Selling The Farm by Debra DiBlasi

Selling The Farm by Debra DiBlasi is another one of my cheats. Well sort of. It’s a paperback book and I won’t get to cleaning off the books on my bookshelf until after I have cleaned off my Kindle.

When this book arrived in the mail, I was surprised. I vaguely remember filling out a questionnaire on Facebook from the author. I do that a lot, fill out things to try to get free books. Usually I don’t get anything for free until now.

Everything about Selling the Farm is absolutely beautiful, from the prose to the poetry all the way down to the paper it is printed on. This is the story of a young girl growing up on a run down farm. She and her siblings roam the property uncovering treasures as well as mysteries. From a child’s eyes, her parents have struggles of their own while trying to keep it all together.

The way in which the author tells this story through her own eyes is part prose and part poetry which together becomes pure magic. Every human emotion, happiness, fear, shame, grief, sadness, is brought to life in this lyrical tale.

I absolutely adored this book. From the very first page you will be amazed.

I Cheated. Just a Little

For those of you following my Clean My Kindle Challenge, I have to admit I cheated. But just a little bit.

I finished This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger and it was excellent. I had this book on hold at the library for about 6 months, so when it came up for me I took it. My rules of the challenge do state that I can add my book club selections and any I books currently have on hold at the library. So I passed muster in this regard.

I have a hard time resisting a free book so when NetGalley offered me one, I took it. And there was a book I forgot I had on pre order at Amazon. When it was released last week it magically appeared on my Kindle. My Facebook page is overloaded with book recommendations and new releases which are very difficult for me to resist even on a good day. My self imposed Kindle Challenge is testing my will power to its core.

A new self help book appeared in my feed and it struck me that maybe it would really help me. So I bought it. Bad me. The title is Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty. My mind needs some training. I’ll let you know if I can train it not to cheat on my book stash.

The number of books on my Kindle doesn’t seem to be diminishing but I’m keeping track in case some day it miraculously does. I’ll let you know if I can proceed without any more cheating. I hope reading another book will help me become book strong and work toward an empty Kindle.

Happy reading!

Happy Hurricane Birthday!

My birthday is in a couple days and it’s a monumental one. I’m turning 65. The good thing is I can now get Medicare and the bad thing is I can’t take that cruise I was dreaming of to celebrate it.

The end of August is peak hurricane season and ever since I moved to Florida I’ve spent plenty of birthdays locked behind hurricane shutters. Since I started blogging, almost every year I’ve written a post titled Happy Hurricane Birthday!

So here’s this year’s commentary. There are two hurricanes brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s a first, two storms expected to make landfall within hours of each other. It’s 2020. What else can I say.

Please pray for the people of the Gulf Coast.

The Benefits of Random Reading

When I started my Clean Kindle Challenge I thought I’d be stuck reading a lot of long, dragged out titles that at one time I had high hopes of enjoying. Many times books sound interesting to me or I can get them for free so I download the book and there it sits because something more intriguing has come along that took precedent in my world of books.

What I’ve found so far however, is that I may not be that fickle when it comes to choosing a book that is worthy of my attention. A couple of my Facebook fans chose The Great Gatsby as my next read. I never read it before and thought I should, but more modern titles always won out. Well, I read it and I loved it and now I know why so many people do too.

My Facebook friends didn’t recognize any of the titles I randomly picked for them to choose from this week. I didn’t know any of them either. I selected The Dogs of Detroit by Brad Felver. It is an award winning collection of short stories that is absolutely amazing! I have trouble putting it down.

He is an Ohioan and I suspect I came across this book in a BGSU alumni newsletter. I also went to college at Bowling Green State University in northwestern Ohio. I look for and find books to read in all kinds of unusual places and never lock myself into a specific genre or author. There is so much to learn about the world around us between the covers of a book. And that is true for just about any book.

Based on what I’ve already found stored in my Kindle, I’m looking at the rest of my Clean Kindle Challenge with more anticipation than dread. See what books are hiding in the back of your Kindle or even tucked away, lost in a sea of books on your bookshelf. You just may find a hidden gem.

