The times…

I am not a politician. But, I have an opinion.

I have heard many opinions: some angry, misinformed and sometimes even down-right cruel statements from people close to me.

I am not young and cannot even be called middle aged any longer.

There is something that begins to seep into us as we mark year after year into elderly. There is a time, almost a pause after middle-year and before elderly. It is a growing knowlege seeping into our conscience – wisened.

You may have observd an older relative or friend sit quietly listening during a heated discussion. You may have assumed they were unable to hear. No.

The smartest people quietly listen. They can see two sides to a problem – two sides to a solution.

The answer to a large problem is fluid. Quiet minds, thoughtful, wisened minds know this is true.

They also know to encourage compassion and that kindness must always be part of the resolution.

Cottage Book Review

Montana Sky

mystery/romance fiction


by Nora Roberts

A Jove Book – Member of Penguin Putnam Inc.

ISBN: 1101146060, copyright 1996


I found myself conflicted after reading this book by New York Times Best Seller Nora Roberts.

Three sisters never having met gather for their despised father’s funeral and subsequent Last Will and Testimony reading. They are forced by the stipulation of the document to spend one full year together on the father’s Montana cattle ranch to be eligible to receive their deserved inheritance of one third of the ranch. The three women are so different in disposition and disdain for each other that at first this seems impossible and yet the sizeable value of the ranch causes each to settle in and live on the ranch for a year.

The story line and writing are smooth and a pleasant read. I particularly valued the author’s description of the immense beauty of the landscape of Montana and ranch life.  After all, this author is a master of this genre having enjoyed the status of Best Seller for years and her writing is impeccable.

My conflicted opinions of the book are in two areas. The vivid murder scenes and  there are several, were too much for me. And the erotic scenes were too many.

This was my first read of a Nora Roberts book. If I had known – as her steady fans probably do – I might not have been startled as to how graphic the story would get.   I might have enjoyed the explicit romance, and not have cringed at the murder scenes.

The suspense throughout kept me interested and turning pages wanting to know what would happen next.

🙂 Most important for me was the fact that I missed the characters the day after I finished the book.  I actually found myself wondering what they were up to and how they were doing.  That’s the best of character development isn’t it?  I miss the three sisters and all the others on the ranch.

WITH CAUTION: I recommend this book with the expectation the writing and story are superb while the realistic and intense scenes are plenty.  The splendor and beauty of the scenery and ranch in Montana Sky was a visit I will remember fondly.



Sea Turtle Nests Destroyed By Hurricanes

This year many sea turtle nests on the Florida shorelines were destroyed by hurricane Alberto. These nesting turtle eggs are treasured by Floridian residents. The nests are immediately abandoned by the mothers but are vigorously protected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The turtle nests are actually protected by law enforcement with high fines and possible time spent incarcerated. Don’t even think about messing with an incubating nest.

An interested person can sign up to join the groups who are trained to help the turtles when they break through their shells and begin their nocturnal journey toward the ocean. You will be taught how to do this without interrupting the arduous trip to the sea after dark. Once you have seen the tiny baby turtles, the size of a small child’s palm, scurrying and frantically flapping their flippers across the sand to the shore edge you will fall in love and you also will fiercely want to protect them.<a
On the nights of the turtle’s long wiggle to the waves and water, all lights in houses and hotels shining out over the sand are extinguished or the precious little travelers will mistake the lights for the moon and will head away from the sea toward the man-made lights.

But strong storms like Alberto wreak havoc on the nests. Mother nature in her massive strength can undermine what her Sea Turtles are trying to accomplish. Each nest averages 110 ping pong sized soft white eggs. Five nests of the 218 just in Collier County were swept out to a soggy sinking in the sea and 26 nests of unhatched eggs were covered in water.

In 2017 half of the Sea Turtle nests were destroyed or swept away during hurricanes. Curious visiting friends and family must not add to the loss by disturbing the eggs, Sea Turtles or their nests during this ancient and magical time of wonder at the pull of the moon and the steady struggle of tiny members of nature to their deep and watery new home.

Eloise Wilken – author, illustrator and designer

Eloise Wilkin, author, illustrator and doll designer

By Ann McAllister Clark

Back during the Gulf War it was said that folks were sitting down to watch the children’s television show, Mr. Roberts’ Neighborhood, with their children. It was comforting to watch a placid program that could be counted on to just give calm, soothing sounds, sights and welcoming words and simple ideas of family and friendship.

