Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

The Chronicles of Nani On Video

I am overcoming my inability to type with my ability to talk (and talk and talk and talk) I'll be posting a video every week on my YouTube channel. I'll be posting those videos here too along with an occasional regular blog in the mix. (As long as my hands are up to doing the extra typing.)

You'll be able to watch the videos here, but I encourage you to stop by my channel at YouTube once I'm up and running to follow me and get my numbers started!

Welcome to my coffee shop in Cyber Space
Try the latte with a slice of black forest cake!

Contact Nani at

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

World MS Day Hodge Podge

Credits: Basic Orange by the Ginger Scraps Designers,
 Big Hearted Woman by Pixelily Designs.

Today is World MS Day. I submitted my personal quote, “I cannot control things that happen to me, but I'm the only one that controls how I react to things that happen to me,” to 1000 faces of MS as my personal motto. Today’s opening scrapbook layout was the page I did for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness week in March.

1. What question do you often ask yourself?

“What time is it?” I’m always checking the time, part because I get busy and lose track of time, sometimes because I want to know when I can take meds again. This is usually true when I wake up in the middle of the night and I check the phone because I’m sore. I always wake up sore, but after I move a little it gets better. Ibuprofen helps too!

2. Do you grow roses? What's your favorite color of rose? Ever been given a dozen roses? Where was the prettiest rose or rose garden you remember seeing?

Not n purpose I don’t grow them. We had two rose bushes in the flower bed that were gangly, bloomed once a year and were ugly. I hated them. When I bought all the perennial bulbs, between Kelly ad David they hacked out those ugly things, but somehow they must have seeded and now I het scrawny, gangly, thorny shoots that are skinnier but just as tall and they don’t bloom at all. I call them wild rose weeds.

That being said, I do love roses that bloom into large roses. My nonna had gorgeous roses in her garden, Noni’s name was Rosa; maybe there was a natural affinity there. I had a potted JFK rose bush for a while that had large white blooms, usually three times a year and I really loved that too. The most beautiful roses are the ones David gives me!

3. Do you read the freshness dates on grocery store products? Will you use eggs past their 'use by' date? Take medication that's expired? Buy a dented can?

Yes, I read the dates. No I don’t use eggs past the “use by” date. My meds don’t expire. I’ll buy a dented can if dented cans are all that’s left and it’s something I really need, but I’ll choose undented in a different brand first. Dented cans don’t stack in the cupboard well.

4. Should athletes be role models?

Athletes are people and many of them with too much money too young to possibly have the maturity to be role models. It would be great if they took their notoriety seriously and maturely, and many do, but ultimately parents need to parent and know who their kids’ influences arte to talk to them about why or why not their choice is a good role model.

5. Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first explorers to reach the top of Mt. Everest on this date (May 29) back in 1953. What's something you hope to achieve in your lifetime?

In my lifetime, and the ONLY thing I’d put on something called a “bucket list” if I was forced to make one; I want to achieve immortality.

6. What would you do if you had twenty acres of land and the money to develop it any way you choose?

I’d build a Minor League baseball stadium with a full sports complex, little league fields, mini golf, batting cages etc…. It would be on the mass transit line and include wheelchair accessible mini golf and batting cages.

7. If I invite you to a party with a 7 PM start time, what time will I actually see you there?

About 6:45, unless David is taking me, then 7:15. :)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Random thought: It’s way past lunchtime and I didn’t have lunch. I’m hungry. Gonna make a cup of peanut butter chicken soup.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: Keepsake Crimes by Laura Childs

Book synopsis at Good Reads

New Orleans scrapbooking shop owner Carmela Bertrand delights her customers with the sophisticated looks she achieves with their scrapbooks. But among her client's keepsakes she finds a tip of her own-about a murder...

My review at Good Reads

3 out of 5 stars

This was a cute mystery; light reading with a little action and an entertaining setting in New Orleans during Mardi Gras with most of the character development told in the main character’s scrapbooking shop.

I liked the book. I haven’t decided if I like it enough to read the other books in the series. It was a sweet read, but it’s a little more fluff than I want a steady diet of in my books

As a scrapbooker, Carmela, the main character, is just a little bit too much of a “miracle crafter.” While she’s handles the business of owning the shop, she also does freelance craftwork and teaches techniques. She never makes a mistake with her crafts and always seems to amaze the people closest to her with the perfect things she whips up. If there had been a shop like hers in my paper scrapping days I’d have just lived there, but I didn’t read any evidence her shop could possibly sustain itself when the sole proprietor has so much time on her hands.

Like I said, it was light reading, but the imagery was pretty and the characters cute and the plot was not really predictable, although in the end it was a little trite. It was still a good relax and escape book.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Funny Friday

Cluster made with Be Awesome by Aprilisa Designs

Friday Fragments

** Remember the shout out I gave to the mini muffins Wednesday? I have a correction to make. I’m not correcting the review of the muffins, it a grammar thing, specifically, a spelling thing. The brand is Entenmann’s. When I say it, when most people say it that I’ve heard, that second “n” is sorta swallowed. Kinda like the second “a” in caramel when a Midwesterner says it. Big difference there is that I know there are three a letters in caramel. I didn’t know there were four n letters in Entenmann’s until David pointed it out. Rather than go back and fix every mention of the company in Wednesday’s blog, I chose the lazy way out and I’m posting the correction.

