How can we encourage more readers to leave reviews for our books?

Why Reviews on Amazon Matter

Do you write reviews on your blog? Do you leave an Amazon review as well?  Authors, especially indie authors depend on your reviews. Take a few minutes and write a quick review.

write Amazon Reviews
Please!

Source: How can we encourage more readers to leave reviews for our books?

S Is For Spinal Cord Injury Recovery – Ignite Your Inner Health Warrior #AtoZChallenge

I like the way Cheryl has used the A-Z Challenge to highlight an important cause with an interview and several books. This one really does pluck at my heartstrings! Please enjoy and spend some time browsing on her blog.


If you want to read a good fiction book about spinal cord injuries I recommend Me Before You.  Here is my review of the book.

Plucking Of My Heartstrings

s2017

Dear Readers,

From what I have been told spinal cord injuries seem to happen most often due to car crashes, falls or violence. Injuries to the spinal cord can also happen from disease or degeneration. 

Today I am talking with the creator of the Facebook group, Spinal Cord Injury Recovery – Ignite Your Inner Health Warrior.

Please welcome Kay

Hi. I am an entrepreneur and business owner, a coach and change maker, a teacher, a former nurse (although once a nurse always a nurse!) and a podcast host! Over the course of my career (I’m 55 years young) I have had the privilege of working in two large regional hospitals in the Midwest where I encountered many an injured person in the ICU, a Fortune 100 global medical device company in areas associated with injury, a global neuroscience based coaching and consulting firm, as well as my own entrepreneurial ventures…

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Resort Walk Reveals 15 Top Things to Love

Monday Walks with JoWhich Way Challenge

Resort WalkBefore I tell about this wonderful resort in Sedona, you should know this. Although Diamond Resorts is a timeshare, anyone can book this vacation extravaganza through Expedia or other online booking sites. Sometimes booking a timeshare is less expensive than booking a regular hotel room.

One more important fact. I’m not selling timeshares! We own a Diamond Resorts timeshare but have been many places, and this is one of our favorites.

A Perfect Day for a Walk

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Vince and I ambled out of our spacious suite at Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona for a morning walk around the grounds.

Originally, T.C. and Sedona Schnebly built the first hotel on this site in Sedona in 1901. He and his brother settled here, planted an apple orchard and vegetable garden. The 1986 resort retains the flavor and charm of an earlier time.

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We Found So Many Things to Love

View We left our room in too much of a hurry to take this picture this morning, so this evening I snapped the picture so you could see the red rocks from our patio.

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Sedona’s red rocks vistas enthrall visitors wherever they turn.

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Surrounded in three directions by the red rocks you can’t walk any path without your mouth ajar at the beauty.

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Architecture Structures reflect the beauty of Sedona’s backdrop. Spanish and Pueblo-style buildings and fountains reflect the past, but the although it looks antique, the resort was dedicated in 1986.

resort walkThis was the site of the first hotel, Sedona Post Office, and store. Today Suite 110 is the largest most elegant facility we saw on our resort walk. It would be a perfect place for an executive council meeting for CCSS, but I’m not on that council anymore.

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The first hotel in Sedona built by T.C. and Sedona Schnebly.

On the left side of the building is a shady porch. Even in the summer, I think you would be cool here. The original Schnebly Hotel included 10 rooms, a rock chimney, and a shake roof. Tents and a bunkhouse outside housed some of the guests. The Schneblys sold their bunkhouse hotel, post office, and store in 1908, and it burned down in 1918.resort walk

Another beautiful suite is the Morris House. Of course, since that is my maiden name, I would love to stay there, but it is being remodeled. Phil Morris got the contract to build the new Abrigados Resort that opened in 1986. He has now been in business over 45 years with an unparalleled reputation as a builder.

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The Morris family owned the property that became Los Abrigados from 1916 to 1984.
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Vince leads the way checking out the path around the miniature golf course.

Miniature Golf Course Vince and I haven’t played yet, but we had to check out each of the 18 holes. We heard the gentle waterfall at hole 11. However beautiful it is, par 3 was not a fair number to set for par. Can you see that narrow bridge in the center? Hmmm Trust me, take extra golf balls. There’s real water in the stream underneath it.

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One piece of advice I have for you is not to get discouraged and lose your confidence because of hole 11 like I did the first time I played with my friend Jean.

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Basketball, Tennis & Pickleball Courts For more activity, you can enjoy tennis, basketball, or pickleball. I hate to admit it, but I thought the holes in the shade screens were windows. I wondered why they were so high and so low. Vince explained patiently that they are to keep the cloth in place when it’s windy. DUH!

resort walkPathways Along Oak Creek

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Oak Creek trail oops, wrong way!

We started down one path, but it ran out. Huge rocks line the smooth walking path.

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I don’t know if they brought all these rocks here.

The shallow creek meanders quietly right now, but at some point, the water has eroded the soil around the roots.

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Seating Areas along Oak Creek

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22 acres of Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona, AZ

If you wanted you could play checkers or chess outside. You could choose between walking, chess or checkers, or sitting. Nobody played at 9:00. Usually, the pieces are sitting upright in their assigned spots. Someone enjoyed playing  – until they didn’t, or the wind came up last night.

