Veraby Elizabeth von Arnim

‘She had the trust in him, he felt, of a child… He was proud and touched to know it, and it warmed him through and through to see how her face lit up whenever he appeared. Vera’s face hadn’t done that’

Lucy Entwhistle’s beloved father has just died; she is twenty-two and alone in the world. Leaning against her garden gate, dazed and unhappy, she is disturbed by the slightly sweaty presence of Mr. Wemyss, also in mourning – for his wife Vera, who has died in mysterious circumstances. Before Lucy can collect herself the middle-aged Mr. Wemyss has taken charge: of the funeral arrangements, of her kind aunt Dot, but most of all of Lucy herself – body and soul.

I picked this book mainly because of the title, we have a Vera of our own! A strong headed, independent border collie mix. Nothing like the women in this book! Well, aunt Dot was somewhat strong, but ultimately not enough.

In the introduction, by Xandra Hardie, she said ‘Vera roused a furore among those in England who knew the true identity of the author, and recognized the figure to whom she (Elizabeth) had been married, upon whose personality she based Everard Wemyss.’ It was Elizabeth’s second husband, Francis Russell, whom she married after the sudden death of her first husband. My interest was piqued!

The book was well written, kept my interest even though I thoroughly disliked the characters. Lucy was so weak and Weymss was so HORRID! I really had to finish it to see Weymss get his in the end. I was sorely disappointed. I was a little surprised at aunt Dot and would have gladly run Weymss over with a bus myself if given the opportunity! So I guess the book was a success in that it stirred up strong emotions in the reader and the characters, though unlikable, made a lasting impression! I’m looking forward to reading more by von Arnim.

Museum of Appalachia

A while back a friend and I took a day trip to the Museum of Appalachia. It is a living history museum, a pioneer mountain farm village with artifacts and stories from Southern Appalachia. It was so well done! So much to look at.

It all started with one person’s collecting memorabilia of Appalachia. He acquired so much he opened a museum and it has grown. There is a large building filled with memorabilia and it is divided up by category so nicely, musical history, Indian history, military history, medical history, farming and one that I found most interesting was funerals! Then there is a large barn that has everything to do with farming and general store stuff, furniture making, gun smithing. Then there are the 30 cabins and log homes from primitive Daniel Boone type to more wealthy cabins, a little newer and maybe a general store owners or large farmers. There is even Mark Twain’s family cabin. All of these have been lovingly dismantled from various places in Appalachia and moved here to the museum. Mark Twain’s family lived in TN when he was conceived and moved to Missouri before he was born.

There were gorgeous handmade quilts!

The music section was the largest. Banjoes, fiddles, guitars, mandolins and dulcimers. Some of them homemade by the poorest of the poor just so they could make music. Wasn’t much else to do for entertainment but sit around on the porch and sing and make music together. There were banjoes made from ham tins, gourds, bedpans, cookie tins… Appalachia has a rich musical history. Lots of info on music stars from Appalachia, Radio shows, TV. Some I’ve heard of and some I haven’t

The funeral section had so much information about their burial traditions, I found it fascinating. I’ve always been a bit on the morbid side though 🙂

This amazing funeral wagon is a real treasure!38095936_Unknown38095952_Unknown38095984_Unknown

Coffins of various sizes under it. And here is an unused baby coffin and a rare metal coffin with a face hole… 38095840_Unknown38095872_Unknown 

There was info about something called an Angel Crown or Death Crown… 38095856_Unknown copy38095856_Unknown copy 2

They have Popcorn Sutton‘s, the famous moonshiner from just up the road from me, moonshine still. That’s a story 38096512_Unknownon its own! Click on the link to read about him. If you watch the video of him be ready for a very foul mouth! He was made famous on one of those reality shows about moonshiners. Of course then the ‘Feds’ came for him and charged him with tax evasion and he was going to jail so he killed himself. Shot himself sitting in his car at his property in Parrotsville. I read he had just been diagnosed with cancer too. Shortly after they legalized moonshine and you can buy it in all the tourist areas here. I’m sure its regulated and not as potent. His wife sold his name and there’s a Popcorn Sutton Moonshine brand now.

