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

14 June 2019

Looking for the Blessings Faves

It's been a difficult week, physically. Yes, I still am dealing with a horrible sinus and ear infection although I believe it's beginning to heal.  It's the worse one I've ever had and I've had several in the last 15 years.

It's been a difficult, busy week at work.

Things have gone wrong around the house....

But I'm looking for the blessings because there is always something to be thankful for and this is a week where I really need to be intentional. 

I'm linking up with others who look for the blessings.  If you'd like to join in, head over to Susanne's site.

FIVE FAVES

Anette, me, Anita 

Our Destination:  small Waterfalls


Love these trees along the shoreline

Lake Bonita
 in the new section of
Moreau Lake State Park
Southern ADKS

German Shepherd in training as a search and rescue dog


  • EASY WOODS HIKE: Last Saturday I was supposed to lead a hike with members of my fitness group.  Originally there were 4 of us going but one cancelled and I almost cancelled as I really didn't feel great.  (Mainly coughing due to post nasal drip...which is so annoying on a hike).  Because one of the members had never hiked in the deep woods before, I really wanted to be there.  Well, I'm thankful  we went because the day was a perfect Northeast June day.  Temp of 74 F and just perfect blue sky.  We had so much fun following a new trail to a little waterfalls where we ate a snack and tried to ward off the mosquitoes.  By then we had hiked just about 2.3 miles so decided to go further in for another 1/4 mile.  We did but the trail actually got kinda boring so we turned around and went back via the loop trail around Lake Bonita. We ran into some search and rescue folks who were training some new puppies for the job.  You can see one of the dogs in the bottom photo, just above the shadows of the trees on the ground. These are my fave pics from the day.  I'm really thankful I went because I had the best night sleep of any night this week!


  • SICK DAY: I ended up taking a sick day when consulting with my doctor about why this antibiotic didn't seem any more effective than the last one.  She recommended I stay home and rest and to call an ENT if things didn't get better.  So I stayed home on Tuesday, took a nap in the sun and started some home remedies to get some relief.  By the middle of the day my ear pain was gone so I'm guessing what I did started to work.  That and........
  • THE POWER OF PRAYER:  I was so discouraged and a little worried because the ear pain on Sunday and Monday was so intense.  I kept thinking the worse.  I guess because I've lived through lyme disease which was the worse sickness I've ever had, I've got a high tolerance for pain.  But this was much worse feeling.  I finally asked my husband to lay hands on me and pray and some of my closest friends were lifting me up in prayer too.  I'm so thankful we have circle of friends who intercede for one another. I then was able to pay it forward and pray for my cousin and another hiking friend who both needed some major prayer this week.
image courtesy of google


  • ESSENTIAL OILS:  I'm so glad I researched how to deal with an ear infection when antibiotics don't seem to be working.  I found that 2-3 drops of tea tree oil in 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil was very soothing.  I soaked a cotton ball in the mixture and gently placed it in my outer ear letting the oils drip into my inner ear.  I was able to sleep Tuesday night after doing this twice during the day.  As I type this (Thursday evening), I have 2 antibiotic pills left and no pain in the ear.  Also, my sinuses are starting to heal up.  I'm so thankful for  nature's medicine as well as science/medical doctors.

  • NETFLIX:  because I've been told by my doctor to lie low this week and just REST, I ended up finishing an excellent Netflix series via instant streaming, called Land Girls, set in WWII England.  What a great series...it's only 3 seasons and I usually watch when I'm cooking, folding laundry, etc.  Tuesday I finished the final 2 episodes and I'm thankful I had the opportunity.  I'm also thankful we have Netflix because we all have different genres we enjoy.  This way we can all choose movies on our own devices and watch whenever we have the time.
That wraps up my faves.

I'm hoping to have an enjoyable, healthy weekend!!

HAPPY WEEKEND, EVERYONE!



12 June 2019

2019 Book Review #20: The Dew Breaker


This book was attractive to me because of the cover art and also because I LOVED this story by the same author.


