Sunday Bookends: finally some sun, a variety of books, and yummy cheesesteaks are back.

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing, and listening to.

What I/we’ve Been Reading

This week I started a book I needed to read for a book tour and had a hard time enjoying it. I feel bad for that and for skipping through most of it so I’m going to go back this week and read it a little slower. The book is called The Prayer Shawl by Jenny Lynn Cary and it has a sweet premise of two cousins making amends, but I just couldn’t seem to enjoy the dueling storylines in it.

The book is about two cousins who do not get along well and are brought back together after their grandmother dies. Their grandmother raised the one cousin, Cami, after her parents died and now Grandma (Kate) has left directions for Cami to complete a task before she can receive her inheritance. This is not the first time I have either read a book with this plot point. I’ve also seen it in movies. My question is if it really ever happens in life and how a lawyer can actually ensure the person’s last request is met appropriately when these tasks are often so vague.

Elderly relatives leaving money only if the heir completes a task, is a very common plot point in Christian Fiction and romances these days, I have discovered. I feel it is becoming a little bit overused, but it does create some interesting storylines and characters, which is what happened in Cary’s book. I do like her writing style and the characters she creates so I want to give the book another chance this week.

It really wasn’t fair that I started Cary’s book at the same time I started an ARC by a favorite author of mine, Robin W. Pearson. I mentioned last week that I was reading the book which comes out at the end of July. The book flows so smoothly and the characters are so real that it is hard to put down. Robin’s books don’t have a lot of “action” per say and some readers might not like that, but I don’t mind at all because Robin’s action is in the way she makes the reader think. Plus, there is a bit of mystery to this one and I have to keep reading to find out secrets the dad and son are both holding on to.

So far, the book is tackling race issues, as well as family relationships. It’s a different take on race issues for me because I am used to reading books where the racist feelings are directed toward African Americans. That does happen some in this book, but it’s also directed toward the wife in the book who is mixed race with light skin and married to an African American. The book has some heavier topics than other books, but it isn’t so heavy you can’t stand up.

I’ve also started The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates for some lighter fare. This book was one of my Mother’s Day gifts from last week.

Little Miss and I were reading Paddington but we are back to Laura Ingalls Wilder. Please, someone send help. I am tired of reading the Little House books. I need to find something else to interest her.

The Husband (I feel weird calling him “The Husband” as if that is his title. I asked him as I wrote this, if he wanted me to use his real name or if he wants a blog nickname like the kids. He said he is fine with me simply calling him The Husband.) finished The Hundred Year Old Man Who Went Out the Window.

There is a sequel to the book, but my husband said it dives into politics and he gets enough of that at work these days so he’s decided not to read it. He is now reading Shots Fired by C.J. Box.

The Boy is still reading Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

What’s Been Occurring

I had a very nice Mother’s Day last week. I visited my parents for a little bit on the actual day but we had visited with them for dinner on Saturday because my dad had a minor procedure on Monday and couldn’t eat Sunday.

My husband and children bought me the book I mentioned above, a new journal, and a new purse. The Husband also made dinner for me on Mother’s Day on the grill and drew me a bath, which was wonderful.

The day ended with him and The Boy making me watch the latest Spider-man which was a bit depressing honestly and not my favorite. I’m over the whole comic book schtick requiring the hero to suffer and go through life alone. That’s all I’ll say about that.

The weather finally warmed up which helped my sinuses immensely. Aren’t you glad I won’t be lamenting every Sunday about how hard it has been for me to breathe? At least for a while anyhow.

During the week we spent as much time as we could outside, or at least Little Miss and I did. We chased each other in the yard in a game she simply calls “Zombie.” All the chasing showed me that my lungs are not totally healed from the crazy sinusitis-type thing I had all through April and the Dreaded Virus last year but they are way better than they were.

One day during the week we visited my parents and made pizza for dinner. Our oven is currently broken so this gave us a chance to use up the dough I’d purchased (forgetting about the oven issue) and to see my parents. Zooma The Wonder Dog enjoyed rolling in the dirt road, covering herself with dust, and I enjoyed watching the Canadian geese who have decided to take up residence in my parent’s pond. That pond has been there my entire life and I have never seen geese land there or stay there. I’m interested to see if they have lain eggs there or not.

On Friday we visited a restaurant we really enjoy but which isn’t open during the winter. It’s located pretty much in the middle of nowhere by a beautiful covered bridge. We chose to sit at the tables outside the building and then admired the creek and covered bridge during our meal and afterward. The restaurant makes amazing cheesesteaks.

They are so amazing they were named one of the top ten cheesesteaks in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s no surprise they are so good since the owners are originally from Philly. Ironically, no one ordered an actual cheesesteak. I had a cheesesteak salad, so that was close. The husband had a buffalo chicken cheesesteak, The Boy a chicken wrap, and Little Miss a chicken tenders basket.

The boys also ordered some Jersey Dirty Fries, which are French fries with cheese whiz, barbecue sauce, garlic sauce, and bacon on top.

When we came home, I sat on the back porch in silence and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and view, petting our dog and cat, and reading. I didn’t have my phone or computer near me and it was the most relaxed I’d been all week.

What We watched/are Watching

This week I start watching that old show J.A.G. — Do you remember it? Lt. Harmon Rabb. Swoon. I remember watching the show in high school. If I remember right, it got a little crazy at the end, but most shows do. I enjoyed it at the beginning at least. It was nice to be nostalgic this week and to see the show now that I’m older and understand a little more about, well, everything.

Enjoy the comments on this Youtube video, by the way. Most of them are slamming all the military errors on the show.

