Morning Meanderings… A Silence So Deep You Could Hear A Jockstrap Drop

It is true…by the time I am writing this, it is not exactly morning anymore…. but wanted to do it any way… my site.. I can pick if it is day or night.  ;P


It is Audio Book Month and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this event and promoting audio, however June is sooooo full of big stuff…it seems I can never give it the full hurrah that it deserves…

I am a big audio advocate… like tie me to a fence post with a picket sign promoting audio… like disturbing the peace in front of the city council and getting locked up for the night promoter of audio….


That is how much I love it.

Earlier today I was driving home from a breakfast with an author friend (more on that later…) and listening to Fredrick Backman’s latest book on audio – Beartown.  While driving this line caused me to admire Fredrick sooo much.

A silence so deep that you could hear a jockstrap drop.

Ahhhh come on, it is like poetic beauty….  and so different from Backman’s other books that I am falling in love fast and quick on this one…


Continuing with that theme, today I wanted to touch on one of the Audio Books I brought home from the expo.  James Patterson may catch a lot of slack on the mass production of books, short short chapters, and well..whatever we want to pick on him for… but there is a soft spot in my heart for him.  Patterson can be contributed to my love at audio.  When I first started reviewing audio, his were some of the first I was sent for review.  I loved the narration, even the sound effects that in some audio can come off as feeling odd… his seem spot on.

James (yes I call him James) was one of the speakers this year at the Book Expo Audio Tea…and this is one of the books I brought home…


Black Book…

Billy Harney was born to be a cop. The son of Chicago’s chief of detectives, whose twin sister is also on the force, Billy plays it by the book. Alongside Detective Kate Fenton, Billy’s tempestuous, adrenaline-junkie partner, there’s nothing he wouldn’t sacrifice for his job. Enter Amy Lentini, a hard-charging assistant state’s attorney hell-bent on making a name for herself – who suspects Billy isn’t the cop he claims to be. They’re about to be linked by more than their careers.

One missing black book.

A horrifying murder leads investigators to an unexpected address – an exclusive brothel that caters to Chicago’s most powerful citizens. There’s plenty of incriminating evidence on the scene – but what matters most is what’s missing: the madam’s black book. Now shock waves are rippling through the city’s elite, and everyone’s desperate to find it.

Chicago has never been more dangerous.

As everyone who’s anyone in Chicago scrambles to get their hands on the elusive black book, no one’s motives can be trusted.


Hmmmmm? Yeah I thought so.


Saturday Snapshot…. Putting In The Garden


Saturday.  My favorite day of the week.

Yesterday I finally went and picked up what I needed to make my raised bed garden. I had looked at the kits at Home Depot and for a small square kit the cost was $48.99.  I have been staring at this kit for months.  It was nothing more than wood that locked together.  Yesterday I decided I would build my own.  I went back to Home Depot and purchased 4 8 foot long treated boards for $3.96 each.  I bought clamps to nail the comers together (45 cents each)… my weed control sheets – and my plants.

I set it all up in the yard and while listening on audio to a little Oversees by Beatriz Williams I put together the frame in about 45 minutes.


Then…. I called Al and said “bring in the dirt”.  Some days it really pays to be married to an Excavator who also has a black dirt lot two properties down from our own home.  😉




I added some organic feed to the dirt and the guys helped spread it in the frame.  (FYI:  the guy tot he right is my son Brad.)


The cucumber frame, a gift from my friend Gail was the inspiration I needed to have a garden this year.  The frame is set up so the cucumber vines will grow upward into the frame.  Kind of excited to see that happen.  I planted lettuce n the center of the frame, and in the other space along the back side I have tomatoes, and bell peppers, string beans, a few strawberry plants and a basil plant.


Today I am thinking about setting up a second frame for squash.

So I can also add this post to Weekend Cooking.  Here is the recipe for my favorite fresh garden salsa.  Every time I make this people rave.

Fresh Garden Salsa

firm tomatoes – 4 to 6

an onion


jalapeno (optional)

3 tablespoons sugar

salt and pepper

Chop the tomatoes to desired texture of your salsa. I prefer it with chunky bits of vegetables.  Chop onion, and finely chop cilantro (s much as you like) and add to a bowl with tomato.   Chop in little bits of jalapeno if you wish.  Season with sugar, salt and pepper.  The sugar has been my secret addition, it seems to cut the sharpness a bit and adds a lot of flavor.  Serve with good chips.  Also delicious as a hamburger topper or on a grilled chicken breast.

You can see more about Saturday Snapshot here.

You can find great recipes for Weekend Cooking here.


Morning Meanderings… Going to the Benefit


Today, as I sit here with my COFFEE this morning, it is a quick moment of relaxation before I jump in the car to head to ST Paul.  Today is the ‘Be The Change You Want To Be” benefit for my son.

Bittersweet as you can imagine.

It is easy to get caught up in the to do’s.  There is a Silent Auction, inviting people, making signs for the event…

but it is never far from my mind why we are doing this.

