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?

I like movies and books about quirky smalltown characters

I love stories about small town or rural folk (as some might say instead of people) and maybe that is because I grew up in a small town and have interacted with so many interesting real life, small-town characters over the years.

Books or movies that feature interesting or “down home” characters with a bit of a quirk are my kinds of books and movies.

A few movies that scratch this itch for me include The Quiet Man, Fisherman’s Friends, The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill and Came Down a Mountain (that’s a mouthful), Road Less Traveled, Steel Magnolias, Pure Country, Forever My Girl (an overused trope is in this plot, but it was handled better than most) and a little known movie called Sweetland. Some of these movies were, of course, books before they were movies.

What I don’t like, however, is how Hollywood often portrays people who live in small towns as “backward”, weird, uneducated, stupid, close-minded, or like they are “yokels” or “hillbillies.”

What they don’t seem to get is that when they do that, they are the close-minded ones and maybe even a bit backward themselves. I actually think people who live in small towns are a little bit more grounded and normal than those who live in cities.

Books that fill this love of smalltown characters for me include the series of books by James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small, etc.), the Mitford series by Jan Karon, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross, the Home to Harmony series, The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun, and the Anne of Green Gables series.

Are you a fan of books and movies about small towns or do books about larger cities interest you more? Which movies or books featuring each location are your favorites?

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: Love for Miss Julia, more reading and less watching, and a New Zealand theme this week

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

What’s Been Occurring

Last Sunday we visited my parents, and my dad actually watched a movie with us, after he took the kids to their frozen pond to do some ice skating. Dad doesn’t usually sit in one place for a movie but he really enjoyed The Finest Hours with Chris Pine and Casey Affleck, which I mentioned I had watched last week. He barely moved from the spot on the couch. I had a feeling he might like this one based on his service in the Air Force, and while this movie didn’t deal with men in the Air Force, it did focus on men working together in a sort of branch of the military (the Coast Guard).

We will not be visiting my parents today because Little Miss and I caught a cold late last week. Friday and Saturday was spent blowing noses, drinking tea and her crying because her throat hurt so bad. I cried because I had a horrendous burning in my nose that results in my eye and nose pouring liquid. Lots of fun.

Before anyone asks, no, I don’t believe we have been re-infected with the dreaded virus. This definitely feels more cold-like and less bioweapon-like.

I figure we picked it up when I took Little Miss to her first gymnastics class on Monday. We had not left the house much before that, other than her weekly Awana class. Part of the reason we didn’t leave was the continuing weird Pennsylvania weather. It’s been cold and snowy and then rainy and warm. I’m waiting for it all to settle a little bit before we plan any major outings.

During the week we did schoolwork and I finished editing on Beauty From Ashes, then realized that I had not finished the final chapter. Sigh. So, while battling a burning nose that felt like it might explode, I worked on that on Saturday, so I can send the book out to my critique group and to a couple of editors this week to get it ready for the April 26 release date.

If you are interested in serving on the launch team for the Beauty From Ashes team, you can apply HERE. There isn’t a lot of commitment to this, other than agreeing to share about the book on your social media sites. Anyone on the launch team will receive an advanced copy of the book in digital form (via Bookfunnel).

In addition to writing and blowing my nose, I also watched what was unfolding in Ukraine with deep sadness. Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs, wrote a beautiful post that sums up what I am sure many of us are feeling about this conflict.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I finished Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross yesterday. I will be reading more of the Miss Julia series. I really enjoyed the book. It was a type of cozy mystery.

Here is a description:

Everyone loves the irrepressible Miss Julia. Her latest triumph is getting Hazel Marie and J. D. Pickens to the altar before it becomes too obvious that they’re expecting twins! But why has Sam agreed that he and Julia will attend the odious Dr. Fowler’s marital enrichment sessions? Could Sam feel their flames need fanning? Meanwhile, this lady of a certain age must spring Etta Mae from jail when she’s wrongly accused of attacking Francie Pitts. With a fragrant felon to be caught- plus a wedding, babies, and a heaping dose of mischief-it’s fortunate for all that Miss Julia’s on the case.

This is the eleventh book in the series, so I plan to go find the first book in the series so I can start reading them in order.

My husband picked this and three others in the series up for me at a local library book sale.

I am in the middle of Every Star in the Sky by Sara Davison, which releases this week. Here is a description for that book:

She is willing to testify against her trafficker.
If she can stay alive that long.

