Friday, April 30, 2010

Five Friday Favorites -- Things That Make Me Happy

This soup tureen belonged to my mother and will always have a special place in my home.  It is ironstone and quite heavy. 

Do you remember the hard Samsonite luggage from the 1960's?  My sweet Aunt Ann gave me a  beige set when I graduated from high school.  This set belonged to my husband's Aunt Betty(whom he called his "second mom").  I love the red color.

This decorated mailbox was a gift from a co-worker when I moved from one branch of our library system to another.  She and I both love Mary Engelbreit and it has a place of honor in my home office.  It touched my heart that she would spend the time to decorate it just for me and pack it with ME envelopes and notecards.

I bought this pillow in Kansas City at Halls Crown Center.  I fell in love with it when I saw it and it still gives me pleasure and was worth every penny I paid for it.

If my house were to catch fire, this is one of the first things I would carry out.  It is my grandmother's life story and diary, which she started in 1949.  It covers her life from her birth in 1891 and tells about her parents, grandparents,  and siblings; her childhood; her courtship by my grandfather and the births of 13 children and deaths of three.  She writes of her children serving during World War II and her grandchildren during the Vietnam War.  She notes the birth of each grandchild and the deaths of many of her friends and family members.  There are many stories here, that reflect life in another time for those of us who have only a brief recollection or no memory at all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Annie and BFFs Weigh in on Public Restrooms

I have a group of BFFs who really are best friends forever and I doubt that anything can change that.  Some of us started first grade together in Miss Carroll's class at West School in 1952, others joined our group of friends later.  I use the term "group of friends" rather than clique, because we were more inclusive than exclusive.  I am thankful for that, because it gave me many more opportunities for friendship.

One of the things that we still enjoy is getting together every couple of years.  Sometimes it takes place in our hometown when something else is going on (I'm looking forward to a girlfriends reunion when I go home for a family reunion this summer).  Sometimes we visit each other where we've settled, and other times we go someplace else.  The number varies depending upon who can get away.

On a trip to Chicago a few years ago, we were in and out of many public restrooms and developed a running commentary of what we appreciated and what we really hated.  I should mention that there were four of us on that trip and, for the most part, we have a "southern" point of view on most things, having been raised in the mid-south. We are not cosmopolitan, we've lived in small towns most of our lives.  Alice is the exception; she lives in a large city and is a world traveler.  This seems to have made her more tolerant of restrooms, hotels, etc.  The rest of us are more persnickety, and I may be the most of all, if past behavior is an indicator.

I have always tried my best to avoid public restrooms.  I have gone for as long as eight hours, if I'm heading for home, or if I know a clean private (or hotel) restroom awaits me.  I know that this is bad for my bladder, but my bladder understands and has learned to accommodate me (as long as I head straight for the toilet upon arrival).  Early training for this happened at two camps I attended as a child, where the "accommodations" were communal latrines.

Back to Chicago -- we visited the Chicago Art Institute, the Navy Pier, the Chicago Public Library, saw The Blue Man Group, the Second City, "Menopause the Musical", took the architectural boat tour, as well as shopping and eating our way through the city.  This provided several opportunities for restroom use and observation.  The following are observations and recommendations, based not just on our trip, but upon years of experience, with and without children in tow:
  • Clean restrooms are objects of beauty and gratitude for all women.  Most of us have been taught from an early age that really bad things lurk on every surface and we have passed this knowledge on to our children.  We don't necessarily trust that surfaces that look clean really are, but they help to calm our nerves.
  • Puddles on countertops may be tolerated; puddles on floors won't.  We will open every stall door to find a dry floor; if we don't find one, our "on alert" bladders may have to wait.
  • Toilet paper is expected, but not always present.  A supply of one's own is to be recommended.  Those who steal toilet paper should be sentenced to a term of catalog use in a dirty bathroom.
  • We hate, hate, hate, toilet paper dispensers that are designed to not turn freely, so that you get one or two sheets at a time.  It is false economy because we will fight back by taking as much as we can.
  • Off-center toilet seats often "lean" toward the dispenser.  This may be attributed to the stingy dispenser mentioned above and the necessity to lean towards it to get enough to wipe.
  • Squatting is sometimes necessary if paper seats are unavailable; deep knee bends are recommended practice for young girls. 
  • Never put your purse on the floor.  Hold it on your lap or in your teeth if you must.  Even if the floor appears clean, you don't know what's been there. 
  • Taking a friend with you is always recommended.  There is safety in numbers; the friend can hold the door closed because you can't depend upon the lock working; the friend can hold your purse if there is no hook or shelf. 
  • If there is a designated spot, leave a tip if you can.  And thank your lucky stars that you don't clean restrooms for strangers.  And appreciate those who do.
Okay, I may have forgotten a few items.  Maybe Connie, Alice or Emma will remind me.  Maybe you have some remarks, observations, or recommendations of your own.

