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!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Tears

Oh, I’m talking about the kind of tears that I want to feel welling up in my eyes during the holidays! I had a wonderful Christmas as a giver with gifts well-received and a few unexpected extras that I truly enjoyed seeing the reactions of the recipients. But I was the gift-getter of not one, but three gifts that gave me those happy tears this year!

It started Christmas Eve. There were some errands to run and we were going out to dinner. It rained on our anniversary and David and I decided to have an earlier dinner on Christmas Eve rather than me venturing out in my chair in the rain. Even with an umbrella, there is much more of you exposed to the rain in a wheelchair than there is standing up. So we were going out after David’s afternoon “commitment.” It wasn’t a train or poker and he wouldn’t tell me details, so I figured the “commitment” was something for me.

Well, the time for that commitment came and David was still home. He told me the time had been pushed back a little later. He started cleaning up some things in the living room where I had been cleaning little by little but he's capable of picking it up much faster. I was thinking to myself that helping with that was an awesome gift in itself. He works full time and when he’s home, taking cafe of all the things I can’t do is a full time job. I don’t remember exactly what I asked, but his answer included that he was clearing out space because Mike was coming over and they were putting up a tree.


He’d read the blog post I did about being sad that I wouldn’t have an aide yet to help me clean up the living room and it’d be the third year without a tree. He wanted to give me a tree for Christmas Eve. Mike, who is allergic to cats, drugged himself up with allergy meds and came over. He and David put up the tree with lights, garland and the tree skirt and angel on top, just like I was planning to do.

At first I told him it was the thought and it made me feel so good, but he didn’t need to put up a tree. I insisted it was a lot of work to do it and we weren’t going to be home on Christmas but then I stopped saying not to do it. I was ashamed of myself for not appreciating the incredible meaning of the thought. It’s not just that he reads my blog; it’s that he really reads the piece of me I put into what I write. And he knew better than I did just how much it would do for me to have a tree.

Oh those beautiful, warm lights glowing in the dark after we got home from dinner were just beautiful to to watch. I settled into the recliner and he cozied on the couch and we just relaxed. I’m not a snow means Christmas person, Christmas is Christmas as long as there are lights. David gave me my Christmas spirit this year.

My other happy Christmas tears from gifts I received came on Christmas Day. We did name drawing for our family gift exchange on Christmas morning. Tori drew my name. I had already said I was prepared for a warm and fuzzy gift. She “owed me tears” after the books I’d done for the girls when they turned 18. I got my gift and opened Catopoly, the cat version of Monopoly. After 21 years, she knows me well! I was anxious to play the game. I was surprised there wasn’t a mushy gift after all. But then there was a second smaller box. The second box was the tears box.

When the girls were learning to talk, they had 2 names to learn in their world that were similar. They had Aunt Nanette, with vowel sounds similar to “baguette,” and Aunt Nani, rhymes with “Donny.” For a while we were both “Nana,” like the end of “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’.” As their ability to better grspthe vowel sounds improved, Nanette became Aunt Nanette, but part because Nana and Nani sound so similar and part because they saw me more often and had been calling me Nana all along, I stayed Nana. It’s the same as my Aunt Raffaella has always been Auntie to me and still is. That’s what makes her MY aunt, and so my name, Nana, is with the girls.

The smaller box had tissue paper that when unfolded revealed a silver rope bracelet with a clasp big enough to be put on and taken off with MS hands. It also has a heart-shaped sparkly charm that says NANA in block letters.

It’s pretty much been as everyday important as my medical alert bracelet since Tori fastened it on my wrist Christmas morning.

My last happy Christmas tears came when we got home Christmas night. Edna spoiled me with a couple of boxes. One was a sort of stocking in a box with wrapped presents that included one that felt like it must be a neck warmer like the ones I knew she was making for Christmas gifts. I opened that last because I love hand-made gifts and I expected that would be the special gift I’d want to open as the finale of the box.

I opened the paper and saw the variegated pink, purples, orange and yellow; gorgeous. I remember how much I liked the multi color ones she’d done. I may have even left a comment about it on her blog. It was beautiful! But when I turned it around the get a full look pinned together from the front, that’s when my eyes welled up again that'd day.

On the pin is a orange ribbon MS charm. The gorgeous gift was very personal and yesterday when I wore it to the doctors office, it was warm too!

So those were my smiling Christmas tears. I like to give gifts that are special; something the receiver wouldn't normally buy for themselves but would enjoy or something that just jumps out and makes me think of them or something I create. I like to give gifts that are memorable or memories in themselves. That’s because of how wonderful it feels to receive gifts liken that. This year I had three of them that felt beyond that emotional bar I set for myself as a giver. The friends and relatives that are my famiy are just awesome. I love you guys!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Santa Paws Is Just Awesome!

Behind Stripes and Spots

I needed a break after playing with Wobbert

This was such a cool Christmas! We got lots of treats and toy mousies. Two mousies jungle and two of them make real squeaks! But the best thing I got was Wobbert! Here’s Wobbert’s video:

Isn’t Wobbert cool? Mommy says Wobbert is a “Feline Tickle Me Elmo.” I don’t know what that is but she says that everycat wants a Wobbert this year. Well, yeah. Did you watch the video? How could anycat NOT want a Wobbert?

I’m not so sure about the name on my present. It didn’t say Marco it said Share. Mommy and Daddy have called me nicknames before but Santa Paws is the first one to call me Share. But it’s okay to call me Share if you’re giving me edible string!

That is the part of the video I don’t get. How can you play with Wobbert when he still has chicken-string? When Mommy loads him up like the video shows, the first thing I do is eat the yummy string. Mommy gave a piece of string to Carla and one to Kaline. Neither one of them liked the string so when Mommy stopped holding me against my will, I got the extra pieces of string right away. How could they not like edible string??

We all play with Wobbert and get him to drop treats for us. Kaline platys with him a little, but would rather have human staff just give her the treats. But I admit Carla is pretty impressive. She can get a treat from Wobbert almost every time she hits him! One time she hit him a buncha times and got treats for all of us!

We also found out my Wobbert is better than games for people-kids because Mommy heard that one of her people-kid cousins got a new X-box that wouldn’t play his old X-box games! Santa Paws sent a present from our friend, Pogo, in New England. It was a whole bag of Meow Mix treats, which are very yummy treats by the way, thanks, Pogo! Mommy put some of those treats in my Wobbert and they worked great. Take THAT X-box!

Mommy said maybe she should get another Wobbert since we all like to play at the same time when she loads the treat holders. I think that's a good idea. If she got the girls a Wobbert I could eat all the string since they don’t like the string.

It was a good Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Longer Days Again!

