This is where I’m at but a little extra from my side of things on my concerns about the vaccine. Lisa is right on here with her thoughts and I’m glad she feels she can speak out and share her feelings about it.
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”
Titus 3:1-2 NIV
The above scriptures came up during my devotions this morning. I place them at the top of this post to help me to choose my words carefully. For only after soaking in their direction, am I able to responsibly pen the following post.
Let me sum it up for you briefly: I’m disappointed, and a little surprised. Maybe we are all tired of hearing and talking about COVID, and vaccines. But I would like to chime in as a quiet voice. A voice that does not often come through in the news.
I feel that I’m being painted as a villain, and excluded from some facets of normal life…
War might be raging overseas, but Rose Onishi is on track to fulfill her lifelong goal of becoming a concert pianist. When forced by her government to leave her beloved home in Vancouver and move to the Canadian prairie to work on the Thornes’ sugar beet farm, her dream fades to match the black dirt staining her callused hands. Though the Thorne family is kind, life is unbearably lonely. In hopes that it might win her the chance to play their piano, Rose agrees to write letters to their soldier son.
When Rusty Thorne joins the Canadian Army, he never imagines becoming a Japanese prisoner of war. Inside the camp, the faith his parents instilled is tested like never before. Though he begs God to help him not hate his brutal captors, Rusty can no longer even hear the Japanese language without revulsion. Only his rare letters from home sustain him—especially the brilliant notes from his mother’s charming helper, which the girl signs simply as “Rose.”
Will Rusty survive the war only to encounter the Japanese on his own doorstep? Can Rose overcome betrayal and open her heart? Or will the truth destroy the fragile bond their letters created?
Terrie Todd is the award-winning author of The Silver Suitcase,Maggie’s War, Bleak Landing, and Out of My Mind: A Decade of Faith and Humor. Her next novel, Rose Among Thornes, releases in August 2021. The Last Piece releases in November 2021. Terrie is represented by Mary DeMuth of Books & Such Literary Agency. She lives with her husband, Jon, in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada where they raised their three children. They are grandparents to five boys. When she’s not writing, Terrie can usually be found reading, cleaning, cooking, painting, weeding, watering, or watching something. You can follow her at www.terrietodd.blogspot.com
Rose Among Thornes offers a unique story that I don’t believe a lot of people are aware of, especially Americans.
As an American, I knew there were Japanese internment camps in the United States during World War II. I didn’t realize this happened in Canada as well. The story told in his book will open the eyes of many Canadians to their nation’s history, which, sadly, is as heartbreaking as my own nation’s past.
It’s hard to read Todd’s book without falling in love with the main characters, Rose and Rusty. Their story is what carries the reader on through the pages, hoping to find some happiness within the very difficult journey they both find themselves in the midst of.
Rusty’s story of being a prisoner of war and Rose’s of being forced into an internment camp are equally heartbreaking. This book isn’t only about heartbreak, though. It’s about forgiveness, about not judging an entire race or group of people based on what one person or small group has done, and it’s about hope rising out of what looks like hopeless situations.
Rating: 4 stars
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author and Just Read Blog Tours. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
(1) winner will receive the winner’s choice of one print copy: The Silver Suitcase, Maggie’s War, or Bleak Landing!
Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight August 30, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on September 6, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I share what I’m reading, watching, listening to, writing and doing.
What I’m Reading
I finished Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong this week and enjoyed it. The ending was not what I was expecting, which was a bit disappointing, but also refreshing. If you read the book, you’ll know what I mean. It was a well-written, romantic comedy with a Christian message, but not a “beat you over the head” Christian message. The message was more about how God wants us to approach marriage and that didn’t come until toward the end of the book. The rest of the book was full of humorous and witty exchanges among the characters.
I’ll offer more of a review in a couple of weeks during a blog tour I am a part of.
I have a couple more books to read for blog tours in the next few weeks. The next one is a children’s book, so it shouldn’t take me long.
I am determined to finish Anne of Green Gables this week after I set it aside a few weeks ago and never got back to it.
I am also hoping to read more of Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson.
What I’m Watching
I started watching The House of Elliott, a show on Acorn TV about two sisters who are searching for ways to support themselves after their doctor father dies and they learn he spent his money on a life they didn’t know about.
The show is from the early 90s and I don’t know much else because if I look it up, it will ruin the story for me, I’m sure.
It’s very interesting so far.
My husband and I have also been watching Poirot and To the Manor Born.
We also started watching McDonald and Dodds, a British crime show and so far we really like it. We especially liked Dodds character.
What’s Been Occurring
This past week I started writing down lesson plans for our first week of school next week, which will actually be a half week. We start on Wednesday.
My son’s assignments overwhelmed me a little because there is so much to his Social Studies. The curriculum doubles as English and I already know I’m going to have some arguments about the books he’s being asked to read, but hopefully he will get over it without too much drama.
I also panicked a little because I didn’t have a science curriculum for Little Miss yet but then I discovered I had picked up a science book last year that will work perfect for her until I decide on a set curriculum. She’s in first grade, so I’m not as stressed about her science as I was my son’s.
