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Sunday, January 03, 2016

My Favorite Non-Boat Blogs


"I do believe in the an everyday sort of magic-the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we are alone." ~Charles De Lint, Canadian author

     Happy New Year! Now that the frenzy and fizz of the holidays is past, life slows down again to a more predictable pace. The days slowly grow longer once more, and we are s-l-o-w-l-y cruising the same stretch of canal, hemmed in by Canal & River Trust's winter repair stoppages and our need to be in a certain area from now till March for my upcoming total knee replacement surgery. Obviously we don't have a lot of fun, new and interesting cruising pictures and stories to share with you and so I thought I would share my favorite non-boat blogs.

1. Lightly Tethered to the Earth-This lovely and lyrical blog is written by Mary Kunkel, an acquaintance from my public radio days in Spokane, Washington. Mary was a licensed professional massage therapist, wife, and mother whose job brought a parade of characters across her path. She is someone with uncommon vision who sees the amazing in the every day. Mary's posts are very short and thought provoking. Her sense of humor will make you smile and her insights on every day occurrences will make you thankful you took the time to read her beautiful writing. Here is a sample of some of Mary's post themes: "I'm Her Boyfriend," about a long distance love affair between two ninety something people, one of whom is in an Alzheimer's Memory Care Unit; "Could You Eat Barney?," a philosophical discussion between Mary and her husband Dick about tough times, that will make your face smile; "Commas," about a brief conversation between Mary and man in the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program who has a struggle with punctuation.

2. Margaret and Helen: Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting-These two feisty seniors have a satirical dialogue covering everything contentious and questionable in American politics and culture. Their conversational blog belies the idea that our brains dissolve as we age or that old people have a tendency to be conservative, bland, and lacking in the ability to engage in critical thinking.  "2015 Thanksgiving Letter to the Family," will leave you in stitches as the good ladies lay down the ground rules for how a family dinner will be had at their house; "Even When I Watch My P's & Q's I Can Still Spell Bullshit," concerns itself with the war currently being waged in the States against Planned Parenthood by the conservative Religious Right and the Republican party (which are synonymous for some of us). It is a candid call for all concerned American voters to call their elected representatives and let them know you support Planned Parenthood. It is short and right to the point with the phone numbers and list of representatives whom Margaret fondly refers to as the Asshat Roll call, from 10 U.S. states where the battle for American women's access to low cost reproductive health care is being waged; "That Dog Won't Hunt," covers the failures of the Republican Party to come up with a single good idea to support its platform in typical Helena nd Margaret pithiness.
     From women's reproductive rights to guns and the NRA, and the stupidity of the Republican party in a state where not being one places you in a small minority, these two old ladies not only tackle sacred cows--they run them over with their electric scooters, and hoist them on their own petards with acerbic wit and verve. If the topic is hot in American politics at the mo then Margaret and Helen have something candid and intelligent to say on the subject. I get a lot of belly laughs from reading their posts which resonate with me because these two are whip smart Texas women who are not afraid to call 'em as they see 'em. Mother Courage thy modern moniker is Margaret-and-Helen!

3. The Meandering Matriach-Written by Australian Suellen Carey-Clarke. I first found her blog back in 2010 when I was mooning over my new found passion for narrow boats and British canals. Suellen had recently vacationed over here on a hotel narrow boat and blogged about it. I was hooked and I still am. Her insights into every day events, world politics, nature, anything really, fascinates me. "The Game I Never Ever Want to Play," features a what -if scenario Suellen is given in which she MUST vote for one of three U.S. Republican candidates: Trump, Rubio or Carson. Abstention is not an option; "How to Hug a Cow," about the odd and funny burgeoning alternative employment industry for animals; "The Snowman Theory of Everlasting Life," in which Suellen considers what happens when we die from the Calvin & Hobbes school of the divine. The Meandering Matriarch enjoys traveling and has been to Antarctica and Africa to name two of the many places she has shared with her readers; whether Suellen's trips are to the back of her brain or the back of beyond, her funny, thoughtful insights inspire me and make me laugh.

