Start Your Engines

Back At It

I'm feeling much better.

Tom is safely back home.

In other words, I'm settling.  It's Monday.  Time to . . . 

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(On Monday mornings, I share a few things I found over the weekend.)

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"I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear."
     --- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Tom suggested this week's word to me.  It's one we both run into quite often in our reading.  It's fun to say . . . and fun to think about.

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(Interesting tidbit:  This word is often capitalized.  Why?  Well . . . it's a German word.  And in German, nouns are capitalized!)

What's the zeitgeist of the 21st century?  A quick google search indicates that maybe it's globalization.  Or misanthropy (hint: general dislike of humankind).  Thoughts?

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The Oscar nominations came out last week.  Because we go to the movies all the time, Tom and I have already seen most of the nominated movies across the major Oscar categories.  Here's a quick rundown of the Best Picture nominees, including tips on where you can see them.  (My favorites?  I'm firmly in the Parasite camp this year, but I also really liked JoJo Rabbit, Little Women, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.)  What's your favorite?

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I just finished reading a new book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn.  (You can read reviews/more about the book here and here.)  This book is about marginalized American people, and my friends . . . it is a real gut-punch.  It's depressing and discouraging and frustrating.  But it also . . . explains a lot.  How we got here, as a country, and where we might go in the future.  If we all work together.  And, yeah.  The book is written by two people leaning left.  But they don't just tow a progressive line. They also validate conservative stances on personal responsibility and the importance of a strong work ethic.  They are looking for solutions -- where we (as a country) could do the most good to change the tide. It is one of the more balanced perspectives I've read -- which is refreshing.  Because it's going to take all of us - working together - to fix the mess we're in.  (The book does offer hope, with many possible solutions -- both for the country as a whole and for individuals.)

It's worth reading.

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And . . . just for fun . . . here's an article about "craft trends" for the coming year!  Get ready for stained glass, color blocking, chartreuse, 3D printing, embroidery, and a continued focus on both eco-crafting (mending, zero-waste, use-what-you-have) and inclusion in the craft world.

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I hope your Monday is off to a great start!
(I know I'm happy to be back at it this week.)

 

 


Here We Go Again

It's time to dust off the holiday cobwebs and get moving again!  
Yes, my friends.  It's time to . . . 

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(On Monday mornings, I share a few things I found over the weekend.)

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A Quote

"Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing."
--- Sarah Ban Breathnach

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(Believe in yourself.  Believe in whatever you've decided you want to do this year.  Believe you can.)

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A Word

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Today is one of those especially challenging Mondays for many of us . . . that first Monday after the holiday season.  It's time to go back to work or to school or to routine.  And, sure.  It feels kinda good.  Because you can only be in a holiday-coma on the couch for so long.  But still.  It's a tough Monday.  

To help you find the best word to describe your mood today, here is a list of 19 Words for the Cranky and Disagreeable from Merriam Webster.  

So.  How are YOU feeling today?  Are you a bit peevish?  Surly, maybe?  Splenetic?  Or perhaps just a tad . . . narky?  However you're feeling . . . you can be sure there's a word for it!

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To Read

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If you follow along with the daily news, you might feel a bit . . . discouraged with the State of Things.  You might feel like we're all going to hell in a hand basket.  Or that it's just one big dumpster fire out there.  (Maybe you're feeling, oh I don't know . . . captious, perhaps?  Fumish?  Shirty, even?)

Well.  If you ARE, indeed, feeling a little shirty, the headline on this opinion piece from the New York Times may take you by surprise:  This Has Been the Best Year Ever.  Go ahead.  Read it.  It'll give you a different (and maybe better) perspective on the times we live in.

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To Listen

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I love to check out all the "best of" lists that come around at the end of the year.  One list I took special note of this year came from NPR: the 25 Best Albums of the Year.  I decided to listen to all 25 albums (because I want to challenge myself to listen to more new music) (you'll hear more about this in future posts).  I'm not even close to completing NPR's list yet, and I don't like everything I have listened to.  But. . . there is some really good stuff on this list!  My favorites, so far, are Lana Del Rey and Brittany Howard.  (But of course, I'm familiar with - and like - both of them already, so no surprise there.)  But I also really liked John Luther Adams Become Desert.  

