Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Welcome to Saturday Snapshot which is hosted by Alyce At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and on any given subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos you see on the internet

Here are more pictures from my rafting trip on the Nenana River. While I was rafting a rainbow broke out.

and then another. A double rainbow!

It was a magical experience!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father

Cary Grant loved being a dad and Jennifer Grant loved being his daughter.  In sharp contrast to the Mommy Dearest memoirs of Hollywood progeny, Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, reads like a love letter. On the twenty fifth anniversary of her father's passing, Grant shares memories on life with her famous father.  

There are no shocking revelations revealed, but rather Grant shares the small moments that make up the "essence" of Cary Grant. Fortunately, Grant had plenty of material to draw from.  Cary Grant was a regular archivist when it came to documenting Jennifer Grant's life and their time together including cassette tapes of conversations; drawings and notes; photographs; home movies; tickets from sporting events they attended and even newspaper articles clipped to provide advice or pass on Cary Grant's philosophy on life.  According to Grant, when Cary Grant became a father he walked away from show business entirely.  They never watched his films, discussed the industry or hung out with the Hollywood in-crowd (Cary Grant did maintain a few Hollywood friendships such as with Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Gregory Peck and Quincy Jones, but these were based on longstanding personal ties).  Rather time was spent at home eating dinner around the table, playing cards or backgammon and other simple pleasures.  As Grant explains, "When I was at Dad's, he took full charge of my care. . . .  Dad awakened me each morning, drove me everywhere, ate meals with me, discussed life with me, and tucked me in each evening."  He even escorted her on trips to the local shopping mall!

When it comes to the rumors about her famous father, Grant firmly refutes them.  No Cary Grant wasn't gay, but apparently he enjoyed the misconception because "he said it made women want to prove the assertion wrong."  Also while Cary Grant appreciated the value of a dollar, he was no miser.  Cary Grant appreciated practical luxury and did not like to waste anything.  While I have no reason to doubt Grant's truthfulness her knowledge is limited to that of a daughter's and covers the last twenty years of Cary Grant's life.  And this is just fine with Grant:

In our heart of hearts, I believe we all know the skinny on people and situations.  We unconsciously block what's too much to process.  So somewhere inside . . . it's all there.  Other than that, I prefer knowing what I know . . . .   While there is a lot of stuff I certainly don't know, there's also a lot I do.     

Good Stuff is a touchingly sweet memoir about a devoted father who was also a Hollywood legend.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happens Every Day

Isabel Gillies had it all: handsome, smart, college professor husband; two beautiful sons; and a big house in a small town.  The happy couple had known each other from childhood when their families summered together in Maine.  Both are products of old money WASP families that had lost the dough, but retained the pedigree. They matriculated from ivy league schools, had their wedding announced in the New York Times and decorated their Ohio home with celery fabric from New York.  Then one day, Sylvia, a new English professor arrives at Oberlin, where Gillies and her husband were employed , and within a month Gillies's marriage is over.

Happens Every Day tells the tale of the "perfect" couple's uncoupling. Gillies is searingly honest and, at times, quite funny, as she explains,:  "I am not a writer, but I have been told I write a good emails, which has led me . . . to tell my story."  And what a story it is, Gillies husband is a two-timing louse who quickly takes up with his colleague and Gillies's friend Sylvia.  Oh and by the way, Sylvia is married too.  Clearly, both Gillies' husband and her friend are lacking a tad in the morals and ethics department.

Still while I deeply sympathized with Gillies, I can't say that I liked her.  She is clearly enamored of her pedigree and lifestyle which became annoying.  For example, this is a typical passage:

I had completely accepted the fact that I was going to take on a new role of housewife.  A stay at home mom is a glamorous title that mothers in New York tend to use, but in the rest of the country where people rarely have nannies, Fresh Direct, or housekeepers, the more applicable term is housewife.  I got a thrill out of knowing that I was going to take on my children without help, cook every meal, and go it on my own in a new town where I knew nobody. 

Ok I am sure this was a big lifestyle adjustment for the former Law and Order actress, but being a stay at home mom or a housewife is still a privilege of sorts as many families require two incomes to survive.  Another thing that bothered me was that Gillies's husband's behavior was entirely predictable given that he had cheated on his pregnant first wife with another woman (not Gillies).  I don't want to blame the victim, but perhaps a good take away is that adulterers tend to repeat the pattern.  Lastly, I was annoyed that Gillies' post-divorce life is left for another memoir.

These deficiencies aside, Happens Every Day is an engrossing story that left me wanting more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Chapter -- First Paragraph -- Tuesday Intros

Diane from Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros.  This week's intro is from Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies:

One late August afternoon in our new house in Oberlin, Ohio, my husband, Josiah, took it upon himself to wallpaper the bathroom with pictures of our family.  Over the years, we had collected an enormous number of framed pictures.  Some were generations old and really should be called photographs; like the one of Josiah's grandfather, a Daniel Day-Lewis like, strong-looking man, sitting in profile on a porch, casually surrounded by all his family, including my father-in-law, Sherman, at age ten.  I always thought that picture would make a good album cover for a Southern rock band like Lynyrd Skynrd.  There was one of my great-grandmothers looking beautiful, rich and Bostonian on her wedding day in 1913.  There was one of my mother in Jackie O sunglasses and pigtails.  Numerous black-and-white pictures of various family dogs..

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- October 20th

Welcome to Saturday Snapshot which is hosted by Alyce At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and on any given subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos you see on the internet.

Recently, I discovered that a very large oak tree on my property had died and needed to be taken down.  Because of the size the job entailed using a very large crane and taking the tree down in sections.
After the base of the tree was removed the tree service had to cut it up into further sections.
 Even these sections were large.
 Finally, the job was finished and it was hauled away.  I now have a clear view in my backyard  corner where the tree was.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mailbox Monday -- October 15th

Welcome to Mailbox Monday which is hosted this month on the Mailbox Monday Blog.  After another crazy week on the home front I purchased just one book, but I am slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things.  I hope you had a great week too!

1) Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies.  Publisher's Summary. Isabel Gillies had a wonderful life—a handsome, intelligent, loving husband who was a professor; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house in their Midwestern college town; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly, the life Isabel had made crumbled. Her husband, Josiah, announced that he was leaving her and their two young sons. "Happens every day," said a friend. Far from a self-pitying diatribe, Happens Every Day reads like an intimate conversation between friends. It is a dizzyingly can-did, compulsively readable, ultimately redemptive story about love, marriage, family, heartbreak, and the unexpected turns of a life. On the one hand, reading this book is like watching a train wreck. On the other hand, as Gillies herself says, it is about trying to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and loving your life even if it has slipped away.

Personal purchase.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mailbox Monday -- October 8th!

Welcome to Mailbox Monday which is hosted on the Mailbox Monday Blog. For the past several weeks Murphy has lived in my house with large old trees dying, appliances dying, teeth dying and senior pets with serious health problems. I *think* everything is under control. Anyway, below are the books that I have recently received:

1) Mortality by Christopher Hitchens: Publisher's Summary. On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis.

Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In this riveting account of his affliction, Hitchens poignantly describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. By turns personal and philosophical, Hitchens embraces the full panoply of human emotions as cancer invades his body and compels him to grapple with the enigma of death.

MORTALITY is the exemplary story of one man's refusal to cower in the face of the unknown, as well as a searching look at the human predicament. Crisp and vivid, veined throughout with penetrating intelligence, Hitchens's testament is a courageous and lucid work of literature, an affirmation of the dignity and worth of man.

Kindle purchase.

2) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Publisher's Summary. Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

Thanks to PBS!

3) Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Publisher's Summary. What happens when you are followed by millions . . . and loved by none? Twenty-seven-year-old Logan Wade is trying to build a life for herself far from her unhappy childhood in Oklahoma. Until she gets the call that her famous cousin needs a new assistant— an offer she can’t refuse.

Logan hasn’t seen Kelsey in person since their parents separated them as kids; in the meantime, Kelsey Wade has grown into Fortune Magazine’s most powerful celebrity. But their reunion is quickly overshadowed by the toxic dynamic between Kelsey and her parents as Logan discovers that, beneath the glossy fa├žade, the wounds that caused them to be wrenched apart so many years ago have insidiously warped into a show-stopping family business.

As Kelsey tries desperately to break away and grasp at a “real” life, beyond the influence of her parents and managers, she makes one catastrophic misstep after another, and Logan must question if their childhood has left them both too broken to succeed. Logan risks everything to hold on, but when Kelsey unravels in the most horribly public way, Logan finds that she will ultimately have to choose between rescuing the girl she has always protected . . . and saving herself.

Thanks to the Publisher!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Welcome to Saturday Snapshot which is hosted by Alyce At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and on any given subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos you see on the internet.

Sorry for the delay, but here are more pictures from my Denali trip this summer.  One of our adventures was to raft on the Nenana River. 
 As we were not experienced rafters, we chose to let our guide "Chicago" do all the work.
It was a wise decision, because the water was 36 degrees and kind of rough.
 I felt a little guilty having him do all the work, but I did tip him well! 
My stepdaughter and I are in blue on the left.  It was a day we will never forget!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Chapter -- First Paragraph -- Tuesday Intros

Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros. This week's intro is from Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father Cary Grant by Jennifer Grant:

A few years ago, I visited a dear friend of mine, Yehuda Berg for counsel.

'You should write a book about your father.' Right out of the clear blue sky. 'No. I'm too private. 'Well, all right then, write it for yourself, but you need to write.' At home, for my eyes only, I wrote for an hour or so a day. Two days later, my friend Mark Teitelbaum called. 'Hey, I just got back from New York. Met with a literary agent there about some stuff, have you ever considered?' 'NO!' Damn it twice in a week. Once I could ignore. But two people, both recommending I write a book about Dad. That same week I was asked if I'd do a television special on Dad. Hmm . . . Okay . . . here's my out. Maybe spending the next few years of my life delving and examining isn't necessary. I weighed the proposed television tribute. Alas, where Dad is concerned, it's all or nothing for me. The privacy policy won out. No to the show. But for the first time, the possibility of a tribute lingered. The idea of writing . . . . The moment my lips uttered no, my heart knew yes. Something about all that Dad gave me. I wrote every morning for a month.

In my father's later years he asked me several times that I remember him the way I knew him. He said after his death, people would talk. They would say things about him and he wouldn't be there to defend himself. He beseechingly requested that I stick to what I knew to be true, because I truly knew him. I promised him I would. I've easily kept my oath. Although many books about him have been published, I've read none. Not out of lack of interest. I'm sure there are some wonderful things I could learn about my father, but most likely more misconceptions than are worth weeding through. To me, he was like a marvelous painting. All the art historians wish to break down the motives, and the scheme, and so on. I would rather know, as I do, his essence. I believe that at the heart of a person lies passion. For the last twenty years of his life, I was given the extraordinary privilege to experience the full, vital passion of his heart. Dad used the expression 'good stuff' to declare happiness or, as his friends put it, he said it when pleased with the nature of things. He said it a lot. He had a happy way of life. His life was 'good stuff.'