Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane....

Just a heads up, I am leaving for 2 1/2 weeks so I won't be posting anything until I get home.  Hopefully, I will be able to post something along the way but I never know.

I'll catch you up after August 9th.  Don't miss me too much!!!!  My friend Kim and I are going to be attending classes at Oxford University and also visiting Belgium.  So excited!!!  Later!
Here I come!!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't You Just Love Great Mystery???

Maisie Dobbs is a private investigator in post WWI London. In the seventh book of the Maisie Dobbs series entitled “The Mapping of Love and Death”, the author Jacqueline Winspear, I feel, recaptured some of the spark that seemed to be lost in the 2 previous books of the series. Although books 5 and 6 were good to read, I just didn’t like them as much as the first four.

This book opens with a prologue chapter that starts in 1914, when Michael Clifton learns of the war in Europe starting while he had been in California surveying some property he had just purchased. He immediately sets off for England instead of returning home to Boston and his family, to fight in the war. He felt an allegiance due to the fact that his father had emigrated from England as a young man.

Chapter one jumps us to present day, which is April 1932. Maisie, who has now been in business for herself for a few years, and her associate, Billy, are keeping busy with various cases. She has just received a letter from a doctor she had met and worked with as a nurse during the War several years previously. Dr. Hayden is informing her that he had referred an elderly couple he knew from Boston to look her up in order to investigate the death of their son Michael Clifton, who they had believed had been killed during the war, but now further evidence had surfaced that suggests he may have been murdered instead. Maisie has the tough job of trying to solve a 17 year old murder mystery without too much evidence, but being the Amazing sleuth that she is, she does get to the answer and also finds other answers to other problems along the way. One warning, there is a sad goodbye to a main character in this one that has been in all of the books, but it is ok.
Jacqueline Winspear
Winspear does a good job with the mystery but I especially like these books because there is the great side story of Maisie’s personal life and all that is going on in it. It is like reading 2 books at once. This is not a “who-done-it” type of mystery; you aren’t fed clues throughout the book to try to figure it out on your own. Instead the author keeps some clues very vague until she tidily wraps it up at the end. The characters that are in her daily life sometimes help in moving the mystery along but, if they aren’t involved in the mystery, they are fun to get to know on their own or just to see what is happening in their lives during this book.

You also get to learn a little more about WWI which tends to be a side theme in all of these books up to this point and will probably continue until 1939 when England is pulled into WWII. One other side note, there is a very promising romance in this one. Maisie has “teased” us a few times but I think this one is a keeper, hopefully!

If you haven’t read any of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries, I suggest you start with the first one which is entitled “Maisie Dobbs”, and work your way up to this, the 7th book of the series. I have enjoyed all of them.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Don’t be caught in a natural disaster without a few of these filled up!!!

On all of the emergency preparedness sites, one of the main things that is suggested that you have on hand is a small amount of cash, 5-7 days worth. Not only do you need the cash but you need it in small denominations.

Let me explain why.

During any natural disaster, the first thing to go is electricity. Now, if you don’t have electricity, you can’t get money at the bank or any ATM’s, or you can’t purchase anything from stores without the exact cash on hand.  This means, if you need water food or batteries, you could be paying more than it is worth if you don’t have the right amount of cash. I saw this in England 3 years ago while visiting. There was a terrible flood when the Thames over flowed and many villages were completely cut off. The stores had to start rationing water, so you were only able to get 2-3 flats. Since there was no electricity, many flood victims had to pay 20 pounds, for 2-3 flats of water which would normally have only cost around 10-12 pounds. And that is assuming the smallest bill you had was a 20.  The same thing happened during Katrina and numerous Earthquakes. 

Therefore, it is recommended that you keep 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s in a stash at your home. So the question arises, where is a safe place to keep 5-7 days of cash at home? Here is one answer. They are called Diversion Safes. You just unscrew them and put the small bills inside, close them and put them on the appropriate shelf.  There are many different products that you can choose from to hide you cash stash in. Here are a few choices:

I have even seen cans of vegetables, soups, fruits, just about anything you could find in a grocery store.  Just “google” diversion safes, and find the best price, or here are a few sites that I have found: 

Keep a few in different places in your home and most important, remember where and what they are. We had a visitor once who tried to open an A&W root beer but it wouldn’t open and he couldn’t figure out how or why. He eventually realized what it was but he was disappointed at not being able to have a root beer. It was funny!

