Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Spotlight: The Private Lives of the Sun Signs

I've always had an interest in astrology. I don't read my horoscope every day, but whenever I come across one, I'll usually take a look. It's astonishing to me sometimes just how accurate horoscopes can be. The study of the twelve signs of zodiac can be a very revealing journey to take and I love learning more about how it all works together.

Astrologer Katharine Merlin

In the book, The Private Lives of the Sun Signs by Katharine Merlin, published by Glitterati Incorporated, the renowned astrologer presents an intriguing in-depth breakdown of each of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Katharine Merlin has been writing  the  Town & Country magazine horoscope column since 1989 and has been the author of the Town & Country Yearly Horoscope Guide.

Appendixes - From The Private Lives of the Sun Signs by Katharine Merlin, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com

Katharine Merlin has four decades of experience in this field and you can sense her expertise due to the nicely detailed feel of her book. It's written in a style that is especially good for those like me who have limited knowledge of astrology, but an interest in learning. And yet I also think that this would be a good read for those who know way more than I do about astrology.

Merlin gives examples to illustrate the characteristics of each sign, often using people that she knows as examples. It's not done in an intrusive way. She protects their identities, but it made the descriptions come alive for me as a reader when they were applied to real people. The author also gives examples through the use of people of note through the decades, which makes for an interesting read and gives a deeper insight into each person. This is a fascinating book!

There is great insight into the idiosyncrasies of each sign, such as the ways in which emotions are processed and how we communicate. This is an interesting way to take a look at yourself through the lens of your astrological sign and it's also fun to look at what is said about the signs of friends or partners. Everyone is unique and in no way does the book try to act as a predictor of the future, but as a reader, I just found it fascinating to examine myself a bit to see how closely I compared to my own sign.

Here's an excerpt from the Aquarius chapter to get the feel of the book:


Aquarius - From The Private Lives of the Sun Signs by Katharine Merlin, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Why is it that every time I think about or try to describe Aquarians I invariably get a smile on my face? It’s certainly not because they are laughable or not to be taken seriously—quite the contrary. No, it’s due to the fact that those born under this complex and fascinating sign arouse a wonder and affection that belongs to them alone. Aquarians occupy their own territory in our hearts because they are so unmistakably themselves.

Every Aquarius I know shares the quality of being distinct, like a very strong flavor that once tasted cannot be forgotten. Not that Aquarians are dominant or overbearing; they are a perplexing combination of breezy, zany and downright stubborn. They are kind, amenable and impossible to control. Or as my friend Cara says of her February 12-born husband, John, “He’s the nicest person in the world, but when he makes up his mind not to do something, forget it. It will never happen.”

Contradictions are the name of the game when it comes to Aquarius. My friend, Lorraine (February 4) is a perfect example of this: while she is very open, caring and thoughtful, she is at the same time so adamant about her own ideas and opinions that it’s difficult to reconcile her vulnerability with her toughness, or her eagerness to please with her built-in inclination to resist. But that, of course, is what makes her such an interesting and enjoyable companion. She really extends herself to people, and her generous heart steers her to shower her friends with attention and sympathy. She can’t be manipulated or controlled, though, and when push comes to shove, she is completely her own person.

Not all Aquarians are the eccentric rebels portrayed in most astrological descriptions of this sign, though some are. Actually, quite a few are more or less conformist in their behavior and views. I have known many Aquarians who really tried to fit in and wanted nothing more than to be part of the crowd. What’s painful for these Aquarians is that, however hard they’ve tried, they have rarely succeeded in blotting out the aspect of their natures that makes them that telling little bit different.

My friend Barbara’s daughter, Ellen, upon leaving the rural atmosphere of a small Midwestern town for a prestigious college in the Northeast, seemed to crave, above all else, acceptance by her peers; she so strongly wanted to look and act like one of them that her personality appeared to become subsumed. And after college she went on to a very good job in the public sector, where she is well on her way up the ladder to a high
level of success.

This is not textbook Aquarian behavior. Where is the revolutionary spirit so associated with this individualistic sign? Where is the refusal to play by the rules? The truth is that despite all of Ellen’s attempts to be one of the gang, she still comes across as somehow more distinct and out of the ordinary than those around her. Her strong will is apparent in her behavior, which, while politically correct, is just a little too forceful to insure the kind of acceptance she so clearly longs for. And her differentness also makes her special in positive ways, a person to be reckoned with and taken seriously.

It’s interesting to consider that before Uranus—Aquarius’ current planetary ruler—was discovered in 1781, the sign of the Waterbearer was purported to be under the influence of Saturn—the most structured and conservative planet of the zodiac. This is quite weird when you think about it, because Saturn is in many ways the opposite of eccentric Uranus, whose action is to break forms and structures and refuse to play by the rules. And maybe this explains why Aquarians have the characteristics of these unlikely planetary bedfellows embedded in their contradictory natures—some being more clearly dominated by traditional Saturn and others by rebellious Uranus, but all subject to a kind of tug-of-war between freedom and responsibility, or between being a joiner or a loner.

