Monthly Archives: November 2011

Thanksgiving was a success

Once again, it went well! I love making things ahead of time. I love to cook, but too much at once is just exhausting.

We used these turkey roasting bags though this year, and while it made cleanup ten times easier, they cooked the turkeys too fast and I would have not liked them quite as done. So, next year, no bags or lots less cooking time.

I was blessed with being in the right place when I supposed to be, so did not have to make the drive once again to attend a clients birth.  I feel like sometimes God teaches me something through each birth and this one was no different. I was also blessed to overhear a doctor refer to me as a “very experienced doula.”

We had 17 pies that we made, one that we gave away to a doctor friend and the rest vanished rather rapidly after the meal and the next day!

I just canned 14 jars of apple pie filling yesterday in preparation for more pie baking adventures as the apples were wonderful in pies. I had planned on making them all into applesauce, but the pies were so good, I changed my mind. I won a $25 gift certificate to Amazon from Patti Lacy (Thank you, Patti) and spent it on  a Victorio Strainer…which I am very excited to try out! I have been wanting one for a long time and it went on sale last week too, so I only was out $20 about out of pocket!  I envision lots of use  for sauce in my future!

So, here I sit, still tired and worn out from lack of sleep and other things like lack of my vitamins which I forgot to bring, but I am content, happy and so blessed to have such  wonderful family.

 

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Finding our way home by Charlene Baumbich

Finding our Way Home

by Charlene Baumbich

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Excerpt from back cover:

When principal ballerina Sasha Davis suffers a career-ending injury at age thirty-eight, she leaves her Boston-based dance company and retreats to the home of her youth in Minnesota. But Sasha’s injuries restrict her movement and her recently deceased mother’s absence haunts her. Since she can’t recover alone, she is forced to hire a temporary live-in aide.

Enter the übercapable Evelyn Burt. As large-boned as Sasha is tiny, Evelyn is her employer’s opposite in every way. Small town to Sasha’s urban chic, outgoing warmth to Sasha’s aloof iciness, and idealistic where Sasha is hopeless, nineteen-year-old Evelyn is newly engaged and sees the world as one big, shiny opportunity.

 

My Review:

Sasha has had her whole life shattered when her body was shattered by a black out episode, which caused her husband to drop her.  In a reaction to the loss of fame, shame and self-pity, Sasha isolates herself in her home in her home town. Evelyn, her bodyguard, housekeeper, cook, errand runner is an optimistic, cheerful girl, who at times lacks social skills, but you cannot help but love her.

The essence of this story, once again, like Ms. Baumbich’s other books is formed around a snow globe with seemingly  a mind of it’s own. It is more difficult to tie in the snow globe in this book than the others, but it seems that the snow globe mirrors her feelings and what will happen to Sasha.

Can Sasha find healing and see what her isolation has cost her and her husband? Can Evelyn, with all her blundering ways,  learn as well, without costing her relationships with her parents, when they disagree about her education and hasty engagement?

I enjoyed this story of small town charm, the butcher shop and the grandfather, were probably some of my favorite parts. I felt so sorry for Sasha’s poor husband, and  loved the character of Evelyn!  This story is one of those books you will come  away from learning something and have a feeling you just witnessed a small miracle. This book is scheduled to be published in March, 2012 -Martha

Book provided at no cost to me by Blogging for books. My review is my own and I was not paid for it in anyway.

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School Thanksgiving month

Almost a month before Thanksgiving, I like to focus some of our history time on Thanksgivng and early American history. I want to spend some time on some crafts and reading books that tell different stories from different prospective. We listen to audio books on these topics as well, sort of hitting it from all angles.

All new crafts for Thanksgiving by Kathy Ross

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall (Plymouth is spelled wrong purpose)

Who’s that stepping on Plymouth rock? by Jean Fritz

Anne Hutchinson’s Way by  Jeannine Atkins

The Pilgrims first Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern

Problems in Plymouth by Marianne Herring (An Imagination Station book)

Mercy Clifton- Pilgrim Girl by Peter Marshall (We did this one on audio book)

Rabbit Ears Holiday stories- Squanto- Audio book

Squanto – Focus on the Family radio Theater

Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac

 

These are a couple we have done in the last month! Some of them, you know all have their slants, but you can learn and discuss many things from even picture books!

