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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lily — Asiatic OR Oriental ?

Know the difference between Asiatic & Oriental Lilies?

Neither do I, but this lily plant in our neighbor’s yard has been growing taller daily. If you’re wondering WHY not just ask our neighbor — she’s been travelling this summer and isn’t home.

IMG_6478This is just one of the blooms on this lily – there’s at least a dozen more. The below photos show a bud, the center stalk and leaves

big orchidThe plant has grown taller than the fence behind it. The blooms are very large and also very fragrant.

big orchid collageorchard closeups

After doing some online research, this appears to be an Oriental Lily vs. an Asiatic Lily — eHow provided this info:

Asiatic lilies are native to Central and Western Asia and have been cultivated in gardens for more than 3,000 years. Some Asiatic lilies are referred to as Asiatic Hybrids because they are crosses with North American lilies. The Asiatics have the broadest range of colors available in lilies, with blooms in all shades of yellow, orange, pink, red and white, as well as bi-colors. Asiatics grow 2 - 4 feet tall and have flowers 4 - 6 inches across. They are rarely fragrant. Asiatics usually bloom in late May or early June and stay in flower for 2 or 3 weeks.

Oriental lilies are hybrids between two types of Japanese lilies, Lilium auratum and Lilium speciosum. The cross was made in 1869 by American horticulturist Francis Parkman. These August bloomers grow up to 6 feet tall and have huge flowers that can be as much as 12 inches across. They are highly fragrant, particularly at night. Orientals come in shades of white, pink and red, and often have raised spots on the inside of the petals called papilliae. The two most famous varieties of Oriental lilies are the dark pink Stargazer and the huge, white Casablanca.

We’re thinking that IF our neighbor isn’t back soon, this IMG_6452plant may soon be as high as her home.

You think so ?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Funnies

ONCE upon a time . . .

stairs to nowhere these steps led somewhere

Thursday, June 28, 2012

THEY'RE HERE!!!!!!

OH YEA!!!!!! Today is the day i have waited for since last fall. Thats when the last of the tomatoes were picked and savored, knowing that the memory would have to hold me for long time till another fresh, delicious, begging to be eaten red beauty would appear.
Well today was the day. Our two tomato plants (Rutgers) have grown huge. Then they started filling with those cute little blossoms. Then little green orbs that grew but remained green..
IMG 1551
 So this was the garden this morning. But hiding among all those big green leaves was the fruits of all our labors.
IMG 1552
 If you look toward the bottom you'll see just the slightest hint of pink. BUT right behind, two Solanum lycopersicums were trying to hide. BUT to a dedicated Solanum Sleuth there would be no hiding.
Photo

And here they are. Two delectable red orbs just begging to be salted and eaten.
I was going to take a picture of what happened to the smaller of the two, but somehow it got eaten
(to many oohhs and ahhhhhs and of course much lip smacking').

The rest will be enjoyed in tonights salad. Finally a tomato i can taste!!!!!!!
Grenville (Smacking his lips)….

A (Little) More on Gardenias

An earlier post  gave background info on the gardenia plant and described one that’s been blooming in our front yard. A few of the buds have come cut off and placed in water on the kitchen pass-through where we’ve been enjoying them for up to 2 days at a time.
gardenia0614 (2)The fragrance has been wonderful whenever a breeze blew through the open kitchen windows. Alas, our enjoyment is fast coming to a close, because while some new buds are blooming , most have already opened. . .
gardenia0627 (2)Most are past their prime . . .
gardenia0627 (1)gardenia0627 (4)
But still quite lovely . . .
gardenia0627 (3)Bloom time for a gardenia can be from 3-8 days, but closer to the shorter end of that range. Gardenia blossoms bruise and turn brown easily when touched or when it’s windy. They open white and then mature to creamy yellow. When the flowers start to brown, they should be removed to make room for new buds and flowers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brining + Homemade BBQ Sauce

YES, another chicken recipe, an easy one, actually two — BBQ chicken with homemade BBQ sauce. Grenville was the master grill chef. He’s very good at outdoor cooking, from start to finish. Friends, Marty, Bob and Mary joined us for a Sunday night meal, which also included Asiatic Cucumber Salad and Sweet Potato Salad #1.
bbq chicken0624 (2)bbq chicken0624 (3)bbq chicken0624 (5)
Before  grilling, the chicken breasts were brined by immersion n saltwater. Poultry benefits from brining, regardless of it’s cooked, adding flavor, tenderness and less cooking times; it also keeps it moist while cooking.
Table or kosher salt (without iodine) are OK; table salt won't make it too salty.  Dissolve the salt, half a cup to one cup per gallon of water. The brine should be cold. Submerge the chicken in the brine for up to an hour, then dry and cook.  No need to rinse.
Just about any meat can be brined; specific times will vary depending on the meat and size. Lighter meats like poultry or seafood don’t need to be brined as long as pork tenderloins.