** While we’re talking about the Entenmann’s Little Bites, David was reading the box yesterday at breakfast. He pointed out the words next to the animal on the scooter with the mini muffins on its head.


After reading that it was a serving suggestion, my sweet husband’s inner little boy woke up. He kept asking if he could open one of the pouches to see if they could be served on a cat’s head. He did try to balance a peach on Kaline’s hip “to practice.” Poor peach.

He switched his attention to trying to figure out if the critter on the scooter is a dog or a cow.

What do you think? Dog or cow?

** This was dinner Wednesday:

It was the fruit of my first Bzz Campaign. I got to try Johnsonville Fully Cooked Dinner Sausage for free. Cool or what? I wanted to try the Kielbasa, but David has a more conservative palate, so we went with regular smoked sausage for a first time. It was an easy campaign to join for me because Mom used to make some great meals with already cooked Kielbasa when we were kids.

Of course, my parents were on a tight budget when we were little, so meals often contained affordable price tags and Mom’s creativity. Johnsonville is not just a brand name I trust, but full retail for the sausage is well within competitive pricing for a family budget too. These sausages come in two individually wrapped pieces, great for a couple who only uses one sausage for a meal.

I did this one the quick and simple way; I cut the sausage into coin-shaped slices and pan-fried them with a teaspoon of olive oil. Then I served them over prepared garlic shells with some broccoli. A very quick meal after one of David’s later shifts and also a quick meal trick after soccer practice or gardening after work.

I’ll stop shilling now with one last bit: Follow this link for a printable $1.00 off coupon to try one of the 5 great flavors of Johnsonville Fully Cooked Dinner Sausage. YUM!

** Be sure to check out the bulletin board up top for new entries in Kaline's blog and my MS blog.  The MS blog has a new entry from this morning.  I'd love to hear your feedback if you have some!

This week’s statements:
1. One of my best and worst traits is that I ______
2. If I could escape for a day, I’d _____
3. The best part of ___ is _____
4. When I was young I thought _______.

My Answers:

1. One of my best and worst traits is that I am very analytical. Sometimes it means I pick up important details. Other times it means I can’t make up my mind.

2. If I could escape for a day, I’d go to an out of town baseball game in a park AND state I haven’t been to yet.

3. The best part of chocolate is that it’s chocolate.

4. When I was young I thought all guys should have long hair. Now I don’t find long hair attractive at all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Life After Hostess

I’ve said before that I’m a sweet in the morning person. I can tell you all about great breakfast cereals, muffins, scones, cakes in just the right points amounts to complement my coffee, fruit and yogurt and stay within my 10 point breakfast goal. One of the things I really enjoyed as part of my breakfast rotation was Hostess Mini Muffins, especially the Banana Walnut, although I liked the Chocolate Chip ones too.

I have a fairly regimented “choice from each column” system for breakfast. My dairy serving is usually yogurt, but on those days where I feel like a savory breakfast cheese and a breakfast meat take up those 3-5 points. Fruit is point-free on the Weight Watchers plan and that’s one serving of fruit, usually a banana because bananas are filling for me. We can talk about my issues with hunger and apples at another time.

Coffee is always a point with one tablespoon of Coffeemate. I’ll add that I use Coffeemate at home because I like Coffeemate. It’s not a torturous dieting substitution for cream. Honestly, if I could get Coffeemate instead of cream in restaurants, I’d order that.

The entrĂ©e column includes the cereal or other sweet breads, including muffins. That column is 4-6 points, so breakfast could go as high as 12 points, as low as 8. Trouble with muffins is a regular full-size muffin can be up to 15 points all on its own! That’s where the Hostess muffins were perfect; 5 tasty and sweet mini muffins in a pouch and 5 points for the pouch.

But alas, Hostess and their wonderful mini muffins are gone.

So last grocery trip I decided to try a new breakfast treat. I tried Entemann’s Little Bites muffins.

Same mummer of muffins per pouch, same number of pouches in the box, same points. They’re okay. They seem both a little greasier and sweeter than the Hostess. They’re not as banana-y as my favorite Hostess ones and no walnuts. I’ll probably try the chocolate chip at some point in my rotation of breakfast goodies on hand and keep the Entemann’s in the list, but probably not on as regular a rotation as the Hostess ones were.

So now we join Joyce at From This Side of the Pond for the Wednesday Hodge Podge!

1. It's National Bike Week...do you own a bicycle? When did you last ride a bike?

I haven’t ridden a moving bike since I learned how to drive. Do I get any credit for driving places I walked? I used to bike all the time when we lived in Southgate, MI, but when we moved to Novi, when I was 10, the neighborhoods were too far away from anything a kid would want to see or do that bikes were just recreation that Dave and I rode in our own little neighborhood.  It was too far away in a new place for us, or our parents, to feel comfortable using them as transportation.

