Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!





Welcome to my 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 tiramisu. Try both; cyber-cake is calorie free!

Contact Nani at
chroniclesofnani@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Saving Faith by David Baldacci

Finished June 24, 2014

Synopsis at Good Reads

When a zealous CIA Chief begins personally spying on his clients to promote a secret agenda of his own devising, the beautiful Faith Lockhard, one of Washington's greatest influence-peddlers, tells the FBI all her suspicions. Now in mortal danger, she still hopes to see justice done. Yet who will rescue Faith?


My review at Good Reads


3 out of 5 stars

This is one of Baldacci’s older books, first published in 1991. Being that old, I found a thriller involving Washington lobbyists and operatives from both the CIA and FBI with no reference to terrorism to seem a little odd. I wasn’t as impressed with this one as I’ve been with other Baldacci books. I still enjoyed the story but I think there was a little more fluff than I usually like.

The main and title character is a Washington lobbyist who knows her job well, but her job is not the action in the book, so while she is at the root of the plot, she really doesn’t add to the action much more than a “damsel in distress” role. I guess I’m used to being in the minds of the likes of later Baldacci’s Will Robie or Alan Jacobson’s Karen Vail and by comparison Faith left little substance. Faith’s mentor, Danny Buchannan had the mental strength I like to read in main characters, but he was a supporting cast member.

I did like the balance of bad guys gone good and good guys gone bad. It’s on the edge of overpowering but I don’t think it’s too far a stretch from reality to liken Washington morality to professional wrestling.

I did find the very end to be a bit beyond belief. The final chapter is the chapter I might entertain wondering “what if” after finishing the book but I was disappointed to read it as the end.

Rainy Day and Monday

Carrabba's Mezzaluna - YUM!
 
I hope everyone is enjoying the summer so far! I’ve already been to a baseball game and had a double-scoop waffle cone ice cream. It could snow tomorrow and I’d…be miserable. Snow in June? My world would end. Summer is not about having a baseball and ice cream day once; it’s about baseball and ice cream all the time!

On the second day of summer 2014, Sunday, David and I traveled into the Motherland and caught a baseball game in Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Whitecaps. The Whitecaps are the Tigers A-Ball team in the Midwest League. The Whitecaps lost the game 4-2 to the Fort Wayne Tin Caps, which marked the first game of 4 we’ve seen this year that the home team lost. It’s also the second time we’ve watched part of the Tigers family lose! We were at the game in Cleveland where the Tigers miserable lump started! I’d HATE to think that this year we need to stay away from The Tigers!

Saturday was Bike To The Bay, MS bike fundraiser. You’ll recall my friend, Christine, who has MS with drop foot is the captain of Team Leap Frog which is linked in The Chronicles if Nani’s right column. She biked 38 miles Saturday! Her 44-rider team collected nearly $13,000 for MS so far with a few months of fundraising left. Stop by Leap Frog For MS  and give her a “congrats!”

Monday was a cloudy morning with rain in the forecast. David and I went to do a larger grocery trip. The way the groceries work he stops a few times a week to pick up things we need and dinner stuff and I go every couple weeks to stock up on produce and the things I want to choose rather than choose from home. An example; there are about ten different REV wraps and many flavors of yogurt, but if David’s picking them up for me I have to choose from what I remember. About every month to 6 weeks, we gather all the coupons and do a major “staples and new things” trip. That was Monday.

Now, I have a gripe. I much prefer to shop with my power chair and hand baskets than use the go-carts available in store. First off, I can maneuver between all the tables in the bakery and deli areas with my chair. The carts are just too big not to knock into things. The other thing I noticed is that people in general are not as kind or helpful as when I’m in my own chair. Maybe that’s because there are so many people who use them that don’t "look" like they need them. I think passing judgment like that is cruel because you can’t look at someone and SEE why they need the riding carts. Someone with a heart or lung condition may be able to walk, but not for a whole trip to the store and use of that go-cart is the only reason they CAN walk out when they’re done. I know “back in the day” my knee would be fine until about half way through a grocery trip, then I was dragging my leg and left much of my list unbought. Whatever the reason, I feel better treated when I’m in my own chair. There’s also the space problem in parts of the store and reaching so far up to what’s in the cart.

