Tuesday, December 27, 2011

WILLIAM AND KATE, A Royal Love Story

This book, by journalist Christopher Andersen, is an easy read.

Being an Anglophile, though not one who keeps close tabs on the royal family, I enjoyed reading about Kate and William's romance. Andersen does a good job of putting us into the world the royals inhabit, and shows us warts and all: William drinking and partying, and Kate playing the ever-patient, forgiving female.

For years, she waited in the background for him to make up his mind about her. She bore the royal complaints about her not having a job (hard to keep a regular job when you're trying to be available at all times for your high-profile boyfriend) and about her family being common (like the royals aren't the most dysfunctional family around). When he finally popped the question, she waited another year or so before her position as his fiancee was publicized. The woman is either ultra-devious or a saint.

Andersen says she had a crush on the prince all her life. He also paints her mother as the mastermind behind her daughter's match. Maybe so, but Kate was the one who persuaded William she was the one woman for him.

As for William, the tales about him being his mother's confidante and his later attempts to guide Harry make one feel sorry for him despite his younger vices. It was gratifying to read how his main ambition is to serve his country. Since he can't be sent into war (as Harry was briefly), his search and rescue position is laudable. He has grown into the kind of man a mother would be proud of. And all while living in the fishbowl of the papparazzi. I can't begin to imagine how terrible it must be to have every little movement recorded and broadcast to the public.

Yes, there were a lot of suppositions and rumors and gossip in the book, but it left me hopeful that William and Catherine (I was surprised to learn that her family always called her that rather than Kate) will enjoy a happier marriage than William's parents.

Monday, December 19, 2011

THE MISREMEMBERED MAN

THE MISREMEMBERED MAN  by Christine McKenna is an excellent read.

Ms. McKenna has a wonderful voice and does a wonderful job defining her characters. I know them as well as I might know my neighbors. I can see the Irish setting, hear the lilting speech patterns, visualize even the minor characters...all from her writing.

There were terrible parts of the story I didn't enjoy. Such places as the horrific orphanages Ms. McKenna writes about actually existed, and the ugliness of that reality isn't easy to learn about. But to balance things out, the characters got into situations where I laughed out loud.

When farmer Jamie becomes depressed after being left alone with his farm and its animals to care for, his friends decide he needs a good woman.

When schoolteacher Lydia gets out for the summer, her friend gives her something to look forward to besides remaining at the beck and call of her widowed, ailing mother.

This is not a romance, even though it sounds like the beginnings of one. It's a reminder of how inhumane caretakers of children can warp lives. It's also a portrait of how hope is an integral part of the human character. It's also a story of how strange life can sometimes be.

Great book.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

HOLIDAY COOKING

The only thing I can cook okay is candy. I make it and give it away (what we don't eat) once a year, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm not talking about magazine type candy like peanut butter balls or chocolate covered peanuts. I'm talkin about old-time homemade candy. Fudge with pecans, fudge with peanut butter, peanut butter candy, pralines, panocha, and my personal favorite: divinity. Sometimes I make cream cheese candy or orange candy, but they aren't that popular so I don't make them that often. I can only eat so many leftovers, you know.

I began by making fudge when I was, oh, nine or ten. Then I added the others, except for divinity. I never could get divinity right. But one of my neighbors, Mrs. Margaret Harvell, made the best divinity ever and when she saw me gobbling it up, she offered to teach me how. Think I didn't jump at the chance?

"This is never-fail divinity," she assured me. "It always comes out pretty." So I watched the boiling syrup till she showed me it was spinning threads (that was the first time I understood what 'spinning a thread' in candy talk means). Then I watched her beat the egg whites stiff. Then I watched her pour the syrup into the egg whites as she continued beating. Then we spooned it out into pretty swirls. Perfect.

And the first time I made it by myself, it was perfect! I was nineteen or so before I actually had a batch fail and realized that confidence was the key. That was the big thing Mrs. Harvell gave me. Since then I've only had three or four batches not work.

She's dead now, but her divinity recipe is still going strong! Even in this sugar-conscious, calorie-conscious, healthy-eating age, people ask me for it. Thank you, Mrs. Margaret Harvell!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SPIRIT FALLS

I really liked this book, SPIRIT FALLS by Robert E. Townsend. The time is the fifties, the place is northern Wisconsin, the community is comprised of immigrants and/or first generation descendents.

The main character is a sixteen-year-old boy. He and his best friend, a girl his age, trap and work together on the farm. Other people include a displaced person he crushes on, an abused girl who nowadays would be seen screaming for help, some male friends...and enemies. In this coming of age story, we see how he begins to think of places outside Wisconsin, dream of something other than farming.

The writing craft could have been better. The shifting points of view were sometimes abrupt with little transition, and with another abrupt shift within a few paragraphs so that I had to figure out who was thinking what. The characterizations were sometimes over the top, too, with some heavyhanded stereotyping and people behaving strangely. In one place an incident was referred to that didn't happen till later on in the story.

But I felt the lure of the beautiful northwest. I could see the beauty, hear the rushing water, feel the cold. Boy, could I feel the cold! This is one of the coldest books I've ever read.

And even when I put it down, I was wondering what was going to happen, and looking forward to picking it up again.

I liked it so much I intend to reread it, taking in things I missed in my haste to get through it.

This is an excellent read.

Monday, December 12, 2011

NEW WATER HEATER

Okay. So the kitchen stove wasn't working properly when we moved back to N GA. We've had it worked on. Took them a while but...

Then we had to buy a new washer and dryer. The washer was dancing around the floor, the dryer refused to cut off. But after twenty years, what do you expect?

Then the heat didn't work. Got it fixed. Then this summer, the air didn't work. Got it fixed. Then the heat wouldn't work again. Got it fixed. Had to put in a new handler and rewire but hey...It's working now.

Then the dishwasher refused to cycle properly. I had to set it on wash, turn it off, drain, and set on rinse to get the dishes washed. Got it fixed. Sears forgot to tell the repairman he had to replace another part so it blew the board. And he had to come back and replace it.

The icemaker on the refrigerator didn't work so we got it fixed. Not much more to go wrong, right?

Went back to the coastal condo to check on things and guess what. The hot water heater was leaking out the bottom. Not ten years old but we had to get a new one.

I think all that's left is the fridge. And I'm afraid it's time for it to go, too. If 2012 isn't better than 2011, I'm ready to surrender and go to a boarding house somewhere. With or without the cats.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

DUST

Excellent MG story. Eleven-year-old Robert is the only one who suspects the stranger in town is...not what he seems.
This story by Arthur Slade takes place in the Canada, during their Dust Bowl of the 1930s. I could almost taste the dust from Slade's descriptive writing. One day Robert's younger brother Matthew sets off to walk to town with his parents to follow a few minutes later. Matthew never reaches town. He's gone.

That same day a stranger appears who promises he can make rain. Only Robert and his Uncle Alden are skeptical. Robert's parents fall into line with the rest of the town and in the process seem to forget entirely about the missing Matthew and two other missing children. Then strange things begin happening...

Eerie, fascinating, compelling.

An easy read for adults and middle graders should enjoy it as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

THE CRUD

For some reason, either my guy or I get the crud around holidays. This Thanksgiving it was my turn.

So...No traveling to my brother's for fear of giving him the stuff. No turkey and fixings that my sister-in-law cooked without my help. No leftovers carried home to feast on later.

Instead, we had soup. And I lay on the sofa and watched the parade and dozed through football.

My guy was sweet though. I tried to send him to his sister's here in town, knowing she always cooks enough for extra guests. But he declined and stayed with me.

I think it was the football he wanted to see actually but...

Monday, November 21, 2011

AMERICAN GIRL STORE

So I went to an American Girl store with an almost-nine-year-old and her mother.

Couldn't believe the people. Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters -- some of them about two feet high! -- all rubbing elbows and trying to get to the doll/accessory of their choice. We got a couple of outfits, some earrings, a brush and maybe some other stuff (all for the doll) that I'm still too dazed to recall.

We intended to go to the Bistro but couldn't get an appointment -- yes, a reservation is evidently needed! -- at the time we were going to be there. But we did get into the Salon (for the doll), thanks to a sympathetic front person managing to fit us in two hours back from the next opening -- yes, seems you need an appointment there, too! -- so we wouldn't miss out after driving all that way. Kind of weird to see this row of hairdressers busy working on little doll hairdos.

