Monday, December 12, 2011

The Legacy by Katherine Webb

This is the first novel I have read by Webb, and  won't be the last. The story kept me interested right to the very twisted ending ! This is the story of the Calcott family, who were to the manor born. There are so many skeletons in their closets, you would think it was Halloween everyday ! The story is in two parts, really: the story of Caroline Fitzpatrick-Massey in the American West at the turn of the century and Erika & Beth Calcott, who have come to empty out their family's house, which just happens to be an English castle.
Caroline, born & brought up in NYC, marries and then follows her new husband to his ranch out west. She has a very hard time adjusting to life out there and is hoping that once she has children, she will be so busy that she will not notice how miserable she is. But after two years of trying, no children. Fast forward almost one hundred years, Erica Calcott is going through her grandmother's things and finds her great-grandmother Caroline's letters and a picture of her with a baby sitting on her lap. Whose baby is it? A hundred year old mystery. And how about a present day bonus:  what happened to her 10 year old cousin Henry who disappeared one summer from the manor?
If you told me this book was a mystery, I would say no thanks, not  a mystery reader. But tell me it is about a dysfunctional family and I am all over it. I guess this is the best of both worlds. Interesting how both parts of the story come together and what a twist at the end !
A good read.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Once Upon A Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg

I like Elizabeth Berg novels. They are really packed with the compexities of real lives. In this novel,  Berg tells of John & Irene's marriage.... maybe more of their divorced life that followed the marriage. They have an eighteen year old daughter, Sadie, who is much loved by both parents. John lives in Minnesota and Irene & Sadie live on the West Coast. Irene is a quirky lady, she works for an eccentric caterer in San Fran. John is a conservative architect, who seldom dates. Irene is finding her many "loves" on the internet dating sites and  writes very long and "out there" introductions. John decides to attend a group session of divorced people and ends up in the grief group session and is attracted to Amy.
Sadie has met a great guy in school but doesn't want to introduce him to her mom, for fear the craziness will drive him away. She lies to her mom about a weekend get away, and ends up being kidnapped by a deranged killer. Fortunately, she does get rescued but for the few days she was missing, John flies to San Fran to stay with Irene while the search is on.
Irene & John do a dance of emotions: Didn't they once love each other? Are the feelings still there? What about Amy , who John may be falling in love with? All of the past baggage is right there for the two of them to deal with.
I have to say that this is one of the weaker novels by Berg. At any time while I was reading it, I could have put it down and walked away. If you are an avid Elizabeth Berg reader, then you will want to read it. If you aren't a follower, then you can definitely pass on this one.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Emily Alone by Stewart O'Nan

I picked this book up at the library because I recognized the name of the writer, Stewart O'Nan. He wrote Faithful, along with his pal Stephen King. It chronicled the winning season of the Red Sox a few years back when they won the World Series after a long drought. So, when I got home, as I picked the book up to read, I noticed that it was a sequel. But I started it anyway, hoping it would stand alone.
Emily Maxwwell is a widow, living in the same neighborhood that she had for years, when her husband was alive and the children were growing up. She hasn't driven for years and her husband's old boat of a car is locked away in the garage, gathering dust. She has two kids and four grandchildren that she doesn't see very often. Her daughter is a recovering alcoholic that Emily helps financially. Her son is distant and rarely needs anything from her.
She has a very close friend, Arlene, whose driving skills leave alot to be desired, but who gets her to the club once in a while, to lunch once a week and out to pick up groceries. 
When Arlene passes out at a restaurant, Emily is forced to drive Arlene's car home. Then back & forth to the hospital running errands for Arlene. When Arlene takes her car back, Emily gets her old car out of mothballs and with the help of her neighbors, gets it running again. And gets Emily running again, as well. She runs errands with Arlene, gets to visit the graves she hasn't been to in years, drives back to her home town. Emily is back  living a life again. Coming to terms with her kids and her own past.

This was a very easy book to read and quite enjoyable. You can definitely read this without reading the first volume.  I really now must locate the first book , called Wish  You Were Here,  just to get a deeper look into the past of Emily Maxwell. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Well, I finished the book and I tried to read slowly. Although I needed to know if Elphaba lived, I wanted the book to last as long as it could. I am talking about the much anticipated last volume in the Wicked series, Out of Oz. If you have never read Wicked, Maguuire's first book in the series, you are really missing out. Maguire has taken the story of the Wizard of Oz, and twisted it into a rich tale of "good vs evil" with characters you won't soon forget. And like L Frank Baum, there is a message behind the fantastic tale.
This book centers around Elphaba's (who just happenes to be the Wicked Witch of the West) granddaughter, nicknamed Rain and her struggles to come to terms with her past, present & future. The book deals with war, weapons of mass destruction ( they be dragons !!) , dysfunctional families...you name it !
Now, as much as I love the series, all of Maguire's books really, I found this last one a little slow. I realize I was anxious to hear about all the characters but even so,  at times it was a labor to get through. Until the last few chapters, in which there was so much action and so may favorite characters coming & going, my head      was spinning.
Was it worth the read? Yes and then some.
If you find my review alittle vague, it is purposly so. I do not want to spoil the ending for anyone reading the review. I will tell you that you really have to read all the books in the Wicked series to get this book, it is not a book you can pick up and read and have it make any sense. I totally recommend reading the whole series. You will NEVER be able to watch the movie, Wizard of Oz, without shaking your head and saying...there's no place like OZ.

Gregory Maguire's books in the Wicked series include: 1)Wicked, 2)Son of a Witch, 3)Lion Among Men and lastly
4)Out of Oz.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fante by Dan Fante

I have often heard the term "raw" being used in describing movies, books and talent but I am not sure I have ever come across a book that I could only use that word to describe it. Dan Fante has written a book that he says is a look into his family's legacy of writing, drinking and surviving but it is really more a look into his own life of the same.  It is very honest, sometimes graphic, sad, and yes, raw. But, I could not put it down. Was it like watching a train wreck? Maybe.
Dan Fante is the son of writer John Fante, who wrote a few novels back in the 1930's & 40's and screenplays in the 60's & 70's. He was a heavy drinker, a mean & mostly absent dad & a bad husband. Dan Fante writes that he had his first beer at age four, when alcohol became his drug of choice. Although, let me say that liquor wasn't his only vice !
Dan Fante's life is like the wildest roller coaster you have ever been on. An alcoholic drug user that blacked out most days of his young adulthood right into his forties, got tangled up with the Black Panthers, the mafia, hookers & pimps...you name it. AND he actually lives to tell about it.  
He writes about his parents& siblings, his father's writing acheivements and some of John Fante's most famous /infamous brawls but the saddest part of the book is that it is a true story of a life wasted. If you ever had any doubts about the dangers of alcohol, you won't after reading this book. Well written and worth the read.
 
***I am so looking forward to the release of Gregory Maguire's Out of Oz, tomorrow November 1st. I have it pre-ordered on my Kindle so hopefully I will receive it right after midnight tonight. Some sleepless nights ahead !!***
 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Don't Sing at the Table by Adriana Trigiani

Grandmothers give all kinds of sage advice. I think most of it probably is in one ear and out the other when we are young. Fodder for eye rolling in our teenage years, I am sure. But as we get older and have grandchildren of our own, these little gems of wisdom start coming out of our own mouths. Trigiani's Don't Sing at the Table is a compilation of great advice from both of her grandmothers. Some spoken, some unwittingly absorbed.
The author was very lucky to have spent alot of time with both of her hard-working Italian grandmothers. Both very strong women with very strong opinions on family and business. Viola was a seamstress who started as a sewing machine operator in a clothing factory. She was promoted to manager, and after she married, co-owned a blouse factory with her husband. Lucia was also a sewing machine operator in a children's clothing factory.  When she married a shoemaker, they planned to open their own shoe business but unfortunately her husband died suddenly at age 39. Lucia worked in a shoe factory making children's shoes while she put her three children through college.
Trigiani writes about her two grandmothers with humor and respect, telling stories of the  history of her family, from Italy to New York and beyond. A sentimental journey packed with advice that we could all use !

