Friday, December 1, 2023

Finally Friday - The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich

 I bought this 2005 book at a library sale for one dollar. Oh my - Louise Erdrich's writing is worth so much more. The Painted Drum is rich in  characters, story line, description,  and life.  I have become a fan and I'm trying to read more of  her works. 

This  book stars Faye Travers and a rare moose skin and cedar drum created by an Ojibwe artisan. She finds it at an old New Hampshire  estate descended from a North Dakota Indian agent. 

cover blurb - And so begins an illuminating journey both backward and forward in time, following  the strange passage of a powerful and yet delicate instrument, and revealing the extraordinary lives it has touched and defined. 

Erdrich explores mother/ daughter relationships, the strength of family, and grief. 

I enjoyed this book and  took my time to appreciate the writing and her respect of Native American  culture. She embodies the lyrical story telling skills of ancestors, and  also shows some current conditions of the community. Open your heart and it will  soar when reading Louise Erdrich's work. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Whatever Wednesday - Post Turkey Trot - Chill Out

So, we've enjoyed Thanksgiving...eaten that wee bit too much, didn't exercise quite as much, and now  we are fretting over the next holiday countdown.  Baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating and more. 

We all have those checklists. I have truly cut back  on the holiday stressing and's easy to get sucked up into the whirl.   So, this post is your final November whatever - chill  out my friends. 

I nabbed these photos from a  FB  friend's beach trip. Aaah!

 Isn't this just way cool?  
This is from October 14th - our solar eclipse.   Saturday dawned glorious - blue skies, windy bluster, and sunshine. Then around 10:30ish things changed. You could tell the light was changing.  

Unlike a former leader, we did not go  out and stare into the sun.  Duh!   Ray had his pinhole papers and that was  cool.  But he discovered that our leaf pattern out front showed a very nifty crescent view of the eclipse without burning our retinas

This shot I took at high noon was at the peak of our eclipse in North Texas.  Quite nifty. 

So - the point is - chill out and embrace any moment of nature you have in a day. That's very important. A little walk around your block to shake off any cobwebs is good for you.  Yes, you can be composing another list as you stroll, but stop and inhale that November (soon to be December) air.   Enjoy

Monday, November 27, 2023

Monday Moments - The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

 What happened to the girl you left behind?

back blurb:  France 1916, Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe while Edouard fights at the front. The  town falls to the Germans in the midst of WWI. She is forced to serve soldiers dinner at her hotel. The new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie's portrait - painted by her artist husband - a dangerous obsession is born, one that will lead Sophie to make  a dark and terrible  decision. 

A century later, Sophie's portrait hangs in the house of Liv Halston. A  battle begins  over its troubled history. As the layers of the  painting's shadowy past are revealed, Liv's world is turned upside  down again. Her belief  in  what is right is put to the ultimate test.  

JoJo Moyes writes a very layered story and handles the past and present well.  The WWI setting proves interesting and she obviously did research about this time period. The Girl You Left Behind is an excellent  read and I cared a lot about the characters. It kept me guessing until the end, in regards to the fate of the stunning painting. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Finally Friday - Turkey, Birthday, Holiday Season

Happy Holiday season kickoff everyone. Hope you enjoyed a turkey feast yesterday. I hope it was a peaceful time with family or friends. 
Saturday is my "baby" sister, Lori's, birthday.  Happy Birthday!!  Hope you enjoy your weekend with lots of treats, good food, and fun with friends.  Let there be cake!
Meanwhile, Ray is probably down in San Saba for the big hunt.  Here he is with Aunt Pat raising a new flag at Uncle James' gravesite up on  the  hill.  Dear Ray - have fun, but you don't have  to bring  back any deer. don't.   Thanks
And fall in Philly, in my dad's neighborhood. Crisp air
I am thankful for many things - Ray,  my Dad, my family, so many good friends, decent health. And here's  to new friends and adventures since I retired. Pickleball has been a blast - this is the First Methodist Church of Hurst Wednesday gang. Lots  of laughs and plenty of exercise. 

I'll also give a shoutout to my YMCA water aerobic ladies - no swimsuit  pics  allowed.  Ha!

Tis the season - take a moment to reflect on what you are  thankful for, and take time  for yourselves too.  I thank my blog readers for reading my blather.  Cheers everyone. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Whatever Wednesday

 I am still recovering from three weeks in PA.   Back to the Y and exercise.  Back to Ray.  Getting ready for holiday countdowns.  Yowza.   Time flies. 

Can't go wrong with a Maya Angelou quote. 