Our nine-year-old had her doll's ears pierced and also got her hair styled (the doll's hair) in this month's hairdo: a little braid on each side pulled back and the rest flowing. It looked cute, but not as cute as the birthday girl when her mother fixed her hair like her doll's.

No, I didn't buy anything. Luckily, they let me stand in line while they prowled the store. One line for the salon, another line at the cash registers, and by that time, the doll was ready to be picked up and we could go.

Fascinating! If you get a chance to go in one, go. Looking at the females shopping is worth it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

EVERY SECRET THING

A nice story by Joanna Kearsley/Emma Cole, with more suspense than romance, that interwinds events of World War II with today.
Journalist Kate is covering a trial in England when an old man approaches her. He's trying to get justice for someone murdered long ago, he says, and he has a report about it he wants to give her. Busy, she puts him off. He leaves, but mentions she has her grandmother's eyes. Surprised, she watches him go, sees a car run over and kill him.

That's the beginning of this engrossing mystery. More murders follow, one close to Canadian Kate's home, others of people who knew the old man. When she realizes someone thinks the old man gave her his report and she knows what happened, she runs. She has to uncover his story to find out who's after her.

Kate's portion, in first person, chronicles her attempts to uncover the murder and murderer.
Facts of the old man's life unfold in third person narrative from him and people who knew him, including Kate's grandmother.

A bit kitschy at times, but if you like a good story with a sprinkle of romance and a quick lesson in Canada's part in training spies for WWII, this one's for you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

COLD WEATHER

So it got down below freezing last night. Brrr. We'd hoped to be back at the beach by now. Instead, we're still in north Georgia.

So we go to bed -- my guy, the girl cat, the boy cat and me -- and pull up the blanket. He wants the comforter pulled up on him, too. I don't and push it aside.

He says, "You better not kick the covers off tonight," as I sometimes do during the night.

I say, "We might have to buy an electric blanket with twin controls."

He says, "Then the cats would pee on us and we'd be electrocuted."

I get to laughing so hard the cats stalk up and down angrily till I can stop and they can settle back in their usual places.

I didn't kick off the covers though. Too cold.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

DISHWASHER

So I told you about the dishwasher not working after it got fixed.

Vince came back out, looked at it, muttered something about a 'defective board' and left carrying, I guess, so-called board.

Don't know when he'll be back. Don't know if he has to order a new board. Don't know nothing.

Except my guy's getting dishwasher hands and I'm hating the smell of mine after using those darned latex gloves.

I wonder if we went on a diet and didn't cook, maybe just ate snack food....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

SLIM TO NONE

SLIM TO NONE by Jenny Gardiner is a light, humorous slice of gingerbread with whipped cream topping.

Not really. The food and recipes I salivated over throughout my reading brought up this metaphor, but it's still pretty apt. Not quite chick lit and not quite women's fiction, this kind of straddles the two.

Abbie, the overweight heroine, loses her job as a newspaper food critic because she's gotten so fat the restaurant owners recognize her. The editor puts her on a temporary part-time column and gives her an ultimatum: lose weight or forfeit her job.

Perfect. Especially since the sleazy food-section guy (who she thought was so nice because every day he brings her pastries and other exotic confections guaranteed to add the pounds) is filling in at her job!

Now Abbie not only has to lose the pounds to wrest her job away from her stand-in who wants to become permanent, she also has to deal with a husband who wants her to ride on a Vespa, a homeless man she wants to take under her wing, and a best friend who wants to use her to cover an affair.

And this brings her to having to face her own past and the reason she hankers after food so much.

Everyone who's been overweight will get a kick out of this book. No earthshattering problems but lots of funny situations.

But avoid the recipes like the plague.

Friday, October 28, 2011

HOUSEHOLD PROBLEMS

I think I've listed all the problems we've had before after moving back to north Georgia, but I'll go over them again.

The ceramic kitchen range top had a hole in it the size of a boiler pan. We got it replaced but it didn't work. Repair people came back, couldn't get it to working. Another repair person came out and fixed except for one burner. Another person came back and fixed it, but then another burner didn't work. Finally a supervisor came out, fixed so all burners work. Of course the 'hot' light indicator stays on all the time. That's okay. I can live with that.

At the same time this was going on, we hooked up the old washer and dryer. The washer pranced around the utility room, the dryer didn't cut off. Bought new ones.

The heat didn't work; people came out and fixed. Still didn't work. Came back, fixed. This summer the air didn't work; people came back and fixed. Only the heat kept coming on even when the air was on because they had previously fixed the heat by having heat strips in the furnace come on all the time, whether it was set on air or heat. They fixed that, but we had to turn on the air inside, then run out and press a reset on the outside thingie. People came back, decided it needed to be rewired and we needed a new airhandler. We bought the air handler, they rewired and put in a new thermostat. Then it turned cold recently, and we had heat, right? Not so. We called, they came out, decided a wire had been left disconnected and fixed. That was a week or so ago. We'll see.

In the meantime, we had a plumbing leak but didn't take much to fix it so let's not mention it. However, we also had the icemaker refuse to turn off when it made ice so it sprinkled ice all over the kitchen when the freezer door was opened. And the dishwasher lost its mind; I had to push the wash cycle, let it wash an hour or so, turn it off, let it drain, then push the rinse cycle a couple of times.

So Vince came out earlier this week, put in a new icemaker -- we don't have to remember to turn the icemaker off at night any more! -- fixed the dishwasher and voila! We're in business.

Except I went to wash dishes today and guess what? I turn it on, it turns itself off. Immediately. No washing, no rinsing. Nothing. I can't even do the manual push-the-wash-button, then cancel and push the rinse-button routine.

I'm sobbing. Vince's voicemail is picking up. Looks like it's dishwashing by hand for a few days.

So what else can go wrong? No, I don't even want to go there.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BAREFOOT Book Review

BAREFOOT is by Elin Hilderbrand, another of her Nantucket Beach books that I always enjoy.

Three women, two of them sisters, head to the beach for the summer. All have baggage. The oldest sister has brought her two young boys and is about to undergo chemo for lung cancer. The younger sister has lost her job as college professor and reputation after sleeping with a student. The friend has found out that, after several in vitro attempts, she's finally pregnant. And that her husband is cheating.

As usual Hilderbrand does a great job of drawing each woman's personality as well as the babysitter hired to help with the boys, a college student who's drawn to each of the women in turn. They all have battles to fight and decisions to make. And we're with them all the way.

Seems to me the entire book is about choices. The choices each woman and the babysitter makes, the choices supporting characters make, the choices all of us might make. Some are good, some are bad, but in the end they must be lived with.

Good book.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AMICALOLA FALLS

Went up to Amicalola Falls in north Georgia yesterday for my guy to take photographs. The falls were gorgeous and the weather a perfect autumn cool. Colors not so great because a lot of the leaves have already fallen, probably because of the drought this summer.

Anyway, here's a photo of the top part of the falls. Unfortunately, the other two are of trash people left that collected in the pools below.




Darn litterbugs are bad as chiggers.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

UNWANTED PAST

When my best friend and I were young, we haunted the library even though Mrs. Brown, the librarian, was one grumpy old lady. To be fair, she had thousands of books she manually checked out and in, then had to shelve them all by herself. But we were kids. She scared us to death.

We read practically everything in the children's section (this was a small town library in years long gone) and asked Mrs. Brown if she would pick out some adult books we could read (no middle grade/young adult categories then). Yes, we were currying favor with her. But children weren't allowed in the adult section back then. We had no choice.

Anyway, the first things she gave us to read were the gentle romances of Grace Livingston Hill. Maybe you know her. Christian romances. Heroine didn't smoke, drink or -- heaven forbid -- wear makeup. This last was pretty radical even in our day. But we went through them fast, and she started us on some more authors like Emily Loring and others I can't remember. But she kept giving us Grace's books again. And again. And again. When she was finally too busy one day to pick some out for us, she told us to look for our own books. I think it was the happiest day of our lives. Never again, I told myself, will I hear about Grace Livingston Hill.

Well, years later, a friend was recommending books to me. Guess who was at the top of her list? Yep. Old Grace herself.