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Philosophy Skin Care Products

My sister R, months ago, told me that she had picked up a kit of Philosophy skincare products and after only a few days use, had started to receive compliments on her skin. At the time, I was using & reviewing another line that I really liked, so I put the Philosophy idea aside. Three weeks ago I decided to browse Amazon, (I had a $50 gift cert) and saw that they carried Philosophy products. After reading up on all the different products, I chose a kit with:  Purity, a cleanser, Help me, the night time retinol lotion and Hope in a jar, the much bally-hooed moisturizer. I have been using the three products for two weeks now and I do notice some differences in my skin. The cleanser, Purity I use in the shower every morning on my face & neck. Makes my skin squeaky clean but does not dry it out. I am using the Hope in a jar after my shower on face & neck and am finding no flakiness or dry spots on my face. At night after using my standard swipe of witch hazel to remove all my makeup, I use the Help me retinol cream. Retinol helps to reduce red  spots, sun damage, lighten age spots. I do notice a bit of improvement. Nothing very dramatic but I am continuing to use it and am hoping that two weeks from now I see a huge improvement.
I must also say that I do enjoy watching the Philosophy products getting hawked on QVC. There are so many products !!
If you use Hope in a jar and it's not doing a thing for you, you may need When hope is not enough serum ! My sister R told me that her kit contained Miracle worker retinol pads and that the pads were what she thought made the difference. So my next purchase will be Miracle worker.  Miracle worker pads evidently trump Help me lotion.
Let me warn you, though, all this great stuff comes at a high price. Miracle worker pads retail at $70.00 for 60 pads. (My sister R says next time she will cut the pads in half) After your face, you also swipe it over your hands, so more bang for the buck ! If you are looking for products that work, then I think Philosophy is a good bet. Start with a kit and go from there. I do recommend that you tune in to QVC and watch for the deals , which they do have. You also can see the products being applied & explained and I think that does help you decide which products you will need.

Philosophy products are sold in Sephora stores & on line at Sephora.com , Macy's stores, online at Amazon.com and online at Philosophy.com and of course, QVC.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

As I helped my friend M clean out her bookshelves for a move, I picked up The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler . I looked at the cover and thought "hmm...haven't I read this? I have certainly heard of it". ...Author Anne Tyler has written many books. How have I missed this author? She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her 11th novel, Breathing Lessons, for goodness sake. (my next read, BTW !) AND The Accidental Tourist was made into a movie starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. (already in my NetFlix queue) Really, never saw it and I love those two. (Remember Body Heat ?!)
So, I began the book and couldn't put it down. The story is about a travel guide writer, Macon Leary,  who does not like to travel. He visits the same countries over & over , up-dating the guides that he has already written. He travels all over world and yet never seems to see "the sights" He never ventures too far from his hotel room, checking out restaurants ( even a Burger King in France) that wouldn't be the first ones I would visit. Never anything exciting. Much like his personal life.
When his twelve year old son is killed in a random act of violence, his marrriage unravels.  His wife moves out and he ends up very weird & lonely. When it comes time to travel, he needs to kennel his dog, Edward. He meets Muriel, the quirky dog trainor who works at the kennel and by sheer audacity, she gets under Macon's skin.  She sucks him into her quirky lifestyle & crazy family and after a while, without his even knowing it, his life begins again.
This book is rich and full of all kinds of "characters". And in the end, it makes you wonder about your own life. Are you just accidentally living it?
Highly recommended.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Devil Sent the Rain by Tom Piazza

essay: a short piece of writing on a particular subject
 
Tom Piazza is an essayist, author of novels and  a TV writer. He lives in New Orleans and has alot of insight into the still unsettled lives of the people who live there. He also is "in-tune" with the music industry, particularly the blues musicians. These two topics are included in the essays of his new book Devil Sent the Rain.
One essay stands out for me. He tells of living in New Orleans after the hurricane and spending four years rebuilding his home. He comes home one day to find that he has been robbed. Of course, he would like to catch the peron who did it, but he says that they probably have a wretched life already. He then tells us that a worse fate for hundreds of families in the city is that in an effort to rebuild a bigger & better hospital , the city will "take" a hundred rebuilt homes and demolish them. A different kind of robbery.
I was very interested to read one essay about his meeting Norman Mailer and developing a friendship that lasted until Mailer died. Another good essay was about Bob Dylan's transition from folk songwriter/singer to rock'n'roller.
Many good essays in this book, worth the read.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: The Book of Life by Stuart Nadler

 This is a book of short stories by an author that I have not read before. I jumped right into the first story and all I can say is wow.
"In the Book of Life"  is the tale of an older Jewish businessman, seemingly with everything going for him. Longtime friend as a business partner, longtime marriage, grown kids. So you tell me...why have an affair with the daughter of your business partner?  
"Catherine & Henry" is the story of a love affair that is put to the "test". She tests his fidelity by putting a young, beautiful model right under his nose. Henry failed the test...but so did Catherine.
It is funny that after I read two stories, I thought, hmm...these are stories about life...what is the title of this book? Flip to cover, ah yes ! The Book of Life.
Just weird, happy, sorrowful, filled with regrets kind of stories. Like life.
Highly recommended.
 
Well, summer is over and I spent it reading some wonderful books. Now, into fall with more wonderful books. I am eagerly awaiting Gregory Maguire's last novel in the Wicked series, due out in November. If you have not read these books you are truly missing out.
 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

If you want a good summer read, always pick up an Elin Hilderbrand book and you won't be disappointed. The fact that she lives on Nantucket and writes about characters on Nantucket is such a good start! Silver Girl is the story about a family of privilege, who takes a huge fall from grace. Meredith Delinn is married to a very sucessful investor, Freddy Delinn. Maybe he is just a little too sucessful. How can his investment company return so much more money than any one else's, especially in this market? She turns a blind eye to all the signs and lives the high life while raising her two sons. When Freddy Delinn's scheme gets exposed and billions of dollars in investor's money is lost, the Delinn's become the most hated people on earth !! While her husband sits in jail and she remains under investigation, she places a call to the only person she could trust, her childhood friend Connie. They had been estranged for years, but it was worth the chance. A bit reluctantly, Connie took Meredith to Nantucket to get away from her troubles. Unfortunately, Meredith brought trouble with her to Nantucket.
We still have a few weeks of summer left, so I recommend you go out and buy this book, plunk down on the beach and read !!!

PS-I was lucky enough to go to the movies last week with a bunch of gal pals to see The Help. The movie was good. I thought the actors did a great job, loved Viola Davis as Abileen. Cecily Tyson as Constantine and Sissy Spacek as Missus Walters added a spark to the already great cast. If you  have read the book ( a MUST read !!), the movie will seem a bit light- hearted with a few good laughs, but it did follow the premise of the book. So please go out and see it, I am sure it will be up for a few nominations come award season !