2. What's something you learned in school that wasn't part of the curriculum?

Leadership skills. Oh, they started with staring protests outside the principal’s office in 8th grade and getting other kids into trouble with my ideas as a high school freshman, but then some awesome teachers helped mold me, and taught me to use my powers for good. I wrote and organized the literature skits in Humanities, arranged the advertising for the French Club croissant sales and even tutored a few people in English.

3. What's a food you've never tried, but want to try? What's a food you've tried and will never try again?

I can’t think of a food I intend to try that I haven’t, but I will often at least try things I haven’t without a necessary plan to try them. I tried snails and I don’t think I’ll be trying them again. The flavor was mostly sauce, but the texture was nasty.

4. Have you been more demanding on yourself lately or less? Why? Do you think that's a good trend?

I am pretty demanding on myself because I want to do everything I can to stay as independent as possible. I think that’s a good trend, an important trend, in keeping a positive attitude in dealing with my challenges. The positive attitude is necessary for dealing with the disease, so it’s an essential full circle.

5. Who is your favorite book, movie, or TV show villain?

Q from Star Trek The Next Generation.

6. How concerned are you about identity theft?

I have identity theft protection through my bank and honestly I don’t know who’d want to be me financially. Still I check my credit every couple weeks and keep an eye out in the news for anything questionable about security involving my bank.

I had my credit card information stolen about 10 years ago. I caught the errant charge on my card and called the bank about it. The charge was for a catalog order from a plus size women’s store. It was shipped to Mishawaka, IN. I lived in Michigan at the time, but had used the card to check into a hotel in Mishawaka a few weeks before the charge was made.

The charge was removed and I was instructed to file a report with the local police in the city where the card’s bills went to. I filed the report and a few weeks later I got a call from an officer in Mishawaka updating me on the progress. Here’s the fun part.

The address was for a man in transition of a gender-change operation. Of course she’d want larger women’s clothes for her formerly male frame. When the officer visited, there was a catalog on the coffee table for the very store the charge using my stolen information was made and delivered to that address. When the officer asked if she’d made any purchases from that catalog, the answer was to the effect of “I wish I could afford that.”

There wasn’t sufficient evidence to make an arrest, but there was to keep an open investigation. I was told I’d be contacted if I was at some pint needed as a witness.

The system worked for me. It was only a $66 and change charge, but the bank took care of that, gave me a new card and the police in both Novi and Mishawaka did a great job of follow-up with it and kept me in the loop or as much as they needed to. It was neat experience to see how the system worked and I got a great story; what’s the chance your credit card information is stolen by someone in the process of a sex-change to add some color to a tale of bank and police heroes?

7. I saw this last question on Dawn's blog a couple of week's ago and asked if I could share. Everybody hop over and say hi, but first answer this...would you rather have an ordinary home in an extraordinary place or an extraordinary home in an ordinary place?

I answered this on Dawn’s blog!

Being that the ramp, stair climber or elevator etc. would make an ordinary house extraordinary and that I need ordinary mass transit in an ordinary municipality to get around, give me the extraordinary home in an ordinary place, please.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Yesterday was our semiannual trek to Cleveland to see my Neurologist. I’m doing fine and the best news is that the all-important blood work showed my liver levels had actually improved a little from the last two times they’d been checked. I suggested the Milk Thistle I was taking might be helping and the doctor agreed that it wasn’t hurting. The importance of that is there is no threat of taking me off the disease-modifying medication that’s been so wonderful for me. YAY!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Blame It On The Sun

It was a fun and fairly involved weekend in these parts! I wasn’t around Blogland on Friday, blame that on the sun. David was off for a long weekend and we took advantage of the trainlicious weather. I added the Conrail Heritage Unit to my collection on Friday and the Virginian on Saturday. With those I’m up to 13 of the 20 photographed “in the wild.” David wheeled me out to a river-bank picnic table on Friday for the best shot of one of the special engines I‘ve taken yet.

Norfolk Southern’s Conrail Heritage Unit

Saturday it was well worth being late to my dad’s place when we caught the Virginian in Toledo before we left.

Norfolk Southern’s Virginian Heritage Unit

Yesterday was a cloudy midday, which was great for napping after getting home late Saturday night and then rising early with the sun. This was my favorite Sunday morning shot in Deshler, Ohio, newly painted water tower and all!

So that was my weekend. Every now and then I really need to take a break from blogging, scrapbooking and cleaning the kitchen to do some things to blog about and scrapbook while making no new dishes in the kitchen.

But now the week begins, easing into it in a social way with Heather at Acting Balanced and Wayne at Touristic and the Monday Quiz About Me.

1. May is National Asparagus Month - do you like it? Haves a favorite recipe?

I just bought a bag of precut asparagus spears at Kroger yesterday. They were on sale because they were nearing the sell by date. I love asparagus and recently discovered I like them raw in my Crunchy Veggie Bowls too. Mt favorite recipe is just steamed with a little vinaigrette. However, being that David like asparagus too, but doesn’t care for vinaigrette, I make them either with a little butter or I heat up a little bit of olive oil and brown minced garlic is in, adding bite-sized pieces of asparagus and cooking until tender; YUUUM-MEE!

