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September 17, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Queen of the Prairie

QueenOfThePrairie_IMG_3035

Almost wordless: I saw this flower blooming a few weeks ago in a wetland area, but wasn’t sure what it was. After some research, I found that it is Filipendula Rubra, a native prairie plant that is now endangered in Illinois.

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September 15, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ September 15th

CardinalMailboxAutumnWelcome to Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia of To Be Continued, a place where readers share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

After several years of being on tour with different blogs as the monthly host, the Mailbox Monday Blog is now the permanent home for the meme.


 
Autumn has definitely arrived here in the Midwest with shorter days and chilly nights, but my flowers and most of the garden are hanging in there and still look good. There should be a few more weeks for my books to pose with the blooms before moving on to pumpkins and falling leaves.

Some short stories and a small art book arrived this week. Short is good as I had another busy week with little extra time for reading or writing.

New Arrivals

BooksSep15IMG_3450

Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton from Bloomsbury through Amazon Vine.
Every tattoo tells a story, whether the ink is meaningful or the result of a misguided decision made at the age of fourteen, representative of the wearer’s true self or the accidental consequence of a bender.

A Brief Moment of Weightlessness by Victoria Fish from TLC Tours.
A collection of short stories that illuminate the beauty and extraordinariness of “ordinary” lives. Each explores the human desire for connectedness and grace.

A Good Marriage by Stephen King from Simon & Schuster Audio.
Bob Anderson, Darcy’s husband of more than twenty years, is away on one of his business trips, when his unsuspecting wife looks for batteries in the garage.

How was your week?

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September 11, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlineLandline
by Rainbow Rowell
Narrated by Rebecca Lowman

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Macmillan Audio | July 2014
Format: Audio CD – 9 hours
Audio Listening Level: Easy
Rating: 4 of 5

Georgie McCool is a comedy writer for a television series. Her work always seems to take priority over her family. Days before a planned trip to visit her husband’s family for Christmas, she had to cancel for a last-minute project. Her husband, Neal, and the kids went to Denver without her. Her marriage is in trouble, and she knows it.

While visiting her mom for Christmas, Georgie uses an old landline phone in her childhood bedroom to call and say hi to Neal and kids. But something isn’t right. Neal sounds different. Somehow Georgie is talking to Neal in the past. Is this her chance to fix things? Or should she change the past, and undo all the complications of the present?

Told in the first person from Georgie’s point of view, the story alternates between the past in the 1980s, when Georgie and Neal first fell in love, and the present, with the now married Georgie and Neal and their two children. Seth, Georgie’s best friend, now co-worker, and constant thorn-in-the-side for Neal, is present in both time lines and at times complicates Georgie’s life.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style with cute, clever dialog and ’80s cultural references. Despite her all her flaws, I liked Georgie and wanted her and Neal to succeed – but not because I liked Neal. We don’t really get to know Neal – what he thinks and what he wants – we only know what Georgie tells us about him.

Part romance and part magical realism, this book should appeal to more than the YA audience it is targeted to. While it does deal with young love, overall it had a more adult feel. Ultimately, this is a story about relationships and families, with characters that felt real. The ending felt a little predictable, but we don’t get answers to all our questions. A few things are left to the reader to decide.

Audio Production
The audio was narrated by Rebecca Lowman. Characters and voices were distinct and I had no trouble remembering who was speaking. Even pacing and a pleasant tone made this an easy listen. At about nine hours, the time zipped by for me.

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Source: Review copy
© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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September 10, 2014 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Almost wordless: I usually see Goldenrod in the prairie in large numbers creating waves of bright yellow. These two plants were in the woods, and I liked the way a small shaft of morning light illuminated them.

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More Wordless Wednesday. © 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.
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September 8, 2014 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ September 8th

Sunflower-Butterfly-MailboxWelcome to Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia of To Be Continued, a place where readers share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

After several years of being on tour with different blogs as the monthly host, the Mailbox Monday Blog is now the permanent home for the meme.


 
Only one book this week but it looks quite interesting. What I would describe as literary science fiction.

