Morning Meanderings… I Am Back For The Journey


Still here.

Once again I am surprised how easily I slip away these past months.  I just drift out of my normal routine which is often replaced by not much… sorrow, thinking, trying to adjust…

but lately as those of you who know me and know my activities it has been about 7 weeks of preparing for my sons benefit,spending time with a dying friend, a color run event for my son, another hard funeral, a bike ride fund-raiser, followed by the planning of Wine and Words year 3 and then last Thursday we had Wine and Words, our biggest year yet.

I followed all of this up with a day of catching up on things neglected – laundry, household basics, and mowing the lawn… and then on Saturday morning…

I drove 3 hours to our cabin with a few friends and stayed until Tuesday evening.

PicMonkey Collage

Usually after Wine and Words Justin and I would go to the cabin and chill for the weekend eating junk food, playing board games, and watching movies… LAZY stuff.  I knew this would be a hard weekend as Justin and I had talked about this weekend in March about how we were excited to just hang out again.  Instead…  in this newness, I went with friends and we did watch moves and eat junk food, but we also went shopping, exploring, biking….  it was more active and it was nice.

The last couple of days since returning home I have been pretty tired.  Emotionally and physically from the past 6 weeks of pretty much none stop activity while dealing with my great grief.  Yesterday I took a long nap.  This morning  I woke up at 5 am stayed up until 6:30 am… went back to bed and got up again at 9 am.  I am starting to feel a bit of energy returning and have no plans over the weekend which I am thankful for… I  can set the pace.

As for this world of Book Journey – I am hopeful that I am back.  My reading has been slow, but I do have reviews to write.  I miss hanging out here with all of you and I am looking forward to getting back into the routine of visiting all of you and seeing what you are reading as well.

Still here.  Still hanging on.


Morning Meanderings… COFFEE and Thoughts of Justin



It is quiet in the house.  Al left around 8 am to look at job sites.  I am here sitting with COFFEE cup catching up on a few emails before I start my day with a visit to my aunt and probably mowing the lawn.

Even the dogs are having a restful morning.

book journey

Mater and Sammy sleeping at opposite ends of the couch this morning

My thoughts are never far from Justin and as you can imagine I find him everywhere in everything.  Last evening, I brought the doors out for Wine and Words to repaint.  The doors, are a set of doors that we picked up three years ago at a Re-Store (used furniture and hardware store that raises money for Habitat For Humanity).  The doors we hinged together and I painted with a chalk board paint.  In paint markers I wrote across the top of the doors

What books opened doors for you?


Wine and Words event 2013

Guests loved this.  Authors took pictures of the doors to use the idea at future events.  And the doors… the doors became a staple of our event.  Every year I repaint them and start anew.

So… anyway…

I brought the doors out to paint yesterday and when I opened them on the back side I found this…

book journey, Justin DeChantal, Wine and Words

As you can imagine… tears everywhere.  My son wrote this at last years event.  Perfectly up in a corner where it would be easy to leave on the doors.  And of course you know… I did not paint over it.

It is these little things I seem to stumble upon day to day. A note, a memory, a card in the mail, or… even this package that came to my house this week…

Justin DeChantal, Book JOurney. Sheila DeChantal, Made With Love Soap Co

This package came from a company that Justin created the logo for.  Out of the blue… they sent this lovely package and a letter.

justin dechantal, book journey, Made With Love Soap Co

Right?  Tears.  Beautiful tears though.  My son is loved.  My heart… is full of the amazing people that were in his life.  When he says above that Harry Potter helped him understand miracles like magic, I smile… he was magic.  He was my miracle.

This is what grief looks like in writing.

Gah.  I digress.

This was supposed to be a happy post.  And it is… every day I fight to move forward trying to resemble “me”.  Whoever I am now.

On a bookish note, I have been thinking more about What Are You Reading, the Monday meme.  I think I will bring it back the first Sunday in September.  I was going to start last week but was too tired.  Next Sunday I plan to be at our cabin and I have no internet there so don’t want to stop and start and stop.  I am not reading much due to the fullness of July and then the two events – Camp Benedict Bike Ride and now Wine and Words.  Every day I am working on something but books will come back – that is the beauty of them… they wait for us.

Saturday Snapshot…. It’s Happening.


