MY JOURNEY: A STORY FROM THE PAST…& THE PRESENT…

There is a story behind my new blog header.  An ornately designed VW bus takes me back to the 1970s, and to the era that really defined me.  The clothes, the music, and the hairstyles.  On FB, I took one of those tests, and the answer for What Decade Are You?:  the 70s.

Not only did I drive VW bugs, but I also had a VW bus.  Mine didn’t have the flowing designs, but I loved it nonetheless.

Recently, I included a very colorful VW on my Snow Sparks blog header:

***

I do love many things about life in the present, of course.  Blogging, social networking, and Amazon Prime and Netflix.

Back in the 70s, we only had three or four channels on our TV sets.  And sometimes, the rabbit ears antennae did not work out too well.  But then again, we didn’t know any better.

What do you love about the past…and the present?

***

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY INTERIORS TO YOURS…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

As I sip my morning coffee and plan for the day ahead, I send happy thoughts out to all of you.  Hoping for a wonderful day.

Yesterday I finished reading The Adults, by Caroline Hulse, and it was a story that kept me turning the pages, even as I kept shaking my head at the so-called “adults,” who were behaving badly. (Click title for my review).

I didn’t find any New Book Releases for today.  That’s probably a good thing, as I still have older books tucked away on Paige, just waiting patiently.  Last night I started reading The Affliction, by Beth Gutcheon, a favorite author.  This book is the second in her clever romp of a mystery series combining social comedy and dark-hearted murder—a novel set at a girls’ boarding school in a picturesque Hudson River town with more than its share of secrets.  I enjoyed the first book, Death at Breakfast.(Click title for my review). 

I didn’t love the first outing as much as her other books, and as I read my review again, I noticed that my only complaints were the numerous characters that added a bit of confusion.  The boarding school aspect was another negative for me.  I’m not a fan of those.  But because Beth Gutcheon wrote the book, I decided to give it a try.  Which is why I am now reading the second book in the new series.

What I love best from the author are some of the older books, one of which was made into a movie:  Still Missing became the movie Without a Trace.  I watched it again this week.

***

I love watching old favorite movies during the holidays.  This movie came out in 1983, so not “old” in the sense of Katherine Hepburn and her crowd, but old to millennials.

The newest version of the book Still Missing was published in 2005, but it first came out in 1981.

***

What are you planning on this Christmas Day?  Movies, books, games, and food?  Enjoy!

***

A LOOK BACK: RESHAPING THE EVENTS OF LOSS

Good morning!  I’m sipping another cup of coffee and visiting blog posts.  On one site, the blogger mentioned deleting old posts on her blog, and wondered how others feel about doing this.  Curious, I decided to go way back to the beginning of this blog, and instead of deleting the posts, I decided to reprint one of them:  a review of a favorite Elizabeth Berg book, Home Safe.  I got her newest one this week, Night of Miracles.

Here are my thoughts in that review, written back on July 26, 2009:

In Elizabeth Berg’s newest novel Home Safe: A Novel, we are almost immediately plunged into the world of loss. It begins in the preface, when, as a nine-year-old girl, Helen Ames experiences the death of a classmate: she describes everything she sees, up close, from the hands on a wristwatch to the top of the mother’s head and the sound of her weeping—and completely immersed in this experience, she becomes obsessed with these details. And then she describes: “Nothing helped until the day she took a tablet and pencil into the basement and moved the event out of her and onto paper, where it was shaped into a kind of simple equation: loss equaled the need to love, more. With this, she was given peace.”

Predictably, this is the onset of this writer’s life. And we meet her again, some years later, when she is struggling with losses all around her—from her husband’s death months before, to the elusiveness of her daughter, to the struggle she now faces to find the words that once flowed so freely—and we begin again. The journey to reshape the events of loss and make some kind of sense of her life in the present.

As I delved into this newest Berg novel, I realized again why I await each of her creations so eagerly. She has the uncanny ability to draw the reader in. Partly because her topics are cut from the cloth of daily life and shaped with such detail that we can immediately feel part of what’s going on with the characters—their innermost thoughts, fears, and even those negative emotions we all feel in some moments of our lives—and then we can watch as the characters struggle to reshape their world into a semblance of a new reality despite their losses.

