Posts Tagged ‘books’

Woke up to snow on the car this morning. Not much. Just enough to remind a person not to get too cocky when it comes to New England weather.

Here is number 15 on the “We Will Get Through This Cold Spell” list.

Grab a pencil. Or a laptop. And start exploring/researching three places you would like to visit when the weather starts cooperating. Doesn’t have to be a big, expensive trip. Might be in your own backyard. It usually is.

Could be a hike. Or a restaurant. A farm. An ice cream stand. A festival. Wine trail. Antique show. A picnic area. Cheese trail.

Write them down and then post the list where you will see it. A visual reminder of sunny days! And let’s face it, we both know that lists are way better than our memory banks when it comes to actually bringing a thought to life. Getting it done!

I have TONS of things I’d love to do. Places to visit. I hope to get a few of them crossed off my spring/summer list.

Latest addition that I just have to share with you.

It’s a lavender farm. Only a few years old. Looks gorgeous. As lavender fields are wont to do. Located in Connecticut. What a great excuse for Northeast folks to take a day trip and lap up some beauty!

Supporting farmers. Buying local. Soaking up the scent. Being outdoors.

Have a look at Lavender Pond Farm if you are interested. Share with any friends that might also want to put this on their own “To Do” list.

While you are on their site have a look under the tab “About” and read “Our Story.”

A line from a children’s book, “Miss Rumphius” written by Barbara Cooney becomes a part of this family’s journey.

“What have you done to make the world a more beautiful place?” 

A shared favorite of the owner and her mother. Often read and enjoyed. Especially during her Mom’s final days before she succumbed to cancer. After having lived with it for more than a decade. She sounded like a very brave and special lady.

This lavender farm is not just paying homage to the farmer’s memory of her beloved mother. It’s also this family’s way of making the world a more beautiful place.

Totally on my list.

All of it.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

#11 on the list. To fight cabin fever this winter.

Challenge yourself. 

Recently I mentioned being exhausted and that I would soon share the reason.

Exhausted might have been a slight exaggeration. I was being a tad dramatic.

But here’s the reason.

I challenged myself at Goodreads. My personal goal is to read 100 books in 2019. I know, right?

This is a great site, by the way, for those who enjoy reading. Has suggestions, reviews, etc.

As an aside, since I am in sharing mode, this is also a fabulous site Reading Group Guides. loaded with so much for a reader to digest.

Since I’ve avoided any weight loss challenges that might be beckoning I figured I would go for something that was actually doable. My friend, Nancy, thinks that it’s a bit aggressive. She’s probably right.

I do enjoy reading and learning. So, I am not doing it just for the challenge. But it will help me to stay on track and not veer off with pesky distractions. While still somehow putting a little healthy pressure on myself. Not necessarily a bad thing if it’s keeping me off the streets.

Now I’m like an anteater sniffing around the house. Reading everything.

Hannie, my youngest who is away at university, is sort of uncomfortable with me grabbing books from her room and devouring them. Because, along the way, I’m taking photos of her neon colored, sticky post it notes and personal hand written observations  in the margins while also lending my own running commentaries.

My accompanying texts, “Yes! I agree!” Or, “Really? You thought that?” Like a virtual book club. In my mind anyway.

neontabs

So that is number eleven on the list “Fighting Cabin Fever.”

Challenge yourself.

Maybe lose the twenty pounds that appeared out of nowhere once you found an empty nest with no cigarettes. Okay, sorry for that ramble. That was totally for me. All me. 

Could be an on-line course. Or listen to a daily podcast. Do one nice thing for someone else each day. Pull out a jigsaw puzzle. Read more books. Go for regular walks. Learn new recipes to shake things up.

A friend from Malaysia joined the 100sareepact in 2015. This involved a pact between two friends to wear their saree (sari) one hundred times while sharing their saree stories. It incorporated photos of celebrations, heritage, joy, love, cherished memories and more. Very cool movement.

Maybe you could create your own friend pact/challenge?

Whatever you decide to do it will result in a lovely feeling of accomplishment. You will have achieved your goal while keeping busy waiting for the change of seasons.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

In my last post, I promised to share more information about a couple of the books that are in this photo.

bookslibrary

Going to the neighborhood library and appreciating your tax dollars at work was #5 on Mary’s “Wintry Mix” list.

In that same vein (sort of) I respectfully piggy back on the reading theme in this post for #6.

Go local.

Okay, I really wanted to type “Go loco” above instead of Go local. But I didn’t.