You are welcome. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Monday Moment - Yoga my way

 Howdy - I am back from three weeks in PA. Must do laundry and get back to the YMCA to exercise. No doubt I've  grown sluggish. 

Tuesday is my yoga day.  Can I still balance, bend, and be a tree?  Hmmm. 

This meme sums up my true talent. 

Are you with me?   Namaste

Friday, November 17, 2023

Finally Friday - New York City

This was a zillion years ago. I came into NYC. Dad and my sister Lori rode the train up from PA to meet me for a show.  So fun.  

Now this year,  I'm going on an NYC bus trip with Lori and her friends.  It's just for the day, but I plan  to cram my face with a bagel, cheesecake, and we have dinner at Carmine's.  Oh yeah!

NYC is just magical.  I love the energy, the people,  the lights, and the overall size of this city. 

I could  live here if I had a ridiculous amount of money. I'm watching "Billions" on Prime - that's the way I'd want to do NYC. 

I visited NYC in September of 2001, right before the attacks  and the towers fell.  Still so profound - something I will never forget. 

New York, New York - every song about it rings true. We are going to have SO much fun. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Whatever Wednesday - Time

 It is mid November and my three weeks in PA are almost up. Will I have accomplished anything? At least I will have kept my dad amused with reminiscing and some laughs. We'll have had some good meals, and watched the same movies over and over. 

It is mid November and almost holiday time. Are you ready for this downhill slide to finish another wacky year?

There are years when nothing happens and years when centuries happen - Carlos Fuentes on the new world disorder, July 1993

Ah! the clock is always slow...It is later than you think.   Robert W. Service, Ballads of a Bohemian 1921

Monday, November 13, 2023

Monday Moments - Greek fest

It was a dreary Thursday - what the heck - movie matinee and some popcorn. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is ridiculous, silly, unnecessary, and I enjoyed it. Don't expect anything new. Expect stereotypical behavior - noisy nosy Greeks in everybody's business and pushing food the whole time. The plot line is unoriginal - the father died and now it's time to go back to his hometown in Greece and have a reunion. Try to find any of his original living friends to pass on the father's journal. 

Nia Vardalos is the writer and star and she's very personable. She's not "movie star beauty" and has used  her Greek background and ethnic beauty to her advantage. John Corbett as her husband, Ian, plays the white guy outsider with good humor. Lainie Kazan is the matriarch and they stay in touch with her via zoom. Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula is the eccentric fun elder.  

Greece is a gorgeous backdrop, as is the quaint village and the food. It's a fluff short movie with funny lines and a message of FAMILY FIRST, and that's nice. It's probably streaming by now -  eat, drink, and dance...loudly in your own home.  

Friday, November 10, 2023

Finally Friday - Long Shadows

 Long Shadows by David Baldacci is book seven in the Memory Man series. 

Nice to have Amos Decker back in the mix, but he's not convinced he's in the mood. He definitely doesn't want a new partner, "Freddie White". He also just received a letter from the Cognition Studies who monitor his condition. The news isn't necessarily stellar, and Amos can tell his memory can be a bit off at times. See - he had a football brain injury that gave him perfect memory - he can remember everything, every detail, every thing he sees or reads. He also has color sensory - bright blue is murder. 

cover blurb info: Well the bright blue is searing in south Florida. Decker and White are investigating the death of a judge, along with her bodyguard. One was brutally stabbed, the other shot. What was the timing? Why? Who was the real target? Gang members, drug dealers, and smugglers, a resentful ex-husband - all become involved. More bodies pile up as they try to piece together a very interwoven tunnel of secrets, crimes, and scandal. 

Baldacci writes a good thriller and kept me guessing until the end. Decker and White prove to be quite a team. So much for a beach vacation - ha!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Whatever Wednesday - A Haunting in Venice

 Kenneth Branagh is Hercule Poirot in the latest Agatha Christie film, A Haunting in Venice.  Alas, he's weary of solving murders, but is brought to an ancient castle in Venice on a stormy night (of course).  There is to be a seance. Tina Fey, an author, wants him to disprove the medium (Michelle Yeoh) who is going to talk to  the daughter who died in this home. There are of course a family of three, assorted help, a policeman, some new immigrants - all with tics, suspicious behavior, and demons. 

Thunder, lightning, and murder. I'm not  going  to say who or how many bodies prove dead. But doors are now locked and Poirot is questioning everyone. Shifty eyes. A scream.  Red herrings  galore. 

It's an entertaining film and richly produced. Branagh, as director, has a good eye for settings and pace.  It was a fun matinee to see with a friend and we were amused.  No doubt it will be streaming  soon and I recommend it if you are killing time. Cue a bolt  of lightning!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Monday Moments - The Librarianist by Patrick DeWitt

 The Librarianist by Patrick DeWitt is a very low key read that I can't recommend purchasing or spending time with for free (I did get this out of the library). It was so-so. Good writing, but I kept waiting for a tad more. I did start skimming. 

Bob Comet is a retired librarian in Portland, Oregon. He reads. He walks. He really has no friends. On  a walk  one day he comes upon a woman who appears lost. She has a tag around her neck that directs her back to a senior center. Bob guides her back and ultimately begins volunteering there. 

cover blurb - Bob's experiences are imbued with melancholy but also a bright, sustained comedy; he has a talent for locating bizarre and outsize players to welcome onto the stage of this life. 

Hmm. I can't say I chuckled at all. And a slight twist that's thrown in  about the woman Bob found - eh I say with a shrug.  Consider this a public service post.  I often like books with a library or reading theme. This one - not so much. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Finally Friday - Serenity

I am currently at my dad's in PA.    This is a filler post to wish you a calm weekend.  This photo was taken by friends in South Padre, TX.  I nabbed it off FB
My cousin  Mark and his wife have been gallivanting  all over Europe.  What a view - I believe this is in Austria.  They bike and hike and say Prost! at the end of the day. 

I'll be hanging out with  dad, no doubt taking a walk around the block (just me), fixing him some decent meals, and there's plenty of snoozing that occurs when you are ninety-two years old. 

Have a good one everyone. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Whatever Wednesday - Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

 I love Colson Whitehead's writing, and I enjoyed his character, Ray Carney, introduced in Harlem Shuffle. Now Carney is back and trying to stay out of trouble in Crook Manifesto

1971 - Ray Carney is out of the  stolen goods business. His furniture store is thriving and life is good. But his daughter wants to see the Jackson 5. Carney checks in with an old police contact, a fixer. But Munson has his own  favors to ask of Carney and staying out of the game gets a lot more complicated - and deadly. (cover)

1973  Carney's best long time buddy, Pepper, takes on a side gig doing security for a Blaxploitation shoot in Harlem. It's a freaky world, and we follow  Pepper on a trip to the underbelly. Adversaries underestimate the seasoned crook - to their regret.   (cover)

1976  Our crooked duo, Carney and Pepper, have to battle their way through a crumbling metropolis run by the shady, the violent, and the utterly corrupted.  (cover)

Whitehead captures the era in Harlem. He writes with humor, his characters are loyal family/friend people, and you can't help but root for Carney to find his way. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Monday Moments - Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
Hope it's a spooktacular good  time
Don't get caught in a web of evil

 Keep your eyes in your head and your wits about you


Friday, October 27, 2023

Finally Friday - Off to See Dad

I'm probably a bit late for  fall color, but  I'm off  for  three weeks to see my Dad, siblings, friends, and eat a cheesesteak sandwich.  Flying up - hope all American Airline worker bees are working. 
Here's dad from last November.  No doubt we'll be sitting a lot at the kitchen table. He's slowing down, but still chows down.  Or  we can play rummy. 

 Dad back in 2016.  He's slowed a lot since then. But we'll have good laughs, talk about old times, and watch his Good Morning America at volume 80.  If you hear anything - that's the TV. 

So, bear with me on posts - I'm pre-writing and scheduling. But I might not be commenting back as much.  I'll be visiting, walking around the block, and fetching dad a glass of water. 

Hope you enjoy your weekend. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Shake it Off

 Haters don't hate, please. 

Yes, I contributed to Taylor Swift's  bank account and  enjoyed The Eras  Tour  movie. I saved thousands by not actually going  to her concert - ha!

It was a quiet  Sunday afternoon. There was a group of young  ladies dancing on the other side of the theater, but they did not disturb me. I was able to see and hear the movie version of the concert and it was quite an impressive production. Good dancing, costumes, light show,  staging, etc. 

I like pop music and Taylor Swift writes very catchy tunes. She is tall and presents well with a pleasant voice. ( I do think Pink, who I have  seen in concert, is much better).  Anyway, it was harmless fun and I admire  Taylor the business woman.  She is a good role model  for  female power (getting back her copyrights), running her show, standing her ground, and respecting her audience. Our local radio - KISS- FM 106.1 in Dallas - has always said she goes  out of her way for her fans, and I've not read or heard of any dirty secrets.  

I hope she can continue her success and evolve. She's 33 - a grown woman.  Keep Shaking Off the Haters and enjoy Good Karma, Taylor.  

