COFFEE MORNING: PURGING & REARRANGING

May 24 - more doll purges

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Good morning!  Last year, I did a number of book purges.  You may recall that I once had two overstuffed bookshelves in this corner….along with three shelves in other parts of the room.  And then, even after the books went off to the donation bins, I still had a few dolls. (Below), note that several dolls cover the top of the shelf.  In the photo above, I have removed (and rearranged) a few.

 

 

bedroom bookshelf -f eb-BEFORE

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In this photo, (below), note that dolls crouch along the top of the shelf—out of sight, there is another large doll that matches the one on the right end—Plus, there are a few little kitschy items….

 

 

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Now the shelf has moved to a new location by the bed (to make room for my new Netflix viewing table), and some dolls have gone missing….but my favorites remain, the “hippie dolls,” along with the little old lady atop the teacup, which once lived in my office….

 

 

May 24 - after some doll purges

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Clearing and purging and rearranging are ongoing activities…and they show how much my interiors are a work-in-progress.

Earlier in the week, I cleaned up the patio so I could enjoy some fun in the coolness of the morning…Here is today’s Coffee Morning with a Book....two versions:

 

 

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And a close-up:

 

 

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Just to bring a little of the exterior world in today, here’s my great-niece America, plugged in to one of her devices.  She will be eight on September 11.  Yes, born on 9/11/08.

 

 

America - Plugged in

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Last weekend, my youngest grandson Noah, age 13, enjoyed some time in the mountains (China Peak) with his mom and her fiance:

 

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So…from my interiors to the outside world, have a wonderful holiday weekend!  I plan to binge-watch Season II of Bloodline...and start reading the book pictured above, I Almost Forgot About You, by Terry McMillan.

 

 

 

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What does your interior world look like today?  Your exterior world?  Whatever you do, enjoy!  And be safe.  This post is linked to West Metro Mommy Reads, for Saturday Snapshots.

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REACHING OUT – AN EXCERPT FROM “EMBRACE THE WHIRLWIND”

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When Amber finds herself in a desperate spot, she reluctantly calls her mother.  But she dreads it, since her mother’s disapproval and judgment are sometimes worse than the plights she finds herself in.  Excerpted from Embrace the Whirlwind.

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Hilary Redmond had just finished up some late-night work and was restlessly contemplating the row of wine bottles in the rack, thinking a little glass of Merlot might help her relax.  She’d been having trouble sleeping lately.  Focusing on the labels, she was startled by the ringing phone.  She hesitated.  Something about the phone ringing at this time of night always signaled disaster, or at least unpleasantness.  She pursed her lips as if to ward off the onslaught of whatever it would turn out to be and then picked up the phone after the third ring.

 

“Hello?”  She could hear someone breathing on the other end of the line.  Whoever it was seemed to be having difficulty speaking up…it must be one of those crank callers, she decided, placing the phone back in the cradle.

 

Almost instantly, it rang again.

 

This time, someone spoke up.  “Hey, Mother!”  Amber’s voice croaked out her greeting with that brave little cheeriness that meant only one thing.  She needed something.

 

“Well, this is a surprise,” Hilary murmured, buying time.  “Are you alright?  Are you still living in the same place?”

 

Amber almost hung up right then and there, hearing that tone, that slightly distasteful edge to her mother’s voice that suggested that Amber’s living arrangements were almost too embarrassing to discuss.  But she pushed ahead, knowing that her mother was her last hope.  “Yeah, I’m still living up in Auberry, in my same old place.  Not much going on here, I’m afraid.  But…I’m kind of stuck.  I lost my job today, and while I know I can find another one real easy…it’s going to take some time.  I was hoping to get a loan.”  Her voice went up a couple of octaves as she spoke but she persisted, knowing there was really no other way.

 

Silence.  Hilary must have heard her, so not answering could only mean that she was really angry, or at least upset.  Amber could almost see the tightness in her mother’s face, that jaw-clenching thing she did when she was frustrated.  She was probably remembering that her loser daughter hadn’t paid her back for the last loan.  Then, out of the blue, her voice came back.  “How much do you need?”

 

That’s it?  That’s all she wrote?  It couldn’t be that easy, could it?  Plunging ahead, Amber named a figure that she thought would get her cable back on, pay the rent and utilities, and buy her some food for a month or so, because that’s how long it would be before she would even see a paycheck, even if she got a job tomorrow.  “About fifteen hundred should do it,” she squeaked out.

 

“All right.  I’ll put a check in the mail tomorrow.  Are you okay, though?  I mean, you’re not sick, are you?”

 

It was kind of sweet, Amber thought, Mother actually sounding like she cared.  She must, though, or she wouldn’t keep bailing me out.   “I’m fine, Mother,” she said.  “I really appreciate the loan.”

 

Her mother then slipped into that awkward silence that always followed one of the little exchanges they’d been having now for years, as if she wanted to pretend that everything was somehow normal between them, that her daughter didn’t only call her when she needed money.  “Well, Mother, gotta go!  Thanks a lot!”  And Amber slid the phone back on the hook.

 

Hilary hung up and then sat staring at the telephone for a few minutes as if she could somehow magically transform her daughter over the wires.  But nothing was ever going to change with Amber.  She sighed, and then looked restlessly around her kitchen, trying to find something to distract her from the dark thoughts that now threatened to cast a pall over the rest of the night.  She didn’t have to look far.

 

From where she sat in the little breakfast nook she could see the sweep of golden hued tile, with that colorful backsplash reminiscent of the French countryside; overhead, the copper pots hung from that charming rack she had found in an old antique shop in downtown Sacramento.  As she padded into the kitchen again in search of the corkscrew for the wine bottle, the wooden plank floors under her bare feet suggested the Old World ambience she’d been trying to achieve when she had designed this room.

 

If everything in her life, especially her daughter, could be as easily dealt with as her décor, she would be a lucky woman indeed.  Her own life had been golden, with the major exception of how her daughter had morphed into someone unrecognizable.  When had that happened, exactly?  Had it been in those adolescent years after her father had disappeared?  Was that the reason Amber had changed from the sweet, almost compliant little child into that dark and moody teenager?  At the time, Hilary had tried to ignore the behavior, thinking that eventually her familiar daughter would reappear.  But that hadn’t happened yet.

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RELUCTANTLY MOVING ON: AN EXCERPT FROM “INTERIOR DESIGNS”

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Settled into her office, Martha pushes herself to go through the motions, but her mind slips back into the past…and all that she has lost.   Then a phone call reminds her of her new life and what lies ahead.  Excerpted from “Interior Designs.”

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By nine o’clock, the phone began ringing.  I had booted up the computer and gone through a few designs, followed by my usual perusal of my task schedule for the day.  My assistant, Caroline, had set it up for me a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed how orderly it all seemed.  She arrived daily around 8:30, and now buzzed around my office space without intruding.  Her own little niche was the adjacent space that had once been Hal’s.

 
Don’t even go there, I reminded myself.  At least I’d totally redesigned that space, as if to eradicate any trace of him.  Now the room was efficiently arranged, but with feminine touches.  I had elicited Caroline’s thoughts on the plans; it would be where she spent her days, so she might as well feel comfortable.

 
Her tastes were more minimal than mine: sleek lines in gray, black, and touches of red.

 
She stopped in front of my desk abruptly now, and I tore myself away from my thoughts to ask her what she needed.  “It’s this client,” she began, pointing to the name on the message slip.  “I thought we finished with him…so why is he calling again?  Do you think he has a problem?”

 
I felt the blush tingeing my cheeks, even as I struggled to remain business-like.  “Oh, don’t worry about that one.  I’ll handle it personally.  And no, I don’t think there’s a problem.”

 
Caroline studied me curiously, but then nodded and moved back into her space.

 
Long after she’d exited the room, though, my thoughts tumbled backward to the months when I’d worked with Zachary Lowenstein, redecorating his condo.  What had begun as a professional relationship had quickly changed into something more….

 
But I had no time to waste on those memories.  Even though I’d known the relationship would end, and I hadn’t actually felt that sad about it, sometimes a pang would hit me.  Like another stab of betrayal—which was totally out of line, since I had known from the beginning that the relationship was temporary.  Hadn’t I?

 
Shaking my head at how my own crazy expectations had derailed me, time and time again, I focused sternly on the tasks ahead—answering phone calls, checking things off the list, and making changes on some of my sketches.  Sometimes my work demanded very little from me.  After all these years, my work flowed smoothly, even though the rest of my life was a total mess.

 

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Front Cover-resized again

 

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MY INTERIOR WORLD: SMALL CHANGES

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I love Fall, so the arrival of September is a joyous thing for me.  However, the warm weather here will continue until October, at least.

My eldest son and DIL are planning to return some time this month…and I’ve been rearranging my interiors again for more space.  Notice the photo above:  I moved a couple of cabinets around.  I realized how small my living area is with several people moving around, especially in the mornings and at dinner time.

I swapped the yellow cabinet (above) with the burgundy one (below)…and I moved the green cupboard onto the back wall…allowing me to push the table over a bit.

 

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It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but in the end, it is more spacious.

While I was at it, I also rearranged my coffee table.  I took some things off the top and placed them below the table.  Note the wooden box:  it is on the shelf below now, and in it, I stash remotes, etc.

 

a cup of joe on a Sunday- before

 

Here is the table cleared off:

 

 

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These are minor changes, but I feel less cluttered and with more open spaces.

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My evenings are spent reading, preparing for the return of my house guests, and bingeing on Mad Men, on Netflix.  This is a show I somehow missed along the way, but I’m loving it.

 

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I had heard about the show, over the years, but was surprised to discover that the era was the 1960s.  That, alone, should have drawn me in.

I’m glad to have discovered it now…and to find myself connecting with the women characters and their roles in life back then.  Before everything started to change.

I am a bit nostalgic, while still being glad to have left that era behind.

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What is your interior world like this week?  Do you have favorite shows that resonate with you?  Are you making small changes in your surroundings?  In your reading?

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REVIEW: DRIVING LESSONS, BY ZOE FISHMAN

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When Josh and Sarah Simon decide to pack up and leave Brooklyn and their Manhattan jobs, Sarah feels a slight tinge of anxiety. After all, what does she know about life in the country? They are moving to Farmwood, Virginia, where Josh will be a professor in a small college. And Sarah will be at loose ends, not even sure what her future holds.

Additionally, Sarah hasn’t driven a car in many years. There really wasn’t a need for it in Manhattan. Her anxiety increases as she ponders the possibility of it, and how it will be necessary in her new life.

She is also anxious because she and Josh are contemplating having a child.

Are Sarah’s fears about driving, about her future, and about parenthood all part of the same thing? Is it all a huge fear of the chasm that has opened up, making her life a quandary?

Right off the bat, though, Sarah signs up for driving lessons…and then, she also takes a job as a salesperson in a kitschy store. What is that all about?

But before Sarah can truly analyze these events, she gets a call from her best friend Mona in NY…and everything turns upside down. Soon she is off to NY to help her best friend through a medical crisis. And while she is at it, perhaps she can sort through some of her own anxieties.

Driving Lessons: A Novel (P.S.) is a delightful book about a woman on the cusp of major life changes, and while she is anxious, she also has the opportunity to sort things out. I enjoyed the dialogue, the characters, and the “feel good” aura about it all. Despite its predictability, it is a perfect read for those who enjoy women’s issues and are seeking a comfort read. 4.0 stars.

FROM THE INTERIOR: TEDIOUS TASKS & LOVELY REWARDS

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My interior world has been mostly confined to my laptop this week.  Yes, it is Bloggiesta time, and while I have been diligently working on my blogs—mostly Curl up and Read, but also some others—I have been hustling to correct some inadvertent errors.  Yes, sadly, I deleted some image files, thinking that was a good thing, an effort to organize the media files on the blog….but the images disappeared from the posts, too.  Sigh.

Some of you may have also read my rant about how I detest the new WP posting/editing system, so I had to find my way around it by going through the old dashboard and working from the “all posts” screen. 

Can we say TEDIOUS?

 

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Then I discovered a new way.  I would deal with the new system, since I was only adding images, which did not require scrolling down on the “no scroll” posting screen. And I could go through the archives.

But first, of course, I had to go to Amazon and grab the images.

I have finished the book review images back through 2013….and I think that’s enough for now.  But will it bug me in the middle of the night, forcing me to finish the task?  I started the blog in 2009….so the thought of it makes me very tired!  After such a day, I need one of these!

 

 

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And a good book.  I am so enjoying Cathy Lamb’s What I Remember Most, but I am also eager to start the next book on my list.

 

 

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Our main character suffered a horrendous childhood…and then, just when she thought she had discovered happiness, her husband betrays her in a horrific way.  A way that threatens everything she loves.  She runs.  She changes her name.  And she finds happiness…but will it all go away?

I can’t stop reading it!

 

But next, this one awaits:

Someone Is Watching, by Joy Fielding, promises thrills…and more.

 

 

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Someone Is Watching is a gripping, fast-paced psychological thriller reminiscent of Rear Window and the works of Lisa Gardner. Fielding has crafted a flawed yet likable heroine in Bailey by allowing her to experience the varied emotions of recovery instead of pigeonholing her as a helpless victim or bloodthirsty vigilante. Not geared to the faint of heart, Fielding’s story of one woman’s search for justice, understanding, and internal peace is nothing short of arresting.”Booklist (starred review)

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The icing on my cake appeared as a download in Sparky this morning.  A book I have been craving:  Night Night, Sleep Tight, by Hallie Ephron may not have to wait until I read all the others on my list.  I cannot delay gratification very long.

 

 

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From the award-winning author of There Was an Old Woman comes a riveting tale of domestic noir, infused with old Hollywood folklore and glamour, set in a town rife with egotism and backstabbing and where fame and infamy are often interchangeable.

Los Angeles 1986: When Deirdre Unger arrived in Beverly Hills to help her bitter, disappointed father sell his dilapidated house, she discovers his lifeless body floating face down in the swimming pool. At first, Deirdre assumes her father’s death was a tragic accident. But the longer she stays in town, the more she suspects that it is merely the third act in a story that has long been in the making.

The sudden re-surfacing of Deirdre’s childhood best friend Joelen Nichol—daughter of the legendary star Elenor “Bunny” Nichol—seems like more than a coincidence. Back in 1958, Joelen confessed to killing her movie star mother’s boyfriend. Deirdre happened to be at the Nichols house the night of the murder—which was also the night she suffered a personal tragedy of her own. Could all of these events be connected?

Her search to find answers forces Deirdre to confront a truth she has long refused to believe: beneath the slick veneer of Beverly Hills lie secrets that someone will kill to keep buried.

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My reward for tedious hours of filling in image files…LOL.  Bliss!  What do you do to reward yourself for hard work?

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INTERIORS: AN ONGOING PROCESS

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It has been an interesting month so far, clearing out the interiors and organizing my stuff.

I just finished reading a novel about an elderly woman (age 94!) who hires a young man to help her clear out her spaces…to hide her secrets from her children and grandchildren.  (The Twilight Hour, by Nicci Gerrard; click for my review).

 

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Over the past couple of years, I have gravitated to books about hoarding, and while I don’t think I had ever reached that state, I did worry about the steady accumulation of STUFF.  My purging started with the clearing out of my files, trunks, drawers, books, and then the garage.

In this photo (below), you can see the right side of my garage, which still needs work.  But that stuff in the boxes belongs to my daughter, who is settling into her new home and readying a space there for her things…I’m hoping!

 

 

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Yesterday was a great one for clearing out, as someone came from a recycling center and hauled away the old TV that was sitting on that barbecue cart in the forefront.

See the black trash bag next to it?  I have it ready for tossing out stuff as I go, just so things won’t accumulate.  And underneath it is the box of books for the library, soon to be delivered there.

Most of my bins are on the shelves, but the one in the far corner, near the door, is Christmas stuff.  Those bins are heavy, so I have been keeping them down low.  I have a few of those on the bottom shelves of my other shelving unit (at the top of this post).

Do you think I’m almost done?  Probably not.  My goal is to slowly weed things out as I go, avoiding the need for the humongous purges.

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How do you deal with your STUFF?  Do you have goals, or do you go with the flow? 

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REVIEW: FIVE DAYS LEFT, BY JULIE LAWSON TIMMER

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Mara and Scott are two individuals living miles apart, connecting only on an online forum. For each of them, their lives have veered desperately off course, and they are facing life-changing decisions. Scott lives near Detroit, and Mara and her family live in Dallas.

For Mara, once a high-powered attorney and adoptive mother of Laks, a degenerative and incurable disease will soon render her unable to care for herself, much less her kindergartner daughter. Four years ago, she made a decision: she would leave everyone and everything behind on her birthday. She is now five days from that moment when her life will be over.

Scott’s situation seems less dire, but no less emotionally devastating. After a year of caring for young Curtis, it is time for the eight-year-old to return to his mother. He is so sad, yet his wife, pregnant with their first child, is detached and looking forward to being alone with her own family. Scott has five days left with Curtis.

Almost immediately, I connected with each of these characters, learning their life stories and feeling what they felt. With much vividness, the author brings us right into the gritty and physically challenging moments of each day for Mara and we can experience the humiliation she feels as the tries to maintain a “normal” life. But her physical limitations and embarrassing accidents embarrass her child until one day, she realizes that, if she doesn’t leave the family now, her daughter and husband will pay a heavy price.

But what will be left for them afterwards? Struggling with these issues, it seems like Mara has not yet made her final decision.

And for Scott, an unexpected event will change the course of young Curtis’s life, and will require that he make a different decision. But will his wife support him?

Five Days Left took my breath away. Even as I hoped for a different ending, I was surprised and pleased that some of what I had hoped for came to pass. The sadness was mitigated by some hopefulness. The only thing I might have wished to be different: I would have loved seeing other perspectives in this story. Instead, we only see the points of view of Mara and Scott, and have to imagine what the other characters are feeling. 4.0 stars.

SHAKING UP MY INTERIOR WORLD: NEW BEGINNINGS

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Today I sprang out of bed with a new energy…shower, coffee, computer.  And checking out various sites, including Dropbox, where I store documents and photos.  What sparked this energy?

A few days ago, I wrote about organizing my interior world, and that story included the discovery of new storage and an old manuscript.

Years ago, I started writing about a time in my life when I belonged to a very strange book club—we called it a gourmet/book club, because we met for gourmet dinners before discussing the books.  What happened afterwards became the main story…and how foolish choices made in the past can change lives forever.  But along the way, sometimes one can take the lessons from the past and make changes in the present…for the future.

 

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The manuscript is a fictionalized version of a very real time in my life, and while the core of it is based on true events, I took the usual liberties of an author by embellishing and changing things up.

I tossed it aside back then to start working on Interior Designs, which I recently published, and which I started during NaNoWriMo in 2010.  At that time, I wrote the first 52,000+ words.

Defining Moments was another novel I had begun around this same time, and zeroes in on the aftermath of a woman’s failed marriage:

Blurb:  What moments in our lives define us? Do our choices determine our future?  When unexpected events derail her life, Jillian McAvoy realizes that she now has an opportunity to carve out a whole new beginning.  But something happens to her along the way that threatens everything she hoped and dreamed about.  How can the obsessions and compulsions that seemingly take over her life lead to her newly redesigned world?

 

 

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In my excitement over rereading and changing some things as I begin the rewriting process for this resurrected manuscript, which I’m tentatively calling Echoes of the Past.…I am once again excited and reborn.  Yes, reborn is how I feel!

The kind of excitement I recognize from the writing of all of my novels: six of them published, and now two manuscripts to play with.

Here’s an excerpt from the Prologue, which may go through some changes:

     But at moments throughout the day, her thoughts slid backwards, despite her best efforts, and she could almost see that younger, idealistic version of herself. That girl who had believed in endless possibilities, who had fought the system hell-bent on winning. That young woman who had ignored her ideals in one summer of foolish choices, transforming herself from a fresh young thing with her whole life ahead of her into this woman of today, who often longed for yesterday and a clean slate with fresh options.

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Nothing gets my juices flowing more than a new journey, which often is a new manuscript.  And blogging is another way to keep the excitement levels high…connecting with other bloggers and finding that immediate satisfaction from comments and conversations.

What’s not to love?  What rejuvenates you on a Hump Day…or any day?

 

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