New Arrivals

BooksSept8

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber from Hogarth.
Peter-devoted pastor, dedicated missionary, and loving husband to his wife, Bea-has just accepted a demanding and perilous new job. He’s to travel to a new planet, Oasis, to work for a mysterious corporation called USIC. He’s tasked with reaching out to the indigenous race, to make sure they are as peaceful as they seem.

How was your week?

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September 6, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Leaves of Three, Let it be!

Walking the nature trails is usually pleasant and uneventful. When I stay on the established routes and don’t venture off onto little paths in the woods or prairie (or worse, bushwack my own path), I’m fairly safe from biting bugs, itchy plants and poison ivy. Or so I thought. A few weeks ago I almost walked right into the largest poison ivy vine I’ve ever seen – and it was hanging over a wide, wood-chipped path on a nature trail on a well-traveled route.

Poison Ivy Vine

Poison Ivy

The plant had grown about 20 feet up on the trunk of a tree and the vine was about 2 inches thick. It looked like a branch from the tree and was hanging about four feet over the trail. The trail is visible in the bottom right corner of the photo. (click for larger view)

Poison ivy can be difficult to identify. It looks similar to other plants and it blends into the landscape. The leaves can be shiny or dull, toothed or wavy, and it can look like a shrub, a vine or a clump on the ground. So, how did I know this was poison ivy?

Close-up of Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

I’m not always positive a plant is poison ivy, but I’m always alert for its presence. If it displays any of the following, I avoid it. The plant above had all the warnings.

Identifying Poison Ivy

  • Poison ivy always has three leaves per leaflet. The leaflets are arranged in an alternate pattern. Two leaves are opposite and close together and the third leaf is on a longer stalk. Always.
  • Usually there is a notch in the leaves. They are not serrated, but can be toothed, wavy or smooth.
  • If the vine is growing up a tree, it will have air roots that will give it a hairy appearance.
  • The presence of tight clumps of white or green berries.

There are perfectly safe plants that have three leaves such as raspberry vines, but the raspberry plant has thorns and poison ivy doesn’t. Box Elder seedlings look a lot like poison ivy, so much so that I’m never sure of those and always avoid them. Boston Ivy is another plant that looks similar.

“Leaves of three, let it be” is good to remember. I have never gotten a rash from poison ivy, but I tend to err on the side of caution.

Brilliant Autumn Color

Poison Ivy Autumn Color

The plant puts on a beautiful display of color in the fall. If it wasn’t so horribly irritating to most people’s skin it would make a lovely addition to the garden.

Only humans are sensitive to poison ivy

Poison Ivy is a native North American plant. Birds and insects are attracted to the berries and flowers as a food source. Woodpeckers and Yellow-rumped Warblers (and probably robins and other fruit-eating species) eat the berries for winter nourishment. They are not sensitive to urushiol, the chemical that causes the itching in our skin.

Can you identify poison ivy?

See if you can identify the poison ivy in these photos: Is this poison ivy? I got 50 out of 55 correct.
 


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September 5, 2014 / Leslie

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, IX

RIP-XIAn Annual Event

It’s September, and that means it’s time for one of my favorite reading events, R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.

The event runs from September 1st through October 31st. There are multiple levels of peril to choose from, even a one book option for the time challenged.

There are only two simple goals for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril:

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

Reading categories to choose from are:
Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, and Supernatural — Something for everyone!

I tend to avoid challenges because I usually fail at them, plus they add a level of stress I don’t need. But RIP books are from genres I enjoy, so for me it’s become an annual event.

RIP-XI_PerilTheFirstI’m Choosing Peril the First:

Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (the very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be King or Conan Doyle, Penny or Poe, Chandler or Collins, Lovecraft or Leroux…or anyone in between.

Other challenges to choose from are Peril the Movie, Peril the Short Story and Peril the Group Read. For anyone new to R.I.P., you do not have to be a blogger to participate.

Some Book Choices

My intentions are to read four or more of the following books. This doesn’t mean that a new release or scary recommendation won’t sneak to the top of the heap.

Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson (Apocalyptic Thriller Horror)
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix (Horror)
The Three by Sarah Lotz (Horror)
The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst (Fantasy)
Personal (Jack Reacher #19) by Lee Child (Thriller)
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little (Mystery)
Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta (Thriller)

Are you joining the fun?

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© 2014 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.

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