April 19, 2014

  • SPRING AGAIN….

    Here’s a paragraph or two from SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

    “Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world, and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store. All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your nature so specially fits you for–that or the counterpart of it– waits embedded in the great WHOLE, for you.   It will surely come to you.

    Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come.    ~ Edward Carpenter.

    “This is the reason of renewal and replenishment.  What better way to begin than to meditate on Mr.Carpenter’s assurance that all our needs will be satisfied by the great WHOLE.  Whatever we are waiting for–peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of Simple Abundance–it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.

    While you are waiting patiently, take comfort and joy in simple spring time rituals of rejuvenation.  ….search for a new sacred space…..a shady grove of trees in an old cemetery…a beautiful public garden…a museum gallery…books stacks in a library…the hush of a quiet chapel where you can light a candle or an outdoor cafe where you can sit basking in the sunshine.”

    Well, kids.  It appears that Spring might be sneaking into Northern Indiana at last!  We have had a few more sunny days, the temperatures are slowly creeping up and Easter and Monday are predicted to be in the middle 70′s!   YES!   Of course, that will be followed with more days of rain and cool and damp temperatures but it’s getting better for sure.

    In our area, the usual snowfall is about 66.7 inches.  This season we have passed 110.1 inches!

    I’m slowly getting some of the clutter cleaned out.  I have only two more boxes in the family room filled with VHS tapes and a VCR.  I’m offering the tapes to some friends and family.  If they don’t take them, I will be making a trip to Goodwill in the next few weeks.  I have cleaned out a few more end tables and finally located the sale papers from our big house that we sold last summer.  I needed those papers for my taxes and got copies from my Realtor.  But now I have the originals so I will put them in a fire box to keep for a few more years…..just in case.

    I found my original SIMS DVDs and now if I ever want to play SIMS again, I can put them back on my computer.  I used to enjoy playing but as life almost always does…it interfered and I put them away.

    I moved much of my husband’s police and western collections downstairs into the guest bedroom.  I brought up some more of my own collection of chickens and roosters and have them on display in the family room.  My son helped me hang some pictures in the room as well.  He said to me “Now the family room looks like you, Mom.”  And I agree.

    Here’s some photos of the basement bedroom now.

    The cubbies holding some of the smaller police and western collections.

    Photo: Cubbies in basement bedroom

    Two of the walls….

    Photo: More cowboy collection in basement bedroom  Photo: Moved western motif to basement bedroom

    The following are from the family room.   Notice the accent wall paint (blue/green) and the rest of the walls are Sand color.

    The large picture was made by my niece for my husband….and the small cowboy picture is just one that I love.

    I moved the TV stand to the accent wall.   

    The following is the art work over the big computer desk in the family room

    The following was when I was slowly putting my chicken collection in the shelves…

    And….I read some books this week.

     

    15815333

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage

    Read from April 10 to 17, 2014

    I enjoyed this story of 6 friends who met as teenagers at a summer camp. Each of them had dreams for their futures but most of them didn’t become what they had expected to be. The 468 page book takes the readers from the teen years through adulthood, career decisions, marriages, families and then middle age when they are finally figuring out what they want out of life. The story seemed to get a big draggy about 1/2 way through but I kept on reading and The Interestings got “interesting” again

    Here’s the book description….

    From bestselling author Meg Wolitzer a dazzling, panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships.

    The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

    The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

    Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

    And another reader’s review….  (By the way, I had some trouble trying to find a review that didn’t have spoilers all the way through.)

    “Jules knew she was cheating by not actually being funny but instead being in the neighborhood of being funny.” I think this book is maybe in the neighborhood of Interesting, but isn’t, really. 

    I actually found this a bit … boring. And it seems like just the sort of book I would like! It’s a longish tale about a group of friends who meet in adolescence at an arts camp and then stay friends for the rest of their lives. Their relationships and trials and tribulations play out and the structure is pleasingly non-chronological.

    Maybe I found the characters a lot more objectionable than they seem like they are supposed to be. I really just wanted to run away with under-appreciated Dennis and save him from the rest of them. I kept waiting to feel emotionally invested in the characters and it never quite took off for me. There were a number of good and memorable scenes. Some of the scenes between Jules and Dennis in particular felt like a very authentic portrayal of a marriage. I liked the stories of the youngest generation and Rory the daughter, in particular, but the main characters kind of drove me bonkers. 

    There also seems to be kind of a sad moral about the way life works out or doesn’t work out. Maybe I am just not in the mood for tales of resignation and lives of quiet sadness. This was good, but I didn’t like as much as I was expecting to.

    17586478

    3 of 5 stars

    bookshelves: friendsdrama

    When the reader begins this story, we are introduced to the main character, Penelope, who is regaining consciousness in a hospital. At first, she is not sure why she is there.  She is aware that she can’t move and is very frightened. As the story goes on, she begins to remember some of what happened. She works hard to get back to where she was physically and mentally. She becomes close friends with her hospital roommate and a man who found her after her accident. As she works through the drama and trauma that caused her to be injured, she starts to put her life back together. Finally she remembers completely what had happened to her. And she figures out how to make it all work for her.
    This book was interesting enough that I kept on reading it. It’s obviously written by an author who knew the passion that her character had for her skill and the author  helps the reader somewhat understand why drove Penny to work so hard.
    Here’s the book description….

    One wrong step could send her over the edge.

    All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

    Kathryn Craft’s lyrical debut novel is a masterful portrayal of a young woman trying to come to terms with her body and the artistic world that has repeatedly rejected her. The Art of Falling expresses the beauty of movement, the stasis of despair, and the unlimited possibilities that come with a new beginning.

    and another reader’s review…..

    What a wonderful story of celebrating life. To really appreciate the joy of living, one must first have pain, and Penelope Sparrow has plenty of pain, physical and emotional and spiritual. The journey Penelope takes from the darkest moment of despair to the light of joy is not an easy one, for her or for the reader at times. The author did not pull back from the agony one feels while watching someone she loves die and the internal conflicts that creates. 

    Using the themes of dance and letting the reader feel what it is like to be one with the air and the music really helped propel the story, and let the reader connect to Penny in an innovative way. 

    I am so happy that I agreed to read an advance copy of this book from Net Galley. Everything about this book is top notch from the characters, to the pacing, to the story structure to the magical, lyrical prose. Kudos to the author

    That’s all the news fit to print this week
    .

April 13, 2014

  • CHANGES,,,CHA CHA CHA…CHANGES…

     

    File:Pending Changes Cat.jpg

    So  it’s been another busy week that has flown by so quickly.  The weather has been warmer and I was even able to open up my windows for a couple of days.  However, Winter is still not done with us and lower temperatures are in the forecast again.  I saw some green stuff sticking up in my little flower garden…I expect it is just weeds.  I need to get outside and rake up the leaves and remove the dead plants to get ready to see what survived the winter before too much longer.

    This week I finally had the contractors out doing work.  They have painted the family room and I just love the colors I chose.  I have been sorting through some of the items that were in the room.  I will be moving much of them down to the basement guest room.  I decided I wanted my chicken collection and other interests up in the family room.

    Here’s the wainscoting in the kitchen….looking into family room.

    I only wish it wasn’t covered up by the big cabinet I use as a pantry.  There is no other place to put it.  But I am enjoying the more finished look.

    Here’s the wainscoting by the basement door…

    Hutch with decor against the sand color paint in family room

     

    The dry sink in its new place against the sand color wall.

    The red accents against the sand color wall…and yes, the pictures are crooked….haven’t had time to straighten everything out.

    Shelves filled with my collections…against the blue-green wall.

    I have to finish hanging pictures on the accent wall.  And I moved the above shelves to the place the dry sink was in.

    TIME FOR A COMMERCIAL BREAK…

    Yes, kids, my latest book is on sale with Amazon.com as are my two previous books…

    So, I did manage to read 2 books as well this week…

    18142403

    Apr 08, 14  ·  4 of 5 stars

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriagemothers-and-daughters

    Read from April 06 to 08, 2014

    This novel is written in a series of e-mails, memos, notes and letters. The reader follows along as a young criminal lawyer is given a divorce case to handle. It takes a year to complete and the reader learns about several people through all the correspondence. If you like to read diaries and letters, you will love this book. Although it is 460 pages, it reads very quickly. I really enjoyed the storyline. I think you will as well.

    Here’s the book description….

    Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.

