Sunday Bookends: Really don’t have much in me anymore

Sunday Bookends is my week in review, so to speak. It’s where I share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been watching, what I’ve been listening to, and what I’ve been writing. Feel free to share a link or comment about your week in the comments.

What I’m Reading

Whose Waves These Are

While I am reall enjoying the book, it is full of metaphors and people who talk dramatically with hidden meaning in every word. It’s, well, dramatic, in other words. And that’s nice but it’s also a little mind numbing because there are so many — words in the book. I know that sounds stupid, but I don’t know how else to explain it. The author doesn’t just write “she walked to the pier.” She adds extra meaning behind each step of how and why and where and when she walked to the pier. This all sounds like a complaint but it isn’t. Not at all. The book is beautifully written. In fact, it just won a Christy Award for best general fiction novel. (The Christy Awards are Christian fiction awards.)

So, the book is lovely and I recommend it highly.

Somedays, though, a book with so much hidden meaning is a bit much for my brain and that makes me feel guilty because I should want to read deep things, right? But there are days I don’t want to read anything deep.

After the year we’ve all had, plus my years in newspapers, my brain can’t go deep anymore. It’s bottomed out in many ways.’

There are days I think I should read and write deep.

“My stories would be better if I wrote deep,” I tell myself but then I remind myself that there is a time for deep and a time for simple and light. When someone needs deep and thoughtful they can pick up Amanda Dykes or someone like her (and I hope they do!) but when they need light they can find authors who write light books.

One author who writes books full of humor and laughter is Peggy Rowe. I hadn’t finished her latest About Your Father And Other Celebrities I Have Known for some reason so this week I picked that up again. It’s more of a collection of short stories and that’s perfect for my brain capacity these days.

I’m also reading Christmas in Absaroka County, a Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson. This is a collection of short stories about Sheriff Longmire. I’m enjoying it so far but it is much different than much of what I read.

At nights my daughter and I read Paddington until she falls asleep.

What I’m Watching

For some reason I’m distracting myself with an old Australian soap opera of sorts called The Man From Snowy River. I guess it is based on the movie, which I’ve never seen, which was based on a book that I’ve never read. There are a lot of actors on the show who later became movie stars including Hugh Jackman, Guy Pearce, Josh Lucas (who I always just called “That guy from Sweet Home Alabama”), Olivia Newton John, Tracy Nelson, Dean Stockwell, and Chad Lowe (yeah, I know….I don’t really remember him as much as his older brother Rob either).

The show is actually ridiculous in a lot of ways, but again, that is what I need right now. I’m only in season one. I’m hoping Hugh Jackman shows up soon since he’s the one pictured on the thumbnail.

What I’m Writing

I worked on The Farmer’s Daughter this week and posted two chapters.

What’s Been Occurring

Honestly, life has me down, cranky, and acting quite miserable to others at times so I prefer not to talk much about what’s been “occurring.” The bottom line is that I’m exploding on people because I’m stressed about other things and that isn’t fair to those other people (strangers mind you. My family has been fairly safe — thus far.)

I deleted my Facebook account last week (deleted. Not deactivated.), took Instagram off my phone, and am considering walking away from blogging as well, since not even that is an escape for me anymore. I’m pretty much sick of online life and life in general both right now.

I’m actively avoiding so much of what I used to enjoy simply because there is no enjoyment left in those things. It seems there is always someone out to ruin everything and slowly I am even becoming one of those people in certain circumstances.

Getting rid of social media is one step in many I need to take to deal with the issues I’ve developed from smiling and doing my best not to share what I really think (which I’ve failed at a number of times in the last couple of days.).

Photos the Week

If you read the previous paragraphs, you’ll understand why I don’t have photos from this week. My heart just wasn’t in it.

Sunday Bookends: My Kindle returns home, Christmas in review, and novel breakthrough

Christmas is behind us and a new year awaits its start in only a few days, which seems completely impossible to me.

What a relief it was when my Kindle was back in my arms this week after we gave my mom her new Kindle. I, being the wonderful daughter I am, gave my mom my Kindle when hers died about a month ago, knowing we (our family, my brother and his wife, and my dad) could buy her a new one for Christmas. I’d had the Kindle since Black Friday so it was hard not to give it to her ahead of time, but my husband insisted, “It’s a Christmas gift so we will give it to her on Christmas.” So, I downloaded the app on my phone instead and squinted to read my books for a month.

Now, my Kindle is home, my mom’s new Kindle is set up, and all is right with the world. Or it was. For a day anyhow. Then I started a book that killed off yet another parent and in a car accident, so, yeah, the anxiety part of me will now worry about that happening to me while my kids are in the car.

The book Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrell is very well written but a bit hard to slog through the beginning part of, only because I don’t like tough subjects in books sometimes. The writing is so well done I was carried along through the character’s stories, despite my anxiety-ridden thoughts.

