Sniffles and Sneezes and Coughs, Oh My!

Allergy to pollen concept. Young woman in protection mask with bunch of flower.

This used to be me. Well, I didn’t actually wear the mask, but I sure felt like I needed one.

This week our resident hound asked about springtime allergies.

Growing up, I suffered greatly from those seasonal maladies. I’d take all sorts of medications for sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and runny nose. I accepted these conditions as a fact of life and attributed them to heredity, since my mom and youngest brother also suffered. Dad used to complain that he should have bought stock in the facial tissue company.

As a child, playing outdoors never held any attraction for me, partly because proximity to plants made things worse. It was much more comfortable to stay indoors. My hobbies and passions were all things I could do indoors: music, reading, sewing, and teasing my baby brother.

When hubby and I bought our first house, we planted a garden. I’d never done that before, and I wanted to try. But taking care of it meant I had to go outside, which I didn’t like. There were bugs out there, and stuff that made me sneeze. The venture wasn’t successful. Occasionally, I’d have plants inside the house to spiff things up, but they didn’t survive either. Every time I remembered to water them (which wasn’t often), I’d sneeze, and then I’d have to grab a tissue. By the time I finished emptying my nose, I’d forget about the plants.

While I was pregnant with our second daughter, we experienced an unusually hot spring, which led to an unusually hot summer. She wasn’t due until the middle of August and I guess I kicked up quite a fuss. We had central air put in so that I was easier to live with. But in addition to being less cranky, I noticed fewer problems with the springtime sniffles.

Several years ago, my doctor prescribed a low dose of an allergy medication as a maintenance drug to take year-round. I faithfully swallowed those pills twice a day. That seemed to work quite well. When the next spring came around, my symptoms were much less severe, and that encouraged me to embrace the idea of “maintenance.” I continued on that plan for many, many years. I also took shots after enduring tests that told me I was allergic to most plants and several foods.

Eventually, the doctor weaned me off the shots. And somewhere along the line — I honestly can’t remember why or when — I stopped taking the allergy medication. And for some reason, I’m not suffering like I used to. Maybe I outgrew my allergies. Or maybe the shots and the pills cured me. I have no idea what happened and I really don’t intend to pursue an answer. I’m just choosing to be thankful that I can breathe through my nose and don’t have to keep a box of tissues handy all the time.

But I still can’t handle plants. They don’t make me sneeze any more, but they need more attention than I’m willing to give them.

Does spring time give you the sniffles?

Posted in author's life, Patricia Kiyono, spring | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Review and Recommendation: The Septimus Heap Series

It’s a “Free Week” at 4F,1H and it also happens to be Holy Week, the week before Easter. For me, that means plenty of house and food prep. This year finds me doing less and moving slower than I normally would, but still enjoying myself…and I still find it busy.

So this week, I would like to give a quick review of a charming series of books,[please don’t let the next part stop you from continuing], which I have read on the advice of my grandson:The Septimus Heap series.

This delightful series is marketed toward the “Tweens”, ( post kiddie, pre-YA), but unless the kids reading them are really astute and mindful, they will miss a great deal of the nuances, personalities and humor within the lengthy books.

(I believe that other “Seniors” would find them as enjoyable as I have.)

The book page count sometimes into the 600s, but are such enjoyable reads, you never dread the numbers, but the ends. My grandson zipped through them when he was 13, and was not in the least self-conscious about picking them up from the junior book section.

English author Angie Sage has created a world with people who were human, but their world is not ours. Although it is another ‘boy wizard’ series, it has very little in common story-wise with Harry Potter. (That is not to imply that I do not love the HP novels and movies.)

As in the Potter books, evil is always evil, honor, friendship and family are to be maintained, help and forgiveness are a norm. However, Sage’s world is gentler.

Beside the enjoyable humor within the books, there are few truly evil people. The ones who seem bad are often misguided or are converted one way or another. (One terrible character has his memory wiped. Because he was indeed terrible, the ‘good guys’ replaced his thoughts with the understanding that he wants to join the circus to become a buffoon! With the way it is told, it is a LOL moment.)

