HUMP DAY SERENDIPITY: CREATING MY “HAPPY MOMENTS”

It takes very little to make me happy.  Those moments can happen accidentally, almost, just like many things I write about on this blog.  Like creating a new blog header, (note the one I’ve captured on my iPhone above), and which graces my site today.

I say “today,” because I might find something else that excites me.

I am a fan of dolls, as you might notice, as well as Disney figurines.  I have cleared a few of these collections into bins in my garage…and bring them out occasionally.   Meanwhile, the fewer things I have to dust, the better.

Right now I’m at my computer, with my office TV playing in the background.

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My recent Netflix viewing included a binge-watch of all seven seasons of Nurse Jackie.  Even though I had watched it all on Showtime as it played itself out, I really enjoyed seeing it all again, in a gulp.  There is something so captivating about the character of Jackie.  Even as I rooted for her, I knew it would not end well.  She kept reverting to type, making choices that led her down dark pathways…but even knowing how it would end, I couldn’t help holding my breath and hoping…

And I hated Kevin again, with his glaring, judgmental disapproval…even while I could feel his pain.

Edie Falco, who portrays Jackie, has been in a number of shows…and next week, will play an attorney in the new movie about the Menendez Murders.

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Now that I’ve finished watching Nurse Jackie, I have turned to the new Seventh Season episodes of Offspring.

I like this Australian show, even though I am often frustrated by many of the characters, who behave rather stupidly.  LOL.  I can’t seem to stop, though.  I like the MC, Nina, whose daughter Zoe (pictured below) is delightful.  If Nina could manage how often she sees the rest of her family …I would like her more.  Just my opinion.

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Currently, I’m reading Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf, a book that was the basis for an upcoming Netflix movie release starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.  I love those two…and then discovered that there was a book behind the movie.  Thanks, Mary, at Book Fan.

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This morning, aside from my blogging and background TV watching, I’m doing laundry…and making a list.  Off to the grocery store and mailbox later.  I received an e-mail that at least one of my new books has arrived.

What makes you happy?  Have you found ways to create your own happiness?

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REVIEW: I ALMOST FORGOT ABOUT YOU, BY TERRY MCMILLAN

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Dr. Georgia Young is bored with her life. Some might say it’s a good life, since she lives in a lovely home in the SF Bay Area. She is an optometrist with a good practice. And her two daughters are grown. Sort of.

But Georgia is getting older, and she is pondering her lack of a love life, while at the same time, reflecting on the choices she has made. Why did she pick her two husbands, whom she later divorced? What made her fall in love with the men she did pick, and what, if anything, did she learn from them?

I Almost Forgot About You is narrated in Georgia’s first person voice, and she is hilarious. Her self-deprecating humor kept me smiling, and I also loved the dialogue between her and her two best friends, Wanda and Violet. Her mother, Early, an octogenarian living in Bakersfield, where Georgia grew up, is feisty and outspoken.

Her two daughters, Frankie and Estelle, were annoying brats, and just because they were old enough to be grown didn’t mean they had managed to accomplish that feat. Later in the story, they grew on me, and I came to understand their behavior.

The author’s characters reminded me of people I’ve known, and their personality flaws and foibles are definitely familiar to any woman who has reached a midpoint in her life.

When Georgia plans to sell her house and take a train ride around Canada, while searching for old lovers, will her plan go off without a hitch? Or will life get in the way? What astonishing surprises will change her direction to something unexpected?

A lively and colorful story that kept me reading, and which will appeal to women of any age who are pondering their life choices. 4.5 stars.

WEEKLY UPDATES: BIRTHDAYS…AND TAXES

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our new leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

Another week flew by, with just a bit of rain and enough sunshine to make for a cheerful mood.  I read and reviewed FOUR books this week, visited some interesting blog posts, made it to my visit with the accountant without any disastrous results.  And celebrated afterwards with a late lunch and a martini:

 

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My two granddaughters had their nineteenth birthdays this month…Aubrey’s was last Saturday, and Fiona, precious baby below, has hers this Sunday.  How time has flown!

