Just Lovely

Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

When I first realized the final book in Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series was to be about George, Duke of Stanbrook, I was mildly surprised. Then I thought, duh, of course! But I still didn’t understand what the deep emotional conflict would be about. George always seemed to me to be a sort of fatherly, secondary character, and for some reason that didn’t seem heroic in a romance-story sense.

I am pleased to say I was a dope. This is a marvelous story, a tragic, joyous, eminently appropriate final episode in what has become one of my all-time favorite series. Like, top five, ever.

Sigh. It’s over now, but I will read the whole series again in years to come, especially now that I’ve managed to find copies of all seven books at my local independent bookstores.

Five stars, Mary, all the way through.

Potato Skins

I never wanted to eat my potato skins. Oh, I don’t mean the ones you get at restaurants, double-baked and loaded with sour cream and grated cheese. Those I have no problem with. No, I mean the ones that come on baked or roasted potatoes, the ones my mom always said were good for me.

And I told my kids the same vague thing. Eat the skins; they’re good for you. Turns out that might not always be true.

I have a dear friend who’s husband was recently diagnosed with a rather severe nightshade sensitivity. I invited them out to dinner the other day, and she said no, thank you, but they had gone out to dinner the night before and he had eaten something he shouldn’t have, and was feeling rather terrible.

That’s been percolating in my brain for a couple days, and this morning I decided to look it up. I was somewhat amazed at what I found. These are the nightshade foods:

eggplant, tomato, potato, red pepper, sweet red pepper
Some of the foods in the nightshade family
  • Tomatoes, especially the green ones.
  • Tomatillos.
  • Eggplant.
  • Potatoes, especially the skins.
  • Goji Berries.
  • Tobacco
  • Peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers, paprika, tamales, tomatillos, pimentos, cayenne, etc) but not black pepper, that’s a different plant altogether.
  • And belladonna, though we all know better than to eat that!

I’ll let you do your own research in the actual chemicals and their actions if you’re interested (THIS is a pretty good article and an interesting place to start) and let it suffice to say that when I didn’t want to eat my potato skins I may have just been listening to my body’s complaints. Some people have real sensitivities, and these foods might be especially bad for people with certain health concerns, such as chronic joint pain, which is an issue for me. So, now when I don’t want my potato skins, I’m just going to eat the middle (which has all the same vitamins), and stop feeling mildly guilty for disobeying my mom.

Hmmm, maybe I should apologize for pushing those potato skins on my kids, too.

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Wet Lawn

A few weeks back, still mid-August, I turned off the automatic sprinklers because it had been raining. Then summer came back–par for the course in Oregon–but I didn’t turn the sprinklers back on because nothing looked too dried out. Then Hubby put some new grass in the back yard.

I was out there yesterday in the heat watering the lawn in, making sure it didn’t dry out too much, especially on the edges, and realized everything else was looking a little dry too. So I re-programmed the sprinkler system and prepared to water-in the new lawn some more today, because the sprinklers don’t reach the new lawn yet.

Today, it’s raining. Actually, it’s pouring, an Oregonian term for lots and lots and lots of rain.

Guess I can turn the sprinklers off again. Heh.

Sunshine?

One of our little corgis is Gryffin, age six. He’s all boy, usually bossy, and noisy, and happy. He loves loves to go to work with Dad, run around in the grass, just generally loves to be outside (unless it’s raining, but that’s another subject for another time) in the sunshine, even just sitting on the porch. And when he’s inside, he’ll find a spot of sun on the floor and curl up there.

But the weather has turned a bit, since it’s now mid-September, and even though the afternoons are hot, there hasn’t been much sunshine on the floor in the mornings. Hubby found him like this today, early, wishing for the sun, and looking like he should be covered with snow. Poor baby!

poor-baby-cropped

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Plaid, Air Force, whatever.

I went shopping with my mom yesterday. We were hunting for a “fashionable” utility jacket. They’re all over the place, but not in colors I can wear. Mostly olive, which is one of those colors that makes me look like I need an ambulance. I bought her a plaid shirt (she’s been wearing plaid button-ups since before the word plaid was on anyone’s fashion radar) and myself a pair of skinny, plum-colored jeans. Now, in spite of my recent (intentional) weight loss, I’m not what anyone would call skinny…but the pants aren’t all that bad if my shirt’s long enough. And the color goes with my new purse.

My recent story research has led me to WWII (which of the men in my heroine’s ancestry went to war? Who stayed home? Why? Did they want to go? Did they come home?). I didn’t know much about my own family’s military history, so I took this opportunity to ask Mom about it.

Uncle One was in the Air Force but was too young to go to WWII. Uncle Two was in the Air Force but got, I think, a marriage deferment that kept him out of WWII. And to round things out, Uncle Three was in the Air Force, during Vietnam, but was always stationed in the continental US. None of them have ever talked about any of that in my hearing.

Pop (my maternal grandfather) was in the Missouri National Guard during some kind of campus rioting in the 1920’s. Their guns were empty. They got spit on and cussed at. That’s all we know about that.

My dad was, what do they call it…4F? He had asthma. But his good friend Stan was a ‘copter pilot. When I was four “Uncle” Stan brought me a shining, golden, cotton-lined kimono as a gift. In my 20’s I had it shadow-box framed in black lacquer. It doesn’t match any of my other decor and never has, but it’s a treasure.

And that’s all I know about my family and the military. So I’m going to be making this stuff up In my heroine’s world, all the angst and joy of military service will be angst and joy I pulled out of a hat. Think it will make a difference if I cover the hat with plaid first?