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: Q by Evan Mandery

" You must not marry Q". Those were the words that set a whole lifetime full of regrets in motion for Mandery's character in this new novel. The person who delivered those words, sets this story in motion. 
The reader never learns the name of the main character, as the story is told in the first person. But I didn't realize I didn't know his name, until I was ready to write this review.  He was always "I". And that one letter/word becomes an important part of the story. I am sure this must all sound very "out there". And this book is kind of science fiction-y, but it doesn't feel that way. I am not a science fiction lover. BUT I loved this book.
The main character is a 20-something aspiring author /college professor hoping for tenure. He falls in love with Quentina Deveril. Q happens to be the love of his life. As they get into the final stages of wedding planning, the author is visited by a very sad looking 55 year old man, who happens to be his own 55 year old self ( I-55), transported back in time with the help of a time machine. "You must not marry Q".
Crazy, huh? Except it doesn't feel that way as you read along. This young man goes on a roller coaster ride through-out his life, the paths dictated by his older-selves (I-57, I-60, I-80.....) coming back to visit and changing the coarse of his life over & over & over.
All because he didn't marry Q.
Long after you read this book, you will still be thinking about it, which is the gift of a good book.  
I so enjoyed this book and I swear I may read it again because it is so thought provoking. This is a perfect book for a book club. Anyone who has read it and wants to discuss, please get in touch!!
Also, I am still watching oldie but goodie movies. Prizzi's Honor last weekend. Boy was that good. Loved Jack Nicholson & Kathleen Turner in it. I know Angelica Huston won an Academy Award for Best Supporting, but I really think Turner should have nabbed it !!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi

This is not the latest book by Hegi , just one of many that she has written. I will eventually read all of her books because I think Ursula Hegi is one of the most gifted writers on the planet. Sacred Time starts out with Anthony , aged 7, just wishing & hoping for some GlassWax and stencils so that he can decorate his family's Bronx apartment windows for Christmas. He also informs us in the same sentence that his Uncle Malcolm was in jail again, this time for stealing office equipment. So begins this tale of a large Italian family living in New York City. Hegi is a genius when it comes to layering characters with time, relationships, tragedies and triumphs. As you read along , each chapter with one character's thoughts and perspectives, you begin to see how one innocent wish of a young child turns tragic for a whole family. As the years pass along in the book, you will be swept up into the subtle and then  "in your face" ways something like this will change every member of a family.
I love the way Hegi writes. Flash backs, characters talking over each other & finishing anothers thoughts...just like real life. It keeps you invested in her story until the last word. She has written so many books: Stones from the River ( my first and an Oprah pick) Children & Fire, Floating in my Mother's Palm, The Vision of Emma Blau and Salt Dancers, to name only a few...Salt Dancers is one of my all time fave books. You can start there, or anywhere. You will become a fan.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Yureka...Struck Gold ! L'Oreal Million Lash Mascara

I am very excited to have finally found a mascara that doesn't flake. L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lash. Lasts all day, minimal clumping ( I use a q- tip just to take care of those little nuisances) & keeps my lashes curled. I am just coming off a test of a Lancome and a Sephora mascara and they were definitely NOT worth the price. Both flaked, clumped, took the curl out and wore off  by days end.
 Not so this new one by L'Oreal, and it is only $7 a tube. The case is good sized & brilliant gold and it clicks shut when you tighten it. (I am thinking it won't dry out as others do)  I am not usually a fan of the new plastic applicators , but this one works !! You can get it at any department/drug store or on-line at Amazon.com.




I have recently read a good book by author Kate Kerrigan called Ellis Island. It is a love story based in poverty-stricken Ireland in the 1920-30's. When Ellie Hogan's new husband ( and childhood love) is injured and cannot walk nor work, she heads to New York where an old friend has secured her a  job as a maid for an ultra-rich woman. In NY she is surrounded by luxury unimagined in Ireland and soon becomes accustomed to the wealth and sophistication of the city. As she sends home most of her earnings so that her husband can have a much needed operation, she begins to think maybe she will not return to Ireland. OR maybe her husband will join her in America. Enter a new, rich and handsome American love interest and Ellie is faced with a classic decision. For love or money?

I did like this book but I wish the author hadn't made the ending so easy for her character. I didn't think there was a big enough internal struggle for Ellie, between staying in NY and living a great life or returning to her husband in Ireland and living in dismal poverty. I really felt like the ending   fizzled a bit.
Worth the read though !

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: DNA Defense SPF 30+

**What I love most about this sunscreen is the way it is so quickly and easily absorbed into my skin. With other products I have felt like I am wearing a thick layer of goop, then I have to apply makeup over that.** 

I have been testing this product for a good 30 days and have had plenty of sunshine to test it with, I love it ! It contains micro-fine beads of zinc oxide but with NO whitening, very sheer. It provides superb  protection against UVB & UVA rays, those awful "aging" rays. Contains vitamins A & E, which are packed with anti-oxidents, that protect your skin against free radicals, hugely damaging to exposed skin. 
 So what else can I say? Love it, it works and feels great. I wear it every day under my makeup and I also apply it to my neck. Absorbs like magic and my skin just feels like my skin..no thick goopy feeling.

You can purchase DNA Defense products at: dnaegfrenewel.com

Monday, July 11, 2011

Product Review: Lip Savvy



Advertised as a plumper and anti-ager ,I was very anxious to give Lip Savvy Lip Gloss a try. I read up on the gloss at jeanecosmetics.com. The company uses Total Radical Free Technology which means free radical protection, collagen - boosting properties and prevention & correction of lines & wrinkles. Well, I am a good candidate for all of the above. As I have aged, I have developed fine lines on my lips that look like a grid !
The gloss contains Hyaluronic Filling Spheres which are said to instantly and painlessly plump, moisturize and smooth wrinkles.
I have been using the OMG gloss for half of the recommended 30 days. I love the applicator which is a lip brush and comes in many wild styles, the glossiness is perfect, not runny or messy and the taste is so mild, almost citrusy. There is so much to love about this lip gloss, however, I have yet to see any plumping action, instant or otherwise. They do recommend 30 days to get full advantage, but they also advertise as an instant plumper and wrinkle smoother. I have not seen those properties yet. Regardless, I love this product. I will continue on with it, twice a day for the whole 30 days, and report back with my results.
Please go to jeanecosmetics.com  to purchase at a price of $18.00.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Miracle Skin Transformer !!

I was really lucky to have been sent samples of two products that I love, love, love. I have given them a try for a solid 10 days and in that short a time (most products ask for 6-8 weeks before results), I have noticed quite a difference.
The company is called Miracle Skin Transformer (MST) and I tried the Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20 and MST Treat & Conceal.


Love this product and let me tell  you that it applies like a dream ! It leaves a velvety texture on your face, so nice to apply your make-up on. It hydrates, enhances skin tone and protects against UV rays and does it with natural anti-aging ingredients like:

Saw Palmetto Extracts to moisturize and soothe
Passion Fruit that is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids which penetrates your skin to hydrate
Co-Enzyme Q10 increases elasticity and firms skin while increasing cell renewal
Vitamin A helps reduce the dark circles, redness and broken capillaries
Vitamin K exfoliates and renews skin cells

This is just the short list of natural ingredients. There are others that enhance your skin tones and even more to protect against UVA & UVB rays. I love the feel of this product, it is light and oil-free. I was excited that after only one week, my skin looked more even toned. My broken capillaries are faded and there are no red patches on my cheeks. I am using less mineral make up to cover those spots, that's for sure. Now, with my larger pores, I would prefer to use the translucent version. There are many tint colors, one to match any complexion. I highly recommend this product and hope you will go on line at sephora.com to purchase. It will soon be in Sephora stores, too. But don't wait, buy now !!


Now, let me tell you about Treat & Conceal. This is the best concealer I have ever used. I am using it all over my eye, under for circles and on the lid as a make-up base. I am patting it on all kinds of bumps and spots all over my face. (Remember when you are applying anything to your eye area that you use your ring finger. It is the weakest of our fingers and the eye area is sensitive) Again, because it is tinted and my pores are on the larger size, I am patting this on rather than smoothing. It is amazing. I guess that is why it is named Miracle Skin Transformer. What I have found is that is stays put. Even after a long day, I get home & my under eye .. still covered. My little spots ..still covered. This coverage lasts. And once again , I am using only one light application of my mineral make-up.
Treat & Conceal is a silicone based concealer that corrects, protects and transforms your skin.
It will help reduce fine wrinkles, reduce darkness under the eye, reduce the look of age spots and discolorations. It covers and heals ! Right now it is available on line at Sephora.com and soon will be in the Sephora stores.
Stay tuned to Queen Bee's Buzz for up coming reviews on skin care products and make-up.  I am hoping to start up with giveaways before the end of summer !!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

For the ladies.......

