MONDAY POTPOURRI: REVISITING THE PAST & THEN MOVING ON

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Seven-year-olds

 

When I was poking around among my photo files, I found these and made a collage.  On the left, there I am, Rain in all her messiness.  My mother always sent me off to school with perfectly groomed hair and I always managed to mess it up by picture time.

On the right, my two “twin” granddaughters, Fiona and Aubrey, both born in February 1997, were seven here.  And not at all worried about their hair or clothes.  How far we have come!

That snow weekend in Big Bear was so much fun.  I loved capturing the moments, and adored this cabin owned by my son Brett.

 

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He later sold it, but we still have the photos and the memories.

 

Here’s a shot of my mother and me at about age four, I think.

 

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When I was very young, she still controlled my appearance to some extent.  Less messy, but not as stiff and formal as her photo.

 

Perhaps my trip down memory lane today has something to do with books recently read, both spotlighting an era all too familiar to me:  the forties and fifties.

Pain, Parties, Work, is about Sylvia Plath during one pivotal summer.

 

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And The Unwitting, by Ellen Feldman, also spotlights that time period.

 

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Our story begins on November 22, 1963, when we meet Charlie and Nell Benjamin, poised for an ordinary day, living the writer’s life in Manhattan. But nothing about this day would be ordinary. Grief, both the country’s grief and her own, would overwhelm Nell for the foreseeable future.

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I am happily moving on to lighter fare with today’s read, Katwalk, by Maria Murnane, the story of a young woman approaching thirty, read to cast aside the staid life of an accountant for adventures in Manhattan.

 

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Do you like to revisit the past?  And afterwards, are you compelled to move forward?  How do you mix things up?

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SUNDAY POTPOURRI: ANNOYANCES, GREAT BOOKS, & BLOGGIESTA

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Welcome to Sunday Potpourri!  It has been a strange week, and the weekend has been full of Bloggiesta stuff!  I love that event, though, as it gives me the opportunity to do what I love best about blogging:  revamping a blog!

Check out my Weekly Updates, for some of the fabulous reads I enjoyed, like Small Blessings and Big Little Lies.

I am probably the last person in Blogland to figure out how to participate in a Twitter party, but there is one going on in a few minutes for Bloggiesta, and I’m going to try.

How does it work?  I shall soon find out…or not.

Meanwhile, last week, except for the fabulous books I read, was a total wash.  Waited around for the maintenance people to show up…and they finally did at 10:00 a.m. on Friday.

Surprisingly, the man was very respectful of my things, but the woman, whom I had never met, pushed her way in rudely, not even introducing herself, and started poking around in places she didn’t need to be.  She disturbed the curtains and blinds and did not put them back the way they were.  She had that look that I can only describe as “haughty social worker”—which was not me when I did that job!—and made me wonder why she was so weird.  She wasn’t supposed to be there to check my housekeeping…LOL.  Which was fine, by the way. 

 

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I followed along, fixing what she disturbed, and then they left pretty quickly, only changing the filters, etc.

I waited all week for that?  I wanted to complain about the woman, but decided it would be better to RANT.  LOL

Well, that is over, and today I’m enjoying a new book that has totally engaged me:  The Unwitting, by Ellen Feldman.

 

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In CIA parlance, those who knew were “witting.” Everyone else was among the “unwitting.”  

On a bright November day in 1963, President Kennedy is shot. That same day, Nell Benjamin receives a phone call with news about her husband, the influential young editor of a literary magazine. As the nation mourns its public loss, Nell has her private grief to reckon with, as well as a revelation about Charlie that turns her understanding of her marriage on its head, along with the world she thought she knew.

With the Cold War looming ominously over the lives of American citizens in a battle of the Free World against the Communist powers, the blurry lines between what is true, what is good, and what is right tangle with issues of loyalty and love. As the truths Nell discovers about her beloved husband upend the narrative of her life, she must question her own allegiance: to her career as a journalist, to her country, but most of all to the people she loves.

Set in the literary Manhattan of the 1950s, at a journal much like the Paris Review, The Unwitting evokes a bygone era of burgeoning sexual awareness and intrigue and an exuberance of ideas that had the power to change the world. Resonant, illuminating, and utterly absorbing, The Unwitting is about the lies we tell, the secrets we keep, and the power of love in the face of both.

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After reading the book about Sylvia Plath in the Summer of 1953 (Pain, Parties, Work) I feel as though I am actually back in that era.  The 50s and 60s were strange times.

 

So I’m off to keep reading…after I try to figure out this Twitter Party thing!    What is your day looking like?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: AN OBSESSIVE/COMPULSIVE WEEK

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Today I have been playing around on the computer, creating new blog headers with interesting images I found on Pinterest.

Last week, I found a notice on my door that any day this week, between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Management (of the condos) will come by to do a little seasonal maintenance.