4. View From the Mirror: A Cabbie's London-I found this bloke's blog by accident a  couple of years ago when searching Google for information on our last cruise down to London. His posts are a fascinating collection of what it is like to be a proper London cabbie, i.e. driving the iconic black cabs, and a compilation of all the amazing things he sees, hears, and finds in London. His most recent post covers London cabbie slang. Some his past posts are "The Man Who Made Soho Glow," about Chris Bracey, the King of neon signs whose artistic expertise is responsible for almost all the neon lights in Soho and many neon light features in almost a dozen famous movies. Chris amassed the largest collection of neon signs outside the USA. You can visit the museum called God's Own Junkyard, where they are displayed; "Up the Common People," in which our cabbie writes about his loathing of the process in which ancient London area landmark buildings such as the 17th century George Tavern on the east end of Commercial road, and its accompanying 1970's nightclub Stepney's (with its light up disco floor where the band Pulp filmed their music video Up the Common People) are being demolished to make way for luxury apartments; and "The Policeman's Wall," located on Myddleton Passage, a narrow road which pops out behind Sadler's Wells Theatre. While our cabbie offers a quick history with then and now pictures of this patch of London as it became gentrified, back in the Victorian era this passage was considered a very dark and dangerous place. Oddly enough as one walks along it now one can see a series of numbers carved into the bricks--each set of digits representing a respective Bobby's collar number! His posts are filled with history, lore, myth and mirth encompassing a tasty tidbit of London past and present. If you are searching for something un-typical and less touristy to see in the Old Smoke, this is the blog for you. He says, "Thank you so much for flagging down my virtual cab. It's great to have you on board as we explore London." I say enjoy the ride!

 5. The Prairie Homestead-Written by farm wife and mother Jill Winger, this is a
reference blog on "how-to" ideas from how to make your own sauerkraut, how to produce apple cider vinegar from apple parings, how to store vegetables without a root cellar, 20 gifts you can make with essential oil to well..almost anything to do with being self sufficient and living a more satisfied, self reliant life style. Lest you think her blog couldn't apply to you, here is what Jill says about being a homesteader:"Modern homesteaders come from all different backgrounds; some from a self-sufficient heritage, some from the heart of the city. You’ll find them in apartments… and in the suburbs… and on one acre… and on hundreds…But no matter their flavor of homesteading, they have one common goal: To return to their roots. To be self-sufficient. To find satisfaction from the work of their hands. And to have the freedom to write their own story." One of the perks of Jill's blog is subscribing to the Homestead Toolbox. It will arrive in your email with links to interesting and helpful blog posts. I look forward to receiving it each week.

6. Idlewild Alaska-I don't know her name, but Idlewild Alaska is a homesteader with her husband on an acre and half of land near Palmer, Alaska. Her posts are chock-a-block full of great ideas, helpful hints and really excellent recipes if you want to know how make Moose sausage for example or a recipe for making your own corned Moose brisket. Her blog has sections on gardening in Alaska, DIY, recipes, homesteading basics, and her bookshelf featuring a fabulous assortment of books she suggests as gifts. This blog is chock-a-block full of gorgeous, breathtaking pictures of Alaska. As the child of Alaskan homesteaders I am filled with nostalgia when I read this blog.

That's it then. If you have a favorite non-boat blog please share it with us and make sure to include the URL.

2 comments:

MikeW said...

Hi Jaq and Les
Happy New Year to you both.
I enjoyed that post especially the Cabbie Blog-very entertaining and informative. One of my New Year Resolutions (most already broken) is to get to know London better-I've always lived within spittin distance of the capital and my father born, lived and worked in London had an amazing knowledge, of which sadly I never really took sufficient advantage.
Hope '16 brings good health, a new knee and much love.
Mike
Cowroast

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mike,
Happy New Year to you and Pam!

If you love exploring London then must get the book A Curious Guide to London by Simon Leyland. It isn't a huge tome and it breaks London neighborhoods up into sections to offer amazing free sights that will make stop in you in your tracks. For example Leyland's book details a street in Mayfair where the Russians had their spy house in the 1950's. Just outside is a lamp post with a door in it--where they dropped their secret notes! It is still there. We plan to use this book as our tour guide for our next London trip!
Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs