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Morning Meanderings… It’s All A Bit Crazy

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*Deep Breath*

Today I wanted to share the pictures of the bench that was dedicated to my son at the Brainerd Public Library.  It is one of those things that I am a little surprised I have not already posted the pics (I did post the prep of the area pics but never the finished area).  And then as I plan to write this post the tears start rolling.

How my life has changed these past 5 months…

It is in all honesty quite surreal and surely requires a reality check from time to time.  How can this all be real?  How can 5 months ago I had this vibrant amazing kid in my life and we were making plans and hanging out and then…

this.

Now I have benefits, and Color Runs, and tree plantings and ribbon cuttings…

and a very very broken heart.

However, this is not what this post is about.  Well it is and it isn’t.

If you can put a shed of light over this tragedy I am trying to live through…  what I am posting here is a spark of life and love and well….  here it is.

A brief background story to the bench if you do not know it…. when my son died in a car accident this past April the book blogging community took a stand and wanted to do something to honor my love for books and the library and my great love for my son. Money was raised quickly for this project, bloggers and publishers, and authors, all came together to make this happen. 

I still can not write this or talk about this without tearing up… what an outpouring of love during the hardest part of my entire life. 

Two members of our friends group Dawn and Sherri spoke at the ribbon cutting

Two members of our friends group Dawn and Sherri spoke at the ribbon cutting.

 

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There was a nice gathering of people for the ribbon cutting… friends, family, and community.

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Justin's bench.

Justin’s bench.

 

 

And the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library group contributed $10,000 to add in 4 more benches and a picnic table to the area for people to enjoy.

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Thank you to every one who contributed.  Coming through the way the book community did at such a time as this was such a gift to myself and my family.  This heart felt generosity will not be forgotten.

(This post will be linked to Saturday Snapshot, where people share their stories through pictures).

Saturday Snapshot: Wine and Words 2015

Wine and Words, Minnesota, Brainerd, Grand View Lodge, Sheila DeChantal, Peter Geye, Lorna Landvik, William Kent Krueger, rica Spindler, Nadia Hashimi, Kathleen McCleary, Book Journey

Left: Gail (Co-Chair), Me (Co-Chair), Jill (Team Member), Lorna Landvik (Author/MC), Peter Geye (Author), Kathleen McCleary (Author), William Kent Krueger (Author), Nadia Hashimi (Author), Erica Spindler (Author), Sue (Team Member), Doreen (Team Member), Brenda (Team Member)

 

This weeks Saturday Snapshot is going to be about Wine and Words, the literacy event that our Friends of the Brainerd Public Library sponsor each year.  This is year three and we had 320 guests at our sold out event.

As you can imagine, this was not the easiest of years for me to push through this event.  I thankfully had secured our authors in February of this year and Nadia Hashimi joined us in late March (only a week before my life fell apart).  The website and the ticket sales were already in place by then so the team was able to move on with the planning without me until I was able to assist again in June.

We were at a larger venue (Grand View Lodge) that allowed us to accommodate 120 more guests than last year.  It has been so exciting to watch this event grow from a “do you think this will work in Brainerd?” to a “holy smokes we need a larger venue!

We had a great team of people willing to work on the silent auction, ticket sales, handing out brochures, and this year we even worked on sponsorship’s!  As you can see in the above picture, we had an excellent author line up – a good mix of genres and the authors were so well spoken – talking about their writing, their books, and their relationship to libraries.  Seriously.. I was a bit giddy.

Here are a few of the many many pictures taken of our event this year:

Check in and the social hour

Check in and the social hour

Social hour

Social hour

 

One of our Team Members, Sherri talking with William Kent Krueger about his book

One of our Team Members, Sherri talking with William Kent Krueger about his book

 

Part of the book sale team... Friends Members:  Rhonda and Amy

Part of the book sale team… Friends Members: Rhonda and Amy

 

The guy who puts the "wine" in Wine and Words - our local Liquor man, Mark from Cash Wise Liquor

The guy who puts the “wine” in Wine and Words – our local Liquor man, Mark from Cash Wise Liquor

 

Its always fun to see people get excited about books!

