Saturday, October 31, 2015

Parenting Easy A-Style

One of Grace's friends has recently been hanging out at our house some. Grace met her at work, so Earl and I didn't know her until she began to meet Grace here. She and Grace plan to get an apartment together so it's nice to get to know her.
While we've gotten to know her, she has learned some things about our family too.
This morning, she sent Grace a text that said she'd finally figured out who we are like -- the family in Easy A, minus the adopted brother.  Of course, she hasn't been here when Grace's brothers were home, so we might even meet those criteria.
I love the parents in Easy A, and I can definitely see Grace as Emma Stone.
If you haven't seen the movie, it's a lot of fun. I show it in my speech class when we talk about people making assumptions about each other and climbing the ladder of inference.
Here are a couple of clips of the parents in Easy A. Now, if you haven't met me in person, you can get glimpse of what I aspire to act like as I raise my children. And if you have met me, you can judge whether the future roommate is correct.
Imagine how mortified this boy must have been.
Here's the family interacting.

And this one, the mother's comment at the beginning is priceless. When the daughter says she was called to the office at school, the mother says, "Did you get a medal?" That's definitely what I would think.
Hope everyone has an exciting and fun Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Birthday Celebrations

Today is Spencer's birthday.
Spencer is my middle child, my oldest son. He has taught me more than any of my other children.
Grace and Tucker are more like me in temperament and thought patterns.
Spencer came out speaking truth to power. In the case of him being little, I was the power.
What Spencer does is name emotions.
I remember when he was four or five and I was trying to convince him he should go to Grace's dance recital. I can't remember the words I used, but he looked at me with his big blue eyes and said, "Are you trying to guilt me into going?"
Yes, yes, I was, I realized, although I hadn't thought about it that way.

Another time, he and his friend Michael were playing a game and they got into a fight. I don't remember the fight, but I remember Spencer's words. "I think you care more about winning than you do about our friendship."

Don't get me wrong. Spencer isn't all wisdom. Being his mom has brought me joy and sorrow.
He makes impetuous mistakes. He drinks too much and hangs out with a party crowd. Just a few weeks ago, at a house party, one of his friends was getting beaten up. Spencer handed another friend his glasses and waded into the fray to defend his friend. I admire Spencer's willingness to defend his buddies, but the friend who held the glasses knew that Spencer couldn't afford to get in trouble. He followed Spencer, picked him up and carried him away from the fight. Not an easy task if you've seen my 6-foot, 4-inch son. Luckily, he's still pretty thin. The original friend getting beaten up ended up with two broken jaws and a collapsed lung. Spence sat by him waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Each time I hear a story like this, I'm so glad that Spencer is still alive. I talk to him, lecture him, about not putting himself in situations like this, but I'm not sure they stick.

When the phone rings and I see a strange number, my heart beats a little faster. Is Spencer hurt? Is he in trouble? My fears for him continue even though he's on schedule to finish college next summer with a double major in marketing and sociology.

If he can survive these young adult years, I know he'll be fine because I know the heart that lies within him.
Happy birthday, Spencer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- The Nightingale

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I'm finally beginning The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Set in France 1939 as Vianne's husband heads off to fight in the war, she and her daughter have to learn how to live with the Nazis when they invade. On Amazon,this book has over 14,000 reviews and 85 percent of them are 5-star reviews. I can definitely count on this being a good book.

April 9, 1995
The Oregon Coast
If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love, we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. Today's young people want to know everything about everyone. They think talking about a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. We understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention. 
 Lately, though, I find myself thinking about the war and my past, about the people I lost.
It makes it sound like I misplaced my loved one's, perhaps I left them where they don't belong and then turned away, too confused to retrace my steps.

Since this book is so popular, I imagine that many of you have read this book already. Let me know if you liked it, or more importantly didn't like it.

Now I need some advice from book reviewers.
I've agreed to do a book review for Book Tour and I didn't like the book. I definitely can't pretend to like it.
It's the kind of book that I turned to in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. I could definitely count on it to help me doze off.
So what do you do? Give an honest review or back out of the book tour?
I've had people on book tours give bad reviews of my novels before, so I feel like it's okay to give a negative review, two or three stars.
What do you think?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Blue Skies

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

It's especially poignant in the fall as I see planes race across the painfully blue sky. I want to be on that plane jetting toward France. I can imagine the sky is equally sharp in the south of France. After all, so many artists are drawn there to paint because of the light.
When we visited in March, gray clouds muffled the brilliance of the sky, but we still got to stand and admire the scenery that Paul Cezanne recreated on his canvases. 
Up the road above Aix en Provence, Cezanne's studio is preserved. 

And farther up the road is a lookout with recreations of Cezanne's paintings so we could look at the paintings and at the mountain that Cezanne captured.

Here's one of Cezanne's paintings. 

And here's the view from the lookout. Of course, the scenery has changed greatly since Cezanne painted there. 

But I need to show a beautiful blue sky, so here's a picture that my friend Leah took in Nice. 

And here's another one that shows the sky and the beach. 

Hope you're wishing on planes flying across beautiful clear skies too. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Backstabbing in Beaujolais

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

I'm reading another book set in France, Backstabbing in Beaujolais by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen. This time the review will be for FranceBookTours and I'll be doing a complete review in early November. I just received the book so I haven't started reading it yet. 
The only thing that comes to mind when I hear Beaujolais is the wine that comes out in the fall. I've been told, this is the only "new" wine that the French drink. 
Here's the description of the novel from Amazon: 

A business magnate calls on wine expert Benjamin Cooker to kickstart his new wine business in Beaujolais, sparking bitter rivalries. Can the Winemaker Detective and his assistant keep calculating real estate agents, taciturn winegrowers, dubious wine merchants and suspicious deaths from delaying delivery of the world-famous Beaujolais Nouveau? Another adventure in this cozy mystery series set in France. A wine novel and a mystery.

Wine and murder.  Maybe I'll drink some wine while I read and I hope the characters suck me in.   

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I'm hopeful that more people will begin to join us now that summer is ending. I appreciate your participation and hope that you'll share your love for France with the rest of us.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Morning Chaos

I returned from my run this morning as the sun had just started to rise. I held a package of three toothbrushes that I stopped and bought at the grocery store as I got near mile five. Then home again to make it six miles.
(Yes, we had an emergency need for toothbrushes enough for me to buy some during my run.)
As I opened the back door from the crisp morning air at 7:40 a.m., I expected to smell coffee and to see Grace in the kitchen.
She must be running late, I thought as I headed toward the bedrooms and bathroom. But my nose didn't pick up the scent of her shampoo which usually emanated from the steamy bathroom.
I saw darkness in her room and I stuck my head in to see her still in bed.
"Grace, it's 7:40," I told her.
"What?" She looked up confused and stunned.
She got a new phone Friday night and apparently she didn't get the alarm set for Saturday morning.
As I'd left the house an hour before, I thought I heard her alarm going off. We later figured out it must have been from her old phone, which lay on the dining room table.
Since she had only 20 minutes to get ready and drive to work, I fixed some coffee and an everything bagel that she could take with her.
She texted a few times about how gross she felt, but I told her to shake it off.
I spent the rest of the morning grading papers, but when I finished, I had a satisfying hot shower, unlike Grace this morning.
I feel like Grace might have given this look much of the morning.

She's appearing as Nancy in the show Oliver next weekend. She gets to sing the song "As Long As He Needs Me."  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Writing and Marseille

My week is busy with grading papers and writing.
I'm never really sure if anyone checks in on the blog and feels disappointed that I haven't written.
But, I have completed my first edit of Paris Runaway, my latest novel.
It's got a mother searching for her teenage daughter who ran away from their home in Florida to Paris chasing after the French exchange student.
The mother follows and learns about the importance of embracing life.
In addition to the streets of Paris, the novel will take you to Marseille, and into a Frenchman's bed.
Oh la la!
Thanks for sticking with me.
Here are a couple of pictures of Marseille.  The first is from the train station. In the background, you can see a hill and a spectacular cathedral sits on the hill overlooking the harbor. The church is called Notre Dame de la Garde.

And here's a shot of the ferris wheel along the harbor. 

Ferris wheels are becoming as ubiquitous as carousels in French towns these days. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Outside Our Hotel

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Today, can I take you to a hotel room in Paris?
The room was included as part of our airfare, so we weren't going to complain about the size.
But Earl can demonstrate how tiny it was.