Support not just your local library but the local authors and bookstores. And authors who write about your locale or community.

Honestly, not sure why but I always feel like I’ve got some skin in the game when I’ve got one of those books in my hands.

Like I get all, “That’s my neighborhood. My town. My state. My people.” You can just imagine me with a puffed out chest. And not a puffed out post menopausal belly. Full of pride.

About two months ago I met Jeanne Mc Williams Blasberg at this literary event in Providence. She was on her own so there were a couple of extra chairs begging for middle-aged occupants. Jeanne was kind enough to allow me (and a friend) to sit at her table.

Got chatting, as one does, and I absolutely did the whole Rhode Island thing. That is to relentlessly dig until you find out what or who we have in common. I usually have the energy for it. That night was no exception.

Well, we are both mothers, both lived in California and both did the expat overseas gig. Okay, sure, that could be enough to keep a semi-decent conversation going between people who just met- before the event and during intermission.

Then I found out she was an author.

Wait, what?

She has a book “Eden” floating out there and a new one being published soon.

Truthfully, between you and me, I think I might be an authorphile. You could put me in a room with Tom Brady and a writer and I be like, “Tom, I will totally hook up with you in a few. I swear. Just gotta catch up with Jeanne here.”

Tom Brady dropped like a hot potato by JBM. True story. Ain’t gonna lie.

I’m always curious about every human being but now I have questions galore for this stranger at my table. Her table. She was there first.

“Wait, how do you spell your name? Plasberg? Is that with a P? What’s it about? Where does it take place?”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I might have been a little loud because, well, I am loud. That’s who I am. And it was in a dark bistro (I know that dark should not matter for sound but neither should immediate radio music turn down when looking for a house number while driving) with a crowd of other ladies all excited to be at a watering hole with their ilk. So their noise level didn’t help mine.

“Eden” is set in my home state of Rhode Island. A fictional coastal town many natives might recognize. A novel about a family and secrets. How the lens might originally be black and white but gets a little grainy and gray (Thank you, Jesus!) with each new generation.

I really enjoyed it. Jeanne incorporates historical events-whether economic collapse or a world war-as a back drop to give the reader a feel for the time and its social mores.

Okay, Jeanne is not native to Rhode Island but she has a place with us now. Not everyone can be born here. We just don’t have the room. But as people leave or the older folks depart then spaces open up and we need to be welcoming. And then supportive.

When I was at the library poking around I noticed they had a section, by the check out desk, that had books written by local authors or about the area.

Well, why wouldn’t I read them?

I brought home Mary Cantwell’s “American Girl: Scenes from a Small-Town Childhood.” Mary was an editor and columnist for the New York Times but grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. This book is filled with lovely memories of her childhood in this seaside town during the 1940s and 1950s. It’s like finding someone’s diary. I feel like everyone has a story. Hers was a pleasant one. Added bonus was I had a better understanding of the town’s history after reading this simple, old-fashioned memoir.

As you can see in the photo I had also grabbed Bernie Mulligan’s, “I Made It.” A story set in the town of East Providence where I was raised. I didn’t read it yet but I will. I had too many open books at the time.

This book is about a woman who was fully paralyzed from polio. She also had four sons under the age of seven when it happened! Can you even imagine?

I am so surprised I never knew about this. It’s a story of family love and commitment. Her husband fixed up an old bus so that she and her family could travel. When he passed away the neighborhood kids collected 6000 books of Green Stamps to buy a Winnebago. Or a caravan for my European readers. The newly licensed young neighbors all took turns driving her across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh. That’s God’s work right there. Makes me proud to be a Townie. I definitely have to read this.

Couple of books from Ann Leary in that photo. Northeast girl living in New England. I love her books. She just gets me. LOL I mean, I just get her. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary but I feel like she actually might be the funny one in that relationship. These two books (in the photo) were good but I loved, “The Good House.” I remember laughing out loud while reading it. Very few authors make me LOL. I also really liked her book “The Children.”

Not in the above photo but here is another book I recently enjoyed. Staying with the local vibe.

tenemental1

When I was born my parents lived in a tenement. I get it. When my husband and I bought our first home it was in Providence. A condo on the East Side. In a freaking tenement! I still haven’t heard the end of that one. But when I walked in, after the Boston group that owned it did their rehab and tagged the three floors as condos, I fell in love with the original wood floors gleaming on a sunny day. I coveted the fireplace that had been there for ages.

We’ll take it!