I hate knowing that I’m stuck in the house every day between those hours because I don’t want anyone to enter my home when I am not here.  Another obsession!

But I have discovered an upside to this.  It forces me up and into the shower so I’ll be dressed just in case they come at nine.  And then I realize that, whenever they come…or at the end of the day, I am ready to go out.

Some days, if I start the day in my PJs, I stay that way all day…and never leave the house.

But this week, while I am waiting, I play around with things I might not do otherwise.  Like creating new blog headers, changing the themes, etc.  Oh, right!  I often do that!  LOL

While visiting the Amazon Vine site, I discovered a book I’ve been planning to buy.  Now I won’t have to do that!

Evergreen, by Rebecca Rasmussen (of The Bird Sisters), is one I am eagerly awaiting now.

 

 

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From the celebrated author of The Bird Sisters, a gorgeously rendered and emotionally charged novel that spans generations, telling the story of two siblings, raised apart, attempting to share a life.

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Currently, I am reading and loving Small Blessings, a quiet tale of an ordinary life…and the unexpected events that change everything.

 

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Up next?  Big Little Lies, by Lianne Moriarty, another new favorite author.  My first read by this author was The Husband’s Secret…(click for my review) and I was hooked.

 

 

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Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

But who did what?

 

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My week is looking better and better.  And then, this weekend, a Mini-Bloggiesta is coming…an opportunity to tweak one of my blogs and visit others doing the same.

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Just the kind of week that an OCD person enjoys!  LOL.  What gets you excited on a summer day?

Here’s a picture my eldest son posted on his Facebook page…something that earned snarky comments from my other kids.  I think they are making fun of me…LOL

 

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REVIEW: THE SILVER BOAT, BY LUANNE RICE

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Three sisters with saddened hearts return to the beach cottage on Martha’s Vineyard…one last time. Due to financial issues, they must sell their beloved family home, even though it has been in the family for generations.

Dar McCarthy lives on the island year-round; she is a graphic books artist/author, and the loss of her beloved father, a talented boat builder, has inspired this fantasy series. Back in her twelfth year, her father Michael McCarthy sailed the Atlantic to Ireland, bent on finding the land grant deed that would bring him his own pride of place on Martha’s Vineyard. He safely arrives, calls the family, and then is not heard from again.

Meanwhile, Dar and her sisters, Delia and Rory, bury their mother after a long illness.

As they pack up the house, Dar discovers some secrets that make her wonder about what she thought was true. More questions spur them on a journey.

The journey takes the sisters to Ireland, where they learn more about their father.

Will they find the answers in their quest? What does the glitch in their property title during escrow signify for their future? What conflicts between the sisters might jeopardize their serenity? How will they finally find the peace of mind they seek?

Dar was my favorite character. A tortured soul, she finds catharsis in her writing. I could relate to her. Rory was annoying and selfish, in my opinion, and her constant cyber-stalking of her ex-husband seemed to be her main focus. Delia was so immersed in the feelings of others that she could not focus on her own needs.

The Silver Boat: A Novel is an engaging story of family, connections, and the journeys we take to find ourselves. 4.0 stars.

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: TIDBITS, CHANGES, & NEW BOOKS

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The little woven container with pockets (above) is a place to display mementos.  It has hung on numerous walls over the years, usually in my various offices.  On the very bottom right, is a backstage pass for a Soap Opera Awards Show from 1999, hosted by Dick Clark (for whom my second son worked at the time) and Soap Opera Digest magazine.

At the top is my author badge from BEA 2008, which was in LA…and where I signed copies of Chasing Stardust.

To the right, just below, is a ticket stub from the Chippendale’s show in Las Vegas (2008), attended by my daughter and me.

The black pin-on name tag (Lorre Frost, Editor) was mine from 1980, when I edited a newsletter for a group dedicated to helping divorced people adjust.  That was the name I used back then…LOL. (Get it?  Lorre Frost, Laurel-Rain Snow).

Odds and ends….tidbits.  Like much of what I share on this blog.

To continue on in this vein, today was about more odds and ends, like me getting the sudden urge to move some cabinets in the dining room.

I swapped out the green and burgundy cupboards…and here are some views of the finished arrangement:

 

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The burgundy cupboard on the back wall (on the left) was once in the middle.  This is the view from the kitchen.

 

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View from the entry way.

 

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Close-up of the two rearranged cupboards.

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Why do I do these things?  I was very hot and tired afterwards, as I did it this afternoon, when the outside temperature was 101…and despite the air conditioning indoors, I felt as though I were out in the heat.

Once I had cooled down, I savored the three new Vine books that came in the mail today.

 

Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

 

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Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .

A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads…

 

 

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Small Blessings, by Martha Woodroof

 

 

 

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Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier….

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he’d fathered a son who is heading Tom’s way on a train.  His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.

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Katwalk, by Maria Murnane

 

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Katrina Lynden has always walked a straight line in life, an approach that has resulted in a stable career and pleased her hard-nosed parents but that has also left her feeling unfulfilled—and miserable. When her best friend suggests they quit their Silicon Valley jobs and embark on two months of adventure in New York City, Katrina balks at the idea but ultimately agrees, terrified yet proud of herself for finally doing something interesting with her life. But when her friend has to back out at the last minute, Katrina finds herself with a tough decision to make. Much to her surprise, she summons the courage to go alone, and the resulting journey changes everything. Along the way she makes new friends, loses others, learns what is really important to her, and finds a way to grow up without leaving herself behind.

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I think I am in for a treat with these….meanwhile, I am reading a book on Sparky that has been waiting patiently since last year.  Sheltering Rain, by JoJo Moyes, is the story of three generations of women in a family, which takes us from the 1950s in Hong Kong to the 1990s in London and Ireland.

 

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What was your Thursday like?  Are you eagerly planning your holiday weekend?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: AFTER-EFFECTS OF AN “UNPLUGGED” DAY

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Yesterday was a day best described as “unplugged.”  Early in the morning, I started getting ready for my day.  I had lunch plans, and since they are  once-monthly “after payday” plans, they are a big deal.  First I had to do some laundry, get through morning routines, and then go!

A friend and former colleague and I meet up once-monthly for these lunches, picking a different place each time.

Yesterday it was the Cheesecake Factory.

 

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This is the day of the month when I indulge in forbidden foods, including the actual cheesecake.  And cocktails.

Afterwards, I had some shopping to do, so it was late when I got home.  No books came in the mail yesterday, so I started reading the book I hoped to finish before the end of the day.  The Collector, by Nora Roberts (click title for review) was fascinating, suspenseful…and fun.  But as time passed and the story seemed to drag on, I grew impatient.  Finally I finished and posted my review.  By then it was late and all of my favorite shows were over.  I watched a couple of them on the DVR.

 

 

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Then…this morning I quickly posted my June Wrap-Up….

And all morning I’ve been plugged into the computer, catching up on what I missed yesterday. 

I found two new e-books on Sparky this morning…Yay!

 

The House on Mermaid Point, by Wendy Wax:

 

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and One Plus One, by JoJo Moyes:

 

 

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And it is only 9:19 a.m.  I can actually catch up.  Today I’m starting Sheltering Rain, by JoJo Moyes, a book that counts for my Mt. TBR Challenge, since I bought it last year.

 

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What did your Monday look like?  What is on your schedule for today?  I know that now I’m ready to unplug again.

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SATURDAY POTPOURRI: WEEKEND TIDBITS

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I am reading Until You’re Mine this morning and my heart is pounding as I imagine how the whole story will unfold.

MC Claudia Morgan-Brown is a social worker, which immediately helped me connect with her.  As a mother of two small step-sons (twins) and a wife of a Naval Officer who travels much of the time, her life is just as she wants it…except for a few missing pieces.  She wishes her husband were home more, for example.

When the “perfect” Nanny comes through their door, the red flags were immediately soaring for me.

We read the story in several perspectives…so we can see through numerous “eyes,” including those of a police detective investigating some bizarre murders.

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It is a day for reading and movies.  I did a little housework, too, as I guiltily ignore some of the finer details of it throughout the week so that I can read and blog!

Today I rearranged some things in my office….returning the little clock to the wall by my desk.  For a while, it resided in my bedroom, but I don’t need it there.  I already have a digital clock on the chest of drawers.

 

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I found that little clock in one of the Crafters’ stores I used to visit.  Places I no longer frequent; I have more than enough STUFF!  LOL

After my little bit of dusting, etc., I went to my e-mails, where bargain e-books seemingly beckon, and found this one:

 

My Mother Was Nuts, by Penny Marshall.

 

 

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Most people know Penny Marshall as the director of Big and A League of Their Own. What they don’t know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. In this funny and intimate memoir, Penny takes us from the stage of The Jackie Gleason Show in 1955 to Hollywood’s star-studded sets, offering up some hilarious detours along the way.

My Mother Was Nuts is an intimate backstage pass to Penny’s personal life, her breakout role on The Odd Couple, her exploits with Cindy Williams and John Belushi, and her travels across Europe with Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. We see Penny get married. And divorced. And married again (the second time to Rob Reiner). We meet a young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades. And we see Penny at work with Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.

Throughout it all, from her childhood spent tap dancing in the Bronx, to her rise as the star of Laverne & Shirley, Penny lived by simple rules: “try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.” With humor and heart, My Mother Was Nuts reveals there’s no one else quite like Penny Marshall.

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I love reading about how people’s lives (especially the lives of celebrities and writers) take them to unexpected places.

What happily engages you on this summer weekend?

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