Friday Book Whimsy: The Truth About Melody Brown

Lisa Jewell is one of my favorite authors. She rarely fails to offer a book that sucks me into the plot and doesn’t let go until the end. The Truth About Melody Brown was such a book.

Melody Brown has no memory prior to being 9 or 10 years old. It was at that time that she wakes up outside with her mom and dad telling her that their house burned down with all of the possessions inside. Her early childhood is a complete blank.

Melody leaves home when she is 15 years old and pregnant. Since that time, she has raised her child by herself, working and devoting her life to her now-teenaged son. One night, when she is in her early 30s, she gathers her nerve and accepts a date with a man, who takes her to a show fceaturing a hypnotist. As luck would have it, she is selected out of the audience to be hypnotized. Before long, she passes out, and when she awakens, she suddenly begins having fragmented memories of her youth.

Though Melody tries to push aside these memories, the flashbacks become too strong to ignore. She begins putting together the pieces of her life. Her mission to find the truth takes her to places that suddenly seem familiar and meets people who seem to know her and who seem familiar to her as well.

When she finally learns the unexpected truth about her life, things begin to fall into place, both for Melody Brown, and for the readers of this interesting book.

Jewell’s strength lies in her character development and her careful plotting, resulting in wonderful stories with characters who you grow to love.

I give The Truth About Melody Brown a thumbs up.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Quick Trip
My sister Bec flew in yesterday afternoon for a quick overnight visit. She is on her way to a wonderful Viking Cruise trip to Greece and Turkey with Jll’s mother Lynne. I picked her up at DIA and we came home and had a little cocktail party with cheeses and salami and — of course — martinis. Today, I will give her a ride to Lynne’s house where they will travel together to the airport, and then on to a magnificent Mediterranean cruise. Bon Voyage.

Big Relief
I couldn’t possibly be happier that the election is over. I was so sick and tired of the political ads. Colorado continues to be solidly blue, so there were no surprises there. I was surprised to see that voters said no to selling wine in liquor stores — or at least it appears that the proposition didn’t pass as of this writing. They did, however, apparently say yes to the sale of psychodelic mushrooms. Again, a bit close to call as of this writing. Next we will be buying psychodelic mushrooms in the grocery stores but having to trek to the liquor store for our cabernet sauvignon. Go figure.

Rocky Mountain Autumn
Monday the temperature was around 70 degrees. Yesterday the temperature only reached 50 degrees or so. I don’t think there is snow in the forecast, but the temperatures are a bit unpredictable. Bill and I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday morning quite early. When we got to our car around 7:45, I was surprised to see ice on our window. It’s been 30 years since I’ve had to clean ice from my windshield, I told Bill. He didn’t hesitate to get out of the car and scrape the windows. I guess I’m going to have to start figuring that into my timeline, at least until we get indoor parking.

Yee Haw
After dinner last night, Bill, Bec and I sat down and watched the CMA Country Music Awards. Or at least most of it, because by 9 o’clock, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’ll finish the program today. As usual, I enjoyed the awards program very much. Unlike other music awards shows, they actually have a lot of performances, and very little drama. And where else can you hear shout-outs to Jesus-My-Lord-and-Savior? Certainly not on the Oscars. And Peyton Manning? What can I say?\


What Time is It? Time to Get a New Clock

Daylight Savings Time (or specifically, the ending thereof) is kicking my butt.

Everybody talks about how happy they are that the time “falls back” and they got an extra hour of sleep. That doesn’t seem to be the case for early risers, or at least this early riser. I wake up most mornings around 5:15 or 5:30. I lay in bed a bit, and then get up and start my day. I make coffee. I check my emails. I do my daily Happy Color coloring page. Then I read until Bill gets up an hour or so later.

It doesn’t matter what time the clock says. Since changing time Sunday morning, my body wakes up when it thinks it’s 5 o’clock, which, of course, is actually 4 o’clock. Try as I might, I’m unable to go back to sleep. So I get up and do all those things I listed earlier, but now I wait longer for Bill to arise because his body is more cooperative than mine.