And today, I look at Kindle's free selections and guess who has a book there. You know it.

Will this woman dog my footsteps forever?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DIARY OF A SMALL FISH

Pete Morin's first novel is about a lawyer, a small fish caught up in a net to expose government corruption.

Massachusetts attorney Paul Forte has a passion for golf. He loves it and plays it whenever he can with anyone he can. I'm not a golfer but evidently, when someone invites you to a golf game, you don't pay your own way; you reciprocate by inviting them to play your own club course. Paul never thought of it as a federal crime.

But one morning, he wakes up and opens his door to a federal marshall. He's been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury.

Paul's a little concerned but assumes the man they're after is a man he's golfed with. Nope. The prosecutor's set his sights on Paul. Seems he has a grudge. But no one knows why.

I consider this a 'smart' book. Not as in intelligent-smart, but as in stylish-smart. The offhand references to Hyannisport, the Shrivers, the MBTA all lend a realistic tone. The dialogue is crisp, sometimes funny. As at the end of the grand jury interrogation, after Paul had listed all the different lobbyists he'd golfed with and where they'd eaten afterward. The prosecutor asked if any of the jurors had questions for Paul. Only one of the twenty-three jurors raised a hand.

"Did you say your dinners were always at the Impudent Oyster?" she asked.

"Yes."

"How's the osso buco?"

That's what I mean about smart.

This is an entertaining read, with a hero you want to see come out on top. No dead bodies in this one, but I'd recommend it to anyone tired of the same old lawyer mysteries.

Good book.

Friday, October 7, 2011

HEAT

My fears are realized. The heat repairman has come and gone. He got the heat fixed but my guy cleverly stopped him from leaving and made him check the air.

Yep. The heat worked but the air didn't.

The repairman worked for another half hour and couldn't fix it. So he's coming back with someone else to look at it. Maybe today, he says.

Maybe.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

STUPID APPLIANCES

Ever noticed how when one thing around the house breaks, others follow?

When we moved back to north Georgia last winter, we had appliance problems.

The washer walked around the utility room when it washed. The dry refused to cut off. We bought a new washer and dryer. Easy peasy. Hard on the pocketbook though.

Next, the tenants managed to make a big hole in the kitchen stove top (one of those ceramic tops). The replacement took a while to sort out. Had to order a top. Then one eye didn't work. More parts. Then the double eye didn't work. Then we needed some kind of blueprint thingie to get the wires uncrossed. After, oh, 4-5 repair visits, it finally got fixed. Except the hot surface light stays on all the time. I can live with that.

Then the heat went out. A couple, maybe three visits took care of that. Then it was time for the air. Guess what? The air didn't work. Turns out the heat worked because the heating strips came on all the time, even with the AC on. Got that fixed, kind of. Air still didn't work. A new air handler solved that problem. Except my guy had to run outside and flip a switch on the doo-lolly to get the air to cool. They rewired the entire thing and put in a thermostat. Air worked. Hallelujah!

Now it's autumn. Time for heat. And guess what. The heat doesn't work. The repair guy comes out, says it needs a part. So we're waiting. He's supposed to come back tomorrow with it.

In the meantime, the dishwasher refuses to turn off. It cuts on and washes its little heart out. So I have to go in after an hour or so, cancel the wash, let it drain, and then turn on the rinse cycle. Which does work, thank goodness. Repair guy comes out and guess what. Needs a part. He's to call when it comes in.

And this isn't even mentioning stupid computer problems.

When does it end????

Saturday, October 1, 2011

BUNDLES

So when we moved, we bundled. You know: TV, telephone, internet. No cells.

We went with the other big one so we couldn't do cellphones, but it's okay. We still came out ahead because this guy in Best Buy gave us a great deal. At least for a year. Then we'll see.

So far we like it. A couple of small problems getting adjusted. Learning to use the box and the internal message center on the phone. Stuff like that.

Except for one thing we can't figure out. Every once in a while we'll be watching TV and this big blue - yes BLUE - screen comes on and says YOU ARE NOT AN AUTHORIZED USER and refuses to show the picture despite our protests that yes, indeed, we are authorized users and we have the receipts to prove it.

I discovered early on that flipping to another channel and then flipping right back clears it up quite nicely, thank you very much. But my guy gets totally frustrated.

And now football season's here. This can't be good.

Monday, September 26, 2011

TRAVELS IN GA

Went to visit a relative yesterday and saw this neat old mill near Fayetteville. It was built in the early 1800s, about a mile from the Creek Indian/State of Georgia border.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TRAVELING IN ALABAMA

My guy and I went to visit relatives in Birmingham and Cropwell, Alabama. We drove through hard rain amid lots of eighteen-wheelers on I-20. He called it 'white knuckle driving' and as far as I was concerned it was 'white knuckle riding', too.

Had a wonderful time though. Ate too much barbecue and too many fried catfish.

We're back home today and we're going on a diet!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TRAVELING IN N GA

Have had a hectic few weeks. With birthdays, surgery, heart attacks, driving to Atlanta...

Not me except for the last. And I hate driving to and/or through Atlanta!

Anyway, my guy and I took today off and went up to Helen and Clayton and other north Georgia tourist traps, er, places of interest. He was shooting pictures and I was relaxing. These I took on my phone, though.

The fountain's in Helen. The mill stream is between Helen and Clarkesville.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

GOT EDITS

Finally got edits for TAXED TO THE MAX. Not many and not bad, thank goodness. Mostly grammar and punctuation problems.

But the best part was the editor, who wasn't the acquiring editor so she hadn't seen the manuscript before, sent me an email along with the ms saying, "I absolutely *loved* this book!" complete with exclamation point and asterisks.

Made me feel really good, like maybe somebody else gets my sense of humor.

Friday, September 2, 2011

CHASE

I just finished CHASE by Larion Wills. MuseItUp, publisher of this romantic suspense, is also pubbing my romantic mysteries as ebooks next year.

This is an enjoyable read. It starts off with Chase coming back to the town he left eleven years before to discover whether or not he'd fathered a child. His girl friend at the time had told him she was pregnant before her father had him beat up and run out of town. At eighteen, he didn't have many options and the girl wasn't always truthful.

He finds the girl wasn't lying. Chase does have a son. But the girl's disappeared and her younger sister Sydney has adopted his child and raised him.

This isn't the usual 'secret baby, fight between who gets it' romance. It's better, with the bad guy dead but still stirring up trouble. The heroine Sydney has OCD, but she was determined to save Chase's son for him because like her sister, she loved Chase. And turns out Chase loves her back.

Only now there are people who want her and him both out of the way.

I was kind of surprised at the villain's unmasking, only to be further surprised at the end though I shouldn't have been when I thought about it.

Nice story and serviceable writing. Kept me engrossed all the way through. If you like romantic suspense, you'll enjoy this.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

MUSCADINES

I can't believe it's time for muscadines and scuppernongs again!

On our way home from the beach recently, we passed vineyards on both sides of the road along with homemade signs saying muscadines for sale 1500 feet on the left, then 1000 feet, and so on. Sure enough there was a teeny, tiny roadside stand.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my father holding me up to pick scuppernongs and teaching me how to eat them. My guy, bless him, pulled in without hesitation when I yelped, and I bought a couple of pounds of the black muscadines.They were wonderful. Just finished them. Wish I had more.

Friday, August 26, 2011

EDITS FINALLY BEGIN

I had word from the editor on my tax office mystery, TAXED TO THE MAX (I hope they'll keep the title; you can't always tell) that she's about to start her editing. This means she goes through, picks out things that are wrong, scenes that need to be strengthened or omitted, and stuff like that. Then she sends it back to me and I have to try to give her what she wants.

I'm excited because this is a book dear to my heart. All the funny (and not-so-funny) stuff that happens in tax offices gave rise to it. Like when some assessors got locked in the courthouse attic one time and had to throw down toilet paper rolls to get someone to come let them out. Like how tag customers refuse certain tags. And other stuff about a lot of customer types tag/tax clerks deal with every day.

I hope it's funny enough that people will enjoy it. But I mostly hope it'll give everyone a new respect for the public employees on the front lines.

Course, it doesn't come out till December of next year. But at least it's getting worked on now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

CURRENT LITERARY FASHION

I have noticed, thanks I suppose to Cormac McCarthy, that some writers are foregoing quote marks.

