BOOM – Ratty 3

A New Year would not be a New Year without a few resolutions. So this Chinese New Year where better to look for some thought provoking guidance than the philosopher Confucius.

He was born around 550 BC in a middle class family went on to marry, have children and progressively become more influential within local government and as a teacher.

He has touched and guided the culture not just in China but across Asia from Japan to Tibet.


One of his followers once asked him if he had to sum up his belief in one word what that would be and he answered RECIPROCITY! Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself!

He was also a firm believer in the need to find contentment.

Are you content? I’m not but I am improving and no longer constantly searching for novelty and change.

Think for just a moment about a person you know who embodies contentment.

After some reflection the person who came to my mind was someone I worked with in Switzerland. His name is Jacques and he and I are almost exactly the same age. He was always so thankful for his life for his wife and kids his work and always seemed to find joy in the simplest things. I don’t think I ever heard him say a bad word about anyone.

So what is the secret to contentment? Modesty is probably a good starting place.

A54F36C0-59E1-443D-AC7C-42176E885226A little quiet time perhaps?


Or maybe just finding more to laugh about.

Blessing # 590 – Going for Gladness 

BOOM – Ratty 2

Shirley, one of our Chinese friends, posted pics today of the banquet she had prepared for her family for the New Year. What a spread!


Aaron got his traditional red envelope as well as a big box of peach jellies but our food was a little less inviting than Shirley’s.

Dad made Chinese style spare ribs last night that were yummy and today we had good old dumplings that were very mediocre!

Aaron isn’t hard to please though and enjoys most everything provided it isn’t too spicy. That’s where good old chili oil with black bean comes in handy. It transforms the blandest bowl to the most delightful dish and turns any sleeping beasts into fire blowers!

Blessing # 589 – Loving a Dragon

BOOM – Ratty 1

90E8DB86-06FA-4945-B55A-C5E1AC951245Today we celebrate the start of the Chinese Year of the METAL RAT! 

14A68518-D517-4770-BA49-31CF161FEE19The last time this combination of the Metal element with the Rat animal occurred was in 1960 the year of my birth. Our Chinese friends always tell me when it’s your year wear red underwear because you are going to need all the luck you can get! 


A lot of water and a lot of rats have passed under the bridge since 1960. Lets see what this tough little  rodent brings! It certainly seems to be off to a shaky start with a lot of scary things going on not least the coronavirus in China itself.

The 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac are not related to stellar constellations but their cycle is linked to Jupiter’s orbital period.

It’s simply amazing that for so many thousands of years Chinese astrologist were following the movement of this planet. You gotta believe that such a huge force in our solar system must have some impact on our personality.

The Chinese don’t mince their words when it comes to pointing out your strengths and weaknesses. Metal rats for example are faithful friends but a little on the blunt side. Oh well! Say no more! Just Gong Xi Fa Cai

Blessing # 588 – Victoria’s Secret

BOOM – Book Love 12

The last dry weekend we had here was December 6. As if by clockwork when Friday rolls around it starts. Today it is doing the proverbial cats and dogs!

Wet weather’s played a part in great works of fiction. Some downpours had favorable outcomes not least the soaking of Jane Bennett that gave her the sniffles and got Mr Bingley all lovey dovey.


More often than not rain and storms have tragic implications. Thomas Hardy is quite the expert in that field don’t you think?

Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak working through that terrible tempest to cover the hay. Nothing too much for that two!

On the heart though it has to be the life of dear Fanny Robin. Imagine getting the chance to marry Sergeant Troy, climb out of poverty with the most handsome man in the world and then going to the WRONG CHURCH.

It was a wet weekend from there on in for poor Fanny even the flowers Troy placed on her grave were washed away!

She was so innocent and had loved him so deeply and don’t you suspect she knew he’d loved her too. It was a romance of epic proportions even some might say operatic.

Blessing # 587 – Labors of Love

BOOM- Book Love 11


This morning got off to a strange start.

The alarm rang and as usual so Scooby and I got up to get Aaron off to school.

Only when we opened the bedroom door Aaron was putting his shoes on and just about to leave.

The alarm had rung at 6:45 rather than 5:45. Spooky! Well not really when you work backwards. 6:45 is the Sunday setting, Monday was a holiday so no alarm and Tuesday and Wednesday I must have been awake and turned it off before it rang. Problem solved!

Next up Scooby and I headed out for his first pee. As soon as we opened the door we were hit with a super strong smell of skunk. Any of you who have encountered this know it is powerful and unmistakable. Now since it was still dark it raised concerns that the critter may still be hiding in the shadows. Should we proceed and risk a spray? We did and returned unscathed.

After our walk I went off to gym to prepay for muffins I was planning to eat on my return. Aaron had brought these home from work last night. They are gigantic and I’d checked before eating one for breakfast 440 calories in each!


So as well as ZUMBA I stuck around for steps and weights. The air was so dry and all the pounding of rubber on rubber caused so much static that it was really hair raising at least for me.

Caused a few giggles and brought back memories of elementary physics when I was regularly paired with a gold leaf electroscope to generate electricity. Did you know people with blond hair are the best conductors? That’s absolutely nothing to do with music!

Anyway all this led to the inevitability conclusion that the only thing to talk about today is the best horror book in history.

Stephen King is hard to beat when it comes to spinal shivers and the Shining is super scary.

Poor old Frankenstein is probably the horror character you feel most sorry for. It’s not really frightening though unless perhaps you read it alone in the dark. I read it surrounded by hundred of screaming kids at the local swimming pool. Dracula I don’t know. He’s on the summer list.

Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal  give you a generous gulp of the hebegebees but still my favorite is the head turning and hair raising Exorcist. That poor priest!


What is it about horror and spook that we all like? Sure gets the heart racing. Same effect as a little work out. Maybe I’ll have another muffin

Blessing # 586 – A Little Alarming

BOOM – Book Love 10


Last week nephew Krishna suggested that at some point Anne of Green Gables might feature in the Book Love Banter.

After Heidi, David Copperfield and Little Women it was one of the first novels I read and probably the first that I made an effort to go out and buy myself.

The tale of an orphan girl coming to live with an elderly brother and sister is both funny and heart warming.

The reason it is written on my heart though is not because of the book itself which is great but because of a wonderful BBC adaptation of the story and it’s sequels that ran from 1972-1974.

It ran on Sunday evenings and I can remember so well my bestie Carol and I watching it on our TV. We had a color one that many people didn’t at the time so we could see Anne’s beautiful red hair. Anne was played by Kim Braden and we loved her because she was both naughty and nice.

Carol was especially fond of her because she had more freckles than Carol! We were both in love with Gilbert Blythe 

So why did Anne of Green Gables get its well deserved mention today?

Well as Krishna husband and I were turning off the main road onto our street this afternoon I looked left a little earlier than usual. Through the leafless trees set high up on the bluff I saw something I never noticed in the ten years we’ve lived here.

Believe it or not it was an old cream colored farm house with what else but GREEN GABLES! Seek and ye shall find!

Blessing # 585 – Hidden Gems

BOOM – Book Love 9

Lunch today was an outing with girlfriends to a new Tex Mex restaurant called Chuys. It’s a chain started in Austin Texas in the 1980s but it has now expanded to more than 100 locations.

The decor is fun and the food is reasonably priced and good. The salsa was fresh and loaded with chilies perfect for me but not for the others so I ate the whole bowl. Might regret that tomorrow.

We have quite a collection of cook books and among them of course there are some on Mexican food. As we’re very partial to spicy stuff and with all the beans used too it’s a good place to look for dishes for our vegetarian friends and family.

I’m ashamed to say though that in spite of love for the food I haven’t read a single Mexican novel and only one set in Texas and that was The Ewing’s of Dallas!!!!!!

So now I feel spurred on to get started on Mexican literature and have hit on a book that sounds just up my street. Like Water for Chocolate como 
agua para chocolate.

Any other suggestions welcome

Blessing # 584 – Summer Menu

BOOM – Book Love 8

Today as we honor the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr we should maybe nibble on a little cheddar or gruyere as it’s also National Cheese Lovers Day.

We got a lovely lie in as Aaron is off school and there was a little snow overnight so everything was so bright when we surfaced.

The snow wasn’t deep but it was the sort that sparkles probably because it’s so cold the crystals remain intact.

Cheese and snow what else could come to mind but Switzerland and of course the sweet story of Heidi.


I’m pretty sure my Dad bought the book for me when I was still in primary school and I read it several times but that was so long ago. The innocence of the child and the love of the grandfather was definitely written on my heart. Would be well worth another read one of these days.


Thoughts of the lovely kind little girl playing around the alps made me feel so nostalgic for Switzerland. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world and the cheese isn’t bad either! Yet in all the years we lived there never once did we visit the area where Heidi is set. So there’s a plan that needs making with my Swiss pal Patricia!

Blessing # 583 – Girls of the Grison

BOOM- Book Love 7

Overnight the temperature plummeted and the wind picked up to a point that it turned us around when we weren’t a quarter mile from home.

Poor Scooby is desperate to get out and have some fun. He’s gazing beseechingly into my eyes but walks today will be 100 yard sprints.

All we can do is play ball and catch up on some good TV.

PBS has just started to run Sanditon a novel Jane Austen started but didn’t complete. I’d never heard of it but so far so good as stories go.

The bitter cold that’s so bad it hurts is something that you can imagine might have happened in one of the great Russian epics like Dr Shivargo or War and Peace but I haven’t read any of them so they are not written on my heart.

Instead it rekindled my love for my number one book The Good Earth. Can you imagine what it must be like to not just be freezing but starving too? How the people of China suffered during the great famines.

The courage of women like O-LAN makes you realize how very hard life must have been not so very long ago. Born a slave, sold to farmer Wang Lung to be his bride she lived it all with very few words.

Happiness and success were swiftly followed by great loss and rejection O-LAN bore it so well and will forever be a hero in my heart for her faithfulness and true love.

Blessing # 582 – Trusting Souls

BOOM- Book Love 6

Today I abandoned my Zumba pals for a good cause. Freezing rain. It is absolutely the worst thing about Ohio winters. Horrific to drive in as the rain turns to ice on contact with any surface; roads, trees, cars you name it.

As Scooby had to wait for his walk until the road thawed we got to grooming and I removed a small rabbit from his back before he escaped me.

Once the thaw came the rain became a torrent but we had to motor on. It was the first of our core team meetings for our next Kairos Weekend at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

We met for lunch as ladies do before getting down to business. All of us are such different characters you could write a book about us.

Maybe we’d be like the Little Women currently hitting the silver screen. Or would it be the ladies of Lark Rise to Candleford?

If I had to choose though we’d be the Cranford crew.


The funny, loving and somewhat eccentric Gaskell gals.

Blessing # 581 – Sisters