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The Secret Life of Bees is a phenomenal story about finding love and a family in unexpected places. Sue Monk Kidd is my idol. I aspire to write on her level someday.
“Lily Owens’ life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the town’s fiercest racists (in 1964 South Carolina), Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon—a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household.”
I was entranced by the writing.
I fell in love with every single character so much so that I wanted to know what happened to them after the book ended. As if I didn’t quite believe they lived only inside the pages of this novel.
Though this is a character driven novel, the plot is strong and kept me wondering what would happen next.
Here are some of my favorite lines from the book…
“But you can’t talk yourself out of anger. Either you are angry or you’re not.”
“Sometimes things of magnitude settle over you with excruciating slowness.”
If I had to describe this book in one word?
On Friday, Grandma H, Mom and I went to the cemetery where Grandma H’s parents and sisters are buried. Grandma H and I visit most weeks and try to tend to the graves in the spring.
This time we went to refresh the fake flowers on my great grandmother’s grave. It was a crisp spring day heading into early evening. The sun was still out but not as strong as it had been all day.
The breeze whipped Grandma H’s blouse around, so we didn’t stay too long. As we turned to go, we looked up in a pine tree. At the tippity-top sat a crow. Watching over us.
“Oh my goodness, look at the bird! It must be a sign,” Grandma H said.
The crow cawed back at her.
“Maybe it’s one of them letting us know they know we are here,” Mom said.
The crow cawed back at her.
I nodded. “Did Great Aunt M like birds?”
“Yes she did,” Mom said.
The crow cawed back at her.
“Maybe it’s her,” I said.
The bird stayed on top of the tree watching us until we opened our car doors. Then it suddenly took flight, swooping over our car and off into the sky.
As we pulled out of the cemetery, Mom said, “You know it was your Great Aunt J’s birthday today.”
You may not believe in signs, but on that particular afternoon, I did.
I have no clue why it took me so long to see The Descendants.
I absolutely loved how much setting the film used. Huge beach vistas and busy city streets in Hawaii. Totally grounded me in the story.
The story is about a workaholic father who is the backup parent until his wife has a boating accident. Right after he is told she won’t wake up from her coma and her living will kicks in, he finds out about his wife’s infidelity. Touching, heart-warming, realistic, tragic, humorous, and conflicted don’t begin to describe it.
I have never seen actors act so flawlessly you forgot you were watching a movie and you were sucked right into their world. You believed this was happening. And you took the entire emotional journey with this family.
George Clooney and Shailene Woodley are beyond gifted. There is this scene where she breaks down in the pool–wow. Just wow.
It earned every accolade it achieved in this New York Times Review.
I’m going to have to add the book to my reading list.
(This is not a picture of Grandma in her new wig.)
Last Wednesday, Grandma H decided we would add wig shopping to our to-do list.
Grandma H has a good head of hair, but she doesn’t like having to get it done every week. So she told me she would wear a wig in between hair appointments.
I’m on board because this sounds reasonable enough.
So we head to a wig store in Waterbury. Wigs range from $140-350. For a short haired wig?!
Are you kidding me?
I used to wig shop in LA and San Diego during my club kid days of some moons ago. A wig that went down to my bum cost me $50.
While we’re waiting to try on a wig, another shopper says to Grandma H, “That one looks good on you.”
I try not to laugh. Grandma H looks stunned.
I explain, “That’s her real hair.”
The lady looks suitably surprised. “Oh, well it looks nice.”
I love Grandma H but it looks overteased and hairsprayed. Nice is not in the realm of possibility.
Grandma H tries a few on to get an idea of the color and style she would like. But we can’t pay those kind of prices.
After the sticker shock, we decide to try another store. We head over to a less expensive hair place where the wigs go for $29.99. That’s reasonable.
Grandma H explains to me, “I plan to wear it like a hat. Just when I go out of the house.”
I try not to crack up at the image of her in a hair hat.
We end up finding two pretty nice wigs and get them for $58. (We got a little discount for buying both.)
Grandma H whispers, “I only have $40 on me.”
So I say, “I can spot you the money.”
Then I go make the purchase for her.
Later, we go to the scratch off place and Grandma H buys $20 in scratch offs. I forget that old ladies divide up their cash by their activities. God only knows how much she has in that purse divided amongst ten different purposes.
She ends up winning $50 recouping the cost of the ticket and one wig. It’s a good day for Grandma H.
Yesterday Mom and I were running errands. Question: Would you pay money for these flowers? Even at the dollar store?
I wouldn’t. They look knocking-on-death’s-door ill.
How was your Memorial Day weekend? I had back-to-back picnics with my family. The first was a family-only small spontaneously gathering of like minded individuals. Brie and Jarlsberg cheese. Yummie pickins. My aunt has Remi Martin cognac. With a splash of Diet Coke. Delish.
The second was a larger picnic including friends. And friends of friends. Succulent steaks, tasty salads, and rum and Diet Coke. Nice time.
And Johnny Weir was there.
That is the uncanny part of my weekend. Completely random that he’s a friend of my cousin.
He was an absolute delight, doing a flip off the diving board and into the water.
And he is jaw-slamming-the-floor gorgeous in person. His skin is flawless and his eyes are the most mischievous green I’ve ever seen. You-can’t-help-but-stare-at-him beautiful.
The only thing that eclipsed him was my Grandma H striking “Ms. Lake Compounce” poses on the diving board. And telling an 8-year-old that if she splashed one more time, she’d drown her.
It was a weekend of not-to-be missed events.
And I am officially 69% done revising my second manuscript. I want it completed before July 8th. Looks like that is going to be attainable. *Fingers crossed*
You know at the park how people gather around the sea lions and cheer and clap, hoping they’ll perform?
Well I just wanted to take a moment to thank the people who were my cheering squad though my spine problems, surgery, and recovery.
To Mom–You took the bus to visit whenever I needed you, cleaned my apartment, fielded my crazy hysterically crying phone calls, helped pay for the surgery, and slept at the hospital with me. Then stayed for two weeks to take care of me. And came back to make a Thanksgiving feast for me and Brett.
To Brett–Who took every crazy email in stride and came with me to my spinal injections. Who hung out with me when all I could do was walk and found creative ways to deal with the no sitting rule. You made me feel like I had value when I was useless. You took care of my dog when I was in the hospital. You were my rock. Still are.
To Dad–You took your fair share of pain crazed calls and never stopped trying to find a solution. You supported me all the way. Thanks for being there in the recovery room.
To Dr. Bitan–You are a god to me. You rebuilt my spine and gave me my life back. Because of you I saw Austria last year and drove around the southwest U.S. on a roadtrip this summer. You gave me a second chance.
To Grandma H–You came and stayed with me for a few weeks while I recovered, walking all over the city with me at a snail’s pace. I loved our sleepovers where we watched scary movies and ate pizza. You came to the follow-up doctor visits with me and that meant so much to me.
To Stephen–You always found ways to let me work despite my spine problem. And you made me laugh on days when I never thought I could.
To Zach and Lil–you were my phone and email buddies. It helped to vent to you. Thanks for putting up with my outbursts.
To Kaylene–You were more than my physical therapist, you brought me back from surgery and became a good friend.
Thank you all for seeing me through those dark days. No matter where we go in life, I will always be grateful to you.
I’ve spent July 4 with friends, with family, in foreign countries, in NYC, at the beach, etc. It’s funny how holidays become so significant in memory. July 4 and October 31 are two of my favorites. They are fun holidays without the pressure of gifts. Almost like holidays without expectations as opposed to Christmas and New Years, which always feel like make it or break it holidays. Like if the day doesn’t go as planned, something major is lost.
I’ve shared July 4 with lots of people I’ve cared about over the years. Josh, Carina and Anju in 1998–Beijing, Linds in high school and college, Ant at the beach. Emerson–who’s been around for the last 6 July 4ths.
This past July 4 was with family. Catching up with my grandma. Making smores with my aunt using ginormous marshmallows. Whipping up strawberry shortcakes with my mom. A great way to pass the day. Being grateful for what I have in my life.
The day is so tangible, it’s like cracking open a page in a photo album and boom you’re back in that moment again. I guess I’d like to say thanks to everyone who made July 4 special for me over the years.
What did you do for July 4th? Did you enjoy the day?
So I was watching Avenue Q a while back and Princeton is fresh out of undergrad and trying to find his purpose. He stops living, determined to find his purpose before he does anything else. This got me thinking. What’s my purpose? What do I live to do? Why am I here?
Deep thoughts, right. I love to write. So I write. I edit. I revise. I re-edit. An endless cycle of writing. And it fills me with a sense of purpose and gives my existence meaning. So when I have problems with my hand and I can’t write as much, I lose some of my purpose. I don’t like how that feels.
It reminds me of when I herniated a disc in my back and couldn’t sit. Back then I was a consultant. My purpose (or job) required traveling and sitting at different client sites to do my work. So when my back acted up, I couldn’t do my job and I lost my purpose. That was one of the worst times in my life. I felt useless. I felt like nobody capable of doing nothing. Just talking about it conjures up bad feelings.
Anyway, what is my point? I think we all need a purpose. Scratch that. We all need a few purposes. Reasons to exist. Things that make life meaningful and worth living. My writing is still number 1, but I need a number 2 and 3. I guess Number 2 is my dog and my family. (Yes, in that order. One lives with me the other only visits.) Number 3 would be my friends.
But having those 3 purposes makes my life better and richer.
What is your purpose? What do you live to do or be?
I was in the kitchen at work perusing the beverage choices when I decided to go with a Tazo Calm Tea. Opening the tea bag, I sniffed to make sure this was something I wanted to make into a drink. It really did smell calming. It also triggered a memory.
Iced tea was the summer drink of my childhood and teen years. My grandparent’s fridge was always stocked with a pitcher of it. So the sugar-free Lipton iced tea mix became a favorite of mine. Maybe because it represented family and comfort. Or long summer days sitting on the porch waiting for something to happen and passing time together in the interim.
As I got older, a cup of Lipton with sweet n low and milk was my grandmother’s trademark. Every time I came home from college, she’d be boiling hot water for a cup. She always insisted on preparing it for me, making sure it was really pale and beige the way I liked it. Then we’d sit down at her kitchen table and catch up.
Is there any drink that conjures up memories for you?