Archive for the ‘Read This!’ Category


“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”
– Helen Keller

There are times when I forget I am dragging around a foot with an injured bone – moments when I despair of lurking dark places.

But not today.

Today BigFoot-Dor is smiling.

Cindy of Mama’s Empty Nest nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

This special award is as inspirational as a warm sun-shiny day.

Thank You Cindy for the reminder to keep my face in the sun to avoid seeing shadows.

And the Sunshine Blogger rules include:

  • Thank the blogger(s) that nominated you in the post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 8-11 bloggers to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo on your post and/or in your blog.

Now here are Cindy’s questions for me with my answers in italics:

  1. Honestly now, could you live without your cell phone?  Why or why not?  I could live without it but must admit it would be sorely missed.  A few times I have driven away, forgetting the little darling and as soon as I think about it, I panic.  What if something happened?  Where would I go to call for help?
  2. If someone were to name your greatest achievement in life, what would you want to be remembered for? My kindness and contagious laughter.
  3. When you smell your favorite aroma, what does it make you think of? Hearty bread like the kind you get in Europe (or Whole Foods).
  4. What is the most vivid dream you can remember? It was a nightmare of my whole family drowning.
  5. Have you made a bucket list and if so, what is the #1 item you want to cross off? I have not made a list but I know I would include a month at a beautiful beach.
  6. What is your best personality trait and your worst? My best personality trait is my eagerness to help when anyone is in distress.  My worst trait is a tendency to worry too much.
  7. What would be your ultimate dream career? I already had that dream career travelling overseas as a kind of tour guide.
  8. You just won $10 million, what will you do with the money? I would begin to give it away to family and friends to help them fulfill their wishes and I would fulfill a few of my own
  9. Where is your favorite vacation spot and why?   I love it here for the mountain views, the wildlife and forests. It is where I am the happiest and most relaxed.
  10. Which do you prefer, reading on an e-reader or reading a book with paper pages?   A book with paper pages, but I am getting used to the e-reader too now.  I am an ambidextrous reader.
  11. Country life or urban dweller? What’s your preference and why? Country life!  I love it.  I love the quiet, the simplicity, the friendly people, the lack of traffic, the creatures, and more.

Now – Nominating cyberspace friends to be Sunshine Bloggers is the challenge of this award.

Over the years I have come to know and love more and more of you and to appreciate your wisdom, humor and talent. Also, I know many of you hate these award things and if you are one of those, consider this simply a nod of admiration and recognition from an awed and avid reader.

If you are not on the list and would like to be, please feel free to join the “team.”

But here are the fellow bloggers I think might respond – those who never fail to shed  sunlight on my days.  There are more of course – lots more.

Age Before Beauty

Andrew’s View of the Week


Emjay and Them’s Blog

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

Living and Lovin

Mehrling Muse

Musings of a Horse Mom

The Mountain Kitchen

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

And here are your questions:

  1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Do you wish you were the other and why?
  2. Are you an animal lover?  What pets do you have and love?
  3. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
  4. Have you ever had a bad habit you  broke?  What was it and how did you change it?
  5. What is your favorite place to relax?  Explain where it is and why it helps.
  6. What is your favorite movie of all time?
  7. Do you love to travel or do you hate it?  Why?
  8. Are you an organized or a disorganized person?
  9. Are you always late, early, or right on time?  Are there any advantages or disadvantages to your timing?
  10. Do you create lots of blog posts in advance of publishing or do you do one at a time?
  11. What inspires you to create a blog post?

If you did participate in this rather insightful exercise, I thank you.  If not, I thank you anyway for shedding sunlight on my days!




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Time Out

When I was a little girl running hard and playing hard

We had a universal  “shout out” signal.

We would scream,

“TIME OUT!!!!!!”.

It meant we needed to stop,

mostly to catch our breath.

Today I am calling for a TIME OUT again,

a retreat from blogging just for a while,

until I catch my breath.

Wait for me.

I shall return!

Photograph/illustration found on stilettosontheglassceiling

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Times are marching ahead more quickly than I anticipated.  I used to get down on the floor with our Golden Retrievers, Peaches and Carrie, to brush them and cuddle.  Getting up was no problem.  I still get down there to do some stretches and  look for other things to do.  Getting up is the problem.

Aging on the Floor

Source: “Anonymous.”

Thanks Nora and Kit for sending me the funny ones.

