Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday - More Mix of Stuff including San Saba Visit


We took our walk in the morning (and almost died...sorta)

Whew! 104 - dang hot

Went outside Saturday at  5 pm and encountered this fella on the wall. I was the intruder. He was quite happy hanging out. 

This is Texas Hill Country in August. Cactus, dry, heat, and tough terrain.  Not for the feint of heart. Who settled this land? Who chose this God forsaken place?

Folks who don't want to jack with society...

Just raise cattle, hunt deer, and 

"Leave us alone"

I'm truly a visitor in a foreign land here. Not keen on snakes, heat, and cows. 

It's funny and I can laugh at myself - such a city slicker. Ray's in his element. Aunt Pat is a pioneer woman. 

Damn good cook - we ate well! Believe me. 

Awesome visit and weekend.  Got home Sunday around 1:30.  Threw laundry in, went grocery shopping, and I was in my pool (my element) by 3:30.    All good and I have a vacation day tomorrow - just cuz.... Cheers all as we finish August with a hot gasp.....

Friday, August 28, 2020

Finally Friday - Stuff and a Book Review - The Last Mile

Flashback to 1987....yikes.  This is Trish's wedding reception and here we are. So young.  She and Les are still having fun after 33 years - proud to know them.  (My hair was so dark back them. Now I'm "blonde?" yeah, right)
San Saba a few years ago. Ray and I are headed to visit his aunt this weekend. She's letting damn city germs invade her house. She must be desperate to talk to someone besides the dog and cows.  This weekend is promising to be super hot and dry. We might not end up outside - we shall see. 
Ripping through David Baldacci books starring Amos Decker. I liked The Last  Mile a lot. The story line seemed more relevant and true than the first in the series - Memory Man.  

Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is on death row - but someone confesses to the crime.  Amos advocates to take this case and find out what truly happened. Melvin was a star football player about to enter the NFL when his family is murdered and he's found guilty. Who wants Melvin out of prison and why? Are his parents really dead? 

Decker with his extraordinary memory and brainpower has to uncover a lot and put together intangibles to keep a man from being executed. He has to work with his new FBI team and save a member who "disappears". There's a lot at stake and the pages turn and clues/troubles churn. 

Amos Decker is so interesting as a character. I am hooked. Onward to book three in the series. Whoa!

And that's Finally Friday. I've been waiting for the weekend since Tuesday. Had to work hard. My brain hurts.  Time to chill, relax, absorb some Aunt Pat zen, and I'm bringing brownies to the gathering. 

Have a safe and enjoyable last weekend of August. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Book Review - Untamed by Glennon Doyle

 Cover blurb - There is a voice of longing inside each of us. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. 

Untamed by Glennon Doyle is her story of a perfectly decent life as a wife, mother, successful author that just was "off".  Then at a conference, she met a woman - saw her from across the room - and thought...she's the one.  And she was - famous soccer player Abby Wambach. 

This book is not for everyone, depending on your social issue opinions.  Yes, Glennon divorced her husband. Yes, she formed a new blended family. Yes, she loves a woman and married her. 

The key word is LOVE. Another is TRUST. And another is Cheetah.  

Watch a cheetah pace at a zoo. It's ready to break free and run.  That's Glennon Doyle in Untamed - girl power, boy power, human power. Raise kids to think, act, and be themselves. Unite in family strength and conquer all.  (And she joins with her ex-husband in life decisions for their children)

I dog-eared a lot of pages in this book, just because her writing is raw and so good. She acknowledges flaws in her life choices, and questions her skills in raising strong daughters to think and act like concerned humans for this planet.  This might seem too touchy-feely, CA cool, but I felt Untamed came from the heart and has a strong message for everyone questioning their life and choices at times. 

The braver we are, the luckier we get - Glennon Doyle

Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday Mix

 Cracked up at this meme. 

When you have mastered the numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading a book. You will be reading meanings - Harold Geneen on Managing

So, what is the meaning of me spending approximately twenty hours of my life watching the two seasons of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix and still not necessarily understanding what the heck is going on ?

Falstaff: Good luck lies in odd numbers..  Shakespeare The Merry Wives of Windsor 1600

Three is an odd number and, believe me, Ray and I do not miss our three meals a day. And on the weekends, you can throw in maybe three snacks too!