I think reading will probably be the easiest for my daughter to tackle this year since she’s been reading and typing full sentences this summer while playing online games or games with her brother.
Then again, she also really loves math, so that may go pretty good as well. We shall see.
The big goal this year is for me not to freak out and feel like I’m not doing enough, which is my usual trap throughout the school year.
This week I am hoping to work more on The Next Chapter so I can hit a February deadline and maybe release the book in April of next year. I might start to share it on the blog for Fiction Friday, but I haven’t decided yet.
That’s my week in review. How about your week? Reading anything interesting? Watching anything good? Let me know in the comments.
And if you would like to join me in the future for Sunday Bookends, write your post and leave me a link in the comments. I hope to figure out a way to add a sign up link to the posts, but I haven’t figured that out yet. Hopefully in a future week.
If you want to keep up on my fiction writing, you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook or MeWe.
I had planned to complete this Randomly Thinking post two Fridays ago, but obviously I am behind. Part of the reason is a yard sale we decided to throw together the one week. Before you ask, it was a failure. Tons of work, aching feet, total exhaustion and almost no profit at all. I’ve now sworn off all yard sales. The one good thing about the sale was being able to meet so many interesting people.
First there was Bread Santa, then Chatty Motorcycle Guy, Negotiating Jersey Woman, The Grandpa Car Club, and a few other characters. I’ve decided to break the yard sale out into a separate post for either this weekend or early next week.
My son showed me this cool interview with Elijah Wood where he had to eat hot wings while answering questions. There is some language in this one, if you are offended easily. I am sometimes, so that’s okay if you are.
When I wrote my post about cats last week, I forgot to mention that six of my last seven pets have been all black or black and white. I have no idea why. Just worked out that way. In fact, the dog my family had as a child was also black and white.
I believe I have mentioned this before on the blog, but I have a corn allergy. That means I can’t eat anything with corn. Corn is in everything, of course, due to high fructose corn syrup being such a cheap and popular sweetener. Our neighbors gave us some fresh New Jersey corn a couple of weeks ago and my kids were ecstatic since they don’t have a corn allergy.
My son pretended to make a sword out of an ear of corn and I joked with him that if he ever wants to keep me out of his room he could just line his door with corn. He took it a step further and said he would make corn syrup tipped arrows. That’s when I told him I am never buying him a bow and arrow.
I watered my neighbor’s garden while they were gone. They have a metal water hose, which is very light, if you don’t drag the entire thing off in one pile and twist it up and then try to drag it all up the hill to water the garden, which then results in you having to untangle it all again to wind it up on the hose holder.
I ended up with this thing wrapped all around me, twisted different directions, and had to call my son for help to get untangled. My neighbors have a very lovely house, garden and backyard and I was petrified I would somehow damage it. While trying to untangle the hose, I knocked over their watering can and broke the top off of it. Luckily, I was able to fix it, but then I tripped and knocked a couple of bricks they had for decorations and I really started to panic. What else was I going to break?
My son agreed to help me water the rest of her lovely flowers, even though she hadn’t asked me to, and Little Miss said she wanted to help too. So, after we wound the hose back up, we headed toward the front of the house and when I turned, I noticed every single one of our animals was following along. The dog was off her lead, the all-black cat, Pixel, is allowed outside and the kitten had escaped and climbed up the neighbor’s tree in their front yard.
I felt like the Clampets in Beverly Hillbillies. My daughter was putting flowers that had “fallen off” the neighbors’ flower display in their fountain (“It fell off! It did!”), my dog was trying to get into their house to see if they were there, so she could beg a treat off them, and I was dragging the kitten from the tree all while hissing, “Get out of there! You are going to damage their beautiful tree!”
Next time they go on vacation, I’m going to suggest they ask someone else to help out. Someone who isn’t completely inept.
By the way, when they got home, they let me know the hose was so heavy and hard to untangle because I had left the water on and when water is going through it, it is heavier. Sigh.
Our cat Pixel sometimes brings us dead mice, or at least leaves them dead on the back porch. My mom said cats are bringing you gifts when they bring you a dead animal they caught, so I guess that is what she is doing.
The other day my son went to bring the dog in, and the cat decided she would come in too. I heard this from where I was sitting in the living room, “No. Drop the mouse. You are not coming in here with that mouse.”
She dropped the mouse.
Straight in my husband’s work shoes.
Sadly, she retrieved it later. We were hopeful my husband would find the mouse when he went to put his shoes on later in the week.
The week after that, my son and husband were in the yard across the road from our house, cleaning up from the yard sale when my son said they heard high pitched squealing. They turned and Pixel came out of the bushes with a mouse in her jaws.
The Boy said it was awful and her eyes were wild. Worse, she dropped the mouse, smacked it around several times, playing with it, then caught it again and then started to eat it in front of my husband and son.
“I’m traumatized,” my son told me. “I will always hear the squeals of that poor mouse while she tortured it. She’s brutal.”
She came in later and cuddled with him, her brutality behind her.
The back of my ankle was cut a few weeks ago when the dog ran around me while on her lead and caught me, causing the lead to dig into my skin. I treated it every day for a couple of weeks and Little Miss enjoyed telling me that white blood cells were coming to help the cut heal. I have no idea how she knew that, but I was quite proud of her.
