Saturday Chat: Zooma is better! Chilly days, playing with the kids, and some old photos

This Saturday evening (because I couldn’t get this post finished before the afternoon was over) I am drinking chocolate almond beverage milk but then I’m going to drink some peppermint tea because our spring temps are low spring temps. It is cold and raining today. It is perfect weather for reading but I don’t know how much time I’ll have for reading since Little Miss has two little friends over and they can be a bit loud and like to try to get me to play with them.

When you were growing up, did you just play with your friends or try to get your parents to play with you? I don’t remember trying to get my parents to play with me. I just went off with my friends and played. No parents needed.

I think my husband created this trend with them when he started chasing them as a zombie one time when they were over. Now they want to play Zombie every time they come over and that entails one of us parents chasing them around the house while moaning and holding our arms out like we are a zombie that is going to get them.

I don’t mind playing a little with them, of course. It does get my exercise in for the day when I do it. I just don’t want to do it all day.

(Update to this part: I’m late posting this because the girls wanted to go to the neighbors’ trampoline and I need to watch them when they do that and there is no wifi out there on the porch. At least I didn’t have to chase them this time. Hee. Hee.).

This past week our Zooma the Wonder Dog fully recovered from the illness that struck her the week before. We were all so relieved. Zooma was very confused when we celebrated her climbing the stairs and jumping up on the bed, but she hadn’t been able to do those things for about a week, so it was worth celebrating to us.

Seeing her run around the yard the other night at full steam was wonderful too.

We learned our lesson too. We haven’t been slipping her any people food unless we know that it is fairly bland and won’t irritate her stomach. So, she does receive a few bites of chicken deli meat or plain chicken, but nothing else. We can’t go through that worry again. (Right after I wrote this, I literally gave her a bite of chicken that was seasoned without remembering it was seasoned. Oh boy! I hope it doesn’t cause an issue. I was thinking the plain chicken would be okay for her. Pray I didn’t make her sick again!)

Little Miss and I have been working on journals for the last couple of months to sell on Amazon. She designed a bunch of covers when she was recovering from her dental procedure so I thought it would be fun to put them up for sale for her on Amazon. Then I decided we would create a journal company for fun. She named it Rose Dove Journals so that’s what it’s called.

We are still waiting for quite a few to be approved by Amazon and I am designing some more prayer, devotional and sermon notes journals.

I don’t think we will sell a lot of journals, but we are having fun so why not try!

Don’t worry I’m not linking to them here. I don’t want my blog to be a full-time advertisement. That’s not why I started back to blogging. I just wanted to connect with other bloggers and have fun.

I used to blog when my son was young – about 14 years ago or more now. He’s going to be 17 this year. I can’t even believe it. When I blogged back when he was young I was called a “mommy blogger”. I wrote mostly about him and what he did and how he slept (or actually how he didn’t sleep) and what it was like to be a mom.

Then for a while I wrote about photography.

Now I just write about whatever strikes my fancy, so to speak.

Speaking of that saying “so to speak” – I use it often and don’t even know exactly what it means. I mean I guess it means “sort of” in a way? Such as, “I write about whatever strikes my fancy – sort of”? I don’t know what it means but it’s one of those sayings I think I use too often.

I also write “instead” and “of course,” too much in blog posts. Do you  have phrases you overuse?

Do you think I’m asking too many questions in today’s post? *wink*

Well, brace yourselves because I am going to ask another one. What beverages are you drinking this week?

Oh and one more – what’s the weather like where you are?

I hope you had a good week last week and have a better one this week.

Here are a few photos from today four years ago of my dad and the kids and Zooma. I can’t believe how different the kids look now!

Fiction Friday: Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing Chapter 2

I thought I’d share another chapter today from my cozy mystery Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing which releases on July 18.

I’m posting this very late today because I’ve been running around most of today, cooking dinner, putting away groceries, etc. I’m posting so late today it’s almost not Friday any longer.

You can catch up on Chapter 1 by clicking here.

If you would like to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of the book in exchange for a review and letting your friends and family know about it, please sign up here:

This does not require you to be on a launch team or do anything other than read and review the book.

Chapter 2

Glawynn woke with a start the next morning, heart pounding.

A horrible grinding noise had jolted her from a dream. It stopped almost as quickly as it started and now she wondered if it had been part of the dream, which she could remember very little of. There’d been a court jester and a young Frank Sinatra. The rest had faded into oblivion.

 The room she was looking at reminded her of something someone might see on the set of a regency film. She let out a breath, blowing hair out of her face and struggled to remember where she was.

A solemn woman with her hair high on her head in a tight bun scowled at her from a gold-framed picture on the wall above a full-length mirror opposite her. To the woman’s right there was a full-bearded man wearing a Quaker-style hat staring at her from out of another framed picture. Both photographs were black and white.

It was all coming back to her now.

Grandma’s house in Brookville. Her home for the foreseeable future.

She winced as she moved her legs, stinging pain shuddering through the bottom of her feet, reminding her of her stupid decision to wear high-heeled boots to work.

Downstairs the noise that had woken her up had started up again. Some kind of grinding and squealing, like maybe a cat caught in a wood chipper.

What was her grandmother doing?

Or maybe it wasn’t her grandmother. She hadn’t actually seen her grandmother when she’d come home last night. Lucinda’s bedroom door had been closed.  Gladwynn had tiptoed past it and crawled into bed without even changing into her night clothes.

Now fully awake, she tossed the thick quilt off her and reached for the flashlight next to the bed, weighing it in her hand.

Yeah, that would work if there was a chainsaw wielding maniac downstairs instead of her spunky grandmother.

She inched her way into the hallway, then slowly to the top of the stairs, ancestors watching her with stoic stares from ornate and vintage frames along the flower wallpapered walls.

Making her way down the wooden staircase with one hand on a banister that dated sometime in the early 1900s, she winced as the grinding noise grew louder. It was clear now that the sound was coming from the kitchen.

Amidst the grinding she could hear Dean Martin crooning away and just as loud, Lucinda’s voice joining in.

Gladwynn set the flashlight on a small table against the wall next to the staircase , under a framed image of the Grant coat of arms that a distant relative had brought back from a trip to Scotland.

She paused to look through the kitchen doorway, unable to keep from smiling at the sight.

Lucinda, wearing a silky, bright pink bathrobe, had her back to her. Her light gray hair was swept back in a messy bun and her plump hips swayed from side to side as she sang while pouring something bright green from a blender into tall glasses.

Gladwynn stepped up into the doorway just as her grandmother looked over her shoulder.

Lucinda smiled, belted out the end of the song, and then flicked off the CD player.

“Hey there, girl! There you are! You were passed right out when I got home. That must have been some crazy second day.”

When she got home? Where had her grandmother been last night at 8 p.m. if not curled up in bed asleep?

Gladwynn flopped in a chair at the kitchen table. “Yeah. It was a little crazy.”

“Different than library work, huh?”

 “That’s an understatement. It’s like walking from Brigadoon into Saigon.”

Lucinda sat a glass of the green concoction in front of Gladwynn and winked. “Glad to hear you referencing a classic movie we used to watch together.”

Gladwynn smirked. “Brigadoon or Platoon?”

“Very funny, kid.” Lucinda winked. “You know we never watched Brigadoon together.” She sat at the table across from her granddaughter, taking a sip from the glass. She smacked her lips. “Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff.”

She sighed and folded her arms on top of the table. “It’s been nice having you here, you know. I’d honestly been considering moving to Willowbrook before you called. This place is too big for one person.”

Gladwynn studied the green substance with suspicion. “You? In a retirement community? Can’t really imagine that.”

Lucinda shrugged. “I’m there enough as it is and almost all my friends are there now so it probably wouldn’t be a huge adjustment. Plus, it’s not easy for this old lady to take care of this big house anymore.”

“What were you going to do with the house?”

“Sell it, probably.”

She couldn’t be serious. This house had been in the family for over a hundred years. “Sell it? Why? Wouldn’t dad or mom or Aunt Margaret or Uncle Phil and Aunt Harriet have wanted it?”

