Friday, February 29, 2008

Journaling! A Pathway to Clarity

I've been journaling for years now. Before that I would communicate regularly
with my older sister via snail mail. We would be constantly composing long tombs to one another relating our daily doings and the events that took place. We'd cover the mundane as well as the heart wrenching details of raising kids and trying to build young marriages.

She lived in Minnesota and I in California, and through this constant exchange of letters we were always up to the minute on each other's lives. When we would be able to see one another face to face during our visit to Mn or her family's to Ca, we would be able to pick up our relationships as if we had just seen one another the day before.

Shirley and I saved one an other's letters for years and had boxes and boxes of them. I finally cleaned house one day and threw them out. She did the same as she scaled down over the years. What I wouldn't give for those early letters now that my kids are grown and have kids of their own, and my beloved sister has passed away.

Our letter writing served a bigger purpose than keeping us close, though. Both of us found that writing about what was bothering us gave us a clarity and often helped us find the solutions to the things that were troubling us. If not, then the feedback the other gave was the vehicle from which came the clarity we were seeking through our sharing. Thus was born my love for writing, but also my respect for the written word and it's value as an object of shining light into the dark places we are struggling to get out of.

With the advent of computers and word processors, we are now able to write and password protect our thoughts here without fear of someone finding and reading what we write. There is a freedom in that privacy. We don't have to worry about spelling or grammar. We don't have to worry about what we say. Our writings are as private as are our thoughts. What a gift these computers are to us.

I have one journal that I have kept for many years. I started it when my youngest child was graduating from high school and I was facing the inevitable empty nest syndrome. I have continued to write, not always regularly, but constantly enough to draw a picture of me and my family, our growth and the changes that took place. It's like a movie camera into my soul as it records my highs and my lows, and the important events we all shared. I started that particular journal in 1989. The daughter that was graduating high school was 18 then, and is now turning 37 at the end of March. I wrote it with the thought in mind that my children would all read it one day. I see it as a legacy of my love for them. I hope that they share it, and copy it so they all have one of their own. I've filled an entire hard cover book, you've seen the kind I mean. You can buy them anywhere, books with hard covers and empty pages just waiting for us to fill them. I'm about to buy and begin a new one to record these golden years. That will be book three in the "Life of Mary" trilogy.

I strongly urge you all to consider journaling. Just start writing. Don't worry about spelling or grammar or punctuation. Just put down words and thoughts. Nobody is going to proof read it, and as long as you know what you mean, that's all that matters. You'll be surprised what comes out, and what a tremendous outlet it will become. Psychiatrists highly recommend journaling to their patients. It keeps us from thinking in circles as we all tend to do when we are troubled. Do give it a try. I think once you begin, you won't stop.

Until next time, happy journaling!!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Book Readers Dream Come True at Mahalo

There is a site on the Internet that has a category on books that will make any avid reader go "Ape". ( I think I just aged myself there. ) The link I listed below is a must see site. It is lovingly called:

Mahalo is near and dear to my heart because I work for them too. I am one of the many, many people they have on staff who write those pages that are so informative. Being an avid reader myself, I am on the "Literature Team" and although I am free to branch out and write on other teams, this is where my heart belongs. The variety of books that they have interesting pages on is awesome. If the book you want to read is pre-copyright years, Mahalo gives you online resources where you can either read the book of your choice or download it to your computer.

Mahalo doesn't only have the classic, though, but all of the latest and greatest are there too. If it's new it's on Malhalo before the ink dries on the page.
As a reader, you owe it to yourself to visit Mahalo's literature section. You will be in awe. Trust me on this.

If you don't find what you're looking for at Mahalo, they want to hear from you. Email them at Tell them what you would like to see a page written on and they will indeed add it to the list of "pages to be written".

Here's another good link
That will tell you all you need to know about Mahalo, but were afraid to ask.

Until next time, Enjoy!!!


Saturday, February 23, 2008

PopUp Books for Children

I was searching books for children and came across this video in YouTube. I thought you would enjoy it too. Finding fun and unusual gifts to give my grandchildren is always a challenge and I know that I am not alone is this quest.

