"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

20 April 2015

2015 Book Review #11: Ruth's Journey

Who loves Gone with the Wind as much as I do??

I first read that novel in probably 10th grade and fell in love with all the  characters.  I especially loved Mammy.  I read it again in college and again as a newlywed.  I love the movie although I do believe the book is better as the movie leaves so.much.out!!

So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this book on the town library "new books" shelf, written by an author who received permission from the Margaret Mitchell Estate, and I just had to get it!

STORY SUMMARY

This book is about Mammy from Gone with the Wind.  Mammy, for those of you who don't know the famous novel and award winning movie, is the black lady who takes care of the O'Hara family....Ellen and Gerald and their daughters Scarlett, Careen, and Suellen.

But most of this story centers around Ruth (Mammy) and her life with Solange.

The story of Mammy...her life journey...begins on the little island of Saint -Domingue, now known as Haiti. The island is a French colony and is under a revolution.  One day a senseless act of violence leaves just one survivor in a black family.....a beautiful little 4 year old girl hiding under a manioc basket and found by Captain Augustin Fornier.  He brings her home to his wife Solange (who later becomes the mother of Ellen who becomes the mother of Katie Scarlett O'Hara!).

Solange names the little girl "Ruth" and when they must flee the island to settle in Savannah, Georgia, they take her with them.  Ruth becomes their constant companion, comforter....and slave.  Solange teaches Ruth deportment and areas of etiquette found in gentile southern circles.

As a young woman, Ruth experiences love, marriage, childbirth.....and horrible loss and trauma.

When Solange gives birth to Ellen, it is Ruth...now known as "Mammy"....who teaches, guards, and nurtures the little girl.  She is at Ellen's side every day of her life.  Ellen makes an unexpected marriage to Gerald O'Hara...the rough Irishman, who takes Ruth and everyone else to the Up Country cotton plantation known as "Tara".  Thus begins a new chapter in Mammy's life....being a mammy to a new generation of young girls...the O' Hara girls.

Tara is a well known plantation and well known for their fine barbeques.  They befriend other well known families like the Wilkeses, the Tarletons, the Fontaines.  Mammy watches little Scarlett blossom into young womanhood.

MY THOUGHTS

If you like Gone with the Wind you are going to love reading about Mammy.  The author does a superb job of telling Mammy's back-story and reeling in the beloved characters from the more famous novel. 

I loved how Mammy became more real to me in this book than in Gone with the Wind.  In that story, she is "just" a servant although  a very important one.  In this book, we learn of her love and marriage to Jehu.  We weep for her as she learns of Jehu's hanging.  We moan and cry with her as we learn of Martine's fate......oh how I can only imagine the agony of seeing your little girl ripped out of your arms to be sold away.  The impact of slavery is much more pronounced in this book. 

And what a wonderful way to introduce Rhett Butler.  We find out in this book something very interesting that ties Rhett to Jehu.  I don't want to tell you what it is, as it would spoil the story for you.

This book left me feeling like I know Mammy as a real person.  And I think the author did just that....makes the reader really understand that slaves were real people.  The injustices done to them is shameful.  The idea of owning another person is downright horrible.  You know it really happened in history and you somehow sense that some of the slaves were better people than the Masters. In fact, most of them probably were better in integrity and character.

One very important quote from the book is this:

"because you Master don't make you right! Because you slave don't make you less'n a man!.....You can't pretend to be a boy 'thout becomin' a boy.  You can't pretend to be stupider than the white man 'thout becomin' stupider than what the white man is.  Who you pretends you is, you comes to be" (pg 157, Ruth's Journey c.2014, spoken by the character Preacher Vesy)
This book leaves you feeling proud of Mammy and her integrity. The ending of the book gave me chills.

It is excellent.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest I rate this a 10.



17 April 2015

Mid-April Faves

Ah....it's Friday.  The weekend is almost here and I am planning on getting a lot accomplished now that spring has really sprung.

I'm pausing for a few moments to list my FIVE FAVES from the past week.  Susanne is our gracious hostess and I'm so appreciative of her for reminding us to be thankful each day for the blessings God sends our ways.  Won't you join in with us? You can learn more by clicking here.

Along the bike/hike trail in our town
Mohawk River in background
photo courtesy of Dave, my hubby
  • WORK OUT DATE!  On Sunday, in the late afternoon, my husband and I decided to do a power walking workout since the temps were in the high 60s/low 70s.  It was wonderful!  We headed to one of the popular hike/bike paths in our town, along the Mohawk River/Erie Canal.  There were so many people out running, walking, biking, hiking.  We even saw a couple of people on rollerblades.  Dogs must be leashed on these trails so it makes for a great place to concentrate on getting a good work out in...you don't have to worry about dogs chasing you, etc.  It was lovely.  We ended up doing  4.73 miles and we both felt great!  Afterwards, we rewarded our selves with iced coffees from DD.  YUM! and because I enjoyed the work out so much on Sunday, I repeated it, going in the other direction for a total of 2 miles on Monday evening while Claire was at ballet classes.  I'm so thankful to be back to walking outdoors with NO ice and snow!

  • WORK COMPLETED!  On Saturday, I had to drive back out to the central part of New York State to assist one of my younger sisters in packing up some old stuff from our dad's house.  We are getting his house ready to sell and there's a lot to do.  Between the 4 of us "kids" we should be able to get everything packed, sold, or given away.  Anyways, I left early Saturday morning and left a list of simple chores for the teen girl and a list of "please do" for the husband.  And I was thrilled when I got home later, in time for dinner, to find that everything was completed!  Dave did a lot of yard work, plus a couple of other things for me in the house and Claire washed mirrors and did some other chores...even things NOT on the list.  I was so thankful.

  • SMOOTH START!  Monday was our first day back at school after a week off due to Spring Break.  Most of the special needs kindergartners had a fairly smooth transition back into the classroom as did all of the gen ed children. And we had perfect attendance all week...all 20 children were in class!  YAY!  The bonus for them was our duck eggs have arrived so are now in the incubator...we are hoping for a perfect dozen in about 28 days.  I'm so thankful I get to be a special educator in this school district and I'm thankful my daughters have been educated here as well.
Coffee 'n Creme Frozen Yogurt
  • SPECIAL TREAT/SILVER MEDAL:  Our 10th grader, Claire, received a silver medal for writing the National Latin Exams!  To celebrate, I surprised her with our first of the season soft serve ice cream (for her) and fro yo (for me) at one of our fave local spots. We are very proud of her for attempting 2 languages (she also takes Russian 3) this year on top of all Honors and AP classes.  I'm so thankful she does well and that she can have these wonderful educational opportunities.  (I'm also thankful our oldest daughter is doing well at college....more about her later in the month!) :)


  • SUNSHINE!  Every day this week (except last evening and today) the sun was shining and the temperatures were above 65 degrees.  The grass is turning green, the tulips are pushing through, I have 2 crocuses opened (the rabbit ate all my other bulbs!) and I have little white flowers that were a surprise to me...they just appeared in my front flower bed and are very delicate looking.  Sadly, I haven't taken any photos yet of them.  On Wednesday, I really wanted to get out of the school building, so I took my lunch to this park in our town,which is only about a mile from the school, and ate my lunch there.  I even remembered to grab my book and had 35 minutes of reading time.  It was so peaceful, pretty and SUNNY!  I'm so thankful spring has come to eastern NY!
  Those are my five faves......simple things but special because they are from the Lord.........He gives us the sunshine, the warm temperatures, the 4 beautiful seasons, the brain to do well, the body to work out, a spouse and children to enjoy life with,  and the cows to give milk so we can have ice cream! :)

HAPPY WEEKEND, EVERYONE!




16 April 2015

what I'm singing.............


Haven't had time to write this week.....will be back tomorrow for the weekly faves list....for now...this is the song I'm singin'....LOVE the lyrics........

and YES, He IS coming back!!





10 April 2015

SPRING BREAK FAVES



I'm savoring every moment this week due to being on Spring Break and reflecting back on the blessings God brought to it.  In participating with this weekly writing exercise, I'm listing FIVE FAVES from my week and linking up with Susanne, our hostess.


