blogging

A to Z – Never on Sunday (?) 🎶🎶



There’s no posting on Sunday for the April A to Z Blog Challenge, but gee, I had all this momentum and views for yesterday’s ‘A’ post. 

My ‘B’ post will be up early tomorrow, but here’s a little bonus for today, my favorite song from Hello Dolly. (BBC Proms, 2011)

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “A” is for AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’


a

‘A Musical Bow to Fats Waller’

After three months in a Manhattan cabaret, Ain’t Misbehavin’ opened on Broadway in May 1978 and ran for nearly four years and 1,604 performances. The musical revue, a tribute to the black musicians of the 20s and 30s, was named after the Fats Waller song of the same name (1929). In a 1941 interview, Waller claimed the song was written while “lodging” in alimony prison, and that is why he was not “misbehavin’.”

The show won a Best Musical Tony Award in 1978 and Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical went to the fabulous Nell Carter (1948-2003), who sings the title song here:

 

 

 

Find Your Own ‘Way’


1280px-Freccia_del_cammino_di_santiago

By Aracuano – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2956595

Last week I watched The Way for the first time. It’s a film about grief, family, and faith and stars Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez (also the director, writer, and producer). The movie was released in 2010, but I had never seen it. Well, it’s not the kind of movie that you’d find in a multiplex cinema (but it should be there!).

The Camino de Santiago is a thousand-year-old walking trail that has more than a dozen routes, hence this symbol:

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The French Way, the most popular of the routes, is the one depicted in the movie, and begins at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrenees. All the routes end at Santiago de Compostela, where the same-named cathedral stands.

Thousands of people walk (or bike or ride) this route every year. In the summer months, the route can be unbearably crowded, with ‘pilgrims’ racing ahead, hoping to secure a bed in one of the hostels along the route. This defeats the idea of a pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage is defined as a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Although it often is a journey to a shrine or place of religious importance (think Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Shikoku in Japan), a pilgrimage also can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs.

Will I ever walk the Camino de Santiago? Probably not. I’m 58 years old, and the time for me to have made this journey was thirty years ago. I know my limitations, and walking for ten miles a day for nearly two months isn’t practical.

Estevez says the message of The Way is that “…it’s okay to be exactly who you are, that God loves you no matter how broken, no matter how imperfect you are.”

A fitting message for all of us.

Watch The Way on Netflix or buy your own DVD here

 

New England, March 1883


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Now that I’ve discovered the Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner at the Pawtuxet Valley Historical and Preservation Society, I’ve become a devotee. It all ties in with my love of local history and genealogy. Looking back in time can help us see more clearly, understand our shared past, maybe even foretell the future. So, what was going on around New England on this day in 1883? Have a look:

CONNECTICUT

  • ‘Henry C. Robinson, in a speech at Hartford, said that many of the mill owners of New England were educating their employees in virtue, domestic comfort, intelligence, and all good things; but he also knew of a man who was laying up $72,000 a year while paying little children 15 cents for ten hours’ work.’cartoon-or-sketch-of-mill-woman_0

VERMONT

  • ‘R. Smith, of Essex Junction, has a cow from which, within eight months, has been sold 610 quarts of new milk and 105 pounds of butter, besides supplying a family of three persons.’glass-1587258_960_720

MAINE

  • ‘The hotel to be erected at Mount Kineo is to be able to accommodate 400 guests.’kineo_cdv_1885

NEW HAMPSHIRE

  • ‘It is rumored that a new cotton mill is to be erected at Hooksett, where there is considerable idle water power.’manchester-cotton-mill-manchester-new-hampshire

MASSACHUSETTS

  • ‘A ruralist at a recent Millbury festival ate seventeen plates of ice cream.’vanilla-ice-cream-17809427
  • ‘A young man of 28, said by the Worcester Spy to be Alvin E. Ross of Blackstone, was found dead in bed in a tenement house on Mechanic Street, Worcester. About a week ago, the young man hired the room in company with a woman somewhat older, who paid for the room in advance. The woman disappeared Sunday. Ross had apparently been dead about thirty-six hours.’

RHODE ISLAND

  • ‘Newport has, it is estimated, ninety-five licensed and unlicensed rum shops, and 1,200 male adults who visit them.’
  • rum
  • ‘A three-year-old son of James Brown, of Pawtucket, pushed a sleeve button up his nose. The family was unable to remove it, and a physician was called, who found it necessary to make an opening on the inside of the mouth in order to remove it.’
  • ‘The East Providence probate court on Saturday probated the will of George F. Wilson, despite the opposition of his youngest daughter, Alice, who received in trust $22,000 in Rumford stock, and who claims her father was of unsound mind. An appeal will be made to the supreme court. By his first will, in 1880, he left $500,000 of his $800,000 to Alice, but subsequently quarreled with her because of her relations with a certain person. An unpleasant family skeleton will probably be revealed.’