I hope you enjoy this link. You can search for that and other books at the link on my page here. Convenient?? You bet!!

Until next time,


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just a note on "Simple Abundance" at its best

Those of you who read my book review on "Simple Abundance" a while back might enjoy this posting that is all about "simple abundance" in a real day to day sense. Let me know what you think and if you have suggestions, do let us know that as well, and I will post them for my other readers to enjoy.


Pearl S Buck

I am enjoying "Sons" so much and can't wait to share it here in a book review shortly. Sons is the second in the Pearl S. Buck trilogy, "House Of Earth". The first being "The Good Earth" and ending with "A House Divided". This book is HUGE, as you can imagine, containing three books. It is no wonder that Pearl S. Buck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. If you haven't read any of her novels, I strongly urge you to do so. Unlike most classic literature, her books are such that we can relate to them now and always. They are about people who could be here today. The themes of her writings are timeless in nature, making her books always relevant.

Other books by her that I have read are: Pavilion of Women, Imperial Women, Townsman, The Living Reed and many, many others. It's been a while since I read these so I need to reread them to review them for you here.

Anyway, am reading "Sons" as fast as I can. I can't wait to share it with you. Then you'll have to wait for me again while I read "House Divided". After that I hope to review the trilogy as a whole here.

You're going to get sick of hearing about this writer. Is it obvious that she is one of my favorites? =) I also enjoy Patricia Cornwell. How big a stretch is that, I ask you!!! =)

Till next time, happy reading,


Monday, February 18, 2008

Black History Month

I posted an article on Black History Month on one of my other blogs at
If you are interested in this month of awareness, please read my article. I'm passionate about this topic and have been since I watched "Roots" . I would like to suggest some other books to you that I have read on this if you are interested in this topic. To begin with, I have reread Roots several times and intend to read it again. It is truly one of my favorites, and I try to reread it during Black History Month.

I would also like to suggest that you visit
You will not only find a lot of information there on how Black History Month began, but recipes and all sorts of great links. It's a tremendous resource and one I use often. I also work there helping to build those pages, and I refer people to Mahalo because of the information they have. It's really worth checking out.

Some other books that I would like to suggest. You might want to use the search link there on the left side of the page to search to see if they are available online at

Black Alice by Thom Demijohn . This book is about a elementary aged young girl from a wealth family who was abducted for ransom by some people who disguised her as a little black girl. It's a good book.

Re-read Roots if you haven't already read it. Worth reading over and over again.
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. Again, this is an older book and you may want to search for it there on the link.

The classic Uncle Tom's Cabin is a must read. It was first publish in the 1860s, so may be available free online to read. It is and can be found here.

Man's inhumanity to his fellow man enrages me. For Mahalo I did a page on Auschwitz
Do check that out. That's a topic for another day and another discussion.

Until next time,


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Books, a Commentary

Anyone who enjoys a good book is a wealthy person. No matter what your circumstance in life, if you read, you can travel the world and visit with new and interesting people on a regular basis.
Each night when we get into bed, my husband and I each lay there propped up on our pillows reading our books. We really enjoy sharing this time. We don't talk, but we are certainly sharing. The next morning over coffee we'll often talk about what we're reading and if our book is a good one, we'll set it aside for the other to read when ready. I can count on enjoying a book that Gary has said, "You'd enjoy this one". He's never read Pearl S Buck and I'm anxious for him to discover her when I'm finished with "The House of Earth" trilogy. I've told several people that I will loan it to them, but he's first on my "loanee" list.

We have a wonderful used book store here. They buy and sell books of all sorts. Gary is such a good customer that he'll ask them to be on the look out for a certain book and they'll call him when they get it. When we take books in for them to buy, rather than money they give credit towards books. We're rich again. Our "tab" is so long I don't think we'll have to be buying a book anytime soon.

With the internet we can now download or read online most of the classics free. If they are older than patents are, they are free online. If there is a special book that you've been wanting to read, a great resource is Either search for the book or the author, and you'll find some great links to site where you can read reviews or even download books free.