He couldn't extend both arms across the width of the room.
The bathroom was well done, but also scrunched.

But you know why we didn't care?
Because of what was outside the window, on the rue Mouffetarde. We heard music outside our tiny hotel room.

The windows of our room opened to reveal real-life Paris buildings and people. 
And one evening, we even had a serenade. 

If you don't love Paris the way we do, you might not be charmed by the tiny room and the apartments that line the streets or even the musicians wheeling along their backup music. But if you went down and walked along Rue Mouffetarde, if you stopped in one of the chocolate shops, or the bakeries, or watched the couples dancing at the end of the street on Sunday afternoons, I'm pretty sure you'd love Paris too. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gun Control Lessons From Miss Manners

I don't know if Miss Manners, an etiquette columnist, ever wrote about gun control, but the lessons she taught us can still be applied.
One letter to Miss Manners from a boat owner explained that he had invited several friends to come for a day of boating and fishing. One of the guests got terribly ill with seasickness. The friends continued to enjoy their day while the ill guest threw up and finally slept.
Miss Manners, also known as Judith Martin, explained:  "It is wrong to prolong one person's suffering for the sake of recreation...."
And that is the lesson I would like to apply to gun control.
Many hunters insist that their pleasure in shooting guns is more important than the massacre of thousands of people throughout the country each year. Not the world, our country, the United States.
When the founding fathers wrote the constitution, they included a right to bear arms, and people needed them to survive in many places on the frontier.
Today, most people who use guns use them for fun, because they enjoy shooting -- whether skeets or animals.
I know hunters will argue that they hunt for food. They fill their freezer with deer meat, but when most people add up the cost to buy firearms, ammunition, a hunting license, travel to the hunting grounds, perhaps camping supplies, the cost of a freezer to hold the meat, processing for the animals they shoot -- they could have purchased meat for the same price or less.
For most hunters, it's about the enjoyment of the experience. Does their enjoyment hunting trump the rights of all the people who have been killed with guns this year? Not according to Miss Manners who says, "It is wrong to prolong one person's suffering for the sake of recreation...."
Here's my son at age 8 at an FBI shooting range. The Tommy gun, which
is illegal for civilians to own, had not clip in it. 
I have a friend, Dan, who really enjoys shooting fast guns at a shooting range. It gives him a rush of adrenaline and buoys his mood. Sorry, Dan. "It is wrong to prolong one person's suffering for the sake of recreation...." Giving you the right to shoot, allows all the mass shooters to get their hands on guns and ammunition.

I'm not saying we  need to get rid of all guns.
Some people need guns for protection. I have never been in a situation where I felt a gun would help make me safer, but perhaps we could compromise on the kinds of guns people have for safety.
We could safely ban semiautomatic weapons for all civilians. I'm no gun expert, but the way I understand it, semiautomatic weapons self load and the shooter can release a bullet as quickly as his finger pulls back and lets go -- no need to stop and cock a shotgun or pull back the hammer on a pistol. This is what allows mass shooters to kill so many people so quickly. A semiautomatic comes in handgun and rifle form.
If in your life you need to own a semiautomatic weapon, sell the weapon and rethink your life choices.

Of course, there are other good ideas to restrict the free-flow -- the overflow -- of guns that are killing thousands of people.
Each gun should be registered and licensed like a car. And people should have insurance on their guns, so if it's stolen, they report it to the police. If it's used to kill people, the gun owners' insurance is going to spike up high. Maybe people would begin putting their guns in safes, places they can't easily be used against innocent students at elementary schools or colleges.

It's time in this country that we put the rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for all the children, college students, moviegoers, and other innocents above the rights of those who have guns, simply because they enjoy shooting them.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Book Review -- The Trouble With Words.

It's hard to imagine that a romantic comedy can feature a young widow who has a date with her husband's grave every week, and a young man who has just found out his mother is dying, but somehow, Suzie Tullett pulls it off in The Trouble with Words, her most recent novel published by Safkhet Publishing.
The main character, Annabel, decides she wants to have a baby since she and her husband didn't get around to it before he was killed by a hit and run driver. So Annabel goes out on the town to find the perfect sperm donor, and she meets Ben. Ben agrees to deliver the goods just before he makes a promise to his mom that he will settle down before she dies, with  no idea that day might be coming sooner than he knows.
The turkey baster efforts bring Annabel and Ben closer together, but no closer to their goals.
The two main characters both tell the story from their viewpoints, and they're surrounded by a cast of well-meaning family and friends who only help botch up their impending relationship.

