Sunday, November 22, 2015

Give Thanks

In the midst of life's stresses and sorrows, I can be thankful.

                                                      Verily I say unto you my friends,
                                                                     fear not, let your hearts be
                                                                    comforted;  yea, rejoice evermore
                                                                   and in everything give thanks.
                                                                                                 (D&C 98:1)
2015 has been a tough year for our family. My daughter is experiencing some unique hardships, along with experiencing a new chapter in her life, my Mother died quite suddenly, my Father-in-law died after a prolonged illness, my chronic skin condition has not improved one whit, I had to find a new job, and all kinds of other detritus that life throws at you has happened. I will be glad to forget this year and leave it behind. Along with the hardships I made myself think of some good things that have happened, too, to brighten things up a bit as well...

            I completed all the steps necessary to receive my teaching license.

            I went on two fun trips to California.

            I was able to spend a precious month with my daughter and granddaughter in Monterey, CA.

            My sister and I spent a month together in Sept.

            Hubby made a greenhouse and a chicken coop for the yard!

            I made some new friends.

            I was able to find a new job that I like very much.

Eloise, Tiny Wattly, Betty and Eggzilla came to live in our yard this summer.
Near Petaluma, CA.

Microbiology is awesome!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Three Book Reviews

This month I've already tried three new authors, and have been pleased with my reading experiences. My kindle is usually always by my side and there is no better way for me to relax before going to sleep or to distract my mind from health issues than by reading a good book! Fiction or non-fiction, it does not matter to me, I'll always have an 'inquiring mind'. 

I receive the Kindle version of the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction and there is always a column about new publications in it, That is where I heard about Katherine Addison's book, The Goblin Emperor. I checked out a sample of the book and then read it. I read it pretty quickly, too. I guess you could classify it as Fantasy that had some elements of Steampunk in it. I generally think of goblins as bad guys in fantasy stories, but in this story the goblin was a likeable underdog, the shunned son of his father, the Emperor, from his one time marriage to a goblin woman. His father and older brothers die in a zepplin accident leaving the throne to him. He has to travel to court and claim the throne as his father's only surviving son. There are fantasy elements, good court intrigue, nice world building, and a good story line. I read a lot of fantasy and this story was fresh and interesting. Thumbs up to Katherine Addison for this great book.

Nina ,wife of explorer Percy Fawcett.
Non-Fiction read: The Lost City of Z: A tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. David Grann has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, it is an excellent publication. I started reading Malcolm Gladwell's books from the New Yorker, too. This story is very intriguing as it tells about of Percy Fawcett, explorer and Amazon expert. He and his son disappeared during a trek through the Amazon jungle in 1925. Fawcett had made many trips in the Amazon and was considered one of the leading explorers of the region in his time. History has never really been able to discover what happened on that fateful expedition. Mr. Grann takes us on a whirlwind history tour of Amazon exploration, the Royal Geographic Society, and the life of the Fawcett family. Mrs, Fawcett never gave up hope that her husband and son would be found. Fawcett's remaining son and several other exploration parties also went looking for the lost explorers but could never discover what really happened. Mr. Grann, the author, followed in the footsteps of the exploration and found out some interesting truths on his journey. Delightful, and very engaging tale. Thumbs up! 
Jack Fawcett- disappeared with his father in the Amazon in 1925.   

Antonio Garrido- "The Corpse Reader". Mr. Garrido's novel about the historical figure Song, Ci, a Chinese man who is considered the father of forensic science, keeps you up reading past your bedtime. This novel won the prize for best historical novel in Spain in 2012. I was a bit dismayed at times while reading it because sometimes it seemed that the main character would never get a break. Everything was going wrong for him, but I was still curious to find out what would happen and read through the book quickly. It was very interesting subject matter to me as both a medical science person and one who enjoys the Gothic and Historical literature. Thumbs up to this author, I plan on reading his other book, The Scribe, very soon. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, new book challenges

Life continues to be as crazy as ever, but that has become the norm around here. I have survived my first 5 months as a new teacher and still love it, so that is good news! I can't believe how much time I spend out side of work grading papers, and planning curriculum (hours and hours). Over the holidays we've had visitors at the house and I am enjoying a bit of slugging around by sleeping in, reading a lot, and wasting some time on computer games. Yes, I still have papers to grade, I am procrastinating on starting that until tomorrow evening when the visitors leave.

