COFFEE MORNING ON SATURDAY: REMINISCING…

Nothing tastes better than morning coffee, and I love having mine in this little office nook, with the new TV playing nearby…

***

***

On Thursday, I wrote a post called Coffee Morning:  Hot Day Ahead, and I mused about how I’ve lived in these parts for almost 46 years.

I wanted to share another photo from back in those early days, but couldn’t find it anywhere!  Which reminds me that I really need to better organize my online photos…by date, at least.  I’m doing that now, but the older ones were missing those vital details, so despite searching through endless folders, I couldn’t find the one I wanted.  What do you bet that I’ll find it now?  LOL

Meanwhile,  I went to the source of the photo:  the album.  I have a stack of old albums on a closet shelf.  I found and scanned this picture…to spotlight the three boys, with the youngest one in his ORANGE backpack.  We were spending the day in Roeding Park, where they have Storyland, the zoo, boat rides, etc.  This photo was snapped in May 1972.

 

***

I never go to that park anymore.  It has run down a bit…although I did read that the zoo was undergoing some improvements.

Back then, we were living in one of the outer small towns, 70 miles from the city…and I hated that town!  It was always surrounded by fog and tumbleweeds.  It reminded me of that town in Texas, the setting for the movie The Last Picture Show, which, incidentally, was playing then in the dust-filled theater in that town.

 

I couldn’t wait to get out…and we actually did move from there a few months later.  To the city with this park and a few other amenities I enjoyed.

A peek at the interior world back then….before we moved to the city.  Posters and beads…and leopard print pillows.

 

***

Avocado green was another favorite color back then…and note the stacking plastic bins.  They were old Carnation containers for products.  We got them from a dairy in Northern California before we moved.  We also used them for the kids’ toys.

 

***

Back to reality, the 21st Century.  I’m still reading The Sunshine Sisters, having finished Good Me, Bad Me yesterday (click title for review).

 

***

Earlier today I discovered an upcoming release from another favorite author:  Diane Chamberlain.    The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. It showcases Diane Chamberlain at the top of her talent.

One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever. It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love— and the life—she was meant to have?

***

I love finding upcoming releases from old and new favorite authors.  What have you discovered lately?  What are you reading?

What moments in the past remind you of who you once were?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE SUNSHINE SISTERS”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is one of my current reads:  The Sunshine Sisters,  by Jane Green, “A warm, satisfying tale about the love that binds even the most dysfunctional of families.”—People

 

Beginning:  (Prologue)

All those years when Ronni thought she was sick, all those years convinced that every mole was melanoma, every cough was lung cancer, every case of heartburn was an oncoming heart attack, after all those years, when the gods finally stopped taking care of her she wasn’t scared.

***

56:  This is what it feels like to be an adult, thinks Lizzy, proud of herself for being such a good host.  She made everyone have some pesto with their burgers, and they all declared it awesome. 

They sit around on the outdoor lounge furniture, drinking the beers Craig brought, watching the sun set over the water, reflecting a golden glow over everyone there.

***

Synopsis:  Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all…

***

I must have a new Jane Green novel for each summer, even though I still have to immerse myself in dark thrillers, too.

What do you think?  Do the excerpts and the blurb pull you in?

***

COFFEE MORNING: HOT DAY AHEAD!

Good morning!  Grab a cup of coffee and join us over at Bookishly Boisterous for Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts.  It will be in the triple digits again today…sigh.  I’m used to it, of course, having lived in Central California for…ready for it?  Almost 46 years!  We moved here when my youngest son was an infant, which is how I remember the number of years…LOL.  As long as I can recall the ages of my children, I’m good at retrieving those memories.  (Below) Back in the 70s with my three sons, including the infant after whose birth we came to these parts (for his daddy’s job).

  • The kids laugh at these photos…the bell bottoms and the bowl haircuts.
  • We had a lot of orange in our lives, too, from the orange infant seat to an orange back pack for hauling around the kid…and, of course, I can’t find that photo!
  • While I work on this blog post, I have the TV on in the background, and Colombo was playing when I turned it on…I used to watch that show endlessly back in the day!

