Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

So it has been a loooooooooooooooooooong time since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.

I am almost a year behind in reviews, but I will do my hardest to catch up.

So quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time was my turn and I chose:

Chasing the Wind (California Rising #3) by Paula Scott

So I was first introduced to Paula Scott when I worked at our local museum. I actually got to meet the her and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.

Then the second book came out and my coworker and I were discussing the series and she told me that she had really enjoyed it. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgotten to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.

I bought the Far Side of the Sea and could not put it down!

So of course I had to share the books with my book club:

So on to the third book:

The first book was the story of Protestant Rachel coming to Catholic California from the East coast, getting an arranged marriage to Roman Vasquez, befriending Roman’s sisters Maria and Isabella, and getting caught up in Bear Flag Revolt.

The second book was about Maria who gets kidnapped by Rachel’s father, raped, joins a shipping company, goes around the Americas, and ends up in the gentrifying/creating the lawful city of San Francisco. The second book is my favorite as it is an amazing story of overcoming trauma, working through past issues and insecurity, redemption, and has a powerful female character.

Chasing the Wind is the third installment and the story follows the path of Isabella Vasquez. Isabella is biracial (Native American and Russian), her mother died when she was a baby and her father, a fur trapper, brought her to Mission San Francisco Solano. There she was adopted by the Vasquez family, adopted cousin to Roman and Maria but raised as their sibling.

In the first book, she is a young girl who is one of Rachel’s first friends, spending time with her and giving her an education on the culture. With the Americans taking California, Isabella’s life is about to dramatically change. In the second book she has grown into a beautiful young woman, headed with her adopted father to the gold fields of Marysville, CA.

Marysville, for many who don’t know, was named after one of the survivors of the Donner Party and was the gateway to the gold fields. It used to be one of the largest cities in CA, a rival to San Francisco (until all the silt went into the river and made it hard for ships to pass through). You could get anything and everything you wanted in Marysville, but it was also a very hard place to live-especially for a woman-especially for a Native American woman. 

Peter Brondi is a mountain man who tamed the west with Kit Carson and John C. Fremont. He fought in the Mexican American War and against Native Americans. In fact he hates Native Americans for the horrors he witnessed and because one stole his father-he married one and had a son with her.

He’s currently searching for his half brother Paul, to bring him home and see their old and dying father. However, there is always time for cards and and he plays them winning the mining camp singer Bluebird-nickname for Isabella Vasquez.

Yes, once Isabella was the daughter of the rich Californio and now she is property-having lost her privilege and status when California changed hands.

I really enjoyed the way Paula Scott dealt with the cultural issues as there are very few books out there that cover this. We have a biracial character, raised in a completely different culture, and trying to navigate the changing culture of the state she lives in while trying to understand the identity of who she is in a world that there are hardly any like her.

Tell you what Isabella it’s almost 170 years later and it still is difficult for biracial and multicultural people.

So it doesn’t matter that Isabella is half Russian-Native American is all the world sees and how they treat her. She was educated, knows how to read and write, and speak multiple languages…but is treated like cattle. She is won by Peter, who is pressured into marrying her by a circuit preacher.

They have a night of passion-with sweet, naive, and young Isabella falling head over heels in love. The next day Peter drops her off at a brothel as he doesn’t believe they can really be married. I mean she was in a saloon and traveled the mining camps singing, there’s no way she is a classy lady-she must be a prostitute.

The brothel that she is dropped off at is still standing and now a restaurant, The Silver Dollar Saloon. We were able to meet with Paula Scott there and discuss this book along with the one she was currently working on Farming Grace: A Memoir of Life, Love, and a Harvest of Faith (which we read in September and I will review later).

Silver Dollar Saloon in Marysville, CA

When Peter left I was like this can’t be real, he’s going to march right back-but no. Isabella stays behind at the brothel earning her keep by reading to men and singing.

Poor Isabella, all she wanted was to belong to a family and then start her own. She lost hers, gained one with Peter…or so she thought. Now she has no one.