So this is how we observe and learn about Helen Ames, her daughter Tessa, and the relationships that formed them—before and after these significant losses. Somewhat emotionally dependent on her husband, Helen begins to form an over-dependence on her daughter afterwards; Tessa chafes against the smothering bonds and moves further away emotionally.

Helen flails about, fearing she will drown in this new life. Sometimes she stays in her pajamas all day while she desperately tries to pound words out of the computer, to no avail. She even considers a job in retail sales, but thinks better of it. She goes to a speaking engagement—something familiar to her in the past as a writer—but cannot even connect with her audience. Her words seem to lie there in the air, with no visible reaction from the listeners.

Then, just when she thought nothing could get any worse, she learns that her husband drew $850,000 from their retirement accounts before his death. And her search for clues leads nowhere. At least she has an action to take, she thinks, as she plunges into trying to uncover the mystery. Then she receives a phone call, and the trail leads to California and a bungalow in Marin County.

Now what will happen? Will Helen finally be able to reshape the events of her life and begin again? And will she rediscover that bond with her daughter, or at least develop a new one? Then, for those of us who are writers, we wonder if she will regain her “words” to create again.

I was actually sad to turn the last pages to the book’s conclusion. As with all of Berg’s other novels, I felt like I belonged in the world of the characters and did not want to see the last of them. Definitely a must-read for any of her fans, and all those out there who love reading as “comfort” food.

***

Do you ever go back to your earliest posts, just to revisit them and to remember what you felt back then?

***

FRIDAY CHAT: HOLIDAYS, FRIENDS, FAMILY….

Good morning!  It’s Friday, and we’re less than two weeks away from my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  The above collage is on my Facebook page, and it shows some of my favorite things about that holiday:  Turkey, stuffing, wine, and pumpkin pie.

I will be celebrating with family and/or friends.  I have invitations to two events, and this year, I’m going with the friends’ invite.  Not that I’m dissing family, but I like to change things up, and some of my favorite holidays have been celebrated with a group of assorted cohorts in this friend’s home.  We met in 1972, and over the years we have celebrated many holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve!

 

I will also join with family on the following weekend, as my #2 son will be driving through our city, as usual, to gather around a table in a neighborhood restaurant.  Here we were last year.

***

Today I found a photo I like of my daughter…and a special friend.

***

What are your holiday plans?  Family, friends, or both?

***

COFFEE CHAT: WELCOME TO NOVEMBER!

Welcome to another Coffee Chat, in which we share bookish and not so bookish thoughts.  Head on over to Bookishly Boisterous to add your link.

 

Good morning, and welcome to my first Coffee Chat of November.  Did everyone get through Halloween okay?  In the eleven years I’ve lived in this condo, I’ve never had Trick or Treaters stop by….except for when my daughter used to bring my grandson over.  And that was years ago.  So I stopped buying the candy, since I didn’t want sacks of it around for me to eat.  I just turn out the porch light and huddle up quietly.  Although I did continue watching Brothers & Sisters, which I love.  I watched it all years ago, but it felt new to me in parts.  I’m almost on Season IV.

  • What a week…what a month!  I think I have finally worked out the quirks on my new laptop, and I’m pretty comfortable with it now.  With help from blog visitors, who noticed some of my comments, I’ve stopped the leaping and flying cursor…just a click or two in the settings.  Yay!
  • Yesterday I wanted to upload photos from my Old School digital camera, and it didn’t work the usual way…which required a chat with the online Geek Squad.  Now it’s ready to go.  I use my iPhone for photos most of the time, but I still like the regular camera.
  • Reading…sigh.  My numbers were down:  only 9 books read and reviewed in October!  But this week I’ve read two so far:  The Neighbors and Open Your Eyes (click titles for my reviews).
  • I am currently reading A Spark of Light, by Jodi Picoult, and I’m loving it.  Although I have been watching more TV than I have been reading!
  • I love this photo that my son Brett texted of him and his daughter Aubrey.  She is a senior at San Diego State University.  She is the granddaughter I don’t see as often, being way down there.  We’ll get together at Thanksgiving, though.

