Milkweed Pod Coloring Page

milkweed pod coloring page

 

I think this would make a pretty bookmark.

Here are pictures I took of the milkweed the grandbabies and I picked a few weeks ago.

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George and Martha Visit The Equuschick

You remember George and Martha, yes? Of course you do. Because no self-respecting reader of the Common Room could neglect George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends, those two lovable hippos and their many adventures.

There is one particular George and Martha tale, from which original collection The Equuschick now can’t recall, where George begins painting a beach scene and Martha stands behind him and critiques his careful work. The trees look funny. The sand is the wrong colour. Etc. In a huff, George stalks off and leaves her with the painting to see if she can do better. “My,” she says, “some artists are so touchy.” Her finished work is very much in the modern abstract style, with splashes of colour everywhere that splashed coloured paint right back all over Martha. George is aghast. “You’ve ruined it!” he cries. But Martha “was one of those artists who aren’t a bit touchy.”

The other day at The Equuschick’s, the children painted.

Here is the Dread Pirate Grasshopper’s work of art:
haydons art

Carefully and pain-stakingly done, the colours just so and a careful attention to the lines and where they were. He was very pleased, delighted in fact, with his work and its exactitude.

Here is the Ladybug’s masterpiece:
Lizzies art

She was also pleased with her work. The Dread Pirate Grasshopper was not. His spirit was neither critical or mean, but he was sincerely distressed. “You’re RUINING it,” he kept crying in dismay. “Oh dear, be careful! You’re messing it ALL UP!”

Fortunately however, the Ladybug (like Martha) is “one of those artists who aren’t a bit touchy.”

Liz for blog

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Atrazine, Syngenta and the EPA

New_Yorker_HayesSeveral years ago Dr. Hayes did some research studies that indicated to him atrazine in our water was causing birth defects and fertility issues in frogs.

What is atrazine?

What it is: Atrazine, a white, crystalline, solid organic compound, is the second-most heavily used herbicide in the United States.

Where it’s used: According to its main manufacturer, the Swiss corporation Syngenta, atrazine is used on two-thirds of all cornfields and sorghum fields in the United States and on 90 percent of sugar-cane fields. It is also used on residential lawns, golf courses, and Christmas-tree farms. More than 76 million pounds of atrazine are applied annually, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast. It is applied to the soil before planting to control broadleaf weeds and some grassy weeds.

 

Rather than address the problem, atrazine’s maker, Syngenta, targeted Dr. Hayes and spent years trying to destroy his reputation- and worse. You can read about it here:

” Liu and several other former students said that they had remained skeptical of Hayes’s accusations until last summer, when an article appeared in Environmental Health News (in partnership with 100Reporters)* that drew on Syngenta’s internal records. Hundreds of Syngenta’s memos, notes, and e-mails have been unsealed following the settlement, in 2012, of two class-action suits brought by twenty-three Midwestern cities and towns that accused Syngenta of “concealing atrazine’s true dangerous nature” and contaminating their drinking water. Stephen Tillery, the lawyer who argued the cases, said, “Tyrone’s work gave us the scientific basis for the lawsuit.””
The unsealed documents also revealed Syngenta’s bizarre secret campain to undermine Dr. Haye’s professionally and personally.

You needn’t swallow it all whole.  Some of Syngenta’s actions are just the basic self-defense mechanisms any human or institution would take.  Actions that aren’t unethical are couched in terms that make it seem otherwise. There’s a rebuttal of sorts here (it’s even more poorly sourced than the New Yorker, which is ironic).   However, it seems to me there is more than enough information here to cause concern.

More here:

By 1999, working with African clawed frogs that he had raised in his lab, Mr. Hayes began to see indications that doses of atrazine in concentrations as low as one part per billion would inhibit the growth of the larynxes of male frogs. He says he shared the information with colleagues on the Ecorisk panel and with Syngenta. The findings were noteworthy, he says, because under EPA guidelines, atrazine is considered safe in drinking water as long as it is found in levels no greater than three parts per billion.

Panel members asked for additional confirmation of his findings, but Mr. Hayes says they would not provide payment or approve guidelines for the additional work. By controlling the money, “they had control over the pace of the work,” he says. By mid-1999, “I started to feel like they were stalling progress.” He agreed that analyses of additional samples were necessary, but was frustrated that the money for the work was not forthcoming. He says he eventually did the additional analysis with his own funds.

By early 2000, Mr. Hayes was eager to begin a second round of analyses, but he still could not get approvals for the financing or the research protocols. By September, he says, he was growing so impatient that he decided to begin that work on his own, assuming that Ecorisk and Syngenta would eventually reimburse him for his costs. He paid for some of the work with money from grants from his department and from awards he had won. His rapport with his students helped. Many of them volunteered their time.

The new studies looked not only at the larynxes but also at the sex organs of the frogs treated with atrazine. Mr. Hayes says that by early fall, he began seeing signs that the effects of atrazine on the sex organs of male frogs were occurring at levels as low as 0.1 parts per billion—a concentration a tenth of that affecting the larynxes. “The testes essentially start changing,” he says, because atrazine triggers production of estrogen. “They grow ovaries and eggs.”

 

The EPA still approves attrazine for use in our food crops.  In some areas it’s even used on lawns.

In 2012, the EPA again approved atrazine for use in America’s crops.  According to the New Yorker article:

the E.P.A. determined that atrazine does not affect the sexual development of frogs. By that point, there were seventy-five published studies on the subject, but the E.P.A. excluded the majority of them from consideration, because they did not meet the requirements for quality that the agency had set in 2003. The conclusion was based largely on a set of studies funded by Syngenta and led by Werner Kloas, a professor of endocrinology at Humboldt University, in Berlin. One of the co-authors was Alan Hosmer, a Syngenta scientist whose job, according to a 2004 performance evaluation, included “atrazine defence” and “influencing EPA.”

During Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address to the nation he issued a warning that is eerily prescient:

During the 1961 address, in which the president famously warned of the danger to the nation of a growing armaments industry referred to as a “military-industrial complex,” he included a few sentences about risks posed by a scientific-technological elite. He noted that the technological revolution of previous decades had been fed by more costly and centralized research, increasingly sponsored by the federal government.

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields… ,” Eisenhower warned. “Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.”

While continuing to respect discovery and scientific research, he said, “We must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Regulations at agencies like the EPA are written not by elected officials, not usually even by scientists, but by bureaucrats and lobbyists who are the offspring of the unholy alliances of crony capitalism.

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Fall Picture to Color

vintage fall girl with squirrel

 

 

Primary Plans, Volume 7

By Elizabeth P. Bemis, 1909

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Free Kindle Titles, history, biography, and more

Books are free at the time I found the links and pasted them here. This changes sometimes, so be sure to note the price before you add it to your cart.

Sometimes, for some reason, the links get stuck while loading. Just refresh the Amazon page and that should help.

You don’t need a Kindle to read these. More at the bottom of the post.

1.99 for Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades (Alastair-Audley Book 1)

Free:


Education in The Home, The Kindergarten, and The Primary School- vintage, published in 1887.

Excerpt:

Whoever proposes to become a kindergartner according to the idea of Frœbel, must at once dismiss from her mind the notion that it requires less ability and culture to educate children of three, than those of ten or fifteen years of age. It demands more; for, is it not plain that to superintend and guide accurately the formation of the human understanding itself, requires a finer ability and a profounder insight than to listen to recitations from books ever so learned and scientific? To form the human understanding is a work of time, demanding a knowledge of the laws of thought, will, and feeling, in their interaction upon the threshold of consciousness, which can be acquired only by the study of children themselves in their every act of life—a study to be pursued in the spirit that reveals what Jesus Christ meant, when he said: “He that receiveth a little child in my name, receiveth me, and Him that sent me;” “Woe unto him who offends one of these little ones, for their spirits behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Not till children who have been themselves educated according to Frœbel’s principles, grow up, will there be found any adult persons who can keep kindergartens without devoting themselves to a special study of child-nature in the spirit of devout humility. For we are all suffering the ignorance and injury inevitable from having begun our own lives in the confusions of accidental and disorderly impressions, without having had the clue of reason put into our hands by that human providence of education, which, to be true, must[2] reflect point by point the Divine Providence, that according to the revelations of history is educating the whole race, and which may find hints for its procedure in observing the spontaneous play of children fresh from the hands of the Creator.

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Thorns In The Heart: A Christian’s Guide To Dealing With Addiction

Reader Reviews: I first read this book several years ago. I was so impressed, I gave my copy away. Thus began a mission of sorts, to try and keep a copy, yet provide copies to others who struggle with pain in their lives. Many times I have faced crises and pain in my life and found help in Thorns in the Heart. It helps lead me to the One who loves us most and encourages me to place my trust, in all situations and circumstances, in Him. I have been learning that I don’t need to carry pain in my heart.

5.0 out of 5 stars Pain explained in a way that resonates February 8, 2011
By Emmanuel DeNike
Format:Paperback
This book has changed my life. It addresses the issues of addiction, pain, and human frailty with compelling and poignant depth. Similar to The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis, which searches the interface between human suffering and the meaning of life from a philosophical and spiritual perspective, Steve Stiles has put forth a practical approach that strikes at the heart of the human condition. At the same time his writing is accessible, to the point that people from all walks of life can put the ideas to use in their own lives, as well as when trying to understand and help friends and family members. The stories of heart-wrenching pain are written with beauty and grace, and serve to provide real-life examples that elucidate so much of the material. My spiritual life, view of addiction, and approach to my own pain will never be the same.

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The Life of Marie Antoinette- a vintage title

Excerpt:

By the spring of the next year all the necessary preparations had been completed; and on the evening of the 10th of April, 1770, a grand court was held in the Palace of Vienna. Through a double row of guards of the palace, of body-guards, and of a still more select guard, composed wholly of nobles, M. de Durfort was conducted into the presence of the Emperor Joseph II., and of his widowed mother, the Empress-queen, still, though only dowager-empress, the independent sovereign of her own hereditary dominions; and to both he proffered, on the part of the King of France, a formal request for the hand of the Archduchess Marie Antoinette for the dauphin. When the Emperor and Empress had given their gracious consent to the demand, the archduchess herself was summoned to the hall and informed of the proposal which had been made, and of the approval which her mother and her brother had announced; while, to incline her also to regard it with equal favor, the embassador presented her with a letter from her intended husband, and with his miniature, which she at once hung round her neck. After which, the whole party adjourned to the private theatre of the palace to witness the performance of a French play, “The Confident Mother” of Marivaux, the title of which, so emblematic of the feelings of Maria Teresa, may probably have procured it the honor of selection.

The next day the young princess executed a formal renunciation of all right of succession to any part of her mother’s dominions which might at any time devolve on her; though the number of her brothers and elder sisters rendered any such occurrence in the highest degree improbable, and though one conspicuous precedent in the history of both countries had, within the memory of persons still living, proved the worthlessness of such renunciations.[1] A few days were then devoted to appropriate festivities. That which is most especially mentioned by the chroniclers of the court being, in accordance with the prevailing taste of the time, a grand masked ball,[2] for which a saloon four hundred feet long had been expressly constructed. And on the 26th of April the young bride quit her home, the mother from whom she had never been separated, and the friends and playmates among whom her whole life had been hitherto passed, for a country which was wholly strange to her, and in which she had not as yet a single acquaintance. Her very husband, to whom she was to be confided, she had never seen.

