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The Slow Natives


  • Author: Thea Astley  (1925-2004)
  • Title: The Slow Natives
  • Published: 1965
  • Genre: social satire
  • Setting: Condamine  (Queensland Australia)
  • Toneempathetic  as Astely examines the lives…so recognizable to her
  • Publication success:  this book won the Miles Franklin Award 1965 and
  • gained Astely  her well-deserved audience in the U.S.
  • It was her to be her breakthrough…novel.



  1. I choose the image of a family of elephants to represent
  2. the central characters, the Leversons, in this book.
  3. …Bernard, Iris and their son Keith.
  4. Astely revealed how she came across the title of the book.
  5. It is based on a joke she heard:
  6. What’s the black stuff between the elephant’s toes?
  7. Slow natives. (pg 160, Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather)



  1. A suburban couple, Iris and Bernard, 
  2. …have drifted into the shallows of middle-aged boredom.
  3. Their fourteen-year-old son, Keith  is a stranger.
  4. The boy slips into petty theft…shoplifting.
  5. This is a portrait of the surface of ordinary life
  6. …but underneath emotions are rising.
  7. Astley alternates chapters about Iris, Bernard and Keith with
  8. Father Lingard and Sister Matthew.
  9. They are doubting their religious vocations.
  10. Miss Trumper and Miss Paradise .
  11. Spinsters now in their fifties…life has passed them by.


Book and Astley’s life:

  1. Astley has used many aspects of 
  2. her family, unstable marriage and life-long struggle with Catholicism.
  3. Sister Matthew –  psychologically unhinged nun –  Astley’s  Catholic convent education
  4. If you have ever been taught by those self-effacing Catholic nuns
  5. you will appreciate Astley’s imagery.
  6. This brings back memories:
  7. Favorite Quote:  (Sister Matthew with pupil Eva)
  8. “… gently touching her arm with a force that was not at all physical,
  9. but held the compulsion that brings mountains to Mahomet.” (pg 52)


  1. Father Lingard  – sexually starved spinster priest = Astley’s  brother Phil who was a priest
  2. Astley felt the church was stealing his time….stealing his life.
  3. The Leversons are based on her own family =  husband Jack and son Ed
  4. Bernard Leverson is a piano teacher =  based on Astely’s music teacher A. Sharman
  5. Keith LeversonAstley’s rebellious son  =  Ed
  6. Iris Leverson  = Thea Astley’s own self-absorbed personality



  1. Keith: desperate need for a father’s firm hand
  2. Bernard: finally becomes emotionally engaged with son
  3. …while the boy is unconscious in hospital….he is almost too late.
  4. Iris: ‘one-liner’s, her smart-arsed cracks
  5. …relieved the tension in the marriagebut not for long.
  6. Poor Iris.her adultery had not been a success.
  7. Husband Bernard did not care and the other one (Gerald) was not tortured.
  8. Favorite quote:
  9. “Let someone, anyone, love me, she prayed, burning the toast.”
  10. Thea Astley is in top-form ….social satire about Condamine Australia!



  1. I did not think Astley’s writing could get any better.
  2. It does!
  3. After reading Girl With a Monkey (1958), Descant for Gossips (1960)
  4. and The Well Dressed Explorer (1962)
  5. this is the best book so far!
  6. It won the Miles Franklin Award 1965.
  7. Astely was asked what is the most difficult part of writing?
  8. She said writing dialogue that does not sound trivial.
  9. This book is filled with clever… eggshell brittle dialogue
  10. …with dazzling metaphors, dense prose.
  11. Strong point: Astley’s skill in constructing the perfect image with
  12. an action verb that ties it all up into a neat powerful package!
  13. Example:  …lollipop umbrella’s had their color sucked from them by the sun.
  14. Example: …along the drooping eyelids the blood pulsed lavender.
  15. This is a gem!


Read  #Thea Astley:   here is a list of her  books….I plan to read all of them!

