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

15 September 2017

2017 Book Review #28: The Alice Network


Historical fiction...one of my very fave genres and especially if set during WWI or WWII or the Civil War.  This one was set during WWI and just after WWII.  It was fantastic and my first novel by this author.

STORY SUMMARY

It is 1947 and the world is in the midst of the aftermath of World War II. Charlotte(Charlie) St. Clair, an American college student at Bennington College, is unmarried, pregnant and about to be disowned by her very proper family.  Her mother decides she will go to Switzerland for an "appointment" (abortion).  But while they are in London, she begins to hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared during the time the Nazi's occupied France, might still be alive.  Charlie decides to break free of her mother who accompanied her to Europe to look for Rose.  And she meets someone that she will later discover has a connection to her beloved cousin......

It is 1915 and the Great War, World War I has been going on for a year.  Eve Gardiner longs to fight against the Germans.  One day she unexpectedly gets her wish.....she is recruited to be a spy for the British, in France, against the Germans!  She gets some formal training and then some "on the job" training by the mesmerizing Lili a.k.a. Alice Dubois, the "queen of the spies".  Lili manages a huge network of secret agents right under the German's noses. They are stationed in Lille, France.

Thirty years later, Eve, who is haunted by a betrayal that tore apart the Alice Network, spends her days drinking or drunk and secluded in her broken down London house.  

Until a young American girl named Charlie barges in unannounced......and utters a name that Eve has not heard in over 30 years.  Charlie launches both of them on a mission....to find Rose and to finally find the truth....no matter where it leads.

MY THOUGHTS

This was definitely the best novel I have read in a long time. Yes, I say that alot.  But then I get another book out of the library and I have to say it again!

This book was based loosely on the real life spy named Louise de Bettignies.  She is a little known historical figure...actually a heroine...for her courage, ingenuity and resourcefulness for the women who made up the Alice Network.  Many of the names used by the author in this historical fiction story, were real life people.  She changed some things around and explains things in the back of the book under Author's Notes.  It is fascinating to read.  I learned a little bit more about French and German history.

The character development in this book is exquisite.  I just felt like I knew these people and I wanted so much for all of them to succeed.  I also felt like cheering when Eve and Charlie finally met Rene Bordolon face to face.  That scene was very powerful and so well done.  I do not want to explain every thing here due to not wanting to ruin the story for you.  There is a little bit of a mystery to this plot.  It is so well developed.

I loved the setting descriptions especially of Lille and Grasse (France).  I literally had tears in my eyes when reading about the small town where Rose had lived.  It was so powerful, heart breaking and eye opening. We've always heard of the atrocities in the concentration camps but to learn of such devastation in France, outside of concentration camps, was just powerful and again, I learned some things I've never known.  These group of very real spies in World War One were brave, and they thrived in the evil all around them.

The book mentions an entire French village, Oradour Sur Glane, being massacred.  This actually happened and it still remains a mystery to this day.

This story will have you staying up past your bedtime, turning page after page to find out what happens with Charlie and Eve.

I like how the author started out in 1947 and then after a chapter in that era, would go back to tell Eve's backstory in 1915.  Each time the author goes back to 1915, we learn a little bit more about the horrible happenings of the Great War.  You will also ask your self "Why haven't we as American women learned about these courageous women of France and England??"

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

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




Little Things Faves

I love Fridays.....I get out of the classroom at 2 pm and go home to just relax! I don't even really cook dinner anymore on Friday evenings...we either make homemade veggie pizza and salad or we order online and have something delivered.  Sometimes there are leftovers from earlier in the week.  Either way, it is a night for just relaxing. I just love it.  Before we head into the weekend, though, let's pause and give thanks for FIVE of our FAVE happenings this past week.  Mine are just little things but they were special to me.

Do you have a fave from the week?  You can join in by linking up at Susanne's site.


  • MOM-DAUGHTER DINNER:  Dave had a church event to go to right after work last Friday evening, so Courtney, (who had no plans with friends that night), and I decided to order online from Panera.  She has done it many times before...I never had from them.  WOW.....so super fast and easy and within 20 minutes our food was delivered.  I ordered the Autumn Squash Soup with a mozzarella and  spinach flatbread sandwich on the side.  It was delicious.  We followed it up with a chocolate chip cookie. We had a chance to chat about our jobs and she is loving her new work place.  It was a great time of just hanging out. And neither one of us really wanted to cook on a Friday evening.