Monday, October 23, 2023

October Monday - Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge by Helen Ellis

 I laughed from start to finish reading this new hilarious collection of essays from Helen Ellis. Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge is boisterous, bawdy, and unabashedly romantic. In these surprising, sexy, and frank essays, she paints a portrait of true romance for our times. (cover blurb)

Here are some of the chapter titles - My Husband Snores and Yours Will Too,  An Email  to Our Cat Sitter, What's in the  Box?, The Best Part of a Wedding is the Worst Part of the Wedding, We Are Not That Couple, May I Hold Your Grudge for You, and more. 

p. 110 In How to Collect Art, she  describes categories - "Folk art" means poor people did it. "Emerging" means the artist is just out of grad school. "Contemporary" means a piece of the artist's work is in a Midwest museum and costs ten figures. "Modern" means the artist has major shows and  will cost a half million. "Fine art"  - forget about it. The artist is long  dead and commemorated with coffee mugs.   She goes on to describe her and her husband's approach to collecting. It's laugh out loud funny. 

p. 149  I still live by the Southern Lady Code. If you don't have something nice to say, say something not so nice in a nice way. For example: Your Instagram is beautifully curated is Southern Lady Code for "Your real life must be a hotter mess than spaghetti and meatballs in a clothes dryer. " 

She just nails  life  and marriage in these essays. Trust me. You'll crack up. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Finally Friday - Zero Days by Ruth Ware

cover blurb info:  "Jack" Cross and her husband, Gabe, are the best security penetration specialists in the business. Jack does the physical, Gabe tackles digital. Quite the team.  But a job goes wrong and Jack comes home  to find her husband dead. The police suspect - her. 

She is on the run, out of options and has to decide who to trust. How much is at stake? How deep does this go?

Whew - Zero  Days is a page turner and tough  to figure out along with Jack what's going to happen. Ruth Ware is a superb writer who can ratchet up  the adrenaline.  I got this from the library and ripped through it. Thumbs up. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Wednesday Whatever - Beach Calm

 I nabbed this photo from a friend who was in South Padre Island, TX. 

Nothing like a beach, a gulf, and a sky

It's Wednesday.   Just breathe

Monday, October 16, 2023

Monday Moments - Texas Women Artists

Marking Space/ Holding Time - works by Texas Women Artists - was a lovely little exhibit in the Irving  Arts Center. I try to get over to these galleries because the curator does a fabulous job.  It only takes about thirty to forty minutes to see and enjoy the  works. 

This picture is "Out of Order" by Ellen Frances Tuchman.  It's mixed media on watercolor paper - acrylic, colored pencil, vintage matchbooks, hand painted paper quills, beads, buttons, cabochons, and thread.  Quite fascinating

"Guardians" by Sherry Owens is crepe myrtle, bailing wire, dye, and wax.   Wow!
"Garden 1 and Garden 2" by Mihee Nahm is oil on linen.  So calm and lovely

 "Between the Worlds" by Dawn Waters Baker just glows.  It's oil on gold leaf and canvas

These were just a few of the works that  caught my eye. The talent is tremendous. Such variety and creativity. 

You need a stroll?  Go find a local art center or gallery to enrich your heart. 

Friday, October 13, 2023

Finally Friday - A Gambling Man by David Baldacci

 You can always count on David Baldacci for a good story. He  does not disappoint in  A Gambling Man. Aloysius Archer is a WWII vet fresh out of prison and ready for a new start as a private investigator.  He hops a bus to California with a contact there to get him started. A stop in Reno proves to be pivotal. He leaves a dead body behind (self defense), earns some money, gets a classy 1939 Delahaye convertible, and meets Liberty Callahan, an aspiring actress, who joins him on the trip west.  A lot happens in a short period of time. 

cover blurb - Once in Bay Town, CA, he apprentices with Willie Dash and is immediately in the thick of a potential scandal: a blackmail case involving a wealthy, well connected politician running for mayor that soon spins into something even more sinister. 

Brothels, gambling  dens, drug operations. The promised land could be Archer's final resting place if he  doesn't connect the  clues. Strong characters and page turning  action. Take a gamble, hop into the convertible, and enjoy the ride/ read! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Whatever Wednesday - I Am Debra Lee

 Cover blurb - I Am Debra Lee is a riveting memoir by the former CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), about the glamorous and ugly moments of being a high powered Black woman executive in the entertainment industry. 

Debra Lee is impressive, formidable, and quite human. Her behind the scenes stories are intense - a young girl raised in the segregated South, to law school, to being a general counsel for BET, to COO, and finally CEO.  Often the only woman in the room, she had to move past her quiet persona and exert power while  juggling a family.  

She writes - I don't just love Black culture - the magic in our hair, the swagger in our steps, the particular way we can say 'alright now' to fit our changing moods - Black culture saved me.