Happy Yule! It’s Winter Solstice which means the days will now be getting longer everyday! YAY!!

After a grouchy and the a whiny post, it’s time for a normal Nani, dontcha think? The Winter Solstice really is a holiday with good memories for me. Most of them are because I love sunlight. Seriously I didn't have to get too old before I realized I just like doing things during the day best. Even when I travel I prefer skipping going out and enjoying what there is to do at night so I can wake up and do morning things. So the marking of the days getting longer is worth celebrating to me. I also have a fun memory of the Solstice Celebration I enjoyed with the guy I was dating many years ago. He was a Buddhist who celebrated recognized the pagan holidays.

This also marks the beginning of a busy week for me. Tomorrow is our anniversary! It will be 7 years since that day that I started off a bachelorette falling on a 12 pack of cherry soda and ended waiting for my husband to get home from work. I still smile when I think about the fun that we had with our mischievous reveals the next couple weeks. There was nothing conventional about our wedding day or the events leading up to it or any of the things we did over the next few months to celebrate it. And I wouldn't change one bit of it for anything in the world. I am blessed that I have a wonderful man in my world. He has gone through so much with me and he is still my rock. I love you, David and as I get things in order I look forward to giving you the very best of me for many years to come.

It's my blog; I can have my mushy moments if I want them.

Then it’s Christmas Eve and Christmas day! We don't actually have Christmas eve plans this year, But David is off work that day. Maybe we'll exchange our gifts to each other if David's had a chance to shop by then. hehehehe… Christmas day will be family time.

I've been enjoying some flavors of the season this past week. I posted this photo on my Facebook page and received decent number of likes for someone who sporadically uses Facebook.

Panettone is a traditional Italian cake. Mom and I both loved panettone, but we did not like it with the candied orange peel. Noni always made a point of having one for Christmas that was solo uvetta/senza canditi; only raisins/without candied fruit. Those are not easy to find at all! I try to find one for Christmas but there have been years where I haven't had any panettone. This year I found an Amazon store that imports groceries from Italy. It fulfills the delivery through Amazon Prime. This panettone is a really good one too!

Panettone is a traditional Italian holiday cake. Taste-wise it’s similar to raisin bread only just a touch sweeter and a ton richer. A typical recipe for panettone includes a couple of eggs and double that number of just yolks. The texture is like the really soft inside of fresh Italian bread with a touch of cake to it with raisins and candied orange peel. Now the hard-to-find “senza canditi” is that just without the orange peel.

During the Christmas season panettone is a breakfast bread, a social coffee side or a light dessert. When you see what looks like a plate of hunks of bread on the table when you visit Italian friends during the holidays you think it’s just a plain thing to munch with your coffee. But when you taste a “little piece to be polite” you find out it has a truly addictive quality! An Italian holiday is a never-ending food coma anyway but the panettone with robust espresso after dinner was always a wonderful finish.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

All I Want For Christmas

Our tree in 2011

I hope everyone is enjoying this festive time of year. Hanukah just ended last week, and while I know it’s not the biggie of the Jewish holidays, it is the biggest commercial one because of the time of the year. I think Christmas is much the same. The bigger Christian holiday is Easter, but Christmas is the big party one. The roots of all of that probably have to do with farming.The crops have been harvested and the time is available for celebrating and feasting. In the northern hemisphere, especially us further north parts of it, the days are shorter and it’s colder. A major holiday celebration is good for morale.That's just my thought based on personal observation.

I’m a little blue because we don’t have a tree again. It’s the third year in a row we haven’t put up the tree, but it’s also three years we’ve been at Pop’s on Christmas morning. I’ve enjoyed the pretty tree Aunt Judy does at their house. I’d still be in a happier Christmas mood if we had a tree at home. A lot of the worst things in our home are because of my disability. I was always the person who cleans up around the house, especially for the holidays, scrubbing up the kitchen before a huge baking week and arranging my “Santa-Nani’s Worksop” for gifts and such. Now that workshop decor is pretty much back to a bachelor pad motif. I’m not ripping on the former bachelor in the house - I’m lamenting my former elfen ability!

We did the tree with lights and a plush gold garland that Mom had gotten many years ago. It’s thick commercial grade; she’d talked a sales associate into selling it to her after Christmas one year. Every ornament on the tree had special meaning. There are ceramic angels from the formal pink and burgundy tree I had in my 20s, gorgeous porcelain angels Scotty’s family gave me and the glass ballerina Mom picked out because it reminded her of my dance days when I was a little girl. In a box next to the box with our tree are baseball ornaments for all three of our teams many cats and trains and gifts from friends. We have a special ornament for every year we’ve been together since 2005, including the photo the judge took of us on our wedding day in the 2008 frame ornament that says “our first married Christmas.” We picked out that ornament earlier in December when we didn’t even know for sure which day the picture would be taken. We’ve gotten an ornament for the last 2 years even though there was no tree but not for this year. I had said that if we didn’t put up the tree this year I wanted to get rid of it because all it was doing was taking storage space; But what I actually meant was I desperately wanted the tree and an ornament for this year.

My pink tree from the 80s/90s
Notice the same tree top?

We almost had a tree too. I had planned to drain the rest of my current savings to pay for a home heath aide (insurance doesn’t cover an aide) and I’d get things picked up and organized and we could have a tree. This year it’d probably be lights and garland, at least until we saw how Marco reacted. He’s 2-1/2 years old and has never seen a “cat-toy tree” or tried to climb one. But we’d fasten the tree to the wall with fishing wire like we did when Kaline still climbed. And my aide would help me with warping gifts and writing on tags. I was even dreaming about making a couple crostadas and a batch of gingerbread cookies. That’s a selfish me thing; I love my gingerbread cookies. But alas; no aide. I need help too bad to get help.

You see, I can't get out of the wheelchair on my own. Right now we’re working on getting a new chair that will have a lift, tilt forward, like our recliner, so I’m half standing, which is all I need to grab something and keep standing. But from this chair, I can sort of levitate my butt, but then someone needs to lift me to that level when\re I can grab something to finish standing. But in that in between, I need to really be supported and lifted up. If I was 145 pounds, which I’m not unless I’m asleep and having a very happy dream, for that lift, it’s over 50 pounds. 50 pounds is the limit of what an aide is allowed to lift. It’s for the safety of both the aide and me and I see and agree with that, but it means there won’t be an aide until I have a new chair and then only if it has that lift//tilt, which I’m told that insurance companies more often than not won’t cover. I did tell the new vendor we’re working with that the chair will have the lift and I’ll find a grant or a loan if it’s not approved.