December at our house involves three birthdays, and two wedding anniversaries along with all the Christmas and New Year's holiday preparations. This year I tried to made things a bit more special by getting a real Christmas tree instead of using the same old artificial one. The tree was a very beautiful specimen and smelled so good. One activity I have not done for a while was sledding, but I went out with my granddaughter even though it was quite cold. Our family has often attended the Nutcracker Ballet, but not every year, we enjoyed attending again last week.

Good things: My sister moved from a location in another state to my state (but still a few hours away), so we have had more contact then before and that is a plus for our relationship.

Hubby got a new job in 2014 with a boost in salary.

Hubby and I celebrated 35 amazing years of marriage at the end of 2014. 

I passed the certification test for being a 'highly qualified' Biology teacher.

My youngest child graduated with a Bach. of Science from the University.

My first grandson was born in 2014.

Challenges: My Mom, who recently finished cancer treatments, had a pacemaker put in for her heart.

My father-in-law had a heart attack  just before Christmas with ensuing bypass surgery and is still in the hospital.

A messy divorce is going on with another family member.

 I need to finish getting my official teacher's license.

 Oh well, 2015 will bring it's challenges, but will also have it's joys. :)

With the new year, I also like to plan on doing a few reading challenges because besides planning curriculum for my students, my other favorite pastime besides sewing, is reading.

In 2014 I met my goal of reading at least 50 books. I participated in a Mythology Reading Challenge, A Library Book Challenge, and a Get Rid of Your To-Be-Read Pile Reading Challenge. I am a member of Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari, even though I might not be one of the most active members I still like to do some challenges, comment on the boards every once in a while, and keep up on the news. My read list for 2014 is only half posted here because my old computer had a meltdown (and I did not have everything backed up). Currently reading: Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann, both non-fiction, historical, and quite interesting. One of my favorites from 2014 was The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, it was interesting, touching and she was a new author for me. I am looking forward to reading more by her. Since I've read all the Dresden Files books ( by Jim Butcher) I started the Codex Alera series by Mr. Butcher (which is more a fantasy series than a paranormal type of series).  I was craving more books like the Dresden Files, so I am now going through Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series and Annie Bellet's Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. Both of those author's deliver interesting and satisfying reads if you like that style/genre.

The Lost City of Z, British Explorer Percy Fawcett.
2014 Partial Reading List:  
  1. The Man Who Would be King and Other Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  2. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark
  3. Sermons in a Sentence by John Bytheway
  4. The Things Which My Father Saw by Various (BYU Press)
  5. The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne
  6. The Hiram Key by Knight and Lomas
  7. The Grimoire of the Lamb by Kevin Hearne
  8. The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Keane
  9. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
  10. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
  11. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  12. Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera 1) by Jim Butcher
  13. Occult Detective Megapack
  14. Saving Yahaela by Annie Bellet
  15. Four by Veronica Roth
  16. Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith
  17. Atlantis Rising #108
  18. The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
  19. Justice Calling-The Twenty-Sided Sorceress Part 1 by Annie Bellet
  20. 50 Real American Ghost Stories by MJ Wayland
  21. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  22. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  23. The Coin from Calabria by Michael Caputo

    New Years Resolution: post more often this year on my blog!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 2014

No I didn't drop off the end of the earth, I have a new job teaching 7th graders! I am so very busy but I love it. My life is transformed, I have found my true calling. Since I have my education Master's, I finally decided to actually get my teaching license. The hospital was just too stressful for me, also I did not like the 10 hour shifts in a rather negative and draining environment.

I'm still tired when I get home at night and I spend many extra hours at home creating curriculum but somehow my stress level has gone way down, by health issues are calming down, and I can honestly say I am really happy. :)

I am teaching Honor's Science...this week we dissected cow hearts and are learning about the Circulatory System and the blood. I am also teaching three sessions of Integrated Science and one session of Art! Quite a combination, but it suits me.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Finally another post from my worn out brain...

