Penderitaan dan Pelepasan – Pengalaman Angkut Mengangkut

Saya merenguk pelajaran tak ternilai tentang ” Bagian terberat dari segala sesuatu dalam hidup adalah memikirkannya” pada awal-awal masa kebiksuan saya di Thailand Timur laut. Ajahn Chah tengah membangun aula upacara baru untuk wiharanya dan banyak biksu ikut membantu pekerjaan itu. Ajahn Chah suka menguji kami dengan mengatakan bahwa setiap biksu harus bekerja keras sepanjang hari dengan upah satu atau dua botol Pepsi saja, yang mana jauh lebih murah ketimbang menyewa buruh dari kota. Sering saya berpikir untuk membentuk serikat buruh beranggotakan biksu-biksu junior.

Aula upacara itu dibangun di atas bukit buatan para biksu. Karena itu, ada banyak gundukan sisa tanah. Ajahn Chah memanggil kami dan mengatakan bahwa dia ingin sisa tanah itu dipindahkan ke belakang wihara. Selama tiga hari berikutnya, bekerja dari pukul 10 pagi sampai hari benar-benar gelap, kami menyekop dan mengangkut tanah tersebut dengan gerobak sorong ke tempat yang diinginkan oleh Ajahn Chah. Saya senang saat pekerjaan tersebut akhirnya selesai juga.

Pada hari berikutnya, Ajahn Chah pergi untuk mengunjungi wihara lain selama beberapa hari. Setelah dia pergi, wakil kepala wihara memanggil kami dan memberi tahu kami semua bahwa tanah itu berada di tempat yang keliru dan harus segera dipindahkan. Saya jadi jengkel, tetapi saya berhasil mengatasi kejengkelan ketika kami semua bergotong-royong selama tiga hari lagi di terik musim tropis.

Baru saja kami selesai memindahkan timbunan tanah itu untuk kedua kalinya, Ajahn Chah pulang. Dia memanggil semua biksu dan berkata, “Mengapa kalian memindahkan tanah ke situ? Saya kan bilang bahwa tanah itu harus dipindahkan ke sana. Ayo pindahkan kembali!”

Saya marah. Saya naik pitam. Saya ingin berontak. “Tidak bisakah biksubiksu sepuh itu berunding dahulu di antara mereka? Ajaran Buddha semestinya kan sebuah agama yang teratur, tetapi wihara ini sungguh tak keruan, bakah mengatur pembuangan kotoran saja tak becus! Mereka tak bisa memperlakukan saya seperti ini!”

Tambah tiga hari lagi. Hari-hari yang melelahkan telah terbayang di pelupuk mata saya. Sembari mendorong gerobak sorong yang berat, saya mengutuk dalam bahasa Inggris supaya biksu-biksu Thai tidak paham. Ini sudah keterlaluan. Kapan semua ini selesai?

Saya mulai memperhatikan bahwa makin saya marah, makin berat pula rasanya gerobak yang saya sorong. Seorang rekan biksu melihat saya sedang mengomel, dia menghampiri dan berkata kepada saya, “Masalahmu adalah karena kamu terlalu banyak berpikir!”

Betul juga dia. Begitu saya berhenti meratap dan merengek, gerobak sorong itu terasa jauh lebih ringan. Saya menghikmahi pelajaran yang saya terima itu. Memikirkan soal mengangkut tanah adalah bagian yang terberat; mengangkut tanahnya sendiri mudah.

Sampai hari ini, saya curiga bahwa jangan-jangan Ajahn Chah dan wakilnya memang sedari semula telah merencanakan ini semua.

How the Cosby Story Finally Went Viral — And Why It Took So Long

Nicole Weisensee Egan | An excerpt adapted from Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad | Seal Press | 14 minutes (3,614 words)

In October 2014 Bill Cosby was in the middle of a career resurgence. His biography by former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker had just come out to rave reviews and was climbing the bestseller list. He had a comedy special coming up on Netflix and was in development with NBC to star in a family sitcom. He was about to embark on another comedy tour based on a special that had aired on Comedy Central the year before. The special, Far from Finished, was Cosby’s first stand-up TV special in three decades, and it attracted two million viewers.

It was as if the scandal in 2005 had never happened, as if fourteen women hadn’t accused him of heinous offenses. The book didn’t even mention Andrea Constand’s allegations, let alone her civil suit or any of the other accusers. And no one in the media was asking Whitaker or Cosby why.

The situation was clear: Cosby had successfully repaired what little damage there was to his reputation after Andrea’s case made the news. He slipped right back into his revered status as public moralist and children’s advocate, chalking up even more awards and honors, including his entrée into the NAACP’s Image Awards Hall of Fame in 2006 for being a “true humanitarian and role model.”

He’d written Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors with Alvin Pouissant, a book that took a “hard look” at the state of black America while offering advice on how to overcome the “deep-rooted” challenges of the poor, embodying the message of those controversial town halls.

He was also the recipient of Philadelphia’s prestigious Marian Anderson Award in 2010, given to prominent artists who achieved distinction through their humanitarian work. Prior recipients included Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, and Danny Glover. In announcing the award, then-Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter called Cosby “a comedian whose gentle humor . . . pioneered a path forward for African American artists.”

His accusers, meanwhile, were all but forgotten. Andrea finished massage school, purchased a loft in downtown Toronto, and began her career as a massage therapist. Tamara Green sold her seaside home and hid herself away on a little fruit farm she purchased in the hills outside San Diego, with just her dog and cat for company. Beth Ferrier began competing in triathlons and finally became a teacher, and Barbara Bowman went on to star in thirty TV commercials, including ones for McDonald’s and Holiday Inn.

*

But then came Hannibal Buress.

Buress was a comedian on the rise, and in October of 2014 he was on tour with a new national stand-up comedy show. After more than a dozen years as a comedian, he was finally starting to make it big. The thirty-one-year-old Chicago native started his career in New York City in 2006 with just $200 in his pocket, walking right into an open-mic night at a comedy club. He was so strapped for money that he was actually homeless for a while, sleeping on park benches and subways in between performing gigs after he wore out his welcome at his sister’s home.

But now he was performing in actual theaters, and although he hadn’t yet been booked in any large arenas, he’d come a long way in eight years. And comedy wasn’t his only gig; he was also a regular on Comedy Central’s Broad City and Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show. For a short time he wrote for blockbuster shows like Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock and played the memorable Officer Watkins alongside Seth Rogan and Zac Efron in the hit movie Neighbors. His laid back, cerebral routines earned him raves from GQ to the New York Times.

It was as if the scandal in 2005 had never happened, as if fourteen women hadn’t accused him of heinous offenses.

In 2014 Buress appeared in the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia and performed a routine he’d been doing off and on for months. In it he referenced Cosby’s controversial town halls, criticizing him for lecturing people about how to dress and behave when he had skeletons in his own closet.

“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old-black-man persona that I hate,” Buress said. He went on:

He gets on TV, “Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the eighties! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.” Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple of notches . . .

I don’t know what I’m doing by telling you. I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns. Dude’s image is a public Teflon image. I’ve done this bit on stage, and people think I’m making it up. . . . When you leave here, Google “Bill Cosby rape.” That shit has more results than “Hannibal Buress.”

Unbeknownst to Buress, sitting in the audience that evening was Dan McQuade, a contributing editor for Philadelphia magazine, who wrote blog posts for the magazine’s website. McQuade only went to the show that night because a friend had an extra ticket and offered it to him at the last minute. McQuade doesn’t quite remember why he decided to videotape Hannibal’s Cosby diatribe but thought he might have realized in the moment that anything said about Cosby in Philadelphia was worth a mention in his column.

“I just pulled my phone out and immediately hit record,” he later told the website Billy Penn. When Buress finished his Cosby bit, McQuade knew he had something. He wrote the piece, and it was posted online the following afternoon, a Friday, with the video he shot with his iPhone.

The headline: “Hannibal Buress on Bill Cosby: You’re a Rapist.”

McQuade’s story might easily have faded away, but Buzzfeed reporter Ariane Lange saw a post about it on Facebook.

“I noticed [Philadelphia magazine] hadn’t mentioned reaching out to Cosby or Buress, and I hadn’t seen the story anywhere, so it seemed worth aggregating with a request for comment,” she said. When she didn’t hear back from either camp, she posted her own story with a straightforward headline, similar to the one Phillymag.com used, that Monday.

Less than an hour later Gawker picked it up and posted a story.

The gossip website was in its heyday and was particularly interested in the angle on Cosby because it had just resurfaced the 2005 allegations in a piece they ran in February; that story also covered Dylan Farrow’s letter in the Times accusing her father, Woody Allen, of molesting her.

The February 2014 Gawker article ran under the headline, “Who Wants to Remember Bill Cosby’s Multiple Sex-Assault Accusations?” Gawker had speculated that there had been no public outcry about Cosby, even after it got national coverage in People in 2006, because “nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator. It was too much to handle.”

Then Newsweek followed up, publishing interviews with Cosby accusers Tamara Green and Barbara Bowman. Slate jumped in with a piece pondering why no one cared. More likely, it said, it was because the allegations were a relic of the past, like Cosby himself.

Whatever the reason, the story didn’t pick up and take hold in February, just eight months earlier.

This time it did.

The online coverage spread so rapidly that even Buress himself was stunned.

“Boy, that escalated quickly,” he wrote on his Twitter feed less than four days after McQuade’s story and video were posted. “I mean, that really got out of hand fast.”

That same morning Howard Stern interviewed Buress on his radio show, and the shock jock made the most of the controversy to promote Hannibal’s appearance. “The Comedian Who Toppled Cosby Stops by to Talk Fame, Jokes and the Future,” was the headline on Stern’s website.

All the attention bemused Buress. He wasn’t trying to take down Cosby or start a discussion about rape, he said. “If I was going to do it, I would have did it on my own,” he said. “It was just something that I was doing at that venue right there. . . . I just read some stuff and researched . . . anybody can get that information.”

The scandal was about to get bigger — and an unlikely party fueled it. The British tabloid the Daily Mail — with one of the biggest readerships in the world — posted a story online around the same time Buress was wrapping up his interview with Stern, and it traveled the globe.

Buress mentioned the Cosby brouhaha again at the top of a performance in St. Louis on October 25. “I don’t know if you heard . . .” he told the crowd ironically.

He said there’d been some backlash with people asking how he could say such a thing about a pioneer like Cosby. “You can’t be a pioneer and a rapist?” he joked.

He added that he’d been accused of attacking Cosby to help his own career. “That’s not how you help your career,” he deadpanned.

Buress said he even texted his longtime buddy and fellow comedian Dave Chappelle to ask him for advice on how to handle the situation.

“He said Chappelle first told him it would be best to have a conversation with Cosby and squash it,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story said. “Then he said Chappelle watched the video and quickly told him not to call Cosby.” The video spoke for itself.

Cosby’s people were able to control the media. But they couldn’t control social media.

After that, Buress pretty much stopped talking about Cosby. He’d gotten hate mail and death threats — not everyone was happy with what he’d done. “It was just weird to see people talk shit about you,” he said. “I saw people I thought I was cool with bashing me online. People were writing me. It was a weird thing.”

Like it or not, what he’d unwittingly started couldn’t be stopped.

The Daily Mail took its coverage a step further and interviewed Barbara Bowman, who had just spoken to Newsweek in February after being out of the spotlight for years. This time she hoped people would listen to her. “I was drugged and raped by that man,” she told the tabloid. “He is a monster. . . . My hope is that others who have experienced sexual abuse will not be intimidated into silence by the famous, rich and powerful. If I can help one victim, then I’ve done my job.”

She told the same tale she’d told us at People in 2006, saying she feared that Cosby would soon be hitting the airwaves again in his new comedy, once again playing the quintessential family man. “Maybe he should also teach his fictitious TV family how to escape the talons of sexual predators,” she told the Daily Mail. “Bill used to tell me that he was my father figure and that I needed to trust him as a father, 100 percent. Then he’d drug me and attack me.”

Cosby was more than aware that momentum was gathering in the media and that his past was becoming present again. He postponed an appearance on The Queen Latifa Show, which the Washington Post noted in a story titled, “Is the World Starting to Turn Against Bill Cosby?”

The writer also made an interesting observation, noting that the allegations were nothing new. “Without intending to, Buress became a perfect example of the conundrum of male allyship: it wasn’t enough 13 different women accused Cosby of drugging, raping and violently assaulting them. It was only after a famous man, Buress, called him out that the possibility of Cosby becoming a television pariah became real.”

Barbara made the same point in an op-ed she penned for the Post a couple of weeks later titled, “Bill Cosby Raped Me. Why Did It Take 30 Years for People to Believe My Story?” In the essay she railed against all of those who refused to believe her. “As a teenager, I tried to convince myself I had imagined it,” she wrote. “I even tried to rationalize it: Bill Cosby was going to make me a star and this was part of the deal.” She told her agent, who did nothing, as well as an attorney, who accused her of making it up. She tried again when she granted interviews in 2006 with Philadelphia magazine, People, and, in February 2014, Newsweek. And still there was no public outcry.

Until Buress.

“While I am grateful for the new attention to Cosby’s crimes, I must ask my own questions: Why wasn’t I believed? Why didn’t I get the same reaction of shock and revulsion when I originally reported it? Why was I, a victim of sexual assault, further wronged by victim blaming when I came forward? The women victimized by Bill Cosby have been talking about his crimes for more than a decade. Why didn’t our stories go viral?”

I was wondering the same thing as I watched in astonishment as coverage unfolded and the tale exploded. I was pleased but confounded: it was a “déjà vu all over again” situation because there was absolutely nothing new to any of these claims. Our 2006 story was even available online. At the time I was wrapped up in another major story that was emotionally exhausting, and without something new to report, I had nothing new to add. But I still watched for new developments in the case.

And I thought about the industry in which I’d made my career. What puzzled me most was how the media would jump on a story one minute while having ignored it the previous one. What kind of profession was I immersed in when stories had no logical reasoning for unfolding?

It was one thing for the media to ignore Barbara’s story in 2006, but she had just done a Newsweek interview in February that was ignored as well. Now, just eight months later, she was a media darling.


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In the end I had to agree with Slate writer Amanda Hess, who had speculated that the phenomenon was a combination of three factors. One was the timing of the story, which coincided with Cosby’s new biography, a Netflix special, and an NBC deal. Another was that there was a video of Buress’s routine, which had quickly spread across social media. And the third was that Buress was a comedian.

As a comedian Buress could just flat-out call Cosby a rapist instead of hedging and using protective language like journalists did, Hess said. “And as depressing as it is, a person in Buress’ position is not saddled with the same rape myths that victims are,” she told the website Billy Penn. “There’s a widespread belief that when a woman accuses a man of rape, she just might be lying for some sort of personal gain. It’s a totally irrational conclusion, but it’s a sadly prevalent one. It’s harder to argue that Buress has anything to gain by taking on Cosby.”

I believe it’s also because Buress spoke about Cosby being a rapist so matter-of-factly — urging people to Google “Bill Cosby” and “rape” — that the allegations took on a new ring of truth for those in the audience and anyone viewing the video.

As for why the scandal fizzled in 2005 and exploded in 2014, chalk it up to social media and the internet for spreading the word and inciting a response. In 2005, when Facebook was still for college students; Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram did not yet exist; and most news websites were in their infancy, Cosby’s people were able to control the media. But they couldn’t control social media. And once the public has access to information themselves, they can quickly come to their own conclusions.

I couldn’t help but think, Where were all of you nine years ago?

Andrea’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, agreed that social media had made “trading up” — a term that both she and I had learned back in 2005, which in the world of national TV news refers to the shady practice of turning down a story in exchange for another, better one — almost impossible. “If some [news] organization kills a story, some other one will pick it up, and they don’t have to be an organization,” she said. “They just have to have a computer.”

It was also an entirely new, younger generation controlling the dialogue. They’d grown up learning about the signs of child sexual abuse in public schools. And they weren’t clinging to their image of Cosby as Dr. Huxtable because they had no idea who Dr. Huxtable was.

Many were also now working for the online news organizations that had sprung up since 2005 and were now driving the coverage, finally forcing the mainstream press to weigh in, whether they wanted to or not.

Cosby learned this for himself when his handlers tried to quell the growing scandal with a meme contest. Instead, they made it worse. The hashtag #CosbyMeme was launched on November 10, when Cosby posted a tweet inviting fans to meme him. The link led to a meme generator loaded with photos of Cosby mugging in various poses and sweaters on BillCosby.com — all wholesome, charming, dad-like visuals reminiscent of Cosby’s untarnished reputation.

Twitter followers responded with memes mocking him, focusing on the drugging and sexual assault allegations, including, “America’s Favorite Dad by Day, Serial Rapist by Night”; “My Two Favorite Things, Jello Pudding and Rape”; and “I Like My Women the Way I Like My Puddin’ Pops, Passed Out Cold.”

There were also followers who saw the contest as an opportunity to educate people about rape culture. One described it as evidence of “a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.” In his Twitter thread, he gave examples of behaviors associated with rape culture like “victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial or widespread rape. Or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence that do not conform to certain stereotypes of stranger or violent rape.”

A few hours after its launch Twitter users realized that Cosby’s social media team was removing the word “rape” from the memes. Not long afterward they deleted the original #CosbyMeme tweet and took down the meme generator, with the link now redirecting users to Cosby’s homepage.

*

The meme debacle did Cosby no favors, and after his team squelched the contest, he quickly canceled an upcoming appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

He didn’t cancel a previously scheduled interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition, however. It was to be a joint appearance with his wife, Camille, to discuss sixty-two pieces of African American art that Cosby and Camille had donated to an exhibit in Washington, DC. The Cosbys had built an impressive collection since they’d visited the Heritage Gallery in Los Angeles in 1967 and discovered the work of Charles White, an African American artist from Chicago, and they had agreed to loan some of that impressive collection to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art on its fiftieth anniversary. It was widely viewed as one of the most valuable private collections of its kind in the world, and now the Cosbys were allowing the public to enjoy some of it as well.

But instead of focusing on the art, reporter Scott Simon asked Cosby about the various charges.

Cosby refused to answer.

The piece was so controversial that NPR’s ombudsman Scott Schumacher-Matos wrote a column a few days later about whether listeners thought it was unfair of Simon to ask Cosby about the allegations when the interview was supposed to be about the artwork. The number of responses he got was “overwhelming,” he wrote, revealing an interesting pattern that suggested a “generational divide” on the issue.

“Emailers, who presumably trend older, were mostly critical of Simon,” he wrote. “Some 400 Facebook posts were equally divided. All ages use Facebook, though its audience is growing grayer. The online commenters at the bottom of the web story sided mostly with Simon, but, meanwhile, what might be most telling is that so did the traffic on Twitter, which appears to have the youngest audience.”

*

I tracked down Tamara, who had been silent since her February interview with Newsweek.

It had been nearly ten years since we’d last spoken, but it felt like no time had passed as soon as I heard her voice. I felt this kinship with her. We had both been ridiculed in 2005 for trying to tell this story, and public thrashings, I discovered, can have a bonding effect. Only she could understand the incredulity I was feeling over how this case was exploding in the media. I couldn’t help but think, Where were all of you nine years ago? At the same time, though, I was glad the allegations were now getting the type of attention they deserved. And I was determined to claim the story once again from all of these Johnny-come-latelies.

Tamara hadn’t changed at all in the intervening years. Though I found out later she’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder, she was as feisty and quick witted as ever, the colorful phrases rolling off her tongue.

“He is in fact a sexual predator,” she said. “I don’t dispute the fact the man has done much good, but he is a flawed man. He’s not the fictional Dr. Huxtable or the Jell-O salesman. This is Bill Cosby who for years felt entitled because of his status as a celebrity and because for years he was above the law. And he’ll always be a small man because a great man would embrace his faults as well as his talents.”

She said she thought the scandal might go away for good if he would just admit what he did and apologize. “I keep thinking of two words — he needs to own it,” she said. “He needs to say, ‘I am a flawed character. I let stardom go to my head. I am an older and wiser man, and I want to apologize to the people that I have hurt.’ How hard can that be?”

Cosby said nothing.

* * *

Nicole Weisensee Egan has been the lead investigative journalist reporting on the Cosby case since 2005, first for the Philadelphia Daily News and then as a Senior Writer for PEOPLE magazine. She covered the trial for The Daily Beast and is already working on her second book. She lives in Royersford, PA.

Longreads Editor: Dana Snitzky

Mini ARC Review: All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick

44584622TITLE: All Eyes on Us

AUTHOR: Kit Frick

PUBLICATION DATE: June 4th, 2019

GENRE: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Young Adult, LGBTQ+

PRIVATE NUMBER: Wouldn’t you look better without a cheater on your arm?
AMANDA: Who is this?

The daughter of small town social climbers, Amanda Kelly is deeply invested in her boyfriend, real estate heir Carter Shaw. He’s kind, ambitious, the town golden boy—but he’s far from perfect. Because behind Amanda’s back, Carter is also dating Rosalie.

PRIVATE NUMBER: I’m watching you, Sweetheart.
ROSALIE: Who IS this?

Rosalie Bell is fighting to remain true to herself and her girlfriend—while concealing her identity from her Christian fundamentalist parents. After years spent in and out of conversion “therapy,” her own safety is her top priority. But maintaining a fake, straight relationship is killing her from the inside.

When an anonymous texter ropes Amanda and Rosalie into a bid to take Carter down, the girls become collateral damage—and unlikely allies in a fight to unmask their stalker before Private uproots their lives.

PRIVATE NUMBER: You shouldn’t have ignored me. Now look what you made me do…

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my review

I had the hardest time connecting with this book.

I liked Rosalie and her story well enough. I truly hated how she used Carter though. I know she was just doing what she thought she had to do to stay safe, but still. Carter is a cheater and deserved it, but it still didn’t feel quite right.

I disliked Amanda a lot and didn’t have a ton of sympathy for her. Her parts were boring and felt unnecessary.