Ellen seems to be the more Saturn-dominated type, but please note that, despite her ambition, she has chosen to work in the public sector. Her choice reflects a distinguishing characteristic of one born under her Sun sign—a wish to contribute to the good of society and to place their principles above any thoughts of material gain. Every Aquarian
I’ve known is a humanist in one way or another, and the majority have chosen work that enables them to make a difference.

Above: Excerpt - From The Private Lives of the Sun Signs
  by Katharine Merlin copyright © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com

There is a foreword by Pamela Fiori, former editor-in-chief of Town & Country and also a great introduction written by Katharine Merlin which lays the groundwork for what readers are about to experience in the reading of the book.

Introduction - From The Private Lives of the Sun Signs by Katharine Merlin, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com

On a purely aesthetic note, I have to say that I really love the look of the book inside and out. The cover is done in a lovely, elegant grey cloth texture with the title written in white, which is surrounded by the sun sign symbols in yellow all over the cover. There are also beautifully detailed vintage illustrations throughout that give this wonderful book a timeless feel. There is also a ribbon dangler that can help you mark your place. If you're a person like me who loves books and especially visually beautiful books, you'll certainly love this one.

Celestial Atlas - From The Private Lives of the Sun Signs by Katharine Merlin, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com

This is a book that I know I will refer to again and again. It's a fascinating read and it certainly gives readers an opportunity to examine themselves on a deeper level.

 The Private Lives of the Sun Signs can be purchased here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Friday Photo and a Shadowy View

Today's Friday photo was taken in June 2013 on a nature walk that we took here in Wiltshire. It was a gloriously beautiful day. Everything was green and lively. You may ask, if it was so green and beautiful then why is this a black and white photo. Hee hee :-)  Well, if you've visited me here before for a while, you probably know that I love black and white photography. I love a vibrant color-filled photo too, especially when nature is really showing off in all its splendor, but I also love the shadows and light in black and white photos too.

I took some colorful photos that day too and over time I'll share some of them also :-)

I loved taking that walk. I'm gonna have to visit there again soon. I can't believe it's been almost two years since that day. A revisit is long overdue!

Have a great weekend! :-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Beautiful Weeds

Happy Monday!

These are some of the dandelions that are taking over a corner of the backyard currently. I know that they're a weed, but I can't bring myself to cut them down. They're so beautiful!!! The yellow color is so vibrant.

Seeing them takes me back to being a little girl and sitting in the grass with a few dandelions dotted here and there. I think we'll enjoy them for a little longer since they're over to the side and out of the way. Having that sunny yellow around makes me smile!

Have a wonderful day and week! :-)

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Friday Photo and Less Raggedy Nails

Today's Friday photo is a very simple, day-in-my-life one. This one isn't my usual post about somewhere picturesque that I've visited around Wiltshire. Nope. Today is something that I found this week at a store here in Wiltshire and now it's in my Wiltshire house ;-)

As you can see my photo features a pack of emery boards. Nothing fancy. Lol. But these made me very happy this week for a few reasons:

#1 - There are 36 of them so I won't be buying emery boards for like a decade or something (Hee hee)

#2 - They were dirt cheap....only 99 pence in British pounds, which is about $1.49 in US dollars.

#3 - They actually work so it's not a case of buying something inexpensive and then finding out that they're useless. (I'm way too excited. Lol.)

#4 - They come in pretty colors. I'm a creative type, so lots of color makes me happy and a bonus is that there are BLUE ONES! If you've visited me before you'll know that I LOVE blue! If you'd like to read a bit about my number one color go here and here.

#5 - This is the best part.....drum roll please.....I can have less raggedy fingernails. LOL! I need to do better and now I have no excuse ;-)

So that's just a little peek into a highlight of my week. As I've said before, I'm easily amused. Simple pleasures and all that :-)

I hope you have a great weekend! Hopefully the weather stays nice here so that I can get outside and walk. I'll probably work on my book a bit too. What will you be doing this weekend?

Whatever you do, I hope that it's fun!

P.S. If you'd like to see a few of my past Friday photos you can see some of them here and here and here and here.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Spotlight: A Letter from Oggi: The Letters of Olga Franklin

Every life tells a story. When we're going through the routine of our day, we can sometimes forget that the life that we live is an ongoing account of us as people, and ultimately our story. On tombstones, there's that dash between the year of our birth and the year that we passed away. The dates are like bookends to that dash in the middle that represents the time in which we lived. We all hope that that dash has held its share of joys, accomplishments, and highlights as we've inevitably experienced sorrows along the way too. Every life tells a story and I'm always fascinated to learn about how other people live or have lived.

I thoroughly enjoy watching documentaries and reading books about the lives of different people, whether they lived a celebrated life or not. It's always interesting for me when I get to experience times past through the eyes of those who were there.

Recently, I've been given the opportunity to read an interesting new book called A Letter from Oggi: The Letters of Olga Franklin. It's a sharp and witty collection of letters from the journalist Olga Franklin. She was a fascinating woman. The letters were written to her sister Beryl between 1932 and 1965. Olga Franklin was a journalist for the Daily Sketch and Daily Mail and through her work she documented a great deal of the first half of the twentieth century. The contrast between her life as a journalist in the thick of the Fleet Street newspaper world and the sisterly world of her letters was fascinating to me. It reminded me that we all wear many hats in life and yet all of those ways that we show up in the world come together to make us into who we are.

