Mississippi County Fair is just around the corner
August is almost here, and with it, one of my favorite events of the entire year, the Mississippi County Fair. The grands and I are scrambling to finish up projects to be entered in the various categories in the exhibit building.
Thaddeus Stevens: an unsung hero
There are many things about the Steven Spielberg movie "Lincoln" that are worthy of praise. It is a quality film accurately depicting one of the worst times in this country's history. But the thing about the film that stuck with me was one of the characters, Thaddeus Stevens, of whom I had never heard before.
The invasion of the squash bugs
This gardening season has been plagued with more problems than usual. First, it was the fact that there was ice on the ground in large amounts when we should have been planting potatoes, onions and peas.
American Revolution about more than July 4
In a couple of days we will all be lighting our barbecue grills, pulling the steaks and burgers out of the fridge, spraying on the insect repellant, putting the pontoons into the lake, and sitting back to enjoy the fireworks displays as we celebrate Independence Day.
Gone in the blink of an eye
Well, I did it again. I blinked, and another week went by. And it went so fast, I did not have time to finish any of the books I am reading in order to do a book review. So here I am again posting random thoughts about a busy week.
Violence is a learned behavior
I was driving through Walker Park the other day with my grandchildren, and we were looking at the geese, of course. Suddenly several geese came running/flying across the road in front of us.
A really high maintenance kinda bird
I was beginning to think the power would not stay on long enough for me to write a column this week. What a wild week this has been!
Finally out of the deep freeze
It is strange to be saying this so late in the season, but it has been a couple of weeks since we had freezing temperatures, so I guess we are finally well into gardening season.
Book review: "The Quarry"
"The Quarry," the final novel by author Iain Banks, is the perfect example of why you should not purchase a book based solely on its online reviews.
A little obscure history lesson
I have become addicted to a series on the History Channel called "Vikings," and the name of one of the characters in the series caught my attention early on.
Good people, great shops in Blytheville
Our 4-H rummage sale fundraiser was a success this Saturday, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped us in any way.
Nobody likes me, guess I'll eat a worm
Remember that old school yard song, the one where you were going to eat worms because everybody hates you? The fact of the matter is, children, and I mean all children, are fascinated with earthworms.
The wrong pet can make life miserable
While sharing my trials involving raising a German Shepherd puppy with others on Facebook, I received a comment from one of my friends concerning a rescue dog she took in some time back.
Easter week was filled with blessings
I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Easter. We certainly did. And that was due in no small part to the wonderful services presented for the entire community by the Blytheville Ministerial Alliance.
Book Review: "Flight of the Butterflies"
In my search for reading material for the grandkids, I sometimes stumble upon a jewel. Such a find was "Flight of the Butterflies" by Roberta Edwards.
Eagles, grandkids and dog pens make for a busy week
My son is on his way back to Seattle as you are reading this, but we got to spend just over a week with him and it was really nice.
Getting too old for April Fools' pranks
It was really hard to resist the urge to write this column as an April Fool's prank. Almost impossible, but lately I have been making an effort to keep my grown-up self in charge of things here at the Lendennie homestead.
"Custer": A great topic, but a disappointing read
The book "Custer" by Pulitzer-prize winning author Larry McMurtry and published by Simon and Schuster, should have been a great read on a very interesting topic, but it wasn't.
What if it wasn't easy to be a Christian?
As I visit with my Facebook friends in my writers' groups and book club, I have come to a very sad realization. Most of the people with whom I speak are not only not Christians, but have no problem stating this fact to the world.
This is supposed to be gardening season
Well the weather has officially gone crazy. I am sitting here in my office as I write this watching the ice storm and listening to the rolling thunder. And reminding myself that I live in Arkansas.
Puppies and kittens make strange BFFs
A couple of weeks ago we welcomed another new baby to the family here at the Lendennie homestead. Jingle, a 6-week-old German shepherd puppy, came home with us right in the middle of the coldest, iciest week of this historically cold and icy winter.
Book Review: "A Thousand Splendid Suns"
The book I am reviewing this month was recommended to me by my friend Jay Ziolko at the Blytheville Public Library. I tend to forget to mention the library in these book reviews, and I shouldn't, because the library is the place many of us learned to love reading.
Bird count is a worthwhile activity for everyone
One of my favorite events will take place again this weekend: the Great Backyard Bird Count
This year's crop of movies disappointing
Doesn't it seem that some years, the movies released are all good, and others, they are pretty much not. This year, in my opinion, has been one of those "not" years.
Grandma's secret for a cold winter day
Well, here we are back in the deep freeze. There are not many things you can look forward to when the temperature drops below freezing and stays there for several days.
Book Review:` "The Long Ships"
Every now and again I have the good fortune to stumble upon a great novel entirely by accident, and that is how I came to read "The Long Ships."
The Ice Man Cometh, and Refuseth to Go-eth
There is a reason most of us live in the South. As a native Northerner (I was born and raised in north-central Illinois), I came here as a military wife and ended up staying. You know what they call people like me, don't you?
Looking ahead to gardening season
Once again, we have survived a sneak attack by old man winter. And although the ground is frozen and the air is frigid, the time has come to start planning your garden for the coming summer.
Some thoughts on the old year, hopes for the new
As you are reading this, there are just a few hours left of the year 2013, before the arrival of Baby 2014. And I find myself reflecting on the past 12 months, while at the same time looking forward to the things I hope for in the coming months.
The greatest gift ever given
As you are reading this, you are most likely putting the finishing touches on your Christmas list, sticking the turkey or ham or roast into the oven, and maybe even preparing to receive family into your home.
Book Review: Wuthering Heights
It is becoming my custom to review one of the great classic works of fiction in December. I do this as my Christmas gift to that one reader out there who has not read this particular piece of literature, but who, as a result of reading this review, will pick it up and read it.
Do angels really get wings when a bell rings?
The Christmas tree is up and decorated at the Lendennie homestead, topped off, as it always is, by an angel. Of all the stories, accounts and legends surrounding Christmas, those involving angels have always been the most special to me.
Holiday season comes in with a bang
The holiday season literally came crashing in this weekend. I was watching a movie, getting ready to get in bed, when what sounded like an explosion rattled the house.
Thanksgiving list gets longer with age
As the time I have spent on this earth gets longer, I find there is so much more for which I am extremely thankful. With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, I feel it is appropriate for me to express my thanks for at least some of them.
Book Review: "Dear Life"
As is becoming my custom, my book review for this month is also my recommendation as a Christmas gift for the reader on you list.
Yes, Virginia, Great Britain does have a Thanksgiving Day
A couple of weeks ago I noticed several of my Facebook friends from Great Britain complaining about folks around them setting off fireworks.
It's writing frenzy time again!
As the leaves on the trees change colors and fall, the landscape empties out as fields and gardens are harvested and plowed under, and the days grow shorter, our efforts change from those of sunny weather activities to the more intensive activities that come with being stuck indoors for longer periods of time.
Book review: "After Visiting Friends"
"All along, I have told myself, 'So long as you are in pursuit of the truth, you can be doing no wrong. ... It's quite another (thing) to be the truth bearer. There's a reason people don't like revisionist historians.'"
The holidays are not joyous for everyone
My mother always hated Christmas. That fact about my childhood always stands out in my mind.
State, federal laws protect birds, feathers and nests
I was sitting on my porch swing one day last week, watching a bald eagle hunt for mice and other small creatures in a nearby milo field that had been harvested shortly before, and thinking how lucky we are here in the Mississippi River Valley.
Carney: Just changing gears, not direction
I spent a big part of the past weekend, along with my friends and fellow church members, at the Blytheville First Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church saying goodbye to our pastor of the last 20 years or so, the Rev. Tommy Carney.
Book Review: The Orphan Train
Listed by Amazon.com as one of the top new novels of 2013, Christina Baker Kline's newest work, "The Orphan Train," combines the plight of foster children in today's society, and that of orphans and other homeless children in the early part of the 20th century, to create a powerful, poignant and beautiful tale of hope, survival and the triumph of the human spirit against all odds.
Activities gear up as year winds down
Several people have stopped me and asked me how the grandkids did at the county fair. So for those of you wondering, here is a quick rundown:
Dead bugs falling from the sky
With all the activity we have had with the grandchildren here at the end of the summer, the weeds in my flower beds had pretty much taken over.
Adjusting our lives around a new kitten
Back when we had that two-week period where there were torrential downpours every day, I went out during a brief break in the clouds to walk my dog. We had stepped into the garden to see how deep the water was standing, when I heard something crying.
Keeping your child safe at school
When I was a child back in the Jurassic Period, going back to school meant you got to see your friends again after a long summer of not seeing or hearing from most of them at all.
What's in a name; or, mosquitoes as big as birds?
Those of you who are on my Facebook friends list have been seeing my posts about these huge mosquitoes we have this year.
Television stations need to remember their viewers
Remember the good old days, when school started after Labor Day and ended at Memorial Day? And so did the new television season. These days, I could not tell you when the seasons for the various shows begin and end.
Moving towards the autumn months
If you are a gardener, a farmer or just outdoors a lot, about this time of year you start to notice a subtle shift in the things around us.
The bittersweet story of Little Bird
It is strange how some of God's tiniest creatures can make the biggest impact on our lives. This is the tale of one of them.
Total Failure, Inc.: the tale of an eternal optimist
For the second month in a row I have had the great accidental privilege of reading a book that was a joy to read and whose last page I was saddened to finish. And this one was written specifically for readers ages 9-12.
Gardening and cooking in a fried tater world
This has been a whole lot better year for gardening than the last several years. For one thing, we are finally getting enough rain at just the right times. And for another thing, the temperatures have been much cooler.
Patriots come in all forms and viewpoints
With Independence Day only a couple of days away, we are being besieged with quotes and misquotes from John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Ben Franklin, the most notable of the Founding Fathers of this country.
Handicap accessibility needs to be a lot better
It's one of those things you don't think about until you need it; at least, I never really thought about the availability of accessibility aids for the handicapped until I lost most of my mobility. And now I think about it a lot.
Book Review: "Phobos: Mayan Fear"
Once again, I find myself trying very hard to like a book, but just not quite getting there. And in this case that should not be the case, since this book combines archeology, historical fiction, disaster and good old science fiction, ALL of my very favorite genres.
And it rears its ugly head again ...
Well, it's that time of year again, when flowers bloom, gardens grow, kids get out of school for the summer ... and people start taking drives out into the country to dump their unwanted pets.
Horses and much, much more
Studying horses with granddaughter Amy as part of the 4H Horse and Pony Quiz Bowl project is becoming quite the learning experience, and the history of horses turns out to be fascinating.
A tough way to bring about needed change
All of us were glued to the television last week as we watched in real time the tornado which demolished Moore, Okla.
Book Review: A tale of the old west
Majestic mountains, deserts of gold and red and bronze, elk and deer and endless herds of buffalo roaming the Western plains. This is the picture of the old West painted in Richard S. Wheeler's Western novel "The Far Tribes."
Did you remember your mother on Mother's Day?
This past Sunday, May 12, was Mother's Day, and I hope all of you at least called dear old mom on the phone, or better yet, took her flowers or out to lunch or dinner
An unexpected visitor on a rainy day
I know a lot of you saw that snake photo of mine on the cover of the Courier News a couple of weeks ago. That is, by the way, a spotted king snake, although I have been calling them rock snakes for years.
The truth about the monkey blood
A book review I will be doing in a few months brought up an interesting question for me, and was surprisingly hard to answer. And because all the information I was able to find on the Internet was absolutely bogus, I decided it was a question worth answering in this column.
Book Review: "The Thief," an Isaac Bell novel
There are many wonderful writers out there in the genre of archeological and historical fiction, and Clive Cussler is one of the best.
Nationallyknown hero to help recognize local heroes
The Northeast Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross will welcome a nationally known hero as part of the final event in its Every Red Cent Counts fundraising campaign.
Registering to vote gives you a voice
Last summer, I was approached by my good friend George Hale to do some research on why Mississippi County was still selecting its jury pool from the registered voter list.
Understanding the celebration of Easter
Holy Week has started, with Palm Sunday this past Sunday, and I hope your family's celebration is an uplifting and inspirational one.
Pancakes and lots of comments on the birds
Well, if I had any doubt that people all over the country read my columns, those doubts were dispelled this week when I was deluged by emails concerning my column on the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. And the comments were all concerned with an error I made on the size of the bird in question...
Book Review: "The Cloud"
A large percentage of the best authors out there were journalists first, and the author of the book I am reviewing this month is a proof of that rule.
The Great Arkansas Snipe Hunt ends
This past year, a decision was very quietly made by a group of renowned scientists that put an end, officially, to a massive search effort in Arkansas.
St. Jude event is right around the corner
No parent should have to lose a child, to watch that child grow sicker and weaker and know there is nothing they can do to help. But for the families of so many children stricken with one form of cancer or another, too often that is the case.
Time to support your local Red Cross
March is, of course, Red Cross Month, and the folks at the local Red Cross office need your help to continue serving this community.
A little existentialism for Valentine's Day
Although there are some wonderful poets currently struggling to have their work published and read in the world today, the vast majority of new poetry sounds, to me, like baby talk.
Why you should never eat broccoli for dinner
I think the worst thing about January is that it comes immediately after December. I know, you are all rolling your eyes and thinking, "Duh!" to yourselves.
Kids, coyotes and losing a friend
I cannot understand anyone who does not have pets. Really, I can't. A sterile house leads to a sterile life, but having a pet in the home, even if the result is a little bit of mess, is an infusion of love.
Gardening season is upon us again
Although the whole world is brown and dead, and it is still very chilly outside, my winter vegetables are producing nicely right now, and the planting dates for early spring veggies are close at hand.
Book Review: "Someday is Not a Plan"
Personal finance can be a difficult thing for anybody to understand, especially young people just starting out in a new career.
Fun with the grandkids in 2013
There is nothing like hitting the ground running at the start of the New Year, and that seems to be the way this year is starting out here at the Lendennie homestead.
Book Review: "The Man in the Iron Mask"
When I was trying to decide what book to review during the holidays, I decided classic was the way to go.
Christmas dinner has not changed much over the centuries
When we think of an old English Christmas dinner, many of us immediately refer back to that eaten at the table of Bob Cratchit in the Charles Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol," which ended with Tiny Tim's "God bless us every one."
A rose by any other name ...
I have never been shy to admit to myself or anybody else that I set up a Facebook account specifically to play games. Since doing that a number of years ago, I have been able to stay in close contact with family members and former classmates with whom I had completely lost contact.
Look for changes in the workplace of the future
Late last month Greg Kratz, a reporter and columnist at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City wrote a piece on a survey conducted by LinkedIn, a professional networking group. The survey asked more than 7,000 respondents to list 10 tools or practices in the workplace that likely would be replaced or would simply not be done by 2017.
Pilgrim or Puritan -- what's in a name?
In a few days we will all observe the national holiday totally devoted to stuffing ourselves with turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and other foods the Native American's introduced to the first settlers of this country.
Book review: The perfect gifts for the readers on your list
The holidays are upon us, and most of us are making our list, checking it twice, and trying to think of the perfect gift for those very special people in our lives.
Weather, voting and other fall tidbits
Today is Election Day. If you have not voted yet, you have until 7:30 p.m. to do so. This is one of the greatest of our rights as American citizens, and our free and open election process is the one single thing that makes our nation unique among nations.
Catholic Church names the first Native American Saint
I have been working for some time on research for a novel on the Native Americans of the Mississippian period, specifically regarding their contact with the treasure hunter Hernando Desoto.
Book reviews and other writing projects
This is one of those weeks when I just can't find enough hours or energy to finish every project that seems to just spring to life around me. Fast approaching is something to which I have been looking forward since I heard about it -- the National Novel Writing Month...
Clearing up the Medicare Advantage question
I was deeply concerned, as were many of you I am sure, while listening to the first Presidential Candidate Debate a couple of weeks ago, when I kept hearing it repeated again and again that Medicare Advantage was going to end when the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) is fully enacted.
Book review: A little spooky fun with the kids.
One of the reasons I started doing book reviews was to maybe encourage folks to read a book every now and then. I thought I would present some affordable and good quality options, as well as warning everyone away from the books I feel are a waste of time and money.
Rabies is still a threat in Arkansas
As the days get cooler and shorter, many of the furry critters so common in a rural community are out in force, trying to store up food and fat for the coming winter.
Some sure signs of the changing seasons
Fall, my favorite time of year, has arrived, and in the past couple of weeks that has become very apparent. The first thing I began to notice was the fact that the smaller trees in the yard were looking a little threadbare.
Book Review: "New York to Dallas"
In the world of romance novels, one of the best-known authors is Nora Roberts. And perhaps some of the best novels written by Roberts are written under her alternate pen name, J.D. Robb.
Vivid memories of a very bad day
There are a few days you will remember in great detail for the rest of your life.
Musings on a rainy Saturday
I have to tell you, I have waited a long, hot summer to be able to use this title. It took a hurricane to bring us a couple of inches of rainfall.
Give your child the world through books
Even as a child, I was a voracious reader. Oh, of course, my parents read to all of us at bedtime when we were little, but of the three of us, I am the only one who began at about the age of 8 spending all of my free time off in some corner with my nose stuck in a book.
Book Review: "War" by Sebastian Junger
If the reality of war is just a little too much for you, you should not read this book. For everyone who has someone in harm's way, though, I think this is a must-read.
Peaches, roses and the dreaded Japanese beetle
I really thought this would be my first year to enjoy delicious, home-grown peaches from my own tree. Boy, was I wrong.
A little digging produces answers and movement toward change
In my column of May 1, I lamented the fact that Mississippi County had not implemented Arkansas Act 1404, which changes the jury pool from those people who register to vote, as it stands now, to those people with driver's licenses and state identification cards.
Trying to garden in a rainless sauna
For the first 20 or so years I lived here, the summers were more or less predictable. I knew when to plant early veggies such as peas, how far into the winter I could expect to harvest tomatoes, and that onions would overwinter and be large and sweet in the spring if you planted them in the early fall.
Book Review: "Silent Music" by Adam Wyeth
Once upon a time, you could distinguish a learned man from his contemporaries because he most likely carried a book of poetry with him.
"From one end of this continent to the other ..."
"I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other ..."
Ivey is a former staff writer of the Courier News.