So entering into 2016 there is a lot to look forward to. Everything that has dragged on and on this year has the potential to become a bountiful blossom next year. No matter what it takes, I’ll have the chair that better suits the way I use it. With the lift, I’ll be able to transfer without putting so much stress on my caregiver. That means I’ll be able to have an aide. I’ve applied for a grant for that and have an application for another one too. I hope I can at least have someone in a couple times week to help me get in and out the shower and some housekeeping assistance. And NEXT year I’ll have Christmas Tree and a happier holiday season. Next year I’ll bring a crostada to Christmas morning festivities and I’ll make a batch of gingerbread bats.

Now, DON’T WORRY. I’m still more happy than glum and I bounce back well when I'm sad. I find great joy in giving and I’ve sent a few gifts to friends I don’t trade holiday gifts with. I haven't been out much, so I haven’t gotten to pick up a stranger’s coffee or even lunch bill, but when a friend I haven’t seen in a few years ends a “thank you” with “you shouldn’t have, but I’m so glad you did” it feels awesome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Outdated Tradition: Another Way PC Is Justified.

It’s my annual grumble and maybe it’s heightened by the fact that 2015 has actually been a rough year for me. In a year where I’ve been pushed out of the social world by control that’s been taken away from me by MS, wheelchair trouble and complications that keep seeming to push a solution farther away, I’m feeling a little nonexistent. That feeling deepened when we received a stack of cards yesterday and exactly half of them make that same observation; that I’m unimportant.

I understand that there is an ancient tradition that dictates that a woman takes on the identity of a man’s additional appendage and gives up her existence when she marries, but come on, it’s 2015. I took my husband’s last name by choice. I gave up my middle name to took my father’s last name as my new middle name because that was my last name for 42 years. I did that by choice too. It wasn’t the choice of marrying David that changed my last name. It was MY choice to change my middle and last names. I didn’t change my first name and I didn’t change my gender when I got married. (And if I did change my gender I’d have come up with something a lot more creative than changing my name to the same as my husband and my brother.) Yet half of those cards were addressed as if my name had become David or as if I just don’t exist.

I do realize that referring to the couple as “Mr. and Mrs. (man’s first name) (man’s last name)” was how cards were addressed 100+ years ago. Then in 1919 women got their pretty pink voting cards so they could ask their husbands what they should do when they go vote after they wash the breakfast dishes if there was time in between laundry loads. Because why would Mrs. Mike Smith have any thoughts that were different than Mr. Mike Smith? There is only one letter different in their identities.

When women having some rights was new there were a lot of people that weren’t used to women being respected as humans. It’s appalling that there are customs that demean women that are still accepted in 2015. In 2015 “Mr and Mrs. Mike Smith” not only disregards Lisa but it assigns her a new identity as a meaningless extension of Mike. Oh, by the way, Lisa Jones became Lisa Smith when she married Mike Smith. She’s still Lisa; pretty much all that changed was her marital status and last name. She’s even still Ms. Jones professionally. The 2015 greeting card should be addressed to Mr. and Mrs Smith, The Smith Family, Mike and Lisa Smith, just Mike and Lisa or just the Smiths, but in 2015, don’t address it to Mr. and Mrs. Mike Smith! Notice the “Mrs. Mike” sex change in there?

There are social situations where David has friends that don’t remember my name. That’s okay. Casual friends he only sees once in a while and not always with me aren’t expected to remember me. They greet me as “Mrs. David" and in person that’s a compliment because they may not remember my name, but they remember WHO I am to them in that social situation. I have friends I’ve met through my husband that occasionally greet me that way as more a term of endearment. In scrapbook forums where friends have never met him, I often refer to my husband as “Mr. Nani.” But I wouldn’t be pleased to see a “formally addressed” greeting” card that reads “Mrs. and Mr. Nani” any more than I appreciate seeing “Mr. and Mrs. David.” They are exactly the same thing and both are wrong. Calling it “formal” and ducking behind an outdated custom to insult someone is not special or upscale for the holidays. If you want to be special and upscale, give Godiva chocolates or use a gold seal to close the envelopes. Don’t generously hand out unsolicited gender modifications.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Worldwide Christmas Scrapbooking Freebies 2015

Welcome to this year’s Worldwide Christmas Scrapbooking Freebies blog train! This year’s freebie from Digitalegacies Designs is a mini kit called Christmas Confetti. I used a classic Christmas palette and a few elements that include a couple of my favorites, I love journal cards and coffee cups, with tress and confetti spill to coordinate with the printed papers. I hope you can use it for a layout of as part of your scrapping stash!

Click the preview to download at MediaFire

Be sure to visit the Christmas Around The World home page to see all the free gifts previewed and links to those designers’ pages to download.

Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It’s Small Business Saturday

The holiday shopping season is in full swing as of yesterday with the shopping equivalent of the Super Bowl. The biggest differences between Black Friday and Super Bowl Sunday is that on Black Friday the fans are the ones competing and instead of eating standard homemade football party fare, competitors eat standard mall food court fare during halftime. Holiday shopping is best done however any individual finds the joy of holiday giving. For some it’s the competitive allure of the “doorbuster” deals. For some it’s the joy of knowing their shopping is already done by Thanksgiving so they can enjoy peace during the holiday season. I think the important thing is when you are shopping for gifts, let that spirit of giving wash over you and shop with that attitude. Not everyone does that, but whenever and however you do gift shopping, wouldn’t it be better for everyone buying and selling if we did that, or at least tried?

When I was in trade school, in 1990, I worked the holidays at San Francisco Music Box store. That was the coolest place I can imagine to work retail during the holidays because music boxes are very personal gifts. Even people who stopped in asking “do you have something nice for my mom?” or “I’m looking for a gift for my wife for Hanukah, do you have something thats not Christmas?” would leave with a thought to come back or a package in hand because they found that “ah-ha” gift they didn’t even now they were looking for. It was non-commission sales during the holidays, maybe because it was so easy, but it was so gratifying when I sold a music box because the person buying it was buying it as a gift most of the time and the gift they chose was very special. It captured the magic well. And music boxes are not at all just gifts for women! There was a very nice, masculine, wooden trinket box with a frame on top and space for a custom music box tune. With a kitten picture of Azreal in the frame and Spanish Eyes, a song my father loved to play on the accordion and my employee discount it was a Christmas present my dad loved.

Pop and I were talking about gifts for this year’s family celebrations on the phone the other day. Last year we drew names, so instead of choosing then finding gifts for everyone, we’re concentrating on just one person. We have a minimum set with the “rule” that past that you can spend as much as you want, but don’t expect the person who has your name to spend more than the minimum; Concentrate on the thoughtfulness of the gift and don’t spend more than you can afford. I drew my aunt who is a creative person, has some similar taste in books to my own and loves girly spoil things. I am just loving shopping for her!