STORY SUMMARY

The "dew breaker"....torturer....is from Haiti.  His horrendous and brutal crimes are secrets from his American life in NYC.  He's a husband and father to one girl (an artist) and is very quiet.  He has a horrible scar on his face.  He works as a barber and is a landlord for two men who live in the basement apartment.  Everyone in the Brooklyn neighborhood knows him...mainly because of the scar.


His wife is devoted to him and his daughter is rebellious.  

The book moves between Haiti in the 1960s and NYC today.  

We even meet some of his victims.

We read about his last, desparate act of violence....and his first encounter with the woman who will give him a form of redemption.  This will change him forever.

MY THOUGHTS

This book was just too confusing for me to thoroughly enjoy.  The writing style and literary depth is brilliant...the author is quite acclaimed...but there were too many characters to keep track of and I often had no idea just who was represented in each chapter.  Each chapter seems to stand alone....and it was often difficult to figure out if I was back in the 1960s or the present day.

It was also disturbing with the descriptions of the violence.

The main themes are love, remorse/regret, and hope.  It's also about rebellion....personal and political.

I kept reading because I did want to find out just which act of violence brought his wife into his life.

But I honestly didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as the other one I've read by the same author.

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

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 7.



07 June 2019

JUNE Faves

 
Here we are into June and 2 weeks from today will be the last day of school for me and then the next day I will head north for our family vacation on one of our fave Adirondack lakes. 

For now, let's take a pause and look back at the week to find FIVE  blessings that make us thankful.  It is always good to be grateful!  I'm linking up at Susanne's site...our very gracious host. Head over to find out how to join in!


FIVE FAVES





Friday late afternoon wine and snack time
  • DOWN TIME!  Friday afternoon I came right home from work so arrived about 3 pm.  Claire was enjoying the sunshine in the backyard and I was wanting to unwind a bit.  I had a nice glass of Reisling and some cheese and crackers...a total splurge for me these days.  We read books in the sunshine and I allowed Claire to have a small glass of wine. (she'll be 21 in December). I'm thankful we had this time together in the backyard, relaxing, after a long week.


  • YARD WORK COMPLETE Dave and I had quite a bit of yard-work to do on Saturday.  He mowed the front and back yards and then went out to replace our old weed whacker with a new one.  I'm able to use this new one as it's only 8 pounds.  I enjoy doing yard work but can no longer really push our mower as there's something wrong with the self-propelled gadget so it's too heavy for me.  I can use the weed whacker though and cleaned up along the deck steps, the edge of the house on both sides and the neighbors fences on both sides of our backyard.  We relaxed by sitting in the sunshine with iced cold unsweetened tea.  It was so refreshing. I'm thankful Dave and I had that time together in getting a much needed chore done.
Path through "The Woodlands" at Crossings
Albany, NY

Red-Winged Blackbird in the marsh
  • FARMERS MARKET AND MORNING WALK:  I headed over to our town's Farmers Market where I bought some essential oils honeysuckle soap, some spicy pistachios for Dave, and a pound of Fair Trade Sumatran coffee made by a local farm that specializes in fair trade products.  After I locked them in my car, I drove over to the back of the park and went for a 1.8 miles walk.  I was thankful my ear pain was gone (although it came back Monday and I had to see my doc who prescribed yet another antibiotic hoping and praying THIS one will kick the bacteria out of my inner ear). The woods trail was empty. I was the only one walking through there until a couple of little girls went through on their bikes.  I'm thankful I had the morning time to do this.

"Softball" cupcakes with Chocolate pudding and lemon pudding

Mady is 11!

  • BIRTHDAY PARTY!  Claire and I attended my youngest niece's 11th birthday party which was held in their backyard on Sunday.  Her grandmother (my brother-in-law's mom) made the most delicious, moist cupcakes I've ever had.  The chocolate ones had chocolate pudding inside and the vanilla ones had lemon pudding inside. I had chocolate.  I rarely eat cupcakes and actually don't even like cake but these were amazing!  Mady is my niece who has hiked an Adirondack "High Peak" (over 4000 feet in elevation) mountain as well as a few other smaller mountains. after the party, which was really just snacks, Claire and I went here for dinner where I had delicious vegan chicken tacos and Claire had cauliflower wings and we shared a platter of homemade tortilla chips with the best guacamole on the planet.  I'm thankful we were able to go and celebrate her birthday.


