Morning Meanderings… Day 100. Really?


Imagine taking all your emotions – everything you could possibly feel and putting them in a blender.

That’s the way I feel.

I can not even believe it has been 100 days since I lost my beautiful son.  It is a crazy mixed up world we live in and I struggle daily trying to find my fit in it – the commitments, the want to’s, the things I say “Yeah!  I want to do that!” when the old me peaks out for a second and then later I am horrified that I agreed to do something that I know is too much for me to take on.

I am up.  I am down.

I am mostly down.

After my last post about my friend Connie my emotional gauge has been off the charts.  I do what I need to do to get through the day.  I make the connections I need to and when the day is done I am home, exhausted physically and emotionally, a bundle of mixed feelings – glad I accomplished something… overwhelming sadness lying just under the surface, tired… so tired.

Connie, as of this morning is the same.  I will stop by this morning and check on her.  Yesterday we ran the Color Run for Justin.  is team that he started working on in March.  We finished it and 21 of us ran the 5k in Justins memory.  As you can imagine it was an amazing and horrible thing all rolled into one.  I am so thankful for his friends and mine, so glad that they pushed on to do this – and so sad knowing Justin would have been amazed at the friends who gathered to run for him.  Ridiculous is the word that comes to mind… it is ridiculous that I am typing such a thing and he is gone.

Color Run St Paul, Shine, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal, Justin DeChantal

The team before the run

Book Journey, Color Run St Paul, Sheila DeChantal, Justin DeChantal

The team after the run

Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price, Book JOurney, Color Run St Paul

My friend Amy and me

and then last night…. a big storm hit Minnesota:


I love this tree.  I have a sweet pic of the boys climbing up in it when they were young.  I think we can save part of it and I hope it will grow back again.


Still here.

Morning Meanderings…. I Am Listening


Good morning.

Thursday already.  I feel like this week has been a cluster of activity that fits in so many different areas of my life that I feel like it is a box of puzzle pieces that have been dumped on the table to sort, turn, and try to find their place.


As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my good friend Connie is in the hospital for what looks to be the last time. I have been spending time with her usually twice a day morning and evening.  Between that I am working on my house projects, company, commitments, and two three events coming up fast – the Color Run, the Camp Bike Ride and Wine and Words shortly after.  I definitely feel whelmed all the while with my own grief just bubbling below the surface.

I have been too tired to read lately although I do try.  The same book has followed me from the bed stand to the living room several times throughout each day but I never get to opening it.  I have been listening to audio while working in the yard, mowing the lawn, and writing addresses on cards I need to mail.

I am anxious for life to slow down again.


Movie: Jurassic World

Jurassic world, Book Journey

On July 4th Al and I were keeping our day pretty low key.  We stayed close to home and then in the afternoon decided to go and check out the movie Jurassic World.  I grew up around the Jurassic movies and remember the excitement of imaging that such a park could exist and of course, the implications around having such a park exist.


We really enjoyed the movie.  It was like the next generation of Jurassic Park.  They were trying again to create the park that once failed all those years ago.  Now they were trying to keep up with the ever changing demands of this world – not just wanting to see a dinosaur… but a bigger, scarier, dinosaur then ever seen before.

Super sizing is not always the way to go.

It’s actually a great idea and an apparent win (according to an article I read this morning the movie is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest movies of all time).  Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are pretty amazing in their roles.  Chris playing Owen, the “Raptor whisperer” with the smoking good looks and kick ass attitude, and Bryce playing Claire a stuffy over achiever who is all about her job and has little time for anything or anyone else.

If you get the chance – see this one at the theater for the BIG screen feel.  We went to the 3D version (mainly due to the timing) and found it to be well done.

Morning Meanderings… Each Day Is Precious


What a weekend.

Originally I was supposed to go to the cabin on Sunday with my good friend Belinda and we were going to hang out and bike until Tuesday afternoon.  I freed up my schedule and thought it would be a nice little break.  When Mater had surgery on Wednesday the plans changed as I had “dog care duties” and instead I invited Belinda to come hang out with me here in Brainerd and we could bike around here, grill, and maybe have use the fire pit.

Sunday morning (my last meandering post) I was out delivering strawberry cobbler to the neighbors when I received the call.  My good friend Connie had been struggling with her health all year and it seems that things were taking a turn for the worst.  Friends and family were asked to come to the hospital to see her.

Life changes on the drop of a dime.

Connie Statz, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Connie and I at a banquet fund raiser

I went to the hospital on Sunday and my friend Belinda who also knows Connie met me there.  I was there two hours holding Connie’s hand and just being with her and her family.  Yesterday I went in the morning and again in the evening.  This morning I plan to go again.

Connie has been an amazing part of my life these past 5 years.  I learned much from this strong-willed, big-hearted woman and wish now I could take away all her pain.