Three is also the amount of reading material I have on a continuing basis - fiction, non-fiction, and a magazine.   Today I am reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It's a well researched study of the Great Migration - blacks leaving the south during the Jim Crow years and settling in the north. I also have her latest, Caste, in my pile.   Fiction -  Amazon just delivered Chances Are by Richard Russo. It's the book club pick for my PA ladies. I shall read it poolside.  And I'm perusing an Artist's Magazine - some talented folks are featured. I finished my latest New Yorker Magazine on Friday. 

13 - that's the age folks might think I am if they looked at my latest music mix-tape - all pop singing boys with dreamy hair and soulful eyes. 

666 - what's a little Satanic demon influence?   Rosemary's Baby, The Omen  (Gregory Peck version of course), The Exorcist - three of the creepiest scariest movies in my viewing career. 

2020  - 'nuff said

Have a good week and yes, I'll share a bag of Cheetos with you. It's snack time, any time. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Book Review - Collected Stories of Lorrie Moore

 Like to read really good writing, but not up for a whole novel?  Attention span difficulties in the time of Covid?  Lorrie Moore's Collected Stories is your answer.  This book of forty stories is perfect for popping in and out of other people's lives. 

cover blurb - Her keenly observed stories are peopled by a variety of lost souls  - husbands, wives, lovers, tourists, professors, students, even a ghost - often grappling with pain or disappointment. 

However lovelorn or dislocated the characters - from the wisecracking wedding guest in "Thank You For Having Me", to the complicated parent-child pairs in "How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes)" and "The Kid's Guide to Divorce" - these stories are always grounded in insight and compassion. 

I enjoyed this book and the writing. Her descriptions are awesome and I'm envious of a turn of phrase. 

In "Childcare", our protagonist is a student needing a babysitting job. But I was not especially skilled at minding children for long spells; I grew bored, perhaps like my own mother. After I'd spent too much time playing their games, my mind grew peckish and longed to lose itself in some book I had in my backpack.  I think Lorrie Moore knows ME too well. It's easy to identify with so much in her stories. 

Short story writing is a skill. Lorrie Moore is an award winning author and this Collected Stories confirms her magic. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Whatever Wednesday - random pics and a bonus science quote

 Very random pictures from my photo collection for this Whatever Wednesday. 

Movies - oh,  I miss the theater...the previews...the murmur of families getting settled with popcorn...the slightly sticky floors...that swirl of Dolby sound... and the humongous screens.  The group groan or jump or laughter - depending on the film. And that last gasp when a movie ends and you've been changed somehow.  You sniff, wipe away a tear. Or cheer and clap.   
And art...outdoor art, sculpture, gardens, etc.  I do not feel like myself wearing a mask. I do wear it, but I feel trapped, enclosed, contained, and guilty.  For some reason - whether grocery shopping, etc. I feel I must hurry, get done, and quickly leave any place.  I shall be ready to explore again someday - to smile and enthuse. 

2020 vision.  I'd say that back on January 1st - we were blind and had no clue.....

We live with zip ties at work - wrapping up salt spray pieces to hang for 500 hours, or to mark weird little notch bars to test plating. 

Science quote - Carl Sagan    The consequences of scientific illiteracy are far more dangerous in our time than in any that has come before. It is perilous and foolhardy for the average citizen to remain ignorant because for one thing, it threatens America's economic health.

Ponder this quote.  Countdown to November!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Book Review - Memory Man by David Baldacci

 The Amos Decker series began in 2015. Memory Man by David Baldacci is the first book and what a kick-off. Amos is a genius mess of a man. You'll like him, feel sorry for him, root for him, and be intrigued by him. 

A football hit that made everyone's video to watch changed Amos Decker's life. Suddenly he could remember everything - every detail of every moment of his life. He also saw in colors - numbers, people  - all associated with  colors. Weird. And it took a lot to learn how to live with this new "gift."

But everything was going for detective Decker - married, one child, moving up in his career (detail oriented is fabulous for police work) and it all crashed around him. Murdered, horribly murdered - wife and girl dead. His world collapsed. Homeless, jobless, depression, suicidal. 

Now some maniac is back killing in the same manner and taunting Decker to solve it. Figure out these murders. It's a challenge and frankly it takes the whole book to watch Decker piece together puzzles, get stumped, stopped at dead ends, and question himself. 

Baldacci knows how to write a thriller. He's got a great character to work with  and I look forward to more Amos Decker reads. They are in my queue. Meanwhile - start with Memory Man and stretch the brain a tad. Enjoy

Friday, August 14, 2020

Friday - Fritter, Fret, Freeze

 We are in triple digits through the weekend, so as I float in my pool I'm ready for cooler weather. Now I know these pictures are drastic, and no I don't want snow.'s the thought of goose bumps that just seem delightful.  Freeze!

Work has been a bit tension filled this week. My part of the job has been okay. But there's some issues and just a touch of anxiety on dealing with customers.   Fret!

Thus - heat, tension....I feel tired. I find after dinner I'm sorta reading, sorta watching TV, sorta outa sorts. Poor Ray. Yes, he puts up with me. Best to leave me alone. And I just putz my time away. Fritter!

I'll get my act together this weekend. Until then - Happy Friday

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Whatever Wednesday - More Mena AR

 I believe I promised to bore you with more flora and fauna from Mena, AR.  Here you go. It was just such a lovely break and cool temps.  We are back in the heat wave in TX, but our pool feels nice and we're very fortunate. 

Nature is whole,  and yet,  never finished - Goethe

Nature never makes excellent things for no mean or no uses - John Locke

Accuse not nature, she hath done her part; Do thou but thine -  John Milton  Paradise Lost

Happy Wednesday

Monday, August 10, 2020

Book Review - Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

 Jennifer Weiner is a reliable author - she writes rich characters, very real plot lines, and truly captures human emotions. Mrs. Everything, her latest, checks the boxes and delivers. 

Back blurb - Jo and Bethie Kaufman, born in 1950s Detroit, have a world of promise ahead. Jo's the tomboy. Bethie's the pretty good girl. But the 60s bring free love, Vietnam, Woodstock, and women's lib. Bethie goes counterculture. Jo is a proper young mother in CT with three girls. She's a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Big issues - lesbianism, feminism, rape, religion (Jewish), race are all featured in this book. Mrs. Everything is not heavy handed. This is fiction, but it does make one think about the characters' choices. You do root for the sisters, and no matter, what they do end up having each other's back (No,  I'm not blowing any major plot point). Oh there's moments of frustration, guilt, and disappointment. 

But there's love and family. Darn good themes and read. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Book Review - The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

There in the mirror, in letters maybe six inches high, STOP DIGGING. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware had me only reading in daylight. Oooh - very creepy book and kept me guessing.

Laura Blaylock, travel writer, was fortunate to get a gig on  the launch of billionaire Richard Bullmer's Aurora cruise boat in the fjords. She mingles with other top notch reporters,  all looking for an angle. Laura is awakened one night by a splash and fears someone is overboard. But is she reliable - a  little booze, some pills, is there a woman in the next cabin (10) or is she hallucinating? The ship board detective has Laura questioning herself.

Bullmer's rich wife is on board (she's the big money behind the scenes) and she's suffering from cancer. Rumor has it he's been seen with young ladies on the side. So, what's the scoop there?

Plenty of intrigue and a lot of things that don't quite add up on this lovely cruise.  And now...where's Laura?  Her fiance, her family haven't heard from her at all.

Yikes!  That's all I can write.
Enjoy - with all of the lights on.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Wednesday Whatever - Mena Arkansas

 Me enjoying the rocks near the Little Missouri water falls
 Kevin hiked out to a "little" falls
 Ray chilled on the big lovely deck, while Kevin dunked into the shallow river below
 Kevin's art project
 Ray and I at the two-footed tree.  A nifty little pit stop
Ray behind the wheel rarin' to go

We ran amok this past weekend in Mena, Arkansas.  Believe me - this was some social distant nature. Ouachita National Forest is gorgeous and thick.  It was a 4-1/2 hour drive from our house. We left Friday morning - arrived about 1 pm, and were on some trails by 2:30.  Zoom Zoom and jounce the brain.

Ray had a blast with his RZR.  We enjoyed time with son Kevin and his wife Maria. Total chill - for real - the temps were high 70s by day and 60s in the morning. Wow!  Even had a nifty bonfire Sat eve.

Altogether logged about 60 miles on trails over 3 days. It's reassuring to know there's a lot of nature out there and some darn thick woods.  I'll share some more pics on Wednesdays.  Deer, fawns, butterflies!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Monday Moment - Ray's a Bit Older

Happy August and that means Happy Birthday Ray - his day was Saturday.   We were off on a social distant jaunt to Mena, Arkansas. Staying in a cabin and riding in his zoom zoom RZR.  I'll post some pics from there at a later date.

Meanwhile - it's all about Ray. The man knows how to have fun. So, it's been a quiet 2020 for adventure. Ray's saving up his energy and no doubt when we can bust loose again...he'll be ready. Older, wiser, and crazier!

Love ya, Ray!