2. May is also National Salad month... what's your favorite salad?

Favorite? Only one? I totally believe that anything is improved by putting it on a bed of lettuce. Yesterday we had lunch at Bob Evens and I had their cranberry-pecan chicken salad, one of my summer favorites. I also often eat chili on a bed of lettuce at home. I’ve even had salad with scrambled eggs and bacon on it. Seriously, a bed of lettuce is almost always better than a bun.

3. Laundry Question: Fabric Softener yea or nay? How do you keep your clothes soft and static free?

We use dryer sheets and that’s usually enough for anti-static and fresh smelling. But I really love the smell of Tide detergent which we use.

4. Do you speak more than one language? What language would you love to learn?

Je parle un peut de francais, enough that I can ask for directions or order in a restaurant in Quebec. I’ve never been to France, but I do know my French is sufficient to impress store owners to speak English to me as a reward for my effort. That was the difference after the dismal warning my grandfather had given to me about Quebec before I went with the high school French Club. I could hold a conversation with our host family, who did not speak any English, and read the newspaper then, which means that I could again with a little practice, but I’m not sure I could just pick up a newspaper in Montreal and read as fast as I do an American one now.

I read a little Italian, just a little, but I’ve kept with letting my “other country” knows where I am so I continue to get political stuff in the mail. That keeps me reading it, but I always bring things to my dad and tell him what I think the letter says to see if I got it right. My Italian average is about .750. I can construct and speak a few sentences in Italian, but I’ve never had a conversation in Italian.

Really, there are still so many English words I haven’t learned well enough to make them part of my natural vocabulary I don’t even know if I can really say I even speak one language!

And don't forget to add a 5th Question on your own blog so we can answer as we hop around!

5. Do you find that you blog/social network less when the weather is nice, or do you use mobile devices to keep up in the cyber world wherever you are?

When I travel for any amount of time I take my laptop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I keep up with social networking, like my blog or Twitter. I often use it for weather and email while I’m away. Ido will take a morning every few days while David goes out to stay in the hotel and practice the water pill ritual because if I go a week without that and spending lots of time in the car, my feet will swell past painful. That’s when I take advantage of some time to cyber-socialize.

I know there are those who blog from a tablet by the pool or Tweet from their seats at a ball game, but not me. (Although I think I’m probably more likely to want a tablet than a smart phone, I’ll probably end up with the smart phone because they’ll quit making dumb phones)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

There's No Day Like Wednesday!

1. May is National Blood Pressure Month...what sends yours soaring, either literally or figuratively? What calms you down? When did you last have your bp checked?

Last month at my doctor’s office. It was perfectly normal for the first time in a year. Yay!

There are certain foods that are salty enough that I can feel my blood pressure on the rise. I generally choose the low sodium varieties of the things I like or greatly limit how much I ingest if that option isn’t there. The saddest thing about that is that I really feel it from V8 juice, which I love to drink for an afternoon snack in the summer. I drink the low sodium one at home with no problem, but if we’re out I have to pass unless I being my own. C-Stores just don’t ever carry the low sodium option.

Figuratively, the insurance company raises my blood pressure. Ironic since they are the ones who fund most of the bill for keeping it down.

2. You just found $1-what do you spend it on? How about 10$ 100?

When I was a child, maybe about 7 or 8, t was at the church we went to until I was 9, I found $5 in the church parking lot. Mom told me that since I found it I could do whatever I wanted with it. I put it in the collection plate figuring if it was in the church parking lot it belonged to the church.

If I see who dropped it I’ll call them back and return it, be it a dollar or a hundred. If I find a wallet, it will be returned with nothing missing that was in it when I found it. I always think about what it would mean to me if it was mine,

If I find money on the ground and there is no identification or any way of returning it, then I pocket it because you don’t walk into a room and ask if anyone has lost money. But I don’t immediately send it or make plans for it; I just put it in my wallet.

3. Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food has been proposed, but not enacted in the US. How much attention do you give food labels before you buy? Are you in favor of labeling if it means an increase in food prices? Is this an issue you've been following and feel strongly about, or is this the first you've heard of the controversy?

I do read the labels on food before I buy it. I especially read labels if they are on produce because fresh vegetables and fruits should only have one ingredient and if there is more I want to know why. I don’t want to pay more if the label tells me my apples contain apples.

As far as GE foods go, I don’t think it could be sold in the US if it wasn’t reasonably safe. I take enough medications now that I’m hardly in a position to complain if things are altered to make them more resistant to disease; so am I.

4. May 15th marks the birthdate of Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz. At this point in time, are you more in need of brains, courage, heart, or a trip back home? Explain.

I'm pretty good on brains and heart; I’ve had this confirmed by others. A trip back home for me is Dunkin Donuts in Novi, my old stomping grounds and people are either not here or in different places now, so there really is no “home” to go to and I do go to Dunkin very now and them when I’m in town. I think courage is the thing I could use the most. I’ll be trying to rejoin the workforce soon, a place I haven’t been in too many years. That is exciting and scary.

