Monthly Archives: September 2012

Happy Birthday To ME!

And it’s been a good start already with well-wishes from friends through snail-mail cards, email and Facebook posts!  After all, you turn 60 only once in your life, so MAKE IT COUNT!

I started celebrating Friday, (of course since it’s the official weekend starter-upper) with a box of two dozen beautifully decorated cookies sent by my Memphis sister, from a wonderful bakery in Germantown, Tennessee – Karen’s Cookies and Cupcakes – YUMMY!!  We’ll be noshing on those for a while – especially today.  I also received a gift card to one of my FAV book stores.

Then, Friday afternoon, a huge box appeared magically on my front porch.  The thing looked like a coffin turned on its side.  Well, that’s the first thought that went through my mind.  But we wrestled the box inside.  Surprisingly, it was rather lightweight.  And inside is…..a beautiful acoustic Yamaha guitar!  Oh. My. Word.  My parents had given me one many, many years ago, and I had attempted to learn it when I was much younger.  But, I had finally given up and given it away – you know how it is – life got in the way.  It was probably my one regret, that I hadn’t stuck it out.  So, now I have a second chance to learn a beautiful instrument.  Thank you to my wonderful sisters and brothers-in-law (AND nieces!).

Now, we’re heading out for morning service and then my wonderful husband is taking me out for dinner ( right across from my FAV book store!) and then home for dessert (cookies and ice cream, of course!!)

So, as a birthday present to me from you, y’all have a wonderful day!!!

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Filed under BAM and B&N, birthdays, brothers, cupcakes, family, Life in general, nieces, sisters

What’s a good reader to do?

With all the reading I do, my husband wants to know if I have a book “inside of me”.  Heck, no!  I’m a reader, not a writer and I don’t aspire to be one.  Bloggging is hard enough.  So what’s a good reader to do when asked to review a book and comment on it?  Hmmm.  I need a good thesaurus, dictionary and synonym list.  After all, how many ways can a gal say “I liked the book”??  I’ve been accused of giving away part of the plot without warning with a *spoiler alert* and that caused me untold grief.  I hate to spoil anything for anyone.  But, it’s a “catch 22” – darned if you do and darned if you don’t.

So what can I do?   Well, I tried to read other reviews on the books I had read to see if there was a commonality amongst the reviewers.   I love to read their reviews – but I run into the same problem – verbalizing the likes or dislikes of a particular book, and making it interesting enough to catch a potential reader/buyer’s attention.  I didn’t like doing book reports or oral reviews in high school or college and it’s no different here.  I could quote the flyleaf or publisher’s review, but those aren’t my words and paraphrasing is hard work for me.  Why can’t I just say I like the style of writing, I like the characters, I like the storyline.  Or, I didn’t like the style, characters or storyline.  I’d rather say I liked or didn’t like the book, recommend it or not, and move on.  Why is that not enough?

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Filed under blogger, blogging, Books and reviews, internet, Life in general

Golf vs. Shopping

Well, that’s a no-brainer.  I love to shop.  So, when my husband is playing golf with his buddies I go shopping.  And LET me tell you we have a shopping mecca down here – there’s Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar…..

Seriously, I leave those stores to when my husband is available to shop with me since they are HIS favorite stores.  Mine are those yummy book stores right down the street.  Wooo, I’m in hog-heaven.  So, in honor of Banned Books Week, I’m heading to BAM and B&N, to see what I can see.  I have a shopping list (always), and I know I want hard-backs as opposed to the more affordable and less-durable paperbacks.  That’s not to say I don’t buy paperbacks, because I do and I’ve bought my very fair share of e-books.  But there’s just something about holding that beautiful hardback in my hand – it’s substantial and significant.  I never thought I’d say this, but I want to collect those gorgeous Harry Potter books and since I haven’t read any of them, I think that’s where I’ll start.