I tried to read one of McCarthy's books but decided after about thirty pages it wasn't for me. I did read another one recently, THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender, that omitted quote marks.

I kept trying to decide if someone was talking or not. And if so who it was. It distracted me and took me out of the story (which I did finish although it's not one I'll ever reread).

Is this the new fad? A way to separate literary from genre fiction since the two seem to have become so closely entwined in the past few years? I'm dismayed because I prefer zipping through stories without having to worry about who's speaking or whether they're speaking.

Guess I'm old-fashioned. Doubtless I'll learn to like it if it catches on.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

REMEMBER ME

REMEMBER ME is by Sophie Kinsella, who also wrote the SHOPAHOLIC books, and  is a romance in that same comedic vein.

The heroine wakes up in the hospital, thinking she's the same twenty-five-year-old office worker who took a fall and hit her head. Not so. She's in the hospital because of an auto accident. Three years after the fall she thought she had the night before. She's missing three years of her life. And boy howdy, what those three years must have been like!

Her crooked teeth are straight, she's lost twenty pounds, she's now a director of her company, and she lives in a large loftstyle apartment with a gorgeous millionnaire. Who happens to be her husband.

Of course there are drawbacks. She's on a carb-free diet, she wears nothing but beige business suits, she instinctively knows how to pin her hair into a severe bun, and she's been nicknamed the Cobra or the Bitch from Hell by her department. She's also lost the friends she loved, one of whom she's known since she was six.

Between trying to adjust to her new persona and keep from breaking any more three thousand pound glass leopards (that her husband invoices her for), she's not prepared for the cute man who knows all about her life during the past three years..

If she can't remember her husband, how can she expect to remember her lover?

Cute book.

Friday, August 5, 2011

DEATH OF A TROPHY WIFE

This is the first Jaine Austen mystery by Laura Levine that I've read, but it won't be the last. Jaine is a wonderful heroine who scoffs at designer clothes and health food. She'll keep her elastic-waisted pants, thank you very much, and chomp her way through fast food places without regret.

In this book, her neighbor and friend, the gay Lance with impeccable taste, is latched onto by the universally disliked Bunny. Bunny loves his fashion expertise and she has money to support his style advice. Of course, she got it when she snagged her rich husband by convincing him to leave his wife of thirty years. Now she's busy spending his money and lording it over the peons. The ex-wife hates her, her stepdaughter hates her, her cook hates her, and a woman whose boyfriend she stole hates her. Oh, and she's having an affair with her step-son-in-law.

Pretty evil person.

Then someone murders her and Lance is accused. On leave from his job till the murderer is found, he cooks healthy meals for Jaine that she's forced to eat and donates her clothes to a thrift store that makes her buy them back.

She's got to find out who murdered Bunny and fast, before she starves to death and her clothes disappear forever.

Adding to the fun is her snobby cat,Prozac and a suitor from Uzbekistan who thinks she's the next best thing to his goat.

Very entertaining book. I didn't see the ending coming. Nice cozy for anyone who likes their mysteries with a dab of humor.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

50 CENT BOOKS AT BIG LOTS

Sure, the books were 2-3 years old. But they were hardbacks. By Janet Evanovich, Brad Meltzer, Patricia Cornwell, and even some Frank Herbert Dune books.

What's more, the shelf above them had $3.00 hardbacks by similar best selling authors.

This is what happens when the big publishers send out a hundred thousand books and they don't all sell right away for twenty-five dollars. Out of all the money poured into making a print book, it gets down to three dollars and then finally fifty cents.

There's something wrong with this picture. Three dollars, much less fifty cents, won't pay the costs of shipping. No wonder the traditional publishers are quaking. No wonder ebooks are paying their bills (partly because the royalties traditional publishers assign authors for ebooks are pitiful).

The publishing model used for years and years and years is sadly out of whack. Though some people say it's cheaper to print fifty thousand or so books the regular way (even if they get scads of returns) than it is to print a thousand or so POD books (on demand books that won't be returned).

I can't see it. I'm wondering whether, when the publishers get through scrambling, they can't find a better way to print and distribute their books. I hope so.

Not that I'll turn down a book for fifty cents. If it's one I want to read.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

NATIONAL ANTHEM

Okay, another sporting event on TV, another national anthem sung. It sounded, as usual, like a funeral dirge.

I suspect the singers are trying to sound dignified to give the Star Spangled Banner the importance it deserves, but people! There's no need to try to make it sound important. It is important.

Let's remember why it was written. The War of 1812, English ships raking Baltimore, Francis Scott Key watching breathlessly to see if the city would fall? And the elation when morning showed the American flag still flying? Key and his fellow American were happy! Ecstatic!

(Not to mention the tune came from a drinking song popular in England and America. And who in the world ever heard of a doleful drinking song?)

Come on, all you vocalists! Let's liven our national anthem up! We Americans deserve to be uplifted, not depressed. Our country deserves paeans, not laments. What do you say we try some new arrangements?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CLEANING OUT STUFF

We've been cleaning out Granny's house. Everyone knew she was a packrat but getting in all her stuff showed just how big a one she was.

She quilted for most of her life so cloth to make quilts was everywhere. In closets, in drawers, in the cedar chest, under cabinets...everywhere she could stow it, she did.

And books. In her later years she read a lot. There were bags and bags of books, shelves of books, books packed away in closets. This is besides the magazines she kept forever. National Geographic from before Granddad died along with his Field and Streams. Country music magazines of hers that were decades old. Oh, and stacks of cards given her on different occasions.

And the regular stuff. Dishes belonging to several sets from throughout the years, same with pots and pans and silverware. And clothes. Pottery and glasswear from Greece, fiftieth wedding anniversary porcelain, statuettes and doo dads given her by people she loved.

A life with its memories. It's hard to go through it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

DISAPPOINTING BOOKS

I bought a book by an author I used to really enjoy. The last couple of hers that I read were kind of disappointing, but this copy was on sale and I thought I'd try it.

I won't say who it is because she's a best-selling novelist who I'm sure is a very nice person.

I will say this book was as disappointing as the last two. The writing was verbose, the story was nil, and the characters were boring. I can't help but feel that if there had been an editor who wasn't overworked and/or overawed, s/he could have coaxed a much better novel out of the author.

I finished it but it was hard.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

KINDLE vs PRINT BOOKS

I love my Kindle. I got it last Christmas and have downloaded hundreds of books to read already. It's easy to read, better than taking six books on vacation, and very handy when in the middle of the night you find you have nothing to read.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up print books. Especially when I can get a discounted one lower priced than the Kindle version. It happened recently. In Kroger, I saw a best-selling author I like. The book was a couple of years old but I seldom buy books when they first come out. Too expensive. So I checked my Kindle, found the Kindle edition was several dollars more than the remaindered price. Guess which one I bought? Yep, the print book.

My Kindle was out of juice today (my fault; I'd left it on and failed to charge it) so I picked up my 'new' book and started reading. One page read and click! At least I tried to click as if it were a Kindle. I laughed at myself, read a few more pages and once again, click!

Took me a few minutes to get back in the swing of having a 'real' book in my hands. Guess that shows how fast you can get used to an eReader.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

SHOPPING FOR KEDS

So this eight-year-old and I were shopping and we run across a basket of Keds. You know. The old canvas tennis shoe type Keds. Classics. White. She almost swoons for wanting them so much. Of course, nice person I am, I tell her to see if a pair will fit her and we'll get them. Despite the price which, the store being a little boutique in a tourist town, is way more than it should be.

Alas, couldn't find her size. She was so disappointed.

Thank goodness for the internet. I ordered them, they came to her house, and she proudly wore them that same day with little socks like back in the fifties.

Who says kids today don't appreciate the old things?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

BAPTIST PACKAGE STORE

If you're Baptist and offend easily, you may skip this blog.

We were riding home from Athens the other day, an hour and a half drive, when we came to a perfectly rural area with pastures, woods, trees and no houses. As we neared it, we did see a building, a newish store on a little rise kind of hidden back from the road. I realized it was a package store out in the middle of nowhere and said as much to my guy.

He said, "Yes, it's a Baptist package store."

Kind of a strange name so I looked to make sure that's what the sign said. All it said was Package Store.

