Woe! It’s Wednesday: 37 Years of Wedded Bliss

I forget who first made the joke, “We’ve been happily married for thirty years. That’s not bad for a forty-year marriage.”

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37 Years of Wedded Bliss

It’s only funny because it’s sort of true.

Today, we celebrate 37 years of marriage.

It hasn’t always been happy. We went through a really rough patch about fifteen years ago when I thought we were done. Not headed for divorce but headed for something perhaps even worse: co-existence. We were opposed in every important area of life. Finances. Church. Family. I figured we’d be one of those couples who live together but have parallel lives.

I’m thankful we made it through that patch and came out on the other side stronger and even more committed.

It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve endured crazy work schedules, a stressful career where he literally placed his life into God’s hands each day on the job. People sometimes ask if I’m glad he’s not doing that anymore and that I must have worried about him all the time.

I didn’t worry, because I knew from the beginning that I would go crazy if I allowed myself to hitch a ride down the Worry Highway. I’m thankful that we get each other and he doesn’t question my love even if I’m able to send him to work with a kiss and a hug instead of wailing and gnashing teeth every day.

It hasn’t always been fun. Moving across the state isn’t fun. Raising a family isn’t always fun. Laundry isn’t fun.

But we do those things. Because we’re committed to each other. We hang in there.

Thirty-seven years of wedded bliss. It’s up to God how many more He’ll give us. I’m thankful for the ones we’ve had.

Cheers!

Book Talk Tuesday: Bread and Wine

This one sat on my Kindle for a loooong time before I moved it to the top of the pile. I first read Shauna Niequist a few months ago. I really enjoyed her first book, Cold Tangerines. 

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Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

 

Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about the nature of food and fellowship and sharing meals and celebrations around the table.

Shauna Niequist has been compared to both Donald Miller and Anne Lamott. She shares their commitment to honesty along their journey.

I was blessed to see a production in June of Cold Tangerines: The Play. It was amazing to see Niequiest’s words brought to life on the stage. I’m so glad she agreed to allow that project to bear fruit.

 

I’m baffled sometimes by God’s choices for our lives. Okay, my life. I’ve long wanted to have regular family nights around the table. Taco Tuesdays. Monday Night Football and Chili. Meatballs on Fridays.

A night where we would fix dinner and set the table and whoever showed up would pull a chair to the table and join in.

But my husband had a job that demanded shift work. We didn’t have a regular schedule. We might have Taco Tuesday for two weeks, then Tostada Thursday, then a week of nothing and pretty soon, we’d be back to wanting and thinking about regularly hosting friends and family, but not actually doing it.

Bread & Wine makes the case for how we truly connect over food and drink. Those connections and relationships are worth planning and cultivating.

I loved this book and it will be one I return to often. And not just for the recipes.

 

 

Media Monday: The Way Way Back

Utterly charming. I loved this one!

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The Way Way Back

Duncan and his single mom are spending the summer at his mom’s new boyfriend’s beach house with him and his daughter.

The boyfriend, played by Steve Carell, is Trent and he’s a bully and a womanizer and a master manipulator. He’s the worst kind of abuser because he cloaks his verbal and emotional manipulation as “help.”

Duncan drifts to the local water park and strikes up a friendship with the manager. He soon leads a secret life as an employee at Water Wiz and begins to make friends.

Perfectly cast and acted, The Way Way Back is a special slice-of-life movie.

I loved how Duncan and Owen, the water park manager, developed a friendship. Owen may have been afraid to live his own life or make a change, but he saw truth clearly and wasn’t afraid to defend his friends.

Highly recommended!

Book Talk Tuesday: Playing by Heart

Playing by Heart is the newest release from Anne Mateer.

I’ve loved her first three books and this one does not disappoint.

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Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

 

Lula Bowman is on her path to become the first woman Ph.D in Oklahoma when a tragedy forces her to return home and her reputation as flighty Fruity Lu.

Chet Vaughn is a math teacher and boys basketball coach at the Dunn, Oklahoma high school. Chet lost the luck of the draft draw so his brother is off fighting in the trenches in World War I and Chet is home taking care of their mother.

Lula applies for a job teaching mathematics in Dunn but she is offered the position of music teacher and girls basketball coach. She accepts but is already looking forward to her return to the university.

 

Chet and Lula are drawn to each other, but the school has a strict policy regarding female teachers and men. Not to mention that Lula is planning on leaving Dunn at the end of the school year while Chet is stuck.

Mateer’s created a compelling story with fully realized characters who live and breathe. Chet and Lula’s attraction is real as are the reasons keeping them apart. This is a romance in the best sense of the word. The hero and heroine are likable and their obstacles rise naturally from their characters’ natures and circumstances. Nothing felt contrived, which is the kiss of death for me.

Lovely story and highly recommended!

Media Monday: The Game’s Afoot …

“The game’s afoot, Watson,” Sherlock Holmes would say to his sidekick.

He meant he was about to bring some nefarious evil-doer to justice.

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Words With Friends

Nowadays, we play board games and video games. Games on our phones, on our computers, and on tabletops. We play games by ourselves, with friends, and with strangers the computer algorithms choose for us.

We can play a Scrabble-like word puzzle game. We can blow up candies. We can search for hidden items in rooms and mazes. We can build virtual farms and castle grounds.

We can spend so much time in these virtual worlds that we’re surprised when real carrots take longer than twelve hours to sprout and grow.

We recently played a very fun game that with a group moves from amusing to hysterically funny.

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Telestrations: A perfect combination of Telephone and Pictionary.

Telestrations is a combination of the old campfire game, Telephone, and the party game, Pictionary. Each player has a small sketchpad and draws an illustration of either a word or phrase, then passes their sketch. The next person looks only at the drawing, flips a page, writes a guess, flips the page and passes the pad.

The next one reads the guess and draws the word/phrase. And so on. Each person takes turns either guessing or drawing. When the pad has completed its circle around the players, hilarity ensues as the various drawings and guesses are revealed.

It’s fun enough to bring back group games and make me forget it’s my turn on Words With Friends.

What’s your favorite board game? Do you play games online or on your phone?

Book Talk Tuesday: On My Shelf

I’m briefly between books.

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Book Talk Tuesdays: Magazines

 

I have a stack of magazines I’m trying to clear out so I’m reading those and passing them on. In another week or so I’ll know how to make jewelry for my friends out of old soda can pop-tops and soap wrappers from Martha Stewart and will whip up an amuse bouche from some dates and frozen peaches to take to the next church potluck.

Well, maybe not.

 

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Book Talk Tuesday: Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

 

 

I’m in the middle of a few books or just about to start them.

I just received Anne Mateer’s latest, PLAYING BY HEART. I’ve loved Anne’s previous books and I can’t wait to start this one.

 

 

 

I’m also reading on my Kindle.

 

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Book Talk Tuesday: Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

BREAD AND WINE by Shauna Niequiest is a lovely collection of essays and recipes about food and how it sustains and brings us together around the table. Watch this blog in the next few weeks for reviews of both of those.

Media Monday: Seabiscuit & Secretariat

When Secretariat was released in 2010, comparisons to 2003’s Seabiscuit were inevitable.

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Media Monday: Secretariat

Both are:

  • “Based on a true story”
  • About a championship horse
  • Winning against vast odds (literal odds as well as figurative)
  • An owner full of conviction facing multiple obstacles

 

 

It’s been several years since I read Seabiscuit and watched the movie, but I remember it quite fondly. We just saw Secretariat recently and I was interested to judge for myself how successfully it showed life in high-stakes horse racing.

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Media Monday: Seabiscuit

Both stories capture that world, in my humble opinion. Although, since I don’t hang around racing stables (or even non-racing stables), race courses, or betting parlors, I’m probably not the best judge of that criteria.

Secretariat seemed a bit more contrived to me, perhaps heightening the conflicts between Penny Chenery Tweedy and her trainer, or Penny and her husband, or Penny and her brother.

In a head-to-head contest, I have to give it to Seabiscuit by a nose.

Book Talk Tuesday: The Sweet Spot

I first heard of The Sweet Spot last summer when I took an online class and the instructor used examples from this debut novel. I have to agree, the opening line is awesome!

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Book Talk Tuesday: The Sweet Spot

 

The grief counselor told the group to be grateful for what they had left. After lots of considering, Charla Rae decided she was grateful for the bull semen.

And the story just got better and better.

Charla Rae and her husband, JB or Jimmy, are recently divorced. The details are dribbled into the story on a need to know basis. A tragedy is alluded to and Charla’s dependence on Valium is shown.

But Charla has to ignore the pills calling to her when she has to take care of the ranch and her Alzheimer’s afflicted father.

Charla learns just what she’s capable of.

Jimmy already knows what he’s capable of. He’s a big man in the professional bull riding world and he let that go to his head. When their life fell apart, he tried to keep it together, but gave up.

This is a seriously good book. While written with a light and humorous voice and fun secondary characters, The Sweet Spot is not a slight story. There’s heart, depth, and great emotion. I loved it!

After last summer’s class, I continued to hear about the book. Then it was a RITA® finalist. Then, in San Antonio last month, Laura Drake won the RITA® from Romance Writers of America® for Best First Book. Because I was at the awards gala as a Golden Heart® finalist (insert demure smile here), I got to see Laura’s shock and humility and hear her gracious acceptance speech.

The book is warm and witty and as much women’s fiction as romance. It’s an easy read and well worth the few hours you’ll invest. I highly recommend it.

 

Media Monday: Love and Honor

Bleck.

When our television provider had a few preview weekend of several movie channels, I recorded everything I could find that we had missed or I thought we’d enjoy. And we have. Secretariat, The Iron Lady, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, have all been great.

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Media Monday: Love and Honor

 

Love and Honor sounded intriguing. Part war story, part love story. Perfect for his and hers movie night.

Ugh.

Sappy story.

Sloppy writing.

Scant acting.

I was so hopeful and so disappointed.

Dalton Joiner and Mickey Wright are platoon mates in Vietnam. They are shown on the job, joking around, and under fire to establish their relationship as buddies. They earn R&R in Hong Kong and are released by their CO for a week.

But Dalton just received a Dear John letter from his girlfriend back home so he jumps on a plane to Michigan instead of staying in Hong Kong. What’s a friend to do? Stay and enjoy a week in a city full of women, booze, and soft beds or follow his friend?

The two arrive in the states and find Jane’s home only to discover she’s now called Juniper and she lives with a bunch of anti-war protesters who demonstrate and put out a rebel newspaper. One of the other girls in the house is Candace and she and Mickey spark.

I’m not even going to bother with the rest of the plot. Dalton and Mickey’s hair cuts were not regulation army in 1969. The wardrobe was what a costumer pictured young adults wore in 1969, not what they actually wore. The ending was contrived for the “Ahhh…” but fell far short. It’s apparent why we missed this one in the theaters.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Unforgettable?

I’m not Natalie Cole so I think I’m eminently forgettable. I’m a fairly quiet and reserved person by nature.

Combine that with the fact that I have one of those annoying brains that remembers the most arcane and useless info. I remember dates, places, people, names, and facts. But often the truly important eludes me.

Computer_Handshake_1_by_Merlin2525It’s a common occurrence for me to be introduced to someone I’ve already met who says, “Nice to meet you,” as they extend their hand.

About half the time, I just shake their hand and say, “Nice to meet you, too.”

The other half of the time, I shake their hand and say, “We actually met before.” Then I tell them where and when and all kinds of other details.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I told a woman, “Oh, we met several years ago. It was winter. You were sitting in that chair over there and having hot chocolate. I remember you’re an artist, right?”

She looked at me like I said King Kong was coming up the stairs behind her.

I quickly added, “I’m not a stalker, I just have one of those minds.”

But several times in the last few weeks, I’ve introduced myself to someone I’ve only known online or reintroduced myself to someone I’d met several years ago. Each time they responded, “Oh, I know who you are, Carrie.” Or, “I remember you.” Or, “I love your posts online.”

Each time I was taken aback. I wanted to say, “Oh, my gosh, you know/remember/recognize my name?? But, I’m not memorable. I’m a nobody.”

Apparently, I’m a bit more memorable than I thought.

So my next question is: Am I memorable because of something good or something bad?

I hope it’s for something good. I try to be circumspect and encouraging in my online communication. I don’t always succeed though, so there’s a chance I’ve said something scurrilous and brought a bad memory to mind.

What about you? Do you remember names, dates, faces? Or do you meet new people all the time, even when you’ve met them before?