I’m so happy!

Peter leaves and Paul comes back to town. Paul falls for Isabella and every night tries to charm her more and more. Isabella is heartbroken, vulnerable, and alone.  Each night Paul breaks down more and more of her walls and she gives in to him.

But oh no…Paul leaves to get away from some card players he owes, Isabella turns out to be pregnant, she is attacked by a sadistic man, she flees to Fort Ross to search for her real father, Peter returns and discovers her “betrayal”, and Peter follows her-intent of finding her and doing right by her, but will they be able to reconcile after all that has transpired?

Tell ME!!!!!

So at first I was very angry with Peter. He left her in a brothel and then is angry because she started having sex with someone???!!! YOU LEFT HER IN A BROTHEL!!!! WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN???

But he does improve as you read. Scott created complex characters as Peter isn’t your usual hero and has to go on an emotional journey of working through envy, bitterness, prejudice, pride, iron out the issues with his father and brother in order to be a real man and a good husband.

Isabella has to go on her own journey to discover who she is, work on her abandonment issues, insecurity, forgiveness, bitterness, her own familial issues

Both are able to accomplish this by their faith and trust in God.

It was an amazing story! I highly recommend it! I LOVED it! I could not put it down as I consumed page after page in earnest to see how it would end. The characters are amazing and the story captivating.

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

For more Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

For more California Rising books, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties

I Won the Regency Marketplace Giveaway

So if you have been following me for a while, you know how I feel about free things.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

So I just cannot resist a giveaway-anytime I see one I have to enter it.

They are calling to me…

So with the Regency Marketplace, I love their stuff and when I saw the giveaway I had to enter.

I don’t remember if I was tagged first and then tagged others or if I saw it and then tagged friends, but however it happened, I entered and won.

So with the giveaway, I won two teas and a tea infuser. Of the teas, I had the option of:

  • English Breakfast Tea Bags
  • Jasmine Green Tea Bags
  • Irish Breakfast Loose Leaf Tea
  • West Indies Citrus

I can have a hard time making choices…(you should see me in restaurants)

Which way should I choose?

So I asked the proprietress to send me any of them and then settled in to wait.

I was a little anxious about when it would come as it has been soooooooo hot here. Like EXTREME heat, 98 to 100s, and I didn’t want it sitting in the mailbox all day.

It took about a week to get to me from Colorado to California, which is really great for a giveaway (others I have won have taken much, much longer.)

So, I love receiving mail!

And I was so happy to see this package, it was wrapped in a beautiful flowered envelope:

And when I opened it (video on facebook, twitter, and instagram) I saw I had won two Oliver Pluff & Company teas: Jasmine Green and English Breakfast.

So I decided to try them out with my mom and get her opinion as well. I even pulled out my teacups for the special occasion. First came English Breakfast Tea

My mom loved it and thought it was good, even though black teas aren’t her favorite. I LOVED it!

I don’t really drink a lot of English Breakfast Tea as a lot of the ones I have tried in the past have had a strange, acidic aftertaste.

Meh.

But this one was fantastic. I drank two cups, and ended up taking the tea canister to work so I could have it on my break.

The second one was Jasmine Green Tea.

My mom tried this one and really loved it as green tea is something she drinks often. I poured the tea for myself and put some sugar in and drank it, and wowee, boy was that sweet.

The tea was very good and didn’t need any added sugar as it was plenty sweet on its own. I am currently using it to cold brew some iced tea.

The tea infuser was beautiful and so easy to clean! Those of you who brew loose leaf tea know what I am talking about. I scooped out the leaves, rinsed it, and it was good to go for another brew. I also love how it has a little cup to set the infuser in and capture extra water/tea and keep it from staining your plates or counter.

So I love what I won in my giveaway, and I know for a fact I will be entering any future ones and will be checking out the store.