Thoughts of a Hurricane

Yesterday we closed the hurricane shutters since we were told that Hurricane Isaias was on its way to us. Today we’re still waiting. I went out for my morning walk before the rain supposedly begins to arrive in a couple hours. That gave me time to think about hurricanes of the past.

I’ve lived in Florida for 40 years so I’ve been through my share of hurricanes. My first recollection of a storm was in the late 1980’s. Richard and I would go to the store and buy pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, pick our favorite, get a spoon and climb into bed to watch the storm go by. We didn’t get the flashlights out, no one I knew even had shutters. Sometimes we might put masking tape on the windows as a precaution, but mainly we did a lot of nothing.

Then Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. I can still see the face of the woman who said, “Where the hell is the cavalry?” That storm was devastating and people suffered immensely because we had no safeguards or backup plans in place. After that things started to change in terms of hurricane preparation.

In 2004 Richard and I took a trip to Washington DC. We got a call while in the Holocaust Museum to come pick up our dog from the kennel. That was embarrassing. He had to stay alone as Hurricane Jeanne pummeled through. We had to stay an extra night in our suite at the Willard Hotel since the airport was closed. Poor us.

Wilma came through in 2005 and we were without power for 9 days. But I have to say the worst storm we experienced was Irma in 2017. The house even with all the shutters closed, rocked and rolled all night long. It was a Cat 4, the strongest I’d ever tried to sleep through.

So here we are with Isaias. We can’t pronounce the name and she is unsure of what she wants to be, hurricane or tropical storm. So here we sit in the dark with all the shutters closed and as Richard says, he farts harder than the wind we are going to get from Isaias. Even though we now take all the precautions we can for a storm, batteries, flashlights, water; one tradition stays in place. I got mint chocolate chip ice cream and Richard got dark cherry chocolate.

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella

In my quest to read everything on my Kindle, I decided on something light this time. I’m trying to mix up my selections short and light interspersed with long and heavy. This title caught my eye since my Kindle addiction makes me a shopaholic of sorts.

Becky Bloomwood is quirky and kooky and loves to shop. She’s up to her ears in debt and still manages to hold down a job giving financial advice. While I don’t typically have much sympathy for women who mishandle their money, but as misguided as Becky is, she has a good heart. She’s a very likable character once you get to know her.

I had a dream the other night that I lost my notes cards listing all the clothes in my closet. One thing I’m not is a clothes horse and a skort and a polo shirt are about as complex an outfit I can put together. But something about Becky and her style rooted somewhere in my subconscious on the pages I read before going to sleep. That’s what books can do to you, find a spot in your memory and stay. On the other hand, clothes and their accessories change with each passing season. That’s why I love to read.

I much prefer my book-aholic obsession but I loved reading about someone else’s for a change. Four books down and 50 still to go. Join me in reading whatever kind of book suits your fancy and find some treasures hidden on your Kindle.

The Clean Kindle Challenge

Now that it’s July the year is half over. Thank God. Let’s pray that the second half has a happier ending than the first half. What we all need is a fresh start.

I decided a half new year resolution is in order. So much has happened since January I can’t even remember if I made any new year resolutions for 2020. If I did, they were very quickly thrown right out the window. I wanted to give my self a challenge, something I hadn’t tried before and the usual stuff like losing weight and exercising more were completely off the table.

One look at my Kindle before I went to bed last night and I knew what that challenge would be. Cleaning out my Kindle. My sister and I have an ongoing banter about the number of unread books I store on my Kindle. Her max is three. Mine… I counted 56 unread titles. Yikes!

I set my own ground rules. No time limit but I will read all the unread books currently on my Kindle. The only new books allowed to be downloaded are the monthly book club selection and any titles I currently have on hold at the library. They only allow 6 titles on hold at one time so once those 6 have been delivered, that’s it. And I am free to stop reading any book currently on my Kindle at any time if I really don’t like it. Keep in mind, I rarely give up on a book because I’m always hoping it will get better by the end.

The first book I picked from the list is Mine by Courtney Cole. I have no idea why I would have picked this title since it’s not a topic I’d usually go for. And I’m not really liking it. Two women fighting over a man during a hurricane. I say if he’s dragging two women along, they both need to dump him. He’s not worth fighting for. And hurricanes are for stuffing yourself with junk food so you can fall into a sugar induced coma until the storm passes.