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Nobody played games at 9:30.

Bocce Ball Court Vince lost to me at this Italian game. We only played once. Hmmm. Maybe it did not challenge him enough.

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Our second game never went anywhere.

Too many options for Vince. He led the way.

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The Labyrinth You start at one end and follow the yellow brick road. Just when you think you’ve reached the Wizard of Oz, the blocks take a sharp turn and turns in the opposite direction.

The Bird Sanctuary The birds were shy this morning. Maybe Vince and I did not emit bird-loving vibes. We saw a crow fly in front of our noses on the road back to the suite. But by then my camera was sheathed in my pocket, and it was time for lunch. So birds, we’ll catch you later.

The Zen Garden Vince and I have too much Type A personality to sit down and zen in the garden.

“We need a rake. I’ll be they have a rake. Next time we’ll get a rake. Jason would spend hours here. Let’s go now.”

And as quickly as we walked in and I sat down to zen, we left.

Spoke N Wheel Restaurant Walking past the Morris House and the tennis courts we stopped to take pictures of the Spoke N Wheel Restaurant.

resort walkThe group of women I went to Sedona with last fall all enjoyed this restaurant. Vince and I booked a reservation for Easter dinner just to make sure.

resort walkLast year Darlene and I decided we did not want to pay the price. Instead, we spent five dollars less apiece and had a lousy meal from the store, most of which we threw away. Vince and I did not make that mistake.

resort walkNew Friends On the way to Schnebly pond from the Office we ran into friends we met at the pool the night before, Dave and Karen. We invited them to join us for brunch. Our one-hour luncheon turned into two and a half hours as we got better acquainted with this couple previously from Pennsylvania, but now from Arizona.

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Heated Pool and Jacuzzi No resort is complete without a pool, so as we headed back over to the place we met our new friends the night before in the jacuzzi.

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Mexican type tiled stairs

Vince stays out of the sun, although he would rather lie next to the pool all day in weather like Sedona this week. He had to be content to look over the pools from the patio above.

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Tomorrow I’ll seek out the spa again. It relaxed me, and you never know what new friend you will meet next.

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Schnebly Pond This pond was harder to find than we expected. Named after Sedona’s first family, it is buried between some of the units. After looking at the map, we figured it out.

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At first, I thought ducks had found a nice shallow pond. Closer inspection taught me otherwise.

resort walkNext to Tlaquepaque Sedona’s Art and Shopping Destination

Though separated by a concrete overflow, Tlaquepaque seems like part of the Abrigados dream resort. Drawn by a beautiful rendition of “Sounds of Silence,” we crossed the pedestrian path to the mall. Michael Kollwitz recorded one of his CDs under the banyan tree in LaHina on Maui.

Vince loves to shop. OK, honestly, I do too on occasion. We had fun strolling through the cobblestone and brick roads ducking in and out of specialty shops.

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Bennali’s clothing store

After living in rodeo country for sixteen years, I found my first cowgirl hat in Arizona at Bennali’s.

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While we picked from passion fruit, blueberry, pomegranate, cranberry, strawberry, apple and many other fruity kinds of vinegar, General Manager, Allison Wilson briefly explained the history of the Voss Fass Company.

Summary

All told, our resort walk lasted about an hour and a half or so trying out some of the fun things to do at Los Abrigados.

All day long, my husband who hates to leave home said, “I love it here.”

What’s not to love? This is a Diamond Resort membership resort, but you do not have to belong to stay here. You can book through Expedia or other online sites. If you come to Sedona, it’s the most beautiful of all the wonderful places we have stayed.

If you love to travel, sign up for my newsletter for tips and travel news and opportunities.

resort walk

Celebrate Spring in Sedona with a Layer of Cottonwood “Snow”

#Sedona in the Spring May Dream Gardens

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22 acres of Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona, AZ

Cottonwood Snow

It looks like snow but it’s 76 degrees, sunny with only a light spring breeze. The weather in Sedona on Easter weekend is about as beautiful as it gets anywhere in the world.

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Gentle breezes nudged the wind statues in mesmerizing motions.

But we humans need some complaint, so for that, we turn to the cottonwood trees. As we admired the wind statues, one merchant launched her campaign against the trees complaining that they are maliciously firing thousands of sticky flakes into their store.

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cacti with a layer of cottonwood snow

Once landed, the cottonwood snow sits quietly in bushes, spider webs and on the stems of the cacti like fuzzy socks.

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Time to flower

Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of cacti, but they are showing off this weekend for Easter. Statues guard Los Abrigados Resort where we stay in Sedona. Basket Lady Elder adorns herself for spring as well.

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Basket Lady Elder remembers the gifts of our elders: wisdom, experience, history and insight. She has walked the long path of life gathering seeds of wisdom and collecting answers to life’s mysteries. She keeps these treasures in her basket. All that she has gathered will be shared with the children during the storytelling ritual. Native cultures deeply revere their elders as sacred members of the tribe.

