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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Paul Janson, MD, Author of Medical Mysteries!

on May 25, 2013

Monday, June 6, 2016

More Months Have Passed, Moment by Moment

It's hard to admit how long I have let this blog lie unattended, but the truth is in the dated posts. One might think my life had slowed down considerably, with little to write of here on this page. Truth be told, much has been happening.

The quilt shop has grown in size and now has an established following of quilters and friends who come in sometimes to shop, and sometimes to share ... they share stories, accomplishments, wishes and thoughts. Each one brings a new element to my life as a shop owner and sometimes writer, and each one is dear to me. Rick is my steadfast better half, and his contributions to the shop's existence is evident not only in the shelves that he's built but in the more organized space that improved traffic flow and display-staging; without his participation it would be no more than a hodgepodge of unsorted paper files, bolts of fabric piled one on top of another hiding their individual beauty, and lost thoughts meant to be shared.

MS - if that is what it is - and most say it is - MS continues to wrest little chinks out of my cognitive abilities. What became evident five years ago as a loss of short term memory and proper nouns (read that: people's name) has blossomed into a true cognitive impairment causing loss of sense of direction, sense of scent, sense of sound direction, awareness of time parameters, and ability to make thoughtful decisions.

Yet I continue to believe that I will be able to continue to write Helen and Henry's mystery series of the quilt shop and toy shop's future ... and I continue to believe that customers will take advantage of the local accessibility of beautiful fabrics and threads and notions we can stock. I know in my heart that Rick is seen and recognized now as the creative wood artist that he is, and the dependable community member that he has always been.

We have the summer long Row by Row™ shop hop approaching in a few weeks, and at the end of the summer, we  have two major events ahead; our own Humble Beginnings Adventure at the end of September, and more importantly, our son Rob and Heather's wedding mid-October.

That our local quilt guild moved their annual show from spring to the end of September and our local melanoma fundraising 5k run/walk moved its schedule to the same weekend, both causing a conflict with the inaugural Humble Beginnings plans, has somehow not phased me. 'If we have it, they will come,' to paraphrase a movie title. Rick is confident. The other small-shop owners are confident, and so I will remain positive and be prepared despite the obstacles placed in our path. But I will hold back a bit on the optimism ... our daughter Trish would tell me that's a defense mechanism, but perhaps less taxing on my emotions than outright anxiety over failure would be.

My quilt shop is meant to be my happy place ... if it makes enough money to pay for its existence, I am content. I no longer see it as a source for increased income to replace that portion of my retirement lost through my early departure from the classrooms ... Once we thought we would have had enough to pay the bills and do some traveling,.. but when MS cut that planned 'extra money' out of my pension, and the quilt shop expenses began to outreach its income, it had to become our 'instead of traveling we can be happy here at home' plan ... and it has.

It is always delightful when a new customer finds us online and comes to visit the shop ... most all enter and immediately smell the scent of Rick's woodworking, and see his beautiful plaques and the strong shelves that display an abundance of colorful fabrics. When they move through the rooms and find the little treasures here and there, tucked between the shelves or in the cubbies that once were dressing rooms in this former dress shop (where yes, I did buy the going away dress for my wedding forty-six years ago) their exclamations of surprise and appreciation warm our souls and cheer our spirits.

And when our 'regulars' arrive to share a photo of their projects, or look for 'just the right color' to finish one, their smiles are met by our own, and the thank yous and your welcomes overlap comfortably.

Helen and Henry are still perched on their bench watching over the shop and us, holding out to us the promise that we will still be here enjoying this happy place when we, too, reach the sixtieth anniversary of our wedding as we turn eighty, proud and self-sufficient shop owners that we are becoming.

As for reviewing books (the original goal of this  particular blog )... I am challenged by the lesions in my brain which now are contributing to atrophy and some existent black holes, but have recently realized that although I cannot retain enough content in reading adult books, I can again enjoy reading and sharing children's books. While my reviewing vocabulary may be shrinking with those brain cells, it can only become easier for children to understand my take on the books that they can enjoy reading. And I will then set a new course for reading and reviewing, and may then find a new audience. Helen and Henry will be satisfied with that.

Meanwhile, I am back to publishing earlier writings of mine; here is a new collection of essays related to health:
Click here to find this book at Amazon,
or come into the shop
to buy a copy and save the shipping!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5.0 out of 5 stars It's a dog's life ... shared., August 5, 2015

How often have you thought to yourself "I could write a book about that (dog, cat, kid, person, place, food, etc.)  Why don't you?

Suzanne has entertained us with local columns in newspapers and magazines, and now she is sharing her dog stories. They are wonderful reads and will charm dog lovers and children alike.

Here's my review of her first in a series:

Rumplepimple is certainly living a dog's life. This charming fellow is a wire fox terrier who adores his two moms and endures his big sister, Chicken the cat. He discovers new talents which earn him tasty treats (though sometimes are unrecognizedd by the moms.) Having a "failure to communicate" with his two loves is his one challenge in life. But language aside, his strong emotional response to those in need is made evident in the story's climactic event. Rumplepimple comes through in a crisis with gentlemanly diplomacy, knowing when to strike the right pose and rescue the day! Of course, he is a dog and can't be held to human superhero standards, and so he does what a dog does now and then. In his own way, his behavior is still teaching others right from wrong.

This is a delightful story for read-to ages and as enticing to beginning readers. It would also make a great elementary read, providing a discussion starting story of different perspective and social cues. Buy it for the dog lovers in your life, for the new readers in your life, and for yourself. As they say in the gentlemanly commercial, "I know you're going to love it~"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Looking Back, and Looking Ahead

This blog began four years ago as a place where I could record my reviews of others' books ... primarily, other independently-published authors whose books might otherwise not be reviewed for publication.

Of course, I was an independently-published author at the time, and earnestly seeking recognition of my own stories. When I joined the Facebook community of authors, I had the opportunity to read and review others, and they in turn sometimes read and reviewed my work.

In the second and third year of this blog, my reviewing began showing the benefit of continued practice, and I was proud to share the reviews I'd written.

In re-reading those early years of reviews, I am amazed that I have forgotten many of the stories themselves, and while it pleases me to read the reviews I was able to write, it humbles me to admit that I doubt I could do the same today.

As consistently as I deny the prognosis of MS, I have to recognize the damage that is happening to my cognitive skills. It is challenging now for me to sit and read a book with any cogent assimilation to the characters or setting. I seldom read for more than half an hour in a session, as I lose track of what I'd read in the first portion of that span of time by the time I am reading the second. I read and re-read things that I need to remember, and often try to jot down notes here on the computer to help me remember what it is I've read.

Those notes are not the polished reviews you'll read on earlier pages of this blog. They are simply notes ... reminders for myself, or responses to my friends in email-style conversation. Sometimes, the synapses are firing late at night, when the house is quiet, the television off and the others asleep ... I love my "others" ... my husband and my son, my friends on Facebook ... and I love my quiet time, when I can think and try to remember, and write what I might one day forget.

My recent year of postings here has a different focus, a different content. That's because I'm unable to read book after book as I used to do. I'm reading, but slowly, more consciously than fluently.

If you're looking for some good reviews of good books, I invite you to find the menu of dates in the right column, and choose some from the earlier years of this blog. I've read some great books of independent authors, and though I don't remember many of them now as I once did, it is pleasant to re-read my reviews of them, and try to remember more of the stories themselves.

I still have at least one more book to finish - maybe two - in my new mystery series. When I began Helen and Henry's story, I thought I might get four or five books written about their love. That may have been overly-ambitious, as I've been unable to finish, in the past year, their second book. Life has a way of going on, whether a task is finished or not. I've been pretty consumed by starting my own quilt and fabric shop these past eighteen months ... it's a different context for my life ... different setting, different characters, different energies.

I am doing what I can still do well ... which is to say I am still teaching, but in a hands-on way ... with more about creativity and less about skill-sets. Rick and I both participate in a montly "mind mapping" group where we sit with other independent artists and brainstorm, critique and celebrate our goals and accomplishments. It helps keep each of us on track with what we plan to accomplish in our various endeavors. It gives us a sense of community, and a sense of belonging, and of value. It has helped me cope with the loss of the teaching community.

Thanks for stopping by today and reading this ramble. It may be a while before I'm back here with another book to share.  It's not that I'm not writing ... as I said, the context has changed, and so the site has changed.

You can read more of my 'new' life at my newer blog. You'll find it at  There are several different pages at that blog ... some are my quilt journals, some are my shop's offerings, one is about my new hobby of rescuing vintage sewing machines ... it's a picture of a new me.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Legends of the Lake, by Philip Nork

Philip Nork has captured the nostalgic memories we all wish we could share. A multi-generational cabin maintained for generations in one family, with stories that become family legends. The good, the bad and the forlorn all make appearances in this story, told with perspective, compassion and empathy in the wings. 

Philip Nork explores what many recognize as the American Dream, and does so with a sense of history, realism and truth. I would recommend his writings to history buffs, family accountants and wage earners past and present who struggled and continue to struggle to acquire the best for those they love. Love is a central theme in his writings, and Nork's stories resonate with its power.

Nork has many other books published, and a list of them can be seen at Goodreads here.  You can also find them at Amazon here. Check them out - you won't be disappointed.