Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

Welcome to my remodeled cyber neighborhood coffee shop! Grab a mug of your favorite beverage and a cozy chair to read and comment a bit. Be sure to try a piece of black forest cake or the tiramisu. Try both; cyber-cake is calorie free!

Contact Nani at chroniclesofnani@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: A Choice of Darkness (Major Crimes Task Force #1) by Jon D. Kurtz

Finished October 6, 2015

Synopsis at Good Reads

For millennia philosophers have explained the nature of the world in terms of dualities, such as masculine and feminine and fire and water. As a new year dawns over the capital city of Pennsylvania, far more ominous examples come to mind. The media debates the concept in terms of good and evil. A killer perceives it as a struggle between the light and the darkness. For members of the state's newest criminal task force, it's a matter of life and death.

Under cover of night, he trawls the streets of Harrisburg, relentlessly searching for answers to questions formed in a mind damaged by nature and a traumatic childhood. In his wake he leaves the lifeless bodies of his victims, each lovingly posed beneath a synthetic yellow blanket, the same type used by police and emergency personnel.

Venturing into the shadows, a diverse team of investigators quickly realizes little time remains before the killer chooses his next victim. Forced to navigate the fickle waters of inter-agency relations, lacking the trust of the community they seek to protect, and used as pawns in a political game of chess, the task force races to decipher actions spawned in a mind gripped by psychosis. Yet, their greatest challenge will not be external. Years of battling criminals, comforting victims, and living life leave scars. Hidden behind the stoic facade, even the most indomitable investigator faces demons.

Good or bad, cop or criminal, choices will be made. And with choices come consequences, some temporary, some lasting, and others…eternal.

My review at Good Reads
2 of 5 stars

The book started okay but by the time it was done my head felt like it might explode! This was a new author’s first book and I just felt like he was trying to tell every possible associated story in minute detail. It wound up feeling just overdone.

I’m not sure if the book was written as a thriller, an introduction to the task force or a probe into a killer’s mind. There was a lot of time spent in the killer’s mind; what planted the seed, how his psychotic mind works and what motivates him. The reader knew what he’d do and why almost before he even did it, so it’s definitely not a mystery.

Then there’s the main character; a cop who has been given the role of forming and leading a new special task force while he’s still dealing with his own mental demons of life after his wife’s passing five years ago. It’s not even presented as a strong subplot, yet while he was assessing a potential lead his mind broke into a enthralled like a schoolgirl daydream about kissing a woman the night before. I’ve never been involved in something big at work and drifted off to thinking about my romantic life, in fact a project at work has more often worked for forgetting a romantic situation. Maybe obsessing about one’s love life at work is a guy-thing I don’t know about.

There were many places where things were over-explained. If the book is in the killer’s mind, I don’t need an additional narrative telling me what society thinks is normal. As the reader, I AM society. I know what’s normal and understand that his thinking is not acceptable.

The story was slow and the end was worse. I think in the end there was a chase scene. I think it was after a twist in the plot where the killer became mentally clouded in a different way and it was a shocking total change. The writing was in many characters’ minds and the mental explanations were more detailed than what was actually happening. That lessened the action and the intensity of what I think was supposed to be the book’s climax. There were multiple points where the story could have ended but jumped back in and went further. It became less believable as it went on. After switching gears between thriller, psychology text and personality study throughout the book, it moved into a spiritual story describing things in a way that just didn’t fit with the way the rest of the book was written.

It finished with an epilogue that basically told you that the police never did figure out as much as the reader does. The epilogue was basically a wrap up of the things other books leave out because they aren’t necessary. I was surprised to see an epilogue because the book seemed like it had already ended. After reading the epilogue, I still wondered why it was there.

A Choice of Darkness didn’t leave me soured on a new author, but it didn’t leave me with an anxious desire to read Book #2 either.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Finally A Quiet Night

A peek in to the soon-to-be bathroom!

Wow, a little bit of quiet! It’s been a buy couple of weeks in Naniland. After that first weekend of the trip I sent David away on, things shifted back to sort of normal.

Pop started work on the skeleton for the new bathroom and spent the night before Kelly got in and was my caregiver . It was just like the old days! I mean really old days; the kind that includes jokes about remembering my mom's favorite old stories that included my dad and grandfather holding a diaper with the naked baby laughing on the bed because they didn't know what to do with it. Yeah, those kind of old days. Picking up dinner to have together and chatting while he's working didn't bring up the naked baby stories. Those were just giggles with the help boost me up from the chair to get in the bathroom times.

