This picture is from Amazon, but the look inside feature will not work in this blog post.
This post is a milestone for me; it is my 1,000thpost to my blog which has given me the opportunity to think out loud over the past five years. I’m not ready to be done, but I may publish less often. I might take a mini-break, although I enjoy writing and I don’t really want to lose my momentum.
Anyway, for this little personal goalpost on my life’s journey I wanted a special topic and then my sister wrote and e-published a book. Yes my sister, Bonnie Burnatowski wrote a story about a pair of psychic detectives called Death in Sight. Her heroine, Alexandra, wakes up in a hospital after a near death experience; she wakes to the full realization that she has lost her beloved husband, John and that she did not get to go with him, that she must remain in this world and try to make a life without John. Not only has she lost her husband but she is being forced, perhaps by her close brush with death, to accept the psychic experiences, the “seeing” that she has denied as a curse until now. She had a psychic “vision” while still in the hospital which involved her nurse. The nurse, Kimberly, is later found dead.
Her husband, John, had a best friend, Jace, who Alex always found it difficult to be around. Jace also is a psychic and has been helping in police investigations for years. Although Alex would like to avoid Jace she finds that his similar experiences comfort her as she deals with the horrible new viewings she is experiencing. What Alex “sees” are violent deaths and it is, understandably freaking her out. Her own new dining set, purchased at an antique shop, takes her to the most unsettling places if she as much as touches it. And someone is stalking her also, writing disturbing notes to her, leaving little gifts. Danger is all around her, and she wants to prevent whoever murdered her nurse, Kimberly from murdering anyone else, including her. Now that Alex is gaining some distance from John’s death, she is forced to accept that there has always been an attraction between her and Jace that she could not deal with because of her love for John.
Together and with Jace’s partner, Eli, and Alex’s friend, Olivia, these two work to find the murderer who is not only murdering women, but mutilating them. They also have to deal with those in law enforcement who find investigation based on psychic observations unacceptable and even laughable.
My little sister wrote a good book. There were times when I was reading that I forgot the book was written by my little sister because I just got lost in the story. I think my sister is especially good at dialogue, which sounds like real speech and has a nice humor to it when appropriate, and a nice gravity to it when required. So Bonnie, you are the subject of my 1000th blog and I wish you every success with your book. I know you are almost ready to publish another book. Bonnie’s book is available on Amazon.com in a print edition and a Kindle edition.
I promised that I would keep you posted about the rather long tale of my storage shed. The first shed I purchased was a vinyl shed which would have been perfectly serviceable if it had been installed correctly. If you have ever brought a product at Lowe’s or Home Depot and have contracted with them to have it installed then you know that they do business with outside contractors who probably win the right to take care of installations for these building supply stores based on a bidding process. I have learned that these installers in turn hire employees or subcontractors to meet the need of consumers and as business waxes and wanes their numbers of subcontractors probably varies also. Sometimes the contractor who wins a contract to do business with Home Depot and/or Lowe’s may not even be all that local, in other words the contractor may serve a wide geographic area. So the contractor who built shed #1 hired a new subcontractor and that subcontractor came from about one and one-half hours away. He was a nice guy and he had a helper, but the shed was a bit complex and it was the first one he had built and it needed a platform built to go under it, which required tools the subcontractor did not have. He left the job late in the day as if the job was completed. I noticed six metal “ribs” lying on the ground but he said they were extra and did not go with this shed. However he was wrong, instead they were the posts in a post and beam construction and because they were absent the shed would have fallen in the first snow storm. He also did not finish attaching the roof to the gable. I am sure that this guy, if nurtured in his trade a bit, would eventually make a useful subcontractor and I hope the company gave him another chance. But I could not afford to keep a storage building which would not stand up. If he had not taken the extra parts with him we may have been able to fix the construction flaws but without the parts it was impossible.
