Monday, January 31, 2022

Monday Book Review - Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

 Family, Marriage, Justice, Friends?

Here's a good quick weekend read. You can always count on Lisa Scottoline to keep your interest and the pages turning. In Someone Knows, she does not disappoint. And I always love her work, since it takes place in Philly suburbs - I can picture the setting. 

cover blurb - Allie Garvey is heading home to the funeral of a childhood friend. She is not only grief-stricken, she's full of dread. Because going home means seeing the other two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret.

Flashback 20 years to age 15. Allie's sister has died. Her mom's a wreck. Allie's a pudgie nerd. She gets pulled into a "thing" with the cool kids - gorgeous Sasha, rich confidant Julian, and kind but conflicted David.  The "thing" is finding a gun and bullets, a "fake" game of Russian roulette, a game gone wrong, and consequences never addressed. 

Scottoline takes us back and forth in time from the perspective of the players and parents. Lots of secrets in the suburbs, along with another killing or two,  and you are kept guessing until the end. Someone Knows...someone always knows.  

Friday, January 28, 2022

Friday Frivolity - Oh Winnie the Pooh

TGIF  - last week had Winnie the Pooh Day, but I think his sayings are good for any day. Hope everyone is staying well, dodging the germs, and muddling along. January has been quite the challenge. Hmm, What shall February bring us?
Smile as you shovel - February can be quite contrary

 And this is a cake!   Yes, we enjoyed a retirement/birthday party for the matriarch of Knight Electronics  - Ray's former employer. We were invited to a lovely dinner, celebration, and cake. 

She helped found the company and handled all office requirements on an old typewriter - in triplicate. 

Stay warm, have a good weekend, and eat cake!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Book Review Madness - The Reckoning by John Grishham

 John Grisham is a reliable author. He tells a good tale, has strong characters, and still surprises at the end. The Reckoning (from 2018) is an entertaining read and page turner. This was a library book sale find  for a dollar and both Ray and I got our money's worth. 

It's 1946 and Pete Banning is a war hero, runs a prominent family farm in Clanton MS, and is a faithful Methodist church member. So why, on a cool October morning, did he go shoot the pastor and friend, Rev. Dexter Bell?

His only statement, "I have nothing to say."

cover blurb - John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during WWII; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete's defense attorney tries desperately to save him. 

I won't write more, won't give anything away. It was easy to jump to conclusions, but worth moving along each chapter and uncovering more motives. Just a solid book with a very likeable hero/villain in Pete Banning.  Worth a dollar or a checkout from the library.   Enjoy

Monday, January 24, 2022

Monday Book - Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

 I was so impressed by presidential inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, that I was excited for her book of poetry, Call Us What We Carry.  It does include The Hill We Climb. 

cover blurb - This luminous poetry collection captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. 

These poems shine a light on  a moment of reckoning and reveal that Gorman has  become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future. 

Poetry is tricky and I'll have to re-read some to plumb the true depths.  But some poems spoke boldly, just hit me with the power of her words. Her rhythms are strong and there's a musical beat to so many of the poems. 

Here's an example of strong imagery from Ship's Manifest.  

First stanza    Allegedly the worst is behind us

                        Still we crouch before the lip of tomorrow

                        Halting like a headless hant in our own home

                        Waiting to remember exactly

                        What it is we're supposed to be doing

I know poetry isn't for everyone, but if you love words and want to dip your toe in the poetry pool, Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman is a good place to start. 


Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday Frivolity and Mishmash

It's Friday, it's January, here's a mishmash of life from me so far.  

Ray and I finally caught Spider-Man: No Way Home in the theater. It was very fun - a multi-verse conglomeration of Dr. Strange, various villains, and lovely spidey fun with Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maquire - great to see them. Marisa Tomei is always a treat as Aunt May. Best of all, Tom Holland exudes such sincerity. I'm not going into plot lines or a big discourse. This is an excellent Marvel movie and superb entertainment on the big screen. 
Well, I've signed up for pickleball at the local college in the senior program. It starts in February. The odds of sucking are high since I'm not the most coordinated person in the world. However, I'm very psyched for the fun and exercise.  And I realize, do not go into this with negativity. I'm being brave. New kid on the senior playground. 
Thanks Mr. Edison
How about if you are stuck in the muck on a Sunday afternoon like Kevin in his zoom zoom car? Yes - he did get out thanks to Ray's winch on his RZR. 
We need puddles and rain. And we need more rain. Not a tsunami, not tons of snow. Texas needs rain. We are in drought conditions again and we count on January - April for some of the wet stuff.  Heck, I'll play pickleball in the rain if it's necessary. 