Homemade BBQ Sauce #1
Like lots of BBQ recipes, this one starts with a tomato base; ketchupbbq chicken0624 (7) is perfect. My preference is Hunt’s, cause there’s a “no high fructose” variety.
  • 1/3 C ketchup
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (low-sodium)
  • 2 TBSP prepared mustard (Dijon is my preference)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder (more if you like spicier)
Whisk all ingredients together; refrigerate until using. Put aside sauce you’re not basting with as unused leftovers make a great dipping sauce. Stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator; it should keep for a couple of weeks (we hope).
This was my first attempt at homemade BBQ sauce (so it’s #1). Our goal is  trying more homemade vs. buying packaged versions. It’s not  difficult AND there’s lots of room for creativity — as your imagination AND taste buds will allow.

Sweet Potato Salad #1

sweet potato salad0624 (3)We try to avoid eating too many “white” foods, like breads, potatoes, rice. But, potato salad is a go-along with BBQ anything. Good thing we not only like sweet potatoes, but had some at the F&P. I’d heard/read about using them in a potato salad and it seemed like a perfect salad to have with BBQ chicken when friends came over for Sunday dinner.

It’s called SP Salad  #1 since this was a first attempt with variations from a couple of recipes. The recipe I planned to use called for safflower or grape seed oil (instead of mayo) and none was in our pantry, but will be soon. So expect a future version of F&P sweet potato salad. HINT: After you zest the orange, cut it and squeeze the juice to use as well.

Sweet Potato Salad #1
  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, cubedsweet potato salad0624 (5)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded & chopped (green OK)
  • 4 thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/3 C mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
  • 3 TBSP fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste
Boil sweet potatoes in salted water over medium heat. Cook until tender (10-14 min.) depending on the cube size. Drain and cool. Transfer to a large bowl; add onions and pepper.

Whisk together the mayo, OJ, spices — hold the orange zest andsweet potato salad0624 (9) paprika — carefully fold into potatoes. sprinkle orange zest and smoked paprika on top. Refrigerate until serving.

As with most salads, this one was better the second day with leftover BBQ chicken.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Say WHAT to Commenting

TO fellow bloggers who left comments on the previous post about how they handle (or not) replying to comments on their blog posts.
Consensus was that if someone asks a question, most bloggers reply by email, if an email address is available. If not, an answer is posted in a reply comment.

This makes sense as most bloggers said they do NOT return to a post to reply to comments OR to read a reply to their comment. As several bloggers noted, thanks for compliments is redundant and time-consuming. ALL said that they enjoy getting and reading comments — everyone likes to be appreciated. One blogger said he likes to let readers know he appreciates them by saying so every now and then — good idea. Thanks, John.

TIME is what bloggers agree is in short supply not only when   posting on their blogs, but when trying to visit other blogs too. Time is NOT really on their side at those times. 

WHEW, Beatrice was glad to read that because she usually replied to just about every comment on one of her posts !

NOW, she plans to skip the reply comments and just answer questions or comment further in a direct email — unless comments can be handled in a separate post, like this one.

FINALLY, we were reminded that the # of followers (or friends) is not indicative of how folks many read a blog, regularly or not. Some folks we know have told us they enjoy our posts and chuckle when Grenville is tickled by his funny bones, which happens a lot.
Last one — THANKS for your views — glad you shared them with us.
Beatrice & Grenville

Monday, June 25, 2012

We LIKE You, but Just Wondering

YES, it’s TRUE we really like you and Grenville & best friends (6)Beatrice (us) are very glad that you enjoy visiting The Frog & PenguINN blog.

It makes us S-M-I-L-E

AND, we read and appreciate every comment, but are having a “time issue” finding it takes lots of time to reply to comments and find time to visit and comment on other blogs.

