SUNDAY POTPOURRI: REFLECTIONS ON MY SUMMER….

Coffee, Mimosa, & reading - logo2

Welcome to my first Sunday Potpourri in weeks!  Well, at least two or three, anyway.

A Sunday was one of the first days I wrote on this blog…one of my earliest posts was on a Sunday in July 2009.  A while ago, I recreated that post (partially), one that included my preteen granddaughter Fiona, in Celebrating Special Moments, Past and Present.

I recall those moments fondly, as my now “late teen” granddaughter is a complex person.  One who sometimes enjoys my company, and at other times, she ignores me completely.  Shouldn’t she have gone through this phase earlier?  Now that she is a young adult, she should be more agreeable.  Right?  I guess not.  LOL.

We did have a semi-enjoyable trip, mostly once we got there.  The car ride was not fun, all twisty, with continuous road work, which contributed greatly to our short tempers.

Stopping along the way for refreshments helped.  But Hwy. 101 has so many tiny towns, and finding great places to pull over was a challenge.

Once we arrived, however, there was plenty to keep us occupied…and lovely breezes, too.

 

 

August 2016 - pier in Crescent City

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Next time I go there, however, I will go solo…and on the train!  I picture myself resting and reading.

 

 

 

Amtrak

 

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Now that I’m back, I seem to be getting my Reading Mojo again.  Although I’m catching up on Netflix as well.  I resumed watching Doc Martin, which I’m starting to enjoy more, now that I’m (kind of) used to the MC and his quirks.

 

 

Doc Martin in Cornwall

 

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Currently I’m reading The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton, and while I don’t usually enjoy a “child” narrator, this particular one is quite articulate, and I settled into her perspective, remembering my own younger years surrounded by fruit orchards.

 

 

 

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Synopsis:  Mary Frances “Frankie” Lombard is fiercely in love with her family’s sprawling apple orchard and the tangled web of family members who inhabit it. Content to spend her days planning capers with her brother William, competing with her brainy cousin Amanda, and expertly tending the orchard with her father, Frankie desires nothing more than for the rhythm of life to continue undisturbed. But she cannot help being haunted by the historical fact that some family members end up staying on the farm and others must leave. Change is inevitable, and threats of urbanization, disinheritance, and college applications shake the foundation of Frankie’s roots. As Frankie is forced to shed her childhood fantasies and face the possibility of losing the idyllic future she had envisioned for her family, she must decide whether loving something means clinging tightly or letting go.

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Next I hope to read Behind Closed Doors, by B. A. Paris.  I waited and waited for this one…and then it was released last week.  Loving the anticipation!

 

 

 

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Here are some thoughts from others: 

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

The debut psychological thriller you can’t miss!

“A hair-raising debut, both unsettling and addictive…A chilling thriller that will keep you reading long into the night.” —Mary Kubica, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl

This is one readers won’t be able to put down.” —Booklist (starred review)

“This debut is guaranteed to haunt you…Warning: brace yourself.” —Bustle (10 New Thrillers to Read This Summer)

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What does your Sunday look like?  Restful, busy, or a combination?

 

Here’s what I had yesterday, at California Pizza Kitchen:  Pea Soup and a Strawberry Margarita.

 

 

soup and margarita - august 20

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FRIDAY POTPOURRI: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — THE LION IS IN — MARCH 15

4-30-curlupandread-001-framed-book-beginnings2friday 56

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today I’m excerpting from The Lion is In, by Delia Ephron.  I’ve always enjoyed books by the Ephron sisters, so I’m looking forward to this one.

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Beginning:  Three hours south of Baltimore.  Six p.m. or so.  June third.  Two young women stand by the side of a rural two-lane highway.  They are not sure what the road is or where it goes.

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56:  He never saw the women because he never went into the men’s room.  He never noticed the open window, either, probably because he was preoccupied.  He was homesick.

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Amazon Description:  “‘There are no miracles,” says Rita …. ‘Miracles are simply misunderstandings. Or worse, cons.’” –The Lion Is In

Tracee is a runaway bride and kleptomaniac. Lana’s an audacious beauty, a recovering alcoholic. Rita is a holy-roller minister’s wife, desperate to escape her marriage. One warm summer’s night, these three women go on the lam together. Their car breaks down on a rural highway in North Carolina and they’re forced to seek shelter in a seemingly abandoned nightclub. Which is where they meet Marcel. And soon everything changes. Marcel, you see, is a lion.

