Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Reading Thing 2010

This is my first year participating in the Spring Reading Thing. I'm excited about it and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone in the group is reading.  I have a couple of books that I recently started; I'm really bad about starting a book and then something new comes out that grabs my attention and the other is set aside. So, now I have a stack of books I have yet to finish reading.  So, first I'd like to concentrate on finishing two particular books and then on to something new.
  • Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart - Thirty True Things You Need To Know Now                                  by Gordon Livingston, M.D.
  • Layers, by Sandy Patti
  • The Dead Guy Interviews, by Michael A. Stusser
  • The Journal Keeper, by Phyllis Theroux
  • The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar   
  • The Last Time I Saw You, by Elizabeth Berg                            
With my schedule, I think I'll be doing good to get all of those in. But, if time allows,  I'd also like to read another book by Gordon Livingston  And Never Stop Dancing, Thirty More True Things You Need To Know

Others that I am very intrigued with that I'd like to get to as soon as I can are:

Making Toast, by Roger Rosenblatt
So Much For That, by Lionel Shriver
This Year I Will, by M.J. Ryan (Although by the time I get to it, I might be thinking about Next Year I Will)

There are just so many great books out there and just not enough hours in the day.  In fact, I read a book once called, So Many Books, So Little Time, A Year of Passionate Reading, by Sara Nelson.  I really enjoyed the book; her goal was 52 books in 52 weeks.  She actually surpassed her goal and what I want to know is, what did her house look like at the end of that year.  How do you accomplish that much reading and keep up with everything else?

Well, I'll have to stick with a more realistic goal and just do what I can do.  I'm looking forward to many hours on the back porch with a good book.  If you'd like to join in on the fun, you can find more details at Callapidder Days at

**Note: The Last Time I Saw You, by Elizabeth Berg will be available on April 6, 2010
I'm looking forward to it as she is my favorite author.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stop Saying “Impossible” and Start Saying “I’m Possible!”

Stop Saying “Impossible” and Start Saying “I’m Possible!”
Do you remember the song High Hopes sung by Frank Sinatra? Okay, maybe some of you don't, if you're not a member of the baby boom generation.

Just what makes that little ant
think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
move a rubber tree plant.

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes......

That is of course the song that came to mind when I read the above post in Simple Truths today. This is a great little story that inspired me today and I wanted to pass it on.
Just click on the link above.

*Words to High Hopes by Sammy Cohn and Jimmy Van Heusen

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

The Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park, situated on the Suwannee River was built in honor of composer Stephen Foster. He is of course the author of the famous folk song, "Old Folks At Home", which is also the state song of Florida. The park includes the Stephen Foster Carillon Tower Museum, where you can view beautiful dioramas of Foster's songs, antique pianos and other instruments he used for writing and composing his music. The carillon tower houses the largest tubular bell instrument ever constructed, from which you will hear Foster's most famous tunes played in concerts throughout the day.

We enjoyed visiting the different craft shops in Craft Square, watching as pottery, beaded jewelry and quilts were being made. There was also the blacksmith's shop and an aroma therapist selling her home made candles and and scented oils. They all smelled so delicious and there were so many to choose from, floral scents, citrus, vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood, and more. There was an older gentleman selling canes he had carved from tree branches, they were beautiful. My favorite craft shop was the pottery shop, I love pottery. We spent quite a while talking with the owner as she created a quirky sculpture of a rooster, which as it turns out, I am a collector of quirky roosters. She invited us to come back some
time for a class and I would love to take her up on the offer, but it's a long way to drive for a pottery class. There is of course the gift shop which sells the work of these local artists in addition to t-shirts, hats, pictures, candies and preserves and many other items, and of course plenty of Stephen Foster memorabilia.
This is a great place to picnic; there are picnic areas throughout the park. These are some of the nicest we have seen in any of the parks we have visited. After lunch, we of course had to take a hike down one of several trails in the park and eventually made our way around to the river. One of the things you will notice about the Suwannee River is the really dark water; you may think it is polluted, but it is actually what is known as a black water river. The dark water is caused by organic acids which stain the water, thereby making it appear black.

This is a very popular area for those who enjoy canoeing and kayaking. There is a lot of beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife to enjoy while you paddle along the river. There is plenty to do and see at the Stephen Foster Culture Center. There are festivals, craft fairs, concerts and other events here throughout the year. You can see a schedule of events by going to the Florida State Parks website at

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heal Foundation - Heal Walk at Jacksonville Zoo

Help Raise Funds for a very worthy cause and help my buddy Jayson!
As many of you know, the HEAL Foundation is very near and dear to my heart. They are the only organization that I have found that actualy helps enrich the lives of children with autism in our community ...

If you're in Jax, follow the link and come out to support a great cause. Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

This is one of the most recent nature preserves opened in Jacksonville and it's a real gem. It has become one of my favorite places to walk. You can enjoy walking one of the nature trails and view plenty of wildlife. There is the Ravine Trail which loops around a large ravine and intersects with the Jones Creek Trail (my favorite), which runs along a creek that winds its way through the woods. You can stop along the way and sit on one of the benches placed near the creek and enjoy the view and listen to the sounds of the flowing stream. You can take the Lake Loop around Lake Ray, named for Councilman (now Representative) Lake Ray, who pushed for funding for the preserve. If you enjoy bird watching, there is plenty to see. During several different visits, I've spotted a great blue heron, egrets, cormorants, ducks, an anhinga, and a barred owl. There are of course many other varieties of birds such as robins, wrens, chickadees, grackles, blue jays and cardinals. If you get there early enough you could have a close encounter with opossums or maybe a raccoon; I don't know who was more startled one morning as I came upon a raccoon who quickly darted across the creek and off into the woods. There is also the Live Oak Trail, appropriately named for all the large, stately live oak trees draped in spanish moss. With spring approaching, the red buds are blooming, wild azaleas, beauty berries, atamaso lily and other types of flora will soon provide for beautiful color throughout the arboretum.

The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens can only get better as the city and volunteers continue to work towards making this a first class nature preserve, recreational and educational facility. There are plans for a butterfly and hummingbird garden, a picnic area, visitor center, amphitheater and more. You can visit their website for events and activities and check out their
master plan at

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Speaking of Winter

After finishing my last post, I found this on my facebook. So, all of my thin blooded Florida friends, let's be happy we don't have this to deal with.

Battling Winter Blues

The winter of 2010 was a very hard winter for Floridians, especially in North Florida and the panhandle area. We've had weeks of frigid temperatures, seemingly endless periods of cold, wet, gray days that have left many of us with a case of winter time blues. I myself had to fight that "funk" frequently over the past few months. For some people, it's more than just a case of the winter time blues or cabin fever; they have a more serious condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. People suffering from this disorder often fall into a deep depression during the winter months. They may even need to seek medical attention to find a way to deal with their situation. For most of us though, we muddle through and there are things we can do to keep those winter blues at bay. It may be a bit late but here are some of the things I do to try to make those gray days more bearable, I'm sure we're not quite finished with winter just yet.

  • Open up the blinds or curtains and let in as much natural light as possible.
  • Keep candles burning with pleasant scents, my favorites are apple cinnamon or vanilla
  • If you have a fireplace, use it, light a fire, there's nothing like sitting around a warm fire
  • Winter is a good time to enjoy fresh homemade soups
  • Make hot chocolate and curl up under a warm blanket with a good book
  • Get together with friends, get out of the house
  • Put on some Jimmy Buffet and dream about being in the Florida Keys where it's always warm.
  • Winter is a good time to catch up on indoor projects, cleaning out closets and drawers are biggies for me; use those dreary days to accomplish something inside so when the weather is nice, you can enjoy doing those outdoor activities.
  • Try to keep in mind, we live in Florida, our winters are shorter and we'll be enjoying spring weather very soon; we haven't had it half as bad as those who live up north trying to dig their way out of several feet of snow.

Hang in there friends, spring is coming and before you know it, summer will be here and we'll all be complaining about the heat and wishing for cooler weather.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So Many Books to Choose From

I'm really beginning to think I may need an intervention. I need to join Bookaholics Anonymous; I've developed a serious addiction and I fear I am losing control. It's not as if I don't have enough books sitting around my house that I have yet to read. I can't help myself, I love to read. One of my favorite things to do when the weather is nice is to sit out on my back porch with a good glass of iced tea and a good book. And that time of year is right around the corner. And there's the matter of that annual spring camping trip coming up in a few weeks. I'm going to need a good book to read while I'm basking in the sun by the springs. Some people are out shopping for their spring wardrobe, I'm out shopping for spring reading. I was just browsing the latest Book Page Magazine and there are several that sounded very intriguing to me. I narrowed it down to four that I feel like I just have to read.

