Saturday, November 29, 2014

This and That and some book talk

Hi, y'all!
I'm so happy with myself for blogging more consistently!
I haven't. That was just a daydream.

Since I last wrote a blog post:
Halloween! That was fun! On Halloween night, I went to my daughter's home, and we ate chili and cornbread, made popcorn balls and caramel apples, and BD (baby duck) #5 and GBD (grand baby duck) #1 played "Dance Dance Revolution".  BD #1 and hubby had decided to forgo trick or treating as the GBD 1 is not that interested anymore and GBD 2 is too young to care. So that was fun.
The next night we went to my SIL's costume party. The theme was the "mad hatters tea party". She does this almost every year, decorates all awesomely, we laugh and eat, and the evening culminates in an "outside in the dark" treasure hunt for the kids! SIL is so cool! :)

Just this week was Thanksgiving, so there was a lot of cleaning/cooking/baking! BD 1 brought the turkey and it was WONDERFUL! It was a 24 lb bird, and hardly any leftovers!! Sad for me that ham is so delicious...i'm supposed to be limiting salt intake due to my bum heart,  and well, ham is rather salty. But so delicious. My brother and his wife and two children, my niece and her hubby and their three children, my mother, my oldest BD, her hubby and two children, my VERY pregnant BD and her husband, (and two grand-dogs), and naturally my other two single childless BDs were all in attendance, and The Chief was even home! Woot woot!

     I was caught by surprise to realize that as this holiday season is upon us, I am less depressed and more in the mood than I have been the past two years.  The holidays are difficult when one is permanently missing, and particularly since our missing person had a birthday 3 days after Christmas.  It is a welcome change to enter into this time of year with a less heavy heart. On the other hand, being the human that I am, I feel a little guilty for feeling less burdened by grief.

     What I thought about as I was realizing this subtle change, and thinking about families gathering for these holiday meals:  life is too short for family drama, and even if someone in our family drives us nuts, or whatever kind of dysfunction might exist, we should all just be grateful for who is there, to love each other and be kind and patient with each other, and not take our togetherness for granted.
     Just a couple of weeks ago, a dear friend lost her son. How hard this holiday season must be for her and her family! Maybe three years ago, a young man from our home town, one that Joey and gone to school with and who's parents I had gone to school with, died in a car accident during Thanksgiving week.  A nephew and his family lost a daughter in June and her b-day was this month.
And this week,  two days before Thanksgiving, The Chief was in New Mexico at the hospital with his  family, gathered around their mother as they got the news that she has brain cancer, and hospice was called in.
     These things are so hard, no matter what, and then throw them in the holiday "family time" mix, well, the holidays aren't always merry and bright for everyone.

    On that note, i want to remind all of you ladies: CHECK THE GIRLS!!! My MIL's  story: she was in the hospital having a triple bypass when advanced breast cancer was found. That was removed, but it metastasized to lung cancer. The poor woman has been going through very rough chemo for that, and now it's in her brain and possibly her spine. I personally know several breast cancer survivors, with no further cancer...but it has to be caught early.
    And now...TADA! The real reason I felt motivated to write a blog post this morning: It's book rant time! I know that we all look forward to those!

 Ok: Gray Mountain, John Grisham. I was so looking forward to this book...I even preordered it in hardback. I have read all of his books and he has never let me down. Tragically, I did not love this one. The focus was less on great courtroom drama and more on the impact of coal mining in West Virginia.  I'm all for having a cause, and for using whatever soap box you may have to further your cause, but it was far too blatant, and I didn't really like this story. I was sooooo sad.

I purchased the ebook "Have a Nice Guilt Trip" by Lisa Scottoline and her daughter, but did not finish it. It just wasn't funny enough to keep my interest.

"What I Remember Most" by Cathy Lamb: I really enjoyed this book, the only exception being that the main character was homeless and lived in her car for awhile, and there was way too much info about bathroom situations.  Otherwise, loved it! One of my fav authors.

"Heros are my Weakness" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: not bad, not fantastic...pretty predictable, as romance novels almost always are.

