Life

Back Home and Busy

I spent a good chunk of yesterday trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to write for a new blog post. I could not even string a couple words together without rolling my eyes and manically hitting that delete button. I swear that will be the first thing I have to replace on this keyboard. BUT last night on a whim I went back and reread my last couple of posts, and not to be a person propped up by ego or anything, but I actually liked what I had written.

Go Figure.

Not that my last posts were any great grammatically perfect feats of prose, but I felt like I wasn’t boring either and that was nice. More than nice—nice to the point where I was inspired to write maybe a little bit more.

So with my mojo back, I feel free to go ahead and write about anything and most likely probably nothing. Now I can go ahead and tell you dear reader that I just got back from a month long hiatus in middle-of-nowhere California. Reason numero uno that I have not been as present, or present at all, on the blog. I got to spend some wonderful time with my wonderful in-laws and my completely delectable niece. I also got Yoga Teacher Training Certification while I was away, so while I missed home, and Husband, and our dogs, and our routine it was a great—if exhausting—month away.

I got home a week ago and Husband and I hit the ground running looking for a house to buy. I think we looked at seven houses over the course of seven days, and low and behold we put our first offer on one of the houses last night. Our realtor says it is a very strong offer, but I have no idea how this all works, and honestly I have always been a bit of a pessimist, so until keys are in hand I honestly can’t let myself get too excited about the house. Even IF it would be absolutely perfect for us. Nope. No excitement.

Husband leaves this week for a big conference in San Francisco for his company. I will fly down to join him for one day as some of his family from Europe will be in town and since we won’t be getting out to that neck of the woods anytime soon, we felt it was important to get down there to see them.

I guess the point of telling you all of this is basically to say that life is crazy and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down at any near point in the future. It does make me a little tired to think about it all. I long for winter, which I haven’t felt anything close to longing for a Pacific Northwest winter since EVER. I tend to get depressed a little with the rain, but we have been so busy a little winter depression sounds good. Or rather I feel like hibernating, which is probably a better way of saying it.

Anyway, we keep plugging ahead. We will find out about the house soon enough. Then either we keep looking, or we suddenly enter into the whole new world of homeownership. Wish us luck!

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Life

Reynolds High School and Compassion

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That is my favorite photo of my high school graduation. I am the slouchy girl with very little hair on the right. It is hard to believe that it was seven years ago, but there goes time for you. Those kids up there were some of the best people I knew at the time and not much of that has changed. One of them is now in Ethiopia, another is working with battered children, one will most likely cure cancer one day, and another is honestly to goodness one of the best guys I will ever know.

But unfortunately this photo isn’t relevant to me just for nostalgia’s sake right now. For those of you who only know me through this medium, I am an alum of Reynolds High School, which was the scene of another school shooting last week.  It shouldn’t be possible to say the words, “another school shooting,” but that is a discussion for another time or maybe later in this post if I get to upset, rambly, off-topic, or all three. Anyway, my friend Ivan and I went to the candlelight vigil last night and upon leaving we walked past the sign at the entrance to the school. That sign has become a memorial full of balloons, messages, and flowers. But for me, I haven’t been able to sleep since.

It was comforting and sweet to see, until we read the sign: Bitches Love Jared P. That sign stopped me short. It took me a while to work it out, and even now I am trying desperately to give the author the benefit of the doubt. Jared was the shooter and we were tempted to take down the sign ourselves. But we didn’t. I thought it was because of fear–fear of getting caught, of ruining someone’s right to free speech, of starting a conversation I don’t know how to have let alone finish.

But the thing is, I got home two hours ago and while I should be sleeping because I have to work tomorrow at 7am, which means I need to be up at 6am, and I am not a functioning human being until about 8am WITH a full 8-10 hours of sleep, I can’t. Sleep that is. I have tossed and turned and kept Husband awake who has a cold and also has to work tomorrow. I am realizing that I didn’t and still don’t want to take the sign down without having a conversation about WHY I feel the sign should be pulled. I don’t want to take it down in the dark of the night and then pretend I didn’t do it, and pray no one notices.

I want it taken down, but not like that. To me the literal meaning of this sign is that anyone who loved or loves Jared is a bitch. Maybe there is a back story that I do not know, or maybe I am not understanding the sign correctly. Especially since it looks like it was drawn carefully and tied to the gate with matching navy blue ribbons. Whoever wrote it put thought into it, or at least it looks that way. So I hope that I am wrong about what they meant–for their sake.

