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Author Archives: Fran Mason

Robert Duvall in “Open Range”

Went to see the new Kevin Costner-Robert Duvall movie, “Open Range.” Tom and I both liked it a lot. I’m mixed on Kevin Costner because, as Tom pointed out, he has such a droning voice. But I like his appreciation for expansive natural vistas, mountains, prairies, and so on, which are used beautifully in “Open Range,” as they were in ... Read More »

Garden School

I’ve been reading the book Ann Lovejoy’s Organic Garden Design School. The author gardens in the Seattle area and writes books on the subject. A great life! This book is full of color pictures and specific examples of how she combined plants when landscaping around her home and school building. Because I’m in Seattle too, these examples and pictures are ... Read More »

The Blue Angels: Around the World at the Speed of Sound

I was left with the feeling that I’d just watched A Hard Day’s Night. Like the Beatles in that movie, the Blue Angels are shown always together, wearing matching clothes, always smiling, doing exuberant physical maneuvers (although in planes instead of on a grassy field), and traveling from place to place to put on shows for adoring crowds. Tom and ... Read More »

Accentuate the Positive: Authentic Happiness by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.

Martin Seligman is the pioneering psychologist in the field of positive psychology, the study of mental health, happiness, and well-being. This much-needed field of study complements the established psychological study of mental illness and emotional problems. Instead of figuring out how to make people feel less rotten, positive psychology researchers are learning what it takes to feel more happy and ... Read More »

Indecisive? Here’s Help: Decide! by Karen Okulicz

Decide! How to Make Any Decision is a short, quick read that is full of simple ideas about how to make hard decisions. Like other self-published books I’ve read, its tone is chatty and warm. It also wanders into related but off-topic self-improvement areas like becoming better organized; using visualization to help achieve goals; asking for what you want; asking ... Read More »

Hugging Trees: The Trees in My Forest by Bernd Heinrich

I learned one of my favorite tree facts from this book: the explanation of how water rises to the topmost, thinnest twig of the tallest trees—and does so with no energy expenditure on the part of the tree. Adhesion and evaporation of water molecules provide the mechanism. A water molecule is absorbed into a root and pulls other water molecules ... Read More »

Family History: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

What I Loved is a slow-moving novel that tells the 30-year story of two families who are friends and neighbors in Manhattan. The first-person male protagonist, his thoughts, and his personality are consistent and totally convincing. I can only imagine the deep and sustained concentration it must take to develop such a real-seeming character in a long work of fiction ... Read More »

The Rural Life by Verlyn Klinkenborg

The Rural Life portrays each month of the year—weather, wildlife, garden chores, mood—as it’s lived on farms or ranches in various parts of the U.S. The author has lived all over the country and apparently collected his writings from each place into this essay collection. The book begins its January chapter with a contemplation on journal-keeping. Klinkenborg states up front ... Read More »

Clarity in Writing: Good for Fiction, Good for Arguments

Though she might be as willing to continue arguing as a pit bulldog is to continue biting, she's actually abandoned her original point with her second statement. And what would it take to make her say, "Okay, maybe you're right?" Read More »

Skewed Cinderella

Just finished reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, by Gregory Maguire. Very entertaining! It’s the Cinderella story told from another perspective, the entire thing narrated in flashback with short later-in-life portions at the beginning and end. It’s out in paperback and makes a great summer read—meaning it’s as easy as watching a made-for-TV movie. That’s not to diminish it. Characters ... Read More »