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Remembering You by Tricia Goyer

Remembering you
By Tricia Goyer

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Ava Ellington has just gone through a bad break-up and it is affecting her work. She is a head producer for a Seattle talk show and needs just the right story for her big break.
When her mother is injured and cannot travel with Ava’s grandfather on a tour of World War 2 battle sites, she sees it as a chance for her big break. Surprises wait for Ava along the way, especially as to why her grandfather is acting oddly, a surprise reconnection with her first love and perhaps a mystery woman.
History will come alive for you, reading the true stories from the brave men of the Eleventh Armored division, that Tricia has skillfully woven into a fiction story of grandfathers and their grandchildren.
As I read this story, since I am the granddaughter of a man who served in 94th infantry division, a part of Patton’s Third Army as an Interrogation and counter intelligence specialist. My grandfather did not speak of many of his experiences until the last several years, as they were too hard to speak of. I felt the thankfulness that rose up within me as I read Tricia’s skillful retelling of these heroes tales, re-written in a way that people could understand and relate to.
You will enjoy this story and find your eyes welling up with tears as mine did, thinking of the men who gave their all for our country.
– Martha

Title: Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!

Enter 11/16 – 11/29. RSVP for Facebook Party on 11/29!

Blog Post:
Title: Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!
Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you … and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she’ll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she’ll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don’t miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself … and to “remember” a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner’s choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and Amazon.com. So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don’t miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

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Keeping Thanksgiving simple

We love homemade food in our family. We like things simple, but we are not about to sacrifice taste for simplicity. Last year we were trying to come up with ways to make things simpler, but many of the suggestions, we were not willing to take as they compromised the taste.

We did find some things that worked for us though, and last Thanksgiving was wonderful, when it came to being simple.

#1 thing that helped:

Make as much ahead of time as you can!!!

I baked several pies on Wednesday or Tuesday and had them in the fridge or cold for the day of the dinner. We peeled the potatoes on Wednesday, put them in a bucket of cold water with cream of tarter and they stayed beautiful for the meal. Since we serve a lot of people, it was a 4 gallon bucket full of potatoes.

Toast the bread for stuffing the week before even. The day before, cut up all celery, etc for the stuffing.

Make a detailed list of what everyone is bringing!

Use pan liners for the turkeys- eliminates dishes

Bring containers for leftovers. It helps to organize the first and for the people who are leaving, and want to take some with them.

Thanksgiving can be a ton of work, but it also can be very relaxing and enjoyable with the right preparation, with  prep ahead of time and careful planning!

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A sound among the Trees by Susan Meissner Plus Giveaway!!!

My Review:

Do you ever get sucked into a book that you thought you wouldn’t?  Susan Meissner has a knack with this! Don’t start this book when you have to put it down or you may find yourself running behind like I did!  Sadly, I was 10 minutes later to pick up my son, something I never do, but he was fine….

This southern belle of a book will find you visiting a historical mansion in Virginia, complete with cannonball lodged in the side of it and perhaps a ghost or two, or so it is rumored. Marielle Bishop, new bride and transplant from Arizona finds that the state not only lacks hot peppers and does not even know what cilantro is, but also is full of refined secrets that only snippets are shared. When she goes on a hunt for answers, she wonders what she will uncover if anything.

Was the great-great- grandmother who lived long ago in this house, a Union spy, and is she still trying to make amends or is it just a superstition carried on through the ages?  What really happened during the war in this house?

Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, finds herself struggling with accepting her new granddaughter- in law, and is struggling to make sense of the loss in her life as well.  Will she be able to learn from history as well and find healing?

 

I loved, as usual, the historical letters and detail in Ms. Meissner’s book. I found myself drawn into the letters and feeling the love and the sacrifice, as well as the terror of the time period.  If you are a history lover, I imagine you will find yourself in the same place!  A wonderful story of healing and understanding, that I think anyone would enjoy!

Would anyone like to win a copy of this book?  If you would like to enter to win, please leave a comment on this post telling me what is your favorite book to read during the holiday season!!! Make sure to leave your email address!