The weekend clearly did not go as planned, but what really does?  Instead Belinda and I offered a place for people to gather and stay if they wished as they visited Connie because my home is about 3 miles form the hospital.  We cooked, we cleaned, we hung out on the deck talking with friends.

Today Belinda heads back home.  I have my lawn to mow.  A little audio listening. A mailing to finish.  perhaps a little flower planting project I have my eye on.  2015 has been a hard year for many.  I am emotionally exhausted in my own personal grief as well as my grief for my dear friend.

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding


Once you listen to this audio sample you know that this book is going to be a funny take on losing weight as a middle age couple takes a challenge (and journals all about it) for a chance to win $50,000.  Truly brilliant and fun.  ~Sheila

Zoe and Greg Milton were quite the good looking couple. Zoe the stunner turned heads wherever she went.  Greg was toned from all the rugby he played.

Of course…

that was many years ago.

Decades later Zoe has added 5 stone (70 pounds) to her frame and Greg more than that thanks to a more relaxed lifestyle, good cooking and many beers.

When Zoe’s best friend Elsie who works at  radio station tells Zoe about a competition they will be sponsoring called Fat Chance, Zoe is appalled that Elsie though of her and Greg.  When Zoe hears that the winner “biggest losers” of the competition win $50,000… she is not so appalled; after all she and Greg did need to lose some weight….

And so begins the 6 month competition that Zoe and Greg journal (part of the competition rules)…. through thick and hopefully thin, through bad diets and poor work out choices…. to the final weigh in.

I had read somewhere that this audio was hilarious.  Listening to the audible sample, I had to agree.  When you take a couple who have become quite stagnant in their ways and offer a nice prize package to change the habits… life can get interesting.  I loved the personal journal entries from Zoe’s funny results with the Cabbage Soup Diet to Greg’s hilarious attempts with work out fads.

Fat Chance is a fun story line with realistic weight battles.  It was a lot of fun to listen to.  I admit, I had to look up on-line how many pounds equaled a stone and the answer is 14 pounds.   See?  I learned something.  Bring on Jeopardy.

I really enjoyed this listen.

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 38 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Release Date: October 7, 2014


Morning Meanderings… Strawberry Picking



We made it through the 4th.

I knew the 4th was going to be a rough day so I had plans to lay low and not over commit.  The only commitment I had made in fact was to go strawberry picking in the morning with my cousin.  I have not been strawberry picking since the kids were young…


I went.

Getting at one with nature seems to be my thing this year.  It keeps my mind busy.

3a - Copy

We went out and were given a row to pick in.  We each took a side and chatted away while we crawled through the hay between the rows picking berries staining the knees of our pants berry red.  Two buckets each.


The owner, Roger, came and went through my bucket.  as a “newbie” he pulled berries out that he told me I wouldn’t want, over ripe and would not be good.  He told me I should be eating them s I went to know what the god ones looked like.  He was a nice guy and gave me a discount as he was worried about the state of the berries I had picked.  :)

3 - Copy

So now, I have a pile of berries to deal with.  Yesterday I saw a recipe for cobbler on line that I would like to try.  I picked up some blueberries and plan to make a couple of these there this morning, one for my aunt and one for a friend who both recently went through surgery.  I will make one for us tonight as I believe a friend is coming form the cities to hang out with me the next couple of days so we are going to grill and either hang out by the fire pit or watch movies – or both.

Looking forward to it.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Stay safe.



Weekend Cooking – A Little Different Take On This One


My good friend over at Beth Fish Reads hosts this weekly meme for all of us to share what we are cooking and how to make it for yourself.  It is a great meme and I have picked up some tasty recipes over the years.

This week I made something a little different… It was easy, healthy….

and quite honestly for the dogs.

Yes, I made dog treats.

I had mentioned earlier this week that Mater had to go to the vet and had surgery.  While waiting in the lobby I was flipping through a magazine (vets have pet magazines as opposed to people magazines at our doctors, I find that awesome).  While doing this I found a recipe that was easy to make, low cost, and good for your dogs health and fur.


Salmon Carrot Bone Oats

(originally published in Everyday Dog February 2015)

* a few tweets made by me from the original recipe

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 cup canned salmon

1/2 cup carrot (grated or shredded)

1 egg

2 tsp oil

3/4 cup water


In a medium/large size bowl add the flour, oats, salmon, and carrot and stir together. Add the egg, oil, and water and mix well.  (*if dough is to stiff add water slowly until you have a workable dough)

Preheat oven to 250. Roll dough in to 2 inch size balls and place on a cookie sheet and bake for 3 hours.  (Yes I did this and the cookie never became hard, just perfectly baked).  It is said that you can also do this at 350 degrees and check the cookies after an hour in the oven.  You are looking for them to be dried out, a biscuit like quality.