  • I don’t see my other granddaughter as much as I once did, and she lives here in the same city.  She is going to school and working.  Occasionally I see her photos on Facebook, like this one:

  • The two girls were born in the same month and year, so they are my “twin granddaughters.”
  • Today I think I’ll stay home and read.  All week, I’ve had various things to do out in the world…errands, etc.  I am looking forward to being cozy again.

***

What does your week look like so far?  Enjoy!

***

COFFEE CHAT: A WEEK TO CELEBRATE…

Welcome to another Coffee Chat, in which we share bookish and not so bookish thoughts.  Head on over to Bookishly Boisterous to add your link.

 

I  missed last week’s post, as the week itself was pretty much a loss in terms of blogging.  Some of you may have read my weekend blog posts about the chaos that took over my life, beginning with a defunct laptop.  Then I was caught up in DMV issues and now have my REAL ID  headed my way.  And the temporary bridge that fell out has been replaced.

  • Meanwhile, I have a new laptop which I’ve named Daphne (replacing Louisa May), and I am slowly adjusting to its particular quirks.  And there are a few of those!  I also had to change almost all of the passwords.  LOL.  Meanwhile, here she is, with a new desktop background that spotlights my six published novels…and my hippie doll.  Check out my website for a close-up view of the books.

  • This is my birthday week, so today I had lunch with a friend…and tomorrow I’ll celebrate with my daughter.  My friend and I had pasta and endless salad bowls at The Olive Garden.

 

  • Last week, I read In Pieces, by Sally Field (click title for my review), and this week I’ve been watching a family drama featuring Sally:  Brothers & Sisters, on Prime.  I love that show!
  • Currently I’m reading Day of the Dead, the final Frieda Klein novel.
  • I am also excited that I got a NetGalley ARC I had requested:  Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Release Date:  3/5/19.

***

How is your week shaping up?

***

MY JOURNEY WITHOUT MY LAPTOP…

What a twisted journey I have been on this week!  For starters, this is my first blog post.  Imagine that!

I had finished reading First Flurries, by Joanne DeMaio (click for my review), and was eager to post my review.  My laptop had other ideas. Long story short:  it died.  Feeling a bit flummoxed, as I hadn’t planned on that happening—who does?—I headed to the computer store I had chosen and selected a new one.  Then I brought in the old one so the Geek Squad could transfer data…simple, right?

Two days later, still waiting.  Long story short, I stirred them up a bit, and they finished it yesterday.

Today I’m finding my way around my New Normal, enjoying it, but also feeling as if I have been sent down a Rabbit Hole, with everything strange and new…and maybe even upside down.  I had to relearn what I had previously known…and change a few passwords, too.

Meanwhile, the rest of the week was about renewing my Driver’s License and getting the REAL ID card…so I did all that on Wednesday.

Then, my temporary bridge fell out…and had to be reapplied yesterday.  Sigh. Later today, I’m off to self-soothe with something sweet.  Like this.

***

How was your week?  I missed all of you!

***

COFFEE CHAT: A WEEK OF SOFT FOODS, ETC.

Welcome to another Coffee Chat, in which we share bookish and not so bookish thoughts.  Head on over to Bookishly Boisterous to add your link.

Another week bites the dust…almost.  How do the days slip by so quickly?  I have kept busy with appointments, a flu shot, etc., and I’m still recovering from the oral surgery, while managing to keep the temporary bridge intact.  I do love soups and yogurts, but who knew that a steady diet of nothing but soft foods would be so incredibly boring?

  • As for bookish things, I’m only on my second book of the week, but I did enjoy my first one, a NetGalley ARC called A Year of Extraordinary Moments, by Bette Lee Crosby.  (Click title for my review). Release Date – 10/16.
  • Now I’m reading The Book Club, by Mary Alice Monroe.  I’m enjoying the characters and the story, and I adore the book cover.

  • I’m excited that two books I have pre-ordered are on their way to me, and should arrive by the end of the week:  Open Your Eyes, by Paula Daly; and In Pieces, by Sally Field.
  • Last weekend, my #2 son was feted in a surprise birthday party, compliments of his fiance Madeline.  As always, he sent some photos.

