Guaranteed to Make You Laugh

So I wanted to read a book written by Tess Gerritsen.  (See blog post BOOK REVIEW: Girl Missing.) I quickly scanned a list of her titles and picked Peggy Sue Got Married. It sounded familiar so I surmised this must be a good one. When I searched amazon for the book, amazon came up with Girl Missing and in parentheses it was boldly noted that Girl Missing was originally titled Peggy Sue Got Married. Great. I went on to read the book.

As clearly noted in my blogged review of the book, I did not understand the original title of the book. There was no wedding, not even a marriage in this book. In fact, none of the characters in this book were married. So why the title? It bothered me. A lot.

In my quest to understand the title of this book, I quickly learned that there was also a movie titled Peggy Sue Got Married. Same book and movie? Or different? They appeared to have nothing in common from the blurbs I read, but then the book had nothing to do with Peggy Sue so I was, let us just say, confused.

I watched the movie last night. Made in 1986 (a good eight years before the book was published), I found it entertaining. Not a great movie, but entertaining. Lots of nostalgia for those of us who grew up in the 60s. However, it had nothing in common with the book. Nothing whatsoever.

Still haunted by Ms. Gerritsen’s original title, I checked amazon again today. I don’t know why. Lo and behold, I discovered a teeny weeny error. An itsy bitsy error on my part.

Apparently, I misread the original title of the book. It was not Peggy Sue Got Married.

It was Peggy Sue Got MURDERED.

BOOK REVIEW: Girl Missing

Girl Missing

by Tess Gerritsen

Assistant Medical Examiner Kat Novak is faced with several similar and suspicious deaths within the course of a week. She suspects drugs, but the culprit cannot immediately be identified. Has a new drug hit the streets? Should a warning be sounded? In investigating the cause and significance of these apparent drug-related deaths, Dr. Novack meets Adam Quantrell, the head of a pharmaceutical company, and the sparks of romance are ignited.

So who is the missing girl in the title? It is probably Maeve, Adam’s estranged stepdaughter. Although she plays a role in this story, she is far from the centerpiece. So why the title?

The book is introduced by the author who states this book has been renamed and updated. It was originally called Peggy Sue Got Married. Putting the two titles together (Peggy Sue Got Married and Girl Missing) as clues to the plot, I anticipated that Peggy Sue got married and then went missing. But no, that’s not it at all. In fact, there is no Peggy Sue in this story, married or otherwise.

Ms. Gerritsen claims this book to be her “bridge book” from her earlier hand at romance novels to her more current medical thrillers. Certainly there is a strong element of both here. Overall I enjoyed the book, both the romance and the medical mystery aspects. It is a well written, easy read. It has whetted my appetite for her more polished medical thrillers.

Just one more thing. The mystery drug turned out to be a new, still experimental drug called Zestron-L. Zestron-L ? That’s just a little too close to Zyklon B for my taste. If this were my book, I would retitle it (again), and change the name of the drug.

BOOK REVIEW: Dear Lucy

Dear Lucy

by Julie Sarkissian

Lucy is a mentally challenged girl who is sent by her mother (who Lucy calls Mum Mum) to live with Missus and Mister on their farm. Mum Mum tells Lucy she must stay on the farm and be good. If Lucy stays on the farm, Mum Mum will know where to find her.

Samantha, pregnant at 14, is also sent to live with Missus and Mister, her time there established by the pregnancy. The baby is promised to Missus and Mister upon its birth.

Samantha and Lucy become friends and Samantha is eager to help Lucy in every way she can. Ultimately, though, it is Lucy who promises to help Samantha after the baby is born. It is that promise that sets Lucy on a mission, the greatest mission (and adventure) of Lucy’s life.

This book has several voices. Lucy, Samantha, and Missus each tell the story from their own perspective. Lucy has a simple mind and lack of words, but the images she describes are sharp and linear:

She [Missus] takes the dress and holds it over her and smoothes it like she is trying to make it stick to her but it doesn’t work. You need to get inside of it to make it stick to you.

Samantha, on the other hand, sees the world through romantic, naïve eyes. Missus shows her easy-going proper side while quietly manipulating everyone and everything.

Lucy carries with her, in her pocket, a newborn baby chick – a chick named Jennifer who can speak and think and read and comprehend. The chick becomes Lucy’s guide and mentor.

For a hefty portion of this book, I believed that the chick was not real, but rather a figment of Lucy’s imagination. After all, no one else could hear Jennifer speak, or notice its bird-like sounds and stirrings. I was surprised when Mum Mum discovered the chick and acknowledged its existence. Had the chick been a figment of Lucy’s imagination or perhaps a stuffed toy she carried with her, I would have given more credence to the story. The chick’s worldly existence was a flaw to the storyline, at least for me.

The story has a quiet tone from beginning to end. Understanding the characters and their defects makes the story flow. It is all so sweet, so easy-going, and almost poetic, that the molestations, pedophilia, physical aggression, rape, and incest almost go unnoticed.

A very interesting book. A very different book. Well written. Well done. If we could just stuff the chicken.

BOOK REVIEW: Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

An 18-year-old girl shares her angst with a psychiatrist she has never seen before. Twenty minutes later, by her estimate, the patient is in a taxi on her way to a posh psychiatric facility for a much needed rest. The patient is the author and this is her true, very personal story.