As I mentioned above, we also watched the latest Spider-Man and it wasn’t my favorite. There were aspects I enjoyed but there were also some heartbreaking aspects that simply brought me down into the dumps.

Friday, after our trip to the restaurant, we watched another Brokenwood Mysteries.

What I’m Writing

I worked on Mercy’s Shore this past week and shared Chapter 2 on Friday.

I did not share much on the blog but hope to this upcoming week. I am working on a Randomly Thinking and maybe a post about our last couple of weeks of homeschooling.

What I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to CeCe Winan’s Believe For It.

I’ve also been listening to the Matthew West Podcast and a podcast by Life Church and Pastor Craig Groeschel.

The Husband found a new podcast by Phil Rosenthal (creator of Everybody Loves Raymond) and I hope to listen to that this week.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Happy Mother’s Day, C.J. Box survives my test, and waiting on warmer weather

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

And first, Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers!

What I/We’ve Been Reading

I finished Open Season by C.J. Box Friday and my fingernails suffered a bit from the tension. It is the first book in the Joe Pickett series and also the book they based the new show Joe Pickett on Paramount Plus on. There are currently twenty-some books in the Joe Pickett series. Joe is a game warden in northern Wyoming who apparently always finds himself in the middle of some sort of crime.

You know you’re completely invested in a book when you text your husband at work and tell him that a certain person in the book better die a seriously gruesome death for the crimes they committed, or you are never reading another of this author’s books again.

I won’t spoil the book, but I will say that I was satisfied enough with the ending that I’ll most likely read another by C.J. Box in the future. I’ll need a palate cleanser though so I am probably going to pick up a romantic comedy this week to read in between my other books – or I might just continue Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain which has enough humor in it to cleanse my mind off the sadness our world has to offer at times.

My brother asked me if Open Season was as good as The Walt Longmire Mysteries and I can say that no, I don’t feel it’s quite as good. I’m still a bigger fan of Craig Johnson in the end, even though I will read more Box in the future.

This week I will also be reading an Advanced Readers Copy of Walking in Tall Weeds by Robin W. Pearson. The book comes out in July. I really enjoyed her first two, A Long Time Comin’ (A Christy Award winner) and ‘Til I Want No More.

Here is the description of Walking in Tall Weeds:

From award-winning author Robin W. Pearson comes a new Southern family drama about one family who discovers their history is only skin-deep and that God’s love is the only family tie that binds.

Paulette and Fred Baldwin find themselves wading through a new season of life in Hickory Grove, North Carolina. Their only son, McKinley, now works hundreds of miles away, and the distance between the husband and wife feels even farther. When their son returns home, his visit dredges up even more conflict between Fred and Paulette.

McKinley makes it no secret that he doesn’t intend to follow in his father’s footsteps at George & Company Fine Furnishings or otherwise. Fred can’t quite bring himself to accept all his son’s choices, yet Paulette is determined McKinley will want for nothing, least of all a mother’s love and attention—which her own skin color cost her as a child. But all her striving leaves Fred on the outside looking in.

Paulette suspects McKinley and Fred are hiding something that could change the whole family. Soon, she’s facing a whirlwind she never saw coming, and the three of them must dig deep to confront the truth. Maybe then they’ll discover that their history is only skin-deep while their faith can take them right to the heart of things.

Thanks to a very busy work week last week, the husband is still reading The Hundred Year Old Man Who Went Out the Window.

What’s Been Occurring

Thanks to the fact our weather can’t make up its mind, my sinuses are still suffering and I’ve been fairly miserable. If it doesn’t clear up this week, I am going to head to the doctor, but I have a feeling it will clear up as soon as we have a few days in a row of warm temps.

Last week we had a couple of warmer days, but they were still cloudy days. By Friday morning it was cold and rainy again but for some reason my nose had cleared some and I was breathing better. For the morning at least. All the stuffiness came back later in the day and then again with vengeance yesterday and today.

It was warm enough one day for Little Miss to splash some water on her feet after she watered the tulips that came up.

On Friday when my nose was open, Scout curled up on my chest for 45 minutes and it was wonderful! She snuggled against my arm and fell asleep, like when she was a tiny kitten, and I needed breakfast, but I didn’t want to move.

Earlier in the week, Little Miss and I went for a walk down the street and visited with our neighbor. All of our pets followed us at least half way down —

We celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom yesterday because my dad has a minor procedure on Monday and can’t eat today. We didn’t think it would be nice to cook and eat a full meal while he was only allowed to sip water. We made our Mother’s Day dinner very simple with hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week I finished up The Larkins, which is about a quirky farming family in the 50s from Yorkshire, England. It’s based on books by M.E. Bates.

The husband and I also watched more Brokenwood Mysteries, an old Perry Mason from the original show in the 60s, and another Shakespeare and Hathaway. Burt Reynolds had a guest appearance on the one we watched and his range was not very good at that time.

Yesterday I watched My Man Godfrey with William Powell and Carol Lombarde with my parents.

What I’m Writing

Last week I shared a hodge-podge of blog posts, about a variety of subjects.

I also worked on Mercy’s Shore but not as much as I wish I had. Hopefully, I will get a chance to write more on it this week.

What I’m Listening To

I listened to Matthew West almost all week mainly while I struggled with the breathing issues. His songs are so perfect for easing my anxiety. Especially this one:

I needed to sing this song a lot throughout the week.

Now It’s Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Winter’s last blast? Remembering family. Jane Seymour with a potty mouth?

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Friday and Saturday we remembered a couple of people in our family. Friday was the tenth anniversary of the day my husband’s grandfather passed away. He was a good man and we miss him and my husband’s grandmother very much.