Results:  The dogs really enjoy them.  I found these to be easy to make and cost effective.  The only item that cost a bit was the salmon and even that wasn’t bad, I paid $2.19 for the canned salmon and used it is double the recipe.I store them in a Rubbermaid seal-able container.  Overall, these are a healthy treat cost less that $4 to make a double batch and made about 40 cookies.

PicMonkey Collage

Stop by Beth Fish Reads to see what other people are cooking this weekend.  More than likely, they are making people food.  ;)

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eicher

Dead Mountain, Book Journey, Donnie Eichar, Dyatlov Pass, Russia

1959.  Nine excited college students planned to hike the Russian Ural Mountains and reach Ortorten, a challenging trek.  All 9 in the party (7 boys and two girls) were experienced hikers and used to mountain expeditions.  They had trained, and planned, and envisioned victory. The group left on January 27 with plans to communicate once they reached Vizhai which they believed would be around February 12th, but perhaps a little longer.When February 12th came and went, there was no panic. however when February 20th came around a rescue team was sent out to look for the nine hikers.

On February 26th the rescue team found the camp site of the hikers where the tents had been partially torn down and cut open with knives from the inside.  Inside the tent were also the shoes of the hikers.  Tracks could be seen of stocking feet as well as bare feet around the site and the rescue team followed.  As they searched the area all nine of the hikers bodies were found in different states of dress, looking as though they had abandoned the tents in a hurry.  But why?  What would cause this experienced group to venture out into the cold snow without their shoes or jackets?  What would cause them to destroy their tents from the inside?  What were they trying to escape?

While it was believed they died of hypothermia, some of the hikers had extreme injuries, blows to the skull, chest fractures and one was even missing his tongue.

Photo footage and journals found left by the hikers showed that the communication ended on February 2nd.  Yet all of these years later, a solid answer to what happened has never been found.



Book Journey, Dyatlov pass, dead mountain, 1959


Book Journey Dyatlov Pass Incident, 1959, Dead Mountain


Once again I embark on a read that I have no idea about.  I admittedly had never heard about the Dyalov Pass or about this extreme tragedy.  When browsing the audio sale this one caught my eye as I seem to be drawn to unsolved mysteries.  At around 6 1/2 hours of audio listening this was a doable listen.  I tend to like my audio to be around that 6-9 hour mark if I have no relationship with the author or narrator to cause me to invest more time.

Donnie Eichar plays many roles in this audio.  Not only is he the author and narrator, he is also telling the story not as a third person observer – but as first person, as Donnie was part of a team that followed in the tracks of the hikers in 2012, trying to bring in new answers to an old mystery.

I did enjoy this listen.  It was very interesting to learn about the hiking group, listen to parts of their journal and discoveries, and try to piece together what may have happened.

While this book will not give you a full out positive answer as to what did happen, it does go over many theories which Donnie Eichar will tell you why some theories hold merit and others do not.  In the end, Donnie will also give you his thoughts on the mystery that surrounds the Dyalov Pass tragedy.


Other stuff:  A movie is 2013 called Devil’s Pass is about 5 filmmakers who retrace the steps of the 1959 hikers.

You Tube has an Unsolved Mysteries video with good insight and pictures of the hikers:


  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 23 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Release Date: March 18, 2014




Morning Meanderings… Dog Surgery and Audio Anticipation (a CRAZY mix)


Good morning!  Thursday and I imagine many of you are making your plans (if you have not already started) for the big 4th of July weekend!

I mentioned yesterday I was taking Mater to the vet.  He was running a fever and acting like Eeyore walking slowly around with this head down.  No energy.  Turns out he had a lymph node infection in his shoulder and it had to be cut open to drain (yes… you may want to put down your breakfast for a few minutes).  They had him in the office for the day but he is home now, doing well and my job is to place a warm wash cloth over the would area several times a day to keep it open so it can drain.  Due to this, there was no strawberry picking as originally planned.




Dog and owner are doing well this morning.


I did want to talk about audio.  June as you know was audio month and I did not have my normal posts on how awesome audio is and why you all (yes you too Laurel!  ;) ) should give it a try.  However… this little gem on info from crossed my path in email format yesterday and I can not help but share some highly anticipated audio coming in July.

6Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.  Harper Lee!!!!  Yes the author of To KIll A Mockingbird brings in this long anticipated jewel.  Narrated by…. wait for it… wait for it…. Reese Witherspoon!  I am seriously curious about this one. Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.   Release date 7/14/15




1Armada by Ernest Cline (author of one of my all time favorite audio books Ready Player One).  I have gushed about this one before.  Another gamer type book, save the world, blah blah blah but also narrated by the great Wil Wheaton who is an EXCELLENT narrator.  Also release 7/14/15.  Can not wait!!!