5. "There's no place like home" is an oft repeated line from Baum's book. When was the last time you felt the truth of that statement?

Home is more of a feeling for me now and I would say the last time I felt that was at the beginning of the month when Sheri and I did lunch and 42. I am “home” when I’m with family.

6. Steak...yes please or no thank you? What cut do you prefer and how do you like yours cooked? Sauce or no sauce? Besides your own kitchen, where's a place you like to go to get a great steak?

No thank you. If I have a burger I like it cooked “hockey puck.” Generally speaking I like all meat well-done. I’d rather have pork or chicken dry than the slightest bit pink.  I generally like sauce or seasoning on all meat, except maybe ham.

7. When was the last time you were in a genuine hurry?

I take Lasix. In the morning there are about 2 hours when I’m always in a genuine hurry! LOL

8. Insert your own random thought here.

It’s been a busy week getting all the information and scheduling all the accessibilities we’re getting done with the house. I am looking forward to being able to get out and enjoy this summer without steps to warm up my air-conditionally frozen self!

The work necessary has put me a bit behind on some of my personal projects, namely that I’ve fallen behind on 52 topix. I’ve written week 18 and preparing to write week 10. Week 20 started yesterday. When the time is there I’ll backtrack and catch up the two weeks I missed. That’s the biggest slip I’ve had in my over scheduled world, but I don’t let myself stress too much.

When I’m working again I’ll have less time to play anyway and I hope I’ll have to get used to it sooner rather than later.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Quiz; Locked IN Heaven

Oh the title is about my answer to #4. Happy ear worm now.

Joining Heather and Wayne at Acting Balanced and Touriustic.

1. What did you do for Mother's Day?

I watched baseball and scrapped. I don’t have kids and I’m the matriarch, so Mother’s Day isn’t a huge deal for me anymore. Carla and Kaline didn’t run off like they usually do when I sit on the bed to relax and read a little after the shower and there was no vomit or hairballs all day. Maybe that was my Mother’s Day gift!

2. What was the best advice your mother (or a mother figure) gave you?

Of course I’m paraphrasing a major piece of advice Mom gave often.

If you can’t be happy with yourself and by yourself, what joy can you offer anyone else?

If there’s a man that’s worth it he won’t want to change you and if there’s not one who is worth it, you don’t need a man. Love yourself and respect the people that love you enough to know they are more than enough to fulfill you. Create the you that’s right for you and you’ll never “have to” find a man. When you are right for you, you’ll be able to love a man for who he is and not what he can do for you. If you can’t do that for him, you can’t expect him to do that for you.

I think back specifically to the guy I dated who “loved me” by the end of the first date and wanted to pay my bills in the second week, I realize that was the type of man Mom was warning about. I was happy to run away from a potentially controlling and needy relationship. It wouldn’t have worked; Mom taught me to be okay with myself and he showered me with attention to the point of smothering because he needed me to soothe his insecurities the same way. I just didn’t have the proper insecurities to do as I was told. I could have been a beaten and bitter woman by the time I met David and not good enough for him. Glad I listened to Mom!

3. Are you gardening this year? What have you/will you plant

I pretty much plant perennials when I can afford them and someone can help plant them (Hi Kelly!) I suppose I’d have a vegetable garden if I had the physical ability and perhaps once we have a ramp, with the help of the power chair, I can plant a tomato plant and some basil I can water so it doesn’t die. I had ONE sprig of basil from a whole packet of seeds but I couldn’t get to it to water it and I kept forgetting to ask David to. I guess I should stick to wonderfully indestructible baby rubber tree plants!

4. What is the first song that comes to mind today?

Locked Out Of Heaven by Bruno Mars. I can’t NOT move when it’s playing.

See the video here.

And don't forget to add a 5th Question on your own blog so we can answer as we hop around!

5. What’s one thing you do that “they” say you’re too old to do?

Um, speaking of Bruno Mars…My taste in music is a little eclectic, but I totally love current pop and R&B music. When you think of Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Drake, Pitbull, most people don’t immediately think “married middle age white girl.” Fortunately, music really doesn’t care about age, race, sex or even marital status.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Review: Double Take (Short Story) by Alan Jacobson

Story synopsis at Good Reads

NYPD Detective Ben Dyer awakens from cancer surgery to find his life turned upside down. His fiance has disappeared and Dyer, determined to find her, embarks on a journey mined with potholes and startling revelations - revelations that have the potential to forever change his life.

My Review at Good Reads

5 out of 5 stars

I did not give this short story five stars just because it was written by Alan Jacobson. The story is worth five stars because it was written by Alan Jacobson.

The story is detailed but fast moving with a bit of a Twilight Zone twist. I hadn't even realized it was at the end of my digital copy of Hard Target and what a treat to read while I'm waiting for his next book!