Next door to the resort is a bed and breakfast call the Portal. Even the roof sports wild purple flowers and is draped with hanging planters along the edge. Rose bushes brighten the corner of this award-winning vacation spot.

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La Portal Bed and Breakfast

Los Abrigados furbished itself elegantly for the spring holiday. Happy Easter, my friends. 🙂

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How to Relax Under a Fairies Tree

Australia #15 Fitzroy Gardens and the Fairies Tree

Relax? Are you kidding? Life gets hectic surrounded by five million people, the population of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. That might make someone like me from a town of 7,000 feel somewhat claustrophobic. Since 1848 Melbourne has found a way of calming its visitors and residents alike. Come with Carol and me through Fitzroy Gardens and relax.

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Fairy Tree in Fitzroy Gardens

Carol and I found one of the secrets in Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne. Wide paved pathways lead to the Fairies Tree and the Model Tudor Village.

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Relax, you got credit for this, OLA.

Ola Cohn carved the Fairies Tree and dedicated it to the children of Melbourne. One mother complained on Trip Advisor that it was not worth the walk with a baby in a tram. She missed the idea.

Relax? Did you see that giant spider web?
Playful artwork

Young mothers like Tram Mom may have lost the skill of relaxing and enjoying an afternoon of imagination. What conversations she could have had with Tram Baby about a bear that stood no larger than a bird. Did he shrink? He looks fearful.

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Relax, you can’t fall off the web. Bird’s got your back!

Imagine this!

Fairies, full of energy, climb and play on the branches of the giant web. Some practiced their gymnastics while others cuddled the fuzzy spider. Children, surrounded by onlooking adults, imitate the fairies and practice their gymnastics on the lawn. Applause breaks out.

I picture Creative Mum and five-year-old Frannie with books and writing materials spreading out a blanket near the tree. Creative Mum opens an insulated lunch bag. Slowly she pulls out a sandwich made with magic peanut butter spread on raisin bread with a banana face dusted with a light coating of powdered fairy dust.

“I brought your favorite a fairy catching sandwich,” she says as she takes it out.

Frannie squeals, jumps up and down, spins around, and runs over to the fairies to tell them.

“Come sit down,” Mum calls out laughing.

“The fairies want a bite of the magic peanut butter.”

“Yes, they do, and they will sneak over and grab your sandwich if you are not careful.”

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Relax, Eagle has the peanut butter kid under control

Frannie plopped onto the plaid blanket and lay on her belly propped up on her elbows. She looked at the fairies clamoring for her attention.

“You want some of this, you sneaky fairies? You can’t have my magic sandwich. It will make me fly like you.”

She glanced down at her peanut butter and banana sandwich. She dipped her finger in peanut butter and held it up for the fairies to lick off her. Then she rolled over and giggled as she stuck her gooey digit into her mouth. The fairies still clamored, so Frannie teased them again.

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Relax Teddy. Some sweet kid will fall in love with you.

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On the other side of the tree, Tram Mom’s baby reached out to the bear. The tree bear wanted to ride along. Tram Baby looked up at Tram Mom and whimpered. Tram Mom angrily pushed the Tram away from the tree.

“No, you can’t have that bear. Here, play with your teddy. Let’s go.”

Tram Mom did not realize that the tree gave HER a reason to relax and build some memories and wonder in her children.

Ola would have been grieved to hear Tram Mom’s grumpy tirade.

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Clamoring characters vie for children’s attention.

“A long time ago,” Mum told Frannie, “the fairies might have jumped off the tree onto your sketch pad.”

When you were my age, Mum?”

“No, no, fairies are ancient forest creatures, older than the animals, and much older than I. They would dance on your paper making beautiful designs.”

“I can do that for them, Mum!”

“Yes you can, and we can show Dad and Eric what happened when they come home for dinner tonight.

Frannie leans against her mother and doodling. Creative Mom bends forward and whispers. Frannie looks up, and giggles then gets back to her task.

Several pages go by with many shared secrets and muffled laughter. Finally, Frannie says, “I’m done! Dad and Eric will be so excited to read it.”

“I think the fairies enjoyed it too. Can you hear them buzzing?”

Frannie sits quietly and purses her lips together as she listens.

“Yes!”

Together Creative Mum and Frannie pack up their lunch and go home to make finishing touches to the fairy story.

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It’s easy to relax if your guardian angel

The day Carol and I visited Fitzroy Gardens there were more fairies than people.The sun beat down on us. We did not have a blanket with us, nor a cute five-year-old with a peanut butter face.

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Carved Mom and fairies shield their eyes from the sun.

I Admit to Being Somewhat Tram Momish

By the time we finished taking photos, it was past noon, or at least 10:30. Since confession is good for the soul, I’ll tell you that I was a little out of sorts after walking for quite a while in the heat. We were both thirsty. Like the little red fox who got his fat tummy caught inside the tree, I wondered if I would faint from starvation. I’d had nothing to eat since my Tim Tam’s that morning.

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My imagination cried out for a break. Fortunately, there was a little restaurant with air-con a few steps away from the Fairies Tree. We trudged past the Model Tudor village giving it little more than a cursory glance on the way up the hill to the Pavilion Cafe.

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Model Tudor Village in Fitzroy Gardens

We both ordered an iced coffee and relaxed enjoying the pictures of the fairies tree on our digital phones. Carol quickly Instagrammed her photos. I sat patiently trolling my fingers on the table and waited.

I couldn’t post until I had internet service at the Air B & B to show my pictures on Facebook through my computer, the old-fashioned way. By that time my hubby, Vince had already liked her beautiful pictures. So I treasured them until now.

If you have a chance to wander the pathways of Fitzroy Gardens, take your camera, books, paper, crayons, and blanket and stay a while. Let the fairies do their magic before you leave. Just a word of caution, take sunscreen, cold drinks, and maybe hard candy from Ballarat or some nuts. Those fairies like to eat! And they are sneaky!

Enjoy more trails and paths by clicking on these two Photo Challenges, Jo’s Monday Walks and Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

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A List of Blogging Goals for My Hobby Blog

What Blogging Goals?

I’ve been analyzing my blogging after spending hundreds of hours learning how to work with my self-hosted blog, Always Write.

blogging and traveling near and far
Could someone turn down that sun? I’m trying to blog here.

There are some huge advantages for self-hosting, but the learning curve for me has been and continues to be huge. So what about this blog?

First, of all, I want to segment and keep the other one about writing, blogging, and photography. Yet this one continues my photo challenges.  My next Australia post comes out on Monday. I’m excited because I had so much fun writing the post about fairies tree. My trip to Australia was fabulous and I’ll be reliving and talking about it for a very long time.

blogging and traveling near and far
I’m not a Quack. You are a Quack. You quack me up!

So from here on out this will be my primary travel and local events blog. I’ve been using it primarily for that reason for about a year, but I only told myself, not you guys. I do my book reviews on the other blog now. This is my more personal blog, where I feel I can talk about me stuff.

But I think my blog needs a more creative name than Marsha Ingrao. Not that there is anything wrong with my name. I love it. But I think the name of the blog should reflect the tagline. Blogging and traveling near and far.

I loved Streaming Thoughts, but after five years on the job, I’m focusing some of my thoughts and not being randomly streaming. I have about 800 posts on this blog, so there are going to be plenty of downstream ones left.

blogging and traveling near and far
Bravo Lake at full throttle in Woodlake, California.

I’ve been doing more reblogging and pressing other people’s posts on both blogs. The reason for that is to show some love to the people I love and to give my poor blogging fingers a break once in a while. It also introduces you to some of my favorite people. I only reblog on this site because you can only do that on WordPress.com. The other one doesn’t work that way.

I Need a New Name

Ok, I want a new name for my blog. I don’t need a new URL. That remains tchistorygal.net because I was the Tulare County History Gal for a long time, and I love that identity.

Vincie picked out the name for my other blog, Always Write. I thought it was cute considering how bossy he thinks I am. 🙂 I MAY be a little bossy.

Do you have any ideas you can share with me? Vincie and I need help. 🙂

If you have any blogging questions, head over to Always Write and or sign up for my blogging newsletter and grab your free PDF list of Influencer Bloggers. Or do both.

Or sign up for this brand new newsletter, yet to be named by you. It will be about traveling opportunities in Tulare County and beyond and fun posts about local events. Click here or click the picture to register.

blogging and traveling near and far
My old blog with a new name. Tagline: Blogging and Traveling Near and Far

 

 

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Woodlake (Images of America) by Marsha Ingrao

Sally Cronin reviews and promotes new authors like me on her beautiful website. I am so honored to be promoted here. 

Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves and today the featured author is Marsha Ingrao who is enjoying her retirement from teaching and as History Consultant for the Office of Education for Tulare County in Central California.  Her local history book tells the story of the Western town of Woodlake.  Marsha also provides excellent ‘how to’ posts on blogging for newbies and experienced writers alike.

About the book

Known as the area “within the magic circle,” the Western town of Woodlake, along with its surrounding valley, is rich in both natural resources and hardworking citizens who are proud of their heritage. Most Tulare County towns sprang up along the Southern Pacific Railroad. Woodlake, designed as a tourist town, drew together farming communities, consisting of people too busy raising fruit and cattle to create a town. Starting with Thomas Henry Davis in 1853, settlers established farms and ranches, which attracted Los Angeles millionaire Gilbert Stevenson when he arrived in 1907.

Source: Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Woodlake (Images of America) by Marsha Ingrao

Thank you, Sally Cronin, for this lovely post about our little town of Woodlake, CA.

The Mensa Convention…

This will tickle your funny bone. 🙂

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

There was a Mensa convention in San Francisco.

Mensa, as you probably know, is a national organization for people who have an IQ of 140 or higher.

Several of the Mensa members went out for lunch at a local café.

When they sat down, one of them discovered that their salt shaker contained pepper, and their pepper shaker was full of salt.

How could they swap the contents of the two bottles without spilling any, and using only the implements at hand?

Clearly, this was a job for Mensa minds.