Lowe’s stood behind me as a consumer and I appreciate this very much. Because of this I would be more than happy to do business with Lowe’s again, although I may have turned myself into that business horror, the high-maintenance customer. The subcontractor had the opportunity to buy the shed and take it away with them and I am not sure if they did end up with the product or not. I was allowed to purchase a different shed from Heartland Industries, with a longer track record for effective installation, for almost the same price I paid for the original vinyl shed. I had to wait a while for installation because we have had a very rainy summer, but now I have my shed. At first the doors would not open; perhaps affected by humidity and drying paint, but Heartland came immediately and fixed the doors so they now open as they should.
I heart my new Heartland shed and it has become a sort of focal point of my yard. Here’s a few pictures. I will eventually use some landscaping to tie it to the ground around it so it doesn’t look quite so above it all. I have moved items into my cute little shed and my lawn mower is quite happy in its new home. Lowe’s, thanks for backing this satisfied customer.
Well now that I have seen the movie Quartet directed by Dustin Hoffman, I want to be an old musician in a beautiful Victorian retirement home in England. I guess I should have stuck with those piano lessons. Or I might have had a great career as a singer if I hadn’t smoked all those cigarettes. And then there is the problem that no one in my family has lived in England in several generations, although my mom’s family may have come from Shoreditch outside of London. So my Quartet fantasies are pretty unrealistic, but I did find the movie quite wonderful. It was full of beautiful music, mostly classical, but also a bit of jazz, a little vaudeville, and even a fun sort of seminar with Reggie Paget (a member of the Quartet) and a group of high school students who share examples of rap, hip hop and opera. These fortunate musicians, retired from famous careers get to live in a home fit for British aristocrats, in fact the home once belonged to the Beecham family whose wealth came from, embarrassingly, laxatives. They are watched over by a very nice doctor, Dr. Lucy Cogen, played by Sheridan Smith, who reminded me throughout of Martine McCutcheon who played Natalie in Love Actually. And they are encouraged to continue to pursue the activities that always gave meaning to their lives making them seem more vital than most retired persons whose senior years are supposed to be given over to leisure.
Wilf Bond (played by Bill Connolly), Cissy Roson (played by Pauline Collins), and Jean Horton (played by Maggie Smith) (and Reggie Paget played by Tom Courtenay) are the members of this Quartet who sang together in Rigoletto many years ago. Their performance is accepted as the definitive one by the musical world, so they were all famous and had high-powered musical careers with high-powered egos and star level theatrics even in their private lives. Now their voices are no longer reliable for public performances and they are considered too old to be stars. Reggie, Wilf, and Cissie have been in retirement for a while when Jean Horton shows up. The other members of the Quartet don’t realize she is coming. When Reggie finds out about Jean he is really upset and he wants to leave. It turns out that Jean and Reggie were once in love and even were married, very briefly. It’s a long story which I don’t want to spoil for you. The residents have a performance every year on Verdi’s birthday which is a fund raiser for their home and is quite popular. We get to enjoy the rehearsals happening in every room and every corner of this beautiful house and the scenic grounds around it. We get to enjoy the bitchiness of Cedric Livingston (Michael Gambon) who directs the show. Somehow, the members of the Quartet get Jean Horton to agree to participate in this show. It isn’t easy and it is another part of the story I don’t want to reveal.
What I will tell you is that this movie flew by so fast and I was so disappointed when I realized that it was over that I had to rate it as an excellent film. If you can’t stand movies with old people, then don’t watch this. However, if to you old people are still people, or if you are curious about how you would like your senior years to go, then this film is well worth a viewing, especially since it is now on pay-per-view.
I write only my reactions to film. I am by no means a film critic. If you want a review from someone more credentialed, here is a link:
It’s a very busy summer for books. Here are the suggestions from Amazon and the independent booksellers which I will try to read someday. I would rather feel snowed under by potential reading material then to be in that place where I have no idea what to read next.
Amazon with the first book as described on Amazon and the rest from the card catalog:
The English Girl by Daniel Silva – “Smart, unpredictable, and packed with history, art, heart, and imagination, this is a page turner to be savored.” –Neal Thompson, Amazon Senior Editor
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer – ”A rapturously romantic story of a woman who finds herself transported to the “other lives” she might have lived.”
The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence - “Alex Woods was struck by a meteorite when he was ten years old, leaving scars that marked him for an extraordinary life. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, he hasn’t had the most conventional childhood. When he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing …”–From publisher description.