Book Review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Book synopsis at Good Reads

Famed Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon answers an unexpected summons to appear at the U.S. Capitol Building. His planned lecture is interrupted when a disturbing object—artfully encoded with five symbols—is discovered in the building. Langdon recognizes in the find an ancient invitation into a lost world of esoteric, potentially dangerous wisdom. When his mentor Peter Solomon—a longstanding Mason and beloved philanthropist—is kidnapped, Langdon realizes that the only way to save Solomon is to accept the mystical invitation and plunge headlong into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and one inconceivable truth . . . all under the watchful eye of Dan Brown's most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol is an intelligent, lightning-paced story with surprises at every turn--Brown's most exciting novel yet.

My Review at Good Reads

2 out of 5 stars

In a word, my reaction after finishing this book is disappointed. Having read Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code my expectation was high for The Lost Symbol, the bar had been set high.

The story starts in the way I’d come to know and enjoy that a Robert Langdon adventure begins, not for the week of spontaneity! But it went downhill from there. The plot and subplots could have been much better defined, or defined at all.

Good fiction has a believability factor. Your mind has to think what’s happening is possible in the parameters of the book. This book pushed those bounds of the shocking believability from “oh my” building to “oh my God” and then trailing to “Oh please.” So it gets 2 stars for the action before “oh please.” The most troublesome part is that it reached “oh please” numerous times.

I think the most irritating thing about this book is that there were 150 pages left after the climax. I kept expecting that something more, something bigger, was going to happen but it never did. By the end of the book I’d almost forgotten the main storyline and that there actually had been a bad guy. It was over 100 pages leading up to a triumphant final “oh please.”

I bought this book based on liking the other two books I’ve read in this series. I got an email with the opportunity to reserve the next one for $15.00 for the electronic version. Read another nook like this? Fifteen dollars? Oh please.

Friday, May 10, 2013

One Meme or Another

This has been a busy and quick week. The powerchair came to live with us. Carla and Kaline seem to like it a lot more than they did Morgan. Carla has not jumped up in it to nap like she does my walker, but give it time. Kaline will sit in my lap when I’m sitting in it and it’s turned off, but I still get that “Daddy’s legs make a better pillow” look from her. David’s legs are a decent bit longer with a flatter tummy. I still have the hip and chest she prefers. When I turn it on and move, they clear the way just like they do when I walk; it seems the powerchair is not as scary as the vacuum!

Tuesday we met with reps about getting a stair lift and a ramp. It really is just silly to wear out my arms with the manual chair to go the doctor’s office when I have the power chair he did all that paperwork for me to have!  The powerchair seems bigger, like it may not fit all the places the manual chair does, and after I’ve complained that handicap bathrooms seemed to be made for powerchairs. We’ll see, maybe it just feels bigger because it’s more comfortable.

To punctuate the need for the stair lift, I slipped on the top step coming down Wednesday morning. I didn’t go headfirst down, but I fell back on the landing hard on my butt. I’m okay, but boy was I sore all day.

Thursday David was off work and out In the west side of the state. I stayed home; I got up slow and wanted to take it as an easy day.  I seemed to be busy all day and didn’t really get a lot done.

I had a really nice salad for lunch with tuna and black beans and then I got caught in my current book which has about 100 pages of intense rising action right before the climax. How could I stop? Now, having discovered that there was entirely too much book left after the climax, I’m trying to get through the drawn out finish. Unless there is a serious OMG moment in the last 70+ pages, it won’t be getting 5 stars when I write my review. I guess what I got a lot done of yesterday is reading, which would be impressive if I was about 10, it’s a bit of a slacker at almost 47.

After that volume of that I did this week, how about what most of you are here for; one meme or another!

Follow Friday Four Fill In Fun Blog Hop

This week’s statements:
1. If ___ then____
2. ____ is my ___ of the ____
3. Once, I was surprised to find myself __________________.
4. To keep from going crazy, I _________.

My Answers:

1. If you’re going to stare then say “hello!”

2. Self-activism is my project of the year.

3. Once, I was surprised to find myself cheering for the Reds in the playoffs against the Braves when I thought I was a Braves fan. In the heat of passion, the heart shows its true self.

4. To keep from going crazy, I read. I have always hated waiting but now I have to accept it. I read more now.

Five Question Friday

1. What's the one personal hygiene thing you will not do in front of your spouse?

I was raised in a household where respect of privacy and personal space was paramount. That’s not to say I was given “alone time” as a toddler or that I wasn’t hugged as a teenager. I actually didn’t want much alone time as a toddler and I was very touchy-feely with my friends and hugging, probably because hugging was an encouraged sign of affection at home.

That being said, I have always ben pretty private about personal hygiene. I think brush my teeth is the one thing I will so in front of my spouse or anyone. Personal is personal. When Tori and Rina were little, from about 4 up, rather than use a handicap stall to cram all three of us in, we did “shoes.” When one of us was in the stall, the other two stood in front of the door so the person inside could see our shoes. It was meant to respect both our privacy and our need of the security that the other two are there. Okay, that last one was more for me than anything, but they both asked to see shoes when they were in the stall too.