    Debut novelist Susan Rieger doesn’t leave a word out of place in this hilarious and expertly crafted debut that shines with the power and pleasure of storytelling. Told through personal correspondence, office memos, emails, articles, and legal papers, this playful reinvention of the epistolary form races along with humor and heartache, exploring the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails. For Sophie, the whole affair sparks a hard look at her own relationships—not only with her parents, but with colleagues, friends, lovers, and most importantly, herself. Much like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Divorce Papers will have you laughing aloud and thanking the literature gods for this incredible, fresh new voice in fiction

    and another reader’s review….

    Utilizing emails, letters, notes, memo’s and reports, the story of Divorce Papers nominally documents the legal dissolution of the eighteen year marriage between wealthy East Coast couple Daniel and Mia Durkheim by Mia’s lawyer, Sophie Diehl, but it is also a portrait of marriage breakdown, of family bonds and professional crisis.

    Mia Durkheim (nee Meiklejohn) is stunned by her husband’s sudden demand for a divorce but by the time she seeks legal representation, Mia’s distress has given way to anger at her soon to be ex-husband’s behaviour. While she is most concerned with protecting their eleven year old daughter, Jane, Mia refuses to submit to the bullying tactics adopted by both him and his cut throat lawyer and is determined to ensure she gets what she is owed.

    Sophie is the young criminal lawyer in a small but prestigious legal firm roped into representing Mia in the divorce despite her lack of experience, or even interest. As Sophie does her best to meet the needs of her client, with guidance from her boss and mentor, David Greaves, her emails to her best friend reveals not only her professional insecurities but also the personal issues provoked by the case.

    It was the epistolary format of this novel that appealed to me but I recognize it won’t work for everyone. I admit to skimming over some of the contractual legalese and repetitive financial statements but overall I liked the unique format and found myself enjoying the mix of professional and personal correspondence. There are some flashes of wit, a few sharply observed scenes and surprises hidden amongst even the seemingly driest of documents though it was Mia’s notes that most often made me smile.

    Though not without its flaws, I thought The Divorce Papers was an engaging read, approaching familiar themes in an original way. The epistolary format tends to divide readers, but if it’s a style you like then I recommend Reiger’s debut,

     

    And then I read….18705026

    Terri Tinkel‘s review

    Apr 10, 14  ·  edit

    bookshelves: familydramasisters

    Read on April 10, 2014

     

    This turned out to be a mystery instead of what I expected it to be. A young wealthy debutante from a family in Connecticut is involved in some bank robberies with her friend and they steal about $250,000. The money is never found, one of the robbers is killed and the young debutante disappears for many years. Then one day, she shows up back in the home town and is murdered. Who did it? Why? Is it connected to the bank robberies of 30 years ago? The book was interesting enough for me to keep reading it but I thought the ending was a bit anticlimactic.
    Here’s the book description….
    Retired FBI profiler Gregor Demarkian is intrigued by his latest freelance job: a woman has been murdered in the wealthy Connecticut town of Alwych, a woman who disappeared 30-odd years ago and only recently reappeared in the town where she grew up. And here’s the kicker: she disappeared all those years ago after it was revealed that she wasn’t merely an Alwych debutante, but also a bank robber and, quite possibly, a murderer. Why did she return to the town that has never forgotten her and certainly never forgiven her? Who killed her and why? As usual, the story is told in graceful prose, Haddam using the mystery as a way of commenting, gently (and sometimes not so gently), on the phenomenon of the small-town fabulously wealthy. Series fans will, as always, enjoy watching the clever and occasionally cantankerous Gregor put the pieces of the puzzle together. And ­because—like the more than 25 previous books in the series—the novel works well as a stand-alone, readers unfamiliar with Demarkian can jump right in
    and another reader’s review…
    Thirty years ago college student Chapin Waring, from the upscale town of Alwych, Connecticut, pulled off a series of bank robberies, killing two people. Her suspected partner in crime, Martin, died in a car crash after the final bank job and Chapin disappeared. However, the $250,000 nabbed from the banks was never recovered or spent. Then – in the present day – Chapin reappears in Alwych and is almost immediately murdered. Suspects include the circle of Chapin’s friends who survived the car crash, Chapin’s family, and a conspiracy nut who has written a series of books about Chapin. Unable to solve the crime the Alwych police call in renowned detective Gregor Demarkian. In the midst of Demarkian’s investigation another one of Chapin’s former friends is murdered. Before he can uncover the culprit Demarkian has to determine if the murders are related to the old bank jobs or if other forces are at play. Demarkian interviews suspects and uncovers clues and of course, solves the crimes The story’s characters are interesting but the clues to the mystery are rather weak. Thus the solution almost seems to be pulled out of the air. Nevertheless I enjoyed the book.
    Hope to have more books to review for the next blog.   Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

April 6, 2014

  • WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE?

     

    It’s been a long time since I last blogged.  I am sure there is a reason but I can’t really think of one right now.  I have been editing and re-editing my book manuscript for days…well…for weeks… truth be told.  I’ve had some disruptions along the way.  One morning I discovered my kitten had chewed through the wire of my keyboard so I had to get another.  When I brought home the new wireless keyboard, the little USB was missing so I had to return to the store and get a replacement keyboard.  Then a few days later, my mouse stopped working so off to Office Depot I went again.  I got a wireless mouse which has been doing well.

    But I did finally get my manuscript done and submitted and finally pushed the “publish” button.  RED-HEADED STEPCHILD is now on sale on Amazon.com.  If you purchase it, please write a review on Amazon.  That helps me become a better writer.  I even have a glimmer of an idea for a new story.  I will be thinking about it over the spring and summer and write it during NANO November National Novel Writing Challenge.

     

    So, back to the title of this blog.  Whom DO you admire?  According to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach,  ”whom you admire can tell much about your hopes, dreams and personal style.  People change and forget to tell each other…  Lillian Hellman once observed. Very often, however, it’s the inner you who changes and at the speed of light.  Problems arise when your authentic self and your conscious self don’t communicate about the new direction you are moving in.    It’s no wonder if you feel confused and disoriented at times.”

    So, who are you?  Can you describe yourself?   I don’t mean the obvious…..age, color of eyes and hair, body.  Are you a wife, mother, aunt, cousin, sister, grandmother?   I  mean your career, homemaker, office worker, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.   How would you describe yourself to others?

    So who am I?   I’ve been a wife ~ now a widow.  I’m a mother, a cousin, a niece, an aunt, a sister, an in-law, a step-grandmother and step-great grandmother.  I’m a senior citizen.  But I am also a friend.  I am supportive, compassionate, a good listener, a problem solver.  I’m honest and creative.  I like to think I am a writer.  I enjoy giving more than receiving.  I love to find the perfect gift for anyone at any time.  I love my cats.  I’m content in my little home.  I love to read.  I’ve been known to over-pack for trips.   I probably need an update in my clothes but it doesn’t seem as important now that I am retired.

    So think about who you are.

    *****

    I still don’t have my family room painted.  It is scheduled for this coming week now.  I have to make a decision about moving the computer desk out and moving some other furniture from other parts of the little house.  I don’t know if I want to go through all the mess of moving so many things.  But this might be my best chance because the contractors have said they will move the furniture for me.  Maybe I will move it and then if I don’t like it, I will ask some family members to help me move it back.

    I’ve read several books during the time I wasn’t blogging.

    \18090077

    Terri Tinkel‘s review

    Mar 28, 14  ·  4 out of 5 stars

    bookshelves: familydramamarriage

    Read on March 28, 2014

    This novel takes place in 1897 out in the middle of nowhere in a very unsettled and uncivilized area. A mother who leaves home for months at a time often works as a midwife in small towns around her own home. When she returns from her last trip, she finds that a terrible tragedy has occurred to her family. She is injured in the aftermath and her son tries to save her. As they make plans to seek revenge on three men, they are forced to walk for miles in the snow towards the place where they think they need to be. The novel is difficult and dark to read at times. There are many explanations revealed about the mother and her family. This reminded me at times of Mattie from True Grit because the child in the story was the one who wanted to save the family from the evilness of the world.

    Here’s the book description….

    Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, superb new talent James Scott makes his literary debut with The Kept—a propulsive novel reminiscent of the works of Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, in which a mother and her young son embark on a quest to avenge a terrible and violent tragedy that has shattered their secluded family.

    In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.

    A scorching portrait of a merciless world — of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence — The Kept introduces an old-beyond-his-years protagonist as indelible and heartbreaking as Mattie Ross of True Grit or Jimmy Blevins of All the Pretty Horses, as well as a shape-shifting mother as enigmatic and mysterious as a character drawn by Russell Banks or Marilynne Robinson.

    and another reader’s review….