“You’re safe here, Starr.”
How many times has Detective Cole Blacksky said that to her since helping her escape the life she’d been forced into eight years earlier?
Starr desperately wants to believe him, but she knows Brady Erickson, her former captor, too well. Although Cole has promised her protective custody on his family’s remote ranch, no place on earth is safe enough. Brady will stop at nothing to permanently silence her before she ever reaches the witness stand.
And he is powerful enough to do it.
If Starr wants to help the other women, she has no choice but to put herself in God’s hands. And Cole’s. But the longer she and Cole stay hidden, the more her life is at risk.
And her heart.

I finished His Road to Redemption by Lisa Jordan last night and hope to finish Sara’s book this week.

Once I finish her book, I will be delving further into Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, which I opened to see if I would like it. I definitely like it and am anxious to get into it more.

Here is the description, but I am sure any Sherlock Holmes fans have an idea what it might be about:

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty—dubbed the Napoleon of crime” by Holmes—in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty’s death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place—including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in “The Sign of Four”, must forge a path through the darkest corners of England’s capital—from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks—in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.

A riveting, deeply atmospheric tale of murder and menace from one of the only writers to earn the seal of approval from Conan Doyle’s estate, Moriarty breathes life into Holmes’s dark and fascinating world.

The Boy started Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson this week and Little Miss and I are reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (again).

What We watched/are Watching

I watched another episode of Brokenwood and really enjoyed it. It is a crime/mystery show set in New Zealand. The episodes are all about 90 minutes long, so it takes an investment each time we watch one.

I don’t really remember watching much else this past week. I tried to focus on reading and finishing the book instead. However, this next week I hope to lose myself in some stories, including The Sister Boniface Mysteries, which is a spin-off The Father Brown Mysteries on Britbox.

We did watch one episode of the latest season of Death in Paradise and it was okay, but that show has lost some of its appeal for me since they are on their fourth DI (detective inspector) and this is a tiny island but has one of the highest crime records I have ever seen.

What I’m Writing

As I mentioned above, I am finishing up all the edits for Beauty From Ashes.

After I send the book out to the critique group and editors, I will be taking a break and then I will start plotting book four and another novella I have an idea for.

I did not write any other posts on the blog this week because of working on the book and because of the cold.

I do have some ideas for blog posts this week and I hope to tackle them and actually getting them written. I should have more time for blog posts with the book finally finished.

What I’m Listening To

This week the husband turned me on to a new-to-me worship artist, Brooke, Ligertwood, who released her new album this past week. I have been listening to her and also to Mel Parsons from New Zealand who I found while watching Brokenwood. Watching the show and listening to her helpe me continue the New Zealand theme.

Now it’s your turn

So that is my week in review. How about you? What are you reading, writing, doing, listening to, yadda, yadda? Let me know in the comments and leave a link if you already do a post similar to this one.

Sunday Bookends: Pennsylvania may be menopausal, light reads, and Chris Pine’s bushy eyebrows

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 read a book for a writer friend that she is releasing later this year. It is a second-chance romance and I enjoyed it. I’ll be sure to mention it again when it officially releases. The author is Milla Holt.

I’ve also been reading Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Goss and I am enjoying the light (very light) mystery and humor.

At night on the Kindle, I am reading His Road to Redemption by Lisa Jordan, who I am in a writing group with. She publishes through Harlequin’s Love Inspired books.

I might finish those books this week (doubt it) and if I do, I will be starting a romance by another author I’m in a writing group with and finishing a book for a book tour. That’s the plan anyhow, but like I told some writer/reader people this week, I have book ADD sometimes. I pick up a book to see if I like the first couple of paragraphs, get hooked, and forget about the other books I was reading.

Off and on, for a while anyhow, I will also be reading from The Mitford Bedside Companion by Jan Karon, which was a gift from the husband for Valentine’s Day.

The Hubby is reading Wolf Pack by CJ Box as I write this but will probably be done with it by the time it goes on the blog. Oh and he is done before I even finish the post so he is currently in between books.

The Boy finished A Long Walk to Water last week and will start Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson this week for literature.

Little Miss and I are reading Little House on the Prairie again. Sigh. Hopefully, she will let me move on to another book soon.

What’s Been Occurring

Pennsylvania went all Whatever Happened to Baby Jane on us this week by throwing in warm weather, arctic weather, rain, snow squalls, high winds, flooding, ice jams, and a small amount of sun. The fun will continue this week as the rumor is that we are going to be hit with another ice storm at the end of the week.

The snow that had been on the ground for the past two months or so melted all in one day, rushing to the rivers and creeks, but those rivers and creeks were full of ice, which broke up and jammed along the banks.

This photo was taken by my husband who texted it to me along with this photo:

with the caption, “the things I do for my job.”

Apparently, he walked across the ice jam to get this photo, which is just great and something I’m glad I didn’t know until after the fact or I would have been freaking out.

Little Miss and I spent Monday night at my parents, at the request of Little Miss, who wanted to spend the night but didn’t want to stay alone. We ate dinner, played a game called aggravation, and then Little Miss and her grandpa made pancakes together the next morning. It was a nice start to the week.

The view from my parents.

Saturday stuck the area in a holding pattern as snow squalls decided to slide in and out of the area, bringing spontaneous periods of white-out conditions for anyone out on the roads that would quickly be replaced with blue skies and bright sunshine.

The rest of the week after that was sort of all over the place due to the weather but also taking our dog to a vet appointment for her vaccinations and an unexpected dentist appointment for Little Miss that got moved up from March because they had an opening. I kept waiting for a day where I didn’t feel like my brain was being pulled several different directions but that didn’t seem to happen, especially after Tuesday when I learned a friend I had not had contact with in a while (for the reason that sometimes people drift apart and just don’t make contact as often as they used to) died in a house fire.

The friend would have been 80 this year. His wife died in 2018 and I thought he had moved to live closer to his daughter and grandson. Apparently, he had moved back to our area, and I didn’t even realize it. How awful is that? Not that he had ever contacted me either, but I still feel guilty. Seeing an old photo of him along with what remained of his home on the front of my husband’s paper was hard to see Thursday and I ended up falling into a deep depression for the rest of the week. I’m still there if I am going to be honest. It’s been a hard couple of months with losing friends and dealing with other hard things. Most of the time I was able to shove the sadness down, but Thursday I couldn’t seem to anymore and spent much of the evening breaking into sobbing fits for no reason.

Yesterday (or today as I am writing this) my husband and I planned to go out to dinner at a café near us and then visit the local library, which has a bookstore in the back, but my husband realized he’s been driving non-stop for work all week and was simply too mentally spent to go. Instead, we ordered food from one of the only restaurants in town, stayed home, and watched movies while the wind raged outside. We are hoping to take our trip out of town when spring comes.

A little update on the parosmia (this is when a person’s smell and taste is distorted from a virus, such as the nasty one we’ve been dealing with in the world the last two years, sometimes making food smell and taste rotten or like sewage) issue I asked for prayer for last week, or the week before: The smell remains for me on many days, but not all. Some foods are still off limit for me, including garlic, onion, (and any seasoning with those in it), and peanut butter (dear, Lord, the smell and taste of that for me is absolutely repulsive and it is the same for The Boy!). I can’t use my favorite Italian salad dressing on my salads because it has the same indescribable taste and smell and sometimes even meat has the taste and smell, though much milder than it did about two weeks ago. Last week was fairly good but today (or yesterday as you read this) was a bad day as a lot of the food I ate had that nasty flavor.

Thank you for the prayers and please pray for others also dealing with this, many of them with worse issues, to the point they can’t eat without throwing up from the stench and taste. This condition can also be caused by any virus, chemotherapy, and polyps, just for a little extra information (that you probably didn’t care about but may need to know in the future, though I hope not).

What We watched/Are Watching

It often takes me a couple of days to finish a movie if I am watching it on my own because I keep getting interrupted, which was the case with The Finest Hours, which I watched Thursday AND Friday of this past week. I watched it at the suggestion of Susan May Warren, an author who teaches for Novel Academy or My Book Therapy, a writing site I am a part of. If any of you read Christian fiction, especially Christian romance, then you have heard of Susie, as everyone who knows her calls her. I don’t know her that well so I just call her Susan. *wink*

Anyhow, I thought The Finest Hours was pretty good. It wasn’t the best but also wasn’t the worst. For the record, I enjoyed watching Casey Afleck more than I did Chris Pine. Never been a fan of Chris Pine’s bushy eyebrows. I know. So shallow of me. Seriously, though, Chris Pine really did well in this movie.

I watch most of my shows with my husband and he was very busy this week so we didn’t have time to sit and watch much of anything. We did watch an episode of the old show The Saint, with Roger Moore, and that was interesting since I had never seen the show before.

What I’m Writing

Thanks to the aforementioned Novel Academy, I finished the rough draft of Beauty From Ashes and am now working on edits. I say thanks to Novel Academy because the women from the group are now holding writing sprints each weekday morning and that encourages me to get moving and keep moving, on my writing projects.

Last week I also wrote a devotional for the group that is scheduled for February 28.

I didn’t write a lot here on the blog because I was working so much on editing the book and also tried to read more.

I did share a Faithfully Thinking and a Randomly Thinking post and two chapters from Beauty From Ashes (which is still called A New Chapter for the sake of the blog).

What I’m Listening To

This past week I didn’t listen to a lot of music, but I did listen to some Matthew West, who incidentally has a new song out.

Now it’s your turn

So that’s my week in review. How about you? What have you been watching, reading, doing, or listening to? Let me know in the comments.