Monthly Archives: January 2017

Book Opinion:Faithful by Alice Hoffman

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Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors. She’s the one who brought us Practical Magic, which delights my soul in both book and movie form. Her latest, Faithful, is equally satisfying.

High school students Shelby Richmond and her best friend Helene were in a terrible car accident.  Shelby was driving and almost died, Helene was injured so badly she remains in that twilight area between life and death where so many find themselves. Confined permanently to her bed and machines, Helene becomes something of a celebrity in their town because she was the beautiful, popular girl who is now in a coma and the tragedy of it all attracts exactly the kind of attention that tragedy always attracts in our society.  Shelby meanwhile is paralyzed by guilt and depression and suffers through her own physical injuries, followed by emotional breakdown, mental hospital confinement, rescue by her mother and self-imposed isolation at home.

The book takes us through the story of Shelby’s return to life. It is a long, convoluted path that involves boys from high school, love, dogs (the best people and saviors of many), work, education, heart-break and happiness, mysterious postcards designed to keep her from the edge and the guardian angel who sends them to her.

This is a great book for anyone who has experienced overwhelming tragedy and/or mental illness of any kind. Shelby is a survivor even though she doesn’t really know it. She shows the reader that you can come back from just about anything and create a life that while different from what you expect, can be better than what you dreamed it would ever be again. It is possible to come to terms with your life.

As usual with Alice Hoffman, the writing is clean and flows well. She writes at a high, lyrical level and it’s dense with feeling and subtlety, but she does it with such skill that it’s a very easy read. I was on a five-hour flight from Seattle to Fairbanks AK and read the entire thing on the plane.

If you’re looking for a good book to keep you company on these chilly winter days, this one might be a good choice.

Have a wonderful week, read a good book, and be kind to people. We need that now more than ever. Be the change you want to see in the world, and make it positive. 😊

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PINK!!

When I was just shy of three years old, my parents bought a Victorian house in a small town. My mom decorated my room because I was just a tiny peanut, and she made it a girly paradise. One wall had wallpaper that consisted of various shades of narrow pink stripes on a white background, and the other three walls were papered with various shades of pink cabbage roses on a white background. There were pink drapes on the windows and a white eyelet bedspread. For my younger readers, a bedspread is NOT anything like the duvets etc. that you all are used to. They were the exact size of the top of the bed with a seam or a ruffle running around the edges of the mattress, finished off by a skirt that fell from the seam to the floor. It was beautiful and very, very, girly. That  house and that room instilled in me a love of old houses, toned down Victorian style, houseplants and of course, pink.

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I like to lean back against things with my camera and take upside down pictures. I have no idea why I enjoy this particular activity, but I do, don’t judge. This house is in New Orleans and it is clearly pink.
Ironically, my current home doesn’t have much pink in it, but I love pink flowers and shirts.  Everyone looks good in pink, just like I’ve yet to see anyone look bad in lavender.  Doesn’t matter what color your skin is or your tone is, pink makes you look healthy, and despite the rumor, redheads look great in it too.  You just have to find the right tone.  Anyway, here are some pictures of pink things.  It’s gray and blah and I figured everyone needs to look at some pretty colors.

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Here’s some pretty rock candy on a stick at the French Market in New Orleans. The speckled jawbreakers are pretty too.

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Tea Roses blooming at the Chicago Botanical Garden last summer.

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Some other kind of pretty pink rose blooming at the Chicago Botanical Garden last summer.

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Peonies putting on a show in Chicago.

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I think these were some kind of peony as well, but these were growing in George Washington’s flower garden at Mt. Vernon.  Obviously I manipulated this image. I don’t usually do that, but I recently got some software that lets me do this stuff and it’s kind of fun. They really were pink, I didn’t do that.

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My daughter’s prom dress and finger nails.

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A mountain top in Alaska last week.

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Sunset at Blind Pass between Sanibel and Captiva Islands Florida
I hope you enjoyed a little pop of pretty color on this winter afternoon! Have a great Saturday, stay safe and be nice! 😊❤

NORTH to Alaska!!

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I’m not a big fan of the term bucket list, because it reminds me about kicking the bucket.  I DO however like the term wish list.  There are many things on my wish list, and I just got to experience one of them, the Aurora Borealis.  I have the best husband in the world, and for our recent landmark anniversary, he used up all of his hard-earned airline and hotel points, along with a couple hundred dollars and took me to Alaska to see the Northern Lights for our anniversary.  I’m going to break the trip up into several posts because I don’t like to make them too long. I am including pictures, but I’m not an expert at taking Aurora photos, so they aren’t up to my usual quality.  I’m leaving them smaller because they look better small.

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The Northern Lights are of course linked to a number of legends for the people native to the areas where they appear.  In Alaska, they’ve been viewed as everything from what is basically a celestial River Styx to an omen of war to animal spirits. I’ve even been told that in some areas the Eskimos sing to the lights.  The scientific explanation is that charged particles from the sun strike atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, excite those atoms, and cause them to light up. The best time to go is March due to a better likelihood of clear skies, slightly higher temperatures and still long nights, that didn’t coincide with our anniversary though, so January it was.

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We rented a small off grid cabin to use as shelter while viewing the lights.  The temperature while we were there ranged from -11 to -27 fahrenheit. It was very cold and it was possible to stay outside comfortably for very short periods of time, so we needed a place to warm up. We’d read that the lights came out mostly between midnight and three in the morning, but once we got there and talked to real people, we found that they come out when it’s dark.  In Alaska in the winter that could be four in the afternoon or nine in the morning.

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About 8:30 p.m., I noticed a glow on the horizon. Based on my day-to-day life experience, I assumed it was the glow from a town so I went back inside; then I remembered we were in the middle of nowhere Alaska and there WAS no town in that direction so I ran back out and there they were! Just above the horizon now, was a streak of soft green light. It was in the shape of a low rainbow and my husband thought it was a cloud bank, then it started to move. It drooped down and looked like it was melting, then it swirled and twisted, and flowed. It would fade then charge back up again. It looked like it was coming out of a single spot, like smoke from a cigarette, then it blew up all over the sky. It rolled and turned over on itself. It stayed with us for FOUR HOURS. Finally, we thought it had gone away, then suddenly, there it was again, directly over the cabin in all it’s twisty, turn-y glory, then it snapped off like someone turned off the switch.

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I’ve been processing what I saw and trying to find a way to talk about it and I’m afraid that anything I say will be insufficient. Practically, it looked like glowing fog. The moon was very bright, so it wasn’t as brightly colored as it sometimes is, but that didn’t matter. It was otherworldly. Alien. Heavenly. It left us speechless. It filled us UP with words. It excited us and relaxed us. It changed something in the way we think. It changed something about the way we feel. It was basically a religious experience. It was profound. I understand why the Eskimos sing to it. I will go back someday and I will have a song prepared.

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