Well I certainly did not plan on being MIA this past week here, but I see my last post was a week ago.  A week on heavy library activity and we are down to the wire planning for Wine and Words.  Lots of busy volunteers out there making the final steps happen.  This week I worked on the table brochure, seating arrangements with my friend Sue, lots of email communications, sponsor information, phone calls, ticket sales, communications to our venue, and tomorrow myself and the Co-Chair Gail will hopefully take care of the final silent auction items which we are planning on a good 4-6 hours at the library doing that.



This week at the Brainerd Public Library a lot of things were happening fast.

  1.  We got the word that the cement people were coming to lay out the plan for the benches and give the bid.
  2. The Library Director and I went and layed out the plan for the benches and where they would go.
  3.  When they came the bid was a good one and they said they would be able to do the job on Friday.  (Yesterday)
  4. Friday!!!!
  5. We hit “go mode” and bought materials to put stone around two of the trees in the area the benches would go to add a nice park feel to the area.
  6. I dug up hostas from my own gardens because I loved the symbolism of having the plants being from our home where my son’s bench was going to be placed.
  7. Thursday we were able to work on it a little bit in the morning and then we were rained out.
  8. Friday morning we finished the hosta project (including a bonus space because we had extra stones) and the cement people did their thing.
  9. The benches will go in early this next week.

A little background on the benches for those of you who are not familiar with my story of the past 4 months…. when my 24 year old son was killed in a car accident in April of this year, the book community did an AMAZING thing.  A group of bookish friends who I have connected with through here, started up a bench fund so a bench could be placed at our local library in memory of my son.

My heart… runneth over.

This bench led to the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library moving forward on something we had talked about over the last couple of years, and that was putting some nice outdoor benches outside the Library.  The Friends, on top of what the book community started with Justin’s bench, tossed in an additional $10,000 so we could add a bench on both sides of Justin’s as well as an octagon picnic table, a heavy duty garbage can, and two more benches for the Children’s outdoor area of the library.

I will post pictures once the benches are in place.  I have seen Justin’s bench and it is BEAUTIFUL.

book journey, Sheila DeChantal, Justin DeChantal, Brainerd Public LIbrary

The two trees that we planted the hostas around.

Mckay Concrete, DeChantal, Book Journey, Brainerd Public LIbrary

Preparing for the benches

Brainerd Public Library, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Prepping the Children’s Area ( we had planned on two benches but changed our mind and had them prep for 4. We will order two more benches.

Brainerd Public LIbrary, Book Journey

The moving of “Ben” the old bench that has sat in the bench planning area since the library was moved to this location.

Brainerd Public LIbrary, Book Journey.

“Ben’s” new home in the employee area of the library next to a picnic table. It looks as though he was meant to be there.

Brainerd Public Library

Jolene the library director working on the third “bonus” hosta bed.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal. Justin DeChantal, Brainerd Public Library

The cement going in. It was crazy cool. I wanted to get my tent and stay overnight there so no one touched it while it hardened.

Brainerd Public Library, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Childrens area cement prep for the benches to go in this next week.

As you can imagine, this whole project has been bitter sweet.  I love being a part of it and digging my hands into the dirt knowing that this will become a place where people will sit and read, and talk, and enjoy.  For those of you who contributed to making this happen… I can not thank you enough.  Even now, 4 months in I still cry every day.  This bench… this project means so much.

Thank you.

I am posting this to Saturday Snaphot, where people all over the world can add pictures of what is happening in their lives. 

Saturday Snapshot… The Month, The Bike Ride… and oh yeah… The Tattoo

Camp Benedict Bike Ride 2015: L: Belinda, Sheila W, Me, and Farrah

I have not been a part of Saturday snapshot for well… lets say a long time.  Today seemed like a good day to do this one again. July was a crazy mess.  On top of my own grief, my friend Connie went into the hospital on July 3rd and by the 5th we were told she would not be coming out.  This lead to the next couple of weeks of visiting the hospital almost daily, in some cases twice a day.  At the end of each day I would be a bundle of emotions – grief on grief I started to call it. On the morning of Thursday July 16th she passed away with her husband and two sons beside her.  The world lost yet another amazing person.  This set off another flurry of activity as I set up a meal train and helped the family as they needed throughout the weekend and the week of the funeral. On the afternoon of the 17th a friend posted on Facebook she was going to get a Rhino tattoo.  (Rhino was our team name for the bike ride, named after a book Connie received 32 years ago when she first became sick called Rhino Success, about being strong and courageous and CHARGING ON like a Rhino no matter what. When Trisha asked if I would do the tattoo with her… I said yes without hesitation…


