Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt . . ." Thank You, Tennessee Ernie Ford -- I couldn't have said it better myself!

Yep . . . that's right!  The big BD has come and gone and this year was unusual to say the least.  I was literally stuck at the laptop and 2200 miles away from home, back in Southern California for a church-related meeting, and yes, it went the entire day.

Now I am finished with that and looking forward to an evening with my kids and grandkids before boarding yet another plane (I hate flying) to wind my way back to Southern Middle Tennessee.  On the way here last Thursday I got to sit in the middle between two others on both legs of the flight.  I guess the airplane seating lottery ordained that it was my turn to be the "sardine."  I had to extend my time in So. Calif. and the airline wanted $373 to change my reservation.  I went to another airline and just booked a one-way ticket for a hundred dollars less.  What a rip-off!

Just five days back in the sunny Southland and already I notice how much dryer my skin is.  Southern Middle Tennessee is considered sub-tropical and one can almost hear the grass grow with all the rain.  Hubby reported that it had rained for three solid days and even in the middle of August, when the thermometer is usually climbing upward at an alarming rate, it is now so cool that the air conditioner hadn't come on for three days.  Weird!  I don't like grass that is so long in one week that it looks like a hay field when it's mowed, but I sure don't mind not having my skin feel so dry that it is flaking off my body.  So I guess one takes the good with the bad.

So amid the dull and boring meeting, my phone buzzed and my kids called and wished my good birthday wishes.  Friends wished me good wishes on Facebook, and hubby said he missed me.  So really, when you come right down to it, it was a good birthday after all.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Catchin' Up With The Folks . . . "Short Rides" by Lorelei James

I don't think there is any doubt that those of us who are unapologetic fans of Lorelei James' "Rough Rider" series are delighted when our author keeps us posted on the goings-on in the McKay clan and with their various relational branches of the family.  I also am convinced that all who really love this series have their favorites and I think it likely that Ms James has been listening to her fans when she decided to write this anthology of stories that will bring her readers up-to-date with Cam McKay, the Glanzer family (Chassie West and her two hunky husbands), and Keely McKay Donohue.  Each of these families grabbed the interest and the imaginations of readers and while many of the subsequent novels have advanced readers' knowledge of the increasing size of the McKay clan, it's also more than welcome to have some specific time and space given to characters who have been especially dear to our hearts.

Cam McKay is a man who has been severely injured as a result of his service in the Iraqi Conflict and yet has worked through lots of his issues with the help and support of his intrepid spouse, the delightful Domini and her wonderful sense of humor, her knowledge of the world, and her incredible patience with Cam as he continues to struggle with his PTSD issues.  Here he has encountered one of the worst crime scenes ever to be seen in Sundance, Wyoming, with its small town life and its deep sense of family and friendship.  Dealing with the crime itself, dealing with the fact that it was two people he had known nearly forever, dealing with the recriminations and grief of the victims' families throws Cam into a tailspin, all on Valentine's Day.  And as if that isn't enough, it's all happening while Domini and his six kids are planning a romping good evening to surprise their dad who they are prepared to crown "King of Hearts."  It's a warm and wonderful story that is built around the core of a terrible tragedy--warm and wonderful because of Domini's care and unconditional love and the patience and love of his kids in the face of his terrible sadness.  Terrible because it brings back all the nightmares, the sense of hopelessness, the survivor guilt that had been far less of a problem in recent years.  Yet this short story is a lesson in the power of patience and love to bring light into darkness and to how there is no statute of limitations on the power of love to heal wounds.

Chassie West Glanzer and her hunky husbands Edgard and Trevor have a whole different set of troubles landing on their doorstep.  Trevor and Chassie are set to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary as well as their eighth anniversary as a triad since Edgard became a permanent part of  their relationship.  Now they have three children and the bigotry of an extremely conservative community rears its head in the form of bullying at their son's grade school.  A first grader handling epithets against his family for their "perverted" lifestyle is way beyond acceptable and on the eve of a special get-away weekend, these three loving and very dedicated parents must face the task of explaining the actions of those who would seek to make this little six year old boy feel bad about the love shared by his folks.  This story is very much focused on how these three deal with this challenge, but it is also about how they celebrate their love, how it has grown and matured in their years together, and how they are looking to the future together.  Ms James never backs away from the tough stuff here. While I don't include spoilers, I will give you a clue that this novella has included one of the finest incidents in all of this series--what it really means to care about and support those we love.   It's a tremendous part of this anthology and not to be missed.

Lastly, there is Keely McKay Donahue, caught in the throes of pregnancy hormones, dealing with her high-powered handsome and type A personality husband.  After four years of marriage it is a well-known fact that these two have figured out that make-up sex is absolutely the best.  And it's a good thing, because they know how to mix it up as well.  They most definitely have their own particular dynamic, and even as they work through the issues of pregnancy successfully, there is the new challenge of what it means to be parents to lots of kids in a very short span of time.  Yet again there is the factor of family loyalty, of knowing that in spite of everything that has happened in the past, in spite of the fact that Jack still thinks Keely's dad hasn't really accepted him, there is that sense of "circling the wagons" when potential tragedy is making an appearance in Keely and Jack's life and both of them have to face the possibilities that their lives may never be the same.

All in all, this is a wonderful book and one that I was not initially aware was even "out there."  But I found it on Amazon and am delighted to have experienced it.  Also made me want to go back and re-read some of the original stories about these special people.  This book has been out since April, 2013, but it is worth the time and effort to enjoy.  Don't miss it.