense of wonder and delight we have such great books.

Then it was time for the pen stashes . . . oh just  tsk  tsk  tsk.

Ain’t  weren’t we fine examples of pen-hoarders. A plastic bin, the size of a shoe box, carried away our shameful excess.

And you know what? It’s heaven to not pick up a pen that feels like ick. Now, when we pick up a pen it feels good—every single time!

I’m glad I read her book. . . and as soon as we rest up from our ink-loaded endeavour we’ll be tackling our over-the-top passion for paper, pads, notebooks and my personal hoard of pretty papers.

new papers books oh my




Tout naturel or au naturalle ?

So, there we were—Man-Wonder and I quietly getting our breakfast as the radio played behind the sounds of the kettle heating, cereal pouring and toast being buttered. Nary a  ‘watch out eh’ or a ‘Scuse’ said between us.

Definitely not one of those mornings where it’s like we’ve spent the night the night dreaming and thinking and coming up with things to discuss. Those mornings are like two blabber-guts over cereal!

But the morning was quiet. And as we sat across from each other chewing, the radio kicked in with the morning news and up comes a little news piece worth some serious discussion.

It was reported that the police on the mainland (outside of Vancouver city) were searching for a  hiker. Seems the guy had been spotted on three different occasions wearing nothing more than a backpack and ear buds. They did say when he realized there were others close by, he hid behind a tree.

So—not a pervert nor an exhibitionist—just someone who likes to be out and about, away from the general population, naked, au naturalle , tout naturel. Call it what you want – he prefers it all off.

“Kinda’ cold for naked skin.” I said, when the news ended, as I looked out the window at the thermometer and slurped my nice hot java.

Man-Wonder grunted. (I think partly because he’s cut back on his java.)

“But,” I added, buttering my toast, “I don’t think it’s illegal, if he’s in an area where he’s believes he’s likely to be alone.”

Man-Wonder raised his head from over his cereal bowl and stared at me for a lonnnng moment before raising one eyebrow and smirking as he said, “I’d be more worried about squirrels hunting for nuts.”



. . .Let’s just call that breakfast conversation one of our shortest ever. . .



Book Review or Two


Sarah Jio – Goodnight June

June Anderson, the main character, is a self-described highly trained, (emotionless)  ‘ax-person’ for a foreclosure department of a large bank when her beloved aunt dies and June finds herself the new owner of a much-loved bookstore from her childhood. But she hasn’t just inherited Bluebird Books, she’s also inherited a lot of problems. Serious problems.

June is suddenly faced with decisions; Quit her highly successful job and do everything she can to breathe life back into the bookstore, or try to sell it and go back to her own successful life.

To further complicate things, she is led to discover years of friendship letters between her aunt and Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon—the beloved children’s classic book. Letters which cause her to turn around and take another look at everything she believes to be true.

This book I could not put down. I tried. But I just seemed to end up with my bum parked and my eyes rapidly moving from left to right.

This is one big heart-tugging/heart-warming book from start to finish and it closes with a long satisfying sigh.

Good stuff!


The second book I was planning to review will have to wait. At least until the deliriously-happy drool has dried.

Good thing it’s not a library book!



Operatic Solo or Operatic No-no

I’ve been hanging around the coffee shops again. Listening to snatches of conversations and pondering the wisdom of people.

What have I learned?

  • It doesn’t matter how well dressed and together people look, they still have the same kind of sticky, icky issues.
  • Like the young couple, who were, whether they realized it or not, breaking up. I was fascinated at how their voices would go from quiet angry to rising fury, before dropping into angry hisses, only to start rising again. It was like hearing an operatic libretto minus any musical score.
  • Across town, in another coffee shop I was treated to the following; Two male clerks were eating lunch and discussing the sales levels of the new ‘manly’ outdoors store.

“Yeah, headquarters is trying to figure out why our rifle sales and our fudge sales are still shooting up. We’re outselling all the other stores.

“Simple,” replies the other one. “We gotta’ lotta’ fat people shooting off more than just their mouths around here.”

I’m still amazed that neither of them, while busting a gut, didn’t choke on their sandwiches. And, I really wonder, just who the real fatheads were. . .

. . . .

One last scene worth sharing—This time it was all Man-Wonder’s fault (and since he never reads this blog I’m safe to say that.) Part of our improved lifestyle means more walking. So we decided that we would include an after dinner walk to our local coffee shop, a few times a week, for an evening cuppa.

“Let’s take the crib board.” Man-Wonder said last night.

“I’m kind of tired.”

But he did and we had a game. When it was apparent he was going to double-skunk me I offered to toss the game.

“Un uh” he said, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

Remember how I said I was tired?

Well, I belted out one of my short operatic squalls,thSNBVKTCX like I tend to do at home (or when locked safely in a moving vehicle).

Wow! Have you ever been the cause of instant dead silence? I considered sliding under the table but the image of struggling to get back up killed that thought before my legs had time to do more than twitch.  Instead—with crib board tucked tightly under arm and toques pulled low—we slunk quietly into the foggy night.

So, I wonder which will happen first—we go back to that coffee shop or Man-Wonder wants another game of crib?