Yesterday was my Aunt Dianne’s birthday so Mom and I plan to make sausage balls in her memory today because she loved to make them every year for Christmas. I tried to make them for Christmas this year, but I didn’t do such a great job. I think the key might be to not make them with gluten-free Bisquick, even though that means I can’t eat them, since I can not eat the corn in the Bisquick.

I don’t actually like remembering people on the day they died. I like to remember them the way they lived and when I picture Grandpa, I picture him smiling like he was on the day of our wedding. I picture my aunt with smiles as well and I hope they are in heaven together now smiling as they wait for us to meet them someday.

I mentioned in a post last week that we had unexpected snow in the beginning of the week. Our town received about nine inches of very heavy snow which left trees broken, wires down from the weight of the trees and snow, and more than 13,000 people out of power.

Our local power company posted these photos of what they had to deal with to get to the lines they needed to fix:

I took a few photographs, but, honestly, I’m so over winter weather, I wasn’t interested in photographs of snow. I did take a few of the kids when The Boy decided to run out and build a snow Batman.

Luckily the snow melted a day or so later. Little Miss enjoyed sitting in the grass with the snow surrounding her. The grass was left from The Boy shoveling a path for the dog the first day after the storm.

Today the temperature is supposed to be almost 80 with a drop into the 40s later in the week. Yes, my sinuses are suffering.

What I’m Reading

Last week I finished Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle, a cozy Southern mystery written by Ann B. Ross.

I also finished a book by indie Christian Historical Fiction author Jenny Knipfer, which she plans to release this summer. She had asked members of her group if they would help her proof it, in addition to her editor. I will be starting an ARC of a novella by her, Violet’s Vow, this week or next as well.

I started Open Season by C.J. Box so I would have something a little different up on the reading block. The book is the first book in the Joe Picket series. This is my first crack at one of his books. We will see how it goes since it isn’t something I usually read.

Depending on my mood I may move to The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot. I am also still reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain here and there before bed.

Little Miss and I will be finishing Plum Creek this weekend and hopefully moving on to a book other than one by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The husband is reading Slow Horse by Mick Herron.

The Boy may finish Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sometime before the end of the century at this point, but I’m not holding out much hope.

What I’m/We’re Watching

We tried out Harry Wild, a new mystery show with Jane Seymour this week. Dr. Quinn has a wee bit of a potty mouth in this one, but we still enjoyed the premise and her acting. I told my parents she was in a new show we are watching. I said, “She’s looking pretty good for 71.” My dad said, “Oh, really, what’s that show on?”

My mom said I didn’t need to tell him.

I started rewatching As Time Goes By, one of my favorite British sitcom to try to get me through some of the down moments of the week.

I also spent way too much time watching the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial. Don’t ask why. I have no idea, other than it was a distraction from the rest of the craziness of the world. What I learned from all of that mess is that hurt people hurt people and Hollywood actors are some seriously messed up people. I also think Amber Heard is vindictive and nuts and Johnny Depp medicates his emotional pain way too much.

What I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to comedians like Chonda Pierce lately and then some worship music.

What I’m Writing

During the week I worked on Mercy’s Shore, the next book in my series.

Now It is Your Turn

What have you been reading, watching, listening to, or doing? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Happy Easter! Spring tries to come but winter says “No!” and watching authors talk about their job

Today is Easter Sunday! Happy Easter! Or for Christians, happy Resurrection Day! He has risen! He has risen indeed!!

It is hard to imagine that around this time two years ago, my family was living with my parents until the financing worked out for the house we are living in now.

It was an interesting time and I love my parents, but I am glad to be in our own house and I am sure they are as well. We are also glad, however, to live only ten minutes away so that we can see them often, including today when we will have Easter dinner with them, followed by an egg hunt in the yard for the kids.

The weather warmed up this past week and it was so needed for the physical and mental health of not only me and my family but so many others.

On Tuesday, Little Miss and I spent most of the afternoon and evening outside. She made her nature salad (which consists of her gathering grass, leaves, flowers, and other natural substances to make a type of salad we pretend to eat), the animals explored outside, and then we did our schoolwork outside as well.

Before dinner and then during it, I read on the porch and listened to Aaron Watson (a country singer)  while my husband cooked pork chops on the grill.

It was such an awesome and relaxing day, and I didn’t want it to end. I especially didn’t want it to end when I saw the weekend was bringing rain and more chilly weather.

What I’m Reading

I wish I had something more exciting to report on the reading front, but I’m still reading the same books I have been for a while.

I should finish Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle this week and a book by Jennifer Knipfer.

I’m also still reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain when the mood strikes me.

The husband is reading a book that I’ll add here if he tells me before I post this. Last week he told me after I posted and after he read that I didn’t know what he was reading. (Update: my husband is reading The Long Legged Fly by James Sallis.)

Little Miss and I are still re-reading the Little House on the Prairie books and are currently on On The Banks of Plum Creek.

What I/We Watched/Are watching

This week I watched parts of the livestreams of The Chosen seasons one and two, including this very important scene:

If you haven’t seen the show, here is a preview for season two, which is already available in a variety of places, including The Chosen app on your phone.

To reignite my love of writing, I’ve been watching a lot of interviews with authors, including this one with Lee Childs, author of the Jack Reacher books:

And this one with Craig Johnson, author of The Walt Longmire Mysteries:

I loved Johnson’s interviews the most because he’s so much like the characters he writes about. He’s the real deal – writing about a sheriff in Wyoming while living there himself and basing the characters on people he knows.