The Boy has become quite sensitive to the cold and when we visited my parents’ pool recently, he decided within three minutes the water was too cold and he wanted to get out.
Little Miss, 6, almost 7, announced to him, “You’ll be fine! You just need to get acclimated!”
The other day my husband told my son he was being dramatic to which my son replied, very dramatically, in a flawless British accent: “HOW DAAAARE YOU! I AM NOT DRAMATIC! I AM A PERFECTLY CALM PERSON, FATHER! I AM NOT DRAMATIC IN THE LEAST!”
For the record, our entire family is a bit dramatic at times, but none more so than my husband on some days (and me when it is time for my “time of the month”.).
My husband has started making comments about my son’s hair almost every day because it is growing long and curling in the front. My son had two bad haircut experiences and now refuses to go to a barber. My husband and I have agreed to let him be a teenager and express himself, but my husband still can’t resist trying to give him pointers about how to comb his hair.
“You know what I do with my hair?” my husband asked.
“Lost it?” my son asked.
There was a quick apology from The Boy who said he just couldn’t resist the slam because my husband left himself wide open.
My son and I were coming back from taking our dog to the groomers last week when a trashy song came on the radio. Within two seconds I knew that station needed to be changed and I did, much to the delight of my son who burst into laughter. He said my expression was pure “Mother Protecting Her Child From Dirty Lyrics.” He was right. That was one of the dirtiest songs I had ever heard, and it only took me two seconds to know it wasn’t going to get any better. And no, I have no idea who was singing.
So that’s my random thoughts for this time around.
How about you? What are some random thoughts or events you have had happen recently? Let me know in the comments.
Today Erin (Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs) and I are writing about main streets for our Hometown Views. Obviously, our main streets are going to be very different, since I live in a very small town and she lives in a city.
In fact, if Erin wants photos of her city’s Main Street, without too much traffic, she must wake up at 4 a.m., or ask a friend to take photos for her at 4 a.m. If I want a photo of my Main Street without traffic I simply walk down on a Sunday evening or any evening and take them because this town is dead most days of the week, but even more so on a Sunday afternoon or after 5 p.m.
Let me tell you something too, when I started writing this blog post, it spun me down into a rabbit hole of information, from online sources, local resources, and from stories from my mom and dad who remembered where this and that store used to be that isn’t there any longer. This journey even had me questioning my own sanity as I couldn’t remember some of the old stores or rows of buildings that used to be here and no longer are and had to wonder why. I apparently have Swiss cheese for a brain and forgot half of my childhood. It might be better that way, of course.
According to the VisitPA tourist site, Dushore was founded in 1859 and name after Aristide Aubert du Petit-Thouars, who was given the area to farm after traveling from France to Philadelphia and to French Azilum, which I believe I mentioned on this blog before was an area about 40 minutes from me where Marie Antoinette was going to be taken to before she was captured and beheaded. I don’t see how they got Dushore from his name, but let’s just go with that.
The first permanent settler was not the French dude, however. It was General Cornwallace Jackson if Wikipedia has it correct. The French dude (I simply don’t want to type his name out again, which I didn’t even type, I copy and pasted it) has his own Wikipedia page so he must be more important than General Jackson. After reading this on the Wikipedia page, “After having lost both legs and an arm, he continued to command from a bucket filled with wheat until he died,” I think I might want to read up more about this man in the future.
Main Street looked a lot different back in those early days of Dushore of course. Two big differences are the fact that an entire row of buildings on Main Street burned down in 1984 — an event I completely do not remember, but maybe because I was only 6 or 7 at the time — and another row across the street was torn down in the early 90s.
Dushore was our main town to shop in when I was growing up (other than Towanda, 15 minutes away), so I’m sure we must have gone in and out of those buildings, but I don’t remember them at all. Like any of them. For me, my memory starts when the Guthrie Clinic was on the corner, built where the old buildings that burned used to be. It probably starts there because I was in that office so much as a child with bladder infections, strep throat, and possible mono at least once, and when I was older, thyroid and blood sugar (low) issues.
While searching for information about the town online, I found a paper by a student of Penn State from several years ago suggesting the former Pealer’s Drug Store building be remodeled and revamped, to make it a centerpiece of Main Street. That remodeling has since been done and now the building is used for various events, including the county library’s trivia night fundraiser. I don’t know if it is the centerpiece of town, but it is a lovely looking building, which I pass to drive to my house.
Back in the day (as the saying goes), drug stores were a central location in town because they provided more than pharmaceuticals to residents. They were also the place people went to converse about life, purchase the local paper, buy candy, etc.
Speaking of the local paper, the current, and literal, the centerpiece of town is our county’s newspaper, The Sullivan Review. The Sullivan Review is currently owned by my neighbor, John Shoemaker. It was founded in 1878. It merged with several other newspapers over the years, until it was purchased from the Towanda Printing Company in 1966 by Thomas and Stefana Shoemaker, to keep it from folding with the Towanda Daily Review, which was the paper I started my reporting career in. It is actually The Daily Review in Towanda now, but most people call it the “Towanda Daily Review.”
