December 17, 2014

  • WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME, WILL YOU STILL NEED ME, WHEN I'M.....

    I have a confession

    confession to make..............

    Yep....I hit the 7oth year of my life yesterday!    But I don't feel that I look 70 and I sure don't feel 70 ~~~~~ so I am not going to believe that I am 70! So There!

    I am returning once more to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach.   In reading her essay for December 16th, she said...

    ...."I haven't yet gotten to the point where I don't need gold stars: gleaming, golden, five-pointed proof that I've accomplished something that was a bit of a stretch, especially if it was remembering to treat myself with the loving kindness that seems so much easier to give to others."

    I'm sure most of us remember when we got gold stars for doing a good job at school.  Maybe some of us even got gold stars at home that were put on a "chore chart" to show how well we did.

    "But gold star days are very different when we give them to ourselves .  If you give a gold star to yourself and stick it to an empty calendar space, the star twinkles, winks and whispers. "Good for you, Girl!"

    I don't ever give myself a gold star but I do let myself appreciate my accomplishments.  When I allow myself to accept the good things I have done, whether or others or for myself, it does give me a good feeling.

    "Have you ever noticed an actress in a movie or television show and thought to  yourself..."If this gorgeous, high-maintenance, personal-trainer using, spa-attending woman is visibly maturing, what does the low-maintenance, car-pool, suburban mother and stressed out wife and career woman like me look like?

    Have you ever asked someone "How old do I look?"  or "Am I showing my age?"...  And then you held your breath waiting for their answer?  LOL.

    "Now we are entering our Act Two in life.  Act One just sets the scene--who our heroine is, where she came from, the forces that shaped her.  In Act Two the creative tension really begins to build as her story unfolds.  Act Two is teeming with twists and turns as the pivotal moment of choice comes into view.  Act Two reveals the dramatic center of her authentic plot.  What will happen next?  How will our heroine cope?  How will she change? "

    "We can't move into Act Two until we have several decades under our belt.  Hopefully we are wiser, more experienced, self-confident, courageous, and canny.  Suddenly we have more depth to the scripts in our life.  "In middle age, we are apt to reach the horrifying conclusion that all sorrow, all paint, all passionate regret and loss and bitter disillusionment is self-made."

    But now we know how to change that.  Don't we?

     

                                                       

     

    So let's make a list of what I have accomplished in my 70 years of life.

    1. I'm the older of four daughters.  I feel like I am the mother of the group and have a responsibility to take care of my younger sisters

    2. I graduated from high school and then got three Associate Degrees while I worked full-time.

    3. I was married for 48-1/2 years to the same man.  We would be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in April, 2015.

    4. I started working as an insurance claims secretary and worked my way up to Senior Claims Representative.

    5. I've written 4 books.  Three are published and for sale on Amazon.com and the fourth will be editing and for sale by Spring.

    6. I have a few friends from my childhood and from high school that I  still am in contact with.

    7. I learned to drive a car when I was 30 years old.

    8. I have a new computer and a new cell phone that I am learning to use without too much trouble.

    9. I  write on 3 different blog sites.

    10. I am a step-grandmother and step-great grandmother and a faux grandmother for another person's children.

    11. I helped to raise a very intelligent and hardworking son of whom I am very proud.

    12. I read many, many books throughout the year.

    13. I've had over at least 12 cats and 3 dogs in my life.

    14.  I have lost 20 lbs since June, 2014

    15.  I still feel fairly young.

    And I did read a book or  two since my last blog.

     

    19486412       4 of 5 stars

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmothers-and-daughters

    Read on December 09, 2014

    I finally finished this book. I had started it about a month ago and had to return it because it was on the "hold" list. I got it again last week and finished it. I enjoyed the story of the various mothers and children who had a connection in the town. Some of them were quirky and some of them were over-the-top. The mystery of what happened and why and how was interjected into the various chapters. The reader never quite knew what was going on until the end of the book. And the circumstances were much different from I had anticipated. It was a very entertaining book. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a light mystery and a story that could be relevant to them.

    Here's the book description...
    Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
    A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly? 
    What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
    Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?). 
    Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
    Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

    And here's another reader's review...

    This one was 480 pages that read like less than 300. I was thoroughly captivated, found this to be brilliant in plot, structure and tone. Gulped it right down.

    On the surface this was about a group of parents whose children were starting kindergarten. We have the typical cliques, the do-gooders and many, many who think their children are oh so special.  Over parenting to a T. Working moms against stay at home moms, fulfillment vs. involvement. Humorously told, there are so many times this book had me laughing, some of these moms were so over the top, absolutely absurd.

    Under the surface was another layers, the author tackles many issues, among them bullying, spousal abuse and others. These women and their marriages all have issues, problems with their marriages, dealing with traumas from the past. Considering everything that was tackled in this book it should not have worked but it did, and that is to the author's credit.

    Everything leads up to trivia night at the school and that will bring revelations, disasters and many will find themselves changed. Loved every minute of this one.

    16131115

    This wasn't the most exciting book I've read. There have been a group of 4 women who are married to medical students who decide one August to go away for a week just to talk and relax while their husbands are busy at the hospitals where they work and learn. As each year goes by, the 4 women continue to rent a beach house and meet for one week. Their husbands move on to get into their specialties and their medical practices. As one doctor's wife is gone from the group, he remarries and the next wife joins. Finally when one wife passes away, the other 3 don't meet for about 3 years. Then there is a new wife so they are invited to her family's island for 2 weeks. The 4 women go and try to figure out the new, much younger wife. There are misunderstandings and squabbles but, of course, they all bond together in the end. This is a light read...one for a long weekend.
    Here's the book description...
    Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.
    And another reader's review...
    Oh my, Anne Rivers Siddons. I hate to say it, but I think it's time to retire. I can't believe I ever used to enjoy and look forward her novels. Granted, it was way back in the 90s when I was a big fan of her work. I loved reading one of her big, family dramas on vacation every year. Have my tastes changed so drastically, or has her work gone downhill so significantly?Whatever the reason, this particular novel was b-a-d. The dialog was forced and unrealistic. The characters were flat and one-dimensional. The plot was dull and predictable; using every classic "beach read" theme possible. Perhaps most bizarre was the strange juxtaposition of the last two chapters. Why were they seemingly reversed? And to what purpose was the BIG ending thrown in at the last (literally, last) possible moment. It did nothing to help move the "drama" (newsflash: there was none) or the story along. It just seemed like ARS had some story notes and suddenly realized she had forgotten a key element and threw it in. She should have ended the book at the end of chapter seven, in my opinion.

    As usual, my question when it comes to poorly written books like this is; where was the editor, and why wasn't she/he doing their job?

    So, once again, it is nearly time for the holidays.   I got all my Christmas cards addressed and sent out last week.  I wrapped and shipped all the out-of-town gifts last week too.  I still have some gifts for the family here in town to gather together into gift bags.  And then we will be nearly done with 2014.   I have to say that I am pleased that I survived my first year of "firsts" without my husband.  I am looking forward to next year too.  I'm hoping things go well for everyone.
    Adorable Christmas Cat - lovely, paws, new year, merry christmas, happy new year, holidays, hat, happy holidays, beautiful, magic, sweetness, animals, christmas cat, cat face, pretty, sweet, beauty, holiday, cats, cat eyes, christmas, magic christmas, kitten, cute, kitty, photography, eyes, cat, xmas, adorable         

December 7, 2014

  • DECEMBER DOINGS.....

    You are probably asking why I have a photo of a goat when I love cats so much.  Well, the short version of this story is that a blogger friend of mine is in deep need of some help.

    She took care of her parents when they were older. She moved them into her home and cared for them through illnesses.  When they passed, she used the small amount of money she inherited and paid it on a house with a small barn.  She put all her money into that home and started to raise goats.  She has one daughter who is now a teenager.  She has worked literally night and day, in snow and in ice, and in rain and heat to build up a good herd of goats.  She lives in the Catskill-Hudson Valley of New York.

    She has made cheese and other by-products from the goat milk.  She sells her products to restaurants and at farmers markets.  You would think her life has been fun and easy.  But it has not and it is just getting worse.

    Unfortunately her husband hasn't pulled his own weight.  He has purposely sabotaged every effort she makes to succeed. He works when he feels like it which is not often but he never gives her any money for the utilities or the bills. He spends his money on alcohol.  He runs off any interns she gets to help her on the goat farm.  He won't milk the goats or give them the correct feed.  He has broken much of the machinery she has to use.  He is verbally abusive and goes out of his way to make her life and the life of their daughter miserable.

    She hasn't been able to afford to get a divorce attorney. She has sold off as many things as she can to keep the bills paid.  She is running out of options.  She just found a young attorney who  is willing to help her but now she needs money to retain the attorney, to keep the goats fed this winter, to pay the utilities and to put food on her table.  Not to mention taking care of her daughter who is still in school.  With the cold weather coming up, heavy snowfalls and the holidays, she doesn't have any leeway.

    I am asking all my readers that if you ever donate this time of year, will you consider donating to this woman and her daughter.  Here is a link.....   http://www.gofundme.com/i5ulos

    And if you would like to order some her products from cheese to soap ~ here's a link.   http://acornhillfarmsteadcheeses.com/PRODUCTS.php

    In other areas, I am slowly working on my Christmas card list and gift wrapping.  I'm still rewriting my book and I have 43,785 words to date.  I am trying to read some books as well.

    Thank you for reading this post.

     

December 1, 2014

  • HAPPY DECEMBER ~ 2014

    I have a confession to make.  It's been 30 days since my last blog post!   Did you miss me?   That's what I thought.

    Well, anyway.  It's been a busy month and as always, the time went by faster than I had realized.  As you know, I participated in the NANO November Novel Writing Challenge.  I wrote almost 53,000 words in 21 days.  I sent in the manuscript to have the word verification done and I got my certificate and I will get a code for 2 free self-published books when I sent the manuscript to CreateSpace.  Unfortunately, 2 days later when I went back to my manuscript to re-read it, it was gone, Gone, GONE!