Lucinda shrugged again and took a swig from her glass.

“None of them are interested in keeping up this old place. They’ve all got their own lives and responsibilities. Your cousins are too wrapped up in their own worlds to care about it.” She smirked. “Except for Trudy. I overheard her at Christmas last year tell her friend, or whatever he is, that she would love to turn this house into a bed and breakfast one day.”

Yeah, that sounded like Trudy.

Gladwynn scoffed. “She would have abandoned that idea as soon as she realized it would require her to actually do work.”

Lucinda revealed a faint smile over the rim of her glass but quickly let it fade again.

Gladwynn twirled the glass around in her hands and made a face. “What is this stuff anyhow?”

“It’s a green smoothie. All the rage and very good for you. ”

Gladwynn sniffed the glass and set it down again. “Green things aren’t really something I eat. Or drink. Ever. But especially in the morning.”

Lucinda lifted an eyebrow. “Being healthy doesn’t interest you? Well, then, by all means go ahead and pour yourself some cereal that resembles cardboard or throw some heart attack causing butter on a piece of toast and toss a piece of cholesterol raising pig in the frying pan.”

Gladwynn stood. “Don’t mind if I do. Bacon sounds amazing right now. Also, I think it is the butter that raises cholesterol and the pork that can lead to the heart attack. Not sure about that, though, since I really don’t care.”

She felt her grandmother’s eyes on her as she walked to the fridge, but the woman luckily changed the subject. “So, how did your first couple of days go?”

Gladwynn shrugged. “They were okay. The job is just different than I expected.” She slapped a pack of bacon on the counter. “I caught a couple of the staff gossiping about me yesterday. I don’t think they like me very much.”

Lucinda turned in her chair. “Gladwynn are you listening to yourself? You’re not in high school. ‘They don’t like me.’ Who cares! You don’t have to be best friends with these people. It’s a job. Work the job and come home. You young people today are too stuck on thinking you have to like your job or the people you work with. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about making money to pay your bills and put food on the table.”

The bacon sizzled in the pan. “Yeah, I know, but it would be nice if my co-workers at least liked me.”

“Did your co-workers at your last job like you?”

“Well, yeah, but we were all similar. A bunch of weirdos spending half of our lives with our noses in a book.”

Lucinda chuckled. “You’re so much like your dad. That boy always had a book in his hands.”

Gladwynn tensed at the comparison. She was nothing like William Alexander Grant or her mother, Penelope Fitzwalter-Grant, which was probably why she was always butting heads with them.

Lucinda reached for Gladwynn’s glass over and poured half of the mixture into her own glass. “I’m going to the community center tonight to play Pitch. You want to come along?”

“No, my shift starts at three today. I have to go to a meeting with one of the other reporters.”

“Oh, yeah, which meeting?”

“Some little township about a half an hour away. Beachwood or something.”

Lucinda finished the smoothie in her glass. “Oh Birchwood. Good luck with that. Those people are always arguing.”

“About what?”

“About anything and everything. Sometimes it’s about zoning, sometimes about the shape of the roads. Sometimes someone looked at someone else funny. Who even knows. Lately the paper had been writing about some beef going on with the volunteer fire department and the township board or a resident of something. I don’t know. I really don’t have time to read the paper these days.” She put her glass in the sink. “I certainly don’t envy you, young lady. Now, before you go, I’ll need you to help me pick out my outfit for tonight. It’s so wonderful having someone here that can help me choose.”

“What about Doris?”

“I love Doris, honey, but you know she has no taste. No taste in music. No taste in men and definitely no taste in clothes.”

Gladwynn shook her head, placing a couple slices of cooked bacon onto a plate. “Now, Grandma, is that any way to speak about your best friend? And her husband for that matter? Bill is a good guy.”

“Doris isn’t my best friend. She’s just a friend. My best friend was your grandfather and he’s not here anymore.”

Gladwynn flipped a piece of bacon. “So, Doris will have to do.”

Lucinda sighed. “Yes, I guess so. She is a very good friend so I guess she can be my almost best friend. As for Bill – well, that’s another conversation for another day.” She snatched a piece of bacon off the plate. “Now you finish that bit of smoothie I left for you. It’s good for you. I’ve got to get to the post office and then I’m heading up to the Y for a swim. I’m going to swing by Judy’s Market on the way home. Can I get you anything?”

“Grandma, don’t you ever slow down? I want to know how your date went last night. More importantly, I want to know who it was with.”

Lucinda bumped her hip into Gladwynn’s and winked. “There will be plenty of time for that conversation, little lady.” She took another bite of the piece of bacon. “You just get yourself some food and relax until you have to go to work.”

Heading toward the doorway, Lucinda started to hum another Dean Martin tune.

Gladwynn placed a hand to her hip and scowled at Lucinda’s retreating form. “I thought you said bacon wasn’t healthy.”

Lucinda glanced over her shoulder waving the bacon above her head. “It isn’t but it sure does taste good.”

After breakfast was finished and her grandmother had left to run her errands, Gladwynn made her way to her grandfather’s office, which was also a library with floor to ceiling cherrywood bookcases built into the walls.

Little had been changed in the room since Sidney William Grant had passed away six years ago. The top of his mahogany desk had been cleared of papers, but family photos still remained.  Rows of books from a variety of eras filled the bookshelves and oil paintings of scenes from the area along with various photographs from his 50 years as a minister lining the walls.

Gladwynn paused and breathed in deep. She was amazed the room still smelled so much like her grandfather’s aftershave. It was as if the day he died her grandmother had closed up the room to lock in all the smells, feelings and memories. It was clear, though, that Lucinda, or someone else, had been in the room since then by the lack of dust on the desk and shelves.

She sat in her grandfather’s chair and rubbed her hands along the black leather of the armrests. An old-style radio she’d been told was her grandfather’s when he was young sat across the room on a small table. It was probably built in the early 1950s, maybe earlier. She remembered sitting on her grandfather’s lap as a child in this office, listening to the oldies radio station.

The songs from the 1940s and 1950s had always been her favorite. She still listened to them when driving in her car or while reading.

Though there was a time that sitting in this office had made her feel sad and acutely aware of her loss, she felt an odd sense of joy and peace sitting here today, grateful for the memories of him.

She stood and looked at the books on the shelves, choosing one her grandfather had read to her when she’d used to visit in the summer.

The Hobbit.

She sat back at the desk with it and opened it, the crack of the spine sending a delightful shiver up her spine. She’d always loved the hand-drawn illustrations inside.

An hour later she looked up at the clock and yawned. She didn’t want to leave the refuge of the room, but she should probably get a shower and start putting her clothes away in the wardrobe in her room, something she hadn’t yet done since moving in last week. She laughed softly, thinking of the first time she’d stayed in that room and how she’d felt all the way to the back of that wardrobe to see if it felt cold, as if it might really be a portal to Narnia, which she had been reading about at the time.

Walking back toward the staircase, she marveled, once again, at the size of the house. To get to the main staircase to go upstairs she walked past two parlors, a living room, a sunroom that included a mini library filled with her grandmother’s classic book collection, a dining room that was bigger than her first apartment, and a full-size bathroom. Inside the living room was a stone fireplace her grandfather had built.

Upstairs there were four bedrooms, a room that used to be a nursery but was now a den, two porch balconies outside two of the rooms, a full bathroom that Lucinda had installed a hot tub in three years ago and an attic on the third floor.

Outside, massive granite stairs with grapevine mortar sidewalls lead up to a wrap-around porch and porte-cochere that led to a three-car garage at the side of the house, at the end of the drive, that had once been a carriage house.

The home, built in 1894, had originally belonged to her grandfather’s grandfather, a prestigious county lawyer and then judge. The woodwork inside was original and Gladwynn ran her hand along it as she walked to her room at the end of the long hallway, which was lit by lanterns that resembled those from the early 1900s but had actually been installed in the 1960s.

This home had always fit her personality more than the modern two story house she’d grown up in with her parents, two older sisters and older brother in upstate New York.  

