Friday, November 28, 2014

Trotting

We woke up at the crack of zero-dawn-thirty and braved the freezing rain ...


to run with one of many turkeys ...


one turkey in particular who had never ran in a race much less 3 miles. 


We were more than ready for naps and good eats (and in that order)!
 
Hope you had a blessed thanksgiving filled with every turkey (or ham) that you love.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Trot on over this Tuesday for another edition of Turn the page ... Tuesday! I've got some good ones for you and I can't wait to see where your beak - I mean nose has been.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lofty Ideas

My boys share a room and have since John was 3 1/2. He has no recollection of ever being alone. Henry on the other hand does remember; albeit vaguely.

I am a bit selfish and do not want to give up the other two rooms in our house quite yet in order to give them their own room. One is Rocky's office (man cave) and the other is our guest bedroom/sewing room/Wii room/and no where else to store it room. It's the last room in our house that needs to be painted and decorated. It's pretty beat up and I'm looking forward to after 10 years rolling up my sleeves and making it a nice girly cove. In other words - neither one of us wants to sacrifice our space (and for me soon to be space once our basement is boy caved).

But back to the boys room.

Neither child has blatantly asked for his own room but I know it's coming.

Henry is a tween (how did that happen?!) and fairly tidy.

John is John and a creative messy marvin.

Thankfully the space they share is generous for an old home and houses them quite comfortably. Their closets are a bit tight because they are built into the dormers but we make do. We will certainly have to get creative the bigger they get (i.e. the bigger their clothes get).

Rocky and I had discussed the idea of buying lofts with desks underneath to give them more of their own space and a place to do their homework. Then we hit the internet. Then we realized that it would have to wait. To buy two, have assembled (because we don't have enough common sense to do it from scratch ourselves), and then painted we were looking at a hefty bill. So much for that idea.

Or so we thought.

I have a love hate relationship with Facebook.

Stay with me. This bunny trail has a happy ending.

I like to see what people are doing and lurk on and off.

I hate it when I get sucked in and truly waste time or when someone expects me to know what is happening in their life because the posted it on FB.

I LOVE it when I see a post by a friend who is selling her son's loft beds.

CHEAP.

And she lives just a few blocks away.

Did I mention son's loft beds. As in she was selling two-matching-beds.

Doin' the happy dance.

I heart Facebook.

So we hopped in our pick-em-up truck and headed down the street. We brought home two loft beds and my friend's husband and oldest son. They helped reassemble (since they had been there done that) and wha-la! Loft bed times two.
 

Being the procrastinator that I am I knew that if I did not paint these loft beds immediately either my children would be:
  1. permanently moved to the soon to be girly room sharing a queen bed until Henry went off to college OR
  2. never painted and always be the light honey color and never match our dark furniture and drive me to drinking because they did not match
So.

I got over my procrastinator self.

I ignored all the laundry, housework, grocery shopping (as opposed to just kinda ignoring it all in a regular week) and got my ready to prime and paint self to the Benjamin Moore store and stocked up.

I was armed and dangerous. Not to mention a little afraid of heights.


One primed and ready to paint.


John's turf


Henry's turf

 
Did you notice the desks? Henry's is a clean slate. John's is already loaded.
 
To say the boys are happy is an understatement.
 
I have this lofty idea that this will give us a few more years until one of us has to sacrifice our cave/cove.
 
One can always hope!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Turn The Page ... Tuesday

Welcome to Turn the page ... Tuesday! So glad you are here.

I've decided to do my reviews based on loose categories until I have caught you all up on what I read while on my blogging hiatus. Today's genre is WWII-ish and or set in Europe.