-Martha

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

A Sound Among the Trees

WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Award-winning writer Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four. When she’s not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A house shrouded in time. A line of women with a heritage of loss. As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458857
ISBN-13: 978-0307458858

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Excerpt

The bride stood in a circle of Virginia sunlight, her narrow heels clicking on Holly Oak’s patio stones as she greeted strangers in the receiving line. Her wedding dress was a simple A-line, strapless, with a gauzy skirt of white that breezed about her knees like lacy curtains at an open window. She had pulled her unveiled brunette curls into a loose arrangement dotted with tiny flowers that she’d kept alive on her flight from Phoenix. Her only jewelry was a white topaz pendant at her throat and the band of platinum on her left ring finger. Tall, slender, and tanned from the famed and relentless Arizona sun, hers was a girl-nextdoor look: pretty but not quite beautiful. Adelaide thought it odd that Marielle held no bouquet.

From the parlor window Adelaide watched as her grandson-in-law, resplendent in a black tuxedo next to his bride, bent toward the guests and greeted them by name, saying, “This is Marielle.” An explanation seemed ready to spring from his lips each time he shook the hand of someone who had known Sara, her deceased granddaughter. His first wife. Carson stood inches from Marielle, touching her elbow every so often, perhaps to assure himself that after four years a widower he had indeed patently and finally moved on from grief.

Smatterings of conversations wafted about on the May breeze and into the parlor as received guests strolled toward trays of sweet tea and champagne. Adelaide heard snippets from her place at the window. Hudson and Brette, her great-grandchildren, had moved away from the snaking line of gray suits and pastel dresses within minutes of the first guests’ arrival and were now studying the flower-festooned gift table under the window ledge, touching the bows, fingering the silvery white wrappings. Above the children, an old oak’s youngest branches shimmied to the tunes a string quartet produced from the gazebo beyond the receiving line.

Adelaide raised a teacup to her lips and sipped the last of its contents, allowing the lemony warmth to linger at the back of her throat. She had spent the better part of the morning readying the garden for Carson and Marielle’s wedding reception, plucking spent geranium blossoms, ordering the catering staff about, and straightening the rented linen tablecloths. She needed to join the party now that it had begun. The Blue-Haired Old Ladies would be wondering where she was.

Her friends had been the first to arrive, coming through the garden gate on the south side of the house at five minutes before the hour. She’d watched as Carson introduced them to Marielle, witnessed how they cocked their necks in blue-headed unison to sweetly scrutinize her grandson-in-law’s new wife, and heard their welcoming remarks through the open window.

Deloris gushed about how lovely Marielle’s wedding dress was and what, pray tell, was the name of that divine purple flower she had in her hair?

Pearl invited Marielle to her bridge club next Tuesday afternoon and asked her if she believed in ghosts.

Maxine asked her how Carson and she had met—though Adelaide had told her weeks ago that Carson met Marielle on the Internet—and why on earth Arizona didn’t like daylight-saving time.

Marielle had smiled, sweet and knowing—like the kindergarten teacher who finds the bluntness of five-year-olds endearing—and answered the many questions.

Mojave asters. She didn’t know how to play bridge. She’d never encountered a ghost so she couldn’t really say but most likely not. She and Carson met online. There’s no need to save what one has an abundance of. Carson had cupped her elbow in his hand, and his thumb caressed the inside of her arm while she spoke.

Adelaide swiftly set the cup down on the table by the window, whisking away the remembered tenderness of that same caress on Sara’s arm.

Carson had every right to remarry.

Sara had been dead for four years.

She turned from the bridal tableau outside and inhaled deeply the gardenia-scented air in the parlor. Unbidden thoughts of her granddaughter sitting with her in that very room gently nudged her. Sara at six cutting out paper dolls. Memorizing multiplication tables at age eight. Sewing brass buttons onto gray wool coats at eleven. Sara reciting a poem for English Lit at sixteen, comparing college acceptance letters at eighteen, sharing a chance letter from her estranged mother at nineteen, showing Adelaide her engagement ring at twenty-four. Coming back home to Holly Oak with Carson when Hudson was born. Nursing Brette in that armchair by the fireplace. Leaning against the door frame and telling Adelaide that she was expecting her third child.

