Friday, April 25

Back to History Reading Challenge

I thought it was time to update everyone on the Back to History Reading Challenge that was issued by Shannon at Shannon's Reading Log. Yes, I've been keeping up to the challenge and read at least one book a month and often more. Here is what I've been reading.

In January, I read Candle in the Darkness and posted a review on that book. I have been reading the other books in the Refiner's Fire series.
February's Selection:
The second book in the series is Fire by Night. In this book the tragedy of the Civil War unfolds through the eyes of two young northern women. One, Julia Hoffman, has been deceived by a life of wealth. Phoebe, a former slave is running away from her true identity. Both of these young women have to cope with their problems while their country is being torn apart by war. A look at the conflicts of the Civil War, both personal and political.

March's Selection:

A Light to My Path is the third book in the series and it tells of a young slave girl who is taken into the Big House to serve as a companion for the mistresses daughter. This novel is full of heart-felt moments and the reality of a young girl who is slave to a pampered brat.

I enjoyed both of these books and being a Civil War buff, I enjoyed the historical background in which the novel was set.

April's Selection:

Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public's Health

Author: Judith Walzer Leavitt

Publisher: Beacon Press

ISBN: 0807021032

Early in the 20th century, New York City was home to thousands of immigrants. In 1904, an elite family came down with typhoid while vacationing on Oyster Island, a vacation resort for the famous and wealthy, including President Roosevelt.

Since typhoid was a disease believed to be caused by filth, squalor and unsanitary conditions, no one could figure out how a well-to-do family would get it. An investigation was begun by the New York City's Department of Health.

After some time, the Department of Health traced the typhoid back to a woman named Mary Mallon, a 37 year-old Irish woman who was a cook for the elite of New York. Apparently Mary was a carrier and though she would never actually get typhoid herself, she could and did pass it on to other people. Mary was very uncooperative and would not give samples needed for the Department of Health to determine just how she was passing on typhoid.

In 1907, Health Department officers arrested Mary and forcibly exiled her to a solitary existence in a cottage on North Brother Island. Everyone in New York was talking about Typhoid Mary, but she was determined not to give up the fight. She and her lawyer took the Department of Health to court to petition for her freedom. The judge ruled in favor of the Department of Health and Typhoid Mary was banned once again to her cottage on North Brother Island.

Eventually, Mary was allowed to return to New York to work as a laundress. Mary was admonished to stay out of the kitchen, as the typhoid germs were being passed on in the foods that she cooked. Two years later, typhoid broke out in a New York hospital. When Health Department officials visited the kitchen, they found Mary Mallon working there as a cook. Once again, Mary was exiled to a solitary existence in the cottage on North Brother Island, where she lived until her death in 1938. In all, Mary had infected 47 people - 3 of those had died.

Leavitt raises many questions in her book. Mary Mallon was a carrier of typhus bacillus, but so were many others in those days. Mary had the distinction of being the first ever carrier to be identified as such. Many men were also carriers but were never forced to live in quarantine and isolation. Was Mary's confinement due to race, gender and class?

At the time the Irish weren't exactly popular in New York. Many had come to America and ended up living in squalor. They were often blamed for spreading disease within the City. Mary was the only person ever put under isolated quarantine for being a carried of typhoid.

Disease ran rampant in New York until the streets were cleaned up by an army of sanitation workers. Leavitt does a marvelous job demonstrating the delicate balance between person freedom and public health. This book, though a little repetitious and slow at the beginning, was a great read about a time in American history that is seldom spoken of today.

I hope that you enjoyed learning about the books that I've been reading for the last few months. I've read others, many of which also had to do with history. If you want a light read, these books are not for you, but if you love history, you'll definitely enjoy any of them.

This weekend, take time to sit out on the patio and pamper yourself for a while by reading a great book. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend. ~Blessings, Mary~

Show and Tell Friday

It's time for Show and Tell Friday. If you would like to participate, drop over to Kelli's at There's No Place Like Home.