Unlike her older sisters she’d somehow never felt like a modern girl. Instead, deep down she felt as if she’d been meant for a different decade – anywhere from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. She loved the music and movies of the 1940s and 50s especially, and had even set aside modern clothing for more vintage outfits since high school.

“You’re a girl with an old name and an even older soul,” Lucinda had once told her as they sat on the metal bench in the middle of her grandmother’s overflowing flower garden.

Gladwynn heard her cellphone ringing as she reached the end of the hall. She took her time getting to it, knowing who it would be.

She glanced at his name on the lock screen, pushed the call to voicemail, and once again questioned why she hadn’t yet blocked his number, knowing deep down it was because she hated leaving anything unresolved. Someday she’d have to resolve that situation, but for now, she was going to enjoy a long bath before work.


Gladwynn wasn’t thrilled that Liam had assigned her to shadow Laurel Benton, the reporter she’d heard talking about her with the copy editor the night before, but she was the only one free to show Gladywn the ropes, so to speak, when it came to covering municipal meetings.

Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Gladwynn examined her dark brown curls and reapplied her signature bright red lipstick. She pulled the hem of the canary yellow sweater she’d had since college down to the top edge of her black slacks and took a deep breath before giving herself a pep talk.

“Come on, Grant. Suck it up. You can do this.”

Laurel was waiting for her in the hallway, arms crossed across her chest. She had tucked her hair under a blue, knitted cap, but one strand – light brown with light-gray streaks – had fallen loose. She’d already zipped her black winter coat up to under her chin. Small lines crinkled the skin along the corners of her eyes as she offered a tense smile.

“Ready to go? We need to leave now if we want to get a good seat.”

Gladwynn reached for her coat, a hot pink tumbler filled with hot coffee, and a reporter’s notebook that she’d sat on a chair outside the bathroom door. She zipped her coat up to her chin and flipped up the gray-faux fur lined hood. It was less stylish, but warmer, than the one she’d been wearing the day before. She’d decided she needed to be ready for the conditions since she’d be out in them more than her last job, even if the coat clearly clashed with her style.

She gestured toward the door. “Lead the way.”

As she walked, she wrapped the bright red scarf her grandmother had handed her earlier that day around her neck and pulled it up across her mouth and nose.

Snow crunched under her winter boots, reminding her how glad she was that she’d stopped by the local shoe store on her way to work to pick out a pair of cute, yet still practical, winter boots.

Laurel’s steps weren’t as long as Liam’s, thankfully, and it was much easier to keep up with her. Her blue Honda was parked in a church parking lot two blocks from the newspaper office. The car was definitely a lot older than Liam’s BMW. Dents along the passenger side of the car hinted at some sort of collision at some point – possibly with a guiderail or tree limb.

The door groaned as it opened, and the ripped seat definitely wasn’t heated.

Laurel slammed the driver’s side door shut. “Sorry about the car. It’s pretty beat up but gets me where I need to go.” She smirked. “Working for a smalltown newspaper isn’t exactly a lucrative gig, if you haven’t realized that already.”

A smile tugged at Gladwynn’s mouth. “I’ve started to figure that out, yes.” Her breath turned the air in front of her white and she hoped the car at least had heat.

The engine rolled over with a reluctant growl. Shifting it into reverse resulted in a loud grinding noise. Laurel grimaced and squeezed her eyes shut. “Stupid car.” She shook her head briefly. “Anyhow, Birchwood is about 20 minutes away and in the middle of nowhere so you can help me watch for deer.”

Laurel slowly edged the car out of the parking lot and onto Main Street. The sun hadn’t yet set, and the drive gave Gladwynn a moment to take in the town, as little as there was to take in. Brookville had probably been a bustling center of activity at some point, but these days many of the buildings were shuttered up or housing businesses that probably wouldn’t survive the year. There were more “used” signs than she could count. Used clothes, used books, and used video games just to name a few.

The one standout gem of Main Street was the old Cornerstone Theatre, which her grandmother had told her had once been an opera house, built in 1875. She remembered many trips there as a child and teen when she’d spent summers with her grandparents.

Gladwynn watched two churches slide by. One church was a Catholic Church with light brown stone and a tall bell tower. This must be the bell that rang four times a day, including 6 a.m., waking her up this morning way before she’d wanted to.

“How you settling in?”

Laurel’s question pulled her gaze from the impressive brick façade of the Covenant Heart Church her grandfather had used to pastor at and that her grandmother still attended. “Okay, I guess. I mean, do you mean at the office or at my grandmother’s, which is where I’m staying for now?”

Laurel shrugged and smiled briefly. “Both I guess.”

“I would say I’m settling in with Grandma better than I am at the office, honestly.” The business district of town began to fade into a series of lovely homes, many of them Victorian like her grandmothers. That was one thing about Brookville. Part of it demonstrated that the area had fallen into disrepair and poverty, while the other half showcased the wealth that had once ruled the town and, in some cases, still did.

Gladwynn glanced at Laurel. “By the way the word is coif not quaff.”

Laurel looked over at her with one eyebrow raised. “Excuse me?”

“The word you were looking for yesterday was coif. Coif is a hairdo. I was wearing a 40s coif in your opinion. Quaff means to drink heavily, which I don’t do.”

Red crept into Laurel’s cheeks. She frowned briefly. “Sorry about that.”

The town disappeared into a less sparsely populated area with only a few houses, a gas station and a mechanic shop passing by.

Gladwynn sighed. “Maybe it is a silly hairdo.”

“No. Really. It isn’t.” Laurel glanced at her. “We were just being petty. It happens in a small office. Especially among the women. Not to run our sex down but we do tend to get caddy when we are in small groups. Maybe it’s because our hormones sync and we’re all having PMS at the same time.”

Glawyn laughed softly. “Yeah, that actually happened at the library too.”

The gears in the car groaned again as Laurel shifted. “If you don’t mind me asking – I mean, maybe I shouldn’t ask — but what brought you here? Have you worked in papers before?”

Gladwynn kept her gaze on the road in front of them, groves of trees, interspersed with small farmhouses and farms. “Only at my college newspaper almost six years ago now. I do write. I don’t know if I would call myself a writer, though. I write short stories sometimes.” She slid her gloves off as the heat in the car started to kick in. “I was laid off at my last job. It was at the college library in a town near where I grew up. I loved the job, but enrollment has been down at the college for a couple of years now and they finally started making cuts. I was one of those cuts.”

Laurel winced. “Ouch. Sorry to hear that.”

“I’m actually surprised Liam hired me. Grateful but surprised.”

Laurel snorted a laugh. “Of course, he hired you. Liam is a sucker for cute brunettes. His last three girlfriends were brunettes. He also needed a warm body to fill the seat and get Lee off his back.”


“The publisher. You’ll meet him eventually. He and his wife spend most of the winter in Florida with his kids and grandkids.”

Gladwynn glanced at her reflection in the passenger side window. Cute? She’d always thought of herself as plain. She’d never really described herself as skinny even when others did. She was just boney and awkward, though she sometimes wished she could be tall and lanky instead.

She’d definitely taken after most of the women on Grandma Lucinda’s side of the family in the height department. Her short stature had always been an irritant to her, though she was glad she at least had grown past the 5 foot 3 inches of Lucinda. Only by an inch, but still. It was an inch she’d prayed hard for over the years.

She took a sip from her tumbler, closing her eyes briefly at the sweet taste of coffee her grandmother had made her earlier. “So, what about you? Are you from here originally?”

Laurel gave a quick nod. “Yep. Born and raised.”

“Have you been at the paper long?”

Laurel rolled her eyes. “Too long. Twelve years next month.”

“Is this what you thought you’d always do? Like, did you go to school for journalism?”

“I did, but always imagined I’d be at a much bigger paper. I came back here after college to help my parents on the farm. They retired and sold it last year and moved down South to live with my grandmother, but here I am, still stuck in good ole’ Marson County.”

Gladwynn thought she heard a twinge of resentment in Laurel’s voice. “Is the job the only thing keeping you here?”

Laurel pressed her mouth into a thin line for a few seconds before answering. “It is now.”

She didn’t elaborate and Gladwynn didn’t ask her to.

“The job’s not that bad of a gig really,” Laurel said after a few seconds of silence. “The hours stink, and I feel like I’m always on, ready to cover something even when I’m supposed to have a day off, but I like the people, the writing, and most of the time I like my co-workers. Except that little upstart who thinks he’s God’s gift to journalism. I’d like to give him a real swift kick in the butt.” She snorted a quick laugh. “Maybe when I decide to quit and get out of this county once and for all, that will be my last act.”

She turned her car onto a road to her right and the conversation faded for the rest of the drive.

Spring of Cary: An Affair To Remember

I am watching Cary Grant movies with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs this spring. I picked movies of Cary’s I had not seen before.

I love this graphic Erin designed!!

Today we are discussing An Affair to Remember from 1957, which was nominated for four Oscars.

In this movie, Cary plays Nick Ferrante, a “international playboy”. He is a man who likes to date rich women – as many as he can at a time it seems.

As the movie starts, though, it appears that he is finally settling down. It’s worldwide news when he becomes engaged. He’s on a cruise, though, where there is a lot of women available to him and it’s there that he meets Terry McKay portrayed by Deborah Kerr.

He can’t seem to break himself from the habit of picking up women,so he starts with picking her up as well.

“You saved my life,” he tells her. “I was bored to death. I didn’t think I’d find one attractive woman on this boat. . . . I said to myself, ‘Don’t beautiful women travel anymore?’ And then I saw you.”

Then he proceeds by essentially trying to get into her pants. Excuse me for being blunt but he suggests they find something fun to do and he is her cabin. She, however, lets him know that she is romantically involved with someone. He keeps trying to get her to cheat and, well, eventually, that will happen with a few kisses, but nothing beyond that, as far as we are shown anyhow.

We see from the beginning that the connection is real, but then I did find myself wondering how real it was with two people who were willing to cheat on their romantic partners, especially the one who is used to moving from woman to woman. That’s the cynical side of me, of course. I mean they weren’t actually married yet.

They do try to stay away from each other on the ship but no matter where they go, they seem to bump into each other.

It is a literal bumping incident at the pool that leads Nick to invite Terry to meet his French grandmother during a stop by the ship in France. His grandmother adores Terry and Terry adores her and her beautiful villa. Terry learns more about Nick that makes her fall for him even more. He’s an artist, but he always destroys his paintings because they are never good enough, his grandmother says.

It’s at his grandmother’s that Terry breaks out her singing voice and shows she has hidden talents as well. But the ship horn is blowing, and they have to leave the grandmother, much to the grandmother and their sadness.

Terry clearly doesn’t want to love the grandmother because then she has to admit she’s falling for man who is not the man she has been romantically involved with and if she can’t have Nick, then she can’t have the grandmother either. But she does love the woman and  . . . yes, Nick.

An additional challenge for the now blossoming couple is that Nick is a famous socialite and everyone on the ship is watching them to see if they really are a couple so they can gossip about it.

Soon the cruise will be over, though, and they need to decide what they are going to do about their newfound love for each other. That’s when Terry decides they need to get their lives in order in the next six months and then if they both want the relationship, they will meet at the top of the Empire State Building in July.

They each go back to their lives, and we follow their journeys there until July. They both pursue their real passions in life during this time – art for Nick and singing for Terry. They both also change during this time, finding out what is real and most important in their lives.

You’ll have to watch the movie if you want to know if they meet or not, but if you’ve ever seen that one scene in Sleepless in Seattle, you probably know what happens. Or the gist of it. It really is a classic ending and I have my opinions on it, but I don’t want to share so I don’t ruin the ending for anyone who hasn’t seen it. All I know is that I wanted to yell at the screen a couple of times and that I had to wipe my eyes a bit.

I enjoyed this movie a lot more than My Favorite Wife. I did not expect Kerr to sing two or three songs in it, since it wasn’t a musical, but the songs were very nicely done. Overall, I felt the movie was well done. I did feel the ending was a bit rushed and would have liked to have learned a little bit more about what happened after it.

This movie was directed by Leo McCarey who also directed Cary in The Awful Truth, which, if you remember from my previous blog post about The Awful Truth, was a director that Cary clashed with originally. Cary didn’t understand McCarey’s style of directing, which included simply telling the actors the gist of the scene and then having them improvise. Cary eventually warmed to McCarey’s style and even expressed disappointment that he was not in McCarey’s movie Love Affair from 1939. He was so disappointed he talked McCarey into remaking the movie, which is what An Affair to Remember was, according to Wikipedia.

Cary and Kerr did improvise many of their lines and many of those were what appeared in the film according to trivia on IMBd.

Another bit of trivia on IMBd that I found interesting:

“Deborah Kerr plays Terry McKay, previously played by Irene Dunne in Love Affair (1939), of which this film is a remake. Both were directed by Leo McCarey. The year before this film was made, Kerr played Anna Leonowens in The King and I (1956), also a role that had previously been played by Irene Dunne in the black-and-white classic Anna and the King of Siam (1946). “The King and I” is a musical based on the same book.”

Next up for our Spring of Cary feature is the movie Holiday with Cary and Katherine Hepburn.

After that we have:

Operation Petticoat (May 11)

Suspicion (May 18)

Notorious (May 25)

To read Erin’s impression of An Affair to Remember, hop on over to her blog.

Some cozy book recommendations for Spring

I have been wanting to put together a list of cozy reads for Spring but then I realized something – I’m not sure if what I see is cozy is what others would see as cozy.  Also, they are cozy for me, but do I only read them in spring? I don’t know. Not really. Unlike others who share such book recommendations, I don’t have a book I read each spring. It’s not something I do for whatever reason. I have re-read a couple of these books but not in spring.

Anyhow, I’m going for it anyhow before spring is gone (though it’s so cold out, my area thinks it is winter!) and recommend some books I feel fit spring and some that you could really read any time.

(Note: There are affiliate links in this post that I could monetarily benefit from. That’s not why I wrote the post though. The links were an afterthought.)

First up is A Light in the Window by Jan Karon from The Mitford Series.

Really anything from The Mitford series fits for cozy reading in my opinion. Sure, there are some tough topics in the books, but they are mixed in with enough light humor and sweetness to make it easier to take in.

I enjoy this one because it chronicles the romance of Father Tim, an Episcopalian priest, and his neighbor, Cynthia Coppersmith.

It’s such a sweet romance that leaves you rooting for this older couple who are finding love in their golden years. It is nothing like the romances out there in the world today. It is a sweet, gentle story of friendship that blossoms into love. No kisses or swooning or cheesy physical descriptions of them checking each other out.

“Oh, Timothy, how could you not have loved someone all these years? Loving absolutely seeps from you, like a spring that bubbles up in a meadow.”

 “Maybe you can convince me of that, but I doubt it. I find myself self-seeking, hard as stone somewhere inside. Look how I’ve treated you.”

“Yes, but you could never deceive me into thinking you were hard as stone. You’ve always betrayed your tenderness to me, something in your face, your eyes, your voice …”

“Then I have no cover with you?”

“Very little.”

 “ ‘Violet only wanted a friend,’ ” he quoted, “ ‘but every time she tried to have one, she did something that chased them away.”

~ A Light in the Window

Throw in a bunch of other quirky and fun characters and I can’t help but to be charmed by the world Jan has created in the pages of this book and the entire series. There are 14 books in all.

The Cat Who God Sent by Jim Kraus is another cozy read for me.

This is the story of a pastor Jake Wilkerson who is disillusioned with his job when he meets a cat named Petey who seems to always be in the way and leading to situations that make Jake think differently about life. The story takes place in a tiny little town about an hour from where I live and close to where my brother lives, which I didn’t know when I first picked up the book. I have a copy of The Dog That Talked to God too by him, but I haven’t read it yet.

Book description:

Jake Wilkerson, a disillusioned young pastor who is an expert at hiding his fears, takes on a new assignment at a small rural church in Coudersport, Pennsylvania–which is a far piece from anywhere and full of curiously odd and eccentric people. His first day on the job, he is adopted by Petey–a cat of unknown origins and breed–but a very sentient cat who believes that he is on a mission from God to redeem Jake and bring him back to the truth.
Jake must confront his doubts early on when he meets Emma Grainger, a single woman and a veterinarian who dismisses all Christians as “those people.” Then, Tassy, a young runaway with a secret, arrives at the door of the church looking for a place of refuge. How does Jake deal with this runaway and his interest in Dr. Grainger? More importantly, can Jake rekindle his faith? Petey does his best to lead all people to the truth, in a most subtle and feline way.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a book I associate with spring, I guess because she arrives at Green Gables in spring.

Most people are familiar with this book, even if you haven’t read it. On the off chance someone has no idea what the book is though, it is a book about a young orphan girl who comes to live with an elderly couple in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The couple think they are adopting a boy to help them with their farm, but instead, they are accidentally given a girl who enchants them and enriches their lives.

Anne is a girl who daydreams her way through life. She loves to read, pick flowers, imagine grand situations and think the best of everyone. She has had to use all of those things to help her deal with a difficult childhood where she was in foster care and treated horribly by those who took her in. Those who did take her in mainly did so to have her as someone to either care for their children or do their housework.

I read this book to Little Miss last year, and she really enjoyed it. I’m making my way through the series of books (there are eight) but I gave up on book four, Anne’s House of Dreams, because the cute and humorous moments that were in the original dissipated by book four.

Any of the Cat Who books are cozy reading to me, but I picked The Cat Who Wasn’t There because it was on my shelf and I remember that being one of the better ones. The books are written by Lilian Jackson Braun and there are a few duds in the series, especially toward the end.

These books are the story of Jim Qwilleran, a retired newspaper reporter who moves to a small town called Pickax in Moose County, up toward the Canadian border after he founds out he has inherited a wealthy woman’s entire fortune, even though they weren’t actually related.

Qwill writes a column for the local paper and lives in a barn that has been turned into a house with his two Siamese cats. He frequently finds himself wrapped up in various mysteries that occur in the town. The series starts with Qwill living “Down Below” which refers to the city or anything south of this rural area in the north. I’m guessing this town is based in Minnesota or Michigan, but I don’t know that it’s ever really made clear what state it is in. Qwill used to work in Chicago, I believe. It’s Down Below where he acquires his cats. Koko, the male, is the one who “helps” Qwill solve crimes by conveniently knocking over plants or pawing at books or finding clues, or simply acting weird around a suspect. Yum-Yum is there mainly for comic relief. She’s a sweet kitty who often “steals” items from visitors so she can bat them around for fun later.

She was kidnapped in one of the books and I swear I almost had a heart attack. These are very light reads so I figured she would be fine but I just couldn’t stop reading until Qwill had her safely in his arms again.

Back to this particular book, which is about Qwill traveling to Scotland with other regular characters from the book. During that trip one of the people who comes with them as a guide (not a regular) is murdered and the crew returns to Pickax sad and in need of finding out who killed her. Koko wasn’t on the trip but even he gets in on the sleuthing when Qwill returns home.

There is also a little bit of romance in the books between Qwill and the town librarian, Polly Duncan, but like A Light in the Window, it is not a romance about kisses and physical description. It’s more like a friendship romance.

For a list of all of the 29 books in the series see this site:

I have been reading through the All Creatures Great and Small books by James Herriot over the last few years and they are cozy reads for me.

There are eight books in the main series, but Herriot, whose real name was actually Alfred Wight, also put out collections of short stories, and then other books were compiled with the original stories and photos so online there looks to be 19 different books by Herriot. I only own one in paperback. I own six of the eight main books about his beginning years as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales in ebook form.

 I like how each chapter is a little story all its own. I read a chapter here and there when I do read the books and it is like escaping into a little cocoon of comfort. Right now, I am reading The Lord God Made Them All.

I cannot tell you which each book is about because they all sort of blend together in a collection of stories about his life and job. The one I am reading now takes place after he was in the war. He’s now married with his first son and is no longer living in the same house as Siegfried Farnon, whose real name was Donald Sinclair. I don’t like the writing style in this book as much as the others because he seems to be slipping between past and present tense at times, even in mid-sentence, but the stories are still entertaining.

For spiritual books I enjoy in Spring, there is Gracelaced, a devotional book by Ruth Chou Simons. The art and words inside the book are beautiful. I only picked this up last year but I can tell it is going to be a favorite of mine in the spring when the flowers are blooming but also all seasons when I need to look at some beautiful paintings of flowers.

A children’s book I enjoy reading with Little Miss in spring is Share, Big Bear, Share by Maureen Wright, who is a local author to us.

The book is about Big Bear’s need to share his stash of blueberries with his friends and I guess blueberries often grow in the summer, not the spring, but for some reason the book feels spring-like to me.

I’m sure there are other books I enjoy in spring but haven’t thought about for this post. They’ll just have to wait for next year.

Since I got this idea after my friend Erin and a YouTuber we watch posted their favorite cozy spring reads, I thought I’d link to their suggestions as well.

Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs

Darling Desi

And one bonus one

Forgotten Way Farms

A Photo A Day in May and looking back at April’s photos

April isn’t all the way over yet, but I thought I’d look back on some photos from the month and talk about a project I hope to do in May.

I have decided to take on a photo project for May and take at least one photo a day. If anyone knows me, taking one photo is like being able to eat only one potato chip – it isn’t easy for me. What I’ve done in the past when I do these projects is choose one photo to represent the day.

I’m hoping this will encourage me to be creative even on the days I don’t feel like being creative. I’ve been a creative slug in many ways over the last several years and I’m trying to pull myself out of that rut.

I’ve even started a photography-related Instagram account again, if you would like to follow it:

I don’t think I’ll post the photos on here every day – I’ll probably post them at the end of each week.

Stay tuned!

(Also, most of you have seen these photos already and they aren’t super exciting but I figure sometimes we need something not very exciting in our days.)

Sunday Bookends: My husband is a speed reader, finally enjoying Fellowship of the Ring, a DNF for Anne, and working on Gladwynn’s book

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what the rest of the family and I have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

It took until around Chapter 9, but I finally got into Fellowship of the Ring. Or it finally picked up, whichever. I mean, I guess I liked it before then but a character I remember from the movies showed up around Chapter 9 and that’s when things started to really pick up. Now I’m moving through it much faster and would love to be able to finish it by the end of the week, but I’m not sure I will. I have enjoyed listening to it some of the time on Audible and reading it part of the time. Friday night I sat on the back porch and read a couple of chapters of it, which took quite a while since the chapters are so long.

I also started reading Death of a Poison Pen by M.C. Beaton. It’s a Hamish Macbeth Mystery and takes place in Scotland. It’s a much lighter read than Fellowship of the Ring so I’m using it to break up the old style of Tolkien’s writing but I will probably focus on FOTR this week because I do want to know what happens. Yes, I did watch the movie but I sort of glazed over after hour two and got a bit lost. I’d rather read it.

I finally gave up on Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. It was terribly depressing and I once heard a reader say life was too short to read a book you don’t enjoy so I finally put it back on the shelf. I’ll try some of the other books in the series at another time.

Little Miss and I are reading On The Other Side of the Hill by Roger Lea MacBride. Some nights we are reading The Miss Piggle Wiggle Treasury.

The Boy is reading Fellowship of the Ring.

The Husband was on vacation this week and even with taking kids to appointments, washing dishes, mowing the lawn, and helping to take care of a sick dog he managed to read six books and start a seventh.

The books he read:

The Infernals by John Connelly

Out of Range by CJ Box

The Scared Stiff by Donald Westlake

Bye-Bye, Baby by Ace Atkins

Number One is Walking by Steve Martin

Standing by the Wall by Mick Herron

The one he is reading now: Don’t Ask by Donald Westlake

What’s Been Occurring

I wrote yesterday about our drama last week with Zooma the Wonder Dog. You can read about it in this post.

You can also see some of our photos from the week there but I will share a few here too.

What We watched/are Watching

Little Miss and I found two other Mary Berry series on Tubi on the Roku this week so we watched those episodes throughout the week.

I watched My Favorite Wife for my Spring of Cary feature with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and decided it was not my favorite Cary movie.

An Affair to Remember is up for this week.

The Husband and I watched Oceans 11 this week. The original with the Rat Pack etc. That was some ending. Whew.

We also watched a super creepy episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents with Dick York from Bewitched. Yikes. He was a very good actor and very underrated.

We also started Carefree with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but both had to head to bed for some sleep so we will finish it later.

I also watched a few art videos and a couple of YouTubers this week but had to take a break from the YouTubers as some of them grate on me because after a bit they all start to sound the same. They talk about the same books and wear the same clothes and skip in the same fields and it is starting to get a bit weird. I’m sure I’ll still watch a few of them, including Forgotten Way Farms, which is different from all the other “Young Woman Reading Cottage Core Style Books and Filming Herself Wearing Old Clothes and Skipping through A Field of Flowers.”

What I’m Writing

I worked on finishing Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing every day this last week and hope to have it finished this upcoming week. You can pre-order it here:

It is coming out July 18th now instead of June 20th.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I am listening to an audiobook of Fellowship of the Ring and other times I am reading the book.

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

Big Sky Buckeye, God’s quiet place:

Breath of Hallelujah: Pascha At Holy Trinity Cathedral Chicago

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.

Saturday Afternoon Chat: Spring has sprung and Zooma the Wonder Dog gets sick

Welcome to my Saturday Afternoon Chat!

As I type this all of our windows are open, there is a cool bleeze blowing our veil-like white curtains and the church bells are chiming loudly – finally on time after being off by an hour for almost a month after the time change.

Outside the window tulips are blooming, my neighbor is digging in her flower beds to get them ready for planting, and birds are chirping at each other.

This week I sipping chocolate almond milk as I write but had some tea when I first woke up and I am going to warm it up and finish it here in a bit.

Spring is in full bloom here.

The blooms are out on all the trees, maybe a little early, which I’ve heard is bad for the fruit trees because then they create too much fruit that sometimes spoils. We will have to see what happens.

I took photos of the pear tree (I think that’s what it never really grows too much fruit) at my parents on Sunday and could hear a loud hum as I stood under it. I believe that hum was all the bees swarming it to collect the pollen, but I’m not sure.

The tulips on the side of our house, which I mentioned earlier, and the tree next to our house are also blooming.

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening on my back porch. I think it got up to 80 yesterday but it was a cool 80, not too hot.

Little Miss ran in the sprinkler earlier in the day and then The Husband cooked chicken spiedies and fries and I sat with the pets outside and ate dinner and read Fellowship of the Ring (more about that tomorrow in my Sunday Bookends post).

It was such a nice end to a slightly stressful week which kicked off with all of us thinking we might lose our Zooma. For those who are new here, Zooma The Wonder Dog is our cockapoo-Shetland Sheepdog mix and she’s the best pet ever. Seriously. Ever. Anyone who meets her loves her – well not that guy down the street who walks by and she always barks at but there must be something wrong with him or she wouldn’t bark at him. A guy my dad knows came to Dad’s last week and Zooma loved him immediately so I figure she only barks at weirdos (and my brother. Ahem. I had to differentiate that he is not a weirdo. Not exactly anyhow. Maybe a bit of one.)

Monday night I came back from taking Little Miss to a makeup class of gymnastics and The Boy was in the yard with Zooma who was trembling and wouldn’t jump up on the porch to come in. When he tried to pick her up though, she would cry out and try to nip to get him to stop touching her. We finally figured out a way to get her in the house and sat with her in the laundry room while I called the emergency number of the vet where we used to live and still use.

The vet suggested she had colitis, inflammation of the intestines, based on her symptoms and the fact she has had some issues with her…um…bottom glands in the past. I also had to confess to the vet that we had been sneaking her food, especially on Sunday when I slipped her tiny pieces of pork chop several times. Later that night my dad also confessed that he had seen Zooma eat a bone in his backyard that he had left out for the birds but that had fallen on the ground. And in fact, everyone in the family except for my mom, who is a saint, had slipped the dog food over the last week or more.

I have a feeling that all of Zooma’s issues had been brewing for a while, though. She’d been acting more dragged out and tired over the last couple of weeks.

The prescription the vet gave was to pull up her food for the next couple of days to let her colon rest and heal. We pulled her food up and Little Miss pulled her dog bed into the kitchen (for some reason) and she flopped down and didn’t move all night, which is not her at all. She usually likes to be in whatever room we are and sometimes up on the couch or chair next with us.

The Boy slept on the floor with her that night because she had no interest in getting up to go upstairs with us.

The next morning, we couldn’t get her to stand up to go outside and when we tried to carry her out she cried as she sat down, started trembling and cried again when The Boy picked her up to put her back on the porch. We called the vet again and they wanted us to bring her right up. The office is about 45 minutes away. To make sure she had space to lay down, The Boy and The Husband took her, so The Boy could sit in the back with her. Little Miss was crushed because Zooma is her best friend and she wanted to be there to care for her.

She kept saying she wouldn’t leave Zooma. The Husband and I also didn’t want her going because at that point we were concerned there was something very serious going on and she would be hysterical if Zooma had to be put down. I just couldn’t imagine our life without Zooma, but I didn’t think it looked good.

My worst fear was that she’d had a stroke or she had a tumor on her spine causing her legs not to work right.

Once at the vet, though, the little rascal started to act better by first being carried into the clinic and the x-ray room and then trotting out of the room like she was totally fine.

The vet said she had gas all inside her stomach and inflammation in her colon, so I believe the official diagnosis was colitis, but The Husband just remembers the vet saying she was full of gas. Luckily nothing was broken because at one point we suspected she had something wrong with her paw or paws.

She was placed on anti-inflammatory medication but seemed to only get worse over the next couple of days. She mainly laid down, not even stirring when there were noises outside, which is highly unusual for her. She had no interest in getting up, looking out the side window of our house like she normally does, or climbing the stairs with us at night. One morning, though, she sat the bottom of the stairs, barking at 5:20  either because she was lonely or in pain. I came down to let her outside, but she wouldn’t move from where she was sitting and simply stared at me.

We had been told to pull her food up and I had been making boiled chicken and rice, so I gave her some of that, which she ate, but then stared at me like she still wanted something. Eventually The Husband came down with her and fell asleep on the floor to try to get her to lay down.

Over the next couple of days I spent most of my time boiling chicken and rice, physically picking up Zooma’s backend to make her stand and get outside to move around and use the bathroom, checking on her, trying to get her to drink water, and occasionally warming up warm compresses to put on her …um…bottom, to see if the warmth would have a soothing affect since she was jumping up off and on like something was biting her in her butt. She wasn’t sure what she thought about those warm compresses and gave me the funniest looks. I wish I could have taken a photo of her but I was busy at the time, obviously.

I also had to spend several minutes making her get up, walk out the door and walk around the yard to use the bathroom and then lift her up onto the porch, hoping I didn’t hurt her. My fear was that this would be how we’d have to take care of her from then on, or that the vet had missed something, which would have been a surprise to me because they’ve always been excellent with the care of our pets.

On Friday morning I had to lift her off the bed because she’d fallen asleep there after Little Miss had lifted her up the night before and hadn’t moved other than the lift her head off and on as if pleading with me to pet her and make her feel better. She wouldn’t jump off the bed herself like she usually did.

The Boy and I both tried massaging her belly area and Thursday night she seemed to get some relief because the boy said there was an awful stench from her.

So yesterday morning I got her to go down the stairs and outside and when she saw our neighbors she made her way over to greet them. She even jumped off the porch on her own.

For the rest of the day, she walked up on the porch herself and seems to be on her way to healing finally. It seemed like such a long time of her being sick, even though it was only five days.