Its always fun to see people get excited about books!

 

Ahhh… what the heck, here is what the event really looked like:

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage2 PicMonkey Collage3 PicMonkey Collage4 PicMonkey Collage5 PicMonkey Collage6

We gave away gift cards and a Kindle Fire.  Justin’s friends also purchased a table in his name and attended, just as he would have – and just as he had, the last two years.  ♥  There are no words for what that means to me…

Justin 2015

As far as how we did… I am finishing up the last bit of calculating today so I can give our team an accurate look at the total win for Friends of the Brainerd Public Library… and trust me on this…

it was a win. :)

Check out other Saturday Snapshots here and see what awesome people are taking pictures of around the world.

Saturday Snapshot…. It’s Happening.

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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.

Whew.

Anyhoo…

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

https://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

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…

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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.

Morning Meanderings… Let’s Get This PARTY Started!

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Good morning!  Another Saturday is here!  Saturdays are my FAVORITE day of the week.  The work week is over and usually Saturdays are a day that I have something fun going on.

Speaking of Saturday’s, last Saturday was no exception.  After spending the afternoon in a Writing seminar, I sped away to a local gas station where I changed into a dress and went to congratulate my friend Julia Lee at her book launch.

I walked in almost an hour and a half after the launch had started due to the seminar and I was surprised (and excited!) to see how full the room was with people!

Julia Lee, Launch Party, Book Journey

This is the book signing line when I walked in!

 

I had talked a bit about Julia the week of her book launch for her book Seven Stones when I interviewed her, and then reviewed her book.  Julia is so fun and easy to chat with that she is one of those people that when you meet her, you want to read whatever she has written to see if that personality shows through.

She is like a room full of champagne bubbles.

Julia Lee, Book Launch, Seven Stones, Book JOurney

Signing like a pro at her first book release party. I wonder if she practiced? ;)

 

The event was a lot of fun, the venue, Prairie Bay is known for delicious and unique horduerves such as artichoke chicken pizza, and apple and goat cheese skewers.  It was amazing food and great conversation as I waited in line with my friend Christy and chatted up what else?  Books.

Julia Lee, Book JOurney, Launch party, seven stones

Still smiling!

 

Book Journey, Julia Lee, Seven Stones

Sorry Julia, as soon as I took this picture I knew it was a keeper! LOL… it is a rare moment of a quick break in the signing!

 

What a great first signing!  The event was a lot of fun, I caught the tail end of it and had a glass of wine with Laurel from our Library and then went home after a long and productive day.

Julia Lee, Book JOurney, Seven STones

 

Today… I leave in about an hour for the library where a few of us are meeting to start hauling some of the books for the April book sale from the library to the venue we will be using.  I am kind of excited to start this process and as there are SO MANY BOOKS this time and we are moving off site every little bit we do helps take the pressure off of the big push in a couple of weeks.

 

Julia Lee, Book Journey, Seven Stones

Stolen… errr borrowed from Julia’s site… the pic with her author cup that I requested! You have to have a coffee cup pic!

You can read Julia’s fun blog here where she talks about the book, the excitement, life stuff, and great recipes!

 

Morning Meandering… Recap of A 7K

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Last weekend I was a part of the largest run that Minnesota hosts every year, the Get Lucky.  The Get Lucky run is a ST Patrick’s Day Run and it is a 7 K Run or a 7 7 7 Run (21 K).  This is my third year being a part of this run.

For Saturday Snapshot this morning I thought I would give you a little recap of the run.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Waiting for the 7K to start

 

I ran the 7k with 11,000 other people in Minneapolis.  In St Paul, another 20,000 were running the Triple 7k.  CRAZY stuff.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal, Get Lucky Run

It was a beautiful day in the 40’s

 

Get Lucky Run, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Entertainment!

The run has entertainment along the way.  These girls were dancing Irish style at the start of the run…

 

Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney, Get Lucky

More entertainment

These little boys were about half way through the run.  There were also a couple of Irish bands along the way that played music for us as we went by.