Check it out.  Listen along with me.  Challenge yourself -- and listen to something new.

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And that's it for this first Monday in January 2020.
I hope your week is off to a great start!


Start Your Engines

It's Monday again.  
Time is just racing, non?
Preparations.  
Celebrations.
Contemplations.

Time to . . . 

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(On Monday mornings, I share a few things I found over the weekend.)

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A Quote

"In a way Winter is the real Spring -- the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature."
    --- Edna O'Brien

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In case you missed the announcement earlier this month, the next Read With Us book is Fever by Mary Beth Keane.  We won't be discussing the book until February, so you have plenty of time to find the book and read with us after the holidays!

In other reading news . . . here's an interesting article from The BBC about how reading has changed over the past decade.  Have you noticed any of the trends noted in the article???  Or maybe . . . some trends that aren't listed at all???

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This is the best time of year to go to the movies.  Most of the year's top movies have release dates from October through December, so there's something good playing at the theater all the time.  Last week, Tom and I went so see Dark Waters and Parasite.  Both are excellent movies. . . but Parasite?  Oh, my!  If you have a chance to see that one . . . GO!  I'll just say . . . wow.  (And don't let the Korean subtitles intimidate you.  After a couple of minutes, you don't even notice the whole movie is in Korean.)

I know I know.  A lot of you don't like going to the theater.  Lucky for you . . . there are all kinds of Oscar-buzzy movies you can watch right in the comfort of your own home!  Like . . . Hustlers.  (You can rent this one on Prime.) (Jennifer Lopez is awesome -- and expected to be a major Oscar contender for her role.)  Or Rocketman.  (You can rent this one on Prime.)  (Oscar buzz for Taryn Egerton, who plays Elton John.) (If you liked Bohemian Rhapsody last year, you'll probably like Rocketman, too.)  Or Marriage Story.  (Streaming on Netflix.) (Probably the most Oscar-buzziest of the bunch, and totally worth the hype.)  

How about you?  Have you seen any movies to recommend lately?

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Although I don't have a word for you this week, I do have a poem to share.  

White Lie
Austin Smith

Christmas Eves our dad would bring
Home from the farm real hay
For the reindeer that didn't exist
And after we were finally asleep
Would get out and take the slabs
Up in his arms and carry them
Back to the bed of his pickup,
Making sure to litter the snow
With chaff so he could show us
In the morning the place where
They'd stood eating, their harness
Bells dulled by the cold, their breath
Steam, all while we were dreaming.

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That's it for me on this Monday morning.
I hope your week is off to a good start!

 


Start Your Engines

I woke up to rain this Monday morning.  
I think rain in December is just plain dreary.  
(No worries, though.  It looks like it will turn to snow later today.)  
No matter the precipitation, it's definitely time to . . . 

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(Each Monday morning, I share a few things I found over the weekend.)

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A Quote

"It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness."
     --- Eleanor Roosevelt

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A Word

This week, I offer you another word from Tom.  Not a science-related term this time, though.  Just a word . . . that means, well, just what you'd think it means.

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This just seems like a good word to have in our vocabularly during the holiday season!

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(Well.  Not so much "cook" as "bake" this week . . . )

If you're looking to add some new cookies to your tasty holiday treats repertoire, the New York Times has just published 12 Stunning Cookie recipes for all of us.  The link will take you to tempting quick videos of 12 new and gorgeous cookies, complete with recipes.  

I'm thinking some Abstract Art Cookies and maybe some Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies might make it into my rotation this year.  

Which ones look best to you????

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If you read Just Mercy with us (and even if you didn't), this article might be interesting for you.  It's about a Florida county prosecutor who is . . . well . . . just saying NO to the death penalty.  An interesting read!

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A Factoid

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Tom and I haven't had a traditional Christmas tree in our house for several years now.  We do have a lovely, white lighted birch that stays in our living room through the winter, though.  (At the holidays I throw a few glittery ornaments on it for added sparkle.)  When we did have a traditional tree, it was (almost) always a real tree.  With real needles.  All over my floor.

So I was intrigued by this little Christmas tree factoid from Mental Floss:

Researchers Are Building a Better Tree:  All those pine needles that accumulate below the tree each day may soon be a thing of the past. Washington State University plant pathologist Gary Chastagner, also known as “Mr. Christmas Tree,” is currently leading a five-year, $1.3 million research project partly aimed at helping Christmas trees retain their needles for longer. Chastagner and a team of researchersare collecting tree samples from farms throughout the country, testing which are the most resistant to root rot and have the strongest needle retention, then sourcing those for seeds to plant the next crop of Christmas trees. If the team succeeds, your tree may last into the spring.

(Click here for more facts about Christmas trees.)

How about YOU?  If you celebrate Christmas . . . real tree? artificial tree? no tree?

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And that's it for this (wet) (and dreary) Monday morning.  I hope your week is off to a great start!

 


Start Your Engines

Doesn't this first Monday in December - which also happens to be the Monday after a long and leisurely Thanksgiving weekend (here in the U.S., at least) AND "Cyber Monday" (my normally quiet email inbox is having a party with all the uninvited guests this morning) - just feel a lot more Monday . . . than even a regular Monday?

Time to . . . 

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Here are a few things I stumbled across or thought about this weekend. . . 

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A Quote

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now."
   --- Alan Lakein

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A Word

Tom recently introduced me to another word that I'd never heard before.  It's another word that is (apparently) more common in science than in regular life . . . but is DEFINITELY one I want to incorporate into my everyday language. Because so much fun to say!

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Am I right?  It just rolls off the tongue in such a pleasing way!  
(I'm going to use this word all winter long.)

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To Read

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Do you borrow ebooks from your library?  Do you ever marvel at how the "hold" wait times can be so dang long?  (Like . . . nearly a year sometimes for new or popular titles?)  Well.  This recent article from the Washington Post breaks it down for us.  Fascinating!  

How about you?  Do you borrow ebooks from your library?  How are your wait times?

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To Make

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So.  I have said . . .  I am not making any gifts this year.  
But.  
Well.  I caved.  I AM making a few quick gifts this year.  And part of that is because I discovered this pattern.  

I made the first (of 4) (let me clarify . . . I'm making 2 pairs) last night in the time it took Tom and I to watch The Irishman on Netflix.  (Granted . . . that is a long slog of a movie, clocking in at just over 3.5 hours.)  The design is clever - and kind of magical the way it comes together (there is no seaming).  A tiny bit futzy, but not TOO futzy.  If you're looking for a quick gift, check it out!

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And.  That's it for this Monday!

If you haven't yet, please take a few minutes to complete our Read With Us survey.  This is the last day for the survey -- and we'd love to hear from you, whether you read Just Mercy with us or not.  (And if your have already completed it, thanks so much!  Your responses are very helpful to us.)

And . . . be sure to join us tomorrow when we announce our next Read With us selection!

 


Monday. Again.

Here we go!  It's time to . . . 

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Here are some things I stumbled across or thought about this weekend. . . 

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A Quote
(or . . . My New Motto!)

"The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that."
   --- Nolan Bushnell

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A Word

I had decided to take this week off . . . and not share a new word with you.  I figured that you might be tired of these goofy words I post on Monday mornings, and I'd just give it a rest for a week.

But then this word showed up in an article I was reading last night.  And I just couldn't help myself.  (So many vowels!  So unusual!)

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(And now, of course, I can't even remember which article. . . )

Anyway.  How about that.  Maieutic.  Another word for the Socratic method!

Now.  I don't know about you, but I went through more than half my life never hearing about - let along using - the Socratic method.  We never talked about or used it when I was in high school or college.  But my kids did!  Both of my kids went through the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in high school -- and they regularly used the Socratic method in their classes.

No one called it maieutic, though.

(How about you?  Have you ever used the Socartic method? And if yes, did know it was maieutic?)

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A [Thanksgiving] Factoid

Remember that episode of Seinfeld . . . where Jerry and his pals feed Jerry's girlfriend turkey dinners so they can play with her toy collection?  (I'm afraid you'll have to click here for a reminder.  Although I tried to include that 32-second clip from the episode here, Typepad formatting goes haywire with embedding, so you'll have to click through instead.)

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Well, it turns out that tryptophan doesn't actually make you sleepy!  According to House Beautiful magazine, here's the real scoop:

"On Thanksgiving Day, you probably prepare yourself mentally knowing you’ll be tired after eating turkey, but the holiday bird isn’t actually to blame. Instead, the reason you can’t imagine doing else but watching football on the couch is because you over-ate. In fact, Dr. Daniel Barone tells Business Insider it's actually called "postprandial fatigue. Simply put, he says this means 'after you've had a big meal your body goes into basically shutdown mode and sleep gets promoted.'"

How about that?  Now you know!

For 14 more fun Thanksgiving facts, click here.

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Although I tend to keep my Thanksgiving menu pretty much the same from year to year, I've decided to add something to my line up this year.  It's this recipe -- Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes from Ina Garten's Make It Ahead cookbook.  Not only does it look super tasty, but . . . I can make it ahead.  Always a good thing when it comes to Thanksgiving!

How about you?  Are you trying anything new this year for your holiday meals?

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I hope your Monday is off to a great start!


Revving Up

All day yesterday, I felt like it was Saturday.
It wasn't, though.
Monday has rolled around again.  Time to . . . 

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On Mondays, I share things I discovered over the weekend.  
(Even when the weekend seemed shorter than it was.)

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A Quote

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude."
     ----- from the Winnie-the-Pooh series by A. A. Milne

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A Word

Here's another word I'd never enountered before . . . discovered while reading Ben Lerner's The Topeka School:

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I had to look up more words in that book than I can remember doing with any other book in recent history.  For the most part, I could easily glean the meaning of these unfamiliar words in context.  But I was curious.  So I spent a lot of time with my dictionary.

How about you?  Can you recall a book you've read that required you to keep a dictionary by your side at all times?

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As a Mister Rogers fan, I'm looking forward to the movie coming out later this month, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which is based on the relationship between Fred Rogers and the journalist Tom Junod.  Junod has written an essay for The Atlantic about his relationship with Rogers, what it was like to see the movie inspired by/based on that relationship, and, ultimately, some thoughts on what-would-Mister-Rogers-do in our world today.

It's rather long, but well worth reading.  Here's the link.

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Oh, my.  We have reached that point in the movie-watching season where it is just an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great movies in the theaters.  Between now and the end of the year, it is going to be a constant parade of movies with "Oscar buzz."  This weekend, Tom and I saw two movies we highly recommend:  Harriet (starring Cynthia Erivo) and Ford v Ferrari (starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale).  Both are worth a night out at the movies!  (But be warned about The Lighthouse.  Sure, it's critically acclaimed.  But it is also a . . . Big. Slog.)

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And that's it for this Monday.
Hope your week is starting off well.

Join us tomorrow over at Carole's for week 3 of our Read With Us book discussion of Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy.


Start Your Engines

Well.  The weekend went whizzing by for me.

And now it's Monday.  And it's snowing.  

Time to . . . 

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. . . with some flotsam and jetsam that washed up for me over the busy weekend.

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A Quote

"Another fall, another turned page."
 --- Wallace Stegner

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A Word

Yesterday morning, as I was driving to the gym, I heard a segment on NPR's Weekend Edition about the word fraught.  It wasn't so much what the word fraught means . . . as how it is used -- and how that word usage is changing over time.  I really wanted to share that segment with you all, but I can't find it on the NPR site!  I'll try to make do on my own.

First off, here is the dictionary definition of the word (a word so common I'm sure I don't really need to include the definition, but it does make things more interesting, I think). . .

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(Please note that I am not including entries 2 and 3 of 3 here.  Entry 2 is using fraught as a noun, while entry 3 is using fraught as a verb.  Neither of these "fraught usages" are currently in use, and neither of them are relevant for this post -- or the NPR segment.)

Anyway.

Most of the time I use, read, or hear the word fraught in language, it is accompanied by the prepositional phrase with, as in. . .
fraught with danger
fraught with anxiety
fraught with tension

But lately, I've noticed that some people use the word fraught all by itself.  As in . . . The situation was fraught.  No with involved.

And this is what the NPR segment was all about.  They mentioned that the word origin of fraught was actually related to definition 3, above (the "archaic" one):  laden, or freight.  As in . . .  loaded with.  And that's how fraught with evolved in common usage -- it needed that with because it was describing being laden with something.

But now, fraught is evolving further . . . to be an acceptable, stand-alone adjective.  So.  If you hear the word fraught being used all by itself . . . well, relax.  It's okay.  Fraught is now an acceptable adjective meaning "distressed, anxious, or tense."  Without a with.

Thoughts?

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Looking for a good non-fiction book to sink your teeth into?  Here's a list of the 20 best works of non-fiction in the current decade.  (I can personally attest to the excellence of several of the selections on the list -- and think everyone should read The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.)

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And . . . that's it for this Monday!  I hope your week is off to a good start.  (And not . . . fraught.)

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PS - Be sure to join us for the Read With Us book discussion - Week 2 - over at Bonny's tomorrow!  


It's Monday

. . . and that means it's time to . . . 

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Here are some things I stumbled across or thought about this weekend.

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A Quote

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
     --- Gilbert K. Chesterton

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A Word

I'm reading a book right now - The Topeka School by Ben Lerner - that is . . . well . . . one of those Important books.  It's dense.  Interesting, for sure.  But . . . dense.  It's slow going for me.  Partly because I need to read it slowly -- and partly because I have to look up words every few pages.  Words I have never encountered before.  (I'm sure I'm really selling y'all on reading this book.  Ha.)

Anyway.  Here's one of the words I looked up this weekend:

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Who knew?  An anechoic chamber . . . is just a soundproof room.  (Which makes sense, once you break the word down a bit.)

A question for you:  When you're reading and you encounter a word you don't know, what do you do?  Do you drop everything and look it up in a dictionary?  Or do you just move ahead with your reading?  (I do a little of both.) 

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Over the weekend, I started listening to the Dolly Parton's America podcast.  I'd heard about it from multiple sources last week, with rave reviews from everyone who'd listened to it, and I'm here to tell you . . . it's delightful.  And interesting.  Not only is Dolly just a fascinating character -- but there is some real insight into this particular time in America in this podcast.  Nine episodes.  Give it a listen!

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Because FUN

Just when you think you can't bear one more news item, something like this article pops into your newsfeed!  Give it a read -- feel better about the day.  And aging.  (You can dance. You can jive. Having the time of your life!)

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And that's it for this Monday.  I hope your week is off to a great start.

Please join me here tomorrow for our first Read With Us book discussion post.  I'll be starting off the discussion about our current selection, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.


Start Your Engines

It's a frosty Monday morning here.  Time to . . . 

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A Quote

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons."
      --- Jim Bishop

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A Word

I heard this word while I was listening to NPR over the weekend.  Needed to look it up . . . just to check . . . but, mostly, I like saying it out loud.

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To Cook

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As we get further into fall, we also get further from fresh vegetables.  Although I used to use them all the time, I've really gotten away from resorting to frozen vegetables over the last few years.  But . . . after reading this article from the Washington Post, I'm going to rethink that!  It turns out that frozen vegetables are often better than what you can find in the fresh produce section during the off-season months -- and especially if you prepare them and use them in optimal ways.  (Plus . . . convenience.)

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To Read

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In honor of Halloween, check out this list of the 10 creepiest author photos ever captured!  (And then let me know which is your favorite.)

A Reading Reminder:  Please join our Read With Us book discussion beginning next Tuesday, November 5.  We'll be talking about the first third of the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.  (Can't wait to see what you think.)

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A Gardening PSA

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If you live in the northern part of the US (or southern Canada), it's not too late to plant your spring bulbs.  In fact, I'd call this prime time for bulb-planting!  You still have time for them to get settled in the ground before the hard freeze arrives, and it's late enough that the squirrels (probably) won't dig them up.  But, hurry!  The time is now.

(Even though I think it's a real drag to plant bulbs, I never regret it come spring.)

(And the tulips in this picture?  They were in bloom when my sister and I visited Mackinac Island last June.)

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That's it for this cold and crisp Monday morning!  Have a great week.