2Circling The Sun by Paula McLain, author of the Paris Wife.  This one is about the British born Kenyan Aviator Beryl Markham, the first woman to successfully cross the Atlantic solo from east to west.  There is  lot more to Beryl than meets the eye, so venture in to this historical treasure.  Released 7/28/15





8 Dexter Is Dead.  I never followed the whole “Dexter ” hype.  My son Brad said it was a crazy good series but I don’t think it is for me.  Anyhoo… Dexter is arrested on charges of murder. He has lost everything – including his wife, his kids, and the loyalty of his sister. Now completely alone, Dexter faces a murder charge (for a crime, ironically, he did not actually commit.  Written and narrated by Jeff Lindsay this is probably one to listen to if you are a fan of the series.  Release date 7/7/15



8Bradstreet Gate catches my eye.  Georgia, Charlie, and Alice each arrive at Harvard with visions of what the future will hold. Then, just before graduation, a classmate is found murdered on campus, they find themselves facing a cruel and unanticipated new reality. Moreover, a professor who has loomed large in their lives is suspected of the crime. Though his guilt or innocence remains uncertain, the unsettling questions raised by the case force the three friends to take a deeper look at their tangled relationship.    Sounds good to me!  Release date is 7/7/15



There are more on the list that you of course can check out for yourself.  For new audible users, your first audio book is free so take a peek if you have not tried audible before.  I have used it for three years and love it.  The audio downloads right to my phone and I have it everywhere I go.  I also like that if I start listening to something I do not enjoy, I can return it to them and they give me my credit back to choose something else.


Today should be a fairly quiet day.   I am running to town this morning to get a few errands done and then working around the house today on a mailing I am working on and the monthly newsletter for the Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library.  I may have a coffee date this morning this will be nice as it is a lovely day to also sit on the deck.


Notes To Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn’t Share In Public by Pamela Ribon

notes to boys, pamela ribson, book journey

Notes To Boys is a memoir of the awkward (occasionally cringe worthy) letters that best-selling author and screen writer Pam Ribon wrote to boys when she was growing up…. some sent (she had a tendency to always make a copy), some not sent… and some she hopes she didn’t send but has a weird feeling that she probably did.

Growing up in a small town in Texas and the internet and cell phones still a long way off, Pam spent time writing letters, LONG deep, and teen angst letters that now – years later she share. Pam laughs at herself, filling in the gaps behind the letters, and adds laugh out loud commentary as she questions this younger version of herself’s motives.

Now married with a child, Pam finds “Young Pam” to be at times a little sad, but mostly a strong boy crazy gal struggling to find who she is and who she will be.




To give my thoughts on this particular audio book I think I need to break it down.

Why I listened to this audiobook:  I enjoy memoirs that are read by the author.  While I admit I had not heard of Pam Ribon (remember at times I do feel like I live under a rock), I thought the synopsis of this one sounded interesting.  After listening to the audible sample, I enjoyed Pam’s fast talking fun way of narrating and her occasional cracking herself up.

What I liked:  Pam is a fast talking funny gal.  Impressively so… how she doesn’t stumble on her words sometimes is a wonder. Her stories in most cases are pretty funny. Tiny warning:  occasionally a bit raunchy.  I enjoyed that to “protect the innocent” each of the boys she wrote about had an alias such as “Holly Hunter Boy” (the boy she watched Broadcast News with) and “Super Mario Brothers Boy.”  She has a quick wit and I liked how she would rabbit trail while reading but never to the point that I was lost.

What I didn’t like:  While there are a couple of moments in the book/audio where Pam shares some deeply personal and painful past happenings, it almost doesn’t fit with this style of book.  Her funny moments are so over the top funny that when she switches gears to share something serious it is like a record scratching.  In most cases this works in memoirs and would have if the letters were not so funny and her narration is so over the top fun that the sad parts were a bit “oh… OH… she is serious here.”  I also have to mention the volume of her narration.  At times Pam becomes very loud even shouting and for me, at one point I was listening in the living room after Hubby had gone to bed and I had to keep adjusting the volume lower for when she became loud and turn it up when she spoke softly.  The same thing happened when I was mowing the lawn and had ear buds in – the volume had to be adjusted so I didn’t hurt my ears when she shouted (and she really shouts!)

Overall:  Pam does do a great job at narration and most of the letters are quite funny.  I had to imagine what kind of girl writes long letters to boys and makes copies?  Then I reminded myself that I am the girl who wrote poetry about EVERYTHING (boys included and one about socks too..and placed my poems in photo albums.  (Remember old school photo albums with that sticky top layer?  Yes – those.)  I recommend giving the audio sample a listen.  I think in book format this would come off well, however if this sounds like your kind of listen, even with the volume adjustments, this is a unique listen that reminded me a bit of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 17 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Rare Bird Books
  • Release Date: June 18, 2015





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