I can’t even blame it on the mornings being lighter. It isn’t light at 4 o’clock, but it isn’t light at 5 o’clock either. Never mind that we have black-out shades in our bedroom these days. My body just isn’t cooperating.

Wah. Wah. Wah. It will figure itself out.

As I recall, back in March, when daylight savings time went into effect, Congress was making noise about making DST permanent. What ever happened to that plan? Did they all get the extra hour of sleep Saturday/Sunday night and wake up in good moods, determined to think about the economy instead of daylight savings time? What rubbish.

Our niece Jessie and her fiance Rob had us over for dinner Sunday night. I’m thinking about 7-ish she said in her text. Yikes, I thought. Where does she think we live? Spain? But when I told Bill we were having dinner with Jess and Rob and it would be served at 7 o’clock, he took a much more mature attitude. We can pretend we’re grown-ups, he said.

However, Sunday afternoon I got a text from Jessie: I forgot that daylight savings time was a thing and so if you want to come by a little early because of the time jump and body clocks and all of that you’re certainly welcome to.

We said we would come at 6:30.

At 6 o’clock, it was pitch dark outside. It looked like it was midnight. I can’t tell you how it being so dark psychologically affected me. I simply couldn’t believe that it wasn’t bedtime. Nevertheless, we made it over to their house without issue, and enjoyed our dinner very much.

I’ve already voted, but I wish I knew if the people for whom I cast my vote were in favor of permanent daylight savings time. It might have made a difference.

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin

Yesterday I did one of my favorite things: I took three of my grandkids out for sushi. Kaiya, Cole, Mylee, and I have a favorite place that we go, and we even have our special table at which we always sit. The owner knows us and, though he wasn’t there yesterday, we always are made to feel welcome.

As an aside, between picking the kids up and pulling into the parking lot of the restaurant, we probably pass 10 or 12 sushi places. Nevertheless, we never go anyplace else, for one reason: It’s the green mussels, my friends. They are delicious, spicy and sweet at the same time. We always get two orders. I eat one mussel, Cole eats one mussel, and Mylee eats the rest.

I don’t know what I’d do without grandkids to keep me, well, up to date. I learn slang, I learn music, I learn tricks to get good grades on Freshman Spanish without cheating. If it wasn’t for my grandkids, I would probably be sitting at home, watching Lawrence Welk lead his band in polka music, and eating leftover meatloaf sandwiches. Instead, I’m out learning about modern culture, food, music, and otherwise.

I learned about two different things yesterday. I learned about masago, which is sushi made with fish roe. Our granddaughter Kaiya, who almost lives entirely on noodles with butter and parmesan cheese, loves masago. Go figure….

I’m not a fan of fish roe, so I didn’t imbibe. However, Cole loves it also. As they enjoy their masago, Mylee quietly eats her green mussels.

But the second thing I learned about is called rolled ice cream. Perhaps you all know about rolled ice cream. Remember, I’m sitting in the dark watching Lawrence Welk. For other Lawrence Welk fans, I will try to explain rolled ice cream. You choose your base. All three of the grands chose sweetened condensed milk because they’re very smart. The milk is mixed with regular milk and placed in an ice cold metal sheet where it is worked until it is a paste. It is then spread out very thinly, at which time it quickly freezes. The ice cream is then rolled up using a wide metal spatula. The rolls are placed into a cup. The second ingredient (or ingredients) of your choice are then placed on top. For example, Kaiya chose cookie batter and boba. Cole chose cotton candy crunch and boba. Mylee chose oreo cookie crumbles. Here is an example of rolled ice cream…..

I had a taste of Kaiya’s and it was bussin.

Bussin is another example of something I’ve learned from Kaiya and Mylee, as well as Jen’s granddaughter Lilly. It is used when something is very good, and almost only when it’s food. I don’t plan on using it at dinner with our friends from Wind Crest.

The kids enjoyed their day with Nana, because who wouldn’t when it ends with rolled ice cream?