But the problem with that theory is that I am afraid other people will read the sign the way I did, and that some of those people may be friends and family of Jared’s. What he did was horrible. But the people who cared about him have lost him and they have to come to terms what he did. It is so painfully hard to understand why someone so young is taken from us without having to understand the fact that he was a murderer on top of it.

Our community needs compassion, the friends and family of Jared need compassion just as much as his victim Emilio Hoffman. I am not condoning what he did, but I am not condoning that sign either. That sign espouses hate and guilt. It doesn’t allow for healing or grief. These kids who are suffering through this tragedy need role models in this community. We need to have a conversation about this. It needs to be said that no matter how much we are hurting, no matter how angry we feel we cannot hurt other people in the process. This sign is hurtful, at least for someone out there and one person hurt by this is too many.

I am having a hard enough time living with the reality that this happened at the high school I went to, the high school that I still know teachers at, the high school that I know kids at. It was incredibly scary to watch the news reports unfold, wondering the whole time if the teacher who was grazed was someone I knew, or the kid who was killed was someone I knew through Search and Rescue. If it is this hard for me, if this makes me this scared and angry I cannot imagine what it is doing to those who lived through it.

We have to remember that Jared was a person before he did this. He was a person who was loved by his friends and by his family. Those connections do not die because he committed a horrible act. They do not go away even though he has shaken a community to its core and changed the lives of Emilio and his family forever. Those who loved him are not HIM. They did not pull the trigger and they have the right to grief for the loss of their loved one. They have the right to try to heal and work through this horrible mental thing he has left them with. And they have the right to do all of that in a compassionate and caring community.

I do not have any answers in this situation. And I can’t believe it is possible to say this but school shootings have been apart of my life since elementary school. I grew up in Colorado before I lived in Oregon. I was in elementary school an hour away from Columbine. It makes me sick just mentally ticking off the list of school shootings that I know of: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, SPU, Reynolds. It has been 15 years between the first shooting on that list and the last two. 15 years and nothing has changed. 15 years and kids are still dying. 15 years and the problems haven’t been solved. Controls aren’t better, mental health services are not better. NOTHING is better if children are still dying.

Though I did read an article about how well SPU handled the aftermath of the shooting. I am glad we are learning how to live and grieve through these things. PLEASE read that with a sense dread and the taste of sickness in your mouth. It shouldn’t be possible to learn to handle these situations better. One was too many, and all the others are killing us.

But I don’t know any solutions. I am not a fountain of wisdom. All I have got here is profound sadness and the idea that we cannot antagonize someone for grieving or feeling a sense of loss. Maybe the Bitches are a club and they miss and love Jared. Somehow I doubt it. If you have another perspective, or any feedback please feel free to comment on the post or send me a message through my contact page. I would love to hear from you. This is an important discussion and I am open to hearing all view points.

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Reading

May Reading Review

I have decided to go back to one of the older format of my yearly reading list. Currently it has a picture and a paragraph review of every book I have read, broken down by month. I have not been able to keep up with this due to some formatting issues. So I have decided instead to do a monthly post with the fancy pictures of what I have read that month and that lovely paragraph review, while the page will have a list the basic list of book and authors and each month will have a link to its respective review post. Make sense? I think this will make it a little easier for me to keep up with and it will give me an already formatted post that I get to do once a month.

Fantastic.

So without any fanfare here is my list for May. It is short and all of them were easy reads.

I forgot how much I loved Terry Pratchett’s writing. The story is fanciful and an easy read, but the writing is smart and snarky. This is the first book in his Discworld series and it shows Pratchett’s incredible imagination. He creates a magical world so incredible and complete it is no wonder that he wrote many more books based in the Discworld. He created such a rich tapestry that he must have put eons into creating it.

I am just going to review these three at once, considering they are a trilogy and neither two or three were disappointing like so many other trilogies. These are classic Mercedes Lackey. They are easy fun fantasy with magic and gryphons (surprising I know).  The characters are endearing and the plot interesting. I wouldn’t recommend running out to buy them (unless you are a die-hard Lackey fan) but if you ever stumble across them I would say give them a chance.

I checked this out of the library because I recently started a new project! I am ghost writing a memoir for a man who grew up under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. I needed to know more and unfortunately my local library didn’t have a lot of material. This was a picture book, with stripped down simplicity, for early middle-schoolers. But it gave me a basic (VERY basic) idea of the history and culture.

Now to be fair, I gave up on this one. I got about two chapters in a decided that I couldn’t do it. I have a very low tolerance for people being self-destructive out of a lack of willingness to communicate and boredom. The main character is self-righteous and bored out of her mind. She is unwilling to talk to her husband and sabotages their life in a million tiny decisions. Cheating is comprised of a million tiny decisions, all of which we have power over. No I will not text that person, or get coffee, or run into them in the hallway on purpose. This character does it all and I couldn’t watch the resulting train wreck.

I thought I had read these books before, but if I have I do not really remember this one at least. Anne McCaffrey is awesome if sometimes a little backwards from a feminist stand point. But since she is one of the leading women in the world of Fantasy we can cut her a little slack. There is a lot to this book–it is very dense and sometimes I have to spend a little too much concentration to keep everyone straight. These are done in the same vein as a lot of Mercedes Lackey books though the feel a little more grownup.

I saved the best for last. This is by far my favorite book that I read in May. I guarantee that I will be rereading this at some point. I love the southern world that Rebecca Wells paints. If you read the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and loved it then this is the next book on your reading list. Calla Lily is a magical young woman and the world she grows up in is just as magical with fireflies and a beautiful moon that she prays to and a river she practically lives in. This is a very feminine book just like the Sisterhood. It’s delicious!

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Life

The First Big One

468451_612859428727128_258878024_oIn five days time, Husband and I will have been married for exactly one year. When I was younger, I can tell you that I never thought I would be saying that sentence at the tender age of 25. But here we are, and I know everyone says this but just WHERE exactly did that time go? Now I am not a particularly mushy person. Do not get me wrong, I get mushy about certain things but they usually include chocolate, a very girly movie, and a certain time of the month. Husband is the romantic one. But I have to say that this past year has been, so far, the best year of my life.

Meg Ryan in Serious Moonlight talks about her first years of marriage calling that feeling, “the unbearable sweetness of it.” Now that movie doesn’t really fit this situation, and hopefully never will, as it is about a husband who has fallen in love with someone else and is trying to leave his wife. His wife (Ryan) is having none of it and throughout the course of the movie she hits him over the head with a flower-pot, duck tapes him first to chair and then a toilet meanwhile showing him wedding photos and baking him his favorite cookies so that he will fall back in love with her. I have promised husband that if he ever tries to leave me, I will use that movie as a blue print for getting him back. I swear, he wasn’t even a little creeped out.

But the phrase “unbearable sweetness” has really stuck with me. It doesn’t mean that marriage is easy. It means that despite everything that is challenging and sometimes hurtful about marriage, it is still the best decision I have ever made. Unbearable sweet is the closest I have gotten to describing that feeling. Serendipity and unbearable sweetness.

In the first year of marriage, I believe, is still the honeymoon phase to some extent. Nothing has gotten monotonous and we have yet to add major stressors to our relationship like children or trying to buy a house. That is not to say that everything has been berries and cream. While we have had some wonderful events in our first year if marriage like welcoming our first niece, baby Tulsi, into the family, we have had some hard stuff too. In February my Grandmother fell and hit her head on cement, which put her into a coma and me onto a plane out to Texas for a couple of weeks while Husband had to stay behind to work. Thankfully, t the amazing age of 93, she has made a remarkable recovery.

We continue to figure out how to balance life together. Every week is different for us between Husband’s ever flexible and changing job and my odd freelance lifestyle. Then you add in two dogs with independent minds of their own and I never really know how a week is going to look like until I am about halfway through with it. Take last month for example when I woke up to Husband exploding with colorful expletives as he tripped over puddles of diarrhea on his way to make his morning cup of Joe. Our oldest dog Boaz had gotten sick several times and then tracked it all over the house. We were cleaning for upwards of four hours and then we had to go to the vet. That was a game-changer.

There is one embarrassingly cheesy line, from some stupid Facebook quote somewhere that keeps kicking me in the butt, whenever I find myself pondering marriage: “don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.” Having been raised in a culture that has, maybe inadvertently, taught me to always be vigilant to make sure that I am getting what I deserve it can be hard to transition from that mentality into marriage. It can be hard to stop asking if I am getting enough: enough love, attention, support and start asking if my spouse is getting enough. This is just one of the many lessons that marriage has been teaching me.

That and to never let husband get too much caffeine, as then he terns into a prickly, cranky…something. Also that I should always be fed on time, as when I go too long without food I turn into a nagging, crazy…something.