FIVE FAVES
  • SARATOGA!  Last Friday, our very first day of the vacation, my 16 yr old (Claire) had a pointe shoe appointment at our favorite dance shop.  Once we had the shoes fitted and paid for, we walked down to Broadway and strolled along the shops and chose this fave place for lunch.  After lunch we browsed in this bookstore...another fave...and ended up buying a couple of books.  It was such a fun day with my youngest.  Oh how I treasure these moments.

  • EASTER!  Oh how I love everything about Easter...the spiritual significance I mean.  Our church did an amazing job from the praise and worship music to the sermon.  I just LOVE celebrating our Redeemer who took all of our sins upon Himself just because He loves us.  And He is coming back!!  Did you know that in many classic artworks on the empty tomb, the artist depicts a folded napkin on the bench, next to the tousled cloth?  I just learned this year why the napkin is folded!  Apparently, it was a Jewish custom (manners) to leave a folded napkin if you were coming back to the table/meal.  If left unfolded, it meant the servant could remove it and you were done.  Jesus left a folded napkin!!(face cloth). HE IS COMING BACK!!!  For those of us who believe, we will live eternally!!  Halleluia.  That's a definite fave, friends!

  • TULIPS!  My husband came home from work on Wednesday and surprised me with this pretty tulip plant.  The flowers haven't opened yet in this photo taken yesterday morning, but I'm guessing they will be by the end of this weekend.  Claire and I had just returned from a long, dreary day...the weather was gloomy and our moods were subdued.  We had had my elderly (age 83) dad here since Easter Sunday and we had to drive him home to his apartment off my sister's house out in Central NY.  Well, the weather was rainy, cold, icky.  We got him safely off and then drove down to my hometown area where his house is, to do some packing, etc. as we need to get his house on the market in the next month or so.  It was kind of sad, seeing the remnants of my mom and dad's life...they were married almost 60 years when she died suddenly.  And although it's already been 2 years, it seems like it just happened, and other times it seems like a long time ago. Hard to explain but these tulips really did lift my spirits.  My husband probably knew how bittersweet the day was to me. I'm so thankful for him. and I'm thankful we got to have my dad here for a few days.  His memory is failing but he is doing well physically.  I'm also thankful he knows Jesus!


  • TEACUPS!  While at the hometown house, Claire and I went through the bone china tea cups my mom used to collect.  Dad had said we could choose another one (both girls received one as a Christmas  gift last year) for all of us.  My 3 younger sisters had already chosen theirs and so I chose the one pictured above.  My oldest daughter didn't want another one, my youngest sister's 2 little girls still need to choose one, and Claire took another one. We still have a few after we each get one!  We will probably sell what's left.  Now, I'm not really a tea cup kind of person.  I collect mugs from places where we travel/vacation and I LOVE mason jars for iced drinks (I save old pasta, jam, canning jars to use as glasses and have for years) and I do like drinking my coffee out of large mugs. But yesterday, I decided to enjoy my morning coffee in mom's tea cup.  It was dainty and so pretty......I thought it was a sweet way to remember her by.  I most likely won't use it every day, nor will  the girls use theirs, but just having them to remember her by is nice.  I'm thankful for the good memories. Mom sure loved collecting these!


  • SPRING CLEANING!  Because I've been on spring break all week, and was home due to Dad visiting, I managed to get a good chunk of spring cleaning done.  We had 2 days of rain, so my windows didn't get done like in years past, but I will work on those at the end of May.  Once the good weather sets in, I'll have plenty of time after work in the evenings to do a room.  The cleaning I did this past week was a deep cleaning of the kitchen and half bath, as well as the family room.  I also started purging our closets of things we no longer use/wear and my teen did the same thing.  We ended up bringing 3 large bags to Goodwill and now I'm working on yet another bag!  It is a fave with me to get the house ready for the nicer months. I even managed to get a lot of yard work done to prep for sitting on the porch and deck.  And buying a new deck chair and cute pillow added to the fun!

How about you?  what blessings were in your week??

Please feel free to share in the comment section or link up your own post!

Happy Weekend!


05 April 2015

Keep Pressing On!

First mile of trail up Tremper Mt
Catskills, NY
28 March 2015

It was overwhelming.... the snow. the ice. the cold crisp crunch under my boots.