I think everyone is a "book lover" on one level or another. All you have to do is find a book that grabs you and you are captured for a lifetime. Then, the more you read, the better you get at finding books that capture you. It's win/win.

Happy reading!

Until next time,


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When It's Time To Say Goodbye

When It's Time To Say Goodbye........

If you're reading this post then you too are a pet lover. You too have had pets or have pets. You know the bonds that are formed between these beloved animals and those of us lucky enough to find that special one.

About 14 years ago, our grandson who lived in an apartment with his folks at the time, expressed how much he wished he could have a dog. I had been missing having a pet too as we have always had one. My husband too, felt that to get a dog was a great idea. We had a friend who was preparing to breed her beautiful black cocker spaniel, so we called her and told her we'd love to have one of the pups. Well, the pups were born, and after a few weeks my husband and I took our then 4 year old grandson over to see the babies. They were just beautiful and we selected the runt of the litter as ours.

When it was time to bring our new furry baby home, we took our grandson with us. His mom was waiting at our house to see our new family member. What an exciting day that was. Alex was beside himself with joy as that little black pup jumped all over him and licked his face. That was Alex's dog too. We caged our new pup, "Gabby", short for Gabriella, in the kitchen with her food, papers, toys, and a bed. Alex, Gary and I spent more time in that caged area than we did anywhere. We couldn't get over how fast she was housebroken and soon was sleeping with us in our bed. Yes, in our bed. We wanted her close by.

Gabby was everyone's dog, but really, Alex and my husband Gary were her people. When Alex wasn't here, she followed Gary around wherever he went. If he sat in his recliner she was by his side. If he moved to his office chair, she moved too. If he was getting something to eat, there was our Gabby by his side watching the floor for droppings that would "just happen" to "accidentally" drop for her.

When Alex came to spend the night, Gabby would go from our bed to Alex's and back again. When we got up in the morning, if she wasn't with us, we knew where to look for her. She'd be in with her boy.

Alex was in pre-school at that time, and some days his dad would pick him up early from school. On his way to get Alex, he would stop off at our house, pick up Gabby, and take her with him to go get Alex. Oh my, the kisses, licks, and shouts of joy. It was such a treat for Gabby and for Alex.

On other days we would get a call asking if "Gabby could spend the night". Of course we would let her, so Alex and his parents would come get Gabby, her food, and a few toys and off they would go.

As the years past, this pattern continued. Alex's family soon moved into a house so were able to get some pets of their own, so Gabby didn't go to spend the night much, but if we were going away, boarding Gabby wasn't an option. Alex and his family would keep her. When that was no longer workable, we would board her and then Alex's folks would go get Gabby from boarding for the weekends and return her there on Monday when they went back to work.

I tell you all of this because it takes a very special animal to belong to so many people, give everyone their due, but still have her own favorites. She was truly something.

Time sure does fly by and Gabby was getting old and grey. Her ears were getting infected more and more often which is common in Cockers. One day I found her going around in circles confused and disoriented. She'd had a stroke. Her eyesight was fading too with cataracts forming in them both. She started staying behind with me more when Gary would be out doing the yard or working in the garage. I stayed put, and that worked out better for Gabby's tired old body. She was happy as long as she had one of us to be near.

Soon those infected ears got worse and her entire body was raging with infection. She was weak, we'd tried every antibiotic that the vet gave us, but nothing worked. The vet suggested he do surgery on her ears. We said we'd think and pray about that. We asked the vet to give us another medication and let us try that. We asked about steroids, so we tried that too.

We knew the time had come when we had to make that big decision between what was humane for our beloved Gabby and how in the world could we part with our long time friend. So, we ignored it as best we could for many months. We talked about it to Alex who is 17 now very he said, "Whatever you feel is best is totally alright with me, grandpa and grandma". We talked about it between ourselves too. Gary would just say, "Not yet", and I would agree.

The day came of awakening, though, when we realize that we were being selfish, that we had to love our beloved Gabby enough to say our goodbyes and give her peace. We made an appointment to talk to our vet. We gathered around Gabby as we talked. Dr Beck said he could do surgery and would do it for half price if that would help us. He also said, though, that for cocker spaniels, 14-15 years is their lifespan and Gabby was right up there and we needed to consider that. We knew he was right, but we again needed to go home, talk about it, call Alex and make sure he was ready, his folks, our other granddaughters, everyone. Mostly we needed to talk to Gabby. I lay on the bed next to her. I asked if she was ready to go. She just looked at me with her cataract glazed eyes and took a deep breath. My tears were dropping on her black ears as I kissed her and told her how I felt about her and thought it sucked that she was sick and how I wished I knew if dogs went to heaven or not. Gary was his stoic self, and couldn't do the goodbye thing. He did it in his way and in his time.

The next day we took her into the vets to be put down. I wanted to stay with her so badly, but they weren't going to be getting to her for a couple of hours and there was no way I could take her back home only to bring her back again. So, we kissed her for the last time and walked out with hearts that were so heavy they could have dragged on the ground. There was no comfort to be found anywhere other than in the fact that we did it for Gabby. We gave her peace because we loved her. We had to keep reminding ourselves of that. We made our calls to Alex and the rest of the family so that they would know that she was gone. Alex was okay, he said, and said it was the right thing to do for Gabby.

A couple of days later Alex came to spend the night with us. As he was foraging for something to eat in the pantry he came across some food that was still there of Gabby's that we hadn't given away yet. It was then that our big man sized boy started to cry. Then it was real to him too. His long time pal was gone for good. We cried together, we talked about our memories of our dear pet, then cried some more.

It's been about 6 weeks or so since we put our beloved "Gabby Girl" down. We have her ashes and are going to plant a tree somewhere and scatter her ashes at the base of it to nourish it. Our family will probably be the only ones who will know that that tree is a GABBY TREE, but that's okay. It'll be a place where we can go and visit and know that if Gabby knew and understood, she would like where she was put.

Our hearts are still heavy and longing for her as we continue to say those good byes..........but it's getting a little better. =)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

As a freelance writer, I am constantly on the lookout for good sites on which to post my blogs' urls as well as good sites that offer marketing opportunities. Well, today I came across I was visiting another writer's blog, saw the link and clicked on it. After checking it out and signing up, I was so excited about it I just had to come back here and share it with all of you.

What excites me about is that after you list your blog or blogs, it rates them as to a price that you can expect to receive for your writing. But that's not all. They also offer you an opportunity to write an article that they will critique and offer suggestions as to how you can improve your skills. You won't believe it, but this service is FREE.

As if that weren't enough, they also have a list of companies looking for writers to provide articles promoting their products and services. has everything I personally need and have been looking for as a beginning freelance writer and blogger. Professional feedback, marketing suggestions, and marketing opportunities.

I just had to share this with those of you who read my blog on a regular basis. Those of you that are also writers/bloggers will want to check out and sign up. Be sure to let me know what you think. I can't wait to hear back from you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters Commentary

I love to eat someone else's cooking, but think that Alice Waters' " The Art of Simple Food just may get me into my kitchen eagerly making "simple" things.

A friend of mine was given "The Art of Simple Food" as a gift, and went on and on about it. So, I did some research, read reviews, and now I can't wait to get my own copy of her book. I really like the idea of eating locally grown, seasonal foods, and fully agree that we Americans need to stop importing our foods. We have no controls over what is used on or in imported foods, and the recent contamination scares are a testimony to what can happen.

Alice Waters makes cooking and eating a celebration, yet the simplicity of her recipes and techniques remind me of a simpler time. A time before fast food, and ordering in. Times when kids did their homework and visited with mom while she prepared dinner so that it would be ready when dad came home. Times when meals were a family event. TVs went off, happenings of our day were shared, jokes were told, trips planned, and problem solving was not allowed until after dinner. (Bad for the digestion, you know!)

After I get her book, I'll report back in with you with a full review. Until then, I'm pondering planting a "victory garden" this summer, loaded with every vegetable that we love. Gary and I could easily be vegetarians and often buy a huge package of frozen mixed veggies and have that covered in cheese as our evening meal. Excellent, easy, filling, and good for the diets we're both always on.

Until next time,


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I've been wanting to review "Simple Abundance" for some time now, but wasn't sure that it was still in print. So, before I started this posting, I checked and it's still for sale there. Great news!!

"Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy" by Sarah Ban Breathnach. "A Daybook of Comfort and Joy". Truer words were never spoken. I got my book from a friend who felt that I just needed to have it, and need it I did. =) I didn't know it at the time, however.

"Simple Abundance" is one of those books that you will keep by your favorite chair, that place where you go in the afternoon to sit for a while, relax, have a cup of flavored coffee, or a cold drink on a hot summer's day. Sarah Ban Breathnach has a daily suggestion as to how you can take that day and pull out of it a bit of abundance for yourself no matter what your station in life, your situation, or your condition. She helps one to see that abundance is as much a frame of mind as anything. She helps us to see that in small things there can be great pleasures.

In each days offering, she starts it off with a quote from someone else that by itself, says volumes and would be enough. As an example of this, I quote, "Gardening is an instrument of grace" the author is May Sarton, an author and a poet. Don't you love that??

As a sample of what this amazing book brings to the reader, I will paraphrase one of her daily offerings. This is from "July 19". She goes through the calendar day by day.

July 19:

"Carving Out Time for Personal Pursuits That Bring Contentment".

Then she quotes "Rebecca West". "It is the soul's duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion".

Ms Breathnach goes on to write: "After putting down her pen, novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings cooked up plots as she baked pies". And then she goes on, "Katharine Hepburn whiled away the long stretches on the movie sets by knitting." And, "Queen Victoria filled dozens of sketchbooks with charming watercolors of her children that reveal a glimpse of the real woman who delighted in holding a brush when not ruling an empire".

She goes on to say, " We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores and obligations". Then she quotes another author, Toni Morrison, as saying, "I'm not so sure that we deserve such big A-pluses for that". I totally agree with that. Don't you?

I like this next piece. "But the house calls to us. The children call to us. The work calls to us". Then she asks, "When then, does the painting or the poem call to us?" (She's talking about ME there!! Is she talking about you too?) She says that we are too busy listening to everyone else to listen to our "authentic selves". She goes on to say that, "maybe it's because we have convinced ourselves that we don't have time for these pursuits that bring us contentment unless they only take 15 minutes or so", or even moreso, that we don't deserve that time. What is that all about???

Further down on this days writing she says, "Maybe the answer is that I haven't yet learned to put myself on the list of priorities", and "My authentic passions will have to wait until I'm ready to admit that pursuing them is essential for my happiness". These things that bring us such joy are ESSENTIAL to our HAPPINESS. Think about that!! They are essential!!

I don't know about you, but she sure makes me want to get up off of this computer chair, get out my easel, my paints, my clay for sculpting, and paint with one hand while I sculpt with the other, and all while my eyes are reading my favorite book. lol

I hope that this small taste of this book will make you consider going out and buying it for yourself or ordering it online.

You are going to love having it and will find it to be a constant source of keeping you centered and in touch with yourself. Helping you remember that what YOU need is also important. We need to do things that are just for ourselves, that make us feel fulfilled, and content. In doing this, we are filled up and therefore have that much more to bring to our families. After all, an empty vessel is just that, empty. And that, my friend, is a Maryism!!! =) You MAY quote me. =)

Until next time,


Monday, February 4, 2008

MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex was an "Oprah's Book Club" selection for summer reading in 2007. I picked it up for that reason. I love Oprah and appreciate all that she does and tries to do with all she has to give. Not only resources, but connections and so forth. Ah, but I digress here. =)

Middlesex is the name of the community where the story takes place, though is also the topic of the book. The main character, Calliope tells her story of how she came to be, going back as far as her grandparents in the old country. She is following genetics more so than persons, the genetics that caused her to be who she was, a hermaphrodite. The narrator, Calliope, blames her confused orientation on a gene that had it's start back in Greece and worked it's way forward. This book reviewer can't help but feel that the fact that her grandparents, Lefty and Desdemona Stephanides, were brother and sister, just may have played a part in it too.

The family story is followed from Smyrna, Greece to America, to the family members there and those that were to come. To the birth of Calliope with her strange gene, and her brother lovingly referred to as "Chapter Eleven".

The story then follows Colliope's development, the many opportunities for doctors to discover that she was different, but didn't. Our author, Eugenides, is brilliant in the way he handles the progression of Colliope's personality. Once in her teens she falls in love with another girl which causes her a great deal of confusion. Calliope is a boy genetically , after all, but doesn't know it. From birth he has been physically raised as a girl.

A series of events lead to the discovery of Colliope's uniqueness at the age of 14.The parents and doctors decide to operate and make Calliope the girl that "she was meant to be". I shall leave that right there, and let you read for yourself what happens. Again, Eugenides is a brilliant author and tells this whole story as none other could.

Needless to say, the topic of this book is a difficult one to handle, and the author did an amazing job at keeping my interest throughout. I can't recommend it to you highly enough. I came away feeling I had learned a lot about some issues I didn't know a thing about. Besides being entertained, isn't that why we read, after all?

Until next time,


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pearl S Buck's The House Of Earth Trilogy

January 16, 2008 by kitnet

After 48 years of marriage, Gary and I settle the “what to get him/her for Christmas” problem by buying for ourselves. What we buy becomes our gift from each other. We’ll even go so far as to wrap them. This year we just put them under the tree not to be touched or used until after Santa has been here.

This year I wanted Pearl S. Buck’s “The House of Earth” trilogy. I had read “The Good Earth” when I was in my early 20s Joan loaned it to me and that started my love of books and my thirst for more books, better books, older books, new authors and so on. I digress.

So, after “Santa” came to our house I was able to claim my book and add it to my “waiting to be read” stack. I was finishing up a “Patricia Cornwell” Scarpetta novel.

Soon I was done with Kay, her dead bodies and odd friends, and was able to begin “House of Earth”. Have you seen this book?? It’s as thick as any of my bibles. I’m about half way through “The Good Earth” which is the first in the trilogy. I’m amazed at how much I have forgotten, or should I say, how little I remembered of it. That brings up the subject of aging and it’s affect on our memories etc. but that’s a subject for another blog, I think. =)

So, each night I crawl into bed, turn on my electric blanket and cozy up to Wang Lung, his wife O-lan, their children and the goings on in the House of Wang. What can I say. I’m there with them. Buck isn’t very descriptive when it comes to surroundings, so I decorate it as I see it. However, I’ve come to know this interesting Wang Lung, his gentle spirit, great mind, and his capacity to work like a horse and consider it the greatest honor bestowed on mankind.

As the saga continues one’s heart is wrenched by images of a little baby girl who is so starved that she doesn’t cry anymore, but just lays there, wrapped in her rags. Her mom is expecting yet another child to add to the three they have (”Please wooden god statue, let this new child be boy rather than a worthless girl child”. Little wooden god wasn’t listening, however, because O-lan goes off into the bedroom to be alone and soon one hears moaning, smells blood, and hears the feeble cry of an infant. One hears it only once. Is it a wonder that this baby made it?? Mom has had no food in so long her skin hangs on her bones too. But wait!!! When dad, Wang Lung goes in to see his newborn he finds her, (ohhhhhh nooooooooooooooooo, not another GIRL. “God does not look down upon me with favor”) lying in the corner. While wrapping this little one in rags to take it out of the house, Wang notices a couple of bruises on it’s neck. Mom O-lan, has “taken care of things”. Arghhhhhh. Some lucky wild dog will have one heck of a feast tonight out there on the burial grounds. Let’s scroll back a bit. Didn’t I say something about Wang Lung being such a gentle spirited, good man?? He is all of that and more. However, it’s a different time, a different country, and a different culture that the Lung family lives in.

Well, have I whetted your appetite for The Good Earth? I certainly hope so. I don’t think you can find it free online, but am sure you can download an audio book for a small fee. Maybe you could try Project Gutenberg. They may have it as a free download there or audio book. Just get it, read it and enjoy it. You’re in for a wonderful journey when you do. Let me know what you think.

For now………….Kitnet