In less than three days Husband and I will be flying off to Hawaii to celebrate our first year of marriage. Thanks to our wonderful Aunt and Uncle who have graciously let us stay at their condo for the very reasonable rate of the cleaning fee, which is making this whole shindig possible. My two goals for the trip are to swim EVERYDAY and to eat some pineapple EVERYDAY. Originally my goal was to eat one pineapple everyday, but Husband put in a veto as he felt that eating one pineapple a day for ten days would result in a hospital stay by day four. I think he is being a little over protective.

On that note I should thank Husband for putting up with me for the past year of marriage and the previous two years of just regular relationship. I am so thankful that we get to build this wonderful, unbearably sweet life together.

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Happy Anniversary Baby! Love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life

The Two and Only McGillagreen’s

Husband and I finally went and did it–that is we blended out last name’s AND we made it legal. This craziness started about a year and a half ago when I suggested we hyphenate our names when we get married and he said, “hyphenation is dumb.” That was obviously the beginning to a fruitful and mature conversation. You have to understand that my parents kept their respective names because my mother wanted to hyphenate and my dad said, “hyphenation is dumb.” Somethings you just can’t make up. Like the fact that in many respects I married my father. I try to ignore it.

Anyway, Husband had no idea the can of worms he cracked when he told me hyphenation was dumb. Now I am not a huge fan of hyphenation my self. It just gets sticky when you add kids to the picture, and kids are sticky enough. I also don’t like the idea of having to say and write such a long name all the time. But I also believe that marriage should be a partnership between two people, and I wanted our name to be a symbol of that partnership. I liked hyphenation for that reason only: it shows a commitment from both spouses instead of just one.

I wouldn’t say that Husband and I argued about this per say; I would rather say that we had a lively, heated, debate. I may at one point have told him that hyphenation was his price he had to pay to make up for being a part of the sex that had kept women oppressed for a millenia. Some people have told me I can be a little dramatic–I honestly don’t see it. Turns out I was the one trapped in a box I couldn’t think myself out of. I was seriously distressed that we didn’t see eye to eye. I wouldn’t say I started to doubt the relationship, but hyperventilation might not have been far off.

Then Husband said these magical words, “why don’t we make up our own last name.” I honestly thought he was joking, but after we had calmed down after a good laugh the idea had stuck and before we knew it we were making  a list of all of the conceivable combinations of our two last names. There were combos that were out immediately, like McGreen which sounded like a weird moldy sandwich from McDonald’s. It took us a while to settle on McGillagreen–months really.

Deciding on the name itself hasn’t been the only hurdle. As it turns out Oregon doesn’t recognize blended last names. Kashi and I both had to go to through a legal name change. We had to go to the courthouse and petition to change our names. It started with putting up a petition on a bulletin board for all to see. I believe this is a vestigial process left over from the days before internet and telecommunications were invented, but I don’t actually know that for sure. Our petition had to be up for at least 14 days, then we had our hearing with the judge.

This is the one case where I can see how someone might call me dramatic. Maybe. I may have exaggerated the meeting with the judge. I made Husband print out legal documents and financial statements to prove that we weren’t trying to evade any financial responsibility by changing our names. I worried for the three weeks leading up to our court date, the worry kicking into overdrive for the 20 minute drive downtown. I think Husband’s hand needed to be wrung out after I kept clutching it. I mean what if the judge said no? We already made the change on Facebook?!

Turns out I had nothing to be worried about. We entered the courtroom with about 20 or so other people who were trying to change their name as well. I have to admit that my worry didn’t dissipate until after the judge signed out orders, even though the judge didn’t even sit in on the hearings. That should have been my first clue that we would be fine, considering the judge didn’t think it worth her time to officially officiate the whole process. Her aide took our paperwork, make sure it matched with some other paper work she had on us and then sat our paperwork on the accepted pile for the judge to sign later.

Looking back that wasn’t the only thing about the process that should have made me realize that everything would be fine. Before we went into the hearing they told us to just go ahead and order any extra copies that we might want of our official name change. You think that would have been a sign, especially after I asked the cashier if buying them early was bad luck and she just laughed. Apparently I am not very good at reading the signs.

But sitting in the courtroom waiting for our names to be called, none of that mattered. About five people were called before us, and all five of them were denied a name change. I think one woman hadn’t completed the archaic process correctly, another was trying to change the name of her granddaughter but hadn’t served the biological mother with papers first. And then without any pomp and circumstance it was all over. Our names were changed and we were walking out of the courthouse. Now we just have to change everything else: IRS, Social Security, driver’s licences, passports, my student loans, alumni associations, credit cards, bank, membership programs, USPS, car titles, etcetera etcetera. Since our names are already legally changed, I think we can keep the worrying to a minimum.