 

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Moving on…

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Interior Thoughts: A Caffeinated Sunday

A Blue Mondays Musing

Tuesday Potpourri: “The Shadow Year”

Let’s Curl up with “The Perfect Neighbors”

Hump Day Potpourri: The Tax Bite

Bookish Thursday: A Potpourri of Events

Bookish Friday: “Multiple Listings”

Before Reality Hit: An Excerpt from “Web of Tyranny”

Celebratory Moments: Saturday Snapshots

Review:  Where I Lost Her (e-book), by T. Greenwood –(NetGalley – 2/23)

Review:  I Was Here (e-book), by Gayle Forman

Review:  The Passenger (e-book), by Lisa Lutz – (NetGalley – 3/1)

Review:  The Frog Prince (e-book), by Jane Porter

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AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE:

Check out Trish, at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity: BBAW – Combating the Blogging Blues…

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Nothing in the mailbox!  I downloaded one purchased book…and a Kindle Prime Freebie.

The Price of Salt (e-book, or CAROL), by Patricia Highsmith – I saw the movie (Carol) last month.

 

 

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North of Here (e-book), by Laurel Saville (Kindle Prime Freebie)

 

 

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NOW WHAT? (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Currently Reading:  Multiple Listings (e-book), by Tracy McMillan (NetGalley – 3/8)

 

 

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I have some from last week to finish up, like The Shadow Year and Silver Bay…

Then I want to grab some of the shiny new books that are sending “come-hither” looks to me:

 

Find Her (e-book), by Lisa Gardner

 

 

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The Ex (e-book), by Alafair Burke

 

 

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That’s it for the week!  What did yours look like?  Join me here for a chat…and once again, I’m sending out best wishes to my February “birthday girls.”  Here they were, back in the day…(1998).

 

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REVIEW: WHAT WAS MINE, BY HELEN KLEIN ROSS

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Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

While the idea of feeling anything but horror for such a woman would normally be a predominant one, I found myself empathizing with Lucy, the “kidnapper,” whose almost obsessive desire for a baby leads to such a horrific act.  The author skillfully takes us through her thought processes, breaking them down into manageable moments that slowly turn into something almost palatable…and then, just when we think we can live with what she did, the repercussions start happening.  Life comes undone.

With part of the story in Lucy’s voice, we come to understand her.  But what about all those whose lives were damaged?  We view the perspectives of Marilyn, the mother of the kidnapped child; other people in Lucy’s life; Mia herself; and more characters as the pages lead us to what happens after.

From Manhattan to California, and finally to China, the story unfolds into some surprising developments. The emotions that Mia feels upon learning of Lucy’s actions soon change as she realizes, finally, that she was who she was because of Lucy. And despite the biological connection with Marilyn, parts of her would always belong to the woman who raised her.

In some ways, the conclusion to What Was Mine felt unfinished, as we are left not quite knowing what the outcome will be. But as we watch the pieces begin to coalesce, we are struck by how nothing is quite black and white, but in muted shades of gray. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: WHAT SHE KNEW, BY GILLY MACMILLAN

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When a child goes missing, the world suddenly becomes a dangerous place. For the family of the missing child, for the police whose job it is to find the child, and for the public, who take it upon themselves to share, wrongly, their own thoughts and feelings, which include pointing fingers of blame.

Benedict Finch was eight years old that day when he and his mum, Rachel Jenner, took a walk in the woods with their dog. In a moment’s weakness, Rachel let Ben go ahead toward the swing, feeling he should be allowed a little confidence in his own abilities. It would be a moment that haunted the rest of her life.

His disappearance would grab the attention of the police, the media, and Rachel’s life would never be the same again.

What She Knew is narrated by Rachel, news pieces, blog entries, and DI Jim Clemo, one of the detectives in the Bristol community.

As the story unfolds, we come to know several characters surrounding the mother, Rachel, and the father, John and his wife Katrina. Rachel and John’s divorce had been a defining event in the lives of Rachel and Ben, perhaps setting her up for the state of mind she was in on that walk in the woods.

Nicki, Rachel’s sister, along with her friend Laura, surrounded her during the early days. There was also a constant media presence and a lot of hostility toward Rachel, as the blame was often aimed in her direction.

I had several suspicions about various characters, and even as I thought for sure that one of those least likely to be guilty was indeed the perpetrator, I began to realize, just at the same time that others did, who the guilty party was. I liked not knowing for sure, as it kept me turning those pages.

There is no happy ending to a story like this, as no matter what eventually happens, there will be pain and loss and damage. A realistic tale that I will not ever forget. I enjoyed the structure, with a before and after glimpse of the characters. 5 stars.

DEALING WITH THE CONSEQUENCES…& DISTRACTIONS

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Sometimes life’s unexpected treasures can be discovered in past moments…events we may have forgotten.

With blogging, we can sometimes recapture those moments.  As I changed my themes and headers on my remaining SIX blogs, I went back in my archives to read old posts.  As far back here as 2010.