If you find yourself with an overstuffed Kindle like me, join me in this challenge. I’m sure mixed in with the not so great reads will be some treasures. I will track my progress for you. Stay in touch! Today I start the countdown to a clean Kindle. Ready. Set. Go!

The Advent of a New Fashion Accessory

The year 2020 has brought us so many new things most of which we wish we’d never heard of. So far we’ve suffered through an impeachment trial, horrific wildfires in Australia and something near and dear to my heart, a never ending tax season. The thing that overshadows all of the others is Covid -19, which we lovingly know as the corona virus. Too pretty a name for such a nasty virus.

The other day I saw a guy on tv with a cool mask, red, white and blue with fireworks on it. I wanted one! And then I took a step back. Now I’m a firm believer in wearing a mask when I go out as annoying as that is but when did a mask move from being a life saver to a fashion accessory? I have a collection of masks already. I have the blue disposable kind, for when the fabric one is in the laundry. I have masks with elastic to go over my ears and I have masks with strings to tie around my head. The other day in the mail someone sent me a jersey knit mask with their logo printed on it. I thought jersey knit was unacceptable in terms of mask protection but I put it in the mask drawer anyway. Facebook advertises masks with books or flowers and who doesn’t love Mickey or Elsa or Goofy on their Disney mask? Every day I’m tempted to buy one, they are so cute.

A drawer in my dresser as well as the front seat of my car have been taken over by masks. And I find my self longing for more stylish styles and patterns. The corona virus has stopped us from enjoying life outside our homes. When I do get the chance to go outside, I wear my oldest t-shirt and shorts but I select the newest, freshest mask from my collection so everyone will know that behind the mask hides a real fashionista.

Wear a mask. The life you save may be your own, or your spouse, parent, child, friend, co-worker, or someone you don’t even know.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

I haven’t written a book review in quite some time. Too many books to read, not enough time. OK. I know that’s a bad excuse since we are now allowed out of the house on rare occasions but going out requires careful preparation and planning. It demands more energy than I think I have in reserve at this point.

So I stay home and read. I like that best. A woman from book club mentioned this book, The Rent Collector. It was available in a Kindle version so I downloaded it so no visit to the library needed. This is the most wonderful story I have read in a very long time.

The Rent Collector is set in Cambodia and the story revolves around people who live in the city dump trying to eeck out a meager existence by sorting through other people’s trash. I don’t want to tell you much about the story, because it’s one of those that you have to experience for yourself. It’s that good.

I will leave you with this however. For those of you who know me, I love a story that brings my emotions to the surface. The Rent Collector did just that, digging deep into my core. I openly wept. The characters showed love and compassion for each other in seemingly unexplainable ways. And I wept again when I turned the last page. I didn’t want it to be over.

A Mother’s Day to Remember

All my life I grappled with what card to buy for my mother on Mother’s Day. The mushy gushy ones just didn’t work for me. Maybe my mother would have liked them but we never had that kind of relationship. If you understand what I’ve said, then you too know that plain and simple sentiments are hard to find in the greeting card aisle.

I rarely felt the need to acknowledge June on Mother’s Day even though she was my step mother for over 50 years. She was more like my friend than one who nurtured and gave motherly advice. One of my most favorite chapters in our story, A Bittersweet Goodnight, is when I went to visit her in assisted living on Mother’s Day. I brought her tulips and two bags of chocolates. They were buy one get one free at Publix. June loved chocolate and a bargain.

We laid side by side in her single bed chatting like school girls and eating chocolates until they were almost gone. We sat there for hours. The aide finally came to collect June for dinner which she probably wouldn’t be able to eat. I closed the bag and tucked it in her drawer for a treat later. That was a good day for someone suffering from dementia and a wonderful memory for me.

I have many wonderful women in my life who have taught me about life and let me feel loved. So today I salute mothers, step mothers, pet mothers, sisters, friends, and women who simply care about and love others no matter who they are and where they come from. We need each and every one of you. That is my simple, loving sentiment to you all.