2. What's your favorite thing about a newborn?

That it will grow up? I’ve always said that the great thing about kids is that they get cooler and cooler as they get older. They start out helpless, then they learn and you learn from how they learn too.  Then everyone shares and they grow closer and closer to peers,  When they become fellow adults you just enjoy being with them. I enjoy watching kids grow and being involved, but honestly, I've never known a kid its whole life that I've ever wished was a baby again.   Every person younger than me has become more of a joy to be with as they’ve gotten older. The best thing about a newborn is that promise that the investments of diaper changing and frustrations will pay off with interest.

3. When is "too young" to have a Facebook account?

My arbitrary age for socializing on the internet is 13. I won’t use any more than initials for kids under 13 on my blog too. I think a shared account with a parent is okay before that and hopefully some supervision while you can still get them to at least learn the actual words before they start using text slang. It’s also a good idea to be one of their Facebook friends or at least have a single-no-kids friend or relative you both trust to be on their list.

4. What are your hoping for for Mother's Day?

Last year I got a very sweet text from one of my nieces acknowledging the role I play in her world and wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. I was moved to tears.

5. What was the best field trip you ever took in school?

My 11th grade Humanities class went on an architectural tour of Detroit. I love classic architecture with lots of detail and downtown Detroit has some beautiful old buildings.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eye Of The Tiger-Cat

It’s allergy season again. Kaline usually has her eye problem in the fall but this year she is having a spring reaction. We’ve taken her to the vet a few times with it. The vet says it’s an allergy. We’ve tried ointment in her eye; she hates that and I don’t think it healed up any quicker than without ointment. At the vet’s suggestion we tried a dose of Children’s Tylenol. How well that worked I can’t say; I wore more of it than she ingested. I do know that after the one and only attempt with the Tylenol they eyes went back to normal in about a week without actual treatment. It makes sense to me as when my allergies act up if they are mild and I don’t take anything for them they get a just a little worse and then go away. So we’re watching her. So far the only thing that even lets us now there’s a problem in her right eye is a little pink and weepy and she rubs it on everything. Her attitude and appetite are just fine and it’s not interfering with her play or sleep habits. So David and I are making a point of looking at her eye often and keeping a close watch on her behavior. It seems to pain me more than her.

Now for the Wednesday Hodge Podge, hosted by Joyce at From This Side of The Pond

1. When the children of today grow up, what do you think they'll say about this period in time? What do you most hope they remember?

In my own utopian little world, I hope they’ll remember how much safer their world became when the NRA was voted out of congress.

My actual answer may still be a bit utopian, but I refuse to hope for less. I hope they will be able to look back in their own lifetimes and see how community and actual compromise has defeated many personal and public evils. I hope they can see how the lack of thinking of others and unwillingness to bend has always meant and always will mean utter failure. I truly want to believe we can get rid of the rampant violence and inept government we have now, but if not, I hope today’s kids can learn the belter lesson from our inadequacies instead of follow in ditch society’s footprints currently wade through.

2. National Teacher's Day is celebrated in the US of A on the first Tuesday in May, this year May 7th...share how a particular teacher positively impacted you.

Mrs. Hilton in 10th grade was the teacher that saw through the teenaged wall I had out up and knew I had some problems at home. Looking back they were really not huge problems but they sure were huge to me at the time. My dad and I saw eye-to-eye on nothing regarding me being a teenager. Mrs. Hilton was there to talk and she was the one who helped me find a professional counselor I could afford. While Pop hated the whole idea of me seeing a counselor and would not go with me to talk to him, that experience did a world of good in asking me the right questions to get me to say the things I needed to realize about myself to battle my own demons. What I learned enabled me to communicate better and that got Pop in a better communicating place too. I credit counseling sessions outside of school for not just saving but helping me rebuild a great relationship with my dad and I credit Mrs. Hilton for instilling a beautiful faith in other people and helping make me the supportive and optimistic person I am as an adult.

3. What's a dish your mama made, that if set in front of you today would whisk you right back to childhood?

Hot Dog Pie – protein and veggie (sauerkraut AKA cabbage). What seemed like special fun food to us was an affordable meal to young parents in the early 70s.

4. Mother May I was a game we played when I was growing up...no pieces, parts, or plugs required. What games from childhood do you remember loving that were also pieces, parts, and plug-free?

Simon Says or tag

5. Besides your own mother, tell us about a woman who influenced you as a child?

Lydia, our baby-sitter. Lydia was like a big sister in many ways, she even went camping with us a couple times. She did ceramics and had creative hobbies, always brought her homework with her during the school year and juggled her job (us) and school well. I remember scribbling “words” instead of printing when I played because I wanted to write like Lydia. She didn’t treat us like little kids either. I think the most valuable lesson her influence gave me was the importance of respecting other people no matter how much older or younger than you they are.

6. Mamma Mia! What's the best play or musical you've ever seen?

It’s hard to pick just one!  A live show, I think maybe The Taming of the Shrew in Stratford. Ontario, Canada in, I think, 1988. I saw it on a weekend with Jeff and Kelly and again with Mom, Pop and Noni. It was very cool because they set the production in the 1950s and threw in some comments in Italian and Noni just loved that.

On video I love Oklahoma and Hamlet with Mel Gibson.

