Friday, November 27, 2009

3 Reads updates

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was a delight.  It sounds repetitive of the many reviews but this  little book, Mary Annn's first and last was an absolute fun, joy read.   My cousin, Carol mentioned this and when we met  in Oct. I was just reading it and loving it.  This book is very different written as letters to and from Juliet, the  primary character and her friends and agent.   It's like reading someone's diary.  Because of the brevity of the letters, back and forth it is a book that can be read here and there,  pieces at a time without any loss to the story line.  It really deserves its multiple honors and selections of best book of the year.  The characters reminded me of different people I have known or know in my life.  Juliet Ashton is an author and  supposed to be  working on a new book but finds herself stuck for inspiration and then the letter arrives which  spins this story.  The tale is set in the aftermath of WWII and the Guernsey Channel Islands off the English coast.  The  horrors of WWII are  felt in the Nazi occupation of the island yet even  then there is something good abrew.   Actually this book demonstrates that good can and does come out of bad if we persevere.  The array of so many characters from Sydney, her agent to Dawsey Adams, a local islander and society member,  to Markham Reynolds, her avid suitor, Amelia Maugery, Isola Pribby, the eccentric who is one of my faves and so many more, each contribute something in their letters and notes to demonstrate the magnitude in ranges of human attributes.  I was already enjoying  this book and then on page 53,  I read, "Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books."   This  certainly is the former.  The final  lines in afterword, "We are transformed..into the literary society eachtime we pass a book along, each time we ask a question about it, each time we say, .."If you liked that, I bet you'd also like this."  Whenever we are willing to be delighted and share our delight as Mary Ann did, we are part of the ongoing story...."   A book to keep and to share! A booklover's must read!

Dewey by Vicki Myron.  This true story of Dewey Readmore Books, the small town library cat who touched the world.  It's written by Vicki the librarian who finds this  frozen kitten one wintry January morning in the book drop box at the Spenser Iowa library.  I have wanted to read this book for a while.  I'd bought it and sent it to Steve when it came out because the picture of Dewey on the cover resembled Spazmo, a cat he had.  Dewey takes over the library and the hearts of the patrons. His job becomes patron care from the youngest to the oldest to the staff.    I thoroughly enjoyed the  historical descriptions of Iowa, of Spenser and the way of life in that very small farming community.  After reading this book, I am more curious about Iowa, where we have friends, cousins  and visit frequently.  Even more,  I am  more appreciative of the Midwest  lifestyle.  Pg. 2, "..northwest Iowa is.. always changing.  Not in the way suburbs change as one chain restaurant replaces another or the way cities change as buildings crowd each other ever higher, but in the way the country changes, slowly, back and forth in a gentle motion that is always sliding forward, but never very fast...".    Dewey does become world famous and some of his visitors to Spenser are  comical and heart warming.  Dewey begins the morning with Vicki but is always at the door to greet people.   When he does escape  and disappears intown for a few days, my heart was in my throat reading along.  Maybe because I am an animal lover, I found his antics endearing.  I  liked the way Vicki personalized parts by including anecdotes of her life.  I thought she wove  that well into Dewey's  life.    One of my local friends whose book club read this mentioned that she did not enjoy that as much.  Over all, it is a well written book.  I am sure a movie will follow and I can't imagine where they will find a cat to portray Dewey!   Sadly as all animals, we outlive them, Dewey is gone, RIP, Dewey.   

A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton is a quick read.  This is the second in this series I have read and enjoyed as it is just a good clean mystery set in a knitting shop in fictitious Ft. Conner, Colorado.  Kelly Flynn continues her adventures as the newest transplant, now  happily  ensconsed with her online accounting business and learning to knit so well that she accomplishes a couple projects through the book.  It is  similar to the books by Diane Mott Williams which feature a catering business.  This  book includes instructions for knitting the cable knit scarf and the recipe for mint fudge.   The book has romance at a high level and  intrigue with out nasty 4 letter words.  Doubts are  conveyed about all the characters through the story,  making it unlikely to fathom the real culprit.  I will read more in the series, enjoyable and quick reading.     Reminds me of  my enjoyment of Nancy Drew  mysteries as a young girl.    