***

  • Moving on…trying to stay cool, which works as long as I only leave the house for errands in the mornings…
  • And…as long as the AC keeps working, we’re good.
  • Meanwhile, doing some reading and Netflix watching.  Finished the newest season of Orange Is the New Black...and yay!  Wentworth (an Australian prison show) brought out a fifth season, which I started last night.
  • Currently reading Good Me, Bad Me...and The Sunshine Sisters.

 

***

  • Last week was a Mini-Bloggiesta (Finish Line Post), and I had fun changing up my blogs on the surface (headers, themes, etc.), and even did a little bit of behind the scenes work to correct broken links in old posts…I got tired after a while, and told myself that “nobody reads those old posts anyway!”
  • The honeymooners are home, exhausted, just in time for the first triple digit weekend.  They headed for the pool.
  • As usual, I had a lunch out at California Pizza Kitchen…I think it must be a habit now, as my server said “see you next weekend” when I left.  Yeah, predictable.  I had a different soup this time…Chicken Tortilla soup…and, of course, the strawberry margarita.  If I can’t vacation in Europe like the kids, I can enjoy my lunches…so there!  LOL

 

***

  • I dreamed last night that I was 105!  Not just a reflection of the temperature, apparently, but a sense of getting older?  I woke up feeling especially tired.
  • Today I need to hightail it to the manicurist…I broke a nail!  Seriously…with these Gel nails, I  don’t usually have any problems, but last night, I reached in the fridge for something and slammed my hand on the edge…it’s that dang refrigerator light that’s out!  Must call maintenance, as when I try to replace the lights, it doesn’t work.  There’s something wrong with the outlet itself, I guess.
  • Yikes!  Making a list.

***

Guess I’d better get busy on my day.  I must call the nail salon…and then I want to head to the bank while it’s cool….and then pick up the mail, etc. 

Enjoy your week!

***

BLOGGIESTA FINISH LINE!

 

We’re done!  Bloggiesta is over, and here is what I accomplished:

  • Change one thing about the look of the blog- Changed Theme, header, & background- done!
  • Clean up the sidebar, removing at least one thing- Removed two things – Done!
  • Check some of my older posts and correct broken links – Checked posts for 2009 & 2010, correcting broken links…Whew!
  • Add a page (about me, policy, etc.) (Created a Separate Page for Review Ratings & Policies) – Done!
  • Visit other Bloggiesta participants – Visited 11 blogs so far – ongoing
  • Change something in one of my other blogs: Changed header at the Potpourri site

***

Ole!

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “YOU’LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download from a favorite author:  You’ll Never Know, Dear, by Hallie Ephron, an addictive novel of psychological suspense from the award-winning author of Night Night, Sleep Tight, about three generations of women haunted by a little girl’s disappearance, and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to the truth . . .

 

Beginning: Elisabeth Strenger peeled three boiled eggs under running water, dropped them into a chipped Blue Willow china bowl, and began to mash them with a fork.  She took a quick puff on her cigarette, blew smoke out through the back window, and tapped ashes into the drain.

***

Friday 56%:  Evelyn smiled and sighed, closed her eyes and began.  “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts…”  Vanessa didn’t close her eyes.  She noticed that Jenny didn’t either.

In the middle of the blessing, a cricket chirped.  And chirped again.  A cell phone on the table in front of Lis lit up.  Lis swiped it to ignore the call.

I couldn’t resist adding the additional sentences!

***

Synopsis:  Seven-year-old Lissie Woodham and her four-year-old sister Janey were playing with their porcelain dolls in the front yard when an adorable puppy scampered by. Eager to pet the pretty dog, Lissie chased after the pup as it ran down the street. When she returned to the yard, Janey’s precious doll was gone . . . and so was Janey.

Forty years after Janey went missing, Lis—now a mother with a college-age daughter of her own—still blames herself for what happened. Every year on the anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, their mother, Miss Sorrel, places a classified ad in the local paper with a picture of the toy Janey had with her that day—a one-of-a-kind porcelain doll—offering a generous cash reward for its return. For years, there’s been no response. But this year, the doll came home.