On the Tuesday of that week Kelly got in and she was there the rest the week and through the weekend until David got home. Pop was in and out working during that time and Greg, are family friendly whose also a plumber by trade, was in to check out the site, existing plumbing and what he would need to do the rough plumbing work. Oh yeah, during that time we also had Electric contractors into redo our breaker box several other projects in cover or reroute Electric were necessary for the new bathroom. The coolest thing the electricians did was this:

They put in a new socket for the microwave on the other side of the kitchen where we can put the microwave for I can reach it. That means I can warm up hot food when David's not home. This was dinner tonight:

Now before anybody says the macaroni and cheese in a cup is not such an incredible dinner remember two important things. First off, macaroni and cheese is comfort food and it's ALWAYS an incredible dinner. Second, and this is the bigger thing, I haven't been able to heat anything up since last December when I quit trying to heat soup because I often spilled it in my lap. So tonight I had hot food for dinner and I didn't have to pay for it. I really didn't have to pay for it either. David bought the macaroni and cheese cup. –smiles–

Right now it's the first day in a while that no one's been over and I haven't had to answer the door for something being delivered. I have a half paneled Half skeleton bathroom with a door that closes, although some walls that you can still see-through, with rough plumbing and fixtures in it. That even includes I toilet it's a few feet away from words eventually going to be. Earlier this week when Pop and Greg we're working on the rough plumbing Matt, from Accessible Renovations, the company that did my ramp and grab bars, stopped in to be sure where things will be located and that there's proper fortification in the walls for when he does the grab bars. I joke that it's the kind of "potty talk” a woman wants to have with three construction workers!

Greg's handiwork and my future sink!

While they did the rough plumbing Sheri had come over because it was her birthday Wednesday and I took her out to Ya Halla for lunch. I told Pop on Wednesday morning that I kind of felt bad taking off for lunch while they were working. He asked “why do you feel guilty? Where you going to jump in and help us with the pipes?" When I told them I could at least get coffee he told me he knows how to work the coffee maker. He really wasn't going to except me canceling plans for Sheri's birthday. That's good because I would've felt guilty about that too. And lunch was SO good!

So now October has begun. I should have a working bathroom in a couple weeks!

I Need To Vent

I really hope that things can get moving on replacing the seat of my wheelchair. That's been “in the works” since May. The company that's in charge of that project keeps dropping the ball and letting it sit there. Don't think that that's not gotten to the point really getting under my skin. They did the measuring and put the order together for the new seat around the end of May. When all the paperwork is completed and filed for the insurance company, I’ll have a new seat on the existing base. Except for the dust on the bottom, it’ll be a whole new chair. But the company isn’t having problems with brain-burps. They are having out and out loud brain BELCHES.

When I call to get an update of what's going on from the sales rep, because my therapist told me that's the only way I'm going to get them off their butts is to call her a couple times a week, I get to listen to her whine about how hard her job is and how difficult doctors are to work with. Personally, I think she's in the wrong line of work if it's that tough for her.

Life without the new seat for my chair is becoming even tougher for me. I've been worried for the last couple months that some of my advancing physical problems I've got are related to the MS taking a new turn for the worse. The pain in my legs has become almost constant, losing muscle control of my hips, pain in my back and the incessant sore feet have become very difficult to exist with and very stressful with me thinking that the disease is worsening. After doing some reading I found out that these issues I'm having are issues that result from being in an improperly fitted wheelchair all the time. In May, when this process started, the rep who did the order and measuring told me my wheelchair wasn't fitted properly for someone who is in it all the time. Five months later I still don't have a chair and all the things that are hurting worse are hurting worse because I still don't have a chair. I don't know. I think my job being someone who needs a wheelchair who's experiencing worse pain every day because I don't have the right wheelchair is WAY HARDER then a sales rep who doesn't like calling doctors.

I've talked to lots of people about this and there is a timeline with the date this coming soon where all the paperwork that's been done will be outdated and have to be redone. It was suggested to me, when I asked about switching vendors, that at this point in the game too much paperwork has already been done to start over but if that time where the paperwork becomes void happens before I have a chair we will definitely switch vendors. I honestly kinda hope that they screw up and we have to start over so they don't get the business because I've already been given more business from them than I should have to endure. Mobility-care is a big business, but it's still a niche market.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

New Things

It's been a week of lots of new things. I'm getting settled in and cozy with Joey, the MacBook Pro, finally a computer worthy of being named after Joey Votto.I'm loving having a Mac again! I'm getting comfy now with the dictation software that's part of Pages, the Mac software for documents. The cool thing about Pages is that, unlike its predecessor, AppleWorks, Pages reads and can save in .doc format. That means it can read and communicate with Microsoft Word documents. Very cool!

I finished my first scrapbook page with the new computer. Photoshop works the same as it did on the old computer and I'm having pretty easy time getting used to the smaller screen.