Finally a quote from Ben Franklin to take into your weekend:
The best  thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; and to your child, a good example. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Wednesday Movie Review Madness - Licorice Pizza

 1970s San Fernando CA - the atmosphere is captured in director Paul Thomas Anderson's weird artsy film, Licorice Pizza. I still have no idea what the title means. 

Alana Haim (of the musical group Haim) plays Alana Kane, a twenty something who's drifting through jobs and life. She lives at home with her parents and sisters and has no purpose. Working as a photographer assistant for school pictures, she meets Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman - son of Philip Seymour Hoffman) a fifteen year old wiser than his years. The kid is a hustler - child actor, business man, charming, and has a big personality. 

He persists in asking her out. She resists due to the age, but she really has nothing else going  on. They are sorta friends. The movie is an assortment of mini-vignettes that just move along. It's funny, quirky, and odd. Nothing really happens and yet, against the backdrop of the 70s, life lessons, life laughs, just life and love happens. 

Good acting and atmosphere. I'm glad I saw it for my five bucks. But then again, I like weird little movies. And that's my review. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Monday Moments - Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier passed away at age 94. He was a legend in his field and from everything I've read, just a class act all around. Gracious, talented, good looking, and a ground breaker. I've enjoyed his movies through the years and have watched many interviews with him. 

He was the first black man to receive an Oscar for Best Actor in 1963 for his role in Lilies of the Field
His career kicked off in 1958 in The Defiant Ones alongside Tony Curtis, with an Oscar nomination.  
Mr. Poitier continued with stunning roles - In the Heat of the Night.  (1967)  "They call me Mr. Tibbs." Classic!!!

A fave of mine was To Sir With Love. (I wanted him to be my teacher)
 Also Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. 

He not only acted, he directed too. In 1995 he received a Kennedy Center Honor. In 2009 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. Civil right activist, humanitarian, there really are no words for this man's gifts to the world. 

All in all, I just wanted to pay tribute to a very worthy actor and man - Mr. Sidney Poitier.  R.I.P. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Finally Friday - Book Club Zoom - The Midnight Library

 I am excited for tonight's zoom book club meeting with my PA Gang.  Oh we gab, gab, gab. But then we do give serious attention to the book and tonight it's The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. 

I really enjoyed this book - the concept, the main character, and the whole story arc. Well written and Haig gives the reader a lot to think about. 

cover blurb: Between life and death there is a library. When Nora Seed (who's life has been full of misery and regret) finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right.

First she gets to look at her book of regret. (That is very scary) Then she gets to choose various spots in her life (all in filed books) and zoom to that point in time. She can undo decisions and try to imagine how life would work out for her - whether it's a love, a career, a friendship. Choices made affect people one knows and even others. What is the best way to live?  It's obviously better to step away from self absorption, consider the moments, and get out of ones head.  

p. 218 "Well yes. But now you are lost within your lostness. You are not going to find the way you want to live like this." said Mrs. Elm (Nora's personal guide and her former librarian from school)

"What if there was never a way? What if I am...trapped?"

"So long as there are still books on the shelves, you are never trapped. Every book is a possible escape."

"I just don't understand life," sulked Nora. 

"You don't have to understand life. You just have to live it."

Wow.  And there you go.  Read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig to reaffirm a lot of common sense and to start fresh in 2022.  Live!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Book Review - Losing Mum and Pup

 Oscar Wilde wrote, "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like  carelessness."

cover blurb:  12 months within 2007 to 2008, author Christopher Buckley coped with the passing of his dad, William F. Buckley, the father of the modern conservative movement, and his mother, Patricia Taylor Buckley, one of New York's most glamorous and colorful socialites. He was their only child and their relationship was close and complicated. As Buckley writes: "They were not - with respect  to every other set of loving, wonderful parents in the world - your typical mom and dad."

This book Losing Mum and Pup is entertaining and touching as Buckley reels from becoming a fifty-five year old orphan. I found this book fascinating and heartwarming. Buckley's love for his folks shine through as well as his exasperation in telling their family story. Disagreements aplenty, disapproval abounds for the far more liberal son. And yet, there are so many human down to earth moments all amidst a backdrop of money and fame. 

Christopher Buckley's consolation, wit, and warmth give some solace and insight into dealing with the death of a parent. This was a very pleasant memoir to read. Have a tissue handy for some very touching moments. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Monday Moments - Dallas Holocaust Museum

 January 1st was spent enjoying nature - a walk at Chisholm Park.  Then the wind shifted and the new year decided to get cold. 