    This is a very dark story , set in the late 19th century, in rural upstate New York. The beginning is very brutal and very explicit and it is this that will set Elspeth , the mother, and Caleb who is still very young, twelve or thirteen, on a quest for vengeance.

    Extremely well written for a first novel, it is very atmospheric and hard to forget. The scenes, the dialogue all are so vividly portrayed, what they have seen and what they go through so hard to forget. A boy, who had to grow up quickly and way to soon. A mother, who I really did not like until the end, when she finally figures out what it takes to actually be a mother. A story of guilt and justification. The cover is so perfect, the barrenness, the starkness, perfectly fitting for this novel. 

    Reminds me a little of Bonnie Jo Campbell and her writing. The comparison to True Grit I can also see but like I said I had a hard time liking and forgiving Elspeth. Not sure that I ever did. A good, solid first novel, brutal in nature, but unforgettable. 

     

    17333455

    Terri Tinkel‘s review

    Apr 03, 14  ·

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage

    Read on April 03, 2014

    This is a big book….607 pages. I first read ROSES by this author when it came out. Many people wanted the author to write a sequel but she didn’t want to do that. Instead her husband suggested she write a prequel to explain how the families went to Texas and established themselves. I found it so interesting that I want to reread ROSES again. I think I might get a different perspective on the story. If you like generations of families with their life histories of both good and bad, you will love this book. It’s a perfect story to read while you are in a long weekend, on a cruise ship, on vacation or snowed in.

    Here’s the book description…
    One hundred fifty years of Roses’ Tolivers, Warwicks, and DuMonts! We begin in the antebellum South on Plantation Alley in South Carolina, where Silas Toliver, deprived of his inheritance, joins up with his best friend Jeremy Warwick to plan a wagon train expedition to the “black waxy” promise of a new territory called Texas. Slavery, westward expansion, abolition, the Civil War, love, marriage, friendship, tragedy and triumph-all the ingredients (and much more) that made so many love the previous Roses so much-are here in abundance.
    Another reader’s review….
    An epic family saga
    A prequel to Leila Meacham’s ‘Roses’…… 
    ’Somerset’ tells the story of three generations of Tolivers, Warwicks and DuMonts as they first move to Texas and begin to build their respective empires and establish the town of Howbutker, TX. It covers six decades beginning with Silas and Jessica Toliver, Jeremy Warwick and Henri DuMont as they travel west to Texas, then follows with 2 generations of their offspring. Though some complain it is too long, I enjoyed the extensive character building and historical details. The first generation was fleshed out and covered in much more detail than the latter two generations. But then the story was theirs to tell….. they were the founding fathers and mothers of Howbutker. Slavery, abolition, the civil war and the Toliver family curse make for an incredibly good story! My favorite character was Jessica Toliver. She was an amazingly woman for the times…. she was an abolitionist despite the fact that her husband was a slave owner. Their love story, the triumphs, tragedies, heartaches, losses and friendships they experience throughout their lives are brought to life with Meacham’s excellent storytelling.When Leila Meacham wrote ‘Roses’, it was intended to be a stand-alone book. I’m so glad she changed her mind and decided to write the prequel. I have read ‘Roses’ and I did like it, but ‘Somerset’ is even better! 

    Stella Bain

    Terri Tinkel‘s review

    Apr 03, 14  ·  edit

    bookshelves: familymarriage

    Read on April 03, 2014
    This was a book about an American woman who is found in France in a field hospital tent wearing a British nurse’s aide uniform. No one knows how she got there or why she is in France. And she has no memory. After a few days, she believes her name is Stella Bain and her search for her identity begins. It is an unusual story of how she came to be in France during WWI. She has a long way to go to figure out what to do next. But she does find out who she is and where she is from.
    Here’s the book description…
    An epic story, set against the backdrop of World War I, from bestselling author Anita Shreve.When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

    and another reader’s review….
    When she is found in a hospital camp in France without a memory she gives the nurses the name “Stella Bain. The Great War, 1916, camps in France and England, the horror of war and its effects on the psyches of those involved and a woman with a past that she must uncover. Though it will take a while, she will and this will lead to a court case and a new life, while making peace with her old.This is when shell shock was first being talked about and studied, the talking cure proposed by Freud was beginning to be used in the treatment of this condition .What makes this book so different is that it recognizes the effects of shell shock on the nurses and the others in the camps who also saw horrible things and had to live with what they had seen. A woman had few choices in this time period and remembering that it is easy to understand some of the decisions she made in her life. The court case I am not sure about, not sure if a judge would have been as fair to a woman as this one was, but it might have helped that her husband was not at all a sympathetic person, thinking he was above even the dictates of the court.A hopeful book about the rebuilding of a life, Shreve treats her characters with a tenderness and a gentleness and brings them to life. I think she must have liked her character Stella Bain quite a bit. I did too.
    16130190
    Terri Tinkel‘s review

    Apr 05, 14  ·  t

    bookshelves: dramafamilymarriage

    Read on April 05, 2014

    If you watch the Real Housewives of NYC, you know about  Aviva Drescher. I had watched the recent episodes that indicated that she may have used a ghost writer for this memoir. I don’t know if she did or not but I will say I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting her life has been. There were a couple of instances when it felt like she told the story out of sequence. She graduated from Vassar with a BA. She got her Masters from NYU in French Literature and she has a JD degree as well. She also lived in France for about 3 years. She doesn’t seem at all like she is on the reality show. She does have a lot of phobias and superstitions but she also seems to have good reasoning for her beliefs. I found that I liked her more than before I read this book. My only “complaint” would be that I wish she had included some photos. In all in all, I would recommend this short book of 247 pages.

    Here’s the book description…. (Interesting how much hype is in the description!!!!!)
    She& is blond, beautiful, and brazenly honest, one of the boldest cast members of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City and most talked-about stars of reality TV. From the moment Aviva Drescher stepped her prosthetic leg into the spotlight, she sparked controversy and ratings. Now, for the first time, the native New Yorker stands on her own two feet to speak out on her fascinating life.With true courage, Aviva tells the story of how she lost her foot in a barn accident at the age of six and the numerous—sometimes bizarre— attempts to reattach it. After a trip to India to be “cured” by a famous mystic, young Aviva learned to use fashion and style to draw attention away from her prosthesis. She fled to Paris in her early twenties, where she transformed herself into a wild club chick and danced on tables with the crème de la crème of the big-hair supermodel era.Through a series of tumultuous relationships, Aviva had four children by two husbands, changed religions, got a law degree, and became an entrepreneur. All the while, she wrestled with chronic panic attacks and phobias (it’s not easy being terrified of elevators in Manhattan), and a few savage Law & Order worthy civil courtroom dramas. The real terror of Aviva’s life, though, was her mother’s  debilitating alcoholism. Thanks to her loving husband, Reid Drescher, Aviva came to terms with her mother’s early death, got a grip on her anxieties, and found the strength to show the world who she really is.In this no-holds-barred memoir, Aviva bravely exposes the truth about her many medical and elective surgeries, and what really happens behind the scenes of reality TV. She also answers many frequently asked questions about amputees: How much does your prosthesis cost? How often do you replace it? Do you have sex with the leg on or off?

    Filled with Aviva’s trademark wit, wisdom, and no-nonsense candor, Leggy Blonde is a story that stands all on its own.

    and another reader’s review….
    Very interesting book. Aviva Drescher certainly does the stir the pot on the Real Housewives of New York City, and I was sure that given the opportunity she would show that there is more to her than that. Now, I’m not so sure. On one hand she says that she is not a snob, but then proves over over again that she is a snob by her constant mentioning of money and things. I’m not rich and now I know that I can’t even comprehend the amount of money it takes to live in NYC at the level of Mrs. Drescher. It’s a lot…which I know because Aviva constantly reminds the reader so.I’m giving “Leggy Blonde” a four not because I like Aviva but because I couldn’t stop reading the book. It was funny. It was entertaining. It captured me–for better or worse.
    Well, I think you are caught up with what is going on in my life.  I’ll try to blog more often now that I am done with my book.

March 16, 2014

  • OH HAPPY DAY!!!!

    FINALLY!    After working all week editing and re-editing my book manuscript, taking out odd symbols, re-doing page breaks, changing a few words here and there, I finally got the manuscript to the point where I was ready to submit it.   Then, I couldn’t get the PDF to work and was so frustrated.  I finally decided to wait until my son and DIL got home from their week’s vacation.  My son came over on Friday and found a new PDF program that he put on my computer and it seemed to work.  I then did a another edit and submitted.  CreateSpace sent me an e-mail that I needed to take out a symbol for page numbers or put the page numbers in the manuscript.  I finally figured out how to do that and resubmitted last night.  This morning, CreateSpace accepted my manuscript.  YAY!!!!!!   I just ordered the proof copy and will make my final edits when it arrives.  For me, it is much easier to read it in the book format to see where everything lines  up.  Then I will approve  putting it up for sale and let everyone know.

    So now that the manuscript is on its way to be published soon, I hope to sit down and read books for pleasure again.  I had to renew library books AGAIN.  I am in the middle of a very interesting book by Amy Tam entitled THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT.   It is very detailed and quite interesting about a 1/2 American and 1/2 Chinese girl who is forced to be come a concubine in the 1900′s.  I’m about  half way through it and hope to finish it by Monday.

    On Tuesday, I took my car in for repair as a result of the hit-and-run.  I got it back on Friday.  I’m so glad to be getting some more of the little “to-dos” done.  I’m expecting my tax refund any time now.  My kitchen tile is supposed to be installed on Tuesday.  I’m going to call the contractor about the rest of the planned work tomorrow too.

    I did buy my cats a cat condo on Friday.  I was surprised I could get it into my VW Beetle.

    Grreat Choice™ Cozy Inn Cat Tower - PetSmartIt’s 4.5 feet high.  There’s carpet on one of the long poles and the other pole is wood.  There’s rope on the front post to the second level.  Both cats really like it.  They don’t get on it all t he time but they both do use it for scratching.  The only problem is that my house is so small that no matter where I put it; the kittens can reach something else that they shouldn’t….like my valances or fiber shades.   Scout was even eyeing the ceiling fan in the kitchen!  Hopefully they will grow out of that one of these days.  They do seem quite content though.  They often snuggle together and take a nap.  They both show up in my bed during the night too.  I don’t regret getting either of them but I do have to admit that these two are the most mischievous kittens I’ve ever had!

                           

            

    Other than that, I don’t have much more to tell.

March 8, 2014

  • SNOW MARCHES ON….

           

    Well, kids… the first week of March is over.   Yesterday was a lovely day, temperatures in the low 40′s, no snow or ice or slush on the ground.  I drove to the grocery store and didn’t have to wear boots.  I even turned the heat off  in the car and put the window down a bit ~ just to get some fresh smelling air.   Yes, it was great~!

    Today I woke up to snow showers.  It snowed for hours.  There must be about 3 or 4 inches out there.  I have no desire to clear the driveway today….maybe tomorrow.

    I have been working on my book manuscript…Yes, editing continues.  Unfortunately I ran into a snag of some kind.  I was able to  put the manuscript into PDF form along with the cover art and sent it to CreateSpace.  They accepted both PDFs….but then I wanted to re-edit the manuscript before I ordered my proof copy.  So I spent 3 days  re-editing  AGAIN .  But every time I tried to get it into PDF, it didn’t go.  I even changed the manuscript to WordPerfect and used the link on the  program…it went into PDF but it didn’t copy the text!   So I went back to Microsoft Word.  I  have one final edited manuscript that got some strange symbols in it.  Right now, I am deleting the odd symbols and hoping for the best.   I’m taking my time and do about 10 chapters per day.  I think I should be done by Wednesday.  Then one final edit to make sure the page breaks are in place and I will try to do the PDF again.  I’m determined to get this figured out.

    I read a book this week.

            I found this book to be interesting but I got very confused about so many characters. I finally got into the story towards the last half of the book. It was a mystery of sorts, a lot of confusion, a lot of deceit both new and old. I got very connected to Mercy Snow and her little sister. I could picture the destitute manner in which they lived, the kindness of some people and the judgement of others. This is another book that could be a very good movie. It’s worth reading.

    Here’s the book description….

    In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.

    June McAllister is the wife of the local mill owner and undisputed first lady in town. But the Snow family, a group of itinerant ne’er-do-wells who live on a decrepit and cursed property, have brought her–and the town–nothing but grief. 

    June will do anything to cover up a dark secret she discovers after the crash, one that threatens to upend her picture-perfect life, even if it means driving the Snow family out of town. But she has never gone up against a force as fierce as the young Mercy Snow. Mercy is determined to protect her rebellious brother, whom the town blames for the accident, despite his innocence. And she has a secret of her own. When an old skeleton is discovered not far from the crash, it beckons Mercy to solve a mystery buried deep within the town’s past.

    and another reader’s review….

    I thought this plot was slow but the characters were so interesting! So it became a page turner over time reading it! It had great writing and I had a sense I would be disappointed by the ending but only because it wasn’t the happily ever after I wanted but it did close out well. A book and story about the secrets in a small town!

    *****

    In other news, my late husband’s best friend had promised to take Dean’s ashes to  Utah to spread them in the area he loved so much.   The best friend just called to say he might be flying to Utah at the end of this month.  He had been checking with the airlines about taking the cremated remains with him.  They  have to x-ray the container and need a certificate of cremation.  I have made copies and will give him a copy of the death certificate as well.  I wonder  my house will feel different after my late husband’s ashes are gone.  My son and I are going to take some of the ashes to put in the area Police Memorial and also in a small country cemetery not to far from  us.

    Anyone know the significance, if any, of finding paper clips by my front door?  I’ve been picking them  up for over a week now.  I know they were not there before because I have mopped the tile area and vacuumed as well.  I do know Scout, my cat, was getting into a mug filled with paper clips but I put that mug away after the first time I saw  him with a clip.    Ok, just went online to read about any significance of paperclips.  There were two entries about people who were finding them everywhere.  Their theory was that paperclips are a never ending shape and that they hold things together.  So,  I guess there is something to that.

    I got my taxes done this week by an accountant.  She has filed them electronically for me.  I am getting money back so I am anxious to see when it arrives.  I’m taking my damaged car in for repairs on Tuesday.  I decided not to get a rental car for the 3 days or so it is in the shop.  I have plenty of things to do here at home so I won’t miss it at all.

    I hope all of  you enjoy your weekend.

March 1, 2014

  • WHERE IS SPRING?

             

    Well, Kids, it is March the first!    Only a few more days until Spring is supposed to be here.  I’m sorry to say I have my doubts but I am in hopes that I’m wrong.  This winter has been an especially long one for me.  Probably because I am alone most of the time.  Even though the weeks seem to fly by in some ways, the days also seem to drag.

    I opened  up my book of SIMPLE ABUNDANCE~  A DAYBOOK  OF COMFORT AND JOY by Sarah Ban Breathnach for the inspiration on this first day of March.  And  here is what she said…

    “March arrives, the last hurrah of winter and the first whisper of spring.  Slowly our spirits reawaken, along with the natural world, from a long   winter’s slumber..Deep within we feel stirrings of  hope.  Turn over the earth in  your inner garden.  This month we plant seeds of the second Simple Abundance principle~~Simplicity~~in the fertile soil of our souls.”

    I’m sure all of us are familiar with the Serenity Prayer….“God give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed: Courage to change the things that should be changed; And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”  by Reinhold Niebuhr.

    Ms. Breathnach goes on to say  ” If  you frequently feel as if you’re about to spin off this planet, it’s probably because you are….a day that starts off in a frenzy,  jumping from task to task, can only go from bad to worse.  Serene women do not become sidetracked.  Sidetracked women, who scatter their energies to the four winds, never achieve serenity.  It’s as simple as that.

    Today we must start to recover  our sanity.  The way we do this is to concentrate on completing one task at a time, each hour of the day until the day is over…..what we will gain from this exercise is the inner peace that comes from living fully in the present moment.

    I realize, of course, that for most of  us, accustomed as we are to performing six tasks simultaneously, …this proposal sounds ridiculous.   You wonder  how you will get everything done if  you don’t do everything at once.  But  you will accomplish all you set out to do and need to do with much more ease, efficiency, pleasure, and satisfaction when  you merge mind, body and spirit with the task at  hand.  

    And  you will experience serenity.”

    I know, for myself, that often I feel that I have so many things that should be done but I think  it will take too long to do them.  And often, when I just decide to take 15 minutes to clean out the refrigerator, or run the vacuum, I find it took very little time at all and then that task doesn’t have to be on my list of “to-dos” any more.

