Friday, June 29, 2012

thinking about Nora …

I liked Nora Ephron for the same reason you probably did. She was so refreshingly real. In our youth-obsessed culture where women strive to hide their physical flaws, she was one woman who welcomed an audience for her wrinkled neck.

Nothing was off-limits for her. She once said, “I can’t understand why anyone would write fiction when what actually happens is so amazing.”


So she wrote about things that most of us try to hide. Personal humiliations. A famous husband who left her for another woman while she was pregnant. Her small breasts. And in her later years, she told us about the realities of aging with hilarious insight.

Like this quote. “Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of 35 you will be nostalgic for at the age of 45.”

See what I mean? Nora Ephron had what I want. A certain fearlessness that seemed rooted in utter confidence. Maybe that’s why I admired her from afar, she was self assured enough not to care. She said what she really felt and made us laugh in the process.

Go ahead. Look at my neck, I’ll raise you ten, and write about it.

And boy did she write. In her screenplays, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail, she wrote about love, relationships and heartbreak, and she wooed us with the idea of one true love.

How could someone write dialogue like this and not be my girlfriend?


“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”


Harry: “There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.”
Sally: “Which one am I?”
Harry: “You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”
— “When Harry Met Sally”

eph0-016Nora and husband Nick

Nora Ephron was an immensely successful author, screenwriter and film director who was also a wife and a mother. And by all accounts, she was a exuberant, caring friend to so many. I’ll miss hearing her wickedly funny anecdotes and her musings on growing old. But mostly I’ll miss her brand of unabashed honesty about her real life experiences, how she showed her audience her most vulnerable parts and was stronger for it. No red-faced shame for her. Just a whole lot of self depreciating laughter.

I find that admirable.

I thought you might be interested to look over the following list. It’s from Nora Ephron’s final book entitled, “I Remember Nothing.” These are the things she will miss.

What I Will Miss

My kids





The concept of waffles


A walk in the park

The idea of a walk in the park

Shakespeare in the Park

The bed

Reading in bed



The view out the window

Twinkle lights


Dinner at home just the two of us

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives


Next year in Istanbul

Pride and Prejudice

The Christmas tree

Thanksgiving dinner

One for the table

The dogwood

Taking a bath

Coming over the bridge to Manhattan



How bout you?

What would be on your list?

Any thoughts?















Wednesday, June 27, 2012

a few of my DIY house projects…



Hello friends, welcome to my DIY post for those crazy folks (like me) who enjoy tackling home projects on your spare time.

Would you like to see a few of mine?  Today I thought I’d whip out my camera and take a few photos of some of my bigger projects, only there are so many, I don’t know where to begin.

Thirteen years ago when we bought our home it was considered a fixer-upper, not only did everything look bland and dated, but the previous owners had left it in terrible shape. The photo above shows one of our first completed projects. For our living room fireplace I had a mantel built to resemble one that I loved from a magazine.


Once it was painted white, my amazingly talented Dad, lugged his tile cutter over to our house and taught me how to work with brick veneer. I chose a rustic, weathered looking brick for our hearth.


I actually love to paint, and I’ve had lots of practice over the years transforming all of the 80s-looking oak cabinetry to various shades of creamy white. This bookshelf was tricky because there were so many shelves.


This is a house that’s currently for sale in our neighborhood, here you can see the color of the Oak cabinets that were everywhere in our house.


This used to be an Oak hutch. I removed the glass panels from the upper doors and replaced them with chicken wire—then I painted the hutch and added some leftover tumbled marble to the countertop. It’s hard to tell, but the tumbled marble is mostly black with a few white veins. I applied it directly to the wood and I’ve never had a problem. 


This is one of my favorite projects because I simply love this color. I was on my way to pick up my son from soccer practice when I saw this old, brown sideboard at a garage sale. It was in surprisingly great shape, sturdy and well built, so I bought it for eighty dollars. Once I got it home, I stripped it, painted it this cool shade of turquoise, and refinished the wood on top. I love those legs don’t you?

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Back to the bricks again. Same bricks. Different project. This is our family room and it’s tough to tell from this shot, but this is one high wall. Once again, my Dad lead the way with the heavy duty calculating and cutting of the bricks. I was the simple bricklayer along for the ride. I’m not sure I would ever do this much brick work again, but we love our cozy room.


And here’s a little weekend project. Both of these were garage sale purchases. I bought this old ottoman that I spruced up with some animal print fabric. And I stripped and painted the frame of this French chair. It was boring brown, and I painted it glossy white. Then I had it recovered in a fabric that looks like leather. It was my big splurge, and it turned out perfect.