Saturday Smile: Snug as a Bug

I believe that the Denver metro area got its first measurable snowfall of the year Thursday night. I can’t tell you how smug I felt that I didn’t need to worry about getting to the grocery store before all of the bread was sold out, or that the roads were slippery and dangerous to drive on. By yesterday morning, the snow had stopped. The grass was covered with snow, and the cars were too. But it didn’t matter because I didn’t have a single reason to leave Wind Crest. We had dinner plans, but we could walk to the restaurant without going outside.

I bragged to my sister Bec, who doesn’t have to worry about snow in her AZ confines said Good for you! Snuggle in and enjoy feeling smug.

And that’s what I did.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: Flying Solo

In 2019, I read and reviewed a book by author Linda Holmes called Evvie Drake Starts Over. I liked that book very much. I liked the story of a strong woman who isn’t kicked in the butt when she loses her man, but instead, pulls herself up and makes her life better.

Linda Holmes’ second novel, Flying Solo, has the same theme, and the same good writing.

Laurie Sassalyn, having recently called her marriage, is happy to leave her comfortable life in the northwest to travel to her small hometown in Maine to go through the effects of her favorite aunt who is recently deceased. Her Aunt Dot lived to her mid-90s, and was never married. She was Laurie’s hero because she lived her life to the fullest, traveling all over the world and making fun and interesting friends in the process.

As Laurie sifts through all of Dot’s things, she discovers at the bottom of an old chest a wooden duck. As if her aunt inexplicably owning a wooden duck isn’t odd enought, Laurie also discovers an unsigned love letter that ends with, “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie takes the duck to a person who values estates and is told that the duck has no financial value. Laurie doesn’t mind, but intends to keep it as a reminder of her eccentric aunt. But then the duck mysteriously disappears, leaving Laurie flummoxed as to why someone would want to steal a duck worth nothing.

Laurie takes it upon herself to begin looking at her aunt’s life more carefully. She connects with an old flame who was her first love, and he helps her research and talk to experts in the antique realm. The more Laurie discovers, the more she sees that her aunt was even more interesting than she had ever imagined.

While I didn’t like this book as much as the author’s debut novel, I enjoyed the learning the mystery of Aunt Dot’s past. I liked that the characters weren’t cookie-cutter stereotypes. Laurie is seemingly comfortable with her weight, which is a refreshing change. Her goals don’t have to include marriage. The ending, in fact, was quite unexpected.

Overall, I recommend this book.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Shooting Up
Bill and I went to Safeway yesterday to get our COVID booster shots. Apparently, the number of COVID cases at Wind Crest is increasing quickly. It seemed like the prudent thing to do. Bill had gone to the doctor for an unrelated reason a few weeks ago and they gave him a flu shot. Since I didn’t have a flu vaccination yet, I had Safeway give me one of those as well. It just feels like there are all sorts of bugs floating around the universe right now. Since we travel in relatively confined quarters these days, it feels like every day that went by without being vaccinated was a ticking time bomb. Since I was getting both a COVID booster and a flu shot, the woman giving the shot asked me if I wanted one in each arm or both in the same arm. I asked her if she had a preference. Her response? “It’s a choice between extreme pain in one arm or sharing the pain in both arms.” That seemed like a pep talk. I got both in my right arm.

Six Ball in the Side Pocket
Every morning from 9 until noon, the room with the pool tables is open for use. Bill has begun going to play pool every morning. It’s quite an unexpected hobby for my husband, but then Unexpected is his middle name. He is really enjoying it. He even ordered himself a fancy pool cue. When we go to one of the restaurants for dinner now, he is greeted by cheerful gentlemen who know his name. “Do you know their name?” I asked him the other night. “Nope, by I will work on learning,” he replied. I’m happy he’s having fun.

Evil Doers
Bill and I voted the other day, and the next day I delivered the ballots to a nearby drop box. I’m so completely over all of the political ads, just as I am every election season about this timer. Can the people really be that evil? I love the way the opponent is always in black and white. I have taken to just muting every single commercial, no matter what candidate it is or what party that candidate represents. The funny thing is that I think the large majority of people have already voted, so the money is a waste of time. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for legalizing the sale of wine in grocery stores.