Though both mother and daughter felt the most entire confidence that the new position, on which she was about to enter, would be full of nothing but glory and happiness, it was inevitable that they should be, as they were, deeply agitated at so complete a separation. And, if we may believe the testimony of witnesses who were at Vienna at the time,[3] the grief of the mother, who was never to see her child again, was shared not only by the members of the imperial household, whom constant intercourse had enabled to know and appreciate her amiable qualities, but by the population of the capital and the surrounding districts, all of whom had heard of her numerous acts of kindness and benevolence, which, young as she was, many of them had also experienced, and who thronged the streets along which she passed on her departure, mingling tears of genuine sorrow with their acclamations, and following her carriage to the outermost gate of the city that they might gaze their last on the darling of many hearts.

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass- his own story as told by himself. A classic.

Excerpt:

As to my own treatment while I lived on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, it was very similar to that of the other slave children. I was not old enough to work in the field, and there being little else than field work to do, I had a great deal of leisure time. The most I had to do was to drive up the cows at evening, keep the fowls out of the garden, keep the front yard clean, and run of errands for my old master’s daughter, Mrs. Lucretia Auld. The most of my leisure time I spent in helping Master Daniel Lloyd in finding his birds, after he had shot them. My connection with Master Daniel was of some advantage to me. He became quite attached to me, and was a sort of protector of me. He would not allow the older boys to impose upon me, and would divide his cakes with me.

I was seldom whipped by my old master, and suffered little from any thing else than hunger and cold. I suffered much from hunger, but much more from cold. In hottest summer and coldest winter, I was kept almost naked—no shoes, no stockings, no jacket, no trousers, nothing on but a coarse tow linen shirt, reaching only to my knees. I had no bed. I must have perished with cold, but that, the coldest nights, I used to steal a bag which was used for carrying corn to the mill. I would crawl into this bag, and there sleep on the cold, damp, clay floor, with my head in and feet out. My feet have been so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes.

We were not regularly allowanced. Our food was coarse corn meal boiled. This was called mush. It was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set down upon the ground. The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush; some with oyster-shells, others with pieces of shingle, some with naked hands, and none with spoons. He that ate fastest got most; he that was strongest secured the best place; and few left the trough satisfied.

 

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DIY HOUSEHOLD HACKS: 50+ HOLIDAY DIY Cleaning and Organization Hacks: BONUS CLEANING RECIPES INSIDE! (DIY Household Hacks – DIY – DIY Cleaning and Organizing … Hacks – DIY Household – Crafts & Hobbies)

Get Organized! How Cleaning Out Your Spaces Can Help You Become More Productive, Happier, & A Lot More Efficient

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Economic Crisis: World Food System – The Battle against Poverty, Pollution and Corruption

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Indoor Gardening: How to Grow a Luscious and Thriving Herb and Vegetable Garden Indoors (Your Guide to Growing Fruits, Vegetables, and Other Plants Indoors)

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Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup- another classic, recently made into a movie. Solomon Northup was a free black, kidnapped by slavers as so many northern blacks were, and shipped south to fill the ranks of the enslaved. He spent 12 years, in violation of laws both southern and northern, as a slave before he regained his freedom.

 Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York,
              Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853,
              from a Cotton Plantation near the Red River in Louisiana

The Dedication: TO
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE:
WHOSE NAME,
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, IS IDENTIFIED WITH THE
GREAT REFORM:
THIS NARRATIVE, AFFORDING ANOTHER
Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin,
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

Excerpt: But in all the crowd that thronged the wharf, there was no one who knew or cared for me. Not one. No familiar voice greeted my ears, nor was there a single face that I had ever seen. Soon Arthur would rejoin his family, and have the satisfaction of seeing his wrongs avenged: my family, alas, should I ever see them more? There was a feeling of utter desolation in my heart, filling it with a despairing and regretful sense, that I had not gone down with Robert to the bottom of the sea.
Very soon traders and consignees came on board. One, a tall, thin-faced man, with light complexion and a little bent, made his appearance, with a paper in his hand. Burch's gang, consisting of myself, Eliza and her children, Harry, Lethe, and some others, who had joined us at Richmond, were consigned to him. This gentleman was Mr. Theophilus Freeman. Reading from his paper, he called, "Platt." No one answered. The name was called again and again, but still there was no reply. Then Lethe was called, then[Pg 76] Eliza, then Harry, until the list was finished, each one stepping forward as his or her name was called.
"Captain, where's Platt?" demanded Theophilus Freeman.
The captain was unable to inform him, no one being on board answering to that name.
"Who shipped that nigger?" he again inquired of the captain, pointing to me.
"Burch," replied the captain.
"Your name is Platt—you answer my description. Why don't you come forward?" he demanded of me, in an angry tone.
I informed him that was not my name; that I had never been called by it, but that I had no objection to it as I knew of.
"Well, I will learn you your name," said he; "and so you won't forget it either, by ——," he added.
Mr. Theophilus Freeman, by the way, was not a whit behind his partner, Burch, in the matter of blasphemy. On the vessel I had gone by the name of "Steward," and this was the first time I had ever been designated as Platt—the name forwarded by Burch to his consignee. From the vessel I observed the chain-gang at work on the levee. We passed near them as we were driven to Freeman's slave pen. This pen is very similar to Goodin's in Richmond, except the yard was enclosed by plank, standing upright, with ends sharpened, instead of brick walls.
Including us, there were now at least fifty in this pen. Depositing our blankets in one of the small[Pg 77] buildings in the yard, and having been called up and fed, we were allowed to saunter about the enclosure until night, when we wrapped our blankets round us and laid down under the shed, or in the loft, or in the open yard, just as each one preferred.