Adults and older children would get much more out of the subtle hints given throughout the storyline and the continuity of the characters’ characters than younger readers. The situations, surroundings and personalities are incorporated so seamlessly within the series that I seldom saw the significance of many of them until their revelations, and that is one of the best recommendations I can give for any story. Far too often, the plots are all-too obvious to me.

I cannot even begin to describe the artful, and almost continual, dry humor added throughout the story.

I hope that if you have a child in your life who likes to read, you will consider reading this series with them.
If you have a child who doesn’t like to read or has problems reading, I hope you will consider reading this series to them.
I hope you will consider reading this series for yourself.

I wish all of our Christian readers a Happy Easter!

Posted in authors, book review, Books, characters, childhood, Family, favorite books, free week, imagination, reading, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Living Up in the Trees

In a Tree House… Above all the Strife

By Jeff Salter

I’ve always loved tree houses and (since childhood) I’ve dreamed of living up in the trees. Well, I never actually made that goal, but I did manage to write a novel in which the heroine does… and she’s an architect who designed the three tier facility herself. She figures she’ll be above all the strife of the earth-bound folks. Maybe she ought to re-think that…

Stuck on Cloud-8-front-final

Stuck on Cloud Eight

Now that Keri lives in her own tree house…it’s No Men Allowed.  Romantic comedy that’s high in the sky. Novel, only $3.99 in digital formats; paperback also available (varied pricing). TouchPoint Press, 2015.


Since Keri Winter’s tomboy childhood dream had been to one day possess her own tree house, it does not bother her one bit to be known as Tarzana after she actually builds her home in a tree.

With a steady job she enjoys, Keri invests most of her late mother’s insurance policy into the design and construction of the only inhabitable tree house in Greene County. The house is a marvel, both in its construction and everyday operation, and attracts significant attention. So does its only occupant.

But most of the young men in town hold no interest for her at all. In fact, she seems pretty unapproachable – literally and figuratively – with her head up in the clouds. It would take a mighty tall man to reach Keri’s level and attract her romantic interest.

And even if the right man could reach her, would Keri trust him?

Rusty Battle figures he’s got the right stuff, but in order to prove it, he has to get Keri’s attention.

They’re about to learn proximity can sometimes make the heart grow fonder…or it just might drive Keri crazy.

It’s difficult enough to get to know someone on even ground. Can she start over at a higher level?


Have you ever wanted to live in a tree house?  What basic design would you want?

[ JLS # 327 ]

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Book Discussions

This month I am one of three people hosting a book discussion in Wendy Knight’s Winged Ones on Facebook. We’re reading Wendy’s Banshee at the Gate which is a fun middle grade book about a hybrid Banshee who is trying to save her brother’s life as well as save Atlantis. This is my third time reading the book and I love It. I am sure I’ll be reading it to Wyatt sometime soon as well.

I have never belonged to a book club, never really discussed books with others in a structured way. In the past I have led Q&A sessions with authors where we ask the author questions about the book and their writing process but never me trying to open up a discussion about the book.

Since our discussion is broken down to just a few chapters every couple of days it is easier for everyone to participate. Today we’re talking about chapters 7 and 8. My first question was about Sevens developing powers and which one the reader thinks might come in as throat useful.


Have you ever been in a book club or discussion group? Do you have any advice for me about what sort of questions might spark more interaction? Are book discussions something you enjoy?

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Fifty Favorites for 2017: Part Four

This month, I tried something new and different – for me. I read books with real paper pages! During my spring break last month I straightened out some bookshelves and realized I had several gems written by people in my local writing groups. I decided to start reading them, and I’m so glad I did! Besides being wonderful stories, reading a regular book is easier on my eyes than reading from a screen – and I’ve been doing way too much of that in my effort to complete my current project. So here’s what I’ve read since the last free week:

Chance's ReturnChance’s Return by Lucy Naylor Kubash. Lucy is a fellow member of my local RWA chapter. She was a guest here at 4F1H last November with The Christmas Wish, her anthology of holiday stories. I purchased this copy of Lucy’s first novel, a western, soon after it was released and I’m so glad I finally sat down to read it. This is a story about a cowboy who leaves the family ranch because he was wronged, but then returns because he has nowhere else to go. The theme of the story is healing and trust. Casey, a widow with a young son, is working in the ranch kitchen for the summer. She’s a strong heroine—my favorite kind.