Points to Vicki who spotted this on my foot in a picture I posted a couple of days ago in a Morning Meandering. Great eye Vicki! (I’d Rather Be at the Beach) ;)

Three days after the funeral was the Camp Benedict Bike Ride that Connie had created to raise money for Camp Benedict each year.  The Camp Board had decided in early July that we would move ahead with the bike ride. So…..  that led to a whirlwind of other activity weaving throughout all of this other stuff in July… working on rider count, lining up many volunteers, promoting, planning food for the ride, awards, t – shirts (Connie had already designed this years t shirt), permits, marking the road, etc….  Thank goodness for a great team of helpers! Any hoo…. here for Saturday Snapshot are some of the ride pics…

This is before the ride.... Riders ready!

This is before the ride…. Riders ready!

THis is my friends Belinda (standing) and Sheila at the day one lunch stop

This is my friends Belinda (standing) and Sheila at the day one lunch stop

One of the pit stops had a cool super hero theme and photo booth.... oh we had fun with that

One of the pit stops had a cool super hero theme and photo booth…. oh we had fun with that

This is the potatoes that were cooking at Camp... Vicki made a lot of delicious potatoes!

This is the potatoes that were cooking at Camp… Vicki made a lot of delicious potatoes!

Ready to go... day 2

Ready to go… day 2

Connie's son Nathan and his girlfreind Audrey rocking the t shirts Connie made this year.  A super fun fact - both of Connie's sons and husband participated in the ride.

Connie’s son Nathan and his girlfriend Audrey rocking the t shirts Connie made this year. A super fun fact – both of Connie’s sons and husband participated in the ride.

A DQ stop is always part of day 2!

A DQ stop is always part of day 2!

And… let me just say day 2 was HOT.  We were dreaming of riding our bikes right into a lake.  Then when passing my friend Amy’s home we popped in to get a drink and wound up in their pool…. yes… in full on bike gear.

book journey, farrah mckinney, Sheila DeChantal

.. and that is where memories are made. :)

So there it is.  That was last Saturday. The ride was a good way to complete a hard hard month and honor my friend Connie. Camp Benedict is a camp for families infected and affected by AIDS.  I am proud to be the Vice President of this camp that I have watched change lives for the past 5 years that I have been a part of it and I am sure many years before I became involved. Camp Benedict is a non profit 501C3.  If you or anyone you know would like to donate to this camp here is a link:

Today… I think I am laying low.  In fact I think I am laying low for the weekend and I am looking forward to it.  July was crazy busy and even this past week was filled with Wine and Words activity, a visit from one of Justin’s good friends, and catching up on my yard and home.  Books and audio and sitting in the sun are on the agenda.

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens, Those Girls, Book JOurney

The Campbell sisters never had what you would call an easy life.  Living with a mostly absent and when present, abusive father, the girls did their best to stay out of his way.  Teenagers Jess, Courtney, and Danny worked on a ranch to earn enough to keep their home and purchase a little food, wondering (and dreading) when their father would next make his appearance and what kind of mood he would be in.

One night, when their father returns – things go too far and the girls find themselves on the run.  As things go from bad to worse, the girls live through a nightmare that haunts them for the next 18 years.

The sisters try to make lives for themselves and for the most part they do… but one sister… one can not forget that night.  And her choices affect all of them.



Chevy Stevens is one of those authors that I pretty much drop any reading plan for and grab their latest works.  I have raved about Chevy’s books in the past and when Those Girls was coming out I was soooooo excited.  A spooky sinister synopsis, amazing cover – I was all in.

The story starts out strong and very “Chevy Stevens like”… right away I fell into the story, and for the first two thirds of the book I was really involved with what was happening even if a few things seemed to come together a little easy….

It was the final third that I found I could no longer suspend belief… the happenings in this part of the book that take place 18 years later undid me.  It was too believable the way it plays out.  I am being careful to avoid spoilers here, but for me this book did not live up to the Chevy Stevens quality I have experienced in the past.

I wanted to be blown away…

I wasn’t.

Please look at other reviews for this one to develop a better opinion of the book.  I see that many have enjoyed this one, as did I, I just did not love love it.