For more tea posts, go to Clean Cup! Clean Cup! Move Down, Move Down, Move DOOOWWWNN!!!!!

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea. I decided to repeat it with these two teas. After all:

Tea #1: English Breakfast Tea

So like I said, I’m a bit wary/particular with my English Breakfast Tea as in the past I haven’t had the best ones. But I was WOWED by this one. Hmm…so a book that I didn’t think I would like, but just absolutely loved?

I have never been super interested in epistolary books or books written in diary format. There are a few I have enjoyed, but that format isn’t really my taste. When I read this book, I was WOWED by it. I couldn’t stop reading and enjoyed it so much I made my book club read it. (I promise that I will do a full review soon!)

Juliet is an author in post-WWII London trying to figure out her next book, but having terrible writer’s block. She receives a letter one day from a Dawsey Adams on Guernsey Island who is writing to her as he purchased a used book and it had her name and address in it. The two exchange letters and Juliet learns about life on Guernsey Island and how reading and the literary society saved them during the German occupation. Soon she is receiving letters from all the literary members and their stories have such an impact on her she heads to the island to meet them and write about them.

Like the English Breakfast Tea, this book happily surprised me!

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Tea #2 Jasmine Green Tea

So this was harder…this tea was sweeter than I thought it would be, extremely tasty, and Asian…after thinking on it I went with

Rachel Snow has never had a good relationship with her father, and when he kicked her out as a teenager-her relationship with her sister suffered as well. Now her mother has dementia and Rachel is declared the power of attorney-she finds herself at odds with her father again, but closer to her sister as they try to solve a mystery about a book her mother keeps talking about. In between the sisters of Snow, the book tells the story of the legendary female samurai, Tomoe Gozen who lead the army in Yoshinaka’s military, along with being his concubine. When Yoshinaka marries a girl from court, Yamabuki, Tomoe resents everything about her. But as the two spend more time together, they grow to become sisters of the Heart; and discover that both hold traits that help each be stronger.

Just like the tea, I didn’t expect the book to be as sweet as it was and enjoyed both.

For more on Sisters of Heart and Snow, check out my sister blog From Print to Screen

 

 

A Water-Logged White Christmas

So every year my family goes and cuts down a Christmas tree. And this year, things did not go as expected.

So it rained.

Which was good. California really needed it. But because of fire and storm the place we usually go to was closed.

So we had to drive over an hour away, wait an hour to process for permits (never had to do that before), and then drive another hour away.

When we got there, the snow was super deep. The banks went up to your knees and thighs, depending on the area. It was such hard work. We couldn’t drive up to the tree cutting allowed area, as the snow was so deep, we had to hike in.

NoooooooooooooooS

While it was raining, which turned into sleet-and snow.

So it was hard to look for a tree with the snow, as my family we all wear glasses-so quickly fogged up and covered in rain.

Then the chainsaw broke so we are all sitting out there standing in the snow and getting even more soaked then we already were.

We finally got the tree, but the rest of the group couldn’t help, so my sister and I are trying to drag this huge 14 foot tree through the crazy deep snow.

Ugh

And finally we were ready to go. It was so wet that my gloves were full of water and falling off of me, my jacket so soaked it was drippingly full-the rain had gotten through my coat and on my shirt, pants and leggings, etc. I felt like Marianne Dashwood.

[after Marianne has first met Willoughby]

Elinor: Marianne, you must change. You will catch a cold.

Marianne: What care I for colds when there is such a man.

Elinor: You will care very much when your nose swells up.

Marianne: You are right. Help me, Elinor.

But even though it was a lot of work-and we all were soaked it was still fun. Even though after we got home, changed, and ate-all I wanted to do was sleep.

For more stories on cutting down our Christmas tree, go to Winter Wonderland

For more Marianne Dashwood, go to The Austen Series: Reason and Romance

Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

So as you all know I started a book club last year. Because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time was my turn and I picked:

Until the Day Breaks (California Rising #1) by Paula Scott

I was first introduced to this book when the author came into the museum I was working at as she needed to discuss something with the curator. We started talking about the book and California and Western history as I absolutely love it.