Local residents rarely called Thomas by his first name. I didn’t even know his first name was Thomas, or Tom, up until a few years ago. He was referred to as “Doc” by the locals because he was also the local veterinarian. We took all of our animals to him when I was growing up, and I have a couple of vivid memories of a couple of those visits, including the time we had to take our dog Sheba to him to have porcupine quills removed from her snout.
Another story involves our cat, Zorro, who we took there when he started to develop kidney issues. My dad warned me that Doc might seem rough when he handles the animals, but that he does care for the animals and isn’t trying to hurt them. I didn’t know what he meant until Doc grabbed my cat’s tail, yanked it up toward the sky in one quick jerk, and plopped a thermometer straight up his rear like he was putting birthday candles in a cake. Zorro yowled for a few moments but within a minute it was over and it was worth it because we discovered he had a fever and he ended up on antibiotics.
When Doc wasn’t taking care of area animals, large (he also visited local farms) and small, Doc was covering events for the paper, which comes out every Wednesday, I might add. It’s actually out on many store shelves by Tuesday night. I ran into Doc during quite a few events when I first started working in newspapers. His wife was by his side most of the time, one or both of them holding a camera. Doc is a blog post all on his own and I think I will write one soon. He was a fascinating man. His son now runs the paper with his wife, Chris. Their daughter Kate also helps out. Their son, John, is a lawyer in town.
Yes, I have digressed, so moving on to the rest of Main Street.
The Jolly Trolley is another highlight of downtown, located directly in the center of Main Street, on the corner by the only stoplight in Sullivan County. Yes, our town is known for having the only stoplight in the entire county. It is the largest town in the county and the only one where drivers could collide with more than simply a bear, deer, or raccoon.
The Jolly Trolley wasn’t always the Jolly Trolley, of course. Today it is a local restaurant and retail store selling unique gifts. Many years ago, though, it was the local Ben Franklin, owned by a Mr. Sick. Ben Franklin stores were a chain of five and dime stores. There was also one in Towanda, the town I mentioned before that we traveled to for groceries, shoes and clothing shopping, etc.
I don’t remember Mr. Sick much, other than he had blazing white hair and liked to hand me candy when we went in. I think he wore white shirts and a black tie or black suspenders most of the time. I also remember the store with its wooden floors, glass jars full of candy, and aisles full of a variety of crafts and other items.
Mr. Sick is also the main character in one of my dad’s favorite stories about being careful not to gossip or complain about people in a small town. According to Dad, Mr. Sick liked to talk a lot so he was talking to a woman for several moments and when he left the woman turned to the woman next to her and said, (I’m summarizing), “Oh my gosh. I thought he’d never leave. What an annoying man. He never shuts up. I don’t know how people can stand to listen to him all the time.”
The other woman responded, “I have to listen to him. He’s my husband.”
I am not exactly sure when Ben Franklin closed, but probably sometime in the 1990s since Mr. Sick passed away in 1995. The entire storefront has been completely revamped, since then and I think the red building it has become is a nice addition to downtown.
Little Miss, The Boy, and I have visited the restaurant a few times for lunch or breakfast and Little Miss loves to watch the little train along the top of the ceiling go around while we eat. The store also has a large, stuffed black bear standing by the register, which she likes to touch and look at while I pay. She also likes to run down the ramp into the toy section to search for a new toy to add to her collection. This is the same ramp if I remember right, that was there when the old Ben Franklin store was there.
Next to the Jolly Trolley is the NAPA store, which I don’t have any memories of because I am not sure I’ve ever been in it.
The only story I have from that store is one about my sister-in-law going there to purchase something when she was up to visit my brother (I don’t think she was my sister-in-law yet) and someone in the store made a disparaging remark about “flatlanders.” She is from New Jersey originally. Anyone who isn’t “from around here” and is from the southern part of the state or New Jersey is considered “a flatlander.” When you say “flatlander,” you say it much like I described how locals say Scranton when you mention you are going to visit there. Nose wrinkled, faced scrunched and the word dripping with disgust.
My sister-in-law ignored the comments, bought whatever she needed, and went next door to the Jolly Trolley where, after waiting for someone to take her owner, heard someone rudely call from behind the counter, “Did anyone wait on the flatlander yet?”
I haven’t heard of this happening to anyone recently and the person who made the crack in the restaurant could have been joking, or they should have been, considering a lot of the income of the businesses around here, especially the restaurants, relies on “flatlanders” who drive up from Philly and New Jersey to stay in cabins they rent or own in the wooded areas around us.
Beyond the NAPA is the CN Bank, or whatever they are calling it today. The name changed recently and will probably change again. Further down is Dushore Beverage, because every town, no matter how small, needs a liquor store.
Next to the liquor store is a small craft store run by some very nice people, including a woman who has a cat who jumps on her shoulder while she talks to customers. The cat then perches there like it’s a parrot.