Right there Sara had done those things while Adelaide sat at the long table in the center of the room, empty now but usually awash in yards of stiff Confederate gray, glistening gold braid, and tiny piles of brass buttons—the shining elements of officer reenactment uniforms before they see war.

Adelaide ran her fingers along the table’s polished surface, the warm wood as old as the house itself. Carson had come to her just a few months ago while she sat at that table piecing together a sharpshooter’s forest green jacket. He had taken a chair across from her as Adelaide pinned a collar, and he’d said he needed to tell her something.

He’d met someone.

When she’d said nothing, he added, “It’s been four years, Adelaide.”

“I know how long it’s been.” The pins made a tiny plucking sound as their pointed ends pricked the fabric.

“She lives in Phoenix.”

“You’ve never been to Phoenix.”

“Mimi.” He said the name Sara had given her gently, as a father might. A tender reprimand. He waited until she looked up at him. “I don’t think Sara would want me to live the rest of my life alone. I really don’t. And I don’t think she would want Hudson and Brette not to have a mother.”

“Those children have a mother.”

“You know what I mean. They need to be mothered. I’m gone all day at work. I only have the weekends with them. And you won’t always be here. You’re a wonderful great-grandmother, but they need someone to mother them, Mimi.”

She pulled the pin cushion closer to her and swallowed. “I know they do.”

He leaned forward in his chair. “And I…I miss having someone to share my life with. I miss the companionship. I miss being in love. I miss having someone love me.”

Adelaide smoothed the pieces of the collar. “So. You are in love?”

He had taken a moment to answer. “Yes. I think I am.”

Carson hadn’t brought anyone home to the house, and he hadn’t been on any dates. But he had lately spent many nights after the children were in bed in his study—the old drawing room—with the door closed. When she’d pass by, Adelaide would hear the low bass notes of his voice as he spoke softly into his phone. She knew that gentle sound. She had heard it before, years ago when Sara and Carson would sit in the study and talk about their day. His voice, deep and resonant. Hers, soft and melodic.

“Are you going to marry her?”

Carson had laughed. “Don’t you even want to know her name?”

She had not cared at that moment about a name. The specter of being alone in Holly Oak shoved itself forward in her mind. If he remarried, he’d likely move out and take the children with him. “Are you taking the children? Are you leaving Holly Oak?”

“Adelaide—”

“Will you be leaving?”

Several seconds of silence had hung suspended between them. Carson and Sara had moved into Holly Oak ten years earlier to care for Adelaide after heart surgery and had simply stayed. Ownership of Holly Oak had been Sara’s birthright and was now Hudson and Brette’s future inheritance. Carson stayed on after Sara died because, in her grief, Adelaide asked him to, and in his grief, Carson said yes.

“Will you be leaving?” she asked again.

“Would you want me to leave?” He sounded unsure.

“You would stay?”

Carson had sat back in his chair. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to take Hudson and Brette out of the only home they’ve known. They’ve already had to deal with more than any kid should.”

“So you would marry this woman and bring her here. To this house.”

Carson had hesitated only a moment. “Yes.”

She knew without asking that they were not talking solely about the effects moving would have on a ten-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. They were talking about the strange biology of their grief. Sara had been taken from them both, and Holly Oak nurtured their common sorrow in the most kind and savage of ways. Happy memories were one way of keeping someone attached to a house and its people. Grief was the other. Surely Carson knew this. An inner nudging prompted her to consider asking him what his new bride would want.

“What is her name?” she asked instead.

And he answered, “Marielle…”

Excerpted from A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner Copyright © 2011 by Susan Meissner. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Menu for the week

Wednesday: Chicken soup and bread

Thursday: Spaghetti, salad

Friday: Honey Garlic chicken, rice, broccoli

Saturday:  French dip, carrot sticks, salad

Sunday: Leftovers, popcorn, cookies

Monday: Black beans  in crockpot and rice, salad

Tuesday:Slow cooked meat tacos

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Sloppy Joes and Stuffed mushrooms

Sloppy Joes

2 lbs. ground beef
1/3 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 t. garlic powder

2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
6 c. tomato juice

Cook ground beef. Add other ingredients and simmer until thick for about 20 minutes. Serve on soft buns or bread.