"How do you know it's Baptist Package Store?"

"Because only Baptists need to buy their booze from places where no one can see them."

Took me a moment, but then I laughed with him, lapsed Baptist though I might be.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

OLD TEACHERS

Visited my home town today and had lunch with a friend I first met in second grade. As we were finishing, our old home economics teacher came by. Turns out she has a cookbook out and presented me with one.

She was the person who single-handedly instilled me with confidence I could cook whatever I wanted. She kept preaching, "If you can read a recipe, you can cook it.) She made sure we learned what all the measurements were and what all the directions meant.

I went for years believing I could cook anything so long as I had a recipe. Inevitably, I found out I was mistaken, but by that time I'd logged in a lot of cooking hours!

Mrs. Jones, I salute you! Can't wait to try some of the recipes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

AURARIA DEAD

This is the first book from a former critique partner, MELODY SCOTT.

'Real estate agent Maria Sebastian and another agent are walking property in north Georgia when the other agent falls into a deserted mind shaft. Inside is a skeleton. And he's dressed in a jacket suspiciously like Maria's ex-husband owned. But her ex is in California. Right?

The book opens with the body and takes us cross country as Maria and her hottie boy friend try to make sure the corpse wasn't her husband. Instead, they find a little boy with a murdered mother who was married to Maria's ex.

Now she must deal with a terrible real estate market, a dishonest partner, and suspicions her boy friend isn't telling her everything. And to top it off, she's about to lose the big real estate deal where the abandoned mine lies. And maybe her life.

Nice cozy. Keeps you entertained till the wrap-up! Way to go, Melody!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TRIP

Went down to the coast for a few days. Would have been a good trip except for the car. The wheel bearing went out and damaged the hub. We limped into Savannah to the Ford dealership and bless their little hearts, they put us right in line. We still had to rent a car and go on down to the island since it took them a couple of days to fix it.

And then it cost about half what the vehicle is worth. Sigh.

First the kitchen stove, then the heat, then the air, now the car.

I think my dishwasher's doing strange things, too, but I hate to mention it to my guy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

SOCIAL BLUNDERS by Tim Sandlin

Just finished this book after reading SKIPPED PARTS This continues the story of Sam Callahan, the poor guy who became a father weeks short of his fourteenth birthday and who kind of bumbles through life. In 1984, he lives with his daughter, now nineteen, and his second wife has just left him. He's still in love with his daughter's mother but she's long since moved on. Except they're still friends. With Sam footing bills for her collection of misfits and ...

Never mind. Sam foots the bills for lots of people. His mother who sent poison to President Reagon's dog, a couple of unwed mothers he barely knows, and others. You get the picture.

This time, he's seeking out his birth father, one of five football players who raped his mother.

Between tearing up their lives and getting caught up in his daughter's mother's life and always doing the wrong thing -- like having sex with his possible stepmother while courting a possible cousin.

Sam was kind of cute in SKIPPED PARTS, but in this one, I want to shake him. Get a life! I want to scream.

Still, the quirky characters kind of make up for the inanity. It kept me interested all the way to the end.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

TALLULAH FALLS



Went up to Tallulah Falls Gorge yesterday. Gorgeous area. Too hot to do much walking but when it's cooler, we'll go back. Looking down made me dizzy. It's like Georgia has its own little Grand Canyon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

DOGS OF ROME

Just finished The Dogs of Rome, a  suspense/mystery by Conor Fitzgerald. Really enjoyed it.

The protagonist is an American who's been in Italy since he was a teenager. His parents were killed there, and the police were kind to him so now, at thirty-eight, he's a police commissioner himself in Rome.

The story deals with a political murder -- the dead man was an animal rights activist and the husband of an important politician -- that turns out not to be so political after all. But the higher ups want it solved and press Blume to go after the most likely suspect, a dog ring manager.

Blume is likeable and not on the take. He can't decide what to do when a friend and fellow policeman who specializes in getting information off the streets, gets too involved with his criminal informants. He's convinced he knows who the murderer is but is frustrated in his attempts to bring him to justice. Along the way, another policeman gets killed and Blume ends up with a broken arm and concussion. Still, he drags himself around to wrap up the case.

Nice guy with faults. One I can root for.

This is a very good read.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

NASH METROPOLITAN

Can't get over this little car I see on my way home. Found out it's a Nash Metropolitan, made in the fifties and early sixties. It's so cute cute cute!!! It's parked at an auto yard with a wrecker and I bet it's for sale. If I only had the money to buy it!!!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

MURDER IS A FAMILY BUSINESS

Just finished MURDER IS A FAMILY BUSINESS by Heather Haven, published by MuseItUp.

Lee Alvarez is a PI for her family firm, an investigative agency that normally handles computer type crimes. They take on a possibly wandering husband because the wife being cheated on is Lee's mother's friend. While Lee's tailing him, he's shot and murdered. Out of curiosity or instinct or something, she goes back to check on him and finds him dead. She's a suspect but not for long. But he was killed while she was surveilling him and she can't get him off her conscience.

In the process of picking up and adopting a stray kitten, dealing with her fashion-plate mother, and talking her computer-geek brother into helping her solve the crime, she finally figures out whodunnit. Readers might have figured the killer out long before the end, but the ride is so much fun, it doesn't matter.

Good book.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

POOR TURTLE

I was driving, following my guy in his car loaded with stuff we're bringing from the condo to the house. About a seven hour trip, and we were maybe half way through it.

When he slowed, so did I. Then I saw a woman in shorts walking down alongside the road in knee-high grass. I immediately thought 'kid run away' but no little tykes in the road so I kept watching the roadside. Just as I got to her, she started up the bank to the road, and I felt a  thump.

Yep. I ran over the turtle she was trying to rescue. I feel guilty and sad but it's done. I am a murderer. Murderess.

Not a good day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MOUNTAIN WEDDING

Yesterday my guy and I drove up into the N GA mountains for a wedding. Since we were so close, we stopped by Mercier's Apple House in Blue Ridge and had one of their mouth-watering fried pies.

Then we went on to the business at hand. Gorgeous weather, glowing bride, beaming groom, and a beautiful backdrop. What more can you ask for a wedding?



Some cute attendants, of course! And in case you didn't notice them in the first picture, let's look at them again.




And don't forget the reception. Ah, that fabulous food! Some of us -- forgetting waistlines -- pigged out. The wedding cake was a work of art, but the groom's cake was a trout. And it was either hated or loved, depending on the person viewing. Bet you can guess what the groom does in his spare time.
 


So. Congenial people, happy couple, and good food in beautiful surroundings. A day well spent.

Friday, May 13, 2011

N GA FLOWERS


So nice to look out at my neighbor's flowers. Living on the coast, sometimes we forget how pretty north Georgia is!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CAT DOOR

So my guy put in a cat door. Now the cats can go out on the screened porch whenever they like, right?

Not exactly. If you stand and hold the flap up, they'll go in and out. Otherwise they stand at the regular door and meow plaintively, waiting for someone to let them in or out.

My sweet guy keeps wanting to open the door for them.

I say they'll learn.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

NAN D ARNOLD

My crit partner and regular commenter here just signed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing! Not sure when the ebook will be out, but it's a historical/romantic/paranormal called GARNET GALE GETS HER MAN. The ghost in it makes me laugh.

Nan can think of awesome titles. Her romantic mystery ebook, PESTO PACKING MAMA, was a bestseller for Champagne Books while her current release from Whimsical, MERRY ACRES WIDOWS WALTZ is a darker mystery.

Yay, Nan!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

PLANTS

Visited Lowe's the other day to buy bedding plants, patio ferns, rope for a cat scratching post, poison ivy spray, and all the other little things spring means you have to have.

Saw a man standing around looking lost. A salesman asked if he needed help. "Not unless you can hurry up the wife," he said. "She's still looking. Might be another hour or two."

A little later, another man came to the front with some shrubs. A salesman offered to help him. "Just waiting for the wife to get done looking."

Eyeing some pretty lavender-like plants, I heard my husband in the checkout line with our cart. "Go ahead," he told the guy behind him. "M'wife's still looking and I don't know how long she'll be."