So, fellow bloggers, we wonder?
DO you feel a reply is needed for  comments made on your blog posts or do you comment only when there’s a question? (We appreciate that many bloggers reply to every post comment; others don’t.)
GOING forward, Grenville and I will continue to read and appreciate ALL blog comments, cause we really, really like getting them. But, we won’t reply to your comments unless there’s a specific question(s).
? will always be answered, so feel free to ask; also you can always email us, as many fellow bloggers have done.

Please feel free to share your views on this topic.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Grilled Steak and Cuke Salad

What do these 2 food have in common ?
NOTHING, except both are on tonight’s dinner menu. Yes, it’s true,IMG_6300  not every meal at The Frog & PenguINN is chicken. Despite the garden being smaller (much), and despite Grenville only planting 3 cucumber plants, we have an (over) abundance of fresh cukes — these are TODAY’S harvest.

And, despite yesterday’s rains, it’s still HOT and muggy now too — we definitely have the 3H’s— hot, hotter and here. Weekend grilling is definitely in order.

Getting back to those excess cukes. I’ve tried several cuke salads. This new one is easy, light, and refreshing and uses rice vinegar. We keep assorted vinegars: apple cider, balsamic, white, red, and rice — all come in handy.

Sure, we have a mandoline slicer, as Grenville posted about, also a food processor, but both are too large and cumbersome to slice a couple of cukes, so I used a sharp knife and cut as thinly as possible, without cutting myself,  that’s good cause it’s really hard to work in the kitchen with bandaged fingers.
Asic Cucumber Saladcuke salad0624 (2)
  • 2 medium cucumbers, small and less seedy
  • 1/4 C rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TBSP toasted sesame seed OR dill
  1. Run a fork along the cucumber, but don’t peel it. Peel cucumbers to leave alternating green stripes. (If you don’t like seeds, either use English or seedless cukes or cut the cukes in half and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds.)
  2. Using a food processor or sharp knife, cut into very thin slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt and place slices in a small colander to drain. Remove after 30 minutes and place slices between a double layer of paper towel, squeezing gently tocuke salad0624 (3) remove any excess moisture.
  3. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, using a whisk to mix together. Add the cucumbers and dill seed OR sesame seeds; toss well to combine. Chill before serving.
Toast sesame seeds: Heat a small dry skillet over low heat. Add sesame seeds and stir constantly until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Cool before using.

steak marinade0624 (3)The main ingredient for tonight’s dinner is marinated steak on the grill. It’s easy to skip store-bought marinades; everything needed  to make a homemade version may already be in your pantry/fridge. Check out this easy version.

Grilled Steak Marinade (also uses vinegar)
  • 1/4 C soy sauce (low-sodium)
  • 1/3 C Worcestershire sauce (low-sodium)
  • 2 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 3 TBSP Balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 3 TBSP minced garlic (jarred one is easier)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Mix all ingredients together using a wire whisk. Pour over IMG_6298steak and marinate several hours; refrigerate and turn once or twice. Discard excess sauce after grilling.
ENJOY !

About those steaks!!!!!

What a long day this has been. The kids at the Station decided that since it was summer, and summer here is sometimes hot, other times unbearable, we should start work at 8 AM. Do you know how early that is?????? The sun has just barely up, and the birds,,,,, i would love to say they are just  starting to sing, but ours suffer from 'Avian Insomnia'. They start singing around midnight and don't quit till noon.
BUT i digress,,,,, we got there at 8 am and went right to it. Today we replaced a 14 foot 6 by 6 timber post. The original had become a tenement to every termite within 5 miles. All the way to the main cross beam at the top of the south wall. Oh, did i mention that this was the main post that supported the main cross beam that the south wall was attached to????? To get a better picture of this, slip on aver the the Onley Station blog at http://onley-spots.blogspot.com/ Make sure you leave Possum a comment, and become a follower if you've a mind to.
But again i digress. I'm supposed to be telling about the steaks you saw in Beatrice's post. So here is what happened to them.

Photo 2
Deliciouso to say the least.

Grenville

Friday, June 22, 2012

It’s Raining . . .

POURING is a better word — 0.6 of an inch in 30 minutes according to Grenville’s weather station. Friday is our grass cutting afternoon, luckily we got out early and finished just as the first drops started pelting down.

