books, Uncategorized

Top Reads of 2019

Looking back through my blog content, I didn’t spend much time talking about my 2019 reading list. I might have mentioned a book here and there but the only time I blogged about books this year was for my 2018 list which I published in late January (better late than never?!). This year I set a goal of 70 books and finished 77 as of today – this number astounds me because I used to read a couple dozen books a year. The benefits of sobriety! I’ll take you through a few of the best books in a few different genres that I enjoyed.

Best Audiobook: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanCE614EF4-2442-4A44-AA13-7479D8C58148.jpeg
There is a lot of debate on book Twitter if audiobooks even count as books read and I’m here to say they absolutely count. If you listen to a book and take in all the information from the book you have every right to count them on your “read” list. I have tried to read A Man Called Ove many, many times because everyone told me it was good, but it didn’t take until I listened to it while I sweated it out at the gym. All this time I had been pronouncing Ove wrong – this is one of the benefits of listening – hearing things pronounced correctly.

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Life, Uncategorized

A Trip to the Medium

The idea of seeing a medium has been bouncing around in the back of my mind for years. Nearly thirty three years since I lost my brother, Jeff, to suicide. There was no note. I was gutted. Why had this happened? I needed answers. John Edwards was a fairly new phenomenon back then and he had been a guest speaker at my college at the time. I don’t remember what he said that night, but I knew there could be an answer to my questions by visiting him. But I didn’t persue it.

There were a couple of local psychics in my hometown and one reached out to a family member a while after my brother died. She said my brother had visited her on the night he died and he wanted her to tell my mother he was OK. He mentioned very specific jewelry in her posession that no one else would know about. I imagine she was terrified to bring this information to my mother knowing we were a devout Catholic family who didn’t go in for other wordly nonsense.

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Life, Uncategorized

Small progress

Later today I’m leaving for a week away. When you’re unemployed, taking a vacation seems redundant but there you have it. At least it will be a change of scenery and better weather (although it’s pretty nice here in upstate New York).

I was so fired up from my last post about decluttering that I did something pretty amazing yesterday. Drumroll, please… I went to the landfill!!!! Yup, I took that old broken television and a monitor that doesn’t work and a laptop that has seen better days AND the huge box the new television came in right to the landfill. I have lived here 17 years without making a single trip to the landfill. It was a revelation!

I also mentioned my plan to my husband and I think the action I took about getting rid of these things that had become the backdrop of our life opened him to the idea of getting rid of more stuff. A lot more stuff. Of course he asked what I was going to do with my hot button items: the juicer I no longer use and the food vacuum sealer thing I bought because I was going to do freezer cooking. These are things I need to think about because I’m not using them and they were pretty expensive.

One thing he didn’t mention was my long forgotten scrapbooking hobby that has been taking up space in our very disorganized loft space. I don’t think you can call it a hobby because I never really did it. I actually went up to our loft yesterday with the intention of throwing out the scrapbooking stuff, but boy do I have a surprise for him. I’ll tell you more about that next week but I’m pretty excited about it.

I need to find my own word for ‘onward’.

MC

Life, Uncategorized

Books over Christmas

Christmas is coming but you wouldn’t know it if you walked into our house today. I have been procrastinating about cleaning the dining and living rooms which hold the remnant mess of our summer kitchen remodel. There are always better things to do (reading, reading, reading) with my free time! I kept telling myself I would get to it and even this week when I knew time was running out, I couldn’t ignore the siren song of my Kindle. I recently finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and then I became obsessed about anything else I could find out about the rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 70’s and 80’s. And then I said to myself let me just start another book before I jump into cleaning.

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Life, Uncategorized

This and that

Jeff.jpg
My brother and I, age 8 and 6

Today would have been my brother‘s 53rd birthday, so far he has missed 32 of them. It used to be a very painful day for me because our birthdays fall just 10 days apart and we often had a dual celebration when we were growing up. They say time heals all wounds and while that doesn’t fit in most cases of lost loved ones, it seems to have dulled the ache over the past three decades. These days I sometimes fleetingly think about what could have been if he hadn’t died, but living in the past is good for no one. It’s all about accepting our current reality.

Time is a true healer and the things that seemed urgent and insurmountable a couple of weeks ago are background noise today. I mentioned in a previous post that my dad had been the victim of a fraud scam (to the tune of $4,400). I was so angry about this and to be honest, initially, I couldn’t fathom how he could have fallen for the scam which is known as the “grandparent scam“.  After hearing him tell what happened I understood how he could have been duped and only felt the deepest heartache for a man who has only approached life with optimism and trust in his fellow humans. He has given the shirt off his back on many occasions over the years and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He is the last person who should have been the victim of a scam. My siblings and I have pitched in to make him whole and it has been a learning and growing experience for all of us.

That same week we were at the bottom of our patience reserves with our pre-teen. Every day was bringing more fighting than peace and my husband and I didn’t know how we were going to survive the summer and quite possibly the rest of his years until he was safely through his teen angst. We called in an expert and came up with a plan together to at least get through the next few weeks. It hasn’t been without its bumps but it no longer feels insurmountable. I’m constantly reminded that below all the turmoil is a good kid with a big heart and he often makes me laugh. The other day he posed the question “what if Wakanda didn’t exist” and then proceeded to tell me how all the other Marvel plots would fall apart if that had been the case. He is even making a Marvel lover out of me(this is a genre I had always avoided)! He loves magic and jokes and is always trying to entertain us. He is not out to get us! I have to remind myself he is trying to come into his own now and it’s time to loosen the strings.

This week will bring our contractor back to us. In the middle of our home renovation project, he had the audacity to get married and go on a honeymoon. The nerve! No, seriously, he is a great guy and I’m so happy for him and his new wife. He has been a tremendous worker and cares a great deal about his craftsmanship that I have no doubt we will be blown away by the end product. We are definitely in the final weeks of the project and the house will be back together by the time September arrives.

Happy Sunday.

MC

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Procrastinating

I am sitting in the library and thumbing through magazines. My mind wandered back to the prompt of the day, inchoate, a word I had to look up because I’m unfamilar with it. I don’t believe I’ve even seen it written or heard it spoken. I’m still unsure of it’s use so I decided to check in with other blogs to see what they did. It is not an unpleasant way to spend one’s time.

The house is an utter disaster, the contents of our luggage is spread from kitchen, to living room, to bedroom. There are piles of unfolded laundry and dishes in the sink. You can see why I’m at the library!

A message just came through. Jim is wondering where I am. Time to go and clean.

MC

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An Anniversary

I don’t tend to live life thinking something bad is awaiting me around every corner. I do tend to take life at face value so there are many times when I’m caught off guard or unpleasantly surprised. So I guess you could say I rarely have premonitions. There was the day nearly two years ago when I was alone at church because I had an afternoon writing class and Jim took Liam skiing for the day. My phone kept buzzing during mass, but like the good Catholic I am, I kept ignoring it.

After about the fourth time and with communion over, I realized it must be something important. I grabbed my pocketbook and left mass, pulling my phone out as I walked down the aisle. Three missed calls from Jim and two from dad. I didn’t need a premonition to tell me something was wrong and before I could dial Jim, he was calling me again to tell me my mom had died.

It wasn’t unexpected but it was still pretty painful to hear and face on my own. I sat in my car for a while. I talked to a number of family members and they were starting to gather at our family home which was two hours away. My mom died in her sleep during a nap on a bed we had set up in the living room after she had a bad fall the previous November. My dad was visiting with a nun/friend and after not hearing anothing from my mom after a while, she asked my dad to check on her only to realize she was no longer breathing.

Mom had a myriad of health problems and breathing was really hard for her even though she had never smoked. To have her die such a peaceful death was a true gift. Although the emergency crew came and were determined to bring her back, we were fortunate our neighbor who is a trooper and knew my mom was there to stop them because she did not want to be revived. Her DNR had been affixed to the fridge.

Tomorrow marks the second anniversay and while I miss her immensely, I only have to remember her quality of life and be happy she is now free of the physical impediments of this life.

MC

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I messed up

Here’s how my Friday went. Woke up at 6:30 and started cleaning the house so when I sit down to write, I won’t be distracted and could just get at it after bringing Liam to school.

At 8:00 I was back home and decided to start the laundry since everyone was out of the house. I clean off the counters and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and start that. It’s probably not a good idea to run the dishwasher and clothes washer together but such is life.

At 8:30 I’m content I’ll be able to write without distractions and brew myself a cup of coffee because, well, writing and coffee. The Keurig is acting up. Again. It’s not completing the brew cycle so I troublshoot and eventually by nine I have a cup of coffee.

The recycling is overflowing in the bin next to my desk. Clothes I’d placed on a drying rack earlier in the week were taunting me from nearby. Hey, we’ve been dry for days! I gather them and throw them on my bed to iron later.

Coats and wraps are accumulating on chairs. I’ll just hang them up quickly. I should throw my yoga matt and blocks into the trunk of my car. They’ve been sitting in the corner of my writing room for a couple months when I removed them to have my car detailed.

I better go through the stack of magazines and catalogues and accumulated junk mail. How does it pile up so quickly? Finally, I’m sitting at my desk. A blank canvas, a daily prompt. Neighbor. I’ve got the start of something but it’s not coming. I fight the urge to work on a puzzle. Maybe a 15 minute break.

And on and on that’s how the day went and I didn’t make it past day 2 of the monthly challenge. So I’ll dust myself off and try again tomorrow.