    I have been in the process of rewriting the manuscript since then.  I have just over 28,000 words to date.  It isn't as difficult to rewrite because I know where I am going with it.  But until I have it recreated, I can't stop thinking of it.  I have saved it on a zip drive so I won't lose it again.  Something had happened to my computer that day and I got messages about various things crashing....don't know why it had to be my manuscript but it was.

    Besides that catastrophe, I said Goodbye to my friend whose husband died on the first anniversary of my husband's passing.  She has moved to Marina del Rey to live with her daughter who has a job out there.  She is loving the warm weather.  She left the day before our first snow which turned out to be over 12 inches before it was done.   So I have used my snowblower once so far this winter.  Our area broke some records.  Earliest snowfall of the year and coldest day in November.  I hope we don't break a record for the most snow all winter.

    I'm still doing the transcribing for the Smithsonian Institute.  I haven't done as much since I lost my own manuscript but I do intend to get back to it soon.  I have a lot of things to do in the next few weeks.  Addressing Christmas cards, wrapping and shipping out Christmas gifts to a few family members.  And of course, wrapping the gifts for my family and friends here at home.  I am not feeling festive yet.  I think it is just too early.  I put a couple of things out for winter decor.  I put away the Autumn door wreath and some little things in the house.  My cats have calmed down plenty but they still get into way too much so I have to be careful where I place any decorations.  I bought a Christmas cactus this year.  It's still got blooms on it in spite of being on the top of a bookcase so the cats can't get to it.  I heard that if you plant it outside in the summer, it will grow very quickly and then you bring it back in when the weather starts to cool.  I'm going to try that.

    I know I have been very busy but for the life of me, I can't figure out what I have been doing besides the normal weekly chores. I did go to the dentist and to the doctor 2 weeks ago.  I've lost 19 lbs so far.  I'm hoping to get another lb. lost before my birthday in 2 weeks.

     

    I also read a couple of books.

    A friend suggested the first book.  I really enjoyed it.  So much, in fact, that I have the 2nd book in the trilogy on my library request list and I borrowed the 3rd book of the trilogy which I can renew if necessary.

    7315573

    bookshelves: dramafamilyfriendsmarriagehistory

    Read on November 13, 2014

    I've recently finished this book of 985 pages. It was recommended to me by a friend. It tells the stories of 5 different families from Russia, Germany, England, American and Wales. It is the beginning, middle and ending of World War I and there is a lot of history in this book. I got caught up in the stories of a young Welsh boy who had to enter the coal mines, an American law student who finds a new career working for the President in the White House, a young housekeeper who worked for a wealthy and titled family in England, a good German man who had to become a spy and two young Russian brothers who wind up in different countries. I think this would make a wonderful television series in the same way that Downton Abbey became so popular. I can hardly wait to read the next two books of this series.

    Here's the book description....

    4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  

    This is an epic of love, hatred, war and revolution. This is a huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women. It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V.   The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich,  a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, "Fall Of Giants" moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

    and here is another reader's review....

    This is my first Ken Follett novel, and I am hooked. I've read where some people have not been that interested in the subject matter of Fall of Giants and prefer the Middle Ages. I'm fascinated with 20th Century history, so this is right down my alley.

    This novel covers the years of WWI and the Russian Revolution and follows 5 families. Their stories all connect at some point. While you invest in the characters, the story is plot driven and moves pretty swiftly through the years. There are times that a character may be left for a year before we hear from him again. But you don't feel like you're missing any crucial information.

    My favorite portions were before and after the war. There is quite a bit of battlefield sections in the middle. They are well written, but I am more interested in the people than military tactics.

    I was surprised at how quickly this book reads. Despite it's huge size, you can read it pretty quickly if you have the time to devote to it.  I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    *****

    \Turn of Mind

    bookshelves: dramafamilymothers-and-daughters

    Read on November 28, 2014
    This subject of dementia of a female orthopedic surgeon really interested me. It's a fictional story of a woman who recently lost her husband.  Her son and daughter have left home and she has retired because she became aware that she was losing her memory. When the story starts, one of her oldest friends who lived 2 houses down has been found dead with 4 fingers cut off one of her hands.

    The book is speaking in Jennifer's voice (the female surgeon) She has a housekeeper who tries to help her by writing down every day in a journal of what happened that day. When Jennifer has a visit ~ the visitor writes in the journal so Jennifer can go back and read. But, of course, she is constantly confused and can't remember. She is often reliving the past and gets herself into some trouble.

    The book was a bit difficult for me to read because it jumped around on what Jennifer remembered and what people told her. The entire book was broken down into 3 parts with no chapters in each part.

    I continued to read the entire book because I wanted to find out who killed Amanda and why her fingers were cut off.
    The ending wasn't what I was expecting but I certainly wasn't surprised either.

    Here's the book description....
    3.65 of 5 stars 3.65
    Is the perfect murder the one you can't forget or the one you can't remember?

    Dr. Jennifer White, a brilliant former surgeon in the early grips of Alzheimer's, is suspected of murdering her best friend, Amanda. Amanda's body was found brutally disfigured — with four of her fingers cut off in a precise, surgical manner. As the police pursue their investigation and Jennifer searches her own mind for fractured clues to Amanda's death, a portrait emerges of a complex relationship between two uncompromising, unsentimental women, lifelong friends who were at times each other's most formidable adversaries.
    And another reader's review...
    Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante may just be the talk of the summer. I read it in one sitting, it was that riveting. Sixty-four year old Dr. Jennifer White retires from her orthopedic practice when she discovers she has early on-set Alzheimer’s. When her old friend is found murdered with mutilated hands and missing fingers, Dr. White becomes a prime suspect. What could be a run of the mill murder mystery becomes a complicated story of a woman experiencing rapid dementia and declining memory. I can only liken it to experiencing a horrible nightmare over and over as we follow Dr. White’s thought process in this first person narrative. The story goes backward, forward and round and round in an attempt to give us the whole picture; yet in a voice that so confused that sometimes we feel our own memory is failing us. With a deceased husband, two children and a caretaker also on board, Dr White’s story is fleshed out and we eventually understand what happened.

    I fear that calling Turn of Mind a mystery may lose some readers and what a loss this would be. If you were able to read Still Alice by Lisa Genova, frightening as the topic of Alzheimer’s can be, then don’t miss Turn of Mind. Disturbing but thought provoking, it’s a different take on the topic of dementia and its many manifestations.

    ******
    Well, I think I have come to the end of my first blog for December.  I promise it won't be my last.  I will try to do a better job of reading more books and of posting my thoughts.
      

October 31, 2014

  • HAPPY HALLOWEEN....

    Here we are at the end of this month and almost the end of autumn~

    I decided to refer to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach again to see what she had to say about this date.

    The essay is entitled MAKE ROOM FOR MYSTERY, AWAKEN TO THE MAGIC....

    It's All Hollow's Eve.  Some of us will be accompanying our little goblins on their Trick or Treat rounds tonight to provide love, care and concern for their protection.  Some of us will be greeting those little goblins at our own front doors with candy or other treats.

    "Halloween comes down to us from the pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhaim, held on October 31st.  The last autumn night before the cold and bleakness of winter.  On this night ~ considered the Celtic New Year ~ the Druids believed that the supernatural world drew closer to the physical world, so human beings were more susceptible to the power and influence of the unseen.  Magic spells could be cast more easily, predicting fortunes were more revealing, and dreams held special significance."

     Ms. Breathnach goes on to say ...."Being human, I believe Halloween is the perfect reminder that magic flows through us, mystery infuses every encounter of every day.  We conjure up missing objects...we transform leftovers into a feast, banish fear, heal hurts, make money stretch till the end of the month.  We carry, cradle, nurture and sustain life.  We do all of this and much more.  Most women are not aware of their tremendous power for good.  We've not consciously awakened to the realization that we are descendants of an ancient, sacred lineage..!"

    "Isn't Magic what you're performing when you create an authentic lifestyle for yourself and those you love?  Aren't you shaping unseen forces with your creativity and crafts? .....How much more could you accomplish if you were fully aware of your powers?'

    "Oh Daughter of the SHE, much power has been gifted to you.  It is the power of Love,  Tonight by candlelight or the light of the moon in your backyard, commit to use your power wisely for the Highest Good of all.  YOU HAVE NO IDEA OF THE COUNTLESS LIVES YOU TOUCH IN THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFETIME.    Go directly to the Source.  Acknowledge your lineage and your authentic gifts with a grateful heart.  "I am sure there is Magic in everything, " Frances Hodgson Burnett observed, "only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us."

     

     

     

    So, for me, I am going to acknowledge my gifts.   Tomorrow starts NANO November Novel Writing Month and I am already entered for the challenge.  I have a tiny bit of any idea and I don't know where it is going to lead me, but I am up for the job.  I have a working title of INDIGO MEMORIES.  I can't wait to see where the characters take me this time.

    Since my last blog, my friend who recently lost her husband has decided to move in with her daughter who currently lives in California.  She will be leaving soon.  She doesn't want to live alone and in particular doesn't want to go through a winter alone.  I will miss her and hope she enjoys her new home.

    I'm still following most of the Nutrisystem eating plan.  I"ve lost 18 lbs to date.  I'm hopeful to lose 20 lbs. by next weekend.   It's really not very hard to follow the plan.  I miss the carbs but have realized when I do eat them that the craving comes back instantly.  I don't  really miss sweets including candy too much.  When I do want something sweet, I usually just take a spoonful and I am satisfied.  Thank goodness.

    Since my last blog, I did finally read some books.  I have been thinking that I may get off Facebook for the winter and spend more time reading.....I want to get back into the habit of enjoying books again.