Sunday afternoon hiking date
10 September

Waterfalls in the Huyck Preserve

Dave hikes along an easy trail
and the leaves are just starting to change!

a cairn on the beach of  Lake Myosotis
  • AFTER CHURCH DATE!  Sunday was just a beautiful day!  A little cool but I love it like that.  We decided to go to the 9 a.m. church service, go home and change, pick up subs to go with our water bottles,  and head to this place that we hadn't been to before.  We had been to the village years ago when the girls were very small.  But the preserve was something we had never hiked in.  There's a picnic table at the start of the trail and a very short walk to beautifully layered waterfalls.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  We then decided to do the 1 mile trail out to the lake, cross over the dam, and return the same way back to the car.  It was a fun way to spend time together. I guess we are getting into this empty nest thing!

  • ENCOURAGING WORDS:  there is just something about when a friend.....this time it was our senior pastor's wife Deb.....giving encouraging words about something you are a bit anxious about.  I had such a wonderful conversation with her and she really cares.....it was about our youngest daughter being away at the very liberal UNH and Deb reassured me that all would be well due to our parenting skills.  That just made my day!  I'm still struggling at times with the fact that our 'baby" is not at a Christian college and it is getting easier when I hear those encouraging words. 

  • SMALL GROUP SIGN-UP!  Monday after work I was checking email and I had a notice from our church's small group ministries director that 3 women had signed up for my new small group I will be leading.  Our first session is Sept 26 at my home and so far I have  2 previous members interested and these 3 new ones!  I'm excited to start our new study.  It is Breathe by Priscilla Shirer and will be about what it means to take a Sabbath.  A topic very dear to my heart!
Claire, age 18
Spring 2017
Ballet Senior pics
photographer was Courtney

  • SHE MADE IT!  Claire called me late last Thursday evening saying she made the UNH Ballet Company!  She wasn't sure she'd get in as was up against not just freshmen but sophomores, juniors and seniors and some are ballet majors!  But she got in which means she earns 2 extra credits for being in it (2 practices a week) and this is on top of already having 18 academic credits in the Honors Program!  She is super excited as are we and we look forward to the big ballet show in the early spring!  
That wraps up my faves.....what made you smile this week?  Please do share in the comment section.

Have a wonderful weekend.




08 September 2017

First of September Faves


Well, work started up again and this is the first year since 1998 that I have not had a daughter in our local public school district!  It is such a weird feeling. Kind of bittersweet.

Let's pause today to give thanks for all the blessings God brings into our weeks.  Sometimes it is just simple things and other times they are more  significant.  No matter, it's important to keep an attitude of gratitude.  Participating in the FFF by Susanne really helps with this!  How about joining in and sharing FIVE of your FAVES!


Indian Lake as seen from Snowy Mt summit
Indian Lake, NY
Central Adirondacks
2 September

Central Adirondacks and High Peaks Region
 as seen from summit of Snowy Mt
  • HARD HIGH PEAK HIKE! Last Saturday my friend Cheryl from my hometown met me at a trail-head in the Central Adirondacks for one of the hardest hikes I have ever attempted.  She needed two more fire-tower hikes to complete her badge which I earned 2 years ago.  We did manage, after 3 hours of climbing 3.4 miles up mostly bare rock, to reach the summit.  So now she only has one mountain left with a fire tower.  This hike kicked our butts. It was TOUGH.  The first 2 miles were relatively easy with a nice woods walk for the first 1.5 miles and then the climb began.  The very last mile was so steep we had to go extremely slow and there were so many loose boulders it was downright treacherous.  We ate lunch on the summit, enjoyed the overlook ledge pictured above, and then after another 10 minutes of rest, headed back down.  Going down was a little less time...just 2.5 hours.  It was just so difficult.  I will never hike it again but it felt good to do another mountain over 4000 feet!

  • APPLE CRUMB PIE:  Sunday was a very rainy day.  In fact, it rained all day long until about 6 pm when the sun came out fleetingly.  I didn't mind as it gave me a chance to catch up on laundry and chores after church.  Later in the afternoon, I decided to bake an apple crumb pie with the first of the state's apple harvest.  Oh my...it was absolutely delicious. We all enjoyed a piece with coffee in the evening while playing another round of Carcasssonne our new fave family board game.