Pop is not crazy about the suddenly he has to shop of it. LOL When my mom was with us she did all the shopping and the only gifts he bought were for her. Pop was a Christmas Eve shopper. As much as I don’t like being out shopping on Christmas Eve, I shopped with my dad for my mom on Christmas Eve. I joked at him about it but I really loved those few hours at the mall on Christmas Eve every year, just me and Pop. My mother was often pragmatic when she asked for a gift. She would actually ask for vacuum cleaner if she needed a vacuum cleaner and my father would tell her to go buy the vacuum cleaner and buy her something else for Christmas. Pragmatic gifts were neither special enough for Christmas nor for is wife. Something else was usually her favorite perfume and jewelry. We’d usually go into a couple of jewelry stores and look at jewelry until he found the piece or pieces that he felt were just right. Of course he would ask me what do you think often, but even if I wasn’t so sure he’d buy the one he though was right and Mom would gush over it an wear it to death. He obviously didn’t really need my help to pick out jewelry. I think I was really there for moral support for being in the mall and for our grown up daddy-daughter day. Then we’d go to Coffee Beanery for coffee and snack and he let me know that we needed to go through fine perfume on the way out of the mall because he needs to get just one more gift. As much as he always said he didn't like doing the shopping, he has told me a number of times that he did enjoy our Christmas Eve tradition.

Today, we acknowledge that holiday shopping may be about memories and special gifts to give, but we give another gift when we buy gifts because we add to the economy, moreover, when we shop small, that gift is a direct gift to the small business owner too. One of my sweet shopping memories is when Mom and I used to spend the weekend at Grandma’s, shopping in Tawas the day after Thanksgiving. Shopping in a small downtown was wonderful. It was as busy as a summer day during tourist season, sill room to move in the shops and time to talk to the shop owners and sales associates. I’m not a competitive shopper. I like to browse and really think about the gifts I’m buying. Some things I have around the house for the holidays take less thought than gifts. I still pretty much just throw a bag of almond holiday M&Ms in my cart. Some gifts are easy too, the ones that jump off the shelf and say “I’ve been waiting for you to find me for…”

Now I’m the Cyber Monday type, although I’ve already done most of my cyber shopping. I wasn’t the Black Friday at the mall type when I balanced well on two legs. Can you imagine trying to navigate crowds in a wheelchair?? I love that I can literally shop all over the world and take hours searching for the right gift. The other thing that I think is cool about the cyber world is that I have bookmarked sites for small businesses and family businesses I frequent too. I’ll finish this post up with a few of the small/family business my mouse frequently leads me to, also where I’ve already done some ordering in the past week or so.

Etsy is basically a craft mall online! I’ve purchased some dgital supplies from Etsy vendors. In fact this year’s Christmas cards wouldn’t have happened without Resale Clipart's Build-a-Snowman kit at Maddie Zee’s store. My Tigers “Turn Down For What t-shirt in 2014 was from an Etsy store and I’ve given beautiful hand-crafted gifts every year during the holidays.

Photojojo was a source of lots of stocking stuffers the year David switched to digital photography. They are a small company in San Francisco with a big web presence. They have wonderful gifts for pretty much any digital way you take photos, including how to upgrade your creativity and quality in that handy phone cam!

Ron & Franks is one of my favorite places going into winter! They are a small business out of Cheswick, Pennsylvania, that offers hot drink mixes in a greater variety of regular and sugar-free flavors that you’ll find in any chain store! They started selling their great drink mixes in 2001 at a local craft show and still sell their fabulous products in-person the same way. But with the website, I am sure to make at least one big order a winter to restock my supply of hot chocolates and instant cappuccino (What this once removed from the boat girl call cheat-a-chino) in great flavors sweetened with sugar, Stevia, Splenda or unsweetened. I recently tried Snick-AAH Hot Chocolate. STOP! I got unsweetened and added my own Stevia and with a 8-oz cup of water from my Keurig, I had a cup of Snickers heaven! I’ll be sending a gift to a special friend who will not go without a wonderful treat in spite of type 2 Diabetes!

Local Small business meets cyber-small town for me with Kohne Photo. They are our local camera shop, where my Canon G11 came from and where our Christmas cards have been done for as long as David and I have been together. I create the cards digitally at home and upload and place the order from home too. When I get the email that they are done, David goes to the shop across the Maumee River and picks them up. It’s using the internet to make it even easier to access your local business, but it also increases the reach of that business because if I wish I can give my business to them and have the cards shipped to me.

I spent a few years searching for a good source for the Italian treats I grew up with at Christmastime. One of the best things about the Internet is that small specialty stores are often crowded during the holidays and very difficult to maneuver with a wheelchair. (That’s not an excuse, just a reality) Finding a store on the web with the special things is much better than going to the local specialty store and MAYBE finding what I want . Torrone Candy is a family business that sells their classic Italian candies and sweets at their stand at festivals in the Northeast and has them available for one-stop internet shopping for all of us!

Nutscom! nuts.com is forever known to my family as nutscom, thanks to Pop. I got him a bag of chestnuts to go with a nuts history/cookbook a few years ago and he read the bag out loud in his not-so intent savvy direct way. One thing was for sure, Nutscom delivered good stuff! Nuts is a family business that started at the beginning of the Great Depression and has grown but remains a family business through the generations to a web presence and large selection of products. I get nut flours and candied fruits for baking, dried fruits and roasted nuts for snacking, even my most commonly used salad topper from Nuts-dot-com. At this time of year, it’s a great source for gift trays and baskets and wonderful things to offer on your holiday table.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hell's Corner (Camel Club #5) by David Baldacci

Finished November 18, 2015

Synopsis at Good Reads

Oliver Stone and the Camel Club return in #1 bestselling author David Baldacci's most stunning adventure yet.

An attack on the heart of power . . .

In sight of the White House . . .

At a place known as . . .


John Carr, aka Oliver Stone-once the most skilled assassin his country ever had-stands in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, perhaps for the last time. The president has personally requested that Stone serve his country again on a high-risk, covert mission. Though he's fought for decades to leave his past career behind, Stone has no choice but to say yes.

Then Stone's mission changes drastically before it even begins. It's the night of a state dinner honoring the British prime minister. As he watches the prime minister's motorcade leave the White House that evening, a bomb is detonated in Lafayette Park, an apparent terrorist attack against both leaders. It's in the chaotic aftermath that Stone takes on a new, more urgent assignment: find those responsible for the bombing.

British MI-6 agent Mary Chapman becomes Stone's partner in the search for the unknown attackers. But their opponents are elusive, capable, and increasingly lethal; worst of all, it seems that the park bombing may just have been the opening salvo in their plan. With nowhere else to turn, Stone enlists the help of the only people he knows he can trust: the Camel Club. Yet that may be a big mistake.

In the shadowy worlds of politics and intelligence, there is no one you can really trust. Nothing is really what it seems to be. And Hell's Corner truly lives up to its name. This may be Oliver Stone's and the Camel Club's last stand.

My review at Good Reads
4.5 of 5 stars

Wow! This was a great book with lots of action . I've said before they the Camel Club series has a definite Scooby-Doo essence to it, maybe in the way of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show’s Scooby Gang which was darker. Given that, I accept that the heroes and the villains are sometimes a bit over the top. They are very enjoyable.

The story involves multiple big agencies in Washington and England battling the group responsible for a bomb that caused much damage and a major investigation. Oliver Stone was asked to work for the government again for one case. Paired with Mary Chapman, an MI-6 British intelligence agent, they always seem to be one step behind the perpetrators. Clues lead them one direction only to find the truth seems to begin another. Why is that happening? There is a traitor in the ranks, but who?

I enjoyed the plot that seemed to leave the gate twisting. It made a book that was exciting to read. If you enjoy crime mysteries and stories revolving around governments, I definitely recommend the Camel Club series, but read them in order and don't expect to nitpick the believability - just enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Think I Got It Tough?

I’ve been very self-involved the past few weeks. I haven’t shared a lot because I’ve sorta been in a serious dark spot for me and I don’t want to share that in case it’s contagious. Hey, I’m serious there. I know a smile or a laugh can be passed on when someone is feeling low and I’ve experienced someone else’s bad mood sucking the life out of my mood. Anyone who cohabitates with their significant other or even a platonic best friend knows what I mean, you’ve felt it first hand. Its part of the emotional connection. But as much as strong happiness can put a dance in a stranger’s step when they walk by, a very dark brood can push that same stranger into traffic.

I was sorting through my art journals and I decided the MS art journal pages should be their own book instead of throwing them in my main scrapbooks in chronological order. They express an area of my creativity that I want to keep in its own compartment, I’m not ashamed of it at all. I think it’s good and it’s great therapy. It’s just that it’s very dark compared to most of my scrapping and certainly compared to the parts of my world that I want to preserve.

While pulling out folders, I came across this page I did in September.

Ghost From The Past
Credits: Distressed and This Can’t Be Happening by Created by Jill Scraps, 
When Skies Are Gray by Ginger Bread Ladies

Who we are and who we will always be is a work of art itself. Ideally, it’s a work we love being and others appreciate it too. That work of art is a combination of everything and everyone who has touched our lives. Because we’re always being “painted” or “sculpted” with a stroke here or smoothing out there by different artists we are ever-changing works. Everything we see, every life we touch, leaves a little and takes a little.

The woman represented by this page was very real and although we never spoke a word to each other, I don’t recall ever even making eye contact with her, she left an impression on me. She is one of the artists who added a few strokes to who I am today. I find myself thinking of her a lot as I struggle through the especially trying times.

When I was a young adult, I often went to a bar/concert theater with friends in a rough part of Detroit. They had the local bands and hard rock and heavy metal bands that weren’t big enough to book arenas when they toured, but they could sell out a downtown concert bar. It was festival seating and for the big concerts it was common for there to be a line going around the building before the doors opened of young people, mostly from the suburbs. Safety in numbers, it was a party atmosphere with plenty of six-packs and wine coolers, talking, flirting and getting to know strangers.

She lived there, in those rough streets. To the quiet woman, concert nights were working nights, collecting the empty beer and wine cooler bottles which were worth a dime apiece in Michigan. Sometimes she had a cart, but usually it was a plastic shopping bag or two that she collected her dimes in. It was the unwritten and unspoken rule that she never spoke to us and we never spoke to her. When anyone finished a bottle or can when in line, they left the empty on the sidewalk where she could reach it. The only time anyone ever heard her voice was the occasional time someone would get an extra hamburger at McDonalds and leave it with the beer can. She took the burger and said “thank you.”

She was ragged, dirty and didn’t smile, but she didn’t let her lot in life completely destroy her either. She didn’t panhandle, she collected bottles. Altruistically, she cleaned up after the kids for her payday. The piece of her that she left with me was pride and determination. She left me her dignity and the knowledge that despite the standards I’ve given myself, that dignity is much deeper than a credit score or clean hair. I am able to feel good about the little victories because they are MY victories. Every time I use a bag to move something because I only have one free hand, or lament at my ”Snape hair” or that I was too weak to shower and “smell like a bag-lady,” her image comes to my mind. It might get better, it might not. But as long as I do the best I can and never stop trying today, I can still grasp an ounce of pride, of dignity, even on my worst days.

It was over 25 years ago that the unnamed woman touched my life every couple weeks. The rough life in the streets tells me she’s probably gone. But she is not at all forgotten.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mentioning Many Things

Yesterday was election day. In odd-numbered years the ballot is smaller and the lines at the polls are too. After our mayor died earlier this year, the interim mayor, Paula Hicks-Hudson, won the special election and is now our duly elected mayor. I kind of knew where I was going with my vote, but I was swayed away from voting for Mayor Hicks-Hudson with what I considered a major faux-pas when she addressed Halloween and the weather with cold and forecasted rain during trick-or-treating time. She had no intention of postponing the time and it’s not me worrying about the kids that made me talk back to the TV. She could have said it was bad for general scheduling. She could have said after the last couple of years it sets an erratic precedent. Heck, she could have said with the election so close I just have too much going on to address it - get wet or go to the mall. It would have been a TON better than what she did say days before the election. Her defense for not changing the time for trick-or-treating started “In MY day…” She went on to talk about being from the area and going out in the cold and rain and all, but the parenting mindset is different now and I’m from this area too; it’s been colder and rainier than it was when I was a child. But the big thing with saying that so close to the election is that I don’t want to vote for someone who freely admits that “their day” was 50 years ago. I want to see my city move forward with someone who’s day is TODAY.

Oh yeah, and don’t start pointing fingers at parents “who should” put coats on their kids; the idea of a kid, regardless of what their told, not wearing a coat over a costume is as old as a child catching a cold not buttoning up her coat because Zuzu didn’t want to crush her flower.

In issues, I’m sad that the citizen’s initiative to legalize marijuana for personal and medicinal use was voted down. For me personally, I wanted to see the medicinal use be a legal option for people with chronic pain. I don’t think that’s necessarily me, but I have a number of friends who qualify. The recreational use wasn’t a big deal to me, but I don’t drink much either. Pot is less inhibiting than alcohol and not addictive. It would have been available for 21 and over, like booze, and couldn’t be smoked in public places except in designated smoking areas, like cigarettes, which are also more harmful and addicting. It saddens me that misinformation swallowed by people who don’t use a product makes it unavailable to people who could medically benefit from it and keeps it illegal, high-priced and often dangerously laced to make the profit higher for the illegal sellers for the people who will keep using it anyway. Score one for the pushers.

I am quite happy that the issue that creates a bipartisan process for drawing districts passed comfortably . I will admit the 800,000 people who think gerrymandering is a good thing frighten me.


November promises to be an exciting book month in Naniland! I just finished the last book in the Rare Traits trilogy. I love those books; David George Clarke is an incredible writer! I hope to read more from him, maybe even a fourth book in the trilogy? Douglas Adams did it. The hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy had 5 books. Sure, that works for that trilogy because it’s humor, but the point is that more than 3 books in a trilogy is not unprecedented.

I’m currently reading Hell’s Corner, the last book of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series and I have a list of new in November stuff now! I’m definitely set for reading material through November and likely into December. An e-reader fixes my dyslexia problems but it doesn’t make me a fast reader. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that although I read slower than an average person who reads a lot, I only have only ever had to read once because I have great reading comprehension. That was a plus all through school and a godsend in college where the reading assignments were multiple chapters to discuss in the next class a couple days later. Considering I never took a semester that was only one class, TGFRC! It didn’t take any math skills to know the reading comprehension scores on those standardized tests were essential for-multiple chapters + slow reading + dyslexia to equal success!

My preorders on parade started on November 1, when I got the email telling to refresh my Kindle app to load Pyramid Deception by Austin S. Camacho, the new book in the Hannibal Jones series. If you’ve read any of my book reviews, you know I love me some Hannibal Jones! Two days later Alan Jacobson, my favorite current author, released The Lost Codex and on November 17, David Baldacci’s The Guilty, new in the Will Robie series will be released. I preordered The Guilty and The Lost Codex both in early September. So if I fall off the radar for a while, it’s because I’m sitting in my recliner with the reading apps on my iPad IV tapped into my brain! Okay, maybe just relaxing with Buddy Bat (my iPad by name) and coffee in the IV!

And score one for Nani for name-dropping 5 authors I love in three paragraphs! ;)

Saturday is International Digital Scrapbooking Day

One would think that one of the good things, aside from more reading time, about being more of a shut-in the past few months has been more scrap time. (Although there have been a lot of days where I’ve somehow been on the phone so I can to try to break free from the mobility siege or cleaning things.) While I’ve been able to do more scrapping, I have looked but not bought anything new, choosing to save my monthly scrap-stipend for right now! I’m emptying my wish lists and the saved scrap allowances for the %40-%50 off sales! A few stores have already started great sales that run all week; great to get kits now and use them for chats and games on Saturday.

I’ll end today with a few recent layouts I’ve done. I’ll be enjoying some new scrap toys very soon! :D

Carla’s greeting card from Halloween:

Credits: Black Cat by Little Rad Trio

From our casino night when the girls turned 21

Credits: Class Is In by Just Because Studio and LJS Designs

My annual homage to pumpkin and spice and fall things nice!

Credits: Pumpkin Passion by Lindsay

And finally, I did this one with a leftover pic from our reception weekend in 2009 to commemorate our 6th anniversary last December.

Credits: A Love Like this by Pixelily Designs, beautiful On The Inside 
by Aprilisa Designs, Hazel by JayaPrem’s Hangout, Tenderly by
 Craftastrophic Designs, Template by Oklahoma Dawn

Monday, November 2, 2015

Another Off-Season Begins

Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals, the 2015 World Champions! I predicted the Royals would win it in 5 after Game 1, but I would have rather have been wrong and have seen the Mets win last night so the Royals could have won it at home.

                                                                                                      AP photo

Now, my gripes:

First Gripe: Remember that I remain loyal to “My Tigers” from the “Who’s Your Tiger?” campaign. My Mariner who became My Cub (Austin Jackson) and My Yankee who is now My Met (Curtis Granderson) were both in the post season this year. There were other former Tigers and former Reds in the post season too, including Johnny Cueto who started this year as the Reds’ Ace and ends it with a ring from Kansas City. The Reds and Tigers ended 2015 in the basement of their respective divisions. A good portion of the Kansas City roster was built through their own system, having scored some high draft picks in their worst years. With salary caps the trade deadline becomes less of “a thing” and the playing field becomes level. Franchises can build within their own systems and there is no need to buy and sell championships.

Second Gripe: Last year having been such a “devastating loss” in Game 7 and coming back this year not just determined to get back to the World Series, but almost as if anything but winning it wouldn’t be good enough, because it had been SO LONG since they’d won the title. I will NEVER understand the concept that being the second greatest team in the league in any given year is somehow failure. Yes, winning is fun and an accomplishment, but winning and losing is not synonymous to success or failure.

The Royals have worked hard to develop the great team they have and they’ve earned the title; they weren’t entitled to it, but they earned it. If the Mets had won it this year, the Royals would still be a great team and winners for having been there 2 years in a row. Okay, soapbox notwithstanding, the Tigers haven’t won the title since 1984 and last I checked that was before 85, so forgive me if I congratulate you although my violin that plays “My Heart Bleeds For You” was very small.

Third Gripe: My last gripe is ages old. Mariano Rivera was a modern exception and I love Aroldis Chapman and rallied that he was great closer material rather than a starter, but I still remain of the opinion that the closer is the most overrated position in current day baseball. (although it's still better than the designated hitter) If you have a closer that can get it done, great, but don’t be so stubborn about the job title that you throw out the baby with the bathwater when you put him on the mound. Regardless of the score or inherited runners, the job of that last pitcher is to get quick outs and not let any runners advance.

Baseball Trivia: Who is the only closer to blow three saves in one World Series?

Answer: Jeurys Familia, 2015 Mets.

There have only been 2 other World Series with three blown saves (2001, 2010,) but never by the same pitcher or even the same team all three times.

Just Sayin’

Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Review Murderous Traits: The Rare Traits Trilogy Book III by David George Clarke

Finished October 29, 2015

Synopsis from Good Reads

The third book in the fast-paced Rare Traits Trilogy of modern and historical mystery thrillers, Murderous Traits continues the tale of the apparently immortal 15th-century artist John Andrews and those who share his extraordinary longevity, interweaving once again the present and the past, self-preservation and murder, art history and forensic science, immortality and DNA.

John Andrews is in a state of shock. Just weeks after meeting his daughter Paola for the first time – almost 500 years after she was born in Naples – she is abducted and DNA evidence shows that the culprit is Jacques Bognard, John’s seafaring friend from 17th century Marseille.