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We conducted an informal  poll at my local book club – The Blue Ridge Readers.  We have been reading and discussing books for over ten years now and lately asked the question:

 What is your favorite kind of book?

There were the Historical Novel lovers,

the Romance Seekers (aren’t we all?),

Avid Gourmet Foodies,

the Humorists,

Non-fiction Devotees,


Dor the Doomsdayer.

When I somehow stammered out the ugly truth, that I love doomsday books, there was a shocked moment of silence and twitters of nervous laughter in our normally all-accepting, socially correct gathering of serious readers.

And someone finally said, “You are the last person I would think would like that kind of reading.”

“Well, it is my contention,” I replied, “that one should not only enjoy reading, but one should try to acquire wisdom and learn something useful in the process.”  

The above haughty approach is what I meant to say but what I really said was,

“You know, I like survival stories. 

and by way of further explanation,

 “I LOVE reading about the Plague and am now engrossed in The Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, where a small English village is left nearly empty of people and the roads are overgrowing with grass for lack of use (since everybody dies of course).”

Year of Wonders

This explanation did not help much to explain the pleasures of doomsday reading to my book group.  I went on,

Great Infuenza“I really enjoyed reading The Great Influenza.  Now that’s a winner and it’s all true stuff.”

“And I loved Isaac’s Storm about the devastating 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas and the arrogance of man against nature. Did you know that most of Galveston is only ten feet above sea level? “Isaac's Storm


But then there was a hint of a giggle from the back and that ended up in all-group laughter.  And they weren’t laughing at me (at least I don’t think so).  They were laughing with me for a preoccupation with surviving encroaching tragedy.

I am also preoccupied with stocking up for a potential pandemic but there was another post about that.  Did you know they have found edible honey in Egyptian tombs?

But, finally to prove my point to my Blue Ridge Reader friends, the last book we discussed at meeting, (which everybody seemed to love)  was The Widow’s War, by Sally Gunning, a novel about a brave woman struggling to keep her home and stay afloat after her husband drowned at sea.  Her “widow’s war” was a fight for her rights to an independent life and to own property in Massachusetts in 1761.

Widow's War

The Widow’s War is a perfect survival story.

The poor widow had to make her own cheese you know.  Could I do that?  I need to find a book on how to make cheese.

And she made her own candles too.  That was fascinating even though she practically burned her house down in the process.

But you get the idea right?

There is something to be said for doomsday reading.

Or are you laughing with me like the rest of my book club?

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An Escapade in Drive-By Photography

I had a chance to practice “drive-by photography” today on a brief trip out of town.  Sometimes I avoid the interstate in favor of taking Lee Highway, which was once the main north-south connection through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  Of course, it’s named after Robert E. Lee of Civil War fame.

Bucolic Scene

Traveling along this peaceful highway is always a pleasure because in addition to bucolic farming scenes there are vestiges of the old motels, gas stations and other evidence of thriving commerce in bygone days.

Traveling a road once traveled is mind opening  as your thoughts wander among yesterday’s clues to the way we were.

And I drive slowly looking for photo ops and places where I can pull in safely to practice on the smart-phone-camera.

But, did I tell you the darned thing quit clicking (the audible sound that says you have actually snapped a photo)?  Then like magic it started clicking again.

Actually I was inadvertently hitting a “mute” button!  Sigh.

Anyway, for years I have been driving up and down Lee Highway and have noted a small walled in cemetery atop a hill just north of Lexington, Virginia.  The graveyard is unremarkable – flat and treeless, overgrown, uninviting and obviously off limits to spectators.  I never paid much attention to it, other than thinking it was probably a family burial ground.

On this day however, I decided to stop at the memorial signs just below that cemetery along Lee Highway.  And what a surprise!

Yes, it is a family cemetery.  But look who’s here!

The Father of Abdominal Surgery.

Father of Abdominal Surgery

How remarkable is that?  I was astounded at the marker and kept clicking away hoping the story would be legible enough to share.

McDowell Memorial

There is another memorial too – a tribute to a McDowell who died during a conflict between Iroquois Indians and colonial settlers in 1740!

Memorial Story

And once again I am reminded that when I slow down and take the time to stop, a hidden world emerges revealing unimaginable secrets and stories of people who contributed immeasurably to an unknown future.

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Joys of Getting Older

The government started deporting senior citizens to save on Medicare costs!

The theory is that seniors will not remember the way back!

~Author Unknown

I am not particularly good at telling jokes – or retelling them – but you should be aware that the above is a joke, just in case I’m better at it than I think.