Next in line on the street is a private residence and then a local insurance business in a former private residence. Crossing the street, you will find one of the other popular restaurants in town, Mary Beth’s Westside Deli, which is owned and operated by the town mayor. It offers cheesesteaks and other tasty items, as well as an ice cream stand that I have to take Little Miss to every time we visit the tiny playground. I have some humorous stories about visits there but to avoid offending anyone who might misunderstand if they stumble on to this post, I’m going to leave those stories out of this post. wink
Next to Mary Beth’s, going on the other side of Main Street, is one of our local grocery stores (yes, we have two!), Hurley’s Supermarket. I’m not sure what the building was before it was a supermarket, and my mom can’t remember either. I originally thought it was an Acme, but she thinks the Acme was actually in the row of buildings that has since been torn down. There are two Hurley’s Supermarkets, with the second one being in . . . yes, Towanda.
There is a large municipal parking lot next to Hurley’s, which I believe was filled by the Green Swan Grill and another row of stores many years ago. I have no idea when those buildings were torn down, but one source online said the grill building was torn down in 1990. I do not even remember this building. Seriously, what was I on during my childhood? It’s all a blur to me.
I did find this photo of it on the historical site’s Facebook page.
Across the street and next to the stop light is the M&T bank building which was emptied a couple of weeks ago when the bank moved out. Next to the bank building is the Pealer building, which I mentioned above, then there is a bar, The Iron Horse, which I think used to be the Whistle Stop Café.
Further down is Pam’s Restaurant, a very popular restaurant, not necessarily for the food (although it is good) but for the people who run it and the hometown feel it has for those who visit. It is a local gathering place for locals to eat, chat, gossip, complain, and simply be together. It is also my dad’s go-to place when he comes into town. He meets old friends and makes new ones.
Beyond Pam’s are a couple of old buildings, including an old, abandoned hotel, that somehow have not been torn down or fallen down yet. I would guess that the hotel building has been there since the late 1800s or early 1900s, based on some old photos I found. I will have to research this when I have more time.
Besides this building, there used to be an old train trestle/bridge that ran over the road. I had no idea about that until I looked for old photos of the town online. There is a Facebook page for the county’s historical society, which features historical photos of the area, especially the town I live in.
Our other market in town, the aptly named Dushore Market, completes the businesses on Main Street.
I could have researched a lot more history about downtown, but I wasn’t really sure how much I should add and how boring that might make this post.
I did a search online about Dushore and Wikipedia wants everyone to know that the town is the hometown of NASCAR and ARCA driver L.W. Miller. Honestly, I didn’t know L.W. was an actual driver, (oops, sorry L.W.) but I do know he is married to Dale Earnhardt’s daughter, Kelly, that he is originally from here, and that his family is heavily involved in car/truck racing. His grandparents (maybe his parents too?) ran Miller’s Hardware, another landmark and staple in this town. L.W. worked there as a kid.
His grandmother was a fascinating character and my main memories of her involve a woman who reminded me of Carol Channing, with white, bobbed hair, dark-rimmed glasses, smoking a cigar, and giving me 50 cent pieces when I visited the store with my dad.
If you want to know more about L.W., you can see his own Wikipedia page, or maybe I’ll write a blog post about him one day too wink.
I thought it would be neat to share a few of the old photos I found of Main Street compared with today’s.
I hope you have enjoyed our journey down my little town’s Main Street today. Hop on over to Erin’s blog and learn more about the Main Street in Wyandotte, Michigan.
Here is something that as a lifelong Northeast PA resident, I never thought I’d hear myself say, “Come on everyone! Let’s go to Scranton!”
People watch the American version of The Office and think they should visit Scranton to see what the city is like but I’ve never heard/seen anyone in my area say the name Scranton without wrinkling their nose in confused disgust.
“Scranton,” they say. “What’s in Scranton?”
To prove this point, when I called my mom to tell her we had changed plans for the day and were going to Scranton instead of the Finger Lakes in N.Y., she said, “What’s in Scranton?” the same way you would say, “Why would you do that? Are you insane?”
She said it like she wanted to add, “Why are you going to Scranton? Are you being held at gunpoint? Don’t lie to me!”
After we went to Scranton, my son told his friend we had gone, and his friend, 16, looked at him and said, “Scranton? Why Scranton?” And he said it with disgust like everyone else. He has learned it at a very young age to question the validity of a visit to Scranton.
For anyone from Scranton who is reading this, please know the above paragraphs are written all in good fun because people from Scranton could ask the same of where I live. “Rural Pennsylvania? Why would you go to rural Pennsylvania?” And they would ask it with their noses all wrinkled up too.
While Scranton residents can say they have a beautiful cultural center with amazing events, a gorgeous college campus, and amazing restaurants with delicious food I can say we have beautiful scenery, lovely walking trails, the wildlife outside your door (hopefully not bears), and peaceful nights. So, we both have our good points.
Anyhow, after voluntarily visiting Scranton this weekend it turns out it’s not so bad, but also not a place this small-town girl would love to live in.
There are buildings. Lots of them. Too many of them really. I mean, for all you city-folk out there this is a small city, very small. For me, it was like Clark Kent when he first walked into Metropolis.
Let me back up here a bit and explain why we went to Scranton. You see, we were going to take a day trip to the Finger Lakes, a favorite place for us to visit when we lived 45 minutes north, but then The Boy asked if we could visit Scranton because of the show The Office. I thought he meant he had watched The Office and enjoyed it and wanted to see the city where it was based (even though the show was actually filmed in L.A.). It wasn’t until we had almost finished our visit, after I took him to a mural of Dwight’s head, that my son broke the news to me, “I don’t even really like The Office. I don’t understand most of the jokes or what it’s even about. I just thought it would be cool to see the place where the opening was filmed.”
So, we essentially visited Scranton for no reason.
Still, it was an adventure and got us out of the house and into a different area, so I suppose it was worth it.
We met a couple of interesting people, one a lady who swindled us out of money by lasering in on my 6-year old to try to sell her a bracelet. She knew our Achilles heel — our weakness at buying things for our youngest, even though they are a rip-off.
After we dragged ourselves away from her with a bracelet and a pair of Dollar General sunglasses she claimed would normally cost $29 but she was giving it to us for $10 (sigh) we crossed the street to see what the large stone building was that we’d been looking at during lunch (which took forever but was worth the wait). It turns out the building was the courthouse. A woman in the front yard of the building immediately began telling me her life story. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that this happens to me a lot. I will walk past a person, smile or nod and suddenly, without even saying who they are, they’ll say something like this woman did to me, “Hi, I’m homeless.”
And there I stood while she told me that she’d left a 30-year old marriage, was homeless, came to this space to watch people and because it was peaceful and because a woman at the shelter she was staying at had gone “bat crazy”, and had been feeding the squirrels sugar-coated pecans.
She also told me she believes in Jesus and asked me to pray in agreement with her that she would find an apartment and a job because “wherever two people are gathered in my name God is with them.” She talked about Jesus and faith a lot, without taking much of a breath, and how many will live in torment by not believing in Him.
I never mentioned Christ or my faith before this conversation started so I have no idea what compelled her to talk to me about Him or her faith, but there I stood while she talked about it, wishing I could leave, but feeling guilty that I wanted to leave. She wasn’t like the homeless portrayed in movies. She wasn’t dirty or living under a bridge. She was well dressed, wearing make-up, and spoke fairly clearly, but did ramble quite a bit. Was she really homeless? I don’t know. Why did she choose me to talk to? I don’t know. But I did pray for her, and I hope she ends up with an apartment and in a safe place.
After we left the main part of the city, we drove past The University of Scranton, which is a Catholic and Jesuit university, and took an unintended tour of it while looking for a vintage store that sells vintage records.
The University of Scranton was founded in 1888, according to its website, and is a private university with 3,700 undergraduate students and 1,300 graduate students. The campus was very pretty. The architecture of the buildings, like many in Scranton, reflects a classic style with a bit of Victorian mixed in.
I thought The Boy would enjoy looking at the records at the vintage store, and he did but didn’t end up buying one. The Boy has been very interested in vinyl records and we hope to pick him up some and a record player for his birthday. The store had tons of antiques or vintage items and as I took photographs of them, I felt like Our Little Red House taking photos for one of her antique store trips in Arizona.’
The store was where we found the mural of Dwight, a character from the show, and actually, I made this one of our stops on purpose, thinking The Boy would like it. He did but, again, reminded me he is not a real fan of the show.
On the way back we stopped at a playground about half an hour from us and I enjoyed some quiet time next to the creek.
I also checked out an abandoned house by the playground which reminded me of my old house. The Boy said it was haunted and thought he saw a person looking out one of the windows. Luckily, it was a reflection. We think anyhow. *wink*
We were all glad to head home as the humidity jumped up, making us feel drained and over-heated.
All in all, it was a fun trip. There were a few other sites we wanted to visit but we will save them for our next trip.
Yes, that’s right, we probably will visit Scranton again, even if everyone we know looks at us, wrinkles their nose, and says, “Scranton? What’s in Scranton?”
Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I share what I’m reading, watching, listening to, writing and doing.
What’s Been Occurring
This past week we mainly recovered from last week, which was fairly busy. We didn’t do much until Saturday when we traveled to Scranton to visit, well, Scranton. I will write about this more in depth later in the week. Suffice it to say, when we told my parents we were traveling to Scranton we received the question most people in PA ask when someone says they’re going to Scranton. “Why? What’s in Scranton?” I’ll expound on that further in my post later this week.
On Friday I went to my parents to look at some books Dad had in the barn and wanted me to look at to see if I wanted them. They were crawling with spiders and dusty and mainly Reader’s Digest books, so I was not interested. They are now going to the dump. While in the barn, I had a bit of a panic moment when I felt the floor of the barn bounce up and down, wondering if it would cave underneath me.
The barn is very old, and my dad has been considering having it pulled down. He and The Boy recently cleaned it out to prepare for such an eventuality. For now, there are still a few pieces of antique furniture and, of course, old books, stored there.
When my son saw my panic, he thought it was pretty funny and proceeded to bounce on the boards to make it move more. A few minutes later he told my dad about my panic and my dad proceeded to do the same thing with the boards. Those two are very similar in their behaviors and personalities. They also think they are actually funny.