"The Lost Night" by Jayne Castle: readable, but the only character I really liked was the dust bunny. Again, pretty predictable. This is the first Jayne Castle I have read and I don't feel all that motivated to read more.

"Blood Magik" by Nora Roberts. Nora is tricky. Some of her work, I really love. Some, not so much. This I don't actually know because I could not get passed the intro into the real story. Maybe some day when I'm bored i'll go back and try to finish it. It's on my kindle.

"Half Broke Horses" and "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls: I could not put these books down until I read them all! They are memoirs, which aren't really my favorite reading but these were highly recommended by a dear friend. The things these kids survived....just wow!!!

And finally: the real reason I feel like ranting.
     I once made a grave error and read a Jodi Picoult story. I vowed to never ever ever do that again. I know, I know, she is a very popular author and sells lots of books. The other one that I refuse to read is Nicholas Sparks. Yes, I am aware that he is incredibly popular, and so many of his stories have been made into movies...the world just eats his work up. Honestly, both of these authors I have great respect for, as far as story telling skill, and the kind of work and research it takes to produce these stories.
    But listen. All my life, I have been called "overly sensitive", sometimes affectionately, sometimes
sneering-ly  I am not talking about being easily offended, or being one of those who take everything so personally and one must walk on eggshells to avoid offense, but still manage to offend anyway. I know and love some of those. I am talking about being emotionally affected by whatever...
The second part of that is: life can be hard. And sad. and sometimes just ugly. That's life. Life happens. It is also too short to immerse myself in sadness, tragedy and ugliness for entertainment purposes! If i'm going to "escape" I want to escape to somewhere happy!!!! Or at least FUNNY! Anyway, these emotionally charged, gut wrenching stories just affect me too profoundly.  I don't want to feel sad and devastated at the end of a story. I want to feel happy and smiley. I realize this is a personal thing  and i've said all of this before.
Which brings us to "Leaving Time" by Jodi Picoult.
I knew better, honestly I did.  You see, one of the characters was a psychic named Serenity Jones. I'm not sure I should admit this to the public, but one of my "alter egos" (writing wise) is named Serenity Jones. Jodi jacked my name! Anyway...that is what caught my interest, and I kept reading about it...was so curious, but knew better!!...almost bought it on my kindle like 5 times, but knew better...and then, finally caved to impulse, even though I knew better.
The one thing that I do not like about my Kindle is that I can't read in my normal fashion. I know many will think i'm crazy, but this is how I read: First couple of chapters, couple of chapters in the middle, last couple of chapters. If those are all okay, and the ending is acceptable, I go back and read the whole thing. I don't see the point of investing myself in a whole long story if the ending is going to be stinky. Plus, I don't love suspense...part of that "overly sensitive" thing I have going on. I realize this is a problem only for a small handful of people.  But I am one of them. Paging forward to the end of a book on the kindle is too time consuming. If you like it, you have to page all the way back. I have actually  done this.
SO anyway: no spoilers, but here is the rundown on "Leaving Time", well maybe some spoilers, so if you haven't read it and are planning too, maybe stop reading now,

Jodi Picoult is actually an amazing story teller. I am in awe of that skill. This story was very absorbing and interesting. I learned a lot about elephants, and that was cool, even though maybe I didn't care to know that much.  The characters were quirky and interesting, which I love. But when it came down to it, in the end, it was  all about sordid behavior and gut wrenching tragedy, and instead of finishing this book feeling happy or elated or triumphant or warm and fuzzy, or hopeful, or any of those things, I felt soooooooo sad and kind of sick, and I knew better and I am soooo bummed that I read it. It is going to be days and days before I shake the emotional fall out.

And so that is all, I guess.
I have been loving my writing class, and cannot believe the semester is nearly done!
I am taking the next semester off of school so that I can focus on getting my health back under control and my life back in order! I am kind of sad about that, as I actually really enjoy taking classes, but that's just the way it is for now.

Oh, and four weeks until due date for baby Hill! (GBD 3!)
I'm sure it won't happen because this is how babies are, but it would be sort of cool if it was born on due date (Dec. 28) which was Joey's b-day.