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sarah's "Going Rogue"

The following  is just one tidbit about Sarah Palin's book. I knew I would want to read Sarah's book because I admire what she has done, her fresh air approach and mannerisms.  I cannot stand how she has been treated. Such media venom! I just had not planned to buy her book right now until I saw it in Sam's Thursday.  By that time, I'd watched several of her "book interviews" and thought, "good for you!"  On Thursday AM at Curves I had to  chime in defending her  from gossip of two liberals who were merely repeating media drivel.  I find it quite funny that everyone is so stirred  by her.  I think she is doing a good thing, making $$ of it all.  Why is she such a threat to the libs?  She's not in a position to raise our taxes, ruin our healthcare, spend us into oblivion, etc.  To me this speaks to the liberal shallowness and how tentative thier control may be.  

I remember when  she was chosen as McCain's running mate.  I thought, "huh? Who?"  But I grew quite fond of her and the more she was  maligned the better I liked her.  If this is her way to get back and take her turn as ringmaster of the 3 ring circus that surrounds her, hooray for Sarah!  I don't know that she will run for anything again.  I think that resigning as governor of Alaska will haunt her.  But I wanted to contribute this way by buying her book. I have kept my Mc Cain Pailin t shirt and wear it from time to time working out!

I'll be able to start reading it today because I just finished another short mystery last night.  Not that I don't have a full shelf of books awaiting my reading.  But it has been a while since I  bought a new book, hot off the press and delved into it.  But I am itching to start turning those pages.  I don't expect stunning revealation, just an accumulation of  why and what from Sarah's perspective.  I find it interesting and include the clip about the research:

Accountability Journalism   Wall St. Journal, 11-19-09, Best of Web Today 
An Associated Press dispatch, written by Erica Werner and Richard Alonso-Zaldivar, compares the House and Senate ObamaCare bills. We'd like to compare this dispatch to the AP's dispatch earlier this week "fact checking" Sarah Palin's new book. Here goes:

Number of AP reporters assigned to story:

• ObamaCare bills: 2

• Palin book: 11

Number of pages in document being covered:

• ObamaCare bills: 4,064

• Palin book: 432

Number of pages per AP reporter:

• ObamaCare bill: 2,032

• Palin book: 39.3

On a per-page basis, that is, the AP devoted 52 times as much manpower to the memoir of a former Republican officeholder as to a piece of legislation that will cost trillions of dollars and an untold number of lives. That's what they call accountability journalism.

I'll review it here later, but now I have pies to bake to donate to the Auxiliary for tonite's steak dinner and
bake sale. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anna Ball's Granddaughters

In October in PA I finally got to be with my cousin, Carol  after maybe 47 years and just no contact.   She's  is the cousin  I  remember most from my father's brother, Eddie's family.  We had  little contact because my mother did not  get along with my father's mother, my grandmother Ball, photo here from 1958.  I remember Carol.  Her son found me through the AWON website and the tribute I'd written on my father.

Carol and her hubby Les are Floridians but spend time through the  summer in PA where they also have a condo.  It was all too short of a visit.  But when she and I talked this trip to PA I had already made up my mind that whatever date she picked would work!  We'd missed getting together  in  July and they were not in PA in May when we met with Chrissie, another cousin and Carol's sister and her hubby Larry.  Well, the day Carol suggested for us to visit them for hors d'oeuvres and drinks happened to be our 42nd anniversary.  We had other dinner plans that evening, but I said, "yes."   That shortened the  time we had to spend with them.  But then as Chrissie and I discussed after we met, this is all so new and we don't really know what to expect.  So maybe a short visit was the best for the first time anyway.  What if we did not like each other?  I was nervous again. 