When we left the store, it was raining, I mean REALLY raining! David pulled up close and I got drenched even trying to get close enough to get in the car. He ended up taking the groceries home and came back for me when the rain let up. I had my book, so all was okay until he came back and I’d been in that cart so long I had no strength and almost no feeling in my legs and needed help to get up.

I MUCH prefer taking my power chair to the grocery store!

Last night we finally celebrated Valentine’s Day! I had bought a gift card for our dinner that we never went out for because of frozen pipes, more snow and then just no time! We had a great dinner at Carrabba’s. David had a shrimp and scallops dish with mashed potatoes and I had Mezzaluna; chicken, spinach and ricotta ravioli. We shared Sogna Di Cioccolato, Chocolate Dream, for dessert.


After getting pretty wet earlier at the store, I managed to get in the house with just a few raindrops after dinner. It was a rain-exhausting but good day.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Summer First!

I don’t have a ton other than "Happy Summer First"to say today, but the first day of summer deserves a little celebration!

:)

Let the summer begin! I haven’t used any of my weekly extra Weight Watchers points and it really does take using half of them for me to lose well. A double scoop waffle cone is half of them, so an ice cream stop in the coming week is a must. We have the baseball game scheduled and trains too if the weather stays sunny!

So there’s my summer kick off post. Make sure you get some ice cream and blow some bubbles!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

First World Problem?


Tonight it’s quiet. Oh, there is the sound of lots of rain outside and a little thunder rumble here and there, but inside is the sound of the poker game on David’s computer and me clicking on the keyboard. The Reds and Pirates are in a rain delay but the Reds are ahead 9-2 in the 7th. I know this because Buddy Bat, my iPad, tells me so on the mlb app and he’s been making the sound that there is news every time the Reds score. But there is no sound in the room that would give any idea that there had been a ball game of interest going on in Pittsburgh. For the average American home, this is a quiet house.

There is a home in Toledo where there is no television to make the sounds of announcers telling of the rain delay. I happen to live in that home. Let me go back a few days to tell the tale.

On June 14, David taped and I posted on Facebook this video:



Marco has been going insane when the chipmunk is right on the window ledge! You notice that the TV is on the chest and he is jumping behind it like a madcat. We’d been chuckling at this behavior for a couple of days. It was in the area where the cat stands, hammocks and scratching posts are. What harm could he do?

Well Monday I turned on the TV to watch Investigation Discovery at lunch. The television showed snow. My first thought is to make sure the set is on channel 3. It was. Then I checked for a loose cable and lo and behold I found the cord for the cable wasn’t connected to the TV. Marco’s shenanigans from the morning must have knocked it out. I turned the TV and moved the cable to the area where the connector for it sticks out of the back. I pulled the metal ended cable back quick when there was a spark! Marco didn’t knock the cable out; he broke the entire connector off! I was moving toward putting the cable into an open socket in the back of the TV.

Now it is a very old TV. We just don’t watch enough TV to have ever made replacing it a priority. We’ve talked about it but since we’ve talked about a new TV we’ve had the basement waterproofed, a new roof and we’ve both gotten new computers. I’ve gotten 2 eReaders and a tablet in that time too.

David moved the TV Tuesday morning to try to find the connector that broke off in case it can be put back on. See our TV really is NOT a priority; if a little duct tape could have put it back in place… But the connector was nowhere to be found. During the searching process the old fat-designed television was put on the love seat so it wouldn’t get knocked off the chest David was searching under. We’re not totally sure what happened to the loveseat, but it got jarred and the TV tumbled onto the floor. David saw a broken plastic frame on the front and I’m sure I heard a muffled tingle of broken internal glass. The time for TV talking is over.

So I took myself to school that morning to find out what we needed to look for in one of those new-fangled TVs. It was actually fun research. I hadn’t looked for a TV in a very long time. I remember when….let me pull the gray hairs to the front so I look the part that statement fits. I remember when I worked at the production house that produced the very first commercial in HDTV. Serious, the first TV ad ever produced in high definition was edited at the production house where I worked. Now most of the TVs in stores have high definition capability.