  • BACKYARD REST:  My husband decided to get some yard work done on Labor Day since the rain had stopped and the day ended up being just so nice!  After he did that, and I had done some errands, we sat in the backyard swing together and then I completed two books I had been reading over the last month or so.  I just loved sitting outside with the books and a comfy pillow behind my head.  It was a lovely way to wrap up vacation.

  • EASY WORK WEEK:  So far, the 3 new students are fitting in nicely with the 6 other preschoolers.  All of the new children just have speech and language issues...none are on the autism spectrum which makes the classroom a bit easier to handle.  I have had loads of fun helping to plan lessons, and getting to know our new students.  It's been a  good first week back!  

my new-to-me depression era glass juicer
found at The Red Barn in Northville NY
(an antiques place which is literally in a red barn)

homemade lemonade

  • HOMEMADE LEMONADE DAD's WAY!  Monday afternoon when the sun was getting kind of hot, I decided to use the new old juicer I bought last week while on a day trip with my sister.  I love depression era green glass and only have one bowl of it.  My parents use to own much of it.  Well, I found this juicer in an antiques place and bought it.  So Monday I used fresh lemons to make my dad's lemonade recipe. It is SOOO good!  He never used much sugar so neither did I.  And we never take the seeds out.  We squeeze about 5 large lemons, add a mixture of sugar and water that boiled and has cooled, and then add 7 cups of water.  It is the BEST.  I like to think my dad was smiling down on us as we enjoyed this drink.  It's funny but all these years of being married (27) and I had never made Dad's recipe.  It was a hit!
Those are just some little things that made my week special.

How about you?  What was one special thing about your week?
Have you ever made homemade lemonade?  Do you like it with more or less sugar??




05 September 2017

2017 Book Review #27: Truly, Madly, Guilty

This author never disappoints!  I've read two of her other novels and really enjoyed them.  This particular one is my fave so far.

STORY SUMMARY

Sam is married to Clementine and they have two little girls, Holly (age 5) and Ruby (a toddler).  Sam and Clementine lead very busy, active lives in Sydney, Australia.  Clementine is a cellist and is preparing for a big audition to join a chamber group.  Sam has just begun his dream job.  They are not poor but are not super wealthy and they own their own home.  Life is wonderful and they can always count on each other.  

They are friends with Oliver and Erika. They do not have children, although Oliver very much wants to be a dad.  Clementine and Erika have been friends since childhood.  Erika used to spend many days and nights at Clementine's home, even to the point of going on vacations with Clementine's family.  This was to escape her own home where life was tough for her.  She grew up poor, with a dysfunctional, hoarder of a mother. Clementine grew up with older brothers and both parents.  Their friendship tends to be a bit complicated though.

One  Sunday afternoon, Erika and Oliver, are invited by their very wealthy next-door neighbors to a backyard barbecue.  Vid and Tiffany are very extroverted and "out there".  They love to have a good time and have very big personalities. They have a daughter named Dakota who is about 10 years old.

When Vid finds out that Sam and Clementine were supposed to be going to Oliver and Erika's, he invites them along as well.

They are all having a marvelous time laughing, eating and drinking.  

And then the unthinkable happens. A seemingly horrible accident.

Two months later, Clementine and Sam can't stop asking the question: "What if we hadn't gone"?

MY THOUGHTS

This book explores many different facets of life and relationships.

It touches on the marital relationship, both good, bad, easy, difficult, and somewhere in between.

It explores the various depths of parenthood and friendship.  The author does a fantastic job with showing us that when a person feels guilty about something, that can expose many other weaknesses in what is often seen as a very strong relationship.  She shows us that what we do not say is often more powerful than what we do say.  The underlying theme is that no matter how ordinary our lives are, they really are extraordinary and we need to be grateful for them and appreciate them.

The character development is strong in each and every character.  The ending was a bit of a surprise to me and very well done.

This book is a page turner and is set at a very good pace.  I fell in love with all of the characters.

Other topics raised in this story are the issues of infertility, surrogate parenting, and foster care.  

The book goes between the day of the barbecue and the weeks later. As more of the story was revealed in the present, more of the afternoon at the barbecue is revealed.  It was very well done and kept things quite interesting.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older, due to some mature content.

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




01 September 2017

2017 Book Review #26: Terror in the Adirondacks


After my dad died, my sister was cleaning out some of his things and came across this book.  She asked if I had read it and I said no but that I had wanted to.

The reason was because I was 13 and 14 when all of this was going on not far from my parents' summer camp in Northville, NY!!  In fact, I clearly remember my mother driving us 3 girls to camp one morning while this guy was on the run in the area.  We were on the Benson Road when all of a sudden a man wearing a red hunting jacket, baseball cap and carrying a rifle jumped out of the woods along the side of the road. My mom screamed and I remember her pressing her foot to the gas and taking off fast.  When we got to town, just before the bridge crossing over the Great Sacandaga Lake, our car was stopped by the state troopers who were checking every car trunk. It was a scary time and I remember my mom praying that we would be safe in our camp.

STORY SUMMARY

This book is a biography of the life of Robert F. Garrow, the most notorious criminal in New York State and specifically the Adirondack Mountains.

He committed 5 murders and many rapes and it is believed that he actually committed more than that in the years leading up to 1973.

It was the summer of 1973 and it would take 5 years of court room battles, prison transfers, and an escape before he was finally shot to death while on the run from his break from the prison south of Albany.

That July, this serial killer went on a rampage throughout the southern and central regions of the the Adirondack mountains.  He terrified thousands of residents and vacationers, among them hikers and people who owned camps.  It was a summer of terror unlike anything the mountains had ever experienced.

Before he was actually captured, it was the longest manhunt in Adirondack history, and of the longest the state of New York has ever seen.  The trial was very bizarre and shocked people from coast to coast.

Robert Garrow grew up poor in a  farming community in the eastern part of the Adirondacks (I have hiked 2 mountains near his hometown!).  He suffered from horrible physical abuse by the hands of his parents.  He had a secret life of crime as an adult and was able to manipulate the legal, medical, and correctional professionals right up to the state level!!  He actually had everyone convinced, including medical professionals from Albany Medical Center, that he was paralyzed after being shot at upon his capture.  This was later found to be untrue and it was not discovered until his autopsy FIVE YEARS LATER!  Unbelievable.

This case also birthed a nationwide debate about legal ethics.  It is now discussed in just about every college course that teaches legal ethics and client confidentiality.  The movie, Sworn to Silence, is based on the ineptitude of the 2 lawyers defending Garrow.

He was a serial rapist and killer and the number of victims will probably never be known.  He did admit to several of those crimes and even led detectives to some of the scenes were bodies were buried.  But many others are now cold cases from central NY all the way to the northern border with Canada.

This is not a pretty part of the Adirondack history.  But it is a part of it.

MY THOUGHTS

This book was written by a man who was only 20 when Garrow was on the loose in the mountains.  He was a hiker and became intrigued with digging into the real life of Robert F Garrow.

The hard part for me was learning about the horrible abuse he suffered as well as some of the horrible things he did with farm animals.  That totally turned me off, reading about that part, but I can see where it formed the mental illness he so clearly suffered from.

The thing I did enjoy was reading about the manhunt because he was on the loose in areas where I have hiked as an adult!!  In fact, I want to go back to some of the trails along the road where he was hiding out.  It is very interesting to me that he was able to elude that many state troopers and FBI professionals as long as he did.  He literally was on the run for a month and never really ventured all that far from his 2nd murder victim!  In fact, I drive past the road where he was outing out all the time when hiking up in that region of the mountains.

This book does do a good job depicting what went wrong with the legal system and prison system and how this serial killer affected NYS and our beloved mountains.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older due to very graphic content.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this an 8.


END OF VACATION FAVES

Well, here it is...the last long weekend of summer vacation.  I've been mulling over the whole "back to school" thing without either of my daughters going back to our local school district and how weird this feeling is!  Our youngest is in her first year at UNH and the report back from her first two weeks there is that she is busy but loving it.  Our oldest gal, a 2 yr Gordon College graduate now, begins her full time job at the Association on the Aging on Tuesday when all of us NYS teachers go back!  Dave will also go back to work Tuesday after having an extended weekend.  I'm excited to meet my new students but I really could use an extra couple of days!

For now.....I am participating in Susanne's weekly gratitude meme called the FFF and sharing five of my fave blessings from this full week of vacation.

the gondola up to Cloud Trail
Gore Mountain
North Creek, NY
Central ADKS
26 August

from close to the summit of Gore
overlooking the High Peaks region

labyrinth on Gore just after the drop off  from gondola ride
my friend's daughter walked it as did the rest of us!
I stopped to pray and thank God for His beautiful creation!
  • GONDOLA RIDE/HIKE!  So one of the fire towers in the Adk challenge I finished a couple years ago, is on top of the ski center on Gore Mountain.  Since my friend didn't want to do the main trail up to the tower (it's a round trip hike of 9 miles), we decided to just go for fun and take the gondola ride up the first mile and then hike the rest of the way on the access road called Cloud Trail.  It was gorgeous and a fun way to get to a summit that honestly I probably wouldn't have done if not for the gondola ride.  There were 3 of us and one friend brought her 11 yr old daughter.  We all loved it and had lunch at the top at one of the warming huts where there were picnic tables.  After hiking and  taking the gondola back down, we went into the village there and browsed around and had ice cream.  It made for a fun day! I'm thankful for my hiking friends and for God creating these beautiful Adirondack mountains! (these are just a few of the pics....I took many!)


  • FAMILY TIME!  Last weekend our oldest daughter asked to spend some time with me out by the firepit so of course I said yes.  Dave helped us get a good fire going which was great because we still have quite a bit of brush to burn from a project last spring!  Because the beginning of the summer was either too rainy or too humid for bonfires, this project didn't get done.  We plan on another bonfire tomorrow evening and next weekend as well to start burning this brush!  We made s'mores, had fun chatting out various things, and then moved inside to play a new board game Dave received for his July birthday which we hadn't even opened yet.  It was a pleasant evening for sure and I'm thankful our oldest gal had a free evening to spend with us.


image courtesy of Target website
  • FAMILY GAME NIGHT! Dave, Courtney, and I all played this last weekend after our fire died down and what a blast!  It is based on the real Medieval village of Carasonne in France.  Basically you build roads, abbeys, villages and the roads need to connect....there is a whole point system thing...and I ended up being the winner which was totally surprising because I rarely win a game against those two!  It was a super fun evening.  I'm thankful for these family times because I know they are getting more rare.


Cascade Mountain as seen from parking area
  • HIGH PEAK HIKE! My 9 year old niece Mady wanted me to take her hiking "up a big mountain, Aunt Faith".  She is the youngest daughter of my youngest sister Jill and her husband Mike.  So we planned that I would take her early Monday morning to what is considered the easiest high peak in the Adirondack High Peaks region.  It is called Cascade Mountain and stands at 4,098 feet making it the 36th highest peak in NYS.  Also, we hiked part of the trail up the 2nd easiest mountain, right next to Cascade called Porter.  Unfortunately we didn't really make it to Porter summit (#38 out of the highest 100) because the trail became treacherous with wet, slick rocks and thick mud.  Mady still doesn't own hiking boots so we turned back as I really didn't want her injuring herself in her sneakers. In summary, it was one of the best views I have seen all summer and it was my first high peak in many years!  Mady was very happy to do this mountain and I told her she can now say she has climbed a High Peak!  Total milage for the day was 4.8 for Cascade (round trip) and .8 for Porter (round trip).  Here are a few of my fave scenes from that day.

Mady braves the rocky trail!

almost to the summit of Cascade!


Mady and I on the summit of Cascade (the lower summit)
Whiteface Mt (5th highest in the state) is behind us on the right.
The High Peaks as seen from Cascade summit
Heading back down the mountain
  • GIRLS DAY AWAY!  My sister Hope and I decided to meet at the Visitors Center in the southern region of the Adirondacks and have lunch in the little village where we grew up each summer at our family camp.  Of course the camp is long gone as our cousin and her husband bought the property from my dad but it was fun to go back and explore the road, eat lunch in the village and do some shopping at one of the artsy stores that feature local products.  We then visited the town beach on the Great Sacandaga Lake where my mom used to bring us as children to swim and then we popped in to visit our childhood pastor and his wife as they are now 88 years old.  They retired not far from the village where we spent our summers.  It was a wonderful day and I was back home in plenty of time to have dinner with my family.  I'm thankful for this time spent with my sister.  Here is photo of the town beach.  
Northville Beach
on the Great Sacandaga Lake
southern ADKS
30 August

That wraps up my week.  I'm hiking a very big mountain tomorrow so am hoping I make it to the summit.  It is considered a trail for very experienced hikers so.....not sure I can do it at this ripe ole age of 57 but a friend of mine and I are sure gonna try!  The rest of the weekend forecast (Sunday and Monday) look rainy so I'm thinking board games with Dave and baking time!

Whatever you have planned for the 3 day weekend, relax and enjoy!

HAPPY WEEKEND!