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The History of Normandy and of England Volume 1
by Francis Palgrave
Blurb; Pyrrhus Press specializes in bringing books long out of date back to life, allowing today’s readers access to yesterday’s treasures.
This is Volume 1 of a comprehensive history of the Normans and Anglo-Saxons in France and England respectively, culminating with the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. That event, one of the most influential of the millennium, charted a new course for the history of England.
From the preface:
“The richness of our Anglo-Norman history is so exuberant that I could not bring myself to compress the vintage into a juiceless residuum. Therefore, renouncing the hope of prosecuting the work to the Tudor era, I finally determined to restrict myself to such a portion or portions as my times would allow:—not stintedly, but upon a scale commensurate with their value;—hence the bulk which the work has acquired.
Arnold was blamed for the length of his volumes. I would reply to the like objection, should it be raised, in Arnold’s words: “I am convinced by a tolerably large experience, that most readers find it almost impossible to impress on their memories a mere abridgment of history the number of names and events crowded into a small space is overwhelming to them, and the absence of details in the narrative makes it impossible to communicate to it much of interest. Neither characters nor events can be developed with that particularity which is the best help to the memory, because it attracts and engages us, and impresses images on the mind as well as facts.”
Not merely are meagre abridgments devoid of interest, but, under the existing circumstances of society, they become snares for the conscience, seducing men to content themselves with a perfunctory notion of history, and, when occasion calls, to act upon imperfect knowledge.
Historical truth never can be elicited save by comparison. Particularly is this labour of comparison incumbent upon every one who, in his sphere, may be called upon to legislate or influence the duty of legislation, a duty perhaps involving the most fearful responsibility which can devolve upon any human being; for the function of the Lawgiver is the highest exercised by man. Human institutions are rarely, perhaps never, beneficial or mischievous, simply in themselves; they become beneficial or mischievous by their relation to other institutions; and therefore when presented to ratiocination without these concurrent circumstances, they only mislead the judgment, substituting words and phrases for real knowledge. No one book, however excellent, can teach you singly and alone. History requires no less study than Law. We cannot dabble in its practical application. Would you take upon yourself to pay down your purchase-money for an acre of land, upon your knowledge of conveyancing derived from Blackstone’s Commentaries
The publication of a work which has occupied the best part of my life is not unattended by considerable anxiety. In every stage it has been spoken that is to say, written down by dictation, and transcribed from dictation. Advantages and disadvantages, counterbalancing each other, attend this mode of composition. The sound of his own voice encourages the speaker to express his mind more fully than when he is sitting before his desk.—The single amanuensis represents a whole audience. But a speaker may also be seduced into many liberties of speech, and tempted to indulge in digressions and fancies which would not have occurred to him if penning his silent thoughts in solitude.”

books black and white

The Fathers of New England A Chronicle of the Puritan Commonwealths

Reader Review: This book was originally published in 1919, and is more thorough than many newer publications. That being said, it was published in 1919 and more recent scholarship will dispute some long held facts, that does not diminish it’s contribution to colonial history. It is certainly a great starting place.

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An American Holocaust: The Story of Lataine’s Ring

On March 18, 1937 one of the most modern public school buildings in America exploded in a rural Texas community decimating the student population and destroying innocent lives. Considered the worst public school disaster in U.S. history, controversial theories surrounding this tragedy are still debated to this day. The event sparked changes that soon reverberated around the world and continue to affect each of us in our homes, schools, businesses and places of worship.

“An American Holocaust” is a story that begins with the giving of a child’s Christmas gift in 1936. The explosion took place at the London School in New London, Texas. This story relays more than simple facts. It is a personal account of unprepared loss and shattered dreams, followed by unfathomable grief. It describes the feelings of those who died in their innocence and of those who witnessed horror and lived through the aftermath. An unresolved silence persisted for forty years among the entire community of scarred survivors. For those who spoke out, their stories have been told and re-told for over three quarters of a century, but most people have never heard them.

Although the innocent still suffer from the ignorance and indifference of a few, especially those we should be able to trust with the lives and safety of our children, this is also a story of hope. Countless lives have been saved by bold actions that were taken in the wake of this unanticipated sacrifice of so many children who were literally consumed by fire on the day a generation died in Texas.

The following is an editorial review by John E. Roper, The US Review of Books:

“I remember being thrown up in the air like a toy… I keep turning and spinning. Then darkness.”

The attack on the World Trade Center in New York claimed almost 3,000 lives and changed America forever. A little-remembered explosion of a school in the 1930s resulted in just over 300 deaths, yet it, too, had a tremendous impact on society. Barger revives the story of one of the nation’s most poignant tragedies in his highly-moving tale.

The school in New London was considered one of the most modern facilities in the state for the time period, and the residents of the small East Texas town were extremely proud of it. Like in many of the small towns near the oil fields, school officials had decided to tap into the natural gas lines to cut heating costs at the facility. What they never realized was just how dangerous that practice could be. On March 18, 1937, a spark in the wood shop ignited the cloud of invisible and odorless gas that had slowly permeated the school. The resulting explosion killed children and teachers alike, littering the area with body parts and completely devastating a community. The catastrophe led Texas to mandate the inclusion of an additive to natural gas that would enable people to smell it. The nation and then much of the world soon followed suit.