It is the first clue in a decades-old mystery that is about to turn into something far more sinister—endangering Lis and the lives of her mother and daughter as well. Someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago, and is desperate to keep it hidden.

***

What do you think?  Are you eager to start turning those pages?

***

COFFEE MORNING WITH PHOTOS & LIFE MOMENTS…

It’s time for Coffee Morning, and sharing our Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts, with Bookishly Boisterous.

What a week!  Some great reading, and lots of FB sharing from my daughter, who is in Prague at the moment (honeymoon), but right now she and her husband may be getting ready for Amsterdam.  As some of you know, my eldest son lives in Prague.  When they arrived, though, he was in Dublin…he is a traveling photographer, doing events.

Heather, David, and my son Craig are enjoying a beer or two…or more…

***

Heather and David, surrounded by bones…they love skeleton art!

***

  • Meanwhile, back home, I’m doing a few odds and ends here on this site for Bloggiesta.  A Mini-Bloggiesta, actually, so I started early with a new theme, header, and background.  And then I changed the header again.
  • I am binge-watching, of course, although I have only finished 7 episodes of the Orange is the New Black...for some reason, I’m not loving what is happening on screen at the moment.  I keep waiting to move beyond it…I won’t say what “it” is, though, because of spoilers.
  • On the other hand, I’ve sped right through the weekly episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.…and yesterday’s episode was the Season I finale.  Sigh.
  • I watched a Netflix movie, War Machine, starring Meg Tilly and Brad Pitt.  Remember Meg Tilly?  Some of you might recall her from The Big Chill…and a few other movies from the past.  She has basically “retired” from films until now.  But today she is on Home and Family, chatting about her break from movies, and her return to a Netflix film.
  • I’m reading The Red Hunter and The Beach Inn...yes, two books, although I must admit that the first one, a suspense novel, has me by the hair, so it’s hard to put it down long enough to read the lovely beach book.

  • In the office, with the new flat screen TV, I have Home & Family on in the background…and they are talking about shampoos that have Greek Yogurt in them…and how good that is for you.  Maybe I should try it!  It might help prevent my rashes, as I suspect my shampoos as well as hair dye.    I do love having the TV voices as a backdrop for when I’m on the computer.  I feel less isolated!

 

  • Something is tugging away at me…oh, yeah, the dental appointment that I canceled when in the midst of the rashes…and I haven’t rescheduled it.  I know I should do that.  Maybe today…Hmm.
  • One more photo from Prague.  There were plenty of castle photos, but I decided to share this one, from the underground train system.  Of course Heather and David loved it…the skeletons!

 

***

That’s my week so far.  What did yours look like?

***

MY “NEW” INTERIOR WORLD: THOUGHTS….

Welcome to another Coffee Morning with my Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts.  Check in at Bookishly Boisterous to see what others are sharing.

  • A Mini-Bloggiesta is coming on June 17-18
  • Typically, I’ve already started with my changes…and since I love the “cosmetic” ones best, that’s what I’ve done so far:  a new theme, background and header.  I may change it all later…LOL.  The more tedious “fixes” will come once the event has started (sidebar, checking for broken links, etc.).
  • Maybe there will be pages to add.
  • Meanwhile, here in my Interior World, I finally found my new office TV, and it was installed, connected, etc., last Saturday.  My favorite thing:  the Geek Squad, who moved efficiently and even tied up the cords so they are almost invisible!  Then I rearranged my book stacks, moving them from the coffee table/trunk to that little shelf against the wall.  This morning I have the TV on, as background noise, while I’m on the computer.  I started watching the Senate hearing, but the voices started droning on in a repetitive fashion…so I switched to Home & Family, where I don’t even have to pay attention at all.

  • My larger book stack is in the living room.  They are the “up next” books, theoretically.  The stack looks worse than it is…LOL.

