Thursday, October 26, 2017

Books o' the Month: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, A Hundred Summers, Extraordinary Life of an Army Wife, Making Masterpiece, On the Banks of Plum Creek

I have been absolutely prolific in my reading lately.  Prolific, I tell you, which is different than obsessive--search my blog for Diana Gabaldon and Paulina Simons, not to mention Austen and Bronte, for obsessive reading!

Let's start with Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim, AKA Nellie Oleson.  I had to read it after enjoying Melissa Gilbert's memoir.  Take all your preconceived notions of Alison/Nellie and throw them out the window.  Then read this book.  She is an amazing woman who has been through hell and now spends a great deal of her time and energy helping others.

Oh, Beartriz Williams, please never stop writing!  I love her style and her characters and her settings, etc., etc., etc.  A Hundred Summers has it all and was pure fun to read.

I finished reading Extraordinary Life of an Army Wife right before my dear sweet Grandma died.  Jacky Cagwin was another woman of her generation, and what they had in common was being army wives.  True tales from mid-century America, plus Mrs. Cagwin met a lot of interesting people (JFK? check!) and led an interesting if sometimes painful life.

After reading Making Masterpiece, I have a whole new appreciation for what it takes to bring my favorite TV show to my living room.  I have zero regrets about signing up for KQED Passport.

Andrew and I are still working our way through the Little House classics.  On the Banks of Plum Creek was the next fascinating installment.  I love these books!  (As a family, we are now on season five of the television series.)

More books coming next month--you betcha!!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Books o' the Month: A Gentleman in Moscow, Overseas

My reading-like-crazy streak has not stopped!  (And the house isn't getting any cleaner or less cluttered.)  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles?  Believe the hype.  This is a wonderful book.  Wonderful!

I am cruising through all of Beatriz Williams' books, including Overseas.  Time travel with a twist.  Her books are fun to read, hard to put down.

Need a good rec for October?  A brooding classic with darkness and danger?  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  One of my all-time favorite novels, perfect for the spooky season.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

She Goes On

My dear sweet grandma died today at the age of 103 years, 11 months, and 6 days.  She was my role model and the world seems less bright now without her in it.

Ever since I first heard this song years and years ago, it has been about her.

She Goes On
by Crowded House
Pretty soon you'll be able to remember her
Lying in the garden singing
Right where she'll always be
The door is always open
This is the place that I loved her
And these are the friends that she had
Long may the mountain ring
To the sound of her laughter
And she goes on and on
In her soft wind I will whisper
In her warm sun I will glisten
Till we see her once again
In a world without end
We owe it all to Frank Sinatra
The song was playing as she walked into the room
After the long weekend
They were a lifetime together
Appearing in the eyes of children
In the clear blue mountain view
We're coloring in the sky
And painting ladders to heaven
And she goes on and on
In her soft wind I will whisper
In her warm sun I will glisten
Till we see her once again
In a world without end
In her soft wind I will whisper
In her warm sun I will glisten
And I always will remember
In a world without end
She goes on
She goes on
She goes on
She goes on

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Books o' the Month: The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Tiny Little Thing, Along the Infinite Sea

These books are the Schuyler Sisters Series by Beatriz Williams.  I actually read them in reverse order, which was not a problem at all.  They are so engrossing and hard to put down!  Each one has two parallel story lines in two time periods told in alternating chapters.  I simply devoured them.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Books o' the Month: The Bookshop on the Corner, Prairie Tale, Hedy's Folly

Suddenly, I am reading like crazy.  Avoiding domestic responsibilities in favor of reading.  Pulling out my book instead of my phone at swim lessons, at swim team practice, at Toyota, at Tire Pros, at the Starbucks drive-thru.  And I get a little smug about it, because staring at a hand-held book looks way more intellectual than staring at a phone, for goodness' sake!  (Though I may be holding a hardback copy of Prairie Tale vs. reading Tolstoy on my Kindle app, ahem.)

But let's start with The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan.  A bit improbable, but delightful--they go hand-in-hand, agreed?
On to Melissa Gilbert's (aka Half-Pint) Prairie Tale.  The first book I have ever read in this genre...celebrity confessional?  Immensely entertaining tell-all.
And finally, Hedy's FollyThe Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhoades.  My interest in the time period between wars (WWI and WWII) is seriously piqued.  I would like to read more about Ms. Lamarr (beauty plus big brains) and watch some of her films, so stay tuned.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Book o' the Month: In the Great Green Room

Chances are you have heard of the children's book Goodnight Moon.  In the Great Green Room, by Amy Gary, is about it's author, Margaret Wise Brown.  She did lead a brilliant and bold life, as the cover states.  It was also brief.  She died at the age of forty-two of an embolism following bed rest after undergoing an appendectomy in France.  Ms. Brown had extraordinary vision, but also the same insecurities we all deal with.  I cried at the end of this easy-to-read book for a life that ended way too soon.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Second-to-Last Day of School

I am at home with my kids.  This is not how I planned to spend today.  I was going to meet a friend for coffee, then make one last kid-free trip to Trader Joe's before summer vacation.  But no.

The phone rang at 6:15 a.m.  A recorded  message from the school district.  A shooting threat made against the middle and high schools.  Police presence, security guards hired.  All schools to remain open.  Contact the school office if your child will be absent.

I sat on the edge of the bed listening to my third grader pour himself some cereal.  My seventh grader was in her room brushing her hair.  I started weighing risk in my head and a thought came to the surface like a bubble released from the deep, dark ocean floor.  I should not have to be making this decision.

I took a breath to steady myself then told Valerie about the threat and that I would be keeping her home today.  She glared at me.  Her friends at school are the highlight of her life right now.

In the kitchen, Andrew asked, "Why?"  I said, "It's probably just a joke."  Then he asked if he could play Minecraft.

This is the first time since the kids have been in public school that a threat has been directly made at one of their sites.  I have wondered in the past if it would ever happen and how I would react.  Now I know.  I emailed absence notifications to the school secretaries.

I hate being in this position.  I want to let my kids be at school.  I want to trust that they will be safe.  But I cannot.

Most days I feel pretty resilient in this world.  Not today.