Porching it can’t be beat during a summer rainstorm; we sat in our favorite rockers watching the downpour — until the winds started gusting to 30mph with accompanying claps of thunder and lightning.front yard rain0622Photos were taken from the back door and thru the kitchen window. backyard rain0622Shooting from inside gave some unique effects. These photos were taken shooting through the window and screen – no after-effects.

Tractor shed – taken from dining room windowIMG_6280Back patio – taken from kitchen windowIMG_6283Second patio shot from kitchen windowIMG_6281

It’s still raining and more storms are headed this way throughout the night. The rains are a welcome relief to water the gardens and bring a cool down from the 90+ temps of the past several days. We hope your weather isn’t too stormy or HOT.

UPDATE: average gas prices here as of this a.m . . . double YEAH !

gas cost0622

Friday Funnies

Coming Round the Bend . . .

road meeting barnsright into these Lancaster, PA silos.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken

Weird name, how about if is was called Grilled Butterflied Chicken?

That’s easier to say; Spatchcock is the professional culinary term.

According to The Oxford Companion to Food: “"The theory is that the word is an abbreviation of 'dispatch the cock,' a phrase used to indicate a summary way of grilling a bird after splitting it open down the back and spreading the two halves out flat.”

A split and flattened chicken not only takes less time to cook, but cooks more fully and is moister. There’s lots of spatchcock chicken recipe variations online; this one is from a recent issue of (Martha Stewart) Living magazine.

Whole chickens were on sale this week, temps are HOT, and Grenville was grilling — GREAT combo. Cold leftovers will be great with salad cause it’s still gonna be HOT.

Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken

Prepare the chicken early in the day, refrigerate, then take out 30 minutes before grilling.

  • 1 medium onion, peeled, cut in halfspatchcocked chicken (2)
  • 1 large garlic glove
  • 1/3 C packed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage; used basil and oregano from our garden)
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, zest only removed in strips with peeler
  • 1 chicken (3-1/2 to 4 lb.) spatchcocked/butterflied
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To spatchcock a chicken, cut along each side of the backbone with shears. Remove the backbone and reserve for stock (freezes for up to 3 months). Turn the bird breast side up, flatten with your palm. (If you want a graphic visual, see the LINKS below.)

  1. Puree onion, garlic, herbs, oil, and lemon zest in food processor.spatchcocked chicken (6)
  2. Rub some of puree under skin of chicken breast. Rub remaining puree over rest of bird.
  3. Refrigerate at least 6 hours  to 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and/or lemon before grilling.spatchcocked chicken (8)

Grilling

  1. Heat grill to medium high. Grill chicken breast side down, covered with vent open, until charred, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Flip and cook 30 minutes more then flip again; grill until internal temp reaches 165 degrees in thickest part of breast, 5 minutes longer.
  3. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

IMG_3250

VIDEOS – naked undressed chickens are shown on this Cookthink website which has a step-by-step pictorial, or you can watch this New York Times video.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Already??????