Sadly, some of the links don’t work anymore, as the reviews or other title hook-ups go to blogs I no longer have.  Earlier today, I spent some time linking reviews to Goodreads, in those cases where the links went to “Neverland” (note my header with Neverland images).  Accidental?

But this could go on forever, right?  Do I want to spend time back there, fixing what is now broken, because of my recent actions?  Does it matter?

I must admit that I am a perfectionist, and sometimes my older blog posts make me cringe.

The content, not so much.  But the images and links…that’s another story.

But onward…and let’s focus on the present.  I am finally getting in the mood for the holidays, and brought out a few Christmas decorations. (Note the little gingerbread boy hanging on my cupboard at the top of the post).

In the image below, note the candy stripe “bear” hanging from another cupboard.  So far, I haven’t done much more in this part of the room.

 

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Here, on my pub table, I planted one of my miniature trees, and the little Christmas fairies.

 

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And on the hearth, you can see a few holiday “characters,” like the Nutcrackers.  The poinsettia seems a little “fake,” but that’s what I have from my bins.  Fantasia Mickey is a regular “greeter” on the hearth.

 

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Am I distracting myself from the consequences of my blog deleting?  The links that don’t work?  The ones I still should fix?

Well, I hope to also distract myself with reading…but the last two books I read didn’t do much for me.

Here’s hoping that this one, The Guest Room, by Chris Bohjalian, will do the trick.  It is a spellbinding tale of a party gone horribly wrong: two men lie dead in a suburban living room, two women are on the run from police, and a marriage is ripping apart at the seams.

 

 

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Do you ever search your past posts and cringe?  Do you try to fix things, or do you move on?  What are you hooked on now?

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RETURNING TO MY ROOTS

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Today I’ve been thinking about those accidental moments in our lives, the happenstance…the SERENDIPITY.

All of those themes that are featured in the book I first published, An Accidental Life, and created in the A-frame house pictured above.

 

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As I recall the history of that book and this blog, I took a look at my “about” page, and decided to excerpt this portion:

 

When I decided to create this blog, I had been contemplating some issues about life and choices…and how sometimes we end up accidentally in one place or another, either because we made a choice that had these results, or perhaps because we didn’t make a choice…and life just happened to us.  Serendipitously.

In working with dysfunctional families as a social worker (for three decades!), I saw many of my clients making “choices” in this way.  Just allowing things to happen to them.

I also recalled how I sometimes made a choice and wound up facing unexpected consequences.  So I thought…what if I created characters out of these ideas, and spotlighted ways in which they found themselves inexplicably in one place or another because of choice?  An accidental choice.

So my first published novel came about.

However, this particular blog is not just about that first novel.  It encompasses the issues of choice, accidental moments, consequences, and how to live with these events.

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Going back to the beginning sometimes helps me focus.  Which brings me to my next point:  I began posting my Sunday Salon events here, back in the day, when the blog was called An Accidental Life…then, Accidental Moments.

Nowadays, I combine the Sunday Salon event with others, like The Sunday Post,Mailbox Monday, Stacking the Shelves, and It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

I took a detour for a while over to Rainy Days and Mondays, as I had just moved that site to Word Press from Blogger and wanted to give it a chance to attract visitors.

But this Sunday, I’ll be returning to my “roots” and posting all of those events here.  I hope you’ll stop by and join in the serendipitous moments.

Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of opportunities to Chase Away the Blues on my Rainy Days and Mondays site….In the meantime, Enjoy Life’s Unexpected Treasures here….

 

 

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SERENDIPITOUS MOMENTS: SAVORING A TRADITION

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Good morning!  A week ago, I wrote some thoughts on Holidays: Sharing Life’s Unexpected Treasures.

In my post, I spotlighted some photos…and mentioned one special holiday tradition that began in 1979:  see photo above.

A couple of days after Thanksgiving, we found this great sculpture over at the local university, and a tradition was born.

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A few years later, we took another photo…I couldn’t find the snapshot, so I took a picture of the framed version from my iPhone…it’s not that great, but you get the idea:

 

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Fast forward to 1991…we tried to take the photo in 1989, set on the five-year intervals, but something went awry with our photographer (not my son that year!), and we couldn’t do it again until 1991:

 

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That was the last one we took of the original four kids!  Some grandchildren have tried…here are a couple of them…Fiona and Dominic in 2009:

 

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When my eldest son was here in the summer, we had hopes of recreating a shot of the Original Four…but again, one member of the crew was unavailable.