Thus, I chose an indoor activity for Sunday Jan 2nd. Expand the brain with a museum. I had been to the original Dallas Holocaust Museum many years ago. Now, they've moved, expanded, and added a whole section on Human Rights. 

The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is a must see. It's not "enjoyable" or "fun", but it is necessary. It's rather sobering, somber, and humbling to reflect on the killing of six million Jews. And then to move on and see that so much has NOT been learned. Pick any corner of the world and  ones own back yard - there are people not being treated with the dignity they deserve in some capacity. 

There's an emphasis on not being a bystander, but an upstander. Actually DO something to help human rights in the world.  Maybe 2022 can be a more positive turn in history?

Lots to think about and do. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Book Review - Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard

 Veronica (Ronnie) Swan is twelve and lives in a close-knit Mormon community. Her life is turned upside down when a young man having a schizophrenic episode murders her two younger sisters while Ronnie is babysitting them. They were playing hide and seek and she was in the shed.  Her parents ultimately forgive Scott Early. Veronica cannot. 

Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard follows Ronnie's journey. At seventeen she sets out to CA to change her identity, train to be an EMT, and avenge her sisters' deaths.  cover blurb  She will discover the true meaning of sin and compassion...before she makes a decision that will change her and her family forever. 

This novel is a compelling read with well thought out characters and real emotions. 

p.120 at Cape Cod visiting a family friend: I felt free of the two little stone hands on my sisters' graves that locked me to their deaths...And I didn't feel guilty.

The teen years between fifteen and eighteen are tough enough, let alone navigating such a huge family tragedy. Her parents do end up having two more children - boys, and while Ronnie loves them, she's conflicted over missing her sisters. She questions her faith, her loves, and her life. 

p.259 Once I had wished with all my being  to clear out of the little hollow below the ridge at Pine Mountains. And now....

Mitchard's Cage of Stars is a worthy read and handles mental illness, faith, love, and family issues with a strong guiding hand and a very intelligent, warm teen narrator. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Salute to Joan Didion

 Joan Didion  (12/5/1934 - 12/23/2021) was a writer I respected immensely. Born of the 1960s and 70s counterculture, she was the embodiment of New Journalism. She wrote political and social rhetoric with a personal touch. 

Her first published collection of magazine articles Slouching Toward Bethlehem (1968) was a harbinger of writing to come. Her Year of Magical Thinking (2005) brought grief to the forefront after the death of her famous writer husband, John Gregory Dunne. 

Her writing made one think. She was a tiny little thing with the power of a pen. Here are some quotes I liked

"People tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember. Writers are always selling somebody out."

"We are the stories we tell ourselves"  

A fave:

"I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be"  

Joan Didion - R.I.P.      Her writing lives on

Monday, January 3, 2022

Monday Moments - January 2022

January 1st was delightful in Texas until the wind shifted.  Ray and I enjoyed a nice long walk from our neighborhood to Chisholm Park.  We enjoyed the paths, watched the ducks, greeted others, and got in a decent amount of steps.   Then the COLD spell blew through. 

No snow.  But it was 70  degrees at 1 pm.    53 degrees at 2:30 pm.     43 degrees at 4:30 pm

Guess who was still out with just a t-shirt as we saw Ray's folks, ate lunch out, and then ran an errand at Best Buy?   ME!  I was laughing at my own  fool self.  The cold  hit way earlier than predicted.  Brrr

Awoke on Sunday 1/2/2022 to 23 degrees. Dang. 

And  now some funny memes. 
Hey, I am retired - that is a new ME. Quite refreshed with no alarm on a Monday morning. 

No clenched stomach on Sunday night.   This is wonderful. 

 The pile of goodies is definitely diminished. Grocery shop on Friday was quite practical.

As we wade and wallow into the new year - be kind to others and yourself. 

We'll figure this out together!

Saturday, January 1, 2022


 Happy New Year!

2020 was our lost year

2021 was our "we're trying hard to be 'normal' but we still don't know what that is anymore" year

2022 - who knows?   New, new normal?

I like the Mary Oliver poem above. It's calm, patient, and urges love. 

Then again, I found this John Steinbeck quote, "If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy, and sick."   Yikes. 

I kinda think he nailed the future and the future is now. 

So 2022 has kicked off. Do we fumble, or make it to the finish line victorious?

Happy New Year?