Justin’s friends Branden and Heather are hosting this and I am so proud of them.  They are doing it to honor their friend, gather with memories, and raise money for Justin’s passion, the kids of Manuelito in Honduras.

My son had many passions.  He loved living and experiencing life to the fullest.  He loved his friends fiercely.  And he loved going to Honduras and spending time with these kids who had become friends to him. One of our last conversations two days before his accident was about Manuelito and the kids.  He had thought before leaving on this trip in 2015 that it would be his last.  He was no longer in College and felt it might be time to focus on his future.  Yes when he came back in March of 2015 he said,

“Mom, I just can’t give it up.  I cannot imagine not being a part of that mission.”

So here we are.  Honoring Justin’s wishes and loving him all rolled into one.   I can’t imagine not.

If you find interest in Justin’s passion and the kids of Manuelito.  You are welcome to give using this link, and in the comments put DeChantal Memorial.  My mother heart of course thanks you.

For todays Saturday snapshot, a couple pics of Justin in Honduras.




Thanks everyone.  I am off.

United For Libraries – Literary Landmarks



I am part of a committee that meets to place a Literary Landmark once a year somewhere in Minnesota.  Literary Landmarks are a part of ALA (American Library Association).  The purpose of Literary Landmarks is to recognize an author who is from the area.  The author needs to no longer be living for at least 5 years.  In past years Minnesota has recognized:

Jon Hassler

Sinclair Lewis

Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy Tacy!)

Scott Fitzgerald  (Gatsby!)


Our committee started meeting last fall to discuss who our next author should be.  As the last couple of years had been in the Brainerd lakes area and in Ely, we felt it was time to come back toward the Twin Cities.  Once we have chosen our author, we need to find a place to put the plaque.  It is a beautiful large plaque and it can go indoors or outdoors; on the side of a building, in a library, in a park, a museum, wherever.  We then plan a ceremony around the dedication.

After narrowing down our list, we were excited to choose Gordon Parks as our Literary Landmark for 2016.

Gordon Parks was not only an author.  He was also a photographer and became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. In 1971, his book Shaft became a  hugely successful motion picture.  He had a deep commitment to social justice and died in 2006.

Yesterday, I drove to St. Paul Minnesota to meet not only with our committee, but we were also lucky enough to have two of Gordon’s relatives present as well.  Russell Balenger is Gordon’s nephew and Robin Hickman his grand niece.  It was so exciting to meet them and see that they both are involved in social justice themselves, carrying on in Gordon’s footsteps.

gordon parks, book journey, ALA< Literary landmark
L: Russel, Robin, Joe (from our committee)


gordon parks, literary landmark, book journey minnesota
L: Barbi and Isabel from our committee


I am enjoying being a part of this group. It is wonderful to be able to recognize authors who have made a difference.  I am submitting this post to Saturday Snapshots.

Morning Meanderings…. Today’s Hot Topic…. Breast Feeding



I mentioned a week or so ago about the Spoiler Pages and the traffic they can drive, especially when a book becomes a movie.  Current example of that is ROOM by Emma Donoghue, read and reviewed in 2010, reviewed by my book club in 2011, and then of course the SPOILER PAGE

and it is that Spoiler Page that is drawing the attention now.

The movie, just released and is currently at our theater here in town.

What is the hot topic?  In the book, (I have not seen the movie) Jack is 5 and still breast feeding.  The book is told from Jack’s perspective.  It is discussed in the book that when he is hungry he will say “want some” and then he will breast feed.  It was something that made me double take, as well as my book club and it was admittedly, a part of our discussion.  We understood the reasoning behind it in the book, they never know when and if food will be coming.

What is happening on the spoiler page for the most part is opinions on breast feeding as well as the occasional jab at me for admitting on that page that I found that part of the book a little disturbing to my mid western upbringing. 🙂  It is an interesting discussion, and really always has been.  I even interviewed the author, Emma Donoghue about this topic and she said she was surprised the reaction, especially from the US.  Here was what she wrote to me in 2011…

Emma:  Finally, your breastfeeding question.  It seems to me that Jack mentions it pretty rarely, actually: he gives far more analysis of what they have for lunch and dinner.  But it’s such a touchy subject (especially, I’m finding, in the US) that it stands out.  I kept it in because it seemed entirely natural that Ma would keep up that most comforting part of the mother-baby bond as long as they are living very much like a mother-and-baby (never apart, never socializing with other people) in ROOM.


Has anyone seen the movie?  A friend of mine told me last night she had seen it.  I asked her if it was a movie theater movie or a Red Box movie.  She said Red Box.  Any other thoughts on that?

Any hoo….. that’s what is happening on Book Journey today.

Things are starting to move here now. It has been a fairly quiet winter for which I am grateful.  It has been nice to have time to process and grieve at my own pace.  Now, in March, we have our spring book sale next week.  The week after that on the 18th is the Gatsby Event.  Then we will start working on Wine and Words, April will bring an Edible Book Fair, May a benefit, June Camp…..

Here we go.

Morning Meanderings… Feeling SPUNKY. Polar Plunge Anyone?