On our short drive to their condo, we decided to ignore the turnpike directions she'd  given me and take the shorter roads back through the hills of PA from Mt. Top in Tarentum , where we park our  motor home.  Gertrude Pauline Spaghillicuddy (GPS) could take us there if we got lost.  It was not so  far but wouldn't you know it we ran into back road construction and detours.  How we got just where we needed to be, only My People & Angels  know!  But we made it despite my fretting that "Jerry, now we are going to be late!  We should have gone the other way!"  Should haves are  something I try not to  say, but it creeps back in frustration.  Should'a, could'a, would'a....are all worthless concepts.  Late, no.  In fact we were a little early and that generated further comments from me, "Now we are early and that might just be rude."   I had worked my mind through a frenzy about this visit.

From the minute I saw her I felt like I had regained another part of myself.  I don't know how skeptical Carol felt about our visit, but all my frenzies vanished.  I felt like I was  looking into a mirror too.  We have such a close  resemblance.  Well both of us color our hair, mine lightened as it has gotten way darker over the years and Carol's a redish tone.  Larry, Chrissie's husband had said in May, "You and Carol look alike especially the eyes."  Carol says everyone tells her she looks like Grandma Ball, and I agreed.  That means I must resemble my grandma Ball too. 

All my life I have been told I look just like my father.  I never thought any further back in the Ball family.  I remember when Carol's father saw me the last time in CA at  my uncle Henry's ( his & dad's baby brother.)  Uncle Eddie  started to  cry, tears flowed, "Patty, you look so much like your dad."  I was not very comfortable with him because I did not have pleasant memories from childhood and my mother's tales.  I  recall  thinking, "well who would I look like!"

 But if I look like my Dad and Carol and I share resemblances, and she looks like Grandma Anna Ball, then I must too and my dad must have favored his mother.  I can see looking at  photos  now how that is so.  When I first saw Chrissie in May I marveled at how much she looked  just like her dad, Uncle Eddie.  And I can see in some old photos how Eddie looked more like Granpap Frank  Ball, his father. 

This brings us back to Anna.  It has taken me a little bit of time to  actually get this onto the blog. It remains another of those puzzles about what do we inherit and what do we develop from our environment.  This is a lifelong puzzle to me and something I read about whenever I can.

Not only do Carol and I have a strong resemblance but we share similar interests--many  the same that Anna had sewing and gardening.  I  prefer roses while Carol grows magnificent orchids.  I have been into  dumping coffee grounds,  peelings, and all  else into the garden.  Carol reminded me that Anna did the same thing.  Carol called said Anna was the undiscovered, Alice Waters of her generation.  But the biggest interest Carol and I share is reading.  We email back and forth about what books we are reading.  Les, her hubby is an avid reader too so that must make it interesting at their home.  What to read?.  I mentioned that I tend to keep and collect books to which Les replied, "well they become friends."  I believe he said they have  about 5000 books.  Wow, I have not counted mine and I have downsized and donated, but I would be surprised if I have  that many.  Our shelves are full in the study though .  I could no more have a home without a place for books than I don't know what.

Carol and I both remember Grandma Ball's kitchen and the cookie jar.  How one time on one of my visits there she and I ate all the cookies inthe jar.  I don' think we got into any trouble for that trick.

Below is another  photo of our grandmother Anna.  I don't have a color photo of Anna  but the  facial similarities are certainly there.  What do you think?

And let's not forget Chrissy, Carol's sister, also my cousin.  We met in May.  When I saw her except for her blond hair, she looks just like her dad.  So perhaps Uncle Eddie looked like his father and my dad looked like his mother?   But there is a  resemblance between me & Chrissy also.  Who knows, guess we all just look like ourselves! 

I think Anna Ball's smiling somewhere that her grand daughters got together finally. 

Doggone it!  This blog will not allow me to put these photos adjacent to each other.  Some things have changed on Blogger and I'm not  pleased with those changes!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day memories 2009

This morning Jerry got up before me, nothing unusual about that, but he went out side and put up our flag. We had taken it down before we left for PA and so on this special day it had to come out just as the day light broke! If we had a horn reveilee would be heard! When I got up I went out to place the several small flags along the lawn and rose garden.