Check out the wooden sink in the slideshow above, kept outside filled with water by wooden pipes and gravity fed! I’ll never complain again!

There were peacocks all around and one hen had four babies with her! I loved the sound of them as we walked around…

sIt was a fun day and we are looking forward to more girl’s days out!



I made these amazing Greek baked meatballs for dinner last week. They are pan licking good! The sauce has cumin and cinnamon and garlic. So different. We had basmati rice and Israeli Salad with it. The guys were all impressed and said this recipe is a keeper! I got the recipe from Mediterranean Dish. I have made several recipes from her blog and we’ve never been disappointed. I’m trying to shift more and more to fresh Mediterranean food.

For Meatballs

  • 2 slice whole wheat bread (toast-size), toasted to a medium-brown (or use GlutenFree bread if you need)
  • ¼ to cup 60 ml milk or water
  • 1.5 lb/680.389 g lean ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp/2.36 g ground cumin
  • ½ tsp/1.3 g ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp/0.6 g dried oregano
  • ½ cup/17 g  chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil

For Red Sauce

  • Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup/118.294 ml dry red wine
  • 30 oz/850.486 g canned tomato sauce (that’s 2 15-oz cans of sauce)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ tsp/1.77 g ground cumin
  • ½ tsp/1.3 g cinnamon
  • ½ tsp 2 g sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

Go HERE to see how to make this amazing dish! 

Can’t wait to have company and make this for them. We had a lot of fun trying to pronounce the Greek name for these meatballs! It is an original Turkish dish, but brought to Greece and adopted as their own.

Speaking of Turkish food, a friend and I went made a trip over to Knoxville last week for a day out. We went to Trader Joe’s, my first time there! And then had lunch at The Turkish Market. A small restaurant run by a Turkish family. I had never eaten Turkish food before and it was such a treat!

Let me know if you make these meatballs and how you like them!


2529493by Penelope Lively

London 1935: A chance meeting in St. James’s Park sparks a love affair that reverberates through three generations of women and the major events of the twentieth century – from the devastation of World War II to the social revolutions of the 1960’s to a journey of self-discovery at the end of an era.

By chronicling the choices and consequences that comprise a family’s history, acclaimed author Penelope Lively offers an intimate, profoundly moving reaffirmation of the force of connection between generations.

I just discovered Penelope Lively, better late than never! I so enjoyed this novel. I love generational tales and her characters are such well written characters you get invested. I’m on a mission now to read all her books. Just ordered The Photograph from paperback swap.

We first peek into life with Lorna and Matt. Two very different backgrounds meeting on a park bench. Lorna is from a well to do family and detests everything that comes with that. She balks ever step of the way and then she meets Matt and her world changes forever. She leaves it all behind for a life with Matt, an up coming artist, a wood engraver. They start life together just before WWII in Somerset England, in a tiny farm cottage with no running water or heat. They are in love and so happy. Lorna learns to be self-sufficient and do things she never dreamed she would ever do. Matt is honing his art and becoming a known name in the field. Lorna learns she is pregnant…

‘And she was perfectly content. So be it. They had not meant this to happen, not just yet, but no matter. Already, her condition was coming to seem just another facet of this new life. She thought: a year ago I would never have dreamed that there could be Matt, that we could be here, like this, that I would feel as Ido, that I could have become a new person. And in another year everything will be different yet again. It is always like that, and always will be; you are forever standing on the brink, in a place where you cannot see ahead; there is nothing of which to be certain except what lies behind. This should be terrifying, but somehow it is not.’

Molly is born and their world just enlarges with more love. Then the impending war changes everything.

I really wanted Lorna and Matts story to go on and on, but the war changed everything and now we move into Molly’s life.