    That is my “lesson” for today.  Now, w hat did “I” accomplish this week?   I took my tax papers in to be reviewed and worked on by a tax person.  I called about the right rear view mirror cap that finally came in and had it replaced.  And on the same day, I got an estimate for the damage caused by a driver who backed out of a driveway just as I was driving by.  The big SUV hit my left rear quarter.  $1063.77 to repair.  I had to turn it in to my insurance because I can’t afford to pay that much.  And unfortunately, not only did the driver leave the scene before I could get out of my car to get their license plate…apparently they didn’t live at that house because I haven’t seen the car since.  I saw that car before I made a turn onto that street.  It was turning into the driveway and in fact, had pulled up into the driveway off the street.  I made my turn onto that street and at the same time, I was driving…the SUV backed out without looking.  I saw the SUV coming right towards my driver’s door so I stepped on the gas hoping to be missed…but I wasn’t.  I was very upset at first but now I have gotten over it.  I’m  still upset that the driver didn’t have to courtesy to stop but these days, I am not surprised.  I waited there hoping the car was just going around the block to come back but, of course, it never did.

    The tile man did come out to measure my little kitchen.  I am waiting for him to call on when he can do the job.  I’m getting anxious to have it done.  I’ve also decided to put white wainscoting half way up the kitchen walls to freshen  up the room.  I want to have the entire family room painted too.  Hopefully this will be done this month.

    I made a chicken stew(ish) meal in the crock pot with some chicken breast, potatoes and carrots and mushrooms and a can of Progresso Chicken and Rice soup.   I love to smell the food in the crock pot all afternoon and then have a hot meal when I am ready to eat.  I  usually get at least 2 meals out of it.  I made chili over last weekend and gave my son a big container to take to his job.  He said it tasted really good on his dinner break.

    Last night I had an early dinner with some high school girlfriends.  We try to meet the last Friday of every month.  I had stopped going a few years ago because I was just too tired after working all week.  But  since my husband has  passed away, I decided I needed to get out a couple of times a month.

    I’m thinking of cutting back on Facebook during Lent.  I know it would be good for me to get away from FB for a few weeks.  I need to get back to reading more.  I did finish one book this week and started another.

    18074329

    This was a fairly quick book to read. I figured out part of the story before the end. I don’t know if I could say I loved it but it was “different”. Olivia Reed is recently divorced and has taken her teenage daughter and her 9 year old bipolar son back to her hometown. While they are visiting some of Olivia’s old hangout places on the boardwalk, her son disappears. The story moves back and forth between Olivia’s teenage years 15 years before and present day. There is some element of psychic ability thrown in for good measure.

    Here’s the book description….

    In What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell, a woman must face the truth about her past in this luminous, evocative literary novel of parents and children, guilt and forgiveness, memory and magical thinking, set in the faded, gritty world of the New Jersey Shore.

    Olivia was only fifteen the summer she left her hometown of Ocean Vista. Two decades later, on a visit with her children, her nine-year-old son Daniel, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, disappears. Olivia’s search for him sparks tender and painful memories of her past–of her fiercely loving and secretive mother, Myla, an erratic and beautiful psychic, and the discovery of heartbreaking secrets that shattered her world.

    and here’s another reader’s review….

    If you accept that there are parts of our brains we can’t fully tap into nor fully understand, this novel is for you. Although some of the characters suffer from bipolar disorder, those very characters are the richest and fullest of the story. Sarah Cornwell is adept at making the reader understand the complete dysfunction of suffering from or living with someone who suffers from it. The story line encompasses love of family despite its dysfunction, and acceptance of those same people for the insights and beauty they offer. I enjoyed the book greatly, but the last 20 pages or so of the book really touched my heart…who amongst us wouldn’t want to be able to see someone we’ve lost, whether that loss is literal and figurative?

    And speaking of book reviews, I am finding it more and more difficult to find a review that isn’t almost as long as the book itself!  I want to give a review that might make someone else interested to read it.  But I don’t want to give any big plot lines…that’s a spoiler in my opinion.

    Well, next week, I will be picking up my taxes that have been filed.  I hope to get my car scheduled for repair and to hear something about the remodeling I have planned….and I plan to read more books…right after I edit  my manuscript again.

    and finally, I  have been received some “snack boxes” from GRAZE.COM.   You get the first and 5th boxes free.  The others cost $6 each.  There is a big selection of snacks to chose from.   You can get low calorie too.  If  you want to try it out ~ go to www.graze.com and use my code which is TERRIT7XB.   You can discontinue at any time if you don’t like it.

     

February 23, 2014

  • NEARLY THE END OF FEBRUARY

    Are  you getting tired of Winter?  I am.  I am grateful that we have finally had some sunshine and temperatures that actually helped melt some of the huge snow drifts.  But, sadly the weather forecasters are saying the temperatures will drop again tomorrow and there is snow predicted this week.  Oh well, once Spring finally arrives, I hope it sticks around.  I want to plant some bulbs in the front  yard where the flag pole was.   You may recall that the pole blew down a few months ago.  I don’t want to put  it back up so I’m going to give the flag pole to a nephew along with some flags we  have.   Therefore, I want to plant some flowers where the pole was.

    Not a lot has gone one since I last posted.  I still haven’t heard from the car dealership about the rear view mirror cap that needs to be replaced.  I expect they either forgot to call me or haven’t received the part due to all the bad weather around the country.  I’ll be calling them tomorrow.

    I did get notification that DISH received the old receiver I returned ~ so I’m  hoping for a credit on my bill next month.

    I also got a check for over $75 as a refund from my colonoscopy procedure.  I know I paid a co-pay based on their calculations.  So, perhaps, my insurance paid more than I had expected.  Anyway, so nice to get a refund for a change.

    I have finalized my kitchen tile choice at last.  I went with the darker tones of brown and a dark blue green with flecks of white.  And we decided to put in 12×12 tiles instead of 16×16.  I have 12×12 now and it appears there wasn’t much cutting required to fit  so it should be a fast installation .  Since I changed the tile color to a darker tone, I decided to have the entire family room painted.  I couldn’t decide between a light grey or a muted red or even a forest green.  When you sit in the family room,  you can see the kitchen tile and then onto the jade green walls of the living room.  So, I decided to go with the Sahara Sand color I had in my big house.  I always liked the color and it is neutral.  I think it will look very nice with the current carpet.  Oh, and I asked the flooring man to put some of the new tiles at the front door of the family room too to replace the old linoleum that is there in a 4×3 foot rectangle.

    Still have ideas about moving the big computer desk upstairs to replace the one I have now.  And I would like to move the TV in the family room to a different wall to  open up the only front window I have.  I will either put another cabinet there and cover it so t he cats can lie on it and see out the window or I will get a tall cat condo so they can see out.  Lots of plans but I need muscles to get most of it done.  So, hopefully I can get the construction guys to do the work.  I  used to work with the owner and he always says he will do anything he can for me.

    I’ve been editing my manuscript from the NANA November Challenge this week.  I want to get it submitted as soon as possible.  As I reread  the story, I really like it even more.  Hope to  have that done by next week.

    I’m waiting for my tax person to finish up my taxes.  She called to clarify a couple of things on Friday so I think she is close to completion.  Another chore to check off my list.

    I did manage to read a few books this week.

    17347600             This is a true story about a woman who lived In the 1800s. She was a woman before her time. She had been married, she had a child and she had been treated unkindly. When she finally felt there was no place for her with her family; she ran away. But in order to follow her dreams, she dressed and acted as a young man. During the many struggles and difficulties she encountered, she never seemed to catch a break. She started a dancing school, she lived in the wilderness through a harsh winter, she kept trying to make a happier life for herself. She was arrested and went on trial for the crime of wearing men’s clothing even though she never said she was a man. She did all this to find a way to work and make a living, to dress as she pleased  for comfort and practicality and to find love.

    I found her to be a fascinating and brave woman living in the times when women were not valued as deserving citizens. Most of the book went very rapidly. I found the last couple of chapters to be long and not as interesting.

    Here’s the book description….

    One day in 1855 Lucy Lobdell cut her hair, changed clothes, and went off to live her life as a man. By the time it was over, she was notorious. The New York Times thought her worthy of a lengthy obituary that began “Death of a Modern Diana . . . Dressed in Man’s Clothing She Win’s a Girl’s Love.” The obit detailed what the Times knew of Lucy’s life, from her backwoods upbringing to the dance school she ran disguised as a man, “where she won the love of a young lady scholar.” But that was just the start of the trouble; the Times did not know about Lucy’s arrest and trial for the crime of wearing men’s clothes or her jailbreak engineered by her wife, Marie Perry, to whom she had been married by an unsuspecting judge.

