New: Television, Catalog, Egg Cup

After doing my research like a good girl and responsible consumer, I headed over to Best Buy on Wednesday. I had narrowed down my choices to either Samsung or Sony Bravia. The prices were comparable. After looking at them and sending pictures to Don, I spoke to the salesman and asked which one he would recommend. (I kept quiet about the one I thought had the better picture.) Sure enough, he recommended the Sony, which to me, had a significantly better picture. So, that’s what I bought. (Both were Smart TVs, which means, for us, that we can get Netflix on a big screen.)

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Ain’t she purity? Our older flat screen, gosh it must have been about 8 years old, was so much heavier, so heavy that I have to wait for Don to get back home before I can move it out of the den. This set is almost too lightweight. It’s also a 40″ screen; the old one was 32″.

I figured out how to connect all the cables and wires and managed to get through all the prompts on the screen and….voilà! By the time the World Series started, I was nestled into the sofa texting Don about how great the picture was. (Not happy about the results of the World Series. Not happy at all.)

That cabinet is one I bought at auction for $5.00. It was the perfect size for our den, I brought it home and cleaned it up, repainted and ‘aged’ it, added some glass knobs and now it holds this stuff:

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Including a VCR that we never use anymore. Perhaps I should remove it someday. And yes, you see cords on the right. Ultimately, I don’t care about that sort of thing. It’s life. We live (and often work) here. If you live in the 21st century, cords are going to be everywhere, and trying to deny their existence is silly – at least to me. It’s the kind of thing I just don’t have the energy to care about.

Okay. I went off onto a slight tangent there.

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Speaking of tech and cords, the new B&H Photo Video catalog arrived yesterday. It weighs a ton. B&H is an incredible store in Manhattan that I’ve written about before. It’s where I buy my cameras and probably where I would buy my television if I lived in the city. Since I’ve purchased items there, they send me this mammoth catalog every year. And just for a moment, I pretend I’m a professional photographer, since they seem to think I am. It’s really fun to look through.

Changing subjects: Teresa, a loyal reader of this blog, sent me a package. I picked it up from the post office box on Monday. Let’s see what was inside.

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Oh my! Three packets of Emergen-C – always needed in this household (I wish I could send some to Don right now), some Sweet and Spicy herbal tea (there were two bags, but I’ve already had a cup – delicious), a lovely note, and this egg cup which has stolen my heart.

Look at that adorable face!

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It’s on the tall side and I’m totally smitten. I also think it was hand painted.

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In 1958. Thank you, LH. You did a great job.

And thank you, sweet Teresa, for this lovely gift. Another egg cup that has a wonderful story. You know how much I love that. Every decorative item in a house should have a story and not a story about how a decorator found it. It should be a story of love and friends and things longed for, discovered, saved for, collected over time, received as presents from caring friends, of books well-read and thumbed through, of the lovingly well-worn, of things that bring one joy.

And on and on I could go.

It got cold last night. The leaves are falling from the catalpa, a sure sign that the temps were freezing overnight. Time to bring the impatiens in for the winter. Say it ain’t so!

New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page.

Happy Friday.

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Book Review(s): The Red Hot Fix & The Unforgivable Fix by T.E. Woods

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Today I am reviewing two books by author T. E. Woods for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

About the books – The Red Hot Fix: A little more than a year after The Fixer killings, Detective Mort Grant once again has his hands full. In the last four months, seven men have been murdered in seedy pay-by-the-hour motels: first strangled, then tied with rope and set on a bed of crushed mothballs, with a red lipstick kiss planted on their foreheads. Speculation abounds that the killer is a prostitute who’s turning tricks into dead men. The press has taken to calling her “Trixie.”

As Mort follows scant leads on the case, he can’t help but feel continued guilt over his involvement with The Fixer. Though the public holds her up as a folk hero, a vigilante who seeks justice when the system fails, Mort cannot shake the fact that serious crimes have been committed. And though legend says she has vanished, Mort knows exactly where The Fixer is – and he’s conspiring to keep her hidden.

As Trixie strikes again, Mort suddenly finds himself and his family in the crosshairs. Because these new murders are not random, and their perpetrator is hell-bent on luring Mort into a sick and twisted game. If he’s not careful, he’s going to need Fixing.

The Unforgivable Fix: Detective Mort Grant has finally decided to sell. The home where he and his late wife raised two kids feels too large and too full of old memories. His son is married and raising a family of his own, and despite efforts to find her, Mort has lost touch with his wayward daughter. That is, until the day she walks back into her childhood home and begs for his help.