It is never to early to start good skincare habits and hopefully never too late. By now we know everyone should be using sunscreen. This is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity even on  a cloudy day. But we women of a "certain age" need more than sunscreen..We need a good moisturizer and some retinol, too. Retinol increases the rate of skin turnover and boosts collagen, a real winner for aging skin. If you use a product with retinol, you absolutely must use sunscreen because retinol will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. For almost two months now, I have been using a product that I am very happy with: ROC brand Multi Correxion 4-Zone Daily Moisturizer. It contains a daily moisturizer, a sunscreen with SPF 30, and retinol. A triple tonic for the skin !! I have noticed an overall evening out of skin tone, some of my splotches from sun damage are actually looking lighter and smoother. I do have some age spots that still defy lightening but overall I am happy with what's  happening. My skin is definitely softer and more supple. So, a real thumbs up on this product from ROC. It works and the price is right, retailing for around $26.00 for 1.7 oz bottle.
When I started with the ROC product, I also bought  Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex and began using it on my lid and under eye area. I must say that I am not overly impressed with this product. I think it is a good moisturizer but I did not see a big change in the under eye area in skin tone or wrinkle improvement. I have now begun to use the ROC 4-Zone lotion under my eye and after two weeks I have noticed a change for the better. I will continue to use the Olay on my upper lid until the bottle is finished but with a price tag of $42.00 for .5 oz, I will find another less expensive cream for my upper lid and stick with ROC brand products for the under eye area.
A month ago a saw a gadget on QVC that I thought I might have to try and now I say  how did I live without it. It is called The Bellabe Facial Hair Remover by Gemini Group. It is a tight spring, small in diameter about 8-9 inches long with a plastic handle on each end. You hold an end in each hand, bend the spring in an upside down U shape and roll it over your skin. Now, this is not for the sqeamish, it pulls hairs out from the root, and there is a little prickly sensation as you roll it over your face. Start slowly, start on your upper lip & chin area. As you get more proficient with the holding and rolling trick, move to other areas on your face..wherever you have peach-fuzz. Once your face gets used to it, you will not notice the prickles but you will notice your smooth, hairless skin ! No more waiting for the upper lip strays to appear before heading to the salon for waxing. Sit down, watch some TV and roll away the strays !
After I use my Bellabe, I take out my trusty bottle of witch hazel , sprinkle a bit on a cotton pad  and smooth and soothe my face. I have been using witch hazel as a "toner" for years. Witch Hazel is a shrub whose bark is processed into a liquid concoction that is a great astringent. It is also PH balanced so that my face never feels oily or dry/tight after use. Before bed I use a soaked cotton pad as a makeup remover, too. Works great and you can't beat the price.
For an over all body lotion, I have been using Olay's Quench for a few years. Shortly after it came out I saw that O Magazine gave it a good rating and decided to try it. I use it from my neck to my toes. They started with just the daily moisturizer and now have many new products. I now use the Daily with Firming Lotion. I want to try the one with shimmer for summer..why not? These lotions are pretty reasonably priced and if you go to their website, there are coupons available.
So ladies, be good to your skin..it has to last a lifetime !!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

C'est tellement simple, l'amour.....

I have been reading some great books lately. My daughter-in-law publishes a terrific blog ( Reviewed by Mom ) and sometimes I get to review some books for her, which is so much fun for me. I read The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter, which is a pretty witty "travel" guide to Paris. Paris of the 1920's & 30's. The times of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Sylvia Beach , F Scott Fitzgerald and Papa Hemingway, all ex-pat writers living in Paris. As he walks the streets of Paris on his literary tour, you can really get a feel for what is was like to live back then, right after the war. I was taken with the era. That book lead me to my next, which was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. This is the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson, she was one of four wives of
"Hem ". What an interesting life she lead married to one of the world's most famous writers. They moved to Paris after they married and lived in a tiny apt over a dance hall. He was not well known, and was writing for periodicals. He was just being introduced to the other published authors living in Paris. Jazz-Age Paris was a pretty wild place back then, very bohemian and Hadley was just a regular girl from the American Mid -West. I loved this book and it lead me to A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. This is Hemingway's account of life in Paris at the time he was married to Hadley Richardson. I don't ever remember reading Hemingway and it is quite a treat. All I ever heard about him was his wild and wicked ways with women & drink. But after having read these books, I see that as a young man, he was kind and loving to his wife and son. He was ecccentric, no doubt, and he fit right in with life in Paris at the time, but he was truer to his wife than I expected. Once his writing was taken seriously and he began to get published, it was clear he would leave Hadley behind but I get the feeling  that he probably regretted it the rest of his life.
I wholeheartedly recommend all three books for summer reading. It is all very romantic and dreamy, just right for the beach. You will find yourself wearing a bathing suit with a French beret !! Peace.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away......

OMG. For a full week, we have had fog, mist, drizzle, spring showers, soft spring rain, rain and torrential downpours. What is up with this weather? And we are all affected by it. Here we are at the end of this wet week and everyone I see or talk to, is hanging on by a thread. Years ago after another of these wet springs, I remember saying to someone "what a lousy day". They were quick to inform me that it was just lousy weather, that the day was fine. Well, since then I have always used that phrase when people say "what a lousy day", I always fire right back  that the day is just fine , it is just the weather that is lousy. Well, after a week of this stuff, I have earned the right to say " what a lousy day" ! What a lousy week. It is nothing that a vitamin D capsule will help, and you could never drink enough fortified milk to cure it. We are all over-sleeping , under-sleeping, grumpy, weepy, clingy, headachy  (starting to sound like the 7 Dwarfs) and just plain miserable.
The forecasters are predicting a better week next week. I will believe it when I see it. I think they are just plain afraid to say otherwise. Until then, I have stocked up on Lindt Chocolate Truffles, they will do in a pinch. Peace.

I have been watching some good old movies on these dark & stormy nights, Far From the Maddening Crowd w/Julie Christie and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice with Natalie Wood. Two of my all time fave actresses.
I have Net Flixed two more good ones, The Other Bolelyn Sister with Natalie Portman and The Girl with the Pearl Earring with Colin Firth. Looks like a good weekend to catch a movie.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mommeries.......