What I didn’t consider was that the bathroom had no heating. At all. That original, like the drafty windows we could barely open, wasn’t always a good thing.

Still. So many fabulous memories in that place. No regrets.

Anyway.

I consider the purchase of this book a trifecta. I supported a local book store Twenty Stories, a Providence author and really enjoyed this memoir. Filled with quirky tenants, boyfriends and lore.

That’s it for my #6 on getting through winter! Enough about books already. I’ll lay off bookspeak for awhile. I’m exhausted. Yes, it has to do with books. I will tell you why in another blog posting. Not the next one. But someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Number 5 on the “Wintry Mix” list.

Honestly, yesterday it was 53 degrees (Fahrenheit) and I was riding my bike. I have no right to complain about weather at all. I was practically skipping the day before that with my winter coat wide open while on the nearby bike path.

What should be on the list is this. If it’s not freezing or raining then get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors. If you get that pseudo Spring day then run with it.

Today, it’s a little cooler but still lovely.

Now that you know the current weather report let me proceed with my original list of things to combat seasonal blues. This is number 5.

Visit your local library. 

When I first moved back to Rhode Island it was one of the first things I did. And walked out with my shiny new library card.

Reading has always been an enjoyment of mine. So it’s only natural that I would love a place that’s chock-full of books.

But I also find it’s so much more.

No cover charge. Not a soul trying to sell you anything. Sounds like a coffee shop except that in a coffee shop you usually need to buy something if you are hogging a seat.

A couple of weeks ago it was slamming down rain and chilly. I hurriedly entered the library shaking out droplets like a dog just out of a bath.

It was soooo cozy, dry and warm.

I perused the titles as I ambled through the aisles. Reserved some books on their computer system. Checked out a bunch with the librarian.

Then stood at the community board for twenty minutes taking in all of the events and activities. They have an open mic event, local author night, classes for all ages, free blood pressure checks, an educational talk on DNA, assistance with taxes, brochures for seasonal/local events and more.

I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Wait, is this the place to be?

I’m thinking yes.

This is the group of books that busted out of the dusty prison and escaped home with me. A furlough for just a few weeks.

bookslibrary

There is more I want to discuss about a couple of these books. But that will be next blog posting!

If you are experiencing cabin fever or feeling blue due to the season then bundle up and head to your local library. You will appreciate the change of scenery.

Remember, it doesn’t cost a dime. It’s absolutely quiet and peaceful. It’s educational and a great resource for community events.

If that is not enough to convince you then digest this.

Reading fiction makes you a kinder and more compassionate human being. I read it in a study. 🙂

So how about that?

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Everyone loves a good story. I swear that people would give up food and drink to hear a good story.

Okay, maybe just me. But I totally would. I swear.

I LOVE a good story.

Just recently (over the summer holidays) at my cousin’s place, the Irish Social Club, we were told a story that had us on the edge of our seats. It included the East Side, a local restaurant, boxing, an angry young man and a finish with the Boston Marathon.

Jeepers. Okay, there’s that.

Then a more distant memory.

Mazing through the Christian section of Damascus and seeing a big man in a cafe regaling the tea/coffee crowd with old stories. I wished I could understand the Arabic language!

Not long ago.

When my daughter was in the Bay area during her college years, I had sent a birthday gift and list of different things to do in San Francisco. She checked off most on my list but was not able to attend the story telling venue “Fireside.”

Don’t get attached. It’s already a thing of the past. 😦

Here is where I diverge. Still relating to story telling.

I was watching/listening to a story on “The Moth.”

The Moth. It’s a cool thing.

Okay, it was a story about a middle aged woman so I could sort of identify with her. Listened to the podcast, filed away the story for another time and called it a day.

My girlfriend, Mary Ann, works at a book store in an unnamed state. Apparently book stores get loads of books that they cannot sell. For pre-read or not fully/properly edited.

Anyway, she gave me a bunch of free books. Because she’s my friend.

I’m looking at the titles and an author name sounds familiar. Like the same person that was telling a story on “The Moth.”

I google the situation. Yes, it’s her. She is an entertainer (home entertainment), author of a gazillion books, has a billion offspring and also farm animals.

Oh wait, the site directs you to her Amazon store. Because if you followed her blog, book club or page and were the least bit interested in any of her stuff you can buy it and be like her.

Where am I going with this?

Don’t fall for the Martha Stewart nonsense.

She’s written a lot of books. It takes me forever to write a single blog posting. And I don’t even have chickens. Don’t have kids at home. I’m not slow. I’m not quick, I’ll grant you that, but I’m not trailing behind.

