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Vacation Book Review

doc

I picked up Doc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden and Ellis Henican a few months ago, but I waited until my long Michigan vacation to read it. I knew that the book would not be an easy read, as Gooden struggled with a drug addiction for most of his adult life. The book starts with an introduction: The 1986 Mets have just won their second World Series (the first was by the 1969 “Miracle” Mets team) and Dwight Gooden misses the ticker tape parade after snorting lines of coke all night.

Mr. Gooden laid it all out right there in the opening pages; he was in the grip of a demon. Despite several stints in various treatment programs, he didn’t get that demon off his back until appearing on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab in 2011. Doc: A Memoir chronicles his rise and fall and his struggle to become the father his seven children deserve.

1986 was a special year for me also; my first child, Emmalyn Rose, was born March 21, 1986. I was married to a die-hard Mets fan that had gone to one of the “Miracle” Mets World Series games in 1969. That October, Emi’s dad and I watched every game of the playoffs and were thrilled by the athleticism of Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Darryl Strawberry, Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman, Rafael Santana, Roger McDowell, Howard Johnson, and Lenny Dykstra.

In subsequent years, we followed Gooden’s career and his struggles with his addiction to cocaine. The early promise of Dwight Gooden’s career was swallowed up by those struggles, but I never quit rooting for him. I was touched by the honesty in the book and I think that honesty is the factor that will keep him drug free. I thank him for sharing his story and being a beacon for others.

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beekeeper's apprentice

I can’t believe that Groundhog’s Day has passed and we will soon be celebrating Chinese New Year on February 10th! I have a difficult time in the winter; I don’t like the cold, short days and I really miss the sun. So this year, I thought a good way to tackle the winter blues would be to curl up with one of my favorite book series of all time.

Author Laurie King’s character, Mary Russell, an intelligent girl who has lost her parents, has come to live on the Sussex Downs with an aunt who has no use for Mary, but does have use for her money. On one of her many walks (to get away from her cold Aunt), Mary happens to come across a quirky older man who is none other than Sherlock Holmes. Despite their many differences, these two unusual people form a connection and Mary becomes part of Holmes’ life and a particular favorite of his friend, Watson and his housekeeper Mrs. Watson.

The series starts with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (the beekeeper being Sherlock Holmes) and Ms. King just released the 12th in the series, Garment of Shadows. I am in the middle of the 7th in the series, The Game, which is set in India in 1924. When I am finished, I will have to read Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, as Kimball O’hara is the person Russell and Holmes are sent to find. After Kim I will return to children’s literature and start reading the new award books. (It’s award season in the book world, too.) Next year’s Monarch, Bluestem, and Caudill lists will also be released soon. I can’t wait to see them!

What do you read during the cold (and some not so cold) days of winter. Please comment below!

Spinning my wheels…

I have really been spinning my wheels this fall and that is no play on words. My spinning wheel sits dust-covered in a corner of my sewing room. The start of school is always rough, but it is almost the end of October. I haven’t taken the time to write about my fabulous visits to my daughters, or documented any of my knitting. And yesterday I finally figured out why–I think I have menopause-induced ADD. Many of my crone friends can attest to the hormonal fogginess that can come with large hormonal shifts. I am okay with that, I remember it well from pregnancy, the oft-felt motherhood memory loss…but I hadn’t a clue about the ADD.

If you spin me not, do I not make yarn?

I have always been a person who is easily distracted and often when cleaning the house, I will find myself getting off task, starting to clean a closet while in the middle of cleaning a bathroom, but I usually could get myself back on task. But yesterday I set myself a few very specific tasks and it took me hours to complete them! The first task was to put together a draft of a brochure for a church task force that I’m on. I told myself that I would work on the text first and then fiddle with the layout. Multiple times I found myself messing with text boxes and searching for images. My second task was to take care of a couple of pressing e-mails and finding myself looking at random weblinks from non-essential e-mails. I finally finish the brochure, and take care of the e-mails-hours later! Leaving the house to go pick up a Papa Del’s Pizza my heart lurches in my chest-I haven’t sent out the draft of the brochure, only to find out after dinner that I had…So ADD and short term memory loss! Curse those wildly fluctuating hormones!

But for now, I will close and get to work on one of my two knitting projects. This one is almost done, a beautiful red scarf made out of alpaca and silk. It has a lovely hand and sheen. The final part is the ruffle I am half-way through first ruffle and hope to finish the scarf in the next few days.

Ruffle Scarf

Ruby alpaca silk from Blue Sky Alpacas

The End of Summer…

It is the eve of the first full week of school…I have actually been back to work for almost two weeks, but I have been in denial. I love to see all the students (I work as a K-5 school librarian) in their new clothes and backpacks, but it is hard to have to set the alarm. I like living a life that is not timed by clocks and bells…

I ended my summer in the best possible way: a camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with my husband Michael, daughter Sadie, and her friend Zoe. The trip was far too short, only four nights, the weather was perfect-high eighties during the day and seventy or below at night. Had my first campfire on the beach-this will be an annual tradition, but next time we will remember to bring flashlights for the trip back to the car!

I think a firepit for the backyard might be in our future! I hope I can feed the fire within as I start my ninth year in the library. May your fall be filled with sunny days, crisp nights and new adventures!

Just got back from an eight night camping trip to beautiful Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, South Carolina. I have always loved camping. And we are real campers–that means tents, and in this case no electric hook-up.

Now this tent is a palace and my husband, Michael, is wonderful to camp with, so organized, all I have to do is pack the linens and towels. But this trip laid us low… Temps in the high 90s during the day, only about 80 degrees at night and high humidity.

The only thing that made it bearable was the beautiful water–80 degrees and a wonderfully changing surf with two high and low tides per day. Michael enjoyed hunting for shark’s teeth every morning; he found over a hundred during our seven day stay.

But frankly, we were in survival mode most of the time. The heat limited our enjoyment of the wonderful seafood. But we had our favorite fried dill pickles at the MoonDoggies Cafe in Port Royal, wonderful crab cakes at Boondocks, and incredible shrimp and flounder at The Shrimp Shack.

So are our camping days over? No way, we set off for northern Michigan in seven days! And this trip will be graced with the awesome trifecta of daughter Sadie, and her friends, Katie and Zoe.

(Post written July 12, tried to add a video of screaming motors, found out that costs extra, bummer.)

What do antique outboarders do when they get together?

Hangin' at Constantine

They hang out selling their stuff and flock like vultures as the trailers pull in…but there are treasures to be had!

Michael found one of the three motors he is still looking for and put in the judging tent. The motor pictured below, a 1949 Johnson HD25 2.4 hp engine won 2nd place for Best Original Antique Outboard.

Michael's prize winner

What do motor widows do? Most stay home. I like to schmooze, so its fun for me to meet all these guys who share this obsession. There are a few women and some girls and boys who are motorheads, too. I had a fun dinner conversation with a “Trekkie.”

I’m going to line up a few yarn shops to share with my partner on our travels. He can’t complain, it will be air-conditioned.

I am writing this from Three Rivers, MI where my husband, Michael, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of fellow antique outboard motor enthusiasts who are attending a meet and swap in nearby Constantine. Tomorrow I will sit in the shade, reading or knitting, enjoying the sights (motors and boats), sounds (from the sweet putt-putts to the screaming of the racing engines) and smells (blue smoke and bratwurst). (Actually it is hot dogs and hamburgers, but I like alliteration and bratwurst.) I won’t be able to post pictures until after I get home, because I forgot the camera cord!

It is great to have a husband who has obsessions-antique outboards, aluminum boats, gardening, rocks and minerals. I was going to say that my interests aren’t as expensive, but I suppose if I added up my sewing, spinning, knitting and beading supplies over the years, I could give him a run for his money. (Yes, a bad pun.) His obsessions keep him busy and happy and if I go to the Constantine Super Meet, he will put in some time with me at a fiber destination.

Even though it can get beastly hot and humid here in the Midwest, I love the smell of clover in bloom, the sound of crickets and cicadas, the taste of fresh berries and sweet corn. This is our third year at Constantine and it has earned a place as one of our rituals of summer. I will be bringing you more of my summer rituals in future posts. In the meantime, why don’t you share some of your summer rituals with me. Leave a comment below.