Credits: The Autumn Knocks by GabisCreation

David left on his stress detox vacation Friday. Taking care of me can be a pretty high stress job, especially when you work a full time job already. Chapter 4 in “The Care and Feeding of Your Caregiver” stresses the importance of caregivers having a break from caregiving. That usually means a girls week for Kelly and me. Right now Kelly has some family stuff going on and can't be here till later in the week. That means I get to try something new. I have home health aides that come in a couple of times a day to help out with things and basically do a wellness check. It’s not too bad and rather helpful, especially at night to make sure I'm safely tucked in. I have “me time” to scrap or read or whatever without feeling like I need to be a host to someone in my home but I have someone who is there a few times a day to help me with the things I can’t quite do on my own.

The only bump in smooth sailing has been Marco. Marco likes to try to “run the gate” when the door opens. I blame his daddy; David is such an enabler. He lets Marco go outside and do his roll around ob the driveway and eat some grass before he sends him back in. Of course, I can’t do that. He ran out in the rain Friday night when the “tuck me in” caregiver came in and she had to chase him down in the driveway and bring him back. Did I mention it was raining? Then yesterday when the delivery guy brought my dinner, he did it again. The poor guy was holding the keep warm bag with my dinner, the re copout and pen for my signature AND chasing the cat. Marco didn’t get any further than the steps on the porch last night, but jeez, Marco! On my paperwork for the caregiver agency it says that I have three cats; Kaline, Carla and Marco. There is a note that says to watch out for Marco because he tries to go outside and none of the cats are outdoors cats. He tried to do the entitled “I’m just going outside” march when the assessor came in to meet me too.

Pop will be here tomorrow to get started on construction on the downstairs accessible bathroom with shower! He’s staying tomorrow night and is going to be Construction Guru and caregiver so I don't have to pay for the wellness checks. I am totally excited about the new bathroom! Add that to the new top half of my power chair, that's hopefully in the final process of being ordered, and they'll have a lot of independence back. With the lift mechanics in the new chair, I’ll even be able to stand a little, good for edema, and reach the controls to cook!

As long as everything goes alright for Kelly, she’ll be here Tuesday for the rest of the week and we will have our "girls time” for the rest of the week. It’s been a new world this week, but it’s a good new world.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hey, What Day Is It?

Tori and Rina last Christmas

We had a big family dinner last month at Pop’s place. He’d mentioned that he hadn’t seen “the gang” since we’d moved from Northville, in 2007, and he wanted to do a barbecue and have everyone come over. We did just that for our Leos dinner where Aunt Judy and I celebrate our birthdays together. I’m proud that my family, the brothers and sisters I met and took as part of my family in life’s journey, have been part of my world long enough that most of them remember when Tori and Rina were babies. They were a “no way” part of the discussion when I mentioned how old they were!

They used to welcome me home from work when 
they were at their grandparents' house 
with kisses and stealing my jewelry!

US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio
They were 4 

They're about 10 in this one

This is Christmas Eve 2008. 
They're 14 and don't now they have an Uncle David yet..

They very well may have been out with friends last night to count down to midnight and buy their first legal alcoholic drink. Today, September 13, 2015, those sweet little girls pictured above are 21! I told them yesterday that whenever and however they celebrate with their friends, be crazy and make sure there is a designated driver!

 20-year-olds last Christmas

Monumental things that happen in your life can be very easy to remember. I remember my first legal drink when I was 19. I was in Canada and I had a glass of Maria Christina white wine with dinner. That was fun because I was perfectly legal but not legal at home. My friends and I spent a couple of years hanging out in Windsor.

My first legal drink in the US was on my 21st birthday. I worked that day and I went to lunch with my mom and our boss, mom and I worked in the same office at the time. We went for Chinese and I had a mai tai with lunch. It was 1987; I don’t think a boss would take an employee out to have a drink with lunch on her 21st birthday now. Maybe, I’m a little past 21 now.

I don’t worry that the girls have never had alcohol. Even above and beyond a glass of wine at a family gathering, Italian family, remember, I know Canada wasn’t the only place I had a drink when I was 19&20, just the only place I drank legally. Turning 21 was pretty cool to me because I was really an adult then. I could do ALL of the things adults could do. Drinking was a big deal on the weekends for a while, then it settled in to just a social thing. I really haven’t been much of a drinker for a number of years now. (But I have to have schnapps during the holidays!)

I hope the girls enjoy taking a big ole bite out of the alcohol apple for the celebration as it becomes no longer the forbidden fruit. Then accept it as something that complements the fun with their friends and not let it be the fun.

David and I will be having dinner and a casino night with the girls, their parents and a couple of their friends in a couple of weeks. I’ll try and get them to take a picture with me then, for an update. This one is from last Christmas.

I have always said it and always will; they get cooler and cooler every year!