    Lucy lived at a time when women did not commonly travel unescorted, carry a rifle, sit down in bars, or have romantic liaisons with other women. Lucy did these things in a personal quest—to work and be paid, to wear what she wanted, and to love whomever she cared to. But to gain those freedoms she had to endure public scorn and wrestle with a sexual identity whose vocabulary had yet to be invented. Lucy promised to write a book about it all, and over the decades, people have searched for that account. Author William Klaber searched also until he decided that the finding would have to be by way of echoes and dreams. This book is Lucy’s story, told in her words as heard and recorded by an upstream neighbor.

    and here’s another reader’s review….

    William Klaber has given us a rare gift. In his new historical novel The Rebellion of Lucy Ann Lobdell, he brings to life the remarkable story of a notorious but almost forgotten 19th century trailblazer from New York State. This is an extraordinary story of courage, determination, love and misfortune. Lucy had the audacity to cross lines forbidden to women and live as a man with the liberties of a man. Taking such risks cost her dearly, but she dared to live her life according to her truth. 

    Klaber deftly gives voice to a woman ahead of her time who took for herself the rights denied her as a woman; to pursue a fair living wage, to love and marry whomever she pleased, to own property and to dress in the attire of her choosing. 

    So little written history exists about the lives of women both great and small. This fictional memoir of Lucy Ann Lobdell returns to us the vibrant legend of an intrepid heroine and an original feminist. This well honed adventure is a “must read” for everyone. 

    book_edited-1

    I enjoyed this book so much. It’s a true story about a woman who had been a romance novelist. After the breakup of her marriage, she decided to move her 3 children and herself back to the area where her parents and grandparents had lived “halfway up a hill on one of the most remote dirt roads in West Virginia.” She met the neighbors in the area and loved the life style. She worked from dawn till dusk, still wrote a column or two for some newspapers and kept her blog up to date. She also dealt with caring for many different animals, learning how to raise them and work through escapes and illness along the way. At the same time, she was struggling to maintain a very difficult relationship with her partner. I found her story so interesting and resourceful. It’s obvious that she is a very intelligent woman with a lot of skills. There were even pictures of some of her farm, her animals, her cooking (along with recipes. This book was fascinating and I could hardly wait to find out if she was successful.

    Here’s the book description…

    Suzanne McMinn, a former romance writer and founder of the popular blog chickensintheroad.com, shares the story of her search to lead a life of ordinary splendor in Chickens in the Road, her inspiring and funny memoir.

    Craving a life that would connect her to the earth and her family roots, McMinn packed up her three kids, left her husband and her sterile suburban existence behind, and moved to rural West Virginia. Amid the rough landscape and beauty of this rural mountain country, she pursues a natural lifestyle filled with chickens, goats, sheep—and no pizza delivery.

    With her new life comes an unexpected new love—”52,” a man as beguiling and enigmatic as his nickname—a turbulent romance that reminds her that peace and fulfillment can be found in the wake of heartbreak. Coping with formidable challenges, including raising a trio of teenagers, milking stubborn cows, being snowed in with no heat, and making her own butter, McMinn realizes that she’s living a forty-something’s coming-of-age story.

    As she dares to become self-reliant and embrace her independence, she reminds us that life is a bold adventure—if we’re willing to live it. 

    Chickens in the Road includes more than 20 recipes, craft projects, and McMinn’s photography, and features a special two-color design.

    Here’s another reader’s review….

    Sometimes books written by people with blogs are just cobbled together posts–not so with Chickens in the Road, maybe because Suzanne McMinn wrote romance novels before she chucked her suburban housewife existence for life on a farm, so she knows how to tell a story. After her marriage ended Suzanne moved herself and her initially reluctant children to the West Virginia county where her father grew up and started working towards fulfilling a dream she hadn’t realized she had, living on an animal filled farm. 

    Maybe because I have my own chickens in the road fantasy I loved this book. Suzanne writes with bright determined enthusiasm that’s hard to resist, even as her narrative is increasingly weighed down by her relationship with 52, the difficult man who won her heart and became her farming partner. For me, the troubles with 52 don’t detract from the book, they enhance it. Suzanne moved to the country to become more independent and figuring out relationship stuff becomes part of that journey, even for a former romance novelist. The book has a wonderful photo insert section and two appendixes with country recipes and craft projects.

    You can check out her Chickens in the Road Blog at http://chickensintheroad.com

    15783514

       This book was odd. I enjoyed the majority of it. A grown man returns to his childhood town and goes back to a place where he felt a connection. As his memories come back, the reader is caught up in what happened to this young boy of 7 years. After the initial awareness of where this story was going, I got bored with it.

    I could see this novel become a movie. It’s filled with scary thoughts and memories and has just enough mystery that the reader or potential movie viewer would probably enjoy it. It just wasn’t the book for me.

    Here’s the book description….

    Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

    Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

    A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Laneis told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

    and another reader’s review…. (I have to say finding a review that wasn’t nearly as long as the book was difficult.)

    Loved it. Read it. Beautifully told. Creepy as HECK. Imho, this is his best work since Neverwhere. He took a part of his soul and placed it in this book and it shows. This book reads differently, its voice is unique. It’s clear that he worked hard on it, right down to the cadence of the words. That’s really really cool. Well done.    

    So, I guess that is all the news for now.  Once I get the manuscript edited and submitted, I hope to be back blogging on a more regular basis.

February 13, 2014

  • HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY ~ 2014

                   

    Here we are again…..almost Valentine’s Day!    I hope some of you have fun plans to celebrate.  I think I will be staying home eating some beef stew I’m making in the slow cooker tomorrow.  I have a lot of recorded television programs to watch.  I have recorded all of the Olympics but I am fast-forwarding through much of it.  I can get the highlights on the evening news anyway.  I suppose I could sit in front of the television and watch all of the Olympics  but that would be too much like…………..sitting in front of the computer on Facebook all day, wouldn’t it?  LOL

    So….what’s happened in my world since my last blog?  Oh ~ more of the same.  Lots of snow and snow blowing out the driveway.  One day I started out to clean it off because the sun was out and there was no snow predicted.  As I opening up my garage door, my neighbor, TOO *yes that is her name), from across the cul de sac was shoveling out my driveway.  I asked  her why and she said because she likes to be outside.  I think she is Korean…very heavy accent.  So I got my shovel and we cleared up some of the sides of the snowbanks.  Since then, the snow  has blown over and I have trouble getting out of the driveway with my car.  I am going out today to try to clean up the sides again.  It isn’t snowing so hopefully, some of it will melt in the next few days.

    I went to the tax person yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to learn that selling our big house and our Florida RV doesn’t have to be reported since we lost money on both.  I left all the documents the tax person said she needed and hope to hear from her soon.  I think I might get back most of the taxes I have already paid….which will come in handy.

    I am having my kitchen floor replaced because the current tile  is crumbling.  I think it is over 20  years old.  I like it but can’t find a replacement so I am going with a more modern and updated style.  I’ve also been re- thinking what color I want the accent wall in the family room to be.  I first wanted a soft grey and then I thought about a muted red.  But if I sit in the family room and look into the kitchen and the living room, there are shades of green.  I don’t want red and then green in view.   If the green was a rich dark color, I probably wouldn’t mind it so much.  Also the carpet  in the family room has more grey, blue and green in it so I think I am back to the grey shade again.  I even thought about dark green but the kitchen and living room already have a lot of green so I don’t want the same color in various shades…..I need to decide fairly soon, though, because the work should start in a few more weeks.