What I’m Writing

As I mentioned on Friday in my Friday Fiction post, I am moving forward on Mercy’s Shore, the next book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles, while also making revisions and fixing issues with Beauty From Ashes. I’m only a chapter in on the next book so I have a long way to go and I’m fine with that. I’ll be taking my time and maybe sharing some of it on the blog down the road.

Other posts I shared last week included:

What I’m Listening To

It’s Easter Sunday so of course I have to listen to:

And here is a fun version of the classic Because He Lives:

Now It’s Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Winter Will Never Go Away! And other ramblings about this past week

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing, and listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

We enjoyed some warmer weather last week, which was followed by rain that led to some cold symptoms for Little Miss and me. That lasted three days and was not fun but at this point, we are used to it. The weather changes have been doing this to us every time and we’ve had these drastic weather changes about four times in the last couple of months.

It is very frustrating as we end up trying to figure out if we are actually sick or if our bodies are just trying to adjust to the temperature drop. Then, once we figure out it is the temp drop, the temperature rises and then we feel better — then the next week it drops again and we are back to feeling miserable. We just need some weather stability.

The kids were able to get outside at least one day during the week to have some fun in the yard before the cold and rain came back.

Honestly, I’m completely over the winter weather and my body is as well. The up and down in the temps and barometric pressure are affecting me both mentally and physically and I’m really looking forward to actual spring coming this year.

At the end of the week, we traveled an hour north to where we used to live to get our dog groomed at a new groomer and I stopped by to visit our former neighbor.

My husband and the kids also went to a local playground that has been torn down and remodeled from when we used to live there.

Last week wasn’t much to write home about, to be honest, so not sure why I am writing about it here. *wink*

What I’m Reading

I’ve been reading Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle by Ann Ross in the evening and it’s finally picking up a bit.

I got distracted by Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain one night this week when I saw it in my Kindle and have been enjoying reading that before I fall asleep at night.

Alas, I do have a book to finish for a book tour next week, but luckily I only have a couple of chapters of Anything But Simple by Lucinda Miller left to read.

After that I am reading through a book for an indie author to catch any typos and then I have an advanced reader’s copy of her upcoming book to read.

I will probably finish the Miss Julia book before I start the novella so I’m not reading a bunch of books at the same time yet again.

Little Miss and I are reading On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder again, which is fine with me because this is the book where they meet Nellie Olson. I love the stories about Laura and Nellie.

The Boy is reading a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman called Smoke and Mirrors.

I’m not sure which book my husband is reading right now. He reads much faster than me and it’s hard to keep up with which book he is on sometimes. Plus, I couldn’t ask him because he had taken our daughter to an Easter egg hunt while I was writing this.

What We’re Watching

I’ve been watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show this past week  (again) and that is pretty much all I’ve been watching, except for sermons. I’ve been putting sermons on and listening to them throughout the day to try to keep myself focused on things other than the craziness of life and health concerns.

We also watched a couple Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. One of them was a premiere of a new episode thanks to a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law. We receive new episodes ever two weeks on the Gizmoplex, a app on our Roku, or a site online.

If you don’t know what MST3K is about, it is essentially where the characters from the show watch a horrible movie and mock it while the viewer watches them mock it and then usually mocks the movie along with them.

Last weekend my husband, son, and I watched one that was truly horrible and had a blast making fun of it along with the MST3K group.

What I’m Writing

I have not been writing a ton, fiction or otherwise, but I hope to rectify that this week. I have been planning the next book by jotting down an actual — gasp! — outline but felt something was off as I started to write it. I hit on the reason for the off feeling and have changed the start of the book to reflect the plot and main characters better so hopefully, I can get going on it this week. I had my main characters becoming involved way too late and was also still struggling with getting to know my main character.

I’m not stressing about the delay in my fiction writing, but I do notice that when I get into a book, I feel less stressed because I am having fun focusing on something other than my health or whatever else is making me anxious.

I did share a fiction update on Friday and a Faithfully Thinking about depression earlier in the week. Earlier today I also shared a book review of Every Star in the Sky as part of a book tour.

What I’m Listening To

The Husband introduced me to a new band this week called The Shires:

He also introduced me to Aaron Watson, a singer who sings more classic country than the pop stuff that is on Country radio today.

Then I fell into some worship music including this one:

And this one:

And this awesome relaxation video for when I take my bp.

Now It’s Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Cold weather continues and good books lined up and finished

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I finished Call Me A Cab by Donald Westlake this week and really enjoyed it. It was more of a romance than anything else, without the ridiculous tropes that some romances offer.

I did have a mistake last week when I said the book was released in February of 2021. It was actually released this February.

A couple of different versions of the book were found after Westlake died and an editor who had worked with him in the past combined them to create the final draft of the previously unpublished work. A portion of the story had been published in Redbook Magazine in the 70s, but not the entire novel.

This week I will be continuing Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle by Ann B. Ross, which is moving slower than molasses in January at this point. The previous book I read from this series moved much faster and while I like quirky characters, this book features chapters full of blow-by-blow descriptions of fairly mundane events. Hopefully, it will pick up soon, but even if it doesn’t, I’ll probably still read it because I love the characters.

I also need to read at least some of a book I agreed to read for a book tour later in April this week. It is a non-fiction book called Anything But Simple by Lucinda Miller and is about a woman who grew up in the Mennonite community. It is the fifth book in as. I have a series about members of the Mennonite and Amish communities. I started it a couple of weeks ago and I am enjoying it, but got distracted by a couple of other books after starting it. Plus, I knew I had most of March to read it. Oops. March is gone, isn’t it? So yesterday I read more of it and realized Lucinda and I are very similar. I am looking forward to offering a review of this book the week after next.

