February/March AudioBook Club

It’s hard to believe it’s March already. The last month has been somewhat of a blur to me. A week into the month, my son called to tell me that he hurt his knee while sitting on his air mattress which has been doubling for a couch while he waits for the couch he ordered in December to arrive. The good news is that we learned just yesterday that it is scheduled for delivery the last Friday of this month. Finally.

Me and Mom

The second week of the month started with my mother experiencing her second stroke in 5 months – this stroke ultimately took her life 5 days later. Since then we have said our goodbyes to her as a family graveside and with extended friends and extended family via a zoom memorial. I miss my long conversations with her and now continue to grieve. It will take some time but life goes on.

I have been reminded of that fact this last week as I have been consumed with dealing with my son’s knee surgery and having to care for him during his recovery. My mother always said ‘the job of a parent isn’t ever really fully done.’ She was always there for me when I needed her and I will always be there for my kids when and if they need my help. In the last 7 days, I have averaged 3.4 miles of walking and 10 flights of stairs daily in my own house simply running around, going up and down the stairs (the house unfortunately is not set up with a first floor bedroom). My left knee hurts a little bit.

I find listening to my books to be such a relief. It’s my me-time. I have been downloading my tax forms and filing stuff from last year that never got filed in 2020. I haven’t felt very artistic lately but I am trying to relax and get back into the routine of drawing.

I listened to 2 books in February, the first was a title I had in my library for a while and as part of my resolution to read the older titles in my library and stop accumulating more books – which I still do anyway – I finally tackled it. I am so glad I did too! Beneath a Scarlet Sky is a phenomenal story by Mark T. Sullivan. The audiobook which I listened to is narrated by Will Damron and runs 17 hours and 43 minutes and is just amazing! Wow! I found this to be a fascinating book.

“It all made Pino realize that the earth did not know war, that nature would go on no matter what horror one man might inflict on another. Nature didn’t care a bit about men and their need to kill and conquer.

Mark T. Sullivan, Beneath a Scarlet Sky

The story is about the remarkable life of Pino Lello, a young boy from Italy during WWII. I was on the edge of my seat plenty of times throughout the story. I highly recommend this read to anyone who is interested in history and adventures. 5 Stars.

I decided to switch gears afterwards and listened to another Taylor Jenkins Reid novel – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I found this book to drag in areas, granted that’s a lot of husbands to go through. Overall the plot is interesting and Evelyn Hugo character who I found to be very deep and complex. However, the character of Monique annoyed me bit. She seemed a bit whiny at times and I don’t like hanging out with whiny people and I have begun to notice I don’t like books as much that feature whiny protagonists. The book is narrated by Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan and Robin Miles and runs 12 hours and 10 minutes. 3.5 Stars.

I am able to focus so much better on things and block out all the external clutter of the world which has been great lately. I continue to listen to The Word of Promise Audio Book, New King James Version which is narrated by Michael York, Jason Alexander, Joan Allen, Richard Dreyfus, Louis Gossett, Malcolm McDowell Jr., Gary Sinese, Marisa Tomei and Stacy Keach. This behemoth runs 98 hours and 1 minute. I’m only 2 hours 26 minutes into it so far but I have enjoyed listening to it. I have only read parts of the Bible and it is one of my resolutions to complete.

I began the March with A Burning: A Novel by Megha Majumdar. A classmate of mine who now lives in Australia recommended the book. The audiobook runs only 7 hours and 22 minutes and is narrated by Vikas Adam, Priya Ayyar, Deepti Gupta, Soneela Nankani, Neil Shah and Ulka Simone Monhanty who all take on the voices of the various characters features in this story about class, corruption, justice and the individual roads fated in life.

I found this to be an interesting glimpse into a different culture. The characters are unique and captivating – yet, all somewhat relatable despite living in a country where societal norms differ greatly from those in the western cultures. I felt frustrated for Jivan and Lovely and what they endure as women in India.

Many years ago I would have been asking why is this happening? But now I am knowing that there is no use in asking these questions. In life, many things happen for no reason at all.

Megha Majumdar, A Burning: A Novel

I thoroughly enjoyed the The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Since finishing it, there are descriptive scenes which have stayed with me and I thought about repeatedly. I love old fairy tales and I love the idea of taking a children’s story and turning it into a novel. I loved the passages about the landscape and I found the characters to be as deep and full as the Alaskan snows they endured. I highly recommend this book to readers who are interested in adventures in the Alaskan wilderness with a touch of old fashioned fairy tale weaved into a modern day story of love and survival. 4 stars.

Currently I have started to listen to The Garden of Evening Mists by Tang Twan Eng, a recommendation from my cousin who first heard about the book from my Aunt. My cousin raved about it and thought I would enjoy since I love nature and gardening so much. I’ll let you know what I think about it next time.

Happy Reading –
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin

A Letter to Myself

Dear Christine,

Today you stepped up to the plate when you had to and overcame a fear. You learned a new skill that will serve you well in the future. Proving to yourself that you can keep on learning new things no matter your age – you just have to want to learn. You knew if was a possibility, even before Mark left. You finally got behind the wheel of the truck and learned to plow. You had to, no one else was going to do it and deliveries were on the way. And if you are going to live up here on this mountain for a good long time, you can’t depend on someone else to always be there to do certain things, like plow.

our double black diamond driveway

These days have been so difficult and trying on everyone. Just processing the pandemic and what these means for our world, our country, our family, the kids, Mark and I. Everything will change. You know that — just like you did the morning of September 11th. You watched the people come off the train, covered in ash, looking like zombies. Shock. We were all in shock. Your birth home – the place where you were born and raised – attacked. Life would never be the same. Just like now.

Looking back – hindsight 20-20 – you see the evolution of how how your journey to New Hampshire evolved. Two pivotal moments that lead you to your change in life and career and eventual move to new Hampshire: 9/11 and Shannon’s death. You are forever changed when you watch a young, smart, beautiful 21 year old girl die before your eyes. The memory branded into your memory, your heart and soul forever. Rocking you off your axis.

Your days as a research analyst, all those years ago when you covered food, agribusiness and water sectors taught you so much. It made you think twice about what was actually important. Lately you been having flashbacks to the days of SARS when you kept tallies on the victims and the survivors. You put Clorox into the portfolio then and kept it there – knowing that there would be another virus that would possibly occur and go global. Bleach is good – everyone uses bleach during a pandemic outbreak. You always loved their commercials too with that comedian lady that you never remember her name – so funny.

But those days back in the office – oh so long ago, was not your dream but someone else’s. Thank you Dennis Hopper. Thank you for helping me reach that epiphany. Check out my past blog post Dennis Hopper Kick off My Mid-Life Crisis – part 1 which explains this more in detail.

You started growing your own food. You started your business with Homegrown Harvest because of what you learned all those years reading about Monsanto and syngenta and others and decided to help other people learn to grow their own food. Learned how we destroyed our farmlands and use water so inefficiently. You know how important it is to have food security especially in this ever evolving world where food contamination has become a regular occurrence. Romaine and spinach pulled from grocery store shelves.

Right now it’s another one of those watershed moments in history. You know it’s time to readjust – adapt to the new reality, the new normal whatever that may be. You know you need to be flexible and bob and weave hen you need to. You will get through this. We will get through this. The greens are growing in the Tower Gardens and their are crops growing under the cold frames. Now if the snow would melt and the sun warm the earth we can continue to start growing more. For now, we will just work with the Tower Gardens.

Our Tower Garden

Enjoy your day. Relax now and sit back and look at the pretty snow. Winter’s last hurrah. Your back hurts a little, probably from the bumpy road and your nerves. But your did it! So you can relax – or what passes for relaxing during a pandemic. Put some CBD on your back.

We’ve started our self quarantine. Yesterday the last day going to the post office or grocery store. no need to go out any more. You have what you need for more than a month if you had to. Benefits of being on the mountain, you’ve been in training for this for four years now. Thank god you got the side of beef in the freezer back in January. Now all you have to do is manage the multiple personalities in the house. Can’t I go back and just do the driveway?

We haven’t all lived together under the same roof in 8 years. And never in this house. This wasn’t set up for that sort of close living – weekends sure, holidays – ok. Pandemics. Umm, not so much. Especially when everyone is used to having their own space. It’s not easy listening to two grown adult children snipe at one another like when they were teenagers. Funny how families fall back into old roles despite years of personal growth on their own. But they are working on bettering their communication, trying to use the period of quarantine to better themselves. Break old habits and form new ones.

Pour yourself a tall one, you deserve it, now go rest. There will be more to deal with – like everyday life which keeps moving on.

Your very best friend, Christine

This is my letter to myself for the writing prompt – Let’s Write Letters