Winter Rules


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As we march toward spring, take a look at these Winter Rules, as published in the Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, February 5, 1881.

  • Never begin a journey until the breakfast has been eaten.
  • Never take warm drinks and then immediately go out in the cold air.
  • Keep the back – especially between the shoulder blades – well-covered, also the chest well-protected.
  • In sleeping in a cold room, establish the habit of breathing through the nose, and never with the mouth open.
  • Never go to bed with cold or damp feet; always toast them by the fire 10 or 15 minutes before going to bed.
  • Never omit regular bathing, for unless the skin is in an active condition, the cold will close the pores and favor congestion or other diseases.
  • After exercise of any kind, never ride in an open carriage nor near the window of a car for a moment. It is dangerous to health, and even to life.
  • When hoarse, speak as little as possible until it is recovered from, else the voice may be permanently lost, or difficulties of the throat be produced.
  • Merely warm the back by a fire, and never continue keeping the back exposed to heat after it has become comfortably warm. To do otherwise is debilitating.
  • When going from a warm atmosphere into a colder one, keep the mouth closed, so that the air may be warmed by its passage through the nose, ere it reaches the lungs.
  • Never stand still in cold weather, especially after having taken a slight degree of exercise; and always avoid standing upon ice or snow, or where the person is exposed to a cold wind.

So, are you a rule follower?!

Plus ça change…..


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

(Rue des Epouses, Fribourg, Switzerland)

I recently returned from an all-too-brief writing trip to my beloved Switzerland. 38+ years since I first traveled there as a wide-eyed college junior, bound for life with my classmates on a journey of discovery and appreciation. I’ve been back numerous times, with my sister, my mother, my husband, but this solo trip gave me space to contemplate.
A lot has changed in Switzerland, and I noticed it more this time. Certainly, technology plays a huge part. Mobile phones are attached to everyone, train schedules are available on the phone, tickets are scanned by the conductor’s phone. 


(Rue de Lausanne, Fribourg, Switzerland)

Tastes change, and reflect the demographics of an area. This restaurant used to be known for its raclettes (from the French verb racler – to scrape – it’s a meal of melted cheese, boiled potatoes, and gherkins). Now it offers gourmet burgers. The Lucerne train station has plenty of takeaway food shops – Indian, Middle Eastern, vegan.


(St. Nicholas Cathedral with the Schweizerhalle in the foreground, Fribourg, Switzerland)

And yet, some things remain. A cathedral dating back to 1430. 


(Pizzeria Mary, Lugano, Switzerland)

This café in Lugano, exactly as it was when my husband and I dined there in 2009. Even the  same gruff waiter was there!

(Atop Mt. Rigi)


(Marie and Marcel, proprietors of the Chemin de Fer in Fribourg, 1979)


(Brian Falzetta, Terry Cook, Mike Sirius, 1979, Fribourg)

Some friends have passed, too soon. We can hold onto memories and smile at photos.


(Martha and Fabiola Abbet-Dreyer, 2017, Chernex, Switzerland)

And when we have the chance to reconnect, we take it. ❤❤❤

I’m Here, Not There



This morning I’m here, not yet there. By tomorrow morning, I’ll be there, not here. For a time that seems not long enough, yet is the only length of time I dare be away. And I’ll be by myself, not with the man who’s been my travel partner for nearly 23 years.

There were a lot of trips abroad, mostly to Switzerland, so I do know my way around. This time, on my own, I have a purpose – to continue with a new novel I’ve only scratched out so far, but have written in my head. And I’ll be meeting up with two women – one I haven’t seen since that first year spent at the university in Fribourg, the other someone I’ve never met in person but who found me through my books. How great is that?!

And on Friday, I’ll be there, not here. Yeah, I’m okay with that, as I had no intention of watching the inauguration. It’s going to happen with or without me. And I’m not going to say anything else about it. Instead, here’s ‘there.’

Favorite Books I Read Last Year


I usually write this post before the end of the year, but I had so many issues with my computer last month (thanks a lot, Windows 10!) that I had to set it aside. No worries, because when I looked back at my reading list, it wasn’t very impressive.

What did I spend all that time doing, anyway? Well, I worked on a new novel for the first half of 2016, and no, it’s nowhere near ready. Around June, I realized it wouldn’t be complete in time for the annual ARIA  Book Expo. And I do like to have something available every December for my local authors event. So I set to turning my grandfather’s journal into a little book. And it sold well!

Anyway, back to what I read. I didn’t want to title this “My Five Favorite 2016 Books,” because I’m usually late to reading bestsellers.

all-the-light

All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr was published in 2014. Best book I read in 2016, hands down. If you haven’t picked it up yet, make it a resolution for 2017!

carly

Boys in the Trees, a memoir by Carly Simon, was a favorite as well. She holds little back here, which made it difficult at times (her marriage to James Taylor).

sparrow

The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick. Her debut novel, and it was just lovely! A little bit of magic, a little more mystery.

oceans

The Light Between Oceans was published back in 2012. Honestly, I couldn’t remember if I read this book in 2015 or 2016, so I looked back at my end-of-2015 post, and the fact that I hadn’t included it in my favorite books list told me I must have read it this year. Because I definitely would have listed it in 2015. The book became a movie, but, unlike many books-turned-movies, the movie didn’t disappoint me. Still, read the book if you haven’t.

 

Now. There are many, many books on my to-be-read list. Here are the ones I resolve to read in 2017:

The Family Plot by one of my absolute favorite indie authors, Brea Brown. She never lets you down!

Fifty Ways to Make a Family by K.C. Wilder. The long-anticipated sequel to her brilliant Fifty Ways to Leave your Husband.

Mixing It Up by Tracie Banister. I’ve enjoyed all of Tracie’s previous books, so I downloaded this one as soon as it was released. Looking forward to getting mixed up in this one!

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. Actually, I started reading this one back in the late summer, but had to set it aside. I so enjoyed her Girls in White Dresses, and I’m happy to have this book to finish.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon. I won this book and it’s on a side table, waiting for me to open it.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’m about four chapters in and loving it.

And finally, another book I’ve started and am really enjoying is The Pie Sisters by the writing team of Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss. A sweet book about three sisters and their memories of long-ago summers.

So…I’ve got my work cut out for me! Writing, reading, editing. I hope that by December of this year, I’ll have a good list to present.

What book did you read in 2016 that was your absolute favorite? 

Our Day of Remembrance


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I wasn’t sure what to title this annual tribute. My previous posts about December 13 are listed here, if you want to revisit them:

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2012/12/12/ten-young-women/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2013/12/13/bring-all-the-priests/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2014/12/12/what-december-13th-means-to-us/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2015/12/12/the-memory-of-sense/

We were all affected by the Aquinas fire in 1977, whether we slept through the event (as I did) or witnessed it first-hand and survived. 39 years later, that memory is as sharp as it was then.

My classmate Michelle Dumont Vezina ’80 writes, “I experienced December 13th somewhat as an outsider looking in. We stayed up late that night studying for finals. We must have been in a deep sleep when everything was happening.

“I remember calling my parents to tell them. They had heard that morning that the largest dorm at Providence College was on fire. They assumed McVinney was the largest because of its height and thought I had been in the fire. They were relieved when I called.

“My mother picked me up that morning for what became the beginning of Christmas break. The campus was quiet, eerily so. I remember looking at Aquinas Chapel from my dorm room window, thinking about the girls who died.

“At that time, I had never experienced death of anyone close to me.  I didn’t really understand the feeling. No one really understands until they lose someone close to them.”

*****

A survivor, Kim Fasolo Martin ’80 writes, “December 13, 1977 changed every part of me down to my soul. For many years, I tried to figure out a specific event in my life that I was saved for, such as my marriage or the birth of my child. It took me decades to realize that I was saved for many reasons. I try to give the lessons that I learned from that terrible night to anyone who will listen. These are some of these lessons that I live by:

“Be kind to people. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you and how much you love them every chance you get. Never go to bed mad at anyone. Cherish your friends. Do not judge people for how they act until you know what has happened in their life.

“There are so many more lessons that I learned and am still learning.

“All the women who suffered this tragedy on December 13, 1977 share a bond that cannot be broken even if we have not spoken to each other.

“Sometimes, out of tragedies, there is good and when this happens,  we have to share this good to anyone who will listen.”
*****

The Aquinas fire claimed the lives of ten women living on the north end of Aquinas Hall’s fourth floor on Dec. 13, 1977. Katie Andresakes ’80, Jackie Botelho ’79, Barbara Feeney ’81, Donna Galligan ’81, Sallyann Garvey ’81, Gretchen Ludwig ’81, Cathy Repucci ’81, Laura Ryan ’81, Debbie Smith ’78, and Dotty Widman ’81.

It’s December!


lamott

Isn’t that the truth? For those of us who have been connected way too much to every tweet, snipe, or carp, perhaps it’s time to pick up a book. A real book, with pages you turn.

I just finished my Book-a-Day #Giveaway here on the blog (although each post stays ‘live’ for a week, so you can go back to November 25 and still comment on any of the last six posts for a chance to win) – this November series has led us up to what we in the Association of Rhode Island Authors call our BIG EVENT – the Fourth Annual RI Authors Expo. It’s this Saturday, from 11:00am to 5:00pm, at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet http://www.rhodesonthepawtuxet.com/directions/

Come join me and about 125 other talented writers – we’ll have plenty of books, discussions, raffle baskets, and I hear there’s even a bar. 😉