Mother's Day. I immediately think of  huge bunches of dandelions that we used to pick in the field across the street and bring home for our moms. Yellow stained hands and clothes. Big smiles. My dad would take all of us shopping (all 6 of us) and buy bathrobe & slippers and we would do our best to behave on Mother's Day.
My mother was always a young, hip mom. I don't ever remember going to the dept. stores to pick out clothes. I would come home from school and there on my bed would be some new, really cool clothes that she had picked up for me. Always loved them, never had to return anything. I had whatever was in style..beatle boots, mini skirts, ruffled bell bottoms, just like Cher wore.
Mom was a great cook, too. We had a "big" dinner every night. Steak with handcut fries, stuffed pork roasts, and her pasta & sauce were heavenly. That was usually saved for a Sunday, when a really big dinner was planned. Every Sunday night however, we kids actually looked forward to a light meal..soup & sandwich and Lassie on TV.
After we all grew up & moved out, she had plenty of time to cook and she would cook as if we all still lived home and pop up at our houses with all kinds of great food. Some of the best Christmas presents from her were baskets filled with cookies & cakes and all kinds of jellies and breads. Delicious. And always there was a little something tucked in there especially for me. A pin or a little antique something that she knew I would like. To this day, when we are at a family gathering, my brother -in -law J will just up & say " I miss Evelyn. Boy, she could cook" My son T has made it a mission to make sauce , just like Nana's. It is never the  same, I don't think any of us will ever get it exactly right, but sometimes we get it close. There was just something, she had " the knack".
Growing up, our house was always impeccably clean and very stylish. I can remember lovely furniture, mostly early amercian style growing up. Then when we moved to a bigger city, into a more modern house, we all came home to find a pink nubbly curved sofa and orange crushed velvet chair with lovely oriental rug. WOW !!
Her hair color also changed on a whim. My mom was a natural light blond. She had very fine hair and mostly kept it short and would pin curl it up with bobby pins and then brush it out. So the style mostly stayed the same..the color was another matter. She went from platinum to black one day while we were at school. Oops !!Next day she went back to the hairdresser and they tried to strip out the black and she ended up with red hair for a few months. Very adventurous and I must say it has rubbed off on most of us girls. I seriously would think nothing of going lavender tomorrow.
My mom also gave us some great laughs in our adult years and it never fails when we all get together, someone will end up using one of her funny words. She called Zinfandel wine-"zymphony" wine. She always served it in a "caraf-a". She always said "pa-sketti" for spaghetti and when my sister B got married , she thought the priest was a hunk. So she sidles up to me & my sister R and says.."did you know that he is married and has kids?? I thought priests had to be "cele-brate" " So it never fails that when we hear the song "Celebration" at a wedding, we always start laughing uncontrollably and think of mom and the priest.
Sadly, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 and died a year later. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her.
A mother's job is tough, the toughest.
So today, I honor my mom and all the great & funny things about her. She was taken away from us way too soon. But, every time I smell my sister B's pasta sauce, I catch a glimpse or every once in a while my sister R will turn her head a certain way and there she is.... and always, she will be in my heart.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

STUFFED !!

Spring cleaning. This year I am doing more than cleaning, I am cleaning out. Seriously, there are times I look around my cozy little place and realize that I don't have room for another thing. But, I find yet another thing that I absolutely love and I end up fitting it in somehow. I have a little plaque on my fridge with a quote from George Carlin.."Home is where we keep our stuff, while we are out getting more stuff."..Alas, I am a collector, but I am not a hoarder. Believe me, I have seen those hoarder shows and realized (with relief) that I am not that bad. Not saving butter containers yet. Although, at one point I had way too many paper bags saved! So, I have been "going through my stuff". Now, I do expect this to take quite a while because some of this stuff I haven't seen in years. I really have some great stuff. The decision to keep or pass it on is not an easy one. I have read & re-read the book by the guy who had that program on HGTV, Clean Sweep. He explains in his book that we attach a huge emotional value to our stuff and that is the reason we keep things. He mentions that most of the stuff that is stored in rented storage containers, that people continue to pay rent on month after month, is very rarely taken back out of storage. Most stored stuff is never again visited by it's owners. I can sympathize. When I downsized after my divorce, I had like 75 totes of stuff in my new basement. (I got rid of about 150 totes of stuff when I moved to the new place). I had two or three yard sales after I moved into the new place, and when I went down into my last week, I was back up to having 75 totes of stuff again. How did this happen? I ahve vowed to cleanout the basement once again. This time I have enlisted the help of some friends who will help me get beyond the emotional attachment to my stuff. Or so I hope.
Last night I was looking at a mirror that I have on my bedroom mantle, it was my mom's. It is nothing that I particularly like, I would like it more if it was in a frame, I guess. The frame was very cheap and fell off about 5 years ago. It is just a large, very sharp edged mirror , with a Japanese geisha engraved on it. I have hung onto it all these years because it was my mom's, for basically no other reason. I asked about getting it framed at a local craft store and they said it would be about 150.00, so back it went on the mantle unframed. It is my emotional attachement to it that keeps it there on the mantle. I have to let go of the thought that somehow that mirror is my mom. In reality , it is a mirror that hung in my mom's house. If she was still alive, there is a chance that maybe she would have tired of it and sent it packing anyway. Now, I have to be brave enough to let it go.
And it is surprising, when I packed up two bags of stuff for Goodwill two weeks ago and got it right out the door, it felt good. When I went through my desk last weekend and cleaned out a lot of old paperwork, it felt good. This weekend, I am "going through stuff" in the kitchen. I probably have 25 kitchen gadgets that I haven't used in years. I know I have a bag of cookie cutters that haven't been pushed into cookie dough for 10 years anyway. My grandchildren & my niece make cookies, I bet they could use them . They can cut out forms in play dough with them, too. Way better than sitting in a draw in my kitchen for the next ten years and I knwo I will feel good about it .
So, here's to Spring Cleaning-Out! I am really having fun with it this year. Peace.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

You gotta have friends........

Where would I be without all my great friends? I would very well be up the creek with no paddles..up the creek with no water, too. "They" say people who have plenty of friends live longer and happier lives. I have no trouble falling for that bit of info. I chat on the phone with at least two or three friends a day and make plans with friends at least a couple of times a week.
I haven't always had so many people in my life. There was a time when I felt alone and thought I had no where to turn. Those were very scary days. As life started to rebound for me, about 10-12 years ago, I started gathering these precious gems that I call friends. And I must mention that not all my friends are gal-pals. I actually have a bunch of great guy friends in my life that I do treasure. Mostly, they are husbands of my pals but still if I needed help, they would be there for me. The real test of friendship. I  have a couple of ex-boyfriends who now fall into the "just friends" category. A real testament to my picking "good" ones now.
They are all soooo different from each other, personality-wise, a  very eclectic bunch. BUT they also have a lot in common: like being supportive, sharing big laughs, caring when times are tough, gently critiquing a new haircut or new jeans, sharing desserts at dinner, having shoulders to cry on, helping out with a home project, helping to pack boxes for a big move......all the wonderful things you believe a friend would be.
So today's blog is meant to be a SHOUT OUT to all my friends. I am not naming names, you know who you are . I would not be able to make it in this life without you.
 I must mention here, too, that I have four great sisters and a brother who I include in this bunch of friends. Could not imagine life without them, love them all very much.
So, today for me is Appreciate a Friend Day. I hope I never forget to appreciate them everyday. Peace.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.......

Wouldn't it be great if we humans thought of change as our therapists would like us to.....a second chance, a challenge, another door opening, a fresh start, a do-over. But most of us don't. I know I think of change as a BAD thing...uncertainty, confusion, painful & tearful, a leave of absence from the comfort zone, just plain scary. I like my warm & fuzzy sweaters & socks, my mac, cheese & fried bologna. Recently, there was something that happened that would shake my foundation a bit. I felt scared, uncertain, worried.
Well, it just so happens that I have just finished two good books on worry/anxiety/stress. The first is The Worry Cure by Robert Leahy, a cognitive therapist and the second book is Nerve by Taylor Clark, a researcher. Low & behold the first thing that I read is that there are no quarantees in life. I am sure you are saying everyone knows that,come on, of course everyone knows that, right? Well, let me tell you that I have spent the better part of my life trying to get a guarantee. I want 100% certainty that my life will continue with no bumps or lumps, no BAD stuff  happening. I constantly check & re-check things looking for reassurance. I am hyper-vigilant, always thinking of the bad thing that could happen amidst all the fun. My pediatrician thought it was uncanny how I would have my kids in his office before any illness had a chance to take root. It has been my job in life to see danger from 50 miles away, so that I could prevent anything bad from happening. If I did not stay on top of things and something bad happened, it would be my fault. Can you even imagine having this kind of power? Imagine is right because that is just where this power lies, in my imagin-ation.
 So, I will be re-reading my two good books after I give myself a week or so to contemplate what I have learned from them. I realize that I need to change. What? Change? Me change? Yes, time to change..long overdue. I will say that this little bump on the long road of life has made me realize that I have been down this road before. I have been through some life altering changes in the past and I have survived. I have done more than survive, I have thrived.
So, look out opening doors, here I come..I might just knock you off your hinges ! Peace.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Life's a beach.......