Written with the deftness, humor, and sparkling wit that mark her books, plays, and movies, Delia Ephron’s The Lion Is In is an unforgettable story of friendship, courage, love—and learning to salsa with the king of the jungle.

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Sounds like a book I’m going to enjoy.  What are you sharing today?

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — DEC. 7

4-30-curlupandread-001-framed-book-beginnings2friday 56

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Curl up and enjoy!  Today I’m featuring a book from next week’s stack:  The Good Woman, by Jane Porter.  I have preordered The Good Daughter, the next book in the series, so I thought I’d better read this one.

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Beginning:  He was good.

Meg Roberts stood in the open doors of the Dark Horse Winery’s tasting room and watched her boss, Chad Hallahan, co-owner of the Napa Winery and VP of sales and marketing, work his magic on the women clustered around him.  There were quite a few clustered around, too.  But when weren’t there?

Okay…not the best opener.  But we get a hint of the characters and their personalities.

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56:  Sarah craved security.  Nothing in her life felt stable right now.

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Amazon Description:  Is it possible to leave it all behind?

The firstborn of a large Irish-American family, Meg Brennan Roberts is a successful publicist, faithful wife, and doting mother who prides herself on always making the right decisions. But years of being “the good woman” have taken a toll and though her winery career thrives, Meg feels burned out and empty, and more disconnected than ever from her increasingly distant husband. Lonely and disheartened, she attends the London Wine Fair with her boss, ruggedly handsome vintner, Chad Hallahan. It’s here, alone together in an exotic city, far from “real” life, that Chad confesses his long-standing desire for Meg.

Overwhelmed, flattered, and desperately confused, Meg returns home, only to suddenly question every choice she’s ever made, especially that of her marriage. For Meg, something’s got to give, and for once in her life she flees her responsibilities—but with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating. Now she must decide whether being the person everyone needs is worth losing the woman she was meant to be.

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What are you sharing today?  Come on by and leave some comments and links!

WEEKEND POTPOURRI: A JOURNEY VIA PHOTOS, BOOKS, & MOVIES — AUGUST 11

This week and last, I have vicariously enjoyed traveling around London and Paris.  Here are some Saturday Snapshot posts that showcase my journey.  Here is last week’s, and here is today’s post.

Above is a shot of my three A’s (Aubrey, Alec, & Aaron) enjoying Disneyland Paris.

What else is happening this weekend?  I’m enjoying this book that has taken me to North Carolina, where life in a treehouse is magically wonderful…except when it isn’t.

Safe Within, by Jean Reynolds Page, is a novel of how family happens—whether you like it or not

Elaine and Carson Forsyth have returned to the tree house—Elaine’s childhood home, a cabin nestled high in the branches of two oaks beside a North Carolina lake—where forty-nine-year-old Carson has chosen to spend the waning days of his life.

Yes, there are sad moments, but then, happier moments are relived; and as the characters find ways to move on, the story is very inspirational.  And the reader can experience the beautiful settings.

Later I hope to go see this movie.  I love anything with Meryl Streep in it, and I’m also a fan of Tommy Lee Jones.

What will your weekend bring?  I’d love to find out!

CONFRONTING THE PAST — A REVIEW

Sometimes the accidents in life turn out to be the start of unlikely relationships, old and new.

Marian Caldwell, New York producer of a hit show, thinks that her life is just about perfect. Great boyfriend, great career, and beautiful East Side apartment. And then one day, the past stands before her in the form of Kirby, an eighteen-year-old who holds the key to the secrets she has held tight within.

How will the secrets of the past inform the present? The future? In alternating voices, Marian and Kirby share their stories, and as we come to know them with all their secrets, emotions, hopes and dreams, we feel the poignancy of their lives and root for them to find out just where they belong.

My favorite characters were Conrad and Kirby. Who knew that these two would be like two sides of a coin?

All through Where We Belong, I wondered how the characters’ lives would change, and whether or not these changes would bring them that elusive thing they’d been missing.

Emily Giffin can be counted on to show us the complexities of relationships while she is spotlighting how the issues her characters address can bring them full circle, until they are finally facing what they could not accept. The past. And how the past does not have to bring only pain, but can unexpectedly bring joy. Five stars.

TUESDAY POTPOURRI: WHAT IS HAPPINESS? — MAY 29

If you have visited any of my blogs before, you may have noticed my fondness for the artistic renderings of Mary Engelbreit.

My fascination is not just about the colorful images, or even the quirky sayings:  when I’m gazing upon one of the prints, or enjoying the cute dolls I have here and there in my house, I feel happy.

 

 

Is it that easy to be happy?

Like many of the artist’s sayings, it’s about attitude.  We do have control of that part of us, and how we look at life and choose to react to it can make a difference in how we feel.

Choosing to be happy as a concept seems simple enough, but then there are all those obstacles and barriers to achieving that feeling.  Plus…happiness is not a goal.  It’s not even a destination.  It’s a state of mind that comes and goes.  At least that’s what I’ve been reading and thinking.

Moments.

Today, with my toothache pain temporarily held at bay, and even though tomorrow’s oral surgery will bring more pain, I can say that the absence of pain can bring happiness.  Relief might be a better definition, but sometimes relief feels like happiness.

In today’s Tuesday Meme (Intros & Teasers), I am sharing excerpts from a book about secrets.  I opted to spotlight the book at my “guilty pleasures” blog, which I changed a bit.  The theme is an old favorite, but the background…well, you should check it out!  It’s a fizzy drink that also can feel like happiness.  Thanks for the image, Patty.

Background for Chocolate & Mimosas Blog

Is pleasure happiness, then?  Perhaps not, but it can lead to joy or even contentment.  Maybe that’s good enough.

Do you remember books (and movies) about the “pursuit of happiness”?  In a way, thinking of happiness as a goal erroneously leads to having to pursue it.  But that, I’m discovering, is the wrong approach.

Unless, of course, it’s an inward pursuit.  An interior journey.  What do you think?  Is happiness elusive?  Or is it simply a matter of setting our minds to it and changing our attitude about it?

An Interior Journey

 

 

 

WEEKEND POTPOURRI: GUILTY PLEASURES — APRIL 28

Visualize, if you will:  I’m pounding away at my keyboard this morning, posting over at my Saturday Snapshot, and responding to blog visits.

It’s still early—not even eight o’clock—and I’ve already done one of my dreaded weekend chores.  I’ve cleaned the patio.

Every Friday, the gardeners, in their need to clear the pathways, blow leaves and blossoms onto my patio.  No matter how many times I ask them not to do so!  But maybe they’re just looking out for me…I probably need the exercise!

I didn’t do a great job, but here’s what it looks like right now.  The greenery you see in the photo is not a nice plant to decorate the area, but a weed.  Yes, later I might cut it down…but my granddaughter thinks it looks kind of cool.

The patio is very small, as you can see from that photo and this one.

Notice that I’ve jumbled together a number of items that used to spread out luxuriously on my former deck at my former house in the foothills.  Sigh.  See the redwood barbecue cart?  That was once in my bedroom holding my TBR stacks.  It has now graduated outdoors.

But whenever I wax nostalgic, I remember why I left my foothill A-frame cottage and fled to the city.  Boredom?  Too much yard work (nearly half an acre).  And did I mention boredom?

 

A-frame Cottage with Deck

Notice the sign stuck in a redwood bucket (in my current abode).  It used to sit in front of my guesthouse, which I’d dubbed “Rainbow Cottage,” for the colorful rooms my daughter had created.

Yes…she had an orange bathroom, a blue bedroom, another bedroom in green, and a gold colored great room.

Also, “Rainbow Cottage” was the name of a guesthouse in my novel Miles to Go, in which one of my characters lived.  That character was named Rainbow and was an artist.

A tale about friendship and sustaining those connections over many years.  Changes, obstacles, and loss.

Today I planned to spend some time with Noah…I was even going to take him out to lunch at Marie Callender’s…but my daughter just called, and she’s keeping him with her today.

Now my day has opened up to new possibilities, but I was kind of looking forward to hanging out with the little guy.

I’m reading Love in a Nutshell on Sparky, my Kindle…and maybe I’ll go out to lunch at a spot that I don’t usually take him.  I can read in the outdoor cafe.

 

Here’s where I’m thinking of going….

What about you?  Any special plans?  A lazy day or something that takes you outdoors?

 

 

 

SUNDAY POTPOURRI: MEMORIES — FEB. 5

One of my most enjoyable things is creating new blog headers from images of family, friends, and favorite things.

This one above is now on my Snow Sparks site; and, in case you didn’t guess, I’m the one in the middle at age seven.

On the left are two grandchildren when they were around one-and-a-half and almost three.  On the right, there they are again during their preteen years.