Annie Joy

p.s.  We did see some beautiful ladies rooms in Chicago and I've seen some photographs of some on blogs I've visited.  I'm going to begin making photos for my own "Ladies Room Album of Honor".

Friday, April 23, 2010

An Afternoon at the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts

It was cloudy with rain in the forecast, but that probably contributed to the relatively small croud -- some who had planned to go on Thursday may have decided to wait until the weekend.  We had plenty of space at the booths to look, and buy (or wish we could buy)!  A wonderful annual event in Oklahoma City!

I love glassware and stopped at several of the booths.

The artist is here with his paintings.  He has also published a book of recipes that include his work.

We fell in love with these lovely portraits of Native Americans.

Myriad Gardens are beautiful at this time of year.  Crystal Bridge is in the background.

Lots of wonderful food; we had to try the tequila bread pudding -- simply delicious!

 Didn't have room for the Strawberries Newport, but have it on good authority that it was yummy!

My purchase for the day -- this beautiful hand-blown paperweight by Oklahoma City artist Toby McGee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Recommendation: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

In an earlier post, I listed some characteristics that draw me to certain books and both of the books I'm recommending today provide what I look for when I'm looking for that next "best book" for my own list.  They are both character driven, which sometimes means that I develop an almost personal relationship with the protagonist(s) and feel a sense of loss when I must leave the book to do something else, or when the book is over.  Both are about friendships between women, which immediately drew me to them.  I enjoy books about friendship, and have read countless stories about old friends who have known each other for years, or who are of the same age and experiencing the same issues and challenges.  Remarkable Creatures and Broken for You are about friendships between young and older women.  Both are wonderful stories about how common interests can bring two very different people together and how long-lasting relationships can be forged.  Friendships are precious, and I am reminded, through reading these two books, that the extra effort to look for friends who are not "just like me" is well worth it.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier is the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, both of whom lived during the first half of the 19th century, and their unusual friendship, based upon a common interest in fossils. Mary was a member of a poverty-stricken family who brought in money by using her gift of finding (and taking) fossils on the seashore. Elizabeth was of a more privileged class, but was dependent upon her brother, who inherited their father's estate when he died. She and her younger sister found themselves living at the same seaside town as Mary, and Elizabeth struck up a relationship with Mary, which eventually developed into a real friendship. Society didn't give much credence to Mary's ability and her status as a woman discounted even more her getting credit for her fossil finds. Her friendship with Elizabeth opened doors for her, and she finally gained some recognition for dinosaur remains that she uncovered. The friendship ultimately suffered because of Elizabeth's understanding of societal contraints, and Mary's refusal to accept her advice. This is a compelling story that brought me to a greater understanding of the value of friendships between women (especially women of different ages), and the progress we've made on our own behalf.

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos is a beautiful story of  friendship between two women, one young and one older, both who are "broken" in different ways. Margaret Hughes, in her seventies, lives alone in a mansion filled with antiques, both inherited from her father. Wanda Schultz, in her twenties has come live with Margaret while she searches for her lost love. Both women hide painful pasts which have inflicted damage to their lives but events lead to redemption for Margaret and a new life for Wanda as a mosiac artist.  I was led to this book by Kallos by reading and enjoying her second novel, Sing Them Home.

You can find the titles mentioned above at your local library, as well as through Amazon, linked below.

Happy reading!
Annie Joy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Molly, Malone, and Other Furry Family Members, Part 2

We weren't surprised at the sadness we felt after our sweet Lab, Molly, died in November.  We expected to miss her deeply, but could not have predicted the over-whelming sense of loss that faced us each day.  She had been there for each of us as we returned home from work, her tail wagging so hard that it could have knocked over a small table.  She was my security blanket when Tom was gone; I didn't worry about intruders coming in without a warning.  We missed her happy Lab smile and the "grin" she would display if she thought she was in trouble.  I missed her when I took a nap on the loveseat in our bedroom.  She would manage to curl all 130 pounds of herself behind my bent legs.  And, of course, we missed her beautiful, amber coat, her soft ears, and her amber eyes fringed with curly blond eyelashes -- eyes that seemed to gaze into your soul.

