Big Bad Bed

The bed is gone! Our huge chestbed was bought by a family in Washington. Mom and Dad arrived today with younger son in tow. It took about 2 hours for them to dismantle the chestbed and weave it piece by piece through narrow passageways, in small elevators, and out into their vehicle. Later they would reverse the process.

It was a lot of work. We had to hold a door open for them from time to time, buzz them back into the building after each trip to their truck, and answer the incessant questions of their garrulous son as he, at the same time, tried to play with our two cats. Bert and Ernie were much more interested in being in the way, however.

So now we sleep on a futon where once a giant bed had been. For how long? Only time will tell.

BOOK REVIEW: Every Fifteen Minutes

Every Fifteen Minutes

By Lisa Scottoline

The sociopath did it, but who is the sociopath? As the story moves along, the reader is swayed to believe that the sociopath is him. Or her. No, him! There are twists and turns. The final twist does not disappoint.

My experience with many of the bestselling novels written in the last decade or two indicates to me that certain words show up with more regularity in the more popular novels. I have noticed an abundant, perhaps superfluous use of the word thrumming, a word I do not remember ever coming across in novels written before 2000. There might be an exception here or there, but I think probably not. Another apparently required word for popular novels is riffling. No character can simply look through a bunch of papers but must instead search with such fervor that they can only be riffling. Thirdly appears the doppelganger, another word I had never come across until the more current literature. Every Fifteen Minutes stands apart, however. None of these words was used, which probably accounts for this being less than a 4- or 5-star book. Rather, Ms. Scottoline strays and instead employs use of the word reflexively. Reflexively was used three times in this novel, and each time it gave me pause, making me acutely aware of its repeated use. Reflexively, meaning without conscious thought, like a knee jerk reaction, just never seemed to be the right word as it was used, and each time the flow of my reading was reflexively interrupted.

Speaking of words, I had a problem with the title. The title is significant to one of the characters. Thus, it leads the reader to believe early on that the sociopath is indeed the character associated with those words. Would it be a spoiler to tell you that is not the case? I thought the title was designed to be misleading and really did not envelop the book as a whole.

Besides language, I was not comfortable with the disclosure of the modus operandi of the sociopath. It seemed that the sociopath controlled all the characters, like strings of a marionettes troupe. Too many people were under the spell of the sociopath who so cleverly and flawlessly manipulated their thoughts and deeds.

After a journey to hell and back, some of the characters emerged incredibly whole in this psychological thriller. Overall, however, Every Fifteen Minutes held my attention. Other than a few hiccups, I enjoyed the book.

Not Cynical Enough

We are decluttering. We have tossed oodles of accumulated junk. We have sent literally dozens of bags of “stuff” to Vietnam Veterans of America. We have been selling books, CDs and DVDs on Amazon. We have been selling furniture and more on Craig’s List. Everything has been moving along quite nicely.

We have met some very interesting people through Craig’s List, too. There was the lady who insisted on coming “tomorrow at 1 o’clock” to pick up our sideboard. We told her she had to bring a couple of strong people to help carry it out as we are not movers. She had “Jarrod” all lined up with his pickup truck. At 9 p.m. she finally showed up. “Just me,” she grinned, and no pickup truck either.

Then there was the guy who wanted my musical jewelry box. I told him I would bring it down to him. He texted that he was in front of the building wearing a “vibrant striped sweater.” Yes, he sure was! He forgot to mention the blue fingernail polish!

Lots more craigslist sales, each one a story, but then the snag!

I posted our piano for sale. Next day I got a text from an interested buyer. He said he wanted to send me a check and after the check clears, he would have his movers pick up the piano. I told him to send a certified check, but something just didn’t feel right.

A week later, I received a FedEx overnight express package. Inside was a check, a regular check, odd though it was, and not a certified check. No letter, no note, no identification of any kind. Just a check. A check for over $2,700 –  waaaay more than the asking price of the piano. There is no reference to the piano, no mention of the buyer’s name.  Believe me, my 50-year-old piano that has been moved thousands of miles over the years, banged on by inquisitive toddlers, and scratched by multiple cats is not now nor was it ever worth $2,700.

Hey! I’m no dummy! I smell a SCAM!