An ice cold mountain stream.
We visited the waterfall in the canyon, a good activity for a hot summer day. At the trout pool you can feed the fish, they are pretty tame.
I feeling kindof blah tonight. I though we'd go to the movies, but the movie we wanted to see was already gone from the theater. Then I thought we'd go out to eat, like we do on many a Friday night but no, hubby had a big late lunch and was not interested. Also I am wondering just what to do with myself, I have had our 9 year old granddaughter at the house for about a month so far this summer and I have suspended most of my normal activities to cater to her as it is an awkward period for her with her Mom gone in the Army. She is with her other Grandparents this weekend, so here I sit with a few free minutes, wondering what to do with myself. Such is life, expect the unexpected. 
Outings with my granddaughter...A large butterfly made out of butterfly specimens at the Natural History Museum

I've been busily working on getting my teaching degree and have taken 4 out of the five classes needed this past year. I am working my tail off for the on-line ones. It takes hours to get all the portfolio stuff, classroom application and content, discussion and quiz done. I've been going through a creative block for all other endeavors as I concentrate on the one subject that I am taking a class for, for that period of time.
In Zoology class I learned about Cephalopods, this nautilus is an example.
My brain is worn out. My one solace is I still can manage to squeeze a bit of reading for my own enjoyment in here and there. I have discovered it is mostly escapist reading after looking over the list of what I've read tonight. I guess I need a break!
Because I have not been working as much as I used to I've been able to do a few things that I haven't done for a while, even a few get my plant light set up again and nurture a collection of cactus and succulents and a few African Violets, an old favorite of mine. Do a bit of embroidery, and make two cute blankets using some 'minky' fabric, for my two sweet granddaughters. I've never worked with 'minky' before, it's incredibly soft and cuddly. A bit on the pricey side but very nice for blankets.

In our yard we have a few of these garden snakes, they like to snack on the goldfish in our pond. Dang critters.
I have even been, gasp, organizing and doing a bit of extra cleaning. I must admit though, that reorganizing under the kitchen sink was inspired on by a leak in the water filter! Some of the organizing (and de-junking) has also been spurred on by the in-laws moving from their large home into a smaller planned community home for seniors, and all the packing and junk sorting that has been going on there.
It's wonderful to see my water lily blooming!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Family History finds...

Here's the Scoop on John Burton Pears

As is my habit lately, I like to work on Family History and indexing on Sundays. I have been gathering a flood of information about my Italian ancestors who came from Calitri, Italy, as there has been an active group of descendants of people from Calitri and they have made many records available on the internet. Let me tell you, that group is immensely helpful and it is ten times easier to check those resources than to go slogging through miles of microfilm at the downtown library after waiting over a day for them to retrieve the obscure microfilms (in Italian, mind you) from the Granite Mountain vault!
Historical Site: Martin's Cove, Wyoming
This past Sunday, I decided to take a break from Italian records and I randomly put in a search for some of my husband's relatives on the Family Search website. It was completely random, as I just scrolled through the name list on my Ancestral Quest program and picked a name out to search. Bingo! I found more information about a person whose name has been in my data base, almost from the beginning, and I had no idea what I would find. In our records we had this: "John Burton Pears, son of John Pears and Margaret Burton, born in York, England 1798, and died crossing the plains in 1856". Don't ask my why, with my curious nature, or with any one of several other relatives hunting about for clues or taking Genealogy classes at BYU, we never put two and two together about how this man died crossing the plains.
Well, for your information John Burton Pears is the (4th) Great Uncle to my husband, (and all his brothers and sisters). John was the younger brother of direct line ancestor Mary Pears (1795). (For those who are trying to figure it out in their heads, start with Sara Cecilia Smith, mother of Grandma Alice, and go back from there.)
As I have tried to find out more about this man and his life, I have discovered there is little information that exists about him personally, I guess he wasn't a journal keeper. So, if you want to learn about him and his family, try to read other information about the Martin Handcart Company, and about converts crossing the ocean from Liverpool to New Orleans in 1849. He traveled from England to New Orleans, from 2 Sept 1849 to 22 Oct 1849 on the ship James Pennell. Maybe you could even take a side trip to Devil's Gate, Wyoming, because that is where he was buried.
A Tragic Pioneer Story
Most of you reading may already know about the tragic story of these pioneers. They left Missouri in late August of 1856. They were in a hurry to start their trip west, so they hastily constructed handcarts to take with them. Many of these people were poor immigrants, (they could not afford a wagon and team), and they were converts to the LDS Church. They had left their homes in England to settle in the USA with the other saints. Leaving in late August was not the best idea, Rocky Mountain winter weather got the better of them and they were not well prepared as their handcarts only allowed limited food, supplies, and belongings to be brought with them. Their handcarts were also quickly made with green wood that did not hold up well to the rigors of the journey. They suffered physically and mentally; deprivation, starvation, freezing cold, and those horrible Wyoming winter winds that are famous for overturning semi-trucks on Route 80. About one quarter of the Martin Handcart Company paid with their lives. They were prepared to give their lives for their faith and many of them ultimately did just that. As soon as the people in SLC heard of their plight, from some other travelers, rescue parties were sent out to aid and retrieve these unlucky pioneers. If they survived, many of the party suffered from frost bite and had to have feet and toes amputated, as well as losing many of their family members and friends to exposure and sickness.
Devil's Gate, Wyoming
Recap: John Burton Pears born 10 Sept 1798, Bishop Hill, York, England- Son of John Pears and Margaret Burton (one of 8 children, the oldest son and second oldest child). Brother of Mary Pears (1795), direct line ancestor. He married Rosehannah Whitehead in England (1822). Five children are recorded for John Burton and Rosehannah in Family Tree at the Family Search website, the couples first three children died in infancy, the last two, both daughters, made it to Utah. John Burton, his wife Rosehannah, and youngest daughter, Eliza, were all part of the Martin Handcart Company. Eliza, married Nicholas Summers and lived in Uintah, Weber, Utah. Margaret (the other daughter not listed as a member of the Martin Handcart Company, married George Denton and lived in Toole, Utah.