This week I'd like to show you a picture of my mother when she was a baby. Mom was born in September 1927, so this picture is approximately 80 years old. It is still in its original frame and it is in excellent condition. Wasn't Mom an adorable baby? This picture and frame is very precious to me. I will, of course, be passing it down to my daughter and then, since she doesn't have any girls, it will go to the oldest son, which is Brandon. It is a real family heirloom. See the detail on the frame. This is from the days when things were made well. It has been handled with loving care since the day it arrived at my grandparent's home.

A few weeks ago, I posted about my rooster that sits on my porch railing during the spring, summer and fall. Hubby was to take it to the basement last fall and he told me he hadn't done that. The rooster was no where to be seen, so I figured either he had taken it to the basement and forgotten, or the rooster had found a new home. Aha! Just as I suspected. When I went to the basement and checked, there was the rooster sitting on a shelf, right where hubby said he hadn't put it. LOL So, Monsieur Rooster is safe and will be sitting on my porch railing sometime soon.

In other news DH did see the specialist today. He is sending him for blood work and other tests. However, he did do one thing that made me rather upset. I have been pressuring DH to have a prostrate test for some time. The specialist told him it wasn't necessary. Grrr! Any man over 50 years should be having prostrate tests. Maybe he just wants him to wait until the other tests are done but my reasoning says, get them all done at once. Sometimes I just don't understand doctors. What was he thinking? Or maybe I'm just over-reacting. However, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers. As soon as we have any word on the results of the tests, I'll be sure to let you know. Your prayers are much appreciated. Have a wonderful weekend and remember to do a random act of kindness when the opportunity arises. ~Blessings, Mary~

Today is also the day for Friday Flea Market. Be sure to visit Mary's Vintage Flea Market to browse through all my bargains this week.

Thursday, April 24


I finally got out into the garden for a bit today. Because of my hip and spinal injury, I can't do a lot at one time, but did get some of the debris out of my side garden. I knew it had to be done when I saw the tulips had bloomed. Yesterday they just had buds on them and today they are alive with color. I tried to take a photo, but my camera batteries had died once again. I recharged them and am hoping they keep their charge long enough for me to take photos tomorrow. I will then post them for Green Thumb Sunday.

My one lonely hyacinth bloom is spent. It was a lovely purple one. I had others, but suspect the squirrels feasted on them during our harsh winter. I don't have as many tulips as I did either and suspect they went the same way.

So, in honor of my tulip blooms, I found the graphic above on a public domain site and added the phrase to it so I could give it out to all my blogging friends. If you are reading this, please feel free to take a copy. You can share it with others if you wish. My blogging friends are certainly the blooms in the garden of life and I appreciate each one of you.

Please keep my hubby in your prayers. He has to see a specialist tomorrow morning. I do not have much confidence in this particular doctor and would like you to pray that he uses wisdom. If I am not happy with his diagnosis and treatment of hubby's condition, I am going back to the family doctor and asking him to refer him to the doctor that hubby saw two years ago for a similar but slightly different problem. I'm not sure why doctors refer you to someone different each time, but I like to see doctors in whom I have confidence. I don't hesitate to ask for a referral for a second opinion.
We were to have rain today, but it passed us by. We could have used an April Shower. The water levels have pretty much returned to normal and the gardens are begging for a drink. I thought first thing this morning that we would have rain. The sky was overcast until about noon and then the sun began to shine. It was a lovely day but this evening it turned much cooler. We are to have nice temperatures for a few days and then next week it is to get cool again. I'm hoping for some spring weather instead of it going directly from winter to summer. We just got rid of the heat bills and if it continues being so warm, I will have to turn on the air conditioner. I'd rather have a month or so without those bills. We need a break!

Not much other news from here. Brandon is back to school and his migraine is gone. Jordan is going back tomorrow. They will have some catching up to do.

Remember to pamper yourself a little. Spring is the time to get a little exercise and enjoy a walk in the park or forest where you can witness all of the rebirth that's taking place. ~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, April 22

A Wonderful Online Country Community

Are you a country person who loves to learn about the country lifestyle. If so, you will love this website. It doesn't cost anything to join the community and you will be a part of the largest small town in the world. And you just might read something that yours truly has written while you're exploring the site. has something for everyone. It features nine magazines , video webinars, a jukebox and a variety of other interesting things for those who love the country lifestyle.