  1. Girl with a Monkey (1958) – READ
  2. A Descant for Gossips (1960) – READ
  3. The Well Dressed Explorer (1962) – READ
  4. The Slow Natives (1965) – READ  (breakthrough novel…..Miles Franklin Award 1965)
  5. A Boat Load of Home Folk (1968)
  6. The Acolyte (1972) (This was Thea Astley’s favorite book)
  7. A Kindness Cup (1974)
  8. An Item from the Late News (1982)
  9. Beachmasters (1985)
  10. It’s Raining in Mango (1987)
  11. Reaching Tin River (1990)
  12. Vanishing Points (1992)
  13. Coda (1994)
  14. The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow (1996)
  15. Drylands (1999)

Common Sense



What is Common Sense?

  1. The pamphlet came into circulation in January 1776
  2. ….after the Revolution had started.
  3. Common Sense spurred most states, cities, towns and counties to write
  4. …their own Declarations in the spring of 1776.
  5. Common Sense  is regarded as one of the founding documents of the United States.
  6. Thomas Paine became one of the most celebrated patriot writers in US history.



  1. I wanted to continue  reading the histories list.
  2. An audio book is the best option to  ‘read’ Thomas Paine’s  Common Sense.
  3. This book is not easy listening at the beginning
  4. .but gets better!
  5. Paine’s style is of his day and age and seems strange to the  21st C  reader.
  6. I listened and tried to find the ‘essence’ of Paine’s message.
  7. That means letting many curlicue phrases drift from ear to ear
  8. but drawing out the essence of the book.
  9. Paine begins his book with  the need for government, the farce that is monarchy,
  10. the folly of heredity right  and the  deplorable English Constitution.
  11. These chapters were good but not great.
  12. I was glad to discover Paine shines in the next selections.
  13. Paine’s thoughts on the American situation are excellent!
  14. Paine emphasizes that he writes only…
  15. plains facts, arguments and common sense.
  16. While reading I wondered if we could use more to this in the
  17. …present US administration and less fake news.



Oedipus Rex

  1. Conflict:  truth vs ignorance
  2. Oedipus insists on knowing the truth.
  3. Jocasta, the priest, Creon, and Tiresias try desperately to hide the truth
  4. Timeline: 1 day
  5. Setting:   Thebes is the  city in which all events take place.
  6. Structure: the play is a series speeches
  7. (priest, Oepidus (several) Tiresias, Creon, Jocasta and 2nd messenger)
  8. mingled with several series of ‘fast paced dialogue between actors.
  9. Oepidus with Creon – Tiresias (prophet) – Jocasta – messenger shepherd
  10. The chorus speaks 7 times ….we could see this as indicating the next scene.
  11. In 4 choric interruptions Oedipus leaves the stage
  12. … we have some ‘breathing space’
  13. from the intense narrative action!


Basic story line of the myth:

  1. Oedipus is the son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta
  2. The oracle predicts that Queen Jocasta will have a son who will
  3. kill his father and then sleep with his mother.
  4. To prevent this disaster the King and Queen decide to expose the infant
  5. …and leave him out in the countryside to die.
  6. The child is found, rescued and raised by King and Queen of Corinth.
  7. Oedipus returns to his native town, Thebes.
  8. He outsmarts a an half-human half-animal monster  (the Sphinx)
  9. …who is terrorizing the city.
  10. The grateful people make Oedipus  King of Thebes.
  11. Oedipus is also given the
  12. …hand of Jocasta in marriage (….his mother!)
  13. Oedipus and Jocasta have four children
  14. The story follows Oedipus quest to learn the truth about his life.


How does Sophocles ‘alter’  basic myth?

  1. Sophocles adds several details that are important for his play.
  2. All these details are brought out in the play in
  3. bits and pieces in non-chronological order.
  4. Oedipus slowly pieces together the truth as to what actually happened
  5. …and who he actually is..


Detail nr 1:

  • Jocasta gives infant to trusted slave….a shepherd.
  • The Corinthian royal couple raise Oedipus as a prince.

Detail nr 2:

  • A guest at a banquet taunts Oedipus
  • …that he is not really King Polybus’ son.
  • Oedipus decides to ask the Oracle of Delphi.

Detail nr 3:

  • On the way to Thebes Oedipus met, quarreled with
  • ….and killed an old man at a crossroads.
  • Of course….the man is King Laius (…his father).


How does the play open?

  1. Oedipus is approached by a priest and chorus.
  2. They want Oedipus to find out why a plague is destroying their city.
  3. Sophocles does NOT concentrate on the murder of King Laius
  4. does NOT concentrate on the incest with  Queen Jocasta.
  5. He emphasizes  the process by which Oedipus discovers the truth.


What does Opedius do?

  1. He sends brother-in-law Creon (Jocasta’s brother)
  2. to Delphi  to ask why Apollo is punishing the city of Thebes?
  3. Oedipus wants to know what Thebes can do to compensate
  4. for the crime they have committed that has caused this plague?
  5. Answer: there is some in Thebes who is ritually unclean living in the city.
  6. In fact this is King Laius’ killer.


What does Oedipus do…now?

  1. He pronounces a solemn and  binding curse against the murderer.
  2. He commands all to drive this ‘man’ from their homes.
  3. If with Oedipus’ knowledge he lives at his  own hearth…
  4. he prays that he himself will feel this curse!


How does the audience react?

  1. The thing with Greek theater is that
  2. …all the people who were watching the play
  3. ….actually knew the plot, and therefore knew the ending.
  4. After Opedius’ speech the audience  gasps at the irony
  5. he has cursed himself!


What is the turning point in the play?

  1. There are many minor turning points.
  2. This is the first one  at the beginning of the play:
  3. Tiresias, a prophet, is summoned to tell Opedius who the murder is.
  4. Tiresias is reluctant.
  5. Because he is  a wise man he knows  perfectly well that Opedius is the murderer.
  6. Tiresias resists and this arouses Oedipus’ anger and suspicion.
  7. Oedipus begins to suspect that Tiresias might have helped plot the murder of Laius.
  8. Tiresias finally explodes:
  9. You are the land’s pollution…you are the man you seek!


What is the climax in the play?

  1. When you read the play you will discover
  2. …the the situation that makes the Oedipus arrive at the
  3. inevitable  and unavoidable acceptance of the reality.
  4. 2 witnesses each have a part of the knowledge about Oepdius’ life.
  5. When the Thebean slave and the Corinthian shepherd come together…
  6. …the great king suddenly becomes a tragic, miserable  character.
  7. Count no man happy until he dies…..”
  8. [That man is happy, till vexed by no grievous ill.]



  1. Strong point: strong role for women in the theater –> Jocasta
  2. Strong point:   metaphor of  blindness
  3. ...the sighted do not know the truth
  4. …the blind do know the truth.
  5. Strong point:  full of suspense!
  6. Sophocles  uncovers clues one by one.
  7. We know who killed Laius  (that is written in the myth)
  8. what the reader is waiting for is the ‘moment’ when
  9. Oedipus finally realizes who he is!
  10. We all know this play is…..
  11. #MustRead
  12. LibriVox Free Audio Oepidus Rex
  13. I listened to it…..but the
  14. translation is difficult to follow
  15. …does not correspond with my text and
  16. …the chorus is just awful!
  17. If you really want to enjoy the play reading and listening
  18. has the best version!
  19. After the play…there is an interview (35 min) with Nicholas Rudall.
  20. He is the translator and director of the play.
  21. It was excellent!


  • This play is a classic but
  • I did need this diagram to help me before I started reading.


Plutarch’s Lives

  • Author: Plutarch
  • Title: Plutarch’s Lives Vol 1
  • Published: beginning of the second century A.D.
  • Genre: social history of the ancient world
  • Style: anecdotal and full of detail
  • Translation: 1683 by John Dryden
  • Revision: 1864 by  Arthur Hugh Clough
  • Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge



  1. Lives is a series of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans  by Plutarch.
  2. Structure:
  3. twenty-three paired biographies, one Greek and one Roman
  4. four unpaired  (explores the influence of character on the lives of the subjects)
  5. Goal: Plutarch was most concerned with capturing this issue of character.
  6. Plutarch reveals how their character led  them ultimately to tragedy or victory.


My reading strategy: 

  1. I had to limit myself to 100 pages a day because
  2. …my eyes started to glaze over after reading all
  3. the military campaigns and political intrigues.


  1. Read wikipedia page before reading Plutarch.
  2. This helped me focus on the important points.
  3. This helped me with dates and places of several battles.


  1. Style: Plutarch’s style is rich with details
  2. ….that at times is ‘overdone’ — battles, sieges, ambushes–.
  3. I must let you read a quote …just to
  4. indicate the style you will have to ‘trudge through’ to find some
  5. gems of information…and there gems for those who perservere.