I read it and the sequel, and enjoyed both of them. So of course, when a few months passed and it was my turn again-I picked it.

So the book takes place in 1846. California “belongs” to Mexico, but not really being more independent. The United States looms closer and closer, Manifest Destiny gobbling up more states. Rachel Tyler grew up in Massachusetts, is Protestant, and raised by her grandparents. She is a sweet woman and engaged to minister hopeful, Stephen. (As soon as his mother dies and releases her control over him)

Well that all changes when her father, Joshua Tyler, awakens their long silence. After Rachel’s mother died, he took off to California to make his fortune and has, in some nefarious ways. He married a wealthy Californio’s niece, Sarita, a girl only a year or so older than his daughter and has brokered a deal matching his daughter with Sarita’s cousin, Roman Vasquez.

This match will work for for Joshua Tyler-as if California remains in Mexico’s control he will have protection in the match. If the United States take over, Tyler can secure the Vasquez land and money through his daughter.

Rachel is hurt over the broken engagement with Stephen and in even more dismay over her upcoming marriage to Roman. Roman is a lusty, passionate, and angry man. Rachel is afraid of that passion, especially as she starts to find herself falling in love with him.

Roman has returned from fighting in the American Intervention with Mexico, known as the Mexican American War by the United States; injured, angry, and finding California completely different then what he left. His family thought he was killed, his fiancé married Joshua Tyler, his family fortune and land is dwindling through his uncle’s gambling, and now he has to marry this Yankee?

But as Roman gets to know Rachel she touches him in a way no one has in a long time. Her kindness, sweetness, and relationship with Christ starts to affect him. But can he really overcome his lust, passion, and anger?

To complicate things further-Sarita is a witch who is angry that Tohic, the god she worships, lied to her about Roman’s death. Even though she is married and Roman is engaged-she will sacrifice anything and do everything to get what she wants.

And as California looks more and more like war is coming-all are uncertain what that means and what exactly to do?

Then to everyone’s surprise Rachel’s ex-fiance shows up! And he brings his friend and ship Captain Dominic Mason.

This is a power firecracker of a novel. It is enjoyable and a real page turner. Every one of us ladies finished long before book club was scheduled to meet.

So while we discussed our book, I thought that in the flavor of Daring Chloe, we should meet in my California town’s historical Saloon that existed in the same time this book is set in. It really was a lot of fun. Here’s a couple of snaps I took. I meant to get a pic of the book in the restaurant,but forgot-maybe I’ll stop by and do it again.

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Illustrated Man

For more Christian fiction, go to Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

For more bible verses, go to Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

 

Viva Las Vegas

So I know you’ve probably been wondering, what’s going on? Where have I been? Have I just crashed from my Valentine’s Day postings?

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Well not exactly. I’m sure you have seen on the news how crazy the weather in California has been. We actually had to evacuate the area for fear of flooding.

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Headed up more north, where I connected to the internet and was able to finish the Valentine’s Day countdown. Then we returned home, as no water had overflowed, repacked and planned to head down to Southern California to wait out the evacuation.

I'm outta here

I’m outta here

But they were going to get the worse storm in 20 years. We decided to skip it, which was good as everyone I knew house’s got flooded.

Not good

Not good

So we were trying to decide where to head next, when Las Vegas was just randomly chosen. There we headed out in a trailer, with my cat (as I wasn’t leaving her) for Sin City.

I'd never leave you.

I’d never leave you.

Now I’ve never really had a desire to go to Vegas. I like gambling, but just for fun. Anytime money is involved I lose; if we play for fun, chores, candy-I’m golden.

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If money-

idon'tgotthis

But that is where everyone wants to go, so we went. Well it took a day to get there as California is huge.

What?!

What?!

We got there around five, but were too tired we just stayed there in the trailer resting.