Magazines include:
Country Recreation
Green Thumb Gardener
Country Home
Country Kitchen
The Plane Truth
Country Creations
Angler's Inn
Hunter's Lodge
Horse Tales

In each of the magazines, there are four categories. Read about cycling, hiking or travel in Country Recreation. If gardening is your hobby, you will want to explore Vegetables and Herbs, Organic, Flowers and Landscaping. For those who are undertaking home renovations or redecorating projects, there is loads of information at Country Home. Learn about Remodeling and Repair, Furniture and Accents and Antiques and Art.

Country Kitchen gives tips and hints on Canning and Preserving, Heart Healthy, Outdoor Cooking, Cookbook Corner and Sweet Things. Pick up some recipes in this section and make a tasty new dish or two for your family.

The Plane Truth gives instruction for Projects, tips on Tools and Equipment and Finishing. Shop Talk always has interesting articles heaped full of tips to make do-it-yourself fun and easy. Country Creations includes Needlework, Ceramics and Pottery, Craft Projects and Candle and Soapmaking. This is a great place to learn how to decorate your home with things you have made yourself.

If you love fishing, drop by Angler's Inn to learn about fishing techniques, bait and more. Categories include Bass Fishing, Panfish, Walleye Pike and Muskie, Trout and Salmon and Catfish. Whether you're interested in tips on stink bait or the correct tools for the job, you will find it here.

Hunters will love exploring Hunter's Lodge where they can read about Deer, Big Game, Waterfowl and Upland Game. Learn how to create a Pheasant Food Plot, read about Hunting Canadian Geese or Calling in a Tom. These articles change frequently so I won't link to them, but there are always hints and tips in this section.

Horse Tales teaches horse lovers about Tack, Training, Trails and Arenas and Horse Sense. These articles allow the equine owner to better know his/her horse and they're always both interesting and informative.

Visit the Haystack for daily comics, crosswords and jigsaws. Play a game right on the site if you wish or join a club through the Clubhouse. Visit the Community Calendar to search for events taking place in your area or in areas where you'll be traveling.

The Trade Association Center will keep you up-to-date on new products, services and events across the US. If you represent a Trade Association, eCountryLifestyle has great ideas on how to enhance your public image. Just follow the link on the site.

Visit the Community Library to access the archives of all nine magazines and the subcategories. There is a wide variety of reading material available.

The Video Center offers webinars on a variety of subjects to keep you informed and "in the know." Another option is to browse photos in Moments in Time. There is lots of eye candy there for your to enjoy and you are able to choose the season you wish to view or even fun photos. You might even find something that I've submitted in this area. has something that you will most certainly enjoy if you are interested in any of the above subjects. Drop by and register as a Resident in order to take advantage of all the available options. I know you enjoy being a member of this country community.

Banner used with permission of

Earth Day 2008

Tuesday April 22, 2008 is International Earth Day. In honor of the occasion Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty will introduce legislation to place in motion a province wide ban on pesticides. During last fall's election campaign, McGuinty made this promise to the people of Ontario and it seems that it's one that he is going to keep.

The pesticide ban will be for cosmetic use. In other words no pesticides can be used on lawns or gardens that are privately owned by an individual, but Ontario farmers will be allowed to use pesticides on crops. There has been no indication so far whether or not golf courses will be allowed to use pesticides.

McGuinty and the Liberals have been under intensive lobbying from health care professionals and environmental activists to ban pesticides for some time now. Other organizations that have pressed for a pesticide ban include the Ontario Medical Association, Environmental Defence, the Canadian Cancer Society and the David Suzuki Foundation.

Long-term exposure to pesticides can cause learning disabilities in children and can be devastating to pregnant women according to the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.

