Monday, May 2, 2016

Amy Snow

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

     When eight year old heiress Aurelia Vennaway discovers a newborn infant girl in a snow bank, she takes her home, names her Amy Snow and changes everything. The two girls grow up together as best friends, much to the disapproval of Aurelia’s parents, who see Amy as nothing.  She is a child with no name, no background, no lineage and so not worthy to be in their home, much less as a friend and companion to Aurelia.
     Aurelia is a reluctant heiress who goes against her parents’ plans for her at every turn.  It is only because of her that Amy is educated and has a home in the Venneway house. When Aurelia dies at an early age Amy is sent from the house with only her one valise of belongings and the letters Aurelia sent to her. 
     It is through one of these letters that Aurelia sets  Amy on a mysterious treasure hunt through England.  The first letter directs Amy to a family who take her in, help her grieve, give her their friendship and after a time give her another letter and send her on the way to the next person.               
      Through these letters, Aurelia lives on for Amy and Aurelia saves  Amy’s  life a second time, the first in scooping her out of the snow  as an infant and now  in giving her in each place what she never had in her life.  Amy  is given acceptance, love, kindness, friendship, social skills, even new clothes, but most importantly to Aurelia, she is giving Amy choices.  She discovers the world is not made up of people like the Vennaways.  As she moves closer and closer with each letter and clue Amy moves closer and closer to being Amy.
     Set in 1840s Victorian England, this story is a complete package for anyone. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016


It's tulip time here.  This morning PH and I went to Holland, Michigan to see what we could see a week before the tulip festival begins.  The city plants millions of tulips and the festival is the highlight of the year for springtime in Holland and it just gets bigger and bigger.  But if you don't want to jostle crowds, drive in circles looking for parking or have someone always in your photo, you go early.  The tulips are blooming now.  

I gave PH the iPad to use and I carried two cameras.  We opted to just wander around the city park rather than go to Windmill Island.  A tulip is a tulip, right?  And we were just looking for a few photos.  The weather was overcast and by the time we left the city it was raining so there are is no shadow play in the photos.  New to this, PH had fun using the iPad! 
  We found ourselves on opposite sides of the same bed of flowers and took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


OK, it's a cop out, I know, but I'm a little exhausted from having to think of a blog everyday and even more exhausted coming up with a topic beginning with a certain letter.  Sometimes it was easy, sometimes it was so easy I worked ahead and scheduled the post.  Sometimes on the day before a due post I sat here sucking my thumb and humming to myself.  Sometimes I reached out to Susan in Australia and said, "I'm done losing sleep...your turn!" and she would send along some ideas that got my mind going again. Sometimes I reached out to Friend Laurie and asked if she was going crazy, too. And she was because she teaches full time and has many other things on her mind and demanding her time, but this thing was all her fault, she got me into it.  All in all, I can work at a frenetic pace for just so long and am really not good at all at being told I have to do something. So, can I say that I have finished the task or is this considered running the marathon but calling a taxi for the last mile?
All in all, it was a mind stretching activity that took me down paths I might not have thought about as blog posts. I received encouraging feedback on posts that were thought filled. So, I am declaring myself finished three days early, I'm taking the taxi for the last mile, and hope if you are new to my blog you'll come back again sometime.  In the meantime, here's a zebra of a different stripe to ponder.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Day of Wonder

Wonder was what I felt all day at the girls' school the other day.  The third grades had Market Day, a day devoted to a real life lesson in economics.  Each third grader ( 8-9 years old) researched a product or service to produce themselves and sell on this day.  They worked up a plan, they made their product or offered a service, and offered it for sale to the entire student body in 2 hours. The kids made posters advertising their product, made flyers to hang up around the school alerting the student body to their product,  decorated their booth and talked up their product or service.  There was a lot of parent help and even some grandmas.

There was everything from popcorn, brownies, minion rice krispy treats, grab bags, necklaces and bracelets, bookmarks, lemonade, stress balls, chocolate covered pretzels, puddings, silly putty, cookies, magnets, felt purses and pins, lip balm, one boy was giving guitar lessons, you could take a turn at a  game of chance,  there were even a couple of baby goats to pet (for a price!) As the kids made a sale they put a tally mark on their 'sales sheet.'

 I was astounded at the variety of  goods offered and all for sale at increments of 25 cents.  This made the money changing much easier.  Three of us were money changers and we were busy!  The customers came with any amount from $1 to $20 to spend and they needed quarters to do that.  You can see at the lower left of this first picture our money table.  All monies earned from this day were to be donated to a charity the classroom supports.  I was astounded at the amount at the end of the day!

Elizabeth's teacher started this endeavor a few years ago in the classroom using play money but it soon grew to something all third graders could and should take part in and now it's something the whole school looks forward to.  She puts an enormous amount of work into this day, and a sleepless night of worry the night before.  But you sure couldn't tell that by watching the day unfold.  It was seamless.

 Elizabeth is a tactile, detail oriented person and she made animals of clay.  She made 30 and sold 20 so that's not a bad showing!  I bought that cute little bumble bee sitting on the table on the left.  It's sitting on my computer screen right now.   A nice little reminder of a day of Wonder.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


As I wondered about a word for 'V' day I realized one of the biggest 'V' words out there is Volunteer. 

When I worked in a school I realized how essential volunteers are in that environment.  We had volunteers who would come in and help with anything.  One of them wrote a cute poem about that and at the end of year volunteer appreciation lunch he read it and one line struck all of us...."If you walk into a school and ask if you can do anything for them...Watch Out!!"  The volunteers I had helping me in the library were a life saver for me. I still keep in touch with a couple of them.  I had one grandma who came in and shelved books for years. When I left, so did she.  I took that for a compliment.

Look around you. Who do you think cleans and decorates your churches for holidays?  Who gives you a cookie and juice at the blood bank or wheels you to your car after a hospital stay or brings in a comforting pet or books?  Who keeps your relative in a nursing home engaged?  Who is at the Veteran Hospitals talking to our veterans, walking them, taking them to doctor appointments, out for a stroll in a park?  Who are the Friends of the Library or companions at the Senior Centers.  Who rocks the babies at the hospitals or reads to the children or walks them down the corridors or makes quilts and knits hats for the neo-natal darlings?

Who keeps the hiking paths clear and who picks up trash along the highways and who works tirelessly to organize and establish new parks and then maintains the pathways?  Who paints the playground equipment at your child's school and plants flowers near the front door and maybe builds benches for the children to sit on?

Who writes the newsletters?  Who helps out at the Salvation Army or Goodwill stores?  Who are your docents at the museums and botanical gardens?  Who teaches your children during their day camps? Who teaches your children during Sunday school? Who coaches your child's ball team? Who organizes your child's ball team?  Who is your child's Scout leader or 4-H leader?

I am quite sure there are hundreds more examples because  there isn't a segment of our society that isn't organized, run or manned by a volunteer, people who do for the love of doing and for the love of others. They couldn't do these massive tasks without loving it and the people they serve.  I recently met a woman who, when she retired, said she was not going to learn how to drink coffee or play cards.  She started a historical society for her tiny village and in her zeal for the village and its history found other like minded people.  They eventually even bought a building to house their village's story.

If we didn't have volunteers we couldn't afford to live the lives we have. No organization could afford to pay the many someones who do what needs to be done.  These jobs are done from the kindness of many hearts and cannot be bought.  Our quality of life would not be what it is.  So, next time you see someone walking along the highway, bending over to pick up a piece of paper or you see a notice in your church bulletin asking for help cleaning the church for Christmas or Easter, or a notice in the local newspaper from an organization asking for help, remember someone is going to do that job.  It might as well be you.