The smallest grandchildren are preparing for their first Halloween. This was a weekend of previews before "Sandy" the largest hurricane in our lifetimes comes and goes, hopefully in time for kids to celebrate Halloween on Wednesday. Schools are already closed for tomorrow and Tuesday!
This year the babies debut as "The Dark Knight" and "A Piece of Sushi."
Probably one of the better openings among Grisham novels, "The Litigators" finds Harvard Law educated David Zink on the morning of his "breakdown." David is on his way to his cubicle job as a well-paid 80 hours per week associate in a huge law firm. As narrator, he guides us through his haphazard journey to happiness.
I love reading the thoughts of narrators that the other characters don't hear.
David takes a leap, makes a grab for happiness and embarks on the best adventure of his life. Only taking the risk when he "hits bottom," he pursues justice in Grisham's signature style. I am still hooked on Grisham.
With a wonderful flavor for the settings in Montana and Yellowstone National Park, this mystery/thriller capitalizes on the great outdoors to unravel an edge of your seat tale. As raw and uncompromising as nature, the action is brutal, the consequences final.
Every character has a back story. My favorite was Gracie, a smart pre-teen and observer of human nature. Confined with her sister, father and tour group to the trails of the Park, they are dependent upon Jed, their guide, to lead, feed, house and protect them. Through Gracie's eyes the reader sees the strengths and weaknesses of her companions and gets the first clues that things are not as they seem.
Cody Hoyt, a troubled cop, discovers that his son Justin is on the wilderness adventure in the company of a killer. His race to get his son and identify the killer in the group provides the action.
Grisham writes good short fiction. I enjoyed "Bleachers" a while back and this one was just as good.
This time the sport is baseball. The protagonist is Paul Tracey, son of hard-drinking and self-absorbed Warren Tracey a pitcher for the Mets. Joe, of the title, is a home-run hitting rookie phenomenon from Calico Rock, Arkansas playing with the Cubs. The story revolves around the game during which the two players meet. Reading it is like peeling an onion. Every layer reveals more about each character, the impending conflict and its satisfying resolution. Saying more would spoil the story for future readers.
Honoring the special relationship women share with their girlfriends, this whimsical and inspirational quilt pays tribute to women who are challenged by breast cancer.
The fabric is "Girlfriends, Sisterhood of Quilters" by Jody Houghton for Lyndhurst Studio complimented by gingham checks in pink, black, tan and green. The quilt design is by Patti Carey. The quilt is machine-pieced and quilted by me.
I loved the fabric when I first purchased it but had no immediate ideas about a quilt design. Later, I saw Patti Carey's design in the Summer 2010 issue of Fons and Porter Easy Quilts magazine. I remembered and located the article when I decided to use this fabric for a 2012 Thriving Survivors quilt.
I made it with love, send it into the world with a hug, and hope that it will bring comfort to someone dealing with cancer.
It will be donated to the Nutley Thriving Survivors for their 10th Anniversary Brunch.
Linda Castillo's imagination is almost as dark as John Sandford's (Prey Series). The climax here will haunt me for a while. The story will be a chilling movie.
Related entirely in the voice of Kate Burkholder, the reader never hears from the bad guys in dialogue or shared thoughts a la Sandford. Also, the horror is not ongoing throughout the story, but clobbers you in the last few chapters. I was totally unprepared. It's possible to feel that the clues are beginning to lead to an arrest, a rescue, a happy ending and then Castillo gives you a jaw-dropping conclusion.
The setting in Ohio's Amish communities and the disappearances of Amish girls give Castillo the opportunity to share a bit of Amish life. It's great color and then you realize that it is essential to this mystery. It gave me a false sense that there were boundaries for "bad things" that might happen in the story because these were "good" people.
It was great. I will read the first three Chief Burkholder mysteries.
Abby, Emma and Lily enjoyed many hours of fun with their mother combing the beaches of Nantucket. Now, Abby has returned because Lily called for help to motivate Emma who is home after her life falls apart. Mother is long gone and Dad is not the same.
In one seamlessly-written narrative, Thayer tells the sisters' stories and that of Marina, who is renting their "playhouse" for the summer. It seems that five plots move together in a way that allows readers to know these women and experience their joys and heartbreaks.
I seldom read "romances." This was one of the light and entertaining ones that kept me picking it up again to find out what was happening, a little like a soap opera without the radical drama.
Oh, just okay. Whenever it takes a chapter at the end to explain who the bad guys/good guys/mischief were all about, that's bad. And, it wasn't even the last chapter! This book went on to tie up loose ends.