This guy now sends me texts multiple times each day, and calls on the phone. He claims (in texts and voicemail) that I am “reaping” him off and says he has contacted the FBI. I do not answer my phone and I do not respond to his texts. I did not deposit the check into my account as he has instructed me to do. He has not identified the check or explained the overage, and I am not asking.

The decluttering continues.

BOOK REVIEW: Once We Were Brothers

Once We Were Brothers

by Ronald H. Balson

When I was a child, I wanted to know. I asked a lot of questions. I asked my mother what she knew about what was going on in Europe during World War II; not very much, was her total response. I asked my father what it was like after his parents divorced and I got no answer. I asked my grandmother what her life was like in Russia, and she waved me away.

Maybe my questions were too vague. Maybe they struck nerves. Maybe I was just too young when I asked those questions.

Ben Solomon tells it all. At 83, he is looking back on his life in Poland before the war. He tells Catherine Lockhart his story because he wants her to know how he loved Otto Piatek like a brother, how his parents took Otto in and embraced him. He wanted Catherine Lockhart the lawyer to help him expose Otto Piatek for who he really is and who he was, and sue him for all the money and jewels he stole from the family. He wants Catherine to know the horrors suffered at the hands of Otto Piatek, former Nazi.

Once We Were Brothers is a warm, loving story strangled in the arms of bigotry and hatred and inhumanity. Will Ben be able to prove that Elliot Rosenzweig, now rich and powerful, is indeed Otto Piatek, “The Butcher of Zamosc”? It is a gripping, agonizing, gut-wrenching story, eloquently told.

BOOK REVIEW: The Sound of Glass

The Sound of Glass

by Karen White

The story takes place in Buford, North Carolina,  Merritt Hayward, recently widowed, has come to live in the home that belonged to her abusive husband’s grandmother, a large old house filled with history and memories and treasures and, of course, southern charm.

Enter Loralee (Merritt’s stepmother) and Loralee’s young son Owen (Merritt’s half-brother). They are strangers to each other but become housemates, slowly turning their estrangement into a close-knit little family.

Dr. Gibbs Hayward rounds out the group. Gibbs is Merritt’s never-known brother-in-law.Merritt, Loralee, Gibbs, and young Owen form bonds, explore the old house, the area, and themselves, and uncover buried secrets. There are twists and turns along the way, ups and downs, tragedies and enlightenments.

Much of the plot is predictable and there is broad use of common fiction-writing contrivances (the secrets in the attic, the love interest, and the tragic demise of a main character). Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read. The characters were all well drawn and likeable, the story satisfying.

Lego Party


All of the children,

ages 2 and up,

had a blast!




by Voltaire

Candide was in love with the lovely Cunegonde, and the two were caught entwined in their first kiss. Candide was then banished from his castle and Cunegonde was punished. Soon after, Cunegonde was “cut open by Bulgarian soldiers after having been violated by many.”

Candide traveled the world with Professor Pangloss, a philosopher, as his companion, in search of paradise. Always the optimist, Candide suffered despicable acts, acts impossible to tolerate and certainly not survive, yet he did survive. No matter what happened, what horrors were endured, what atrocities were witnessed, Candide, under the guidance of his philosopher companion Pangloss, and later Martin, believed that all is for the best.

As he hopped from country to country, and continent to continent, Candide miraculously crossed paths with his not-dead heartthrob, Cunegonde, but she was not free to be with him. Candide rejoiced at the sight of her and continued his quest for paradise, then in search of reunion with the lovely Cunegonde.

At one point, Candide questioned the philosophy of his trusted Pangloss:

“Well, my dear Pangloss,” said Candide to him, “when you had been hanged, dissected, whipped, and were tugging at the oar, did you always think that everything is for the best?”

“I am still of my first opinion” answered Pangloss.

After insurmountable trials and tribulations Candide was ultimately reunited with Cunegonde, who had grown old and ugly, but a fine pastry cook, Candide realized he no longer loved her but after consideration, the two were finally married.

Pangloss later explained to Candide:

“If you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde, if you had not been put into the inquisition; if you had not walked over America, if you had not stabbed the Baron, if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado, you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio nuts.”

And so Candide cultivated the land and enjoyed the pastries of his Cunegonde’s making.

Satire at its best. Candide, the novella, is thoroughly enjoyable, lively, and laugh-out-loud funny, even during the most horrific tales, and yet I am certain there is much more there that I did not grasp this first reading, and much, much more that I got but did not include in this brief review.