I learned about the fact that my antiquated notion that the lines of resolution are important is no more. All TVs have greater resolution than they did the last time I shopped for an analog TV or monitor. The refresh rate is the thing now. How many times does the picture completely rebuild itself in a second? The basic-quality ones do it 60 times in a second! I wrote down all my technical notes and how many inputs of what kinds we might need. With as often as we watch DVDs, we could get a TV with the connector to watch a DVD in one of our computers and not have to buy a new DVD player. We have the information we need to ask the right questions when we shop for our new TV.

Before we get the TV we have to have an electrician come in to bring our 1950s house up to safe grounded 3-prong outlets. We’ll also need to reorganize the living room so I can have a desk there instead of the dining room so I can see the TV where we’ll put it. It’ll be flat but a bigger screen than Old Broken and besides, we want to have it away from the ledge outside the big window where the chipmunk plays! Then once the TV is selected and placed, we’ll need to switch to the fancy cable stuff, so the cable guys will need to come in and set us up.

It’s going to be a few weeks, months, before we have TV again. But when we do have it again we’ll be part of the American 21st century! We’ll have been without it for long enough that we might just sit and watch a show or two. Nah, I want to see a Reds or Tigers game on the fancy schamcy new TV first. Or maybe I’ll just watch an episode of Blood Relatives on ID.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Behind Dark Eyes: I’m A Graduate!


Happy June to everyone especially ME! I’m officially a Acme Feline Obedience School Class of 2014 grad! Woo Hoo! Cat treats for Carla!

Now I didn’t graduate a valecatorian like Kaline did but I did get the highest grade ever on my final school project! At home I’m known as “The Good One.” I took a tough situation and made it good for me. I mean what bad luck that Mommy and Daddy brought a kitten in the house when I was halfway through school. How does a 5-year old even get noticed let alone make the staff obey?? Well, you let the kitten be obnoxious, like kittens are, and let him pick fights with the queen. When they don’t see what you knock over because the other cats are louder, they’ll do anything for you! Total obedience and I didn’t have to work for it!

Now that school is done I can do some of the fun stuff that Kaline and Marco do but I hada study. They like to go on the porch because it’s warmer and kinda like going outside. I go sometimes but I don’t play and sleep out there like they do. It’s not really outside, but I get nervous and scared they’ll shut the door. I don’t really remember why it scares me, but I like being inside with Mommy and Daddy, not outside with a door between me and them. I’ll stay in and let them remind me I’m the good one with extra scritches!

I gotta go tell Mommy to put kibble in our bowls now.

Meow,
Carla

Friday, June 13, 2014

Seasons Change But They Can Stop Right Here!

We’re about a week away from the start of summer! I think all that snow this past winter left me mentally damaged. It still doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that we had all that snow locking me in the house. I know, I know, to those of you that were out in it trying to drive or walk on ice or in knee-deep drifts, I had it made not getting out of the house. To the people in the Deep South who slept in grocery stores with diapers for pillows being locked in at home must sound like paradise. But let’s just be totally honest; the polar vortex tortured all of us. Even our plow guys went from a couple very lean years to not getting a day off.

But now things are good. The spring flowers weren’t as robust as I’d have hoped and I think I might need to get more bulbs this fall because some of them just didn’t survive the mild winters or got munched by burrowing critters. But right now as I look out the porch windows next to the table I type at I see lush filled-in greenery and trees with blue sky peeking through all washed in the sun’s yellow glow. The colors of fall are nice too, but THIS is the sight that soothes me after months of white and brown outside.

David and I took a vacation south a couple weeks ago. We saw a Columbus Clippers game on the first night and that ended up being the only baseball game of the trip. We had tickets to a Kannapolis Intimidators game in North Carolina, but the weather did us in. We met Stephanie and Danni, friends I know from scrapbooking and met in person at the game. Stephanie’s husband couldn’t make it and David could join in a little on the baseball talk, although b Stephanie and I are friendly-foes doing a lot of Reds-Cardinals talking on that subject. But for the most part the three women were taking scrapbook stuff. After a two-hour delay with the grounds crew trying to squeegee rain from the previous day out of the outfield the game was called for the second day in a row. There was just too much water still on the field. It was cool that we were dry and had all that time to talk! We left with the promise that net time we are in North Carolina or if they make it to Ohio, we’ll actually see a game or at least plan a nice dinner!