Here is a small description of the book:

Like her grandmother, Lucinda J. Miller wears long dresses and a prayer covering. But she uses a cellphone and posts status updates on Facebook, too. Anything but Simple is the riveting memoir of a young woman’s rich church tradition, lively family life, and longings for a meaningful future within her Mennonite faith. With a roving curiosity and a sometimes saucy tongue, Miller ushers us into her busy life as a young schoolteacher.

Book 5 in the Plainspoken series. Hear straight from Amish and Mennonite people themselves as they write about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each book includes “A Day in the Life of the Author” and the author’s answers to FAQs about the Amish and Mennonites.

What’s Been Occurring

Not a lot has been occurring recently. It’s been pretty routine around here. Our adventure last week was a trip 45 minutes to a new doctor for my son to ask him about the smell and taste distortions my son and I have been dealing with since we had the dreaded virus in November. Bottom line? The doctor can’t do anything and pretty much no one can. The general consensus seems to be, “Wait it out.” So, we are waiting it out and hope it will get better. Some days the situation is better, and we hope we don’t have the issue as long as some of this doctor’s patients have had it.

After our doctor’s visit, we stopped at the house of a butcher to pick up a quarter of a cow my dad had ordered. That was an interesting situation — at face value anyhow. This was a very simple home with a simple sign of the butcher’s name and business out front at the end of the driveway near some cow head skeletons. I couldn’t see where I was supposed to go to tell the gentleman I was there, but my dad had said there was a door under a meat hook at the end of a ramp. I thought he meant the ramp led to the house, but alas, the ramp led to the basement of the home. This sent some alarms off for The Boy who announced it was starting to feel like the start of a horror movie.

He waited in the car while I made my way to the basement, knocked on the door and heard a voice invite me inside. I had nothing to worry about because the basement had been converted into a very professional, clean, and modern butcher space. Even though I had nothing to worry about, it did make me a little nervous when he asked me to close the door behind me. Again, though, I had nothing to worry about as he is a very kind man who butchered a cow for a friend of us. She sold it to our family for $3 a pound and his butcher fees.

By the end of the day, we had a freezer full of meat, which made up for not having any answers from the doctor.

Later that day our area was nailed with crazy storms, which luckily didn’t bring the flooding they thought it would bring.

I thought the storms might mean a break to the cold weather that has been gripping our area and maybe bring some actual spring weather. Sadly, the temperatures are apparently going to be below 60 again this upcoming week. Yeah. That “yeah” was very unenthusiastic, by the way.

Yesterday the temperatures were only in the 40s but we still enjoyed some time outside with Little Miss and her friends and, of course, the youngest cat who is still slipping out:

What We watched/are Watching

I hate to sound like a broken record but we watched more Brokenwood Mysteries this week.

Then I watched a bunch of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which someone put up on YouTube. I hadn’t watched the show before because I always thought I’d think of Mary as Laura from The Dick VanDyke Show, but I didn’t. She’s definitely a different character on her own show and so far I love it. I’m going to watch as many seasons as I can on YouTube because I really don’t want to add another streaming service to our list.

What I’m Writing

Last week I worked a bit on Mercy’s Shore but shared on Friday why I am struggling with writing fiction at the moment.

Other posts I shared this week included:

What I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to Matthew West a lot this week. I’ve needed his uplifting music. Some of my medical issues have reared their ugly heads and I’m tired. I’m tired and I don’t know if it is my medical issues or left over from the dreaded virus. Either way, I’m drained from it all.

Now it’s your turn

Now it is your turn. What have you been doing this week? Watching, reading, listening to?

Sunday Bookends: Call Me A Cab, wishing it was actually spring, and an Irish tune for you

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Last week was supposed to be my busiest week of the month, but after a couple of appointments were moved around and my parents contracted Covid, almost all of what I had to do was shelved.

My parents didn’t allow me to help them much while they were sick, but luckily their case has been fairly mild. It certainly didn’t make them feel well, but it did not hit their lungs as severely as it hit mine. Thank God. I don’t mean to say that my lungs were severely damaged as they remained clear even during the hospital stay, but my oxygen did drop quite a bit and so far that has not happened with my parents.

While my parents were sick, other friends of ours also caught the dreaded virus and it was quite rough on them. One is on oxygen and the others are recovering but were left with damaged smell and taste, similar to what my son and I are still dealing with. I am also still dealing with hairloss and have asked my son if I can borrow one of his knit hats if I should discover a bald spot this week. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised.

We enjoyed one or two days of warmer weather this week and this weekend it went back to winter temperatures.

Today and tomorrow we are lighting the woodstove. That’s how cold it is going to be. Then I believe the temperatures might warm up a bit again later in the week. For now, though, they are calling for a high of 23 on Tuesday. It is the end of March! Gah!

What I/We’ve Been Reading

I am still reading Call Me A Cab by Donald Westlake and this is a bit of a different book than I usually read, but I am enjoying it.

I think it is a different book for Donald Westlake too, but this is my first book by him so I’m not sure. My husband, who is a huge fan of his, says he writes all kinds of styles of books but, yes, crime is among his most popular.

My husband says that this book was one of a few unpublished works that were found by his wife in his desk after he died. It was published last year by Hard Case Crime Novels as a full novel but another source I bumped into said it was originally published in Redbook in an abridged form. I’m not sure if the Redbook info is accurate or not.

Either way, the premise is that a woman asks a New York City cab driver if he will drive her to meet her fiancé in Los Angeles. The cab driver checks briefly with his boss, who also happens to be his dad, and agrees after the woman offers him a few thousand, plus expenses, for the trip. What follows is the story of their journey and her reason for the trip — which is to give her more time to decide if she really wants to marry Barry, her plastic surgeon fiancé who lives in LA.