  • Here are Madeline and her two little kids on the beach:  I can’t wait to spend time with these new grandchildren!  Well, technically they’ll be “step-grandchildren,” but that detail doesn’t matter to me.

  • My favorite shot of three of my older grandchildren, young twenty-somethings Alec, Aubrey, and Aaron: how fast they all grew up!

  • Brett and Madeline just moved into their new house, and I’m told there is a nice guest suite for me…and others, too, of course.  LOL.
  • I am eagerly anticipating family moments ahead.

***

How are you all spending your week?  What excitement, adventures, or bookish things are keeping you busy?

***

COFFEE CHAT: BIRTHDAYS, BOOKS, ETC.

Welcome to another Coffee Chat, in which we share bookish and not so bookish thoughts.  Head on over to Bookishly Boisterous to add your link.

I am not looking forward to this morning:  three hours in the dental chair replacing a bridge that fell out.  After that, I’ll have a temporary one for two weeks.  I will be eating lots of soft foods.  It’s a good thing I love soup. 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I’m excited about two books I downloaded yesterday:

  • Last Friday, I had my hair styled…and enjoyed a massage.  “Enjoyed” is probably the wrong word, since it hurt a little, and the stretches I have to do throughout each day are a little bit painful.  But I’m able to move my left arm more now.  Sigh.  I keep waiting for the bliss of total healing.
  • Friday is my #2 son Brett’s birthday…below is a favorite photo from umpteen years ago…yes, infancy.  I snapped an iPhone photo of the framed picture on my office wall:

  • Another favorite snapshot of all four of my “kidlets,” back in the early 1990s.  Brett is the one on the lower left:

  • I’ve probably told this story before on one of my blogs.  That sculpture is at our local university campus, and we began shooting photos of the family there back in 1979.  It became “our place.”  The first one, below:

  • I’m loving This Is Us…and I set the DVR for New Amsterdam…but haven’t watched it yet.
  • Thursday favorites:  Grey’s Anatomy; Mom; Murphy Brown; and How To Get Away with Murder.

***

How has your week been shaping up?

***

COFFEE CHAT: BOOKS, MOVIES, & TV SHOWS…

Welcome to another Coffee Chat, in which we share bookish and not so bookish thoughts.  Head on over to Bookishly Boisterous to add your link.

 

The temperatures have risen very close to the triple digits:  98 degrees today!  We’ve almost forgotten the lovely 80s we had a couple of weeks ago.  But by mid-October, I hope we’ll feel a little crispness in the air.  Except for Monday when my daughter and I unexpectedly decided to meet for drinks when she was in this part of town,  I’ve been holed up inside…reading, watching shows, and avoiding housework.  It’s too hot! is my outcry.  Of course the AC works just fine.

  • Today I finally finished the book I’ve been reading since the weekend:  When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger.  (Click title for my review).  And I’m happy to report that the last two book reviews I tried to post on Amazon worked…with no passcodes needed!
  • Now I’m reading (and loving) Watching You, by Lisa Jewell.  My slow reading progress can be blamed on the Lululemons book…I enjoyed it, overall, but there were slow parts and I was easily distracted.  To read fast, I need a good thriller.  I suspect that the pages of my current read will fly by.  Plus, the chapters are short.
  • I watched a show called Forever on Amazon Prime, and binged the whole first season…which is all we have so far.

  • Next week is my #2 son’s birthday…and his fiancee has created a book of photos from infancy to the present, some of which I provided.  Here is one of my favorites:  Brett, five months of age.

  • Then there is this one, with his fiancee:

  • Some new fall shows have begun filling up my screen, and some old favorites will be back tomorrow, like Grey’s Anatomy, Mom, and How To Get Away with Murder.  Young Sheldon is also in the line-up.
  • Last night, This Is Us was on…and I just now watched it from my DVR.  I love that show!
  • So…reading will fall by the wayside for a bit.
  • On Friday, I’m going to my daughter’s salon for a massage (my left shoulder is still giving me trouble), and afterwards, she’ll trim my hair.

***

What has your week brought you?  Books, movies, adventures?

***