That’s What She Reads found it to be a good summer thriller

Booking Mama highly recommended it

debbishdotcom found this Stevens read to be back to her better work


I did listen to this one on audio and enjoyed the narration by Jorjeana Marie (Narrator), Emily Woo Zeller (Narrator), Nicol Zanzarella (Narrator).  Not always a fan of multiple narrators, this one worked.




  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 29 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio
  • Release Date: July 7, 2015



Morning Meanderings… STRENGTH



Isn’t it funny how even when you think things will slow down they do not?  I was sure this week was going to be a quieter one.  Monday was filled with library activity but I thought Tuesday I would just relax and nope – instead I was cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, working on Wine and Words stuff, gathering items for the silent auction…

well, Wednesday I thought… Wednesday will be slower…. but no, I spent hours at the library prepping more baskets for the silent auction, bank errands, thank you card mailings, then went shopping (why is it that everything seems to run out at once…. body wash, facial cream, deodorant, bar soap….)…

I came home and hit melt down.

There was a lovely card in the mail yesterday (thank you Kris!).  As I read it the tears rolled down my face.  The card told me I was a strong person, that they were in awe of what I have accomplished these past few hard hard hard months and how I have been able to some how keep going.

I don’t even know myself how I do it…

I do know that being strong was never a choice.  I have to be.  I hear that a lot, about what a strong person I am.  I feel like a weak mess, but I guess because I get out of bed each morning and try to find some form of my former self is a strength quality.  Honestly, I believe the strength comes from the wonderful people who surround my family.  The calls, the cards, the kind words, the things I know my son was so proud of me for being involved in – I cant stop doing.

I can’t.

I go on for me… and I go on for him.  Inside… I am a mosh pit.

Yesterday evening I went to a friend home and hung out on her deck with another friend.  This was nice.  We caught up on each others lives, and talked until the sun went down and the mosquitoes drove us inside and then we talked some more.

This is where my strength comes from.  My support team of friends, connections, and family are like a battery pack of love.  I recharge….


I try again.

book journey, sheila dechantal, laura campbell, amy price

Left/back: Amy, me Front: Laura

Fever by Mary Beth Keane

Fever, Mary Beth Keane, Typhoid Mary, Mary Mallon, Book Journey

The amazing story behind “Typhoid Mary”,  truly had no idea.  ~Sheila


Mary Mallon was 15 years old when she left Ireland to come to New York.  Mary ha a stubborn streak and she knew what she wanted and how to get it.  She worked hard laboring in kitchens learning skills as a cook until she became quite good.  Soon she found her sought after by New York’s elite families wanting the hard-working Mary with the skills of a chef to be theirs exclusively.

Then the families of those Mary cooked for began to get sick.  Some even died.  A particular keen-eyed Medical Engineer zoned in on Mary as being the common denominator.  He called this out openly, saying Mary was a “asymptomatic carrier” of Typhoid Fever.

For three years Mary was kept in isolation, away from those she loved and from anything to do with other people.

This is her story.



We have probably all heard at one point or another about “Typhoid Mary”.  At least in name.  For myself, that is all I knew.  When I discovered this book Fever on audio I felt this would be an opportunity to learn more of this woman.  I am glad I did.  Narrated by Candace Thaxton, Fever was an interesting listen about Mary Mallon’s life.  I enjoyed learning of her tough exterior. She was a strong woman who carried herself well even through the hard years.

Learning more of her story was very interesting.  I would recommend this one in either book or audio format, I feel both will come off well.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 53 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Release Date: March 12, 2013


Morning (nope!) Afternoon Meanderings… Lets Talk About What You Are Reading


I feel….

wiped out.


A long weekend with the bike ride, a long week with the funeral prior to that, a long two weeks of my friend Connie in the hospital before that…. and yesterday a full morning of Wine and Words prep meeting and our last Author of the summer.

Exhausted comes to mind.  Emotionally and physically.

A few people have inquired about the meme that I have ran since early 2010, Where Are You Reading.  Yes, it is coming back.  I hope this Sunday.  Through everything of this year I hardly remember what day it is.  My final really big event for the year is Wine and Words and I am hopeful that life will level out at that time. Currently I feel “spikey”…. I can function for events and for people, but then I hit a grief wall when I have down time.  I can make myself be “ON” if I need to be… but I pay for it.

I only have a couple more weeks of needing to be ON.

