Sweet Peas 2018

Sweet Peas 2018

Hi, Everyone! Again, because of the holiday season, I’m keeping the blogs short-and-sweet with just a nostalgic look at some of my favorite blogs this year.

Swans 2018

Swans 2018

Hi, Everyone! Because of the holiday season, I’m keeping the blogs short-and-sweet this week and next, with just a nostalgic look at some of my favorite blogs this year. The first one, from March 12th, is all about swans. They’ve always been a favorite of mine, the romantic water-birds that they are. Who can forget the tale of the Ugly Duckling? Are swans a favorite of yours?

England

England

As I’ve mentioned before, my mother’s mother was English. She homesteaded in Canada in the early 1900s and in later years raised my mother, the youngest of five children, in Southern California. She enjoyed her garden, her roses, and her afternoon tea. She had sterling silver flatware and beautiful linens. She collected teacups. She loved ‘keeping house’ and it showed. Even the wallpaper in the guest bedroom was covered in pink roses. She was a wonderful influence in my life and may have been one of the reasons in the first part of my writing life I published Regency romances with Kensington Publishing. Whatever the various reasons for my story-creating path, it’s wonderful to arrive here today to do a blog on England.

Roses

Roses

One of my earliest memories of roses was of watching my mother and grandmother hunkered over a rose shrub as they shared cuttings. My grandmother had a beautiful rose garden right outside the window of the bedroom I would sleep in when I would visit. She always had bud vases scattered throughout her home containing either sweet peas or roses. She was full-blooded English and lived up to her heritage with her cup of tea every afternoon and her love of roses.

Scones

Scones

Have you ever had scones with clotted cream, or Devonshire cream, and jam? If you haven’t, book a flight to the UK and give yourself an incredible treat. Yes, I am saying that scones with this amazing cream and the jam of your choice ~ though usually strawberry ~ is worth a trip to Britain. My sister and I rented a cottage in Somerset a few years back and would stop at the local market just to pick up some clotted cream to have with our scones and tea. Clearly, this is still one of my favorite memories.

Chile

Chile

It’s one thing to collect a few photos and funfacts about a place like Chile, then quite another to watch a video. Somehow, seeing the people in motion, living their lives, dancing to folk tunes, eating local food changes our perceptions of a place and its traditions.  Add to that the sensational first video and this line-up will give you a new view of this very, very long South American country.

The Andes

The Andes

Boasting the largest salt desert in the world called the Uyuni Salt Flats, the driest desert in the world called the Atacama, and the famous Machu Picchu Incan ruins, The Andes are one of the world’s greatest wonders. Stretching from Venezuela in the north all the way to Chile and Argentina in the south, it is the longest continental mountain range in the world.

The Andean Condor

The Andean Condor

One of the largest flying birds in the world, the Andean condor has a wingspan of almost eleven feet. The Andean condor is a vulture with the typical bald head but with a lovely white ruff of feathers around its neck. These birds live throughout the Andes Mountain Range in South America and will nest as high as 16,000 feet. They have no known predators but have a near-extinct status. They are a majestic bird and are currently being bred in captivity to protect the species against full extinction.

Australia

Australia 

The land of vast deserts and a gazillion miles of beaches: Australia. The Great Barrier Reef. Kangaroos. Koalas and eucalyptus. The friendly Kookaburra. And the highest average wealth per capita. A strong economy. A land that grapples with periodic droughts and floods. A place that has known human settlements for 30,000 years. With the Aboriginal population numbering 2.5 percent, Australia, like the USA, is a land of immigrants.

Eucalyptus and Koalas

Eucalyptus and Koalas

I spent part of my youth in Southern California, not far from the coast. There was a lot of agriculture in this area when I was a kid and eucalyptus trees were everywhere. They were grown primarily as windbreaks to protect all kinds of orchards and farmland. The trees also shed their bark which gives them an interesting appearance, though I confess one of my favorite things to do was to peel long strips off the trunks. I can remember wondering if the trees itched and if it felt good to have the bark pulled off. I suppose that lends itself to the philosophical question, Do trees feel? I certainly don’t have an answer to that one, but it’s an intriguing question. As for the eucalyptus tree, I’m also intrigued by the fact that koalas live on a diet primarily of eucalyptus leaves. In fact, these marsupials barely need to drink water because the trees are water guzzlers themselves.