 
 
So much happens in the life of Sara, The Seamstress, that I felt it was best to quote Amazon's summary:
 
"A striking Holocaust memoir, posthumously published, by a Romanian Jew with an unusual story to tell. From its opening pages, in which she recounts her own premature birth, triggered by terrifying rumors of an incipient pogrom, Bernstein's tale is clearly not a typical memoir of the Holocaust. She was born into a large family in rural Romania between the wars and grew up feisty and willing to fight back physically against anti-Semitism from other schoolchildren. She defied her father's orders to turn down a scholarship that took her to Bucharest, and got herself expelled from that school when she responded to a priest/teacher's vicious diatribe against the Jews by hurling a bottle of ink at him. Ashamed to return home after her expulsion, she looked for work in Bucharest and discovered a talent for dressmaking. That talent--and her blond hair, blue eyes, and overall Gentile appearance--allowed her entry into the highest reaches of Romanian society, albeit as a dressmaker. Bernstein recounts the growing shadow of the native fascist movement, the Iron Guard, a rising tide of anti-Semitic laws, and finally, the open persecution of Romania's Jews. After a series of incidents that ranged from dramatic escapes to a year in a forced labor detachment, Sara ended up in Ravensbrck, a women's concentration camp deep in Germany. Nineteen out of every twenty women transported there died. The author, her sister Esther, and two other friends banded together and, largely due to Sara's extraordinary street smarts and intuition, managed to survive. Although Bernstein was not a professional writer, she tells this story with style and power. Her daughter Marlene contributes a moving epilogue to close out Sara's life. One of the best of the recent wave of Holocaust memoirs."
 
Yo! Adrienne says: I'm a sucker for WWII survival stories and this one did not disappoint. I am always amazed at how one survives. I guess you don't know how until you are in the thick of it. If you are fascinated by tales that share the worst and best of humanity this might a good one to add to your nightstand.

 
 
Ya'll might remember that I have a thing for Persephone books (you can reacquaint with yourself with my obsession here). Good Evening, Mrs. Craven was one I had sitting on my shelf for far too long when I finally pulled it down and read it. This is another collection of short stories so I just worked my way through when I was looking for something quick to read. Again, I think Amazon does a better job of summarizing:
 
"For fifty years Mollie Panter-Downes's name was associated with The New Yorker, for which she wrote a regular 'Letter from London', book reviews and over thirty short stories; of the twenty-one in Good Evening, Mrs Craven, written between 1939 and 1944, only two had ever been reprinted - these very English stories have, until now, been unavailable to English readers. Exploring most aspects of English domestic life during the war, they are about separation, sewing parties, fear, evacuees sent to the country, obsession with food, the social revolutions of wartime. In the Daily Mail Angela Huth called Good Evening, Mrs Craven 'my especial find' and Ruth Gorb in the Ham & High contrasted the humour of some of the stories with the desolation of others: 'The mistress, unlike the wife, has to worry and mourn in secret for her man; a middle-aged spinster finds herself alone again when the camaraderie of the air-raids is over...'"
 
Yo! Adrienne says - The short stories were a quick satisfying read. If you like British humor and sensibilities then I think you certainly enjoy this little bit "history".
 

 
 
I got lucky on this one - it was a kindle book at my library. SCORE! Since we've established that I am a WWII book buff this one was right up my alley. I'm not even sure how I stumbled upon How Huge the Night but I vaguely remember thinking I was going to screen it for Henry - I think - or maybe not.
 
Anywhoo.
 
Julien Losier is a fifteen year old "city boy" who has to relocate to a small village in France in an attempt to escape the Nazi's - only Julien is not a Jew. His family heads back to his grandfathers home where his dad grew up to try and avoid the havoc the war is raging on Paris. Julien figures out quickly that he is not really welcome and viewed as an outsider when he begins school. It's tough being 15 much less a city slicker in a rural tight knit community. He also realizes what is required of him - splitting wood and working in the garden; all things that he is inept at which doesn't help his attitude. Thankfully his grandfather is patient with him and seems to understand what he is going through. The story begins to get interesting when the Losier family hosts a young man that is Juliens age who also doesn't really fit in. Many hard choices are to be made by all and bullies abound.
 
Yo! Adrienne says: Read this book! It might be listed as young adult at your library but it's soooo good. No teenage girl drama pinky swear. I loved that this WWII book was from the perspective of a non Jew teenage boy. It really gave a totally different viewpoint which once again reminded me of how may people were affected by that ugly war.