The Journal Keeper, by Phyllis Theroux
Making Toast, by Roger Rosenblatt
So Much For That, by Lional Shriver
The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar

Of course The Great Jacksonville Book Sale is this weekend and I'll be there when the doors open.
Is there a 12 step program for me?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thoughts on Reading

I was at a bit of a loss tonight as to what today's post would be. I'm currently reading a good book on which I will be sharing my thoughts at a later date. I read a few interesting articles last night which gave me an idea or two. But, nothing really inspired me today. So, I was chatting with a friend on facebook and eventually as it often does, the topic of books came up. I of course had seen another book I want to read, my list grows ever longer. Then I remembered that this week is the 2010 NEA Read Across America. So, I hope everyone has found something good to read and for those with young children, please spend time every night reading with them.

I was browsing through a book of quotes and found some quotes on reading that I'd thought I'd share.

"If we encountered a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he read."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There is hardly any grief that an hour's reading will not dissipate." L. de Montesquieu

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body" - Richard Steele

"You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me. - Strickland Gillilan

"When we read we may not only be kings and live in palaces, but, what is far better,
we may transport ourselves to the mountains or the seashore, and visit the most beautiful parts of the earth, without fatigue, inconvenience, or expense. " -John Lubbock

"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting" - Edmund Burke

"He that loves reading has everything within his reach." -William Godwin

Quotes found in Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts, Funny Sayings, Bob Philips 1993
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -Dr. Seuss

The first books I ever learned to read were by Dr. Seuss. When I was a little girl, I lived right across the street from the public library. Every summer I would participate in the summer reading contest. The winner got their picture in the local newspaper.. One summer I won; I remember getting a free book and a big bag of tootsie pops! I still love tootsie pops, and I got my picture in the paper; I still have that paper today. Some days I would spend hours sitting at a table, or on the floor by the bookshelves reading. I remember when I wanted to check out a book about Hiroshima, the librarian thought it might be just a little advanced for me and encouraged me to make another choice, but no, I wanted that book and I read it all the way through. I've always had a love for books, my favorite subject in high school was English Literature and Composition. Maybe it was the teachers I had, who were so passionate about what they taught. We read some great books, Camelot, Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Flowers for Algernon, Pride and Prejudice and more, I still have some of those books. By the way, The Great Gatsby is when I discovered Robert Redford! When I go to a book store, I can be there for hours. I have to browse through books in nearly every genre and I have to have great self control, because I always spend more than I set out to. It's a joke in my house that if you're invited to go to the bookstore with mom you had better pack a lunch, you may be there all day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Twelve Good Things About Winter

We have had an unusually cold, wet, dreary winter here in North Florida this year, in fact the entire state has seen some very cold, occasionally record breaking temperatures this year. We are normally blessed with relatively mild winters here in Florida, so when we do have an actual cold winter, we don't like it. That couple of weeks of arctic chill we had in January were brutal and I'll add that the electric bill to follow was also brutal, OUCH! We've all done our share of complaining about the weather these last couple of months, myself included. But as I sat on couch last night, wrapped in a quilt with my dog Ziggy cuddled up next to me while I read a good book, I thought to myself, this is nice, I like this. I started thinking, there are some things I like about the cold weather.

  • Snuggling under a blanket reading a good book with your dog (or cat for some people) snuggled up next to you
  • Hot Chocolate!
  • Toasted Doughnuts
  • No mosquitos, and a lot less of the other bugs too
  • A big pot of homemade soup, my personal favorites, Chicken Noodle or Vegetable Beef with a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Being able to enjoy sitting around a fire in the outdoor fire pit while sipping hot chocolate or whatever your choice of cocktail
  • Being able to pull my sweaters out of storage, I love my sweaters
  • Hanging around the house in my big baggy sweatshirt and flannel pants
  • It's nice to get in my car and it not feel like it's 200 degrees
  • I like the fact that it's not 98 degrees outside
  • NOT SWEATING - And at my current stage of life, that's rare.
  • When spring does arrive, we're really going to appreciate the beautiful weather even more.
So fix yourself a cup of hot chocolate, wrap up in your favorite quilt, grab a good book and your favorite furry friend and hang in there for a little while longer. We'll all be complaining about the heat soon enough.

If you're a northerner reading this I know what you're thinking, we should stop whining about the cold, we don't have it nearly as bad as our friends up north. I completely agree, I watch the weather reports, see the pictures and I am very thankful to be a Floridian. I can't imagine battling the elements the folks up north have had to contend with this year.