    18295838     4 of 5 stars

    This novel was based on some true facts. Much of Jackie Kennedy's wardrobe during her time in the White House ( or the MAISON BLANCHE as it was referred) was made by the American seamstresses who copied the latest Paris fashions for the First Lady. When Jackie Kennedy was criticized for using French designers instead of American designers; this was the answer. The owners of Chez Ninon traveled to all the showings in Paris each year and then copied the fashions that they knew the First Lady would wear. They even had a stand-in model who had the same measurements as the First Lady who came to all the fittings where photographs were taken to be approved by Jackie Kennedy or her designer friends.
    This story is loosely based on some real facts and some real situations. There is a mystery on where that famous pink suit went after the assassination of the President. The National Archives in Washington D.C. has stored the entire contents of Parkland Hospital's trauma room #1 where the President was pronounced dead. The location is unknown to most people. The pink suit was not stored at that time. It suddenly arrived many years later in the original box from the Chez Ninon with no return address and a single digit postal code in place of the five-digit zip codes adopted on July 1, 1963. Inside the box was the suit, the blouse, the handbag, the shoes and the stockings Jackie had worn on that terrible day, along with an unsigned piece of her mother's letterhead stationary with the words...."Worn Nov. 22, 1963".There is also a side story of the young woman who sewed so many of the designs and the pink suit by hand and was one of the "back-room girls" who was never given credit for her unique talents.

    Here's the book description...
     "Beautifully written and engrossing, The Pink Suit gives us an extraordinary alternative reality, transforming JFK and Jackie's romance into the unforgettable love story of a seamstress and a butcher. Kate and Patrick are wonderful creations, and the evocation of the early 1960s is moving and convincing. Kelby spins a compelling tale of one of the most iconic garments ever sewn, and makes it entirely her own."--Claire Kendal, author of The Book of YouOn November 22, 1963, the First Lady accompanied her husband to Dallas, Texas dressed in a pink Chanel-style suit that was his favorite. Much of her wardrobe, including the pink suit, came from the New York boutique Chez Ninon where a young seamstress, an Irish immigrant named Kate, worked behind the scenes to meticulously craft the memorable outfits.

    While the two never met, Kate knew every tuck and pleat needed to create the illusion of the First Lady's perfection. When the pink suit became emblematic, Kate's already fragile world--divided between the excess and artistry of Chez Ninon and the traditional values of her insular neighborhood--threatened to rip apart.

    Moving from the back rooms of Chez Ninon to the steps of Air Force One,The Pink Suit is an enchanting, unforgettable novel about hope and heartbreak, and what became of the American Dream.

    Here's a review by another reader...
    A very unusual take on the Kennedy assassination and the icon that was Jackie Kennedy. This book very much focuses on the time, money and effort that went into creating and maintaining 'the Wife' as the nation's sweetheart. The story barely involves the Wife at all, choosing instead to focus almost entirely on the design and creation of the iconic pink suit that was worn on that fateful visit to Dallas. The novel is based on the actual Irish seamstress who was integral in crafting the suit in question as well on the fashion house Chez Ninon. The author makes it clear that although Kate and the fashion house were real people the image of them presented her is her own fictionalized take on their lives and attitudes.  However,  for the most part she does an incredible job of breathing life into these characters. As with her previous work, White Truffles in Winter this is a gorgeously sensual novel. The textures, scents and weave of each fabric becomes integral to the plot and characterization here. The subplot surrounding Kate's own love affair with her homely butcher allows Kelby to draw in more of the wonderful descriptions of food that made White Truffles such a delight.There were some lovely little cameos from Coco Chanel and Martin Luther King so be sure to look out for these along the way.

    This novel could easily have descended into a mere fluff piece but some beautiful writing and a well thought out set of convincing characters ensure that there is no risk of this;  all while providing a glimpse into what it takes to build a modern icon.

     

    18812405      4 of 5 stars

    This novel has been compared to GONE GIRL. There some similarities such as the chapters being told by different people in the book. There is a mysterious disappearance of a young girl. The reader soon finds out that the background stories of each character certainly help the reader form an opinion of the main characters. Some of the story is told in "flashbacks" because the young girl has lost her memory. It's a very evenly paced story and the reader will get caught up in the mystery. Why was she taken? What will happen to her? Why do some members of her family seem more irritated then frightened? Who is really behind it all? What will happen in the end?
    I read this book in 2 days. It was much more pleasing to me than Gone Girl.
    Here's the book description...
    "I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will."Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

    Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

    An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

    Here's another reader's review...
    This book is not at all what it seems. I was expecting a book like Gone Girl and what I got was a relative of it. If you liked Gone Girl, you will like The Good Girl. It had me racing through the pages until the very end, WHICH BLEW...MY...MIND!It didn't really hit me what was going on until the last few pages. I had to reread a couple of pages to get it, but it was enjoyable, not annoying where I just didn't get it. I had an idea of what was going on, but I had to be sure. This book really kept me guessing and each time, I was just very wrong.

    I really did like the multiple POV's of the novel, however. To some it may be confusing, but to me it was great! Refreshing, even. I haven't read a novel with multiple POV's that I have enjoyed in a long time. The author did a good job with hooking the reader in and having them crave for the end of every chapter, just so they could see what was going on in the next one. The characters were realistic to people I know and I was drawn into their lives and this again, was great.

    This is a fantastic book if you're craving a dark mystery. If you read this, you won't be disappointed because I was not and I am now looking forward to more books by Mary Kubica. She can write a hell of a story.

    20821084      4 of 5 stars

    What an interesting book!  There are two main characters who have five days left before their lives change drastically. One of them is a mother who believes she must take her own life due to a terminal illness. She wrestles with leaving her husband and her child, her friends and her parents and makes "deals" with herself about if and when she should do it. There is a man who teaches in the lower income part of Detroit who is married. He and his wife have taken in a "foster" child for a year and the last 5 days they have him are coming quickly. He wants to keep the boy but his wife has a different perspective. As the reader follows the story-line, the reader becomes involved in the decision-making process. What IS the right thing to do? Who is being selfish? What will each person decide to do? How will it all end?This is a first novel by Julie Lawson Tanner and it is a good one.

    Here's the book description...
    "A beautifully drawn study of what is at risk when you lose control of your own life.  Unique, gripping, and viscerally moving -- this impressive debut novel heralds the arrival of an extremely talented writer." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller and Lone WolfDestined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.

    Mara Nichols, a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and adoptive mother, has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most. Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance, the power of relationships, and that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.  
    Here's another reader's review...
    Five Days Left is an emotional and touching story about life and death and the sacrifices that are made for the sake of one's family and relationships.There are two plot lines--two different journeys that are totally separate yet connected and intertwined. The story of Mara is sad and heart wrenching as she goes from a healthy and strong woman to a woman who discovers she has a fatal disease and needs to rely on the help of family and friends. Mara has a loving and wonderful husband and a beautiful adopted daughter. Mara does not want to be a burden to her family so she makes a promise to herself that when the symptoms worsen she will end her life on her own terms. This will spare her family and herself the pain, anguish and humiliation of this terrible disease. The story of Scott is also a heartbreaker. Scott is a foster parent to Curtis while the mother is serving a jail sentence and big brother is fulfilling his college dreams. Scott loves his wife who is pregnant with his first child. He also loves Curtis who eventually will be reunited with his mother.

    Both Mara and Scott have 5 days left to come to terms with a decision and say their final goodbyes. I was on a journey with these two people knowing perfectly well that I may not like the outcome! I thought this was an amazing debut novel. Dark and thought-provoking yet filled with hope and love. I look forward to reading more novels by this new author.

    So that ends this month and this blog.
    HAPPY HALLOWEEN.....
       

October 18, 2014

  • A LESSON OF LOSS

     

     

    My goodness, it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted!  As I had mentioned in the previous blog, my year of "firsts" ended on  October 9, 2014.  One entire year since my husband passed away...and still.... it doesn't seem possible that I will never see or hear him again while I am alive on this earth.

    On that day, I got some phone calls from family and friends who were checking in with me.  I appreciated that so much.  But the way the day turned out was certainly not what I had expected....

     

    .... about 5 weeks earlier, when a dear friend whom we had known for over 40 years called me.  Her husband had suddenly collapsed and since she was a registered nurse, she got him into some doctors right away.  They soon found a tumor on his spine and were also concerned about some severe pain he was having in his left hip.  After more testing, the news came that he had cancer.  So he began some radiation in hopes the tumor would reduce and his pain level would drop.  As these things often go, he had continuing and escalating pain.   He was sent to the same oncologist as my husband had last year.  The doctor decided to supplement the radiation with a 3 week trial of chemotherapy.  He had one chemo treatment and actually felt better.  He had 2 great days and he and his wife and his daughter (who had flown in from California) got a lot of things done.  I had suggested they get a will, a medical guardianship and DNR document done immediately.  And also to make funeral arrangements so she didn't have to stress about that when the time came. He had always taken care of all the finances and his wife had no idea what to do first.  Two days after those couple of good days; he was in terrible pain and his wife finally got Hospice Home to find him a bed because he had felt a pop and his left hip had shattered.  The oncologist said there was no use in trying to repair it because they had just confirmed that he had cancer everywhere.  His wife called and asked if my son and I could witness the legal documents on that Wednesday.  We went to the Hospice Home and met them and their attorney.  He was mostly sleeping and probably drifting into a coma by then.  We did witness all the documents.  My son and I both talked between ourselves and felt that he wasn't going to last much longer due to his coloring (or lack there-of) and his lack of response.

    The next day my son and I were doing some errands together when I got the call.  He had passed 6 hours earlier.  The day before we had told his daughter that we knew my husband was just waiting for Jerry because they used to ride in a 2 man police car when they first got on the police department.  I told his daughter that they would be "partnered up" riding together again in Heaven taking care of everyone.  When she called, she said "my Daddy is with your husband now in  Heaven.!"   It was October 9th....the same day that my husband died a year before!!  We all took such comfort in that,  believing that the guys are together again, laughing and telling "police stories" and getting caught up on all the news.

    It actually made my first anniversary without my husband easier because I had my friend to think about.  I was able to help her with some police documents this week.  In a few weeks, she has decided to move in with her daughter who lives in California.  She had a year's lease on the apt. she and Jerry had moved into a year ago.  The management is waiving the last two months of her lease as a courtesy.  Her daughter is looking for a larger apt. in the same complex she lives in now in California.  They have gone through the house that is still for sale and selected several things to take to California.  I will miss my friend but am happy that she will have a place to make new memories.  She said she just can't live alone ~ she never has and doesn't want to have the stress of taking care of everything on her own.

    According to Sarah Ban Breathnach's book SIMPLE ABUNDANCE...

    "If we are alive, we cannot escape loss.  Loss is a part of real life.  "Have you ever thought, when something dreadful happens, a  moment ago things were not like this; let it be then not now, anything but now?"  The English novelist Mary Stewart asks.  "And you try and try to remake the time, but you know you can't.  So you try to hold the moment quite still and not let it move on and show itself."

    "Today might be tough for you.  You might not want the next moment to show itself, to reveal the twists and turns of life's mystery. But at least you have it.  YOU still have life.  A choice as to how you will live this precious day."

    "Don't wish it away.  Don't waste it.  Redeem one hour.  Hold it close. Cherish it.  Above all, be grateful for it.  Let your thanks rise above the disappointment--opportunities lost, mistakes made, the clamor of all that has not yet come."

    "And if today is so horrendous that the gift doesn't seem worth acknowledging, if you can't find one moment to enjoy, one simple pleasure to savor, one friend to call, one person to love, one thing to share, one smile to offer, if life is so difficult you don't want to bother living it to the fullest, then don't live today for yourself.  LIVE IT FOR THE ONE WHO IS GONE."

    I had lunch with another good friend.  She is starting a new job on Monday.  She hasn't worked a 40 hour week for several years and she hasn't worked part-time for several months.  But she wanted to rebuild her retirement fund and thinks this will be a good way to do that.  It's the same type of work she had done for years ~ insurance claims  handing and she already knows a couple of the employees so I think it will be a good fit.  I can't wait to have lunch with her again to find out how she likes it.

    In-between all of that turmoil, I have planted some more plants for the winter.  I have continued to transcribe for the Smithsonian Institute and recently worked on a diary of Gertrude Vanderbilt (Gloria's aunt).  It was written in 1890 when Gertrude was 15 years old.  She traveled from New York to London to Paris and back to London and then back home to New York.   It was quite interesting to read and transcribe.

    The first of November I will begin writing my 4th book for NANO National November Novel Writing Challenge.  I thought of a "working title" and just asked my granddaughter to draw a cover idea I have.  She is very excited and I can't wait to see what she has in mind.....If I use it as a cover, I am putting her name in my book as the illustrator!

     

    I also managed to read a couple of books...

    6319371

    This is Candy Spelling's first book. I have already read her second book. This book also covered her marriage to Aaron Spelling and how it changed her life. From what she describes, she adored her husband but learned that working behind the scenes was best. Aaron wanted her by his side almost all the time. She got involved in buying the gifts for the all clients and employees, creating dramatic dinner parties, always being dressed to perfection and being the perfect wife and hostess. In spite of all the wealth the couple eventually acquired ~ they started out like most young couples with little to nothing. They soon learned how to become a "brand". She talks about the huge Manor they built and lived in together. She realized after Aaron passed away that she should downsize so she sold the Manor and moved. Well, reducing from a 56,500 sq. feet of living space plus a 17,000 sq. ft completed attic to just 17,000 sq. ft. on two floors of a penthouse IS downsizing, I guess.She also mentioned her children, Tori and Randy. She said that she and Aaron wanted their children to work for a living and both of them do. She said there are trust funds and college funds for the grandchildren. She also talked once again about the on-and-off relationship she has with her daughter, Tori.
    Here's the book description...
    Carole Gene Marer spent her girlhood dreaming of meeting Rock Hudson, but when she finally had the chance—on her second date with her future husband, television mogul Aaron Spelling—she was so shy she hid all night in the powder room.  How Candy morphed from that quiet girl into a seemingly-confident, stylish trophy wife, mistress of the largest house in Los Angeles ( over 70,000 square feet when you count the attic) is at the heart of Stories from Candyland. 
    The life Candy created for her family—her husband and children Tori and Randy—was fabulous, over-the-top, and often magical.  So what if California Christmases don’t come with snow? Let’s make some on the tennis court!  How do we take a cross-country family vacation with a dad who doesn’t fly? By private train car, of course (with an extra for the fifty-two pieces of luggage).  The kids want to dress up for Halloween? No problem, why not call in Nolan Miller to design their costumes?Candy had a hand in some of the most beloved television shows of all time (she once stopped production on “Dynasty” because Krystle Carrington’s engagement ring was not spectacular enough), has entertained half of Hollywood in epic fashion, and lives an enviable life.  But under all the fun and showmanship lies a more interesting character, still wrestling with some of the insecurities of her ingénue self.  Oprah threw her into a major panic with a discussion of hoarding.  A lifelong humming habit evolved as a unique coping mechanism.  And there’s nothing like being defined as, “well, you know, complicated” by your daughter on television and in her own book.Stories from Candyland sparkles with glamour and grand gestures. But it also satisfies with some more intimate Candy concerns: why being a perfect wife and mother was so important to her, how cooking and cleaning can keep the home fires burning, why collections matter, and whether dogs are better judges of people than people are.

    Visit Candyland in these pages and get a glimpse of a generous, glittering world revealing many of its surprising and funny secrets for the first time.

    and here's another reader's review....

    I have read both of Tori's books and I was curious to read about Candy's version. I picked this one up with and open mind and tried not to be influenced by too many reviews. It seems that most people who have read Candy Spelling's memoir tend to give it more negative reviews than positive. I read this book for entertainment purposes and to hear what Candy had to say about her life. I was not going into this hoping to read the best work of literature ever published, nor did I have any unrealistic expectations. With that said I need to review this book for what it simply is. It is the story of a woman who becomes a celebrity through marriage.

    Growing up I was a fan of Dynasty, The Love Boat and occasionally watched Fantasy Island. As I entered my teenage years I was a 90210 and Melrose Place fan. I looked forward to watching a new episode each week and I loved all that the shows had to offer. I knew Aaron Spelling was a very successful producer and his family was often talked about. Candy Spelling makes it a point to mention throughout that Aaron was one of the most successful and wealthy Hollywood producers. She also briefly mentions her "complicated" relationship with Tori, and of course she talks about their 70,000 plus square foot Mansion.

    If you don't think you care to know about the lavish life she led, then don't read this book. If you're looking for a quick read and an inside look at the Spelling legacy then pick it up. This is not the best book I ever read, but it wasn't the worst either. I think that the reviewers who bash her for writing this book do it unnecessarily. It is not all that bad and it is pure entertainment.

     

    18453249

    THE BLESSINGS is a story about an ordinary family...or what most of us would expect an ordinary family to be. They support each other, they gather almost every week together for a meal to celebrate, mourn, discuss family matters or just to watch football games and eat. They are a close Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia. Most of them never leave but those who do ~ eventually come back, even if it is only for a short time or a holiday. They have the same fears and problems that most of us have except they are always ready to forgive and move on. They endure sickness, death, birth, marriages, divorces and all of the things that make up life.

    One of the females goes to college and becomes a photographer and an artist.   She has a showing which features plenty of dioramas that she has created. One is entitled (DIS)COMFORT... which is done "in layers of five shoeboxes stacked on top of one another like the floor of a tall, unwieldy house. On some floors, people sit alone in rooms; on others, the same people are all grouped together. She was trying to get at the feeling of being separate and together, belonging and not belonging at the same time."
    I read this book in one day. It's 260 pages. It will make you think about your family too.
    Here's the book description....
    3.78 of 5 stars
    When John Blessing dies and leaves behind two small children, the loss reverberates across his extended family for years to come. His young widow, Lauren, finds solace in her large clan of in-laws, while his brother's wife Kate pursues motherhood even at the expense of her marriage. John's teenage nephew Stephen finds himself involved in an act of petty theft that takes a surprising turn, and nephew Alex, a gifted student, travels to Spain and considers the world beyond his family's Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood. Through departures and arrivals, weddings and reunions, THE BLESSINGS reveals the interior worlds of the members of a close-knit Irish-Catholic family and the rituals that unite them.

    "There's no shortage of novels about the quirks and tragedies of large families, but The Blessings is a uniquely poignant, prismatic look at an Irish-Catholic clan as it rallies after losing one of its own."-Entertainment Weekly
    "
    And here's another reader's review...
    I had been hearing some positive things about this book around the library and so I decided to give it a read, not knowing what to really expect. It wound up being a very relatable and enjoyable book. There isn't really much by way of a plot, rather each chapter winds up being basically a short story about one member of a very close, extended Irish Catholic Philadelphia family over the course of several decades. They are all connected, and so answers that aren't necessarily provided during the course of one person's "story" wind up being provided during someone else's. Each character is both different enough from the others and fully fleshed-out enough to keep things interesting, and the choice to follow different people in each chapter makes it hard to guess where things may be heading next. There are certainly some surprises in store for members of the family throughout. Growing up with a large family that was very close makes many of the moments immediately resonate with me, and some of the problems faced throughout the course of the novel strike close to home as well. Still, the aforementioned lack of plot makes it feel somewhat uneventful when all is said and done. The Blessings do wind up being a great cast of characters though, and the family's unwavering love for and faith in each other no matter how much life throws at them is a joy to behold, and that alone makes this one of the better works of fiction you might run across this summer.
    ***

October 10, 2014

  • A YEAR OF FIRSTS....