    Had several issues with DISH lately .  I  had called in late December to try to get my monthly bill  reduced.  We decided I would get a new DUO DVR receiver which could  work for both  TVs.   The order was supposed to be that the installing tech would take my two old receivers with him and install the new receiver.   When  he arrived, his order said to only take one receiver.  I didn’t think about it at the time but I should have told him to call Dish.  Anyway, he moved one old receiver that I had recorded shows on into the family room and then installed the new Duo DVR receiver in my little living room.   Of course, a few weeks later, I got a bill that was higher than ever before because they were now charging me for the old receiver plus the new one.  I called and finally got the customer service person to understand.  He deactivated the old receiver and said he would send me a box to ship it back.  In the meantime, I could still watch my old recorded shows.  He also said he would give me a discount for the next 6 months and then go back to the new corrected rate.  I finally got the shipping box but when I read the fine print, it said that using Dish’s shipping label with UPS would be cheaper but I would be charged $17.  Of course, I called and argued with 2 different customer service reps on 2 different days that I was being penalized for their error in the first place.  They both kept saying if I wanted to use my own label with  UPS, that was fine.  I argued that I would have to pay UPS to ship and  it still wasn’t my fault this was going on.  Finally one of the customer service reps got the idea and said she would mark my account not to charge the $17 .  So I disconnected the old receiver and put it into their shipping box.  Of course, it didn’t FIT the box but I taped it up as best as I could.  I figured  UPS could tape it better if it wasn’t good enough.  I delivered the box yesterday to  UPS.   When I got  home, I tried to get TV2 to work with the new remote.  It wasn’t connected in any way to the new DUO DVR receiver.  I could get the receiver onto dual mode but nothing happened except I had the message on TV2 that there was no signal.   So I called DISH again.  I was on the phone with one customer service rep for about  1/1/2 hrs.  I said I wanted a tech.  I was sure the DUO DVR had never been “hooked  up” to TV2 because the tech had just moved the old receiver to it.  She insisted we had to do some basic(?) troubleshooting first.  So I spend that time going up and down stairs as she sent me to check both TVs  and the new receiver.  Finally I told her I had to leave for an appointment and I would call back.  I asked again if I could just have a tech come out since I had the protection plan which covers when the receiver doesn’t work.   She said no….there was more troubleshooting first.

    So I disconnected and left for my appointment which was with the tax person to discuss my taxes.   I also went to the flooring company to pick  out some tile samples.  When I got  home, I realized my right rear view mirror was against the car.  When I checked it, it popped back into place but the cover for the top was missing!   I retraced where I had been but couldn’t find it.  I called the local VW dealership and took the car in.  They don’t think there is any damage to the rear view mirror itself but had to order the part which also will have to be painted.  It is costing me $300!   I’m grateful there was no damage to the rest of  my car but wonder what happened?   The Service man said he thinks someone hit it with their car or mirror and didn’t know.

    So, I finally got back home.  I called DISH again and got another rep.  He said he would finish up the troubleshooting with me.  We were on the phone for about another hour.  Finally he said he was going to schedule a technician.  ”There is obviously something wrong. ”  No kidding!  That’s what I had been trying to get across to you people for hours!   Fortunately, there was a tech just 20 miles away finishing up his last call and he came about 30 minutes later.  He had been at our house before when we were building our garage and he had installed the dish on our garage roof.  So he told me, he had been reading all the “chats” I had been having since December.  He said the tech who brought out the DUO DVR in January was new.  He said that tech should have called DISH when I had a copy of that chat saying  2 receivers were to be taken and his order said only 1.  But anyway, he said that the outside connection had not been corrected for this new DUO DVR.  So he had to dig out the snow bank to get to the outside connection.  It probably took him longer to dig out the snow bank than it did to actually fix my problem.  He was done in less than 1/2  hr.  Thank Goodness, I got one of the guys who knows what he is doing!    I just got a survey phone call and gave that tech all  Excellents on the questions.

    So, now once the car is fixed  _which may be the first of next week…everything should be  under control again.  Unless the snow starts  up again!  LOL.

    By the way, if you want a chance to “win” free paperbacks or e-books every month, join librarything.com.   Every month you get to request free books and sometimes you win.  This month most of the books were e-books and somehow I “won” 3 of them.  You are  usually asked to write a review.     Since I have given myself a goal of reading 130 books via GoodReads this year, I need to get them read.

    I’ve only read two books since my last post.  I have to get back to reading.

    Terri Tinkel‘s review

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriagemothers-and-daughters

    Read on February 03, 2014

    This was one of those fast-paced books where you know all the main characters are going to be good-looking and lovable. The story is told in parts based on the three main characters. As the reader, you can find sympathy for each of the three even though you know there may not be a good ending for at least one of them. I read this book in one day and I enjoyed it. There were a few little “roadblocks” along the way and of course, things went wrong and then went right but still; it was an interesting story.

    Here’s the book description….

    What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else? 

    Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

    Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together. 

    Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross.

    and here’s another reader’s review….

    4.5 stars

    …thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife…
    - The Tenth Commandment

    Claire and Chris have been together for twelve years. With two children, a year of Chris being unemployed, and now a new job that often takes him away from Claire and the children, their marriage is rocky. 

    Claire wants and needs Chris’s attention. Chris wants and needs to feel productive and useful, to be the provider for his family. 

    When Claire is pulled over by a cop for having a tail light out, she meets Officer Daniel Rush. What starts off as friendship between two lonely, hurting people, becomes more.

    “Do you think men and women can be friends?” Elisa (Claire’s friend) asks. “Just friends?” 

    Covet is women’s fiction. This is not a contemporary romance, though it does contain romantic elements. I don’t usually read women’s fiction. But this is Tracey Garvis-Graves, author of one of my favourite contemporary romances ever, On the Island.   Covet is not going to suit everybody. This is not another On the Island. And I daresay that some readers are going to be disappointed in this after reading her debut. 

    Simply put, I loved it.

    Terri Tinkel‘s review

    bookshelves: familymarriage

    Read on February 06, 2014

    Maria was a very young but very accomplished violinist in Europe near the end of WWII. By chance she met a young American pilot who was shot down in his plane near a school where she lived and worked. After 4 days of hiding in her cottage, the pilot left the area so he wouldn’t be captured.

    Fifteen years later, Maria is married and has a son. She and her German husband are in Huntsville, Alabama where he is working for the US space program. In Germany, he had helped to develop some rockets and after the war, the USA had invited several German families to come to Alabama to head up a department to help get the USA get into the race into space.

    By chance, the American pilot has been invited to test fly some of the new jets in that area. He runs into Maria and then the story takes on the untold chapters of what those rocket scientists were really doing.
    I learned even more about the WWII history behind the scenes ~ combined with a lovely story.
    Here’s the book description….
    Jeffrey Stepakoff’s The Melody of Secrets is an epic love story set against the 1960s U.S. space program, when deeply-buried secrets could threaten not just a marriage, but a country.Maria was barely eighteen as WWII was coming to its explosive end. A brilliant violinist, she tried to comfort herself with the Sibelius Concerto as American bombs rained down. James Cooper wasn’t much older. A roguish fighter pilot stationed in London, he was shot down during a daring night raid and sought shelter in Maria’s cottage. Fifteen years later, in Huntsville, Alabama, Maria is married to a German rocket scientist who works for the burgeoning U.S. space program. Her life in the South is at peace, purposefully distanced from her past. Everything is as it should be—until James Cooper walks back into it. Pulled from the desert airfield where he was testing planes no sane Air Force pilot would touch, and drinking a bit too much, Cooper is offered the chance to work for the government, and move himself to the front of the line for the astronaut program. He soon realizes that his job is to report not only on the rocket engines but also on the scientists developing them. Then Cooper learns secrets that could shatter Maria’s world…

    And another reader’s review…
    Sometimes I feel incredibly naive. Nazi rocket scientists up for grabs, anyone? What happens when you don’t really want to be anything other than naive. Whether it’s about your country, your husband, your lover, or your self? Jeffrey Stepakoff asks the reader these questions in a well crafted and bittersweet love story about a German violinist and the men who love her. There is a little too much packed in with the race relations and the parallel with the former Nazi regime that may have overwhelmed the story line, but overall a good read that made me  want to know more about this time in our history.
    In other news…..I joined a club called GRAZE.  You receive a box of snacks through the mail every couple of weeks.  The first box  is actually free.   You get to choose your snacks and  you get a code.  If anyone joins  using  your code,  you get $1 off your next box.   The first and 5th boxes are free and the 2nd through the 4th cost $6..  You can quit at any time.   You can change your snack choices ~ there are low calories one as well as indulgent ones.  You get 4 snacks per box and they vary each month.  I just received my 2nd box.   This one had fruity mango chutney with black pepper dippers, tropical daiquiri with green mango, lime raisins and pineapple, hot cross  yum with orange raisins, sponge pieces and cinnamon honey almonds, and toffee apple with dried granny smith apple pieces and toffee sauce.  Each one is about an ounce.  If you would like to try it out….. go to www.graze.com and read all about it.  My code is TERRIT7XB  if you want to join.
    So I think that is all the news.   I hope to be back  here soon with more  updates.
           

February 1, 2014

  • FEBRUARY FUN FACTS….

    This photo reminds me of something that happened this week.  Scout is my long-haired cat and Mazie Grace is the tiny kitten.  I was concerned because Scout didn’t like the hairball medication I bought and Mazie Grace had been coughing as if  she had a hairball.  So, I decided to give them a little bit of “wet” cat food…Fancy Feast to be exact.  I decided to feed it to them at dinner time so I could eat my own dinner without them trying to get on my lap.  They loved it!   After the first night, as soon as they heard the sound of the cat food can being opened, they immediately ran to where I was in the kitchen and started meowing.   So, the second night, I put each portion into individual plastic dishes. Scout finally got to the bottom and couldn’t quite reach the last morsels at the bottom of the dish.  So  he stuck his paw into the dish and scooped out the “crumbs” with his claws and then licked his claws clean!   What a clever cat!    Last night, Mazie Grace tried to climb the cupboard like it was a rock wall using the trim around the  cabinet doors to get to the top.   She fell off before she made it.

    Now, that is it February, I intend to start editing my manuscript to prepare it for sending in to be  published.  I hope to get this done in the next few weeks.  I’m really looking forward to seeing this one in print and I can’t wait to  hear what people think of it.   I’ll let you know when it is available on Amazon.com.

    I just got notice that my library books are due on Tuesday.  Once again I haven’t read most of them.  I really need to get off the computer and just sit and read.  I did finish one book this week.

         When I started this novel, I especially enjoyed the style of writing.  It was very “old fashioned”.  The story takes place in 1929 in the North Carolina mountains.   George and his new bride, Serena, are planning to create an empire out of timber.   To most people’s surprise, Serena is a very tough and intelligent young woman.  She can oversee lumber crews, she can see the big picture and she is equal to any man on knowing what to do to get what she wants.

    After several ruthless decisions, both George and Serena appear to be well on their way to making themselves a fortune.  But, as always, Fate steps in and some things can’t be forced to happen.  The story turns very dark with struggles and bad decisions which ultimately destroy almost everything.

    Here’s the book jacket description….

    The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton arrive from Boston in the North Carolina mountains to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself the equal of any worker, overseeing crews, hunting rattlesnakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness.

    Together, this Lord and Lady Macbeth of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she vengefully sets out to kill the son George had without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pemberton’s intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

    and here’s another reader’s review…. (by the way, I had a difficult time finding a review that didn’t give away too much of the plot.  I also just read that this is being made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper)

    “I am now officially a huge Ron Rash fan. This novel is starker and less whimsical than Cold Mountain, but the Southern landscape of years ago (in this case the 1930s) is captured just as elegantly, and reminds us of what a wilderness the NC mountains were at that time. This is a beautifully rendered tale of greed, murder, and revenge. The symbolism is understated and the supporting characters are fascinating. I loved it.”

    We’ve had a lot of snow in our area without  much let-up.  I had been snowblowing the driveway every day in an effort to keep it clear.  On Sunday , just as I finished up, the blower stopped running.  I thought maybe the “on” switch was frozen because it was about 3 degrees.  The next day when I tried to start it again, it still didn’t work.  I even changed the extension cords thinking that might be the problem, but it was not.  I was looking at the starter button to see if I could  unscrew  it when I noticed the short black electric cord near the handle of the  machine.  The black cord was split.  Inside I could see a white electric cord and it was snapped completely in half and the wires were broken.  There was no way I could have caused that to happen.  So I called the store where it was purchased and they told me to call the manufacturer.  I had an  800 number.  I  had just started to explain to the Customer Service rep. about my problem when she said.  ”Don’t worry, I’m shipping  you a new “tool”.  When  you get it, you can send the broken “tool” back in the same box.  There will be a prepaid shipping label for FedEx.”

    As I thought about what she had just said….I asked.  “Do  you mean you are sending me a new snow blower?”  She responded with “Yes,  your “tool” is under warranty for 2  years.  It might take 3-4 weeks to get it there but I have just input the shipping order.”  I couldn’t believe  it!  And 4 DAYS later,  I  had the new snowblower at my front door.   I called RH’s best friend and he came over and took it.  He brought it back an hour later, all assembled and had taken the broken one apart and put it in the shipping box.  He couldn’t take it to FedEx because there was no prepaid shipping label in the box.  I called the manufacturer and they e-mailed me a prepaid shipping label 5 minutes later!   Now all I have to do is get the box to FedEx.  I may ask my son to do that when he is off work next week as I can’t lift the box.   I have to say that my experience with WORX was wonderful!

    I have all the tax papers I need and now am trying to get a tax person to do my taxes.  I have  2 names that were good recommendations so I will be checking that out next week.

    I guess that is all the news for this week.   February count-down is on now!

January 25, 2014

  • HERE COMES THE SNOW AGAIN!

    With apologies to the EURYTHMICS….

    Here comes the SNOW again
    Falling on my head like a BIG SNOW DRIFT
    Falling on my head like a new SNOW STORM
    I want to walk in the WARMER AIR
    I want to TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE….
    I want to DRIVE WITHOUT SNOW TIRES
    Is it SNOWING THERE TOO?
    So ANYONE  talk to me
    Like GOOD FRIENDS  do
    Walk with me
    WITHOUT SNOW SHOES
    Talk to me
    ABOUT SOMETHING NEW
    Here comes the SNOW again
    MAKING ME FEEL IT’S A  tragedy
    HURTING MY BACK  like a MUSCLE SPASM
    Oooooh
    I want to breathe in the WARM SPRING AIR
    I want to BREATHE WITHOUT FROSTBITE
    I want to DRIVE WITHOUT SLIP-SLIDING
    Is it SNOWING THERE TOO?*******

    So, what’s new?   Around Northern Indiana, it’s been a snow-filled few weeks.  Just when I get the driveway cleared out, it snows again…and again……..and AGAIN!    TWO HOURS ago, the skies were blue and there were fleecy white clouds…..clouds filled with snow.  Right now it is snowing so hard that I can hardly see my neighbors houses across the cul-de-sac.   I spent about an hour trying to clear the driveway with my snow blower.  The highest drifts were right outside my front door and front step and my garage.  I couldn’t get the snow blower through the bigger  drifts so I tried to shovel it out.  Apparently snow blowing for 3 days straight, bending over and over to move the electric cord and shoveling off the front step has caused my back to  have spasms so I had to quit.    We have snow predicted for the next 6 days now….
    My son just came over and cleared off the drift by the garage and the front door but it is snowing so hard it will probably be covered again in no time at all.  I don’t need to go anywhere but it was nice that he came over to help.  He was driving  his pickup truck and said he almost couldn’t get out of his driveway.
    I’ve been watching some recorded TV shows to try to get caught up  on some of them.  I keep adding more shows to my list, though, so I may never get caught up.  I started to read a book  yesterday that sounds promising.   However, I haven’t read any other books all week.  I keep busy with laundry and housework  for an hour or so every day.  But I still spend too much time on Facebook.  I have been playing some games to keep my mind active too.
    I just opened up my book of SIMPLE  ABUNDANCE BY Sarah Ban Breathnach to today’s essay.  The title is WORKING WITH WHAT  YOU’VE GOT.  It talks about something almost all of  us do.
     ” We believe that we have to wait until things are calmed down a bit before we start to get our act together.  TOMORROW….we’ll take the time to enjoy ourselves….TOMORROW….when everything calms down again.  But as most of us know, life never calms down long enough for us to wait until tomorrow to start living the lives we deserve.  Life is always movement, always change, always unforeseen circumstances.  There will always be something to grab your attention, a  phone call, a child, the mail, the car breaking down, a check that doesn’t arrive in the mail.  So what are we going to do about it?  We can stop waiting for life to become perfect and start working with what we’ve got to make it as satisfying as we can.  We can accept, bless, give thanks and get going.  Today we can begin to call forth the riches from our everyday life.  Today we can move from lack of ~ to abundance.  Procrastination has robbed us of too many missed  opportunities.  Call a friend for lunch, begin to read or even write that novel, organize your papers, try a new recipe for dinner, smile at everyone you meet, sit and dream before a fire, pick up your needlepoint or crocheting or knitting again, be grateful to be alive.  Think of one thing that would give  you a genuine moment of pleasure today and DO IT!!!!  The first steps in the journey are always the most difficult to take.  Life begets life and Energy creates energy .  The famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt reminds us “It is by spending oneself that we become rich.”
    So go forth and DO SOMETHING!