Susanna Kaysen spent nearly two years locked up in McLean Hospital. Much of that time she seemed to enjoy lively escapades with new friends and smugly psychoanalyzing those around her, peers and staff. Each patient, and every doctor, nurse, and technician were well drawn characters during this hiatus from life, each carefully considered and described in Susanna’s journal. Susanna wants to be a writer and where better to find interesting and unique characters than in a psychiatric hospital. It has been done before, after all.

In 1887, reporter Nellie Bly pretended to be crazy and got herself committed into a mental institution in New York City. Her aim was to see what goes on from the inside and tell about it, which she does in her book Ten Days in a Madhouse, More than 100 years later, Susanna Kaysen does the same, although Ms. Kaysen says her inpatient experience was thrust upon her and not a plan of her own making. Girl, Interrupted is well written and somewhat insightful (from the point of view of a troubled teenager), but given a choice, I would rather spend my time with Ken Kesey’s fictional but far more engaging One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Cookies

I am not an oatmeal lover and so have passed on even tasting many an oatmeal cookie in my time. For unexplained reasons, however, I got a hankering (yes, a hankering) to make some oatmeal cookies. Google was a huge help and I found a recipe that appealed to me. While most of America sat before their TVs, excited to the core by a bunch of uniformed men running around a huge field and knocking into each other (call it a Super Bowl, if you like), today was my big oatmeal cookie baking day.

Huge success. My oatmeal chocolate chip cookies came out fantastic! Even I love them! These cookies are soft and chewy and yum-yum-yummy.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

As an added bonus, I learned while investigating oatmeal cookie recipes that cookie dough freezes well. So I placed most of the cookies on a cookie tray, placed the tray in the freezer for an hour and then moved the unbaked cookies off the tray and into freezer bags for future use. What a fabulous plan to be able to pop the formed, made-from-scratch cookies into the oven and serve fresh-from-the-oven home-baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on demand! I will be doing the same for other cookie recipes from now on!

Click here for the recipe

Calling Mayo Clinic

In search of some new and interesting and healthful dinner ideas, I came across a recipe for Acorn Squash with Apples from the Mayo Clinic that looked appealing. The recipe boasted its nutrition:

Dietitian’s tip:

Acorn squash is a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Here it’s paired with apples and brown sugar to make a hearty main dish. Serve along with whole-grain crackers and a small wedge of your favorite cheese to round out all food groups.

( See the recipe here)

I would like to ask the Mayo Clinic a few questions:

  1. How does ½ apple and ½ acorn squash equal dinner? The recommended 2 crackers and a small wedge of cheese are not going to make one feel full. Just my opinion.
  2. The apple is to be peeled before cooking. Throw away the peel? (The delicious peel has most of the nutrients.)
  3. No cinnamon? Isn’t cinnamon accepted as a food that reduces blood pressure? Wouldn’t it enhance the apple-squash concoction?
  4. Very little of the cut up apple could fit in the squash hollow. What should be done with the rest?

To be honest, I am not good at following recipes. I tend to add this, leave that out, and modify the other. I looked at this “main dish” recipe which serves two for a mere 270 calories apiece and wondered how it could possibly satisfy. So I modified it. Thankfully.

First, after peeling the apple, I ate the peels. (Violation of the “no nibbling before dinner” rule.)

Next, to this main dish of Acorn Squash with Apples I added steamed potatoes and tilapia.

The results: We loved the tilapia – browned to perfection in a skillet with a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil and lots of seasoning (garlic powder, paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper). I sliced (with skin on) and steamed one potato and added a teaspoon of butter and a few shakes of salt. Pure love. And then there was the acorn squash with apples. The apples were wonderful, although a little cinnamon would have been nice. The squash seemed to keep to itself; it did not absorb any of the apple filling and so was bland, grainy, and underwhelming.

Overall, dinner was delicious, and we will do it again sometime soon – without the acorn squash. Brussels sprouts would be nice.

Dog’s Best Friend

Weeks ago I noticed a strange large bundle slumped in the center of my balcony. Unrecognized, I was afraid to find out what it was. I carefully inched my way toward it, hoping with all my heart, my imagination running amok, that  wrapped inside the blob were not human or animal remains or something equally horrendous. Approaching it with extreme caution, I finally came to realize it was a rather large outdoor carpet, wet, dirty, stinky, and yucky beyond words, its ownership unknown. Apparently at some time in its history, it was supposed to resemble grass.

Not wanting to touch the large glob, I left it there to deal with at some future time. Somebody should claim it, I believed. After some time, though, I wondered if I should just take a stick and poke it through the railing, letting it fall to the street below; out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps I could be more civic minded and bag and dispose of it properly. What to do!

A young woman appeared at our door today. She introduced herself as a neighbor and explained that she had work done on her balcony and in the process her “Astroturf mat” had fallen onto our balcony. She made it sound like this was a very recent event, not something that occurred nearly two months ago.

It has been raining rather heavily for the past few days. Her precious Astroturf was thoroughly drenched. She did not think to bring anything with which to carry the filthy wet blob. She hesitated to touch it as she explained that it is what her dog uses to do its business. Then she removed her coat, using the coat to wrap the precious mess, gave thanks for its return, and left.

I should have pushed it overboard weeks ago!