More resources for those who are interested:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Around the World in Books

Around the World in Books

Let your imagination take you away as you travel around the world through the wonderful world of books!

North America:
The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny (Quebec)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (Savannah, Georgia)
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Prince Edward Island)
Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (Detroit, Michigan)
Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe Hill (Lakota Sioux Tribes of North America)
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Chicago, Illinois)
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed (California, Oregon, Washington State- Pacific Northwest)
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Atlanta, Georgia, Civil War)

South America:
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (an unnamed South American country)
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (Patagonia- Argentina and Chile, Andes Mountins)
Galapagos: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut (Galapagos Islands)
The Lost city of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by Davis Grann (Amazon Jungle)
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia)
The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough (Panama Canal)

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Congo)
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Ethiopia)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Belgian Congo)
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by alexander McCall Smith (Botswana)
The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley (Kenya)
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Kenya)
What is the What by Dave Eggers (Sudan/USA)
Aida by Leontyne Price (Ethiopia)
Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran (Rome/Egypt)
Nefertitti by Michelle Moran (Egypt)

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel by Jess Walter (Italian Coast/California)
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Barcelona, Spain)
Various Novels by Donna Leon Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries (many take place in Venice, Italy)
Transatlantic by Colum McCann (Newfoundland/Ireland)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (France)
God is an Englishman by R.F. Delderfield (England)
The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa (Sicily)
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (WWII Germany)
Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres (Greek Isle of Cephallonia)
The King Must Die by Mary Renault (Ancient Greece and Theseus)
The Children of Henry VIII by John Guy (England)

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler (China Sichuan Provence)
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Mariane Satrapi (Iran)
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Kabul, Afghanistan, USA)
Shogun by James Clavell (Feudal Japan)
For Fukui’s Sake: Two Years in Rural Japan by Sam Baldwin (Japan)
Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie (Imperial Russia)
Rasputin: The Untold Story by Joseph T. Fahrmann
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester (Indonesia)

Australia and Beyond
The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough (Australian Outback)
In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (Australia)
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen (Around the Globe)
Endurance: Shackelton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (Antarctica)
Come On Shore and We Will Kill You and Eat You All by Christina Thompson (New Zealand/ Maori Culture)
A Second Chance by Shayne Parkinson (New Zealand late 1800’s)