Draculasleep

The next day it poured! Like crazy pouring, like monsoon weather. It was so crazy and we were so tired of the water that we decided to just stay in again.

Saturday and Doing Nothing

The next day was sunny, but cool which was nice, and we decided to head out. But you know me, I’m not normal.

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Now what I wanted to see more than anything was the mob museum.

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It was AMAZING! Tri-level, with information from the early years to present time. It was chock full of information on the 1920s to the 60s. The later years focused more on the police and FBI. It was extremely interactive with video in a replica of the Las Vegas courthouse, depicting the hearings and using actual furnture from the time period.

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They had practice with weapons, a fake tommy gun that you could pretend shoot:

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and the wall from the St. Valentine’s Massacre that was brough over and reassembled brick by brick. You could see the bullet holes.

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There is so much more, I barely even skimmed the surface in this review of all the amazing things this building has to offer. If you are ever there you should check it out as it was AMAZING!

Iloveit love

After that we drove down the strip looking at all the lighted signs and buildings.

What?!

Wow!

The next day we hit the casinos, but not to play.

Whattheheck

Yep, I wanted to look at all the architecture.

SayWhat

Hey, I told you I was different.

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I loved looking at them, and spent hours walking and checking them all out. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see everything, but I tried my best. My favorite was probably Caesar’s Palace. I loved the extensive details in recreating the roman architecture. It was beautiful. As a former Art History student, I was enthralled.

They even have a life-size replica of Michelangelo’s David, made from the same marble as the original.

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Michaelangelo purposely made this disproportionate as it was supposed to me placed high above on a roof in Florence, so that all could see it.

The sculpture is designed to show David’s warrior soul, not actual physical age, that is why is so muscular and strong. It was also designed to be right before he throws the slingshot, his face in fierce contemplation. It is amazing the way Michelangelo is able to create life out of stone.

The Flamingo is the oldest casino on the strip. It was created by the mobster Bugsy Siegal and his friends and the reason for his death. It was taking too long to build, using too much money, and many believed Bugsy was skimming off the top. Never try to cheat the mob, they will always take you out.

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The Paris Casino was also amazing as it tried hard to replicate the city-from the Arc de Triomphe, to the “cobblestone” floors, to the Rococo style artwork and Salon furniture.

What?!

Wow

And it was cool looking at the Bellagio first hand instead of just a movie, like Ocean’s Eleven.

But there was one big disappointment for me.

Laura Angry Mad Upset

So you all know how much I love Elvis, I am a super fan.

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So I was looking for an Elvis themed souvenir in all the souvenir shops on the strip. But I couldn’t find anything!

SayWhat

I know, right?! I searched every where and was getting desperate…at this point I would have bought anything.

So cool, I want it to be true.

But there was nothing, nada, zip!

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I know, crazy! No Elvis in Vegas! No nothing! Not even an impersonator! Not a copy of the film Viva Las Vegas!

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

Oh well, I could probably find something cheaper online.

Supernaturaldean whinchester shrug smile oh well

But hey, just because I missed out doesn’t mean you should. So Elvis, take us out:

ElvisPresleyDanceDancing

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For more on Vegas, go to A Fantabulous Post

For more on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, go to You’re Sad So I’m Making This Day Extra Special: The Bikini in the Soup, Bones (2011)

For more on Michelangelo, go to The Death of Christ

For more Elvis, go to Someone is Killing By Copying Old Murders!: Real Murders

Every Month at the Quarter Moon There’ll be a Monsoon

So I have experienced quite a lot of terrible rainstorms.

rainbreakfastattiffaneyscat

When I was nine there was a tornado warning on my birthday. (My birthday takes place in a season where there is zero rain, so it was a really random year.) There ended up being no tornado, but it was really rainy and windy.