Barger’s book follows the lives of several families affected by the tragedy, including his own. By giving the reader glimpses into the hopes and dreams of individuals like his cousin, Lataine, he builds a literary memorial to those who lost so much to make others safe in the future… it stands as a much-needed reminder of an event that should never be forgotten.

www.theUSreview.com

Reader Review: this book hit me in the heart and had me in tears. told by a member of one of families affected, with stories from survivors passed down a couple generations and verified this book tells the story of a school explosion in 1937 that didn’t make it into history book I read. it happened in New London, Texas, a gas leak in one of the first schools to be heated by natural gas lead the world wide regulations that put mercaptan in all natural gas lines. a must read for those who are interested in our countries industrial development.

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South! (Illustrated)
by Ernest Shackleton

Blurb: In 1914, as Europe braces for an unfathomably deadly war, explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sets sail for Antarctica to do the impossible: traverse the continent. He has a ship (the aptly named Endurance), a head brimming with optimism, and 28 men willing to follow him on an expedition across some of the most treacherous terrain on the planet. But Shackleton’s optimism doesn’t last long. Despite his experience in the Antarctic, disaster strikes early on when the Endurance is trapped in packed ice and slowly crushed, forcing Shackleton and his men off the ship and stranding them in a sea of ice.

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Loyal To A Degree

Blurb: A World War Two Historical Fiction Novel Based On A True Story

A young boy in Nazi Germany is forced to become a man well before his time or perish.

As 14-year-old Karl Veth listens to the German special OKW report, the news he has feared and anticipated becomes a reality. Russian tanks have broken through the German defense lines east of the KLV evacuation camp in Poland where he and 120 other German boys are living. The time has come to leave the camp and return to Berlin.

Despite his young age, Karl is a trained member of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) and the assistant to KLV camp leader. Due to injuries sustained in battle, the camp leader is handicapped and unable to see to the evacuation of the boys from the camp. The job falls squarely on Karl’s shoulders as orders come from headquarters putting him in command of the mission. He must refine and execute an evacuation plan that will reunite the boys with their families and he must do it on his own. Berlin has no soldiers to spare.

Once back in Berlin, Karl is reunited with his good friend and fellow Hitler Jugend member, Harold. The two boys are close and share a common bond – they are both “subway rats.” They earned the nickname because of the time they spent playing in and exploring the subway tunnels under Berlin when they were younger. They are experts when it comes to the subway system but little do they know that their unique knowledge of the tunnels will put them in grave danger.

When SS leaders learn that Karl is a subway rat, they take advantage of his knowledge and order him to act as a guide for SS demolition commandos in the tunnels. Having been relieved of his previous post, Harold is ordered to assist Karl. The SS cannot be trusted and Karl walks a fine line between life and death as he follows orders while working on a secret plan with Harold. The fall of Berlin is imminent and it’s only a matter of time before the Russians take over the city.

Facing death at every turn, Karl must use his wits simply to stay alive. As the chain of command breaks down, the SS starts conducting court martials on the fly, executing anyone with a single bullet in their pocket. Meanwhile, the nightly air raids continue, scorching the city and leaving the stench of death in the air. Chaos reigns as the Russian Army moves closer and closer.

As a member of the Hitler Youth growing up, Karl has been taught that loyalty to the Fatherland comes first, yet he is fighting for a cause he does not understand. In the final days before Berlin falls, Karl finds himself hungry, scared, and completely disillusioned with the war. He also realizes that he can only afford to be loyal to a degree as he is forced to make a crucial decision – live or die.

Review: Our family has always been interested in history, so when I heard about this book, I had to read it.
This story is nothing like any of the others you may have seen/heard/read over the years.
This is the true account of a young man (a boy, actually) who had to make decisions during the final days of WWII.
No child should have to grow up before he/she is ready, but to survive, that is what Karl Veth had to do.

I have become so enamored with Karl. Everything he did, everything he had to go through and endure, yet, he always looked out for the others he met along the way.

He did not voluntarily choose his path, but he did it to the best of his ability, yet kept with him something very important; his morals.

Karl made me laugh, cry, and call out to him.

This is a very touching, very true story. I cannot wait for the next installment from this very talented writer/historian. Horst Christian has truly captured what happened during those final weeks.

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Housekeeping:

Sometimes when you click on a link, for some reason it won’t finish loading. Just hit refresh and it should work.

Subject to change without notice: Free Titles were free at the time I copied and pasted the links. But they don’t always stay free.  Deals were reduced prices at time of listing, but these prices generally don’t last more than the day they were listed.

Same for reduced price titles.

Shameless money grubbing: I thought this was common knowledge, but it turns out it’s not- these are affiliate links. If you click on a free title and download it, I get….. nothing.  If you click on a free title and while you are at Amazon also buy something else, I get….. something.  Depending on what you buy, it will probably be somewhere between 4% and 7.5% of what you spend (I don’t get a percentage on penny sales) but I don’t pretend to understand how all of that side works.

Also, Swagbucks remains my favorite source for free Amazon gift cards. And if you haven’t joined, please click on the link and join so that I can keep getting free Amazon gift cards because I am still shameless.

Don’t have a Kindle? : You don’t have to have Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps. I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles.  That’s because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don’t remember to recharge them before returning.  I wouldn’t say I’m bitter about it, but I might be a little disgruntled. If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers.  The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens.  It does not have 3G, which is why it’s their Kindle.  Personally,  I don’t like Kindle Fires because I am a crank like that.

If you like these free listings, you should also like my Facebook page, because I list other free titles there several times each week.