The first two sentences of the life of the Roman Camillus:

Among the many remarkable things that are related of Furius Camillus, it seems singular and strange above all, that he, who continually was in the highest commands, and obtained the greatest successes, was five times chosen dictator, triumphed four times, and was styled a second founder of Rome, yet never was so much as once consul. The reason of which was the state and temper of the commonwealth at that time; for the people, being at dissension with the senate, refused to return consuls, but in their stead elected other magistrates, called military tribunes, who acted, indeed, with full consular power, but were thought to exercise a less obnoxious amount of authority, because it was divided among a larger number; for to have the management of affairs entrusted in the hands of six persons rather than two was some satisfaction to the opponents of oligarchy.

And on it goes…


  1. Weak point  I thought I could manage the audio book
  2. ….but my mind could not process all the names and references
  3. without the words in front of me.
  4. So I listened… but finally stopped using the audio book
  5. …and read each chapter on the Kindle.


  1. Audio chapters vary from 40 min to
  2. …long ones lasting 1hr 45 min! (Alcibiades and Coriolanus )
  3. I found I could read the chapters in half the time!
  4. I think listening to Plutarch’s Lives will be easier
  5. ….now that I  have read the book.
  6. These long stories filled with clashes in battle are
  7. perfect for …long walks or bike rides!


Favorite profiles:

  1. Themistocles  (admiral) – Alcibiades (ultimate ‘bad-boy) and
  2. Pericles (made Athens great and beautiful with new structures)
  3. Fabius: know for the Fabian Strategy
  4. Targeting the enemy’s supply lines
  5. accepting only smaller engagements on favorable ground
  6. rather than risking his entire army on direct confrontation.
  7. He was the father of guerilla warfare.


Last thoughts:

  1. The first profiles are probably based on myth (Theseus, Romulus)
  2. The rest are  predominately all
  3. politicians, consuls, generals and admirals.
  4. The balance between true biography and
  5. ..descriptions of battles was 20% – 80 %.


  1. Strong point: The comparisons were the best part of the book because
  2. …they  concentrated on the morality and character of the men.
  3. That is the most  interesting.
  4. I will soon forget the battles….but remember this:

  5. Pericles:
  6. He warned the Athenians of the ruin that awaited them for
  7. …grasping more than they could manage.
  8. Pericles was a good prophet of bad success
  9. Fabius:
  10. He warned that Scipio Africanus Fabius would fail with his attack on Carthage
  11. it turned out to be a victory.
  12. Fabius was a bad prophet of success that would be good!


  1. Weak point: sometimes Plutarch’s descriptions are so heavy in detail
  2. (who sent an message to whom, what was sacrificed before the battle,
  3. the visits to Delphi Oracle,  how the camp fires burned,
  4. the commander’s insignia on his armor,
  5. muddy battlefields with hail and wind…..)
  6. …that one might question the veracity of his narration.


  1. Strong point: the text is relatively accessible
  2. …but you will have to get used to the long, long sentences.
  3. I preferred reading about important battles in Histories by Herodotus.
  4. The Landmark Herodotus is an excellent book with many maps
  5. You can easily follow the strategy of the battles.


MAPS  I found on Google to help me follow the narrative:







Wrap-up #20BooksOfSummer 2017



  • 20 Books of Summer is hosted by Cathy at!
  • The challenge is to read 20 books off your TBR list.
  • June 01  – September 03
  • Hashtag#20BooksOfSummer


  • My original plan was to read 20 books on
  • Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels.
  • I managed to read 16…then I was sick of classics!
  • I find if you  DON’T  make a list
  • ….reading will be more fun.
  • Just choose the book according to your mood.
  • Pleased with my results:   44  books


My list:   16/20   from Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels :


  1. The Postman Always Rings Twice – J.M. Cain READ  4.0
  2. The Death of the Heart by E. Bowen – – READ – 2.0
  3. The Ginger Man – J.P.Donleavy – DNF …. abandon after 100 pgs. (bah)
  4. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser – READ 3.0
  5. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh  – READ – 4.0
  6. Ragtime  by E.L. Doctorow – READ 3.0
  7. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh – READ  5.0
  8. Go Tell It On The Mountain by J. Baldwin – READ  5.0
  9. As I Lay Dying  by William Faulkner – READ –  5.0
  10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov – READ   5.0
  11. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner – READ  2.0
  12. The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler – READ – 3.0
  13. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence – READ 5.0
  14. Loving by Henry Green – READ    4.0
  15. I, Claudius by Robert Graves – READ    4.0
  16. Under the Net – I. Murdoch – READ – 5.0


  2. The Bloody Mary Book – E. Brown – READ  3.0
  3. Walking the Nile – L. Wood – READ  4.0
  4. Running Hare – J. Lewis-Stempel – READ   5.0
  5. Dear Ijeawele – C.N. Adichie – READ  5.0
  6. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America – J. Leovy – READ – 5.0
  7. Coming Up Trumps – J. Trumpington – READ    3.0
  8. Kennedy and King – S. Levingston – READ    5.0
  9. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon – 5.0


  1. FRENCH:
  2. Un Vie – S. Veil – READ – 4.0
  3. Rue des Boutiques Obscures – P. Modiano – READ  5.0
  4. Retour à Killybegs – S. Chalandon – READ – 4.0
  5. Une femme à Berlin – M. Hillers – READ – 4.0 – French
  6. Seul Dans Berlin – H. Fallada – READ 3.0


  2. Open and Shut – D. Rosenfelt – READ 5.0
  3. First Degree – D. Rosenfelt – READ 5.0


  1. SF  – Fantasy:
  2. Doomsday Book – C. Willis – READ 3.0
  3. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien – READ   3.0
  4. Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien – READ – 3.0
  5. Vaster Than Empires and More Slow – U. Le Guin – READ 5.0
  6. Principles of Angels – J. Fenn – DNF – 1.0 – Bah!
  7. The Martian – A. Weir – READ – 5.0


  1. Fiction:
  2. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen – READ  4.0
  3. Short Stories –  Dear Life  by A. Munro (Nobel Prize 2013) – READ  3.0
  4. Short Stories – Shatterday & Other Stories – H. Ellison – READ  11/11
  5. Seven Plays – S. Shepard – READ – 5.0
  6. The Persians – Aeschylus – READ 3.0
  7. The African Queen – C.S. Forester – READ    5.0
  8. Lincoln in the Bardo  – G. Saunders – READ – 1.0


Who Pays the Bartender?


Ingredients:   Prichard’s Key Lime rum – tonic

Glass: small wine glass

  • 3 fresh mint leaves crushed in the glass
  • Add ice and…
  • 60 ml   Prichard’s Key Lime Rum
  • 60 ml   Fever-Tree tonic  ( I just filled the glass to the top!)

Garnish:  spig of fresh mint



  1. Absolutely delicious!
  2. The crushed fresh mint leaves give the cocktail  a “je ne sais quoi” !
  3. I added in a second cocktail the juice of 1 lime ( not in orginal recipe)
  4. It improved the taste with just the ‘tang’ a lime can give.
  5. I discovered the Fever – Tree tonic  by accident!
  6. It is an An aromatic and pink-tinged tonic.
  7. A blend of South American angostura bark,
  8. ….cardamom, pimento berry and ginger.
  9. This give the cocktail a beautiful pink glow!
  10. Let’s face it….with just a little creativity you can enjoy
  11. …an unforgettable  aperitif
  12. …instead of the “same-old, same-old”  beer or house wine.


Who pays the bartender?

Bar Calculator:

  • I was curious what this cocktail would cost in a bar?
  • Here are my conclusions:

@Home price?

  1. 1 lime 58 eurocent
  2. Pichard’s Key Lime Rum – 12.95  euro 700 ml ( bottle)
  3. 60 ml rum 1,11 euro
  4. 100 ml Fever-tree tonic 69 euro cents (1,39 euro 200 ml bottle)
  5. total cost cocktail2, 38 euro  ($2,81)
  6. No tips (20%)  and No employee wages

@Bar price?

  1. 15% of a drink’s price goes to paying for the drink
  2. 85% goes to employee wages, rent, and other operating expenses.
  3. Pour cost 15% = 2.38 euro
    Gross margin 85% = 13.48 euro
    total bar cost: 15,86 euro  ($18.70)

Service charge  (tip):

  • Excellent service or in a swanky bar = 20%
  • Average service 1,70 euro ( $2,00)
  • TOTAL  COST:  @home = 2,38 euro ( $2, 80)
  • TOTAL COST:   @good bar 19 euro  ($22,44)
  •  = cocktail + 20% service charge
  • You can make 6,7 cocktails at home for the
  • …price of 1 in a bar!
  • OMG !!

Don’t  forget…you pay for the view as well!  (Park Hayatt Tokyo Bar)



Retour à Killybegs

  • Author: S. Chaladon
  • Title: Return to  Killybegs
  • Published: 2011
  • Language: French but also translated in English
  • Trivia: Awarded the Grand prix du roman de l’Académie française 2011.
  • Le Grand Prix du Roman is a French literary award, created in 1918
  • It is given each year by the Académie française and
  • is one of the oldest and most prestigious literary awards in France.
  • #20BooksOfSummer2107



  1. Return to Killybegs is a novel about a traitor to Belfast’s Catholic community
  2. during the war in  1970s and 1980s in Northern Ireland.
  3. The narrative is inspired by the 2006 murder of Denis Donaldson.
  4. He was a senior Sinn Féin member who was revealed as a British secret agent.
  5. Chalandon had befriended Donaldson while working as a journalist in Belfast.
  6. Chalandon  attempts to understand the reasons for
  7. Donaldson’s (character: Tyrone Meehan) betrayal of  the IRA.
  8. Perhaps Chalandon wanted to give his friend a chance to explain his side of the story.



  1. 24 December 2006 – 04 April 2007  (narrator is now 81 years old)
  2. ” I have often returned to my father’s house
  3. …but I came here four days ago… die.”


Best chapters – 18, 21, 22, 23   (suspense)



  1. The writing is remarkable, compact and to the point.
  2. Chalandon manages a journalistic style
  3. yet breathes life into characters that leave the reader riveted.
  4. Suspense builds while Chalandon alternates the past with the present.
  5. Past: childhood, WWII, entrance into IRA,  prison sentences and contre-espionage
  6. Present: visit 2006 in Belfast for a wedding and confrontation with ex-IRA  members
  7. Despite the cease-fire, peace talks and destroyed arms caches…
  8. …the IRA is still there.
  9. Great #SummerRead



Kir Royale

Medici Fountain, Jardin du Luxembourg

  1. If there is one cocktail that has a
  2. special place in my heart….it is Kir Royale.
  3. It was my first ever cocktail.
  4. I was 18  studying in Paris for two months.
  5. One evening we were escorted to La Comédie française.
  6. It was Molière Le Misanthrope and
  7. honestly…I didn’t understand much of it.
  8. But later we went to a café and I met ‘Kir Royale’ !

Kir Royale:  sparkling wine (or champagne) + crème de cassis liqueur

  1. The Kir Royale—is named after Félix Kir.
  2. He was the mayor of Dijon who helped popularize the white-wine version of the drink.
  3. I’m using  Joseph Cartron Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne.
  4. Crème de Cassis was one of Hercule Poirot’s favorite drinks!

  1. I’m using sparkling wine:  Blanquette de Limoux instead of champagne.
  2. Blanquette de Limoux was first  made in a Benedictine Abbey in SW France.
  3. This wine  predates champagne and
  4. ….is in fact France’s oldest sparkling wine.
  5. Thomas Jefferson loved it, and served it to guests when he was president.
  6. Jefferson was America’s first oenophile.
  7. At his home at Monticello, his household consumed about 400 bottles of wine  per year.
  8. All came from Europe, because in the early 19th century
  9. …wine grapes couldn’t yet be grown in North America.

Blanquette de Limoux:

  1. Limoux is the birthplace of high-quality sparkling wine production in France.
  2. Grape: 100% Mauzac known as blanquette due to the white coating on its leaves.
  3. Taste: beautiful dryness matched up with a zing of apples.
  4. It is a  lovely glass of sparkling that’s much
  5. ….more interesting than any cava or prosecco.


  1. Jefferson insisted the wine be delivered in  bottles, not casks.
  2. In this way the bottles were at least secure and c
  3. couldn’t be watered down or filched by unscrupulous merchants or
  4. thirsty crew members.


N@ncy’s bar:

  • 2/3 c  sparkling wine (160 ml)
  • 1 TB crème de cassis  (15 ml)
  • There are also those that prefer…
  • 2 TB crème de cassis (30 ml)  to
  • 1/2 c sparkling wine (120 ml)
  • ...too rich for me…but you may like it.
  • Glass: champagne flute or champagne coupe
  • Garnish: optional….I don’t need a lemon twist with this drink.


France’s best kept secret…wines from Languedoc!


  1. Elegant and easy….with just 2 ingredients.
  2. Taste: this Blanquette de Limoux tastes much more tart
  3. ..than my trusty Martini prosecco!
  4. It is also twice as expensive.
  5. The black current liqueur balances perfectly to
  6. …produce a  unforgettable  cocktail!
  7. I feel 18 again!
  8. If you have a bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge
  9. …you are always ready for a celebration!
  10. Excellent choice for a festive cocktail for Christmas
  11. …or New Year!






Return of the King …finished!


  1. I’m done!
  2. Finally  I can say I achieved my quest….read the book of Lord of the Ring!
  3. I had to keep reading…but it was not easy.
  4. The fellowship that I enjoyed with the host @brona’s books
  5. …was the reason I persevered.
  6. Thanks for hosting, Brona!
  7. My thoughts?

Read-a long?  Tolkien? 

I need some advice from an expert:

What have I got myself into?

  • Wait, perhaps I can contact my
  • friend Brona in Australia…
  • #NeedHelp!

  • What is wrong with me?
  • Why does 90% world love Tolkien…
  • What am I missing?

  • My sign: Scorpion…..
  • I will get this done….or else!

  • Feeling some self pity
  • on a rainy July day...

  • #NeedCoffee
  • …and some cookies if that’s okay.

  • Just 1 more book to read…
  • I need some metal coaching.

  • Meet the coach…
  • Turns out he’s not a Tolkien fan either!
  • Hmmmm….

  • Luckily Brona always …
  • …has my back
  • …she knows I can do this!

  • I see the light at the end of the tunnel
  • …#JustDoIt

  • Finished….
  • Now I can relax and say…
  • I did not give up!



Age is Just a Number


  1. Do you know how it feels when you give up ?
  2. I always thought I would never give up….but I did.
  3. After fitness training with a personal trainer for 7 years…..I stopped.
  4. At first I felt elated.
  5. No more aching muscles, no more pushing  yourself  to the limit.
  6. Then after a year….I felt my body change.
  7. I lost muscle strength and …gained a few pounds
  8. … and worst of all….I lost my drive to stay healthy.
  9. It took me another year to finally realize fitness is not an option…
  10. …it is a life long project.
  11. Since we all are living longer and at home….I have to keep fit.
  12. I cannot depend on others to lift heavy bags of cat litter
  13. …take out the garbage and do house- and gardening work.
  14. I have been inspired by many women …for example:

100 year old Ida Keeling who started running at 67….and is still running.

Read her story HERE.

82 year old garden architect Penolope Hobhouse

garden writer, designer, historian and lecturer….still works the soil 5-6 hrs a day!

Here is one of her beautiful creations!

Leontine van Moorsel:  Olympic athlete (Dutch)  and international champion

  1. At the end of 1993 and beginning of 1994,
  2. …it seemed Leontien’s career would come to a premature end.
  3. Health problems developed as a result of an eating disorder.
  4. Leontien tried to keep her weight down….particularly for the cycling climbs.
  5. Leontien was tired both physically and mentally —
  6. …it became the lowest point in her life.
  7. Then it changed when she met Michael Zijlaard.
  8. Michael was a competitive cyclist.
  9. He is credited with teaching Leontien to live healthily and eat properly again.
  10. They married  in October 1995.

All these women are proof that age is just a number

  1. …and  physical and mental strength can be achieved.
  2. Now I have decided to get back to my training.
  3. I know I can do it with the help of   Sport Met Hart
  4. It starts today @home  with 2 weeks  walking, stretching
  5. …plank exercises, push ups and perhaps
  6. …later some jogging.
  7. My diet is varied and I am following the advice of  Dara Torres.

  1. Her meal plan looks like something I can live with!
  2. It all starts with a different breakfast every day!
  3. My plan is on the kitchen counter….and I’m ready to go!
  4. I will keep  you updated on my progress….because
  5. I know this is going to be tough
  6. …and it is going to hurt!

Breakfast plan: