Friday, July 24, 2015

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon


For my final book in my 2015 Goodreads Reading challenge I read "The Winter People" by Jennifer McMahon.  This is not my usual genre but I have to say I enjoyed it.  I am not sure how to classify this book -- a mystery or horror -- but it was a bit of both and a lot of murder.  It was also historical fiction involving multiple generations.  So, you can see it was a bit complicated.
It was the story of Sara, Martin, Gertie and Auntie.  They lived in the 19th century Vermont.  They were the subjects of a book -- "Visitors from the Other Side" writtenby Sara's niece, Amelia Larkin. 

My beloved aunt, Sara Harrison Shea, was brutally murdered in the winter of 1908.  She was thirty-one years old.

"Visitors from the Other Side" was the secret diary of Sara Harrison Shea that detailed her life with her parents, Auntie and her coming to learn about sleepers.

The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.  It was the spring before Papa sent Auntie away--before we lost my brother, Jacob. My sister, Constance, had married the fall before and moved to Graniteville.

This story of Sara, Martin, Gertie and Auntie was the foundation for the whole book.

Present time -- Ruthie, Fawn, and Alice

Ruthie, Fawn and their mother Alice live in the Harrison-Shea house with all it's secret places and hidey holes. The house backs up to the woods and Devil's Hand.  The girl's were taught to never go into the woods -- bad things happen to little girls who go into the woods.  People disappear.  Alice disappears.  Will  they find her?  What did she know?  What did she do?

Present time -- Candace

She knew the whole story but wanted to find the missing diary pages for financial gain.  Did she find them?  Did she profit or did she get something else?

Present time -- Katherine, Gary and Austin

All Gary wanted was for Austin to come back.  Could the diary help him get Austin back or would it prove to leave Katherine alone?  Would the diary take Katherine in a direction from which there was no turning back?

As you can see there is a very twisting, intertwined plot.  Each story stands on its own yet the entire story feeds on the interconnection.  This book is well written, the twists and turns are plausible and don't seem to be contrived.  It is a good mystery, enough horror to make it just scary enough and there is a bit of cliff hanger. 

Would I recommend this book?  Yes.  It isn't my usual sort of read but it was good and drew me in.  I did find myself worrying about Fawn and her fever though -- she really didn't need to be out running around in the snow at night with a bad fever and I wish they would have just left her home.  I guess that was just a "mommy moment". 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Reviews

Summer is flying by, it seems.  I have a "to-do" list that I am working on but it is a slow go.  I haven't been reading as much either because most of my reading was done on my commute to my daughter's house and now, since I am at home, other demands have taken over. 

I have, however, read three books that I haven't reviewed yet.  They are all part of my reading queue so no real surprises here but they were enjoyable.

I have to say that I was not thrilled with this Agatha Raisin book.  I don't know why, perhaps the location or perhaps the repetition -- lots of driving all over the place.  However, I didn't dislike it enough to give up on the series and will be continuing with the next in the queue as soon as I finish my current book.

I enjoyed this book by Jennifer Chiaverini -- the next in my line of  the Elm Creek Quilts series.  Perhaps I should have read it closer to Christmas but it was a nice spring/summer read too.  I love the way Chiaverini uses the setting of Elm Creek Manor for all her books whether they are current or historical -- the manor is the main character in the book, actually.  It is interesting to see how she weaves the history of the place in all the books regardless of the time period.

This book was a bit different than her others as it gives a back history of some of the Elm Creek quilters -- new characters to the books and it shows their lives prior to their involvement in the Manor and how they came to the Manor.  It centers around one day -- an interview day for prospective employees and it goes into their tales of how they got to that interview and what happens after.  It is very cleverly written and I enjoyed seeing it unfold.

I would recommend any of these books -- just because I didn't enjoy the Agatha Raisin book doesn't mean you won't.  I am looking forward to the next one after my current read.

My current read is "The Winter People" by Jennifer McMahon.  It is a diversion from my usual style of reading -- it is a ghost story with a mystery involved.  I am enjoying it although I have to say it is disturbing.  I am half done with it and am getting to the point that I can't put it down but I don't know if I will gravitate toward this particular genre again any time soon.  It isn't frightening, just disturbing but I am sure there will be some clever twists as I go along.  I will review when I am done.

So, there you go.  That is where my reading obsession has taken me the last couple of months.  I went to the library for myself for the first time in forever and I have to say I enjoyed it. They were holding my current read for me so I went to pick it up and I, for a moment, felt that same feeling I used to have as a child in the library with a much sought after book.  Different library and I am much older but the thrill was still there.  I am going to have to make a point of going to the library more often but first I am going to have to read down my own library a bit and that is where my next couple of books will be coming from. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!

Yes, Tinklepaw is home.  Tinklepaw is my computer -- it is a little netbook by Asus.  I named it Tinklepaw because that is what I name everything.  I was planning a small craft business one time and my father decided that would be a good name for the business.  The business never materialized but I loved the name so everything, including my little Jellycat (stuffed cat) that travels with me, is named Tinklepaw. I think Tinklepaw the Computer is a boy.