Is it just me or have men become more patient? Or are they more patient at a home improvement store than they would be at, say, a department store?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

PAST TENSES OF VERBS

If it's blow, blew, blown
And know, knew, known,
And grow, grew, grown,
And throw, threw, thrown,

Then why is it not
Mow, mew, mown,
Or sow, sew, sown
Or snow, snew, snown
Or tow, tew, town?

It's a wonder anyone can learn English as a second language!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

TRUE LOVE

My guy's building a scratching post for the cats. An eight foot number that goes up to the ceiling and is wrapped in jute rope. And he doesn't even like cats very much.

Makes me fall in love all over again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

N GA

We are once again in north Georgia where the pollen is still yellow and the winds still rage. They're saying storms tonight. After being in draught-ridden coastal Georgia, this is a big change.

The cats are whiny. I'm whiny. My guy's the only one still perky.

Sometimes I wonder how we ever got together.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

CREWKIN

CREWKIN is a space opera novel by Rhobin L. Courtright. The heroine, Renna, is bred specifically to work on long-haul spaceships where the crews go months, even years, in space isolation. When her ship is destroyed, the surviving crewkin are encouraged to commit suicide rather than try to live as norms (normal people). Renna is the only one to refuse. And now she can never work as a crewkin again.

So she signs on with a short-haul spaceship and tries hard to fit in with the rag-tag norms who mistrust crewkin. But the cargo they're carrying is an engine more advanced than any other spaceship engine ever conceived. An engine capable of thrusting deeper into space in a fraction of the time regular engines need. An engine with its own intelligence.

And though they don't know it, this advanced engine they're transporting is the very same engine that destroyed Renna's old ship.

HAL in 2001 was scary, but this engine is something else! It can do everything including rebuilding the ship!

Pacing is good, characters maybe not quite developed enough, but overall, a really good book! Anybody who likes SF will like it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

GIRL CAT

My girl cat likes jewelry. Whenever I turn my back, she's after my rings, bracelets, earrings...

I wonder if I can get her ears pierced. She'd look really cute with studs.

Or maybe some hoops I could tie a leash to!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

FIVE STAR PRESS

I got the executed contract today so I feel safe in announcing that Five Star Press has offered for my light mystery, TAXED TO THE MAX. It's due to come out in December of 2012 in hardback since Five Star, I understand, sells mostly to libraries and educational facilities.

TAXED TO THE MAX is a light murder mystery. It isn't R rated, maybe not even PG-13 rated. No heavy thinking is involved to enjoy it. In case like most people, you've been dying of curiosity about what really goes on in a property tax collections/tag office, this is your chance to find out.

As for what it's about, well...

When a tax commissioner is murdered, a young tag clerk is asked to replace him. Ha! She's not crazy enough to take on the thankless job.

But then her ex-fiance who jilted her at the altar in front of two hundred people - most of them local - tells her to turn it down, that whoever killed the tax commissioner will be gunning for her. Naturally, she can't let the snake-in-the-grass talk her out of a job he probably wants one of his buddies to have. She becomes tax commissioner to spite him.

But the snake was right. Now the murderer's after her.

So obtuse deputies guard her 24/7, tag buyers try to do all kinds of illegal stuff, and the property tax digest she's responsible for, is in the hands of the pothead IT guy.

With this much stress, what's a gal to do?

I hope all tax office people out there enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Visitors


We had visitors while we were at the island. Here they are on the pier.
 

And here are some more visitors, playing on the whale in the park. There's a nice playground right beside it but for some reason, kids gravitate to the whale!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PHOTOS



This is our house on the lake in north Georgia. One photo shows purple wildflowers in the yard by the azaleas. They're gorgeous. The other has a view of the lake from our front porch through the dogwoods. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

eMAIL to CATS

TO: She Cat
FROM: Momma
SUBJECT: Carousing on the Bed

Please refrain from jumping up and down on me in the middle of the night while I'm trying to sleep.

--------
TO: Momma
FROM: She Cat
SUBJECT: Carousing on the Bed

I'll be happy to if you'll make my brother stop pouncing on me and biting me in the middle of the night while I'm trying to sleep.

-------
TO: He Cat
FROM: Momma
SUBJECT: Carousing on the Bed

Please refrain from pouncing on your sister and biting her in the middle of the night while we're trying to sleep.

-------

TO: Momma
FROM: He Cat
SUBJECT: Carousing on the Bed

I'll be happy to if you'll make my sister stop trying to groom me in the middle of the night while I'm trying to sleep.

-------
TO: Poppa
FROM: Momma
SUBJECT: Carousing on the Bed

Please see about putting a lock on the bedroom door. Otherwise, we'll never get any sleep.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

MOVING

Still moving. It will never end. Go up to the lake and take stuff, come back down, get more stuff, take back up...

The cats are scheduled to go soon. They are about the last thing down here. Been putting off taking them because of the ordeal in bringing them down.

Then we overdosed one, didn't dose the other enough. She slept for three days. He yowled for six hours. Hoping to strike a happy medium going back.

Air still not working up at the lake and neither is the thingie we need for internet connections. My guy's seething and is sending it back. Maybe the replacement won't be bad.

Tired but glad to be back down here for a few days.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MUSEITUP PUBLISHING

I have good news. MuseItUp has offered for my romantic suspense, THE MAN IN THE BOAT. It'll be coming out next March if everything goes all right.

The story's about a woman who's retreated to a lakeside cottage to decide what to do about her crumbling marriage. A boat slams into the bank next to where she's sunning, its driver wounded. When she runs for help, he and the boat disappear.

Afterward, people break in on her at the lake, and later at her house.

Then she finds her husband knows more about what's going on that he lets on.

Kind of a woman in jeopardy, with the heroine chased by the bad guys as she wonders whether she can trust her husband or not. Started out as a mystery but quickly turned into romance. Some sex (letting you know ahead of time, Shannon!) for those who prefer it sweet.

MuseItUp is a fairly new epublisher, but from what I can see, they do a good job on edits. That, to me, is most important. I try to turn in clean manuscripts, but everyone needs a good editor. Writers owe it to readers to put out the best products they can. The most wonderful story in the world suffers if the writing's bad.

So I'm off to drink a glass of whatever. Or maybe just to eat chocolate. Yum.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

GRANNY REMEMBERED

Granny died last week at 92. She was buried last Sunday.


She was a woman who did pretty much as she pleased, and did it without running over other people. She was too laid back to let things bother her but was quick to sympathize with others. She never said anything really bad about anyone. In fact, she could usually find something good in everybody.

She was straightforward. She once said she told everything she knew. But one time she didn't. Her and Granddad's elopement wasn't a spur of the moment thing. They'd planned it. Carefully. They rented a house and bought furniture, told her mother Granddad was taking her to visit a relative, got married, and spent their wedding night at the house of some friends before coming came back to face the music. Granny wore a navy dress with a sailor collar and a red tie. She took the tie off because red's bad luck for brides. But that didn't keep her and Granddad from getting dunked in Talking Rock Creek (a custom of those times for newlyweds).

She liked to cook and was good at it. One of the few times she showed her temper was a few years after they married when Granddad criticized her banana pudding. He said it looked kind of runny. She threw a Coke bottle at him. He dodged, but the dent in the wall stayed there for years. Must have made an impression 'cause I sure never heard him say anything about her cooking.

And she flexed her muscles when Granddad and his youngest son went off with cash in hand to buy a new car. Granny never helped choose their cars because she never wanted to. But she was tight with money. And when Granddad came home with the car and the cash because the salesman had convinced him to use the dealership's low interest offer... Well. Granny hit the roof. She sent Granddad right back to pay off the debt, saying any fool knows it's cheaper not to pay interest. And as shrewd as she was, she probably figured the cash would get spent on something else.

She was independent. After Granddad died, she kept living alone. No matter how her kids urged her, she never considered moving close to any of them. She didn't want to be a burden on anybody.

She wasn't afraid of anything. At a Boy Scout gathering, one of the boys came up and tried to scare her by handing her a snake. She took it, looked at it, looked at the boy, and asked, "What do you want me to do with it?" Then handed it back. The whole group was in awe.

Until Granddad retired, she'd lived all her life in the foothills of Georgia. Then they bought a small house in Florida where they went every winter. He's been gone over twenty years but, even though she couldn't drive, Granny kept going back and forth. One of her kids would carry her to Florida in October and bring her back to north Georgia in May. That's what she and Granddad had done and by golly, she'd keep doing it!