  • I am finally clear of the skin condition!  A stronger steroid ointment prescribed by the doctor last week took care of it…over a three-day period.
  • I am trying to believe it is finally gone, while reminding myself to beware, as it has returned…twice?  Three times?
  • I will be optimistic.  And stay away from potentially problematic hair dye.
  • I finished watching Season 5 of House of Cards!  And tomorrow...Orange is the New Black is bringing a new season.
  • Last night I scrolled through Netflix, Amazon Prime, and then Hulu, where I watched the newest episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.  Loving it!
  • Tomorrow I will check out movie listings…there hasn’t been anything in a while, but who knows what could happen?

***

That’s it for my week.  What did yours look like?

***

FROM THE INTERIOR: MY THOUGHTS….

Welcome to another Coffee Morning…and thoughts about Bookish/Not So Bookish things.  Check in over at Bookishly Boisterous to find other posts.

  • When I re-read last week’s post, I could see that I am still struggling with some of the same issues:  trying to find the perfect TV for my office, a small room; and the skin condition.
  • A TV was delivered last Saturday, and it was way too big for the space!  Yes, I had measured, but somehow, some extra legs at the ends of the TV made all the difference.  I sent it back.
  • Today I’m going to a different store…and hope to finally find something.
  • As for my allergic reaction:  I went to the doctor on Tuesday, and she prescribed a topical cream that is stronger…and seems to be making inroads.  The itching has diminished to almost zero.
  • It is boring to have the same struggles week after week!  But my reading has been okay so far.  I read and reviewed How It All Began , which I enjoyed; and The Breakdown, which was amazing.  Currently I am reading It’s Always the Husband.
  • On Netflix, I started watching Season 5 of House of Cards.
  • In the month of May, I read and reviewed 16 books, my highest total since January.  My favorite book of the month:

  The Night the Lights Went Out

 

  • There were several really awesome contenders for the month, but I loved the characters, the settings, and the plot.  Here’s a tidbit:

Secrets are a core theme in The Night the Lights Went Out, and we have a couple of the characters that share some of their secrets, a bit at a time, as alternating narrators. Sugar, the ninety-something matriarch is technically Merilee’s landlord, but as time and secret-sharing bring them closer together, we see that a very strong bond is forming.

I loved Sugar, who reminded me of my feisty grandmothers. And like them, she knew how to hold a secret close…until its revelation would strengthen a friendship or save a life…

Alternating with Sugar and Merilee’s narratives are blog posts from an anonymous source, entitled “Your Neighbor.” A site that seems like a gossip fest soon reveals itself for its tidbits of wisdom, including Southern Sayings, interpreted for those who are new to them.

This intense story turned dark and threatening and kept me turning pages until the startling revelations and the delightful denouement, thus earning 5 stars.

***

So….that’s my week so far.  I’m so glad that the books have kept me distracted from the rest of my life!  LOL.

What did your week look like?

***

OVERCOMING THE PAST: EXCERPTING “EMBRACE THE WHIRLWIND”

Before I wrote Interior Designs, I introduced the characters in Embrace the Whirlwind, the story of one young woman’s journey to overcome childhood abuse and find her happiness…and her struggles against the woman who seems determined to chase away her new joy.

***

Below, read a portion of Chapter One.

 

She hadn’t trusted in the myth of “happily ever after” for a very long time, but despite herself, she had believed that he was going to be the love of her life.  After all, the two of them had been hanging out pretty regularly now for a couple of months.  He came to the roadhouse where she worked, usually right after he finished up with his construction crew, and they had fallen into the habit of leaving together after her shift ended.  But tonight had been different, right from the start.

 

 

First of all, he had barely acknowledged her presence when he got there.  Still, she had tried not to take it personally, telling herself that he was just catching up with the guys.  But then he’d started flirting with some of the other girls who had come in halfway through the night.  Toward the end of her shift at the roadhouse, she had watched Buck walking out with that little twit, the one who had been hanging all over him all night long, and she could see the handwriting on the wall:  he was moving on.