It’s weird how a dog being sick can throw life in a family off, especially when they are such a big part of the family like Zooma is.

Not only did it throw our family life off, but it made me feel off-kilter because I was used to Zooma’s perkiness and crazy behavior instead of looking like a spaced-out copy of my once-loving and fun dog.

By last night things were feeling a little bit more normal because Zooma was a bit more normal than she had been. I hope that trend continues on through the weekend, but there were good signs that it will since Zooma was climbing stairs again and jumping up on the ottoman to look out the window and watch the neighbors come and go.

On Tuesday the kids had an eye doctor’s appointment, which The Husband took them too since he had a week off for vacation. We learned that Little Miss will need glasses. I’m a little disappointed with that but it isn’t that surprising considering everyone else in the family has glasses too. I swear we gave our kids the worst genes. I had glasses around 10 and The Boy had them somewhere around 9 or 10, although he says it was 8. He was older, but that’s okay, I’ll let him have his memories.

His memories are a little skewed sometimes, though.  He often tells me things I said that I never said to him and I sometimes worry he’s creating an alternative universe and life experience in his head with ideas of what he thinks I will say about something. (If you don’t know me then you don’t know I joke a lot and since I am writing this and not saying it, you can’t hear the tone it’s being said in. Know that I am joking – yet, I am a little serious because I’m pretty sure I conjured up some scenarios between my parents and I that never happened too.)

We had nice weather almost every day this week so Little Miss and I spent a lot of time outside, including on Thursday when school was mainly reading books on the back porch.

This next week looks like it is going to be a lot cooler so we probably won’t be outside as much, which will be a little sad, but I know warm weather will come to stay soon.

That means we will be seeing a lot more of our neighbors probably. None of us really see each other in winter because we are all running from our cars to our houses to get warm. The neighbors closest to us have two Shih tzu dogs who they are training to stay in their yard if they go outside their fenced in area. They love to come over and visit Zooma, though, and I’m glad for Zooma to have some socialization. She’s not really too sure what she thinks of Little Louie though since he’s pretty interested in sniffing her in places she’d rather not be sniffed in. Gucci is more interested in attention from everyone else instead of Zooma. He also listens better than his big brother.

So that’s my week in a nutshell.

I hope this week will be a little calmer and that we are able to keep plugging away on homeschool lessons which we only have about a month of left. I can’t believe the school year is almost over. I’m sure the children won’t be happy but I am considering starting our school year on August 1 this year but on a reduced schedule so it will only be a couple days a week until we get to September. I think this will allow us to take more breaks during the school year so that it doesn’t feel like we are slogging through long spaces of lessons without much down time. Who knows. It could totally backfire, but luckily homeschooling allows us the flexibility to try things and then stop doing them if we don’t enjoy it.

How was your week?

What are you drinking this week for tea? Or is it coffee? Or are we on to colder drinks as we move toward summer?

Fiction Friday: Road to Bethlehem. Guest post, children’s author Lesley Barklay

Children’s author, or just author in general, Lesley Barklay provided me with a chapter of her book, Road to Bethlehem for today’s Fiction Friday.

Road to Bethlehem is part of the Bible Adventurers series for children.


‘Dear God’, Hannah prayed. ‘I wish I knew what it was like on that first Christmas morning . . .’

When Hannah goes to bed on Christmas Eve, the last thing she expects is to wake up in a dusty shed with her brother and a chicken. With no time to search for their parents, Joseph and Mary take the children with them on the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Will they reach the town in time? And how will Hannah and Joshua ever get home?

A delightful story about the first Christmas.

You can find more info about Lesley and her work on her social media sites: Instagram @authorlesleybarklay and Facebook:

Road to Bethlehem – Chapter 1

The first thing Hannah noticed was the strange smell. Had Mummy left the window open? Was there a sheep in the front yard? Then, she heard the noises.


     A rooster? She stirred sleepily. We dont have a rooster any more. When she rolled over, her hand touched something strange. Something scratchy. What? Her eyes opened. She froze as she took in the small, dark room. Where am I?

     “Mummy?” she called. “Mummy?”


     Hannah sat up and looked around to find Joshua sitting on the far side of the room, panic in his eyes. She ran to her brother, flinging her arms around his neck.

     “Where are we?” she whimpered. “Where’s Mummy?”

     “I don’t know.” Joshua sounded scared too.

     A shuffling noise made them cling to each other more tightly. Then a brown chicken jumped out of the shadows.

     “Argh!” Hannah shrieked. She clutched Joshua tightly.

     Everything was silent for a moment as the chicken regarded the intruders and then gave—almost—a little shrug and started pecking at the straw. Josh laughed. After a second, Hannah joined in. It was a little funny, being scared by a chicken.

     A low voice singing made them both jump to their feet. “Mummy!” they called as they ran out of the small door and straight into a young woman. They flung their arms around her, clinging frantically.

     “Mummy, we didn’t know where you were,” Hannah said.

     “We thought we were lost,” Josh said.

     It took a moment to notice the woman was not hugging them back. Another second, and they realised that this woman had a baby in her tummy. Hannah and Josh looked up, and suddenly saw that she was not their mother at all! She was short, like Mummy, and she had brown hair, but the similarities ended there. This young woman had dark skin, dark eyes, and dark hair covered by a brown veil. And she looked young, like a high school student.

     “Children?” she said with a strange accent. “I am sorry, but I am not your mother.”

     Hannah and Josh let go of the woman. Hannah’s eyes blurred as tears started to fall.

     Josh squeezed her hand so tightly it hurt, and made the face he always made when he was trying not to cry. He opened his eyes really wide, and pinched his lips together.

     “Oh children, do not cry. It will be all right. We will find your mother. Are you hungry? Have you eaten? Why don’t you come with me and I will get you some food?”

     Hannah looked at Josh, and he looked at her. Mummy and Daddy always said that they should never go with strangers, but they were lost and scared, and this woman seemed kind. Mummy did say that if they were ever lost, they should find a policeman, or a shopkeeper, or another mummy to help. Surely having a baby in your tummy counted?

     “I’m hungry,” Josh said slowly.

     “Me too,” Hannah said.

     The woman seemed to take this as consent, because she put down the bucket of grain for the chickens and waved for the children to follow her. Arriving at her house, they found it was like nothing they had ever seen before. It was small, and dark. The roof was very low. The floor was made out of dirt.

     “Come, children, sit,” the woman said, pointing to a low wooden table, with cushions on the ground around it. Still holding hands, Hannah and Joshua sat obediently.

     The girl put a strange-looking bread roll in front of them, and broke it in two with her hands. “I have a little olive oil, if you would like.”

     Hannah bit her lip, trying not to cry. This bread didn’t look like the bread that Mummy bought, and Mummy used olive oil in cooking, not for eating.

     “No thank you,” Joshua said.

     Hannah shook her head.

     Joshua looked at the bread for a moment. “Do you have any peanut butter?”

     “Or white bread?” Hannah added.

     The girl shook her head. “I don’t know what peanut butter is, and I have never seen white bread.”

     “That’s okay,” Hannah said, and bravely took a bite of the grainy bread. The texture scratched her throat. She coughed when she swallowed.

     “Here, let me get you some water.” The girl went to a clay jug and poured water into two brown mugs. Hannah’s finger caught on the rough edges as she traced the edge of the mug. It looked homemade.

     The girl sat down across from them. “Now, tell me why you were in my shed. Are you here for the census? Where are your parents? Where are you from? Your clothing is so strange.”

     Hannah blinked at all the questions. Her mind fixed on the one word she didn’t understand. “Census? What’s a census?”

     A shadow crossed the woman’s face. “The Emperor, Caesar Augustus, has called a census. Everyone must travel to their family’s birthplace to register and pay the tax. I imagine that is why your parents brought you here. They didn’t talk to you about it?”

     Joshua looked like he was thinking hard, so Hannah decided to ask the question that had been on her mind since they met the woman. “What’s your name?”

     “Oh, how rude of me,” the woman said. “My name is Mary. What are your names?”

