Sunday Bookends: Birthday, fall is coming – oh, it’s here, and cat books

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

Last week I finished The Cat Who Wasn’t There by Lilian Jackson Braun.

Description:

Persuaded by his beloved companion to join her in a group tour of Scotland, Qwill expects to revel in his Scottish heritage while keeping Polly Duncan safe from the Pickax Prowler. Instead, his trip is cut short when a thief swipes a suitcase, the bus driver disappears, and a fellow tourist is found dead, all in the same day.

Although the town of Pickax is in a tizzy over the recent events, Qwill has other, more puzzling worries on his mind. Who is the fellow still following Polly? Why is Koko licking Qwill’s photographs of Scotland and tackling him on the apple barn stairs? Upon investigating the secret life of the deceased and the bizarre behavior of one of the tour’s members, Qwill’s sensitive moustache tells him one thing: more trouble is on the way.


I then started Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. I’m reading it via a library book and as many of you know, I have a library book phobia because I am always afraid I will dent it or mark it up. So I tried reading the library book without moving anywhere, but I leaned up to get something and bent the pages slightly. It freaked me out so bad that I looked up on Amazon how much it would cost to get my own copy. It turns out it was on Kindle Unlimited so I downloaded it through there and I’m taking the library book back out of fear of ruining it. I know. I have issues.

I’m also listening to The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold on Audible.

The Boy was reading War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (yes, still) but then Little Miss left some slime around that hardened on it so the book was damaged. This became a bit of a family crisis because The Husband said he’s owned the book since he was 15 and it won’t be the same thing if I buy him a new copy. Sigh.

The Husband is reading Raising Steam by Terry Pratchet.

Little Miss and I are finishing up a Paddington book we hadn’t read before (Paddington On Top) and during the day we are reading The Year of Miss Agnes, which we might have finished last week if I hadn’t lost the book. Argh!



What’s Been Occurring

The nights are getting colder and in the second half of this week temperatures didn’t get past 65 during the day. It looks like it will be the same next week. Our leaves are turning much slower than I thought they were going to but it looks like we might have some bright colors in October.  

My birthday was Monday, and it was cold and rainy and I was excited. I know. I’m weird. I literally giggled with glee because I knew it meant I could read a book, under a blanket, while it rained.

I opened a book and watched a Thin Man movie. I literally did nothing Monday and making myself do nothing was fun. That night we all watched The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill and Came Down a Mountain.

The day before my birthday we went to my parents where they made me a delicious lunch of beef ribs, homemade onion potatoes and cabbage from my dad’s garden. Yum!

My dad also gave me some sunflowers from his garden and my mom gave me a check and told me I couldn’t spend it on the kids or groceries like I usually do. It was very hard because I had a couple pieces of curriculum I wanted to get, but in the end I bought myself a booklight, a journal, a paperback of one of The Cat Who books, and a new cover for my Kindle.

I wrote in my recent Randomly Thinking post that our kitten is a killer. Both my cats are actually, so imagine our surprise on Sunday when The Husband and The Boy saw a mouse running out from under our stove. Hmmmm…. The cats can apparently kill rodents outside the house, but not inside.

Wednesday night, though, our older cat, Pixel was lying in wait by the couch because the mouse ran under the couch Tuesday night after it scampered all over the living room, trying to get away from her. We still haven’t seen a sign that she’s caught it, since The Boy said she was still looing for it Friday night.

What We watched/are Watching

I already mentioned I watched a Thin Man movie for my birthday. I watched it all by my little ole’ self. It was The Thin Man Goes Home and I don’t remember seeing it before.

I also mentioned we watched The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill and Came Down a Mountain. If you haven’t seen the movie before, it’s really enjoyable and fun.

Last night The Boy and I watched Benny and Joon with Mary Stuart Masterson and Johnny Depp. It’s a movie I remembered from my teen years and it was my first intro to Johnny Depp.

Earlier in the week we watched Shaun of the Dead, which I wrote about for my Spooky Season Cinema Post.

What I’m Writing

I’m continuing to work on The Shores of Mercy. I’d hoped to have the first draft finished by the end of September but it looks like it will be mid-October now.

Last week on the blog I shared:



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: The last swim, the passing of a queen, and a variety of books

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 Junkyard Dogs, A Walt Longmire Mystery, by Craig Johnson yesterday. It was hard to put down, it was constant action, as usual. It is the sixth book in the series. The eighteenth book in the series came out last Tuesday and The Husband is excited. I don’t usually like books with harsh language but I’ve read a lot worse (or started to and put them down), there is no on-page sex (except in one book and it was thankfully really brief), and I love the characters.

I hope to finish Refuge of Convenience by Kathy Geary Anderson by today or tomorrow.

I was glad to have the two books to switch back and forth on since the Longmire book has heavier topics and isn’t as clean. Kathy’s books are all listed under Christian Historical Fiction and are engaging and make me want to find out what happens.

Up next in my list is The Cat Who Wasn’t There by Lilian Jackson Braun, a book from a cozy-mystery series I enjoy. It’s a comfort read to me.

Little Miss and I are reading either Paddington or Anne of Green Gables at night. She’s enjoying Anne so much that she has even been drawing photos of her. We are also reading The Year of Miss Agnes for her school lessons.

The Boy is reading War of the Worlds by H.G. Welles for school.

The Husband is reading Hell and Back by Craig Johnson.


What’s Been Occurring

Last Sunday we attended a picnic at our neighbors and my parents came as well. It was a super nice day.

It wasn’t a hot day, which made it even nicer, but Little Miss still took a dip in their little pool in the backyard. She talked me into going in as well and it was awful. It was so cold it was like standing in a large glass of ice water. I lasted about seven minutes.

It appears that it will be our last swim in a pool this season, unless the weather warms up this week.

It’s supposed to rain all day today and part of tomorrow.

Zooma the Wonder Dog even got some socialization in, visiting with the neighbors’ Shitzu dogs while Little Miss jumped in the pool.