Then, if there’s time, I’ll stop by my fav craft store to drool over the beautiful scrapbook papers.  I used to be a scrapper and card-maker, but when we moved, I threw away a LOT of paper scraps.  Now, I’ve started slowly getting back into the paper crafting I used to enjoy.  No wonder I like books – what with all the paper they are made from!

Gotta run.  I hear a book calling me…..

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Filed under BAM and B&N, Books and reviews, Life in general

Don’t Sit On The Fence

Stand for something.  Otherwise, you’ll fall for anything.

In less than 45 days, we as a nation will be practicing our rights to vote in the national presidential election.  No matter your political party, your vote counts.  Stand for one or the other.  But stand for something.  And if you’re old enough to vote but haven’t registered, well WHY NOT???  It’s your RIGHT to vote!!  Use it or lose it.

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Filed under constitutional rights, Life in general

Signs of a Well-Ordered Life

My husband took me to a yard sale today.  It was held in one of those places that rent large storage bins by the month for folks to hold all the flotsam and jetsam of their well-ordered lives.  Boy was I surprised.  These aren’t the typical yard sales I remember growing up or going to estate sales on weekends looking for that rocker I couldn’t live without.  These are full-blown retail outlets working out of these storage bins.  They even had those cutesy signs hanging outside with huge industrial fans blowing so you couldn’t hear yourself think or hold a conversation with the owner.  They were needed – those tin cans got hot inside.   It was fun seeing some very old things like the old Coca-Cola cold soda machine from the 50s, so very similar to the one my grandparents had in their little mom-and-pop store in Chattanooga.  It was heartbreaking to see the tiny bits and pieces of glassware and jewelry they were trying to sell, because my life is cluttered just like theirs, and I wonder what I would do with all my treasures.

I should have taken pictures, but I somehow don’t think the store owners would have appreciated it.  It’s hard to put into words what seeing all this stuff did to me.  I don’t need any more dishes or crockery or knickknacks or furniture or clothes.  Now, books.  Whole nother story.   When my husband pointed out a slew of books on the back table in one of the booths, of course I checked it out.  In fact the sales lady and I got so involved in our conversation that my husband interrupted, saying call me when you’re free, I’ll be in the next aisle.  I bought 3 books.

All this made me think what the purpose of these storage areas has accomplished.  There must be thousands of them strung across America, helping us organize and re-organize our lives.  I know when my grandmother passed away, my youngest sister stored some of Granny’s furniture in a storage bin, until she could either sell it or assimilate the pieces into her home.  When we moved south from West Virginia, we used one for a short time until my husband could build another shed on our lot to hold the things we thought we needed to make our house a home.  Now his shed is built and we’ve emptied our storage bin.  But all the stuff that was in the storage bin is now in smaller totes, and still in a storage bin (his shed).  We walk out there occasionally, stare at them and wonder what’s in them, saying one of these days, we’ve got to clean them out.  There’s just something wrong with this picture.  I know I’ve got too much stuff, but I’m just not gonna rent one of those storage bins and sit there and try to sell my stuff.  No, I’ll just leave it all for my grandchildren to sort through.

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Filed under Books and reviews, family, Life in general

Happy Fall, Y’all!

This morning is the perfect example of why we relocated to very sunny, southern Alabama.  It’s 66 degrees under that pretty blue sky we’ve come to expect for this area and the daytime temp should be in the low 80s with low humidity.  Gorgeous.  The cat’s even enjoying the screened porch, having been cooped up inside because of the smothering humidity and blistering highs of the past summer months.  It’s lovely to open all the doors out to the porch and enjoy that cool breeze wafting through.  We so enjoy these days.  We read all the Facebook posts from our friends back north in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, touting the beautiful fall and crisp temps they are having, but we haven’t been living here long enough to get nostalgic about those places.  After all, having lived in some of those places ourselves over the years, we’ve got lots of pictures we could pull out to refresh our own memories.