OK,,, how did this happen????? i woke up this morning and the weather folks (here the locals call in the weather in their back yards) on the radio were talking about 90 degree weather. AND summer temps. AND heat advisories…… Well the windows are down now and the "AC is on" (thinking of you John).
ANd then my calendar dinged and i saw that today is SUMMER SOLSTICE!!!!!!! Soooo Happy Solstice to all. According to the
Ap
 Celtic Calendar (I'm sure you all have one hanging in the kitchen) today is the first day of summer (all your crops should be in by now) and it is the LONGEST DAY of the year. Doesn't that seem like it should be the middle of something? You work your way up to a point and it is down hill after that. Well the Farmers Almanac seems to thing so since they are asking the question , "Is this the beginning of summer, or Mid-Summer's eve????? Heavy questions, and I'm not wading into those waters.
Now if you are from New Jersey (we know who you are) and have lived "Down the Shore" you know this is all bunk. Summer at the shore starts Easter Sunday, and ends Thanksgiving Sunday. What??? you didn't know Thanksgiving was on Sunday????
Pp
 That is "Tourist Season". They show up with    pockets bulging with cash, just waiting to have it syphoned off into poor shore folks investment accounts. It is also the season that many locals avoid the beaches. Not just because of the BENNIES (if your from the NJ Shore you know what this means), but also because we are all working. YES Working at making your visit to our paradise fun and enjoyable. AND profitable for us.
YEars ago when i was a kid, Tourist Season was from Memorial Day
Sh
 to Labor Day. Both were big celebrations    along the Jersey Coast. We would mourn on Memorial Day and party on Labor Day. BUT then the Casino Boys started showing up and wanted year round tourism. Gambling, Floor Shows, Lounge Acts, Elder Fleecing. Atlantic CIty was transformed almost over night from a sleepy little shore ghetto with a crumbling boardwalk and decrepit hotels, to a one block wide mecca of gambling, glitz, and gaudy bad taste, bordered by the crumbling boardwalk on one side and the ghetto on the other side.  Ww
Ah yes, summer in Jersey. The Garden State Parkway (park being the descriptive word) at a crawl, or even standstill, all 10 lanes of it, for miles and miles on Friday night or Sunday afternoon. THe smell of over heated coolant in the air. Vehicles enshrouded by clouds of steam. Picnics and volley ball games being organized in the grassy median. Ah yes, Summer in Jersey.
Years ago the state tourism commission was looking for a new slogan, a tag line for the state. CmSomething that encompassed the entire state. A phrase that would really stick in the "out of staters" mind and draw them ( and their bulging wallets) back to Jersey for syphoning. If any of you have ever lived in a tourist area you know how locals can develop a sarcastic little edge to their speech. Tourists may not catch it, but other locals hear it loud and clear. Needless to say many of the tag line suggestions were not even considered. Phrases like "Bennies Go Home", "Save a beach, Bury a Shoebee today", and "Yes I'm a local, No i don't give directions" were eliminated early in the competition.
Im not sure what happened to my slogan. It was short, to the point, and easy to understand. It could have limited the traffic jams on the GSP, raised revenue, held down the budgets of the small shore towns. All with a simple Jersianna  thought put into words.
WELCOME TO NEW JERSEY, GIVE US YOUR WALLET AND GET THE HELL OUT
Grenville

Dollar Tree – Bargains with NO Returns

Buy something from Dollar Tree, need to return it and hope for a refund or credit . . . Forget about it.

Because, if you didn’t know it — which we didn’t, but do now —  Dollar Tree doesn’t process refunds or store credit, only on-the-spot exchanges.
OK, we’ve shopped Dollar Tree stores before (cards, gift bags, etc.) without knowing the returns policy. Nothing ever went back. IF we got a bad item, it was discarded — after all, this is the place where everything is $1.
But,  last week Grenville bought an assortment of kid stuff dollar treefor summer bug-hunting: bug nets, bug boxes, hand-held magnifiers, colored pencils, stickers and notepads.

NOPE, not for the grandson.
As he’s done before, Grenville was set to volunteer at a summer camp,teaching  ecology to 9-12 year olds. The Christian-based camp operates on something akin to a shoestring budget; many attendees are sponsored. Volunteers supply most of the items that the kids get to use and keep — Grenville stocked up for his session.
You’ve heard that timing is everything, in this case it wasn’t. Grenville bought the items 1 day BEFORE his session was cancelled due to lack of enrollment. Everything was still in the original packaging, so back to DT it was going for return or store credit . . .
Nope, nada, no way, zip, zilch
 
You have to exchange the items then and there for items whose value is the same as —or exceeds— the original purchase. Here’s the “official” no-return policy from the Dollar Tree website:
So that we may continue to provide you extreme value for $1.00 when shopping at one of our retail stores, we reserve the right to limit quantities, do not offer refunds, and consider all sales final. We will gladly exchange any unopened item with the original receipt, however, we do not offer exchanges on seasonal merchandise. When shopping online at www.dollartree.com, all sales are final.
YES, we explained what happened, and admit to ignorance of store policy. NOW, we know, SO we won’t be shopping there. YES, we just know how upset DT will be. We’re NOT  steadfast Walmart shoppers, but it’s closer WITH a 90-day return policy.
BTW, Grenville is upset cause he didn’t get to go to camp this summer . . .  anyone know where there’s one teaching ecology — he has the supplies !

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Going Down . . .

gas 0617 (1)

W-O-W– $3.29/gal

This was the average gas price on the VA eastern shore this a.m. compared to 10 days ago when it was $3.35/gal.

Seems odd  to be cheering about $3+/gal gas, but it’s a lot easier to take than the nearly $4/gal just a couple of months ago.

