Monday, October 31, 2022

Friday, October 28, 2022

Finally Fair Friday

Finally Friday - flashback to October 13th and our visit to the great State Fair of Texas.  

First the pig races.  Now this big fella is retired and eats fried Oreos. 

Auto show - the only thrill for us is the new Corvette Z model.  We did wander the outdoor truck area, but Ray's not shopping  now. We are happy with our rides. 
The Hall of State had a Dallas Mavericks basketball exhibition. It was fun and interesting. Seeing Dirk's size 16 shoe - oh my! Looked like a paddle boat. 

We ate our Fletcher's Corny Dog, wandered the Creative Arts building, enjoyed the Stunt Dogs, Stunt Bikers, and the Bird Show. Plus so much more. 

I do not believe there is an issue with the economy. Folks turned money into "coupons" and spent like  crazy.  Lines for Midway rides and games were crazy at $10 a pop.  And everyone was buying and smiling. 

Happy Fall Friday Y'all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Whatever Wednesday - Serious Writing

 Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips is homework. My PA book club gang just read and discussed it. I think if I'd had my friend's note summary of characters ahead of time I would have enjoyed this book. 

The author tells us month by month, from a different female character perspective, what life is like and the sorrow and sense of loss impacted their relationship and decisions. There's a lot of disappointment, and the atmosphere is bleak. 

The book takes place in the outer reaches of Russia. The names are all tricky and I kept getting confused (my bad, my ignorance). Two young girls are kidnapped in the first chapter. From there we do meet a variety of women and hear their stories. Slowly the author pulls bits and pieces of everyone's story together. So many coincidences. Will the girls be found? Are they alive? 

You read the value of women based on the police work (or lack thereof). You read the value of ethnic characters based on the police work (or lack thereof). The author tackles a lot of issues in this book. 

The writing is excellent and Disappearing Earth is a challenge. Whew!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Monday - Makes One Think About Life

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano will stick with me for a long time. This poignant tale of a twelve-year-old and his life turned upside down is well executed, written, and very touching. 

Edward, his older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight from Newark to LA. A Colorado crash leaves Edward as the only survivor. He becomes That Boy and has to learn to live again. 

First he has to physically heal. The mental healing - will it ever end? In alternating chapters, the author gives us the family dynamic on the plane, as well as letting us meet other passengers. And then the anchor chapters are Edward's adjustment to living with his aunt and uncle, gaining a best friend in the odd neighbor girl, Shay, dealing with school, camp, plus the pressure of being "famous" and being approached by strangers in person and by letters. 

How does Edward resolve his life as he gets a bit older? What does he want to do with insurance money? How can he perhaps help other lost souls?  Lots of questions to make one think about ones own life.

  Dear Edward is a quiet gem of a book. Well done. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Finally Friday - a trip to France in a book

Ohh la la. Finally Friday, let's travel to France and meet The Chanel Sisters - Antoinette and Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. Author Judithe Little has done her research and gives us a fictional version of  the sisters' lives and loves. Abandoned as children, they are raised by nuns for a simple life. 

back blurb The walls of the convent can't shield them forever, and when they're finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. 

Coco Chanel has the style, the oomph with her hat creations and then simple but elegant clothes. Antoinette has the sales and dollar sense to guide her. The two are glamorous, strong, willful, and get the backing by various loves. The early 1900s they are on top, WWI proves challenging, and after the war, the Chanel name soars. 

This is a fun quick  read about strong girls with dreams who do make them come true. The French backdrop adds that je ne sais quoi atmosphere. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Wednesday Winery and Historic Site - Belle Meade

A final bit of my summer trek. I stopped at Belle Meade just outside of Nashville TN.  What a delightful tour of thirty acres. John Harding founded this family home in 1807 with a cabin and 250 acres. He earned a living boarding horses and ultimately turned the property into one of the finest stud farms in the nation. 
The old smokehouse
Slave quarters


Belle Meade is a gorgeous property and I enjoyed visiting the Carriage House, Gardener's House, Dollhouse, Ice House, Dairy, and the main mansion. The tour discusses the family history as well as the slave situation. The grand finale of the tour is a visit to the winery. I enjoyed the summer favorite - a blackberry blush. 

Sweet summer memory


Monday, October 17, 2022

Monday Madness - Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci

This is the first book in the Atlee  Pine  series and Long  Road  to Mercy by David Baldacci kicks off  a fun ride.  

Atlee remembers the day her twin sister was kidnapped. She's still haunted by it. Now she  works for the FBI and is a lone  agent in Shattered Rock, AZ responsible for the Grand Canyon area. 

A mule is  found stabbed at the bottom of the canyon and the rider is missing - Pine is pulled  into a terrifying case. 

 Cover blurb - If she disobeys direct  orders by continuing to search  for the missing  man, it will mean the  end of  her career. But unless Pine keeps  working the  case and discovers the truth, it could spell the very end of democracy in America as we know it...

Baldacci knows his stuff and  writes quite a credible tale. His heroine, Atlee, is a force  of nature. The pages turn as we stay on the precipice, awaiting a fall.   Whew!  I look forward to reading  the rest of the series. Stay tuned  for more reviews. 