In 2008, her Florida house got broken into while she was sleeping. She was deaf and didn't hear the racket as they chopped at a door in the garage, trying to get into the house. She found it the next morning, the frame chipped away and one deadbolt all that saved the house from being burglarized. Her kids and friends were afraid for her and wanted her to stay in Georgia. But Granny went back down the next November anyway. For the last time, it turned out.

In January of 2009, she had a heart attack. She survived, but her last two years were spent in a nursing home in north Georgia. Everyone knew she wouldn't get better, but her death still hurt.

She loved to quilt. Her mother helped her make her first quilt - a string quilt she called it - when she was nine years old. On her coffin, instead of the usual spray of flowers, her daughter laid a cathedral window quilt, one of the last ones Granny made. Granny would have loved it.

We miss her.

Monday, March 14, 2011

THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER

A few days ago I finished this book by Oliver Potzsch. It's not a quick read, not a pageturner like some. But it was interesting.

It's about a medieval executioner who is thoughtful, learned, and kind. When several village children are murdered, the midwife who tended his wife in childbirth is accused of witchcraft. The executioner's job is to torture her to get her to confess.

But he and the village doctor's son (who loves the hangman's daughter and who's a better doctor than his father) are convinced the midwife is innocent.

Executioner families intermarried back then because no one wanted anything to do with them. They were always a reminder that death lay waiting. So the hangman is not pleased with his daughter's suitor but works with the doctor's son anyway to find the real murderer.

The description of the German village and its politics is engrossing. What I found more interesting is that, while this is a novel, the author is a descendent of the main character who actually existed.

Good read.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wii

Got on a Wii balance board and used the Wii Fit Plus program. It calculated my sense of balance, then took my weight. I had to put in height. Finally, it came up with a BMI age (or something like that) Don't ask me how. But yeah, you guessed it. It has me ten years older than I really am.

Worse, it said my guy's BMI age was ten years younger than he is.

I thought we were going to have fun with bowling and pingpong and things like that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

HAIRY LEGS

This morning I put on my knee pants - the weather is gorgeous today! - and headed off to Wally World with my guy. When I bent over to pick up paper off the car floor, my eyes were within a few inches of my calves.

Ewww! I hadn't noticed my legs were in such dire need of shaving. Some spots were okay but one spot had several long hairs that waved at me. I zipped in and out of the story with my purchases, all the while hoping I wouldn't run into anyone I knew.

Guess I'll be spending some time with my legs tonight.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

MOVING IS THE PITS

We are in the process (slow process) of moving back to north Georgia. Took stuff up the past week and kept appointments.

The stove fixer came. I now can cook (if I want to which is a big IF) on the range rather than using the microwave or the George Forman grill. Except the hot surface light stays on all the time so I never know if the top's hot or not but, hey, the oven and all the eyes work. I'll take it.

The duct cleaning people came. You should have seen all the dog hair and other mess they got out. Revolting. Unfortunately, they discovered our air conditioning doesn't work. And neither does the fan, unless the heat's on. It was cool enough for heat, thank goodness. Now we have to make an appointment to meet the HV/AC people next time we're up.

The termite inspector came. We're good. Nothing eating up the house.

The washer and dryer came. My guy thinks the floor needs reinforcing though. After reading the manual, we suspect the whomping noise on the spin cycle means the flooring's too flexible. But we can wash and dry.

And Granny has shingles, poor soul. That's the worst thing.

So it wasn't the best visit, but a lot of stuff got done.

Glad to be back where it's warm though!

Friday, February 25, 2011

CRUELTY TO CATS

We slept late this morning, past the cats' breakfast time. Roz started biting me. Jackson pranced up and down on me. I finally threw both of them off the bed, but they were not happy.

They began muttering about reporting me to someone. Last I heard, they were debating whether it should be DFACS or the ASPCA.

I'm seriously considering parakeets.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

GPS

Walking home from the Village on one of the past lovely days, we neared the park where public basketball and tennis courts are. In this park, the main attraction is the huge water oaks dripping Spanish moss and a few benches where visitors can sit and enjoy the view.

A couple in a car beckoned us over. "Can you tell us where the trolley stop is? The GPS says this is the park but we can't see the trolley anywhere. We've been through here three times! And it's nearly time for it to leave! We're going to miss it!"

The GPS was a little off there. Like half a mile or more. We sent them back to the pier park where the trolley stops each day, in plenty of time to catch their tour.

I'm glad we don't use a GPS system. My brother-in-law tried to come to our condo with his and would probably have gotten lost if my guy hadn't told him no, there was an easier way. Another relative went by the same detour in St. Augustine three times as directed by hers. She gave up near hysteria. Never got to her destination. At least not that day.

They're great when they work, but sometimes even my warped sense of direction is better than their instructions.

Monday, February 21, 2011

FRIENDS

Aren't friends grand?

Just had a visit from an old friend I hadn't seen since last year. She's the kind you see every year or so but can still pick up the threads when you meet again as if you'd been together the day before.

Those are the best friends to have.

Don't have many, but I cherish them!

Friday, February 18, 2011

SWITCHED

I just finished Amanda Hocking's SWITCHED, the first of her Trylle Trilogy. I got it on my Kindle because I'd read how Hocking self-published her YA paranormals after failing to sell to a big publisher. In January, 450,000 copies of her books, mostly ebooks, of the nine she's written. That's pretty impressive considering they've been out there only since last March.

SWITCHED was 99 cents (I think most of her titles are 99 cents to 2.99) so I wasn't out much by trying it.

The storyline was good. It was about trolls and teenage angst. I can see where it would appeal to the younger crowd.

Wendy finds she's a changeling. Her troll mother exchanged her for a human when she was born. Unfortunately, after her father died, her human mother somehow realizes Wendy's not her child and tried to kill six-year-old Wendy.

When Wendy, bring brought up by her brother and aunt, approaches eighteen, a tracker - hunky mysterious Finn - is sent to bring her to the trolls' kingdom/compound in Minnesota. There she discovers she's - dah dah! - not just a troll. She's the princess troll.

But her homecoming is not welcoming, her mother is cold, and a princess can't make it with a tracker like Finn (they're almost at the bottom of the rankings for trolls). Worse, a renegade band of trolls comes after her for her - wait for it - powers!

The writing craft needed some work, but mainly the book needed a good editor.

Since trolls, zombies, and vampires have palled on me and since I'm no longer a teenager, the book didn't enchant. But it was a quick read and I didn't stop in the middle as I've been prone to do lately. Youngsters will enjoy it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

GORGEOUS DAY

We walked out around lunch. Temps in the 60s. Sun shining. Blue skies. The ocean was tranquil with several pelicans diving and finding fish to eat. Reminds me of why I love it down here.

Came back by the park and the tennis players were out. Was surprised to see the cute tennis instructor with his shirt on but my guy pointed out he was instructing men. Not a pretty woman in sight!

Friday, February 11, 2011

BACK TO THE SUN

Lake Lanier

North Georgia was cold. We got away just in time to miss the snow.

We had the plumber in to fix the washer faucets which he did. Then we discovered the washer walks across the floor when washing. Something about the drum being loose. And the dryer refuses to cut off by itself. I realized the 'new' washer and dryer we got twenty years ago, are now the old washer and dryer. Guess we'll spring for a new set.

The heat and air guy came. He got the heat fixed.

The landscaper came. He blew leaves and fixed a sagging walkway. Put out some solar lights by it and my guy put down 3-4 bales of pine straw. More is needed in 2 weeks when we go back up.

The lady redoing the screened porch finished up so it's ready for the cats to move back up. They're terribly excited. We, not so much. We remember the howling six hours in the car moving down.

And finally, the kitchen stove mechanic came for the third or fourth time. Looks like they'll be back since he couldn't figure out what was wrong.

So the stove's still to be fixed along with the duct cleaning, the pine straw, the bathroom leak we spotted before coming back south. We also have more storage stuff to bring up and lots of leftover junk under the house and on the dock the tenants left still to be carried to the dump.

So we'll be going back and forth for another few weeks. And then it'll be warm in north Georgia. We like it there but not the cold!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

TRAVELING TO N GA

Again. Just as the bad cold weather is about to strike - talk of teen degrees and snow flurries - we're heading north.
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My guy keeps wondering why the northerners can't learn to control their weather and keep it up there. I keep wondering why we can't figure out better times to travel.