If you don’t want to purchase a diversion safe, find a safe place to keep you store of cash. It is so important!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

All's Well That Ends Well....

***Before reading this post, please refer to the previous post (July 11th) and remember to vote for the LEMON TARTS!!!!

After Eileen and I loaded the gazebo into my truck, I finally got on the road to head home after a fabulous time at the Shakespeare Festival. As I have stated many times before, I love this drive! I think Southern Utah/Northern AZ have the most beautiful scenery almost anywhere!

I was a good girl and didn’t buy any cookies at Jacob’s Lake Inn (only because I still had some from when I bought some coming up to Cedar!), but I HIGHLY recommend them. They are seriously the best cookies on the earth!!!!

Then I got to my favorite part of the trip and that is the Vermillion Cliffs. I know I post pictures of this every time I go past them but here are some again. They look different all the time, depending on the weather, time of day and the lighting. They are breathtakingly beautiful! Enjoy!
Navajo Bridge that spans the Colorado River below

So that ends my “play by play” of our trip to the Utah Shakespeare Festival of 2010. I already can’t wait for next year! The plays they are doing next year are:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Richard III

Romeo and Juliet

Music Man

The Glass Menagerie

Noises Off!

I know I will be seeing at least 5 of the 6 plays next summer. Check out their web-site at:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Can You Go Wrong with Jane Austen and Shakespeare on the Same Day? Play #4

Yesterday was a bit of a "relax" day for Eileen and I. We didn't have any sight-seeing planned so we had a late morning breakfast at IHop (what is a trip without at least once having breakfast at IHop?), came back to the Hotel at read by the pool for a while before it was time to go to our last play which was in the afternoon.
Yes, this is me with my Jane Austen action figure!  Is that cool or what????

….I interrupt this post with an emergency request. PLEASE contact the Festival here and let them know not to get rid of the LEMON TARTS for next year!!! They were taking a survey when we went to our play today to see which flavor should be dropped for next year. The lemon tarts are our favorites, and trust me, they are the best. So even if you don’t plan on EVER coming to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, please email them at:

PLEASE HELP US SAVE THE LEMONE TARTS!! Vote to get rid of the cream cheese tarts, YUCK!!!

Now back to our review…

Yesterday was also our last play and we thought we would save the best for last. The play was “Pride and Prejudice”, by Jane Austen. Last year when we found out that this particular play was going to be done we thought, “What could be more perfect, Jane Austen and Shakespeare altogether?” So we were very excited to see this play! So maybe that was part of the problem.
Us, with my Jane Austen action figure awaiting the play!

Let me begin by saying that we did enjoy this play but not as much as we expected. It IS worth seeing. The set was really beautiful and worked well with the show. Costumes were great, and all the actors gave really good performances. There were 2 standout performances. The best was Mrs. Bennet played by Ellen Crawford. Mrs. Bennet really has the best lines and is the most comical character in this play and in the book of “Pride and Prejudice”. Therefore it is EXTREMELY important to have a believable Mrs. Bennet and Crawford played her superbly! Even if it was just a facial expression, she had the audience laughing.
Brian Vaughn as Hamlet

The second best performance was, of course, Brian Vaughn as Mr. Collins. He played him perfectly. He had the awkward “holier than thou” attitude down to a tee! His social ineptitude also made you laugh at him while also being embarrassed for him for being so clueless! Vaughn also included enough annoying quirks as Mr. Collins that made him quite comical. He was fun to watch. Mr. Bennet (Jeff Steitzer) was also good and the 2 younger daughters, Kitty and Lydia were very silly which was fun and expected. The rest of the cast did very well and the story moved along quite nicely.

There were just a couple of things we did not like. Now I realize that this may have been because we both REALLY love this book, but we felt that Elizabeth was not portrayed in this play as the fun-loving, intellectually active character as she is in the book. Her sparing with Darcy seemed more like she was looking for a fight, instead of teasing him to point out his follies.

The other things were didn’t like was more a script problem than a performance problem. When Darcy first proposed to Elizabeth Bennet, the most famous line of this scene (at least in mine and Eileen’s opinion) was left out. We kept waiting for Lizzie to say,

``You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.''

That line is almost as important and well-known as the opening lines of…”It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” This line WAS in the play.

The second problem we had with the script was near the end when Mr. Bennet was questioning Lizzie about accepting Mr. Darcy’s proposal. Elizabeth told her father how they were indebted to Mr. Darcy for “saving” Lydia’s, and therefore, the families reputation. You really felt that this was the main reason she wanted to marry Mr. Darcy, and not because she loved him dearly. But like I said, those two problems were script problems, but we felt that anyone that really “knew” Austen’s “P&P” would have changed these two oversights.

Mixed review???

So our review is YES, go see this play but be prepared if you know the book too well.

This was our last play but we ended the day with a great Western BBQ dinner at a new restaurant in town that was located in renovated train station called "Old West Smokehouse". YUMMY! Then we went back to the festival to buy our last tarts from our favorite tart guy, Stephen, and back to the Hotel to watch BBC’s “North and South”. YES!!!!!

Shakespeare and Austen figures, tart and North and South...can life get any better?

All four glorious hours of it! AWWWW, Richard Armitage!
cutie-patootie Richard Armitage

The perfect end to a fun day!!!
Tomorrow, the trip home and some pictures of the Vermillion Cliffs!  THE most beautiful place in the West!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come"- Play #3-The Merchant of Venice

How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a naughty world. (The Merchant of Venice, 5. 1)

Have you ever noticed that if you are on a vacation and you don’t have an exact itinerary, you tend to start later each day? Thus it was yesterday and we and we didn’t really get started with the fun until the middle of the day. We did some window shopping…ok, yes did some buying also, in Cedar City then went to the crystal Inn and had High Tea. YUM!!!

I found a new favorite flavor…Spiced Chai. Can’t you just smell and taste the deliciousness of it just by the name??? It was tasty! Then we accidentally happened upon a fair in the city park. There was an interesting assortment of people at the, they were just weird! We didn’t stay too long.

We really wanted to get up to Cedar Breaks National Park. It is just up the canyon from Cedar City about 15 minutes away. It is absolutely breathtaking! I know I said this about Kolob Canyon but there is no other way to describe it. Here are a few pictures from various outlooks along the road:

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember, and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts…There’s fennel for you, and Columbines…(Hamlet4.5)

Eileen conversing with Billy Boy

Meanwhile, back at the Festival......

Tart boy...we kind of follow him around buying the amazing tarts!

Me visiting with David Ivers and Fred Adams before the show.

We were highly anticipating seeing The Merchant of Venice.

It is one of the best plays. I know I say that a lot about Shakespeare but this one is a gem! Here are a few of the best quotes from this play:
Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time. (1.1)
I do know of these
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing. (1.1)
They are as sick that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing.(1.2)
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. (3.1)
It is a wise father that knows his own child. (2.2)
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit. (2.6)
He is well paid that is well satisfied. (4.1)

I know you have heard of many of these, not knowing they were lines from Shakespeare. Those are just a few of the “shorter” gems in this play. Now for the review that I am sure you are all so eager to hear!

“Merchant” is probably one of the more controversial plays that Shakespeare penned because of one character and that character is Shylock, the Jew. I have blogged about my views of this play last year when I saw Southwest Shakespeare Co. perform it in Mesa. I still feel sorry for Shylock and the way the Jews were/are treated, so I won’t go into that commentary again (if you want to read it you can look in my post archives, April 2009).

This play was phenomenal! I think the two most important roles that you really need to have cast right are Shylock and Portia. This particular play was cast perfectly in these two parts. The part of Shylock was played magnificently by Tony Amendola.

He was so believable in the role as the shrewd businessman, the caring father, and as I stated, he was sick of being treated unfairly in Venice. I don’t condone revenge but sometimes you get pushed to that point where you don’t really think rationally and I think after being abused, losing his daughter, and being robbed by her, I think he was a broken man, and lashing out at the only thing he could and that was Antonio. That is why he was so unforgiving and would not back down on wanting his “pound of flesh” to pay back his bond!
Portia was played by Emily Trask. She has been in several shows at this Festival in the past and she was luminescent in this! She was perfect. You felt for her in the predicament that she didn’t have a choice in who she would get to marry. Instead she was bound by her dead father’s plan that her suitors must choose one chest out of three and whoever chose the correct one would win her hand. She had many humorous suitors and that is part of the fun of this play. But her best lines come at the trial of Antonio when she is masquerading as a “learned doctor” and dispensing justice. Also the scenes with Bassanio (Grant Goodman) are very sweet and romantic.

I could keep going on and on about how wonderful this production is but I will leave it by saying, this is another one you just can’t miss! Three out of three perfect plays, what more can you ask for? I will leave you with this last quote from the play:
Portia to Shylock--
The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
The Merchant of Venice, 4. 1