 
 
The Lost Wife is a story of sweet love and devotion to family - a love story that is shattered by war. Lenka and Josef have wonderful and affluent lives before meeting one another. She an art student and he a medical student. Lenka is friends with Josef's sister and well - you guessed it - they meet, fall in love and marry. BUT, it's actually not quite that easy. There's an impeding invasion, "papers" to be gotten, plans to leave the country, and those that are being left behind - or not. There are many twists and turns to this book but it's easy to follow; and heartbreaking. There are financial heartships, ship wrecks, concentration camps, and lost children. There is also great beauty in the art that is created, the love that is shared, and putting one's life back together.
 
Yo! Adrienne says: This is not one to be missed. Have some tissues at the ready and be prepared to not want to put this book down.
 

 
 
I know - you saw this cover last month but I read another short story and wanted to share. In Tsunohazu is a story of a middle aged man and his wife who are childless and are being transferred from Japan to Rio. Sounds glamorous but it's actually a demotion. One that Kyoichi Nukui does not deserve. Being the honorable man that he is he took the fall for someone else. Nukui's team is heartbroken and threatening to try to bring down the whole company (they have now been promoted) to restore his honor. Nukui insists that they let the chips fall where they may. His wife is quietly supporting him and making all the arrangements for the move. Encouraging him gently with out belittling when he thinks he saw his long lost father; the hard drinking drugging father who left Kyoichi to live with his uncle so he could follow a woman who had no interest in an 11 year old boy. It's a good read - just like all the others in The Stationmaster. I encourage you to find a copy.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Trick Or Treat

Trick


Treat

Turn the page ... Tuesday is this week. Hope to see you!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hoka Polka

Back in July of 2011 I reviewed a book for TTPT  Born to Run in which I begin the post saying

I'm not a runner. Never have been. I do run though. On a treadmill or on fairly flat terrain. After 3 miles I'm toast. So how can I say I'm not a runner? Well, I don't run races and my 'running' is pretty slow and steady ... and as I mentioned - lacking hills.

Well.

Time to eat crow.

I AM a runner.

I run 4 miles with hills at least 3 times a week.

I've run in several races.

I run against me. No one else. My goal is to finish and try to beat my own personal time. Not what someone else tells me my time should be.

Because I can.

One of which was ten miles (TEN!) and had lots (LOTS!) of hills. The last mile was UPHILL!

And I did it.

Why?

For my Aunt Barbara.

I'm running because I can.

When I was first starting out it was painful. Down right miserable.

And then I'd think of my aunt.

Sick. Scared. Exhausted. Housebound because of chemo.

I can do this.

If she can do THAT.

I can do THIS.

And I did.

I just signed up for my first 1/2 marathon (and it's flat - I haven't completely lost my everlovin mind).

Over the past 3 years I've had a few injuries (one related to an overzealous rendition of the chicken dance) not to mention the fact that I am getting older by the second. I've gotten better at listening to my body and knowing when I need to take a walk break or a few days break. Heck - when to take Motrin and an Epsom's salt bath or when just a glass of wine will do ;-)

I finally feel comfortable calling myself a runner. After all, with the clown shoes on I better claim it. Either that or join the circus.

 
 
These babies feel like I'm running on air. Instead of pounding the pavement I am now doing the Hoka (One One) Polka.

Will you join me?

Clown shoes not required.

Circus optional.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

For Your Girls

Unless you live in a hole in the ground or you are severely color blind I'm sure you've noticed a lot of pink these days. Pink ribbons, pink hats, pink socks, t-shirts that say 'Real men wear pink'.

Can I say - real men do wear pink and quite well *Rocky*.

All kidding aside - breast cancer (or any cancer for that matter) is nothing to laugh about. The statistics are nauseating and well

IT JUST STINKS.

If you've been here for a while you might remember an email I shared that my Aunt Barbara sent me regarding my egg nog recipe. It was a hoot and her doggie Cooper got the treat of his life! Just around that time my Aunt had pain in her breast that would not go away. She went to her MD but by the time they could fit her in (approx. 2 weeks later) the pain was gone. No lump found via mammogram or physical exam. Her MD said cancer pain comes and stays - doesn't go away and since she was all clear via mammogram and her exam there was nothing to worry about.