The bike ride, was fun.  A fair turn out and I think we brought in some new riders.  I will talk about this more for Saturday Snapshot. In the meantime… here is a little sample:



I am listening to audio and hope to pick up a book soon.  A few good ones have come my way I want to start :)


ARMADA by Ernest Cline


Zach Lightman takes after the father he has never known…. he is a gamer.  Living alone with his mother, when he is not at school he loves to hang out on line playing war games with his friends.  Escaping the reality of his own world while listening to loud 80’s jams is the ultimate way to complete a day.

Then, one day while looking out the window of his classroom he sees it.  “It” being a space ship.  Actually it looks a lot like a war ship much like the ones that he flies when playing the game Armada with his buddies.  But that can’t be right.  Clearly he needs to start getting more sleep.

Until… that space ship opens and the person who comes out of it calls Zach’s name.


Turns out there is a very real war being battled, has been being battled for decades and now Zach is being called upon to help save the earth.  Save his mothers life, his friends, and work to keep civilization going as we know it.

But Zach is just a teenager…. what can he possibly have to offer?




Full on geek on.  When I first heard that Ernest Cline had a new book coming out I went coo coo for cocoa puffs.  I adored his book Ready Player One.  I read it and I listened to it on audio.  Three times.  Yes, three times.  I quickly checked the audio version and had a double victory lap when I seen that it was indeed Wil Wheaton doing the narration.

Seriously, Will Wheaton could read the back of a cereal box to me and make it sound interesting.

As soon as (and I mean AS SOON AS) this book was released I downloaded the audio and began my adventure into audio.  Let me say this…  if you do listen to audio, even if you just dabble occasionally, audio is the way to go with this one (and Ready Player One for that matter but again I digress).

I enjoyed Armada on audio, not as much as I enjoyed Ready Player One but it was still a good listen.  Armada is a much stronger war game book (not my thing) as opposed to Ready Player One being more of a strategy game… absolutely my thing.  Also, Ready Player One’s awesome references to 80’s music, movies,and games made me giddy.  I know,  know… I really need to quit talking about Ready Player One.  Did you hear it is going to be a movie?  Ok, I will stop.

Armada is a good strong listen.  Although as I mentioned I am not much on war games, Will Wheaton’s animated narration brought the story to life for me.  What I didn’t think I would get… I got.  In the end, the message is an impressive one… something I did not see coming.

I have heard mixed grumbles on this one but I for one enjoyed having Ernest Cline and Wil Wheaton match up again.  Any time those two are brought together – I am in.

All in.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 58 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: July 14, 2015


Morning Meanderings… So, About That Bookish Connection


“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

~Alice IN Wonderland

Where oh where have I been?

It is a great question…

As I mentioned on Saturday my good friend Connie has passed away.  This bit of events put me in a tailspin of activity. On Saturday we started the Meal Train.  That evening we spent time with friends at a cook out.  Sunday friends came into town to help me with the plans for the upcoming bike ride (July 25th-26th), Monday we had the visitation, Tuesday the funeral, Wednesday the burial…  and in-between all of that library meetings, Bike Ride prep, Wine and Words planning….


So when I received an email from my bookish friend Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) and roommate year one of the Book Expo, that she was coming to my home town and could we do dinner on Tuesday – I immediately said yes.

Of course… when I said yes, I was exhausted, and thought she meant next Tuesday…..  ;)

When Tuesday afternoon rolled around and I received a text from Kim that she was on her way I had to really think about what to do.  It was the day of the funeral.  I was EXHAUSTED.  I had come home around 2 pm, put on my yoga pants and a comfy t-shirt and took a nap. I had no intention of going out again and was looking forward to grilling with my hubby as I had not seen him the last two days.

But… I also really wanted to see Kim.

I counter offered, explained my mix up and asked if it would be possible to do breakfast or supper on Wednesday instead.  Breakfast it was.


Left: Me and Kim

It was great seeing her again.  We talked about books – or for both of us lately, lack there of….  audio (which we both love), we exchanges titles that we enjoyed and just caught up on life.

A cool bonus to this whole Blogging experience is that you can find friends in almost any state.  Since l met Kim in 2010 when she was one of my roommates for the Book Expo, we have connected on other events as well, and yesterdays meet up was awesome.

Today – I am hoping to keep life to a low simmer.  I have a BIG weekend coming up with the camp ride for Connie.  Tomorrow we will run around and get all the final details in place.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”


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