I’m about a third through the book and so far, I really enjoy Westlake’s humor and the way he doesn’t drag out descriptions until you completely lose track of the story. I can’t even remember if he described  It’s so different than how I’ve been told to write, and I love it.

The chemistry between the two main characters keeps me reading because I need to find out what happens to the woman, Katharine Scott. I’m on Chapter 16 and I think it was the first time I learned the cab driver’s full name — Tom Felton. Some people don’t like when a book is written in first person but this one is interwoven with such much entertaining dry wit that I can’t see how it could be written in third person.

I caught this description on Penguin House and thought I would share it here to explain the plot better than I can:

In 1977, one of the world’s finest crime novelists turned his pen to suspense of a very different sort – and the results have never been published, until now.

Fans of mystery fiction have often pondered whether it would be possible to write a suspense novel without any crime at all, and in CALL ME A CAB the masterful Donald E. Westlake answered the question in his inimitable style. You won’t find any crime in these pages – but what you will find is a wonderful suspense story, about a New York City taxi driver hired to drive a beautiful woman all the way across America, from Manhattan to Los Angeles, where the biggest decision of her life is waiting to be made. From Pennsylvania to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada on the way to California, the characters’ odyssey takes them through uncharted territory – on the map and in their lives.

It’s Westlake at his witty, thought-provoking best, and it proves that a page-turner doesn’t need to have a bomb set to go off at the end of it in order to keep sparks flying every step of the way.

I’m not sure I’ll make it since I’m such a slow reader (I get distracted eas — squirrel!), but I hope to finish the book by the end of this week.

If you are curious about the book, you can find a link to an excerpt on the Crime Reads site.

Last week I finished Every Star in the Sky by Sara Davison. I enjoyed the book but ended up skipping a lot because I felt like it was fairly tedious in parts, even though it was a very important subject matter and very well written. There seemed to be several slower parts that I wasn’t sure were needed but then again it was important to show the healing the young main character needed after eight years of being held captive by a sex trafficker.

The book did not go into explicit detail regarding the main character’s abuse but it made it clear she was very abused, sexually and otherwise, as well as being forced into prostitution. In other words, it was a tough book to read and part of me feels that the 52 chapters could have been shortened a bit if there hadn’t been so many pointless conversations between the two main characters.

What We watched/are Watching

The husband and I watched a lot of Brokenwood Mysteries this past week.

What I like about Brokenwood is how well-rounded the main character is or at least is becoming as the series goes on. Each episode (which are about 90 minutes long, so like mini-movies) we receive another breadcrumb of information about his personal life and I like that. We don’t learn as much about his partner, Sims, as the series goes on, however. I haven’ t got a clue about her family or her personal life at all as we never see her at home or anywhere but at work. Maybe we will as the series goes on, but Mike is really the main character anyhow so he’s the main one we want to know about. I like Mike. He is like a mix of two or three newspaper editors I had all rolled into one. That’s hard to explain but as a combination, I like Mike much better than I liked any one of those editors, though I liked one much more than the other two.

I also watched a Bob Hope movie called Alias Jesse James. I missed a lot of it because I seem to get interrupted a lot when I am trying to watch a movie by myself.

I also watched a comedy special on Amazon with Jeff Alan called I Can Laugh About It Now.

What I’m Writing

Last week I shared:

about old television shows that I enjoy watching,

five comedians you should check out,

a review/recommendation of Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz,

and an update on my upcoming book Beauty From Ashes and future writing projects.

This week I have some other blog posts I hope to share and I also hope to work more on writing Mercy’s Shore, the next book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles.

What I’m Listening To

I have been forced to listen to the songs from Encanto over and over again this week as well as some Katy Perry because Little Miss has heard these songs either from the movie or on Youtube. Youtube is being taken away from her this week because I either have to listen to weird gaming YouTubers or various renditions of the songs of Encanto. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Encanto and the music but I don’t need to hear the songs on repeat. All day. Every day. For weeks and weeks. Or sung by Little Miss and all her little friends.

To break up the monotony, I listened to some Rend Collective.  Revival Anthem is one of my favorite songs by them. I do ask, if you listen to it, that you play it very loud and dance a bit to it. Don’t be shy. Enjoy the rhythm and the words. It will brighten up your day. I need songs like this. Songs that will let me shout away the depression and anxiety with God’s truth. Try it. It’s fun.


Spirit fall down

Start a Holy riot

Fill this place now

With the tongues of fire

Break the strongholds

Come and unleash heaven 

Burn within us Make us bold as lions

This is our revival anthem

Can you feel the darkness shaking

Oh, we are the dry bones rising 

This will be our great awakening

This is our revival anthem

Fill our hearts, Lord With a Holy danger Lead us beyond

Our fear of failure

We’ll fight the good fight In Your strength and power

We’ll take back the night Victory is ours 

We will praise You when our hearts are breaking

Praise You when our world is caving

We will not, we will not be moved

We will praise You till we see Your kingdom 

Greater things are surely coming

You are God, and You are on the move

Now it’s your turn

What have you been doing this week? Reading, watching, writing, or listening to? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: A somewhat rough week, missing when Christian fiction was good, and the ongoing battle with depression

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This week I started Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle by Ann B. Ross and I’m really enjoying it.

I’m also looking forward to reading Call Me A Cab by Donald Westlake.

I’m actually looking forward to reading anything that isn’t Christian fiction right now, as awful as that sounds, but I need a break from the new Christian fiction – yes, the stuff like mine – that is fairly cheesy and very watered down.

I was in the library of my parent’s church this week while Little Miss was at Awana and I was looking at books by Bodie and Brock Thoene, books that were about real issues, real people and not fluff. They were great and there aren’t a lot of Christian fiction writers like them out there now. Don’t get me wrong. I like fluff books too. I write fluff. I’m just in a really bad place when it comes to Christian fiction right now, especially how a lot of the new stuff seems to have the same template and be the same story but with different characters.

Little Miss and I are reading some Paddington again this week. I guess she needed some comfort reading and I did as well.

The Boy is slogging through Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.

He hates it. I’m hoping to find him a better classic book to read before the school year ends.

What’s Been Occurring

This week presented some challenging moments for me. Those moments left me deeply hurt, worried, sad and finally in a pretty deep depression. There are a couple people that were a part of one of these moments who think I am in a deep depression because they said my writing wasn’t good, but that isn’t actually the issue. The issue this week was once again being disappointed in the behavior of people who profess to be Christians. Or I should say, that was my issue until I worked toward changing my way of thinking.

Christians are not perfect, merely forgiven. No Christian is going to do everything right all the time. The Christians who hurt me this week did not do so spitefully, they did so carelessly. Had they listened to me over the last few weeks, maybe they would have known how I have been slipping deeper and deeper into depression, all while trying to pretend I am not.

I have been doing an awful lot of pretending lately. I have pretended I am okay, I have pretended I’m not worried about myself or my family. I have pretended I want to have a career in writing novels. I have pretended I’m good enough to write novels. I have pretended that it doesn’t hurt when people I grew up with and used to be close friends no longer speak to me.

The next paragraph is not in an attempt to whine or sound like my life is so hard, but to explain a bit of what I have been pretending. Also, please read this with the little bit of humor I wrote it in and not as dark as it sounds. 😉 I have been pretending that my hair is not falling out in clumps and that isn’t freaking me out (my family knows I am freaking out, but I’ve tried not to mention it too much to anyone else). I have been pretending that my smell and taste is back to normal after Covid. It is not and there are some days I can’t even eat because everything is disgusting and has the “Covid smell and taste.” I have been pretending that I don’t feel like I’d rather stay in bed all day long than face another day of unknown health oddities. I have been pretending that I can keep pretending, shoving it all in so no one can see it to keep people from looking at me like most doctors do – like I am a sad, anxiety-ridden loser who needs to be on as many pills as possible and then hidden away.

I don’t have a lot to look forward to each day, other than my children and some days even that is a challenge. My 7-year old doesn’t want to do her school work many days so sometimes we both end up crying. My 15-year old is amazing but he’s trying to figure out life as he transitions into being a teen and marches toward adulthood so sometimes his dad and I screw up trying to communicate with him and then we all end up in tears. (I know we will figure this out but some days I just feel like I’m really bad at the mom thing.)

Then we came to the end of my week when I went to a new doctor for my thyroid and my blood pressure was sky high, my weight was the highest it has ever been in my entire life, and the doctor told me I have to try a new medicine that could make me feel even worse than I do now or I can face a myriad of health issues that will slowly kill me.  I’m already sick on the thyroid medicine I take now so I have no idea what to expect from this new stuff.

Hmmm…can’t figure out why the blood pressure was so high after the weird situation with the writing group that happened about the same time I found out there was a very good possibility my elderly parents had not only been exposed to Covid, but now had it. (We now I’m know that they do indeed have it.)

The entire time I was at the appointment I kept worrying they would try to admit me. I was almost out the door when the nurse wanted to take my blood pressure again before I left. She did so while my arm was in the air and I was on the verge of a full blown panic attack as I flashed back to my time in the hospital when I briefly thought I might die on a ventilator (I did not think this for the majority of my stay, thank God). Needless to say my blood pressure was still high. I seriously don’t even think the woman knew how to take a proper reading.

Once at home, I took the bp meds that have been making me dizzy, watched some TV with the hubby and the bp dropped more than 30 points. In fact, it dropped even before the medicine kicked in. I guess because I was out of the stressful situation.

So, last week was hard. I don’t know what this week holds but I do hope it is something a little better. Right now I am not going to pretend that I am optimistic that it will be better. Writing the truth feels good. I am not optimistic. I have hope, but not optimism. I am not trying to fake it until I make it anymore and it feels good to be honest about my current emotions instead of trying to pretend that “I’m fine and I know things will be fine.”

Bull crap. I don’t know that at all and I am not fine.

Walking away from a writing group that I loved, but that was stressing me out (not their fault other than that awful experience of my work being shredded in front of a bunch of strangers), finally admitting that I was trying too hard to be something I am not, was completely freeing. I will, however, miss the wonderful ladies who were a part of the group.

I like writing my stories, no matter how stupid they are or how they don’t follow the strict rules of writing. I will probably continue to share them on my blog, but maybe nowhere else. I don’t even know yet. I will offer books for sale for friends and family to access but I probably won’t push their advertising much in the future. I was writing for fun not for acclaim and when that fun started to be stomped out of me, it was time to step back to what once made me happy – just sharing my ramblings on here and with friends and family.

What We watched/are Watching

Now on to happier things. Last week we watched more Brokenwood, some Mystery Science Theater (Manos, The Hand of Fate. It was absolutely horrific, which if you know anything about MST3K is actually a good thing. More opportunity for quips and laughs.), more Night Court, and I watched some old All Creatures Great and Small but then decided I really don’t like the actor who plays James Herriot in the old. He made James Herriot into a kind of uptight jerk without a Scottish accent. He’s much sweeter and less huffy in the new series, which is what I would imagine the real James Herriot (James Wight) was actually like.

