Some Stories Stay with You

Some stories stay with you. You don’t want them to end. Instead, you want to find the next novel and satisfy your need for a good book.

Some Stories Stay with You

This desire to read has been with me since I sat enthralled by the Dick and Jane primers in grade one. As a Florida girl, I longed to jump in a pile of autumn leaves and build a snowman. But, alas, Florida offered temperate weather without clearly defined seasons. More importantly, the illustrations and descriptions in books brought the desire for a different life as I became an adult.

The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason, is one of those stories. I invite you to read my review on Goodreads as a segway into a deeper discussion of Mr. Mason’s writing. Unfortunately, although I checked the spoiler box, I’m not convinced I revealed too much.

About Reading Styles

Do you find an author you like and then read their books until you finish all or get bored? What attracts you to that first book?

I saw Daniel Mason’s The Winter Soldier in the highlighted book display at my local library. The book jacket intrigued me as I picked it up and read the synopsis. Since I’m a lover of historical fiction, the time frame of World War I sold me along with the recommendation of Anthony Doerr.

Usually, I hunt for the next book from a favored author. However, this time the jacket called from the library stacks as I hunted for one of my mother’s favorite authors of Amish romance novels. Instantly, I recalled my desire to read The Piano Tuner and checked it out.

Borrow or Buy

As a writer, I usually buy books. Similarly, I support local garden centers over big-box stores whenever I can. But, conversely, I help my local public library too. It may seem like I’m hurting published authors, but by making books available to everyone, authors benefit too.

In Conclusion

Why do some stories stay with you? It’s simple. The author has created a world for escape. Additionally, they wove in one central, lovable character.

Today’s world seems overloaded with electronic storms of information. So I invite you to take a breather and visit your local public library or bookstore to find the story that stays with you.

Finding Joy When Life is Stressful

Finding joy when life is stressful seems impossible. Yet these are the times joy is most needed.

How I Found My Joy

Inspiration for joy came to me in many different ways. All these ideas have one thing in common – taking action.

  • Connection with positive friends
  • Looking for beauty in nature
  • Noticing synchronicity in everyday occasions
  • Asking for help

Connection with Positive Friends

Although I’m a caregiver to my husband and elderly mother, I also choose to surround myself with positive friends. This is the primary way I find joy when life is stressful.

One example is a nearby cousin, Tom, whom I’d only seen at sad occasions during the last year. His brother and parents passed just before and during the pandemic.

Look for L. Anderson, my grandfather

Tom called me to ask a favor of helping him deliver his car to a mechanic shop located between our respective homes. He enjoys eating out and offered to take me to lunch in gratitude. Our conversations centered around sharing past adventures and our mutual interest in the family genealogy. We made a pact to discover the location of our great-grandfather’s home in the late 1800’s.  We spent a Saturday afternoon at the local county historical library, pouring over platte maps.

Looking for Beauty in Nature

During 2020’s restrictions, I discovered nature in my yard. It was wonderful to visit the many plants, some that I had installed specifically to attract butterflies and birds. In contrast, the declining health of my husband and mother pulled me farther out into the world of nature.

Although I walk every Saturday morning with a gardening friend in the gardens of Bok Tower, this week I twice answered the call of a wilder place. Last Sunday I went to a local state park and took my dog, Sugar. The pain in my arthritic knees reminded me that I have walking poles hidden under my husband’s hunting camo in the garage.

When I decided to head to Bok Tower’s wilder side, Pine Ridge Preserve, I dug out the poles, cleaned off the cobwebs and brought them with me. As I used the poles to steady my stance and distribute the force away from my knees, I thought, “Why have I ignored these tools hanging in the garage four years!”

Noticing Synchronicity

There have been so many instances of synchronicity, it’s hard to know which to share. Mostly, I’ve been drawn to reach out to like-minded people through my online groups.

One such person is Miggy Rodriguez, of Infinite FlowInfinite Flow. I’ve known her over a year, liked her Facebook comments both on our private groups and in our personal pages. Finally, I reached out and we had long telephone conversation. She asked me where I lived in Florida. Although she lives in North Carolina, her father lives right here, in the same small town I live in. And her sister literally lives off the same street as me. That’s extreme synchronicity.

You might wonder why that brings me joy. It’s rather simple really. For me, synchronicity is proof of a higher power guiding and helping me.. helping you.

Asking For Help

This has shown up in myriad ways. Not only have I asked friends for help navigating the complex medical world of my husband’s cancer, I’ve learned how to ask for help in small ways too.

Now is the time of oak leaf drop in Florida. I asked my landscaping person to help me by blowing the leaves on our circular drive into piles. When I checked on his regular lawn care tasks, I found him raking the leaves into piles. We worked together to get them into a garbage can.

When you ask for help, joy is doubled. Both people benefit in this giving and receiving exchange.

Final Thoughts

This coming week, consider finding joy when life is stressful. It’s a combination of a choice in your thoughts and taking positive action.


Sweet Scent Memories Still Exist

This week I was reading two novels that mentioned sweet scent memories. They were extra special because I have the same memory, my father’s Old Spice after shave. Yet, as sweet as this memory is, there is a sweeter one. The aroma of cherry pipe tobacco smoke.

First Seeds of a Memory

At just two weeks old, I didn’t retain full memories, but these early weeks were when my bond with my father formed. It was the time between Christmas and New Year’s, when I imagine Dad had received the special cherry pipe tobacco as a Christmas gift, perhaps from my mother.

Mom was dealing with two baby girls in diapers and asked for help from her husband, my father. Although he put in long days as a farmer, an orange grove caretaker, he was happy to help with me. I was an easy baby; no colic, no difficulty taking a bottle.

I have a visual memory of a photo of my tiny self, propped on my father’s thighs as he holds my bottle in one hand and cradles his pipe in the other, smoke tendrils winding heavenward. He’s dressed in a white Hane’s t-shirt and still has on his work pants as he props himself against the wall behind the master bed.

How Specific is Scent Memory?

Sweet scent memories are very specific for me. I don’t care for all pipe smoke, only cherry pipe tobacco will do. How specific are your scent memories? I’ll bet they are very specific too. Is it cinnamon raisin bread baking, whole wheat or white bread in the oven?

Do you take action to expose yourself to your sweet scent memory? I sure did. Near the end of my Dad’s life he still occasionally smoked a pipe. He preferred Captain Jack in the gold pouch. And I always bought his preference, but I’d pick up a bag of cherry tobacco, hold it close to my face and take a big breath in. I think it brought me back to my two-week old self, securely cradled in my Dad’s lap, my tummy full of nourishment.

Books That Take You Down Memory Lane

The two books that stirred my memories this week were Tiger Drive by Teri Case and Stillwater by Mary Jo Hazard. Tiger Drive depicted a very different life than my own, but I identified with seventeen-year-old Carrie in many ways. Teri built her characters fully, giving me plenty of reason to care about the Sloan family. I highly recommend it.

Stillwater took place in a small town in upstate New York, during the approximate time of my childhood. The twelve-year-old characters in Stillwater spent a lot of time in activities my sister, cousins, and I enjoyed; playing in clubhouses or trees, riding our bicycles, and listening in on grown-up conversations. Both these books took me on a trip down my own memory lane. And isn’t that what books should do? They allow your own sweet scent memories to waft in and around the words on the page.

Are you reading a book that stirs your memories? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or email me. Better yet, signup for my newsletter and we can have a weekly conversation.

Onto the next book,