Today we have a family reunion to attend. It should be interesting in the rain and will probably consist of me talking to former neighbors of mine who I am not actually related to but attend the reunion every year because they are like family.

Last week was our first week of homeschool and it got off to a bit of a bumpy start for Little Miss and me because neither of us has actually adjusted to being back at school. She wasn’t ready to sit and learn just yet and I was way too uptight about it all so on Thursday we both feels to separate parts of the house to have a good cry at one point.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week The Boy and I watched Clue as part of a feature Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs, and I are doing called Spooky Season Cinema. I talked more about that in this post. This week we are watching The Addams Family.

The Husband and I watched a Brokenwood Mysteries episode, some specials about Queen Elizabeth, and an episode of a hilarious old British sitcom called Yes, Prime Minister.

Sunday morning, I watched the coffin of the queen being driven from Balmoral Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, and will admit I felt weepy over it. I believe this queen was a very “grand lady” who had a great deal of dignity, unlike a few members of her family (*cough* Andrew. *cough* Harry lately.). With her gone, I’m not sure what the family will devolve into, though they had devolved into a pretty big mess in the 1990s with the divorces of Charles and Diana and Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

As I mentioned on a post on Instagram last week, the world is not only mourning a person, who seemed very kind and compassionate, but an era of respect, dignity, and grandeur that is slowly being eroded away. I didn’t finish The Crown when we had Netflix, but I enjoyed watching it and later doing my own research on what parts of the show were accurate and which parts weren’t. I feel, somehow, as I am sure the people of Great Britain feel even more, that after watching and reading so much about her that I knew her personally.

Of course, I didn’t know her personally, her family did and I do feel for them as they mourn her. Some might say “Well, she was old, so it was to be expected,” but that doesn’t take away from the pain of losing someone who was more than a queen to her family. She was a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to her family and not having her around to interact with anymore, to not having her wisdom to rely on, will be extremely difficult.

In addition to all the queen news, I watched The Young Philadelphians as part of my “Fall of Paul” yesterday since I didn’t finish a couple of movies I wanted to watch with Paul Newman during my Summer of Paul movie-watching experience. I hope to watch Mr. and Mrs. Bridge with Paul and Joan (his wife) later this week.

I’ve also started a documentary on Mae West last week that I hope to finish this week.

What I’m Writing

I am working on The Shores of Mercy, but honestly, I am discouraged in my writing. I started writing fiction to have fun but for some reason I’ve been focusing too much on how poorly my books are doing in rankings, etc.

Sadly, I feel like I often start things and enjoy them for a bit and then feel depressed when I watch others get the “success” I worked for but could never reach. But at the same time, I feel like success for me is connecting with other people and by that measurement, I have had success and it’s all I really need. It’s a weird dichotomy of wanting to be popular with my writing yet loving that I am not popular and can write whatever I want.

I think one issue is that I have been writing books I think certain readers want instead of stories I want to tell, even though I have enjoyed getting to know the characters of my Spencer Valley books. I also appreciate, more than anyone knows, my blog readers who have faithfully supported me in my writing journey, especially Bettie who offers prayers for me and my fictional characters. I often feel like even if I am only writing for Bettie and my mom, it is worth it.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

This week I listened to Toby Mac’s new album again and I don’t love every song, but I really like most of them. I plan to listen to some sermons this week and maybe an audiobook since I’ve decided to check out Chirp, where you can buy audiobooks a you go, versus having a membership.

So far, this one is my favorite:



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: Smelly books, broken laptop keyboards, and summer is fading

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

You might recall that last week I had a list of books from which to choose from for my reading pleasure but hadn’t decided on which one.

After I posted that post, I chose The Boomerang Clue by Agatha Christie, which I had picked up at a book sale at the local library. It was an old copy, maybe from the 70s and after reading it for a bit I realized it smelled like an old book and that wasn’t a good thing. I started getting a weird headache and coughing so I had to place the book aside. I looked online to see if I could download an ebook copy of it, but lo and behold, much like some of Christie’s other books, this book had been renamed. I’m not sure what was offensive about this one’s name and why it was changed, but I do know why And Then There Was None was changed from its original name. You can look that up if you are curious.

The book was the basis for a mini-series on Britbox which we recently watched so I decided I’d see if the book had been renamed to that and, indeed, it had been renamed at some point in the past, even before the series. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? was the new name for the book but it was $9.99 on kindle and I’m pretty cheap (aka broke) so I decided I’d see if I could get it at the local library instead since I was already invested and wanted to see if the book was different than the mini-series. I mentioned all this to my husband who said, “Well, good thing I bought that book on a super great Kindle deal a couple of months ago then…”

Needless to say, I am reading the book on the Kindle instead of breathing in all the spores and who knows what else in that old book. I should be done with it today or tomorrow.

I am continuing to read the 80s Rom-Com Club, which is a series of novellas in the evenings, and also hope to start a book by Sean Dietrich who writes Southern stories, both fiction and non-fiction this week.


What’s Been Occurring

Last week I got way too wrapped up in trying to figure out Instagram and how to promote myself not because I want to be rich and famous but because even an extra $50 bucks a month would be such a help right now. In the end, none of it mattered because one day I had 5,000 views on a video and the following day I had three and when I Googled it said my drop in views was probably because I had somehow pissed off the Instagram lords and they were hiding my account.

I don’t have time for those games. School starts in a couple of week, I have a house to try to keep up and clean (though my husband moves faster and does a better job so I am always behind), photos to edit for stock, and just reality to live in. Social media is a putrid toilet right now and I don’t want to be caught up in the downward spiral, especially if it means I have to sell my soul to the Devil just to get a few new followers and maybe a few sales.

Little Miss and I visited my parents Thursday and tried to go swimming but the water was simply too cold, a sign that fall will be upon us too soon. As if the changing leaves weren’t enough to let us know that. Luckily, we were able to get a swim in yesterday instead since the temperature was warmer then and might get one in today.