7. What are three smells that make you feel nostalgic?

Christmas ornaments when they come out of the box, old books or a used bookstore, breakfast cooking outside (campgrounds) and made-from-scratch spaghetti sauce. 

When I get nostalgic, I can't count.  :)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The powerchair arrived Monday afternoon. Compared to our smallish house, the chair is huge! Right now I’m learning how to drive it, use the controls, in the walking space in the living room. I have to get used to the toggle steering! The turning radius is pretty compact and I can make it spin like a Tilt-A-Whirl! I’ve found that as much as I used to love making the car spin and spin and spin on a Tilt-A-Whirl, I can spin the powerchair around twice on the slowest setting before I start feeling dizzy. I suppose practice steering and spinning will get me in good form on both! ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Hamburger Bun Runeth Over


I feel like I’ve talked about Gevalia before but I looked over my last few blog entries and don’t see it. Maybe I told David or wrote it in my personal journal. Hmmm… My brain has been taxed lately. Anyway, I used to drink Gevalia coffee all the time! I got the beans and used it in my coffee maker that grinds the beans right into the filter. Good coffee and a great way to make it. At that time I was living at home, no car payment, immortal; as the average 20-something, so no medical bills and I was enjoying the benefits of my first job that paid more than minimum wage. I was making $5 an hour full time!

Please remember that a Mr. Goodbar was 15 cents when I was a child too.

Anyway, car payments and a travel bug a little later and I terminated my Gevalia deliveries when I had to start cutting costs. Well, Gevalia started making K-Cups and they offered a fee sample on their Facebook page. I’d forgotten just how wonderful that coffee is and the K-Cups, are comparable in price where at that time so long ago the beans and ground coffee was considerably more expensive than even Coffee Beanery coffee by the pound. So I’m blissfully back on the Gevalia!

Let’s see what Joyce at From This Side of The Pond is asking in today’s Hodge Podge, shall we?

1. This week's Hodgepodge is Volume 123. What's something you've done recently that was as easy as 1-2-3?

Using a scrapbook template. I usually do my pages from scratch or alter the heck out of a template when I use one, but this year the end of the month has meant that I’ve used some templates pretty much as is. Remember that in catching up since 2008, my rule for this year is I can only scrap the current month from any year. At the end of the month I do a few folders with templates. They still look good, but I don’t claim the layout as my original design for the page. I can do three or four pages in a day to close out the month that way, though!

2. The Wednesday Hodgepodge also happens to fall on the first day of May ...what is something you may do this month? 

I may be going for another MRI. Since I blew my out-of-pocket out of the water in January, the MRIs are essentially free (to me) for the rest of the year. Since my bills won’t be paid off until late next year, I want to get all of my testing done this year!

3. The Englishman Horace Walpole is credited as saying, "The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think" How do you see it?

A little of both, but mostly a comedy. It’s the thinker in me that remembers the serenity prayer; I change what I can, accept what I cannot and I don’t beat my head against a wall trying to change things I can’t.

4. May is National Hamburger Month...how often do you eat a burger? What are your must-haves when it comes to burgers? I assume you vegetarians won't be celebrating so tell us what you'd like instead? 

I eat burgers once or twice a week. Burgers are usually the next day dinner after spaghetti, which David and I both enjoy. I also now and then get a hamburger when we eat at McDonald’s while railfanning and I feel like a hot lunch rather than salad.

Must-haves are ketchup, mustard and relish or pickle and I require enough of them that the burger is more of a condiment flavor than actually something I can taste. Seriously, I like hamburger as a condiment, but I really don’t want to taste the meat.

Last time we were railfanning we stopped for lunch and I got a Quarter Pounder, no cheese and extra everything else. THAT was a Nani burger! The condiments we just dripping out of the bun and the pickles were stacked as thick as the burger. YUM! Okay, truth is I could probably have just had pickles, but then it wouldn’t be warm. :D

5. Pansies, petunias, geraniums, impatiens...of the four mentioned, which is your favorite in a patio pot? Will there be pots on your patio this spring? (Or whenever spring comes to your part of the globe?) Who does the gardening at your house?

I like them all, but I think pansies best. The gardening at our house gets done when someone who gardens visits.

6. When did you last (literally or figuratively) shout "Mayday, Mayday!"

I think last night. I woke up to :nature’s call” and I couldn’t prop myself up to sit up on the bed so I could stand. David got up to be my grab bar. That’s just one of my normal challenges, maybe it’s more one of David’s challenges.

7. Say farewell to your April in ten words or less.

I will always love you April, you bring baseball back!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I’m going to see a movie today! Sheri’s on vacation this week and we’re going to go see 42. I’ve been hearing so much about the movie and seeing the ads during games, I’m kind of excited. Jackie Robison’s story is one of the most important things in the history of the sport I love so much. It was baseball, and given baseball’s place in America at that time, the country’s moment to wake up and grow closer to the rich society we can be if we shed backwards notions that any kind of unsubstantiated hate is okay. It makes me smile to think of all that we’ve gained every time we’ve become more equal and it makes me hungrier for all that we still have to gain.

And lunch at Friendly’s – They have ice cream!