 

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There were signs along the way that marked what “K” we were at to torture us let us know how far we had gone.

 

Book JOurney, Get Lucky, Sheila DeChantal

Ahhh… the hilly bridge

The route is the same every year and towards the end of the run we go over a bridge that is always an uphill battle.  Literally.

 

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Sweet victory was mine!

 

Get Lucky, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Tiki Run is my next ortho run

 

At the end of the run they had up signs for other runs they will be having in Minnesota this year.  I am signed up for the Tiki run next that will be a night run in St Paul.  SWEET!

 

Get Lucky, Ortho run, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

SWAG!

One of the things I really enjoy about the Ortho Runs is the swag you get for doing them.  Ortho does not give out yet another event t-shirt.  They usually have cool hoodies or running gear.

 

SO that was the run.  Today is a literary day.  After a walk with a friend this morning, this afternoon I am attending a writing class and after that a book release party.  I am looking forward to a good day!

 

 

Morning Meanderings… Pics Of The Plunge or… ICE ICE Baby

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Kind of hard to believe from the comfort of my cozy home this morning that a week ago I was loading up the car with a prom dress, bubble toe tennis shoes, a black make up marker, and wearing a friend of mines dog tags to go to Anoka Minnesota to throw myself in the lake.

:shock:

Crazy Minnesotans… we will do anything for entertainment in the winter.  :)

SO for this Saturday Snapshot, I give you the Polar Plunge pics that I have.  There are more to come from the professional camera peeps of the event however those are not posted yet.

Polar Plunge Anoka MInnesota, Book Journey

This is what we walk through to get to the water. We come in through the back where that dark blue is. This is the lull before the storm :)

 

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

I had offered those who sponsored me to be able to choose what I wore. I had to wear something from Australia (the white t shirt I am wearing), something from Harry Potter (the scar on my forehead), my friends dog tags for his birthday, and a prom dress. Check, check, check, CHECK.

 

 

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This is me and my cousins wife Rhonda (I call her cousin-in-law)…. the dude is a photo bomber and the look on my face is because I suddenly felt someone over my shoulder and he surprised me.

 

Sheila Book Journey Polar Plunge

Showing that I am wearing the dog tags

 

Book JOurney, Polar Plunge, ANoka MInnesota

We are “Plungeriffic”

 

Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney, Polar Plunge

This is my “I guess I am really doing this” face.

 

Book JOurney, Polar Plunge, Anoka MInnesota

This is our team, we were supporting Angela Wood, a Special Olympian!

 

and the pictures you are waiting for….

Polar Plunge, Anoka Minnesota, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Yup… for a moment I walked on water. And yes, I plugged my nose… this one was deeper than the one I did three years ago.

 

Polar Plunge, Book Journey, SHeila Dechantal, Anoka Minnesota

Me… still in the water. If you are wondering what that feeling is when you jump into a Minnesota lake in March it is mainly “how fast can I get out!”

 

It was for a good cause, our area alone had 1,000 plungers raising a total of $208,000.  Other areas:

South Metro: 985 Plungers raised more than $232,000
Alexandria: 435 Plungers raised more than $93,100

Today there is a plunge in my home town of Brainerd Minnesota.  Oddly, I have completed two now but I have never jumped in Brainerd.  Hmmm…. maybe next year :D

 

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You may recall in January I picked my word for this year to be Emerge.  I purchased the above necklace for myself on my birthday to remind myself of my word.  I think so far… I am living it. :)

 

Today is a day of reading, web design, working out, and just chilling around the house.  I rented Mockingjay for my hubby and I to watch tonight.  Laying low and loving it!

Morning Meanderings… A Good Day To Jump In The Lake

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Good morning!  As the sun comes up this morning in Central Minnesota I am prepping to leave for my two-hour drive to Anoka MN where at approximately 1:45 pm today, I along with many many other crazy people are going to jump in the lake for Special Olympics.

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The last time I did this was in 2012.

 

Showing off my fashionable books.  When in Minnesota...

These boots will be coming along this year as well!

 

So….. yeah.