And, we’re hoping it gets even lower in the next few weeks before we take a mid-July road trip to visit family in PA, NJ, RI followed by a side trip to NH.

Have prices lowered in other U.S. states as well? Fellow blogger Sandra said they were below $3.25 in parts of FL. Of course, we know lower gas prices are a hope overseas and in Canada, where they always remain higher.

Monday, June 18, 2012

More What We’re Reading . . .

Earlier posts in February and March described some of the books we were reading then while sitting in our favorite chairs.

We’re still reading nightly — Grenville has been using his iPad to enjoy some FREE digital Kindle downloads from the public library (the selection is limited and as small as the library) and through an Amazon Prime membership. He’s found some police procedural mysteries and one dealing with two chefs and murder, perfect recipe?.

Drawing ConclusionsI’ve stayed with crime fiction/mysteries too, reading several of Donna Leon’s mysteries which are set in or around Venice and feature Commissario Guido Brunetti. Ms. Leon is a former NJ native, like ourselves though our paths haven’t crossed, yet. This series is now at 21 books since 1992 which have been translated into over 20 languages.

Ms. Leon lives in Venice and also is the Sunday Times crime reviewer. Her U.K. based  website provides more book details.

Recently, I read "The Limpopo Academy of Larger viewPrivate Detection," which is the 13th book in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, which feature Mma. Precious Ramotswe — Botswana's leading and only female private detective. If you’re looking for violence, murder or suspense, you won’t find them in this series. Mma Ramotswe solves cases using  her intuition, common sense, and moral values.

The books are easy reading; it’s best to read them in order to maintain continuity with the characters:

  • The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
  • Tears of the Giraffe
  • Morality For Beautiful Girls
  • The Kalahari Typing School For Men
  • The Full Cupboard of Life
  • In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
  • Blue Shoes and Happiness
  • The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
  • The Miracle at Speedy Motors
  • Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
  • The Double Comfort Safari Club
  • The Saturday Big Tent Wedding
  • The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection

IMG_6183A complete change of pace for me has been reading James Patterson mystery/thrillers which always include unhealthy amounts of  violence, sex and murder— not unlike reading the news MOST days.

This photo shows recent Patterson book buys from local thrift stores, there are many, many more. These are for a road trip in mid-July (another one) and will make handy, and disposable, reading. After checking our finances, Grenville said we could afford the expense.

Lucky we didn’t have buy NEW. List cost of this group is nearly $85 (excluding tax). My cost = $2.63 (including 5% state tax).

Patterson’s books share so many similarities: light on plot, heavy on action, with very short (2-3 page) chapters. There’s no long, winding verse to think about and no messages. Sentences are simple and terse. These are page turners, not brain teasers, so don’t expect lots of descriptions or scene settings.

PERFECT to read 10 or more chapters before bed time !
Last week, I finished 2 library hardcovers within 3 days.

Many Patterson books are standalone thrillers; others are series: Alex Cross, a black crime-solving single father; Michael Bennett, a detective with the New York Police Department; The Women's Murder Club where four California women - a police detective, a medical examiner, a DA and a reporter - help each other solve crimes; Private, centering on a detective agency with worldwide branches.

Too many Patterson books to list here; find out more than you wanted to know at his website. Some quick facts (of so many):

  • Published his breakout book, “Along Came a Spider” in 1993 — less than 20 years ago.
  • Had over 50 New York Times bestsellers; 35  at No. 1.
  • Since 2006, one out of every 17 hardcover novels bought in the U.S. was written by James Patterson and/or a co-author.
  • In addition to 2 editors, Patterson has 3 full-time  publishing employees (plus assistants) devoted exclusively to him.
  • Is VERY prolific -  using a stable of co-authors, he’s published almost a book a month for the past few years.
  • Former ad executive who ran J. Walter Thompson’s North American branch before becoming a full-time writer.
  • Started as a junior copywriter and later become the youngest creative director in the firm’s history.
  • Created the ad slogan: “I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.”
  • Doesn’t use a computer to write, but writes longhand on a  legal pad, then gives the pages to an assistant to type up.
  • Handles all his advertising and closely monitors nearly every step of the publication process, from jacket design to the timing of his books’ release to their placement in stores.

Patterson’s books may not be to everyone’s liking as I’ve read in many online reviews. But the books are quick reads, perfect for  entertainment or escapism; sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

Your turn — What are you reading lately ?

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