Evidently, we're gluttons for punishment.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

iPhone

I have an iphone. Don't know if that's a good thing or not. I've had it less than a year and was making out okay. Learned how to put on apps. Learned how to get my email, put on a few songs, load on a game, use the GPS. Oh, and how to make a phone call.

So every 2-4 days, it needed charging and I dutifully charged it. Then last week the battery started going down overnight. I'd charge it fully, go to bed, and the next morning, voila! 39% charged. 20% charged. One day it only showed 7% of the battery remaining. Figured the battery was going bad. Knew I couldn't switch it out.

So. Called AT&T. They said it was still under warranty, transferred us to Apple. Apple said we should extend our warranty for another year since it was expiring in a month or so. I did but Apple still didn't tell me what was wrong. Then.

Long story short. Had to call AT&T again. No, it was Apple's problem. Had to call Apple again. They said I had to bring the phone in to the store. Nearest store 2 hours away. Got an appointment, drove there, registered with a gal holding an iPad wearing two nose studs and real casual clothes, milled around till someone took pity on me and showed me what was wrong just before my appointed rep showed up.

The customer rep tested the battery and said, yep, the other guy was right. Battery was fine. I could have stayed at home and fixed it myself.

So what was the problem? Turns out Apple updated the iPhones a couple of months back. Turns out the notification was so involved I didn't - couldn't! - read it all. Turns out any app you use continues to run in the background till you manually turn it off.

So I had the phone app, the cheap gas app, the email app, the map app, the weather app, the...You get the picture. All these and more were running in the background and eating up my battery. All I had to do was turn them off.

Why, pray tell, could Apple not have put this info on their site under FAQs along with all the other reasons the battery might be discharging too soon?

Grrr. Glad I didn't get an iPad

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PRODUCTS I USE THAT STOP BEING MADE

I've already groused about getting used to a bra and immediately being unable to find it because it's no longer being made. I know other women share my pain because I've heard 'em complain, too.

Now I find out Bath and Body Works is doing away with my flavor of choice. At least in the liquid hand soap. And I'm afraid that's a prologue to doing away with the body wash, body cream, and even cologne.

My favorite is in their signature line. I thought their signature line meant a scent would never get dropped and would always be there forever and ever. Why else would I have gotten addicted to it?

So now I have to find a new odor I like. It's hard going, believe me. I have a very picky nose.

Monday, January 24, 2011

THE HUNGER GAMES

We've been traveling so I downloaded several samples of books onto my Kindle. I zipped through the beginning excerpt from this book by Suzanne Collins and immediately bought it.

It's YA - though not for preteens because it's so brutal - but anyone who likes sci fi, fantasy, and/or postapocalyptic fiction will enjoy it. It grabs you and keeps moving.

The heroine lives in a disintegrated United States where there are 12 districts - the 13th once rebelled and was absorbed into the rest - and an authoritarian government. Much like ancient Rome used the gladiators to keep the population entertained and quiescent, this government uses the Hunger Games. Twenty-four young people are chosen for the games; at the end only one will live. Our heroine takes the place of her beloved young sister whose name was pulled.

The contestants are wined, dined, styled, dressed, and interviewed before being pitted against each other in an arena (which can be plains, forest, islands, volcanic rock formations, etc.). Cameras follow their every move, but the footage is edited each day to make sure none of the actions foment unrest.

The populace may be poor and starving but viewers of the Games are thrilled, titillated, fascinated and absorbed. Huge TV sets blare each day's hunt to the crowds. Gamblers bet huge sums on the winner. Sponsors offer gifts to favorites. Sound familiar?

Collins doesn't preach. She focuses on the heroine and the boy from her district who was chosen. But the slivers of truth in this story mean readers will never again view American Idol or Survivor or any other reality show in the same way.

I could hardly wait to finish the book. The concept is fascinating, the plot is interesting and the pace is perfect. And that makes it a great read.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Night Bird

Woke up last night to hear it raining. Such a nice sound on the roof.

Then I heard a night bird right outside the window going, "Twee-ee-ee-ble. Twee-ee-ee-ble."

At first I felt sorry for it, picturing it under a bush with rain coming off its tiny head. But it keep tweebling and I couldn't get back to sleep.

I got up to go to the bathroom and had to dislodge one of the cats. "Twee-ee-snort."

Yep, it was the boy cat. Must have had a stopped up nose 'cause he sure snored funny.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT

It's been too cold to get out. The only thing good about the weather is that it gives me a great excuse for reading. Hurray for the weather!!!

So I just finished SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Some might think it a rather fluffy book. While a lot of incidents in CeeCee's mentally disturbed mother's life are recounted, they're glossed over. Which is fine with me. I don't like wallowing in depression and mental illness.

But once CeeCee's mother dies and she's sent to live with a great aunt in Savannah, her life seems to be one long fairy tale. Or a least a series of interesting vignettes. Not much happens as she struggles to blend in with her new family and quirky neighbors. (One bathes in an outside bathtub; one is having an affair with a law enforcement man and slips on a slug during a carousal and is concussed and has to go to the hospital sans clothes.)

It's nice southern fiction. No magical realism, just plain speaking. But the thing that sets it apart is the voice. As you read, you can hear the twelve-year-old CeeCee talking. You even think you know her.

And that's what makes this a really good read.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

REMIX

This book by Lexi Revellian (you can tell I've been downloading books to my kindle, can't you?) is really pretty good. The sample chapters caught my attention and I bought it and don't regret it.

The heroine finds a man sleeping on her (second floor) terrace when she wakes up. Instead of dialling for help as you or I (prudent souls that we are) would, she talks to him and decides he's okay. Besides, he's got a mongrel dog that needs feeding, too. And he also looks like a famous rock star accused of murder who died several years before.

Wait! He is the famous rock star accused of murder who everyone thinks is dead!

It's a nice mystery as we wonder what happened and whodunnit it. The attraction grows between heroine and rock-star-incognito. The neat thing about the book is that the heroine restores old wooden rocking horses and imparts dribs and drabs of information to us regarding them. Not enough to be boring. Just enough to be interesting.

Good read for everyone who likes light mysteries with a little romance thrown in. This is a great start for a series and I'll be looking for more.

Monday, January 10, 2011

WEATHER

The weather channel shows it all today! Snow, ice, you name it! So much for the sunny south.

It's cold here, and raining. My poor guy took off in the mess to make necessary rounds - the post office, the bank, and Southern Soul to pick up stew and barbecue, yay!!!!

The weather may be bad but we'll feast tonight!

Friday, January 7, 2011

THE CROSSROADS CAFE

I like Deborah Smith's books (BLUE WILLOW, A PLACE TO CALL HOME, THE STONE FLOWER GARDEN, to mention some) so I was surprised I hadn't read this. But I got it on my Kindle and finished it shortly.

A movie star trading on her looks gets burned while being chased by papparazzi (sound familiar?) and is no longer beautiful. She comes to her deceased grandmother's mountain home for healing and discovers another wounded soul, a man whose wife and child died in the 9/11 tragedy. It's obvious from the beginning they need each other. The only question is how and when they'll work out their problems.

And there are other characters: a relative who heals with wonderful buttered biscuits, a goat who keeps eating cell phones, and two lesbians who farm and build on the side. There are also a winter storm, a Craftsman cottage needing work, and a devastating fire.

I knew it would end happily but I didn't know how. Good read.

Monday, January 3, 2011

THE BLACK MOTH

For anyone who likes regencies (sans the sex in modern ones) this is a book for you. If you haven't already read it.

Most people who love regencies have read Georgette Heyer's books, some of us several times. I got this version for 99 cents on my new kindle and re read it.

Good book but then I'm a Heyer fan. I may be prejudiced. I've read her regencies and mysteries (I prefer the regencies) and keep enjoying them. She has that understated English humor and her romances are always interesting.

In this one, an earl's son, cut off by his family, becomes a highwayman. He rescues the heroine as she's being abducted but is wounded. She takes him home, nurses him back to health, and they fall in love. The villain isn't out of the picture, and the hero has to get back in his father's good graces, but never fear. Everything works out.