Before "the game that wasn’t" David and I met his cousin and her husband for lunch in Salisbury, NC. This is one of the two cousins who urged me to try David Baldacci’s writing. Needless to say it was one of those long lunches with non-stop conversation

Now, you might wonder why, aside from meeting some wonderful people, we were in North Carolina. It’s a David and Nani trip and I haven’t mentioned the trains yet, have I? Look at this:



The North Carolina Transportation Museum hosted the Streamlines at Spence festival May 29-June1. Grounds and the roundhouse filled with gorgeous restored or in the restoration process engines from the 1930s-1950s Everything was all lit up for night photography sessions the first three nights and there were train rides at no additional cost as part of entry every day.

I chose the first night for my night pass. Thursday would be the least crowded and photo crowds can tend to lead to lots of dark photos of butts from a wheelchair. David did all three nights and I got some relax time at the hotel on those nights.

Oh, talk about advertising and mental conditioning! On one of the nights I stayed at the hotel I ordered a sandwich for dinner from Jimmy Johns. All those commercials, I hit send on the order I placed online and immediately looked at the door expecting a knock. I laughed at myself because I realized how silly it was, but wow! The delivery was about 15-20 minutes later, yes very fast, but I think they edit a little of the wait time for the TV ads.

On Sunday, David and I rode the train. It’s the first time I’ve been on a train in the chair and I’m ready to ride Amtrak to Chicago now! The lift hadn’t been used that day and it took a little for them to figure it out, but they did. I enjoyed the short ride and felt really good because several people in wheelchairs lined up for the next ride. Well, SOMEBODY had to be first, right?


Now we’ve been home and I’m “recovering” from the trip. My legs don’t seem to have bounced back as well as I wish they would and I’m struggling a bit at home right now. I’m going to get an opinion from my physical therapist when I go in next week.

We had our first MS group meeting with me as group leader this week. It went well with some new faces and I’m hoping more of the regulars will make it for July.

June 1 was Marco’s birthday; we have no kittens in the house again. I have to admit though, Carla is just this past year starting to act like a cat more often than a kitten, but both Carla and Kaline still have their kitten moments too. Cats never 100% grow up.

Book Review: Treasure in Tawas, An Agnes Barton Senior Sleuths/Cozy Mystery by Madison Johns

Finished June 2, 2014

Synopsis at Good Reads


The last thing Agnes Barton expected was to be slapped in cuffs alongside her best friend, and fellow-sleuthing buddy, Eleanor Mason. All they had wanted to do was to verify if a painting at the Butler Mansion had indeed been stolen. How were they to know that they had tripped off a silent alarm—or that Agnes’ nemesis Mildred Winfree’s body would be discovered when the cops showed up? It didn’t help that they had entered the mansion illegally—using a key Agnes had pilfered from her daughter Martha who was working as a real estate agent to sell the old place.

Word has it that a treasure map was hidden in the back of a painting at the Butler Mansion, and it was just too juicy a story not to investigate. So here Agnes and Eleanor sat in jail as prime suspects as they were brought in for questioning.

The tabloid, Tall Tales, printed a treasure map in its most recent addition, and soon, East Tawas becomes a point of interest as treasure hunters began tearing up the town looking for treasure. Agnes and Eleanor join in the foray, but she wondered just who was behind this tall tale, and what did it have to do with Mildred’s murder?


My review at Good Reads


3 of 5 stars

I read this book because I wanted light reading with a cute story to read on vacation. I chose this particular book because my grandmother lived in the Tawas area for almost 30 years and I know the area well. I wasn't disappointed in the accuracy of the places and nuances of the area the author is either from the area or she did her homework well.

I did get light and cute whodunit I was looking for. Descriptions were done well and gave me a vivid idea in my mind of what everything looked like. The only thing I was less than impressed with the detailed descriptions of clothes. I like the believability of the characters and potential bad guys. If I could change anything I think there were some wrap-up’s in the end that didn’t seem really necessary and we're kind of rushed. This is, however, book #5 so there were likely some established details I didn’t know But it was still a cute story and if I need a break from heavier reading I might pick up this author again.