Right? Right?!

 

 

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Life

Hospice – Year One

Last month marked the one year anniversary of my volunteering with Hospice here in Portland. I had found the gig through a search on VolunteerMatch.com. I was looking at the end of my contract with AmeriCorps up in Tacoma. Husband was already living in Portland, we were six months away from our wedding, and we had decided that I wasn’t going to look for work until after the wedding. I would take a break, plan the wedding, and work on some writing. I was a little worried about what would happen to me with that much time on my hands. I knew myself well enough to know that if I was left completely at loose ends I might as well accept the couch potato of the year award right then and there. If accepting it meant I could stay in bed for the seventh day in a row and have someone bring it to me.

So I was looking for a volunteer gig to add a little structure to my soon to be suddenly unstructured life, when I came across a small ad asking for someone who would be willing to sit with people who were dying. For those who know me well, you know that this appeals to my rather morbid sensibilities. These sensibilities are also the reason that I joined Search and Rescue, but that’s another story for another time.

In the past year I have only had two patients. Now if you get a room full of Hospice volunteers you get a rather morbid, and slightly competition like conversation about how long each of our patients live. This is how I know that it is unlikely that I would only have two patients in a year. There were a few of us who were with patients for longer than six months, but the majority of volunteers are only with theirs for a couple of weeks. I seem to remember being told that the average life span for a hospice patient is 42 days–I might be making that up.

Sometimes, every now and then, I miss my patients. They stay with me in a way that makes me feel that no matter how much time passes, I will keep the memory of each of them. I was with my first patient the longest–about nine months. I remember her the most, sometimes when I am sitting and reading, or in quiet moments in the car. I do not remember them with sadness. I am very aware of the realities of hospice. In the beginning, when I was helping my first patient do some exercises to help strengthen her ribs (to help her breath easier) I got it into my head that she was going to get better–just for a minute. Because in our society we exercise to change things, we exercise to be healthier, but in Hospice exercise is to make life more bearable–at least what little is left of it to live. As she would rhythmically raise her arms over her head, I would have to remind myself that the point of it all was to make her more comfortable, not to cure her. Hospice is in the business of palliative care, after all hope of a cure is gone.

I think maybe that is why I like to volunteer with Hospice. I know it is the end of the line, but there is still living to be done in that space between life and death. There are still kitchens to be cleaned, groceries to be bought, books to read and short (sometimes very short) walks to be had. People still have dreams and desires, baggage to sift through and hopefully unload. I get to be a part of that, maybe making things a little easier. I have honestly loved every patient I have had–all two of them. Maybe it’s the recognition of a spark between me and the patient–an understanding of reality. The thought that this could be me is never really far from my mind. It is humbling, and it constantly makes me thankful for Hospice organizations.

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Reading

2013: Books In Review

I did a lot of reading last year, some of it was pretty wonderful, while some of it was pretty awful–but that is what I get as a book reviewer. It can be a very mixed bag. I have narrowed down the books that I read last year (70 in total) to my top ten favorites. For the most part I would recommend all of these books; some of them I would even be obnoxious about it. Sometimes I feel like I should at least strap my husband down until he reads some of these, but he is more of a technical reader: as in he loves to read about medical studies, new technologies, and boring things like economics and sociology. One can’t have it all, I suppose. I have divided the top ten into three categories: Throwbacks, Non-Fiction, and Fiction, so if you don’t see anything for you in the first couple of sections, feel free to scroll down.

Throw Back:

This is a set of four books called the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Particia C. Wrede. I think I first read these  books in middle school. They are very fast reads – I burned through all four of them in a week back in  October/November. They are just pure silliness and fun. There are annoying princesses and good princesses,  Dragons who are allergic to Wizards, and Wizards who are annoyingly persistent and evil. There are cats who act  just like cats and magical swords that do not act like swords at all. These are a great way to indulge your inner child,  especially since they are well written with wry humor.

Non-Fiction:

 This book was incredible. Persico distilled unimaginable amounts of information in to a comprehensive look at   Nuremberg trials. I was astounded as I read it trying to imagine how he brought all of this information together. I am drawn to this period in history–as many others are and this helped satiate my need for information. Persico gives us information on the war, on how the Trail came about, how the jail system worked, how the prisoners were treated. This is by far the best non-fiction book I have read in a long time. The writing is substantial. I don’t think I could ask for more.