All That MattersAll That Matters by Loralee Lillibridge. Loralee was my guest here two years ago with her cozy mystery, Bringing in the Thieves. Last month I read her book Cowboys, Castles, and Cradles, and this month I got around to reading another of her westerns. All That Matters is the story of two people from opposite sides of the tracks. As Loralee states, “Buddy Lee Walker is Boyd Walker’s son and mad as hell about it.” He’s worked hard to convince people he’s nothing like his no-good father. Faith Morgan is the daughter of the town banker. But despite their differences, they’ve had a close connection for years. So when Faith comes to Buddy for help, he can’t help but give it, no matter the cost to him—or his heart. Loved this book!

Bring Me Back

Bring Me Back by Karen Booth. This is the only ebook I read this month, and it’s not by an author from my neck of the woods. Karen is a founding member of the Seasoned Romance Facebook group, highlighting mature characters. After reading several so-called seasoned romances with 30-something characters, I was happy to read a real seasoned romance! Chris is an aging rock star. Claire is a writer, and her current assignment is to write an article about Chris for Rolling Stone magazine. But she ends up getting so much more than material for her article! I’ll let Karen tell us more about the book when she’s my guest at the end of the month. I see that there’s a sequel to this book, so I’m hoping to read that, too.

Now that the semester at the university is almost done, I’m hoping to find more time to read. Goodreads tells me that I’m four books behind, so I’m either going to have to read for longer periods of time, or find shorter books to read!

What have you read lately?



Posted in Patricia Kiyono, reading, romance | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Reading and Riding

This week the question is: What do you keep in your car?

I suggested this topic before my recent accident and found that I carried more than I ever imagined, which I learned  as we had to quickly remove all our personal belongings.

That car had belonged to #2 Son, and I also found many things that he had left deep in the glove compartment, console and trunk…but I won’t list those, since they were unintentional ‘passengers’.
(Let me add that he is obviously a bigger pack-rat when it comes to his car than his parents.)

What I INTENTIONALLY carry with me are many things that I have kept in my vehicles since, well, forever.

Purely standard safety equipment includes: Ice scraper, spare, jack, jumper cables, in every trunk and a flashlight, small first-aid kit and antiseptic hand wipes in every car.

We keep a rosary in each car.

My personal must-haves include tissues, plastic trash bags in the cars, plus a zippered bag with a blanket in every trunk. These can be used in case of an emergency, but are there mostly because we used to do a lot of outings and had no place to sit. They now come in handy for soccer games/practice, as do the umbrellas I have in the cars, too, (more for sun than for rain). Despite the trash bags, there are always gum wrappers around my car. I combat dry mouth by chewing gum. My mother insisted that one simply does not walk around chewing gum, so I do my mouth freshening in the car.

I used to keep extra clothing for kids in the cars. In Colorado, the temps easily dip 40F on any given day and can dip more, especially if you are climbing in elevation. Then I just got in the habit and kept some for the grandkids, even though Kentucky temperatures vary less dramatically within the hours of one day. (But within a day or so, it can be a real roller coaster ride up and down the thermometer.)

I still keep a jacket in each car; my husband does also.

Like Joselyn, I am sensitive to sunlight and so along with a pair of sunglasses in my purse, there are spares in each glove compartment. I also keep a pair of reader-cheaters in each car, in case I misplace the glasses in my purse, which happens all too often.

In the glove compartment are maps, (yes, real maps), and napkin, and perhaps straws for the kids. Usually a pair of pliers and/or a screwdriver and scissors. (Small wonder it took me forever to find my proof of insurance and registration for the officer who arrived at the accident scene.)

For the granddaughters, there is a hairbrush. My grandson put a comb and a clothes-roller in my car, which his cousins now use, (they are all vain).

Since I became a diabetic, I keep a zippered pouch of low-carb bars, stevia and stevia-based water flavoring mixes in the cars, which have come in very handy when I have been out longer than I expected, or when I shop out of town.

And if I am going out of town for the day, I make sure I have an extra pair of shoes,(which I often leave in the car).

The car that was just rear-ended to auto-heaven had a horn that never worked, no matter what anyone tried. I kept an air-horn in that car. (People never paid it any attention, but it made a few animals get out of the road.)

I have a large, zippered pouch with some colored pencils, doodle pads, game pads and books for the kids; it used to include coloring books, but the kids are older now. I keep a notebook and pens, in case an inspiration hits me. The kids often have books of their own that they leave in my back seat. All of them have always read in cars.

My husband carries a book with him everywhere, sometimes more. And sometimes they also stay in the car.

I leave several books in the car that I have started reading, which are my ‘while waiting’ books.

A famous author with whom I have become quite friendly told me that she quoted me to a clerk at a store who recognized her and asked her how many books she was carrying in her over-sized purse. The clerk voiced her disappointment that the author had “only two”, (which is two more than most people carry). She told the clerk what a fan [I] had told her:

I have more books in my car than many people have in their homes.

How about you?

Posted in Books, experiences, Family, Life, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, vehicles, writing | 6 Comments

Where Did All That Come From?

The Stuff That Ends Up In My Truck… and STAYS

By Jeff Salter

Our specific topic this week is “What do you keep in your [vehicle]?

Well, I’m not so glad you asked that question.

Before I reveal any particular confessions, let me establish that I’m NOT one of those guys who washes his vehicle every single week and gets it waxed and detailed every month. [Heck, I used to know a man who was such a fanatic that he’d take his wife’s car every Saturday to be detailed!] Well, that’s not me, folks. Seriously.

To me, a vehicle – in my case, a small pickup truck – is basic transportation which I occasionally use to haul stuff. Plus, every week, this truck conveys my trash cans down to the curb – some 600 feet away – and brings back the empties the following day. Every month, this truck carries recycling down to that same curb.

My truck is a utilitarian machine with seats. It’s not designed to travel in a parade or preen in a “car” show. It will never make the cover of any automobile magazine… unless the featured article is a “before and after” project. This poor thing is nearly 12 years old and has the dents and scrapes to show for it.

So, let’s depart from the notion that my truck is pretty, neat, or clean. If it’s been raining, my truck is wet; if there’s been pollen attack, my truck can be a state’s witness; if there was a lot of mud or slush on the road somewhere, you’ll know exactly where I’ve been.


No, this is NOT my actual truck. But, except for the pizza boxes, it gives you a fair idea of what mine looks like.

So what’s in my truck now?

As I’m writing this, I still have my “winter ballast” in the extreme rear of the truck bed. That’s because these quarter-ton pickups – when empty – have zero traction on the rear wheels and you can skid even on mild turns. In wintry road conditions, I need that extra 250 pounds (of gravel, sand, salt, and scrap iron) just for an extra measure of safety and stability. I carry that ballast from about November through about March. [By the time you read this, all that ballast will be stacked at the corner of the house where it will wait until next winter.]

INSIDE my truck, you will find the following:

** a spare jacket (because you never know when you’ll have to hike from wherever your vehicle stops… for whatever reason).

** maps, including Texas and Mississippi (because I used to travel in those states and in these past 10 years, I have not seen fit to weed my map collection).

** a five pound bag of cat food (because King Sipper will break open the bag if he can find it… and the vermin will get into it. In my truck, it’s safe until the cat’s regular food container is nearly empty and I can transfer the new bag’s contents from the truck to Sipper’s feeding platform).

** the usual assortment of vehicle manual, registration, and insurance… plus receipts from: oil changes, the last battery I bought, and 296 gasoline fill-ups.

** a hodgepodge of napkins from various fast-food places (because you never know when you’re gonna spill something in the truck cab).

** a flashlight that barely works (but I keep forgetting to change the battery).

** 129 empty candy wrappers and an un-used sundae spoon from DQ.

** a set of plastic traction plates (if stuck in snow or ice) which I got for the recent Christmas.

** and, like the Foxes so far this week, a windshield scraper.

I guess that’s about it for the contents of my truck.

What’s in YOUR vehicle?

[JLS # 326]


Posted in author's life, Uncategorized, vehicles | Tagged | 11 Comments