But Molly was gone and the weeks passed, and as people do when there is a gap -- we started thinking about filling it.  We had wonderful offers of beautiful dogs, but something kept telling us -- not yet. 

Finally, after a time, Tom said that he really wanted another yellow Lab puppy.  We both agreed that we would wait until late summer.  We decided that we wanted a female and that we would name the dog in honor of Molly.  She would be "Malone" -- from the Irish folksong, Molly Malone.   I really think that what we both wanted was Molly.

Early and middle March was a transition time for my daughter and her family.  They were moving from one part of the country to another and it was an opportunity for them to visit us.  As we discussed their upcoming visit, Mary reminded me that she would have her two dogs with her and we agreed that they would be welcome.  Tink and Booty were our houseguests during that time and we were impressed at how well they behaved and how much pleasure they brought to us.  They both had plenty of love to give and won us over with their energy, playfulness, and good doggy manners.  We felt our broken hearts beginning to mend.

This is a photo of  "the girls" -- Tink and Booty in front and Colleen, Mary, Annie and Abby in back.  Their Daddy (bless his heart) is the only male in the family.  Tink and Booty don't get on the furniture unless invited.

Not long after Mary's family left, "Dear Abby" published a series of letters about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of older people getting puppies when there are so many older dogs, especially mixed breeds, who need homes.  Tom and I talked seriously about our plans for a Lab puppy, how easily Tink and Booty had fit into our household, and how quickly we developed affection for them.  Our minds, and hearts, were being changed.

We decided that we would be open to an older dog needing a home and that, if we weren't going to be set on a Lab, we would also be interested in a smaller dog.   We hoped that the right dog would appear in late summer, after we returned from our vacation.

Tom's brother called last week, telling Tom that a dog had appeared in their neighborhood; he had been locked in an empty condo and left there.  Mike and Kent were in possession of the dog and were trying to find his owner; they were listing him on Craigs List and putting picture posters around town.  The little dog was in good condition; they had taken him to a vet, who said that he was about two years old and had been neutered.  He was well behaved and house broken and was having the time of his life with their dog, CoCo.  He had on a nice collar and someone had bathed him and (tried to) give him a trim before leaving him -- probably hoping that someone would find him and take him home.  The question was:  Did we want him?

By the time the phone conversation ended, they were both calling him "Malone" and he was responding to the name.

Tom came and told me about the dog and I responded with, "We agreed that we wanted a female and that we wanted to wait until after vacation."  He asked me to keep an open mind and I said I would, but that we agreed that we wanted a female and that we wanted to wait until after vacation.

Later that day, after I had time to cool down and open my mind, I asked Tom if he wanted to go and see the dog.  Which we did.  Which we thought was adorable.  And which we now have at our house (after waiting several days to see if his owner claimed him.)  His name is Malone.  He's not a Lab, he's not a female, and he's not (and never will be) Molly.  But he's ours now and the first thing I told him is that he is at his home.  He won't be left anywhere and he'll always know whose he is, where he belongs, and that we love him.  That's the least we can do for a member of our family.

This is a photo of Mike, Kent, Coco and Malone.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Molly, Malone, and Other Furry Family Members

This story begins on a very bad day for my husband, Tom, and me.  Our sweet Lab, Molly, had been diagnosed with pancreatitis and left under the watchful eye of the veterinarian.  Our hearts ached because we had not seen any improvement, but we had not given up hope that she would recover.  On the evening of November 3rd, 2009, Tom went straight to the vet from work; I was staying at work into the evening for a meeting.  At 5:00, Tom called and said that Molly wasn't doing well and he was afraid that she might die soon.  A generous co-worker agreed to take my place at the meeting and I was able to join Tom at the vet's.

When I got there, Tom told me that Molly had wagged her tail when she saw him and had tried to get up, but wasn't able to.  We both stayed with her, petted her and talked with her.  We still hoped that something would happen and that she would recover and the vet told us about another possible course of action, but said that he really doubted if she would survive.  Molly then had a seizure which lasted about 15 seconds and we stroked her and petted her, which was really all we could do.  The doctor told us that she would probably continue to have seizures through the night and then would die.  He recommended that we have her put to sleep, which we did, while we held her.  It was one of the hardest nights either of us can remember; Molly was our baby and we had lost her.

Molly came into our lives nine years ago.  She was a beautiful, amber color with eyes to match.  I was working the day we got her, and Tom brought her to the library so that I could meet her.  Of course, I had to show her off to other members of the library staff.  We were both very proud of our new family member.  Our large "people" family was growing up and away; the six children from our blended family were establishing themselves with college, careers, marriage and children, and Molly filled an empty place in our home and in our hearts.  She was especially close to her "Daddy".

The following photographs illustrate their bond.


These photographs show Molly in two of  her favorite places: on the couch (as a pup) and in her Daddy's truck.

As you can imagine, the months after our Molly died were very hard.  I think that they were harder for Tom; I was scheduled to retire in January and my life was pretty full with trying to get things finished at work and preparing for the holidays.  But Christmas Day was especially hard.  A blizzard hit Oklahoma and everyone was advised to stay off the roads.  We were hoping to see several members of our large family, despite the fact that Tom was scheduled to work on Christmas Day.  The only person who could be with us was Tom's son, Jeff, who came in early and couldn't get back to Oklahoma City to be with his children.  Tom had to work as scheduled.  And our Molly was gone.

I am going to stop here and finishing this posting tomorrow.  Sometimes, especially when you are in pain, your heart leads you to unexpected places, even when you think it never could.  The rest of our story is about where our hearts have led us.

Until then,
Annie Joy

Monday, April 12, 2010

Memorial - Dixie Carter

I would like to pay tribute to the wonderfully talented and beautiful actress, Dixie Carter.  She brought so much enjoyment into my life, mostly through Designing Women's Julia Sugarbaker.  Since I didn't know her personally, I like to imagine that Dixie had many of the same characterisitics as Julia: sassy, spirited, persuasive, a true friend and loyal sister (whether by blood or shared concerns).

Who will not remember Julia's tirades in defense of Suzanne's beauty queen status or in response to unwanted attention on a cruise, or (most importantly) in regard to the many politically-charged situations where she very skillfully nailed the truth and maintained her composure?

Dixie was also a wonderful singer and dramatic actress and has entertained many, many people during her career.

I'll remember her best as Julia, though.  She helped me to be stronger, prouder, and less afraid to speak my mind.  I'm sure that there are countless women who feel the same.

Thank you, Dixie.  You will be missed.

Annie Joy

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lots of Ham on Next Week's Menu

I will be "cooking with ham" all next week, so if you have some really good recipes, send them my way.

My in-laws, wonderful people, were due to arrive for lunch at about noon yesterday.  Since they were driving from Ft. Worth, about three hours away, we had told them that the meal would be ready when they got here.  We had done our shopping on Tuesday, which left me plenty of time to clean and have a couple of desserts ready.  And I was ready, at about 11:00 yesterday, to get the ham ready to put in the oven.  The carrot cake, lemon icebox pie and salad were ready, rolls ready to warm up, cheesy hash brown casserole in the oven, table set.  Just needed to mix the orange juice and orange marmalade to spread over the fully cooked ham (as directed in Southern Living's "Your Way or Your Mother's Way" food article) before I popped it into the oven for 30 minutes. 

Now, let's go back to the shopping trip on Tuesday.  Hubby and I rush through the grocery store because we want to get home in time for American Idol.  I give him items from the list, which he brings to the cart while I gather other items.  One of his is a four-pound fully cooked ham.  He brings it to the cart with his other items and I ask him, "The ham is fully cooked, right?"  (I had emphasized "fully cooked" when I gave him his assignment.)  He gave me his "do you think I'm an idiot" look and said, "Yes, it's fully cooked."

Now, back to the kitchen on Friday.  I hadn't looked at the ham when I put it into the refrigerator (big mistake).  I cut the netting on the ham and looked at the label.  Nothing about it being fully cooked (or smoked, or anything else.)    Uh oh.  I examined the entire ham.  Nothing, nowhere -- which (I'm assuming) means, IT'S NOT FULLY COOKED!  I glance back at the Southern Living article, which also has "Ham Cooking 101", which also estimates the cooking time for a not-cooked four-pound ham at two hours.

Okay, now I have the original ham, waiting for us (just the two of us) to cook and eat it sometime soon.  Contrite husband called Van's Pig Stand and asked about buying cooked ham, which they didn't have, but they did have some smoked turkey.  He went and picked it up and it was delicious.  My mother-in-law said she would rather have the turkey, anyway.  Everybody's happy.

Except I still have this ham.

Annie Joy

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Friday Favorites -- Some Magazines I Love

I confess: I love magazines just about as much as I love books.  It makes my day when I get one in the mail, especially if it's one of my favorites!  At the end of the year, there were some really low subscription offers, and I thought that nothing could be better to begin my retirement than with a couple of new magazines each week.  Here are some of my favorites:

Mary Engelbreit Home Companion -- Yes, I know that this one has ceased publication.  I had a subscription for about ten years, and have always gone back to look at the older ones.  I'm still doing that; the crafts, decorating ideas, and other articles all still seem fresh to me.
Country Home -- Another one that has ceased publication.  I miss it!
Country Living -- I've been reading it since it began publication.  Still love it and look forward to its arrival.
Better Homes and Gardens -- Started receiving it when one of the others ceased.  I like it and am continuing my subscription.
Good Housekeeping -- This used to be a favorite, years ago.  I got a good deal on a subscription and am enjoying it again.
Traditional Home -- I just ordered this one.  I used to have a subscription and the offer was three years for about $20.
Food Network Magazine -- I like this one, but it puts a lot of pressure on me.  All those recipes!
Southern Living - An old favorite.  Just as good as it ever was, except they've dropped the "Southern Books" column.  I'd like to see more personal essays, too.
Body and Soul - Another new one that I'm enjoying.  Helps me to focus on taking care of myself.
Prevention - Good for same reasons as Body and Soul.  Good stuff for my hubby as well.
Oklahoma Today - Great travel articles and features on our beautiful state.  I don't have a subscription, but plan to order one.

I also enjoy some of the Somerset publications, especially Somerset Life, Somerset Holidays and Celebrations, Artful Blogging, and Where Women Create, for their beautiful photography and creative ideas.

Happy reading!  Annie Joy

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Altered Book: Reader's Digest Converted to Centerpiece or Purse

I have mentioned that I love books in every way, including "transformed" or "altered" books.  I thought I would share the creation of some wonderful, talented librarians, a sample of which is pictured here.  The lovely centerpieces put together by the decorating committee for the Red Dirt Book Festival were made from old Reader's Digest condensed books.  The pages were removed and the covers and spine were left intact. Contrasting or themed fabric was used for the ends, forming the folding part of the book, which was displayed standing on its spine.  You'll notice that there is a handle to the centerpiece.  That is because these "designer originals" are also handbags.  The handle on this one is a bandana; others are made with beads. They were all just fabulous, thanks to our creative librarians!  Annie Joy

Monday, April 5, 2010

That Little Girl

Today, I was going to post about "Continuing Beauty Challenge Number 2" (my feet), but I'm going to put that one off and tell you about a little girl.  She is pictured at the left, with her very cute younger brother.  That little girl is me.  Looking at her (and remembering her), I can see that she is not perfect.  She has red hair, freckles, a habit of squinting, knobby knees and a very tentative smile.  I can also see that she is a precious child, whom I would hug if I could, because she deserves hugging.  I would encourage her, forgive her when she makes mistakes, and reassure her that she is pretty (remembering what my mother told me: pretty is as pretty does, and knowing that this little girl tries her very best to be good).

I am still that little girl inside.  I suspect that we are all "that little girl" inside, but sometimes we forget.  I used to have a picture of my little girl self on my desk at work as a reminder.  The reason was (and is) that I am pretty hard on that little girl, all grown up.  I nag her about her mistakes, I focus on regrets, I belittle her appearance, sometimes I don't give her a moment's rest.  Sometimes the little girl inside me needs a hug, needs to be told that she is a good girl, and that she is loved.  It is up to grown-up me to do that, so that the little girl doesn't whither away and turn into a bitter, mean-spirited old lady.  I'm promising myself to do that.  The other thing I'll do is remember that there are other little girls around me (little boys, too), and treat them with tenderness.

Give your little girl a hug for me!

Annie Joy

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oklahoma Book Award Finalists: The Wind Comes Sweeping by Marcia Preston and The Sky Took Him by Donis Casey

It's a joy and a pleasure to recommend books by Oklahoma authors.  The two I'm featuring today are finalists for the 2010 Oklahoma Book Award in Fiction.  There are other nominees in five categories (Children/Young Adult, Design and Illustration, Fiction, Non-fiction and Poetry).  For winners and nominees for previous years (a fine place to find "the best of the best" for your Oklahoma reading list) visit The Oklahoma Book Award website.

Marcia Preston's The Wind Comes Sweeping begins in the past with the suicide of a young woman in 1895 Oklahoma territory, resulting in the "Legend of Silk Mountain".  I was a bit disappointed that the story didn't continue there, since I enjoy reading stories in historical settings, but soon settled into the shift to modern day Oklahoma and a gripping tale about a young woman who has returned to her home town after her rancher father's death.  Marik Youngblood has the soul of an artist rather than a rancher, but respects the land and understands the promise of the wind power to the ranch's survival.  Her return home forces her to deal with neighbors who oppose the land's use for that purpose. Marik and her neighbor, Lena, have little in common other than heartbreaking personal secrets, but each must ultimately accept her own need for resolution.  This story includes some interesting descriptions of wind power technology and supplied some perspective on those giant (115 feet long) fiberglass rotors that we often see traveling down Oklahoma's highways.

The Sky Took Him by Donis Casey is an "Alafair Tucker" mystery.  I had not read any of the other titles of the series, which include The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, Hornswoggled, and The Drop Edge of Yonder.   In the latest of the series, Alafair Tucker travels to Enid, Oklahoma from her home in tiny Boynton in the fall of 1915 to help her sister, Ruth Ann, whose husband is on his death bed.  Alafair is a practical, hardworking mother of several children, and her life contrasts with that of Ruth Ann, who lives a life of privilege and enjoys the social and political scene in the Cherokee Strip.  The difficulty of watching her sister's husband die is magnified when Ruth Ann's son-in-law doesn't return home as scheduled.  Lester's disappearance sets the stage for public disclosure of questionable dealings involving one of the most powerful and dangerous men in Enid and Alafair allows her natural curiosity and sleuthing abilities to uncover the source of a history of trouble for her sister's family.  I particularly enjoyed getting to know Alafair and her family in The Sky Took Him (there is even a family tree included at the beginning of the book), as well as references to Oklahoma history.  There are also some authentic recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book, including Alafair's chocolate pie/pudding (described as "potent" and "for extreme chocolate lovers only").

I look forward to continued good reading from Marcia Preston and Donis Casey!

Annie Joy

p.s.  Part of my blogging education is being introduced to many wonderful blogs about the things I love.  They are in a list here on my own blog, but I've decided to tell you a little more about one or two in each of my posts.  The first is from an Oklahoma blogger, Carol's Heirloom Collection , where you'll find frequent postings about recipes, memories, family, and decorating. The second is The Jewel Box Home  and offers advice on how to decorate, entertain, and live happily in a smaller home.  I hope that you enjoy these blogs as much as I do and I look forward to sharing many of the wonderful blogs I'm discovering.

p.p.s. I am adding this a couple of weeks after my original posting.  It's just to illustrate how I'm willing to embarrass myself when it comes to books and authors.  I was in the doctor's waiting room when I heard the name "Donis Casey" called, and a woman followed the nurse into the examination rooms.  Of course, I couldn't let the opportunity pass without meeting the author of a book I had just read, enjoyed and reviewed.  I was afraid that she might come out and her husband (waiting for her, near to where I was sitting) might join her, leaving before I had a chance to introduce myself.  So, I went and sat down next to him -- "Sir, is the woman with you your wife?"  He answered that she was.  "Do you mind if I ask her name?"  His answer:  Lois Casey.  Lois, not Donis.  Oops!  Well, I told him the truth, that I had misheard and thought that she was an author whose book I had just read.  He responded that she hadn't written any books, as far as he knew.  I guess he would know if she had written any books.  And that her name was Lois, not Donis.

p.p.p.s.  You can find the titles I've mentioned at your local library, or through these links to Amazon:


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Recently Read Fiction Favorites

  • A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  • Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
  • Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
  • Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
  • Confessions of a Former Rock Queen by Kirk Bjornsgaard
  • Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
  • Faithful Place by Tana French
  • Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
  • Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow
  • Innocent by Scott Turow
  • My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
  • Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • Private Life by Jane Smiley
  • Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  • Roses by Leila Meacham
  • Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
  • So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
  • South of Broad by Pat Conroy
  • That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
  • The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson
  • The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
  • The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
  • The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
  • The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
  • The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  • The Sky Took Him by Donis Casey
  • The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  • The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
  • The Wind Comes Sweeping by Marcia Preston
  • Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom
  • Wolf Hall by Hillary Mandel
  • World Without End by Ken Follett
  • Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks

Favorite Nonfiction and Memoir

  • All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
  • Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason by Nancy Pearl
  • Getting Over Getting Older by Lettie Cottin Pogrebin
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Sharing the Journey: Women Reflecting on Life's Passages by Katherine Ball Ross
  • Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  • The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin
  • The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dustbowl by Timothy Egan