Two months later the pain is back and is excruciating. It was not going away. Back to the MD and a sonogram is done.

BAM.

Something is found.

Biopsy done.

Breast cancer.

It was in her lymph nodes.

Radiation.

Surgery.

More surgery.

Chemo.

More chemo.

My aunt - my funny - beautiful - smart - vibrant aunt has been to hell and back.

She is a fighter.

She has lost hair, had it grow back only to lose it again.

She will win.

She is at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. What they portray in their commercials are legit.
They are the bomb.

I am so thankful that my aunt took her health seriously and was persistent (that is how she ended up at CTCA after two disastrous MD experiences).

Why do I share her story? Because Aunt Barbara's story could be ours. Maybe it already is. Maybe you know someone who is fighting. Maybe you know someone (yourself?) who is adverse to getting a mammogram. My aunt's is a rare cancer that grows almost like a rope vs a lump so it was not detected the traditional ways but she listened to her body. She was persistent and she was right. She knew something was amiss.

Don't be shy - do your self exams monthly. Get your mammogram annually. Listen to your body and make your doctor listen. That's what they get paid to do.

Thank you Mindy for sharing your story and inspiring me to share my aunts.

If you are one for praying - I'd appreciate (and so would my aunt) prayers for her to be cancer and pain free. The medications she has to take to counter the chemo she is on is wicked and reeks havoc on her body. She is grateful to be alive but we believe in miracles and pray for total healing!

So ladies, when was the last time you checked your girls?

Don't wait.

Do it for your girls.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Turn the page ... Tuesday

It's hard for me to believe that I haven't hosted Turn the page ... Tuesday in over a year (or done any blogging for that matter). I kept reading and life kept going and I never made it to the blog.
 
 
BUT.
 
 
No time like the present.
 
 
I have read quite a bit over the past year so I went back through and picked the books that I thought would make for great October reading. I also included some current reads too. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 
You all may remember that I like to get my books as cheap as possible; preferably free. This little nugget I had on my to-read list and discovered it was actually a Kindle Prime book = FREE. Perfect. The Bloodletter's Daughter  is based on events that happened in the early 1600's which had me spending some quality time with my friend Google. Did you know you could get a shave and have leaches attached to your body to remove any bad humors by the same person? Yup. So glad we have progressed in our personal hygiene and medical fields. But I digress. The Bloodletter's daughter assists her father in - wait for it - you guessed it - bloodletting. Marketa is not only beautiful but ambitious and wishes to become a bloodletter herself and has some grand ideas but is prevented to do so because she is a woman. Enter the true bad guy (as opposed to all the other's who think Marketa should stick to women's work - you have to read the book to see what THAT is all about - ahem). Don Julius is mad - literally - he's insane and completely out of control. There's one teeny tiny problem (besides being a lunatic) - he's technically royalty but because of this thing called illegitimacy he has no claim to the thrown.  But because his dad, the KING - has put him in the castle on the hill of their village, the common folk still have to treat him like he's hot stuff. NOT A GOOD COMBO. Can you see where this is going ... ol' DJ has some bad humors and he thinks Marketa is THE ONE to cure them. And as they say ... the rest is his-stor-eee. 
 
Here is the link to the facts of Don Julius D´Austria that the book was based on.
 
Yo! Adrienne says: It's a page turner that's worth the time. Sooo glad I am a 21st century woman.



Have you ever had a friend that maybe wasn't such a good influence. Maybe they never really made you do anything you didn't want to do but there was just something there - something that made you go against your gut. Harriet Said ... is one of those books that had me thankful that any peer pressure I may have succumbed to as an adolescent (the main characters are 13 and 14) was mild compared to what these two girls did to each other and those around them. This book is chocked with insecurity and manipulation. Oh wait - I just described what it means to be a teenager. Thank goodness I'm 42.

Yo! Adrienne says: If you like to be freaked out by how much damage two girls can do - go for it! I passed it on to Goodwill.


 
 
Imagine you only had 99 nights to get done what needed done our you were out. Out as in no place to live and your life is still a wreck. Thank goodness Rocky isn't too particular about the housekeeping - I don't think even if I had 99 million nights I would ever have this house spic and span.
 