When the body of a brutally murdered, unknown woman is discovered in Paola’s Cape Cod house and Paola’s own identity is found to be false, the police are baffled. And the deeper they dig, the more mysterious the case becomes.

In the gripping, fast-paced finale to the Rare Traits Trilogy, the apparently immortal John Andrews finds himself in a desperate search for his daughter that leads him from the US to the UK and then to the area of Tuscany he knew as a young man in the 15th century.

Meanwhile, in the frustration of her captivity, Paola must come to terms with her psychopathic tendencies …

My review at Good Reads
5 of 5 stars

The only thing bad I can think to say about this book is that it’s number three in the trilogy! Even at that there does remain an opening for possibly more at the end...

John Andrews, as he is currently known, has been painting master works since the Renaissance under many different names., The rare trait of his DNA leaves him impervious to ailments and factors that cause aging and he enjoys the appearance and health of a man in his 30s with the mind and an impeccable memory of a man who has seen over 500 years of the world. He has loved, married and seen friends, family, even children age and leave his world. There are also a few offspring who have inherited their father’s remarkable traits and those family members have begun to find each other.

But there are “bad apples’ in every family and having incredible health and near immortality is in no way a guarantee of happiness or morality. How are those rare traits passed on? Can a test-tube baby be created to have those traits? To what extent will someone go to create progeny of their own?

The final book of the Rare Traits trilogy takes the reader through the intrigue of how the remarkable genetic traits become easier to understand and discover and possibly exploit in the modern world. The antagonist, who has kidnapped and threatened in order to replicate the DNA to a new generation, must be discovered and the captives freed using both modern technology and ages old methods for remaining elusive. The action is great, the drama intense and it intermingles great fictional “traits” and rich historical references. And, like any of rare Traits trilogy, once you pick up the book, it’s near impossible to put down!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

And Then There Were Nine

I don’t post all the time Facebook, but this was my Facebook status this morning:

A woman brings her paperwork for the first time she’s seeing a podiatrist in her Cincinnati Reds tote. After meeting the podiatrist, Dr. Cardinal, she leaves his office with one less big toenail. Coincidence or conspiracy?

This really happened! The front of my feet hang over the footplate on my wheelchair and last week I hit the refrigerator with my right foot, my big toe taking the brunt of the collision. This is not new; I hit the fridge and counter bottoms often. Only this time the pain was especially nasty in the area of the toenail, which already hurt. It didn’t just go away, ike it usually does when I hit my toes. In fact the pain was there all day and when David took my shoes off that night, it was evident that there had been some bleeding.

The toe was actually okay, but a little sore the next day. It hurt like crazy in the nail area when I bumped it, but it was a brief pain and not incredibly unlike my toes often hurt, especially the big ones, around the nails when I bump them. The day after that was a different story!

The next morning David was helping me with my shoes and he slipped the canvas loafer over the tip of my foot and I started screaming to just take it off. The pain when the shoe hit the big toenail was excruciating. He got one of my too-big slippers on the foot and I was on the phone, first to the insurance company to see if a podiatrist was covered, then to a podiatrist. Good old insurance; I have the wrong disease to have a podiatrist cut my toenails, therefore knowing if thee is anything threatening my feet, but if I’m in pain, it’s absolutely okay to see a foot doctor.

So yesterday was my first-ever appointment with a podiatrist. There are several doctors at the foot and ankle clinic and they got me an opening with Dr. Cardinal. Hehe…You know my baseball brain; the first thing I thought was ‘so THIS is what the rookies do in the off-season.” Dr. Cardinal is not a rookie. He is an experienced and knowledgable professional with a reassuring and friendly bedside manner. I kinda thought the toenail was in bad shape and I knew a tone fungus had developed too. I was expecting that my first meeting with the podiatrist would include me coming back to have a toenail removal procedure. What I wasn’t expecting was him asking if I’m allergic to lidocaine and poking me in the foot in four places so I’d be numb enough to have the toenail removed in a half hour!

As I understood him, my toe hurt so bad because the nail was about 90% removed already and the 10% was just tugging on my toe bed constantly while the rest of the toe wiggled. He told me it was like a loose tooth in both what it was doing and how easy remove would be. I love a doctor who knows how to use a metaphor well so patients can understand.

A half hour after the numbing shots he was back and grabbed a couple of tools. He wanted me not to watch if I was squeamish about blood and I’d just feel a little pressure. I didn’t even feel that. I looked at him while he was talking and looked down because I did want to watch, but he was already holding my toenail in a tweezer-like tool in one hand and dabbing my bloody toe with gauze with the other. He held a little pressure on it with the gauze and then wrapped it up and sent me on my way with after-care instructions and directions to come back in 9 weeks unless there are issues with the healing before that. The foot doesn’t heal as fast as the mouth, but after a little pain when the lidocaine wore off yesterday, the pain’s been minimal today.

I miss my cute feet. At dinner for my 40th birthday I wore sandals that showed off my painted toenails. I will not have exposed toes at dinner when I turn 50. I probably won’t even have 10 toenails to paint yet ! But my ugly toes won’t hurt either!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

It’s Good To Be The Princess

My dad and a dear family friend have been visiting quite a bit the past couple weeks. It was Pop’s idea, no his mission, since the spring to get an easier and safer bathroom area for me at home. It’s especially important since last June when the visiting EMTs suggested that I really needed to stop going upstairs. The shower is upstairs.

So, we worked on where we could put the bathroom, what I needed in that space and when we could do the work. Pop did the construction part and Greg, who is a family friend and he and his wife were my first bosses, babysitting their kids on bowling nights when I was a teen, is a plumber by trade and is doing the rest.

I’m enjoying the fact that growing up a construction princess means that I have a very real idea of how much materials cost and I know what you get for the cost of labor, even though I don’t get charged that; it’s a gift. I do know that there shouldn’t be any complaint about construction costs when you employ a responsible contractor. I grew up with the importance of quality work instilled in me and I know there are many days when construction workers are home late finishing a job or because they fixed or headed off problems or changed something because the person ordering the work wanted a change half way through the project. Part of those labor costs include vacations the family never takes in the summer and games or concerts dads and even even moms miss because work keeps them away. Honest contractors make those sacrifice to deliver quality work and at times their families make those sacrifices right along with them. Ideally it makes the family stronger and ideally that really does answer any questions about the worth of the cost to anyone who hires a contractor to do a good job.

I’ll have the grab bars installed next week by the same local small company that did the grab bars we have now and wheelchair ramp and Pop will be back to do the finishing, but everything is installed and all the water is working. I can use my electric toothbrush tonight!