I remember the days those shots were captured.  In the preteen moments, we had been shopping.  In fact, Fiona was shopping and Dominic was bored.  Not unusual.  So…in order to give him an incentive to hang in a bit, I mentioned our “family sculpture,” and how we could go there afterwards to capture some photos.

That worked!  And we did shoot several photos that day.  They both still talk about it.  I have several of the photos in a painted bowl on my office coffee table, and they often sift through them when they visit.

Distracting the kids is something I learned a long time ago, when I had my own.  Some might say I “bribed” them, but I believe I offered an incentive.

Same difference?

In the image on the left, the two were playing on my patio at my A-frame house in the foothills.  Curled up in the old wicker chair with Sebastian, the cat, they were sharing a bonding moment.

Here’s a view of that house, a few years later, and after a facelift.  I sold the house in 2007…and sometimes I really miss it, since there are so many memories there.

Guesthouse in the Foothills

 

Here’s the guesthouse where my youngest son and his family lived for a few years.

And here’s Noah, exploring my porch, when his family lived there for a few years after my son.

 

Do you traipse down memory lane through your photos?  Here’s a journey down that pathway yesterday in my Saturday Snapshot.

Now I’m off to see who else has posted in Sunday Salon.  We chat about our weeks and any other topics that come up.

What are your favorite Sunday moments?

 

 

 

GUIDED BY THE LIGHT — A REVIEW

When “bad boy” Jonathan Randall fakes his and his daughter’s death in Springfield, he is protecting his daughter from her great-grandfather Alan Spaulding. The wealthy billionaire is convinced that Sarah Randall is his to raise.

Reva Shayne, Jonathan’s mother, has her own need to protect them both. She believes she could have done more to protect Jonathan as a child. She knows that Jonathan and Sarah are on the run, and they keep in touch via a prearranged set of signals.

Tammy Winslow, Jonathan’s wife and love, died at the hand of Alan Spaulding, when he was trying to kill Jonathan. So her spirit is guiding him and Sarah as they journey away from the threat that stalks them.

In this captivating spin-off from Guiding Light, the now defunct soap opera, Guiding Light: Jonathan’s Story provides a glimpse of the life lived by the presumed dead Jonathan, and how he finally starts to move on from the past.

In Tourmaline, California, Jonathan starts to think that he may have found a place to finally settle down. And the gorgeous Aubrey Cross seems like a kindred spirit and someone who can help him do that. But just as they finally begin to trust in one another, a dark and ominous presence hovers over them in the form of her abusive father, Sheriff Zeke Cross. How did Zeke find the evidence he needed in order to maintain control over Aubrey? How will he use Jonathan’s secrets to betray him?

I loved the soap Guiding Light, and when this book was published, it was still a viable series. I loved reading the book and discovering Jonathan’s journey into the light of his future with his new love. I felt as though the characters were real, since I watched them on the show for many years. I would recommend this book to anyone who ever enjoyed the soap, as well as others who love a good romantic suspense tale. Five stars.

HUMP DAY POTPOURRI — JOURNEYS — FEB. 1

 

Hump Day is the middle of our weekly journey, and it always seems to be a good stopping place:  to evaluate, ponder, and pause to gain our perspective.

Incidentally, this Hump Day is the start of a new month, too.

January was very productive.  I read sixteen books and cleared several off my TBR stacks.  I just finished Atonement last night.  Click the title for my review.

It was not a light-hearted read, nor was there a happy ending.  But the book was definitely memorable.

Now I’m reading a book that is neither light nor fluffy, but it is much more easily traversed.

Jonathan’s Story, by Julia London, is a tale about some characters from the now defunct soap opera Guiding Light.  I bought the book before the soap was cancelled…and that tells you how long it’s been on my stacks!

Jonathan’s story is a journey, too; he fakes his death and the death of his daughter in order to escape a vengeful grandfather in his home town.

I like reading about these characters; it somehow keeps them alive for me.

Earlier today, I visited another of my blogs to make some changes; Creative Moments has morphed into Creative Journey, since my tagline there now reads “we have miles to go.”  I wanted to echo the themes of my website and one of my novels (Miles to Go), both of which are tales of journeys.

I created this header over at Picnik.com, which is closing down in April.  Do you notice a theme of endings here?

What do you do when all around you things are changing, dying, or disappearing?  Businesses, blog sites, TV shows…you name it.  The losses seem to crop up everywhere and when we least expect it.  I guess that’s the nature of the world these days.  Perhaps it has always been this way, but it seems more common these days.

I tend to get even more obsessive/compulsive about what remains.  What do you do?