Within the pages of this intriguing book, through the letters that Olga writes to Beryl, readers are treated to stories of the journalist's adventures around the world. She travels from Warsaw in the days before the Nazi invasion to Moscow following Stalin's death, and on to many other experiences during this chapter in her extraordinary life. Olga also crossed paths with many of the figures in popular culture such as Marilyn Monroe and Groucho Marx, just to name a couple. There is also a wonderful account of her meeting Prince Philip and being startled by how handsome he was as a young man.

Olga's nephew Richard Jaffa has edited A Letter from Oggi: The Letters of Olga Franklin and has pulled together a wonderful tribute to his aunt. He has worked as a journalist himself and also as a solicitor. He has done a fine job at presenting his aunt's letters as they tell the story of this part of her life. For me, this book is a celebration of life.

A Letter from Oggi: The Letters of Olga Franklin will be released on April 30th. You can find out more about the book and also purchase it here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Friday Photo on a Tuesday

Sorry for the delay in getting back here. I've been tied up with my book a bit. Thanks for coming back to visit.

Since I missed my Friday photo, here's a Friday photo on Tuesday ;-)

This is a photo taken back in June 2012. It's a tiny flower that I saw in the grass when we were out for a walk one Saturday. The original photo came out blurred so I played around with it and made it look like this, just for fun one day. I don't know what I was doing. Lol. It's still blurry, but I had fun. Here's my played-around-with-photo :-) If you've been here before, you know how I am.

I hope you have a great Tuesday! I'll be back in a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Easter Weekend

Today is my first day back in the regular day saddle. We had an extra day off yesterday since Easter Monday is observed here. We had a really good Easter weekend. It all started on last Thursday. My other half took off half of the day to take me to an appointment and then we decided to go into town to pick up a few things for Easter dinner, etc. Well, Easter weekend traffic started early. It's always kinda annoying to get stuck in traffic, but having a nice view made it not so bad. I took this photo out the car window. Don't worry, I wasn't driving ;-) Interestingly, there was hardly any traffic in the other direction so that's why the road on that side looks deserted...because it almost was. Lol.

On Good Friday, we went to visit a garden center out in Cirencester, which is in the Cotswolds. I love going out there. The garden center has a little bit of everything, including: gifts, food, clothes, games, and of course plants. It's one of my favorite places to visit. Also, the drive to and from is beautiful. We'll sometimes take the scenic route home as we veer off the path a bit. As we were driving along, for a moment there was a lull in oncoming cars so I snapped this quick photo. It was a damp day and you can see a little bit of a smudge on the left side of the windshield. It can get kind of muddy driving out in the countryside sometimes, so this is just a reminder of nature licking the windshield ;-)

There's lots of beautiful countryside out there, so it's always a treat to take a moment to appreciate it.

I hope that your weekend was great too!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Blue Plates and Memories

Hello again :-)

In my previous post, I blogged about my love of blue. If you'd like to take a look, it can be found here. In my post I talked about how I'm seemingly drawn to things that are blue and often it's not a conscious thing.

Last night I couldn't sleep, so I occupied myself with the thoughts running through my mind. All of a sudden I thought of something that I left out of my blue post. That's the beauty of blogging though...a new day is an opportunity to write a new post ;-)

Here's my other favorite blue thing that I forgot...my pretty blue plates. When I bought them a while back, the label on the back called them Chateau Blue. They're sort of Wedgwood-esque....very sort of, but I like them. Maybe one day I'll have the real thing, but if not these will definitely do :-)

I love that the plates have a vintage look to them and they cost very little. I got them at an outlet store. You know I love a bargain!

These plates remind me of back home. Even though these plates don't look exactly like the dishes that I remember from my growing up years, they take me back to that time anyway. They remind me of my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins all sitting around having Sunday dinner. They remind me of this post that I wrote a few years ago now, about going back home and finding some vintage glasses. You can read that post here.

With Easter coming up this weekend I'm very reminded of those Sunday dinners, especially the ones on Easter Sunday. Everyone got together and we were all dressed nicely for lunch/dinner after church. After we'd finished eating, we'd go outside and sit on the big front porch and enjoy the warm breeze as the conversation went back and forth. I was little, so I didn't say much. I would just sit and listen to the grown-ups talk. It was comforting and lovely. The dogwoods and spirea would be in full bloom in the yard and often I'd go out and make a tiny bouquet to bring back to my mom or my aunts. Or sometimes I'd just sit on the steps and make little flower wreaths totally lost in my own thoughts with the grown-ups talking in the background. It was comforting to have that tradition in my life as a child. Those memories are what ground a great part of my identity to this day :-)

So these plates give me two special feelings. They give me my lovely dose of blue...my favorite color and they also open up the memory place in my mind. Not bad for some simple little blue plates.

However you're spending this Easter weekend, I hope that it's wonderful :-)

*My usual Friday Photo post will be back next Friday.