The group debated the problem and presented ideas and finally, came up with a brilliant solution involving a napkin, a straw, and an empty saucer.

They called the waitress over, ready to dazzle her with their solution.

“Ma’am,” they said, “we couldn’t help but notice that the pepper shaker contains salt and the salt shaker has pepper.”

But before they…

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Calling all Kid Lit Authors and Book Bloggers-You Can Make a Difference to a Child in Need…

This looks like a great project. Many of my very good friends are following this blog, so I trust it.

Michelle Eastman Books


I would like to reach out to kid lit authors and book bloggers to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

Featured Image -- 1290

Throughout the month of March, I am collecting new children’s books to benefit children of incarcerated parents. Authors, I hope you will consider donating signed copies of your books. Book bloggers, please help us by sharing this information with your readers.

I am a children’s author, teacher, and mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of children’s books. When I learned nearly 2/3 of children, living in poverty, DO NOT own books, I was moved to act. I founded the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, to raise awareness for literacy issues and get books to kids in need.

Three years ago, the Picture Book Pass it On initiative grew to include a month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids.

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Oh no! There’s a Turkey in Your Garden

May Dreams Gardens #15 Australia

If you miss Ballarat, you miss Australia. Forget Sydney. Sovereign Hill went down in history and stayed there. Like going to Colonial Williamsburg, VA in the United States, or Mackinaw Island, MI or Columbia, CA visitors step back in time when they walk the city’s streets.

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Sovereign Hill living the dream, steeped in Australian Gold Rush history.

“Oh my dear man, would you care to tour my garden?”

How could he refuse such an offer?

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Peek-a-boo We have a guest. Let’s hide.

Guests are easy to spot. They dress funny.

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Keep looking up.

How delicate the tiny petals looked, so romantic.

“These  would look lovely in a bouquet on the table for tea, would they not?”

“Perfect like you, my dear.”

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What’s that?

“Are those flowers moving. There’s not a wee bit of air moving.”

“Indeed, I do not feel anything but the scorching sun. I’m wearing my coolest dress today.”

“It flatters you, dear woman.”

“And are you keeping cool in your dapper black?”

“I’m not fussed about this suit.”

“Don’t get your knickers in a knot, my dear. We’ll have a spot of tea, straight way.”

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These look like basil and azalea to me, but what do you think, Carol or Carol?

“What do you think of these muted colors, dear man?”

“Most muted, yes indeed. Most muted.”

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There’s the culprit.

“There, I saw it again. A bit too much movement.”

“Ah, it’s nothing to rot your socks, sir. It is simply my turkey. He wanders the garden looking for a shady spot.

“I think I’d like to join him.”

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I’m quite beautiful, don’t you think?

“Let’s get you to the porch for a lot of iced tea and maybe Sarah has baked some meat pies and pavlova.”

“That sounds lovely. It sounds like you have everything all sorted. Good on ya.”

“Thank you my dear. We’re in a good posi here on the veranda, don’t you think?”

“I’m enjoying shade and my lot of tea. Thanks for inviting me in to see your garden, and the surprise turkey.”

“It’s been my pleasure, sir.”

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Have a lovely Sunday, and don’t forget to visit Carol and her May Gardens.

Grab some great travel tips and opportunities on my newsletter. You will automatically be entered for a chance to win in my giveaway of Have Bags Will Travel by D.G. Kaye. Click to Enter.

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How Do You Say,”Thank You So Much” to a Whole Town?

Winning an Award Is Not All About The Winners

Woodlake Awards Banquet
2017 Woodlake Awards Banquet BTW, that was my expression when Tony told me I had to get off the stage or be carried off!

Seriously!

Award ceremonies honor the organization or community that gives them. If newspapers come to cover the event the organization or city gets some free publicity. People come to celebrate. They meet and greet make new friends and hug old ones. Excitement fills the room and spills outside as guests enter and leave. Normally I take pictures of it. This year I did not.

The Awards Ceremony elevates the award giver.

Suppose for a second that no one gave awards. Do you think the movie industry would be so noticed if it did not honor its own? People would go to movies – maybe. But they might not choose La La Land. Now they might! 🙂 Awards matter to the organizations that give them.

It thrilled me to see local papers cover the Woodlake Award’s Ceremony. One of the reporters said that it was the best ceremony in the area. Why? There’s a real family feeling in the community.

Go Woodlake! Go Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Lady Lions, Chamber, Homegrown, Woodlake Schools, Woodlake Businesses!

A community that pulls an awards event together elevates everyone, the City of Woodlake and all the community organizations that work so hard together to make it a great place to live and work.

The awardees walk a narrow line.

Woodlake honored me. Wow! I am humbled. Honorees walk a thin line between confidence and humility. Shy awardees suffer embarrassment from the attention. Even confident winners may have moments of awkwardness. (when they talk too long) For those who will be honored in the future, remember…

2017 Woodlake Awards Ceremony
Did I forget my Award? Where was my mom when I needed her, anyway?

Award ceremonies are not just for the awardees. Organizations that do not honor their own do themselves a disservice. To downplay the recognition of the award dishonors the community that honors them Receiving an award validates the winner for a period of hard work and sacrifice. Someone noticed.