In the last four years, Allie Grant has been the lover – and confidante, confessor, and counselor – of one of the world’s most powerful and deadly men. But a sudden, rash move has put Allie in the crosshairs of a ruthless Russian crime lord. Mort knows of only one place Allie will be safe: with the Fixer.

As a hired desperado, The Fixer has killed twenty-three people – and Mort was complicit with her escape from the law. She has built an impregnable house, stocked it with state-of-the-art gear, armed it to the teeth, and locked herself away from the world. But even The Fixer may not be able to get justice for Allie when real evil comes knocking.

My Review: These two books are part of a Justice Series by T. E. Woods. I reviewed the first novel in the series, The Fixer, here. All three novels center around Mort Grant, who is a detective in the Seattle Police Department, and Lydia, a psychologist, as well as Mort’s colleagues, his son Robbie and his daughter Allie. I don’t want to give away anything by telling you who The Fixer is, but the relationship between Mort and The Fixer is complicated and fraught with feelings of guilt.

In both of these novels, the characters established in The Fixer reappear. We come to know more about them as more of their history is revealed. Both novels have plots that are complex and, ultimately, riveting. T. E. Woods knows how to use pacing to create tension, layering more and more intrigue until the final moments of the book provide a resolution.

What’s intriguing about this series is that the main characters are still battling their own demons on the final pages and one knows that the battle will continue in the next book in the series. And, of course, the most intriguing thing about the series is the idea of vigilante justice. Who of us hasn’t thought about that? It’s what routinely happened in old Western movies. Someone had to take the law in his/her hands in order to stop a very bad guy from hurting any more people. In this series, we have the modern-day version of the lone gunfighter and you just might find yourself cheering The Fixer on, despite whatever moral code you live by.

These can be read as stand-alone novels, but it’s awfully fun to read them in order. They are not available as hardcover/paperback books, but instead, are available as eBooks on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They are only $2.99 each. That’s a great deal! I’m hoping that as these novels gain an audience, they can also be published in three-dimensional form. They deserve to be available in both forms. I think you’ll really like these books.

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About the author: T. E. Woods is as eager as her fans to return to the thrilling world of the Justice series. She’s busy writing the next installment and is developing a new series based in Madison, Wisconsin.

The tour will include a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 Gift Card to the eBook retailer of the winner’s choice as well as a copy of The Unforgivable Fix. Here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Wednesday.

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Final Felt Critters

Well, it’s the end of the line for our Christmas Critter Felt Along. In order to give you enough time to make them for the holidays, we’re posting the last two critters today.

They are the Woodland Rabbit:

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and the Wetland Duck:

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To Download the Woodland Rabbit Click Here

To Download the Wetland Duck Click Here

If you want to see finished versions of these two critters, visit Dawn at Creative Cain Cabin.

We hope you’ve enjoyed making these! Thanks so much.

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Potpourri: What I Don’t Do in the Garden for Winter, Scout, & Cherish

• I did a lot more raking yesterday; piles and piles of leaves. Then I mowed the dog corral and the front lawn for the last time this year. Since this weekend is going to turn very cold, with a frost warning, I figured now was the time.

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Soon, I will be out on the porch, gathering up my potted plants to bring them inside once again. Where the heck am I going to put them? I can’t ignore them, they’ve been hanging in there for a year and half, planted last summer, overwintered, back outside for this spring and summer – performing beautifully. They need to be rewarded for their stellar performance.

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The leaves are off all of the trees, save for a few on the catalpa. Leaf clean-up, at least as much as I’m willing to do, is over. I ignore the leaves in the back forty.

As far as garden clean-up goes, I really do nothing. Shocking, I know. There’s a lot of advice, all of it good, about putting the garden to bed for the winter. Maybe I’m a wee bit lazy about it, but there’s a method to my madness. The leaves that have fallen stay on the garden beds. They work as mulch, protecting the plants, and eventually decomposing to add nutrients to the soil. The perennials stay as they are. I don’t cut them back. Why? A couple of reasons: they function as architecture for the winter garden, their shapes beautiful in the bleaker winter landscape. And they provide food and shelter for birds and wildlife. So they stay as is. In the early spring, as I clean up the garden beds, I trim any dead leaves and stems. But not until spring.

I don’t do anything to my roses, either. Last winter was hard on them, and this winter promises more of the same. I may trim a dead cane or two – I had to do that in the spring – but, for the most part, they really seem to do just fine. They come back strong every spring.