     

    Once again, it's been several days since I last posted a blog.  Time just seems to get away from me.   I have nearly gone through an entire year of Firsts...next week will be the first anniversary of my husband's death.  I've had my first Thanksgiving and Christmas, and New Year's  without him.  I've had my 49th wedding anniversary without him by my side.  I had his birthday and mine without him.  I've even attended some funerals without him too.  Most of the time, I do OK with it.  Some times I feel a bit sad especially when I am with other couples that we used to do things with.  It's hard to listen to them talk about their vacations and plans for the future because I know I don't have him to do that with any longer.

    But, I am managing quite well.  I'm getting used to a very reduced amount of laundry, less food to buy, smaller portions to cook and having silence in the house.  Sometimes I play CDs and listen to  music which can bring back some memories.  Sometimes I just sit here in front of the computer and type away.   I pay the bills, and try to figure out how to fix things and what to buy when I need something done that he used to do. I do miss the fact that when he started a job, he worked until it was completed.  Now, I sit and wait for repairmen or contractors to finish up what I asked them to do months ago...Of course, the contractors haven't charged me yet so that's a blessing!

    I remember how many times we had conversations and he said to me.  "I don't want to sound morbid or even selfish but when the time comes, I hope I pass away before you do.  I don't want to be alone."   I agreed with his thinking.  He was certainly a people person.  He needed conversation and people to pass his time.  He liked nothing more than to do things for others.  I can't imagine him living without me...not to sound arrogant but I don't think he could or would have adapted as well as I have.  The things I like to do can be done by one person and that does keep my days filled with activities.  Most of them are by myself but that suits my personality quite well as I am an introvert.

     

     

    A dear friend of mine recently posted a blog based 15 things that made her happy.  She wrote them down within 5 minutes.  I decided to do the same.

    THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY...

    1. Library

    2. Good friends including my sisters

    3. Doing what I want when I want

    4. My cats

    5. Helping others

    6. Completing tasks on my own.

    7. Old photographs

    8. Writing 3 self-published books and planning on a fourth

    9. Losing weight

    10. Good TV shows

    11. Books

    12. Finding the perfect gift for someone

    13. Butterflies and hummingbirds

    14. Sound of my cats purring

    15.  Cozy home

    What would YOU list in 5 minutes?

     

    I'm still doing transcription for the Smithsonian Institute.  Currently I am working on a journal by a man in 1860 who is in Greenland and doing some exploring.   His "cursive" handwriting is poor at best and sometimes it is nearly illegible.  My eyes and brain are learning to read most of it but sometimes I get a headache and have to stop.  I've been transcribing the various journals  for 6 weeks now and still enjoy it very much.

     

    I did manage to read one book this time around.

     

     

    18404135

    This book kept me interested enough to keep on reading. After I finished, I realized the plot wasn't anything special. However, it took place in 1875 in England and it involved some royalty, a very handsome man and a lovely young woman. It wasn't over the top with sex or swearing. It was just a nice story about love and lust and attraction and what the world was like back then.  This is based on some real people which makes it a bit more intriguing.
    If you want an easy read with plenty of description ~ this could be the book for you. No deep messages ~ no lectures ~ just a nice love story.
    Here's the book description....

    In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.

    Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything - except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

    Full of passion and drama, THE FORTUNE HUNTER tells the true story of a nineteenth century Queen of Hearts and a cavalry captain, and the struggle between love and duty.

    and another reader's review...
    I did totally enjoy this novel. Daisy Goodwin has a wonderful way with details when she writes her books, this my second novel by her and like her first one, I was enthralled with all the sumptuousness of her details. The beautiful gowns and finery were vividly imagined, the excitement of the fox hunt, the splendour of the social gatherings of the rich and snobbish were all presented wonderfully in this book!
    I know this has a mixed bag of reviews, but in its defense this book is geared to the romantic at heart, the person who roots for the heroine Charlotte, who despite the fact, she is an heiress is totally unspoiled by her wealth. I mentioned that I didn't care for the Empress, I was put off by her constant demanding and her worries about wrinkles and losing her beauty. I didn't feel sorry for her that she was lonely and unloved, she came across as one who got what she wanted.

    Bay was a cad for so easily coming under the spell of The Empress.But without giving away anymore details, I enjoyed the time spent reading this lovely novel. I wanted more.

    *****

    I am currently in the middle of this next book.  I am not very impressed.  It is interesting that she admits that her husband Aaron Spelling basically wanted her by his side to show her off.  I think she is an intelligent woman but as she even says herself...."most people believe she is cold and heartless."  I'll let you know next time how I feel about the book when I have finished it.

    6319371

    November NANO novel writing Challenge is coming up soon.  I have an idea for a new book and plan to start writing it during November.

     

     

     

September 21, 2014

  • IT'S BEEN A FEW WEEKS....

    It's been a few weeks so I thought I should check in.  I'm doing OK.   I've been keeping so busy that I had lost track of the last time I had posted a blog.  I KNOW!!!!

    So, let me fill you in a bit.  If you follow me on Facebook, you probably already know most of this.   I am volunteering to transcribe old diaries and journals for the Smithsonian Institute.  I have done work on journals/diaries from the late 1800's and early 1900's written by scientists and inventors.  It is quite interesting even when I am transcribing the expenses of items they had to purchase.  It's amazing to see the costs of things back then.  I plan to continue doing this for as long as I can.

    I also located someone on Facebook whose name was the same as my oldest brother-in-law except the spelling of the last name was altered.  Knowing that in my husband's family line, there was a rumor that some brothers from Germany had a falling out and one changed the spelling ~ I contacted this person via Facebook and we exchanged some information.  For now, we haven't found a connection.  However, I just signed up for a 14 day trial with Ancestory.com and I have already traced some of the line back to Germany.  It turns out the last name used to be DINKLE.  Obviously when the people came over from Germany, they didn't speak English and probably immigration changed the name by accident.  Two stories in my husband's family are that the oldest ancestor we know of who immigrated to the US was either sent as an indentured servant at age 9 to pay his passage ~ or ~ he came with his family and his mother died in childbirth on the way ~ his father couldn't pay the passage and allowed his two boys (age 10 and 9) to be indentured.  Either way, what a tough way to start living in a country where you didn't speak English.

    I also have managed to trace my mother's side of the family ~ both maternal and paternal back to 7 greats....  I will be checking on my father's side next.  I already had the name and birth date of an ancestor from the 1800's and he was originally from Germany too.  I got some names that I had been trying to find out about for several years too.  I also connected with another member of part of that family and she has made a wonderful family tree.  She just sent me an e-mail that she is going to send me some private information that she didn't put on Ancestry.com.!!!

    I have also been on Facebook trying to keep up with friends and family.  I play a couple of games on FB too to keep my mind active.  And in-between I try to take care of the little chores and pay the bills and get ready for Autumn.  I have a few plants coming next week to be planted this fall for next year.   I'm anxious to get them so I can forget about working in the yard for a few months.  I cleaned up the garage a bit so I will be able to get to the snow blower   when it is time.  I also managed to get a 2 seater bench with an umbrella back into the shed by myself.  I need to make a trip to get more bird seed if I am going to feed them this winter...and then I probably should make room in the garage for the metal can that holds the seed so I can get to it when the snow piles up against the shed...

               

    Although I haven't read many books lately, I did get through a few.

    18518285        3 of 5 stars  ~   bookshelves: dramafamilyfriends

    Read on September 02, 2014

    The book started out as a story about two young girls who befriend each other and become close enough to feel like sisters. Lorrie Ann is beautiful, perfect, seems to have the most wonderful family and life. She is very supportive to her friend, Mia, who lives with an alcoholic mother, younger brothers who can be difficult and then an unexpected pregnancy and abortion. As the girls turn into women, their lives not only change but take unusual twists. As they drift apart due to location and circumstances ~ Mia feels like she can't help her friend, Lorrie Ann, enough. In spite of everything Mia tries to do, Lorrie Ann is spinning out of control. After many years, they meet again and some truths are revealed that changes everything.   This is a rather sad story in my opinion but a truthful one.

    Here's the book description...

    3.51 of 5 stars
    A fiercely beautiful debut blazing with emotion: a major first novel about friendships made in youth and how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or sustain.
    Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can't quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend's life. Until a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall apart further-and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, kind, brave Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is and what that question means about them both. A staggeringly arresting, honest novel of love, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship that moves us to ask ourselves just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.
    Here's another reader's review....
    Mia and Lorrie Anne are best friends in high school. Mia has a dysfunctional family dynamic, an alcoholic mother and an absent father, while Lorrie Ann's family is a model of love and happiness, even if they rather unconventionally live in a one bedroom apartment where her brother sleeps in a tent on the balcony. Mia believes herself to be hard-hearted and cold while Lorrie Ann is angelic and loving to all. Their paths diverge right after graduation when Mia gets accepted to Yale and Lorrie Ann gets pregnant and drops her plans for college.One tragedy after another dogs Lorrie Ann, while Mia's life just gets better and better. They drift away from each other until one day Lorrie Ann shows up unexpectedly at Mia's apartment in Istanbul. The tale she tells is stunning and Mia is once again caught up in Lorrie Ann's life, but Lorrie Ann disappears as suddenly as she arrived.

    A few years later Mia and her family are back in California and she reconnects with Dana, Lorrie Ann's mother. The picture that emerges is nothing like the image that Mia has carried in her heart all these years, and she is forced to acknowledge that maybe she never really knew Lorrie Ann at all. It's a painful realization for her, but it helps her move forward.

    I found this book so compelling that I read it in two days. I simply couldn't put it down. I don't think I'll forget it soon.