On Thursday the kids also helped my dad pick some of the collard greens in his garden and we cooked some of them down for freezing and I brought some home to do the same.

On Friday the kids and I drove 45 minutes one way to the town where we used to live to get Zooma The Wonder Dog’s nails trimmed at the vets and also made a stop at a small market across the NY State border for some meats. It is a market we shopped at often when we lived there. We did drive by our old house and it’s always weird to see it and know we don’t live there anymore.

I am having a horrible time with the keys on my laptop. I took them off to clean them because the keys were sticking and now they won’t go back on and I sort of want to cry. This is how my life seems to go lately – something is always failing or falling apart. Because of the broken keys it took me a little longer to write this, but I can at least still hit the keys. Replacing them is apparently not possible and replacing the laptop is definitely not an option, since we can’t even pay our heating oil bill.

This week I will be getting ready for school as well, by cleaning out and straightening my homeschool closet, as well as double checking what we do and don’t have for the upcoming year. I originally wanted to start back on August 31, but we may end up waiting until after Labor Day. We aren’t sure yet.

What We watched/are Watching

I finished Cool Hand Luke yesterday. Man, that is a terribly depressing movie. I have a couple more Paul movies to watch in August as part of my Summer of Paul and hope to find a couple of happier ones before the summer is complete.

The Husband and I watched Torn Curtain last night with Paul and Julie Andrews. It is an Alfred Hitchcock film about a professor who infiltrates East Germany looking for information for a defense weapon which won’t require the use of nuclear weapons. His plans are almost foiled thanks to his poor communication skills, which results in his fiancé (Andrews) following him. This leaves both of them in great danger. I’ll write more about it in a separate post later this week, but it wasn’t one of Hitchcock’s best, probably because he was not happy with Paul and Julie being in the film and hated the script. I don’t blame him for hating the script. The movie was pretty awful really.

We hope to cleanse our pallets with The Sting later in the week. I also plan to watch The Prize, which is supposed to be a comedy.

Earlier in the week, we watched Brokenwood Mysteries.

What I’m Writing

Last week on the blog I shared:

I am also working on Mercy’s Shore and hope to continue this week if my keyboard will continue to work.

What I’m Listening To

This week I plan to listen to TobyMac’s latest album Life After Death which just came out.



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: Trying to choose what to read next, outhouse races, and a trip to the lake

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 Dead Sea Conspiracy by Jerry B. Jenkins Friday and enjoyed it a lot more as I got into it. I’m still not a fan of dual timeline books but I like how this one tied the two timelines together.

I do recommend it, especially if you like speculative fiction.

I also finished the first novella in a set of novellas called The 80s Rom Com Club by a few different authors. The novellas are all light and fluffy romances about a group of women who have a club that watches old 80s movies together.  I’ll probably stretch them out and read one or two a week and read them in the evenings because they are light.

I want to start a mystery or suspense book this week so for my choices I have:

  •  What’s The Worst That Can Happen? by Donald Westlake,
  • The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz,
  • the next book in the Joe Pickett series that I don’t know the name of and am too lazy to look up,
  • or The Boomerang Clue by Agatha Christie, which I picked up at a book sale at the library in town.

Of course, by the time I post this, I could change my mind on all of my choices and choose something completely different. I’m really not sure at this point.

The Husband just finished The Identical by Scott Turrow and is reading The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, which I found at the aforementioned book sale the morning Rushdie was stabbed. I saw the books by him, commented to the librarian about the stabbing (she then in turn asked me if I knew David McCullough had died) and then The Husband texted and asked if I found any books by him there. Weird timing.

Little Miss and I are reading Ramona, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary.

The Boy is reading War of the Worlds whenever he isn’t playing video games so he should finish that book by 2025 at this point.

What’s Been Occurring

On Monday I was prepared for a relaxed day where I would do some housework, but otherwise hide inside from what promised to be a humid, muggy day.

Then a friend sent a message and asked if the kids and I would like to go with her family to the local lake and state park we had visited at the end of June. I wanted to say ‘no’, in some ways, because the Weather Service had issued a heat advisory, but I knew it would be good for us all to get out, so I agreed.

In the end, the weather turned out not to be very hot and the predicted afternoon storms never came, even though the clouds kept threatening it.’

The kids had a blast.

My anti-social teenager even jumped into the lake with all his clothes on right before we left.

On Wednesday, Little Miss developed a sore throat and later in the day a fever. By Friday it was almost gone and on Saturday it was all the way gone. I’m not really sure what that was about. Every three or four months she seems to get a couple of days where she gets a brief sore throat, a low-grade fever and the sniffles for about three days and then moves on. Usually, it happens with weather changes so spring and fall are the worst times for it. The weather did get cooler this week, but not until after her brief illness.

The weather got so cool this week, I started thinking about fall, which I thought I was looking forward to until I thought about the lovely green leaves all falling off and it getting cold and dreary. I do like weather where I can curl up under a blanket but I also like temperatures that are just right so we can do outside activities without sweating through our clothes.

While I was outside thinking about fall I also thought about how our backyard could be a filming sight for National Geographic. Not only do we have a big woodchuck living under our shed, but she’s apparently had babies because I saw a mini-version of her run across our yard the other day. Now, in addition to trapping her, we have to trap her babies. Fun times.

The boy found a half-eaten rabbit in our yard last weekend – as in something bit it in a half and left the head. Our dog loves to chase those rabbits but she only gets as far as her lead and never catches one. She hadn’t been out there long enough to do that kind of damage so we knew it wasn’t her.

Long story short, I asked our neighbors if they had had their game camera up this year and if they had seen what was in our yard that could do that. From a quick search on the ole’ interwebs, I learned that fox, coyote, and racoon will all rip a rabbit in half and sometimes not eat all of it. It’s possible we interrupted their supper when I let the dog out that night. The neighbor had not had their camera out but they put it out this week and it appears our culprit is a fox, which doesn’t surprise us since we heard one screaming outside our house in the spring.

