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Three Hikes In Ithaca

Now that the high summer hiking season is finally here, I’m trying to be on the trail as much as possible – which, admittedly, isn’t much given our schedules that never seem to lighten up.  But a few days out of town was a golden opportunity to do some hiking, and we took advantage of it – hiking three times during our stay in Ithaca and once more in the Shawnagunks with my whole family (pictures to come next week).

Ithaca Hike #1: Robert H. Treman State Park

Treman State Park was one of Steve’s and my haunts during our Cornell days, but we usually just plunked down somewhere and hung out.  Since I’d read that there was a swimming hole and cool waterfall, I wanted to check out the hiking, so we added that to our reunion weekend agenda.

Sadly, the swimming hole was closed because there was no lifeguard on duty – maybe it was too early in the season.  (New York summers are glorious, but they last about five minutes – that was one of my biggest complaints when I lived up north.)  Ah, well, we weren’t wearing our bathing suits anyway.

I promised Miss Peanut that we would come back one day when the swimming hole was open.  (She is really into the idea of swimming holes right now – we’re going to have to find one for our summer vacation later in the season.)

Foot shot!

How did we never find this part of the park when we lived in Ithaca?

Ithaca Hike #2: Cornell Botanic Gardens

One of my agenda items that we didn’t actually get to was a hike in the Cornell Plantations.  Next time!  But we did hit the Botanic Gardens, which was almost as good – there were lovely trails to explore, our friend Seth was by our side (at least until he peeled off to go hear a talk about online dating???) and our tummies were full of Cornell Dairy ice cream.  Not bad!

Started out on a pretty grass path down from the Ag School into the gardens.

Note to self: order prints for grandparents.

Forgot how much I love this garden!

To keep the kids on the trail, we told them that the plants eat children.  Peanut was skeptical but didn’t want to risk it.  Nugget bought the story hook, line and sinker.

I AM STANDING IN THE EXACT MIDDLE OF THE TRAIL FAR AWAY FROM THE CHILD-EATING PLANTS.

Hey, you know what?  Whatever works.

Yard Woman: A Statue of Me.

I really wanted to explore the herb garden more (and get some ideas for my patio garden back home) but tempers were short and nerves were fraying.

Ithaca Hike #3: Beebe Lake

The final hike of the Ithaca leg of our trip was a spur-of-the-moment addition.  The final Class of 2003 dinner was scheduled for the lakeside tent (YES!) and finding ourselves with extra time on our hands, we headed over a little early.  As it turned out, we were the first ones there – so nerdy – except for the Dinosaur BBQ employees, who were still setting up.  With time to kill, we decided to walk the trail around the lake, where I used to run as a Cornell freshman.

The sun was still high in the sky, but was starting to dip a little bit, and the dappled light coming through the trees was just dreamy.

As we wandered around the lake, I pointed out my favorite spots and views.

Cornell is gorges!

I used to jump off this bridge with my floormates, freshman year.  (Yes, it’s as high as it looks.)  And there were usually people climbing the sides of the gorge and jumping down into the lake – as rainy and snowy as Ithaca can be, we knew how to make the most of nice weather.  Upstream a bit is a lovely swimming hole with little waterfalls that we would slide down.

So, this is a new addition.

Eventually we circumnavigated the whole lake and found ourselves back at the tent.  Ended the evening with Dinosaur BBQ, the Big Red Band, and my classmates, watching the sun go down on another reunion.  We exchanged hugs that had to last until 2023, and the next morning, we were driving east – toward the ‘dacks.

Where have you been hiking recently?