    18691005         4 of 5 stars  ~  bookshelves: dramafamilymothers-and-daughters

    Read on September 05, 2014

     

    Another Danielle Steel book which fits her usual format of storytelling. The main character is a beautiful redhead named Blaise (of course!) She is successful, a journalist, travels all over the world, has her own news program and seems to have everything she wants and needs for a perfect life. But is it perfect? Not by a long shot. She has a daughter who has diabetes and has lost her eyesight as a result. The daughter lives a very protected life on the campus of a boarding school When a virus runs through the school, it must close down for several months. Blaise has no choice but to bring her daughter back to her pent house suite along with an assistant to help care for the girl and monitor her diabetes. When a tragedy occurs, the assistant is replaced by a man. Over the course of several months living together, of course there is a romance. I will let you find who who falls in love with whom.This is a fast paced story and is typical of a Danielle Steel novel with lots of beautiful clothes, gorgeous people and descriptions of lovely places.

    Here's the book description...
    A PERFECT LIFEThe epitome of intelligence, high-powered energy, and grace, Blaise McCarthy is an icon in the world of television news, asking the tough questions and taking on the emotionally charged issues of world affairs and politics with courage and insight. A single mother, she manages her well-ordered career meticulously, always prepared on the air or interviewing world-renowned figures and heads of state. To her audience, Blaise seems to have it all. But privately, and off the set, there is another untold story she has kept hidden for years.
     
    Blaise’s teenage daughter, Salima, was blinded by Type 1 diabetes in childhood, and her needs have kept her away in a year-round boarding school with full-time medical care and assistance ever since. When Salima’s school closes after a tragedy, Salima returns to her mother’s New York City apartment, and suddenly they face challenges they’ve never had to deal with before, and that Blaise feels ill-equipped to handle. A new caretaker provided by Salima’s school creates as many problems as he solves. Handsome, accomplished, thirty-two-year-old Simon Ward, with strong opinions on every topic, questions how mother and daughter view themselves and each other. Simon opens new doors for both of them and refuses to accept Salima’s physical limitations. He turns their world upside down, and the three become friends.
     
    Then everything starts to unravel and Blaise can’t keep her two worlds separate anymore. A beautiful young anchorwoman is hired at the network; it is no secret that she is being groomed to take Blaise’s place. Her career as she has known it is threatened, and her previously well-ordered life feels totally out of control. For the first time, Blaise’s life is not perfect, but real.
     
    In this unforgettable tale, the incomparable Danielle Steel has written a novel that pulsates with emotion and honesty as three people face the truth about themselves. A Perfect Life is about what we do when facades fall away and we can no longer run from the truth. As old ideas fail, everything changes, and life is suddenly brand-new.

    Here's another reader's review...
    I've been reading Danielle Steel books since I was a teenager, and I've loved them. She has some truly great reads. This is not one of them. The story is tired and predictable. Strong, overachiever female character has the perfect, cosmopolitan life and doesn't need a man.  I have to say, I DESPISED Blaise. I'm supposed to admire a woman that has put her career over every facet in her life, including her child? No, thanks. For me, she wasn't admirable, and my ire for her only rose as I realized how she'd made sure to completely rendered her daughter helpless on top of sending her away to a special school so she wouldn't have to deal with the realities of her illness.That may not be how Ms. Steel intended Blaise to be seen, but it is how she came across to me. As much as I love her books, I feel like the last few have been really reaching. The plots are mundane and predictable and I don't feel the fire and passion that I once did when I read her books. I hope she snaps out of this streak, because I do enjoy her writing.
    18404427         3 of 5 stars  ~  bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriagedrama

    Read in September, 2014

     

    I have enjoyed every book I've read by Lisa See. This story takes place mostly in California before and after Pearl Harbor. 3 Oriental girls meet each other in Hollywood. Each is looking for a friend and a job and a place to live. They all wind up together. But as most relationships with 3 people in it; it's usually two against one. Two of the girls are Chinese and one is secretly Japanese. When Pearl Harbor is attacked, anyone who is oriental is labeled Japanese and is in fear. Someone tells on one of the 3 girls, the one who really is Japanese and she is sent to a camp in the US. The other two continue to work and live as Chinese. As the war goes on, each girl is faced with serious problems. During the story, their past is revealed. It takes a long time for the girls to get together again and even then, they are not sure who the one was who told.....and why.
    Here's the book description....
    3.55 rating
    An exciting new novel set in the "Chop Suey Circuit" of San Francisco right before World War II, from the beloved bestselling author of Snowflower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls.In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her?

    Here's another reader's review....
    Perhaps I took too long to finish reading this book; perhaps the intervals led to me getting bored over the story, I don't know. I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt, seeing how many others have been captivated by this story.The book traces the life of three female oriental dancers (and a plethora of other characters) through their time together performing at night clubs, being friends, turning enemies and trying to figure it all out. For such a sparkling premise, I expected a moving tale, or an emotionally wrought tale. I expected to feel sad, lost, poor, angry and furious in tow with each of the leading ladies. But I felt only a diluted version of these emotions, the narration starting lightly, and disappointing with not building up into a powerful force as the book picks up.

    I felt all three characters sounded the same, with similar thought processes, contemplations and a readiness to accept anything thrown at them, reacting briefly and going back to being all lovey dovey. With the amount of crap each character has gone through, (they have stunning backstories that bring them to the point where the book begins), they seem to have no depth, taking them at face value for the reactions they portray. There are just too many incidents that come across as convenient and hence unconvincing.

    I feel this book would've worked better if it had been a second or third person narrative instead of first. Most of the time I was confused over who was speaking. That and tighter writing would've made this a stellar novel. For now though, it did not quite satisfy my appetite...
    18656036        2 of 5 stars  ~  bookshelves: dramafamilyfriends

    Read in September, 2014

     

    This story started out so well. I was immediately drawn into the lives of the main characters. A family  made up of a father who is a high school teacher and his two teenage children, Eli and Deenie, are very close. Then one day Deenie's best friend has an unexplained seizure in class. After she is hospitalized, the entire high school is caught up in what is wrong...especially when some other girls start experiencing bizarre problems. The pace of the story was quick. I was drawn into the mystery of what was causing the problems. Was it really because the school was old and could have black mold or other dangerous issues? Why weren't the boys affected? Was it the lake that always had a stench and a neon-like glow? Was it because of drugs or sex or something else? As the story started to reveal many secrets, the pace slowed down to a crawl and then the conclusion just fell flat.
    Here's the book description...
    3.33 of 5 stars
    The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

    As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

    A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire,The Fever affirms Megan Abbot's reputation as "one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation"

    and another reader's review....
    The premise of Megan Abbott’s new book, “The Fever”, grabbed me. A high school girl collapses in class and is rushed to the hospital. She lapses into a coma and the doctors are baffled. What could cause a seemingly healthy girl to collapse? While she remains hospitalized, another girl collapses during a high school concert. Are these incidents related? What is causing these young girls to become so ill? Is it something in the environment? Is it related to recent vaccinations? Or something more sinister?
    Overall, I would give this book three stars. The characters were a bit stereotypical but the mystery did make me want to keep reading. However, I definitely waffled between two and three stars by the time I was done with this book.
    So that's what I have been doing these past few weeks.....
      

September 7, 2014

  • I HAZ A SAD.....

    I can feel some sadness coming on.  It's just over 4 weeks until the first anniversary of my husband's passing.  I can feel the emotions coming up.  I'm not putting this out there for anyone to think they have to rescue me or save me or send me lots of uplifting comments.  I'm just knowing that this next month is going to be tough.....

    I read the book about the 5 stages of Grief last year.

    On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nursers, Clergy and Their Own Families, by Kubler-Ross 9780684839387  At first, I thought something was wrong with me because I hadn't collapsed with grief or had long crying spells or even felt overwhelmed with sadness.  From reading the book, I learned that we all grieve in different ways.  Also, I learned that when you are living and caring for someone who is dying over a period of time, you have been grieving all along.  You try to be positive and cheerful and optimistic even when your partner tells you not to do that.  You cry alone when you know they can't hear you ~ in the shower ~ in bed at night ~ in the arms of a friend ~ you always find a way to feel it.  You beg them to eat something ~ trying to find the magic food that will give them protein, strength and nourishment but not make them feel sicker than they are.   You try not to let your feelings get hurt when your spouse is cranky or snaps at you because  you know they don't really mean it.  You try to be comforting when they are frightened and confused even though you are exhausted because you have been up with them for hours.  You try to forget the loss of dignity and privacy they have to give up as you clean them up again and again.  You have to also be firm with friends and relatives that want to visit when you know it's not going to go well and your spouse is forcing himself to be conversational when all he wants to do is go to sleep for a few minutes.

    Just when I thought I was going to be overwhelmed with all the work every day.... the Hospice nurse suggested to me that I ask my doctor for a light anti-depressant  to help me get through the days while my husband slowly lost his strength, his hope and his will to live.  I am still taking that little blue pill and it does help.

    But, I also know there comes a time when you have to let all those feelings come up again.  Sometimes it is just a song or a photo or listening to  your friends talk about their plans to go somewhere with their partners in life.  That's when it really hurts.   You are happy for them, of course, but oh so sad for yourself because you can't do the same thing.

    Of course, there are good times too.  I do enjoy being by myself most of the time.  I don't think that is hypocritical.  I really do enjoy some of my quiet times.  I can stay up as long as I wish.  I can buy food that I like and prepare it the way I like it.  I don't have to answer the phone or the door if I don't want to.  I don't feel the need to put on makeup every day or change my clothes every day.  I can come and go as I please.  I've learned to do many things on my own, without asking for help.

    I do have good friends and family that check on me.  I do have lunch with some of them.  And I am not surprised at the number of people who haven't been around for months.  Sometimes they can't handle the grief either.

    Still, this next month is going to be tougher than the first several months were, I think.  I still have a DVD of songs my husband made for me to listen to. When he tried to have me listen while he was still here, I couldn't.   I have decided to listen on the anniversary of his death...all alone...in the dark and cry as long as I need to.

    Again, I am not asking for sympathy.  No one can change what happened anyway.  I just want you to know why my blogs may be in a different tone for a few weeks.

    And here's part of my thoughts....

    It's strange how it feels when you have to make that call  ~ your world is rocked.  You almost can't breathe.  Everything seems like it's going in slow motion.  You see the sunshine as if through a veil.  You hear sounds of the world continuing but it's muffled as if you are trying to protect yourself.  You can't talk or breathe - your stomach knots up and you want to wake up from a bad dream ~but you can't.  It's not a dream.  It's not a movie you can turn off.  It's not avoidable.  Your life will never feel the same.  Your husband HAS DIED!  Moments ago, your life was going along just  fine and then he died and your life will never be the same.  You're a widow and just joined the club no one ever wants to be in.  And now ~ even worse ~ you have to TELL people.

     

August 31, 2014

  • END OF SUMMER AND BEGINNING OF AUTUMN

           

     

    Here we are at the end of August, 2014!   Where DID the time go?  It seems like it was just a few days ago that the snow finally melted and the grass was turning green  We waited so long for the trees to leaf out and now those very same leaves are turning color and starting to fall into the yard.

    Today would have been my husband's 70th birthday!  What a milestone that would have been.  I can't believe that he isn't here to celebrate it.  I had trouble sleeping last night and woke up this morning with the song HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY in my head.    So I turned to SIMPLE  ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach to see what she had to say about this date.

    Interestingly enough, her essay is about the times when your creativeness has run dry and you don't have enough energy to feel like you can do it again.

    "One must also accept that one has "uncreative" moments.  The more honestly one can accept that, the quicker these moments will pass.  One must have the courage to feel empty and discouraged." ~ ETTY HILLESUM

    "....One morning you will wake up, put the coffee on, begin to prime the well to continue in the re-creation of your authentic life, only to discover that the well has run dry.  It might be disconcerting to end this month on a downbeat, but accepting uncreative days as part of the creative cycle is critical to your serenity.  Uncreative days are real life."

    Sarah Ban Breathnach goes on to say ..."Once in the middle of a creative drought, I sat in New York with my agent and confessed that for months I had been unable to dream.  I couldn't fantasize, visualize or even make a wish.  Since I'm Irish*...the inability to dream is the emotional equivalent of a chemical imbalance in my soul." 

    *The comment about being Irish really hit me.  I'm partially Irish too and although I do dream...I usually don't remember the dreams entirely when I wake up.

    "What should I do?" Sarah asked her agent.   "You don't do anything." was the response. Wait it out, accept the period as graciously as you can and get ready for a quantum leap in creativity or consciousness."

    "This does not mean that you quit.  You still have to go through the motions, keep showing up.  Prepare for the future.  But, defer from making any life-altering creative decisions until you are ready again.  Keep replenishing the well.  Resurrect any old projects that may have fallen into the sinkhole of second thoughts."  Give them another glance and another chance."

    .

    Most of my life, September has been my favorite month.   When I was in school, we started back to classes the day after Labor Day.  So, for me, Labor Day and September represented a new start ~ a do-over ~ a chance to do better ~ an opportunity to succeed.  In checking Simple Abundance for September, Sarah Ban Breathnach entitled September 1st as TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF.

    "Since ancient times, September has been viewed as the beginning of the new year, a time for reflection and resolution.Change in the natural world is subtle but relentless; seasons seem to give way gently to one another, even if the monthly motion is so swift we don't realize it.  But when the leaves are finally turning colors, it's time for turning over a personal new leaf too.  Time to restore our life.  

    In 1949, Elizabeth Fite wrote "Why do you suppose so many of us waste the autumn?  Why don't we make the effort that would provide something new in our lives?  What do you want more or less of in your life so that you can love the life you're leading?  It could be as simple as seeing friends more often, setting aside time for adventures with your children, rekindling romance, taking an hour every day just for yourself, or just taking more walks in the Autumn sunlight."

    Be open to positive changes.  I can try to do that and so can you.

      Today is a good day ~ even the sunshine smells good.

     

    So, here's what I have been doing.  I'm still following the Nutrisystem eating plan, even though I have put the next box of food on a delay until October.  I am finishing up the NS food I have and supplementing other foods too.   After being stuck at a 9 lb. loss for several weeks, I lost 3 more lbs as of Friday!  Yay!

    I am volunteering as a Smithsonian Institute Digital transcriber and have been working on various diaries from the late 1800's and early 1900's.

    I am still planning on writing another novel in November for the NANO Challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days.  For now, the working title is INDIGO DREAMS.

    And I am planning on reading more books.

    And speaking of books, here is what I read since the last blog.

     

    18144115

    I've read previous novels by Jennifer Weiner.  Usually they are light-hearted in my opinion. This one was difficult to read. A young mother who thought she was handling "everything and everyone" finally came to the realization that she was abusing prescription drugs. As the reader learned more about her; it was obvious that she was in denial. Some people, including her husband, tried to talk to her but she got so used to telling lies that she couldn't "hear" what they were saying. Finally it got bad enough that her husband put her into rehab. Of course, at first she resisted and insisted that she didn't belong there, she could stop on her own, this wasn't a problem, she was in pain....all the things that people tell themselves. Although her story didn't turn out perfectly; there was a happier ending.
    Here's the book description...
    Allison Weiss got her happy ending: a handsome husband, an adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician's office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder: Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine?  Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class, or if your husband ignores you? She tells herself that the pills help her make it through her days; but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that's becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?
    Hailed as "a witty, realistic criticism on the modern age" (Boston Herald), this remarkable story of a woman's fall into addiction and struggle to find her way back up again is Jennifer Weiner's most masterful, moving, and celebrated work yet.
    Here's another reader's review...
    I have read many books by Weiner so I expected a fluff, funny, beach read. It was not what I got. This novel follows Allison who is a blogger about women/mothers, wife, mother to a five year old, and daughter to a distant mother and a father who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She throws out her back and gets Percocet to help deal with the pain and discovers that it deals with emotional as well as physical pain. As time passes, she finds that she needs more and more pills to maintain her ability to cope with the pressures in her life. Her house of cards eventually comes tumbling down when those around her realize that she is just not herself anymore. Where do you go from here?Although the topic is a serious one, Weiner was able to add some touches of humor. To me, the story seemed realistic. I know that some feel that some of the characters were not well developed but I believe that she really wanted to concentrate more on Allison and her fall. I do think that the book is worthwhile and does a nice job of depicting how your average middle class person can become an addict.

    And I read

    17395590

    I'm glad I read this book about Candy Spelling. She mentioned in it that most people don't like her or think she is cold and unfeeling. That's what I thought too until I read the book. She came from an average family but they didn't show their feelings to each other. She was always criticized by her mother and always felt like the outsider. When she married Aaron Spelling, he was just beginning his road to success. He wanted her by his side all the time. She embraced being a wife and mother and was known as Mrs. Aaron Spelling...not Candy Spelling. She took care of him during his last years of illness and protected his image. Once he was gone, she decided to reinvent herself. She was very good at mixing well with the Hollywood crowd and worked tirelessly for charities and other places in need. She also talks about her relationship with her daughter, Tori. She admits she made mistakes but said all the family did as well. She also dispelled the rumor that Aaron did not leave Tori much money. She said both children got advances from trust accounts over the years. Also all the grandchildren have education funds that will help them in the future.At times I felt she didn't really understand how tough the world is if you don't have a lot of money but I think she really works hard to do the right things.

    Here's the book description...
    After thirty-eight happy years of marriage to influential producer Aaron Spelling, raising two children in Hollywood, and co-managing one of the largest estates in the country (finally selling Spelling Manor, as detailed on her HGTV series, for $85 million), Candy is now adjusting to life on her own—downsizing to a Century City condo. She’s ready to share the most intimate details of her life with Aaron; how his illness caused her to question her identity; and how she’s reinvented herself as an independent woman, businesswoman, and television personality. Along the way, Candy reveals all-new dishy stories including those of Hollywood friends Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Michael Jackson, Janet Leigh, Dean Martin, and Elizabeth Taylor (her lifelong rival over their jewelry).
     Engaging, heartwrenching, and hilarious, Candy at Last shares her story of how family, friends, and her husband’s inspiring advice to “follow your dreams” has made her determined to live life to the fullest.

    And another reader's review.
    This is the second book by Candy Spelling, her first written about 5 years before. I have not read the first, which may have helped fill in some gaps with this one, but maybe not. In this book, Candy documents a bit of what her childhood was like, her time as a single woman (which was really not very long, she was married at 19 to another many years prior to marrying Aaron Spelling and married Aaron Spelling pretty quickly after that). Each chapter is short and discusses some small event or thoughts on where she is or was in her life. She does address her complicated relationship with her daughter, Tori, but does not make it a main issue addressed, unlike Tori in one of her books. The book is easy reading, like Tori's books, they are fine for airplane reading or beach reading. Nothing too complicated or heavy.
    Candy addresses her own shyness on several occasions, but she seems anything but shy. She also pats herself on the back for accomplishments that seem less like successes than minor events that weren't complete failures (as in the stationery store she and a friend owned that lasted for 2 years, her shows on HGTV that ranked higher in the rankings than 3 other channels, like TLC, and a TV show that ran one season on E!). However, if she wants to look on the positive side of things, than who can fault her for that. Perhaps she's a glass half full kind of person.
    She discusses her husband's passing and says he had Alzheimer's, but much of what she describes sounds much more like he had a series of strokes that impaired him. Furthermore, he was never officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's as he did not go through the entire battery of tests, so it seems a bit sketchy and disrespectful to people who really do have Alzheimer's when she explains some of his behavior as attributable to that, such as paranoia,  when her daughter has accused her of having an affair with Aaron's attorney and having him change the will just prior to his death when he wasn't well enough to protest. Candy never addresses the alleged affair at all, though she does talk about dating after her husband's death. Also, not all dementia is caused by Alzheimer's, but she seems to have convinced herself that is what he had.  She really paints herself as the ever-loving, ever-vigilant martyr of a wife during his decline, while somehow still forcing herself to get out for lunches or Mah Jong games with her friends.
    I was left ambivalent as to her as a person. It is difficult to get a grasp on who she really is rather than the experiences she has had. Overall, this book is light reading- that I'm glad I purchased for 50% off- that allows Candy to applaud herself on her excellent taste, the importance of having a decorator and a gift-wrapping room and what a strong woman she feels she has become. So, best of luck to her as she continues on her path in life.
       