Good morning!  Friday!  Egads, it is Friday!  I feel good though.  I have a good work day planned, prep for tomorrows Gatsby Event and plan dinner and a workout (not in that order).  Should be a nice “little bit of everything” day.

When I woke up this morning I seen on Facebook that our 2011 Polar Plunge pictures are circulating again.  I love looking at crazy pictures and have to laugh as pretty much everyone I did the plunge with said they would never do it again.


LOL… why not?


It really was a good time.  🙂

Belinda and I, pre-dunk

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


Alright… that was a Facebook inspired post but it was fun. 🙂  Off to do my thing… have a super day.  And… do something crazy.  Really.

Years later… it will still make you smile.

Morning Meandering… Jennifer from Literate Housewife and Team Mockingjay (or not…)

woman and glass_m

Hello!  Good morning!  This is Jennifer from Literate Housewife.  I read very few series. When I do, it’s more often than not completed. The Hunger Game series by Suzanne Collins was different. Whe4an Catching Fire came out with so much buzz, I couldn’t resist. I began the series in audio but, not caring for the narrator, I switched to print for Catching Fire the very day after I finished The Hunger Games. With everyone else, I eagerly awaited Mockingjay. In fact it was my first preordered eBook because I wanted to get started IMMEDIATELY.

Sheila, get your Spoiler Alert button ready:

I selected Mockingjay as the title for this Morning Meandering because Sheila had the reaction I wanted to have. She loved it and as I read her review I got a kick out of her “I Love Mockingjay” picture. While I wouldn’t say that I had the opposite reaction, I was deeply disappointed by the end of this trilogy. Neither Peeta nor Gale impressed me at all. That I ever preferred either of them felt irrelevant because they were at best poor imitations of the characters they once were. Then, when Pru was killed anyway, I had to restrain myself from throwing my eReader across the room. I mourned the Mockingjay that wasn’t and, in lieu of a full review, I recapped my thoughts in a six stanza haiku poem.


Now that I’ve pointed out that Sheila loved Mockingjay while I did not, don’t think that there will be a Team Book Journey / Team Literate Housewife thing happening. We agree more often than not and its differences like this that make the reading world go round. But, if you were to pick sides on Mockingjay, which team would you be on? Is this a love/hate kind of book?



Morning Meanderings… Things I Love About My Town



Good morning!  Hope this Tuesday finds you all well.

Yesterday morning as I was walking into work I seen the guy who walks by the front of the building I work in singing each morning.  He is quite into it, ear buds in, voice loud and hands usually air drumming.  He is fascinating to watch.  Usually, I am up in my office on the second floor when he goes by on the sidewalk below but I hear him all the same and rush to open the window each time to watch him and listen.  He makes me smile.

Once, a couple summers ago I was walking out of that same building one evening and there were a group of musicians on the lawn.  They had large instruments like cello’s and wonderful ones like violins and flutes and they were playing the most amazing music.  On a warm summers eve it was about as good as it gets as I watched them, apparently a random gathering of friends who chose a spot to play.  It was as close to Stars Hollow (yes yes… Gilmore Girl reference) as I have been.

Stars Hollow. Fictional town from Gilmore Girls.



and this is Brainerd…


Bike trail!

Paul Bunyan!

Street dances, zombie crawls, arts in the park, St Patrick’s Day parade….. maybe I have a little bit of Stars Hollow right here. 🙂

I have a “take it one step at a time” day.  This morning I work and then I have a funeral to attend.  The husband of a friend was hit by a car while riding his bike last Thursday.  It is a very sad and painful situation.  Later I am resetting the window at the library and staying to host for author Lorna Landvik when she speaks tonight at the library.

Morning Meanderings… A Prequel and a Sequel….what are your thoughts about THIS


Good morning.  How ya’ all doing?

This morning while flipping through emails and Facebook and I don’t know where I was when I seen it, but somewhere out there lost in the Internet world I discovered that Disney has decided that Alice is going back to Wonderland and is indeed going to film a sequel.

*Pause here for dramatic effect*

Tim Burton put Wonderland back on the map in 2010 with his Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska combo and if I may add, an awesome Red Queen by Helena Bonham Carter.


BUT… while the film grossed in the 11th place of all time profitable movies, where would it go from where it left off?  At this time there is no word of who will be starring – will it be the same cast, or all new?  Or is Disney setting itself up for an epic fail?  While I personally enjoyed the movie, I didn’t LOVE LOVE it.

And then… lets not forget that The Great And Powerful OZ is coming out in 2013, this one I am excited about!  And while Oz and The Red Queen are two different characters and two different stories entirely, I have to wonder if Disney is hoping that the trip to Wonderland will be as powerful as the trip they are taking down the yellow brick road. …

Personally (my gosh I am chatty this morning!) I would like to see a prequel to Wonderland and by that I am thinking something along the lines of what author  Gregory Maquire did for Wicked.  Brilliant… really brilliant.

So what are your thoughts on the sequel/prequels?  Do you enjoy them or do you prefer things left as is in their original written form?