What I’m Writing

Honestly, not a whole lot right now. Maybe someday again. I did share a Randomly Thinking on the blog last week and a book review.

What I’m Listening To

There has been a need for uplifting music this week so there has been some Elevation Worship and Matthew West going on.

Now it’s your turn

What have you been reading, watching, doing, or listening to? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Moriarty, stupid winter weather won’t go away, and All Creatures Great and Small

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What I/we’ve Been Reading

I have been reading the same books I was reading last week. I know. How sad. I don’t know why I didn’t read more this week. I can’t even tell you what I did instead other than some editing on Beauty From Ashes, working on character profiles for a future story, homeschooling, and being depressed a couple of days for various, silly reasons.

I finished Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz during a very rare marathon reading session I held during Saturday’s snowstorm (see below). I curled up under the covers with two cats on either end of the bed – one by my head on a pillow and the other one at my feet — while the grinding roar of the neighbor’s snowblower drifted to my ears from the tightly closed window. Downstairs my son chatted and played video games with his friends while my daughter watched cartoons on an old phone. My husband, meanwhile, had curled up for a nap to help him prepare to shovel and snow blow the driveway later in the day.

I knew something was amiss throughout Moriarty but couldn’t figure out exactly what. I had it guessed though long before the end and yelled out, “I knew it!” when it revealed what I had suspected all along. What a mind twist, though. I definitely recommend it, especially if you are a fan of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. This is written in a similar manner on purpose to make the book fit in well with the originals.

I should have Every Star in the Sky by Sara Davison finished by the end of today. Then I will continue to read a memoir about a woman who left the Mennonite community for a book tour and start either the next book in the All Creatures Great and Small series or a book my husband recommended —Call Me A Cab by Donald Westlake. This will be my first book by Westlake.

Little Miss and I are finishing Emily’s Runaway Imagination for the second time and then we will start Ribsy, also by Beverly Cleary.  

The Boy is reading Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and I am terribly behind on it because I am supposed to be reading it with him. The Boy is also reading Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

I forgot to ask Hubby what he is reading, but I’ll add it later when I find out.

What’s Been Occurring

Snow, snow, snow. That’s what’s been happening here as Winter 2021-2022 gives its last gasp before moseying on out of here.

We received a few inches on Wednesday of last week and by Thursday it had melted and made way for more snow on Saturday.

On Friday I ran an errand to the local supermarket and I ran in and out without a coat.

The sun was bright, I wanted to open the windows and would have it hadn’t been for a cool breeze. I thought of chasing my children outside, warning them this was their last chance for warmth for a few days, but I gave up. We might as well muddle through this weekend and they can enjoy the warmer weather next week.

The Boy had a couple of friends over and, of course, they got snowed in with us, so I had a house full of teenage boys for a couple of days. My husband and I hid upstairs while they were downstairs playing video games and watching memes or what I see as inane YouTube videos. Little Miss chatted with her friends on the phone while playing stupid online games.

We were going to take the boys home Saturday night but I didn’t know if I liked the idea of them being on the road. I didn’t want to say anything, though, because my husband has a busy day today with some work things and I didn’t want to complicate things even more. We went back and forth about it for a bit, trying to decide, and I texted their parents while my husband went to get gas. While he was at the gas station, down the hill from our house, a wind gust came up and white-out conditions developed. I received a text that announced the boys were staying another night because my husband didn’t feel it was safe to drive.  Whew. Not long after he came back the white-out conditions subsided so I don’t know if that was God answering my prayers about what to do or not. I do know that the wind and blowing snow continued off and on the rest of the night.

We are all expecting this to be our last snowstorm of the season, thankfully.

The next few weeks will be busy for us with various homeschool activities, doctors’ appointments for me and my family, dentist appointments, and an appointment with the dog groomer. Little Miss has also joined gymnastics so that adds another activity to our plate. She attends Awana on Wednesday evenings until the end of April.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week the hubby and I started to watch Chinatown with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, but got interrupted. Hopefully, we will finish it later this week. We also watched a lot of Night Court and then I had to binge watch all of season 2 of All Creatures Great and Small before today because I didn’t want to pay for another subscription through Amazon. I had purchased a seven-day trial and planned to add PBS Masterpiece to our list of channels until I noticed we already have a couple of kids channels, another PBS channel, Britbox, and Acorn. Streaming is starting to be as expensive as cable at this rate.

I enjoy the new All Creatures Great and Small, even though I originally refused to watch it because I have a soft spot for the original. What I like about the new version is they actually have James with a Scottish accent, instead of a British one, like he had in the original. Since James Herriot (well, James Alfred Wight, which was his real name) was from Glasgow, he would have had a Scottish accent. I guess back in the 70s they didn’t like to be authentic in that way. Watching the show has made me want to go back and finish reading the series. I think I’ll tackle that in the next couple of weeks.

Later this week I may watch Redeeming Love, the controversial movie based on the controversial Christian Fiction Romance by Francine Rivers since it has been put up on Peacock.

I haven’t made my mind up yet about that one. I never read the book and never really had an interest, so I don’t have that much interest in the movie but would like to see what all the fuss is about.

What I’m Writing

I have been writing a few blog posts but haven’t shared all of them yet. Last week I shared:

I am working on a Randomly Thinking post for later this week and will also be working on some rewrites for Beauty From Ashes and maybe a couple other story ideas I have.

What I’m Listening to

I am still listening to the new Elevation Worship album, which I love.

I also really enjoyed Pastor Steven Furtick’s sermon last week:

Now it’s your turn

What have you been reading, watching, listening to or doing? Let me know in the comments.