So, Tinklepaw the Computer comes with me lots of places.  Many times he goes with me to my daughter's house to spend time while I am babysitting.  He is loaded with several educational things so Bean likes to explore those sites.  He is also very lightweight and small and easy to carry with me.  It was during one of these trips that he decided he needed a vacation from me.

Now, granted, I work him very hard.  I have dropped him, I have broken his built in mouse and now he has a prothesis (an external WIFI mouse) but we have a good relationship and I hope he never leaves me.  However, I guess he needed a rest because the other day we were at my daughter's house and it was time to leave.  I picked up my handbag and out the door I went.   I never heard a peep out of Tinklepaw. I didn't even think about him until I got home so I guess he wanted to stay a while and did not let me know that I was forgetting him.

I wonder if his feelings were hurt?  I hope not.  I wonder if he missed me?  Probably not but I missed him and was very glad to get him home today.  I promised him that I would never forget him again and I hope he doesn't feel the need to take a separate vacation again. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Be Back Soon

In case anybody is missing me, I left my computer at my daughter's house and I am reduced to Internet on my little 7 inch tablet.  I will be back when my computer finds it's way home-hopefully tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bruce Lewis

Not much to say about this except that the sadness and concern for this family are overwhelming.  I just wanted to share this so that the prayer chain will grow.

Bruce Lewis on the left raising his glass

Bruce is a 50 year old father of two, Hans and Echo a special needs child who was born medically fragile and requires full time intensive medical care at home.  He has a wife, Mundee, who is unable to work to care for Echo.  A few months ago Bruce started having seizure like activity and couldn't work.  On July 10 a diagnosis was finally made and it isn't good.  The doctor's found a golf-ball sized mass on the right side of his brain.  Early indication is that it is malignant and stage 4 but that hasn't been confirmed and won't be until after surgery which is scheduled for Tuesday.  According to Bruce's sister, things are looking rather bleak.  Even best case scenario means a long recovery time with obstacles.

I am posting this here to ask for prayer for this family.  Lots and lots of prayer.  I know I don't have a lot of readers but hopefully some of my readers will take this to heart and ask their own prayer warriors and groups to participate.

The link above is to a gofundme account to raise money for this family.  I am asking for prayer but if you are so called money is, without a doubt, needed.  It doesn't have to be a great deal -- everything helps. I don't think you can just click on the link, I think you will have to cut and copy into a browser -- I couldn't make it work any other way.

So, it makes me so sad to have to share this as this is a very dear family and have had so many obstacles for so long. I am proud to call them my friends.  But, there is power in numbers so, if you are the praying sort, I am asking you for your help.  Thanks in advance.  I will repost with news as I have it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

11 July 1890, 1966

July 11th seems to be a popular day for events.

July 11, 1890 marked the birth of my grandmother-in-law, Charlotte Fore Brinkley.  She was born in Kosse, Limestone County, Texas. She is buried in Prairie Hill Cemetery, Prairie Hill, Texas.

July 11, 1966 also marks the death of her son and my father-in-law, James Otis Brinkley.  He was on a fishing trip at the Texas coast.  He is buried at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas

July 11, 1965 marks the birth of the "young man" mentioned in my first date post.  As far as I know he is still amongst us.

July 11, 1977 also marks the birthdate of a high school beau (did I really say "beau") of my daughter.  Not sure what ever happened to him.
As per a few other things happened on this date in history.  Here are just a few.

911 - Signing of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between Charles the Simple and Rollo of Normandy.

Charles the Simple was the King of Western Francia from 828 until 922.

 1776 - Captain James Cook begins his third voyage

 1848 - London's Waterloo Station opens

 1967 - Kenny Rogers forms 1st Edition

Yes, so, I wonder what is going to happen today?  Hopefully -- nothing of any importance.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Who Knew? Obviously I am Late to the Party

A few months back I signed up for Ebates -- a purchasing site that will pay you back a percentage of the cost of your purchase.  My cousin doesn' trust sites like this but I decided to be the rebel and try it.  I mean, seriously, isn't all of my information out there somewhere anyway?

I honestly don't remember what I bought -- maybe improved record keeping should be a part of my future?  Ah, yes.

Anyway, I bought one thing, thought I would give it a try and, as is typical for me, I promptly forgot about it.  I clearly think that "decluttering" applies to my memory as well as my home. At any rate, I never gave it another thought.

Fast forward to yesterday -- I went to the mailbox in anticipation as I am waiting for a rather important piece of correspondence -- it wasn't there but I did find an envelope from Ebates with a check for $8.16.  I giggled. 

I might be doing all my Christmas shopping through Ebates.  I was very pleased.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

And....There Was This One Time....

She woke up with pinkeye.

Yes. Indeed.

I thought pinkeye was a malady of little children with dirty hands. 

Guess not.

I thought it was allergies.

Probably not.

Could it have been the mascara wand I stuck myself with?


I have no idea but it is annoying and now I have to go see the little doctor man this afternoon.