Peaceful, Easy Feeling
After returning from dinner last night, Bill and I poured ourselves an adult beverage and went out to sit on our balcony. It was pretty dark, but not yet very chilly. Bill had put up our patio lights the other day, so we were able to enjoy the pretty soft lighting. I don’t know for sure what everyone thought about our new life at Wind Crest recently when they were here for Bill’s birthday. What I can tell you is that Bill and I are very happy, and quite peaceful, with our new life.


Getting to Know You

I’ve mentioned before that both Bill and I have lived only in southeast Denver for the entire time we have lived in this area. I could drive the streets of Denver east of I-25 and south of Cherry Creek Drive with my eyes closed. There were rarely any surprises. When I had to venture outside of my comfort zone (perhaps for a high school basketball game or a swim meet), I might as well have been in Emerald City. Having said that, I have been fairly excited to move to an area entirely unfamiliar to me.

When I lived in Leadville and had figured out that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life living in a mining town so high in altitude that one could barely breathe, I thought about moving to Denver and getting a job at a business downtown. I imagined that I would live in an apartment in Golden or Lakewood close to Sixth Avenue, which would provide easy access to downtown. That was the good ol’ days when Denver was still a cow town and Denver metro traffic was still very manageable. I would be close to the mountains, but still have the excitement of city living. Well, at least any excitement that took place prior to 9 o’clock at night.

That, of course, didn’t happen because I subsequently decided to go back to school and get my college degree, a decision I have never regretted. The idea of living in the western suburbs was forgotten. After getting our degrees, my then-husband and I could have chosen anywhere in the metro area to land, but since I had gotten a job at a newspaper in Castle Rock, it made sense to move southeast, and the rest is history.

My sense of direction and my spatial awareness are both awful. This past weekend, we had need to drive on Wadsworth Boulevard, a major thoroughfare in the western suburbs and very near our new abode. We passed what appeared to be a cluster of stores, including Macy’s. I began to wonder what shopping area that was. Then I saw a sign that indicated it was Southwest Plaza. I was shocked.

“I thought Southwest Plaza was just off of the Boulder Turnpike,” I said to Bill. He looked at me funny, and said, “It is. The Boulder Turnpike is just north of here.”

Taken aback, I began to think about it. Well of course, that made perfect sense. The turnpike heads west into the foothills of Boulder, which isn’t all that far from Golden. I now live in the foothills. Duh.

Monday afternoon, Bill and I went for a drive. I’m trying to make it sound like it was a spontaneous fun thing to do, but it really was a practice drive so I would know how to get to my physical therapy appointment the next day. Yes, kids, you too will have to do practice drives sometime in your life. As we headed south on Highway 85 (Santa Fe Drive) a whole new world was opened up to me. I saw that we had easy access to Roxborough State Park. We were just a stone’s throw from Sedalia. The foothills were gorgeous.

I found the UC Health Medical Building in which my physical therapy would take place. It is located in a HUGE newly-built development of which I had never heard of before. The development is called Sterling Ranch, and it was probably really a ranch at some point. That’s how things go with development in Colorado.

What I also realized was that if we were close to Sedalia, we weren’t too far from Castle Rock. So we drove a bit further and had dinner at one of our favorite spots: Castle Cafe. Ah, their fried chicken!

I wonder what other lovely surprises I have coming to me?

Who’s Next Door Now?

In the past several years, I’ve become somewhat addicted to Next Door. You know Next Door, the social networking platform that is designed to pit neighbors against neighbors and to scare the daylights out of you. It can make you so paranoid that you are liable to shoot your neighbor if he or she has made the unfortunate decision to bring you a loaf of homemade banana bread after sunset. After all, it could be a drug addict trying to steal your catalytic converter or someone allowing their dog to poop on your grass without cleaning up after it. It’s why I don’t own a gun. I liked my neighbors and would have been sad to inadvertently shoot one of them.

Prior to moving from our old house, it had gotten to the point that I was paranoid to go to the grocery store in broad daylight. The Next Door horror stories — probably many of which were true — warned me of purse thefts or indecent exposures or stumbling upon used needles and other paraphernalia. While I never once faced any such danger, it seemed as though it was just a matter of time. Tick tock, as it were.

I was relieved when we moved to Wind Crest so that I could sign on to another neighborhood’s Next Door. After all, it seemed like the biggest problems facing the people of Wind Crest would be driving over the posted 15 mph speed limit or the ubiquitous allowing your dog to poop on the grass without cleaning up after it. (After all, dogs will be dogs; poops will be poops; people will be people.

As it turns out, the Next Door that I now follow isn’t limited to Wind Crest. In fact, I might be the only Wind Crest resident that subscribes to the site. The area which I now follow includes nearby neighborhoods of which I’m totally unfamiliar. Included are parts of Littleton, much of western Highlands Ranch, a slice of Englewood. Apparently drug users and catalytic converter thieves have not yet discovered the south and southwest suburbs. Or maybe people around here don’t know that they even have catalytic converters and just think that their cars are starting to run rough and blow out a lot of dark smoke lately.

My new Next Door features a lot of posts like looking for referrals for someone to watch our two snuggle bug puppies over Thanksgiving. Or, I have some old men’s suits that I would like to donate to someone down on their luck. Any suggestions? Or I’m wondering what time people are okay with trick or treaters. We have small children and want to go out early, but we don’t want to bother people. These, my friends, are real posts from my new Next Door neighborhood. Not a single gunshot warning to be had.

I was surprised this morning to see a post that included a video of a purported homeless drug user looking into the windows of a car that was sitting on their driveway the night before. I looked at the neighborhood from which this post originated and discovered that it was from my old neighborhood. Somehow it had snuck into my new neighborhood’s Next Door.

I’m glad I got out of there alive.

Blue and Orange

I was up early yesterday morning to watch the Broncos play the Jaguars in London. I turned the television on at 7:30, and turned it off again at 7:45, after watching two Broncos series, one with a near interception, a four-yard run, and a sack; and the second with an interception right off the bat. I didn’t mind being up that early, as it’s unusual for me to sleep any later than 5:30. But one cup of coffee wasn’t enough for me to watch my beloved team SUCK.

When Bill woke up about 8, I turned the game back on in time to see the Broncos score a nice touchdown. Furthermore, they actually went on to win the game. There’s perhaps a moral to my story, but I’m not sure what it is.

People want to blame the Broncos’ new coach Nathaniel Hackett. I don’t know enough about football to know if it’s his fault. After all, sometimes we win. Three times so far this season. I have to admit that when the cameras pan to him on the sideline, he always looks like he is about to start crying. I’m pretty sure I saw him ask one of the girls who squirts water into the football players’ mouths whether she thought they should go for it or punt.

As for Russell Wilson — to whom Broncos’ organization is paying enough money to make a down payment on our national debt — is acting like he’s never played football before. I saw an interview with him on our local news station after they all landed in London. Russell proudly told the man with the microphone that while the rest of the team was sleeping, he was walking up and down the aisle doing high knees. Two minutes into yesterday’s game, I was thinking perhaps he should have caught a few winks after all.

As I recall, part of the Russell Wilson deal was that we gave up our first-round picks from now until my youngest grandchild Cole turns 21. So, we probably can’t think that there is always next year. But maybe by next year Wilson will have learned which color jerseys his teammates wear so that he has a better chance of throwing to the right team.

Bless his heart.

Other than that, it was a quiet and pleasant weekend. Oh, except for the fact that the results of our home inspection have made the people we hope are buying our home greedy. You could probably look at their side of the story and think we really should pay to have the house completely rewired. But if you took their side, we would be in a fight. Seriously, Bill and I want to be more than fair. However, I must remind the people that the house was built in the 1970s. Not a time of master building, especially given that construction supplies were mostly going to the Vietnam war effort. So blame it on Lyndon Johnson.

The Broncos are on bye next weekend, so fans have a bit of a breather. Court says this year, the Broncos just leave him confused.

It leaves us all confused, Son.