I don’t remember it being too bad as we didn’t have to do anything in school but hng out (away from the windows, and we all got picked up from school early. I spent the rest of the day chilling, happy birthday to me.

gloomyrainydays

Then there was the time I went to Arizona right in the middle of monsoon season. The rainstorms don’t last long, but they are extremely powerful and crazy. And of course because this happens only one week out of the year, they don’t build the buildings with the capacity to handle such storms, i.e no rain gutters to catch the rain or storm drains. There was water coming from everywhere. It was like Jumanji.

At one point my sister and I were running to our hotel room (in our shorts and tank tops as it was too hot for either of us to bring a coat or sweater) and when we almost reached it, we were hit by a waterfall of water streaming off outdoor walkway. We both were totally soaked.

HairaMess

Then there was that time during my freshman year in school were we had crazy rainstorms up until the beginning of May. Things were so bad that one week (right before finals) they canceled classes that met in the lower floors of the buildings and were all issued a flood warning. In fact it got so bad they had to sandbag some of the buildings, as the nearby river began to overflow.

Pocahontas

Then there was Wyoming. Now that rain is tough. It doesn’t pour down on you, but the wind moves so fast that it knocks the rain drops into your body and face, making you feel as if you are being punched by a million tiny fists.

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The wind completely tore my umbrella, in fact it wasn’t until a second storm weeks later that I was able to find all the pieces of it.

I’m telling you, those Wyoming storms are crazy. I could barely find my way home, and was completely soaked from every inch.

Sadface Batman

But the worst storm happened last Sunday. I woke up, planning on getting ready for church when I looked outside to see water just pouring down from the skies. It was as if a faucet had been turned on full blast. Just gallons of water everywhere! Like you needed an ark to maneuver out of there.

There was no way I was going to drive in that!

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

So I waited until there was a break, but then I had the worst luck ever! As I was driving, the street that goes across one of the freeways’ light was broken!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was totally scary! Cars were just crossing all over the place, barely managing to dodge each other. I swear I saw like ten near accidents as I sat waiting for my turn.

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I had to wait at least 20 mins, using a car making a left turn as a shield and praying that no one hit me.

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Then later as I was driving, I noticed that on the one way road I was going down, there was a section completely filled with water.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

There was nothing I could do but go forward. Praying again, but this time that my car wouldn’t get stuck in the water.

Carnival of Souls

I was somehow able to push through, and get to church.

Finally something GOOD!

Of course being California, two hours later the rain had stopped, the sun was out, and the only markers of the deluge were a few puddles.

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Well that’s life in the golden state.

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For more adventures in the rain, go to It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

For more on living in California, go to England Dreamin’ On Such a Summer’s Day

For more adventures from my everyday life, go to A Baker’s Four Dozen

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Now for today’s Christmas Carol, I have chosen When Christmas Comes to Town from The Polar Express. 

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I think it is a cute song and my favorite from the film. I thought it was just so beautiful; the lyrics and the very talented voices.

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For more on The Polar Express, go to 25 More Films of Christmas

For more Christmas Carols, go to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

 

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

So I like the rain.

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It is cozy, it is pretty, it’s fun. And living in California while in the midst of a drought, we have all been wishing for rain.

rain

And when it comes we are all ecstatic! Rejoicing in the streets!

Now the other day I was out running errands. The skies were kinda gray and it had been raining every few days, so I brought my umbrella along. I had just left a store when it happened.

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

It was like all of a sudden the Kraken was released or something. Water was pouring, galloping, annihilating.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It seriously hurt when it pelted you. I got in my car to drive home, but it was like I was in Psycho or something. I couldn’t see anything.

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Good thing it was daytime or else I would have been out of luck. Of course when I got home, the rain become enjoyable again.

gloomyrainydays

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For more on rain, go to Rainy Days & Rainy Nights

For more on my everyday life, go to Walking on Pins and Needles

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In other news, I have to get my wisdom teeth out. Yep, all four.

ouch Hermione

I know. So I may or my not be taking a break from posting. We’ll just have to wait and see how I am. I may be in killer pain, loopy from the drugs, or just fine.

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