Friday, July 03, 2015

Marriage -- Another Viewpoint

Disclaimer -- this is NOT a post about the SCOTUS decision to allow gay marriage in all 50 of the United States.  I am religiously driven not politically driven so I will not be discussing that here.  This is about something else.

Anybody who has read my blog realizes that I am a family history hound.  My research comes and goes in spurts as my interest, time, and available information ebbs and flows.  Right now it is flowing.  One particularly late night last week I had been chasing down some information I hadn't noticed before -- maybe it was something new posted on or maybe I just hadn't looked closely but there it was.

The Mayflower.  The Mayflower connection I guess that every family historian is curious about and hopes for.  This came from other people's research and I would, of course, have to do my own before I totally lay claim to it but it looks promising.

This leads me to the problem.

This particular branch of my family is the most difficult to prove and, to date, it is the most interesting.  Why is it so hard to prove?  Well, proof requires documentation.  Documentation can be in the form of birth certificates, death certificates, census records, land records, etc.  As you go farther back in the search  these pieces of documentation aren't as forthcoming as you might imagine.  Early census records didn't list each member of the family but rather the head of family and then a counting of the people in the family by gender and age.  So, what does one do when you get farther back?  Family Bibles are always great sources if you are lucky enough to have one.  Published genealogies are generally accepted as proof of lineage with dealing with membership into heritage based groups and societies such as the DAR, The Mayflower Society, DRT, etc.

So, what is the problem you might ask.  My grandmother.  My poor grandmother.  I loved her dearly, still do and now I am very upset over her lack of "paper trail".    I can prove that she was married to my grandfather.  I can prove she had four children, five granddaughters, lived in the same house for close to a  century, I can even find her on the census records.  However, what I can't prove is that she was ever born.  She has no birth certificate as she was born before they were required here in Texas and, even though they became mandatory in 1903, many home births were never recorded anywhere and there were a LOT of home births in the early 1900's.  And, there is no marriage license for her parents.  Don't be shocked. I am not.  And there is not to say there wasn't one, I just can't find it.  Yes, the census records prove that she was born but it doesn't prove parentage and that is the hitch in my giddy-up.

So, early in my quest for Mayflower recognition, I am stopped.  I can prove everything past this point but am stymied early on in the quest.  I am sad first and foremost for my grandmother -- she has no paper trail as a child -- and secondly for me and my daughter and my cousins who would be eligible to flaunt this rich heritage but for the want of a piece of paper.

So, for all my 60's free-loving friends, for all my friends who feel that marriage is too confining, to all my friends who feel that marriage is redundant, to all my friends who ask what importance there is in a piece of paper --- friends -- IT IS IMPORTANT!!!!

For anybody planning to have children under any circumstances -- GET MARRIED!  THE PIECE OF PAPER ISN'T JUST PAPER!!!!

Whether it is a civil union, a religious ceremony, a consentual agreement -- just get the piece of paper.  And keep it.  Put it someplace safe.  Make copies and pass them around the family.  Whatever.  Your grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even your 11th great-granddaughter would really appreciate it.

I am done here. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Here Comes the Bride - la la la la

Today is our wedding anniversary.  It is our 43rd anniversary.  We were married in Concordia Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas at 2:00 pm. The reception was held in the fellowship hall.  As I said on my facebook post this morning -- after 43 years the only advice I can give to young people is don't get married on the 4th of July weekend and don't wear a long sleeved dress in Texas if you feel the a/c in the church is going to give out.  Other than that -- you just have to work it out.  Here are some photos from the auspicious occasion.

You have probably seen these pics before because they are on the computer and I guess I am just too lazy to go scan in others.  They have all turned a nasty orange-y hue but I will tell you that my bridesmaides dresses were a very lovely pale peach color with white flowers.  My grandmother, who made a couple of the dresses, decided to cut out some of the flowers and attach them on top of the dress with pearls.  It was lovely.  They also wore bows in their hair, which I am sure my matron of honor was very fond of, and white gloves.  Remember white gloves?  You can see my matron of honor right next to me in the last photo -- she would be my cousin JSLHall. 

I look exactly the same today except there is more of me and my hair is quite white in the front, darker in the back and hangs to about three inches below my shoulder.  Otherwise, no difference.  I jest, of course.

We celebrated the day last night as I have a meeting at church tonight.  We went to a lovely local restaurant called The Tavern.

Allen had rib eye steak with tomatoes with blue cheese.  I had rotisserie chicken with pecan and wild rice salad.  We had Tres Leche cake for dessert -- one serving shared between us. 

I should have taken photos -- I had the camera but I just don't think about photographing my food.  I should think about that.

Anyway, it was a delightful evening.

Earlier in the day we had company in the form of Dear Daughter and the Bean.  Allen was out working in the yard so Bean thought it would be a good time for a swim.  Makes it sound like I have some sort of outdoor oasis, doesn't it?  Well, here she is lounging away --

It was quite lovely out and I enjoyed sitting out in the nice breeze.  Until later, of course, when the allergies hit complete with chest congestion and swollen eyes.  I am just so pathetic when it comes to allergies. 

Anyway, it was a lovely day!