I also really disliked all the thriller-y drama. It just felt out of place, which was odd seeing as it’s the main plot of the book.

I think I would have liked this a lot more if it wasn’t a thriller, if Amanda hadn’t been a main character, and it focused more on Rosalie and her faith/situation.

I can’t really go into much more detail about why I disliked it for fear of spoiling it, so this will have to be a short review.

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My rating:

2

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Special thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Impressions from the Goa Bird Festival 2018 – Part 2

We had bird watching walks on Goa’s trails in the morning and evenings to spot birds. They say it’s forest trails and maybe it is because it had quite some stuff like we spotted leopard waste, sloth bear waste. There were tarantula spider webs, giant malabar squirrels, baby scorpions, besides trees around and they(the guides) said most of the trees are beautiful Goa Native trees. Lagoon monkey too made appearance. There were streams in few spots and lots of bird sounds there about.

Birders were all engrossed in checking out birds, they had notebook, pen, binoculous and camera. When they saw a bird and heard a sound of the bird, they recorded the time, place, appearance and I guess picture of the bird too. Listening to bird sounds is required for a birder to do, by this they identify the birds, know the location and where to look for them. We should be silent when on bird trails , however, it’s not possible, we tend to speak to others – “did you see that?”, “it’s a white breasted something something bird” or “green headed something something tailed bird” and there will be discussions on it. However, this was good, to know about birds and share the knowledge and experience.

We learned that we need patience to spot the birds because they are not visible many times. It was said that when sun is out, birds are visible. Our guides were those who do some nice work in the wildlife domain, and have lots of experience exploring wildlife and it was nice listening to them. It was they who told that the poop on ground was of a leopard etc . There was even a owl pellet. These are stuff spit by owls, owls do spit some of what they ate and could not digest , this becomes a pellet, it’s pretty interesting and some owl expert said that when they do this poor things are vulnerable it seems.

Some interesting trees too were there. However, my most enjoyable walk was at the last day evening more on that sometime(that walk resembled a forest and we returned when it was getting dark).

Though many species of lizards, frogs, birds are extinct in the Western Ghats, it’s good that there is still some varietiful stuff in Goa. Could not take bird photos, because I am not a avid bird creature but when I get a good binocular which is a must would be a birder, I can hear loads of bird sounds near my home that has trees still for now, gives me lots of pleasantness. I remember Anil Kumble’s wildlife tip – he said you can take photo of the binoculus view in your phone camera if you don’t have a powerful camera yet but a good binoculous one should atleast have for that. More coming up there is still the sea exploration for sea birds… It’s nice to checkout the Ocean, keeps one grounded, amazed and nice things to check the horizon and stuff. Goodday

PS – This was written in 2018, soon few months later I got a binoculars(: …not using it much, but do to see birds when I go to tour, its been long time since I went on tour, anyway.

Coffee, comfort and caring

Legend has it that coffee beans were discovered by the Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi. Watching his goats eat the berries from the plant, the goats became excited and were unable to sleep. And so, being a Republican, Kaldi started a business that now delivers these very same beans to Java and Joe.

Maybe not, but here are some other facts:

  • Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee every day.
  • Half of us would give up our daily shower rather than give up coffee in the morning.
  • More than half of us would rather gain ten pounds, than give up our coffee for life.

Maybe that’s why many of us coffee addicts are fat and smelly.

Having successfully concluded this morning’s treadmill exercise without falling off the athletic club’s machine, I stopped by Java and Joe for my usual medium dark roast. I look forward to the first hot sip of that full-bodied brew, much like that first sip of a cold beer. Sometimes I have a muffin, complete with high gluten flour and a week’s supply of granulated sugar. Sometimes, it’s just the high caffeine coffee that I crave.

The cherubic faces that greeted me behind the counter today did not include either Joe or Lorraine, the shop owners. That visual clue activated my memory cells and reminded me that Lorraine was undergoing a medical procedure this morning that would probably lay her low for at least a month.

Everyone that’s a regular at the coffee shop has known of Lorraine’s health challenge for months. Invariably, someone ahead of me in the coffee queue would ask Lorraine “How are you today? When are you scheduled for your procedure? I’m sure everything will be fine. How long will you be recuperating? We love you.” If I was alone in the queue, the questions were often posed by me. Balancing my concern for her well-being with a possibly unwelcome intrusion into her life can be difficult.

Lorraine is a mature woman with a motherly attitude. Efficient is an understated description of her prowess. Her welcoming smile brightens my day. Even with a cloud hanging over her, much like the one dogging the Al Capp character Joe Btfsplk, Lorraine manages to keep her sunny smile and upbeat conversation in spite of chemotherapy and the attendant floppy hats. Over the last few months, there was little evidence that contradicted her usual sunny demeanor.

Perhaps it’s the coffee shop itself that plays a supportive role in this great adventure. Open twelve hours every day, it is full of mismatched furniture, and a concrete floor with an unintentional paisley design that defies description. An old sign taped to the wall warns of dire results should the microwave and the toaster be switched on at the same time. Greeting cards are stuffed into racks that require the skill of a contortionist to view them. Muffins and scones, ordinarily displayed with aplomb, are sometimes hidden from prying eyes.

But none of these shortcomings seem to matter to those of us who are regulars. Or maybe it’s because of these imperfections that we come back time after time. We are comfortable with the shop’s eccentricities, since they are also reflective of ourselves. Distastefully, the thought of going somewhere else is anathema. The habitual returning faces are familiar to us and form a comforting tapestry that allows us to slide easily into an otherwise frenetic day.

Much like that of the athletic club, the coffee shop provides the social contact I treasure. I often sit alone at a table, but I do not feel alone. Like a voyeur, I sometimes mentally participate in the conversations that surround me. Because we are creatures of habit, I can sometimes predict what’s coming next. I watch them as they walk through the door, hoping that I will be blessed with a familiar face. One with which I can share a few sentences or, if I’m very lucky, a seat at my table.

Even in solitude, I can explore my memories of fellow coffee enthusiasts that are etched in my mind. David, whose accounting office is up the stairs and who donates his skills to many of Ojai’s non-profits. Tom, who did Ila’s hair in his adjacent salon and who responded graciously to her repetitive questions and stories as though he’d never heard them before. Right up until the very end. The fireman who shared his stories of the devastating December fires. The strangers who seemed as anxious as I was to have a conversation without boundaries. And, if I was very lucky, watching Jackie glide through the door with her irresistible smile.

The morning was quiet, and my attention was drawn to the greeting cards. I like the ones with the pithy, sometimes predictable sayings. Some are flat out wrong like We only regret what we don’t do in life. I only wish it were so. Or, Why do I feel as stupid now as I did at 20? I certainly know more than I did at 20, I just keep ignoring what I learned. But some are spot on like, My housekeeper judges me. And one of my perennial favorites, Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.

Many years ago while driving the Help of Ojai bus, I transported a wheel chair bound patient to the Ojai hospital. Finished, I was stowing the chair lift when a physician stopped to speak with me. He told me how much he personally valued the service we provided and then said something that has stuck with me. His smile softened and he quietly said, “Remember, we all walk down the same path.”

As I age, his words become more relevant and gain greater importance. I realize that life is fragile and, like Lorraine, could take me down a more difficult path. But it also makes life more precious. Like my other favorite card says, Whatever you are meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.

Be well Lorraine. I love you.

Plotting against the Grind

Who is that pictured in the image above? Well, besides Qui Gon and young Obi-Wan from the gone by days of the Star Wars prequels, it’s none other than Jar Jar Binks!

A contentious persona in his own right and widely considered the most reviled Star Wars character, I brave risking my rep here on this blog by stating my opinion that Jar Jar wasn’t all that bad. Sure, the pitch of his voice can take a mere half-second to grate on your nerves and he’s not the most graceful. That said, I might further risk my neck here by refuting the notion that Jar Jar is a “racist” character. Often reputed to insult Rastafarian culture (or Black American culture, in general), having read various interviews with Jar Jar’s actor Ahmed Best, I have learned that the character’s pidgin English (Gunganese mixed with Galactic Basic) was inspired by Best’s own Caribbean heritage. Sorry guys, but it strikes me as rather offensive to accuse this actor of being racist toward his own family’s culture-

Which brings me to the point of this article. In the mood of the PitMad pitch fest happening today on social media, I reiterate that drawing on your own culture and experiences is absolutely essential in writing. Likewise, you should also feel free to learn about other cultures you would like to incorporate. The issue many writers face arises when they feel certain themes or characters tackled in their work might stir the pot, as it were. For example, my sci-fi debut “Apex Five” deals with child trafficking, slavery and religious oppression, to name only several heavy themes. Moreover, my main characters are all what the contemporary West would consider people of color. Can someone like me describe the experience of an African-American? Certainly not, which returns us to the fact that, while it remains crucial to research those topics you are writing about but have not personally lived, when examining these themes in a completely created world, mere physical appearance doesn’t necessarily equal “power” or “oppression” based on how that perceived dichotomy exists in the real world.

Bottom line: If you want to (respectfully, avoiding hate speech in the narration) write on topics that could potentially go against contemporary rhetoric, that is completely fine. We are talking about your imagination here, and your creativity need not crumble under the skepticism of discourse edge lords.

On that note, it’s perfectly okay if you enjoyed Jar Jar, too.

On spirituality

Today’s foray into values is that of spirituality. I say spirituality rather than religion because, for me, the latter is a man-made construct and is therefore inherently flawed. You only need to look at the many problems in the world today to see how religion has skewed something beautiful and pure into something ego-driven and tainted. I’m not saying religion is wrong for certain people, just for me it holds no interest.

However, spirituality is a different matter. For me spirituality is intrinsic in every human being. I see a human as really spirit having a human experience, therefore everyone is spiritual except some just don’t know it, and some just ignore it. For me spirituality encompasses something more than the ego; it’s me but it’s more than me. It’s that sense of seeing myself as part of the whole, of acknowledging that there is good and bad in each one of us.

I find spirituality within nature itself; in the elements, the trees and plants, the grass blowing in the wind, the birds singing and the bees humming, the crash of the ocean waves and a starlit sky. In fact I think nature has a lot to teach us about spirituality.

I guess also my form of spirituality is an eclectic mix of elements from different belief systems – Taoism, Buddhism, Paganism, shamanistic practises and Earth religions (I use the term ‘religion’ here loosely because I don’t really see them as man-made constructs such as Christianity or Islam for example). However, I was brought up in the Christian faith, and also spent a number of years as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I see that religions do have elements of wisdom in them. For example, there are still certain scriptures from the bible that still resonate with me because of their deep-seated universal wisdom, even if the practise of Christianity no longer holds any meaning for me. I think that’s because there are certain universal truths contained within religions that are larger than them, that transcend them. So what is important for me is that I am spiritual but not religious.

That doesn’t mean I go through life in some kind of existential bliss. Far from it – I still struggle with myself, I still feel anxiety and depression and have to cope with other difficulties, but I can somehow (and sometimes) remove myself from these and experience the wider picture – the macro rather than the micro. Life (human existence) is a dichotomy but it is to be experienced – the good and the bad, the light and the darkness.

To sum up I think the best symbol I can think of that represents my stance on human existence is the Yin Yang symbol that shows us that in everything positive there is negative, and in everything negative there is positive. The whole is both good and bad, light and dark and one can’t exist without the other, otherwise there would be imbalance. So I guess my form of spirituality is a bit philosophical too but it works for me. Yes, spirituality is still a meaningful value I have; I hold it dear and it is important to me.

Image attributed to tabithashafran.blogspot.com

20 of My Favorite Picture Books

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

One of my favorite things to do as a school library clerk is to process books. When I process books, I get to touch them and look at them and flip through them and silently fangirl about how pretty they are. I split my time between a high school and two elementary schools, and while I love researching and selecting young adult books, picture books hold a special place in my book-loving heart. Today I want to share 20 of my favorites with you. I’d be glad to give any of these to the kids in my life.

All descriptions are from Goodreads.

A Bike Like Sergio's book cover

A Bike Like Sergio’s
Written by Maribeth Boelts; illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Ruben feels like he is the only kid without a bike. His friend Sergio reminds him that his birthday is coming, but Ruben knows that the kinds of birthday gifts he and Sergio receive are not the same. After all, when Ruben’s mom sends him to Sonny’s corner store for groceries, sometimes she doesn’t have enough money for everything on the list. So when Ruben sees a dollar bill fall out of someone’s purse, he picks it up and puts it in his pocket. But when he gets home, he discovers it’s not one dollar or even five or ten—it’s a hundred-dollar bill, more than enough for a new bike just like Sergio’s! But what about the crossed-off groceries? And what about the woman who lost her money? 

The book with no pictures book cover

The Book with No Pictures
Written by B. J. Novak

A book with no pictures? What could be fun about that? After all, if a book has no pictures, there’s nothing to look at but the words on the page. 

Words that might make you say silly sounds. . .In ridiculous voices. . .

Hey, what kind of book is this, anyway?

At once disarmingly simple and ingeniously imaginative, The Book With No Pictures inspires laughter every time it is opened, creating a warm and joyous experience to share–and introducing young children to the powerful idea that the written word can be an unending source of mischief and delight.

The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians book cover

The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians
Written by Carla Morris; illustrated by Brad Sneed

Every day after school Melvin goes to the library. Everything has its place in the library and Melvin likes it that way. And his favorite people—Marge, Betty, and Leola—are always in their place, behind the reference desk. When a subject interests Melvin, his librarian friends help him find lots and lots of books on the subject. When he collects creepy bugs in a jar, they help him identify, classify and catalog the insects. When he is cast as an Enormous Eggplant in the school play Betty reads aloud from Organic Gardening Magazine to help him find his motivation. As the years pass, Melvin can always find the answers to his questions and a lot of fun in the library. Then one day he goes off to college to learn new things and read new books. Will he leave the library and his friends behind forever?

A Child of Books
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy. She invites him to go away with her on an adventure into the world of stories where, with only a little imagination, anything at all can happen. 

Each Kindness
Written by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Maya is different–she wears hand-me-downs and plays with old-fashioned toys. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her gang, they reject her. Eventually, Maya plays alone, and then stops coming to school altogether. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
Written by Lindsay Mattick; illustrated by Sophie Blackall

In 1914, during World War I, Captain Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to serve with cavalry units in Europe, rescued a bear cub in White River, Ontario. He named the bear Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war.

Harry Colebourn’s real-life great-granddaughter Lindsay Mattick recounts their incredible journey, from a northern Canadian town to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England . . . and finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made a new friend: a boy named Christopher Robin. Gentle yet haunting illustrations by acclaimed illustrator Sophie Blackall bring the wartime era to life, and are complemented by photographs and ephemera from the Colebourn family archives. Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.

Flora and the Flamingo
Written and illustrated by Molly Idle

In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!

Gaston
Written by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Christian Robinson

This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips – never slobbers! He yips – never yaps! And he walks with grace – never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters. But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park-Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette-reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right, but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses-and their hearts-to find where they belong?

Hello Lighthouse
Written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Watch the days and seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and icebergs drift by. Outside, there is water all around. Inside, the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family unfolds as the keeper boils water for tea, lights the lamp’s wick, and writes every detail in his logbook.

Last Stop on Market Street
Writtern by Matt de la Pena; illustrated by Christian Robinson

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

Library Lion
Written by Michelle Knudsen; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.

Library Mouse
Written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk

A shy mouse who lives in the library decides to write and illustrate his own tales. When he’s done, he put his books on the shelves. But when the children read the stories, they all wanted to meet the author. Will the library mouse finally share his secrets with his fans?

Llama Llama Red Pajama
Written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney

Llama, Llama red pajama waiting, waiting for his mama. Mama isn’t coming yet. Baby Llama starts to fret. In this infectious rhyming read-aloud, Baby Llama turns bedtime into an all-out llama drama! Tucked into bed by his mama, Baby Llama immediately starts worrying when she goes downstairs, and his soft whimpers turn to hollers when she doesn’t come right back. But just in time, Mama returns to set things right. Children will relate to Baby Llama’s need for comfort, as much as parents will appreciate Mama Llama’s reassuring message. 

Maddi’s Fridge
Written by Lois Brandt; illustrated by Vin Vogel

Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia’s fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi’s house is empty. Sofia learns that Maddi’s family doesn’t have enough money to fill their fridge and promises Maddi she’ll keep this discovery a secret. But because Sofia wants to help her friend, she’s faced with a difficult decision: to keep her promise or tell her parents about Maddi’s empty fridge.

Filled with colorful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty and sensitivity while instilling important lessons in friendship, empathy, trust, and helping others.

Madeline
Written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans

Madeline is one of the best-loved characters in children’s literature. Set in picturesque Paris, this tale of a brave little girl’s trip to the hospital was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1940 and has as much appeal today as it did then. The combination of a spirited heroine, timelessly appealing art, cheerful humor, and rhythmic text makes Madeline a perennial favorite with children of all ages.

The Name Jar
Written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi

Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.

Say Something!
Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

In this empowering new picture book, beloved author Peter H. Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something: with our actions, our words, and our voices. Perfect for kid activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice.

She Persisted: 13 Amazing Women who Changed the World
Written by Chelsea Clinton; illustrated by Alexander Boiger

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

This Is Not My Hat
Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . .

When God Made You
Written by Matthew Paul Turner; illustrated by David Catrow

From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved and a unique creation in our big universe is certain to help them spread their wings and fly. 

Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves. 


What picture books did you love as a child? What picture books do you love now? Leave a comment below!

Caught Daddy Reading in Spanish

As  you know, Spanish is not my native language. On top of that, Bilingual Baby hears me speaking English to my husband, Lyon, and he communicates with her in English. It’s a wonder she speaks any Spanish at all!

The truth is, Lyon understands a lot of Spanishit’s the language he took in high school and college. Plus, I’ve dragged him all over the Spanish-speaking world at this point: Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica and, soon, Spain.

When Bilingual Baby was born, I was fascinated by studies that talked about what went on in babies’ brains in relation to the languages spoken around them. Babies exposed to two different languages from inside the womb, for example, preferred those languages as newborns and could tell the two languages apart.

I just knew that what we did early on would matter. And four years later, I think a lot of the gas we still have in the tank is from those early days. Because in those early days, I wasn’t the only one speaking to Bilingual Baby in Spanish, Lyon was doing it too.

He read her books in Spanish. He said “hola,” to her when he got home from work, “ven aqui,” when he took her into his arms, “a bañarse,” when it was time to take a bath, and “¿tienes hambre?” when he wanted to know if she was hungry. How hard is that? If you took Spanish in high school, you can do all of that.

I attribute her brain’s wiring for Spanish to all her early exposure and my husband played a role in that. Nearly all of her first words were in Spanish. I also attribute Lyon’s early exposure to connecting with her in Spanish to his ability and willingness to still pick up a book and read to her in Spanish today.

He’s all English with her now (read about that messy transition), but she knows he speaks and understands both languages, and that is important. The other night I caught him reading a bedtime story to her in Spanish. It wasn’t an easy book either, but she had insisted he read that book, and she was so patient with him.

———————————————

This morning when he was trying to wake her up for school I heard her say, “But in the mornings when I’m sleepy Mommy says, “OK, tu puedes seguir durmiendo.” To which my husband replied, “Oh she does, does she?”

First of all, I love that when she quotes me, it’s in Spanish. Second of all, I love that her Daddy can understand what she says and just reply playfully, never making her second guess whether he understands her. And third, that was only a half-truth she was telling. I tell her she can keep sleeping for a couple more minutes, not that she can just keep sleeping indefinitely. Mentirosa.

Also, watch the sweet video from this post when she writes a love letter in Spanish to me and one in English to her daddy.

Takeaway: Every bit of exposure counts, and the earlier the better. Even if you aren’t fluent in the target language, you can make a huge difference just by trying, just by being supportive.

Expectations

In the last week, I have had multiple conversations about the expectations of others. Mainly about the expectations held for me by my mother. And in case you are wondering, her thoughts for me are not the same as my own.

In the midst of these conversations, I have come to some realizations about myself and how I have been able to break free from these expectations that she holds. Eventually she will realize that I am doing things my way, and then I’ll have a new problem to deal with, but for now, I am focusing on me and what I can do in the present.

My mother has been “cleaning out her home” for years. And I keep inheriting things that she seems to think are important to us, even when we tell her we don’t want them. Her gift giving is no better. It has become a glaring revelation as to just how little she really knows me as a person and the physical things I would hold as valuable for some reason.

As we unpacked our home last fall and settled in from our move, we realized just how much we had that was given to us out of my mother doling out her possessions, or things I had been holding onto since childhood because I was expected to still find them important. Some of these things were packed up when I moved to college in 2001 and just now actually unpacked for the first time. Clearly, they aren’t that important.

Last week I took all of these unwanted items, and many more things from our home, to our local thrift store. That is right, I removed them from my home, my storage, my everything. And you know what? It was liberating, not just within the clutter aspect, but mentally liberating.

By removing the physical manifestations of my mother’s expectations of me, I was able to remove the mental turmoil of her expectations as well. So not only do I have an empty garage, I have a slightly more unoccupied mind. I have the clarity to sort through the other pieces of mental and emotional baggage I am carrying around.

Will my mother be happy when she finds out that I have given away these things? Probably not, but by the time she becomes aware of this if ever, I will be secure enough mentally that I will be able to explain myself. Will she understand my reasons? Probably not, and that is just something that she and I will both have to live with.

D-day June 6th, 1945: “Arma virumque cano”

Normandy Beach, June 6, 1945

“I sing of arms and a man” , words the Latin poet Virgil used to describe Aeneas, a founder of Rome. His fate was to take up arms and after much struggle found a great city. The words could also describe our generation. For most of the last hundred years, we have taken up the arms of war to achieve our various purposes.

Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of one of the great battles of all time–the sea born invasion of Normandy by175,000 Allied troops, which led to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. The Second World War, which began in 1939 and ended in 1945 was followed by the Korean War (1950-51}, the War in Vietnam (1965-73) and the War in Iraq (2003-present). Other wars besides these have raged world wide.

Will the day come to lay down our arms? Not soon, it seems, and the arms in our hands become still deadlier. We don’t live in a peaceful world. 

War over the years, with all its consequences, affects us in many ways. I’m wondering about the way it affects our theological imagination. Has it weakened our sense of hope in life and in God? Have the long years of war brought doubt about human life flourishing here on earth? Is personal flourishing now the only way to go? So let’s survive the best we can on our own, in a house or country surrounded by walls.

We take up arms to control land and resources. Has chronic war also affected the way we see our planet?  Should we abandon our fragile and unsteady earth, and make heaven our goal? Or maybe survive the best we can on our own, here and now, without a thought of it?

The Feast of the Ascension points to heaven and tells us that’s our goal. But what about the world God created? Doesn’t it yearn for something new and needs our care? The Feast of the Ascension is linked to Pentecost and the promise of the Spirit who teaches us all things. 

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and renew the face of the earth.

The Cloud Hunters by Alex Shearer

The Cloud Hunters

 

I bought this book in Poundland a while ago & it’s a book that I’ve thought about every time I’ve been in the situation where I need to pick a new read – and finally I gave in & picked it up. The Cloud Hunters has Terry Pratchett vibes & was a story, & world, that I fell completely in love with.

???????????

 

 

 

?? A single use of a traveller slur, cultural/honour based self-scarring & references to hanging (doesn’t actually occur in the story) ??


The Cloud Hunters is set in our future; a future where the Earth is no more & where humans live on small islands that surround a sun (I’m not sure if it’s our sun or not…). It is also an existence that doesn’t include much water – so what does that mean? Well, people swim in the air instead of in pools or the sea (unless you have the money to own enough water for a pool) & it means that the sea animals of Earth have had to adapt to living in the open air. It also means that some people are charged with searching the open air in boats that float on the air currents to find clouds & to collect the water released to help keep the human race alive. Being a cloud hunter is an interesting job, & is something that young Christien is fascinated by & when a young cloud hunter starts at his school, he finally has a chance to experience his dreams…

Well, I loved this story a lot! I loved how imaginative the world-building was, & even if the plot had been rubbish I would have enjoyed it just because it gave me the chance to explore this incredible universe. I loved how many details author Alex Shearer had thought about & how clever the whole thing was. The book was written with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, & I loved that about it. The writing style, & the world-building, made me think about Terry Pratchett & now that I’ve finished it, I’m heartbroken that it isn’t the start of a huge series like Pratchett created.

The plot itself was also wonderful; I loved travelling around this universe with Christien & Jenine, & felt connected to Christien because of how curious the pair of us were. There is an event at the end of the book that the whole of Christien’s journey was leading to, but to be honest the book would have worked just as well without it as it only actually took up a few chapters. Thankfully though, this didn’t act as an anticlimax & just felt like a roundabout way to end the book.

Something else that I thought was great about The Cloud Hunters is how many layers there were to the book – the characters had layers, the world-building had layers, & so did the writing. Under all of the smug, tongue-in-cheek humour & exciting events there were important messages that I really appreciated being included. The Cloud Hunters touches on class & race; people need the cloud hunters to survive but look down on them as barbarians. There’s division in this world, based on race & gender, but also on your background – & whether you carry the scars of a Cloud Hunter. I loved that this was included because it helps send out a message to young readers, in a relaxed & non-pressurising way.

This book was such a good read, I loved the short chapters, I loved the humorous writing, I loved the adventure & small hint of danger peppered throughout & the book has Add to goodreadsabsolutely gone down on my 2019 favourites. I’m desperate to find a hardcover copy of the sequel to this, Sky Run (so if you know of where I can get one please let me know), but I’m also desperate for you to buy a copy of this book!
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Book Depository | Waterstones | Wordery 

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Random Book of the Month June’s Reveal

Thank you for popping by to see what Random Book of the Month I pick out of the Jar of Books. I can’t believe it yet again this month I had to pick out 2 books as the first book I pulled out I’d already read in October 2018. Luckily the second book I pulled out of the Jar of Books is a go, as I’ve not read it.

I did wonder if I should go through the Jar of Books and unfold all of the coloured pieces of paper and check to see if I read them, but that would spoil the surprise for me as I can’t remember what books are in the Jar of Books. So I’ve left it alone now until next month.

Book One Was: Day’s Gone Bad (Vesik Book 1) by Eric Asher. Which I read in October 2018.

Synopsis:

A crashed wedding. A scorned vampire. Here comes the blood…

Necromancer Damian Vesik is no hero. At least, not according to the magical community that turns a blind eye to his battles against evil. So he chalks it up as one more thankless mission when he’s forced to stop his vampire sister from murdering her ex’s entire bridal party…

Infiltrating the ceremony to protect the innocent, Damian uncovers something even more sinister than a massacre. With the help of his berserker fairy friend, he may need to prevent an unholy union between ancient demons and the walking dead. 

Damian has one chance to stop his sister and ruin the wedding before one hell of an afterparty dooms the world. 

Days Gone Bad is the first book in the savagely funny Vesik urban fantasy series. If you like gritty action, undead enemies, and plenty of snark, then you’ll love Eric R. Asher’s heart-stopping tale.

Pages: 316. Publication Date: 8 February 2013

Book Two is: Someone Else’s Fairytale by E M Tippetts

Synopsis:

Jason Vanderholt, Hollywood’s hottest actor, falls head over heels for every girl.

Chloe Winters, who hasn’t gotten around to watching most of his movies. It’s the ideal fairytale… for most people. The last thing Chloe needs is public attention. It brings back dangers from the past that she’s worked her whole life to escape.

Pages: 356. Publication Date: 14 December 2013. Original Publication Date: 6 December 2011.

May's Random Book of the Month review coming soon...

Chap 1: Introduction | Book 1: Your strategy needs a strategy

Your strategy needs a strategy

How to select and Execute the right approach to strategy

  • Strategy is a means to an end: favorable business outcomes;
  • There is a broader set of ways in which we can approach strategy (not just planning);
  • One size doesn’t fit all;
  • It has never been more important (and difficult) to choose the right approach to strategy for the right business situation;
  • We lack a robust way to select the right ones for the right circumstances

Strategy Frameworks

Source: Pankaj Ghemawat, “Competition and Business Strategy in Historical Perspective,” Business History Review 76 (Spring 2002): 37-74; Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); research by The Boston Consulting Group Strategy Institute.

  • The strategy palette was created to help leaders:
    • match their approach to strategy to circumstances & execute it effectively;
    • combine different approaches to cope with multiple/changing environments;
    • animate the resulting collage of approaches.
  • Evidence this book is based:
    • Half a decade of research;
    • More than 20 in-depth interviews with CEOs;
    • Mathematically.

5 Strategy Environments

The Strategy Palette

  • Business environments differ along 3 dimensions:
    • Predictability (can you forecast it);
    • Malleability (can you shape it);
    • Harshness (can you survive it).

The Strategy Palette

Source: Sinha. J., Haanaes. K., Reeves. M. (2015) Your Strategy needs a strategy

5 Strategy Archetypes


Applying the Strategy Palette


Traps: Where it can go wrong

Environmental perception

A human tendency to believe that we can predict and control our environment

Selecting the Right Approach

Mismatches in firms’ selection of their approach to strategy

Applying an approach correctly

The strong tendency for organizations to hold on the familiar & comfortable practices associated with the visionary & classical approaches.


How to use this book

5 core approaches to strategy with:

  • Case studies and interviews;
  • What defines and characterizes;
  • When to use;
  • How to apply: formulate & execute;
  • Tips & traps.

?
Strategies in combination

  • Separation;
  • Switching;
  • Self-organization;
  • Ecosystems.

?
The role of leaders in dynamically orchestrating the resulting strategy collage

  • The diagnostician;
  • The segmenter;
  • The disrupter;
  • The team coach;
  • The sales person;
  • The inquisitor;
  • The antenna;
  • The accelerator.

The Great Turkey Debacle of 2019: The Thunder Rolls and The Idiot Count Grows – Grand Finale

All good things must come to an end. Some famous person said that once…I think. Either way, we’ve finally made it to the finale post of The Great Turkey Debacle of 2019. So, let’s recap from the last post. Me and Devon went wandering in the woods essentially barefooted at dark because we’re morons. Brad spent time baby talking his dog on facetime because he’s a weirdo. Robb may or may not (probably so) be a werewolf. Josh spent the whole time alternating between stories of napping with dudes in some alley to weird ghost stories and government conspiracy theories and Ham is still full Yeti wandering in the woods complaining about messing up his beard. Post vehicular attack and a few more weird Seaman Josh stories to which you could still here Ham off in the distant woods yelling “But not these woods, right Josh?” We decided that it was time for bed. We had an early morning ahead of us and we needed some shut eye to be the most efficient turkey killers possible.

As we were heading to bed we all took a few moments to watch as Brad tried to get in to his single man tent. It was really small and narrow…Brad on the other hand, while narrow is quite tall.

We decided watching this episode of Brad attempting to climb in to his tent would be the most entertaining thing of the evening. We were not disappointed. Brad made various attempts to enter the tent, all were unsuccessful. He tried head first but freaked out because he had to belly crawl and something touched his leg. Then he tried feet first but freaked out because by this point Ham had re-emerged and accidentally kicked Brad in the face. He tried a leg at a time but wasn’t limber enough despite his freakishly long appendages. Fresh out of options there was but one thing left to do. We rolled out some extra tarps that we had to form a make shift slip and slide. We poured our hotdog water all over the tarp. Brad then got shirtless and we covered him in goose fat. Brad took off running from about 15 yards out and belly flopped on to the stink and slide and shot straight in to his tent head first like a rocket. He was a rocket covered in goose fat that when the moon light hit him, he glistened like that vampire boy in the Twilight movies…He was beautiful! The one thing we hadn’t anticipated was that Brad stupidly put his tent at the edge of an overhang. When he hit that tent doing roughly 6 miles an hour, his tent came up rooted and went right over the ledge. We could hear the thud of his landing and then hear him gasping for air and making some moaning sounds, we assumed he was ok and went to bed.

After the hilarity of watching Brad possibly die getting in to his tent, we all retired for the evening. Not much went on worth note while we slept. Josh kept telling Devon in their shared tent with Ham how this was similar to napping in Dude Alley on his ship. Ham was still complaining about his beard being dirty. And I could hear Devon telling them about how this camping is so much better than when he and his fellow soldiers were camped out on Christmas Eve about to cross the Delaware with General Washington. I could also hear Robb furiously scratching himself in his tent. And there was Brad, all his moaning and yelling for help made it really hard to go to sleep. So, I put in my earbuds and listened to a podcast until I could fall asleep.

I awoke the next morning to find that I wasn’t the only early riser in this outfit. Devon was already up and working on his 7th cup of coffee. He kept mumbling something about some war with the Persians and some guy named Leonidas. Either way, we were up and ready to kill some turkeys. As fate would have it, we weren’t the only ones up and ready to eat. As I was making some coffee, I looked up to see Robb coming up from the woods shirtless covered in blood. I thought to be concerned for a moment but Robb looked really pleased with himself so I assumed he just ate an entire family of squirrels after finding their nest.

We stoked the fire and sat around discussing our strategy for the day. Robb told us that he was going scouting for future hunting expeditions in these here woods. Devon and I decided that we’d take his blind and go out together and leave Ham and Seaman Josh to their own devices. After a while, everyone awoke, including Brad, who at the mention of bacon came dragging his haggard body back over the ridge line. We all spent some time devouring breakfast and planning. After breakfast we all retreated to our tents and packs to get geared up for our turkey massacre that was about to ensue.

After putting on my camo and briar pants and my sweet Ariat boots, I emerged from my tent to find Ham in full camo…problem is, it was artic camo like he was about to lay siege to the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop.

Army serviceman in winter camo somewhere in the Arctic. He wears chest rig, backpack, suffers from extreme cold, strong wind, but endures while mission continues, running moving across snow desert

Josh went overboard with his blaze orange and was wearing a neon orange jumpsuit.

Brad decided that he sucked and wasn’t worthy of hunting so he was wearing his normal stuff so he could go hiking and exploring with Robb. But what took the cake was Devon walking out of his tent in jeans and a mesh hunter orange vest…and nothing more sans his shotgun. Upon his emergence Devon declared himself ready to “kill him some thunder chickens!” Yes, I do actually have a picture of this…and no (unless I’m begged) I won’t post it. I’ll save Devon the harassment of all the people wanting to be his friend should that picture surface. Although, that picture with a couple accompanying videos might have found their way to a few people in our church…

And now that we were all decked out in our fancy hunting threads and Devon’s lack of threads, we were off to our grandiose turkey slaughter. This was to be a good day. As we trudged through the woods, we passed several glum looking hunters coming in the opposite direction. Finally, we asked one if he had any luck. “Not a bit” the hunter expressed. He told us that he hadn’t gotten so much as a gobble all morning. He looked like he knew what he was doing too…much unlike us. But we trudged on. We would not be deterred from our collective dreams of killing turkeys en masse. Eventually our two hunting posses parted ways in an effort to divide and conquer (yes, I know that’s no the correct usage of that term).

Devon and I set up shop in a blind about 45 yards in to a thick brush where we found a small clearing. And then, we waited. We made some calls on our large variety of turkey calls and then…waited some more. We waited…and waited…and waited…ad nauseum.

An eternity and several of Devon’s war stories later and we were still sitting in that blind…waiting and calling. Then some excitement to our left. A murder of crows went ballistic and started making the awfullest racket you ever heard! Suddenly, two large hawks came screeching through our hunting encampment. Devon and I looked at each other and before uttering a word, we heard a guttural growl from about 30 yards out. I text Josh to see where they were and if they’d seen what stirred the crows up. Seaman Josh text back that it was the two large hawks that upset the crows. Problem is, I ain’t never heard a hawk growl. We took down the blind as quick as we could. All the while we listened for additional growls.

Then, it got eerily silent. You could’ve heard Ham still whining about his beard being dirty from a mile away, it was so…deathly quiet. All of a sudden there was a rush of air and boom! There was this bear charging from out of nowhere. Devon started muttering about this one time bear hunting with Teddy Roosevelt and I stood there weighing my options. I could open fire on the bear which might make it angrier. I could run. I could shoot Devon in the leg and run. Or I could stand and fight like the survival book I read once said to do. Fight it was!

Our fight with this bear was more epic than Tyson v Holifield. It was better than the WrestleMania 10 ladder match! Rights, lefts, dropkicks, hip tosses, bear hugs, groin kicks, raking of the eyes…at one point Devon went full on Mr. Fuji and through salt in the bear’s eyes.

The fight was back and forth between us and the bear. Then we opened fire and kicked that party up a notch.

After many tense and strenuous moments, our conquest was complete. The bear had not only been defeated but we’d made friends with it. Due to our new friendship the bear was easily domesticated and used for a pack animal. I rode victoriously back to camp on the back of my new bear friend. Meanwhile, Devon was vigorously trying to call “Teddy” on his cell phone whilst trying to remember the last 4 of his number.

Upon our arrival back at camp, we found the rest of the posse sitting around dejected. Everyone except Brad who was wild eyed and wouldn’t stop looking at Robb while Robb stared, unblinkingly back at him as he sharpened a large knife.

Apparently, Robb accepted a bribe from Brad’s wife to kill him on this trip and attempted to cash in on his portion of the life insurance money…three separate times.

As we sat around we got quite the startle when Robb announced that we all need to be very still. A large rattlesnake had entered our midst. Instead of being still and letting the snake leave peacefully we decided that we’d coax Robb in to chasing the snake.

In a burst of movement Robb accepted our challenge to his outdoorsman cred and he rushed toward the snake screaming like a banshee. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen! Then the snake turned the tables and changed course instead giving Robb a chase prior to corning him around a pile rocks and limbs.

It was then that Robb gave the most sinister laugh I think I’ve ever heard and he grabbed the serpent by the throat and began yelling scripture in to it’s terrified snake face. Then he dropped the snake, grabbed it by the tail and snapped it like a wet towel against the rocks. Robb then strung it up as a trophy / warning to other snakes.

And it was this moment when most of our “what if Robb does” scenarios came to life. We fully expected that Robb would do something that we’d all talk about later as only something Robb would do. Having Robb in the wild with you is the equivalent to having Greg Norman play on your 4 man golf team at a charity event. But the fun didn’t end there.

While we were all settling back down from our encounter with death in the form of a super serpent, the key player of this whole weekend came strutting by out in a field just about 35 yards away. It was the biggest turkey we’d ever seen! Then again, this was the only turkey that we’d seen on this trip so we didn’t have much to compare it to. We all sat and argued over who would take the shot. Then Robb chimed in and told us that we’d all get a turn. We rushed to grab our shotguns and followed Robb toward the field.

Since Ham was youngest we let him shoot first. He aimed, fired and dropped that bird…feathers were every where! Robb immediately jumped up and ran through the field to the turkey. Upon reaching the bird he dropped to his knees, placed his hands on this now headless bird’s breast and prayed over it. Within moments the bird sprang back to life and Robb let out an extremely loud “Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!”. Robb came walking back covered in feathers and blood and instructed the next person to shoot. This same sequence went on for the next 23 minutes as we all took a turn shooting the turkey but mostly watching Robb become more and more exhausted and covered with swaths of feathers and blood. You know how back in the colonial days tax collectors got tarred and feathered?

It was like that but with blood and turkey feathers. Either way, this trip turned out to be the turkey massacre we hoped for, even if we did need Robb there to pray the turkey back to life just so we could shoot it again. The weird part of this whole stretch was not Robb raising a turkey from the dead or the fact that we were all taking turns shooting this zombie turkey. No, what was weird was Brad sitting behind us with binoculars grunting and saying “yeah, yeah…shoot him again big man” with every passing moment.

Just when we thought the day couldn’t get more awesome, almost simultaneously our phones starting chirping and chiming and dinging with text alerts from our wives/significant others. They were sending pictures and videos and very descriptive texts about a storm system that had just ripped through town and judging by the radar was heading toward us. There was no getting out. We were directly in this storm’s path. Then came the texts of well wishes and quasi-goodbyes. Essentially, they thought we were going to die.

Here we were in the wild, having survived and escaped death’s jaws several times and we were going to get taken out by a storm. What a crappy way to go…especially for Devon who by now has taken his war experience all the way back to some small kid with a slingshot and a giant…pretty sure he’s talking about David and Goliath but he can’t remember the names (old age, I guess) could also be a couple kids from his neighborhood. Either way, our wives were all sure that we were goners. So we did what any group of morons would do. We filled up our thermos’, grabbed some snacks and our lanterns and headed in to our giant tarp area that we dubbed “City Hall”. We intended to ride out the storm here. Our waiting wasn’t long as the storm came and slammed our camp area. But, no sooner than it arrived, it was over….or so we thought. Actually, we’d just gotten a preview of what the next several hours of our lives would be like. It was like when you get the lite version of an app for free to test it out and then later buy the real version.

Luckily, we checked the radar before declaring the camp “All Clear”. With a brief window between the preview storm and stormpocalypse we grabbed some more snacks and made sure all the tents were staked down good and zipped up. Then we got back in to “City Hall” and awaited the impending doom. You could hear it before you saw it. The roar of the wind ripping through the trees. The sky was dark and a spooky greenish color. In the distance you could hear the crack of lightning. This was about to be a more difficult ride than that time I almost died riding that bronco, he was hopping and thrashing about…I thought then that I was a goner (thank God the grocery store manager came out and unplugged it). This was worse and fun all at the same time. I mean, I saw Twister in IMax so I was prepared for this.

Not to mention that I’d listened to Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” album a few times in my day. I even survived 4 tornadoes on the same day at Myrtle Beach as a 16 year old kid (perhaps one day I’ll write that story…only if you’re interested). My entire life was preparation for this. Then the storm arrived. There was wind, hail, lightning, heavy flooding rain and…that was pretty much it. I mean, it lasted for several hours which was a bummer because I was looking forward to another night of fireside talk but it was not to be. We did, however, sit around in “City Hall” talking about all kinds of things. Topics included but are not limited to; development of a unicorn sticker fitness company, uses for goose fat, Pastor using a range finder scope to spy on the Methodist church next door, Ham’s favorite beard products, bushcraft, Robb terrifying first time guests, Seaman Josh’s favorite napping spots, my multiple jobs growing up, Brad’s favorite dog breed and Devon kept saying something about some dude with a blue ox that he used to hang out with. Speaking of Devon, we noticed him missing at one point when the storm got really bad. He kept saying something about riding tornadoes but we all thought he was talking about the aforementioned Metallica album and just had it wrong. We’d heard there were tornadoes with this storm but didn’t see a one…

After a few hours and many harrowing trips to use the bathroom during the storm, the decision had been made that camp was too wet to stay. We checked the radar and saw that these storms would continue throughout the night and next day. We saw we had a break in the action that if we utilized our time well we could rush around and pack up everything and get out of dodge. It sucks to wake up early and pack as we’d planned so we could get back to church…it sucks more to wake up early and pack in the pouring rain. And so, with a break in the storm…we packed. As quick as we cleared out the meth lab previous to us and assembled our camp city, we took it all right back down. It was the end of a long planned weekend of hunting and campfire shenanigans. We entered the camp as buddies and left as one big family of idiots. And….nobody died…so that’s a plus.

Join us next time as we start a new journey…a tale of heroism, turbulent waters, more snakes, miracles on water and roaring rapids as we go tubing down some random mountain river in NC! See ya next time!

What to do in Summer? Read the days away Part 2

Well, I am back. And since I love books I am back with Read The Days Away Part 2.

Be sure to check out Read the days away part 1. You can find a link here.

So, I decided to do a book list this time instead of reviews, just to change it up.

I will try to give you some helpful information on choosing a book to read, too.

How this works is, the genre will be on top in Bold, and a list of books in that genre will be below. If there is a series I will list some of my favorite books in the series in Italic.

 

Historical Fiction

The Dear America Series (by various authors)

Voyage on the Great Titanic By Ellen Emerson White
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie By Kristina Gregory
Early Sunday Morning By Barry Denenburg
Christmas After All By Kathryn Lasky
When Will this Cruel War be Over? By Barry Denenburg
The Winter of Red Snow By Kristina Gregory
(There are many more books in this series, but these are some of my favs.)

The Night Diary By Veera Hiranandani

Our Only May Amelia By Jennifer Holm

Turtle in Paradise By Jennifer Holm

Full of Beans By Jennifer Holm

Penny From Heaven By Jennifer Holm (There might be books I am forgetting that are by Jennifer Holm)

 

Girl Detective Mysteries

The Nancy Drew Series

The Trixie Belden Series

 

Realistic Fiction

Prairie Evers By Ellen Airgood

The Education of Ivy Blake By Ellen Airgood

Umbrella Summer By Lisa Graff

The Secret Language of Girls By Frances O’Roark Dowell

The Kind of Friends we Used to Be By Frances O’Roark Dowell

Half A Chance By Cynthia Lord

Rules By Cynthia Lord

Touch Blue By Cynthia Lord

A Hand full of Stars By Cynthia Lord

Because of The Rabbit By Cynthia Lord

A Corner of the Universe By Ann M Martin

A Dogs Life By Ann M Martin

Rain Reign By Ann M Martin

Love, Aubrey By Suzanne LaFleur

 

Other (Not sure of the genre on these)

The Indiana Cousins Series By Wanda E Brunstetter

The Doll People and The Meanest Doll in The world By Ann M Martin

Dolls’ House By Rumor Godden

Hitty: Her first hundred years By Rachel Field

 


 

I love so many of these books. All of them are so good. There are so many books I could list, but I have to keep it at this. Maybe I will do another book list…..

Have you read any of these books? Will you read any of them?

-Haley

 

 

 

ALL THE BOOKS: My FULL Birthday Month Book Haul

Early on in May I posted my Birthday Month Book Haul #1 and said that since it’s my birthday month and there were a large number of exciting new releases coming out, I was going to let myself go a little wild on the book haul front. Well… There’s no doubt that I certainly did that! I mean, my bank account isn’t even quietly raging against me after last month, but it’s shouting at me at the top of it’s very teeny tiny shrunken lungs to STOP! CEASE AND DESIST!! BUY NO MORE!!! I really think it might be time to really listen to my poor savings balance ?? This is a judgement free zone right, book lovers!?

I literally just tallied up all the books that I purchased and well… It’s a lot. Like, a lot a lot. *drum roll please* In May, I purchased 35 physical books and 17 e-books (Kindle) for a total of: 52 books …?? Yaaah, is that number really correct? Do my eyes not deceive me? No, it’s true. WELP. I already have most of these as I purchased them at the store, and my bestie brought some over when she visited me from Australia, but some I’m still (not so) patiently waiting for the rest! To be fair, some of these are also bookbox books (like my Owlcrate Finale!), one was a bookstagram giveaway win, and I’ve already read some of these but didn’t have the physical copies… So technically it doesn’t really count, right? Ha ha… *crickets* ?? Is it really a surprise then that I am putting myself on a book buying ban starting this month onwards? I’m trying to make it through until at least mid-July, which is a pretty ambitious target for me because sometimes I just can’t control the FOMO. But at the very least I will do my very best to not buy any books in June! Wish me luck because judging from this gigantic stack, we all know I need it! So without further ado, here are the books I got this month (in no particular order because yeah, we’re not gonna do that):

So… Did you buy any books in May? What did your haul look like? Let me know in the comments below and let’s talk about MY CRAZINESS ??

WEEKEND IN PARIS

Studying abroad in Florence, Italy this past semester was a no brainer for me, even if it meant sacrificing my chance for a typical American 21st birthday. Except for me, it was not much of a sacrifice at all. In fact, it was my dream situation. I mean, how many people get to celebrate their 21st birthday in a place as incredible as Europe? I knew that this was my chance to make my birthday something I’d never forget, which meant I needed to spend it in the place I’ve always wanted to go; Paris, France. My love for fashion, beautiful architecture, rich European history as well as baked goods made Paris the perfect destination for my 21st birthday and not to mention, one of my best friends Brittany was studying there!

F O O D

PINK MAMA

One of the trendiest and most “Instagramable” places in Paris. The crowd was fairly young and the location was great. They open their doors at 7pm and do not take reservations so you’ll want to get there early and wait in line. The service was great and quick and there were plenty of options for food and cocktails. Be sure to try the truffle pasta and big mama cocktail.

HELMUT NEWCAKE

Perfect place for gluten and dairy free Parisian treats! We had the éclairs and they were to die for. Make sure you stop by on the earlier side because they will sell out.

LADURÉE

For any Gossip Girl fans, tea at Ladurée is a must! Obviously, everything on the menu was a bit pricier than what it would be anywhere else but the experience makes it worth it. Make reservations ahead of time to make sure you are seated and to avoid the line. All the macaroons are incredible but you HAVE to try the licorice one, I swear it’s not what you’d expect.

Other places to try: Yummy and Guiltfree, NOGLU, Boulangerie Chambelland Paris, The Ritz

Food to try: Croque Monsieur, French Onion Soup, Moules Frites, Crêpes

T H I N G S  T O  D O  &  S E E

What I loved most about this trip was that I did not go in with an itinerary or a huge list of things I wanted to see. Keep in mind though, I was going to stay with someone who had been studying abroad there and knew the ins and outs already so I didn’t feel as though I needed to have a plan. My best recommendation would be to take Paris day by day. Do not stress or rush to get to everything. It is a huge city so prioritize a few things and then just enjoy exploring a new place.

EIFFEL TOWER

This was obviously on my must list. The lawn is the best place for photos and if you plan on staying a while bring a picnic!

PERFUME MAKING

My amazing friend Brittany planned this for us for my birthday. It was a unique and fun experience that I thought was a perfect gift and something special for my trip to Paris. You get to bring home a travel size of your own perfume that you created yourself. My perfume had scents of vanilla, tobacco and strawberries!

SHAKESPEARE & CO

Incredible bookstore with every book imaginable. They stamp any book purchased with official logo from the shop. They also have a coffee shop next door so you can enjoy your book with a coffee or snack.

VERSAILLES PALACE

This was a bit out of the way (needed to take buses and trains to get to), but for me, it was a must-see. It was pretty crowded but moved fairly quickly. Beautiful architecture and colors. I recommended listening to the audio guide because there are some interesting facts. You can also rent a golf cart to drive around the grounds.

S H O P P I N G

Paris has the most incredible shopping. For someone who loves fashion like me, this was the place to be. From vintage stores on random street corners to Zara, you would never be without a great place to shop.

AVENUE DES CHAMPS ELYSÉES 

This is a great area to go shopping in because it has everything from Sephora to Chanel. It is a great area for pictures in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

GALERIES LAFAYETTE

This is one of the coolest shopping malls I have ever been to. Not only does it have a huge selection of clothing, accessories, makeup and more, but it also has the most incredible displays and architecture. Even if you are not looking to shop, this is definitely a place you should check out!

N I G H T L I F E

LAVOMATIC

The wait in line outside in the cold was worth it. You enter this bar through a washing machine. There is very limited seating so you have to wait for a table to open up. The only catch is you MUST order a drink and if you’re not feeling like drinking, water costs about five euros.

NO ENTRY: PINK MAMA

While I never got to go here, my friend said it was really cool. It is down through the meat locker of Pink Mama. Try some Italian liquor and cocktails while you chill on the plush pink velvet seats.

Hope you enjoyed my weekend in Paris. If you have any places or things I should try during my next trip to Paris leave them below!

Nicole xx

I have a baby that screams.

Our baby screams. We love her endlessly and she screams. It’s still quite a bit but also a bit less so now, and most of the time we don’t know why.

She was screaming during feeds and afterward, but that’s because she had silent reflux. We got given a little brown bottle of dissolved medicine, a prescription for time, and the gentle massage of an oestopath. The time did it in the end and now the acid doesn’t burn her throat anymore. She screams a lot less.

But aside from that.

All babies are different, they say. Hushed tones and knowing looks.

Sometimes it’s hard being different.

A morning of mounting anxiety, telling me that I can’t go to playgroup because I’ll make a mistake or my baby will scream or cry continuously again and everyone will think I’m a bad mum. These things will definitely happen.

The time ticks on. I’m more and more ansty to leave the house. These mint walls are engulfing and they contain every feed, every nap, most screams. They are our prison and our safe haven, our everyday and our dread. If I can’t find the courage to make it to playgroup, at least I should try and go out, I tell myself.

The last time we went out was Monday. My baby was in the pram because I am told that babies like prams and the motion helps them to fall asleep. We walked for half an hour and she screamed the whole way. Gutteral, choking screams that only subsided slightly when I took her out and held her, standing in the mud underneath the leafless, winter trees.

I’m scared to go for walks now.

So this afternoon we hopped in the car, my heart beating out of my chest and my breathing shallow. Waiting, waiting, when will it happen again? I drove to a beach a few towns over and she fell asleep on the way. The road there was beautiful and the light from the sea created a cave like horizon. I put the car into park for 30 seconds to look at the ocean.

She started screaming.

I drove on, hoping the motion would settle her back down, but I know better than this. It doesn’t. It never does. I found a safe place to park and pulled her into my arms and eventually she became quiet. We played the funny faces game as I tried not to cry and she grinned her sunshine smile with each expression.

While we had parked a couple returned to their van a few parks over. They were backpacking, exploring, and returned to their converted van with food. They dug into their pies and were laughing and looking out across the park. They looked so free. They looked so calm. They looked so content.

My baby goes back into her car seat and I start driving home.

She starts screaming again.

Choking, coughing, ear piercing screams.

I try and sing to her on the 14 minute drive home. Thundering along at 100 km/hr on SH1, be calm, be calm, focus on the road, I force myself.

She screams on and I remember that I once read somewhere that some mums put on headphones while they take care of their screaming babies. I understand.

She screams and screams and her whole face is bright red, her eyes clamped shut, tears running down her cheeks. Her head judders and shakes with each new rampage, a small earthquake of the chaos she feels.

We arrive home. I take her out of the car seat and into my arms once again. Her back is soaked is sweat, her whole body shakes along with each gust of noise that sweeps through.

I hold my baby while she screams and screams, my tears running down to meet hers. Eventually she falls asleep and there is quiet and now we wait.

I don’t really know what to think of it because we don’t know why she screams when many other babies cry softly. Some people say she is being a little bit dramatic or sensitive, others say she is just being a baby. I’m just going to think about it in the way that she has a loud soul. She feels big, she loves big, she is tidal waves and sandstorms which contrasts my quiet soul of puddles and mist. And although this journey, screaming and all, is so damn hard, every day we are loving her more and more exactly how she is.

June 2019 Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings

Mike Moon / Catgirl Island
 
and Jamie Robertson / Clan of the Cats
 
purroudly purrsent a Mike Moon purrduction,
starring The Ladies of The Mew in
 
The June 2019 Edition of The Mew:
The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings, nya!
________________________________________________
 
in this edition of The Mew:
 
what we have been up to since the purrior Mew
The Lightning Round topic: our favorite fun stuff of 1959
The Celebrity Catgirl Spotlight
 
collectibles & toy talk:
Star Trek Official Starships Collection Special V’Ger issue
Marvel Legends Jubilee action figure
Marvel Legends Blink action figure
DC Gallery Batwoman diorama
Pop! Heroes DC Collection by Jm Lee Catwoman figurine
Transformers: The Siege Chromia deluxe class action figure
Mythic Legion Myria Goldenbranch action figure
 
movie mewsings:
Detective Pikachu
Jon Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot
Godzilla, King of Monsters
 
comic book reports:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #77
Synergy: A Hasbro Creators Showcase
The Unstoppable Wasp #7
Princeless Book 8 #2
Red Sonja The Ballad of the Red Goddess
Belit #3
Fathom vol.8 #1
 
manga mewsings
Hakumei & Mikochi vol. 5
Konohana Kitan vol. 4
Shoulder – a – Coffin Kuro vol. 7
 
new additions to the Catgirl Island Mewseum of Art:
“Batgirl” fan art
“Rosa” fan art
“Arian” fan art
“Aurora’a”
 
“The Beachy Bunch”
“Women’s Beach Volleyball Cheer & Dance Squad for 2019” 
“Spin or Dare”
and “Taur Trekker” by Mike
“Vikala” and “Larysa” by Rebecca Brogden and Mike…
 
“Shades of Emerald”
“Moondance”
“Eyes in the Dark”
“Mystery Egg”
“Happy Thoughts”
“Water Lily Elf”
“Lonely Mermaid”
“Happy Mermaid”
and “Elegant Swim” by Rebecca…
 
“Hawkeye” fan art by Alexcia Reynolds,
and the “Heroine Cosplayers” photo by Chef Ron, nya!
________________________________________________
 
Mike:
(Catgirl Island & The Mew’s creator / purrducer wearing the Catgirl Island baseball cap, the “Everything’s More Fun With a Catgirl!” tee shirt, Dark Teal cargo shorts & Mew Balance trainers) 
 
Aloha y’all and welcome to The Mew, in which we review and discuss fun stuff! This month’s mew Mew comes from the Bell Tower Garden of Mew Hanover College on the northeastern side of Catgirl island, where it’s 83 degrees under a Blue sky full of White Cumulo-Neko clouds! I’m Mike, the show’s “Purrducer”, and here in their pretty pony print attire are The Ladies of The Mew!
 
Mary Nyan:
(the catgirl in the Jaguar purrint purretzel – cutout maillot) Konnichiwa!
 
Jeannie:
(the catgirl in the Snow Leopurrd micro bikini & sheer purrled purreo) Nihao.
 
Trini-chan:
(the kitsune girl in the Margay purrint trikini with the Tube Rose lei) Aloha!
 
Nyanko:
(the catgirl in the Bengal Tiger purrint boy shorts & athletic bra) Howdy!
 
Nyoka:
(Nyanko’s twin sister in the Liger purrint suspender maillot) Howdy!
 
Petra:
(the catgirl in the Ocelot purrint ring-closure bikini) Hi Hi, nya!
 
Bunni:
(the bunny girl in the Cheetah purrint side-tie bikini) Guten Tag!
 
Becca:
(the nekomimi gynoid in the Puma purrint crisscross halter neck bikini) Aloha!
 
Elizabeth:
(Becca’s catgirl wife in the Iberian Lynx purrint triangle top bikini) Hola!
 
Yvonne:
(the catgirl in the Asiatic Lioness purrint bandeau-top bikini) Namaste, nya!
 
Tara-chan:
(Yvonne’s younger sister in the Iriomote Cat purrint tankini) Namaste, nya!
 
Mielikki:
(the winged faerie in the bikini made of dandelions) Mellow greetings!
 
Mike:
So what have y’all been up to since last month’s 12th anniversary Mew?
 
Mary Nyan:
When I have not been instructing the hula or volunteering at the shrine, I have been sewing busily for the miku, dancers and cosplayers. Currently in purrogress upon the dress forms are the costumes of Star Wars Resistance’s Synara San and Nanatsu no Bitoku’s Uriel!
 
Jeannie:
As mewsual, my itinerary is purrimarily compurrised of the morning yoga, afternoon kyudo, teaching the belly dance, purrsiding over the Robotics Club, modeling the swim wear and body paint.
 
Trini-chan:
Aside from assisting Jenjen with the belly dance classes, I have been stand up paddle surfing, board shaping, volunteering, and Tara-chan and I have been caring for the ponies at the stables!
 
Nyanko:
I have been attending some of the local sporting events and the festivities when I am not busy at my gym and at my dojo, which just purroudly graduated yet another class with the awarded sashes and belts!
 
Nyoka:
My wonderful employees, familiars and I are purrparing the magick shop for the forthcoming Summer Solstice celebration, during which will have the special guests, seminars, rituals, crystals, and tasty treats!
 
Petra:
Bun and I have been curating the art mewseum, attending the local events, and winning the beach volleyball matches, where are very grateful for the many purrticipants and attendees, nya!
 
Bun:
We are quite grateful for the event staff, officials, fans, the other teams, the artists, the volunteers, and the mewseum patrons! Otherwise, I have been baking the carrot cakes and tending to my garden! Howboutchoo, Becca?
 
Becca:
When Lizzy, our wonderful employees and I have not been pampurring the many customers at our spa, purrtook of the festivities, the mewsual late night hot salsa dance, and binged watched the televised sports!
 
Elizabeth:
We watched NCCA Women’s College Softball World Series, Men’s College Baseball tournyaments, the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Otherwise, when she is at the golf course, I am at my Purrkour Club! 
 
Yvonne:
My drumming circle has been purrforming at the local matsuris, and my fishing charters have reeled in the delicious, nutritious bumpurr crop of the groupurrs, snappurrs, cobias and wahoos, nya!
 
Tara-chan:
I have been helping onee-san with TsuriNekoMimi, volunteering at the food bank, caring for Emmy, Zuli, Jimbo, Wild Star Blaze*, and – and snapping the nature photos of the interesting insects, nya!
 
*(paw note: Emmy and Zuli are Yvonne & Tara-chan’s pet cats; Jimbo and Wild Star Blaze are Tara-chan and Trini-chan’s banker ponies, and the S.S. TsuriNekoMimi is Yvonne’s 1985 Hatteras 60 Convertible motor yacht)
 
Mielikki:
So like, I have been directing the rehearsals for our ampurrtheatre’s Summertime Shakespeare Fiesta, instructing at the golf club, and cheering for our friends’ athletic accomplishments! By the way, I understand that Mike ran in the Comics for a Cure 5K race!
 
Mike:
Yep, that was my first 5K race, and I hope to do another one soon! Um otherwise, it’s been a fairly typical month of art, writing, reading, gaming, and spending time with family and friends! Ah, well, we have a lot on our plate this afternoon, so let’s go ahead and jump into
 
the Lightning Round topic:
our favorite fun stuff of 1959
 
Mike:
This year’s Lightning Round topics have pertained to our favorite stuff of years ending in a 9, and today we’re looking back at 1959, the year that Hawaii became the 50th state! Ah, Jeannie’s gonna start, so are y’all ready to “conduct the lightning”?
 
The Ladies of The Mew:
HAI! LIGHTNING ROUND GO- NYA!
 
Jeannie:
I wish to nominate the magnificent aerospace mecha that first flew or entered service in 1959 such as the North American X-15, Lockheed c-130 Hercules, Douglas DC-8, Convaire F-106 Delta Dart, 
Dassault Mirage IV. Vickers Vanguard, de Havilland Sea Vixen, and NASA’s Pioneer space purrobes. (tags Bunni to go next)
 
Bunni:
That was the great year for the movies such as Ben Hur, Black Orpheus, Imitation of Life, North by Northwest, Some Like it Hot, and The Hound of the Baskervilles! (tags Petra with a brush of the tail)
 
Petra:
I will nominate the great movies such as Gidget, Li’l Abner, Operation Petticoat, On the Beach, Pillow Talk, Rio Bravo, and The Shaggy Dog, nya! ( tail –  tags Mary Nyan)
 
Mary Nyan:
I have also enjoyed Angry Red Planet, Battle in Outer Space, Journey to the Center of the Earth, On the Beach, Plan Nine from Outer Space, and The Tingler! ( tags Tara-chan)
 
Tara-chan:
I want… I want to nominate Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and – and  the animated  shorts of the Loony Tunes, Merrie Melodies, and – and Buggs Bunny, nya! (tags her older sister)
 
Yvonne:
Among the classic television series that purremied that year were Rawhide, Bonanza, and of course The Twilight Zone, nya! Nyow it is… Lizzy’s turn, nya! (tags Elizabeth)
 
Elizabeth:
1959 was the great year for the mewsic by Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Miles Davis, and Charles Mingus! (tags her wife)
 
Becca:
Nina Simone, Tom Lehrer, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Mel Torme, Jo Stafford, Perry Como, Kitty Wells, Dinah Washington and the Dave Brubreck Quartet, too! (tags Nyanko)
 
Nyanko:
It was (Clemson) Tigers vs (LSU) Tigers in the Sugar Bowl, Dodgers vs White Sox in the MBL World Series, Celtics vs Lakers in the NBA Finals, Canadiens vs Maple Leafs for the Stanley Cup, and Betsy Rawls was the LPGA champion!  (tags her twin)
 
Nyoka:
The books such as H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shuttered Room, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Robert Bloch’s Pyscho, Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Have Spacesuit Will Travel! (tags Mielikki)
 
Mielikki:
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Dorsai by Gordon R. Dickson, Mary Norton’s The Borrowers Afloat, and William S. Burroughs’s The Naked Lunch! (tags Trini-chan with a flit of the wing)
 
Trini-chan:
That was the great year for the comic book character debuts such as Supergirl. The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) Rip Hunter, Gorilla Grodd, Mr. Freeze, and The Suicide Squad! Back to Mike!
 
Mike:
That year in Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts strips included the first appurrances of Sally Brown, Lucy’s psychiatric booth, and the first mention of The Great Pumpkin! Well that was another expedient little Lightning Round, and now let’s go ahead and jump into —
 
The Celebrity Catgirl Spotlight!
 
Mary Nyan:
Hai! In this portion of The Mew, we commeowmorate famous catgirls and nekomimi of myths and popular culture from across the world and the decades, here broadly – defined from anthropormorphic feline females, ailuranthropic shape – shifters and other types of feline femme fatales, to those who might not actually have kitty DNA, but do have the cat-titude and / or the style for us to consider as the “honorary catgirls”!
 