 I am not sure I would recommend this book to everyone. It appealed to me because of the work that I do with  Adventist Hospice, though I do think I would have found it interesting even without working for Hospice. This  book walks us through the history of dying and how advances in medicine: hospitals, medicines, etc. changed  how we approach dying. I think this would be a relevant book for anyone with older relatives as well as those who work in nursing homes or hospitals. If you want more information here is the link to the review I did for the Portland Book Review.

Fiction!

Initially I thought I should put these next books in ascending order of awesomeness, but I couldn’t wrap my head around a hierarchy. Each of these books are incredible (at least to me). I would recommend them all, without reservation, to anyone. That is not to say that they won’t appeal to everyone, because I know everyone has different tastes, and I can be incredibly biased when it comes to what I read. Take the following 7 books for instance: all of them have female protagonists. I obviously have discriminating tastes. The first book is my favorite of all of them, but the rest are all equal in my estimation. Three of the books on this list are by Louise Erdrich, whose work I have been having a love affair with as these blog posts attest to: Damn Good Writing, Day 19.

 I couldn’t put this down. I felt like I was swimming deep under water, without needing to breath. The story  intertwines the lives of the Master Butcher Fideles, his wife Eva, their four sons, and a young acrobat woman who  has returned home with her lover who she passes off as her husband to gain respectability. Everything was so  beautiful, poignant, and simple. It is a story of ordinary lives, in an ordinary world. That’s where the beauty lies and  Erdrich knows this so well. Instead of writing towards large, world changing events, her writing conveys the power  in the small things in life. I read the book months ago and I am still not over it.

This is a story about a drum, which begins when Faye discovers the painted drum abandoned in an attic of an estate she in appraising. The drum calls to her, and against all of her professional sensibilities she steals it. We then bounce back and forth through time as we catch glimpses of the lives the drum has touched, changed, and in some instances, ruined.

I am having a hard time remembering the plot of this book, but I think that only adds to it oddly enough. This  book is so tangled; it is a jumble of lives, twisting together. It takes place up in North Dakota, on tribal lands. It  is about the struggle for a dying culture and disappearing land. It is a book of power and sadness. There is evil  and magic, as well as faith and painted drums. It is a book to be read late at night.

This so reminded me of Anne of Green Gables–it has a young girl as the protagonist and a very strong connection with nature for a start. I remember watching the Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe  as a kid–the old one put out by WonderWorks with the human sized beavers. One of the previews on the VHS was  for A Girl of the Limberlost. I finally got around to reading this book while I was on my honeymoon, and it was  perfect. It is a simple, sweet book where you easily fall in love with the characters and everything turns out  perfectly in the end. I recommend reading this book in the summer, on a warm summer afternoon. It won’t  take much time, but the time it takes will be well spent. Unless, of course, Anne of Green Gables is way to girly for you and then I would suggest not reading this book.

Set mainly on a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, this tells the story of Meterling who falls in love with an older English gentleman who falls down dead during their first dance at the wedding reception. Meterling is left, pregnant, to bear the disgrace. The writing is simple and beautiful, and we automatically love Meterling who must endure her broken heart and continue to live, surrounded by family in her families compound. As Sweet as Honey is the perfect title for this book. Here is the link to the review I did for the Portland Book Review.

Set in North Wales during the last couple of months during World War II, this book tells the tale of a small town barmaid. How whole life is wrapped up in her little village, yet she longs for a larger world. I wasn’t so sure about this book when I first started reading it, but then before I knew it I was hooked. Esther comes of age in a time where soldiers regularly tramped through her town and vied for her affections, where local eyes pry into every aspect of life, and the POW camp just over the hill proves too interesting to resist.

There is so much to this book, I don’t know where to begin. It takes place in two worlds: Germany during World War II with a young woman named Anna, and years later in Minnesota with Anna’s daughter Trudy. It is a story of love and loss, and what lengths we can be driven to for that love. Anna sacrifices everything for her infant daughter in Germany, and at the end of the war when she meets a young American soldier she escapes the horror of her past to marry him and move to America. From that point on she refuses to talk about her past, but it continues to color the relationships that she has with her husband and her daughter. Trudy is left to puzzle out her own murky beginnings, searching fruitlessly against the wall of her mother’s silence. This book was dark and twisty in the exact way I like books to be dark and twisty. 

I hope everyone had a great reading year last year. Remember: the books we get to read in this lifetime are finite, so choose them wisely. I have started a new page for the books that I read in 2014, you can check that out here. If you had any books that knocked you off your feet, and made you wobbly at the knees last year, please feel free to share them. I am always on the prowl for my next great read. Good reading everyone!

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