This is just what works for me. I live in a northern climate, where it gets very cold and there is usually a lot of snow. The cottage gets a lot of wind, as well. The perennials in my garden beds come back beautifully every spring. And they look gorgeous in the snowy landscape.

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• Scout and I had a little adventure the other day walking on the library grounds. As soon as she hit the long, winding driveway, she started to gallop. That girl! Of course, she was exhausted all day yesterday, but I aim to make sure she has a two or three adventures every week. She needs the exercise and the stimulation. I had a lot of fun with her that day. We even walked from the library to the post office, where she went inside with me to mail some bills!

She also watched the World Series with me last night:

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Honest. She kept poking her head right up to the laptop screen, eyes wide, watching the action. She’s cheering for the Royals. So am I. Game seven tonight! Oh boy.

• I don’t know about you but I was a big, big fan of The Association when I was young. I saw them in concert. I played their albums over and over again. Now, these many years later, through my husband, I am a friend of Terry Kirkman, an original member of the band. (I can’t tell you how thrilled about that I am!) Terry wrote some of their hits, including Cherish, which has to be one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written.

Yesterday Terry posted a link on Facebook to a Pat Metheny version of Cherish. Since I am also a big Metheny fan, I immediately clicked over to it. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness again. This has to be one of the most beautiful versions of Cherish I have ever heard. So beautiful that I couldn’t stop playing it yesterday. Over and over again. Then I bought it on iTunes.

Enjoy.

New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page – Displaying Books: What are Your Solutions?

Happy Wednesday.

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Around the House

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Hello bed! Though the mattress I slept on in Hartford was fine, this baby is heaven. I’ve been sleeping longer since I got home. Today I slept in until almost 8:00, and I’m usually awake by 6:30 or 7:00, at the latest. My back always has to adjust to a change in mattress and that will take a few days, but to say I love this mattress is an understatement. Not to mention this sunny bedroom – there was no real light in the bedroom in Hartford, just that cut-out in the wall.

I love you, big old California King bed.

Remember my plea for the Emmie blinds from IKEA? My order from the seller on eBay was waiting for me when I picked up my mail yesterday. My sister bought the other blind from IKEA in Tampa. She’s sending it to me this week. So two of the windows have the Emmie blinds and one doesn’t, which gives me the opportunity to show you the difference the new blinds make.

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On the left, the old tie-up blinds. On the right, Emmie.

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I’ve come to hate these. The ties are always sloppy. Even after cutting them down in length, they’re still too long. When I tried to roll the blind up to approximate the idea of the Emmie it worked for about two minutes. Then the sheer weight of the fabric dragged the whole thing down.

I cannot wait to get rid of this one. Meredith, please pop that blind in the mail….please?

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So much cleaner looking! I’m going to tweak the rod holders so they hang perfectly. But, I have to say I love these. After hanging them yesterday, I decided I wanted to get one more for the bathroom, but unfortunately, this particular width is sold out. Darn it.

And continuing with my IKEA theme, when I ran into the IKEA in New Haven, I grabbed an Ektorp slipcover for my blogging chair. Imagine my surprise when I took it out of the box yesterday and it was not off-white but khaki. My power walk through the store had me grabbing one of the boxes that showed the $29 price, which is the price for the off-white covers. I didn’t know it was also the price for another color.

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There it is. You can see the off-white I thought I was getting on that pillow. But I sort of like it. It will definitely do for a while. The khaki color is picked up in that red pillow, so it seems to work. And it echoes one of the colors in the rug.

If you look closely in the lower left hand corner, you’ll see a bit of Scout lying in her tunnel.

There you go. That’s the house update for today. I did lots of raking yesterday – several tarps filled with leaves were toted up to the woods. More to do, but I had to make time to take Scoutie on a walk.

Happy Tuesday.

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Fall Flowers and Sunsets

Well, it was way too windy yesterday to do any raking, so that particular task has been moved to today. And the rest of the week. I did manage to get to the grocery store as well as clean the den.

Exciting, right?

Scoutie misses the park. I can tell. I’m sort of missing our little apartment and our adventure. Change isn’t easy. But then I look around the cottage and smile. It’s nice being home. It will be even nicer when Don gets here. In the meantime, he has a terrible cold so he’s feeling miserable at the moment. Our Hamlet had a cold as well. Nothing worse than being an actor in the middle of performances, worrying about whether you’re going to lose your voice because of a cold. I’ve been there. It ain’t fun.

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Slightly bedraggled, yet still beautiful zinnias.

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I love the splash of autumnal color amidst the brown leaves scattered all over the Funky Patio.

On my first night home, I walked outside to the porch. The sun was setting and I could see the mountains and it was beautiful. I missed that.

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Sigh.

I’m flat screen television shopping. I have a good idea what I might purchase, but if you have any recommendations, I’d be very grateful.

New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page.

Happy Monday.

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Home Again

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We’ve got some leaves here. No leaves left on our trees. Oh my goodness. I have a LOT of raking to do.

My neighbors, by the way, did a stellar job of clearing out our gutters and I am so grateful to them. We are very lucky to have them nearby.

I drove home with no stops, hoping to get to our post office to pick up the mail before it closed at noon. We arrived in our little town at 12:15. Darn. Packing everything up, going up and down the elevator countless times, loading the car, waiting to get Scout in the car before I pulled up the rugs – all of that took a bit longer than I thought it would. Meanwhile, Scout got increasingly more hyper as she realized something was going on. By the time we got here and she watched me unload everything and sniffed around her corral, she was exhausted.

I also think she misses the park. So do I. I’ve noticed by the way she goes up the steps from the den that she seems stronger. So little trips in the car so she can take a walk are definitely a must. I don’t want her losing that strength she has built up.

But we miss the park. And, though I was happy to be home, suddenly being done with all my work in Hartford and coming home to a house that’s been closed up and is missing my husband made me a bit blue. This transition will take some time.

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But I have leaves to rake. And grocery shopping to do.

There must have been a frost while I was gone. I don’t think it was a hard frost, but it was enough to kill the morning glories and a lot of the zinnias. I did find this morning glory bud:

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It’s supposed to get a bit warmer this week, so perhaps we might see one more flower?

To my delight, some of the roses are still blooming:

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The zinnias in the barrels are still alive, though bedraggled. I’ll share some photos of them tomorrow.

And my impatiens, sitting in pots on the porch, without water for three weeks?

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Still blooming. These are the same impatiens I overwintered. They are amazing.

I guess I’ll be overwintering them again.

The television, which you might remember was on its way to its final demise before I left, bit the dust yesterday. I turned it on and the sound was doing its noisy clicks and pops and then suddenly the picture went crazy and that was it. All I wanted to do, of course, was watch the World Series. I managed to register online with MLB so I could watch it on my laptop. (I could watch it upstairs on the old TV in our bedroom, but I didn’t want to abandon Scout so early in the evening, especially since this whole moving thing is so confusing for her.)

So, on the agenda: new television, washer repair and/or replacement (remember it died, too?), paint the kitchen, bookshelves in the den, and sort and organize each room of the house.

And read books I have to review.

And rake. And rake again. And rake again.

While putting away the food I brought back from Hartford yesterday, I came across a little treat that I hadn’t had time to eat before I left:

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What a nice surprise!

It’s all gone now.

Happy Sunday.

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Open

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We’re open. Hamlet is one of the best productions I’ve ever worked on. Simply stunning. The audience cheered and whooped at intermission. They went wild at the end of the play. It’s that good.

The cast is enormously talented. They are also very, very nice. It’s been a joy. As always, I’m ready to go home, but sad to leave. Ah, well. Such is the push-pull of the theater life.

So this is a short one. Have to pack. Have to load the car. Have to get Scout ready for the journey home.

Happy Saturday.

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My Mary Tyler Moore Life

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My last day here and the cranes are back. Lots of noise outside.

There’s certainly a list of things I won’t miss when I return home: the endless roadwork and construction that has been going on around the hotel and the apartment building, the crane work that has gone on the whole time I’ve been in the apartment – today the cranes are hoisting giant letters to put on the side of the building next door. As a slow-waker-upper, I won’t miss having to go outside first thing every morning to walk Scout.

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But I will miss this apartment. I wrote about this last year, I believe, and I’m going to try to put it in words again this year. There’s something about being away from home in a cozy apartment that I find enormously appealing. While I miss my house, of course, I really like these periods away from home. I’m in Hartford to do my work and only to do my work. So all other distractions (save Scout this time) are out of the picture. I’m several floors up in an old apartment building with high ceilings and airy white walls. I can do whatever I want to.

Don calls it my “Mary Tyler Moore Life” and he’s sort of right. And, let me be clear, he totally gets it and understands the attraction. He’s not threatened by it at all. I was single for a long time. I didn’t meet Don until I was 41. I lived by myself in a series of apartments, from very small studios to one bedrooms. I liked being able to shut the door on the world and nest in my small space. (I am a veteran of very small spaces, believe me.) I am also someone who tends to be solitary. I like my own company. I’ve always been that way.

Living away from home in a little apartment, unable to do any of the many chores that need to be done back at the cottage, unable to be with Don, gives me permission to experience a taste of that life I used to lead. It was a life I liked very much. I get all the social interaction I need at the theater. I come home to a quiet (well, fairly quiet) apartment where all I have to worry about is what to fix for dinner, what book to read, what television show to watch, what blogs to visit.

Would I, at this stage in my life, want this all the time? A resounding NO. I love my husband, I love our life together, I miss him every day. I cannot wait until the three of us are reunited at the cottage, where we belong. Meeting Don and building a life with him has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I have a partner in life who is the loveliest, finest man I know, who makes every day an adventure, who loves me completely.

Would I trade that for anything else? Of course not.

But every once in a while, I get to go off by myself and live my Mary Tyler Moore Life for several weeks. I get to indulge that part of me that loved being on my own. How lucky is that?

Like clockwork, right about now I find I’ve had enough of it and I’m ready to go back home to my cottage and my husband and my dog. I reached that point yesterday, a day where it was damp and windy and rainy, where I watched part of the show but didn’t take any notes because the actors need to make it their own now, where I found myself thinking about packing and getting out of here, where I started thinking about home.

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Having a little pied-à-terre in the city is quite lovely. And it’s been even lovelier with Scout along for the ride. She has been great company and her adventuresome spirit has been a true delight. She’ll miss this little apartment, too – the rides in the elevator, the dogs she’s made friends with, the people on the street who stop and talk to her, the park, the park, the park, the scents, the sidewalks. Her other life in the country might be a little boring.

We’ll find some adventures there, my girl. We will.

Opening Night tonight and home tomorrow.

Book Review of Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon on Just Let Me Finish This Page.

Happy Friday.

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Coffee and Reading

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This is my new favorite way to brew coffee. Funnily enough, we’ve had this filter holder (maybe made by Melitta?) for a long time. It usually sits in a cupboard at home. I brought it with me, along with some individual filters. When I was in Chautauqua earlier this summer, Andrea, one of my roommates, showed me a collapsible filter holder (I’m including the link because it’s such a neat idea) that she took with her on the road. She is a costume designer and she travels a lot. She also likes strong coffee and this way of making coffee results in a good, strong cup. (I still want to get that collapsible holder!) She made me a cup and I was sold.

I suppose it’s the same idea as a Keurig, but much less expensive. Just the holder, a filter and however much coffee you want to use. I am a Peets French Roast fan, so that’s what I spoon into the filter. I’ve been using the teakettle here to boil water, add it slowly to the filter in a swirling motion and voilà! Great, great coffee. It takes more time, but I’ve been thinking about that. Just as making tea can be a sort of ritual, I think making a cup of coffee should be as well. It’s one of my favorite things about the morning, so why not honor that ritual?

When Don was here, I made his coffee this way and he really loved it. I think we’re sold. I don’t know when I bought this filter holder, but it was years ago and it probably cost $5.00 or less. Can’t beat the price.

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I finished this book yesterday.

I miss my friends in Mitford. Jan Karon has such a gift for creating a small town and all its inhabitants. It was over 500 pages long and I couldn’t put it down. Now I’m sad. Where are all my friends in Mitford, North Carolina? It’s a great gift when you can read a book and feel surrounded by friends. A great gift.

My mother loved these books and I would always let her know when a new one was coming out. I miss talking to her about them. Love you, Mom.

I’ll review it either tomorrow or Monday, depending on my schedule. But I’ll give you a heads up: it’s wonderful.

The show is going very well. Scout is doing well. She greeted me last night full of hyper energy. She ran a bit in the park (just a bit) and she ran down the street back to the apartment. I had to rein her in! She was hungry – so far, so good with the food staying down – and she doesn’t like me being away at night, so she was glad I was home. In fact, she had that slightly crazed look in her eyes that only Scout can get. I shake my head in amazement. Now, she’ll sleep through most of the day.

So I’m staying for at least one more night, and will most likely stay through Opening Night tomorrow, although I have nothing to wear. Then we’ll pack up early in the morning and head home.

More on all of that tomorrow: living in an apartment away from home and why I will miss it.

Happy Thursday.

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