Yes, my Kindle gets slow because I stuff it too full. You can left click on a title on your Kindle anddelete it from your device, while still keeping it in your list of titles at Amazon in case you want to add it back to your Kindle later without paying for the title all over again. Don’t delete it from folder at Amazon unless you want to rid yourself of it permanently.  Now that I have my tricksy little new phone, I have added it to my list of devices to which I can download devices.  Woot!

Most of the blurbs and book descriptions above are not mine, but come from  reviews on Amazon’s page.

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Math Text Excerpt, 1913

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October, Printable Poetry Page

October 1908 poetry page

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Midnight Thoughts On Ebola

This is a pretty good read. Here’s the intro:
We have been avoiding the topic, honestly, because it is a raw one for us.  In 2007 we lived through an ebola epidemic.  In the remote area of Uganda where we worked, along the Congo border, ebola crossed over from the animal reservoir in the Ituri forest and began infecting humans.  We were both exposed before we knew that the disease was ebola.  Our best Ugandan friend and colleague Dr. Jonah Kuledied, and the only other doctor besides us in the district of over 200,000 people became infected but recovered.  When the disease was confirmed, we sent our kids away to stay with other missionaries until we completed a 21 day disease-free incubation.  We decided at one point that only Scott would see patients and I would not, to minimize the risk of both parents going down.  For months we lived with the lingering cloud of doubt, the on-edge expectation of potentially deadly touches in our medical care, the grief of losing our friend.So we have been following the news of this epidemic very closely, communicating with some of the organizations involved, praying.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that it has dominated much of our mental and emotional energy for the last month.

Now that 2 people have been infected in America, and there is mass hysteria, perhaps a few words are in order, even though we are actually no closer to the epicenter here than most people reading from America are (we are several thousand miles away).
However, as a kind of aside, I do have to say that we have vastly different definitions for mass hysteria or even panic.  Mass hysteria to me would be people looting, boarding their houses and hunkering down at home for weeks.  It wouldn’t be people  writing articles, letters, and blog posts calling for bans on flights from the three primary Ebola ravaged countries, it would be people getting their hazmat suits, pitchforks,  and spray bottles of bleach and heading to the airports and ports to keep Liberians from setting foot on our soil.
Okay, those two schools that closed for a day came pretty close to hysteria.  That was kind of silly.  But mostly, I don’t think it’s fair to characterize the responses as mass hysteria.  People are concerned, some are passionate, others just sound passionately concerned because that’s how they write, but I am just not seeing *mass hysteria.
Some of the responses I found a little unattractive- where people who have never given a day’s thought to the sufferings of entire villages of human beings because they live in Sierre Leone and not here, act as though it’s *now* something that matters because we obviously matter more.
It’s not that I don’t feel like some people are over-reacting (all the conspiracy theories make me cringe), it’s just not hysteria.  I agree with the authors of the above post that part of the reaction/over-reaction is because Americans are totally risk averse. Like the article said: ”  Americans have panic, and demands.  In American culture, no-risk of a disease is considered to be a birthright…”
But I also can’t see that the CDC is handling this all that well.
I really think people would be panicking far, far less if Duncan’s case had not been so badly botched both before and after, Several hundred people, nearly a thousand at last count, are now being monitored at some level (even if just themselves, at the request of the CDC)  because the CDC didn’t step in and do stricter monitoring of about 70 people at the start.
If the CDC had actually genuinely exercised an abundance of caution in the first place and gone around quarantining all the people involved right away and monitoring them more closely, I think people would feel more assured that it was taking this seriously.
Leaving Duncan’s family in that apartment for so long did not instill confidence at all, for example. Nor did letting the nurse fly with a fever , and letting somebody else go off on a cruise.  If the CDC didn’t know about the cruise, they should have- that’s the kind of stuff that makes people feel like they can’t rely on the CDC’s assurances that it’s being diligent.
Then there’s the problem that an awful lot of the time when Frieden comes out and says that the CDC is now going to begin doing such and such, it’s something that I think most of America already thought the CDC was doing, it’s that obvious.  So it worries people that the CDC isn’t actually doing those things until after the fact.
Then there’s the missing Dr. Lurie.
In an interesting coincidence, just *Two weeks* before Duncan was sent home with antibiotics the original Ebola Czar, Nicole Lurie, was telling the press that her office was making sure all hospitals knew the correct procedures for Ebola ID and treatment. So she was giving press interviews three or four weeks ago, but now she’s…. where? And she plainly saw that her job involved teaching hospitals how to deal with Ebola, so why wasn’t she pushing her agency to be proactive at the hospital where Duncan was evenutally treated? Yes, the hospital was floundering, but HHS and the CDC pretty much have a mandate to step in and take charge and make sure diseases like Ebola are properly handled, and they were not there.  Obama has directed the CDC to create a first response team that will show up within 24 hours of any diagnosed cases of Ebola to monitor and train the hospital staff, but I am pretty sure this is one of those things that most Americans thought the CDC already did and the fact that they or the NIH weren’t is mismanagement, at best.  It’s certainly more important than the NIH studying fat lesbians, for example.
In August, Obama was forming an Ebola response working group, and Dr. Llurie was in charge.
That’s not the CDC- she works in NHHS, but it’s puzzling that she’s not out there with Friedan outlining her agency’s response.
In addition to Lurie and Klain (the newly appointed Ebola Czar, who did not show up for the Ebola strategy meeting at the WH today), there’s also a State Department Ebola Coordinator.  I wonder what her job is?
Incidentally, I am not remotely in a state of panic, however I am also not yet reassured that we’re not going to have more cases of Ebola connected to Duncan.  I am not really frightened at all, but I am in a holding pattern, since I don’t really see the infection rate at this point as remarkably low.
” In the current epidemic in West Africa, the number of people to whom each infected person passes the contagion on to is estimated to be around 2. In other words, each person ill with Ebola is now infecting 2 people. “
Right now we are at the very starting point of a situation that could fizzle out or could become nothing, but it’s far too early in America’s Ebola timeline to compare our results and numbers of infections to any African country and say, “See!  Isn’t it amazing that only 2 people in America have contracted Ebola!  Duncan was patient zero so it’s just far too soon to say that it’s just stunning that so few people have contracted it.   We’re exactly average. If I am understanding the information in the Reason article, Ebola victims only infect on average two other people before they die, which is (thus far) exactly how many Duncan infected. So the real test for me is not the 21 day incubation period dating from Duncan’s death, but the next 21 days after the two nurses were diagnosed.
If they didn’t give Ebola to anybody else, I will rejoice and be thankful for the remarkable low transmission rate.  But right now?  We haven’t seen a remarkably low transmission rate yet.  We don’t have enough data to make that determination.
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Four Free Kindle Reads New and Old: Christian Romance, History, Theology, and Living

Billow Creek Bride

Blurb; What would you do to prevent being separated from someone you love? In this 1830′s historical romance, Maurine is turning eighteen in an orphanage. She knows she cannot stay, but she doesn’t want to leave her sister behind. Her only hope is to accept an arranged marriage and pray this man, sure to be homely and elderly, will adopt her sister.

The striking Thomas Johnson is anything but homely or elderly. He has come to the orphanage expecting to wed a plain, obedient woman who will be as silent as a shadow in his home. The beautiful, intelligent, and independent Maurine is a complete surprise.

Maurine realizes he could have had his pick of women, so why did he come to an orphanage? Their first night together on the return trip to his home, she comes to understand he doesn’t want her as a wife, but as a governess to his children. Within days, she is falling in love with a man who refuses to get close to her, a man who is hiding something about the death of his first wife.

This is a tale of two sisters: Maurine, who yearns to be loved by the man who took her as his bride, and Rebecca who finds love in the arms of the son of a wealthy Cherokee plantation owner.

Billow Creek Bride is a careful blend of laughter and tears, sorrows and joys as these two women discover strength within themselves to meet the challenges of life and love in the 1830′s, and the event that would change history known as ‘The Trail of Tears.’

23 readers gave it five stars, five gave it four stars, and there’s nothing lower. Readers really enjoyed this story. A common theme was that it was well written, interesting, lots of romance, and very, very clean. I read the sample and could see the appeal. The writing did not make me wince, as often happens with free books. I have a feeling it’s kind of a book with historical trappings and setting, while characters often have more modern attitudes and values.

Reader Review: One of the best books I have read in a while. A heartwarming story of love, loyalty, and sacrifice. You wonder how so much hate could exist between human beings, but I guess it always has. But love is stronger than hate. This a clean ,well written book. Another plus, it is a stand alone book in a series. Definitely worthy of five stars.

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Ecclesiastical History: A History of the Church in Five Books

Blurb:Pyrrhus Press specializes in bringing books long out of date back to life, allowing today’s readers access to yesterday’s treasures.
Theodoretus’s A History of the Church in Five Books is a contemporary account of the Christian Church’s history written only a few centuries after Christ. For that reason, it is a valuable source for those interested in Christianity during antiquity.

Wikipedia says this about it:
The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret, which begins with the rise of Arianism and closes with the death of Theodore in 429 (despite being completed in 449-450) is very different in style from those of Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen. It contains many sources otherwise lost, specially letters on the Arian controversy; however, the book is extremely partisan, the heretics being consistently blackened and dubbed ‘Ariomaniacs’, afflicted with the ‘Arian plague’. The narrative is more compressed than in the other historians, and Theodoret often strings documents together, with only brief comments between. Original material of Antiochian information appears chiefly in the latter books.
Theodoret’s sources are in dispute. According to Valesius these were mainly Socrates and Sozomen; Albert Guldenpenning’s thorough research placed Rufinus first, and next to him, Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius, Sozomen, Sabinus, Philostorgius, Gregory Nazianzen, and, least of all, Socrates. N. Glubokovskij counts Eusebius, Rufinus, Philostorgius, and, perhaps, Sabinus.

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Finding God When You Need Him Most

Chip Ingram. He has a popular radio program.

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A Life of Obedience

Andrew Murray traces obedience through the Bible, from Genesis to the ?nal chapter of Revelation, in a warm, inspirational devotional study. It looks at the issue of obedience in the lives of Bible characters and focuses the reader’s attention on the obedience of Christ. Practical as well as inspiring, A Life of Obedience speaks to today’s reader as clearly as it did to his audience a century ago.

Reader Review: What an amazing little book that my sister shared with me. I’ve used it for my devotions for the past couple weeks. Each chapter is brimming with soul-searching teachings on what a life of obedience looks like in a follower of Christ. It will have you truly looking at areas in your life that you thought were “OK”, but need to be surrendered to God. Pastor Murray reminds us that, “From the very outset of the Christian life, let us avoid the fatal mistake of calling Christ Master but not doing what He says.” Using easy to understand language and Christ as our example for obedience, he brings challenging theological concepts within reach of implementation. I’ve gone back to reread several passages. This is an excellent resource for those wanting a more intimate relationship with God our Father.

 

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These are affiliate links. If you click through and actually buy something else while you are there, I get a percentage.

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Vegan Spiced Buckwheat Applesauce Muffins, With General Baking Tips

The full recipe all in one nice tidy format along with a couple variations is here.

 

Preheat the oven to 400.  Grease muffin tins (this makes two dozen regular sized muffins) or put papers in them and spray the papers.  These muffins don’t have any oil in them, so you need to oil the pans or papers to prevent sticking.