Last weekend I took a ride to the beach. Yes, it was cold and windy but I just needed to breath the salt air. So off  I went ipod and down vest in hand. I stopped at the chocolatier on the way to see if they had any chocolate bunnies from antique molds , no luck. ( I am working on an Easter vignette !) I drove by my favorite fried clam place but did not pull in. What good was the walk going to do me if I ate fried foods? So on I went and pulled down the street with the beach lot on it. As I got closer I noticed the lot was packed with cars. I had to creep around looking for a spot and I am wondering what the heck is going. It is cold & windy and although the sun was out , it was definitely not a beach day. I walked down the path and saw that it was low tide, plenty of beach to hunt for treasures. A kite surfer flew by on the sand, no doubt a beginner trying to get his "sea-legs". As I got past the dunes, I saw all the people down by the water. Some in waders out in the water, some on the beach with rakes and buckets..what were they up to? Clamming? Yes, hen clamming !! They were digging up buckets full of those big, juicy clams. There were all kinds of people , men and women  with  kids and dogs. What fun ! I walked along , looking for treasures and listening to all the jabbering and laughing. Newbies asking others for advice,  dogs barking and chasing balls, kids running and collecting shells. I found a large peice of quartz and thought it would make a great paperweight. Unfortunately one of the dogs there thought it would make an even better ball to chase and was not going to leave me alone until I threw it . So no treasures, no luck finding sand dollars. I sat down for a bit and closed my eyes and took deep breaths and listened to all the wind-whipped voices. Almost felt like a summer day. (Almost, it was like 30 degrees with the wind) I stayed until my ears were numb and then headed for the car. There were plenty of people still walking from the lot with buckets and rakes, blankets and kids & dogs in tow. Headed for a fun afternoon at the beach and then home to make a hearty clam chowdah, no doubt. A just reward for braving the cold & wind. I headed home to settle in and have a nap..dreaming of a warm June day that is just around the corner.
Peace.

Monday, March 21, 2011

!@#$%^*.....They say it's your birthday ........

Ok, so it is well known around these parts that I think my birthday is pretty special. In years past I think I have let anyone I talked to in the month of March  know just what day they should be calling to wish me well. I come by this feeling honestly, though,  because my father's BD was the day after mine and it also happened to fall on St Patty's Day, which is a special day all on it's own. So there was alot of hoopla on those couple of days. We always planned a double BD party for the Sunday before or after with two cakes, lots of family, wearing of the green , etc. So, I kind of got used to having a grand celebration with lots of attention and presents and cake. After my dad passed away, I just kept it going. I was so used to my birthday being a big deal that I assumed everyone else thought so ,too. So it came as a shock to me that this year I just didn't feel the same excitement. I was pretty sad about it, too. It was like losing a friend, to be honest. It has been so much fun over the years to make a big deal about my birthday and why not, it is a big day for me. I just think I have hit a wall with my age..I don't want to go any further really. I mean , I want to live a lot longer..I just feel like I want to stay right here..fifty- something. Life is good.
So on THE day first thing ,my sister L calls me to say stop by the store she has a card fo rme. So in I go and there are two of my sisters L & B, my nephew, my brother in law, my niece all wishing me a happy birthday. I started to feel a wee bit better. On the ride into work three of my grandchildren ,my son & daughter in law get on the phone to wish me a happy birthday and to hint of the fun planned later at their house. Starting to feel pretty good.
I get to work, climb the stairs and looked at all the goodies on my desk. There is a white mum in a pot dressed up like a leprechan,  a big package of green Peeps, a note explaining that S took off for  a meeting with the cake still in his truck (a cake that his daughters had made for  me) two nice handmade cards from S's daughters and a big , flattened box with happy birthday written on it with a hand drawn cake. Everyone in the plant had been informed of my special day and all stopped by my desk to say happy birthday throughout the day.
 During the day, the rest of my kids called, and my two other grandchildren , O & M, called. I got many mesages on Facebook from friends & family all over the country ( some of these were very funny) and a bunch of emails. Wow, cheered me right up !!
Right after work headed to my son T's house and what a great BBQ we had, complete with cake AND my daughter in law K had made my very favorite pie, got beautiful PRESENTS and some cute cards the kids made me !! We played pin the tail on the donkey and danced, too. After the party I headed for home feeling pretty warm & fuzzy.
But wait there is more.......This past Saturday, my daughter R came down to visit and we went out for a belated birthday lunch with a bunch more of my family (a dozen of us)  and more cards & presents, too.
So, I ended up having quite a birthday week after all. And you know, I still feel pretty good. If all my next hundred birthdays mean I get to be treated like Queen Bee for a day (or a week) , then bring on the birthdays !!!!

PS- I have finished On Folly Beach by Karen White. I thought it was a good story, not sure about the style of writing. I kept thinking I was reading a script for a B movie. So I am on the fence about recommending this one. Please stay tuned.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A few books and a good movie........

I have been a reading fool the last three weeks !! I have read three Elin Hilderbrand books. My friend M passed on a stack of four, one of which I had already read. It was almost like a challenge getting that many at once. Hildebrand writes what she knows , which is Nantucket Island... the romance, the twists of fate, the landscape or should I say seascape. So in this stack that I devoured was:
The Blue Bistro, Season of Love and Beach Club.  I love it when author intertwines novels..like when you read a good book and you wish it didn't have to end. Well, these Nantucket novels all have a familiarity that puts you in the middle of a community of people, and in every house on the island, there is a story. Anyway..I recommend all of the above by Elin Hilderbrand.
I also read Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. It was the story of two sisters growing up in China in the 40's and 50's and how their lives were brutally turned upside down when war broke out. I read about 1/2 to 2/3 of this book and then skimmed the rest. I started to lose interest (which doesn't happen to me very often). It just felt too much like See's other novel Snowflower and the Secret Fan. So if you liked See's first novel, you may like her second or you may feel like I did -that the style and susbstance were too similiar.
I picked up another Annie Proulx book called Close Range. (she wrote Shipping News, which I really liked)A book of short stories about life in Wyoming. They were really good short stories. One in particular called Brokeback Mountain. Yes, that movie that won awards was based on a short story. I had never seen the movie, and was I surprised to see that short story in her book. I am so glad I read it before seeing the movie. It was THE most powerful story I have ever read. When I read the last sentence, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me, it was that good. Then I rented the movie and every line from the story is in the movie. Of course they had to embellish the home lives of these two cowboys so that the movie could go beyond 45 mins, but the two screen writers did a good job. One of the screenwriters was Larry McMurtry, who is one of my favorite writers. I HIGHLY recommend that you both read the story and see the movie, in that order . It was a powerful and poignant love story.
I am now almost halfway through Folly Beach by Karen White ( new author for me) , so I will be reviewing that in a week or two.

Spring is definitely in the air, so sooner than we think we will laying on the beach with a good book !! Peace.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet......