     “I’m Hannah and this is Joshua.”

     “What beautiful names. Like Hannah and Joshua in the scriptures.”

     “Yes,” Hannah said excitedly. “Joshua is like Joshua who led Israel when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, and I’m Hannah like—” Here she stumbled. What was the story again? Mummy had told her, but it was so long ago that she didn’t remember.

     “Like the Hannah who prayed for a child?” Mary asked.

     “Yes, that’s right.”

     “And you’re like Mary, the mother of baby Jesus,” Joshua stared at Mary’s swollen stomach.

     Mary’s hands dropped to cradle her bump. Her mouth fell open. “What—what did you say?”

     In her excitement, Hannah didn’t notice her new friend’s dismay. “You know, in the Bible? The angel told Mary she was going to have a baby boy who would be the Son of God and save the world from their sins.”

     Mary’s face paled as she stood. “How could you know that?”

     Joshua looked curiously around the room, then back at Mary’s face, then around the room again.

     “Hannah,” he said quietly.

     “What, Josh?”

     “I think this might be the Mary,” Joshua said.

     “What do you mean?”

     “I think we’re in Nazareth. I think the baby in Mary’s tummy is Jesus,” Joshua said.

     Hannah’s eyes went huge. “Seriously? Are you the Mary in the Bible? Did you see an angel?”

     Mary hesitated, watching the children like they might be ghosts. “I don’t know this Bible you speak of,” she said finally. “But yes, I did see the angel Gabriel. He told me not to be frightened, that I had been chosen by God to bear his Son. When I told my family and my betrothed, no one believed me. Joseph nearly divorced me.”

     “Until he had that dream from God,” Joshua interrupted.

     “Yes,” Mary said. “Even though he married me to preserve my reputation, the other women still laugh at me when I go to the well. How is it possible that you know all this?” She stared at their clothing once again.

     Hannah squirmed self-consciously in her pink princess nightie. At least Joshua’s shark pyjamas had long sleeves.

     “Are you angels too?” Mary asked.

     “No!” Joshua said.

     Hannah stood up and did a little pirouette, almost falling over. “But I would make a good angel.”

     Mary laughed. “I’m sure you would, little one.”

     “Or a ballerina,” she added, but that made Mary look confused again so Hannah sat down, feeling the tears return. For a moment she had almost forgotten that she missed Mummy.

     Mary sat beside Hannah and placed an arm around her shoulder. “If you are not angels, and you are not here for the census, then why are you here?”

     “I don’t know,” said Josh. “But I think we have travelled here from the future.”

     “I asked God what the first Christmas would be like, and then we woke up here. Maybe he answered my prayer.”

     “Of course,” said Joshua. “Time machines aren’t real, so a miracle is the only explanation that makes sense.”

     “But how will we get home to Mummy?” Hannah asked. “We can’t stay here, and she’ll be so worried about us!”

     “I know,” Mary said. “I shall take you to the town gates to see the elders. They will know what to do.”

     “Wait,” said Josh. “If God brought us here, then no one else can really help us except God. Maybe we should pray that he will send us home.”

     “Good idea, Josh,” Hannah agreed.

     Hannah reached out for Joshua’s hand then closed her eyes.

     “Dear God,” Joshua said in a sweet, clear voice. “Please take us home to our Mummy and Daddy now. They will be worried about us, and we are a little bit scared. Amen.”

     Hannah cracked her eyes open. Nothing had changed. She added her voice to her brother’s prayers.

     “Dear God,” she said. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t really want to see the first Christmas anymore. I just want to go home. Can you please send us back? Amen.”

     She waited a beat before opening her eyes. Her lower lip trembled when she saw they had not moved.

     “It’s all right.” Mary patted Hannah’s arm. “If, as you say, God has brought you here, then He will send you home when He is ready, and not before. You can stay with Joseph and me. We will look after you for as long as God keeps you here.”

     A sense of peace descended on Hannah’s heart. Mary was right. God must want them here for a reason. She still missed Mummy and Daddy, of course, but she was safe. Now that she thought about it, it was rather exciting. She might get to see the very first Christmas!

     “Okay,” Hannah said.

     “Thank you,” Josh added.

     “I can only act as God leads me,” Mary said. “And for some reason I feel that he has led me to you. Now, who wants to help me feed the chickens?”

     “Me!” they both said excitedly.

     “We have three chickens at home,” Hannah added. “Brownie, Book-Book, and Cranky. Brownie’s the brown one.”

     “You named your chickens?” Mary said.

     “Yes, of course. Don’t your chicken have names?”

     Mary gave them a confused look. “No, they don’t.”

     The children helped Mary with chores all day long. They fed the chickens, cleaned, and watched Mary prepare the meal. The food looked strange, but they did not complain about what she put in front of them. Hannah wrinkled her nose. The food here was different, but she preferred to eat than go hungry.

Spring of Cary: My Favorite Wife

For the third movie in Spring of Cary (Grant) with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs (and anyone else who wants to join – I’m looking at you kajta, but I know you’ve been busy), we watched My Favorite Wife with Cary and Irene Dunne.

Yes, Irene was in last week’s movie too.

This movie was an interesting concept – if not a bit crazy. Hopefully, you’ll be able to tell as I begin to write about this movie, that this is meant to be a comedy. In fact it was defined back then and now as a screwball comedy.

A man wants to get married, but before he can, he must declare his first wife Ellen (Irene) dead. She’s been missing at sea and was believed drowned seven years earlier.

It turns out, however, that she is not dead, and she returns while Nick Arden (Cary) is on his honeymoon with wife number two, Bianca (Gail Patrick).

Nick is of course shocked and now has no idea what to do because he has two wives.

It turns out Ellen was stranded on an island all those years and it would have been lonely for her if it wasn’t for Steve Burkett (Randolph Scott) who was stranded with her.

That’s a fact she doesn’t immediately admit to her husband and a fact he’s not real pleased with, even though he’s remarried.

That new wife, by the way, is not a very nice woman.

Oh and don’t forget that Nick and Ellen have two children together and all of that will have to be figured out as well.

To break the news to Nick, Ellen heads to his honeymoon, which was the same hotel and place they had their honeymoon, I might add. How tacky is that of him?!

As the movie goes on we the viewers now have to figure out who we want Nick to end up with and for me, of course, it’s Ellen (Irene), his first wife.

It’s clear from the moment that Nick sees his first wife that he is still in love with her.

The problem is that he has to find a way to tell Bianca that his first wife has returned and this is a task he drags out in comical ways. He drags it out so long that eventually, Ellen has to pretend to be a visitor of Nick’s mother. A wild Southern friend.

Of course, the movie keeps it tasteful and never touches on Nick and Bianca “consummating” the marriage, which we are guessing they never have.

Even though Bianca is stuck up, it is very unfair of Nick to keep dragging it out and not tell her the truth. She believes he’s her husband and that he might be running around behind her back. He keeps chickening out because he doesn’t want to upset her but she’s already upset, thinking something horrible is wrong with her and he’s fallen out of love with her.

Every time he has a chance to tell her the truth something interrupts them and he runs off again, leaving her in even more despair.

Of course, one of these interruptions comes from an insurance man who reveals that Ellen was stranded on the island with another man for seven years. Not only that but the man is quite interested in her and he lets Nick know about it.

This was a hilariously ridiculous movie, if not a little bit cringeworthy at times.

I mean are we really supposed to expect they were on an island seven years and nothing “untoward” happened? Hmmm….Well, I suppose it is a movie so we can suspend belief for a bit.

This movie was very similar to The Awful Truth, including Cary’s purposeful awkwardness and the silly and suggestive ending.

Overall it was a cute movie, but I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites of Cary’s.

Have you ever seen the movie? What did you think about it?

To read Erin’s impression of the movie, visit her blog here:

The rest of the movies we will be watching for Spring of Cary include:

An Affair To Remember (April 27)

Holiday (May 4)

Operation Petticoat (May 11)

Suspicion (May 18)

Notorious (May 25)