What I’m Reading
This week I finished Rose Among Thornes by Terrie Todd, after skipping through much of it because I didn’t enjoy the style of writing, which was mainly telling the entire story like a person relaying what happened instead of showing what happened through description. I did, however, enjoy the story overall and the subject matter about Japanese internment camps in Canada during World War II. Just because I didn’t like the way the story was told, does not mean the book is not good. It was just not a style of writing I enjoy. My mom disagreed with me and did enjoy it.
I am continuing the Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong, which I will probably finish this week. So far, I am enjoying it.
I will have reviews for both of these books in a couple of weeks.
When I am in the mood for something a little deeper than the above mentioned clean rom-com, I delve into Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson.
Later this month, and into September, I hope to finish Double Minds by Terri Blackstock and for something totally different, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
Little Miss and I are reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder before bed.
The Boy is listening to H.P. Lovecraft stories on audio.
What I’m Watching
The husband and I have been watching a British comedy, Upstart Crow and I’ve been re-watching To the Manor Born. We also watched some Rockford Files. I started a couple of movies, but didn’t finish either of them for a variety of reasons.
What I’m Writing
This week I plan to write a post about our trip to Scranton and then join up with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs for a post about our respective Main Streets. I also plan to finish a Randomly Thinking post I have started but never finished.
I could have attended the outhouse races for the first 19 years it was held in the small town my family now lives in, but I never did, and I don’t know why. But, last week, in the 20th year of the races, I finally made it to see outhouses being raced down Main Street.
I know, when most of you read that phrase “outhouse races” you thought of people running to the outhouse, which, for those who may not know, is an outside bathroom. No, they do not race to the bathrooms. They race the bathrooms. I wasn’t sure I would make it (snort make it) after holding a yard sale all day that day, but I pushed myself and made it downtown to watch the homemade outhouses on wheels raced down Main Street with what the local, weekly, paper reported was about 2,000 other spectators looking on.
Our small town has a population of approximately 600 people, and I believe all 600 people might have been there on Main Street, with exception of a few, including my neighbor who was wiped out from holding her second yard sale this summer. In addition to those people, there were another 1,500 or so (though I think there was less, really) from outside the area, including people who camp at cabins in the county. Our county is a tourist attraction of sorts in the summer, with many traveling from downstate to rent cabins in the beautiful forests that surround the few little towns.
I could have walked downtown but my feet were absolutely throbbing from standing on them all day (after joining my neighbor and trying to hold a yard sale on my own), so my husband drove me and the kids down where we waited for 40-minutes for the races to start.
The outhouse races started in our small town in 2000. According to an article in our local newspaper this week, the event started at the suggestion of a man from town named Spencer Davis who read about a small town in Michigan that raced outhouses set on skis across a frozen lake. Spencer and his wife, Barb, brought the idea up at a local Lions Club meeting. After some discussions, it was decided that the races here in Pennsylvania would be added to the other events of Founder’s Day, held the second Saturday in August every year and that the race wouldn’t be on a frozen lake.
The members of the Lions Club decided the outhouses would be pushed by four people and one person inside it to steer. That setup has remained the same all these years.
The outhouses are often sponsored by local businesses or organizations, hence the logos and paintings on the side. Before the race started, the teams pushed their outhouses to the top of the course and paraded down Main Street, waving at their fans.
There were six teams this year.
They raced two at a time until they narrowed the final race to the two teams with the best times.
I waited for the local paper to see if they would write about the drama that happened at the finish line of the one heat, but they didn’t, so I’m still not sure what happened. All I know is there were a few shouts of “Oh!” and the announcer said something about one team having seconds deducted from their final time.
The kids and I were at the other end, where the turn around the center circle was, so we missed all the drama. My son’s friend thought the team might have been penalized for their language, which wouldn’t have surprised me since when I tried to record that team, one of the members screamed out an expletive (the big one with the word mother in front of it). Usually, the event is very family-friendly, so that was a bit of a fluke.
Another fluke was the parking meter collection box full of wasps next to us that a person discovered halfway through the races. Thankfully only a couple of wasps came out and then flew back in again. Then there was the poor guy on the one team who pulled a hamstring or something. He limped the rest of the way down the street while we all winced and hoped he didn’t do any major damage.
My legs gave out before the final race, so we actually didn’t see who won, but the town paper reported yesterday that a team called Team Nutz won and also won the 3 on 3 basketball tournament. They participated in all their activities in memory of a former teammate who had won previous races with them, possibly the first-ever outhouse race, if I remember correctly from what a neighbor told me.
They have won nine out of the 20 races held throughout the years, according to the paper, including the last four in a row. Honestly, I had no idea when I saw the team that they were the returning champions. Some of the other teams seemed more polished at first (as far as their designs) but Team Nutz brought it home in the end and donated their monetary earnings to the scholarship in their late teammate’s name.
Overall, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, no matter who took home the final prize.
I do regret that I missed out on voting for the painted toilet seat covers, but according to the paper the auction of the toilet seats (clean before they are painted, as far as I know!) brought $1,500 for the county library.
(The toilet seat cover images were downloaded from the library’s Facebook page.)