Five Star Billionaire: A Novel by Tash Aw – “An expansive, eye-opening novel that captures the vibrancy of China today.”
Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker – – “Lost Girls is a portrait not just of five women, but of unsolved murder in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.”
My Education by Susan Choi – “My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end–if they do–fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.”
Fiend: A Novel by Peter Stenson
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A Novel by Adelle Waldman – “Bold, touching, and funny – a debut novel by a brilliant young woman about the coming-of-age of a brilliant young literary man “He was not the kind of guy who disappeared after sleeping with a woman – and certainly not after the condom broke. On the contrary: Nathaniel Piven was a product of a postfeminist 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education. He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover, he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience.” –
The Age of Ice; A novel by J. M. Sidorova – Historical, adventure fiction – “Sidorova’s sprawling debut opens in 1740 on the frozen Russian tundra, where twins Prince Andrei and narrator Prince Alexander Velitzyn are conceived under unusual circumstances. For her amusement, Empress Anna Ioanovna demands a wedding for the twins’ court-jester parents, whose nuptial bed is made of ice. In this novel, Sidorova’s lyrical prose complements her protagonist’s fantastical tale of isolation on his mythic journey.” — PW Tip Sheet
The Bat by Jo Nesbo – “The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbø’s detective, Harry Hole. Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case. Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.”
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen – “Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous BadMonkey , who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with …”
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – “Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season. When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.”
The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle – “When Sam’s last adventure in France ended, he thought it’d be a while before he went back, especially with the charms of Elena Morales to keep him in Los Angeles. But when theimmensely wealthy Francis Reboul asks him to take ajob in Marseille, it’s impossible for Sam and Elena to resist the possibility of further excitement, to say nothing of the pleasures of the region. Yet as acompetition over Marseille‘s valuable waterfront grows more hotly disputed, Sam, representing Reboul, finds himself in the middle of an increasingly intrigue-ridden and dangerous real estate grab.”
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler – “the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel. Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.” Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, “Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.”
Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith – “The rocking motion of the train as it speeds along, the sound of its wheels on the rails . . . There’s something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation, which is just what happens to the four strangers who meet in Trainsand Lovers As they journey by rail from Edinburgh to London, the four travelers pass the time by sharing tales of trains that have changed their lives.”
The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank – ”funny and poignant tale of one audacious woman’s quest to find thelove she deserves”
The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy – ”The characters in Simon Van Booys The Illusion of Separateness discover at their darkest moments of fear and isolation that they are not alone, that they were never alone, that every human being is a link in a chain we cannot see. This gripping novel–inspired by true events–tells the interwoven stories of a deformed German infantryman; a lonely British film director; a young, blind museum curator; two Jewish American newlyweds separated by war; and a caretaker at a retirement home for actors in Santa Monica. They move through the same world but fail to perceive their connections until, through seemingly random acts of selflessness, a veil is lifted to reveal the vital parts they have played in one anothers lives, and the illusion of their separateness.”
All That Is by James Salter – “An extraordinary literary event, a major new novel by the PEN/Faulkner winner and acclaimed master: a sweeping, seductive, deeply moving story set in the years after World War II. From his experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. It is a time when publishing is still largely a private affair–a scattered family of small houses here and in Europe–a time of gatherings in fabled apartments and conversations that continue long into the night. In this world of dinners, deals, and literary careers, Bowman finds that he fits in perfectly. But despite his success, what eludes him is love. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen, and finally he meets a woman who enthralls him–before setting him on a course he could never have imagined for himself. Romantic and haunting, All That Is explores a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change. It is a dazzling, sometimes devastating labyrinth of love and ambition, a fiercely intimate account of the great shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.”
Crime of Privilege by Walter Walker – “A murder on Cape Cod. A rape in Palm Beach. All they have in common is the presence of one of America’s most beloved and influential families. But nobody is asking questions. Not the police. Not the prosecutors. And certainly not George Becket, a young lawyer in the Cape & Islands DA’s office. George wasn’t born to privilege. But now, an investigation brings him deep inside the world of the truly wealthy – and shows him what a perilous place it is.”