I like her style, grace, intelligence, awareness, and an appreciation for entertainment history, for black history, for current history and her mistakes and her corrections.  She had to work extra hard and to push back in a very male oriented business. 

She is inspirational and this memoir is worth reading. It explores a world that I don't know, but could appreciate.  I am Debra Lee - damn straight, you are!

Monday, October 9, 2023

Monday Momentous Birthdays

 Well, yesterday October 8th, I (on the left) turned 65.  My cousin, Mark (r) turns 65 on Thursday October 12th.  This picture from September 1959 has our great grandmother - was she propping us up or were we helping her? I have no idea how old she was - folks back in the day always looked a bit "Grapes of Wrath" whether they were thirty or ninety. 

Now we are seniors on Medicare. I'm playing pickleball, doing water aerobics, and acting like I'm thirty - only recovery time takes longer. Mark hikes, bikes, and is an all around sport guy out in Oregon. 

The older I get, the faster I was -  Charles Barkley, basketball player

To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am - Bernard Baruch, financier

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair - Douglas MacArthur, General, WWII

Still kicking with Ray and I do love birthday cake so it's worth celebrating getting older. Still have my hair, still have my teeth (albeit with help). Mentally - still young, that awkward girl who reads books. 

Friday, October 6, 2023

Finally Friday - PA Book Club Zoom

 cover blurb - She possessed a stunning  beauty.  She also possessed a stunning mind. Could the world handle both?

 She fled the Third Reich, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret even more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she knew a few secrets about the enemy. She had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis...if anyone would listen to her. 

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict explores an amazing life - a fictionalized version of Hedy Lamarr's life. She was a young Jewish woman who married Fritz Mandl, an armaments manufacturer. She hosted Nazis in their castles. She fled, became a famous Hollywood actress, all while designing a frequency hopping invention, a precursor to spread spectrum technology. 

I had hoped for more from this book. The writing and story line almost had a soap opera tone, in my opinion. A lot of chapters established her beauty and life with Fritz - a very controlling man. Then once in  Hollywood, the writing offered a lot of hand wringing and guilty dread for her life. I would have liked more on the science breakthrough that was so brilliant. Indeed, she was born at the wrong time to be taken seriously. 

It's quite a tale and quite a life. There was just a missing element in the writing for me. Tonight my PA book club friends discuss the book on Zoom. I'll be curious to  hear their thoughts. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Whatever Wednesday - Oliver!

 Saturday September 16th, my friend, Candice, and I enjoyed a matinee at the Artisan Theater Center. Oliver!  A golden oldie musical featuring our favorite Dicken's urchin, Oliver Twist. 

 "Please, sir. May I have some more?"

I really do need to  get back to re-reading  Charles Dickens. What  a tale. Poor Oliver, an orphan, sold, run away, joins Fagin's gang of thieves, arrested, "saved", taken again, and reunited with the remaining family he had. 

Great songs - Food, Glorious Food, Oliver, Where is Love, You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, As Long as He Needs Me, and more. 

Memorable characters - Oliver, Artful Dodger, Mr. Bumble, Fagin, Nancy, Bill Sikes (boo hiss), Mr. Brownlow, plus all of the urchins and street folks. 

The Artisan cast gave a rousing  performance. Solid vocals, acting, and production set. We had a fine time. Support local theater! 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Sunday Sundries

My mind will wander plenty when I go to PA end of the month.  There's a lot of relaxing with my dad.  If I'm smart, I will take the time to bring a notebook and perhaps jot down my random thoughts, maybe a scrap of poetry, or a hint of a short story.  We'll see

 Yep - I've been dusting and then pick up something to read, sit down, abandon dusting, and get absorbed in a book.  What the heck - the dust will still be there. 

Hope you say the heck with cleaning and plop down with something good to read on a Sunday or any day. Enjoy

Friday, September 29, 2023

Finally Friday - Fall is Here?

Fall is in the air.  Well, it's a dream concept this year in Texas.  Still 90s as I write this post.  But evening temps are lowering and we've had a few drips of rain. That cools the pool a lot. 
Still too hot for fall mums. So, I planted a gnome instead. 

" Sweater " weather indeed - no not the sweatshirt or a "jumper" as my UK friends call it.  Here in Texas we are still perspiring - ha!

I am playing an old Hall & Oates tune - "Fall in Philadelphia"  It allows me to sense the cooler tinge in the air, see the bright reds, golds, and oranges in the leaves, and smell a fireplace burning. 

Happy Fall Y'All!   Are you rich enough to afford a pumpkin this year?