Here's an excerpt from Annabel's Sunday morning visit to her husband's grave:
 Opening out the deckchair, she plonked herself down in it. “So how’s your week been?” she asked. She paused, not that she really expected a reply, but it was nice to know he was listening if nothing else. “Mine’s not been too bad,” she continued. “The shop’s still doing okay. Oh, and your mum called round the other day.” Remembering the visit all too well, Annabel tried not to scowl. “She said to say hello.”
She reached down and dipped her hand into her bag again, this time pulling out a flask of coffee. “Caffeine, just what I need after the hassle of getting here,” she said. “As usual the traffic was horrendous.” Pouring herself a drink, she knew her ramblings were an attempt at stalling the inevitable; that she was worried about Tom’s reaction once she’d told him what she was up to. While her plans for the future might be a positive move on her part, she certainly wasn’t daft enough to think everyone would understand. If anything most people wouldn’t, especially if his mother’s reaction had been anything to go by.
This novel was a sweet escape with likable characters and plenty of laughter. Give it a try.

Amazon UK: 
Amazon US: 
Amazon EU:

More about the author:

Safkhet Publishing:

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- Falling For You

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I know this book will not catch the interest of Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who sponsors Tuesday Intros each week, but sometimes, I need a fun read that lets me escape to the British seaside where young women make mistakes before they fall in love. Technically, that could be the description for a Jane Austen novel, but instead it's Jill Mansell's latest book Falling For You.
Jill Mansell always manages to pull me into the current of her books. With all the papers I have to grade this week, I need an escape.
Here's the intro:
If she jumped high enough into the air, Maddy Harvey could see the party carrying on without her, blissfully unaware of her absence. Well, she could see in a blurry, abstract kind of way -- the lights in the house, the trees surrounding it, and the outlines of other partygoers either drifting from room to room or dancing manically along to Kylie Minogue (truly a girl for all age groups). 

The intro may not hook you, but it turns out that Maddy had jumped over a wall looking for a place to pee, but she ripped open the book of her jeans and couldn't get back over the wall. She's saved by a man who comes out in the dark, and since she doesn't have her glasses or contacts, she can't tell that he's from the family of the man who killed her sister in a car accident.

Hope you're reading something you enjoy.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Driver's License in France

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

The idea of moving to another country is daunting, yet thrilling.
One of the things we've stressed about has been relieved.
Every time we read a memoir about Americans moving to France, they write big sections about the difficulty of getting a driver's license. Apparently, everyone has to take sessions and sessions of driving lessons, and the instructor decides when the student is ready to take the road test. The cost for the lessons ranges from 1000 Euro to 1500 Euro, not to mention the trouble with taking the written test in French, rather than our native English.
Today, I found a recent article that says Ohio is one of the states that France has an agreement with. If we get our French driver's license within a year of moving there, we don't have to jump through the hoops.
What a relief!
Unfortunately, the list of states did misspell Ohio, calling it instead, Ohia. And, it had a clear warning that the list of states might change at any time.
My fear, of course, is that a French clerk who is a little bored on a Tuesday morning as the hour ticks toward noon, might simply say, "Today, we do not honor the driver license from Ohia."
Another difficulty is that in order to get our French license within a year of moving to France, we must surrender our Ohio license.
That makes me nervous, even though I won't be living in Ohio any more.
Here's an article from the French embassy that lists all the states eligible for driver's license exchanges. It didn't misspell Ohio.
Earl and I have both driven in France, so we aren't nervous about the actual driving, just the paperwork.
And we both drive stick shifts, so we won't have the problem that many Americans have when they move to France and can only drive manual transmission cars. So truthfully, the difficulties are melting way.
Now to find someone who can translate our Ohio driver's licenses into French before we leave.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Shootings and Their Psychological Aftermath

Today, as I stood before my classes, I made the same announcement each time.
"Starting today, the door will be locked when class begins, so please don't be late."
It's not part of my crackdown on tardiness, which I've always discouraged.
The truth is that the latest school shooting has me a little antsy.
A community college, like the one where I teach. Nine people, plus the shooter dead. Many more wounded, bleeding on the hard tile floors while their friends cowered and prayed for help.
Photo from the New York Times. Click it to go to the story. 

I look at the picture of the students walking out of the classroom with their  hands up, and I recognize them. Not the actual people, but the kinds of students who I teach. Some of them are young, right out of high school. Others are older and chose to return to college. It's still early enough in the semester that some of them carefully pick out their clothes and style their hair, but others, those raising kids and working full-time jobs, feel lucky to get out of the house without jam on their shirts or sleep in their eyes. 
That's why today I announced that we'd be locking the door.
"Is that glass bulletproof?" One student asked as he waved toward the glass in the door.
"No, but it's one more deterrent, one more thing to slow someone down," I said. "If someone knocks, I'll go to the door to let them in. I'm old. I've lived my life."
"Oh, man, that's my dream to take out a shooter," said Joseph, 25, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
In Oregon, a Veteran charged the shooter. 30-year-old Chris Mintz was shot six times according to The Daily Beast
"That guy was in my unit," Joseph said. 
Each of my classes has at least one veteran, and they all give me that sense that they would rush a door if a shooter appeared. But I don't want them to have to. They are all young and they survived horrible wars. They should find peace in their school, in their country. 

One of my classrooms doesn't lock with the swipe of my key card, and I don't have a key. I emailed the woman in charge of scheduling and asked my classes to be changed. Within an hour, she had organized it so all of my classes will meet in the same room from now on.  
A room that will be locked because the United States has become a dangerous place, where many people are killed in random gun violence.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Release Day for The Trouble with Words by Suzie Tullett

Safkhet Publishing proudly presents
by Suzie Tullett
a romantic comedy which releases today!

Promises – easy to make, hard to keep.
Having long made a promise to her husband, young widow Annabel has no intentions of breaking it. What she does plan to do, though, is have a baby. Not the easiest of tasks for a woman with a deceased other half, and having explored all her options, her only choice is to take the unconventional route. Setting out to find her own donor, Annabel meets Dan. Single, fun-loving and definitely not looking for commitment, this unruly blonde, blue-eyed man seems perfect for the job.
Dan wants nothing more than to find his dream woman. But with a mother intent on sabotaging his every relationship, he can't help but think he's destined to remain single. Of course, he knows his mother doesn't really want him all for herself, why else would she keep insisting he meet Maeve? Why else would she insist Dan promise to find himself a wife before she meets her maker?
Forced to negotiate matters of love, life and death, Annabel and Dan seem the answer to each other's prayers. But will they really be able to keep the promises they made? And is having a baby really the solution?

The Trouble with Words by Suzie Tullett is available on Amazon:
Amazon UK:
Amazon US:
Amazon EU: 

Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. As well as The Trouble with Words, her novels include Going Underground and Little White Lies and Butterflies, which was short-listed for The Guardian's 2013 Not the Booker Prize. She has a Masters Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist. And when she's not tapping away on the computer creating her own literary masterpiece, she usually has her head in someone else's.

More about the author:

Safkhet Publishing: 

I'll be posting a review of The Trouble with Words on Oct. 8. Hope you'll join us then.
Best of luck with your new book, Suzie. 

Bakery Excursion in Columbus

Just because we aren't in France doesn't mean we can't enjoy some delicious pastries.
Earl and I had a day off simultaneously, so after a 7-mile run this morning, we drove down to German Village to Pistacia Vera, a bakery that sometimes seems French.

Earl and I decided to have breakfast, splitting a chocolate croissant and an oranche brioche. Both had terrific flavors, although the bread seemed a little denser than I would have found in France.

I had a mocha to go with my morning bread, and the chocolate in the mocha tasted so rich and dark; it wiped out a lot of the sweetness, but fulfilled me in another way.

We bought a box of pastries to go. A chocolate bombe, which has chocolate mousse under the shell, a creme brulee eclair, that has a hard shell on top, and a traditional eclair for Grace after she comes home from work.
At the last minute, we also ordered a raspberry truffle torte too. No picture of that.
Sometimes, we need to treat ourselves, even though we aren't in France yet.
Good thing I ran 7 miles, cause I've eaten enough calories to make up for it today.
I can't wait to move to France and be close enough to a bakery, a patisserie for French treats that are much less expensive than these.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...