Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Third Time is the Charm!

Today and yesterday, I’ve been collecting books in the mail, and I have yet to read a single page.

The Ultimate Mom by Chicken Soup arrived first with its glossy color photos (of course, I couldn't help but look at the pictures first!). Since I had three stories in that volume, I received three books (not a bad deal).

My hubby took one to work because one is titled, “La Famiglia Pombo,” and one goes to my mom, and the other one went to the editor of the Lancaster News who will be doing a write up for an upcoming book signing.

If you live near Lancaster, feel free to join us for a combined author signing with the other Cup of Comfort Authors: Carolyn Ruch of Hatfield, PA; Susan Kelly Skitt of Chalfont, PA; and Carol Cool from Ephrata, PA. The date is Saturday, May 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Just in time for Mother’s Day and for those last minute shoppers. A signed author copy always makes a nice gift!

I will be missing in action for the next two weeks due to a delightful and unexpected trip overseas. But I shall return on March 31—just in time for April Fool’s Day (no kidding!).

And then for sure, I will be offering three book giveaways: A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Daughters; A Cup of Comfort Women of the Bible, and The Ultimate Mom by Chicken Soup.

If you leave a comment telling me why you desperately need these books, my hubby will read the comments and pick a winner.

Until next month…

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reading Your Daughter

My dad is a voracious reader. He carries several pens and a yellow highlighter in his pocket protector—always—so he can record his thoughts and underline key words. A quick perusal of his bookshelf will give you a glimpse into his interests: political, religious, and medical. He shares his vast knowledge on almost any subject with careful cross-referencing—handing me a book outlining the details of his argument.

I love it.

On this last trip, Dad gave me several books to read, one was titled, Taking Care of your Elderly Parents. My mom is shipping that one (I didn’t finish it!). But the one I adore is titled, Stein on Writing, with an inscription, “To Connie, with love, Dad!”


Dad didn’t know it at the time, but that’s the best gift he has ever given me (except for the letter he wrote to me shortly after I was married). It was a gift from the heart because Dad’s books are like his children—he doesn’t part with them (even if I ask politely!). This, however, was even more poignant because he gave it freely—he picked it out for me.

The book, by the way, is the best I have ever read on the subject of writing (fiction or nonfiction). It’s a writer’s conference in a book. In fact, if you don’t have this reference book in your library you are missing a vital link to the craft of writing. As a master editor of some of the most successful writers of our century, Stein liberally shares techniques and strategies. Normally, when I read a book filled with such valuable information, I follow my dad’s example and underline, write notes in the margin, highlight with a pink marker, and tab the pages. I resisted. Instead I savored each page and took notes on the back of my ticket voucher (which is now carefully filed away).


This is a gift from the heart—to be cherished. As I flipped through the pages, I imagined my dad reading in his chair with his black-rimmed glasses and yellow highlighter in hand. Tears flowed. Several times during the trip, my hubby asked me if I was okay. I dabbed my eyes and said, “I’m fine.”

I was not.

From California to Denver and from Denver to Baltimore, I cried—no sobbed. It’s not unusual—I do it every time. I wore my dark sunglasses (the ones with palm trees and flamingos), and re-lived the still precious moments: Dad fixing waffles for breakfast; working in his vegetable garden; taking Brandy—his beloved German short hair—on a walk EVERY morning; working in the garage—sculpting works of art from wood; picking up more books at garage sales, and sharing his opinion on political views.

I always wondered why I loved to read and now I know why.

Thanks, Dad, from your daughter with love!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

We arrived home at 3:00 a.m. and woke up at 11:00 a.m. to a cat who is not “speaking” to us. I’ll give her some space and hopefully she’ll snap out of it.

Yesterday flying over the Rocky Mountains was a highlight for me (which is why we go through Denver on the way to California). If you hit it just right, the layers of pastels at sunset are a blur of lavender, orange, yellow, and violet with a smoky haze that takes your breath away. However, we did not see that view this time, but it was still spectacular.

This morning, I’m still on a “high” because my passport arrived (a miracle!). Sometime I hope to share the rest of the story on that one (smile!)...

Although spring has arrived in all its glory in California, we arrived home to shades of gray in Lancaster County. But this morning (okay, this afternoon—to be precise!), I peeked out the window and saw a fleck of yellow. Spring has delivered its first package—a yellow crocus. The daffodils and tulips will follow (hopefully!).

I’ll leave you with some memories of our time in California with family…


Monday, March 02, 2009

Wearing your Wrinkles

I sat in the hot tub at LA Fitness (pool therapy for my arm), and the woman next to me blurted out, “Oh, I see you had thyroid surgery—how are you feeling?”

I thought, What is she talking about?

As soon as the words formed in my head—the woman pointed to my neck.

“Oh and I can tell you also had a cervical laminectomy, as well. I had one several years ago. See..." she said, pointing to her neck.

What the woman didn’t know—what she possibly couldn’t understand—was I became a victim of “wrinkle mania.”

I bought this "terrific" wrinkle cream, schlepped it on, fell asleep before I had time to rub it in—as the label had suggested—and woke up with two large streaks across my neck.

The problem with wrinkles; they form little crevices. While I was sleeping, the little crevices grew into deep craters. The wrinkle cream ate through my skin, forming two huge red lines across my neck—resembling surgical scars.

Okay, I’m going to make a confession here. If you lose too much weight, wrinkles appear in places you never had—like around the eyes and neck.

I don’t like the “skinny” me; I like the “plump” me better!

This all started about a year ago when my family physician said to me, “So, what do you want to do about your weight problem?”

“What weight problem?” I countered. My weight at the time was within normal limits for my height, but according to her—I was overweight. So I started myself on a very gradual weight loss program by eating less and exercising more.

The pounds slipped off.

Now, I’m sagging around the face with "thyroidectomy" and "cervical laminectomy" scars (can you tell I used to work in the medical field?).

I finally confessed to the over-inquisitive woman that I had neither surgery, but I was suffering from post-weight loss wrinkles complicated by "wrinkle-cream dermatitis."

She howled.

I did not!

My neck itches like crazy and I absolutely refuse to wear a turtleneck in the pool. I thought about wearing a scarf around my neck, but that looked ridiculous as well. And a towel—that was worse!

But today, I feel relieved that I can’t go to the gym because we had a Nor’easter overnight that dumped six inches (plus) of snow, and I can’t even see my car—much less drive anywhere.

The moral of the story: wear your wrinkles (and be thankful you lived long enough to see them!).

P.S. I think I'll just sit on the back porch and enjoy the snow!