Spire during early construction

We have had one mystery that’s part of the new bathroom and sorely missed. We have 2 plants that we’ve had good luck with. They are both baby rubber tree plants. Spire was the one plant I had in Northville that survived Kaline’s kittenhood. I had replanted the plants from a couple of growing greenery arrangements from my mother’s funeral. When a sprig of a couple of Spire’s leaves broke off, I put it in water and it sprouted roots. When the new roots were robust enough I planted it and we christened the new plant Sprout, Spire’s offspring!

Sprout in a photo shoot with Coca-Cola Life in August

Somehow in the early construction we lost Sprout; I mean file a missing plantson report, lost. How do you lose a plant? Sprout was a fairly robust plant on the skinny top of the short wall off our kitchen counter right next to where the bathroom wall would go. Pop handed sprout to me and I set him on the counter next to the stove. He’d been moved to on top of the toaster oven, which we weren’t using yet at the time. I saw him there. David saw him there. But in the evenng after the rough construction and electric inspectors had been in, David filled the cats’ water bowls, watered Spire and then went to water Sprout. He asked, “Where is Sprout?” We looked all over the house and Sprout was no where to be found. I texted Kelly, who’d been here during the the start of construction and the last place she’d seen him was on top of the toaster oven. When Pop was in again we asked and he joined another impromptu search party. Still; no Sprout. It was an involved enough mystery that Pop was soon joining us in using the personal pronoun “he” in searching for the plant!

It’s been weeks now and Sprout hasn’t shown up anywhere. We’ve looked on top of anyplace he could have been put and under anyplace he could have fallen. Maybe when things are done and I start to move the pantry and clothes out of the dining room and living room, I’ll find him. Or maybe the mystery will never be solved. There is another sprig of baby rubber tree plant that had fallen off one of them in a glass of water in the kitchen. I think it’s growing roots in the water.

Book Review: Hannibal’s First Case: and two other Hannibal Jones Mystery shorts by Austin S. Camacho

Finished October 20, 2015

My review at Good Reads
4 of 5 stars

This was three short stories told in first person by Hannibal Jones himself. Honestly, I wouldn't recommend it as reading for someone not familiar with the Hannibal Jones series. For you, I recommend The Troubleshooter! But if you love the books, the short stories are like having a cup of coffee with Hannibal while he recounts something that has happened. From having read the books and some of the shorts, I can tell you you're enjoying coffee with a very sexy man who appreciates the finest coffee and is a great storyteller.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Review: Don't Say a Word (Don't Cry #2), by Beverly Barton

Finished October 18, 2015

Synopsis at Good Reads 

Cross Your Heart. . .

One by one, they will die. He has waited patiently, planning their final moments. Their tortured screams, their pleas for mercy--all will be in vain...

And Hope. . .

Homicide detective Julia Cass has witnessed plenty of crime scenes. But the murder of a Chattanooga judge is shocking in its brutality. Teamed with FBI agent Will Brannock, Julia delves into an investigation that soon unearths more bodies--all mutilated in the same way, all left with a gruesome souvenir of a killer's ruthless rage. . .

To Die. . .

The only way to stop the slaughter is to predict the next victim. But when you're dealing with vengeance at its most ruthless, one wrong move can make you a target. . .and the next word you utter could be your last. . .

My review at Good Reads
3 of 5 stars

Unlike the last book I read, which was a new writer’s first book, this one is an established writer’s last work. Beverly Barton died in 2011.  Don’t Say A Word is the sequel to Don’t Cry, but having not read Don’t Cry, I can promise it holds its own as a stand alone book.

I knew going in that this was "suspense romance" or something like that, but I got the book as a freebie, or maybe a daily pick Nook deal so it wasn’t a great financial investment and I thought I'd give it a try. It wasn't too bad. Personally, I could've done without the romance part. Pretty much everything that had to do with the sex and romance was completely over the edge as far as believability goes and I think it took away from the book. But the serial killer story, why I read the book, is well done.

The reader visits the killer’s mind and parts of the murders without divulging the identity or motive. His kills are planned and meticulous and he has a definite agenda. The federal and local detectives comb the scenes of the high profile crimes and follow leads that go in the wrong direction at times and put the pieces of the macabre puzzle together.

In the end, the killer’s motive and identity are revealed and it’s definitely a surprise. I was sure I’d figured out who he was and I was very involved in screaming “no! That’s where he is!” to myself as I was reading the last couple chapters.  I absolutely love the attention to many details that were clues to the reader of the killer’s identity.

I enjoyed the murder mystery part of the book and if you like the investigative drama and serial killers, skim past the unrealistic romance garbage and there really is a very good story. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Yah, I’m A Lil’ Twisted

I bought something this week that came wrapped in a big plastic bag. The bag was on the floor this morning and I picked it up. I took a look at the label printed over and over down the middle of it.

It made me giggle. No, it gave me a giggle fit. Im not giggling about warning people of suffocation from a plastic bag. It’s the drawings. A baby crawling around “goo ga-goo ga-goo” with a loose square bag on its head, a dog just standing there “woof wa-woof wa-woof” with a loose square bag on its head and a human clutching the bag around his throat with a face like the painting The Scream. The baby and dog have a fighting chance against the plastic bag because they aren’t clutching it tight around their throats.

Last weekend gave us a fun Saturday night celebrating Rina and Tori turning 21. After a nice dinner that Rina enjoyed with a bottle of hard cider and Tori complemented with a glass of wine, we all met at Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. To be honest, I would have rather gone over the state border to the casino in Cincinnati; Ohio casinos are non-smoking. The girls are worth it but it took 4 days of antihistamines for me to recover from the evening. I had some nice one-on-one time with each of the girls while playing video poker. I made my $20 donation to the casino. Rina didn't think she would like gambling, but her stepmom, family friend and aunt did a decent job of showing her how to play a little, enjoy the evening and not lose any more than you planned as your entertainment budget. I think she found her game when friend, Michelle, took her slot machine hopping.

Even though all three of our house teams; Tigers, Reds and Red Sox, finished in last place this year, it’s still October. I prefer it when all three of our teams play in October. All three in dead last is just…it’s just wrong in Naniland! But since we’re playing baseball through the looking glass this year, I’m solidly in the cheering pocket of the Cubs! It’s been 107 years since they won a World Series. It’s time. Red Sox fans, You’ve been there. You know how it feels. For the Cubs fans, let’s put rings in the North Side in Chicago this year.

Okay, and Austin Jackson is a Cub now, so he who was my Tiger is now MY Cub. I have a personal fan interest.


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 busy 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, our 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 including 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 a toilet that's a few feet away from where it's 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.