Looking for the perfect gift for a senior citizen in your life? Or how about anyone you know over 40? I remember writing about a wonderful book I found. The story is in a previous blog post, buried among other oddities, but I feel the need to tell the tale again.

I purchased one for every friend over 40. It was not a huge investment at around $5 each, and worth the ultimate reward in smiles. The name of the book is The Joys of Getting Older, by Thomas and Cindy Senior, and it has received dozens of positive reviews.

“An inspirational look at the beauty found in the Circle of Life.” ~ The Times

“This is a straightforward, clear-cut how-to book for putting a spark (or two!) back into your life. It truly describes the magical beauty to be found in the twilight years.” ~Yule Biyung, Author and Inspirational Speaker

“This is a great book. I just wish I could get it in a large print version.”

“This book is a hoot! A joy to give if only to see the look on people’s faces when they open it.”

It is “a book that doesn’t need language to amuse.”

And on the back cover:

“Thomas and Cindy Senior are the best-selling husband-and-wife team who authored Retiring Gracefully and Senior Sex: How to Rekindle the Sizzle in Your Bedroom. Here, in the tradition of their previous books, they have collected all their best advice and share their insights into how you can lead a happy and energetic life after reaching that certain age. The Seniors are living out their dream retirement in sunny Florida, where hurricanes and theme parks provide routine stimulation in their lives.”

The Joys of Getting Older is a great find and a wonderful book of laughter to give to your over-the-hill friends and family members.

Have you already guessed the content?

Yes, the interior pages of this book are all BLANK!

P.S.  This is a real book that is available at Amazon.com and even in reputable book stores and gift shops across the country.

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I have just received a new book on nutrition.

That makes hundreds of books by different authors I have received over time.   Hope dies slowly.  And I thought this, like all the others, would end up being donated and sadly, forgotten.

But this book is different and here to stay for it finally offers secrets to finding the Fountain of Youth!

It tells the story of vegetables and fruits – not just that we should eat them (boring!), but where they started, how they have been changed with man’s manipulations (notice I did not say “woman’s”), and  what we should look for now to regain lost taste sensations and the most life-giving qualities for optimal nutrition.

I am not good at book reviews, but here is a primitive summary:

Mom never taught me that one apple can have a good side and a bad side less-than-optimal side.  Did you know that?

If one side of the apple grew up in the sun, it built a protective coloring for survival (good side).  And if the other side of that apple was covered by shade, it grew up a little pale (bad side).  Oh, go ahead and eat the whole apple, but look for an evenly colored red one next time! And the darker, the better.  I know this does not make perfect sense, so you will just have to get the book.  Review by Dor.

  • But I did learn that color is the standard for buying any almost any vegetable or fruit. Granny Smith apples are an exception because they are the most nutritious but are light green in color. Go figure!
  • Have you ever tried a dark brown tomato?  Delicious!
  • Did you know that microwaving corn on the cob is better for you than boiling?  You can microwave them right in their husks!
  • How about this:  Let chopped garlic rest for ten minutes before cooking to boost its ability to fight cancer and cardiovascular disease!
  • Ounce per ounce there is more fiber in raspberries than in bran cereals.

Oh, but I could go on.

No, I am not getting a commission for recommending it.

The real purpose of this post was to share my own fabulous Homeplace Mandarin Salad recipe with you.  This one is guaranteed to impress even the most finicky salad eater.

Book Eating on the Wild SideOh yes – the name of the book I’ve been raving about is Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing link to Optimum Health, by Jo Robinson.


Here is the recipe for:


Combine Romaine and Spinach (darkest green please!) in large bowl

Gently mix in 1 can of “Dill Green Beans” (drained) or jar of “3 Bean Salad” (drained).

Sprinkle in sunflower seeds – any amount to taste.

Then on top of the salad add sliced onion rounds (darkest red) and

 A can of drained Mandarin oranges, plus

 Some fresh dill if you have it, and

Good sized dollops of Ranch dressing. 

Serve in pretty glass salad bowl and mix at the table.

This is a real winner that gets rave reviews.

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There is something new brewing in my community.  I am excited about the idea so sharing it with you.

Have you ever heard of the ONE COMMUNITY ONE BOOK program?

Ours is offered by the public library.  Its purpose is to bring all residents of an area together to read a single book, talk about it, and participate in interesting enrichment programs and activities associated with the book.  Multiple copies will be available at our local libraries and available as an e-book as well.