Luckily this summer we have not seen the skunks we saw last year. The deer have been out some, but not as much, and I finally saw a couple squirrels, which is weird because we were commenting one day recently how we don’t see squirrels here in the more rural setting when we saw them all the time when we lived in a bigger town. So far we have not heard of the bear returning since it visited our neighbor at the end of the street. Yes, we consider the houses up and down the street our neighbors. *wink*

Last night (Saturday) was the annual Outhouse Races, which we attended as a family.

I wrote about the outhouse races last year.

They are held as a charity event for the local Lions Club.

What We watched/are Watching

Continuing the Summer of Paul this week I watched half of Cool Hand Luke yesterday. I hope to finish it later today or tomorrow.

I didn’t take the time to watch any of his other movies during the week since Little Miss was so clingy and in between her clinging I had to cook dinner and work some on my book and try to figure out reels on Instagram, which I finally gave up on.

I’ll have more thoughts about Cool Hand Luke and Rachel Rachel later in the week, but I will say that I didn’t like to see John Walton being treated so poorly in Cool Hand Luke. One of the men was portrayed by the same actor who played John Walton, the patriarch on The Waltons.

Wayne Rogers, who played McIntyre on Mash, was also in the movie, but of course I was watching it to see Mr. Blue Eyes himself.

The Boy and I watched Raising Arizona with Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunt Friday night. I had seen it years ago, but he had never seen it and really enjoyed it. Here is a trailer for those of you who haven’t seen it.

The Husband and I also watched another episode of Harry Wild with Jane Seymour. I didn’t enjoy that on as much as the first episode. Then we watched another Brokenwood Mysteries.

What I’m Writing

I have been adding quite a bit to Mercy’s Shore as more ideas for it are starting to flow.

This week on the blog I shared:


What I’m Listening To

I wish I could say I am listening to a lot of music, but I really haven’t been, other than Matthew West. I also listened to Matthew’s podcast last 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: A variety of books, Paul Newman movies, and still busy weeks

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 Into the Flood by Milla Holt last week and hope to finish Dead Sea Conspiracy by Jerry B. Jenkins this week. I am not enjoying Jenkins’ book as much as I hoped I would, but I think part of it is because of his writing style, which I’m not used to.’

I’m taking little breaks from Jenkins’ book and in the evening, I am reading A Breath of French Air by H.E. Bates. This is part of the Pop Larkins series, which is a very weird series. It’s completely off the wall and quirky and must have been even more so when it was written in the 50s.

I’ve also decided to start The Screw Tape Letters by C.S. Lewis and read a couple of the letters a day to digest them.

I hope to start Mere Christianity before the end of August as well.

I hope to start The Terminal List by Jack Carr by the end of the week, but I’ll be honest that I am fairly certain this is not going to be my type of book. The Husband already read it and said it’s violent but good. He’s looking forward to watching the show on Amazon .


What’s Been Occurring

I thought this past week wasn’t going to be busy and it wasn’t too bad but I only had one day where I didn’t have somewhere to go or something to do.

On Monday we had gymnastics. On Tuesday Little Miss had a friend over and then we drove her friend to the little girl’s first soccer practice. The girls played in the sprinkler and on the slip n slide during the day and after practice, they played on the playground.

Wednesday was my mom’s birthday so we went to their house for lunch with her and my dad and my brother, who drove 90 minutes from his house to see her. We swam some but not as long as we wanted to because of some crazy wasps that I couldn’t even drown in the pool. I tried to drown one and it climbed the handle of the skimmer underwater. I think it was from hell.

My dad made a cake out of watermelon for my mom since she doesn’t eat cake anymore and we did our best to sing Happy Birthday but we were all out of tune which kept cracking my mom and dad up. We started again and it got worse and then fell apart at the end too because we all said a different name – either “Mom,” “Grandma” or my dad, who said “sweetheart.”

That’s okay, though, she still had fun and said it was a wonderful day.

On Friday the whole family went grocery shopping together since The Husband took the day off and surprisingly grocery shopping was not easier with him there because he wants to get there and get it done and I like to take my time and check out what I want to buy before I buy it. We’ve decided we might grocery shop separately in the future.

My dad has been giving us the surplus from his garden, especially squash, zucchini, and kale. We have been enjoying that with meals, usually stir-fried, but last night I finally fried some.

What We watched/are Watching

I am continuing my Summer of Paul, which is what I am calling my summer since I am watching a bunch of Paul Newman movies for fun. I will write more about the movies I watched last week in a post later this week, but will share in this post that I watched The Rack, The Hustler, and A New Kind of Love (which was another movie with him and his wife Joan) this past week.

Previously this summer I watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Long Hot Summer, Paris Blues, and Sweet Bird of Youth.

Other Paul Newman movies I watched in the past were Exodus and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

I told my mom we were watching The Hustler last night and suggested she and I watch it today when I go over for lunch. She said, “Oh that’s the one in black and white, isn’t it? We can’t see Paul’s eyes in that one.”

And she’s right…I did miss the blue of Paul’s eyes in the movie but you can still tell they are blue and they are beautiful.

She and I might have to watch a different Paul Newman movie together today instead, not just because we can’t see his blue eyes but because it was the most depressing movie of his I watched so far and my least favorite.

This week I hope to watch Rachel Rachel, with Paul’s wife Joan (I don’t believe this will be a happy one either. It’s about a woman battling depression. She won a Golden Globe for it.), which he directed, Hud, and maybe Cool Hand Luke. I also have From the Terrace lined up. So far I am not able to find a lot of these latest movies for free so I am renting them all on Amazon.

This week I also watched a few episodes of The Manor Born, a British sitcom from the 70s.The Husband also made me suffer through an episode of the old show Hardcastle and McCormick.


What I’m Writing

I will be working on Mercy’s Shore this week and hope to set aside time each day so I can write about 1,000 words a day.

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.

Classic Movie Impressions: Blue Hawaii

I have been trading classic movie suggestions this summer with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs.

The movies we have given our impressions of so far have been

A Streetcar Named Desire

Cat on A Hot Tin Roof

The Thin Man

Double Indemnity

On her blog today, Erin is discussing To Catch A Thief, a favorite Hitchcock film of mine. I am going to be discussing Blue Hawaii, as the blog post title suggests.

When Erin suggested this movie, I was fine with it because I was sure it would be fun and if nothing else, the music would be good. Because my mom was always a huge fan of Elvis I knew quite a bit about him from a music stand point but I’ve only seen clips of his acting.

I do believe I saw part of this movie years ago. I expected it be a pretty big Cheese Fest, but I didn’t mind. With the way the world’s been lately, watching something light and cheesy is fine with me.

And yeah, there was some cheese to it, but it was also much better than I expected. Plus, Elvis’ voice on Can’t Help Falling in Love With You totally reminded me why so many people loved his singing and not just those swinging hips.

My mom was a huge Elvis fan when she was a teenager. She was raised by a strict, stereotypical Southern father who declared he would not have any of his daughters screaming about some boy swinging his hips. So one night when my mom and her sisters and their aunt (who is only a year older than my mom) were watching him on The Ed Sullivan Show, my mom said they tried to be very calm and not scream when he came on screen.

The bad thing was that her aunt grabbed my mom’s knee, and my mom can’t stand anyone to touch her knee because she’s very ticklish. She screamed when my aunt grabbed her knee, which brought my grandfather’s stern response of, “I will not have anyone screaming for that boy in my house!” My mom did her best to explain to him what had happened, but I’m not sure he believed her.

He must not have been too upset by my mom’s scream, though, because he took my mom and her sisters to see Elvis at a local high school at some point after he was on The Ed Sullivan Show. If you knew how my grandfather was back then, this would surprise you. I know it surprised me.

Anyhow, I digress. Blue Hawaii is a simple film about Elvis who returns to the island of Hawaii after serving in the military. His parents want him to work for his father in the pineapple business, but he wants to make it on his own, which, of course, causes tension. His quest for independence allows several opportunities for him to croon 14 different songs throughout the 1 hr 41 minute movie.

I wasn’t expecting Elvis to be a very good actor and he wasn’t stellar, but he also wasn’t that bad. He was certainly better than many of the actors of today. His long, dark eyelashes and pouty lips certainly didn’t hurt his appearance on screen.

This movie also stars Angela Lansbury as his mother. She portrays an over-the-top Southern mother who likes to remind everyone how rich they are. She’s also fairly racist, which is illuded to but not explicitly shown. She’s not a huge fan of her son’s girlfriend, a native girl who is bi-racial — part Hawaiian and part French. The suggestion is that one reason she’s not impressed with the girl is her background, but that’s only subtly suggested because the movie is very light for the most part. Plus, all of that is put aside as the movie moves on and the attitude of Elvis’ mother changes toward the girlfriend and his effort to make a way on his own.

Speaking of  his girlfriend in the movie (Joan Blackman), according to Express, which is a UK publication, Elvis fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. He met her in 1958, before they filmed Blue Hawaii, and chased her and begged her to be in the movie with him.

Joan said: When we first set eyes on each other (in 1957), there was a spark, a magic in the air… There was just that special something between us, sometimes so warm and wonderful you could almost reach out and touch it.”

In 1977 she told a magazine that she and Elvis had adjoining hotel rooms during the filming of the movie and essentially lived together for weeks. Of course Elvis was dating Priscilla at the time and she and Joan looked a lot alike.

I should add that this Express magazine site looks a bit like a gossip site, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

Back to the movie, because I have digressed again.

I loved the music and scenery in this movie. I wouldn’t say the movie is a super accurate portrayal of what Hawaii is really like, but it doesn’t mock the natives of the islands and instead brings the viewers attention to some of the more interesting aspects of the islands’ diverse cultures.

I will say that according to this movie, Hawaii is a place where bare-chested men always ride the seas in little boats with a guitar so they can sing. I’ve never been there before so for those of you who have — is this true?!

If you are looking for a deep plot, this movie is definitely not what you want to watch. It’s essentially one big concert movie with very little plot. That, however, is exactly what I needed last week when I watched it.

Have you ever seen Blue Hawaii? What did you think of it?

Sunday Bookends: Juggling books with my mood and tours, smells (good and bad) returning, and playing in water

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 had to abandon my plans from last week when I realized I had a couple books I agreed to read for blog tours. Luckily I have a little bit of time before the reviews need to be up, but I never know what each week is going to bring so I figured I’d better start them.

I am reading an indie book by Milla Holt called Into the Flood, which is a Christian romance. I’ll share a little bit more about it after I finish it and post a review, but it is available for sale at this time.

A description:

One mistake imploded Sonia Krogstad’s PR career, leaving her with a stack of debt and no job prospects. Out of options, she returns to her tiny hometown in the northern wilds of Norway, planning only to stay long enough to get back on her feet and prepare for her big-city comeback.

Reclusive tech genius Axel Vikhammer bought a non-profit community arts center that’s fast becoming a money pit. Closing it down is not an option, especially since it’s a refuge for the teenage daughter he only recently learned he has. With her PR background, Sonia seems the perfect hire for the job as his center’s fundraising manager.

Yet as feelings develop between the two, Axel wonders how he can trust Sonia with his business—or his heart—when her dreams don’t include his small town or him.

With her head and her heart pulling her in different directions, Sonia needs to take a leap of faith. But every time she’s done that in the past, she’s fallen flat on her face. Why should it be different now?

I’m also reading Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins. It is the second book in the Dead Sea Chronicles, but I didn’t realize that when I signed up for the tour. So far I am able to follow along without reading the first book. This is the first book I’ve read by Jenkins, who co-wrote the Left Behind series and is all the father of Dallas Jenkins who is writing and directing The Chosen series.

A description:

Nicole Berman is an archaeologist on the brink of a world-changing discovery. Preparing for her first dig in Jordan, she believes she has found concrete evidence of a biblical patriarch that could change history books forever. But someone doesn’t want the truth revealed. While urgently trying to connect pieces of an ancient puzzle, a dangerous enemy is out to stop her.

I’m switching between the two books and since I have a couple weeks before Dead Sea Rising needs to be finished, I am reading A Breath of French Air, the second book in the Pop Larkins series by H.E. Bates before bed each night because it’s very light and fun.

Little Miss and I are reading Ramona and Her Mom by Beverly Cleary.

The Husband is reading Noir by Christopher Moore.

The Boy is still reading War of the Worlds by HG Welles.


What’s Been Occurring

I had mentioned a few times in the last nine months, since the dreaded virus, that my smell has either remained dulled or distorted, sometimes to the point of making me physically ill. My taste had also been off and still is for some things. For the longest time most meats, anything with garlic, and many other foods tasted rancid or like burnt rubber. I don’t know how else to explain it. Also, like sweaty feet smell, if that makes any sense. There are still times that chicken, especially with skin, garlic, and tomatoes don’t taste right. This summer has also been rough because watermelon doesn’t taste sweet any longer. It tastes like squash in a way. Strawberries sometimes taste like strawberries and sometimes have what I, and others who have had their smell and taste effected by the virus, call The Covid Taste/Smell.

As for smell, things that still have the Covid Smell are sweat (sorry), gasoline, propane, chemicals, and sometimes … um…poop (like cat and dog).

This week, though, I noticed I was smelling things I couldn’t smell at all before. For the last nine months smells have been muted or I haven’t noticed them much. When someone says “oh that smells good” I say, “can’t smell it.” Of course, I had sinus issues before the dreaded virus as well, and that had also dulled my smell.

Late in the week, when I walked outside with my daughter and walked between our pine tree bushes I suddenly realized I could smell pine. A couple of days later I could smell — excuse me for sharing, but dog poop in our yard. It didn’t smell like Covid, it smelled like poop. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rejoice for that or not.

For most of my life, smells that don’t bother other people, bother me. Like perfumes or air freshners. I get headaches and sometimes my chest tightens. That hasn’t been common the last nine months but The Husband sprayed some Febreeze and it was overwhelming. I could actually smell it. Again, I don’t know if I want to rejoice that I can smell smells which bother me, but it is nice to be able to smell pine trees and freshly cut grass again.

Little Miss and I went swimming again this week at my parents. We also grocery shopped again, which I always dread and hate. Grocery shopping went wonderful but then I got to my van, which has issues with its locks and its key fobs and I accidentally locked it while trying to open the back hatch. When I went to open the hatch it was locked, as was the rest of the van. This left me standing in the parking lot with Little Miss and a cart full of groceries but no way to get home. To cut a too long story already short, I called The Husband, who called our insurance company to have someone come open it. Our insurance company apparently stinks because they called someone a half an hour away. The Husband came and traded cars with us and waited for the locksmith (or whatever he is called) and I drove home wondering why I can’t buy groceries without something weird happening.

The day before we picked up groceries, we visited our neighbor who broke her ankle a few weeks ago and is still laid up from it after spending some time in the hospital and a rehabilitation center. Our kitten walked with us to her house and when we came out after the visit, she was waiting for us and walked back home with us. Our neighbor is about five houses from ours. Our animals crack us up and I also think it is sweet that the cats, who sometimes seem like they couldn’t care less about us, apparently do.

Yesterday The Husband and The Boy borrowed my dad’s truck and picked up some firewood to help us prepare for this winter and hopefully cut down on our heating bill since we are currently struggling to pay the one we just received.

Earlier in the week, the kids had fun on the Slip N Slide and yesterday Little Miss had fun running through the sprinkler.

What We watched/are Watching

I did not watch as many movies last week, partially because I tried to read more and also because I was outside so much with Little Miss and grocery shopping and all that kind of stuff that I just didn’t have time to sit down and watch an entire movie. Not until The Boy and I watched Gladiator, which we started Thursday and finished Friday. I hadn’t seen it in years and forgot how good it was.

Last night, The Husband and I watched a Poirot movie, Murder on the Links.

This week I am returning to the Summer of Paul with a list of Paul Newman movies I hope to get through before the end of August.


What I’m Writing

I am working on Mercy’s Shore, The Shores of Mercy, whatever I’m going to call it, but this week I forgot to post Chapter 13 on Friday. I am going to make up for it this week by posting Chapter 13 on Thursday and Chapter 14 on Friday.

I guess my brain was mush from all the little weird things that seemed to happen Friday and how busy we were playing outside during the week.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening to

Matthew West. I don’t know if I have praised him enough on this blog, but his songs are so uplifting, so encouraging and help soothe my spirit on the most anxious days. On the days where I am really shook up and worried I turn his songs on, especially the ones on his greatest hits album. Those songs, the lyrics, all of it, help me so much.

The album is Brand New, and I really encourage you to check it out via whatever music listening service you listen to.

This song is not on that album, but it is Matthew’s latest:


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: Anything Goes, hot days, and books that are in the wrong genre

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

So I finished The Do Over by Bethany Turner this week and I’m going to offer a little review here instead of breaking it out in a separate post.

I like Bethany as a person. She’s fun to watch and listen to and as someone who writes Christian Fiction and actually mentions God and is still told my books aren’t Christian enough, I do feel bad writing that this book isn’t Christian fiction, but, well . . . it isn’t.

It’s a clean book. It’s a funny book and I did enjoy it for the most part. It’s full of pop culture references – so many you can barely get a few pages, sometimes a few paragraphs, before another movie or celebrity is referenced, but there is not one reference to God in the book. Not even anyone going to church.