I am in favor of this ban. I believe that pesticides are damaging our environment. I would, if I had my way, go a step further and ban all pesticide use. I would rather cut a worm out of an apple than ingest the chemicals that are sprayed on them each year in the spring. I was brought up a farm girl and nothing was wasted. We picked up winfalls in the orchard and cut out the bruises in the fruit before preserving it to eat during the winter. However, mankind is his own worst enemy and has been flooding the earth with pesticides for so long that insects and disease have become superbugs. I am not sure if natural deterrants are feasible at this point. It may be a case of too little, too late.

That being said, I grew up during the 50s and early 60s when it was common for farmers to spray their crops with DDT, a deadly pesticide that was banned years ago. Grandpa sprayed the fields and the next day my brother and I would be running through them or digging in the ground looking for arrowheads.

Life is much different today than when I was young. DDT, asbestos, fibre glass and lead paint were all used while I was growing up. I'm glad that today's children do not have to breathe in these toxins any longer. I'm sure there are many of you who grew up in the same area. High incidents of cancer are found in Baby Boomers who were exposed to these toxins. Let's hope McGuinty's ban on pesticides will allow our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have fresh, clean air to breathe in the future.
My mother and I were invited to my niece's home today for lunch, which I thought was very nice. She called me the other day and asked me, saying she would like me to come for a visit and meet Evan. Yes! I didn't hesitate to except. Evan is seven weeks old now and I was so glad to be invited to meet him.

Mom was already there when I arrived and she was holding Evan. I had brought my camera along and got the above shot of the two of them. They is a difference of 81.5 years between them. This is her newest great-grandson.

Lunch was delicious. Sherry and her sister Shelley had made potato soup, along with tuna salad on croissants. It was all homemade and such a treat. Dessert was a strawberry/rhubarb cobbler with a twist. Though Sherry seldom uses canned food, she had used frozen strawberry/rhubarb pie filling, placed it in a baking dish, added a layer of canned custard and then sprinkled granola over the top. There was very little sugar in the dish, so it was one that I could have. It was a little tart, but oh, so delicious.

While we ate, Sherry put Evan upstairs where his father was doing some work on the computer. Evan's father, Rob, has his own contracting business, so was home doing some book work. Evan was quiet and when we had finished eating, Sherry went and got him. She is breast feeding, but fed him breast milk out of a bottle because she didn't want to breast feed with company present. Evan drank his milk and seemed content while we visited, but soon let Mom know that he was still hungry.

We had a great time and caught up on all the latest family doin's. With my family there is always something going on.

In other news, Brandon and Jordan are still feeling a bit under the weather. Jordan is having a difficult time and if he's not better in the morning he's going to have to go to a doctor. Michelle doesn't like taking him and would rather he got better on his own, but she also knows that this has gone on far too long. Brandon still has a migraine, which is something he gets spring and fall. This will last from 3 to 5 days. When I went to watch them this afternoon for Michelle to go to work, they were both being quiet as mice. (Are mice quiet?) I could tell they weren't feeling themselves, as usually they are busy discussing all kinds of kid things. I'll keep you updated on this situation.

That's about all the news from my corner of the country today. I hope you are all enjoying nice spring weather. Be sure to take time out of your busy schedule to stop and smell the roses. This is the perfect day for it. Please be sure to leave a comment and let me know of anything that you are doing for Earth Day. ~Blessings, Mary~

Sunday, April 20

What a Weekend!

If you read yesterday's post, you will know that the boys came to stay overnight. I forgot to mention that their parents were going away to celebrate their wedding, as they couldn't go last month because Michelle was still healing from her surgery. Anyway... Jordan became ill shortly after he arrived and we had to postpone the gardening we had planned. I got him settled down and about 10pm, he began feeling ill again. It took me to 3am to get him settled, but finally he fell asleep. We were both exhausted. The boys were up when I got up at 7:30am.

Jordan still wasn't feeling good and to top off the visit, Brandon had a migraine. He gets these twice a year, spring and fall. His right eye became very red and runny and he laid around with a cold cloth over his eyes to keep the light out. The boys were both very quiet today and the gardening is still not done. Their parents picked them up at 4pm and they went off home.

This afternoon the boys were resting and I decided to visit a few blogging friends. Jordan came into the computer room while I was visiting Hootin' Anni. He wanted to know what the pretty flowers were and I told him gardenias. Then he spied Anni's garden gnomes. Now Jordan loves garden ornaments and right away his demeanor brightened. He asked me if he could leave Anni a note and I told him yes. He wrote:

This is Jordan, Mary's grandson and I'm going to come to your house and get your elves because they would look great in my garden. LOL Nice to meet you. Jordan.

Anni took this all in great fun and replied to Jordan in my comments. He was ecstatic to think that my friend would actually leave him a message. Thanks, Anni, you sure brightened up this little guy's weekend. Jordan also asked me to thank everyone who commented on his not feeling well. He was quite surprised at all the attention.

Anni also told about the shirt that was planted in the foundation of the new Yankee Stadium by a Boston Red Sox fan. The shirt is on ebay and still has cement on it. I looked it up and told the boys the story and they came to see. At the time the high bid was $67,000 dollars and it will all be donated to charity. As it stands right now, it's $69,500. See the auction HERE.

Last night when Meeko and I took our final walk of the day, the moon had colored rings around it and then color jutted out underneath it, making it look like it was sitting on a sunset. I had seen rings around the moon, which are caused by ice particles in the upper atmosphere, but had never seen the effect that was beneath it. I Goog*led moonbow, but that wasn't it and I kept searching until I found what I was looking for. The ring around the moon is an indication that there is a storm coming - either rain or snow. (I hope it isn't snow.) The effect that was under the moon is called a moon dog, related to a sun dog. It was a very interesting night sky last night and I really wanted to share it.
Friday afternoon, Meeko and I took a walk along the canal that runs through the park across the street. As we walked, this is what we saw.
First the canal itself and then we approached a little foot bridge that has a wooden floor and metal sides. This area is very pretty in the summer when everything is green.
The foot bridge is used for taking a short cut across the canal. People that live in this area often walk this way to go to the grocery store that is about two city blocks away.
This area is on the southeast side of the foot bridge. This is where Meeko and I often see red-winged blackbirds, finches and other bird species. Further to the east is where the blue heron comes for breakfast. Pileated woodpeckers, squirrels, garter snakes, groundhogs, raccons, kingfishers and other bird and animal species call that area home. I'm rather avoiding it right now because the garter snakes are basking in the sun after a long winter of hibernation. I am not afraid of snakes but dislike them intensley, so stay on this side of the path. Later in the summer the snakes will make themselves less visible and that is when I will visit there. Meeko likes chasing and catching snakes and last year was bitten. You'd think he'd learn.
That's about all the news from here for now. It was quite a weekend and though I would have enjoyed gardening with the boys, it just wasn't to be. Take care everyone and remember to do a random act of kindness. Everyone needs to feel that they are special. ~Blessings, Mary~

Gardening and An Award

The boys came over about 4 pm on Saturday to stay overnight. We had planned to do some gardening and I'd planned on taking photos to share. However, shortly after they arrived, Jordan became ill. So no gardening was done and no photos were taken. Plans can change in an instant when kids get sick. He is feeling a little better now that Grandma has doctored him up and possibly we will get to some gardening on Sunday.

Instead of gardening, we had supper (all of us but Jordan, he only ate a couple of bites) and then we watched Ratatouille on TV. It is the story of a rat who dreams of being a chef. I had taken the boys to the movie theater to see this when it came out, but we all enjoyed watching it for a second time. If you haven't seen it, be sure to take time to watch it. It is a delightful tale and your children and grandchildren will love it. Virginia at Small Reflections and Sacred Ruminations gave out this award to all who commented on her blog. I would like to pass this on to all of you who comment on my posts on a regular basis and to those who are commenting on today's post. Enjoy! And remember to pass it on to others.

It was a beautiful day here on Saturday and it was nice to get out into the Great Outdoors. The robins were calling for rain but according to the weatherman we are not to have rain until Wednesday.

Have a lovely Sunday everyone and enjoy the fresh air. Take a walk or relax on the patio. We all need downtime and it's a great time of year to take advantage of the nice weather. I'm hoping that I have photos to post for tomorrow.~Blessings, Mary~