Chosen for my community’s month-long program is, In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez. 

Various programs associated with this book are being offered by the library over a month-long period.

  • Prudence Bushnell, former ambassador to Guatemala and Kenya will talk on “Strategies to be Heard in Alpha Male Cultures.” 
  • Ellen Mayock, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish at Washington and Lee University will speak on “Mirabal Memories of a Dominican Dictator: Julia Alvarez’ ‘In the Time of the Butterflies.’”
  • Michael J. Gibbons, Director of Student Support at Southern Virginia University will discuss current conditions in the Dominican Republic in a presentation entitled “After the ‘Time of the Butterflies’: The Dominican Republic Today.”
  • Other presentations and events are anticipated, including some planned for outlying branches of the library.

Doesn’t this sound interesting and fraught with infinite possibilities?

I have ordered the book today!

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The sinking of the RMS Titanic, as painted by ...

The sinking of the RMS Titanic, as painted by Willy Stöwer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been fascinated by the story of the sinking of the Titanic.  Facts and fictional accounts continue to surface, along with the bits and pieces discovered via modern exploration techniques (like the recent recovery of a violin!).   Sometimes I think I have seen and read it all, but  there is always other news of  that fatal event, other findings, other interpretations, other characterizations.    The shipwreck happened in April of 1912 and of 2,200 passengers, over 1500 people perished.   The disaster is still shocking.

This new  article by Smithsonian Magazine had me glued to my computer this morning.

Are you fascinated by stories of the Titanic?

Seven Famous People Who Missed the Titanic

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The saying, “It is better to give than receive,” has definite merit, at least when I think about the best gifts I have ever given, and how much joy the giving has given back.

My blogging friend at Mamas Empty Nest just shared her story of finding the perfect gift for a beloved sister. And her post got me thinking when she said it was “…the best gift I have ever given to another person.”

In 1959 and my Mom announced she was searching for a special book, written by Grace Hegger Lewis (first wife of Sinclair Lewis) and entitled Half a Loaf.  It was published in 1931.


So began a fifteen year search (before the wonders of the internet) for Half a Loaf.   I remember we scoured book stores and inquired at every library to no avail.  I  began to think it was a mission impossible.

But Christmas of 1974 was fast approaching and I finally discovered a first edition in an antique store!

The Book

I could hardly wait until Christmas morning!  And of course, my mother’s thrill was my thrill too, and we were both grinning and delighted with each other.  In a way it was sad that our search was over but  we would find other adventures to share.   At that moment her joy was all that mattered and her surprise was more satisfying to me than anything else under the tree.


In today’s world, we can find almost anything with the touch of a few keys.

Still, out of curiosity, and even though I have Mom’s book on my shelves now, I went online to see just how fast I could find it (or any information on it) today.  I was stunned to learn it is considered a rare book and even listed as “scarce, scarce, scarce.” I could find no cover photos and no write-ups or reviews either, not even on Amazon.

The little book seems as obscure now as it was in 1959, but at least the search for it took minutes this time instead of fifteen years, and it is available from just a few sellers of rare books.


Returning to my bookshelf this morning, I retrieved the little book and turned its pages once again, so many years later.  Mom died in 1993 and she left it for me to rediscover this morning.

As I gently turned the yellowing pages, something fell out!  I thought it was a newspaper clipping but it turned out to be a crumbling dust jacket with a synopsis.   I felt tears coming at the same time as an intense joy.  Once again I was holding something my Mom had held.  She had cherished it so much she  saved the old book’s dust cover folded between its pages and until now, I never even knew it was there.

The book and its cover

The Book and Its Cover

Half a Loaf was the best gift I have ever given to another person and proof that there is definitely more joy in giving than receiving.

What is the best gift you have given to another person?

From the Dust Cover of Half a Loaf:

“This is the story of what it means to be a successful author’s wife – told by a successful author’s former wife.  Half a Loaf is romantic and realistic.  Romantic because the two chief characters were young and in love when success came to them and because they continued, almost to the end, to find adventuring on an open road of more importance than emeralds in Cartier settings.  Realistic because Mrs. Lewis reveals with piercing insight that when a woman marries an author, she marries not only the man who loves her but also the author – the author who unconsciously becomes, in their creation, the characters he is creating, and who unconsciously becomes the person his reading public has invented.”

About Sinclair Lewis:

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short story writer, and playwrite. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.  His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American society and capitalist values, as well as for their strong characterizations of modern working women.

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