I made these stuffed mushrooms one day as I was craving them.

I mixed about 1/4 c. ground beef, 1 t. Italian sausage seasoning, 1/4 c. bread crumbs, 3 T. mozzarella cheese, finely chopped stems of mushrooms, pepper, garlic powder and some salt. Mix well and roll into balls and put into the tops of mushroom caps.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until meat juices run clear! Enjoy!!

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Mercy comes in the Morning by Lisa Bergren

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Mercy Come Morning

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (August 16, 2011)

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

LISA BERGREN is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books, with more than two million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time working as a freelance editor and writer while parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of the family’s next visit to Taos.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

There are no second chances. Or are there?

Krista Mueller is in a good place. She’s got a successful career as a professor of history; she’s respected and well-liked; and she lives hundreds of miles from her hometown and the distant mother she could never please. It’s been more than a decade since Alzheimer’s disease first claimed Charlotte Mueller’s mind, but Krista has dutifully kept her mother in a first-class nursing home.

Now Charlotte is dying of heart failure and, surprised by her own emotions, Krista rushes to Taos, New Mexico, to sit at her estranged mother’s side as she slips away. Battling feelings of loss, abandonment, and relief, Krista is also unsettled by her proximity to Dane McConnell, director of the nursing home—and, once upon a time, her first love. Dane’s kind and gentle spirit—and a surprising discovery about her mother—make Krista wonder if she can at last close the distance between her and her mother … and open the part of her heart she thought was lost forever.

“A timeless tale, to be kept every day in the heart as a reminder
that forgiveness is a gift to self.”
—PATRICIA HICKMAN, author of The Pirate Queen

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (August 16, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307730107
ISBN-13: 978-0307730107

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“She’s dying, Krista.”

I took a long, slow breath. “She died a long time ago, Dane.”

He paused, and I could picture him formulating his next words, something that would move me. Why was my relationship with my mother so important to him? I mean, other than the fact that she was a patient in his care. “There’s still time, Kristabelle.”

I sighed. Dane knew that his old nickname for me always got to me. “For what? For long, deep conversations?” I winced at the harsh slice of sarcasm in my tone.

“You never know,” he said quietly. “An aide found something you should see.”

“What?”

“Come. I’ll keep it here in my office until you arrive. Consider it a Christmas present.”

“It’s December ninth.”

“Okay, consider it an early present.”

It was typical of him to hold out a mysterious hook like that. “I don’t know, Dane. The school term isn’t over yet. It’s a hard time to get someone to cover for me.” It wasn’t the whole truth. I had an assistant professor who could handle things on her own. And I could get back for finals. Maybe. Unless Dane wasn’t overstating the facts.

“Krista. She’s dying. Her doctor tells me she has a few weeks, tops. Tell your department chair. He’ll let you go. This is the end.” I stared out my cottage window to the old pines that covered my yard in shadows. The end. The end had always seemed so far away. Too far away. In some ways I wanted an end to my relationship with my mother, the mother who had never loved me as I longed to be loved. When she started disappearing, with her went so many
of my hopes for what could have been. The road to this place had been long and lonely. Except for Dane. He had always been there, had always waited. I owed it to him to show. “I’ll be there on Saturday.”

“I’ll be here. Come and find me.”

“Okay. I teach a Saturday morning class. I can get out of here after lunch and down there by five or six.”

“I’ll make you dinner.”

“Dane, I—”

“Dinner. At seven.”

I slowly let my mouth close and paused. I was in no mood to argue with him now. “I’ll meet you at Cimarron,” I said.
“Great. It will be good to see you, Kristabelle.” I closed my eyes, imagining him in his office at Cimarron Care Center. Brushing his too-long hair out of his eyes as he looked through his own window.

“It will be good to see you, too, Dane. Good-bye.”

He hung up then without another word, and it left me feeling slightly bereft. I hung on to the telephone receiver as if I could catch one more word, one more breath, one more connection with the man who had stolen my heart at sixteen.

