Saturday, January 27, 2007


Tough Plants for Northern Gardens, Felder Rushing. Nashville: Cool Springs Press, 2003. large paperback, 240 pp.

Another gardening book with colorful pictures to beat away the winter doldrums up here in the frigid northeast. This one-- subtitled "Low Care, No Care, Tried and True Winners"-- is indeed a winner in its' own right. Sections include annuals, bulbs, shrubs, trees, perennials, vines, lawns, grasses. Each entry is accompanied by a picture. Info is solid and easy to read. Rushing offers tips and lists throughout.

Highly recommended.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


It's cold outside. The teevee weather folks promise us a blast of arctic air along toward the end of this week. We haven't had all that much snow. Still, it is the absence of sufficient sunlight that gets some of us down in this winter paradise that we call igloo-- I mean home. That's right. Home.

I am a huge fan of Court T.V. Husband and I are long-time "Cops" fans. We frequently break out in a rousing chorus of "Bad boys, bad boys, what'cha gonna do? What'cha gonna do when they come for you?" when we spy a trooper pulling over an errant motorist on the Thruway or elsewhere. We watch much of the He did it/She did it fare on Court T.V. also. And we supplement that with reading true crime books. We actually talk about murders and autopsies and suspects in the same vein as most couples discuss what hot band is playing at the bar this weekend.

But what really gets my heart going in cold weather is watching the dedicated lifeguards and peace officers do their daily job on Beach Patrol. I can sit in the warm comfort of my northern living room while the sights and sounds of Mission Bay or Miami fill my teevee screen and break through the winter doldrums. The men and women there deal with rescues, medical emergencies, lost kids, wreckless boaters, drunks, and more.

Highly recommended.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

BIRD-BY-BIRD GARDENING by Sally Roth 1/13/07

Bird-by-Bird Gardening, by Sally Roth. Rodale Books, 2006. Hardback, 392pp.

Yes, this book was another find during today's bookstore trip.

I got turned on to birds when I first got clean. There were a couple of co-workers who were serious birders and they took me along to Montezuma Reserve outside of Syracuse and up Cathead Mountain in the snow. Then there was my dog's best dog friend who had an old woodsman attached to her and he also was avid about the avians. I have long enjoyed the birds flocking outside my gram's kitchen window in the countryside. My current urban environ has a variety of feeders and bushes and trees and boxes which welcome cardinals, hummingbirds, house sparrows, house wrens, and others on a regular basis. Bird-by-Bird Gardening, with its' bright orange and black cover featuring an oriole, begged me to pick it up.

And this is what I found: Several chapters of introductory material concerning bird families and identifying characteristics, followed by chapters which flush out the requirements of each family. The book is easy reading, full of tips, and has some great color shots of birds.

Highly recommended for the birder who wishes to take their backyard habitats to the next level and for the gardener who wishes to add some color to the garden.

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DOWN AND DIRTY by Ellen Zachos 1/13/07

Down and Dirty: 43 Fun and Funky First-Time Projects and Activities to Get You Gardening,
by Ellen Zachos. Boston: Storey Books, 2007. Photography by Adam Mastoon. 248 pp. glossy large paperback.

Something about dreary winter days and hot chocolate and a pile of books go well together in the NorthEast. The grayness promises no relief. El Nino is blamed for sucking snow out of the weather. But here in the bookstore, ensconced in an overstuffed chair, I don't care. From the pile, I extract Down n Dirty! and I quickly fall in love.

Ellen Zachos, with the help of photographer Adam Mastoon, creates gardening adventures for those who are rank beginners. The photos are colorful. The text invites us to pick a project and get moving. The book divides itself into Basics, Projects, Adventures, and Plants; Recipes, Container Gardens, Kids and Families.

There are instructions for winter flower boxes, homemade strawberry ice cream, and forcing spring bulbs. There are gardens for the birds, gardens for kitties, and gardens for those who have no gardening space.

Highly recommended.

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Monday, January 01, 2007


The Quotable Atheist, ed. Huberman, Jack. New York: Nation Books, 2007. Paperback, 336 pps.

From the author of The Bush-Hater's Handbook and Bushit! comes this nifty volume of quotes from notable atheists such as Albert Einstein and Alice Walker and unnotables such as Susan Smith, Tammy Faye Baker, and Bono. Steve Eley hails the "Invisible pink unicorns..." Sonia Johnson admits to her favorite fantasy that " Sunday not one woman, in any country of the world, will go to church." Howard Stern says he is "...sickened by all religions."

The variety of people represented along with brief blurbs by Huberman make this book a worthy addition to any library of those who collect quotations.

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