Oh - the book. Never mind my train wreck.
 
Don't call the Health Department.
 
Right-O.
 
The House on the End of Hope Street is filled with talking portraits, books that appear and disappear, and (my favorite) a closet that is FULL of every kind of shoe, purse, hat, clothing item you could ever want. AND then changes when you need something different. Now THAT is magic.
 
Each woman who finds her way to the house on the end of Hope St. is waging her own battle and lacking direction plan. They are more or less at their own dead end. The story's main character Alba Ashly actually has everything going for her. That is until - well. You have to read the book to find out. But let's say it's big. As the book progresses she meets some pretty interesting people (and a very cool cat). There's some great roommate tension and building mystery surrounding each person and their great "need" that drew them to the house. The house has a "history" and the author had fun intermingling famous authors and their work throughout the book.
 
Yo! Adrienne says: If you are a fan of Sarah Addison Allen then you will enjoy this quick read. I passed this one around to all my girlfriends. I loved it.
 
 
Thanks to Dolce Bellezza I have ventured into a new category of reading - translated literature. When The Stationmaster appeared on her blog I was intrigued. It is a book consisting of 8 short stories. I have read the first 3 and am in the middle of the 4th. I have kept it on my nightstand and it has been so satisfying as a quick read before bed.
 
The Stationmaster shares the last days before the Stationmaster retires from the job he has had his whole life. He and his now deceased wife lived in the station and handled every aspect of the operation. Now that things are more "modern" the train only comes through a fraction of the times it once did. No need for a full time manager. Sadly, the stationmaster's daughter died at a very young age and he also suffers remorse from how he handled his wife's death. Despite being stoic he is lonely and struggling with the prospect of retirement. Then along comes a mysterious young girl who lifts his spirits. As the story progresses several girls (one at a time) come along - each reminding him of his lost daughter.
 
Love Letter was such an interesting "romance" and apparently has been made into two feature films. (I'd love to see if I can track one of these down to view.) We are introduced to the main character right after he is released from a short stint in jail. He makes his living in unusual and illegal ways. One of his most recent paychecks came from his "marriage" to a woman he would never meet. That is until after her death when he had to play the part of a mourning husband and claim the body. Sadly, she earned her money servicing the city visitors who came to the country for some R&R. Upon arriving and collecting her limited belongings he finds in her purse red lipstick (which he fascinates about her wearing) and a letter addressed to him. He is struck by not only how beautiful she was but by what she had to say to him in her note. He is so overcome with emotion he can't help himself from full blown sobbing. He doesn't know if he will ever feel this way about anyone again.
 
Devil. Have you ever met someone that you were convinced was pure evil. It's frightening when you get that weird feeling and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Yet their credentials are pristine. Imagine it was your tutor that gave you the willies and that tutor was your friends as well; that is until he died suddenly. The friend who just came into school the day before he died and was complaining that the tutor was horrible to him and he was convinced the tutor was harming his mother. And now he's your tutor. As soon as he appears the once affluent house begins to fall apart. The main character watches helplessly as his parents marriage fall apart - sees his grandfather die suddenly while confronting the tutor - witnesses something in the woods between his mother and tutor that his innocent mind doesn't understand. Devil in disguise?
 
Yo! Adrienne says: I have really enjoyed reading these short stories; and the fact that they are translated Japanese literature makes me feel that much smarter ;-) I chose to add them to the October list because there is an enigma to each one.
  
 
 
 
I am currently reading a classic this October. I've had Dracula on my kindle since January 2011! Goodness. 'Bout time I got to it. Ever since I read The Historian  I swore I was going to read Dracula (and then watch the movie). I don't even know how long ago that was. Probably some time before January of  2011 ;-)

And while I'm talkin' classics, a few years ago I read Frankenstein and loved it. Which reminds me. I never watched that movie either. Looks like I'm going to have a spooktacular October!

I hope there are still some of you loyal TTPT fans who have some great reads to share. I can always add a few more to my list.

I am trying a new link system. If it doesn't work just leave your link in the comments.

Looking forward to what you've been reading ... um, like in the past year ;-)