My second son, Brett, is the “Arbiter of the Tradition,” pushing for a recreation of those special moments.  He persisted…but despite his efforts, we were unable to pull it together.  Sigh.

Perhaps there are just some moments you cannot recreate…and you just have to find new traditions.  Or savor the memories of the old ones.

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Do you have traditions special to your family or group?  How do you maintain them?

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REVIEW: THE NESTING PLACE, BY MYQUILLYN SMITH

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I found the book The Nesting Place on a blog, and also clicked on over to see the author’s site. I was immediately drawn in by the ideas she presents about home. Home can be imperfect, and home can be created “intentionally.”

The author shares about how she moved thirteen times in eighteen years, and what she learned at each home.  And how she finally decided to make each place she lived a “home,” and fully nest there.

She has lots of great ideas, which somehow coincide with my own, (funny that!), about how you can shuffle your stuff around to create a new look (I do this regularly!), and how you can see your home in a new light when you “quiet the room.”

That was new to me…and the author leads us through the experience, which involves stashing all the “extras” in the room off to a holding place and leaving them there while you study the room…and find a new way to look at it.  Seeing the possibilities.

Using things in different ways is another trick that I have found useful…yes, that cart is supposed to be for barbecuing, but it works wonderfully to hold the unread books while they wait for me to grab them.

Finally, I loved the idea of adding quirk to a home, since I tend to do that in my own. Here is the author’s description:

“I decided my home needed artistic quirk. It happened over time, but looking back, I see now that quirk was a turning point for me. Once I added quirk, I fell deeply in love with my home….Quirk is that last squeeze of lemon on the sautéed mushrooms, the zest of my home. Quirk brought me back to childhood, because I realized that the home I always dreamed of wasn’t one that was sophisticated and completely grown-up, perfectly put together and classified as French Country or English Cottage or (gasp!) Modern. The home I longed for was one in which I was completely free to do what I wanted no matter what others might think.”

Adding quirk allows us to display average items in un-average ways. We can display unexpected, disposable items in an expected way. We can display things that make us happy, even if they are a little odd.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s journey through her various abodes, and how she created home in them. Especially the later ones, after she had learned that home is where her people live. Recommended for all who enjoy interior design and how to find one’s own “home.” 5 stars.

WHEN LIFE THROWS US A CURVE….

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Our lives are a journey, and they bring unexpected treasures—as well as obstacles and problems to solve.

My Blogging Journey has been like that, too, and over at Potpourri, I have detailed some of those moments.  In 2009, I created several blogs, and this one was originally An Accidental Life, in honor of the first book I published.  That premise was all about those moments in life that seem accidental…serendipitous.  We can choose to see them as annoying…or they can be viewed as gifts.

Here are some images, followed by a description of An Accidental Life:

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The cover was based on the A-Frame house in the foothills where I lived when I wrote the book:

 

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Summertime is hot and dull in the Central Valley of California and four teenage girls from very different families are determined to spice it up. With a single-mindedness that foretells disaster, they push aside all the rules and explore the underbelly of valley life. Drugs, sex, alcohol, adventure, anything to challenge the norm, yet all experienced without the benefit of maturity. As the girls become increasingly uncontrollable, their mothers–from dramatically diverse social backgrounds–are forced to work together to save their daughters. Like a tornado moving across the landscape, lives are wrenched from their foundations…

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The young girls in my book were based on teenagers with whom I worked in my social work career…and I borrowed some of the characteristics from my daughter and her friends…embellishing them, of course, and fictionalizing them.

To this day, my daughter thinks the character Bridget is her…and she isn’t far off base.

The setting of the novel is California’s Central Valley, where I have lived for more than 40 years!  I cannot believe it even as I write the words.

I never intended to “end up” here:  another of life’s accidental moments…or unexpected treasures, depending on how you view it.

That’s what I am trying to share in the book.  Perhaps it seems as though life throws us challenges, accidentally, as it were.  But we do have a choice.  What we do with those unexpected events can inform our lives.  Are they a curse…or are they unexpected treasures?

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I just changed the “look” of this blog again…the image of the blackboard on the header and background take me back to my favorite moments:  school.  Especially my early years, when my teachers wrote on those blackboards. 

I grew up on a farm and had little exposure to many of the ideas I would find in school.  I soaked them up, like the treasures they were.

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What unexpected events in your life have transformed you, for good or bad?  Did you find that you could look at each thing from a different perspective?

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