Wait a minute…

Where did June go? How did I miss June? What in the world was going on that I missed?

Well, let’s see. There is a world-wide pandemic going on. It’s been hotter than Hades so I’m watering my flowers every day to try and keep them alive. The weeds are doing famously, the little buggers. My veggies are not putting on any tomatoes or peppers. I keep trying but it’s beginning to defeat me. I won’t give up, though, promise!

I hope you are all staying safe and wearing masks, which is being kind and considerate of others. COVID 19 is a sneaky virus, it doesn’t always rear it’s ugly head with symptoms and is highly contagious. I’m laying low, reading lots of books and painting again. It’s been wonderful to rediscover my love for painting.

You know when you get a car you start to see that kind of car all over the place? Well, I haven’t gotten a new car, but painting again has brought me the pleasure of finding others who love to paint.

This spring during the lockdown, I made a quilt and it turned out fine, but I’m thinking it’s not my thing. It was heavy and awkward and I finally had to borrow my sister-in-law’s sewing machine to finish it. I had to try, though.

Staying home means I’ve been trying to cook more. Unfortunately, my cooking ability has not improved. I get sidetracked and burn things way too often. According to my husband, my homemade bread didn’t have enough air in it. And he refuses to eat my zucchini bread, even though it’s delicious. We have, however, been having lots of BLTs, because our neighbors have a lovely garden and they share with us. Also, their daughter has a humungous garden and we can buy fresh, organic produce from her as well. So, we are learning to eat our vegetables.

What have you been doing during this unprecedented time in our lives? I think the things I miss most are my son and his family (who live halfway across the US from us), travel (not only to see family but to see this wonderful US of A). I miss eating out in restaurants. I miss meeting with my writing friends and having long chats and lots of coffee.

I really miss hugging. We huggers are seriously going through withdrawal, but it’s just not safe right now. Sucks. My dog is getting used to being kissed and hugged now. She is also getting cranky when we run off to the grocers or doctor. She got so mad at us this week she ate half of a cardboard box. Then barfed it on the carpet a couple of times. Knucklehead. There may be many pets who will go through separation anxiety when things return to normal. Except, cats. They don’t seem to mind when their humans are gone as much as the canines do. Anyway, I have a couple of nice clean spots on our carpet now.

My apologies for being away from the web site so long. Everything is so unsettling it got lost in the noise.

Take care, all. Blessings to you all.

A spellbinding historical novel

The Huntress

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing. Thrilling. Frightening. All of those words apply to this extremely well done historical novel.

Kate Quinn weaves the stories of three main characters with grace and excellent detail. We have a female Russian bomber pilot who must face her greatest fear to survive, a team of Nazi hunters from Britain and America who are driven to find justice. And a young woman from Boston who sees evil in the flesh and has the courage to confront it.

Well worth the read folks, I highly recommend this book!

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No Time Like the Present

Remember that novel you never had time to write? Are you writing it now?

Over the past twenty-plus years of writing for publication, I’ve heard from many folks say, “I wish I had time to write.” Heck, I was one of them when I was still working. Since I got laid off I finished the third novel in the feisty series and wrote more on the historical novel I had started some time ago. HOWEVER, I’m not writing now.

Why? I have no earthly idea.

I’d like to encourage all of you with those stories bobbing around in your heads and invading your dreams to write them down. That’s how it all started for me. It took me ten years for the whole process of idea, writing, editing, more editing, searching for an agent and publisher, and editing some more before I finally found a publisher who published my first novel.

Like most of you, I was working, keeping house, taking care of my family – you know the drill, and wrote on my lunch hours and whenever I had a break between college courses I attended at night. I was much younger then. What I’m trying to say if I could do it then, why can’t you do it now? Or perhaps I should ask myself that same question.

I was laid off a couple of years ago and decided to retire early. Since then I have had the time to write, read, and rediscover my love of oil painting. Oh, and puzzles. I had forgotten how much fun they can be. I’ve tried my hand at sewing and made a king size quilt (which I will never do again – too big). Now I’ve decided to try my hand at making masks.

The point is, many of us have time during this pandemic to try some of the things we never had time for before. I am content to paint right now, but if the need to write burns within you – let that sucker out!

Enjoy the write. “See you in the funny papers.”

A very suspenseful story

The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A chilling mystery with lots of twists and turns.

Alicia was charged with murdering her husband and hasn’t spoken a word since that day. An accomplished artist, their marriage was thought to be perfect. Why would she kill him? Unless maybe she didn’t?

As her psychotherapist digs deeper to understand her silence he uncovers others who could very likely have done the deed. The more we learn about Alicia, the more we learn about her doctor, who is human and flawed as well.

This was intriguing and I didn’t see the ending until it hit me. Good stuff, Alex!!

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History repeats itself, let’s all hope not

Red Menace

Red Menace by Lois Ruby

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well done, Lois Ruby. This story is compelling and tells about a time in our history (1950’s McCarthyism) that could easily be compared to what’s happening today.

Marty Rafner loves baseball, Micky Mantle and is preparing for his bar mitzvah. That’s plenty for a 13-year-old to deal with, but when paranoia and prejudice rear its ugly head his family is accused of being communist spies.

This is the time when the Rosenberg’s execution is fast approaching. Rumors are enough to get people fired and Marty kicked off the baseball team. Life will never be the same for this family or the little berg they live in Kansas.

There’s a lot going on in this book and the suspense builds with every page. What would you do if your mother was accused of being a spy? It’s pretty hard for Marty to take, but he’s made of stern stuff and finds it in himself to help others even during this turmoil.

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Another Farewell

On the day of my mother’s funeral, my favorite aunt passed away. She, too, had been battling disease (Alzheimer’s). I know they are both up in heaven playing cards and laughing with my dad, uncles, aunt, and grandparents. I imagine the reunion was filled with love and stories.

My Aunt Francis was so special to me. We were ten years apart and when I went to live with my grandparents at three she was there. She took care of me, and as she reached dating age she bribed me to leave her boyfriends alone. I always wanted to go along on their dates so I received her coveted pink teddy bear to stay home. I loved that bear to death, literally. I was brown and gray when it left this world.

I loved my aunt’s freckles, red hair, beautiful smile, and contagious laugh. She was my role model, my mentor, and my friend. When she talked, I listened. She was my father’s youngest sibling and only sister. She held her own with four brothers to contend with.

She was a strong, loving woman, who loved to laugh. Oh, and a prankster, too. Our family loved to gamble and she was a winner, no matter who you were. She played to win and lived her life to the fullest, with love and joy.

Like our grandmother, my aunt and I loved to draw and paint. When I started writing novels she shared that she had considered writing, too. She wrote the best letters, putting you right there, watching, listening.

Opening her heart to foster children, just made her capacity to love even larger. Whenever I would call, she was there for me. She challenged me to follow my heart, find joy in every day, and to be strong. She was a unique human being.

When I heard that the Big A had grabbed her, my husband and I went to visit. We didn’t know if she’d remember us, but we had to share our love. Gracious, welcoming, she listened and after a little while, she remembered who I was. We talked about old times at grandma’s house growing up. The smells of cinnamon rolls and banana bread were still there.

Life became a puzzle to her, memories disappeared and the joy with them. Seeing photos of her not smiling, eyes vacant was so hard. It robbed her of her personality, her laughter, and her life. I will miss her so much. But with her passing, I am sure all the memories and laughter returned. She is watching over us all. She loved her family so much. Someday I hope to hear her chuckle and feel her love until I join her.

Memories of Mom

Joan met Phil in 1962. He saw this striking woman at the alterations shop next door to his flower shop. He was smitten. They were married the next year and combined their families. Both had daughters and unfortunately, they had difficulty getting along. They were so different, and the parents tried a little too hard to make them friends causing more friction.

What I came to realize some years ago was that 1. They did the best they could and 2. they loved each other deeply.

Phil and Joan did everything together. They were part of clubs and fundraisers for charitable causes. There were parties, ceremonies, and pranks they shared. They loved to dance and get dressed up and have fun. They were both people persons and loved each other.

Mom was a secretary for a small insurance office. I remember her boss at that time had a small plane and took us, girls, for our first ride in the sky.

Mom went to work for a large tech company as receptionist and HR support. She knew everyone and their stories and she was well-liked. I hear she was quite the prankster and solicited help to carry out her mischief from adventurous friends. She planned company events and knew how to throw a party. Over the years the company was bought and sold, changing the name four or five times. This is the nature of the technology business.

When Mom retired they threw a huge party. She had made some life long friends and was a surrogate mother to a few. She cared. She listened.

When I left home at the age of eighteen, Mom and I became friends. The older we both got, the easier our relationship.

Things I remember: Mom had purses that matched her heels. There was one dress I’ll never forget, it was red silk, Asian style, Naru collar, roses embroidered down the front with silk cords and french knotted closures. She was stunning with her black hair in a French bun.

One thing about my Mom, she dressed classy. Her make-up was always done up. Her skin was smooth and still is, except around her mouth. Mom was a smoker when it was cool and never quit until her stroke.

I have so many memories of my folks dancing and laughing. They moved well together.

When fashions went casual Mom still coordinated shoes and costume jewelry, and of course, make-up. You wouldn’t catch my Mom with bed head. No way.

I went to my first dance as a high school junior and had nothing to wear. I hadn’t worn a dress since we were allowed to wear slacks and jeans in school. Mom loaned me a sparkly pantsuit and I felt so glamourous.

Dad and Mom loved to travel with friends. They took us on a Caribbean Cruise in the ’80s. I didn’t have nice enough clothes, but one of Mom’s friends was my size and let me borrow several nice dresses to wear to dinner. I don’t think I shamed her, I even wore make-up.

Dad was in the military and looked really sharp in his dress uniform with his medals. He and Mom often attended dinners, ceremonies, retirement parties and always wore formal wear. They looked wonderful together.

Mom loved fresh flowers and early in their marriage, they arranged flowers together at Dad’s shop. The smell in the floral refrigerator smelled heavenly. Mom and Dad had a flashy sense of color and design. We always had flowers at home.

She loved nice clothes, fancy cars, pretty things, and small dogs. But there were always flowers in pink, red, and yellow. She loved red Geraniums and pink roses.

Mom used to make the best homemade biscuits with sausage gravy. And I didn’t even like gravy, but hers made the difference. She also made a mean fresh apple pie.

She loved music, especially country. Dad, on the other hand, preferred jazz. One of the few things that they diverged on.

We always had a dog growing up. The first I recall was a white and brown spotted stray, Posey, who had three puppies (Prince, Princess, and Ace). We girls named them. Then there was a miniature poodle named Pierre and after him, I believe Cotton came to live with them. The folks loved to watch TV with the fur babies in their lap, so many puppies followed over the years.

My family loved to gamble and play cards. We had a reunion in the ’80s and Mom lost some cash to my husband and was totally irritated with him for beating her. We had another reunion in 2014 and what I remember most was the laughter. Our family knows how to laugh and have a good time.

When my youngest grandson was sixteen he came to visit. We took Mom out for lunch and I was so proud of that boy. He was engaging, polite, funny and my Mom was so impressed she called me later to tell me. I was so proud.

My folks lived their lives to the fullest.

That’s life

When you’re in your teens you think you know what you want and struggle to figure out how you’re going to get it. I want to be a singer, but I don’t have the courage to move to a place like Nashville or New York. I want to get a degree, but I don’t know how to pay for it. etc. etc.

When you’re in your twenties you’re pretty sure about your path, but you know you’ve got forever to change your mind. I’ll go to school then start working or I’ll start a family or travel. I’m young, I can do anything.

In your thirties, you realize you’re a grown-up and you probably better get on with it, whether it is a career, children, travel, whatever. OMG, you’re thirty! You’re not getting any younger and your internal clock is ticking.

The forties, it’s official, you’re an adult, you have a career that you may or may not have chosen. You have children who need you, but you have to pay the bills, and they are probably old enough to get by on their own sometimes. But wait, your parents are aging. What the heck? When did that happen?

The fifties is great, you’re no longer the youngster in the office, you know how things work and you’re at the top of your game. You’re making a decent wage after twenty years of working and you have grown kids that will bring you grandchildren. What a lovely gift. Spoil them and send them home. That rocks!

In your sixties, if you are lucky, healthy and have been saving all this time you’ll retire. If not, here’s hoping you can actually find a job you enjoy instead of the day-to-day grind. You’re too old for that shit. Then you realize that while you were living, retiring and finally have some time to do what you want to do – your parents get sick and pass away. Often it doesn’t happen quickly, so you delve into your memories and fear of mortality and watch them shrink. The ones who cared for you are now under your care. It feels weird, but it’s okay. You love them and you do everything you can to make them comfortable and safe.

All around you people are dying. Their bodies are wearing out, their minds are too full to hold the events of today. Sometimes it’s a slow death, sometimes it’s quick, but whatever it may be, death hurts. No matter how good or bad the relationship, you miss them. So, I’m searching in my databanks for all of the good memories I can find. That’s what I want to hold on to, not the withering, not the failing, not the dying. And when all memory has faded, I hope it goes to black in peace and silence.

Saying Goodbye to a parent

My mother died on February 13, 2020. She was almost 86. She had a stroke a little over a year ago that left her debilitated and unable to care for herself, or us to care for her. Although her passing is sad, it’s a blessing that the pain and suffering have stopped.

I believe that she is now in heaven with my father, popping a cork on a bottle of the best bubbly, dancing to their favorite songs. They are both beautiful and happy to be together again.

Thank you for the good memories. That is what I want to take forward. God Speed.

Joy in Discovery

When you get to be my age you think about where you came from, your family history and ancestry. There are a lot of blanks in my family tree and with the grands being gone it’s hard to know where to go for the information.

When I was a little girl I remember my grandmother making quilts and crocheting things most every day. When I left home she gave me a quilt top with quilted animals on a large pink fabric. She’d drawn features on them just like in the color books.

My son used the “animal blanket” when he was a toddler, but when he was four or five he decided “pink is for girls” and didn’t want it on his bed anymore. I packed it away with the hope that I would learn to quilt and be able to put it together for the next little one in our family.

His son is a teenager now and too old for pink animal blankets, but I did just finish my first full-sized quilt and thought I’d pull out the animal blanket for a look. I’d forgotten it was twin-sized, and low and behold my grandmother had used it as a family tree. There at the top were grandmother and grandfather’s names, then their children, marriages and their children, and I am in the middle. One of the spouse’s last names I couldn’t recall was there in all it’s glory. You never know where you’ll find the answers to questions. This discovery still makes me smile. It’s as if my grandmother heard and came through with the answer. Thank you, Grandma. I love and miss you. Have a blessed day.