August 23, 2014

  • CUSTOMER SERVICE AND BOOKS....OH MY!!!!

     

    I want to give KUDOS to two companies whose customer service has been excellent for me this week.   I ordered some Christmas gifts from Current Catalog.  I've been a customer with them for many, many years.  I've never been disappointed with their service.  Anyway, a large box was delivered 3 days ago.  I was home.  The doorbell didn't ring and I didn't check the door that day....had no reason.   During the night we had a very heavy rainstorm.  The next morning I opened up the door and found the box....completely soaked through to the point that the cardboard was falling apart.  The two top items were soaked and ruined.  I knew it wasn't Current Catalog's fault but I thought I would call to tell them the delivery source they chose had caused a problem for me.  The customer representative apologized and said she would replace the two items at no cost.  They are on their way now.

    The next day I got the notice from NETFLIX that one of the DVDS I had ordered was not available so they were sending the next two DVDS  for another series I am watching.  OK...I got those.  Yesterday I got an e-mail that NETFLIX found a copy of the DVD I wanted in California and they were sending it to me also.  It arrived today!  What great service!

     

    ****

    I also got a notice on Facebook that the Smithsonian Institute was looking for volunteers to type out old diaries and papers.  Their archives are so full that they want to get the information into the computers.  They are asking for people to read the papers and transcribe them online.  Apparently they use 3 or 4 people to transcribe each document and then have other  people to review.  I've done it for 2 days and I love it.  It is so interesting.  Currently I am helping with a diary from 1910 in New York City written by a man who is working on patents for some companies.  I haven't been able to go in sequence since there are other people doing this work too.  But I know I will continue to enjoy it.

    ******

    Smithsonian Looking for Volunteers to Transcribe Historical Documents Digitally

    Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 9.32.13 AMIf you’re a history buff and looking to contribute to the world of education and history, then the Smithsonian is looking for your help. They are looking for digital volunteers to help transcribe their repository of historical documents – journals, letters, and more. Visit theSmithsonian’s Transcription Center and sign up as a volunteer. You can contribute to a larger work (transcribing a volume or a book) or work on smaller assignments, such as a letter or a note.

    This a great opportunity to contribute to preserving our heritage electronically and helping to provide broader access of this content to the public.

     

     

     

    AND IN OTHER NEWS.....

         Well ~ actually it is nearly the  END OF AUGUST!   Hard to believe but summer is nearly over.  Unless we get a very long Indian (Indiana) summer that lasts through September.  About now, everyone is getting tired of gardening.  The weeds are starting to take over the plants.  I have a few plants/bulbs coming next month to plant for next year.  Then I think I am done because I am running out of space ~ plus the critters in my yard are eating a lot of the flowers again!*

     

        During these past 10 months of being a widow ~ I have had several "firsts" to get through....the holidays, my birthday, anniversary and so on.  Next week is my husband's 70's birthday and then in October is the first anniversary of his death.   I didn't go on any trips this year and probably will hesitate to do that because of my two cats.  I don't want them to be completely alone for a long period of time yet.

    It is still hard to believe my husband is really gone.  I still think I hear him in the house at times ~ or think I need to rush home to fix dinner or do something with him.  I was telling some friends last night that I don't really mind being alone.  In fact, there are times that I really enjoy it.  But there are also times I wish he was here to fix something that would be so simple for him or get something high down for me.  I will have to drag a ladder upstairs to get my bedroom curtains down for example and they are so dirty!

    ++++

    I'm still on my new eating plan.  I have postponed the next Nutrisystem delivery for 2 months....and substituting some other foods just for a change.  Haven't gained back any weight but haven't lost any either.

    ****

    I did read a couple of books ....

    18404251

    This is the story of a group of friends ~ mostly a Mommies Group ~ who have met each other because of their children. The spouses have met each other as well. There are 4 mommies and one stay-at-home daddy who regularly spend time together with their children. Each one has an issue and one summer weekend the entire group meets at a family member's summer cottage. As a lot of drinking and carrying on occurs, some of the secrets are revealed. It's all about the friendship, love, sex and raising of small children. The parents sometimes act worse than their young children but usually manage to make up and continue on ~ just like most little children do.
    Here's the book description..
    One of the most anticipated debut novels of 2014, Cutting Teeth takes place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.They include Nicole, the neurotic hostess terrified by internet rumors that something big and bad is going to happen in New York City that week; stay-at-home dad Rip, grappling with the reality that his career wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves; Allie, one half of a two-mom family, and an ambitious artist, facing her ambivalence toward family life; Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into; and Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on Tenzin, the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets. These tensions build, burn, and collide over the course of the weekend, culminating in a scene in which the ultimate rule of the group is broken.

    Cutting Teeth captures the complex dilemmas of early mid-life—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It confronts class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life's greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets? And, perhaps most of all, Julia Fierro’s thought-provoking debut explores the all-consuming love we feel for those we need most, and the sacrifice and self-compromise that underpins that love.

    All this is packed into a page-turning, character-driven novel that crackles with life and unexpected twists and turns that will keep readers glued as they cringe and laugh with compassion, in-credulousness, and, most of all, self-recognition. Cutting Teeth is a warm, whip-smart and unpretentious literary novel.
    And here's another reader's review...
    This is a book that was right up my alley. Mothers with young children? Check! Mommy group? Check. Unfortunately, what seemed like a perfect fit ended up being just the opposite.Fierro has a great writing style. It's quite readable and her dialogue is spot on. My technical issue with this book is that the various narratives (I think there 6 or 7 narrators) never really comes together for me. I think that Fierro tried to bring everything together at the end, but it just didn't work for me.

    Now, here is my personal issue with this book. I think that Fierro writes for a reader who has a sense of humor that differs from mine. My guess is that someone who leans toward sarcastic or cynical humor would probably enjoy this book more than I did. Frankly, I found this a very hard book to stand. The characters, in my view, were just stereotypes of issues that a parent might face. It is all fine and good to take an issue and build a character out of it, but Fierro seemed to be taking characters and building issues out of them. With the exception of Tenzin, the Tibetan nanny, I found every single adult (and many of the children) to be absolutely loathesome and, really, could care less about any of them.

    A different reader may have a different take on this, but this reader says to skip this one.

    18090157   I   have been a fan of Toni Braxton for many years. I also saw a life coaching program that took place in Chicago on which her sister Tawanda was featured. And of course, I have been watching the Braxton Family Values reality show too. This book did reveal that in spite of Toni Braxton's success ~ her financial gain was not as much as you would expect. She was taken advantage of several times...resulting in filing for bankruptcy twice. One of her sons had/has autism and she works very hard to help him become a highly functioning person. And then there are her health problems. But the biggest issue she has had is the feeling of guilt because her sisters didn't achieve success as quickly as she did. Being the oldest child meant that she was expected to help her sisters in every way and was often the recipient of anger when things didn't work out for them the way they wanted. All in all, this was an interesting book.
    Here's the book description....
    The bestselling solo R&B artist finally opens up about her rocky past and her path to redemptionWhile Toni Braxton may appear to be living a charmed life, hers is in fact a tumultuous story: a tale of personal triumph after a public unraveling. In her heartfelt memoir, the six-time Grammy Award-winning singer and star of WE tv's hit reality series Braxton Family Values is unapologetically honest in revealing the intimate details of her journey.

    Toni and the entire Braxton clan have become America's favorite musical family, but what fans may not know is the intense guilt Toni once felt when she accepted a recording deal that excluded her sisters. That decision would haunt Toni for years to come, tainting the enormous fame she experienced as a popular female vocalist at the top of the charts. Despite her early accomplishments, Toni's world crumbled when she was forced to file for bankruptcy twice and was left all alone to pick up the pieces.

    Always the consummate professional, Toni rebuilt her life but then found herself in the midst of more heartache. The mother of an autistic child, Toni had long feared that her son's condition might be karmic retribution for some of the life choices that left her filled with remorse. Later, when heart ailments began plaguing her at the age of forty-one and she was diagnosed with lupus, Toni knew she had to move beyond the self-recrimination and take charge of her own healing—physically and spiritually.

    And another reader's review...
    This was a quick read, less than 300 pages. While I'm not a fan of Toni's music, I am a huge fan of her family's reality show, Braxton Family Values that's on We TV. Toni opens up about her two bankruptcies, lupus, Autism, cosmetic surgeries, and other personal matters.She grew up in Severn, MD (my home state) with deeply religious parents, her mother more so than the father, it seems. She's grown up to feel guilty about things she shouldn't and seems to harbor a small amount of animosity because of it.

    What I've learned about Toni is that she's terrible with money but wants us to believe that's not the case. She's terrible at using birth control too. She's been generous with her family financially and I wonder how much. She didn't get into that much but I'm curious. She never talked about how angry she is/was toward her cheating father or if she ever was. Odd not to mention it.

    I've never been a fan of her mother, Evelyn (especially since she threatened to 'slap the piss' out of Tamar), and after learning that her mother always reminded Toni to not 'forget about your sisters' since Toni got a record deal at 23 and her sister's didn't, I like her even less. And she had the nerve to seem angry when Toni got the deal. I've always had the feeling, and I don't know why, that Toni has financially supported her mother after her separation, then divorce, from her husband. I'm intrigued by the fact that Evelyn's 'guarded' about her own childhood. At a young age, she moved from the south to live with an aunt in Maryland.

    I wish Toni had opened up a bit more about some things but overall this was a good, mostly honest book about her entire life.

    *****

     

       ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER....