COFFEE MORNING: FAMILY BONDING….& MEMORIES

Good morning, and let’s grab a cup of coffee and chat.  Above, I’ve set my cup down on my Baker’s Rack so I can check out my figurines, like the Wizard of Oz collection that remind me of the journey.  Below, another view of my Wizard of Oz characters that have become a logo for my creations.

 

Coca Cola bears join an assortment of books, mugs, and other bears, like the ones on the bottom shelf.

But…before I get off track, today I’m going back in time, to the place where I grew up.  A place now belonging to my younger brother, who recently enjoyed a visit with his grandchildren there.

Left to Right:  Luc, Gavin, and America, his grandchildren, in the almond orchard:

 

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A close-up of the almond orchard…I recall many walks among these trees….

 

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My brother, Eldon, his wife, Marie, and three grandchildren:  Gavin, America, & Luc…By the big tree that has been there since I was a kid, and before….

 

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Luc is enjoying a ride…in the background, notice the old barn that was there when I was a kid.  It looks like it hasn’t been painted since then, either, but I know it has been.  It used to be red.

 

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Gavin is taking his turn…

 

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Inside the barn, you’ll find my brother’s shop where he creates Signs by Eldon…and his crew of fans:  Luc, Gavin, America, and wife Marie.

 

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Gavin, playing the piano that was also in this home when I lived here, sometime in the mid-20th Century!

 

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A bonding moment between Marie and America, her youngest grandchild…(and only) granddaughter…

 

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Three generations of females:  Marie, Amy, and America….

 

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I think it might be time for a visit IRL….so I’m planning for a getaway to the Northern Central Valley soon.

What do you love about your family moments?  Do they tell a story?  Remind you of the past?

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REVIEW: FAULTLINES, BY BARBARA TAYLOR SISSEL

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It’s the phone call every parent dreads: in the middle of the night, Sandy Cline learns that her twenty-year-old son, Jordan, has been in a car accident. Her nephew, Travis, was also in the car, along with Travis’s girlfriend. All three are alive—but barely. The car was smashed against a tree along a remote and winding road, beautiful but deadly, in their rural Texas Hill Country town.

In the wake of the car crash, the close-knit family is tested like never before. Jenna, Travis’s mother, blames Jordan—as well as her sister, Sandy—after reports surface that Jordan had been driving. As the young adults struggle to survive, tension between their parents escalates. But when trust is broken and a shocking family secret is exposed, it creates a perfect storm of harrowing consequences. Rumors in the small town spread like wildfire. When details of the accident are questioned, Sandy and Jenna wonder if their family has been destroyed beyond repair.

 

My Thoughts: From the first moments, I immersed myself in the story of a family suffering one of the worst events that can happen to parents: a child in danger, possibly because of something reckless one of them did. Set in the Texas hill country, in a small town named Wyatt, we are offered a glimpse of the people, the setting, and how families cope in tragic moments.

Sandy, mother to Jordan, is blindsided when her sister Jenna, Travis’s mother, reveals a long-hidden secret in front of the family. And in a hurtful way.

It was easy to see that she acted out of pain, but the consequences would be long-standing, and the bitterness would last for the foreseeable future.

Emmett, Sandy’s husband, reacts to the revelation by leaving Sandy in the lurch…and ultimately, creating another chasm in the family.

Jordan makes another discovery that will lead him to an older woman named Libby Hennessey, whose husband Beck is somehow connected to him.

Meanwhile, so many events seem to collide and come together, in an almost domino effect, that had me, as a reader, wondering how everything would unfold. Why is the small town detective, Officer Huckabee, seemingly targeting Jordan? Why is he obsessed with Jenna, Travis’s mother? Who is cutting up and killing animals and displaying them on Libby’s property?

As the secrets, lies, and mistaken choices slowly come together, Faultlines reveals more of the darkness that lies within a small town and in a family, but also provides a glimpse of moments of healing. A five star read.

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HUMP DAY THOUGHTS: FROM THE FOOTHILLS TO THE CITY…

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Welcome to Hump Day Thoughts….check out the mimosa above.  That was Sunday, but I think I still have some of the ingredients (champagne, orange juice).

When I first brought out my bins with Christmas decorations, the tree above was still hiding on a shelf, so one night, I dragged it out and borrowed some ornaments from one of the other miniatures.  It is a tree that doesn’t require much, so it’s all good.

The little A-frame cabin was one my youngest son sent to me three Christmases ago, and it is reminiscent of the house I had in the foothills for thirteen years….except that A-frame house had a coat of green paint in the photo below.

 

 

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Surrounded by oak and pine trees, it created a feeling of respite from the urban world.  And it brought my four children together on several occasions.

Nowadays, they are all over the place, from Prague, to LA, and to Crescent City.  One remains here in this city, and so do two of the grandchildren.  But we all stay in touch, and sometimes, they come back.  The photo below was taken in 1994. (I think).

 

 

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While we were living there, we hosted some Thanksgiving events, and I enjoy remembering the grandchildren playing on this Tree Fort:  Left to Right, Alec, Aaron, Fiona, and Aubrey.  They are all grown up now (legally, anyway).

 

 

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This photo (below) depicts one of our last Christmases there.  I loved that view from the dining room window, and to the left of what you see here was my computer station, where I created five of my novels.

 

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Creative Corner, way too crammed with STUFF!  LOL:

 

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I like my current creative station:

 

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Reading has gotten off to a slower start this week, but I did finish a short story and one fairly short novel.  My current reads:  The Mothers, by Brit Bennett, and The Sleepwalkers, by Chris Bohjalian.

 

 

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Visiting blogs this morning, I found a book that I had to add to my list…and promptly requested it from NetGalley:

The Perfect Stranger, by Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls which I loved this past summer.  The new book is coming in May 2017.

 

 

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Synopsis:  In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls—a “fiendishly plotted thriller” (Publishers Weekly)—a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

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My morning thoughts have swept me from the past, with memories in the A-frame house, to the present, in my new little office nook and all the books I love…and those I want.

What are your thoughts today?  Christmas plans?  Upcoming reads?

I’m linking up to West Metro Mommy Reads for Saturday Snapshot.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the U.S.  May we summon up our gratitude, despite recent events…and especially may we find peace and harmony.

As the turkey bakes and family and friends gather, let’s take a peek of a collage of last year’s Thanksgiving, which includes an event that some of us enjoy every year a couple of days after Turkey Day.

 

 

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Enjoy the upcoming weeks until Christmas!

 

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THANKFULLY ANTICIPATING….

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Thanksgiving is coming soon!  My favorite holiday…So here are some photos from last year, which bring the nostalgia.  They also bring the comfort of that special celebration, as it wraps itself around me.

Below, check out some of last year’s post-Thanksgiving guests, at the gathering we enjoy a couple of days after the Big Event.  So many changes…new partners, new hairstyles, etc.

 

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Check out a collage, that showcases the various 2015 celebrations…

 

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What will this year look like?  Stay tuned for those photos.

Meanwhile, as the year comes to a close, I’m taking a closer look at my TBR Stacks over at Curl up and Read.

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My current read is Two If By Sea, by Jacquelyn Mitchard…

 

 

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean, an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart.

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And…the news is now out (my daughter posted it on Facebook!):  She and her fiance got married on November 1.  Just a small ceremony at the courthouse…I think they’re still planning the big event in April.  We’ll see.

I was there for this event, and it was sweet.

 

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Reading has become a solace, a place to hide, and a reminder of how characters face their challenges.  Inspirational moments come through reading.

What does your reading look like these days?

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OUTSIDE MY INTERIOR WORLD: BRANCHES OF THE FAMILY TREE

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As I share my cup of coffee, I gather together some of my extended family photos.  Those that reveal the various branches of my family tree.  I’m linking today at West Metro Mommy Reads.

First, here is my younger brother with his three grandchildren, L to R:  Gavin, my brother, America, and Luc.

 

 

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Here’s America with her 8th birthday cake, which she celebrated on September 11, 2016:

 

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My niece Amy, with America:

 

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Luc is getting the barbecue ready:

 

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Luc and his dog in the woodsy surroundings:

 

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Beautiful Pine Crest Lake:

 

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Now let’s look at another branch, with my niece Emily, (my sister’s daughter), her husband Bryan, and baby Margaret, who had her first birthday recently:

 

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Here’s Margaret, in the foreground: earlier in the summer, at Half Moon Bay.  I recall taking my kids there:

 

 

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Meanwhile, I spent a recent summer Saturday with this lunch, before seeing Bridget Jones’s Baby: I had a Blushing Geisha, with Crab & Avocado delights:

 

 

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Enjoy your weekend!

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OUT OF MY INTERIOR WORLD: FAMILY TIME & BEACH TIME

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What a week! 

On Sunday, I joined two of my grown kids and their kids…and a couple of other grandchildren…for our semi-annual lunch.  We met at The Elephant Bar, and here are some shots of our celebration.

First:  a group shot, showing how tall some of us are.  Aaron, in the middle, is around 6’6″. 

 

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Here are my two eldest grandchildren:  Alec and Dominic, 21, both born in June.  They are each attending universities.

 

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A close-up of Aaron, the tallest one, age 18, flanked by Alec and Dominic.  He’s heading off to a university in Phoenix in the fall:

 

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Left to right:  Dominic, Fiona, and Aubrey.  Both girls were born only days apart, too, in February 1997….they are also college girls:

 

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And let’s not forget the youngest of the clan: Noah, at age 13:

 

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So…the next morning, after this event, Fiona and I got up VERY early and headed up north to visit my youngest son and his wife in Crescent City, near the Oregon border.  The beach shot at the top of the post is there….and here are some of our other finds:

Into the redwood forest:

 

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The Trees of Mystery, where visitors are greeted by (Oops!) John Bunyan  Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox:

 

 

August 2016 - Paul Bunyon & Babe the Blue Ox - Trees of Mystery, Klamath

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After an unplugged week of enjoying the world outside my Interior one….I am exhausted, but also eager to get back into blogging.

I read two books while I was away!  I can’t believe it, but I read at night before falling asleep.  Just posted my reviews this morning.  The Melody Lingers On, by Mary Higgins Clark; and The Girl You Lost, by Kathryn Croft.

 

 

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I loved my time away, and enjoyed everything except the 10 hour drive each way…with constant road work on Hwy. 101.  Family time was great….and I saw some Netflix shows not on my list, including a tear-jerker dog movie called Hachi.

But….I’m happy to be home!  What was your week like?

This post is linked to West Metro Mommy Reads, for Saturday Snapshot.

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