Of course, this brings up another issue!

What if there wasn’t anyone to award?

I wouldn’t want to live there, would you? Or what if the community was too lazy to find someone who worked hard among them. What if no one appreciated anyone who worked hard?

What if no organization would take on all the work of gathering all the certificates from commissioners, mayors, senators, assembly members, ordering the awards, raising money for the food, preparing the food and decorating for the event? Much more goes into event planning that the larger community realizes.

Next Year It Could Be You!

This is what happens to the awardees so you can be prepared next year when the nominating committee calls you.

When Sally Pace called me to tell me I was chosen as the Woodlake 2016 Woman of the Year, my first thought, was, “How in the world am I going to fill the tables?”

“Also, I need 24 pictures and you need to fill out all this information about yourself.”

There is an expectation that the awardees will fill the room with guests. Everyone brings his or her family to celebrate. My family consists of my husband Vince and his sister in our area. Vince’s son Jason lives five hours away, and my brother lives in Portland, OR, about 15 hours away.

I put out a call for help on Facebook! Come be my family! I bought tickets to fill two tables. Then a third. I worried that they might go vacant. I told all my close friends out of town, even called my brother. He couldn’t come.

The night came, the tables filled. My rock star friend, Elane Geller, a child Holocaust Survivor came from Los Angeles and our close friend, Andria Jacobs came from Las Vegas, NV to make sure I treated Elane well. (I’m kidding, Andria!) The whispers started among the guests, “Is that Elane Geller?”

2017 Woodlake Awards Banquet
Marsha and Elane Geller (I’m on the left with my name tag on so I don’t forget who I am.)

They rushed over to greet her. They wanted pictures of her and themselves. Some of them included me, too. Tony Casares recognized her from the platform before the ceremony started. She received an ovation. Don’t ask me if they stood, I think my head had fuzzed shut by that time, but not from drinking. It just does that on me when I know I have to get in front of people.

My dear friend, Margaret Morris came from the coast. My step-son came. People came from TCOE where I worked for years including a former boss, Olga Cortez, a close colleague, Connie Smith, and two former support staff, (my pretend kids) Ivette Lopez and Paula Terrill, all of whom I love dearly.

My neighbors came. People who helped me with the Woodlake book came so I could talk about them in front of their faces instead of behind their backs. I worried about how to seat people. I didn’t need to.

No one edited my paperwork, I’m sure. They read the WHOLE thing! When will I ever learn? When I’m home alone with my computer, I think it’s a diary. Before I even reached the stage, I’d already been going on too long.

I wanted to tell the story about Robert Edmiston dusting me off after I fell out of the car when he showed me around Elderwood. The emcee, Tony Casares chased me off the stage before I could.

I wanted to thank my husband for supporting me so much while I’ve been busy doing all the stuff I love to do. He got up and left the room before I spoke. I forgot! Then I saw him standing in the back. Tony kept swooshing his hands to get me off the stage.

“No! Go! Go!”

Vince got an apology look across a crowded room. I think he understood.

Someone told Linda LaFleur, Kiwanis President, that the only bad thing about the ceremony was that some of the awardees spoke too long. Anyone know where there’s a good hole?

After the Event

2017 Woodlake Awards Banquet
More publicity! Thanks, Reggie!

Did you think it would end that night? Not at all. A couple of reporters called me. One gave me homework. One took a great picture of me and put it on the front page of his newspaper. I finally changed my three-year-old Facebook profile picture.

My former boss, Jim Vidak sent me a letter of congratulations with lots of personal marks on it. Go TCOE! My friend, Monica Pizura collected papers for me and brought me cute gifts. Connie brought me wine, and Connie doesn’t drink wine.

Last year’s awardee donated all the meat for this year’s banquet. She’s shy and I don’t think she wanted that information told. Yes, shy people get awards!

Get prepared, Woodlake Chamber Member, General Food Store, I’m going to need to buy a lot of meat next year. And the rest of you be thinking of who to nominate next year! 🙂

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How Focus on Doing Something Well Leads to Success

Focus, Train, and Succeed

Kiwanis Club International focuses on “changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time.”Kiwanis focus on catering

Over the years Kiwanis Club of Woodlake has learned how to modify the world by focusing on doing something well. This active service club of around twenty members runs a tight serving ship. Kiwanis members have helped caterers for the public, service organizations, and private parties.

Kiwanis focus on cateringServing at weddings and events like the Awards Dinner involves much more energy and hands than the Kiwanians can provide. So they partner with their sponsored youth groups, Key and Builders’ Club, the high school, and middle school service clubs.  As a result, students work hand in hand with experts in the field. Each time the students serve, their organization earns money which goes towards scholarships.

Opportunities for Students to Succeed

Kiwanis focus on catering
Figuring out the logistics of the appetizer table

Through their combined expertise in serving, Kiwanis of Woodlake has developed awesome opportunities for individual and groups of students.

Students benefit in many ways.

Professional Training Provided

Kiwanis focus on catering
CEO of Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber, Armondo Apodaca, trains Key Club and Kiwanis members about formal etiquette.

This year about twenty students from 6th-12th grades attended a training session with a former restaurant manager, CEO of Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber, Armondo Apodaca. After instruction in table setting, students divided into groups to put their learning into practice. Each group served one portion of a five-course meal. When they were not serving, they engaged their table mates, which included adults in dinner conversation.

Kiwanis focus on catering
Each group had to set their table first.

After the training, the service club members had multiple opportunities to serve at various events. In a short time, these students established a name for themselves. Working tirelessly for as many hours as the adults, they provided polite and excellent service with a smile.

Each Event Is On-the-Job Training

Kiwanis focus on cateringFor the most part, the events at which Key and Builders’ Club students serve and the adults who supervise them are the community leaders. Besides earning community service hours, which they need to graduate, students learn essential skills that will guarantee their success as productive citizens.

  • Kiwanis focus on cateringMore than contributing to a general Kiwanis scholarship fund, each student learns a valuable trade, social management, problem-solving and communication skills advancing them far beyond their peers.
  • They have time to observe and learn how their friends work with deadlines. They act as a team. It is almost like a coeducational sports team.
  • They are busy. Because students are busy doing adult work, they have no time or inclination to get into trouble. Most of these students end up with hundreds of hours more community service work than they need for graduation.Kiwanis focus on catering
  • Adults rely on students’ problem-solving skills. When you provide service for caterers, all kinds of detail issues arise. Adults may not have the best answers. What happens when there are no water pitchers, or the food service providers are late? What happens when there are too many or few appetizers for the table space, or you can’t find them. The person who solves the problem is the hero for the minute.Kiwanis focus on catering
  •  Tight management is essential. Although there is an adult in charge of every event, students learn to manage each other as well. Given an overall task, the Key and Builders’ Club students subdivide so that no logistics fall through the cracks.
  • Politeness is essential. When one adult orders a student to do a task followed by a second command by a different adult, students are taught stop and explain to the second or third adult what they are doing and who gave the instruction and not to be confused and jump on every command.
  • Adults learn their names and the capabilities of each student. Many of these same adults make scholarship decisions, interview students to go to leadership conferences, or grade graduation portfolios.
  • Students have real work experience to add to their resumes for scholarships and employment.Kiwanis focus on catering
  • They develop relationships with influential people who can give them honest recommendations.
  • Many of the students in Woodlake come from farm labor families. They work very hard and see their parents and grandparents working long hours for minimum wages. Numerous other employment opportunities could open for Key and Builders’ Club students who work with professional and volunteer servers.Kiwanis focus on catering
  • Although few of these students will go into the catering business, many of them may work their way through college as servers. Most of them go to college. Their home backgrounds and work in providing service for caterers has prepared them for hard work, getting along with all kinds of people, solving real-world problems, and has earned money for the Kiwanis scholarships.
  • Most of all, serving at parties and events is fun for kids.
    Kiwanis catering focus
    Kiwanis serves events of all sizes.

    They are treated as adults as they work with peers they enjoy.

About Kiwanis

Although Kiwanis of Woodlake is part of the International Club serving children, it is unique. Woodlake’s Club participates in District, Regional, and National Campaigns, such as Miracle Mile of Quarters, Read Around the World, Key Leader, Special Olympics, and Bowl-a-Thon. Kiwanis puts on the Pancake Breakfast during Rodeo Week, sponsors a Run for Hunger to benefit the Woodlake Food Pantry, the July 3rd Blast to entertain the community as we all celebrate Independence Day, and many other single events.

I am proud to be a Kiwanis member. But I have a request. Kiwanis of Woodlake needs adult volunteers who want to serve the community as members. You are welcome to join our weekly meetings at 6:30 am at the Presbyterian Church on Naranjo. Three out of four weeks a month we invite a community member to speak to the group. If you are interested in joining, please fill out the contact form, and someone from the club will meet with you in person or over the phone to give you more information.

May Gardens in January from Victoria, Australia

May Dreams Gardens #14 Australia

The weeds are growing well in March in the Ingrao’s California household. Instead, we’ll take another peek into the summer beauty in Australia this January.

purple Australian flowers i
Melbourne agapanthus

In my brief experience when bloggers travel together, there is a great deal of serious alone time. Either Carol or I had wandered off engrossed in our own photo taking. When I looked up, she had her nose buried in the purple flowers above.

“These are one of my favorites,” she said. “Here’s a picture Leanne just posted on Instagram.”

Even if I could have gotten Instagram on my phone without costing $1,000 a minute, I probably would not have had better timing. Leanne had posted a picture much like what we were seeing. She picked a bud for her photo subject. So we looked for a bud and tried to duplicate her efforts.

purple Australian flowers
First agapanthus bud composition

blogging and traveling near and far

That was not impressive because the wrong part of the plant blurred out.

purple Australian flowers
So I tried it again only closer.

It got worse when I enlarged it! I can’t do manual focus! You can see that the greenery is lovely.

This beauty came from Ballarat, I think. I’ve taken my pictures out of context because I grouped them by purple. Don’t ask me why or what this is. Read Carol’s comments if you want precision. She has an encyclopedia-brain. Mine bee a bit fuzzy!

purple Australian flowers
Look closely at Mr. Buzz. He’s immersed his food.

Notice that Mr. Buzz has pollen all over his face and legs. He reminds me of an 18-month-old boy eating chocolate cake. Enjoyment personified.

purple Australia flowers
Bees rule! How many can you count?

The bees did not bother us. They had food on their pinheads.

Happy Sunday! Hope you enjoyed beautiful Victoria in southeastern Australia. Be sure and visit Indiana Carol for more ideas and photos of gardens in my home state and beyond.

blogging and traveling near and far
Click picture to enter.

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Australia’s Famous Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Stories

Australia Post #13 Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

Actually, these stories rate less as an odd ball photo and more sweet and cuddly. However, I fear that a Sweet and Cuddly Photo Challenge might open up to something other than the Australian children’s fairy tales, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

Healesville flowersThat said, I thought it was a bit odd to have a gum nut shoved onto a lizard-riding baby’s head. Yes, I think it’s a little far-fetched to have soft baby skin riding a scaly lizard. Mothers tell me I’m right! Carol informed me that I was a little off in my thinking and that maybe I’d better read the stories. The illustrations have a high cute factor.

Gum nut babyYou make your own judgment.

Be sure to check out Cee’s other oddball photos.

view in the loo

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Healesville Sanctuary Blooms in December and January

May Dreams Gardens Garden Photo Challenge

Australia #12

There is nothing as pretty as some of the flowers I found at the Healesville Sanctuary when I went with Leanne, her friend Suzanne and Carol. I wish I knew the names to share with you, but maybe someone will slip in and rescue my ignorance.

Healesville flowers

Maybe I felt hot and this reminded me of snow. Or maybe it was like blowing on dandelions, which I did as a child. (My dad must have loved that!) I could actually draw some of these random patterns. I love the hazy, spider webby, x-ray quality of this photo.

Healesville flowers

These Australian gum nut gems have special stories about them, the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie series by May Gibbs.

Healesville flowers
grevillea

I love the calligraphy/centipede-style flower. Isn’t it stunning?

Healesville flowers These Australian fruits quickly dried and fell off in the warm summer weather. They look like raisins when dried, but these fruits do not look like grapes to me.

Healesville flowers
kangaroo paws

These brilliant leaf buds look like they are swimming in a watercolor sea.

Feel free to chime in if you know something about these. Which one is your favorite?

Related Australia Posts

Be sure to check out the two Photo challenges for more photos, May Dreams Gardens (no specific day)  Garden Photo Challenge (1st Sunday of each month)

Check out my FB page at I appreciate everyone’s support & I support others. Have the best of times!

How Do You Explain a Goof Like the Oscar Foul-Up of All Time?

Goof is an understatement, don’t you think?  How would Warren know he did not have the right card? Why would there be an extra card? Tweeters are all over this as expected.

Goof
Goof of the Century Credit pic from Quinn Nelson @SnazyQ

I love that Warren Beaty knew better and made Faye Dunaway read La La Land 😂🤣😂🤣

Looking Up a Didgeridoo

Cee’s Oddball Challenge

Australian trip #12

Of course, you know what this is. It’s a didgeridoo. In case you have never seen one, this is probably not the first view you would see. So when I call this oddball, I simply mean unique.

didgerdoo

All the native Aussie’s told me that out of all the wild animals and birds, the didgeridoo was the most unusual sight we got to see at the Healesville Sanctuary. This was an indigenous Australian Ranger playing a $3,000 didgeridoo.

didgeridoo
indigenous didgeridoo player

The sound drew us magnetically to his side. He practiced reciprocal breathing. Air went in his nose and came out his didgeridoo through his mouth. I tried reciprocal breathing without success not even using a didgeridoo.

didgeridoo
His foot tapped a beat.

He gathered a crowd of all ages. We watched through several sessions. He could play for several minutes without taking a breathing break.

Then he spoke to using his beautiful accent about the didgeridoo. I struggled to understand and sort out all his words.

For more of Cee’s Oddball Challenge entries click here.

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Smile Good Lookin’

Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge

Australia #11

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Hope you have fun today!

Leanne Cole and her friend Suzanne took Carol and me to Healesville Sanctuary to get a closer look at wild animals in Australia.

Some of the critters there were just there to look good and have fun. They smiled constantly.

smile good lookin'
Say Cheese!

When in Rome, do what the Romans do, correct? So this is what the Aussie Romans did.

smile good lookin'
This is slippery.

It looks like fun, don’t you think?

smile good lookin'
You can do it!

I did not want to get on the lizard. Way too slippery and high! Trust me, stabilization shoes do not do a thing for you when you are sitting on a polished statue. Not even this friendly platypus budged an inch to help us stay on!

smile good lookin'
Hold tight to whaaaaaaa?

And did you see his mischievous little smile?

For more oddball posts check out Cee’s place.

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Check out my FB page at I appreciate everyone’s support! I support and visit others. Have the best of times!