Friday Book Whimsy: The Turn of the Key

Author Ruth Ware specializes in thriller novels with twists and turns, generally with protagonists who are troubled and often with questionable pasts. I will admit to always looking forward to her next novel, and I will also admit to almost always wondering why I was so eager to read the book when it often leaves me troubled or dissatisfied by either the characters or the ending, or both.

Unfortunately, The Turn of the Key, Ware’s latest thriller, left me feeling the same as I felt with the others. Unfulfilled and somewhat disappointed.

Rowan Caine stumbles across a help wanted ad that seems too good to be true. She has been working for terrible pay at a daycare center, and would like to make more money and be more fulfilled. Here is an advertisement for a job that not only pays well, but meets all of her other needs — some independence, darling children, an extremely nice employer. She applies for the job and is quickly hired.

That, of course, is when all hell breaks loose. The children’s father almost immediately makes a pass at her. The mother seems too good to be true. The caretaker is tall, dark and handsome. Before long, one of the children is dead, and the nanny is the prime suspect. She knows she didn’t do it, but who did?

The author must have a fascination with houses. The house in her novel In a Dark, Dark Wood was made entirely of glass, which added to the creepiness of the wooded setting. In The Turn of the Key, the house is “smart,” operating using technology.Though the creepiness of being watched by cameras and operating all of the systems using voice or touch technology could have — should have — contributed to the creepiness of the book, it missed its mark. As did the references to spiritual activity, which were just silly.

I will admit that the twist towards the end of the book caught me by surprise, but by that time I had lost interest in all of the characters. The ending was completely unsatisfying.

I can’t recommend this novel, despite the potential it offered.

Here is a link to the book.

 

Thursday Thoughts

An Apple a Day
You might have seen the commercial where the women buy themselves Buicks for Christmas. Well, I haven’t bought a Buick, nor will I, but I did buy myself a Christmas present. I bought an iPad Generation 7. Why? Because the updates being forced upon me by Apple (coming during the night while plugged in to charge up without asking for my consent) were totaling messing up my tablet. It was slow to open, typing was dragging, and some programs would no longer open. So without leaving my house, I Black Friday’d an iPad on sale. I’m happy so far. I have managed to move all the items I regularly use over to the new pad, leaving behind the ones I rarely open up. I even managed to load Facebook without a hitch. I am trying to figure out how to send and receive text messages from non-iPhone users, but have been unsuccessful. If anyone has a hint, let me know! My old iPad will be used for backup, and for use by the grandkids when they’re playing Minecraft.

Two Times Makes It a Trend
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had gone downtown on Tuesday to celebrate my birthday. In a most irregular fashion, I actually went downtown again yesterday for lunch with Court. This time I managed to not slip on the ice a single time. I attribute it to better shoes and not running from shady-seeming young women out to steal my cell phone.

Smile For the Camera
Though it was chilly on Thanksgiving, the kids managed to play a bit outside. Following the taking of this photo…..

…..I managed to catch a shot of Cole and Mylee walking the tightrope over the snow…..

The cold doesn’t seem to be bothering them a bit.

The Perfect Pretzel
Jen brought a bag of pretzels to enjoy with a cheese tray she put together last weekend. That doesn’t sound newsworthy, except that these were the best pretzels I’ve ever eaten — Dot’s Pretzels…..

She said she got them at King Soopers, but I couldn’t find them when I looked the other day. She said she has seen them in different locations, all very random. Hey King Soopers! I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you place them in the snack aisle next to Snyder’s pretzels?

Ciao.

Hip and Cool

One very fun thing about the Christmas season is that it includes my birthday. Not that birthdays in and of themselves are causes for extreme celebration. My grands look forward to birthdays, especially landmark birthdays. My next landmark birthday will be in four years and I will be 70. My grandmother was 70. Our elderly neighbor during my elementary years was 70. I will not look forward with great anticipation to turning 70 except, as they say, that it’s better than the alternative. Plus both my husband and my sister Bec will always be older than me. Neener, neener.  I’ll leave the birthday joy to my grandkids.

What is joyful, however, is that my good friends, who I might go months without seeing, faithfully contact me the week or so before my birthday to celebrate with me. Can you fit in breakfast or lunch or a happy hour during this busy birthday week, they ask me.

The fact of the matter is that when I looked at my calendar on Sunday, there was nothing but blanks on each day, except for a lonely doctor’s appointment. Yes, friends, I have nothing but time.

Last night I took light rail downtown to experience a hip and very cool happy hour at a hip and very cool lounge in a hip and very cool small hotel. My walk to the hotel included slipping on black ice twice (catching myself before I landed on my but-tox both times), and getting harassed by three young women who insisted on walking with me for a block or so, and then suggesting that I might want to give them my phone so that they could take a picture of me. Other than that, I enjoyed my time very much.

By the way, I declined the young women’s offer of the photo session. Boy, would they have been surprised to see my ancient iPhone 7 instead of the hip and cool iPhone 11 they (maybe) wanted to steal. Perhaps if they had been able to time the photo to the exact moment when I was falling on my butt, it might have made for a great photo. But I think I would have been able to catch them after they nabbed my phone because, though I was the one who nearly fell down and broke her crown, they were wearing high heels.

On Friday morning, I am going to breakfast with a friend at a considerably less hip and cool restaurant where the owners are Greek and the food is plentiful and delicious. My meal will not include the martini that last night’s social event did. No matter. I’m very excited.

People often tell me they think it must be sad to have a birthday smack dab in the middle of Christmas chaos. Au contraire, I always respond. I pretend the decorations are for me! When I was little, I discovered that while Christmas shopping, people often purchased a little something for Kris’ birthday. That’s a big win for a kid. My favorite gift as a child, by the way, was a set of plastic wigs — blonde, brunette, and redhead — that I received from my godmother. Now they are referred to as rare and vintage.

As am I.

Grasshoppers

I’m pleased to tell you that our Christmas outside lights now cheerfully light up every evening at 4:30 and turn off at midnight. This might not seem as hallelujah-worthy to you as it does to me. I went through two timers that didn’t work before I found one that did. In fact, the day after our snowstorm, (which also happened to be the day I figured out that Timer No. Two didn’t work) I put on my Uggs and made my way through the snowdrifts like Daniel Boone and plugged the lights directly into the outside outlet. My plan was to unplug them the next morning and then plug them in again that evening.

Except that I simply couldn’t face the snowdrifts again. I don’t know how Daniel Boone did it. Perhaps it was the coonskin hat, which I don’t own. As a result, the lights stayed on full time until we could finally get my Yellow Bug over the icy ridges and ruts that were our neighborhood streets, and to a Lowe’s. I waited for a horse-drawn sleigh like I see in every Bing Crosby Christmas movie ever made, but none appeared.

But the real way I can tell that it’s Christmas season is the daily ring of the doorbell indicating a package delivery from Amazon. My definition of shopping small is using my iPad instead of my computer to place my Amazon order. I know I should be more loyal to small businesses given that my parents were small business owners themselves. Haters, don’t hate.

Speaking of my parents, yesterday I began thinking about my parents and the Christmas party they threw for their employees each year. That’s where I learned about Tom and Jerrys and Grasshoppers (the adult beverages, not the cartoon characters or insects).

Our house was small. Very small. And yet every year Mom and Dad would entertain some 25 or 30 folks — mostly employees and their spouses, but a few others as well, including my grandparents. Drinks flowed freely, including the above-mentioned Christmas cocktails. Well, I can’t say that Grasshoppers are limited to Christmas, as my sisters and I have been known to imbibe with my cousin Marilyn while visiting our old stomping grounds in the summer…..

Still, the green color makes it an ideal Christmas cocktail. So perfect, in fact, that I serve them as dessert for our Christmas celebrations.

Anyhoo, despite the fact that Grasshoppers consist primarily of crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and ice cream (making it a delicious dessert drink), my grandmother — who rarely drank any other time of the year — would drink a Grasshopper as her adult beverage of choice at the Christmas party. And since ice cream was involved, there wasn’t a lot of sipping. The drink would disappear fairly quickly, and her cheeks would get pinker and pinker with each sip.

Though I was able to attend very many holiday parties during my many years of employment, I can’t think of a single one I would need to revisit. But I would travel back through time to one of Mom and Dad’s Christmas parties in a heartbeat.

 

Why I Give Thanks….

….not just on Thanksgiving, but every day…..

Early last week, the entire McLain/Scates clan went to a place near downtown Denver called Ace Eat Serve, where we ate delicious Asian appetizers and played ping pong. Well, at least some of us played ping pong.

The day before Thanksgiving, Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole visited. We decorated the angel tree in my living room…..

The kids then helped me set up my nativity scene, while we talked about the real meaning of Christmas…..

By then, it was time to collect some of the freshly fallen snow…..

…..and make snow cream by mixing the snow with sweetened condensed milk and a little vanilla, and enjoying the fruits of labor…..

Thanksgiving day was chilly and clear, a perfect day for giving thanks for the gift of family. As usual, the food was stupendous. I provided pies, with help this year from Kaiya…..

Mylee and Micah hit it off for many reasons, not the least of which is that they both have stuffed animals that are their besties…..

It’s only every couple of years that I have the opportunity to be with all of my grandchildren. I took advantage of that gathering with a photo…..

Both Bec and Jen were with us for our Thanksgiving feast, and the next couple of days as well. Spending time with our family and watching our grandkids playing together is why I give thanks.

Thankful

I’m thankful for my brother and sisters, for my patient and loving husband, for our kids  and all of their kids who have made me a nana. I’m grateful for all of the gifts with which God has graced me on this Thanksgiving Day and on every day of the year.

I will be back on Monday. Have a wonderful holiday.

Oh, the Weather….

When I hit the sack Monday night, there were still only snow flurries instead of the heavy snow that was predicted. Perhaps they miscalculated, I thought. Au contraire, my friends. It was still dark when I got up yesterday morning. However, as the ridiculously early morning began turning into a normal early morning, I saw that there was a good six or eight inches of snow on the ground, and it was still snowing.

I was very glad that Bec had chosen to arrive in Denver on Monday instead of Tuesday, as planned. The weather forecasters were absolutely twitterpated about the snowstorm. Except how often can you show photos of black labs with snow on their noses and expect me to keep watching? I shut off the television.

What I did do, however, was scold myself for not being as smart as the neighbors, who had taken their trash bins and recycling bins down to the street the night before when it was only lightly snowing. Because I had to shovel some eight inches off of our sidewalk to be able to roll the bins down to the street. Lesson learned……

Sometime around 9 o’clock a.m., I heard noises in the front yard. I opened the door to this…..

Yes, friends, it was my busy bee grandkids, along with their mom, shoveling our walk and driveway. Many hands make easy work. As for me, I quickly rustled up some hot chocolate. Here is the work crew, minus Alastair, who had already left for home…..

l-r: Dagny, Maggie Faith, Adelaide, Joseph, Jll, and Micah. Helpers, all!

The snow stopped mid-afternoon, and hopefully will stay stopped for a few days. We need to get Jen to Denver, and Heather, Lauren, the boys, and Bec back to their respective homes this weekend.