Molly was very young when her dad died. Lorna remarries, though she need gets over the loss of Matt, but dies while Molly is still young. Molly has memories of her mom and vague memories of her dad. She is strong and self-sufficient…

‘Her parents seemed to her now to be somewhere far away, as though you looked through the wrong end of a telescope. At the same time, they were constant, frozen forever in a particular instant of recollection: her father dressed as a soldier standing in a doorway, her mother in the office here in the Fulham house, her hands on the typewriter, looking up with a smile. Her mother wiping a cut on Molly’s leg with cotton wool that becomes bright with blood; her mother pinning washing on the line, and Molly hands her the pegs; her mother standing at a window, here in Fulham, and when she turns around her eyes are shining with tears.

They are locked into Molly’s childhood, her parents. They were somewhere long ago, always there, unchanging. They would never get any older, unlike Lucas, who had gray hair now, and Simon, who was hurtling from childhood into adolescence. She would see them always with her own child’s eye, these distant, immortal figures. What she felt for them was a trace of childhood emotion, which seemed to come smoking back, when their images floated into her head. She became for an instant a child again, experiencing them.

Her adult self saw them differently, as simultaneously remote but deeply personal. She saw them also with detachment, as themselves: young people who had not lived for very long. She felt a strange protectiveness toward them, as though she guarded them in her mind, affording them some kind of survival. But at the same time she knew herself to without them, entirely. To be parentless is to be in some way untethered. For Molly, it was also a recipe for determined self-sufficiency.’

Molly begins an affair with an older, wealthy man. He loves her and wants to marry her but she is not sure and says no. Ruth is born from this union.

Molly raises Ruth by herself. She has a good relationship with James, Ruth’s dad but isn’t sure what love really looks like and holds herself back from any commitments. She won’t allow James to help her much. She like her mother Lorna rejects the pampered, uppercuts life. She tries her hand a different jobs and contents herself with raising Ruth.

Ruth grows up between worlds, that of the middle class and her father’s wealthy lifestyle. She becomes a journalist, marries and has 2 children. She is fascinated with the concept of time – then and now, past, present and future. The concept of space – there, here, elsewhere. I really liked that aspect of Ruth’s character. Reading a letter to her grandmother, Lorna, from a man who was with Matt when he was killed in the war, she considers this…

So that is how it was, thinks Ruth – thinks future. So that – up to a point – is how it was, when then was now. But this evening, as she stares yet again at that careful handwriting – the writing perhaps of a man for whom language did not flow too easily – today then takes on a different complexion. She knows so much that John Marsh could not know. He is trapped within the slide of the present, his present. Ruth, in her own way, knows what will become of his – that the war will end, but not for a while, that Nazism will be routed, that a complicated new world order will emerge, with new nightmares, new Armageddons.

As she reads – the letter, the books – time is collapsed. Past and present seem torun concurrently: what happened, what is thought o have happened.

Loved the end of this book. Ruth brings it all full circle. Wonderful story

My House in Umbria

906270by William Trevor

Mrs. Emily Delahunty–a mysterious and not entirely trustworthy former madam–quietly runs a pensione in the Italian countryside and writes romance novels while she muses on her checkered past. Then one day her world is changed forever as th train she is riding in is blown up by terrorists. Taken to a local hospital to recuperate, she befriends the other survivors–an elderly English general, an American child, and a German boy–and takes them all to convalesce at her villa, with unforeseen results.

I am never disappointed with a William Trevor novel. This is a lovely story. My copy is the HBO movie version so there is a picture on the front cover of Maggie Smith as Mrs. Delahunty. I would have preferred to not have that vision in my mind as I read. I’d have liked to visualize her from the words, but having said that, I did watch the movie on Youtube yesterday and Maggie Smith did a wonderful job of portraying her! On the other hand, Quinty was such an unlovely character in the book and Timothy Spall’s portrayal in the movie was so much nicer than the visual I got from reading. They changed a few thing up in the movie to be able to get the storyline in in a set period of time I believe and they changed the end completely. But it was very good. You can watch it by clicking the link above. I’d read the book first then the movie.

Back to the novel… I really liked Mrs. Delahunty. Would have loved to go to her house in Umbria and visited with her. She had an interesting life. Such a caring heart she had even though life had been hard to her. I enjoyed watching the relationships and healing taking place between the victims of the terrorist attack on her train. And surprised and saddened by the revelation at the end. A good book and a good movie!