Sunday, November 18, 2012

Carnival Fun!

Now that the election is over we can all breathe a sigh of relief.  No more barrage of unwanted phone calls just as we sit down to dinner.  No more taping every single TV show on the planet so we can fast forward through the political ads.  We haven't escaped however, the analysis of how it turned out the way it did. 

What the research says is that the American landscape is changing.  The educated white man no longer rules.  In fact he's in the minority.  People I grew up thinking were minorities are now the majority.  That's what makes America great in my view of the world. But did we really need to spend millions of taxpayers dollars to tell us this?  No.  The journalists only need to visit the local carnival to see what's happening.

Yesterday was a picture perfect day here in Florida.  The Space Coast State Fair was in full swing over at the stadium.  The stadium is so close that at night I can hear the fairgoers screaming while they enjoy the many rides.  With nothing better to do Richard and I decided to take in the festivities. 

We paid our admission fee and stuck our arms through a hole in the booth so the ticket taker could put on our wrist bands.  Next the Gideons handed me a pocket bible.  And then there we were smack dab in the middle of a world of carny barkers, spinning rides and fair food. 

Richard and I are fascinated by the game barkers.  The games haven't changed much. Ring toss and guess your weight are still dragging people in with the lure of a big bright colored stuffed animal.  In the stand up the bottle game, the prize is an ipad or a Wii.  I don't think too many of those are handed out.  The rides still spin but have different packaging like dragons and hanggliders.  I have vertigo so no rides for me but it's fun to watch the kids smiling after a trip on the Tilt-A-Whirl disguised as a magic carpet ride.

It's the food that amazed me.  I've never been to a fair that served egg rolls and fried rice.  The brightly colored booths also sold chicken wings, pizza and fruit smoothies.  The pizza smelled delicious but I was determined to have what I consider real fair food.  We had a hard time finding our tried and true favorites, a sausage and onion hoagie and funnel cake.  But when we did.  Oh my!  Wash it all down with a diet coke and I was in seventh heaven. 

After we ate, a trip to the port a potty was in order.  I pinched my nose before entering but I didn't need to.  It was clean and actually smelled pretty good.  They've got the air freshener part fine tuned.  And don't forget the hand washing station.  I didn't feel like I needed to take a bath the second I exited the portable bathroom.  

I wanted a fair that took me back to my childhood.  But young people today can't even imagine a world with out pizza and chicken nuggets.  To attract a diverse crowd even the carnival knows it has to change with the times.  I enjoyed this new version of the state fair.  The circus, the bulls, sheep herding and even a Flying Wallenda climbing a 100 foot pole entertained me.  I got my fix of junk food.

And guess what? There wasn't a fried Twinkie anywhere to be found.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Seventh Victim by Mary Burton

The Seventh Victim by Mary Burton

I was fortunate enough to get an advance reading copy of The Seventh Victim when I attended the super, fabulous Florida Writers Association Conference last month in Lake Mary, Florida.  Mary Burton will be the association's guest at next years conference and will conduct a workshop.  I can't say enough good things about the Florida Writers Association and the wonderful things they do.

I don't read alot of romantic suspense.  Mainly because crime and murders don't really float my boat.  And I really hate to say this because I don't want any of you to think I'm being arrogant, but I can usually figure out who did it long before the author chooses to reveal it.

James Beck and Lara Church were strong, believable characters guiding the story through many twists and turns.  The hunt for the Seattle Strangler who was responsible for a string of murders until Lara.  She escaped his clutches but with no memory of the event to help police solve the homicides. After the attack, she wandered around the country until landing in Austin, Texas when her grandmother dies.  The strangler has landed there too.

The Seventh Victim is a well written and tension filled novel.  What left me anxious to move on was that I knew how it would end before I even go to the halfway point.  And the author left the romance until nearly the end of the book in what I felt was a very unnatural point for the characters.   I didn't see sexual tension building between the two leading up to that point.   

If you enjoy reading Mary Burton and romantic suspense novels, you will love The Seventh Victim.  I enjoyed reading it but it left me unfulfilled.  It just wasn't for me. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Already?

It smells like fall today, that wonderful odor of decay that signals autumn. It also makes me want to get out a rake, make a pile of leaves and jump in.  But alas this is Florida.  There are no dead leaves scattered across the front lawn, no rake in the garage, no brilliant yellows and reds lighting up the landscape.  Fall comes late here.  And stays but for a fleeting moment. 

Fall means a turkey is cooking in the oven today.  We've decided to skip Thanksgiving in favor of a car show in Orlando this year.  We'll have a hot dog for lunch and leftovers when we get home.  Aren't leftovers always better than fresh out of the oven anyway?   

Tomorrow it will be winter.  Winter by Florida standards doesn't include snow.  It rarely requires gloves or hats or heavy coats.  When it does, we have to dig far into the closet to find those things we brought with us when we came south over thirty years ago and kept on hand just in case. Winter here is a pleasant, cool crispness and blends quickly into spring.

The impending onset of winter means it's time to put up the Christmas decorations.   Oh I forgot.  They're already up. 

The Christmas tree is decorated and standing proudly in the living room.  The patio is strung with lights and garland graces the front door.  But Richard won't turn on the lights until someone else in the neighborhood does it first.  This is a 55 community.  Someone else has to have too much time on their hands like Richard.  The giant blow up Santa surely has to appear in the yard down the street soon. Or do I have to wait for them to smell change in the air?  Tomorrow they'll pop out of bed and rush around putting up the decorations, baking cookies, trimming the tree afraid they've missed it. 

Each year the holidays come sooner and sooner.  Where does the time go?  Just for today I'm going to soak up all the sights and smells of fall.  They will be hard to find and difficult to detect.  Tomorrow it will be winter, the day after New Years and the day after that Easter. I'm going to enjoy it while I can. The holidays will come around again before I know it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

The Weird Sisters is a truly weird, and aptly named novel. And I loved it.

Written in third person possessive, it took a little getting used to.  As the story unfolded, the unusual tense became natural and well suited to the story.  Weird.

Three very different sisters, Rose, Bean and Cordy all make their way back home when their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer.  Rose is the eldest, and feels it's her duty to take charge of everything.  She had earned her PhD and holds a professorship at a nearby university, never having left the comforts of her parent's home.  Bean, the lively party girl couldn't wait to leave small town life for the big city.  The fast and expensive lifestyle however caught up with her, forcing her back home.  Returning to care for her mother served as a cover up for the trouble she'd created.  Cordy was a wanderer, never sure what bed she'd sleep in or where the next meal would come from.  She loved the freedom, but she too had a secret that drove her home.

One thing all the sisters had in common was the love of books.  Their father teaches literature at the small college in town.  He speaks in lines from Shakespeare leaving his daughters trying to figure out what he is truly trying to say. Their mother suffers silently.

The author's talent at creating extraordinary characters is amazing.  Each sister has a distinct personality.  The parents are so immersed in each other, the girls exist in the outskirts of their private world. Throughout the novel the characters remain true to themselves in all the interactions between them.  An amazing feat in a complex story.

The Weird Sisters was weird.  But also wonderful.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back To My Roots

Books are piling up on my shelf again. I'm back to feeling helpless when it comes to resisting them.  Is it that when I ordered a keyboard cover for my new laptop on Amazon, I had to order a few books in order to get free shipping? Or that while attending the Florida Writers Association conference a couple weeks ago, I couldn't resist shopping in the bookstore.  Or is it that I've felt a new surge in writing lately and when I go to the bookstore for some peace, I'm overwhelmed by all the new books out for Christmas.

All of the above.  I also snuck in a few new titles on my Kindle.  The other day while dusting in the dining room, I saw the books that grace the shelves there. I'd forgotten about them. We don't eat in the dining room very often, only when we have company.  Now I'm feeling overwhelmed by books again. 

That got me to thinking why I started writing this blog to begin with.  Addiction.  I seemed to think that hoarding books was harmless.  I loved to read, what harm could it be.  Yet I foolishly spent money on things I didn't use.  Armloads of books sat silently on my shelf.  As soon as the next intriguing best seller came out, I bought it, tossing aside all the perfectly good books I already had.  When I started writing this blog, I had 76 unread books waiting for my loving eyes to read their pages and warm hands to hold them.  For a long time I kept track of titles I read.  Probably half of that 76 has been read, a few more given away when I started them and couldn't stomach more that the first chapter.  At least another 76 have made their way into my reading mind without ever being logged onto the list. 

The path that initially had me examining my bookshelf also got me to examine my life.  For a long time after closing the book I read before bedtime, I prayed for the will to stop drinking.  And every day at dinner, I reached into the refrigerator for a bottle of wine.  From my drunken stupor, I prayed some more.  And then one day I fixed dinner and set a glass of water in front of my place.  That was almost three years ago.

That first night, I went to bed and said thank you.  The next night, I asked for help me.  Unbeknownst to me, that first night was only the beginning of a long and painful journey.  But I made it down the road.  Oh sure, on days like today, when it's cold out, for some reason I crave a drink.  But I don't have one.  So many things are clearer in my mind.  It's so much more pleasant not driving through life in the fog.

I'll make it through my pile of books.  I'll read them, keeping the ones I love and passing along those I don't like quite so much. My love of books and the written word helped me to understand other shortcomings in my life.  Every book comes into my life for a reason and I promise I'm going to read them.  I know I can do it.  My books showed me the way. 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Parent App by Lynn Schofield Clark

The Parent App by Lynn Schofield Clark

After spending a miserable vacation in the amazing beauty of Yellowstone National Park with two teenagers who refused to release their grip on their cell phones, I decided to read The Parent App. 

I wasn't raised on computers or cellphones but as a writer trying to be noticed in today's world, I'm very aware of their gravitational pull.  My husband, who doesn't even know how to turn on a computer, often complains about how attached I am. My computer usage however, is extremely tame compared to my granddaughters who have never known a world without them.

The Parent App is an interesting discussion about children and their parents in this digital age.  Socioeconomic backgrounds play a huge role in how soon a child gets a cellphone and how the parent regulates its use.  Each child is different and the parenting styles have to adjust. I found the comparisons fascinating. 

Instead of being frustrated at my failure to understand teenagers, The Parent App opened my eyes to what it means to grow up in today's world.  That doesn't mean as adults we have to accept a computer's domination of our daily lives.  We must teach our children how to use these modern tools wisely and we must learn how to use them wisely ourselves.

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