Posted in Essay

Books, Books, So Many!


Here is a list of five of my favorite books in the whole wide world.  They are not necessarily the top five (although World According to Garp is actually number one).  But being that I have only a little window of time I had to stick to five.  I will probably write a future blog on five more, then five more, including non-fiction, you know the drill.  Oh, and the reasons I like these books are included, at least some of the reasons:

  1. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte – Jane was a stalwart, level-headed woman.  She knew herself so well.  The story itself is a little convoluted but it also overflows with that kind of drama that makes “Real Housewives” look like Real Boring Housewives.  And all through the tragedies, not-so-good surprises, back-stabbing, and harsh reality of her life, Jane not only survives but becomes a very solid woman.  A woman that is determined to live out her life on her terms.  And in the end she greatly benefits by living that creed.
  2. “The World According to Garp” by John Irving – I first read an excerpt of this book in a magazine for women a long, long time ago. From that I had to read the rest of the story.  I fell in love with it.  But you have to love a book in which the first sentence reads, “Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.”  The rest of the book does not back away from that first sentence.  I felt sheer joy while reading and it never left.  Garp suffered tragedies and Irving was not light-handed in this many-layered saga.  But the varied contrasts and kaleidoscopic roller coaster ride that is this book made me love it and want to pick it up, time and again.
  3. “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell – I know there are a lot of parts of this book that paint way too rosy a picture of the south during the Civil War. Granted, the book and movie depicted a south and the topic of slavery with a wide brushstroke of illusory misrepresentation.  Margaret Mitchell and Hollywood created a fairy-tale like south for the most part.  But the image of war from the movie and the book in which Scarlett has to navigate seriously injured and dead soldiers in the streets of Atlanta speaks volumes about the tragedy of war.  Mitchell and David Selznick gave us a front row seat to the carnage that was the Civil War. The book starts with “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins ere.” Scarlett is charming, charismatic, and fascinating.  Scarlett, to me, is a real bitch. And I liked her.  That’s what makes this book so good.  You still root for her although she is a narcissistic, conniving, deceptive, and sometimes crazy woman.  She can also be truthful to the point of hurting herself and others; she can be guileless, witty, very smart, an astute business woman, and definitely creative (i.e. velvet curtain dress).   At last she figures everything out, her love for Rhett and her love for Tara.  That’s really what it is all about, our hearts and our homes.
  4. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed – I continuously heard great things about this book. But it just didn’t sound that good.  To me a woman hiking anywhere sounded boring.  But finally, curiosity got the best of me and I bought it.  This was a very good read.  At no time was I bored.  The author hiked the Pacific Coast Trail by herself in the 1990’s.  She faced heat, cold, snow, rain, wild animals, water shortage, hunger, and very sore and mangled feet.  That in itself is a story. But the portions of the book in which she goes into her own life situation and reasons for this journey completed this story for me.  Her willingness to go on her journey alone and fight both physical demons and psychological ones made the story.  Basically it’s a story for us all.  We may not hike the PCT but we all have those harsh and scary roads to navigate.  And like Cheryl we sometimes can’t even see the road but eventually we find it again.  Cheryl not only found it she triumphed over it.
  5. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy” by Stieg Larsson – with this last book I am cheating. I actually included three.  Because all three are good.  Lizbeth Salander is one of the best fiction characters I have come across.  She basically has Asperger’s but that does not define her.  And paired with Mikael Blomkvist they both become multi-dimensional characters that explode from the pages.  The plots aren’t bad either.  I usually am not into any type of mystery novels but these had me wanting a huge tattoo of a dragon and booking a trip to Sweden.  Read them.  You will not be sorry.

Okay, that’s it for now.  I’m currently reading Mrs. Dalloway as I just watched The Hours again.  There are so many books and well, pardon me, so few hours.  Also, I noticed fairly obvious pattern; all of these books are centered around very strong female characters.  Imagine that!  Thanks for stopping by!  Good-bye for now, gentle readers!

Posted in Essay

Flying Forward

Grandma Berry Plane

I’m on the slippery slope side of 60 years old.  Yeah, I can’t believe it either.  So, basically, I have been a part of this crazy beautiful planet for over half a century by a decade.  How did that happen?  No, wait…HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!!!???

There are way too many things on my proverbial bucket list that I still want to do.  So many things that I have not accomplished.  And projects sitting either in a closet, file, or staring me in the face in the corner of our dining room.  Places yet to go, movies to see, books to read, and even books to write!

I only hope that I have the time and wherewithal to continue with these and other quests.  I am quite looking forward to the future.  And I won’t look back. I will not regret.  Period.

In Googling the word ‘regret’ the very first line that comes up is a definition;  “To feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.”  Damn, that’s harsh. The very word regret is harsh.

I refuse to dwell on “missed opportunities.”  I refuse to feel sad.  I refuse to regret.

Oh, sure I have screwed up a lot of things in my life.  I have caused pain, and all kinds of hurt feelings I’m sure.  To friends, coworkers, acquaintances.  To my family, which is the hardest kind of regret to ignore. I have felt awful, terrible during those times.  It’s as if I was hit below the belt, bent over, and knocked unconscious to the ground. But hopefully at those times I am the type of person that is able to stand back up, dust myself off, and who knows, even learn something about myself that is ugly and unjust. And rip that ugliness out.  Gone.

And then, there are those embarrassing moments that can be regretted. Those awkward and almost funny times when I have said something really stupid or mean and didn’t even realize it until the words were out of my mouth.  We all have those times.  And yes, I regret them. But I don’t REGRET them in such a way that they keep popping up in my mind, haunting my thoughts, and causing me self-condemnation.  That I don’t need.  Gone.

The picture at the top of this post is of my Grandma Berry who I introduced in my very first blog entry for Donuts & Wine.  At the time of the picture I believe her name was Pet Hood instead of Pet Berry as she had not yet married my grandfather (which is another story in itself).  Pet was a very independent woman.  She raised three children basically on her own during the depression.  She was a character, curmudgeon, clown, and sage.  She was gold. 

In this picture Grandma is posed in front of a very old plane.  I believe the picture was taken sometime in the early 1920’s.  My grandma wasn’t a pilot.  I don’t even know if she ever flew in a plane. At the time of the picture planes were a novelty, a futuristic forward-thinking contraption. Grandma always looked forward. That’s why I love this picture.

Grandma had to look forward.  She had three reasons to do so.  But even years later, after her children were long-grown and gone she was still progressive.  She didn’t sit the world on fire but she gave her daughters, her grand-daughters, and her great-granddaughters those powerful character traits that made us want to always look forward.  She always said “there’s a reason your eyes are in the front and on your head.  Use your brain and always look forward, not behind.” 

Regrets?  Perhaps one of only a very few that I have would be that I didn’t get to know her better. I was about twenty years old myself when she died.  But what I do know is she’s there and in my mind she did get on that plane, eyes forward, brain on alert.  She flies along with her daughters and granddaughters.  And we are not looking back.