I am guessing I signed up, I received pledges.  I am doing this.

I offered the people who pledged me to have a say in one thing that I wear.  I will be wearing a prom dress.  Dog tags.  And something Harry Potter.  I will show you what that ensemble looks like at a later time.

For the rest of you… stay warm.  Read something good.  I will be finishing the audio book All The Bright Places today during the drive time.

I am linking this post to Saturday Snapshop.  Stop and see what everyone else is taking pictures of today :)

Morning Meanderings…. Glow Worm Caves Of New Zealand

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Good morning!  For today’s Saturday Snapshot I thought I would share with you a little information on the Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand.  When traveling there last month I had never heard of the glow worm caves.  Our travel-mates were signed up to do a tour at the caves and we decided to join them.

What a trip in education!

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The caves are located in Waitomo, New Zealand.  From our cruise ship that had docked in Auckland it was about an hour to the caves.

The glow worm is actually while pretty to look at, also gross.  It is apparently the larvae life cycle of an insect and looks like a maggot.  (The caves were dark so thankfully we only seen the pretty part).

Glow Worm caves, New zealand, book journey

Pictures are not allowed in the caves so this picture is from the Glow Worm website as linked here

 

The caves themselves are beautiful lime caves.  I wish we could have taken pictures inside, the rock formation was beautiful.

The female glow worms drop a line which is what you see in the picture. The line attracts insects and they get stuck to the line.  It is crazy but the females live two days and the males live three days.  The cycle continues due to the thousands of eggs each female lays in her short lifetime.

Glow worm caves, book journey, new zealand

This picture is also from the glow worm website as linked here

 

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It is deep within the caves that we then get in the small boats.  We are asked to remain very quiet as our voices cause vibrations and disturb the glow worms.  It is a pretty cool experience.

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Just outside the caves I was able to get a picture of two of our travel team, Wendy and Ray. I think it is funny that everyone else around them are smiling too. New Zealand… so friendly! :)

 

You can read more about the glow worms on the Glow Worm Tour website.  It is a unique tour.  I had never heard of a glow worm until the tour.

Check out more Saturday Snapshots here.

Today I may just read.  Or I am talking big.  I keep saying I am going to read all week but I have been busy with projects and the books kind of go to the wayside.  I do need to have some book time this weekend.  Order of the Phoenix and a few others wait on me.

What are you reading this weekend?

Morning Meanderings…. 50 Shades Of… AWESOME!

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New coffee cup pic to come… I have one but for some reason can not get it to upload this morning and tired of waiting ;)

 

Happy Saturday!  I have the best weekend ahead of me here…. no plans!!! I love it!  I might have lunch with a friend, visit my aunt, try out the snow shoes finally… the possibilities are endless :)

As you probably know, today is the official release day of the 50 Shades Of Grey movie.  It’s Valentines Day… aren’t they cute?  I have not read the book and do not plan too and will more than likely be passing on the movie as well.  However, I would be neglect if I did not say the play on the title (mush as I have done today) has been fun. :D

Today for Saturday Snapshot, I thought it would be fun to post pics of my book club through the years because they really are 50 shades of AWESOME!  I was going through pics on Facebook the other day and thought it was fun to see all the crazy things we have done through the years.  Granted, this is not all of the craziness… this is just some.

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This was for our review of Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. We disguised ourselves like she did in the book. Can you find me in this group? ;)

 

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Pride and Prejudice was the classic we were reading…. we dressed the era.

 

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A little fun with this pic.

 

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Sharon’s birthday. We surprised her and wore our “Bookies” shirts

 

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The review for The Wizard Of Oz.

 

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Our 100th meeting celebration! YAY!!!

 

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When one of us was diagnosed with breast cancer we wore pink to the meeting in support of her.

 

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Our first SKYPE with author Sandra Brannan. Sandra had sent us a care package for our review.

 

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Our current Queen and her coronation.

 

 

This has been fun for me to look back through these pics of a book club I adore.  Going strong since August of 2001!  There are a lot more pics, but now I think I am on a mission….. more on that later ;)

 

 

 

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