It’s a simple, clean romantic comedy written by someone who once wrote Christian fiction and that is not a bad thing. I am, however, a little bewildered why the book is listed under Christian fiction. It definitely didn’t hold my attention as well as some of her other books and the reveal of the person who committed a crime in the book wasn’t a surprise at all.

The book was also yet another romantic comedy love letter to New York City, which is getting a little tiresome actually. It’s like yet another love letter to Jane Austen books or London. All the name drops of locations in New York City did very little for someone who isn’t as excited by the city as Turner is, unfortunately. But if you love NYC and squealing about specific locations like they are a big deal, you’ll love this book. (We’ll all just pretend crime isn’t a daily occurrence and instead believe that the characters aren’t praying they don’t get mugged while walking by the homeless on the streets.)

The saving grace of this book was Henry Blumenthal, even though he could have been a little more well-rounded in my opinion. He seemed very stoic and awkward, but he was supposed to be so I guess that worked. What I do love is how Turner writes a kiss scene. It’s not overdone or over explained, but you feel the emotion and I like that.

I think after reading The Do Over, though, I might have to finally admit something. I don’t like a lot of traditional romance books. I don’t like when the entire book is built around swoons and misunderstandings, break-ups and then resumed swoons (shhh…I know mine are similar but I try to throw in a little bit more plot to even it out and hopefully I’ll get better at it.) Oh, and then epilogues with weddings or future scenes of happy marriages with children now born. (Yep. Totally did this in my second book. Never did it again.)

Almost every single romance or romantic comedy I’ve read in CF has ended this way and Turner’s books are no exception, but I wish they were.

So what’s next for me?

I don’t know yet. I can’t decide what I am in the mood for, but The Husband has suggested a couple of books for me, including What’s the Worst That Can Happen by Donald Westlake and The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

I’m also considering reading the second book in the Pop Larkin series because those books are fairly quick reads.

I hope to finish Anne of the Island this week as I have enjoyed reading it leisurely at a couple chapters a day for the last couple of months.

The Husband is reading Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cantour (which he is almost done with).

The Boy is reading War of the Worlds by H.G. Welles.

Little Miss and I are re-reading Romona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary but she also let me read from Anne of Green Gables last night.


What’s Been Occurring

My husband had a small part in the local theater group’s production of Anything Goes and this week was showtime. He had dress rehearsals the first part of the week and then the show Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He was on stage for the speaking part for about five minutes but then he was in the background as a sailor.

Little Miss, The Boy, and I went for the dress rehearsal Monday but it got late and we slipped out after the first act. Little Miss wanted to go back to watch the whole show but we didn’t make it for various reasons (partially because I wasn’t sure she’d stay seated for a three-hour show) so I looked up a production of it we could watch at home and found one performed in the West End Theater in London earlier this year and showcased on PBS. Someone had put it up illegally on YouTube (yeah for pirating! 😉). I thought Little Miss would like to see the second half of it but it turns out she only wanted to see the version our local performers did. Boy did I feel like a jerk that I didn’t get her over there after that. I enjoyed it at least and will include a link to it under the What I’m Watching header.

I took some photographs of the dress rehearsal along with The Husband for the paper since The Husband was in the first act and couldn’t take photos of himself. He took photos of the second act and a collection of both our photos were used for a photo page in the paper, which is a weekly paper.

The Husband doesn’t want me to post any photos of him, but I thought I’d share a few others I took that night.



This one is my favorite and it is close to the one on the front page of the newspaper he works at:

We took a break on Tuesday and then Wednesday we went to my parents to swim but were dive bombed by some wasps and had to head out earlier than we wanted to. We hope to be able to spray them before we go in the next time. It’s been very hot here for the last two weeks. You know it’s been hot when you see it’s going to be 81 later in the week and you’re excited about the cooler temperatures. I know that 90 to 92 is not as hot as down South or in Arizona, but it’s hot for Pennsylvania and it’s hot for me since I’ve never done well in the heat.

Friday it was grocery shopping day again. Blah. I hate grocery shopping.

Yesterday it was time to relax for me and today The Husband finally gets to relax after several 14 or more hour days in a row (between work and rehearsals).

What We watched/are Watching

I continued watching Paul Newman movies this past week with Sweet Bird of Youth. I’d never heard of this movie and was blown away by the acting and the viscousness of the characters. This was another movie based on a Tennessee Williams play.

This one startled me a little to be honest. It was put out in 1962 and dealt with some more steamy topics than I expected. Newman was a gigolo and at one point he was rolling blunts for his current client, a washed-up actress who he’d taken with him back to Talahasee to see the girl he wanted to marry as soon as he hit it big as an actor. His character seriously drove me nuts – he was so fixated on becoming famous and hitting it big so he could provide for the girl he loved that he literally would do anything to get to the top. And I mean just about anything.

The plus side of this movie, besides the fact the acting really was very good, was that Paul had his shirt off more than he had it on. This, of course, annoyed The Boy who told me at one point, “Just go back and watch your movie with shirtless Paul Newman.” He then rolled his eyes. I, of course, obliged. *wink* (Please know that I am just joking around. I am a married woman and Paul is, well, dead.)

As I mentioned above, I then watched Anything Goes, essentially by myself since my children abandoned me. This version was with Sutton Fuller who won a Tony for her performance.

I also watched The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer with Cary Grant, Myrna Lloyd, and Shirley Temple, which I have watched before and really enjoyed. It’s very funny.

The plot is that Temple falls for Cary Grant, who is probably 25 years older than her, when he speaks at her school, and tries to chase after him. Her older sister, Loy, is a judge who has had Grant before her in court for another matter. Long story short, Temple goes to Grant’s apartment and is caught there and Grant is framed for tying to get involved with a minor. In an effort to try to deter Temple, Loy’s uncle, the city District Attorney, suggests that Grant carry on the charade (no pun to the other movie Grant was in) and try to frighten Temple off. This completely backfires and hilarity ensues.


What I’m Writing

I’m also working on Mercy’s Shore, of course.