Next year, I won’t be hosting a yard sale so I will be able to go down and see the keg races as well as the outhouse races.
Next up in our rural area? The county fair in two weeks, which is sure to include some other unique, slightly redneck, activities. And, yes, I’ll be sure to grab some photos there as well.
A scarlet cord tethers one ruined woman to the salvation of mankind.
Harboring two fugitives in a city slated for destruction, Rahab has one small chance of escape. In exchange for their safety, she bargains for her own. Their agreement rewards her courage, and she flees Jericho and a life of prostitution for a new life among the people of Israel. Never again will she have to depend on anyone—especially men.
Except Salmah won’t take the hint.
High ranking soldier and leader of the tribe of Judah, Salmah is determined not to repeat his parents’ mistakes. He will keep the Lord’s commandments. Rahab’s growing faith fits right in with phase one of his plans: find a wife who loves the Lord and settle down in the new land.
Rahab finds shelter and meaning in the Lord’s ways until her past comes back to haunt her. As her new faith is put to test, she finds herself alone. Isn’t that what she’d always wanted?
With her courage waning, only the Lord can turn Rahab’s life around again, but will He do it before she loses everyone and everything that really matters to her—to her heart?
On the surface, Rahab’s Courage is a romance, but deep down it is a reminder that beauty comes from ashes, that redemption comes to those we never think it will come to, and that God can use people society considers “unsavory” to further his kingdom.
It is also a book about how God’s love for us is beyond the love any human can have for us, a realization which comes slow, yet right on time, for the characters of this book.
I’ll admit that this book frustrated me at times. The ever-changing mind of Rahab’s love interest Salmah made me want to step inside the book and shake him. I understand why Salmah was written that way, of course. The author was clearly trying to show the difficulty of an Israelite trying to stick to the rules of his people while also falling in love with a woman who was not an Israelite and had a checkered past, so to speak. Salmah still really drove me crazy, though.
Perhaps Craig intended for the reader want to scream at Salmah a few times and if so, she did a good job of portraying him as someone who waffled worse than a go-cart going full force down a hill with a broken wheel.
Rahab’s Courage was clearly well researched and also well written.
The suggestiveness between the characters so early in the book was a bit surprising for Biblical fiction, but I do understand why it was being done. The main character needed to be portrayed as a certain type of woman from the start. I would have preferred that the book built up to that topic, but that doesn’t take anything away from the story.
The story was very well written, with plenty of description and biblical history woven among the prose.
I would have enjoyed some more side stories beyond the romance but only because it was clear there is such rich history surrounding the characters, not because the romance wasn’t good enough on its own.
This is a book ultimately about restoration and redemption found in God but also between each other.
My rating: 4 out of 5
About the Author
Naomi writes Historical Fiction set in Bible times. She lives in a small town in the south-eastern mountains of Arizona She is an avid reader, Pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom.
More from Naomi
Matthew 1:4b-6a (NKJV)
Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.
On the brink of war and conquering the Promised Land, The Israelites stand fierce and determined, ready to see God’s victory. This time they will not waiver. This time, obedience will be their theme. But it wasn’t always that the Israelites stood with resolve as strong as Jericho’s impenetrable walls.
Rewind forty years. The Israelites have just been delivered from slavery in Egypt. 12 spies were sent into the land and brought back a good report. There were bountiful crops peace and giants.
Nahshon, as the leader of Judah (Numbers 2:3), should have been influential in his tribe’s decision to trust the Lord—especially since Caleb one of the two who trusted, was from Judah. Yet nobody believed. They all grumbled. So instead of what should have been a quick journey, it took forty years.
And the entire generation couldn’t enjoy the benefits of trusting God and His promise.
He sees the penalty of his father’s disobedience. It shapes his life he adheres to the ways of the Lord. Plague after disobedience hardens his resolve. He will obey the laws of the Lord so it will go well with him in the new land.
So what is a man with this moral stature doing with a Canaanite? A harlot? Every sordid detail that makes up Rahab goes against his moral fiber.
Faith that was spoken about all the way into the New Testament. Rahab steps out in sacrificial faith to a God she doesn’t yet know, for strangers who have no reason to trust her.
As such, the Lord honored her faith. As He does when you and I step out on that limb because we’ve felt that stirring in our soul.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
Not only did the Lord spread His mantle of protection over Rahab, He also saw fit to include her in the lineage of His Son, Jesus.
Rahab’s Courage is a love story. A story of stepping out in faith. Of changing expectations of yourself and others. Of how the Lord can redeem and use any who are willing to put off the old and become that new creation.
***The scripture is clear that Rahab is a harlot. Due to the nature of this life, this story addresses prostitution, rape, and post traumatic stress. Please use caution with younger readers and if these subjects would act as a trigger for you. If Rahab’s Courage was a movie, it would have a rating of PG-13
I’m a mom, wife, writer, photographer, and former journalist. I write a little bit about a lot of things. I enjoy John Wayne and Cary Grant movies, Jan Karon’s books, and I have an eclectic taste in music. Welcome to my blog and feel free to poke around. Fridays are Fiction Fridays, where I share a piece of fiction I’m working on. I’m also the author of three books with a fourth on the way.