I knew if it wasn't for my friend's stabilicers and her willingness to trudge back to the car to get them, that I would not be able to hike this trail. My goal was the summit where the fire tower was located. The summit with wind chills of under 20 degrees. The goal was to do this before the timber rattlesnakes slithered out of their den in the warmth of spring, waking to another year in the forest on the mountain.  And the bears...the bears have been seen on this trail in warmer months.  I had goals. I had to hike this mountain  and get it checked off my list before those creatures came out of hibernation so I could complete the Challenge (that I've been working on since summer 2004!) by the end of the hiking season 2015. 

I'm persistent.

So is God.


My 2 hiking friends from central New York State, my childhood hometown area, were doing this hike with Carla and I.  However, they were hiking slower than I was and Carla was hiking her usual rushed fast pace.  She was way ahead of me after the first mile.  The other 2, Cheryl and Mona, were at least within my eyesight.  Until they weren't. 

I trudged on wondering why in the world I was out in the cold on a spring day that felt and looked more like mid-winter.  Were we crazy??

No, I was determined.  Determined to climb this mountain and a bit "cabin fever"crazy as it had been a LONG winter with only 1 other hiking trip in a local state park.  I hadn't been on a mountain trail since October and I hadn't been on a real hike in the woods since early November.  I was so ready to hike.  My body and mind were ready and my soul....the Naturalist in me...was more than ready.

I plodded on, watching every little step, which I didn't like as it took way too long to go 3 miles up....but....I began to notice the beauty around me.

Hiking is a spiritual experience for me besides the physical workout and the mental acuity needed to reach the summit.

When I am following a well-blazed trail (like the one up Tremper Mt this day), I can hike with relative ease and enjoy my surroundings....I'm totally into it in every aspect:  physical, mental, emotional/spiritual. And although this trail was well-marked, I was not liking it as much as I would have if it was August.....it was all that hard packed snow and ice!  But.....like I said...I'm persistent.  And God, for some reason, wanted me on this mountain.  He even provided the right foot gear via my friend!  So of course I was going to continue.

At around the 2 1/2 mile mark..or what I was guessing was about 2 1/2 miles, I noticed that I could no longer see Cheryl and Mona and I definitely could not even hear Carla.  I figured she was at least a half hour ahead of me...probably already on the summit and the other 2 ladies were probably about 10 minutes behind me.

As I stopped by a large rock to take a drink of water, and catch my breath, I realized that if it was summer with perfect weather conditions, I would be anxious about seeing those rattlers or running into a mama bear.  So I thanked God for giving me the day to hike.


between miles 2 and 3





And that's when He began to speak to me.  He reminded me that sometimes we are asked to do hard things.  Things that are exhausting physically and/or mentally.  He began to remind me of times in the past when I screwed up, yet He was always there to embrace me, forgive me, keep me pressing on. He reminded me that even though a dear friendship I had in the past was over, that He still cared for both of us....that the issue surrounding the relationship ending was petty and that I could just give it to Him and relieve my self of the guilt of not doing the right thing.  What a relief that was!!  I lifted up my eyes to the summit of the mountain and felt His help come upon me.  Help for my inward feelings of guilt that I didn't do enough or that the words I had written to her were not adequately stated....and even though we probably will never be friends again this side of heaven and even though she has moved away and doesn't respond to cards I send, that I can still love her, pray for her and keep the good memories and moments alive in my heart.  I don't need to feel guilty...Jesus takes it all on His shoulders!  I did learn from this friendship...I learned a lot!  And I prayed on that cold, hard rock that someday she would realize just how much she is cared for and that even though people do make mistakes with how they handle things, that God is a God of second chances.

So...here I was on this trail, catching my breath on a hard rock (see the rock in the background above on the left?) and pondering past friendships and words written in haste and not fully explained and wishing we could begin again like God does with us.  And all of a sudden, I heard His whisper to get up and keep going......because just like the trail was tough, so too are our relationships with others at times.  But if we keep pressing on, and finding the joy in them, we can overlook a lot of the pettiness and disagreements.  I was finding joy on the trail because I was hiking alone, knowing that there were friends on either end.

We can find joy on our journey because God is waiting for us at the end!

After praying for my guilt to be released, I was free in my soul!  I picked up my backpack and hiking stick and continued on.  And then I realized I hadn't seen any red blazes in over a half mile.  I looked up and all around. I was not on the trail!!  I almost panicked.  But again, I heard that whisper that He is right beside me every step of the way.  I had the liberty to walk alone and the freedom to rejoice that God would see me through to the end.........I quickly prayed "help me find the blazes Lord" and there it was!!  On the tree in front of me about 100 yards up to the right.  I had to trudge over a lot of blowdown and snow that sank me to my knees, but I was back on the trail in no time!  I had wasted time but I found my way with God's help. Halleluia!

I started hiking faster because I was now at the point where I was so done with this trail!  I just wanted to snap a pic of the fire tower, find my friends, eat a snack, drink a ton of water, and get back down this mountain!!  I kept plodding on, ever careful to find the red blazes and finally I made it to the summit!

Tremper Mountain Fire Tower
2740 feet at summit


Yes, we can do hard things in Christ.  He gives us all the strength we need.....

as promised in Philippians 4:13




If you are discouraged, feeling guilty over something you didn't handle well, or any other negative emotion, know that you are loved by the One who shed His very life's blood for us.........And give Him those negative thoughts and emotions....He can handle it for you!

He lives eternally so we can live eternally too! 

 He does give strength to us to keep pressing on in this journey........



04 April 2015

2015 Book Review #10: Big Little Lies

Phenomenal.

Fast-paced, believable, funny, sad.

This book deals with domestic violence in upscale marriages.  It deals with friendship, parenting young children, parenting young teenagers, single motherhood....it deals with secrets....big and little....with human trafficking.....with lies....big little ones.......and the things we tell ourselves to make life seem so much more perfect..........

STORY SUMMARY

This book centers around three women:  Madeline (married to her 2nd husband Ed with 2 children by him:  Fred and Chloe and a teen daughter Abigail by her ex-husband Nathan who is now remarried to Bonnie with a little girl named Skye);  Celeste (married to Perry who is extremely wealthy with twins Max and Josh); Jane (a single mom who is very young and has a little boy named Ziggy).  Jane has just moved to Pirriwee, Australia and is enrolling her son in the Pirriwee Public School's kindergarten class.  Chloe, Max & Josh, and Skye are all in kindergarten as well.

Madeline is funny, passionate and remembers everything.  She is totally into fashion and shopping. She is totally annoyed that her ex and his new wife have moved into the community and that their little girl will be in the same class as her youngest daughter.

Celeste is often overwhelmed with the twins and acts very flustered at times. She is like a queen among her friends although she does not flaunt her wealth.  Rather, she is known to be generous to many non-profit organizations and her husband rarely notices. Her husband is known as a big man who is extremely handsome and suave. He travels all over the world. Often.  She is very beautiful but very secretive. None of her friends really knows what goes behind her closed door.  

Jane is so young that many of the school "mums" (the word for "mom" in Australia) think she is a nanny! She is a very sad person who keeps to herself and doesn't realize her true beauty.  She has some secret doubts about her little boy......but why??

Celeste and Madeline take Jane under their wings and soon many of the other mums are divided between being friends or enemies of the trio.  WHY??

MY THOUGHTS

This book was fast paced and a real "page turner". I stayed up very late for several nights because I just couldn't put it down!  I had to keep reading to find out more.

The author opens the book in the present tense where, at a school function, someone is killed!  Is it an accident or is it murder?? and who is it? is it a child, a dad, a mum??  

After the prologue, the book tells the back-story of each main character as well as some of the more minor community members.  It's fascinating and the author does a most excellent job with character development and setting description.

The story touches on the very real issue of violence in marriages....domestic violence and abuse.....and how it hides its face so often, even among close friends.

It also touches on the dangers of the Internet with teens and the issue of human trafficking/child slavery.  This topic coincides with the very real issue of domestic violence and the overall evil in this world...the various levels of evil.

It touches on 2nd marriages, infidelity/adultery and the consequences of that issue on family dynamics and children

It also touches on the hardships of single parenthood and the effects of young children with no father in the home.

It shows us that lies are often told just for survival.

This book is one of the best books I've read all year and I highly recommend it.  Although the topics are a bit "heavy" and serious, the book also is very funny with quick conversation among the characters.....who are all a bit savvy and hilarious in their own quirky ways.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to mature themes).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.