Book Review – Facets

1268324The last couple of reads have been slow, so Facets was a welcome respite. It’s a 1990 re-release I picked up at a readers group.

I hadn’t read a Barbara Delinsky book before, but this weekend picked up her latest release and I’m looking forward to getting into her backlist.

Facets spans 1964 to 1990. With this much time it develops the characters in such detail that they stayed with me. When I quit reading for the night I fell asleep thinking of them and reached for the book with that first cup of coffee.

The blurb from the back of the book and the opening chapter makes it seem the main character is Hillary Cox though it isn’t long before Pamela St. George takes the lead. The story starts in 1964 and flips back and forth to keep the reader in the present (1990). Here’s the blurb though I didn’t think it did the story justice.

Nothing can prepare writer Hillary Cox for seeing her lover of 20 years, mining magnate John St. George, announce on television that he’s marrying another woman. Seeking revenge, Hillary begins a tell-all book exposing John and his shady past. John’s sister, Pamela St. George, also wants revenge against her brother. Throughout her life, Pamela has suffered horrifying abuses at John’s hands. She sets out to wrest control of the family’s tourmaline mining business from him. As Hillary attempts to end her obsession with John, Pamela searches for Cutter Reid, the one man she has always loved, and from whom John has always kept her. Now, a three-decade-old family drama of power, duplicity, and money comes hurtling to an explosive final confrontation with the one man who has so damaged their lives.

John St. George is a villain I loved to hate. Even though the author brought out his story, I couldn’t find any redeeming characteristics in him. That Hillary loves him and even when she sets out to get revenge ends up still loving him is a mystery to me. Instead of feeling sorry for how she’s wasted her life I found myself a little discussed with her. So that leaves Pamela St. George and Cutter Reid. Okay now I have characters I love. ESPECIALLY Cutter. ☺

So adding another author to my “have to buy list.”

Andre’s Army’s Newest Recruits

I’ve long been a fan of violinist Andre Rieu, also known as the King of the Waltz. Andre travels all over the world conducting the Johann Strauss orchestra and regularly visits the UK, but for one reason or another I always seem to miss his concerts.

On my wish list for 2014 was a trip to see Andre, but I couldn’t find that he was due to visit the UK this year. AJ, who enjoys his music but wasn’t especially driven to see him in person, asked where the nearest concert would be and I discovered it was in Maastrict, Holland. ‘Book it’ my lovely hubby said. Just over an hour later I was the proud owner of two Andre Rieu tickets, Eurostar tickets and several intercontinental rail connection tickets, not to mention a cute little apartment rental in the centre of Maastrict. AJ, slightly dazed by the speed at which his normally procrastinator wife could move, smiled resignedly and poured himself a large glass of wine.

photo0609So it came to pass that the Joneses found themselves in the beautiful Vrijthof Square in Maastrict during July, taking part in what was in effect the largest (and noisiest) party we’d ever been to. The whole evening was magical. AJ, who is very British and normally quite reserved, was on his feet most of the time and singing and dancing along to waltzes, songs from the musicals, anthems and popular ditties. We both loved every minute, so much so that the moment we got home, and at AJ’s suggestion, we booked again to see Andre in December here in Birmingham, UK. Which means we are now officially members of Andre’s Army :)

Fabulous concert aside, there was much to do in Maastrict which boasts having the oldest bridge in the Netherlands (Sint Servaasbrug) and the oldest city gate (Hell’s Gate), both built in the thirteen century. SAM_0638My favourite trip was to St. Pieter’s Caves, an underground network of man-made tunnels. The caves were formed through the mining of marl, and it is thought the process goes back to Roman times. Today it is a labyrinth of over 20,000 tunnels. The close proximity of Maastrict to Germany meant that during the second World War the caves were used as a refuge for the people of Maastrict. The caves were prepared to shelter 50,000 people, with chapels, a hospital and schooling for the children. Evidence of this remains in the form of altars, paintings and poems written on the walls.SAM_0636

While I’m not a huge fan of enclosed spaces, it was hard to miss the opportunity to visit these amazing caves. The tour took about an hour and the low temperatures provided a welcome respite from the thirty degree heat outside. Our party was about fifteen strong and our way was lit by three lanterns carried by the group. It was easy to believe the tales of how people used to mark the walls in order to find their way back out of this labyrinth, as every couple of feet the caves seemed to branch out into scores of other minor tunnels. Apologies for the poor quality of the photos, I don’t think my little camera could cope with the atmospherics, and it’s slightly damp-palmed operator, although I did get through the tour without disgracing myself by going into full-blown panic mode. It really was a fascinating experience.

Happy 90th birthday, Mom!

Happy 90th birthday, Mom!
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A week or so ago, we held a special event in our family. A celebration of the 90th birthday of our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, cousin, aunt, and friend. The past year was a bit of a health crisis year, but things have leveled out, Mom is healthy and still living in her own house and driving, and we wanted to celebrate this milestone.

We’ve done these gatherings before, and I am continually awed at how well this family works together. First, there were several planning sessions. Wine and/or beer may or may not have been involved, but a lot of work got done, too. Menus planned, venue settled, invite list grown.

One brother and sister-in-law provided the venue…their back yard, God bless them! And if you’ve ever hosted a party, you know what it takes to get that yard to shine extra special. The other brother and sister-in-law provided amazing food, table and chair reconnaissance and delivery, and a special talent for ambiance and decorating I truly admire. Two long distance sisters provided food and lots of moral support. And various cousins and grandchildren also brought food.
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When the day arrived, we all congregated…63 adults and children, to honor Mom. It was an afternoon of awesome conversations, reminiscences, and checking in on current lives. And all because of our mother.

She is kind.
She taught me the “family first” rule.
And that being myself was the perfect way to be.
That working together is easier than butting heads.
And that helping people is the best feeling in the whole wide world.

And that’s why my brothers and sisters and I work so well together. And our husbands and wives join in with the same dedication. Because Mom loves us all unconditionally.

I know this is getting pretty sappy, but I can’t stop bragging about the wonderful family I am part of. And the wonderful world we’ve created. A world that keeps expanding with each grandchild and great-grandchild.

By the way, here’s the specs for Mom’s family:

5 children
9 grandchildren
17 great-grandchildren

And a legacy that will live on for years to come. Next stop…100!
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Where Were You? Summer, 1969

Jillian here.  This weekend marked the 45th anniversary of the “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” trip to the moon. Do you remember where you were when it happened? It’s one of those pivotal moments in history where people seem to recall exactly where they were when it occurred.

My dad and I got into a discussion about this yesterday. He said he’d been searching his memory banks because he couldn’t recall where he was on that date and it was driving him crazy. I saved the man from losing his mind because I remembered. I was eight years old but I remember exactly where we were. As soon as I started telling him, he recalled, too.

We lived right outside Washington, D.C at the time but we were visiting my grandparents in northern Alabama. We were at their house on the Tennessee River which we always called the lake house. We watched it on television and then went outside, sat in lawn chairs and peered up at the sky talking about the men up there and whether or not, when the moon eventually became full, if we’d be able to see the USA flag up there. It was a fun, fanciful evening as we even joked about the man in the moon hanging out with them and offering them green cheese to eat. How in the heck my dad forgot all that, I’ll never know.  LOL

So, do you remember where you were? I’d love to hear.  And we won’t even get in to the conversation about whether it was all a hoax. I prefer to believe it really happened.

Porch-Sittin’ Weather by Valerie J. Patterson

The county courthouse I work in is practically older than dirt.  It has a large front porch–for lack of a better term.  It has massive, aged columns and a huge bell tower upon which stands a statue of the man the county is named after–Revolutionary War Major General Nathanael Greene.  The original courtroom is big with high archways and walls lined with portraits of the judges who’ve administered justice through the courthouse’s existence.  It’s a pretty impressive courthouse.  But it’s the front porch I want to talk about.

Greene County Courthouse

The courthouse is at the heart of town.  Anyone going anywhere has to pass the front of the courthouse in order to get where they’re going.  There are park benches on the front porch inviting folks to sit a while.  This is where I’ve come to spend my lunch breaks the past two months or so.

It’s not always easy to get out of the office and go to a restaurant for lunch, but it does occur.  Usually, when that happens, my hubby picks me up and whisks me away for an hour of quiet conversation and a sandwich or a salad.  I love those hours.  I covet those hours because it’s a small bit of time we get together in an otherwise busy day.

If I can’t get away, I head for the front porch.  I take a bottle of water, some protein biscuits, a pen and a tablet.  I head for the park bench farthest from the main doors and–after stealing a glance at the clock on the bank across the street–I settle in and start working on my manuscript.  I usually get half a bottle of water and two biscuits down before my mind pulls away from my work and my eyes begin to take in the sights and sounds.

One afternoon I watched a man stopped at a traffic light watch a woman cross the street.  So intent was he on watching her that he turned down a one-way street and the man in the car he cut off yelled loud enough that he stopped and backed out of the one-way street and scurried on his way.

I watched a bride and groom come rushing out the front doors after one of the judges married them and instantly pose for photos,  I’ve seen families pose for photos with the child they just adopted.  And I’ve seen divorcing couples argue all the way down the front steps, stopping on the sidewalk to continue the heated exchange.  Mostly, I watch folks hurry from one end of town to the next and back again.  After all, that hour tends to fly when you fill it with errands.

It seems that no matter the heat of the day, there’s always a lovely breeze coming across the front porch.  I enjoy that breeze.  It relaxes me and refreshes me and energizes me to finish my day.  My Dad was an accomplished porch-sitter.  In the evenings after dinner and whatever chores he had to complete, he’d grab a tall glass of my Mom’s homemade iced tea and head for the front porch.  He’d chat with whomever passed in front of the house, but mostly he sat quietly just soaking up the evening.

There are days when I’m sitting on the park bench and I think of him.  I just know he’d enjoy sitting on that front porch with me.  I hope it remains porch-sittin’ weather for a long while!

Until next time, I hope there’s a porch in your life where you can sit and recharge.  May it always be perfect porch-sittin’ weather for you, too!

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And Now It July!!

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This is the week of our County Fair and actually the first time in over 40 years that I have not stayed on the fair grounds on Monday night. But I am ready to go this morning. Took the trailer … Continue reading

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Summer Time

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I have to admit after living in California, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m still now use to the seasons here in Washington. It’s fun to know that there is a spring, summer, fall and winter.  I’m just … Continue reading