Dane McConnell remained on my mind as I wrapped up things at the college, prepped my assistant, Alissa, to handle my history classes for the following week, and then drove the scenic route down to Taos from Colorado Springs, about a five-hour trip. My old Honda Prelude hugged the roads along the magnificent San Luis Valley. The valley’s shoulders were still covered in late spring snow, her belly carpeted in a rich, verdant green. It was here that in 1862 Maggie O’Neil single-handedly led a wagon train to settle a town in western Colorado, and nearby Cecilia Gaines went so
crazy one winter they named a waterway in her honor—“Woman Hollering Creek.”

I drove too fast but liked the way the speed made my scalp tingle when I rounded a corner and dipped, sending my stomach flying. Dane had never driven too fast. He was methodical in everything he did, quietly moving ever forward. He had done much in his years since grad school, establishing Cimarron and making it a national think tank for those involved in gerontology. After high school we had essentially ceased communication for years before Cimarron came about. Then when Mother finally got to the point in her descent into Alzheimer’s that she needed fulltime institutionalized care, I gave him a call. I hadn’t been able to find a facility that I was satisfied with for more than a year, when a college friend had shown me the magazine article on the opening of Cimarron and its patron saint, Dane McConnell.

“Good looking and nice to old people,” she had moaned. “Why can’t I meet a guy like that?”

“I know him,” I said, staring at the black-and-white photograph.

“Get out.”

“I do. Or did. We used to be…together.”

“What happened?” she asked, her eyes dripping disbelief.

“I’m not sure.”

I still wasn’t sure. Things between us had simply faded over the years. But when I saw him again, it all seemed to come back. Or at least a part of what we had once had. There always seemed to be a submerged wall between us, something we couldn’t quite bridge or blast through. So we had simply gone swimming toward different shores.

Mother’s care had brought us back together over the last five years. With the congestive heart failure that was taking her body, I supposed the link between us would finally be severed. I would retreat to Colorado, and he would remain in our beloved Taos, the place of our youth, of our beginnings, of our hearts. And any lingering dream of living happily ever after with Dane McConnell could be buried forever with my unhappy memories of Mother.

I loosened my hands on the wheel, realizing that I was gripping

it so hard my knuckles were white. I glanced in the rearview mirror, knowing that my reverie was distracting me from paying attention to the road. It was just that Dane was a hard man to get over. His unique ancestry had gifted him with the looks of a Scottish Highlander and the sultry, earthy ways of the Taos Indians. A curious, inspiring mix that left him with both a leader’s stance and a wise man’s knowing eyes. Grounded but visionary. A driving force, yet empathetic at the same time. His employees loved working for him. Women routinely fell in love with him.

I didn’t know why I could never get my act together so we could finally fall in love and stay in love. He’d certainly done his part. For some reason I’d always sensed that Dane was waiting for me, of all people. Why messed-up, confused me? Yet there he was. I’d found my reluctance easy to blame on my mother. She didn’t love me as a mother should, yada-yada, but I’d had enough time with my counselor to know that there are reasons beyond her. Reasons that circle back to myself.

I’d always felt as if I was chasing after parental love, but the longer I chased it, the further it receded from my reach. It left a hole in my heart that I was hard-pressed to fill. God had come close to doing the job. Close. But there was still something there, another blockade I had yet to blast away. I would probably be working on my “issues” my whole life. But as my friend Michaela says, “Everyone’s got issues.” Supposedly I need to embrace them. I just want them to go away.

“Yeah,” I muttered. Dane McConnell was better off without me. Who needed a woman still foundering in her past?

I had to focus on Mother. If this was indeed the end, I needed to wrap things up with her. Find closure. Some measure of peace. Even if she couldn’t say the words I longed to hear.

I love you, Krista.

Why was it that she had never been able to force those four words from her lips?

Excerpted from Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Apple Week

I have apples that need to be gone through and used, and since it is getting colder outside, they had to be moved to a warmer location.

Here are some great apple recipes I am looking to try out!!

Apple Pull-Apart Bread

Apple Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream This one sounds amazing and I also got some Half and half to use up!!

Apple Cinnamon Baked oatmeal

 

Yesterday  we made two wonderful pies. One had a butter/shortening mix crust with apples and cranberry inside. The other was just a plain apple, but they were both amazing!

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I am also planning on canning some applesauce. I need to borrow a Victorio strainer and one of these years, buy my own!!

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