Catgirl Manor, a.k.a The Chateu is Madame Isabella Karnstein’s lovely Victorian house in Colorado Springs, where diverse ladies adopt the fursonas  and done the nekomimi ears for the (adult) kittenplay! It is not for the widdle kitties, but the official site with many photos of the beautiful catgirls and the online store is at https://thechateau.org!
 
Also for the adult viewers and not for the widdle kitties is  author, blogger, purrducer & hostess of the Karley Sciortino‘s Slutever https://slutever.com blog & companion TV series which purrtain to the various sexuality topics. Airing upon the Viceland network, the TV series is in its 2nd season, during which the 5th epurrsode purrtained to Pet Play!
 
That epurrsode had the three segments, compurrised of the kitten play, pony play and puppy play segments, in which Karley not only intermewed the purractioners and the expurrt costume makers, but also put on the kemonomimi ears herself! Speaking of the ears, we also wish to mention the cute widdle daughters who wear the Pink cat ear headbands in the Cordell & Cordell law firm’s “What Fatherhood Means” and the Facebook Groups’ “Dada & Daughters” spots!
 
Photographed beautifully by Josie Clough, several lovely lades model the sexy leopurrd purrint bikini in the Sports Illustrated 2019 Swimsuit Issue, such as Samantha Hooper, Hailey Clauson, Myla Dalbeso and Olivia Culpo, mew la la!  Of course, who could forget the purretty leopurrd purrint dress worn by the Finch’s neighbor Maudie Atkinson (purrtrayed by Rosemary Murphy) to the breakfast  with Atticus, Scout, Jem & Cal in the 1962 movie adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird?
 
In epurrsode 9 of the great dark comedy mockumentary TV series What We do in the Shadows, the vampires of Staten Island host the bi-annual orgy at their mansion. Among the many guests are Sylvia (purrtrayed by Samantha Madley) who arrives in the sexy leopurrd purrint outfit, with the cordial clawing & fangy hissing for hostess Nadja!
 
There are the few accidental catgirl-ish moments in wonderfully fun manga & anime Locoldol about the high school girls who become the idol star quartet in hopes of to purrmote their charming home town of Nagarekawa. The Nagarekawa Girls are compurrised of Nanako Usami (voiced by Miku ito) & Yukari Kohinata (voiced by Sachika Misawa)…
 
… along with their costumed mascots Mirai Nazukari (voiced by Inori Minase), Yui Mikoze (voiced by maya Yoshioka), manager / photographer costumer Saori Nishifukai (voiced by Asami Sjimoda, and
Nana’s uncle Oota (voiced by Takehiro Murozono) the city council member who greenlit the town’s locodol campaign.
 
Nanako at times gets nervous about the purrformances, and often stutters, introducing herself as Na-nyako. This is often regarded as the cute quality by the audience; and at the national idol festival, Miyako Mimo (voiced by Emi Nitta) of the idol group Awa Awa Girls wonders if Nanako is the catgirl. Ironically, Miyaka often wears the cute Yellow nekomimi hat when she not purrforming!
 
Girls and cats are the central characters of the charmingly delightful manga & anime Sketchbook Full Colors, which purrtains to the high school art club students and the neighborhood cats! Cat & girl merge briefly in epurrsode 5: Cat Day, in which Asaka Kamiya (voiced by Ami Koshimizu) wears the costume cat ears & paws in one scene! She later purrsuades her mom to give a home to Kuma the large cat!
 
There are several lovable doggies in that anime too, including Inou the cute stray pup who finds the good forever home in epurrode 10: What Lies Ahead. Two other art students Ryo Tanabe (voiced by Masumi Asano) & Fu Himuro ( voiced by Natsuko Kuwatani) are thusly inspired to wear the dog – eared headbands when they try to meet the pup! That is all for this month’s spotlight, but we hope to shine it agan next month! Speaking of the figures,, nyow here is Mike to begin
 
our collectibles & toy talk, with his review of the
Star Trek Official Starships Collection Special V’Ger issue
 
Mike:
Ah, I realize that it is easy for me to get long-winded when it comes to discussing my favorite movie Star Trek – The Motion Picture, or things designed by my idol Syd Mead, but I promised to  be brief this time.  Well, for those who are not familiar with V’ger, it was the antagonistic, vast sentient spacecraft that threatened the Earth on that first Star Trek movie, which turns 40 on December 7th!
 
Eaglemmoss publishes great books & magazines about Star Trek & other topics, as well as their line of handsomely pre-assembled & painted miniatures of famous ships. Packaged in the  polybagged 7″ x4.5″ x11.5″ box, this set includes the 8.75″ long plastic replica of V’ger with the display stand, plus the 11 3/4″ x 8 5/8″ full color 20 page magazine. The set is priced $45 US and £24.99 UK.
 
Excluding its excluding luminescent outer energy cloud, the V’ger vessel was mentioned as being 78 kilometers long, so if my math is correct that would make this model of 1/350,956.5 scale. By the way, the model built for the movie was around 60 feet long! The magazine includes photos & concept art of V’ger, with comments by designer Syd Mead & artist Robert McCall.
 
Most of the material is reprinted from prior art books, including the Eaglemoss’s recent Starship Design vol. 2: Voyager and Beyond. By the way, Syd Mead’s 86th birthday is on July 18th, and December 23rd would have been the late Robert McCall’s 100th birthday! Anyway, it took 39.5 years, but finally I have a swell, officially licensed model of V’ger, so me happy! Now here’s Mie-sensei to review the
 
Marvel Legends Jubilee and Blink action figures!
 
Mielikki: 
Hai! Created by author Chris Claremont and artist Marc Silvestri, Jubilation Lee a.k.a Jubilee is the Chinese – American mutant super – heroine & mom who first appeared in Marvel Comics’ Uncanny X-Men #244 in 1989, so this year is her 30th anniversary! We met Chris Claremont at the Heroes Convention!
 
Jubilee has gymnastic skills, the plasma fireworks power, and until recently she was also a vampire for a while. She has  been portrayed by several actresses in the movies, animated TV series and video games; and I especially liked Lana Condor’s performance as Jubilee in the movie X-Men: Apocalypse!
 
Created by author Scott Lobdell and artist Joe Madureira, Clarice Ferguson a.k.a. Blink is the the mutant descendant of Apocalypse who first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #317 in 1994, so this year is her 25th anniversary! She has the ability to create teleportation portals and wields the deadly dagger and javelins!
 
Blink has  been portrayed by several great actresses in the movies, animated TV series and video games, such as Tara Strong in the X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse video game, Fan Bingbing in the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Jamie Chung in the The Gifted TV series!
 
So like, the 2 new (comics version) figures of them are part of the Calban build – a – figure wave of Hasbro’s Marvel legends line. The wave also includes the separately – sold figures of Gambit, The Beast, Forge, and Skullbuster; all but Gambit include one of the 6 pieces needed to build the figure of Caliban, whose torso is included with Jubilee and his left leg is included with Blink. 
 
Dressed in the Hot Pink sunglasses and blouse, denim shorts, Yellow knee – length coat, Blue gloves and calf –  high boots,  this figure of jubilee  is 5 7/8 ” tall, including her hair & boots, and is rather similar to the build – a – figure figure of her from the few years ago. Also included is the variant head with the gum bubble and removable sun glasses!
 
With the Lilac skin, Yellow eyes, Dark Pink hair, pointed ears and Red facial markings, this figure of Blink is 6 1/8 ” tall including her hair & boots. She is wearing the sexy sleeveless, high –  waist cut Emerald Green tights with the matching detached sleeves, mid- calf length skirt, calf-high buccaneer boots, the Silver – studded Brown choker and belt!
 
She is accessorized by the 2 Hot Pink 1 5/8″ long javelins and the 4 1/4″ diameter portal! Both figures’ articulation is in their neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, abs, hips, thighs, knees and ankles; and they are balanced enough to stand without requiring a base, but I would recommend using figure bases or doll stands, which are not included.
 
So like, in summation, I am very pleased with these splendiferously designed, sculpted and painted figures of the inspurrational heroines, fur shgur! We have displayed upon the shelf beside their friends Magik, Liladra, Captain Marvel and Goose! Now to continue the toy talk, here is Becca-san to discuss the 
 
 
DC Gallery Batwoman diorama!
 
Becca:
Hai! I am a fan of DC Comics’s Kate Kane alias Batwoman, who is another costumed crime fighter in Gotham City like her cousin Bruce Wayne alias the Batman! This modern era version of the character first appeared in the comics in 2006, and has the great intellect, athleticism, stamina, gadgetry, detective skills and martial arts purrowess! 
 
We are eagerly looking forward to her pending new TV series in which she is portrayed by Ruby Rose, which is part of the CW network’s Arrowverse of live-action TV shows including Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Constantine! We think that Ruby is the purrfect choice for the casting and her TV costume seems quite faithful to the comics!
 
Also quite faithful to her image from the comics, this officially licensed PVC plastic (non- posable) figure from Diamond Select Toys was beautifully deigned by Caesar and meticulously hand- sculpted by Jean St. Jean. With her  very confidently pleased expurression and scalloped- edge cape splayed out, she is in the crouched stance on the intricate circular base!
 
Overall the statue is appurroximately 6.25 inches tall and 9 inches across (left to right)  and 6.25 inch wide (front to back), including the 9 x 5/8 inch base which has the splendid faux concrete & marble finish! If standing, she would be about 9 inches tall, which would make this diorama of the 1:7.88th scale, since the character in the comics is supposedly 5 ft, 11 in. tall. 
 
I am very pleased with this statue, and have placed her in the purrime spot upon the shelf next to the DC Gallery Catwoman diorama. Speaking of which, nyow we will go from the bat to the cat, 
 
DC Collection by Jim Lee Deluxe Catwoman vinyl figurine!
 
Becca:
I like to collect the dolls, statues & action figures of DC Comics’ Selina Kyle alias the Catwoman, so I was pleased to purrchase this widdle figurine of the supurr-deformed style! Made by Funko as part of their Pop! Heroes purroduct line’s , this purrticular item is figure #260 and part of the sub-series of figures based upon the designs by DC Comic’s co-publisher / chief creative officer Jim Lee!
 
He became rather famous in the 1990s due to his great art for Marvel, Image & DC Comics! This sub-series of deluxe figures are in the dynamic poses atop the scenic display bases, and are exclusive to the Gamestop stores. Wearing her tight glossy Black cat suit with the silvery zippurr, buckles, and the clear – lensed goggles, Catwoman is crouched upon the edge of the gothic rooftop ledge!
 
She is surveying the situation. Including the 1″ thick base  which it is not removable from the figurine is 4.625″ tall overall, and is not posable except for the turning head. It is packaged within the 6.125″ x 6.125″ x 5″ cardboard box with the wraparound clear plastic windows and Jim Lee’s illustration on the back! She is quite gothy cute! Nyow I will turn The Mew over to Jenjen who wants to discuss the
 
Transformers: The Siege Chromia deluxe class action figure!
 
Jeannie:
Arigato. As the purresident of the Catgirl Island Robotics Club, I am purrticularly fond of the Transformers’ female Autotot characters such as Arcee, Strongarm, Elita One, Chromia, Moonracer, Firestar, Windblade and Nautica. We especially like the versions from the comics and animation compared to the live-action movies.
 
As part of Hasbro’s Transformers: The Siege (part of the War for Cybertron Trilogy in the comics and animation) wave of action figures from Hasbro, this latest figure of Chromia (# wcs520) of the Deluxe Class scale, standing 5 inches tall in her humanoid robot mode, which in 15 simple steps can be changed into her sports car vehicle mode.
 
Splendidly designed, sculpted and painted, she is is a lovely Sapphire Blue and Light Iceberg Blue, with the Black tires, White ankle and knee poleyns, Red emblems and accents, and the clear windscreen. The details are quite intricate, from her face, flanges and vents to her shaft collars, hubcaps and treads.
 
She is accessorized by the RTS-1 anti-thermo blaster pistol with the Hushfuse suppurressor and the two EMP grenades The pistol will fit into either hand, the Hushfuse can snap on to the barrel, the grenades can snap to each other, the barrel, the hushfuse, or to her forearm shields. She can be combined with the sepurrately – sold Battlemasters figures  (# wfc 216 & 217) for added dramatic effect.  
 
She is quite posable, with articulation in her neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles, and is well- balanced to stand without requiring a display base (which is not included). I am very pleased with this purretty figure, and have purroudly posed her upon the shelf next to her adversary Airachnid. Nextly I would like to discuss the
 
Mythic Legion Myria Goldenbranch action figure.
 
Jeannie:
Originally four toy sculptors who worked for other toy companies,  they later started their own Four Horsement Studios to make their own original and licensed purroducts, nya! Currently the team is compurrised of Eric Treadway, Jim Preziosi and Eric “Cornboy” Mause! The Mythic Legion is their original series of figures which is over 150 characters including this recent wave.
 
The tale of the Mythic Legion is that once upon the time there were the four legendery beasts Leodysseus, Bassylia, Xylonia and Eathyron who defended the realm  of Mythoss from the evil threats, and many years later there are heroic armies of various humanoid species who continue the good fight! These figures are about 6.5″ tall, excluding their hair, hoods and helmets.
 
Each is sold sepurrately, nicely packaged with the accessories in the clear plastic clamshell boxes with easily removable, beautiful card art by Nathan Baertsch, with the logo design by Neobauhaus Studios. I should also mention that additional painting, molding, casting, fabrication & site design was done by Sherri Lynn Cook, Bill Mancuso, Michael Mayse, and Ed Waysel III.
 
Of the Whisperling subspecies of elves, Myria Goldenbranch is ageless with the great speed, dexterity, tree magick as she leads an army in alliance with Queen Artemyss.  She has purretty pale Green skin, the auburn hair and long supple tapered ears, wearing the ornate Moss Green, Azure Blue, Tuscan Red and Brown plate armor with the Mahogany tabard.
 
The elaborately designed, painted, sculpted & packaged 7 inch figure’s layered detail is exquisite, from the braided hair ornamentation, tiara, gorget, cuirass, backplate & culetto the faulds, paldrons, vambraces, cuisse, lames, poleyns and greaves. She is very posable, with the articulation in the neck, abs, waist, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles.
 
I am very pleased with this gorgeously enchanting figure of Myria and I have purroudly displayed her upon the shelf beside the figures of her friends Gwendolyn Hevensbrand, Herra Sepenshire, Azza Spiritbender, Jjuno the Crusher and Freyia of Deadhall. That will conclude the collectibles and toy talk portion of The Mew, and nyow —
 
let us welcome the special guest critic
to begin our batch of movie mewsings!
 
We are delighted that our friend, artist / author Alexcia Reynolds‘s http://professoroak.deviantart.com has joined us again! She was a guest of the August 2010 Mew. Purrhaps y’all have seen some of her lovely art in our mewseum, or read her Pokemon fanfic of “The Anniversary” at the Tales of Catgirl Island page? She is great at writing, drawing, sewing plushies and making web sites!
 
Her Sailor Moon – inspired fan-senshi sites include Sailor Christmas http://www.sailorchristmas.com and Sailor Tiger’s Grotto http://mau.sailorchristmas.com; her Pokemon fan site Pokemon Amber pkmn.is-great.org, her Transformers fan site Project Pachyderm http://bw.html-5.m, and her orignal anthopurrmorphic science fiction tale Cybernetic Showdown http://michi.byethost16.com. She is here with her review of the movie
 
Detective Pikachu.
 
Alexcia:
While the CGI aspect has happened over a span of movies over the last several years, Detective Pikachu is the first Pokemon movie that had live action/actual people on screen. It is also the first movie that was based on a Pokemon side-game of the same name compared to the main anime timeline which usually follows the adventures of Ash Ketchum, his Pikachu and their friends and/or the subsequent reboot movies I Choose You and The Power of Us.
 
It (the movie) has a lot of key points drawn from the titular game but has quite a bit of divergence. For example; the game ends on a cliff-hanger and it appears like there could be a second game within the Detective Pikachu line as it leaves a number of questions unanswered. The movie, however, has its own interpretations of events and has its own answers for stuff that was left open-ended in the game.
 
Like the game, there are several Pokemon that make an appearance, like the Ludicolo in the Hi-Hat Cafe and the wild Aipom, though they don’t have as much of an impact on the plot like the Aipom do in-game. Unlike the core games, manga and anime in which there are over 800 Pokemon, there only appears to be approximately 60 different pokemon shown in the movie. Makes sense, I suppose, considering how much time and effort that creating all aspects of each Pokemon CGI base takes.
 
It also has a number of Easter Eggs as well; such as the Jigglypuff standing on the table singing with its mock microphone and putting the person sitting at the table to sleep. It is a definite nod to the Jigglypuff within the meta-series that does the same & gets angry and draws on peoples’/Pokemon’s faces once it learns that they fell asleep mid-song.
 
At first, the ending left me wondering how Tim Goodman didn’t recognize Detective Pikachu’s voice from before, but then I figured that Tim might not have recognized it because he didn’t see a certain someone in over ten years. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet, but I feel like it was worth seeing. And maybe worth seeing again.
 
Jeannie:
Arigato Alexcia-san. We hope that you will purrtake of the AfterMew Luau with us. Nyow here is Nya-sensei to discuss
 
Jon Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum.
 
Nyanko:
Hai! It has been the very dangerously busy week or so in the life of Jon Wick the legendary assassin, given the events of his first three movies that occur right after each other. Purreviously he tried to retire after the death of his beloved wife, but the criminals have stolen his car, killed his dog, destroyed his home, and lured him back into business, much to their fatal regret! 
 
John adopted another dog and broke major underworld rules, so a treacherous crime boss put a bounty on him, which many other killers unsuccessfully tried to collect! John broke further rules when he killed that boss in the sanctuary known as the Continental Hotel, so now the other bosses have put the bigger international contract out on John, whilst his friends are forbidden to help him!
 
However, there are certain people who do owe him favors and / or won’t betray the friendship, so now they are endangered too, as John flees and fights with lots of hunters in this impurressive, relentless. thrilling sequel whih was written by  Mark Abrams, Chris Collins, Shay Hatten and Derek Kolstad, directed by Chad Stahelski, and stars Keanu Reeves as John!
 
It also stars Ian McShane as Wisnton the hotel manager, Lance Riddock as Charon the concierge, Halle Berry as Sofia, Laurence Fishburn as the Bowery King, Angelica Houston as the Ruska Roma boss, Asia Kate Dilton as the Adjudicator, and Mark Dacascos as Zero, plus lots of other terrific actors and stunt purrformers, including the dogs, horses and the cat!
 
The choreography is brilliant, and not only is the movie brimming spectacularly with the serious and sometimes amewsing violence of the shootouts, knife fights, brawling and chases, but the there such the grandly scintillating ambience amidst the fascinating interior and exterior locations in the different parts of Manhattan and Morocco with the great cinematography, editing and FX!
 
Even when the adversaries paws from the high body count of the brutal combat for the brief polite converstion and drinks it is quite captivating. I am also impurressed by the mythology of the series, as we continue to learn more of the politics, rules, and economy of the various multicultural guilds, gangs, cartels and syndicates! Nextly I would like to discuss
 
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot!
 
Nyanko:
I was quite intrigued by this 2018 movie, which i was not able to see until it was recently released on the Blu-ray! It is the charming non-linear tale of the adventures of the American soldier named Calvin who is on the mission in Germany to kill Adolf Hitler during World War II, and decades later to go to the Pacific Northwestern wilderness US to kill Bigfoot who is spreading the deadly plague. 
 
Written, purrduced & directed by Robert Krzykowski, it stars Sam Elliot as older Calvin, Aidan Turner as younger Calvin, Caitlin Fitzgerald as his girlfriend Maxine, and larry Miller as his brother Ed! I thought that this was the rather charming indy movie with the great direction, purrformances, story, characters, locations, mewsic, editing,  cinematography & FX!
 
The FX are by Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich & Rocco Gioffre, who Mike would point out were three of the FX artists of Star Trek – The Motion Picture- but he would be more loquacious about it, heehee! The Blu-ray has the unrated 97 minute movie in the 1080p HD 2.40:1 widescreen format in the English DTS master Audio 5.1 with the optional English SDH, French & Spanish subtitles.
 
It has some dandy special fetures too, such as the optional audio commentary by Robert Krzykowski, the art gallery of the 19 concept illustrations, the  nearly 6.5 minute chat by the composer Joe Kraemer, the nearly 9 minutes of the deleted scenes, the slightly over 39 minute documentary about the making of the movie with comments by several members of the cast and the crew…
 
… and the added treat of Robert Krzykowski’s purrior 5.75 minute Black & White short film Elsie Cooper which is the noir-ish urban fantasy tale told with the full – scale puppets shot in the 2.55:1 widescreen format! Nyow here is Mike again, for his review of
 
Godzilla, King of Monsters!
 
Mike: 
I tend to like Toho’s movies starring Godzilla and other dai-kaiju, especially those of the Showa and Heisei era more than the Millennia era, but I’m not a a fan of the American attempts at Godzilla, be they live – action or animated. However, I did enjoy Kong: Skull Island which is a precursor to Godzilla: King of Monsters, and I liked the previews for this new movie, so I was looking forward to it – mostly. 
 
For better or worse, I pretty much got what I expected. What I did not like about Godzilla: King of Monsters that it felt too short ’n rushed with regrettable cinematic techniques such as snap zooms, unstable camera, and an under-saturated color pallet. However, I was please by the monsters aplenty such as Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan Ghidorh and a few others, with some great designs, battles and FX.
 
I thought that the movie in its haste it lacked a sufficiently grand sense of awe and wonder that several key sequences should have lingered upon, especially when we’re treated to certain undersea sits such as the discovery of ancient city ruins, and the Monarch Team’s Castle Bravo headquarters, although these parts of the plot are a welcome part of the series’ delightful continuity and mythology.
 