Continued message to you. It’s not as easy as one would have you think. I’m not saying the world is full of imposters. I’m just saying take it easy on yourself when comparing with others.

My message to the author. I’m not sure if you have a little help with your writing but please don’t raise the bar too high for the rest of us. Thrilled that you are a go getter. Love that you have an on line store and animals but don’t present an image of “doing it with ease” to the every day woman. Because it’s not easy for many.

 

Read Full Post »

Reading

It’s that time again.

When colleges or universities attempt to somehow know the applicant a little better. With their prompt questions. If you were a tree what type of tree would you be?

Okay, maybe not that exactly.

But sometimes there are the questions like, “Which book impacted your life?”

 

I am thinking I might say, “All of them.”

If it were me  (and it’s not)  I would be ready to list all of the books that had some impact on my life.

Then I thought, “It’s not the books.”

It’s being able to read the books. Being able to read anything at all.

My mother-in-law, who is living with me at the moment, is ninety years old.

And illiterate.

She has raised literate and successful children. But she came from a place and time where the education of young women was an option for parents. And as we all know parents can sometimes be a crap shoot.

If you are reading this right now do you realize the gift you have?

You can read the street sign. The map. You do not have to rely on others for your menu choices at a restaurant. You are able to read the newspaper. Help your child with their homework. You are able to fill out the arrival information on your plane trip.

Imagine not being able to read.  For a second.

The folks at the college admissions might need to rethink their questions.

Maybe something like, “How has reading impacted your life?”

Forget the books.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I just finished an article about reading. The importance of it. More libraries equal fewer prisons. And all of that.

My mom loved to read. Still does. My grandmother, who had little education, had a book in her hand well into her nineties. Always.

We received books every Christmas. Mom didn’t buy me books every time we went to the store but I still remember the special trips to a local store, Zayre’s, when she did. I’d race to the book section and peruse the Nancy Drew section. And she would let me buy one in the series. For $1.99. I had the entire collection for years.

She always brought me to the library. Mom would go her way and I would go mine. Into the children’s and young adult section. Got hooked on mysteries. Whether they took place years ago or present day.

I could get lost in a book. I remember, more than once, someone coming to pick me up at the house when I was a teen. At the exact time that I had designated. I’d be lying on the living room sofa reading and then see the head go past the window heading toward the door. “Oh, shoot! I’m not ready!” Had no idea that so much time had passed.

And when it was my turn to have children I did the same. I bought them books for Christmas. Took them to the library for toddler time. Husband and I read to them every night. Because that is what I was taught. Just like I still iron the shirts and make the bed with hospital corners exactly the way Eileen taught me. When I was young.

books

On the plane

I was not big into censorship. Although I wouldn’t let my younger one read “Precious” a couple of years ago.

I remember I bought a book for one of Annie’s friends for her birthday. Written by a popular author. Plot was about two kids who had lost a parent and become friends with each other. And overcame loneliness. The mom, of the girl, looked at the book and said she would shelve it for now. That they knew someone who had died and it would be traumatic for her daughter to read anything about death.

At first I felt badly. Like I goofed in the gift giving department. But upon reflection I thought about the power of books. Of relating. Books as a friend when other people don’t get you. My gift was age appropriate. It dealt with anger and loss. When I bought it I was thinking that this was an author that the kids all enjoyed. Death was not what shrieked out at me. But the friendship. Just seemed like a good book.

And I, personally, don’t think reading words (fictional or not) about something you are experiencing yourself is harmful. We don’t forget about death or anything else just because we’re not talking about it or reading about it. Most times it is good to read and talk about it. Acknowledge it.

This woman had every right to do what she felt was the best thing. It was her daughter. Not mine.

But Nancy Drew didn’t have a mom. Mandy (one of my favorite books) was an orphan. Pippi Longstocking came from an unconventional home. Anne of the Green Gables? Orphan and loss. Bambi’s mom? Shot and killed. Of course, I could go on and on about the fairy tales. Mom bought me huge books that were loaded with them. Poisonings, jealousy, killing, cruelty, and loss all draped in color and beautiful heroes/heroines. And those are just the books written for young kids!

I loved them all.

Boy, I sure meandered in this posting. I can tell I’ll be posting more on this topic. Prompted by this morning’s article.

Next up, how Rory, unexpectedly, learned about sexual intercourse from a book that I checked out of the library for her. Was not my intention!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »