Monday, January 30, 2012

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Have you ever picked up a book and then realized that laundry, shopping, television, eating, yes even BLOGGING could wait until you finished that book? Well that recently happened to me when I read the most amazing book, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats! When I got to the beginning of the very last chapter I put the book on my nightstand and turned off the light and finally went to sleep only because I was not ready for this book to end!

But more about the book itself in a later post, for now I want to write a post inspired by this book because as a member of the From Left to Write Book Club that is what we do. Not a review, but an inspiration! When Julia travels to Burma to search for her missing lawyer father, she discovers much more than she expected. Join From Left to Write on February 1 as we discuss The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

When I was a little girl, I could not imagine my parents ever having been any younger than they were right that very minute. I  just assumed they had been the same age forever just waiting around in limbo for me to be born. They had never been little babies, or toddlers, or preschoolers or teens or young adults. Nope, they had always just been the age they were then.

It was therefore very surprising to me to find out that they had had lives before I was even born!! *Gasp* What? No...I can't believe it. What do you mean, you remember when you went to school? What do you mean, you remember when you played with dolls and toy trucks? What do you mean, you had boyfriend/girlfriends before you married? It was just beyond my comprehension.

And then as I got older and I heard stories from my parents, or my aunts and uncles about various family events, adventures and/or secrets...well I was even more astounded! I think we just assume that nothing important could have happened prior to our being brought into this world.

But there were things that happened, marriages that took place and ended. Hearts that were broken, dreams that were shattered. Families that were formed. Loves that last forever. And I'm sure that I don't even know everything that happened in the past as yet. Every time our family gets together or I talk to a cousin or an aunt I learn something new.

This weekend I'm heading back to the homeland...our "tierra" as we would say in espanol. I'm heading back to Eloy, Arizona to attend the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my Cousin Mary Lou and her husband of 50 years, Fernando. This is a photo of them on their wedding day.

Family is so important and they are the ones that know us best. But even family doesn't know EVERY THING about us. We have secrets and there are secrets that we will never know.

In the book, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, Julia Win finds out exactly what I am writing about. She begins to find out the story of her father who went missing on the day after her graduation from law school. Her mother finds an unmailed love letter to a Burmese woman and the journey begins for Julia to find out the truth about why her father disappeared.

*****I wrote this post prior to leaving to Arizona to attend the Golden Wedding Anniversary. I just wanted to say that of course, again I learned new things about my family. The most important thing I learned is something I already knew but just had it reaffirmed for me..and that is THERE IS NOTHING LIKE FAMILY!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blogger Problems and Frustrations and Upcoming Changes

I've been reading lately about tons of bloggers and commenters having problems posting, uploading photos, using widgets, losing posts and being unable to comment on certain blogs.

Not sure why this is all happening, but I have been following some information provided by Marianne at the blog Songbird. She has been doing a three-part series of some upcoming changes to blogger and GFC (Google Friend Connect).

I'm not sure if all the problems are due to the changes Blogger/Google will be making in the future, but it can't hurt to head over to Marianne's blog and start reading up on the changes and following her series.

With her guidance I am learning how to use my Google Reader and you know what? I really kind of like it!!! Alot!

So, here's the link the 1st part of 3 entitled:
How to follow your list of blogs the easy way: Part One

The 2nd post even includes a video...very helpful!
Follow Blogs with Google Read: Part Two

I haven't quite finished reading the 2nd part or watching the video. I kind of got hung up on creating folders and putting all of you in categories! That's right, you are all now categorized by who I think you Isn't that terrible? But trust me, they are all nice categories and you know I love you all!

So if you are having problems with blogger/google issues maybe the changes are why? Even if you aren't, you probably should go ahead and learn to use a reader to follow all your fav bloggers so that you won't be lost and out wandering along in that vast flatland of Bloggerville, all alone with no one and nothing to guide you back to all your fav bloggy friends!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Strength of a Family

In time of test, family is best. ~Burmese Proverb

There is nothing like family and I am so proud of mine. In the past few weeks, sons, daughters, in-laws and nieces and nephews have all banded together selflessly to help our aging parents.

My dad suffered a mini-stroke two weeks ago and we all realized that dad needed help and care. Everyone pitched in and we have had multiple family meetings to decide, with dad's input what would be best for him.

Dad will be making some changes in his living arrangement and I'm hoping this new arrangement will allow me to spend more time with him as he will be not too far from my office and I can visit him on my lunch hours and after work. I'll also be more available to help with taking him to doctor's appointments and shopping.

Not more than an hour ago my house was filled with my two brothers and their wives and my sister and her husband, myself and my mom to get mom's input on what her needs and desires are as far as her and my dad's family home that they own.

Mom also will be making some changes in her living arrangements as will I. It's going to be a rough couple of months with getting dad all situated in his new home and getting myself and my mom situated in our new home as blogging time is going to be scarce, plus American Idol just started this week and neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night will keep this lady from watching her some American Idol!

Mostly I just want to record this moment in time for our family and how we all came together, no bickering, no jealousy, no demands....just everyone banding together to help our parents. Thanks to all my family members, I love you all and you are all the greatest treasure that I could have been blessed with!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rough Start to 2012

It's been a rough start to the new year for me and for my family! That's makes it a little hard to be the happy-go-lucky person I normally am, hence the grumpy Care Bear picture. That's about how I feel right now.

My dad, who is 80 years old is my main concern. This past Saturday my son called me to tell me something was wrong.  Dad lives alone and up to now even though we all worry about him, he's been ok. My son checks on his "Tata" every day.

Saturday my son called and told me that he drove up and my dad's truck is wrecked and he went inside to check on Tata and couldn't understand anything that Tata was saying. Now normally, that's not odd because my dad's first language is Spanish and my son's only language is English. Dad sometimes forgets his grandson doesn't speak Spanish and will babble away at him in Spanish, therefore Son has picked up quite a bit of the language. But Son said he couldn't understand anything that Dad was saying, he said that Tata was just making noises.

So I rushed right over and saw that my dad's truck had both front tires flat and the step-side on the passenger side was now in the bed of the truck and the passenger side mirror was just hanging on by a wire. I tried to get Dad to explain to me what happened to his truck but it was really difficult to understand. He seemed totally calm and was just sitting there watching TV but still he wasn't clear on how the accident had happened.

He said he thought he hit a parked car and went up on the curb and he remembers braking and stopping his truck before it could hit a fence. He said the police came and so did the fire department and the EMT's checked him out and he was fine. They called a tow truck for him and gave him a ride home and he didn't think to call anyone to let them know what had happened.

Needless to say he scared the crap out of me and my son. On the way to Dad's house I had called my sister and left her a voice mail that something was wrong with Dad, so shortly after that my sister got there. The more that we talked to Dad the more that we realized that something was wrong. He was having a really hard time getting his thoughts together and an even harder time verbalizing them. Pretty soon he was just babbling, making incoherent sounds and you could see by looking into his eyes that he realized that what he was thinking and what he was trying to say was not what was coming out of his mouth.

We realized that he might be having a stroke so we decided to take him to emergency. On the way out of town I told my sister that Dad had mentioned he had not eaten and the day before he thought he had food poisoning and he had spent the day vomiting. I told her that we were probably going to be in emergency for hours and it would be a long time before he could eat so maybe we should stop and get him something to eat. I know it sounds weird, but I also know my dad and I know that lack of food and the drop in blood sugar can really affect him.

We got him a burger and even though he still wasn't making sense in speaking he happily ate it. By the time we got to emergency he was making sense off and on. It turns out he did have what is known as a Transient Ischemic Attack aka TIA Mini Stroke. They admitted him and he did spend the night but he was allowed to come home the next day.

Now it's up to my sister, my brothers and me and all the various spouses concerned, to decide what step to take next with Dad. The great thing that came out of this is that we've all come together and everyone is 100% on board with doing whatever it takes to take care of dad. I'm very proud of my siblings and their spouses. Time will tell what we end up doing for dad, but for now he's ok and at home and everyone is checking on him often.

But that's not the end of why 2012 is rough year. Earlier this week my daughter was assaulted by a woman while in the course of her job. My daughter manages a motel. Part of her job description is that when "guests" don't want to check out at check out time, my daughter is the one that has to go and convince them that they must go. Well this time when my daughter knocked on the door to speak with the "guest", the "guest" came out of the room and shoved my daughter! My daughter of course said, "Don't you touch me" and at this the "guest hauled off an punched my daughter in the face and a fist fight ensued!

I've never known my daughter to fight. To stand up for the rights of others...yes, as she did for this child, see story HERE. But I have never known her to fight physically with her fists! But from what she says she got the best of this woman and hurt her more than she was hurt herself. Not that I care about that other woman, what I care about was seeing my poor baby bruised and battered. She called me right after and told me her employer wanted her to go to Urgent Care, so I left work immediately and went with her. She had a huge bluish knot on her left temple and the bridge of her nose was swollen. Luckily she was okay physically, but they never did catch the woman who did this. It's amazing to me that people feel that they are entitled to check into a motel and not leave when they are supposed to and not only not leave but injure innocent employees of the motel who are just doing their job!

So then a couple of days later my sister goes to the doctor for a simple rash. The doctor gives her some antibiotics and pain meds as it is very painful and inflamed. Sister returns to the doctor a few days later and they decide they will have to drain the infection using needles and my poor sister never thought it was going to be so involved or so painful. She called me right afterwards, sobbing in tears from the pain! She's going to be ok, but she is still in a lot of pain.

So there you go...what's next? I hope that all this drama in the beginning of the year means that the rest of the year is going to be nice and smooth and peaceful for my whole family. all be careful! We've had enough of emergency rooms, urgent care rooms and doctors!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back in the Day and The Green Thing

We've all heard our parents tell us stories of  "back in the day" we used to walk 10 miles uphill with no shoes to get to school, and with just an apple for lunch! We didn't get to ride in a big, beautiful SUV to a school that is two blocks away. And we didn't get money so we could eat our lunch in the various lunch bars you have in school now. Maybe we've even been the parent sharing that little bit of wisdom with our own kids. Sure...some of it is embellishment, but mostly it is true.

I remember riding 45 minutes on a bus to get to school in the morning. We were the first kids on the bus so we had to traipse all over the county picking up everyone else and on the way home the bus driver reversed the trip so we were the last ones off...but we didn't complain. Besides, our bus driver Mrs. Calhoun didn't put up with any of our shenanigans!

Well my sister in law sent me an email that I would love to share with everyone. I think many of you will find it interesting and relevant to the "going green" trend we're in. Now I believe in going green to some extent and recycling and saving our resources for the next generation....but I also agree with a lot of what's in this email. Read for yourself...

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.

But isn't it sad, the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

***Linking up to the WEEKEND BLOGGY READING PARTY hosted by Serenity Now. Please go and check out some of the other favorite posts of the week from the bloggers participating! Happy Reading!***

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books Read in 2011

"To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company." ~Andre Gide

This year I got to travel alot, and without even leaving my home. I traveled by reading!

I traveled to the Niger Delta where I met Blessing and her family in the book Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson.

I traveled back to 1855 with Louisa in The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Conner McNees.

I played with little Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I hung out in the palace with Cleopatra, A Life by Stacy Schiff.

I visited the Fire Swamp with Princess Buttercup and Wesley in Princess Bride by William Goldman.

I went back in time to relive Gone with the Wind, this time from Rhett Butlers point of view in the book Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig.

For the past couple of years I have kept track of the books that I've read during the year then done a post about them. In both 2009 and 2010 I read exactly 24 books which meant roughly two books per month and I was going to try to break my record in 2011. Did I? I don't know, let's see. . . I've listed 6 books above so we'll start with number 7.

7. the stuff that never happened by Maddie Dawson
8. Expecting Adam by Martha Beck
9. Lost Edens by Jamie Patterson

In my 2009 and 2010 posts I also wove in some quotes I found interesting and inspiring about books and reading, so in keeping with tradition . . .

"The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade."~ Anthony Trollope

10. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
11. Unsaid by Neil Abramson
12. Working It Out with Abby Rike

"Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed." ~ Anne Rice, The Witching Hour

13. The Unexpected Circumnavigation by Christi Grab
14. The Costume Trunk by Bob Fuller
15. Hungry by Crystal Renn

"Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought" ~ Arthur Helps

16. The Ultimate Reality Show by Clay Jacobsen
17. at the scent of water by Linda Nichols
18. the girl who stopped swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

"He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes."  ~ Barrow

19. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
20. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
21. Angel Harp by Michael Phillips

"You're the same today as you'll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read."  ~  Charlie "Tremendous" Jones

22. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
23. A Painted House by John Grisham

Did I break the 24 book mark?? Get it? Bookmark? hahaha

Well yes...I did! Thanks to my favorite author, Jodi Picoult. I happened to read six of her books in 2011 and I'm starting out 2012 by reading her book Nineteen Minutes.

24. Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
25. Vanishing Act by Jodi Picoult
26. my sister's keeper by Jodi Picoult
27. Mercy by Jodi Picoult
28. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
29. Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

The only thing that bothers me is ending the year with an odd number, it just makes me feel like my list is not complete! But since we are in January already I don't have any way to squeeze another book in!

So there's my new goal, to read more than 29 books in 2012, we'll see how I do. How about you? How many books have you read? What's your goal for 2012?

"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance."  ~ Confucius