Now, after all these years we are still inundated with our ‘way-of-the-world’ news. Sometimes it is just too much to take in and process. We have to turn off the TV news. You are lucky if you have a child close by in your life. Pick up a Little Golden Book and give yourself and the child a rest from the chaos of the world.000_ioba-newsletter-boywithdrum-10-02 And if you don’t have a little one around go ahead anyway and look through some of the most wonderful stories and illustrations of childhood.

Illustrators like Garth Williams of the Little House on The Prairie books wrote and illustrated for Little Golden Books, as did hundreds of others. Richard Scarry, Gustaf Tenggren and many more contributed to the essence of these little books.

I thought of these books when I wrote the Civil War Saber chapter in my book Morgan’s Redemption  of the girl students listening to Lil’ Mary’s stories while they ate their lunch under the big tree out in the school yard. Of course they did not have these happy little books in the 1800’s so their imagination was needed to entertain their listeners.  And Lil’ Mary had a head full of imagination developed with the stories of her mother and grandmother.

One of my favorites was The Taxi That Hurried, written just a year after WWII when people again wanted peace in their lives. It is a cheery little book about a taxi in a busy city. But, then I did love my brother’s copy of The Animals of Farmer Jones with the cows and the chickens and the ducks. The last page was ripped out but I didn’t care.

Steve Santi, has written several definitive collector’s identifications and value guides on the Little Golden Books. I have the 1989 issue that has The Poky Little Puppy on the cover. There have been several new editions since. His web site is a delight and well worth your visit.

Now as an adult, I realize the importance of these books in our lives. And I seem to think of the books several times lately. I turn off the television and forgo reading the headlines. I look through Santi’s book and remember. I remember my mother reading about The New Baby, and Good Morning, Good Night illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. I wanted to find out more about this woman who wrote and illustrated more than 100 books in her lifetime.003_ioba-newsletter-prayerschildren

As popular illustrator Tasha Tudor did, Eloise Wilkin spread her creative talents into other venues. She designed a baby doll for Vogue Dolls that has been listed as one of their most favored dolls. It has the same characteristics that her book children have; rounded cheeks, bright eyes filled with trust and wonderment. I saw one of these dolls on E-bay –  the Baby Dear doll  was listed for a fair price to go along with a copy of the So Big book.

wilkinbookpictureThe books command prices from ten to several hundred dollars in very good condition. The Eloise Wilkin Treasury; a delightful book filled with the artists’ cherubic faces and sweet stories, favorite nursery rhymes, prayers, and poems is currently at $60.00 to $75.00.

What kind of a woman wrote and illustrated these famous old stories still popular and important in the book collector world today?

Born in Rochester, New York in 1904, Eloise Burns became an illustrator after graduating from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Little is know of her early life but she was fortunate to have had a mother who seemed to be a free spirit and encouraged her children to enjoy their creative gifts. One fine day she allowed them to draw all over one wall in their house just before redecorating. Imagine the squeals and happy scribbles that day.

After she graduated, Eloise and her friend Joan Esley, another illustrator, moved to New York City where they decided they had a better chance of success in the world of illustration. They would later corroborate on several children’s books.

Eloise Burns became Eloise Burns Wilkin in 1935 after her marriage to Sydney Wilkin and soon began a family of four children. She illustrated over 20 books with her sister Ester, who also married a Wilkin.

In 1943, she was offered a contract with Simon & Schuster in New York. She signed to do four Little Golden books a year staying with Little Golden Books exclusively until 1961, then only occasionally doing a book for them up until the mid-eighties.

On October 4, 1987, at the age of 84, Eloise died of cancer in Brighton, New York, bringing an end to a beautiful and fulfilling career and leaving a legacy of delightful stories and pictures still loved by 21st century children and the folks who read to them. At the time of her death Eloise Wilkin was still illustrating and working on a new doll design.


It’s your right as a good citizen of our

great democracy. Stand in line with

millions of Americans to participate in

our thrilling elections. Stand in line and

be counted. Don’t argue with the others

in line. Have dignity and pride.

Remember those before you who for

hundreds of years did the same thing. ITS

THRILLING and we all get to partake in

the process.