The story is about a minister who has lost his wife and is trying to navigate life raising his teenage daughter and keeping his church operational. I’m going to keep reading it, simply because I enjoy how she is developing the characters in a slow, methodical way, through short, yet still dense, chapters.

I’m also reading another Paddington book with my 5-year old and I laugh at the stories more than she does because the humor is a little subtle and also because, as I’ve mentioned before, she usually passes out five minutes into me reading it to her. We start a lot of the chapters over, but I don’t mind. The stories are cute and light, something I need these days.

As for what I’m watching, I watched a movie called The Way, Way Back with Steve Correll, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, and Allison Janney. It was much better than I expected. It’s about an awkward 14-year old who goes on summer vacation to the beach with his mom and her boyfriend and his daughter. To avoid the overbearing boyfriend (Carrell) the boy visits a waterpark where he befriends Rockwell’s character and starts to climb out of his shell and learn how to stand up to the jerk boyfriend but also how to simply live and have fun.

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It was a subtle film, without the over the top drama, language or sex other films provide and I liked that. I also liked that the teen was portrayed as an actual teen, not the caricature of one. He left sentences unfinished, had no idea how to hold conversations and simply scowled in scenes where other movies would have thrown in unnecessary dialogue. I also liked that the characters were portrayed as flawed and broken but not crazy dysfunctional like in some movies. It’s a fairly clean movie, other than some odd sexual innuendos from Rockwell’s character and the occasional “b.s.”. I found it streaming on Amazon, but I’m sure it is streaming other places as well.

Our Christmas was quiet with a small gathering of my immediate family at my parents. My husband’s family doesn’t talk to us and my brother and his wife stayed home because my sister-in-law had to work so it was a quiet Christmas. We made cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve at the request of my daughter.

This was our second year of not having my Aunt Dianne at Christmas after she passed away four days after Christmas 2017. In fact, today is the anniversary of the day she passed away from a heart attack (we suspect anyhow) in my parent’s dining room. She was living with my parents at the time and had previously suffered two heart attacks, was on oxygen and had heart failure. It’s odd not having her around to laugh with and watch her enjoy Christmas so fully, which she did, every year. A few years before she passed away she had started making sausage balls for Christmas, which was something she used to make when she lived in North Carolina. Her final Christmas she could barely stand without gasping for breath and getting dizzy but she made sausage balls for the entire family, excited to do so.

Last year I made them in honor of her and they didn’t come out too bad. I tried it again this year and overcooked them, but my parents also made some which came out a little better and everyone was able to enjoy. I may try another couple of batches for New Years but I already know I won’t be able to make them as well as Aunt Dianne always did.

In case you’re wondering what sausage balls are, here is a simple recipe. The only difference for me is I substitute the regular Bisquick for gluten free Bisquick, since I have a corn allergy. (No. I’m serious. Don’t laugh. I’m actually allergic to .. sigh…corn. I’m a freak of nature.)

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Every year my dad hangs a star on a tree on his hillside, which can be seen from the main highway. It’s been something neighbors and friends look for but this year Dad wasn’t in the mood to lug the thing up the hill and weather and preparations to sell our house kept us from helping him, so it looked like the star wouldn’t be erected. But one day last week a family friend tagged me on Facebook (which I checked during the holiday season prior to my planned 30-day detox) and announced that the star was on the hillside.

It turned out my dad hadn’t climbed up the 12 feet he usually does with my husband’s help to nail it to the three (thankfully) but had propped it up instead.

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The star doesn’t look as big in the photo as it actually is. It’s probably five feet wide and 10 feet tall. The tree he usually hangs it on is dying, which means it can’t be nailed there anyhow. The tree is an Ash tree and our state has been overrun with Ash bores, a nasty little bug to take out the population of another nasty bug that was brought in to get rid of another nasty bug and … well, you get the idea. It’s a never-ending cycle that our federal and state environmental agencies don’t seem to learn from.

I wrote about the star in a blog post last year  and the year before as well.

I pushed through a wall in my novel this past week and that has opened up a lot of the story for me, which is coming at a good time because I’ve officially started a 30-day social media detox and finishing the novel will be something that will fill the days I feel the urge to use social media to check up on friends or family who no longer talk to me.

Yes, I know, leave the past behind and never look back. And, yes, I know, I’m pathetic.

I did well at not looking back last year when I did a detox but fell off the wagon this year so I’m climbing back on.  Wish me luck and feel free to follow my novel here on the blog or wait for it to come out as an ebook in the spring of 2019.

I’m also hoping to continue work on another novel and a Biblical-fiction novella I started more than six months ago. Wish me luck for finishing those as well.

So how did your Christmas or holiday time go? And what are you reading or watching? Let me know in the comments!