I'm not sure that even taking notes of minor details as you read will give you enough clues to figure out what is happening here.
Michelle Maxwell and Sean King are teamed up again. Desperate for money to pay for Michelle's therapy after she flips out by attacking a muscle-bound guy in a bar, Sean takes a solo job to investigate a murder at a think tank across the river from a high-security CIA camp. Up to his IQ in quantum physics, cryptography and geniuses, he protects the victim's autistic daughter while trying to figure out if her father committed suicide or was murdered. A second body and Michelle's flight from her therapy compound his problems.
So many federal law enforcement agencies, plots, harrowing escapes, villains, theories...Baldacci is validated as a smart person. Was that his intent in writing this book? He tried so hard that his book was not entertaining.
I love road trips. My sister Jackie and I met at Quilt Odyssey on Thursday for a few days of fun.
The Hershey Lodge was wonderful. I can imagine family gatherings here for kids to visit Hershey Park and grandmom and great aunt to enjoy the quilt show. We would all do what we enjoy and meet for dinners to recap the days.
Back to the quilt show, my favorite quilt was "America, Let It Shine" by Sherry Reynolds. It won the Best of Show Award here, the Best Machine Workmanship Award at the Lancaster show, and prizes at other shows in 2011-2012. "Masterpiece" is the best word to describe it. It was featured on the cover of "Quilter's Newsletter" in June/July 2012.
We stopped at Burkholder's Fabrics on Saturday morning before driving home. What a great store. Jackie is now all set to create Christmas projects and I have the fabrics for Kyle's new quilt in his swim team colors.
DROP - Deferred Retirement Optional Plan or the plummet of Councilman Irving Irving's son to the pavement outside the Chateau Marmont? Suicide or murder? Harry Bosch is working hard to find out in this latest installment. Back from a premature retirement and working in the Open Unsolved Unit, Harry is hoping for a case when two are dropped onto his desk. And, oh yes, the second involves DNA from an unsolved rape and murder that comes back from the crime lab indicating that an eight-year-old may have been the perpetrator.
When Harry goes to work readers are treated to the best detective stories. When he retires, I will miss him.
Powerful, complex, thoroughly engrossing, "First Family" by David Baldacci was a satisfying mystery about the ripples created by one bad act of a man who later became president. The human toll begins with one victim and changes the lives of many.
Yesterday was a great day with Jackie and Hannah at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jackie dubs these Mondays in the summer when the Met is closed "Meredith Mondays" in honor of Meredith who works in the photography department and extends her employee Monday visit privileges to Jackie. Jackie and Meredith met in Florence, Italy - another story. Many thanks to Jackie for inviting me along and to Meredith for extending this perk to us. :)
The Schiaparelli and Prada exhibit was amazing, not only for the clothing exhibited but also for the work of the Met's digital photography department and curator for making the exhibit come to life. You have to see it. And, I see a bib in Hannah's future with an applique in the style of Prada as well as a skirt for Jackie inspired by the exhibit.
Hannah is a great little trooper. She takes in everything that she can see from her stroller. After two hours, a couple of diaper changes, and a couple of bench breaks for play and cuddling, she was ready to hit the road. We stopped for a nice lunch on the way home, chatted, laughed, and indulged in DESSERT AT LUNCH TIME :( .
A perfect day with two of my girls. Today, I will visit my additional girl and the little prince. :)
Fast-moving, page-turner, a bit like NCIS on television, I loved this book. Baldacci has created a hero worth following in the character of John Puller, tenacious investigator for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. I'm never sure about the difference between a mystery and a suspense book, so this one blurs the line further. But, that is a minor point here.
The plot is complex and the stakes are high for the hero who does not understand the weight of the problem until the last hours before the impending disaster. And, the problem was so believable that I could not put the story aside to make dinner!
The Chappaquiddick Island tragedy ended my interest in Edward M. Kennedy until after his deah. Now older and curious about his Congressional career, I picked up "True Compass: A Memoir." In it, the Senator draws a candid picture of himself. His explanation of the Chappaquiddick accident is straightforward and believable. He takes responsibility for his behavior that night and describes his shame and grief.
I enjoyed the book in a "fly-on-the-wall" way. Senator Kennedy's work in Congress - described for readers with the benefit of his reasoning and core values, his descriptions of campaign trips and conversations with family members and leading politicians, and his unflinching telling of the happy as well as painful and disappointing events of his life and time - does atone for his behavior at Chappaquiddick in my view.
