If America is so bad then way hasn’t anyone left?

This blogger makes an excellent point about which direction people run to.

Potato Peel Pie

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I arrived in my rental home in January, I found a pile of books in the bookcase. All were brand new, with the covers uncracked. I scanned the titles and said, “as soon as I finish reading the two I brought with me, I’ll attack these.” The two I brought were hard to read. One deals in political science and the sins of our President Obama. The second is a delightfully funny read by a fellow blogger from India, and is a satirical look at life on the job.

As usual, I procrastinated, and didn’t read anything except blogs and news; boring. Finally, in late February the titles on the shelf began calling, but I made a rule not to read them or even look at the jackets until I completed the two I trucked across country. I finally finished both, and enjoyed my fellow bloggers book immensely. I will cover his book later.

Today, I want to talk about a book that kept calling me from the shelf, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  Yep, you got it, the title tricked me into reading this story.

The first few pages intrigued me, but didn’t excite me. It took a few to get me into the spirit of the book and the characters. There are so many characters in this book it is hard to imagine the author able to keep track of them all. In fact, an entire town full of characters becomes endeared to the reader.

First time author Mary Ann Shaffer assisted by her niece Annie Barrows crafted a compelling story which teaches us some geography, history, and weaves a very human story of life taking place on the island of Guernsey.  The time period is 1946 just after World War Two. Guernsey is one of the Channel islands, a part of England. They are midway between England and France in the English Channel. During the war, the Germans occupied the isle of Guernsey from which a breed of cow came into being. The occupation placed extreme hardship on the locals while the Germans pilfered, and pillaged them for their pleasure.

Guernsey cattle in St. Saviour's, Guernsey

Guernsey cattle in St. Saviour’s, Guernsey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ms Shaffer tells the story via a series of letters between a young author and her publisher who also is a childhood friend. The Young author named Juliet lives in London and corresponds with  her publisher and his sister, Juliet’s best friend. They share witty stories and jabs between themselves only as good friends can do.

Juliet is riding a wave of popularity from a book she authored titled “Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War.” Much of their correspondence revolves around her book tours and what her next book will be. Then out of the clear blue sky, Juliet receives a letter from a gentleman named Dawsey Adams who found her name and address written on the inside cover of a book by Charles Lamb. He lives on the Island of Guernsey where books and book shops are in short supply. Dawsey asks Juliet to recommend a book store in London from which he can buy books. He wants to read more because he belongs to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. She answers him with a reputable book store, but her curiosity leads her to ask about the origins of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

At first the letters between Juliet and Dawsey and others in the Society are very formal. Dawsey tells Juliet he will ask the members of the Society to write her with their favorite book. As the characters begin to write back and forth they begin to feel more and more comfortable with each other. As the story unfolds and the characters begin to show themselves, the tone of their language evolves into warm and loving messages between old friends.

The entire story is via letters. It is fascinating to read and follow. Author Shaffer has a creative bent in the way she describes her people and the scenes in which they live. Her dialogue is witty and typical of British people of that time. As a reader, I could visualize the island  landscape, the homes, and each character’s physical features. I found myself totally immersed in the story of the occupation as told through the voices of the many islanders who belonged to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Where did the name come from? It seems the villagers were having an illegal feast of roast pig. On the way home, the Germans challenged a group of them. Since the Occupied forces confiscated all the Guernsey pigs for their pleasure only, the islanders invented a ruse to explain why they were all together so late in the evening, and so a very inventive and quick thinking islander came up with the Guernsey Literary Society. The Germans bought into it and asked to join also. The real fun begins from there. The next day the islanders are scouring shops and homes to find books to have if the Germans visit. They begin to meet weekly and each member is to read a book. A single member gives a report on the book he read.

What is Potato Peel Pie?  Since a club meeting needs food to make it complete one of the farmers invented a pie filled with mashed potatoes, flavored with strained beets for sweetness, and potato peels for the crust.  This concoction became a favorite and thus became a part of their name. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

This is a book I want to read and re-read again and again. I’d like one day to tell the entire story from memory. There are so many characters in this story, it will make your head spin at first. Then, as they all reveal themselves they become part of  your life.

Recipe for Potato Peel Pie



A High-Tech, Low-Tech Jewel In The Valley Of The Sun

Peggy and I took the scenic route home from Sky Harbor airport a couple of weeks ago. We had just dropped her daughter off after a fantastic weekend visit. We shunned the Interstate in favor of a route that took us smack dab through the center of Phoenix. We drove west along Washington Street  and dodged a few of their new Trolleys (land transports). The last time we visited this area the trolley was a construction war zone. Back then, we came to tour the Kachina boat factory. Yep, you heard right, a boat factory in the middle of the driest, hottest, desert town in the west. To my surprise we passed  Kachina again, only this time there is only one lonely boat gracing the storage lot. The last time the lot overflowed with thirty-six foot long cigarette boats all dolled up in fancy flames and colorful zig-zag stripes. All of them looked like they were going a hundred miles an hour just standing there.

A little further along, we passed the Arizona Science Center decked out with a huge sign “Da Vinci the Genius.”


One would think that an organization called  “Arizona Science Center” would be steeped in state of the art technology. They are. Well, except for some minor details. I bought tickets online, that is high-tech. I chose to print the tickets at home, over sending them by mail, or a pick-up. The tickets didn’t print. Nor was there a single place in their website for doing such a high-tech deed. I called and asked them how to print the tickets. They never told me, they just said “bring your confirmation number and we will take care of it when you get here.” Low tech.

This morning bright and early, Peggy and I took the scenic route back to Phoenix and miraculously found the parking garage without the GPS. The Arizona Science Center is an impressive and modern building sporting very angular lines and vast expanses of glass. As we approached the glass entrance I did not spot a door handle from twenty feet. Curious, I thought, will the door open by itself? Nope. I found the door handle remarkable well hidden in plain sight blending into the building as an architectural feature.

My first impression of the atrium was twofold: they used enough concrete in this building to classify it as a bomb shelter, and second the sound of screaming happy school kids overwhelmed my hearing aids and hurt my ears. Rather low tech, I thought to have such a place with so much noise. I wonder if they would welcome a suggestion to sound proof.

We found the woman who told me she would take care of the tickets, and she did. They appeared from a slot in the counter, high-tech. “Da Vinci is on the third level,” she said. I thought it strange she called it a level and not a floor, but dismissed it. Peggy and I asked for directions to the loo out loud and in unison, and ran for it. Once relieved, we assessed the lobby and located the elevator.

The elevator had two rows of buttons labeled  B1, B2, 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B. I took a chance and hit three. A short ride later the door opened to show us an arrow pointing at Da Vinci. Thank God we followed it. Because of the layout there are many angular corridors opening into spaces with exhibits. Peering into these places as we passed, I saw levels inside. Okay, that mystery was solved.

At the Da Vinci exhibit, we showed our tickets and stepped through the portal. The first sign I began reading had a numbered signal on it. I nudged Peg and showed her the sign. It meant there were electronic messages at each stop along the route through the show. I back tracked out to the portal desk to get the earphone gadgets. ” Where do we get the earphones?” “You pay for them on level 3A and pick them up here,” said the attendant. “Where is that” was my response. At that moment another attendant stepped in to save me, “I’ll walk you to it.” “Thank God.”

The attendant walked us down the corridor we just came through and then to a stairway. He led us up the stairway to level 3A where a young man was hanging from a rope giving a demonstration of rappelling down a concrete cliff. Our attendant cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted over the din of noisy kids to serve us with head phones, kind of low tech, don’t you think? He rappelled down to level 3A, and unharnessed himself to come to the register. “We’d like two headphones,” I said. “That will be ten dollars please.” I handed him a one hundred-dollar bill, and said, “I’m sorry, but you have to deal with this bill or I have to give you a credit card.”  He took the bill, held it up to the light and pumped the amount into the register to make change. “I’m so sorry, he said, it charged you tax it will be $10.74.” To be a smart ass, I asked him which taxing body was asking for the money. He gave me a dumb stare, and made the change. At this point he punched the ticket button and we stood and waited for the tickets to print. We stood and stood for what seemed like minutes, low tech. He began to get nervous and made disparaging remarks about the slowness of the computer. “You know, you guys are not showing me much science here today. For an organization with Science Center in its name your science is not very impressive.” The printer saved him from having to answer. He handed me the stubs and the guide took us back to the exhibit. The ticket taker gave us the headphones with instructions on how to use them.

We spent the next four and a half hours wandering through the show which featured models, some life-size, some miniature of Da Vinci’s inventions in the areas of flight, instruments of war, construction, equipment, hydraulics and sea-diving, and musical instruments. They showed us replicas of log books with his sketches and mirror writing (backwards), and his drawings of the human form, inside and out. He was famous for dissecting cadavers stolen from the graveyard. His drawings of human innards are very detailed. I know, I see charts like Da Vinci’s in my doctor’s office all the time.

Da Vinci: The Genius

Da Vinci: The Genius (Photo credit: visitmanchester)

Finally we toured and admired his painting and sculpture. The finale was a high-tech exhibit on the Mona Lisa, and the search for her eyebrows and eyelashes. Recently, a scientist used a special digital camera with 1500 dpi capability to photograph the painting with sunlight, candlelight,halogen, infra-red light, and a few I wasn’t aware existed, high-tech. He enlarged features of the painting to twenty-five times to look at her eyes, lips, and nose. There they were on the wall, eyes that were easily three feet across. Somehow this guy concluded that she did have eyelashes and eyebrows when Da Vinci painted her, but the paint he used melted into the varnish he used to coat the final work. I would challenge the guy if he were there, because I could not see the evidence he claims irrefutably proved that she had eyelashes and brows. No Way did I buy into that.

At the end we finally sat down in front of a video showing Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper and relaxed.

My conclusion at the end of this exhibit is that Da Vinci did not sleep. He was too busy inventing, painting, sculpting, building, and keeping detailed logs to find time to sleep. Seriously, the man was a genius. I saw in his models inventions being used today. Some of them like the cranes he designed for use in constructing the domes on Rome’s churches we see on the top of new skyscrapers today. Another is the high-capacity gun. Certainly, we do not want to ban a weapon invented by a master like Da Vinci, would we?

I had fun today.


Thank You Uncle Sam, May I have Another Please?

Fix The Downspout TODAY!

A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer.

A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This humorous story came to me from a childhood friend. I found it absolutely hilarious, I hope you do too.


My sweetie said “Fix that gutter downspout TODAY!”


So I invited the boys over.  One brought his welding machine, one brought a pipe cutter the
others brought beer.


Took us about 4 hours, mostly for the beer, but we got the downspout fixed.


Wife is still speechless…  I am certain not for much longer though.


Untitled attachment 00100


We boys never grow up, this falls into the category of “potty humor.”