 Yep - very true as we approach November Election Day 2022.  Democracy  - it needs  to stand.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Finally Friday - The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

The Giver of Stars  by Jojo Moyes is a decent  read.  Alice Wright is swept off her feet by an American, Bennett Van Cleve, and she eagerly escapes her life  in England. It's 1937 and alas, she  finds herself stuck in Kentucky expected to have  babies and care for the menfolk (i.e. her husband  and domineering  father-in-law)

Her husband doesn't want  to touch her. She's being blamed for their "troubles".  She's friends with the considered "wild" Margery O'Hare and hires on to bring books to the isolated living  in  the wilderness. Suddenly, the town turns against the library, the women, and Alice  must  fight for  her  friendships,  her true love, and the  chance  to live the life she desires.  Go Alice!   It's now  2022 and so many women still deal with the  same  issues.  It's crazy. 

And yes  - Hocus Pocus 2 is back!!   It's Autumn!   We are finally cooler in TX. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Whatever Wednesday - Let's Dance with the FWSO

 Enjoyed the fall family series presented by the Fort Worth Symphony. Candice and I were happy with the music choices. The theme was "Dance Music from Around the World". 

Russian, African, Romanian Folk Dance, and Hungarian Dance numbers filled the bill. 

The program is an hour long and  designed to introduce children to music. The tickets are inexpensive ($20).  The conductor explains a teensy bit and for this kid (me), I can better understand what I am hearing. 

We had  the bonus of the Terrell Dance Ensemble and the young ladies did a very nice job. 

Such a Saturday treat plus lunch afterward at a Tex-Mex place. Good music, good friend, and plenty of chat.  Fun!

Monday, October 10, 2022

Viola Davis - writer, actress, and so much more

 Viola Davis - Finding Me is a wow of a memoir. This award winning actress - Academy, Emmy, Tony (2), Screen Actors Guild is a phenomenon. She is currently the star of The Woman King in a very strong powerful role. She brings nothing but the best to what  she does. 

However, her memoir tells a harrowing tale of poverty, abuse, and a struggle to fit into the world. As a very dark skinned black woman, she did not fit anyone's box of "pretty", "petite", etc. Her voice, her body, her face commands attention. She leaps from the screen now, but it took a lot of hard  work  to get there. 

Cover blurb - So I wrote this for anyone running through  life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying  to get some sort of self love. 

I am in more awe of her after reading this book. She truly spills her  guts on the page, as she does in  her work.  It  took time, but she found love, adopted a child, and  has her own  production company. 

Kudos to Viola Davis. I look forward  to her continued success and to see what she  brings on screen. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

Finally Friday - The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell'Antonia

 The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell'Antonia is a very amusing  read.  Kansas. Small town Merinac. Two super duper  fried chicken restaurants. Both run by feuding family. Both struggling. Amanda  writes in to Food Wars TV  show. This launches a family battle into a frying  pan of fire. 

Mae ends up back in KS from LA due to a career implosion. Time to face family - her widowed sister Amanda, her failing mother Barbara. Family secrets are exploited into the open. How will this all play out?  Read, learn, and root for family, money, heritage,  and the secret recipe. 

Some final Vegas adventures - the Mirage has  the prettiest  garden areas. 
Just lovely
Here I am

We made it to Caesar's.  That place is crazy big and beyond wild.  Ray's hanging  at  Neptune's fountain. 

We were 20K steps in and exhausted.  Time to wander back to the Flamingo, get our bags, and call an Uber. Time  to go home to rest.  We're good for another five years or so, for sure!

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Book Review - Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley

Very interesting short stories and writing.  Tessa Hadley, with Bad Dreams and Other Stories, gives us layers of life. 

Quarrels over inheritance. A Housekeeper and secrets found. A child awake in the dark. 

cover blurb - Small acts  have large consequences, some that can reverberate across decades...

The real  things  that  happen to people, the accidents that befall them, are every bit as mysterious as their longings and dreams. 

Good, tight writing  all around. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Monday Moments - 1917, 2020 - 2022 Any Changes?

Continuing my trek to PA back in June, I stopped in Staunton VA to visit Woodrow Wilson's childhood home and  Presidential Library. Now this was a step back  into time - old creaky home tour (very interesting), and old fashioned library exhibits. No video, no buttons to push. Stroll and read. 
Very nice buildings and interesting displays. What struck me about Woodrow Wilson's presidency was how similar it actually was to today's time period. 
War (WWI), pandemic (Spanish flu), monetary issues, etc.    

Technology was the obvious big difference.  Back in the day, the news was by old fashioned newspapers, news reels, and radio.  Politics was handled on the back of a train - whistle stops. 

This display in the basement was stirring. The sounds of war echoed and you did feel like you were in the trenches. Very scary. (See the movie 1917 for reference - well done flick)

 The old presidential vehicle - a huge Pierce Arrow was very cool.  Push one of the buttons and the A-OOGA of the horn sounded.  

Again, this stop of mine was an exploration of history. Lots to think about. 

Then walk into downtown Staunton. Very quaint. I recommend the Clocktower for an excellent sandwich and time to ponder the world.