I also wish the movie had spent more time showing us the aftermath of the battles and how they world has changed, instead of mere glimpses of newspaper headlines during the end credits. By the way, there’s a post-credits scene, which reminds me of the pre-credits scene of the 1991 movie Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, which was among numerous swell nods to the older zilla movies
 
– including the music, which includes cues from the older movies, including Mothra’s! As for the human characters, they’re a mixed bag. Doctors Rick Stanton, Mark and Emma Russell were predictable, one-dimensional and annoying; but I did like Maddy Russell, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, Dr. Irllene Chen and Col. Diane Foster. So, I reckon I’ll give the movie a “C”. Ah, that’s all for or movie mewsings, and now we’ll start our
 
comic book reports, with Tara-chan’s review
of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #77!
 
Tara-chan:
Arigato, nya! We love the My Little Pony TV series, movies, toys, books and – and comics! Published by IDW, the comics faithfully capture the spirit, style and – and the characters of the animated tales, but with the different advantages of the purrinted comics medium! and -and  it is hard to believe that those comics have been around for about seven years!
 
This current story arc began in the doubly – sized 75th issue, nya. Purrreviously,  Celestia, Luna, King Aspen, Queen Abyssinia, and – and King Grover remedied the reality – altering catastrophe which was blamed on Discord, but was actually caused by the more powerful evil Cosmos, nya! Cosmos was thwarted, but years later she has returned to possess Twilight Sparkle, Luna, Celestia, Zecora and Big McIntosh, nya!
 
They have captured Pinkie Pie, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and Capper, whilst Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Cadance and – and Spike have been searching for the fallen stars needed to defeat Chaos, nya. That brings us up to issue #77 which was written by Katie Cook and – and Andy Price, illustrated by Andy, colored by Heather Breckel, lettered by Neil Uyetake, edited by Megan Brown and – and Bobby Curnow, nya!
 
This issue is available in the choice of cover A by Andy, cover by by Sara Richard, and- and the retailer incentive cover by Philip Murphy, nya. The tale resumes with Discord explaining Chaos’s origin to Fluttershy and – and then they rescue their impurrisoned friends, whist the fallen star search by Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Cadance and – and Spike continues at the crystal market which is like the buffet for Spike, nya!
 
I should not spoil more of the tasty plot, but I will just say that it continues to be the thrilling, amewsing, bizarre and – and dire situation with the great dialogue, the beautiful art, and – and the exciting cliffhanger which is to be continued in issue #78, so I will give it the “A” as in Applebuck, nya! Nextly I would like to discuss the
 
Synergy: A Hasbro Creators Showcase, nya!
 
Tara-chan:
This one-shot issue from IDW is purriced $7.99, and – and its 48 full color pages & covers are the comics anthology in the tribute to the great female characters and – and creative women at Hasbro, nya!
Sammiched betwixt the cover art by Sara Pitre-Durocher are the 29 pages of the 5 short tales plus the 19 full – page pics , nya! The issue was edited by Megan Brown, lettered and – and designed by Christina Miessner, nya!

 

Sara also drew the poignantly autobiographical, Autobotical 8 page tale “Of Flying and Falling”, which was written by Mairghread Scott, colored by Joana Lafuente, and stars the reminiscing author with appurrances by The Transformers’ Air Razor and – and Windblade, nya! The 4 page bittersweetly slice – of – life  tale of “An Arcee Sort of Day” was written by Peri Mercer, drawn by Umi Miyao, colored by Elaina Unger and – and stars The Transformers’ Arcee, nya! 
 
Arcee has the pet cat, nya! The 4 page hauntingly introspective tale of “Ghost” was written and – and drawn by Emma Vieceli, colored by Ronda Pattison, and – and stars Dawn Moreno who is the G.I. Joes’ new Snake Eyes, nya!  The 4 page deliciously uplifting tale “Recharge” was written and – and illustrated by Sarah Winifred Searle and stars Mary “Stormy” Phillips who is the keytarist member of The Misfits band who are rivals of Jem and – and The Holograms, nya!
 
Making this issue 20% cooler is the  wonderfully autobiographical 8 page tale of “The Stage”, which was written by Katie Cook, drawn by Agnes Garbowska, colored by Heather Breckel, and – and purrtains to the author’s love of My Little Pony from the 80’s to the purresent, with the special attention given to the beloved Baby Bonnett School of Dance play set, nya! To top off this beautiful joyful issue are the lovely 19 pics of the various Hasbro heroines…
 
by Sara Pitre-Durocher, Ronda, Pattison, Sarah Richard, Amy Mebberson, Sarah Stone, Sarah Leuver, Kate Sherron, Kei Zama, Justasuta, Jenn Bartel, Lisa Sterle, Bethany McGuire Smith, Priscilla Tramontano, Nicoletta Baldari, Natali Sanders, Sophi Campbell and – and Jenn St.-Onge, so I will give this issue the A as in Arcee, nya!  I am done, so nyow here  is onee-chan to tell discuss
 
Red Sonja The Ballad of the Red Goddess, nya!
 
Yvonne:
Arigato, nya! Known as the She-Devll with the sword, Red Sonja is one of our favoritest heroines, who is known for her peerless purrowess in the melee, her iconic meal scale maile bikini which has inspired many other characters, couture and cosplay, and her hair which is as Red as the blood of her many defeated ememies, nya! 
 
In the recent years her comics ave been published by Dynamite, which has the great knack for the femme fatales such as Sonja, Sheena, Vampirella, Pantha,  Miss Fury, Dejah Thoris, Elvira, and Rainbow Brite, nya! Thusly we were delighted to purrchase this graphic novel which repurrints a Spanish comic into  English, nya!
 
The 8.5″ x 11.75″ hardcover includes the 41 page Black, White & Red tale written by Roy Thomas, illustrated by Esteban Maroto & Santi Casas, lettered by Tom Napolitano, plus the 3 pages of the forwards and the 27 pages of annotated sketches, nya! It is another retelling of Sonja’s origin, with the vengeful framing sequence, nya!
 
It is only natural that there might be variations of the origin of such the mythic character, but the purremise is the same, in that Sonja was the young girl in the forest village of Hyrkania until the evil marauders slew her family and raped her, but then the deity arrived to empower Sonja to become the ultimate avenging warrior, nya!
 
It is the purrticularly violent sword & sorcery tale with the high body count that is not for the widdle kitties, but it is the thrilling, sumptious adventure that I will recommend to Sonja’s older fans, nya! The 
Black, White & Red graphic technique adds to the exotic archaic mystical quality amidst the lavishly intricate character & scenic art, nya! Sonja has the long history with her friend Conan the Barbarian, who had romantic relationship with the titular star of 
 
Belit #3, nya!
 
Yvonne:
Known as The Queen of the Black Coast, Belit was the famous female pirate and lover of Conan in author Robert E. Howard’s the sword & sorcery tales, nya! In this comic book published by Marvel, we have learn edof her origin as the daughter of the pirate king, nya. It is the vengeful course for Belit, who hunts the deadly giant sea monsters and regains her late father’s plundered ships which were her inheritance, nya.
 
Purreviously, with the help of Captain Saturninus and hist first mate Prisca, Belit tooks back her father’s three-masted schooner The Tigress, then used it and Saturninus’s ship The Imperatrix to defeat the colossal tentacled leviathan monster, nya! Hoping to be hired as naval purrotectors, they brought the slain purrize to Mistress Tanada of Barathan of Kush, who resurrected the beast so that Belit had to further purrove her value, nya!
 
The 3rd chapter was written by Tini Howard, illustrated by Kate Niemczyk & Scott Hanna, colored by Jason Keith, lettered by Travis Lanham, edited by Mark Russo, assistantly edited by Martin Brin, and consultingly edited by Ralph Machio, with the purrduction design, the cover art by Sana Takeda, the variant cover art by Stephanie Hans, and the bonus prose novella chapter by Michael A. Stackpole, with the graphic design by Jay Bowen, nya.
 
Since then, more years, voyages  victories have passed for The Tigress, whose crew begins to like Belit more than they do the captain, nya! Nyow she is the sexy seasoned sailor of the seas, but her charismatic popularity does not extend to Saturnius or Prisca, and thusly the fatal saber duel results, nya! However, the timing is not very convenient, because Tanada’s fleet is in the purrsuit, but I should purrobbly not divulge more of the plot, nya!
 
After that are the three purrose pages of “Bone Whispers”, part 3 of 5,  in which Belit and her father’s old friend N’yaga the shaman are on the quest for fabulous treasure known as The Codex Osyrania, as the quest leads them to the Stygian islands of King Toraten, nya! This was yet another beautiful issue full of the nautical adventure, and I am eager to see what Belit will do next, nya! I am done, and nyow here is Trini-chan to tell us about–
 
The Unstoppable Wasp #6, nya!
 
Trini-chan:
Hai! The tale stars Nadia Van Dyne the orphaned Hungarian genius daughter of Hank (Ant Man) & Maria Pym, who was adopted by her step mom Janet van Dyne (The Wasp) and became the latest heroine known as The Wasp! She has fought the criminals and started the G.I.R.L. (Genius in Action Research Labs) group for the genius heroines who might impurrove the world! 
 
The diverse mutlicultural genius team includes Taina the mechanical engineer, Priya the biologist, Ying the chemist and Shay the physicist!  Janet, Mockingbird, Jarvis, Matt Murdock, and Taina’s sister Alexis have been helping them too! Unfortunately, the conflicts have also included Nadia’s struggle with her own bipolar disorder, which has adversely affected her relationships.
 
However, here have been the joyful situations, such as the romance betwixt Ying & Shay, and this issue is especially delightful as the many friends, family & heroes gather for Nadia’s birthday party! Issue #7 was written by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by Alti Firmansyan, colored by Espen Grundetjenn, lettered by Joe Caramagna, edited by Alanna Smith and assistantly edited by Shannon Andrews! 
 
The issue’s graphic design is by Carlos Lao, and the front cover art is by Stacey Lee!  We have met Jeremy at the conventions and at the Free Comic Book Day festivities! He also created / writes Princeless, Raven the Pirate Princess, and has written many other comics such as my Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, Vampirella Sea of Thieves, Thor vs Hulk, and the numerous Marvel Comics! 
 
Janet, Scott Lang, Cassie Lang & Viv Vision aescort the Nadia to the party at the club, which is attended by Jarvis, The Vision, Ms. Marvel Tigra, her son William, Tony Stark, Hercules, Jocasta, America, Bucky, Priya, Ying, Shay, Rriri, Kate Bishop, Tommy Shepard, Wiccan, Hulking & Spider-Man (Peter Parker).. and when the villain team known as The Mengarie crashes the party that only escalates the fun!
 
This was yet another wonderfully supurrb issue full of the and other delightful surprises and the many great characters, many who are part of the same marvelous family tree! The art is quite gorgeous, with the great poses, expressions, compositions, fonts, colors, FX and graphic narrative techniques, including the two-page spuread, s  I will give it the “A” as in Ant Man!  Nextly I would like to discuss-
 
Princeless Book 8: Princesses #2!
 
Trini-chan:
We are big fans of Jeremy’s Princeless series about the runaway princess Andrea, her family & friends who want the adventurous life free from the stereotypes & bigotries, and the spin-off series of Raven the Pirate Princess which stars the very diverse female crew upon the high seas! Princeless is now up to Book 8, which focuses upon Adrienne’s sisters!
 
Issue #1 starred Andrea’s older sister Alize, and issue #2 stars their sister Angelica! Published by Action Lab, this full color 24 page issue is priced $3.99 and has the uninterrupted 24 page tale that was written by Jeremy, illustrated by Jackie Crofts, lettered by Brett Grunig, and edited by Nicole D’Andria & Jeremy’s wife Alicia, who we have met at the cons too! 
 
Angelica is the rather overconfident and somewhat narcissistic princess , as we see the flurry of her unsuccessful career attempts such as sewing, singing, baking, and dancing, most of which are to the painful regret of her friend Freema! Well, while posing for her royal portrait, she takes interest in the floor-sized strategy board game that her underlings are playing. 
 
This seems to finally be her true calling, as the master strategist & tactical gamer, after she gleefully defeats her instructor Rodrick and other top opponents! Along the way she decides to change her fashion stye, from the more opulent girlish gowns to the more rugged outfit of the blouse, pants & boots… and eventually she is visited by the mysterious Black knight!
 
The Black Knight was key to the story arc of Book 7. This was yet another terrific tale with the excellent plot, pace, character developments, humor & dialogue, adorned by the beautiful character, scenic & typographic artistry, which includes the 2  full-page pics & the two – page spread, so I will give this issue the “A” as in Angelica! A is also for Aspen, who is the star of
 
Fathom vol. 8 #1!
 
Elizabeth:
Hai, in this series created by the late Michael Turner, Dr. Aspen Matthews is the marine biologist, olympic athlete and supurr heroine with the watery powers. She was born in the undersea civilization known as The Blue, but raised as a human in San Diego, and since has survived and resolved the numerous global disasters, conflicts and cultural changes amongst the civilizations.
 
We met Michael Turner at a convention! Fathom vol. 8 is the 6 issue mini series; issue #1 is purriced at $3.99, and has the 32 full color pages compurrised of the 20 page tale plus the 12 pages of the ads, and it is available in the choic e of 14 different  covers by various artists!  I got cover A by Aspen Comics’s co-owner Peter Steigerwald & this issue’s penciller Maurico Campetella!
 
This chapter “Anika” was written by Aspen Comics’ Vice Purresident / editor in chief Vince Hernandez it was colored by Peter Steigerwald & Natalia Nesterenko, and lettered by Zen. The tale begins in San Diego, where Aspen argues with Killian, the militant dissident who has attempted to take over The Blue’s undersea capital city Muria, but they get fed up and go sepurrate ways.
 
She goes to the undersea research base which has been investigating the various marine life including The Blue, and then her missing rival Kiani (Killian’s daughter) shows up! Meanwhile, Kiani’s younger sister Anika arrives with bad intent at Muria, where her dad has the confrontation with Siphon, The Blue’s ruling counsel leader… but I should not further spoil the plot!
 
The briskly – paced tale is brimming with the startling surpurrises, including the cute huge Styxosaurus critter! I purrticularly like the exotic and futuristic architecture, the alluring undersea couture, the richly vibrant colors, and the large panels, including the full- page pics! Nyow I will begin our manga mewsings, with my review of
 
Konohana Kitan vol. 4!
 
Elizabeth:
We are very fond of Sakuya Amano’s manga about the fox spirit girl attendants and their guests of all species at the Kononhanatei inn, a ryokan with hot spurrings between the worlds! It is the charming, beautiful, modern slice – of – life  fantasy tale which is rated for readers of ages 16+, purrhaps due to the language, fan service & non-sexual nudity.
 
The main character Yuzo is one of the younger new employees who is so very cordial, sincere, and enthused. Other recurring characters include attendants Natsume, Sakura, Shino, Ren, Kiri, Satsuki and her older sister Hiiragi the miko (shrine maiden). There are amewsing & poignant situations betwixt them, the other town folk and the guests!
 
Originally published in Japan by Gentosha Comics, the English version was published here in the USA by Tokyo Pop,. Purriced at $12.99, volume 4’s 168 Black & White pages include chapters 17-21 plus the 10 pages of the ads all sammiched betwixt the color covers. The art is beautiful with the very lovely, intricate garments and lavish scenery!
 
It was translated by Katie McLendon, edited by Lena Atanassva, copy – edited by Massiel Gutirrez & Zac Romick, in- chiefly edited by publisher Stu Levy; with the quality control by Risa Otsuka, graphic design by the technical & digital media assistant Phillip Hong, retouching & lettering by Vibrraant Publishing Studio; and marketing by Kate Winters.
 
In volume 4, Tuzu & Kiri-senpai spend the rainy day at the usamimi’s cafe, and on the way back to Kononhanatei we learn of Kiri’s younger days at the inn with Oukami-san and purrior employees Kozue, Nadeshiko, Mizuki, and Yae-san. Then while minding the widdle guest Sakura-chan, Yuzu meets Granny Katsumata, who has opened her heart and home to the many abandoned kittens. It is the purrticularly tearful tale. 
 
After that the kitsune girls, Sakura & the pet wild boar Urinosuke have the shared faerie tale – like dream which is visited by Kyriell the dream spirit! To top off the volume is the visit by the artist spirit, but I should not say much more of that bittersweet chapter of this series which continues to be quite beautifully charming! Nyow here is Nyo-sensei to tell us about
 
Hakumei & Mihochi vol. 5!
 
Nyoka:
Hai! We love this fantasy manga by Takuto Kashiki which purrtains to the slice – of – life tales of house – mates Hakumei & Mikochi who are the the tiny little lasses who are small enough to ride upon their small critter friends, and live in the lovely tree house in the lush forest! Each chapter also includes the annotation page of travelogue and lore! 
 
Hakumei (Brown hair) builds & repairs things, whilst Mikochi (Black hair) cooks & sews. They are part of the community of animal & tiny human friends who reside in the wilderness, rural, surburban & urban dwellings much as we do, and each chapter is the look at their day – to – day – lives, from work and shopping to exploring and entertaining!
 
Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa, it is published here in English by Yen Press, translated by Taylor Engel, lettered by Abigail Blackman, and rated “T” for the teenaged readers. Purriced at $15.00 in the USA & $19.50 in Canada. Volume 5 has the 192 B&W pages which are compurrised of chapters 27-34 plus the short  side – story.
 
The charmingly captivating plots of the leisurely pace and sumptuously intricate detail include the fly fishing, the neighbor’s breakfast, the day at the library, furniture shopping, the cross – country tanuki caravan, the trick ‘r’ treat – like festival, the co-worker’s spousal miscommunication, and spending the night in an abandoned mansion to be renovated!
 
It is the rather sumptuously immersive tale at the leisurely pace, which continues to draw me into the lives of the characters, with the lavish detail of the art, situations and conversations, so I will give
Hakumei & Mihochi vol. 5 the very high purraise! I would also like to extend the very high purraise to–
 
Shoulder – A – Coffin Kuro vol. 7!
 
Nyoka:
Shoulder – A –  Coffin Kuro is another favorite manga of ours! It is written & drawn by Satoko Kiyuduki who is also the manga-ka of G.A.: Geijutsuka Art Class! They are very different, as G.A is the peppy, cheerfully slice-of life tale of the young art students, whereas Shoulder – A – Coffin Kuro is the darker, ethereally bittersweet supurrnatural tale.
 
The mane character is Kuro, a gothy tomboy girl in who travels with a coffin, her widdle talking bat named Sen, and the two cute widdle  abandoned, shape –  shifting twin catgirl gynoid sisters Sanju & Nijuku, who we purrofiled our February 2012 spotlight! Kuro is slowly dying, and searches for the witch Hifumi who caused the disease.
 
Originally published as Hitsuki Katsuki no Kuro – Kaichu Tabinowa in Japan by Houbunsha, Shoulder – A – Coffin Kuro is published here in English by Yen Press. Vol. 1was published here in May of 2008, so it has been the while betwixt volumes, but nyow we have the longly – awaited final volume, which I was rather nervous to read!
 
Translated by Sheldon Drzka and lettered by Lys Blakeslee, it is priced $17.00 in the USA and $22.50 Canada, and it has 160 pages of mostly the Black & White manga with 17 color pages. and the 6 pages of the ads. The poignant, surreal, non – linear tale is rated “T” for the teen readers due to the language and violence. 
 
Kuro has the reunion showdown with Hifumi, the tattered patchwork girl who is near the end of her days much like Kuro. There are flashbacks to the lonely laboratory origin of Sanju & Nijuku as they struggle with the plague and yet try to cheerfully brighten Kuro’s spirit in the beautiful, tearful finale! That  will conclude our manga mewsings, and nyow here are Petra & Bunni to purrsent the
 
new additions to the Catgirl Island Mewseum of Art!
 
Petra:
Arigato, nya! For those here for the first time, Galleries 1-8 of The Catgirl Island Mewseum of Art display images by Mike, whilst Guest Art Galleries 1-5 display images by other folks totally with their purrmissions, and Mike’s collaborative images with other artists can be found throughout the mewseum, nya! The images include illustrations, photos and mixed medias, nya!
 
Some of the images in the mewseum are sexy, and some of them might depict artistic nudity, but most are very tame, and none of them are porn, nya. On Catgirl Island’s official web site, the most recent pics will be the lowermost row of the cropped widdle “thumbnail” – sized portions of the pics in a gallery, and you have to click upon those to see the uncropped full pics, nya!
 
 
we are purroud to purrsent Mike’s Photoshop CS2 pic of “Aurora’a”, who is duck diving on her short board under the wave nya! Born in Costa Rica, she is a Latina-American Sea Spurrite, diver surfer, photographer, and single mom who has been dating Kara-Meow’l the local women’s surfing champion, nya! Purrhaps y’all have seen Mike’s pic of her daughter Brooke, nya?
 
After that is “The Beachy Bunch” of 12 ladies at the beach, who are pawsing betwixt the frisky frolicking and serene sunbathing, nya! From left to right (back row) are Formality (orca girl), Amyrellyana (faerie), JaeJae (catgirl), Ishita (mermaid), Li Ming (bunny girl) & Airysa (satyr girl); ( front row) Tia (pixy), Sparkles (elf), Akhila (wolf girl), Alei (lamia), Reema (deer girl) & Lyssa (kitsune), nya!
 
Then we have Mike’s illustration of the “Women’s Beach Volleyball Cheer & Dance Squad for 2019” which is compurrised of Capt. Apurritiif (nekomimi), Kahili (slime girl), Tamara’anna (elf), Junko (kitsune), Nickelle (gynoid), Mertyl (1/2 mermaid witch), Aahlaadita (mermaid), Annallioppe (faerie),  Dina (satyr demon), Nina (lamia), Andrea (centaur), Galateartiosa (kumamimi oni), Akatsuki (human appurrition), and Tia (luna moth pixy), nya!
 
Nextly is another group pic of diverse bikini – clad ladies at the beach, who are playing the nocturnal game of “Spin or Dare” after the day of beach volleyball camp, nya! Clockwise from top Ran (centauress), Jun (succubu), Eiko (kitsune) Miho (mermaid), Yuku (catgirl) & Eriko (faerie), nya! Rand has just spun the bottle towards Miho, mew la la, nya! 
 
Then we have the sepia toned  “Taur Trekker” images which depict Charlene who is the niece of our island’s Fire Chief Ellie, nya! She is the teenage centauress of the Banker Pony breed, and she is purrticularly fond of Star Trek, nya! She collects the DVDs, books, memorabilia and  toys,goes to the conventions, writes fan fics, draws fan art, cosplays and larps, nya. 
 
After that are Mike’s Photoshop CS2 & mouse illustrations of “Rosa” and “Arian”, who are among the young heroes in Sharon Williams’s http://caribbeanrose9.deviantart.com young adult / urban fantasy tale of Legacy Of The Gods: Wrath Of Ibeji, nya! Rosa  and Arian are 9 years old and attend Lusher Carter Elementary School in New Orleans, where they and other friends become avatars of the Orisha deities and fight against evil villains, nya!
 
Laslty but not leastly from Mike this month is his ballpoint pen fan art of DC Comics’ Barbara Gordon, a.k.a “Batgirl”, nya! The heroic, genius, athletic daughter of Gotham City’s Piloce Commissioner Jim Gordon, she first appurred in Detective Comics #559 in 1967, and was purrtrayed by Yvonne Craig that same year in the Batman TV series, nya! Nyow here is Bunnubuns to purrsent the additions to
 
 
Bunni:
Hai! We are delighted to display the “Heroine Cosplayers” photo taken on May The Fourth for national Free Comic Book Day https://www.freecomicbookday.com, by our friend Chef Ron, who was our January 2009 guest! He is great at cooking sewing, quilting, knotting & embroidery too!
 
Sponsored by The Variant https://www.the-variant.com (a website pertaining to comics, cosplay & convention culture), these ladies were amongst the cosplayers at the stores of  Ultimate Comics https://ultimatecomics.com, which has three locations in the Triangle area of our state!
 
Some of those super heroines are friends of Clint Barton, a.k.a “Hawkeye”, who was depicted in this delightful fan art by Alexcia Reynolds‘s http://professoroak.deviantart.com, who used Photoshop & Paint Shop Pro to color & adjust this pencil drawing of Clint, who is a member of The Avengers and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
 
He is the astounding marksman & archer who first appeared in Tales of Suspense #57 in 1964, and has been portrayed wonderfully  in the movies by Jeremy Renner! To see more of Alexcia’s, original & fan art, plushies, stories & sites, please visit her main hub sit Sailor Christmas http://www.sailorchristmas.com and her gallery at DeviantArt http://professoroak.deviantart.com!
 
Then we are delighted to display two more collaborative illustrations by Mike and  illustrator / musician / cosplayer Rebecca Brogden http://www.rbrogdenart.com, who was the guest for our September 2009 Mew!   Rebecca used the Procreate on the Ipad Pro, and Mike used Photoshop CS2 for the background scenery 
 
“Vikala” depicts our friend Dr. Vikala Orlanda Patricia Lamonda, who is one of the neurosurgeons at the Mew Hanover County Medical Center. Standing upon the sidewalk overlooking the ocean, she is wearing the Purple dress, shoes, and Pink leggings and leggings that accent her Tan skin, Blonde hair, Gold and Purrple faerie wings!
 
“Larysa” depicts our friend Dr. Larysa Olga Valentina Enescovia (nicknamed Dr. Love), who is the professional linguist, translator, interpurreter & purrofessor. Hovering within the underwater grotto, she is wearing the Brown halter top that accents her Magenta Haze hair, Apple Green skin, Verdigris tail and Carolina Blue fins!
 
Rebecca also used the Procreate on the Ipad Pro for “Shades of Emerald”, which depicts the voluptuously winsome Blonde faerie who has found the large Emeralds in the pool of the lush glade! You know, the Emerald is our stare’s official precious stone! Now she is quite rich, with those gems that match her Green eyes, wings, antenna, halter top and skirt!
 
In further faerie imagery, Rebecca used the pencil, pens and Copic markers for the happy redhead faerie who is doing the “Moondance”! The Moon is festively full as she winks alluringly at us to join her in the dance! She is the irresistible sight in that off –  shoulder, short Pale Turquoise dress with the ruffled Apricot trim that matches her wonderful wings!
 
Of course, the night brings out the spooky things too, such as the many voyeuristic “Eyes in the Dark” that are watching the sexy Green – eyed, catgirl with the Honey Blonde ears, hair and tail! Wearing just the panty and loose open robe, she seems startled in the dark, but hopefully the watchers are merely the curious kittens, owls or flying foxes, nya!
 
It is the daytime for our next faerie, who is perplexed by the “Mystery Egg“!  This Brown – haired, Saffron & Lavender – winged  fae is quite gorgeous in the Pink halter top & skirt with the White ruffles & Gold serpentine jewelry as she scrutinizes the large Pink egg. We are also rather curious  if it contains the treats, toys, or the critter hat might soon hatch!
 
Then Rebecca used the pencil, pens and Copic markers for the close – up portrait of the redhead catgirl who is having the “Happy Thoughts”! Perrhaps she is pondering the pretty seashell jewelry that accessorizes her off-shoulder dress that matches her lovely Light Cyan eyes… or purrhaps she is daydreaming about a pending date with a special someone? 
 
Nextly is the pencil, pens and Copic marker illustration of the adorable chibi – style “Water Lily Elf”! Perched upon the floating lily pads in the water, she is so pretty in the Violet Soap colored, off – shoulder , bare – midriff outfit with the thigh highs and detached sleeves that accent her Aquamarine eyes, caramel colored skin and long magenta hair! Kawaii!
 
After that we are  honored to exhibit the “Lonely Mermaid“Happy Mermaid” and “Elegant Swim! Rebecca used the pencil, pens & Copic markers for these three oceanic ingenue illustrations! Now we want to go swimming with our mermaid friends  in the ocean too! So, what do y’all think of the art?
 
Mary Nyan:
Oh I love the mermaids’ shimmering tails with the translucent fins, and their long lush wavy hair with the great sheen and ornamentations!
 
Jeannie:
“Moondance” & “Eyes in the Dark” are supurrb examples of  Rebecca’s keen knack for the characters’ purroportions, poses & expurressions.
 
Nyoka:
Hai, hai, and I think that “Mystery Egg” & “Happy Thoughts” are exquisite examples of her great use of the lines, details, colors & shading!
 
Yvonne:
I will second that, and add that “Shades of Emerald” and “Vikala” have the  splendid symmetry, textures, compurrsisiton & purrspective, nya!
 
Tara-chan:
Those two pics exemplify Rebecca’s purrowess with the digital media, whilst the Water Lily Elf exemplifies her great skill at the chibi style, nya!
 
Trini-chan:
In the cosplay photo I can identify the wonderful Mary Shazam, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Supergirl, Harley Quinn & Wonder Woman, but I am unsure who the one in the middle is. Is she Daenerys?
 
Becca:
That is my guess too! Speaking of the cosplay, I like Charlene’s horseshoe – department starfleet insignia, and her Mirror Universe Starfleet uniform with the phaser, communicator & tricorder purrops!
 
Nyanko:
I think that Mike certainly captured the spirit & image of our many friends in “The Beachy Bunch” and the “Cheer & Dance Squad” pics!
 
Mielikki:
Fur shur!
 
Elizabeth:
 
I can’t wait to see Aurora’a reaction to that pic of her diving under the wave… and I am curious as to what happens next in the “Spin or Dare” pic!
 
Petra:
Rosa and Arian look so peppy and cute, nya! We are cheering for their victories at school and on the supurrnatural battlefields, nya! 
 
Bunni:
My favorite aspect of the Batgirl pic is how she is twirling the baterang like a fidget spinner, and in Alexcia’s Hawkeye pic you can tell he is the powerful archer from those upper arms!
 
Mike:
Thank y’all for presenting the new art!
 
Bunni & Petra:
Dooitashimaste, nya!
 
The Cat Lady Sings…
 
Nyanko:
Hey, Tara-chan got to the end of The Mew without being distracted this time!
 
Trini-chan:
The night is young, and we still await the AfterMew luau!
 
Tara-chan:
Itadakimasu, nya!
 
Elizabeth:
Well, I guess that will wrap up another edition of The Mew!
 
Becca:
We wish to thank Alexcia and Rebecca for their contributions!
 
Nyoka:
We wish to thank jamie for his web mastery here at The Mew and Catgirl Island…
 
Bunni
the many many other talented folks whose works we have discussed…
 
Petra:
and our other friends, family, acquaintances and audience whom we greatly appurreciate, nya!
 
Mielikki:
Fur shur!
 
Mary Nyan:
Y’all may post brief, polite, sincere, non-snarky responses to The Mew…
 
Jeannie:
… purrvided the comments are spam-free, G-rated, and purrtain to our topics.
 
Yvonne:
We will return next month with our July of The Mew, nya!
 
Mike:
Be there- aloha! 
 
The Ladies of The Mew:
Happy tails to mew, until we eat again- baibai, nya!

 

Hello Again! Plus The Science of Mustard

I’ve been gone a while. And if you were to look in my drafts folder, you’ll see a dozen times I tried to come here to write, but I just couldn’t get the words out. Depression is a bad roommate that robs you when you aren’t looking. Mine robbed me of the joy I took in cooking, writing and photography.

But the other day in therapy I was talking about the last few weeks, about my foodie meetup potluck and all the bizarre foods I’ve tried and my therapist expressed genuine interest in hearing me talk about making Pico-style octopus for my friends and trying chicken feet for the first time, as well as my very first taste of Canada goose (yes, you read that right, Canada goose), an she asked me questions I was excited to answer about food and I realized that my passion is still there. Just numbed. Taking a break. In hiding. Food discovery and education is still something I love.

I mentioned I hated horseradish more than anything else in this world and that it shared the same chemical compound as wasabi, mustard and radishes (Allyl_isothiocyanate) and that the heat from those foods hits you in a totally different way than capsaicin from chili peppers and the piperine in black pepper and I felt excited to share this knowledge with her in a way I hadn’t felt in a while. I’m not even sure I’ve shared it here, so I’m doing it now! ??

As I stated above, I don’t really like mustard, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting or healthy food. In fact, mustard is very low calorie and virtually fat free, so it’s a great condiment for someone trying to lose weight. But what makes mustard, well, mustard?

French's classic yellow mustard

At its most basic, mustard is nothing more than mustard seeds mixed with liquid, but the kind of liquid, and how much you crush the seeds has a lot to do with it. You could swallow mustard seeds whole without feeling the heat, but if you were to chew them, mixing them with your saliva, which is mostly water, it creates a chemical reaction, releasing an enzyme called myrosinase and glucosinolates like sinigrin, myrosin and sinalbin. The myrosinase converts the glucosinolates into isocyothyanates collectively known as mustard oil. The concentration of these mustard oils in a preparation of mustard seeds and liquid is what creates the different heat levels and flavors of mustard.

Mustard seeds come in three varieties: white/yellow, brown and black. The darker the color of the seeds the more pungent and spicy the mustard will be.

Sa yellow mustard
Yellow Mustard Seeds
Brown Mustard Seed (Close)
Brown Mustard Seeds
Black-mustard-seeds
Black Mustard Seeds

The simplest preparation of mustard is mixing crushed mustard seeds with cold water. This creates a very pungent, spicy mustard with peak heat at around 15 minutes after mixing. The heat of the mustard will fall off over time, unless the addition of an acid, usually vinegar in American-style mustard. Acid slows the burn and stabilizes it so it lasts longer. Here’s a quick primer on types of mustard:

Yellow Mustard
Yellow mustard seeds + turmeric + vinegar + water + other spices = clean, sharp, mild mustard flavor in a very smooth texture

Spicy Brown Mustard (Deli Mustard)
Brown mustard seeds (with bran left on) + less vinegar + water = nose scorching heat and coarser texture that stands up to bold meats like pastrami

Senf-Variationen edit2
upper left: white mustard seeds
upper right: white mustard, ground
center left: simple table mustard, with turmeric coloring
center right: Bavarian sweet mustard
lower left: Dijon mustard
lower right: Rough French mustard made mainly from black mustard seeds

Dijon Mustard
Brown and/or black mustard seeds + lower acidity white wine = sharp and strong flavor with a super smooth texture

Whole Grain Mustard
Barely crushed brown and/or black mustard seeds + lower acidity white wine = a coarse texture with a little punch

Hot Mustard (Chinese Hot Mustard & English Mustard)
Powdered brown or black mustard seeds + cold water mixed in 15 minutes before eating = super hot, pungent mustard that loses intensity quickly over time

Mustard hits you in the sinuses with its heat and dissipates quickly, unlike chile peppers, which hit you more in the throat, build over time and are slower to “cool”.

If you like your mustard with a real kick, buy it in small quantities and use it quickly, or better yet, make it yourself!

What’s your favorite variety of mustard? (Mine’s whole grain.) Let me know in the comments below!

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allyl_isothiocyanate
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustard_(condiment)#Flavors
https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/05/mustard-manual-guide-different-types-mustard-varieties-dijon-brown-spicy-yellow-hot-whole-grain.html

FORT COLLINS

How this trip came about: It was mid-March, I had no trips in sight, and I was PANICKED. I figured out a good weekend to leave town– a week when many of my team members would be out of the office and texted my friend who just moved to Fort Collins, CO from Salina, KS. Luckily, she was free that weekend and approved of my budding travel plan. A week later she texted saying there was even a music festival happening the weekend of my visit and I felt like the stars had aligned and I decided to pull the trigger and book!

My process for buying the flight: Flights to Denver have been very cheap lately, which is a (small) part of the reason I decided on Fort Collins for this particular weekend trip. I am subscribed to Thrifty Traveler Premium, which sends incredible flight deals to my inbox daily and alerted me the price drop on flights from MSP to DEN. I then used Google Flights to check for my specific dates and asked my friend which times would be best for her. Because she was dropping her boyfriend off at the airport at the same time she was picking me up, this limited the flight times that would work and upped the price (obviously worth it to see my friend and have a ride!) I ended up flying Delta on the way there and Frontier on the way home for a total of $211. I also opted to check my carry on on the way there because it’s free with my Delta credit card which meant I had to pay $35 to bring a carry on home, bummer and also unnecessary but sometimes I just really want more outfit choices!

These were definitely not the cheapest flights I’ve ever bought, but it was worth it to visit my friend in her new city!

Tentative game plan: Visiting someone else in their city means you can’t really have a game plan and need to be pretty go with the flow. I typically think of a few top things I’d like to accomplish and let the host do the rest of the planning. I just know, I’d hate for someone to come visit me and not even let me show them around! I told Katie I just want to gain a mental map of Fort Collins, listen to good music, and visit Odell Brewing. I know, I’m so low maintenance.

Did expectations meet reality? 

Expectations absolutely met reality! It was so fun to see Katie, Fort Collins is a very cool city, and the music festival (FoCoMX) blew me away. This was my third trip to Colorado in the past year, and every time I visit, I am even more impressed. I’ve even somehow managed to not hike even ONCE in all three visits. Lol.

What did you learn? 

I think I learn something on every trip I go on, so here’s the rundown:

  1. It’s okay to miss out on a day of exploring when you wake up brutally hungover. Better luck tomorrow, lol
  2. Visit your friends, they’ll appreciate it, and your friendship will 1000% be better because of it. It’s an added perk when they live in cool cities…
  3. Drink lots of water before going to Colorado to prevent altitude sickness. Now that I think about it maybe THAT’S why I was so hungover! (wink face)
  4. The Denver airport is still creepy
  5. I don’t need a whole suitcase for a weekend trip

Thanks for reading. ??

Unwanted Words

On Dealing With Rejection

The world of the literary arts and the world of sales may seem to be separated by irreconcilable differences, but they are far more similar than they appear. Writers, poets and salespeople all have the unfortunate duty of calling out into madly spinning world, begging for it to slow for just a moment so they may be heard, be seen for a second. And in that second, hopefully make an impact.

In the wold of sales, these people attempt to achieve this dream by endlessly calling potential clients or buyers of whatever product they’re peddling. The incessant ringing of phone after phone trills on eternally for them. But with almost every dial there is a rejection on the other end of the line. At best, this is delivered in the form of a polite but firm, “No, thank you.” At worst, there are a string of cuss words venomously spat at them.

And yet, with every new lead they feel a surge of hope. The next one will be that whale or the next one or the next one….and so on. They can’t stop. Their livelihoods depend on it.

Not much differs from the world of writers. Submittable is the temple where they produce literary offering after offering to faceless editors of literary magazines. Like their counterparts, they keep submitting, furtively hoping that this next submission will land them a publication, perhaps even a book deal. But like the salesperson, nearly every submission is met with some form of repudiation.

Not matter how many rejections they get, these writers must carry on writing, continue editing. What else are they to do? If they stop a piece of themselves will die. And if they go on they will continue to submit themselves to the chopping block with each piece they send out.

The jab of rejection can be overwhelming at times, particularly if several pieces are dismissed in succession. When a writer finds this negative feed back is too much it is important to remember a few things.

First, take a step back. Revel in some other hobbies or activities besides writing. Dedication to your craft is admirable and necessary, but it is important to shut the laptop or drop the pen, in order to revive a sense of inspiration. Like a four leaf clover, at times them best things are found they are not being searched for.

Second, don’t forget that literary magazines and journals are very refined creatures and each one prefers specific styles of writing. There’s no need to become overly distraught when a piece which was delicately designed for a particular recipient is not accepted immediately. Pay attention to the work. Polish it again and again to make the words the best they can be. If it is again rejected by the first establishment, than send it elsewhere. Simply because a work is passed over doesn’t mean it fails to hold any merit.

In short, keep at it and try to maintain a modicum of sanity. Writers who let fear of rejection control them will not allow their writing to discover new heights or play with ideas that may transform their writing. Writing is a craft that must be nurtured, pushed, and it will stretch its creator to the limit. But it’s fascinating and well, fun, so don’t quit on it.

Keep submitting and continue to fling those poems, novels, mysteries, and manuscripts higher than others think they could possibly go.

Spotlight Tour/#Giveaway ~ The Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club by Ann Warner @annwrite

The Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club – Book 1
by Ann Warner
Genre: Cozy Mystery
In Book One of this cozy mystery series, a morose parrot with a
reputation for biting sums up Brookside Retirement Community for
reluctant resident, Josephine Bartlett. But when Brookside turns out
to be a setting for art theft, dodgy dealings, and…naked poker it
becomes vastly more interesting. Josephine investigates the unusual
goings on with friend and handwriting expert, Lill Fitzel. And the
two befriend a young woman Josephine tries to prevent from making the
same mistakes she has made.
***Get it FREE!!! ***

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Kobo * Smashwords

The Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club – Book 2
Josephine, Devi, and Mac’s story continues. Devi and Mac are falling in love,
but a complication comes along in the form of Mac’s pregnant
ex-wife. As for Josephine, with the excitement of unmasking the
Brookside thief and Devi’s being shot now over, she’s finding
Brookside Retirement Community (aka Babbling Brook) as dull as she
initially expected it to be. Until, that is, she gets involved with a
man who suspects her of being a criminal mastermind. Finding love at
this late date is something Josephine never expected, and it’s her
Edward Hopper painting that plays matchmaker.

Goodreads * Amazon

The Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club – Book 3
Josephine Bartlett is back, joined by a colorful cast of friends: her partner
in mystery-solving, Lill Fitzel, flamboyant ex-beauty queen, Myrtle
Grabinowitz, former attorney/current novelist, Philippa Scott
Williamson, Brookside’s thief, Edna Prisant, good friends Devi and
Mac McElroy, and last, but not least, love-interest Norman Neumann.
When new resident, Lottie Watson, loses at Naked Poker, she tells a
bizarre story about her husband disappearing in the LA airport.
Josephine and Lill, intrigued enough to investigate, discover there
are more ominous goings-on than a simple disappearance. Meanwhile,
Josephine ignores the mysteries of her own heart.

Goodreads * Amazon

Get the box set here!

Amazon

~ Guest Post With Ana ~

Preparing My Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club Books for Publication

Although working with new characters and a new plot is exciting, my favorite part of the process is having a “finished” book that needs editing and revising to perfect it. I enjoy this part because while it lasts, I don’t have to face a blank screen or an empty imagination.

Once the story is in hand, these are my next steps.

1. Share the manuscript with my critique group.
I’m what’s known in the trade as a seat-of-the-pants writer. That means I begin writing without knowing exactly where I’m going or who my characters will be. Once I’ve reached “The End” the first time, I share with my critique group. This wonderful group of fellow writers from the US, UK, Australia, and Europe will be the first readers of the book. I never share until I’ve figured out the entire story, although I do sometimes discuss plot issues with my husband.

I rely on my critique group to point out any bits that are unclear, confusing, repetitious, or not well written, to tell me where I need to add emotion and description or where to take them out, and to point out any hanging plot threads. I’ve been working with this group for over seven years and they always help me write better books.

2. Evaluate the critiques I receive and prepare a revision.
I’m always thrilled with critiques that give me a fresh viewpoint on my story. These are the ones that inspire me tackle revisions.

3. Send the final manuscript to my editor, Pam Berehulke.
Pam is amazing. I send her what I think is a clean manuscript, and she shows me time and time again why I need her to find all the glitches, errors, and infelicities.

4. Work on a cover.
The basic Babbling Brook cover was designed by Kit Foster. I added the orchids and chose the colors for the three books (soon to be four).

5. Apply Pam’s corrections and do the final formatting for both print and electronic editions of the books.
Probably the nitpickiest and least fun of the entire process.

6. Send out advance copies to early readers so they will be prepared to write reviews once the book is released.
I’ve been blessed with wonderful fans, so this part of the process is a joy.

