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So Michael returned to the VA this morning as the cancer has returned and they will need to take more vials of blood. The Doctor is trying to tell him that isn’t so serious as there is a small indication but he isn’t sure this is true. Already, they stopped the spread of the cancer by taking away some body parts, so the next step if it continues to the blood stream will of course be more serious. We wait and watch.

I clean, and get ready for my return to my teaching position in the fall. My husband discusses selling his extensive book collection, records, and tools, so I will not have to do this. I remind him that many people have survived cancer and he replies, “Yes, but eventually it will win.” Hmm, and so I clean, garden and read murder mysteries or intense novels involving the daily life of an attorney which seems so logical and yet interesting that I am lost and have some resolve from the present.

We had a good summer and were able to do some important things but sometimes I am angry at the situation. The other day, Mike was at the VA and the nurse remembered our wonderful cupcakes. She wondered why we disappeared and of course, my husband’s health was a major factor in why. I hold him and want to beat it out of his system but the only cleansing I can do for the day is mopping the floors or correcting some online work of my students. I am grateful to my husband for being a good husband and thinking of me and how I will handle things.

For now, I feel we have plenty of time but eventually we will sell our home and move into a smaller place maybe nearer the beach or a small town in Florida. So, if we need to sell the books, records, tools then I guess I am ok. If left to my own devices, I would have no idea how to sell the tools. The only tools I understand is my computer which spouts out words helping me better understand the situation.

I have decided that there should be a law against “social media posting untruths or rather believing them.” This summer, we had the chance to visit old friends, relatives, and family. Meeting in person is so much better than meeting on social media. The untruths, half truth, and the outright lies which can be shared and believed are outrageous. I cannot tell you how many times I have read a posting or shared with a friend only to find that 1/4 is the truth and the rest is resting gingerly somewhere to the left of fantasies I wish happened.Mark Zukerberg is truly a genius to have found the creator of Facebook and to realize, ‘This is a goldmine.’ Truly, a quagmire of intricate webs where each person is reputed to be only five contacts away from someone we know. They say the world just got closer, and if so it may be in my dreams.And if there is a movement to make him President in 2020, please fast forward in your tracks and think long and hard.

If the person on the other end doesn’t know this, some damage can be done especially since social media is a cure all displaying exactly what you need to see. I have noticed that if you have any weakness or feel down that day that social media has this rule which you can apply. Just like the kaleidoscope you would turn as a child and each one sees different shades of color depending on when and how far they turn it, the same rule can be applied to social media.

Let me explain: you have a day when you open up casually social media and you see everyone has this huge supportive extended family and you compare your family who you can count on one hand. So, you begin to obsess about it not realizing the whole story. Yes, the family does get together but some can’t wait until the end of the day and it is every decade the group picture is taken because the other times, they don’t enjoy one another’s company. Or you see a picture of a happy couple only to find out that they share the same home but not the same bedroom. Whew, if you only knew as you read the female’s power of positivity posting signifying ‘we share the perfect life.’

So, as you read the funny media stories about our President Donald Trump and his family or the chronicles of the match between the well-known actor and his attorney girlfriend, or the supposed promised fantasy jobs..remember to take it all with a grain of salt and a smile. I learned this summer meeting in person family and friends is the winning hand.

Mike came up with this one day after I was lamenting the actions of a supposed friend on facebook. I spoke the truth about something figuring it would help her in the long run to know the situation since I was intimately familiar with it. Well, she attacked me and became kind of nasty. “She is throwing rose pedals at the swamp,” my husband retorted. It makes sense. In the end, I won’t comment again on her posts but let her continue her path with “like, like, like.”

Today, Michael went to the VA for his annual check to see if the cancer has returned as it is a highly aggressive cancer with a 40-50 chance of returning. I stayed home and made some stuffed manicotti filling the insides with blue cheese, spinach, and some Parmesan. Next week, will be the results. We will repeat this performance for the next 3 years as this is a critical time.

A good meal with a nice glass of wine can’t hurt the day. And when it is time to hear the truth, I pray we are up to it.

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Like any writer worth my salt, I have a bulletin board with codes known only to me. On one bulletin board, I keep the title “Steel Giraffe’s” for a children’s grammar book I have in mind and this board has this picture of the flowers of a tree given to us by a friend. I haven’t noticed a similar one in Florida which leads me to believe that when he dug up his neighbor’s tree by request to give to us that is one of a kind. This is on my second bulletin board next to my computer with the name of a teacher I wanted to meet for lunch one day and a calendar. 

“Dark Deception” by Nancy Mehl is a great read for a sizzling summer day while sitting inside a cool room sipping on a cold drink. The author has a good story line with strong sharply defined characters. Once I picked up the book, I finished it in two days as the book is only 300 pages. The author, Nancy Mehl has written more than twenty books and was a 2015 finalist for RT Book Reviews’ Reviewers’ Choice Award. Once I find an author I like, I stay with them so I would be curious to read some more books by this writer.

The main character, Kate is in witness protection from a serial killer who has disappeared. There are a few twists in the plot as Kate is subpoenaed to testify in a new trial which indicates that the convicted man isn’t the murderer. There is also a love story with the introduction of Tony DeLuca, the deputy Marshall who originally protected her in the first trial when her twin sister was murdered and attacked by the serial killer. I can tell that there is some great research by the author regarding the location of the small-town Shelter Cove, Arkansas and the legal process along with the role of the deputy Marshall and the law enforcement community. The author shows a good innate understanding of small town life in Arkansas making the book a delightful way to spend the evening or afternoon reading.

“Dark Deception” also speaks to the reader of the invisible power of allowing faith to enter and shield the main character from strong self doubts and fear after the attack on her twin sister leaves her alone and vulnerable. This book was under the series: the Defenders of Justice and lists “Fatal Frost” as another book by Nancy Mehl. After reading this book, it is easy to believe that the Defenders of Justice include the deputy Marshall and all those who assist Kate along her path. Belief in a power outside of ourselves is never an easy road for many of us, but what is endearing about this writer is that she introduces an idiosyncratic serial killer who tries in his own way to protect Kate. Because of this quirky twist, I declare that the devil is truly in the details and the book will demand of the reader to pause and rethink the plot again making it an interesting read.

I received Dark Deception by Nancy Mehl compliments of Bethany House Publishers and TLC Book Tours. This book is published by Bethany House which is one of the top Christian publishing houses. Prior to reading this book, I was not aware of them and am now interested to browse through some of their other fiction subgenres. The spiritual insight wrapped up in an interesting read is a good cure for a hot afternoon in Florida. I would recommend checking the author out.

Just today, I was listening to a conversation about moving to the country and living on 2 acres of land in the middle of the country. So, I was thinking “would I rather live in the country surrounded by land or in the city?” I decided as I get older the city is a better place for me. Sometimes I think my husband would prefer the 2 acres in the middle of nowhere, but we still have the lawn to cut, the garden to take care of and as we get older, we might not want those responsibilities.

And then of course on our trip this summer to the Catskills searching for Keith’s house, I won’t easily forget the woman who came running down the stairs after her friend (the first person we saw outside for miles) invited me into the house to use her landline:  I can’t forget her strong exclamation, “Someone’s pulled into the driveway. We have company!” And then her happiness at having company which reminded me of my years growing up on a farm with 14 acres in the heart of the Catskills. When someone pulled into the driveway, on the 8 mile trip from town, it was an “event.” She was happy to see us, so happy that I wondered if she didn’t state my friend’s name slowly aloud as if memorizing, so she might look him up one day. Then she saw my husband waiting in the car and said, “Invite him in.” I quickly replied, “That is very nice of you but we do have a schedule.” And then I made sure I waved, so he knew I was still breathing. Remembering that my husband was already hesitant to stop and might be thinking that I was part of a Dateline episode. “She was very trusting. You know, she grew up in a small town,” I imagined my epitaph spoken aloud in the introduction.

I guess it all comes down to whether you would like to be reminded of the movie “Deliverance.” I can hear those banjo’s playing and having lived in some isolated parts of the Catskill’s and in Alabama, I can understand and remember the characters I met. Then I think of living in New York City or in Seoul; the city of Abu Dhabi; and for a short time Philadelphia. I realize that I would rather wrestle with the characters from the movie “My Cousin Vinny” than those from “Deliverance.” After living in cities, somewhere along the way I learned to appreciate those wise crackers like the lawyer, Vinny. I can more easily appreciate his line of thought than those who desire pure isolation. Maybe because I don’t identify with pure isolation as I like a little company now and then.

And still the banjo’s are enticing if only to stop you in your tracks.

So we are back to the roost and fixing some regular summer plans on our agenda like mowing the lawn, vacuuming the house, cleaning, grocery  shopping, etc. After being away for more than a week, it is hard to get back on the grid again. Last night I had difficulty sleeping: in my dreams I was driving the curvy Callicoon Center Road trying to find Keith’s home and in the finale, I witnessed him being beheaded. I believe part of my dream incorporated some of the book I am reading which takes place in the Middle East and is a spy thriller. I woke up anxious realizing that I have no control over somebody not wanting to see anyone. Just as my brothers hibernated themselves from me and my father before he passed away…I don’t know why. There is an age difference of 7-8 years between us, so we have different memories. I wish they would share the memories but they won’t. I can’t make my Aunt talk about memories of growing up with my mom in the East Village during the Depression or the possible cousins and family I may have. Connection have been lost which as I get older I realize I would have appreciated.

In the finale, the only thing you can rely on is what you have in your hand. Life is a gamble but you must see past the facade to know what is true and good. I want so much to believe that Keith still wants me and other people in his life and my brothers will be there for me but there is no indication of this. My husband is there though as I journey to the past and continue in the present. Maybe this is the best we can hope for. My brothers were there for my mom’s funeral but refused to say goodbye to my father. My husband and I were there. When people separate because of different beliefs: they may be political or just pride..it is not easy to move on. In the end, I know I am not to blame and being the connector, I want to have us together and to continue legacies but sometimes it does not work. Maybe one day, I will encounter these cousins as my grandfather grew up with three brothers, and they will be able to fill in the blanks. I am not sure why my Aunt won’t share or remember the memories or why she holds back. Why did my mother only tell me so much? I look at the pictures she gave to me: saying take them, they are yours of my family in the Catskills when we first moved there and my parents working in Manhattan. There are glamorous studio stills of my mom working as a stylist for NBC, my Dad’s photo’s of homes in the Hamptons which my grandfather owned. Or did he? June doesn’t seem to remember and my mom died without speaking to her as they were fighting over a lost inheritance. I know only that my mom never forgave her sister.

I can’t change the past. June and I stayed in touch but she is a very different person from my mother. We move on and I am glad for those near me and that my husband had the chance to visit the tiny Catskill town I called my own. Happy summer everyone.