Today was a great day to finish up my flower beds. Cool, sunny, and, it rained last night so the ground was wet for the new plants.
In the back yard, perennials flourish. This year I added two beautiful ferns and two colorful caladium to the hostas I planted a few years ago. I'll have to store the caladium root balls in the garage for the winter and replant in the spring. The ferns will come inside and be returned to their hanging pots. In the remaining open spaces, a few lavender and white impatiens peak out. When they are bigger, it will be very pretty.
This planter at the corner of the patio was ready for Memorial Day. Red and white New Guinea Impatiens and vinca vines make it balanced. I forget what that spikey plant is named, but I buy one or two every year.
On the shadier side of the front door, deep pink impatiens are bordered with white impatiens. The background hostas have been there for a few summers. Duke's turtle, well-scrubbed this year, still spends the summer under the hosta leaves.
And, on the part-sun side of the front door the hostas are really big. The boxwood and rose bush are doing well. The blue hydrangea was a Mother's Day gift two years ago. It really found its legs this year. I added white and deep pink impatiens to give it a bit of color for the season. Duke's tree is so big now that the upstairs neighbors asked to have it trimmed away from their windows. I can't wait until the impatiens get big. It's going to be beautiful. I will post a few pictures.
Now, if the squirrels don't dig up everything tonight, the beds are finished. ;)
Listening to Tom Brokaw read "The Time of Our Lives," I was reminded of the core values that guided the lives of my parents. Growing up with them in a rural area, the concepts of thrift, integrity and lending a hand to neighbors and relatives were a way of life. It seems that Mr. Brokaw grew up in the same culture. So, his book was a refresher course that helped me to revisit the way those values were learned.
With a large world view and a reporter's skill in observation, thinking and writing, Brokaw has produced a brief memoir. At the same time, the book comments on current culture - the perception of war, the economy, adult children, being grandparents, digital media, education. He has not been a by-stander in life.
What did I learn? Thrift is most highly valued in the west, mid-west, and, perhaps, most rural areas. This may explain the narrow focus on reducing federal spending among legislators from these areas.
Meet Christian John, 6 lbs. 11 oz, 19.5 ", May 16, 2012!
Two new grandchildren in two months, my happiness is doubled. It's wonderful to meet these little people and know that their parents are solid folks who will raise them to be happy, productive citizens. And, we will all have a lot of fun in the process.
CJ is sooooo adorable. Here are a couple more photos.
< One Day Old
The interesting premise dissolves into ho-hum sameness. Grafton needs to freshen up Kinsey's character rather than reaching for a more outrageous plot. It's Kinsey after all who keeps me reading this series. She seems tired and less motivated in this mystery.
Folks will go to great lengths to protect wealth. Okay, so we all knew that, but Steve Berry really gives us a complicated and well-developed plot here that challenges the boundaries of what might be conceived of as "great lengths." Presidential assassinations, covert missions, ambitious operatives, secret societies, torture, kidnapping, murder and even piracy kept me turning pages to the end. And then I thought, WOW!
This was the first Cotton Malone mystery(?) thriller(?) that I have read. Yes, I will read another one.
The lead goose stopped the traffic by standing in front of the car ahead of me and honking at oncoming traffic before the goslings stepped into the roadway. Even the geese have adapted to life in a small town.
Rufus' life with us ended on Thursday. Battling cancer since December, he remained my alarm clock, personal greeter, and companion. His demands were few: breakfast by 6 a.m., meds by 7, quiet nap from 7-10, more food, more nap, lunch no later than 1, nap, food at 4, attention, more attention, meds at 7, more food, companionship for reading, sewing, tv until 9, nagging for bedtime until I gave in, howling if got later than 11. I miss him.
Rob chose Rufus from the Teterboro shelter in August 1996. When I arrived home from school, he was positioned at the end of the entry hall with what appeared to be a snowball in the palm of his hand. :) Scootchamenz, our big, wandering tom cat, died the week before and I was a bit depressed about it. That snowball was a thoughtful, loving gift. :)
Little did we know our snowball would grow so large and be such a "scaredy" cat. But Clovis, who ruled the household, was top cat and had no patience for interlopers. Maria fought back when Clovis over-reached, but Rufus headed for the closet. He was afraid of friends, workmen, delivery people. I think that Rob, Jackie and I were the only people who ever saw him! Oh, and my sister Jackie because I don't think he could tell us apart. And, Kathryn because she radiates kindness. He changed when Clovis and Maria were gone, came out of the closet and gradually approached for attention. He approached more frequently until he took over our routines. He was king of the household.
No words can describe the joy I feel seeing this baby. I felt the same way when Grace was born. So I will just make some notes about these photos.
Days of waiting are totally forgotten when the baby finally arrives. Hannah is about 1 hour old in this photo. Adam was leaving the surgical suite with her to take her up to the nursery. Jackie was going to the recovery room.
Jackie took this photo in her hospital room after the nurse showed her how to swaddle Hannah like a burrito. She calls this one the "baby burrito" photo. :) It was taken several hours after she was born when she was brought to Jackie's room.
As of today, Jackie, Adam and Hannah are at home. Adam sent this photo of Hannah in her own clothes at home.
We were celebrating Jackie's birthday. It was modest this year because Jackie is very pregnant and more focused on Hannah's birthday than on her own.
Rob and Kathryn gave her the complete "Jurassic Park" series on DVD. She and Adam almost jumped with joy when they opened it. It was a new one for their collection. They will enjoy the many additional scenes that didn't make it into the movies as they wait for Hannah to make her debut. (Did I mention that Rob's face is full of hair? He is growing his "baby beard" reminiscent of the beard he wore when expecting Grace. I wish I had taken a picture of him.)
And, I gave her the book "Little Knitted Creatures" with new sets of knitting and crochet needles to inspire some small projects that she can tackle when her leisure time becomes less available in a couple of weeks (welcome Hannah).
Making donuts in the morning, enjoying a birthday lunch in the afternoon, seeing Adam, Jackie, Kathryn, Rob and Grace all on the same day - LIFE IS GOOD. ;-)
Grace was here yesterday with Rob and Kathryn. She opened the last Christmas present, a gift from Danny J. addressed to Aunt JoAnn and Grace. I had saved it for Grace to open, but I had peeked and taken out the recipe book to prepare for Grace's visit.
It was a bright red donut maker. And we got right to work. Grace loves too mix things, so she was more than ready to put the ingredients into a bowl and stir, stir, stir with help from Rob.
After the first batch was cooked, Grace went on to make sure that her "stuff" was still here after the recent renovation. She checked it all out. Rob, however, loved the whole donut concept even though he could not eat any of them on his weight management plan. Rob and I had a lot of fun making batch after batch of donuts! Grace showed up to view the results, request "glazed," and balk because the donuts looked different than those she knew.
Final verdict, these little donuts were DELICIOUS. One bowl of batter made two dozen of them easily. And, they are deceptively cute, leading us to think that they could not possibly wreck a weight control plan. Thankfully, Rob and Kathryn took them home.
THANKS DANNY! THIS WAS A LOT OF FUN AND WE WILL USE OUR DONUT MAKER MANY, MANY TIMES.
...is a loving son. I missed him today when he stopped by. I was out having lunch with retired friends and picking up medication for Rufus at Dr. Crupi's office.
Back at home, I found a red envelope on the dining room table addressed to "Mom" in his handwriting and checked the hallway to see if his mail was gone, just to be sure he had actually been there. Immediately sorry that I had missed his impromptu visit, I opened the envelope and chuckled in good humor and amazement at the Valentine he chose for me. A sewing machine sits on a table in a wall-papered room. A chain of hearts is in progress through the machine. A plaque on the wall reads, "For Mom With Sew Much Love." It's an amazingly appropriate scene for me. Inside, I read, "When I was a kid, you always did everything with love. And I still feel that same gentle love threading through my life today - reminding me what a remarkable, caring mom you've always been. Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Bobby."
I cannot stop weeping. I pray that my son is rewarded with the love of his children well into their adult years. I wish the same for every mom and dad today, Valentine's Day.
I have met many skilled and courteous workmen in the last two weeks as they renovated my apartment. They should finish up in the next week. After 40 years of DIY, I have now watched the pros do their thing. A new wall, wallpaper removal, spackling, painting, upgrading the electrical system and the kitchen - they have demonstrated skills that I have seen on TV!
By the end of next week, the place will be mine again. I feel light-headed, having shed so many years of "stuff" and so many dated accessories. The wallpaper is down. The walls are all "Navajo White." My new theme will be "light." No drapes for me. The pictures and prints are all boxed. I will keep the few that I love and audition them in various rooms until I get a new look. A few new accessories will complete the decorations.
This will be a new canvas waiting for my first brush stroke.
Thank you Tidley, Cadie, George, Kevin, Bill, Robin, Kathy and complex management. You have given me a fresh new home.