 

 

She had struggled along anyway, trying to pretend that none of it bothered her, until finally she was able to leave for the night.  She headed toward the parking lot, and after she climbed into the old beat-up pickup truck, she huddled up inside for a few minutes wishing she could somehow disappear.  She wished she could close her eyes, and then, once she opened them again this whole day would have magically turned out to be nothing but a dream.  A nightmare, of course, but just a dream all the same!  The humiliation of it all!  She could still see the faces of the others as Buck had turned on his heel and walked out that door with someone else.

 

 

So anticlimactic after the way he had relentlessly pursued her all those months.

 

 

As she slowly drove out of the parking lot, wishing that she could go back somehow and change a lot of things about her life, she knew that starting up with Buck Edmonds in the first place would be at the top of her list.  With his long dark hair tossed casually over his shoulders and wearing those sexy suede cowboy pants and leather vests, he had captivated her with his chivalry and sexual magnetism.  Now she thought that he must have faked most of that.  Ha!  He’d probably read a bunch of romance novels so he could convincingly play the part of the romantic hero.

 

 

As Amber Cushing reflected on her choices so far, she shuddered.  For as far back as she could remember, everything she touched seemed to turn to…well, shit!  That was the only way she could describe her life up to this point.  Not to mention all those people who sat in judgment, looking down their noses at her!  She knew what they were thinking.  She made a wrong turn…she made a bad choice…if only she’d listened…Amber had said the very same things to herself over and over, so she didn’t need any of those judgmental folks telling her where she’d gone wrong.

 

 

Except, it wasn’t all that easy.   Sure, she guessed she was probably a little impulsive.  Well, maybe a lot impulsive.  She allowed her emotions to lead her most of the time, and maybe her instincts weren’t that great after all.  But it’s not like she set out to make mistakes.  Things just weren’t that clear sometimes.

 

 

She braked suddenly when a squirrel darted across the roadway, and after that she paid closer attention to the road and when she saw the turnoff to her trailer she skillfully guided the vehicle up the sloping dirt road until at last she could see the outlines of her home.  She sat in the truck for a moment, studying this place she called home.  It sure wasn’t like anything you would ever see in those pages of House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, and Metropolitan Home that her mother always had spread out on the coffee table.

 

 

She quickly shoved the images of her mother and her childhood out of her head and trudged up the graveled pathway to her front door.  Once inside, she sank down onto the old tweed couch, trying to think of what to do next.  A beer might help.  She grabbed one out of the old fridge and as she popped the top on the can, for just a moment, she felt like everything was somehow going to turn out okay after all.

 

 

Closing her eyes against reality for awhile, she gradually began to feel the slight buzz as the liquid slid down her throat.  She finished the beer in record time and idly pointed the remote control toward her TV, hoping that she still had cable.  She knew the bill was overdue, but sometimes she got lucky and they gave her a little grace period before they turned it off.  No such luck this time.  Nothing but the public access channel.  Not even the networks came on when they shut off the box.  Well, guess I’ll have to scrounge up some money to pay that bill.

 

 

Next to the front door sat the basket with the unpaid bills.  Overflowing, it signaled how out-of-control her life had become.  But then again, had it ever been under control?  Mostly she could remember her life going pretty much like this, with her staying one or two steps behind while she scrambled to keep up.

 

 

She shoved her thumbs into her temples as she tried to concentrate.  There had to be something she could do to turn things around.  But what?   No way would she call either of her parents.  Mother had been speaking volumes lately with her exaggerated silence.  And Daddy…well, Daddy had been gone for so many years she had lost count.  Even when he’d been around, he’d been pretty much useless.

 

 

But she needed some cash.  And she needed someone, somewhere to give her a decent job.  Continuing to work at the bar after her total humiliation tonight…well, that was just out of the question.  She pictured Buck sauntering in every night with his new ladylove, and her flesh began to crawl.  Since he was a regular at the roadhouse, there was no chance to avoid him if she stayed on at that job.

 

 

She picked up the phone slowly.  As she dialed her mother’s number, she cringed; planning what to say and hoping that she wouldn’t have to beg, or worse yet, hear that disappointment in her mother’s voice, she hesitated.  But maybe her mother would take pity on her and offer to help, without any of the usual lectures.  Fat chance.

 

***

For the remainder of Chapter One, check HERE.

***

***