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Hello Monday, and hello new week – I guess.  This is the first week I’ll be putting in a full five days in the past three weeks and I can already feel that it’s gonna be a doozy.  The week before last, as you already know, I was out of the office for a few days attending my college reunion (plus one extra day in Richmond getting sworn into the Virginia Bar), and then last week, we spent the early part of the week still in New York – adding a few days onto our trip so that we could build in a little time with family, particularly with my brother and sister-in-law who were visiting from Colorado, and with my grandmother who recently had a stroke (but is miraculously much better).  The middle part of the week was full of travel, then I was running around and Steve was on a business trip on Thursday and Friday.  All that’s to say – we spent this weekend trying to be as low-key as possible, but I still don’t feel recovered and ready to jump back in the rat race.  Anywho.  Happy Father’s Day to the dads!  After all the travel and craziness of the past few weeks, Steve wanted a laid-back, relaxed weekend, so that’s what he got.  The only activity on the calendar for the weekend was Peanut’s camp orientation on Saturday afternoon.  Steve took her and they had a great time; I stayed home to officiate naptime and do some work.  On Sunday, we let Steve sleep in as long as he wanted; when he came downstairs the kids greeted him with sand art plaques they had made in camp last week, and I greeted him with “beer snob” glasses and fun new coasters.  He was pleased with all of his gifts!  We spent the morning relaxing at home as it got hotter and hotter outside – I did more work while the kiddos napped – and then Nugget woke up and wanted to go to the pool, which is open for the season, yahoo!  Peanut was still sacked out and Steve was in the middle of a game with friends, so Nugget and I snuck off for some water fun and we had the best time.  I’ll be clinging to those memories of splashing with my little dude as I plod through the week, I’m sure.

Reading.  Not much to report this week.  I wasn’t able to finish my re-read of The Turner House before book club (thanks, travel!) but still could partake in the discussion since I remembered it well from when I read it a couple of years ago.  And then it was back to Scenes of Clerical Life.  I’m nearly done now, after putting in quality time with the last of the three novellas on Sunday evening after the kiddos finally fell asleep.  Not sure what I’ll read next.  I am finding my bookish thoughts being pulled in all sorts of directions these days.  I do have a library book out with a hard deadline, so maybe that.

Watching.  Nothing noteworthy to report here.  We’re between shows at the moment, so we’re just meandering through re-runs of old favorites Parks and Recreation and The Crown and trying to stay decently up-to-date on Rock the Park.  But nothing jumps to mind as being especially interesting or new to share.

Listening.  Lots of podcasts.  I took a break from listening to much of anything on our travels, since the kids aren’t really podcast fans.  But now that we’re back, I’m almost caught up on Those Park Guys Podcast and I’m staying pretty updated on my book podcasts, too.  My brother told me about a podcast called Dirtbag Diaries that sounds great, so I may check that out (as if my Audible account wasn’t neglected enough as it is).

Blogging.  More Ithaca for you this week!  On Wednesday I have mini-recaps of three hikes from Reunion weekend comin’ atcha, and on Friday, Part II of the Reunion recap itself, since the first part was getting so absurdly long I had to break it up.  Yay, Cornell!

Loving.  Sibling time!  I’m still on a high from seeing my brother and sis-in-law last week.  Living so far apart is hard, and any time we get to spend together is such a special treat.  My heart felt like it was going to explode watching them with their niece and nephew – they love those kids so much, and I know they would give anything to see them more.  We had the best time sailing and hiking together on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Tuesday night Danielle and I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. (who even am I?) sipping wine and talking.  We are lucky enough to see a fair amount of my parents even though they are seven hours away – they make a huge effort to visit as much as they can – but Dan and Danielle have lives in Colorado, and we have lives in Virginia, that we can’t just take breaks from the way those lucky retired folks can.  So we make the most of the time we do have together.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Summer travel season is here, and with it – the first trip we’ve taken out of town since (I think?) December!  And it was a good one – up to Ithaca, New York for my fifteen-year college reunion.  Also: how has it been that long?  Get ready for a massive photobomb of a post…

We rolled into town around lunchtime on Thursday – the kids were excited.  We left Virginia at 6:00 a.m. and they were up, bright-eyed and raring to go, at 4:30, wanting to help us pack the car and demanding to know when we were going to Ithaca.  Keep in mind, these children had never been to Ithaca.  Our reputation for delivering awesome destinations is just that impressive.

Anywho, our first stop was a no-brainer.  Since it was lunchtime, we hit one of our favorite spots: Collegetown Bagels.  CTB, as Cornellians call it, is situated right at the intersection between Collegetown (technically off-campus) and Cornell proper.  It’s open early and late and was one of our regular haunts as Cornell students – especially after Steve and I started dating, we spent many a late night sitting at a table inside CTB, extending our evening and getting out of the cold.  The CTB patio was our meeting spot for dates, too; it was a good middle point between my sorority house and Steve’s grad student apartment complex.  Long story short, we love CTB.

Iced coffee and vegetarian bagel melts.  Clearly the bomb.

(This was my favorite order at CTB: veggie cream cheese, sliced tomato, and melted Muenster over the top.  Perfect.)

Post-bagels, the campus food tour (apparently) continued with a trip to the Cornell Dairy Bar for ice cream.  The best ice cream comes from the smartest cows, and the smartest cows come from Cornell.

The kids went with classic strawberry, Steve had “Big Red Bear Tracks” (vanilla with chocolate swirl and caramel pieces, I think) and I had “Ezra’s Morning Cup” (coffee! my favorite).  I can’t say that Cornell Dairy was one of Steve’s and my special places on campus, but I came now and then with my sorority sisters and ate way too much of this stuff in the dining halls.  Plus, we’re trying to convince the kids to follow in Mommy and Daddy’s footsteps (and go to Cornell – but not be lawyers, let’s not go crazy here), and ice cream is obviously the way to do that.

Tummies full of bagels and ice cream, it was off to North Campus for us – time to sign in at the Class of 2003 Headquarters.  (Fun fact: Steve is actually class of 2002, but he kindly goes to my reunion instead of his own.  I’ve offered to take one for the team and go to both, but so far we’re on my reunion cycle.)

Class HQ located, it was time to sign in, get our nametags and our schedule of activities, and see who else was lurking around.  Peanut put on a concert for the class volunteer crew while I chatted with a friend from my major who also happens to live in DC about her son’s awesome hockey jersey.  #ALLCAPS!  A group was gathering to watch the game that night (which ended up being the Caps’ Stanley Cup victory) but we sadly had to beg off – kiddo bedtimes and work beckoned.  We grabbed a small dinner at Wegmans, headed back to the Airbnb, tucked the babies into bed and then fired up our laptops for a long evening of way less fun than our classmates were having celebrating the hockey victory.  Boo.  What can you do?

Anyway!  We were up bright and early on Friday morning for more bagels, followed in short order by 9:00 a.m. ice cream to try to nip a Nugget tantrum in the bud.  It sort of worked.  Then we rushed back to the Airbnb so I could churn out a document and take a work call before we headed to Treman State Park – another of our favorite haunts from the early days of our relationship – for a hike, which I’ll recap separately.

We were all hungry after the hike, so we refueled at another favorite Collegetown haunt – Aladdin’s, a café serving up Greek and Mediterranean food.  Aladdin’s was an extra special place for us: the site of our first date!  I had to snap a picture of the little corner table where we sat for three hours one late August afternoon, eating fruit salad (me) and gyro (Steve) and talking about school, our families, and Altoids for three hours… and the rest was history!  We were sorry to see that they didn’t have their delicious artichoke on the menu anymore, but the dolmades and sangria made up for it.  Back to the Airbnb for more work and attempted (failed) naps, and then–

Back to campus!  Hurray!  Peanut and Nugget found a stage.  Obviously, singing and dancing happened.

We took the kids to the Johnson Museum of Art (super cool building designed by I.M. Pei) because I had thought that there were kids’ activities going on there all day.  Either I misread the schedule or we were too late, but we made the most of it by taking in the view of Cayuga Lake from the gigantic windows on the fifth floor.  I spent a lot of time at the art museum as an undergrad – first in my freshman art history seminar, and later just soaking in the peace and beautiful views whenever I needed to relax and breathe.  Peanut was pretty impressed with the view, but more impressed with the collection of ancient Chinese and Japanese decorative arts.  She asked for several of the teapots for her birthday.  (Sorry, kid, but that’s not going to happen.)

After the singing and dancing and art museum-ing, it was time for one of the events I’d been most looking forward to: the ILR reception.  New friends: ILR was my major, and while Cornellians like to refer to the school as “I Love Reading” because of the volume of reading assignments, it actually stands for Industrial and Labor Relations.  (I do love reading, though.)

I was so excited to be back.  Some of my happiest memories took place inside the walls of Ives Hall – lots of learning, studying in groups and alone in the depths of Catherwood Library, jamming to Vietnam protest songs in my “Recent History of American Workers” class, and plotting to take over the Administration building.

Home sweet home!  While I am hoping for two Cornell Engineers, I would not be sad if one or both of my kids ended up an ILRie.  Just like Mom!

We made our way to the Ives Hall courtyard, where there was a big tent full of familiar faces.  ILR ’03 turned out for this reunion, let me tell you.

We had promised the kids that there would be cheese and crackers at the reception.  Fortunately, ILR delivered.

A loved face!  That’s Julia, my sorority sister (not an ILRie, but we throw a great party so she came anyway) meeting my munchkins for the first time.  She has a little one of her own, but came from Texas for the reunion and didn’t want to fly with baby.  So she snuggled my kiddos instead.  Love!

After pretty much shutting down the ILR reception (party animals!), we wandered up to North Campus in a herd for a Class of 2003 dinner – tacooooooooooos.  I loaded mine up, sipped an Ithaca Brewery apricot wheat beer, chatted with more friends and watched my kids run around with the daughters of one of my sorority sisters.  (Does that make them my nieces?)  We hung out on the soccer field where my freshman intermural team (the Tower Pterodactyls!  Eeeeeeeeeaw!) suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Vet School (but I don’t want to talk about it, you guys) until the sun went down and we had two sleepy future Cornellians on our hands.

This post is getting out of hand, so I’ll save the rest – our Saturday adventures – for next week.

Hello, warm-weather hiking!  Finally making good progress on my goal to hike 52 times this year, and man am I looking forward to the high summer and fall hiking season.

Hike 11: Jones Point Park (Alexandria, VA), April 29, 2018.  Major bribery – in the form of a good hour on the playground – was necessary to make this hike happen.  But I made it happen.

Hike 12: Potomac Overlook Regional Park (Arlington, VA), May 5, 2018.  Our local hiking guide called this an “easy/moderate” hike, but I don’t know what Kool-Aid they were drinking.  There were at least ten slippery stream crossings, slick boulder scrambles, logs to climb over and duck under, and lots of elevation change; add two kiddos in backpacks and – well, this was good preparation for summer in the Adirondacks, at least.

Hike 13: Mason Neck State Park (Lorton, VA), May 12, 2018.  My Mother’s Day hike, and it was perfect.  Sunshine, turtles, and gorgeous birds, including this beautiful blue tree swallow.

Hike 14: George Washington’s Mount Vernon (Alexandria, VA), May 20, 2018.  Mud, mud, and more mud!  SO MUCH MUD.  After a week of rain we did a lot of squelching, but somehow Peanut’s sandals are still miraculously yellow.  Also, the person who told me tree pollen season is over is a vicious liar.

Hike 15: Winkler Botanical Preserve (Alexandria, VA), May 28, 2018.  Found a pocket of wild paradise right in the heart of suburban Alexandria!  It was a bit of a wet day, but so much the better – the kids loved puddle-stomping and walking out into the middle of the creek in their wellies.

Hike 16: Belle Isle (Richmond, VA), June 6, 2018.  Immediately after swearing into the Virginia Bar (finally! that was a big project) I celebrated with a few minutes of trail time before I had to get back on the road for another long drive.  Checked out the pretty views at Belle Isle and hopped across the famous rocks just offshore on the James River, tired out my legs and squeezed in a little fresh air – perfect.

Hike 17: Robert H. Treman State Park (Ithaca, New York), June 8, 2018.  A reunion weekend wouldn’t be complete without hitting one of the local parks!  Steve and I used to hang out at Treman State Park during our Cornell days, and it was fun to see the waterfall up close.

Hike 18: Cornell Botanic Gardens (Ithaca, New York), June 9, 2018.  We never made it into the Cornell Plantations proper – next time – but we got in some trail time on Friday after lunch, wandering through the pretty trails at the Botanic Gardens and checking out the flower and herb gardens.

Hike 19: Beebe Lake Loop (Ithaca, New York), June 9, 2018.  We found ourselves with some time to kill before the Class of 2003 dinner on Saturday night, so we decided to squeeze in one more hike, around my favorite running trail from freshman year.  There are beautiful gorge views and a bridge that I used to jump off with friends from my dorm (prohibited now – apparently there are dangerous underwater rock ledges? who knew?) and a pedestrian bridge across the lake.

Hike 20: Minnewaska State Park and Preserve (Kerhonkson, New York), June 12, 2018.  Hike 20 was a special one!  My mom vacationed at Lake Minnewaska almost every summer when she was a little girl.  Now that both of my grandparents on her side have passed away, she wanted us all to be together there as a family.  My brother Dan and sister-in-law Danielle were visiting from Colorado, so it seemed a golden opportunity to hike around the lake in a big group and listen to my mom’s stories about her childhood summers.  Also, it was gorgeous.  A 2018 hiking highlight for sure.

How about hikes 11 through 20!  What wonderful days all of these were – and I can already tell that some will be high points for the year.  Mother’s Day on the trail at Mason Neck; celebrating my third (!) state Bar at Belle Isle; showing Steve and the kids my favorite trail at Cornell; and finally family time on the shores and cliffsides of Lake Minnewaska.  And this is just the beginning – with the summer hiking season heating up (quite literally) now, there’s plenty more to come.

Hello, friends!  I am simultaneously happy and sad today – happy because I had such a wonderful weekend, and sad because it’s over.  This past weekend was my fifteenth (gasp!) college reunion, so Steve and the kids and I drove up to Ithaca, New York for four days of memories, seeing old friends, eating at our favorite spots and brainwashing the kids into wanting to go to Cornell just like Mommy and Daddy.  We rolled into town on Thursday afternoon and had a jam-packed agenda of fun for the next few days – including three hikes, three visits to the Cornell Dairy (all the ice cream!), wandering around campus, visiting my old sorority, and attending receptions and talks for my major and two Class of 2003 dinners – every moment was a joy, and I just wish that we were still there!  Lots more photos and stories coming later this week, that’s a promise.  The only thing that was a bit of a bummer about the weekend was that I had a hard time disconnecting from work, especially on Thursday and Friday.  I had a few work fires to put out, and even between emergencies, I just felt tied to my email all weekend, which is a lame way of spending an event that I look forward to for five years (at least – I actually missed my tenth, so I’ve been anticipating this reunion since 2008).  But I can’t complain, because I was in a beautiful place that I love so much, sharing it with my family – what’s not to love about that?

 

Reading.  Rather a slow reading week, because I spent most of last week preparing to be out of town, juggling a personal project that I am working hard on, and then actually heading up to Ithaca for reunion.  But I’m about two-thirds of the way through Scenes of Clerical Life and still really enjoying it, and at the same time, re-reading The Turner House for my book club (which meets on Wednesday night, so I’ve got to get cracking – I’m only about 20% through the book as of right now).  I’ve got a few more library books out, so they’ll probably be next on deck.

Watching.  Lots of watching, and all great!  I watched my kids experience lots of first at Cornell – first sight of the clock tower, first bite of Cornell Dairy ice cream, first visit to the Alpha Phi house, first time running around on the Arts Quad, first Collegetown Bagels run… And I watched the Big Red Marching Band serenade our class on our final dinner by the lake (although their choice of spirit song was maybe a bit misplaced for the fifteenth reunion – there were a lot of kids in our tent, and a lot of parents singing “We’re gonna beat the… hockey… outta you!  Fork ’em up, fork ’em up, go CU!”)

Listening.  Other than the aforementioned Big Red Marching Band serenade, my biggest listening day last week was Wednesday, when I drove to Richmond and back to NoVA in the same day for my Virginia Bar swearing-in: yay!  With more than four hours alone in the car, I made good progress on podcasts – mostly Those Park Guys Podcast.  I’d been saving up episodes, so I enjoyed several hours with Jack and Colton on my drive.

Blogging.  Hikes 11-20 coming to you on Wednesday, and then a travel recap on Friday – stay tuned!

Laughing.  During the “State of the ILR School” talk by the dean of my undergrad college, the dean mentioned that a group of about 24 students took over his office with a list of demands.  While I love that the students in my major still feel so passionately about their activism, we did get a good laugh afterwards – Steve mentioned that he had never heard of students taking over their dean’s office, and I told him that it was a quintessentially ILR thing to do and almost a rite of passage for my major.  Go Big Red!

Loving.  So much this week!  I loved visiting all of my old favorite Cornell spots and seeing so many beloved faces this week.  (In a class of 3,000, I knew a disproportionately high number of reunion attendees – my major, which was very small, and my sorority turned out in high numbers.)  Loved wandering around my sorority house, checking out the old pictures from my time there and giving the password to enter the secret sisters-only room.  Loved Collegetown Bagels every morning and Cornell Dairy Bar every afternoon, and yummy tacos and barbeque with my classmates in the evenings.  Loved hearing about the direction my major program is taking over the next few years at the “State of the ILR School.”  Loved watching my kids run around on the grass outside the ILR School while Steve and I chatted with a dear friend from our college days.  Loved watching the sun set over Beebe Lake as we took our class picture and gave goodbye hugs that will have to last five years for many of us.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Lit Bits, Volume II

Random thoughts about books and reading…

Peanut is officially an emergent reader!  This confirmation is courtesy of her report card.  I knew this already, but it’s nice to have it professionally confirmed.  I’m still not doing much actual reading skills development with her at home, because I don’t want to squash her budding love of books by making reading feel like work.  I see my role as more of the cheerleader and book-pusher.  I read stories out loud, congratulate her when she sounds out a word or figures something out from context clues, and act generally enthusiastic about books (which is easy to do).  Her teachers agree that this is the right approach.

I have a request, Folio Society.  The summer collection was announced and, true to recent form for their new releases, doesn’t contain much that immediately tempts me.  I’ll probably pick up Three Men on the Bummel, because I do want that one.  But the collection also includes The South Polar Times, a bound facsimile collection of all the magazines from Scott’s expedition, and I kinda want it, since I have the Folio edition of Scott’s journals – bought on a whim during the New Year’s Sale.  At $150 for The South Polar Times, I’ll wait for that one to hit the sale in a few years before I snatch it up.  But if we’re publishing facsimile collections of vintage magazines, Folio Society, can I make a request?  Punch, please!  (I do have the two-volume Picks of Punch, but I really want huge facsimiles.)  At least the editions from the 1920s – pleeeeeeeeeeease?  A. A. Milne poems and essays, witty cartoons, vintage advertisements – I can see it now.  Let’s make it happen!

I had a horrifying revelation.  You know that feeling when you realize that you are the same age as a character that used to seem old to you?  (I was floored the day I realized I was the same age as Lorelai Gilmore in the first season of Gilmore Girls – and that was a few years ago now.)  Recently I discovered: I am the same age as the aged and decrepit Colonel Brandon.  I fully expect to burst into tears the next time I am re-reading Sense and Sensibility and Marianne begins one of her “ewww, Colonel Brandon is so OLD and gross!” diatribes.  (Granted, he is too old for Marianne.  But being the same age as the creaky Colonel, I can say that we hardly have one foot in the grave, Marianne.)

Oh come on, now, PBS.  So who else is watching The Great American Read on PBS?  I watched the first episode and really enjoyed it.  But I have a quibble – I went online and took the “How Many Have You Read?” quiz and scored 43 out of 100, which I think is respectable, especially considering some of the selections – like 50 Shades of Grey – I’m just never going to read.  But my results said “You’ve got some reading to do…” and “We want you to read!”  HELLO, PBS, I do read.  I read approximately 100 books per year – not as much as some, but more than many.  I don’t consider myself well-read, although I am trying to be (and maybe there is a longer blog post in here about what “well-read” even is) but it kind of burns that PBS thinks I don’t read enough.

Bookworm Mom Problems?  I tweeted this a few weeks ago, but it’s still true: you know you’re a bookworm mom when Doc McStuffins and the crew are singing “Time for your checkup!” and you hear “Time for your Chekhov!”  (Or is Disney Junior finally making a production of The Cherry Orchard?)

My Blog Name In Books

I don’t know how this got started, but I am seeing posts pop up all over the book-blogging world, listing book titles that spell out the blog’s name, and I think it’s such a fun exercise – naturally, I wanted to join in so I raided my bookshelves to see what I could come up with.  I’ve got a tough blog name to spell out, but I did my best–

C – Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck.  This is my favorite Steinbeck, and I’ve actually been to Cannery Row!

O – Outer Banks Mysteries and Seaside Stories, ed. Charles Harry Whedbee.  Growing up, my family vacationed on Hatteras Island almost every summer, and one of my favorite vacation traditions was attending a campfire on the beach in which the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Rangers would play their guitars, sing songs and tell ghost stories from a series of books edited by OBX resident Judge Whedbee.  I loved the stories and collected the whole set of five books – for sale in the Hatteras Light gift shop – over multiple summer trips.

V – Village School, by Miss Read.  Miss Read is one of my favorite comfort authors and I’ve turned to her in good times and bad.  Village School was the first Miss Read I ever picked up, and it’s such a delight.

E – Emma, by Jane Austen.  There was going to be an Austen in here.  I’m on record as saying Emma is not my favorite of her books (and I know some view that as sacrilege) but any Austen is better than not-Austen.  And I do love me some Mr Knightley.

R – Rule Britannia, by Daphne du Maurier.  This is my old, somewhat battered, copy from high school, when I was on a serious du Maurier kick.  I still love her, and chose to spend my thirtieth birthday in Cornwall because of du Maurier.

E – Emily of New Moon, by L.M. Montgomery.  Another mandatory author!  Emily of New Moon was my childhood favorite book (so much so that I named my daughter after the heroine, although sometimes I joke that, had I known she’d grow up to be a redhead with a wild imagination and a fiery temper, I’d have named her Anne).  I still love it and re-read it regularly.

D – Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope.  I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s high on my list, because I loved the first two novels in the Barchester series (this is the third) and I’m itching to watch the television adaptation but won’t until I’ve read the book.  I hear great things and if it’s even half as good as Barchester Towers, I know I’m in for a treat.

I – It’s Hard To Be Hip Over Thirty, by Judith Viorst.  A recent purchase (and read), I did really enjoy this witty book of poetry about married life in the 1950s and 60s.  A bit sour sometimes, but then I’m a bit sour sometimes.

N – Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen.  Another Austen!  Can never have too many Austen novels, can we?  (If only there were more than six.)  Northanger Abbey is one of my favorites, and I recently made my book club read it.  Not everyone finished, but we all enjoyed trashing the Thorpes and drinking wine at the next meeting.

F – French Lessons, by Peter Mayle.  This is another one I haven’t read – I’m saving it, because I’ve read most of Mayle’s Provence books and I adore them so much.  I don’t want to live in a world in which I’ve run out of Peter Mayle books, so I am rationing.  I’m probably not going to be able to wait much longer to tear into this one, though.

L – Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Another formative childhood book.  I was obsessed with the pioneer life as a child (and even dressed as Laura Ingalls for two Halloweens in a row – I had a gorgeous costume, hand-sewn by my grandmother).  I know that there are some problematic elements to the Little House books, but I still love them for their spirit and vivacity and the picture of a bygone way of life that is so foreign to me.

O – One Fine Day, by Mollie Panter-Downes.  Another one I’ve not yet read, although I loved (and savored) Panter-Downes’ war correspondence in London War Notes.  I’ve heard wonderful things about this slim little volume and I can’t wait to curl up with it.

U – Under Wildwood, by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis.  I’m cheating a bit, because although I went through my bookshelves with a fine-toothed comb, I couldn’t find a book title beginning with U on there.  So this is my kindle, since I have Under Wildwood in electronic format.  (I’d like to collect the Wildwood Trilogy in hardcover, though.  All in good time.)

R – Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery.  Another Montgomery, of course!  I have a whole shelf dedicated to Maud, so it shouldn’t surprise you to see multiple picks on this list.  Rilla is one of my favorites of the Anne series (not quite at the level of the first three, but up there).  I have fond memories of lying on my stomach in my bedroom loft, (spoiler alert!) flooding the house over Walter.

There you have it!  COVERED IN FLOUR – in books!  That wasn’t easy – particularly the V and U.  (I’ve occasionally considered changing my blog name now that this is no longer a cooking blog, and maybe I should have.)  What books spell out your blog name?  Will you join in?