But, it’s really winter that brought us down here.  My husband simply got tired of shoveling snow at our home in West Virginia.  So, we sold the house and moved south, me anticipating living closer to family in Tennessee and he looking toward the beaches.  Well, we overshot my mark and ended up fifteen miles from the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.  I don’t regret it one bit.  I found out those highways that brought us down here, take us back north just as easily.

We might not get those beautiful fall colors down here, but we compensate for them by the much more temperate climate.  And that was the significant draw for us.  We still anticipate those cold spells – I still have my heavy parka – but we know those spells will be shorter.  So, Happy Fall, Y’all, wherever you are!

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Filed under family, Life in general, pictures, seasons, weather

The Written Word vs Celluloid

In my opinion, what’s wrong with either?  I enjoy both.  But I wonder sometimes about the difference between a book and the film version.  Is it better to read the book first and then see the film version or vice versa?  This past weekend, my husband and I watched the sweet family film, “We Bought A Zoo.  A good story based on the Mee family’s real-life adventure with a zoo in Europe, the movie changes nearly everything about the original story, moving the locale from France and England to California and the characters from the Mee’s extended family involving grandparents and siblings to one man and his two children.  Should I personally care about the differences?  After all, I enjoyed the movie.  Mr. Mee and his family went through a terrible family tragedy and they turned their lives and the lives of 200 animals around.  That’s the story.  And the story is what sells to the public.  So, no, I probably won’t read the autobiography any time soon.

Whether true story or fictional novel, a film version just can’t be a visual mirror image.  Interpretation as well as adaptation is open with characterization, wording, action and location as well as the intended audience.  Of course, it always helps if the screenwriters work with the original author to ensure cohesion with the storyline.  But that can’t always happen – look at all the interpretations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew.

Then you have the Young Adult blockbuster series like Twilight and the Harry Potter books – all written ahead of the film versions (sometimes barely I think, and by the way, I was always Team Edward).  Watching the media frenzy as each of those books came out, I wondered if the film versions would do as well and by all accounts they have.  Are the film adaptations mirror images of the stories?  I don’t think so, but that doesn’t take away the charm of either the novel or the movie.

There are millions of books that will never be translated into a screenplay or television series.  I don’t think the authors wrote them with the idea in their heads that a film version or a television show would be made down the road.  If that were the case, I think the blood, sweat and tears that the author spilled out into creating their work would have gone into a screenplay first.   Now wait.  Before you go off on a tangent thinking I’m dissing screenwriters, you couldn’t be more wrong.  They are a genre onto themselves and in many cases deserve all the accolades they receive for their work.  Even playwriters write their stories with the intent that an audience would “see” the story rather than read it.  They also deserve their own accolades.

Books and cinema appeal to us visually and I appreciate the efforts that go into developing them.  But, as I’ve been very nearly deaf since early childhood and worn hearing aids to help with daily life, my bent is towards the written word.  Even so, over the years, my husband has bought me increasingly sophisticated and expensive ear phones to help me enjoy the television at our home so I could sit and watch with him.  And I thank heaven for the folks who created closed captioning.  I enjoy going to the movies and have gone on my own to see chick flicks that my husband (God bless him) wouldn’t be caught dead watching, even for his love for me.  Recently, I saw Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help”.  Both the novel and the film version broke out in 2011.  I related strongly with the story as a Girl Raised In The South in the 50’s and 60’s.  However, I have yet to read the novel and I don’t really plan to.  I lived it.

My point, and I do have one, is this. To me, the value of both the written word and the film version of a book can be the same regardless of the poetic license taken with either.  The reader can enjoy the book and the cinema-goer can enjoy the film.  If you happen to enjoy both, you are twicefold enriched.

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Filed under Books and reviews, cinema, fiction, film, Life in general, non-fiction, playwriters, screenwriters

All That From Just Twenty Words

I make no apology when I state I LOVE to read.  But being a non-political person, one thing I’ve not read with any consistency is op-ed pages of newspapers or news magazines such as Time or Newsweek.  And because I didn’t, I’ve apparently missed out on the most delightful author Anna Quindlen.  I was on an internet website that had a quote of hers at the end of the webpage.  The quote: “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road.  They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”   Twenty words, but oh, the stunning power.

Being so not a writer, I have no desire or compelling need to pen a tome or write a romance.  There are plenty of those out there in readerland and thank goodness for them.  But how I wish I could relay to you the emotional impact from just those twenty words.  Finally, finally, someone had succinctly expressed in just twenty words the power of a book.  I should make them my new mantra.

As soon as I had calmed down, I started googling Ms. Quindlen, went to her website, read about her on GoodReads, and put her book, “How Reading Changed My Life” on hold at my library.  Except for those few words, I can’t remember if I’ve read any of her works, but I find myself looking for other quotes (I found them on Goodreads), googling her books, putting them on my wish list, and wondering about the kinship I feel with her.  I have no idea if I’ll even like her works, and I may never meet Ms. Quindlen, but I do appreciate her singular understanding of books and their power.

All that from just twenty words.

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Filed under Anna Quindlen, Books and reviews, internet, Life in general

Sharing is NOT for everyone….

Once upon a time, I was a serious blogger.  Yep.  Now, apparently, not so much seeing that I haven’t posted in over ten days.  But, in my defense, I’ve been doing some serious serial reading.  I’ve been slogging through Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford series, starting at the very beginning.  Still got a ways to go, but I’m getting there.  I seriously dig Ford and his sidekick Tomlinson.  I’ve also finished a stand-alone, “Come Be My Love” by Patricia Watters, a romance set in the mid-1840’s.  An easy read, even though I’m not a fan of historical romances.  This morning I started “Silver Justice” by Russell Blake.  I’m about 13% finished on my Kindle.  So far I like it – one, it’s an FBI story with a woman protag, and two, I haven’t seen an F-bomb yet in the first 13 percent.  Now, I’m no prude, but seeing that word over and over and over….gets old.  So, thanks, Mr. Blake!

But, I digress.  I happened on a website listing some books for my Kindle, and saw with horrified amusement over 15 different ways to share the news with other readers out in the reader-sphere. I recognized 3 of them and didn’t see Twitter.  So my question is, what ARE these things??  Just how many ways do we need to share information with people?  Remember the days when you copied and pasted the hyperlink into an email?  Yeah, yeah, the times, they are a’changin’.  I get that.  I just don’t get needing 20 or 30 different ways to share.  I’ll admit I do use Facebook and Twitter to share and I’ve even used Pinterest, although I’m still learning that one.  But holy hannah.  No wonder everyone’s glued to their phones and iPods, and hand-held devices – it takes them all day to share their….shares??

By the way, I got the website information through my email.  Hmmm.

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Filed under authors, Books and reviews, internet, Life in general, Patricia Watters, Randy Wayne White, Russell Blake

Are comic books BOOKS?

I think so, especially if it’s a strip like the For Better or For Worse series by Canadian Lynn Johnston.  Her comics followed the Patterson family for over 20 years.  In fact, in her strip, her characters actually aged out – maybe not as fast as you or I, but we watched Michael, Elizabeth and April grow up “in real time”.  Now, today’s families can relive those early Patterson years through the daily papers that carry the comic strip.

Another strip that aged its characters was Baby Blues, by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott.  But in this case, it’s been several years where Zoe, Hammie and baby Wren have been stuck at about the same age.  Still it’s a sit-com daily strip where once in a while, a strip will follow a story arc for a week or two, but still delivering that “gag-a-day” you expect from the comics.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up one of these comic books, even though I keep up with them in the dailies.  I have kept all of the FBOFW books I collected over the years as well as the BB books.

Being the serial reader that I am, it may come a day that I’ll have to sit down and read these beloved books once again.

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Filed under Books and reviews, comics, family, Life in general