  • SUMMER JOB!  Claire found out that she was hired by one of our local market places for the summer and they said she could keep the job for when she is home on Christmas/Winter break (Which is 6 weeks) and again for Spring break, if she wants.  She will be a barista in the Starbucks which is located inside the market.  She begins on Saturday.  We are thankful she found a summer job as her one from last year is no longer an option due to lack of state funding for non-profit organizations.  She is very happy. I'm also thankful she took some time this week to help me with some housework/chores because yes....my ear infection is back and I'm on round 2 of a different antibiotic.  I have two more weeks of work then I leave for vacation. I need to be well! Please pray this antibiotic works! Thanks!!
That wraps up my week.  I hope you all have a very relaxing weekend.




06 June 2019

Book Review #19: Our Little Secret


This is the author's first novel.  She lives in British Columbia, Canada and the cover is what intrigued me.

It was an interesting, different style of writing than what I normally choose.

STORY SUMMARY

Angela Petitjean is a suspect in the disappearance of her best friend's (who was also her high school sweetheart) wife, Saskia Parker.  The detective has been interviewing her for hours. Saskia and HP (Hamish Parker) have been married since Angela graduated from Oxford University.  They all live in Cove, Vermont where Angela's parents re-located after living in Boston.  Saskia met HP at Angela's college ball.  She is from Australia and she and HP have a little girl named Olive.  Angela is the godmother.

Freddy Montgomery was an older student when Angela met him at Oxford.  He has always really liked Angela but Angela is obsessed with HP and his life. Freddy is debonair and a seemingly good catch.  He has never liked Saskia...in fact he has made it very well known that he can't stand her.

Saskia has vanished, seemingly without a trace.  She left behind her cell phone and didn't leave any notes.  She left Olive with a babysitter.

J. Novak, the homicide detective believes that Angela, who actually lived with the Parkers for a few months, knows something about Saskia's disappearance. He wants the truth.

Angela has a story to tell.  It begins about ten years earlier when she first moved to Cove and entered high school.  That is where she and HP formed a friendship. At one point, HP called them "Soulmates".  Because Angela was awkward and shy, and HP was a star athlete, many people wondered about their relationship.  Her mom loved HP and told Angela not to let him go. They were best friends until their senior year when they began dating.

But once Angela went away to college, everything began to change.  Angela's dad managed to get her into Oxford University...all the way in England.  HP's plan was to work in construction and be a high school coach. Time and distance were separating Angela and HP. That is when Saskia entered their lives.

Saskia has always been a "drama queen" and supposedly Angela moved on with her life.  Angela is stressing to Novak that there must have been a marital issue between Saskia and HP and that is why she abruptly left.  Angela insists that she has had nothing to do with Saskia's disappearance.  She wants Novak to stop accusing her and to listen to what she is saying.

Once Novak learns the entire story, he will have the truth that he craves.

Will Saskia be found?  Or is she dead?  Did HP really kick Angela out of his house?  And what about the lake? Why is that so significant??

MY THOUGHTS

This was quite different.  It's labeled a psychological thriller and for the most part it is.  The entire book takes place within 48 hours or so.

It's a brilliant, very different kind of plot.  And yet, it was also a bit creepy and disturbing.  I was propelled forward because I really wanted to know the truth of what happened but it was just a little bit too unbelievable for me.

The ending is quite abrupt and I was left feeling like......wow.  But it wasn't unexpected.  It's just the way the author decided to end it.  Quite a powerful way, actually and very interesting in a literary sense.

The book seemed to get bogged down for me around the middle but it picked back up.  

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 an 8.
















01 June 2019

2019 Book Review #18: Educated

I rarely read non-fiction unless it's a study book of some kind or a book about my beloved Adirondack mountains/hiking trails.  When I saw this come out last year, I was hooked and waited on a town library list for 5 months before it was fianlly available!  I read it in a week.....it's excellent and a must read if you are a parent, teacher or professor, social worker, or serving in any kind of ministry. 

It's a powerful memoir.

SUMMARY

Tara Westover was raised with 6 other siblings and her parents on a mountain known as Bucks Peak in Idaho.  Father and Mother were survivalists and members of the Mormon church. Tara's father was a fanatic (not a word used in her memoir....it's my word) about certain concepts such as believing the end of the world was near and not trusting the medical establishment, the public school systems (or education in general) and the federal government.

The family stock-piled home-canned goods (peaches) and rifles.  Mother was known as a "healer" using herbs and essential oils instead of taking her children to the doctor.  Tara had to help her mother in the kitchen, along with her sister Audrey, and during the winter she had to help her father scrap metal in the junkyard that he owned.

Tara's brothers Tyler, Richard, and Tony all escaped from this horrible life.  They are also the siblings that remained in touch with Tara as she went on to educate herself.  The rest of her family (father, mother, Audrey, Shawn, Luke) have shunned her.  (my words).

Tara grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive environment not to mention the medical and educational neglect.

She and her siblings..as well as her father and mother...all suffered from burns, cuts, gashes, but yet never saw a doctor due to her father's extremism and fanaticism.  This is medical neglect yet because they weren't in a school setting, no social worker ever came to check up on the children.  They were very isolated from mainstream society.  Shawn, older than Audrey and Tara, was extremely physically abusive and manipulative.  She doesn't write about sexual abuse but the physical abuse she endured is criminal.  Sadly, nothing was done by her parents.

One of her brothers managed to get away and get himself enrolled in Brigham Young University (a Mormon-based college in Utah).  He came home and told Tara all about this world off the mountain.  That's when she decided she would try a new life.  

Tara taught herself math, grammar and science in order to take the ACT and apply to college.  She was finally admitted to Brigham Young where she studied psychology, politics, philosophy and history.  For the very first time, at age 17, she was learning about the Civil Rights Movement, the Civil War, the Holocaust!

Gaining knowledge began to transform her.  She won a fellowship to study at Cambridge and later at Harvard where she earned her PhD.

Yet all of this education wasn't enough for her to really be a part of her family, other than three of her brothers.

MY THOUGHTS

This book will move you. It's truly one of the best memoirs I've ever read.  She endured so much at the hands of her father and brother...and to not have a mother on your side is just horrible.

This book is profound, raw, compelling.  It drives you to find out how Tara is going to "find herself".  It's beautiful and so honest.  

I truly don't understand how this can happen in today's society!  What is wrong with people??  Her father was a religious weirdo yet she does mention in the beginning of the book that this story isn't about being Mormon.  And she says it isn't about any other form of religious belief.

Her father had some real deep psychological issues and when she began studying psychology, she learned about bipolar disorder and schizophrenia which accurately describes her father.  Her mother was extremely submissive to "keep the peace" in the house.

Tara does have an aunt (her mother's sister) who rallied around her as Tara became older.

There were a couple of quotes that jumped out at me and that I really liked:

"our parents are held down by chains of abuse, manipulation, and control...they see change as dangerous and will exile anyone who asks for it.  This is a perverted idea of family loyalty...they claim faith, but this is not what the gospel teaches." (written by her brother Tyler to her in an email.  pg 316, Educated by Tara Westover c.2018)

"You could call this selfhood many things.  Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity.  Betrayal. I call it an education." (at the end of the book, writing about her self and the changes she made.  pg 329, Educated by Tara Westover, c.2018) 

Tara was born in 1986. She nows holds a BA from Brigham Young University (2008), and she earned a Masters of Philosophy from Trinity College (Cambridge) in 2009.  In 2010 she was invited to be a fellow at Harvard University.  Later, in 2014, she earned a PhD in History when she returned to Cambridge.

If you can only read one book this summer, make it this one!  

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

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



31 May 2019

End of May Faves


Two 4-day work weeks in a row.  LOVE it...and now June is upon us!

Today is Friday and time to give thanks for the blessings that come into our lives.  I do this by linking up at Susanne's site where other writers also list FIVE of their FAVE things from the past week.  

Mother's Day 2019
  • FAMILY PHOTO!  We finally have an updated family photo!  On Mother's Day, our church had photo stations set up around the lobby where we could get a free photo taken.  Each photographer took 2-3 shots and we chose this one as it appeared to be the best of the bunch.  From left to right:  Claire (a.k.a. "the ballerina", age 20), me, Courtney (a.k.a. "the princess" age 25, and Dave).  We're so thankful this service was performed and we are very thankful all 4 of us were together!
"Mayflowers"

Nature trail at Pack Demonstration Forest
eastern Adirondacks
  • SOLO HIKE! I had Friday off and wanted to spend some time in the mountains but not too far north of Lake George because of black fly season.  (black flies typically last from Mother's day until Father's day).  So I went just north of Lake George and hiked a trail I've done before with my niece and one of my good friends.  It's really just a nature preserve.....remote...but because it's a "nature trail" and not a mountain trail, it's very easy to do alone.  I was the only person there!  It was such a lovely walk in the woods.  I saw one of my fave kind of wildflowers growing profusely along the creek and near a lake where I ate lunch.  My mom always called these "Mayflowers" as they only appear in May.  They are very light blue and so delicate. They look prettier in person than in this photo I took. The entire day was so relaxing. I'm thankful I had these few hours to my self!

Saturday morning stillness
  • MORNING SUN!  We had a glorious 4 day weekend...sunshine every day and beautiful spring temps.  I sat outside on my deck eating lunch Saturday and Sunday and had my morning coffee out there Friday-Monday. I just loved it.  Our backyard gets the morning sun so sitting on the deck is perfect for reading, Bible study and coffee or breakfast.  I'm so thankful I had such nice mornings while enjoying some solitude. The girls were both home for most of Saturday so they came outside too.  We all just loved being in the sunshine!
Claire (in Dave's red kayak) teaching her friend Suzanna (in my green kayak)
how to paddle and turn. 

Moreau Lake State Park
South-eastern Adirondacks
  •  ANNUAL BEACH BBQ!  Dave and I hosted our annual beach bbq at a state park (where we like to kayak) on Memorial Day. The state park has many picnic tables, nature trails, a hiking trail to an overlook, the lake/beach, boats to rent, a nature center, and a campground.  We were in the day use area near the beach.  I took one of my friend's daughter out in our kayaks and it   was heavenly!  Sunny, warm, and lots of good food and fellowship.  We invited everyone in the Fit and Fun Group that I lead (a group of hikers and fitness walkers) and out of the 12 members, 5 came with their families. Some of us go to the same church and a few of the ladies have been in my Bible study group.  A couple of the ladies are hiker friends. My youngest daughter arrived half way through the day and brought her best friend from high school.  This friend had never kayaked before but is a strong swimmer so Claire taught Suzy how to kayak.  Everyone had a great time and we all had our first s'mores of the year, too!  I'm very thankful we have a fun group of friends to fellowship with and "do life" together.

  • HONORS LIST!  Claire received her grades from UNH this past week and she made high honors again and is on the Dean's list once again for the 4th time.  It's hard to believe she is now officially a junior in college!  Her GPA for the last semester is a 3.9!  She is doing well balancing a full course load, dancing in the Ballet Company and attending 2 rehearsals a week, volunteering every Friday with Alpha Phi Omega at a food pantry, and working at her work-study job in the Language Center.  She also makes sure she has time for fun with friends.  I'm thankful for her dedication and hard work!
That wraps up my faves for the past week.

Bonus:  my sinus and ear infections are totally cleared up and I'm extra thankful for strong antibiotics and several evenings where I could get to bed a little earlier than normal.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  Only 3 more weeks until Summer!!