This is a day to remember and honor veterans. For me it is a very special day where I think about my dad, 2 Lt. Lewis S Ball, pilot on that fatal flight June 1944, gone forever with his combat crew 193. I never knew him but over the years from 2004 on especially I am learning more all the time. The suitcase of photos and documents at Mom's house afte she died opened up my world. I knew the story of his death and the disappearance of the plane. I had some records and momentos. But nothing like what was in Mom's house. I learned early on not to ask questions because no one would answer. And my Grandma Ball would cry whenever she saw me. I wouldn't ask her for the world because I did not want to see her cry. That's just the way it was then, they kept it all quiet. Unlike today when we have to know everybody's business down to the nitty gritty. Privacy is an unfamiliar concept in 2009, not so growing up in PA in the 50's and 60's.

My mother had little to no contact with my father's family even though we lived close in PA just across the river. Now I've been blessed with contact with cousins from that side. I have learned a bit more about the Ball family. In October in PA I had a visit after 47 years with my cousin Carol. What a joy that was though too brief, but a start. She told me about the War memorial in Harwick with my dad's name. I never knew it was there. Of course we went to see it! To my small dismay his name is misspelled. No not the Ball, that would take some doing. But the Lewis. Sure enough there it is "Louis Ball" NO! He was officially Lewis.  However I can understand how this went wrong. He went by Lou and or Louie. He signed cards and notes "Lou." But his official documents and Army Air Corp records have Lewis S. Ball. That was his official legal signature. 

So today, Veterans Day is for the men and women who serve this country in uniform. It is especially the day for those who gave their lives. Here is my dad, Dorr Field FL  1943.  I have that aviator cap. 

But back to another Veteran's Day story. My birthday is November 13, very close to Veterans Day. In my small town growing up there was always a big parade on Veterans Day. I loved parades and was always there front row with my grandma to watch. Uncle Carl who is now the last of the family at 92 and in assisted living with varying stages of dementia always marched in those parades. He was a fireman and marched with spit shined shoes and white gloves in a dress up uniform!   It must have been a dilemma for him  to choose  which group to march with because he too was a WWII vet, US Army, tank destroyers. But here he is the proud young fireman, Uncle Carl, New Kensington Fire Department.

Sometime in my very young years Uncle Carl told me that the parade "is for you, Patty. Your birthday is coming up!" So of all parades I especially loved the one on Veterans Day. After all, I believed it was all about me! How proud I was. Kind of a little queen standing there nodding to each and every group! Music and marching all for me!

I was such an innocent trusting child. But then back in our day we all were.  No TV's to distort our beliefs.  I believed in Santa Claus until I was nearly 12 or maybe I was 13. I loved my delusions even then! Or was it the wonderful make believe world. I was quite happy with my fairy tales! I was upset in grade school, maybe it was 3rd grade Brownies? Our Scout leader explained the true purpose of Veterans Day parades. I remember interrupting, "and don't forget the parade is for me! It's always before my birthday!" I was so proud. I'd even convinced some of my neighborhood playmates of the same thing. I'd told them, "don't forget to go to my parade tomorrow!" My parade, that's what I believed. And they believed it too.

This was an early and life long trait I have, the ability to convince people of what I believed to be true. They had no reason to doubt at 8-9 years old. Back to the Brownie meeting. I am sure I had heard of Veterans Day but to me that was an aside to my birthday parade. So I continued to interrupt and my friends supported me, nodding their heads in agreement, "yes, it's Patty's parade!" I don't think the scout leader knew what to do.

Somehow I came to the realization that maybe it was really not just for me. This did not seem to upset me, I still stood proudly. Maybe my young mind just adjusted better and made the case that it could be for the soldiers after all. Still, today here in 2009 as I approach my 65th birthday, I continue to enjoy Veterans' Day parades. Somewhere inside deep is that little girl, Patty, who knew it was all about her! I think she emerges and taps her feet to the marching music still! Proudly reviewing each passing group!

Veterans' Day--all about me and you too! It's about all of us in this country. It's about all those who sacrifice their lives for our freedoms. I pray we can keep all those freedoms. Celebrate and honor this Day and display the flag proudly!