As the snow comes falling from the sky today, heavy & wet and piling up an inch or two an hour, I am looking up information on the Portland Flower Show. Starts Thursday March 10th, in the old yacht services building on Fore St.
  " Some years you need to see flowers and green grass more than others, ya know ? "
You may recall in the last blog that I was afraid that I would have to be layed off from my great job. I was feeling pretty down about it, as one might expect. It looks like that is not going to happen, but for some reason though, I cannot take that big sigh of relief. I have been under this stress for well over a month and I was hoping it would lift instantly. I think it shook me so much that I just want to get further down the road from it, just like I would a bad dream.
So, I am looking forward to going to the show for all of the above reasons..I need to add a little "spring" in my step, so to speak. I have been to the show many times as a vendor and only once as just a member of the public there to admire all the displays. I have not been for quite a few years now. I love the old building. There we are among some beautiful old sail boats, all put away for the winter, moving around underneath them  like the rolling seas usually do in summer. That fact is not lost on me. I think they can smell the flowers too and know that pretty soon they will be back on the water, doing what they were meant to do. Can't ignore the wooden floors and just the general history of the building and Phinney Sprague walking around like he owns the place, making sure all goes well and runs smoothly. He is a great host. One year when I was there as a vendor, he found out it was my birthday and announced on the loud speaker that everyone in the place needed to stop by my booth and say Happy Birthday..and ya know,  I think everyone did.  ( oh, by the way, Phinney  Sprague does own the place !!!)
I hope my gal pals can all make it too, because there is a lot of pleasure in sharing the experience with friends.The same friends that I go out to the beach with after work on summer nights to walk & talk and breathe salt air and collect sand dollars  & other treasures, if  I am lucky enough to find some. I will have to email all the details and I know I won't have to talk anyone into it. We are all ready for winter to end and for Spring to begin.
I  just thought of something, just this minute. I may have just realized why I have stayed away from the show for so long. About twelve years or so ago, when I was working as a vendor at the Flower Show, I came home from the opening night gala and found that my ex-husband had packed up & moved out. Left a note in the sock draw.. after 25 years  & raising four kids & all the richer/poorer stuff , a note in the sock draw. Can you believe it? It seems funny that I have no feeling about that now. No anger, no resentment, nothing. Well, I did suspect that this blog might become like therapy sometime , and today it certainly has !
 I will be going to the Flower Show with a spring in my step and a light  heart. Who's with me?

PS- I have just finished reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I had never read it as a kid. I was browsing through my Kindle free books and there it was ,so last weekend I began reading it, only took a few nights. I am sure you all know the story. Orphaned girl goes to stay with depressed rich uncle who has crippled son.  She discovers a secret garden and it cures all of them.
It really was a lovely story and I for one am hoping the very public garden at the Flower show does the same for me !!
I also read Elizabeth Gilberts new one, Comimtted. I loved Eat , Pray , Love and expected nothing less for the new book. I wanted it to be a real sequel full of the love story of Liz and Felippe. It was more of a history of the institute of marriage and got quite boring in places. Now, I hear her ex-husband has written a book of his own about their mariage. That should be interesting !!
I have just started this morning (at 5 am), another free Kindle book Letters of a Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. I have only read a few chapters (or letters)  by it is very good. True story about a widow who heads west to build a home. More on it /her later.
I also watched finally, the movie Crazy Heart with Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell , Maggie Gyllenhall and Robert Duvall. Well, I thought the movie was good, music fantastic and I am totally in love with Jeff Bridges. He can sing and so can't Farrell. I think they should do an album. I have  loved  Robert Duvall ever since Lonesome Dove ( I highly recommend the book & movie), and even though he has a small part, loved him in it. Gyllenhall was ok, I just didn't get the warm & fuzzies from her. I think she over-acted the part. It was a love story, plain & simple. Please movie producers..more of Mr Bridges.
'Til next time...peace.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Waiting to exhale.........

We all know that life has ups & downs. If you made a graph of your life most likely it would look like hills and valleys equally spread over your lifetime. Even those people that we perceive as "lucky"...their graphs would look like all the rest. My hills & valleys are very personal to me and yours to you. You could look at my "problems" and deem them frivolous compared to yours. It's all relative.
I bring this up because I may be on the verge of losing my job. Our company has run into some problems and may have to close. I am definitely in a valley. I have worked here for over ten years, everyone here has become my second family. The problems we are having are out of our control and at first it was frustrating and now it is just plain scary. I don't want to lose my job, my means of support. I have been on my own for over ten years now, after my divorce. I used to worry all the time whether I could meet my monthly bills and felt so much relief after my rent was paid at the end of the month, even if I only had two dollars to rub together at the end of that week. I had made it another month! That fear went away quite awhile ago as I got more comfortable in my job and decided that I was valuable to my company. I feel that I have been grateful enough for my job. We all complain , no matter how good our job is, right? I realize that there are alot of peole out of work and struggling and have had ample empathy for them. But now, it's personal, now it's my life about to be turned upside down.
So,  I am in a valley. I haven't been in one for a while. Back in 1996 & 97, I lost my parents, one after the other. In 98, my marriage died. So I was in a scary place for a long while. Talk about abandonment issues !! But then , by taking one day at a time, one problem at a time, I began to climb the hill. And when I got halfway up , I turned around and looked down to see how far I had come. That inspired me to keep going and I haven't had to look back since. Until now.
 I know I am lucky. My kids are all doing okay, in spite of having me for a mom. They are pretty good citizens of the world. Two are now married with children of their own, and they both married really great people. Apples of my eye, all of them. I have plenty of family & friends and they show me luv all the time. ( in their own sarcastic way , of course)
I have been giving myself pep talks, like the old days. I know that if I lanquish in pity, I won't find solutions. I have learned that life does just keep bumping along, that when one door closes , another door opens. I have this little plaque in my  house that says" After a storm, the birds always sing". How true. I am a big believer in Karma and I think I have been a pretty good child of the universe. I am not even close to perfect but I have learned that I am good enough. Finally.
So, I guess I will know in a few days or maybe in just a few hours whether I can  EXHALE or not. And I expect that if I hear bad news, that I will cry and feel pretty awful for a bit. But at some point I know, I will pick myself up, dust myself off and start up another hill. As a matter of fact, I think I better get out and buy a good pair of walking shoes this weekend. Peace.

PS: I have read a couple of books since we last talked. I read two by Jennifer Weiner. Good in Bed & Certain Girls. (The latter a sequel) I liked the first enough to read the second. Talk about hills & valleys in a life. Alittle bit of comedy, alittle bit of tragedy..throw in a movie star friendship and some personal success, and you have a good read.
I also read Eat, Pray Love..after I saw the movie. I did really like the movie. I know it didn't get great reviews but I thought it was really good. I liked it enough to read the book. I thought the movie did a good job portraying Liz Gilbert's life and what an interesting life Ms. Gilbert is living !! I will be reading her new book, Committed. I read a sample of it on my Kindle and I will definitely be downloading it soon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Music to My Ears.....

I am not musically gifted. Tried taking trumpet lessons when I was in second grade, but that was only because Eddie Santoro was taking lessons and he was so cute. That and my uncle T actually had a trumpet that I could use. The only thing I truly loved was the red velvet lining of the trumpet case. Growing up, one of my friends took piano lessons and I would go over to visit and she would try & teach me a song on her piano. I think there was a song called Hiawatha that she eventually did get me to learn. I would say that  I discouraged her from ever becoming a music teacher.
I can't sing a note..well I can sing a note but only neighborhood dogs can hear it ! But boy, do I LOVE music. The first record I ever heard was at my friend Kathy's house. It was her brother Coffee's 45 of Jingle Bell Rock. They had one of those consoles with a TV (black & white) and a turntable that rolled out when you pressed a button. How modern ! We played it while her brother wasn't home, he would have killed us if he knew. I don't have alot of music memories until I was 11-12 when the Beatles invaded. Oh, I had a portable record player, and my mom would buy a record that she liked once in a while and we would play them. I have a very clear memory of playing Elvis' Wooden Heart and the Righteous Brothers' Ebb Tide. Then came Meet the Beatles. My friend Kathy & I played that album over & over until we wore it out. I dreamt of marrying Paul...I had a Beatle wig and boots. Loved those boots, fake alligator with a big heel and chain on the side. I jingled all the way to my sixth grade classes.
In my high school years, we had an eight track at home and on Sundays my dad would play Johnny Cash and show tunes. Fiddler on the Roof, Pirates of Penzeance, Carousel. I would spend  some weekends at my cousins, and my aunt M would be playing Tex Ritter, There's  Blood on the Saddle. (I can still sing a few of the lyrics) My aunt M was a soprano and she could SING. I learned to appreciate Jimmy Hendrix from my sister K, and BB King from the "hippies" in my senior year art class.
Over the years my music tastes have evolved and at this point in my life, I don't think there is a type of music that I haven't listened to and appreciated. Now, mind you, I don't love it all. I am a big fan of  Funk, hip-hop and rap, but not gansta rap. I think Eminem is a talented guy, but don't care to listen to alot of his lyrics. Miles Davis, John Coltrane...I love smooth jazz, but be-bop not so much. I do still like a show tune, I can actually sing along with most of them . Carousel being one of my faves, Walk On is a big tear jerker. Classical, yes, love DeBussey's Arabesque #1. Still love to dance to Thriller, imitating some of Jackson's great moves. Can't Moon Walk though.
My kids grew up with albums , eight tracks & cassettes of the Moody Blues, George Clinton, Earth ,Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang. Also Barry Manilow, Carole King and Carly Simon. I am a big Michael Jackson Fan.. How great was the Thriller album? I have my son T on super 8 film singing Joel's Big Shot, complete with mike.And I am so glad to see that they like all kinds of music, too. Both girls like a little bit of country..didn't get that from me. My grandchildren are being brought up on Metallica, Funk, Hip Hop, Black Eyed Peas and Billy Joel, Taylor Swift,  and Rich Charette's I Love Mud. (The kids concerts are priceless)
I can tell you , as I get older and actually slow down enough to really listen,  I hear all kinds of other music. I love being on the beach and listening to the surf. I love sitting in my living room and listening to the birds chirping away at the feeder. I love being in the middle of a family outing and hearing all of the family talking at once. I love it when my grandchildren sleep over and I listen to their sleeping noises and their soft rhythmic breathing. I love putting a shell up to my ear and "hearing" the ocean. I love to hear the wind blow across the tall grass outside our offices.I love to visit my friend M and hear the water going over the dam by her house. I have developed a real appreciation for ALL things musical. All of these things are now music to my ears, and you can hear it too, if you just take time to really listen.

PS- I read The Shipping News last week. Hadn't read anything by  Annie Proulx before and have seen this book around for quite a while and just never picked it up. It was one of the staff's picks at my local library, and I am glad I read it. I will be looking for another of  Ms Proulx's books, for sure.
I also ordered from NetFlix, Pillars of the Earth, the Ken Follett book turned into mini series. I did not have high expectations that it would do the book justice. It was such a great story.  I think the movie flowed along pretty well, but the acting was not very good. The book was so gripping..the actors were so bland. I did not even finish watching it. Instead I may re-read the book and it's companion, World Without End. They were both spectactular!!
Please stay "tuned".

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sleigh bells ring, can YOU hear them?

I suppose I should take down the Christmas decorations. (I do not like that word should)  My decorations are so pretty, and I only put up a few things, I want to keep them up for a while longer. What's the harm? If I lived in a manse, I would have a room  that was all Christmas all the time. I would sneak into that room and take it all in , at least once a week. It seems that I have never lost that magical feeling for Christmas, that childhood feeling. When the Polar Express movie came out, I finally understood why I felt that way. I want to always "hear" the jingle of sleigh bells.
We had magical Christmases when I was a kid. We always wrote letters to Santa and my dad would take them over to the stove and light them up because he said the smoke would go all the way up to the North Pole and Santa would know exactly what we wrote.  My dad took on extra work so that my mom could put on a big layaway at ChildWorld, the local toy store.  She always went way overboard, and the neighborhood kids would always want to come over after Christmas to see what we got. There was always such a pile of toys ! On Christmas day, after we opened a million presents at home (there were six of us kids, so it always looked like a million) we would pile into the wagon and ride up the street to my grandmother's house and again, there was a huge stack of gifts. We usually had dinner right there, the best dinner. We didn't need to hurry back home because we had so many new toys to play with right there.
We always got new dolls, all of the girls anyway. My brother got GI Joe's, which I guess is the same. The year I was 14, I asked for a baby doll & crib. Got them & loved them dearly. Always loved the baby dolls, had quite a large "family" of them. (Unfortunately later that year , we had a house fire and to this day I can remember seeing my dolls out on the lawn all melted. Terrible sight)
Lucky for me, I had two girls of my own, so I was able to buy dolls again for Christmas ! For the boys, Masters of the Universe & Star Wars figures. I tried to keep my own children's Christmas magical, because it was such a big part of my own life growing up.  I did  the best I could to get everything on their lists and then some. What a pile of gifts on Christmas Eve, under the tree,  just waiting for the big rush down the stairs. And all four of them squealing, "Just what I wanted, just what I always wanted". I have granddaughters and grandsons now and once again, I can buy dolls & Star Wars figures. Of course that has never stopped me, I have plenty of dolls & toys to play with...right at my own house. I hope I "hear" the jingle of sleigh bells for the rest of my life.
So, I think I will leave up the decorations for alittle while longer. I want to feel "Christmasey" for a little while longer. I want to sit and remember the good stuff, just alittle while longer. I hope I "hear" the jingle of sleigh bells for the rest of my life.What's the harm?

PS- I read a Richard Russo novel last week. That Old Cape Magic. Could not put it down. The way people's lives twist & turn, Russo writes that so well.  Please stay tuned......

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ovaltine & PJ'S.....

I am a reader. Let me re-state that...I AM A READER.  I always have a book open and have ever since I learned how to read. I get so engrossed in books that I may stay in my pj's all weekend and read. A good book, a fresh baked loaf of bread,  jam & Ovaltine. I make no apologies. (this is how I spent this past weekend, as a matter of fact)  I have an eclectic bunch of favorite authors...John Irving, Richard Russo, Larry McMurtry, Gregory Maguire, Anita Shreve, Elin Hilderbrand, Ursula Hegi....too name a few..and anxiously await anything  that my fave authors are releasing.  I also enjoy the ever increasing flock of first time authors. One of them could become my next favorite.
I appreciate a good book, but I do finish reading most books even if they end up being not so great. There have been very few books that I will not finish reading. Some books I will read half-way or more and decide that it is such a labor to finish, that I skim the rest to see how it ends. I don't regret these types of books. I always think I absorb some good out of even a mediocre book. Some sliver of insight into peoples lives, a footnote in history, or an author's style.
I always read reviews of a book, so I can have a feel of where the author will take me  before I buy. Books are expensive. I visit my neighborhood  library every couple of weeks, but don't always find what I am looking for. I may have to go on a list and wait until it comes back in. Sometimes that list is long.
Which brings me to my new toy, the Kindle. ( a most excellent Christmas gift from all my kids) Almost any book I want, right there in my purse. A whole library at my fingertips any time of day or night. Books range from $0 to $20 or more. Now , yes, you could go to Borders with a coupon and get a deal on a book. But I have never walked out of Borders with a free book. So I think this new techno library/bookstore  is awesome. For every book there are plenty of reviews. I enjoy reading the reviews, it is like being in  a book club, so many insights on any given book. One of my favorite Kindle apps. Love my Kindle.

So the "moral "of today's blog is this: Please pick up a book or get yourself a Kindle. Better yet put it on your Wish List...even if you can only find the time for a chapter a day or even less. It stimulates your mind more than anything else I can think of. And do your kids a favor, read to them and have them read to you. In pj's with a warm cup of Ovaltine.

Oh.... PS....the book I read this weekend? Salt Dancers by Ursula Hegi. One of the most beautifully written books I have ever read..and I have read many, many books. This author can grab you and not let go until you finish the book. And then you  are not quite finished because you have to sit and think about it for awhile after.  The story of a broken childhood and the chance to mend it, 23 years later. I got trapped into these characters lives  like I was living in the same house with them.   I don't know how Hegi does it, how she can write about something with such authority, without having lived it. I guess that is what a great author does. Great book, great author.

Peace ..and please stay tuned.