And, I want to add a note here for anyone with a song in their heart; I couldn’t help but notice the echoing—the acoustics in a half-empty coffee shop are pretty good!






I Know There’s a Name for it

Since the strand of tinsel has fallen, and the last string of Christmas lights have been unplugged. And, because, there’s only a smear where the last piece of shortbread was laid out in its glory, I’ve been trying to find joy in other ways.

Like reading! And I have found gems worth sharing.

Here’s a few;

If you’re a stitcher, you’ll enjoy the humor in Mary Corbet’s latest blog, Life as a Needle in My Studio


If you are a writer, and plan to up your writing game in 2015, and you need a little soft pushing, try Jordan’s article about over-night success;


Or, maybe, like me, you need a GIANT butt kick, here’s a sign for 2015 from Jeff Goins

writer   More of his brand of wisdom is hiding here;


And talking about wise men—I just finished reading Huston Smith, Wisdom Keeper by Dana Sawyer.

huston smith   WOW—This is an autobiography of a life well and truly lived.  Huston Smith has friendships with some of the great philosophers and authors of our times. Men like; Gerald Heard, Aldous Huxley, and Alan Watts (Way of Zen). Huston is a teacher, author, and a scholar who has dipped his heart into every religious, mystical, and spiritual tradition that he could find—from Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass) and their experiments with  psychedelics, to the Dali Lama and Buddhism, to the Sufi Turkish Whirling Dervishes and then all he could learn of the Native American religious traditions from leaders of the Onondaga  tribe. Huston has been called a 21st-century spiritual giant.

No freaking kidding!


In the world of whodunits I have found another ‘favorite’ writer—Sue Ann Jaffarian.

6a5d8dd7ba489764f771431d28bfb71e   Man-Wonder surprised me with Ghost of a Gamble from her Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series. Not only is there murder in this baby but there’s also a cast of unexpected characters, long-dead, shortly-dead and some bodies heading that way. There’s also mobsters, cute babies, mediums, tarot readers, cops, kidnappers etc. etc. .

Funny and light-hearted but solid enough to pull me in tight from the first paragraph and I admit I burned through this one— and probably spent more time whining because I finished it than I did reading it. . .


Right now I’m into a new and promising book combining Yoga and Energy medicine. It’s called. . . wait for it. . .

2464 . . Energy Medicine Yoga  by Lauren Walker.

I’m a fan of Donna Eden. So is Lauren. In this book she combines her yoga and Donna’s energy teachings into a vibrant and natural body/mind series of movements.

Some books, the ones I really, really like (and are mine, not the library’s) I will scribble all through the margins. This book, in two chapters, has almost as much pen ink on the pages as typed ink—and I plan to scribble plenty more; especially since I received pens, pens and more pens in my stocking.thBVSFER1E


And, here’s a picture of what the coffee table looks like now that the Christmas hoopla has been stowed away for another year.

002   The back stack are books I’ve removed to make room for incoming. I still have to go through them.

Just to be sure.

Uh . . . what’s the word for book-hoarder?

It’s that time of year again. . .

sick woman1

Once again the cold season has reared its snotty head!

Am now into week two (since first sniffles) and so so very tired of hearing my pitiful moans each time I have to blow my nose—which is the ugliest shade of reddish-purple I’ve ever seen and trust me I’ve been doing plenty of bathroom-mirror-staring-up-the-nostrils since plugging up.

I keep thinking Man-Wonder has reached the breaking point in listening to my sniffing and snorting, and has waited until I fall into the daily dozen or so, half-sitting, foggy slumbers before sneaking in, and, lovingly (sure, sure), shoved wads of twisted tissue up my nostrils, in hopes of a few moments of silence.

The other though that keeps me checking is the thought that maybe I’ve sleep-sniffed so freaking hard I’ve sucked up my a shit-load of fibers from my drool cloth.

HEY! Don’t laugh!

Since the nose turned into a solid block of . . . ,  there’s been a lot of serious mouth-breathing. And, since I’m unable to sleep on my back, the drool have the perfect opportunity to make a run for it.

Colds are so disgusting!

Take coughing—mine is now a serious strain on my abdomen it’s causing more embarrassing moments. Like having to run for the washroom because the bladder has been coughed inside out.

Gotta’ go to the doctors? Or run out of cough syrup? Guaranteed the cough-fart, cough-fart, cough-fart scenario is coming up. And worse yet—since the nose is blocked, there’s no sense of smell.

You start a cough-fart session and you better start trotting  running away.

Never mind you’re doing a serious imitation of tugboat Annie as you propel yourself forward.

Never mind that your mouth is hanging open like a demented cat. Or that there’s a thin silver bubble dancing on the end of your nose.

Just go. . . G0. . . GO!

Yeah, I love colds. It brings one down to the humblest of places. I guess in some ways it’s good to get a cold. It makes one appreciate full body control and function.

And now, thanks to the daily pot of stinging nettle, green, and red clover brew, the dark circles under my eyes are slowly fading and the ability to hear the world around me is growing stronger.

Like the sound of Man-Wonder doing a lot of low-level throat clearing. . .

. . Crap, Crap, and double-crap—I do believe round two in the battle of the travelling mucus is about to take place.

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