Kitchen Tip: Tired of standing? Need a low surface for you or somebody else to work on, perhaps from a chair? If you have a stack of drawers, try pulling out the second or third one from the top and laying a cookie sheet, cutting board, or, in this case, a muffin tin across it:

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You can’t tell from this angle, but this drawer is the second from the bottom, making it about two feet off the floor, the perfect height for me to put the muffin papers in from my chair.

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These ingredients are to the right of my bowl, so I know I already used all of them.

Baking Tip: Before you start, get out all your ingredients, as well as measuring cups and spoons.  Set them all to the left of your mixing bowl.  As you add each ingredient, put it down to the right of your mixing bowl.* 

Why?  It saves time in the end. More importantly, one day you might be in the midst of quadrupling the baking powder for four 9X13 pans of cornbread, and your toddler might suddenly require your attention and whatever the reason might end up taking ten minutes longer than you thought and require twice as many brain cells as you possess, and when you come back, you will think you were just starting to measure out the quadrupled baking powder when in fact you had already finished and had already stirred it in.  So then you will add another quadrupled measure of baking powder to the cornbread mix and later when your friends at the giant multi-family BBQ eat it, they will gulp or gag and take a moment to wonder how well they really know you, since it seems that you put rat poison in their cornbread.

2014-10-17 00.54.54 Put the following dry ingredients into the bowl, and stir the contents until they are all mixed in and indistinguishable from one another:

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup flour- whole wheat is best, but I used white here because I was baking at midnight and didn’t want to get the grain mill out.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (I used freshly ground cardamom and it was eye poppingly amazingly delicious and strong.  You could use ginger instead.  I’d double this amount for ginger)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Baking Tip: Why does it matter that you mix the dry ingredients separately, and stir them well?

As soon as flour and liquid meet, they start creating long, stretchy, stringy, bonds of gluten.  It’s what makes yeast breads rise. It’s what makes the stringy element of your dough.  But it makes quick breads (muffins and other breads that do not have yeast and don’t need a rise time) tougher.  You want to reduce the time the liquids and the flour have to play.  You also don’t want pockets of unblended salt or baking soda.  So you mix the dry ingredients really, really well to reduce the amount of time they have to play with the wet ingredients and make tough muffins.

2014-10-17 00.54.48Measure the wet ingredients into a separate bowl (in this case, I just used glass one cup measure):

3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons molasses
2 cups of unsweetened applesauce (I didn’t have 2 full cups of applesauce, so I also used some canned mashed sweet potato I had.  You could also use mashed pumpkin, mashed butternut squash, or mashed carrots.  Each will have their own unique taste difference, but they will all be good- just add a bit of water to thin, if necessary, to the consistency of applesauce)

 

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Baking tip: 

Always measure the oil before you measure sticky ingredients like molasses or honey.  This measuring cup was used first for the oil, and then for the molasses.  I didn’t scrape it clean.  Because the cup was oiled, the molasses literally just slipped out without making a sticky mess.

Become familiar with your measuring tools.  For instance, this is my 1/4 cup measure.    A lot of my recipes, like this one, call for just 3 tablespoons.  I’ve noticed that 3 Tablespoons comes right to the line on this cup where it starts to flare out, so I just used the cup instead of another measuring spoon.

Once the wet ingredients are well mixed, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and quickly stir in the wet ingredients just until barely moistened.  For quick breads like muffins, banana bread, pancakes, biscuits, etc, it’s okay if you have lumps in the dough.

Lumps in the batter are not bad! In fact, it’s a good thing.  It makes your baked product more tender, not heavy or glutenous (this doesn’t mean they are gluten-free, however!)  The liquid ingredients will, as one website put it, ‘overpower’ the dry ingredients so you won’t have pockets of flour in the bowl.  This is why it’s really important to mix those dry ingredients very, very well.

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I overmixed my batter and then I let it sit a little too long while I got distracted with other things. Ideally, you want to go from mixed to in the muffin tin to in the oven as quickly as possible.

 

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes (for regular sized muffins, about ten minutes for mini sized), and until the tops spring back when pressed lightly. The tops should have about the same resistance to your gentle pressure as a sponge does. To much give, and they are underbaked. Too little, and they are overbaked.

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Because these are buckwheat flour rather than regular flour, they have less gluten than other muffins, and they won’t raise as much.  So you can fill the muffin cups to the top.

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I’ll be honest, this isn’t my favorite muffin recipe.  The spices are delicious and the kitchen smelled marvelous, but they were a little heavy and dense for me.  Part of that is my overmixing error.  But also it’s the same reason somebody might want to make this recipe in the first place- they are made without eggs, butter, sugar, or dairy products.  As totally vegan, whole grain muffins, sugar-free, lower in carbs than the usual muffin, they are a good product.  If you need low-carb, totally vegan muffins, this is a good recipe.

My five year old grandson, The Dread Pirate Grasshopper, tried to be tactful.  ”They’re not very good,” he said, when asked.  ”I mean, ” he hastened to clarify, “They are only sort of good, but not really very good,” and he looked at me anxiously.

Relationship tip: Don’t put five year olds on the spot with a taste test unless you really want to know what they think.  I did really want to know, but it was awkward for the little dude for a few minutes.

But sometimes low-carb, low-fat, totally vegan muffins is exactly what you need, and for that purpose, these are pretty good.

*Yes, I know if you are left handed you might prefer to go the other way, or you might need to go right to left for some other reason.  Adapt. Don’t be difficult.

P.S. The Dread Pirate Grasshopper’s mother, however, tells me they were awesome and she wants the recipe.

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