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: Paul Newman movies and romantic comedy books dominate 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 week seemed busy even though we didn’t do as much as the week before. Sunday we spent the day at my parents again. Wednesday The Husband and I went out for dinner for our 20th anniversary. We went to a place we were familiar with and enjoyed a good meal and then came home and watched a show based on an Agatha Christie short story.

Friday it was my first time grocery shopping in person in several years. I hate grocery shopping, so we have been doing grocery pickups for years, even before it was a “thing”. Now that we live 45 minutes from any Walmart, and with the price of gas, doing grocery pick up has become too expensive, so Friday the kids and I drove 20 minutes to the new Aldi store. It looks like I will now be doing this every Friday or every other Friday for the foreseeable future. Wish me luck.

I did learn one thing — don’t take a young child with you because they try to fill the cart with extra food. Luckily most of that extra food was fruit, but still.

This week I have to take Little Miss to gymnastics and take some photos at dress rehearsal for the play my husband is in and that, thank goodness, is about it.

What I’m Reading

I am still reading The Do Over by Bethany Turner, but will probably finish it this week.

For those who are curious about what it is about, here is a description:

A witty, romantic comedy of errors as former high school rivals McKenna and Henry inadvertently reunite in their hometown.

Hot-shot lawyer McKenna Keaton finds herself in hot water with her own law firm when she’s (falsely!) accused of embezzlement. Placed on unpaid leave, she suddenly finds herself with the free time to return home and attend her youngest sister’s wedding activities.

But it’s not all fun and games. Waiting back home is shy, nerdy Henry Blumenthal—McKenna’s high school rival for valedictorian who once took three hours to beat her at chess. Scratch that. He’s Hank Blume now, the famed documentarian, Durham, North Carolina’s, darling son, who has attained all his dreams and more. He also happens to look like he stepped out of an Eddie Bauer catalog.

Whereas McKenna is a disgraced workaholic from New York on unpaid leave, accused of a white-collar crime she would never commit, succumbing to panic attacks, and watching her dreams unravel. At age thirty-eight—and destined by the family curse to die before she turns forty, apparently—it’s absolutely the wrong time to have a major crush on a man. Especially one who treasures his memories of McKenna as the Girl Most Likely to Succeed.

On some days I am also reading a chapter or two of Anne of the Island but I’m trying to be more careful with the paperback copy of it I have because it’s starting to look very beat up since I have been carrying it everywhere with me. I’ve decided to only read it at home from now on. I’m not very gentle with hard copies of books, which is why I hate to get books out at the library. The Husband, on the other hand, somehow keeps even paperback copies of books pristine and I don’t know how he does it. I refuse to read his paperbacks because I am always paranoid that I will mess it up.

How about you? Do you keep your books in good shape or do they get a bit bent up and scuffed?

The Husband is reading Don’t Know by Tough by Eli Cantor (it’s the author’s debut novel).

The Boy is reading War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Little Miss and I are reading Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary.

What I/We Watched/Are Watching

I call Paul Newman my favorite actor but this past week I realized, rather sadly, that I have not watched very many of his movies, so I decided to remedy that by watching more of his movies this summer. Then I found a list that suggested 15 of his movies to watch so I decided to work through those for fun for the rest of the summer and maybe beyond.

­­­Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs, had already suggested A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as a movie for me to watch and I’ll have a blog post on that later this week. She and I are trading movie suggestions this week.

From there I watched The Long Hot Summer, which I have wanted to watch for a long time. That was one of the eleven movies he did with his wife, Joanne Woodward. I really enjoyed it, even though I thought Paul’s character was a little bit of a jerk for most of the movie. A sexy jerk but a jerk nonetheless. I also didn’t recognize Orson Welles at all in the movie and it took the credits at the end for me to realize it was him.

This weekend I also checked off Paris Blues, another Newman/Woodward movie, that also starred Sidney Poitier, Diahan Carroll, and Louis Armstrong.

A description of the movie, if you, like me had never seen it:

During the 1960s, two American expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris meet and fall in love with two American tourist girls. During the 1960s, two American expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris meet and fall in love with two American tourist girls.

A couple interesting things about the movie, which was made in the 60s, was that it was Woodward who pursued Newman and not just pursued him, but jumped right into bed with him. Newman also started to flirt with Carroll’s character in the movie, hinting at an interracial relationship, but that relationship doesn’t happen as Newman and Poitier switch partners, so to speak.

According to the above article I mentioned, the book that the movie was based on featured an interracial relationship, but movie producers felt that that would be too progressive and offend audiences (insert eye roll here). There was, however, a conversation about civil rights in the movie between Poitier and Carroll when he asks her if she wants to have fun or “do you want to discuss the race thing?” Sounds a lot like conversations we could have today.

The on-screen chemistry between Newman and Woodward is amazing, of course, but that’s to be expected since they had married three years earlier.

Once again, Newman was a bit of a jerk at times during the movie, but there is one scene where he and Woodward break into laughter and I don’t think it was scripted. I think they naturally started to laugh at each other.

As I mentioned above, The Husband and I also watched an episode of The Agatha Christie Hour through AcornTV, which is a series based on Agatha Christie’s short stories.

Yesterday I rewatched North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint because I couldn’t remember most of the movie. It was better the second time around but I still don’t like Eva Marie Saint, who I saw in Exodus with Paul Newman years ago, as an actress. Something about her just grates on my nerves, but more so in Exodus where she was a seriously arrogant American.

North by Northwest is one of Hitchcock’s best and this is one of the most famous scenes:

Upcoming this week: Blue Hawaii with Elvis at the suggestion of Erin, The Rack with Paul Newman and maybe another Paul movie.

What I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to a lot of Christian music and finding some new artists on Apple Music, including Jon Reddick.

Last night I listened to some songs from Fiddler on the Roof, including my favorite, which I used to dance to in our living room, and made my parents think I was going to be in musicals someday (ha!)

What I’m Writing

This week on the blog I shared:

Now It’s Your Turn

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