7. Upload electronic and print versions to Kindle Direct Publishing. Let early readers know the book is “live” so they can post reviews. Also inform my mailing list members that the book is available.

8. Arrange promotions for the book.
Along with formatting, promotion is not a favorite activity. But it is essential. Over 5,000 books are published each day which means Amazon is adding nearly two million books a year to the ones already available to readers. In this avalanche of riches (for readers), I consider it a major miracle that readers continue to discover my books.

9. Begin writing the next book.
Sometimes an idea starts pushing at me before I finish the current book and sometimes it remains more elusive. But I’ve found that if I keep an intention to write in mind, ideas show up.

Raised in an Air Force family, Ann grew up to be a clinical chemist,
toxicologist, and university professor, but her life took an
unexpected turn in 2001, when she began writing fiction. Her debut
novel, Dreams for Stones, was a finalist for the Indie Next
Generation Book Award in 2007.
Ann’s novels about strong characters facing interesting challenges take
advantage of the many unusual settings she’s traveled to or lived in
including New Zealand, Australia, Peru, San Francisco, Alaska,
Colorado, Boston, and Puerto Rico. As well, her experiences as a
toxicologist have added fillips of intrigue to many of her stories.
In Ann’s novels, the consequence of choosing to love or not to love is
an underlying theme, as characters face crises and complications that
force them to dig deep within themselves to discover their own resilience.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
click_here_to_enter

Broken clouds

Charlotte starts therapy today at the same time as Lily, which means by late afternoon the three of us will each be talking to different counselors in separate rooms, with Dawn waiting in the lobby with her book.

It’s afternoon already in Germany, and Eberhard is coming to take my mom to an airport hotel in Frankfurt where they’ll probably make a mini vacation out of it, overdoing it a bit, sending me bad photos later. In the morning mom will get on a plane for Seattle and land by noon, and I’ll get her at SeaTac then go to a bar in Issaquah where we’ll celebrate the start of our visit, and try to stay up as late as she can, probably 7.

My work contract now ends in July, and because we have family trips planned for August that means the soonest I’ll start work again is September. I’ll go to Las Vegas for a conference in a couple weeks and again, in July—likely the last times this summer I’ll need pressed shirts.

Outside, the cottonwood blooms have stopped and for the past couple weeks I’d sit out with my beer watching them fall, dubbing it ‘springtime snow.’ I tried to write a poem about the pattern they make going across the sun, linking it to a number of seemingly random pursuits (like blogging, or life) but it didn’t pan out.

The house to the east of us was vacant for four years, sold to auction with the intent of a tear-down followed by three new houses, but that didn’t pan out either, so the owners have finally resigned themselves to moving in to the existing house, and now they park their cars out back on the grass.

The grass had gotten so high that one day I spied an adult deer bedding down in it at dusk, and tried to capture the way she folded her legs in on herself and settled in, how the filtered sun through the trees made her face look calm and glow in the golden light. I wanted to feel that way, too.

A low is setting up shop off the coast from Alaska and we need to close the windows at night, or it will get cold. The fox glove are in full bloom and I’m starting to sleep in until 6. The other house to the north appears vacant now, a rental, so we worry what will come of the new residents.

We stopped our lawn service but extended them by one month, agreeing to pay cash vs. doing a contract and got the tractor serviced, followed by the generator, for fall.

Now I sit with my back to the large pine between our house and the new neighbors, the tree we’ll need to take out because it’s making the concrete patio buckle, disturbing the balance of the hot tub. And because we don’t have a fence between us and the neighbors I now have to be discreet about my manly habits: the belching, bottle-throwing, peeing on the shrubs or the side of the shed. All our excess. All our phones, tablets, apps, and counselors…and how badly I just want to head out to the woods and forget.

 

Festival of Writing and Ideas at Borris House

Festival of Writing and Ideas at Borris House – June 7th – 9th
By Frank L.

The festival takes place from 7th to 9th of June at Borris House County Carlow, which is one of the most picturesque locations for a festival in Ireland. There will be over seventy speakers who will perform in five different venues on the site from mid morning to early evening. The speakers cover a vast array of interests. Each event lasts an hour and at anyone time there are up to five different events taking place. So it is necessary to make choices.

For instance at 2 o’clock on Saturday the choices are:

  • Farms for City Children: Michael Morpurgo (War Horse) and Clare Morpurgo( (founder of the charity farms for city children) talk about their initiative to bring the skills of farming and the outdoor life to inner-city kids
  • Return to Libya: Hisham Matar talks to to Lara Marlowe about his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, The Return in which he seeks the truth behind the disappearance of his dissident father
  • Activism and Fashion: Sinead Burke (writer and activist) and Edie Campbell (model and activist) discuss the importance of design, rights and making life choices with Sinead Gleeson (Constellations)
  • Economics of Natural Disaster: Sonali Deraniyagala (Sri Lankan economist and author of PEN-award-winning memoir Wave about the 2004 tsunami) discusses recovery from the ravages of uncontrollable forces of nature with Kirsty Lang
  • Revisiting Irish Gothic: Joseph O’Connor’s new novel Shadowplay brings to life Bram Stoker’s imagination, while Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent recasts a 19th century horror story in her book Melmoth. They discuss the art of the gothic chiller with Alex Clark.

This year the speakers include – Anne Enright, Joseph O’Connor, Fintan O’Toole, James Shapiro, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, Emilie Pine, John Kelly, Naomi Wolf, Ben Anderson, Lisa O’Neill and David Kitt, among others. As there are over seventy speakers over the three days there are similar difficult choices to be made as to what  will stimulate or fascinate the brain cells several times a day.

The festival is now listed as ‘Full to Capacity’, so those without a ticket will have to book early for next year! Tickets and other information can be found on their website – www.festivalofwritingandideas.com.

 

Random thoughts on food imports

Nigeria, and Africa in general, has slowly become a net importer of food. Not that domestic production has not grown but consumption has grown faster than production. There are probably many factors behind this but one that I’ve been thinking about is the impact of urbanization and the competition between Nigerian historical food options, and global food value chains. Let me explain. 

If you could split the world into two in terms of broad historical categories of staple foods, you would have a world of cereals (maize, rice, wheat, etc) and a world of tubers (yams, potatoes, and cassava). Most of the world, read Europe, most of the Americas, and Asia have been in the cereals world while most of sub-Saharan Africa has been in the tubers world. Mostly for reasons that have to do with climate.

Most of the world has worked to make their food industry more efficient. Efficient in the sense of the time and effort it takes to convert raw food into the stuff that people eat and love to eat. And most of that has been driven by the cereals world working with, you guessed it, cereals. If you think of bread for example, a staple from wheat in the cereals world, innovations have occurred over thousand of years to refine the process for making flour and the process for making bread. Of course innovations have happened in the tubers worlds too. But when you think about it, innovations in the cereals world have probably far outpaced innovations in the tubers world.

So what happens when both worlds collide and you have urban populations that care about little else besides how quickly they can make and eat stuff and how these products are marketed to them? When these urban populations are forced to make a choice between bread, a wheat based food innovation, and whatever the yam based breakfast options there are, is there really only one winner?

Using Nigeria as an example, if you think about how quickly certain food innovations have spread through Nigeria then it kind of becomes clear. Bread is one example of an imported wheat based innovation that has become a staple. Indomie noodles is another example. And more recently spaghetti. These products aren’t necessarily more delicious or more nutritious but they have one distinct advantage: they are easy and quick to make and eat. Or store. I doubt the spread of bread and Indomie and other international cereal based food innovations happened for any reason other than just being quick and easy, and there being no real tuber-based competitors. If you wanted to have a yam based meal that you could prepare from scratch without help in 15 minutes, what options are there? Come to think about it, is the fact that jollof rice is much easier to prepare a factor behind its rise to urban staple food status as against yam porridge or amala and egusi?

If you take a step back and think about, what is really going on with regards to the dynamics of food is competition between global food industries and local food industries. And there is currently only one winner. If you develop a food culture that is dependent on cereals which you don’t grow then can you hope to not be dependent on the growers of cereals?

So, what options are there?

One option which we have tried to do is to grow those cereals. A difficult option because the most important factor for that is weather and we don’t have the weather appropriate for growing cereals, the exception being corn. The outcomes have ranged from complete failure for wheat to trying but still not good enough for rice.

No doubt, continuing to try to grow cereals should be an objective but should we also be putting as much effort into tuber-based food innovations? Can anyone invent a quick and easy ten minute based breakfast from yams? At some point we tried the cassava bread flour thing but as any scientist or business person will tell you, that is not how innovation works? It is very rarely the case that the government picks a product that actually turns out to be truly innovative and successful at the same time. A successful product is often preceded by a thousand failures and governments are typically not patient enough for that. But then how do you convince the private sector to try to create new tuber based food products? Or should you fund research in universities instead?

Or should we just accept our fate of being a net importer of food?

On a different note: I sometimes wonder what the world would have looked like if things were flipped and the northern hemisphere was stuck with tubers. Would there have been a yam based roman empire that dominated half the world and would we all be eating some weird five minute yam type dish for breakfast? Or would the world have been dominated by a bunch of wheat growing horse riding Kikuyus? So many questions.

lead like a woman

When I decided to put the hash-tagged affirmation “#leadlikeawoman” on my vision board for 2019, I didn’t quite know what that would come to mean for me. At the time, I was just combing through pages and pages of magazines looking for relevant content when the phrase just inexplicably caught my eye and gripped me. And even though the words were written in such tiny letters, it read loud and powerful. Bold and strong. And confident. And feminine.

*****

I am what many would consider a late bloomer. I didn’t start coming into myself until I was somewhere around sixteen or seventeen years of age. In fact, for much of my teenage life, I exhibited behaviors and characteristics that were considered typical of a boy. Perhaps, it was my upbringing. I did, after all, grow up in a household with three older brothers, and I suppose in an effort to belong, I mimicked much of what I saw they did.

It wasn’t until I got to high school that I began to question my womanhood. Pondering what it meant to be a girl who was slowly transitioning into a young woman. I remember when I first got my period at age fourteen, and how I freaked out to my mother on the phone because this now meant I was capable of having a baby. I remember when I bought my first pair of fitted jeans from Old Navy and how uncomfortable I was because my hips looked so revealing in them. And then, there was the first time I wore a whole face of make-up for my high school prom and thought to myself, “Ugh, I am never going to be this type of girl.” I struggled with body image issues throughout the years. Failing to see the beauty in myself, due to having a huge nose, practically no boobs and being extremely overweight. I also didn’t know how to cope with all the emotional turmoil going on inside of me, stemming from the sexual abuse I’d experienced at a very tender age and going through much of my childhood without a present father. For me, this concept of womanhood was a difficult one to comprehend and as a result, I spent much of my formative years hiding from it.

It took several years for me to fully come into myself as a woman. And to be honest, I am not even sure I am one-hundred percent there yet. But at thirty-two years of age, the level of maturity, growth and healing that I have gone through have been so profound, that I am almost a direct contrast to the girl I was some fifteen years ago. While I still struggle with the idea of vulnerability and my ability to express my emotions, I have learned so much about what it means to physically accept myself and embrace the many qualities and characteristics that define me as a woman. And to do so in honesty. With conviction, passion, confidence and grace.

*****

When I think about the affirmation, “lead like a woman,” I see it extending far beyond the context of just my professional environment. I see it manifesting itself in every aspect of my existence. To lead is to live. And for me, this signifies starting from a place of honesty and truth. And then allowing everything else to flow from that. Being true to who I am is paramount. It means embracing the woman God created me to be. Accepting all that makes me different and unique, and rejecting any and all desires to be like anyone else. It means loving myself and all my imperfections. Validating my emotions–all six thousand of them—and not suppressing them, hoping they magically go away. It means identifying my limitations and fear and being bold enough to openly acknowledge them. It means asking for help when I need it. Commanding respect without the need for force. Speaking up when my voice should be heard and knowing how to stand down when it doesn’t need to. It means crying when I feel like it. Laughing, even if it’s with myself. Blooming with grace, no matter where I’m planted. And perhaps the most fundamental principle of them all, allowing the men that are in and around my life to be well, men.

*****

The woman has long been made to believe that she needs to compete with the man, and that in order to do so, she needs to emulate him. Or better yet, dominate him. Of course, this notion is largely owed to the years upon years of suffering and marginalization women had to endure at the hands of men and their societal standards. There are even books and articles and term papers promoting this concept of women thinking and behaving like men. But there is such a thing as extremism when it comes to the idea of feminism. I don’t subscribe to that type of philosophy. I’ve come to understand that being a woman means I will always think, feel and behave differently than my male counterparts. This is how God created me to be and I am perfectly okay with that.

Perhaps, when I chose to add the hash-tagged phrase to my vision board, it was my way of subconsciously reminding myself, and affirming to myself that I am a woman. And that I am bold, beautiful, strong, confident and unapologetically feminine.

7 Starter Tips – Earth & Environment

We have put together a shortlist of easily applicable tips to help in the environmental revolution. With so little time and some much to impact we hope this mini starter kit helps you play your part in saving the planet.

The harsh reality of this circumstance is how blatantly its affecting nature. Species in numerous numbers have become endangered, earth is overpopulated, food is produced on a mass scale but not properly distributed, humans are over producing leading to wastage, the planet gets warmer, and the glaciers are melting which is leading to rising sea levels.

If these facts aren’t enough to push us to take immediate action then it just may be too late. Optimistically we want the earth to be a safe haven for all tomorrow so we must start with change today.

Google defines climate change as a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns and average temperatures.

1. Walk.

It is recommended to walk at a minimum 30 minutes a day (majority of the week) as it improves your overall health. This doesn’t seem difficult and is actually helping both you and the environment. Remember longevity in health encompasses physical exercise.

Walking more often has been proven to improve heart health, increase lung capacity, boost immunity and delay ageing. These are just some of the spectrum of benefits walking provides. Give it a try.

If you can’t manage 30 minutes a day start with 10 and consistently build up to 30 minutes over time. Remember walking doesn’t require any equipment. It requires and begins with your effort.

“There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs”

2. Cycling.

The immediate example that comes to mind is the bicycle system used in the Netherlands. It is important to know that the average life expectancy for a male there is 80, for a female 83 and total life expectancy is 81. With one of the highest life expectancies in Europe this system should inspire everyone to start cycling.

Fun Fact: The recommended levels of physical activity for an adult is a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week.

Cycling should be seen a liberating experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages around the world. Economical and saves you money… Sounds like a sweet deal to us.

3. Composting.

We should form the habit of composting. It’s a great way of helping local farms and gardens while preventing global warming. Compost is rich in nutrients for soil making it more fertile for growth. It is also important for organic farming of the foods we consume. Our advice to you dear friends is to buy organic and local whenever possible.

Fun Fact: Did you know in various countries around the world now they pay you for your compost in an effort to increase this practise – Amazing!

Check out the link below on how to compost at home.

4. Don’t waste food.

This goes without saying that we must cultivate the volume at which we consume. We must only consume what we need. Refraining from wastage not only positively impacts the environment as it allows more replenishment time for nature, but it also reduces the shocking number amounting to nearly 300 thousand tons of food wasted globally this year alone. Shocking right!…

For more information on this number in realtime – see link below. It is important to note that the food wasted by the United States and Europe alone could feed the world 3 times over.

5. Grow your own.

In the 21st century technology has connected the world in a truly ubiquitous way. A true revolution at that. Now more than ever we are so interconnected.

The internet has allowed us to communication with the other side of the world effortlessly. Information and data is shared and consumed at a phenomenal rate globally. One would argue this all sounds positive.

It is arguably positive. The problem is we have lost our human skills. We need to find and create time away from technology to be in the present.

By being in the present we allocate time to detox. Growing your own is beneficial in the long term as you are not only gaining a practical skills, but meditating and increasing focus on one thing without even knowing it. Better yet, you are directly impacting a healthy mind and body.

Fact: You know where the produce/ingredients came from if you grow your own.

Get some soul food. Ditch the junk food.

6. Reduce Reuse Recycle

Our classic old friends! Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Recycling is a practise that is taken for granted by many humans around the world. This has led to societies being flooded by plastics of literally all shapes and sizes. This same plastic is polluting our oceans, loitering our streets, and taking more from humanity than it actually giving back.

It is time to move away from Plastics and move towards more bio-degradable material. Recycle Plastics, Reuse jars, wrappers, clothes, footwear. Recycle paper and cardboard too. Let’s not forget these are made out of trees that are cut down primarily in the amazon forest. This too is suffering from urbanisation, and generally human consumption “needs”. Society will need to move away from consumerism to really make a drastic change.

Quick guide to recycling at home linked below – We’ve got you amigos!

7. Practice.

Practice makes perfect. By implementing the six tips above we can make the environment a better place together. Now we are not saying that Rome was built in a day. What we are saying is that change happens from within.

You more than anyone with your energy channelled into the right things have the ability to make a real difference. Think about it – If fifteen year old Swedish school-girl Greta Thunberg can spark a movement pushing other school kids and politicians to wake up and smell the coffee, then we all certainly have our parts to contribute.

The mountain’s summit may seem much further away than meets the eye but the journey begins with taking the first step.

Dear friends, we leave you with this quote – ‘To change the world you must first change yourself’.

World Food Waste Statistics

How to compost at home

Recycling at home – Quick steps

List of endangered species in the world

Can I Please Enjoy a Beer, While My Kids Play?

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Beer and playgrounds – is this too much to ask for?

We were on vacation last summer when out of desperation and hunger we stopped by a brew pub for dinner. To be honest there was nothing special about the food or the beer, except I was able to enjoy it. There was no need to break up a fight or placate the baby by pouring sugar granules on the plate like a mini sand pit (don’t judge); no riveting game of “I spy” in lieu of actual dinner conversation because the place had a fully enclosed outdoor play area. That’s right, entertainment for the kids. So simple. So brilliant.

It was nothing fancy or elaborate. There was a small playground area and ping pong tables, hammocks to lounge, a few games nothing special but the kids were in heaven, and so were we. 

The first words out of our mouths as we loaded three exhausted kids back into the car, West Chester needs one of these. I’ve floated the idea around to several local parents and we’re all in agreement – whoever can make this happen will make a killing.

While, we haven’t quite gotten to downtown West Chester yet, we are definitely getting closer.

Outdoor Beer Garden Options Near West Chester

Kennett Square’s Creamery

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The Creamery Summer 2019. Image from The Creamery Facebook page.

Last year, Kennett Square’s opened it’s Creamery as a trial pop-up beer garden, and after some back and forth, it is back as a year-round venue with plenty of indoor/outdoor space.

The beer garden, community gathering site is located on what was formerly the Eastern Condensed Milk Company and maintains that rustic, repurposed vibe. The Creamery has food trucks, a full bar (beer, wine, signature cocktails). There’s also, music, corn hole, bocce ball, ax throwing and of course, a kid’s area.

The Details:

Location: 401 Birch St, Kennett Square, PA

Hours: Thursday through Friday opens 5 p.m. on weekdays, earlier on the weekend. Closes 12 a.m. Friday, Saturday, earlier on other days. See their website for details.

Cost: $7 for a 12 oz beer; $15 for a pepperoni pizza.

Amenities: kids’ area, indoor/outdoor seating, bar area with beer/wine/signature cocktails, standard food offering and rotating food vendors, corn hole, bocce ball, ax throwing, craft area, live music

Levante Beer Garden at Highland Orchards

highland_tables

New picnic tables and pet friendly, too.

If you’re not familiar with Highland Orchards it is an operational farm just west of downtown West Chester, known for its pick-your own events — pumpkins and apples in the fall, cherries and assorted berries now. There is also a small playground, some goats and a farm store. Even if you’re not familiar, your kids might be, it’s also a popular “field trip” destination for the Pre-K set.

So what’s new? First and foremost, there is now a Levente beer tent available on weekends. There has also been a second play area added, which I think was completed some time last year. There were outdoor food concessions and a lemonade stand, several more picnic tables and quite a few more parents drinking beer.

We arrived at 4:00 p.m. on a Sunday and it was all quite mellow. The kids climbed, we sipped. The sun shone. The place was occupied but not overwhelmed. It was nice.

The beers we’re a little on the high side – $5.50 for a small, but there was no charge for admission or for the kids to use the equipment. So I would say that’s fair. My one recommendation would be the addition of some games for the older kids, cornhole, ping pong, something. At the place we went to on vacation we had to leave our license to borrow the Ping Pong paddles and ball. It seemed to work.

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The Details:

Location: 1000 Marshallton-Thorndale Road

Hours: Noon till 6:00 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until September 2nd.

Cost: $11 for two small beers

Amenities: 2 small outdoor playground areas, shaded picnic tables, beer porch, lemonade stand, mobile mess hall, country store with ‘Best of Philly’ Apple Cider Donuts, berry picking (seasonal)

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This face, though.

At Highland the playgrounds were a little ways away from the play areas and there were several groups sans children enjoying a post berry-picking beer but that said, is everyone going to be happy with the addition of kids? Probably not.

The Creamery, which has been open long enough to garner Yelp reviews, has both its fans and its detractors.

“Too many children,” wrote Ashley M, in her Yelp review. “There’s no space for people to come without children to enjoy The Creamery. I witnessed a bunch of kids in the bocce ball arena and one girl who got hit in the head with one! I felt like I was babysitting random people’s children who they forgot about, without relaxing and enjoying a beer with which I came to do!”

My sympathies with Ashley are limited. I agree, that parents/guardians need to remain responsible for their children (and I have personally witnessed similar actions in that bocce ball area). A playground or a game area does not equal a babysitter. At the same time – too many kids for you, maybe, find another spot? You are without children, there is no place you can not go. Or wait until 8:00 p.m. they’ll all be in bed.

Overall, I’d say this combo is a winner. Find a nice sunny afternoon and go check it out for yourself.

Have you been yet? Thoughts?

Plus, 5 new restaurants to try and mark your calendar West Chester’s annual music festival is coming up.

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