And here’s one patio project I did…This is a small corner garden and it’s the first thing you see when you step into our patio. I decided to paint a message here. I simply used a computer font and cut out my own homemade stencils. Then I taped the paper to the wall, used a pencil to outline the letters first, then I painted. It’s not hard, it just takes a little patience.

But it’s a nice reminder to have when you step into a garden, don’t you think?

Well, there’s still two bathroom tile projects, the upstairs bar area tile, and my stripes on my wall. Whew, I’m tired just telling you all that. It’s hard to believe we actually did all that work. But I’ll have to take more photos for you.

In the meantime, if you want to see how I fixed up my ugly backyard corner on a budget, you can click on the link.

How bout you? What are you working on these days?




Monday, June 25, 2012

ten things I learned this weekend…



1. Taking a risk was good- Thanks to all of you who emailed me or left such kind comments about my recent post: the decision that changed my life. Blogging has been such an interesting experience. I’m just now beginning to tread into personal waters a bit… And writing this post felt like a risk, but it turned out well.

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2. Peonies are my favorite flower. Apologies to my old love, Mr. Hydrangeas, but peonies are my one true flower crush. I love everything about these fluffy, big blossoms, except for the maddening fact that I can’t grow them in my own garden. Which I suppose, makes them even more alluring. I scooped these up on my Saturday morning grocery trip and put them in a simple vase on my coffee table. I love these colors!


3.Adverbs are not your friend.” Did you know that Stephen King wrote a memoir about his life and his writing career?  It’s a little gem filled with practical writing advice for the neophyte author and he’s blunt, funny and absolutely serious about grammar. Here’s a few of his morsels: To be good writer you must read a lot and write a lot. King calls himself a slow reader and reads seventy to eighty books a year. Everyday he writes ten pages, which is approximately 2,000 words. Regarding grammar, he warns, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” For example, if you have to write, He closed the door firmly, You’re not doing your job. The reader should already know how the door would be closed based on the rich, descriptive set-up you (the author) already provided.


4.  Sylvia Plath tried like hell to cope. This weekend, I finished reading Sylvia Plath’s letters that were written between 1950-1963, and I was quite taken aback. It’s one thing to read impersonal literary facts, it’s quite another to read Plath’s own words. These letters catapulted me back in time to the final, freezing winter in London, when she was struggling like hell to stay hopeful, keep writing and to take care of her children. Yes, I already knew Plath was a voracious, gifted writer, but I didn’t realize she was awake at 4 am daily, to write before the babies awoke. 

If you’re looking for your next book club read, you must chose The Bell Jar, Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel of her descent into mental illness; she had so many hopes attached to this book.


5. I learned that Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, from Bloomsbury Life, has an article coming out in Martha Stewart's Magazine, July edition. Hmm. Looks like an enticing topic don’t you think?


6. I realized that Stella needs to learn to swim. This weekend we took down the makeshift fence around our pool that’s been in place while Stella’s been a puppy. But now it’s time. Our adorable, mischievous Stella needs to learn how to get in and out of our pool by herself.

 7. I finally used Picfx, a photo editing app on my IPhone and realized what I’ve been missing…


8. I heard that Keira Knightley has finished her movie about Anna Karenina, due out November 9th. I loved her in Pride and Prejudice, and  and I can’t wait to see it! Click HERE to see her discuss her role.

sally wheat cross_jpgmysweetsavannah

9. I learned that you can make this beautiful cross using leaves or coffee filters. Go to My Sweet Savannah to learn how.


10. I tried out this recipe on my new panini maker. A very yummy Proscuitto, Mozzerella, Tomato, and Basil panini sandwich. Perfect for the warm weather.


Enjoy your Monday,


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Friday, June 22, 2012

the decision that changed my life


photo:conundrum by alice

When you look back on your life, what do you see?

Are you understanding how you got to be who you are?

Years ago, I discovered that everyone has a bit of mystery that unfolds when they explore the deeper parts of their life story. I know, because I spent many years listening with a keen ear. That was my job.

And I learned there are some experiences in our lives that are like torn photographs. Our experience only makes sense when we attach the missing pieces, when we put our face and our feelings and all our choices where they belong. And then we can see the whole picture and look back and say, “Oh, I’m so glad that happened, because then it led to this….”

I think this is how it works with our glaring mistakes, the ones that left pie all over our face or burdened us with a load of guilt that’s still hard to shake.



Let me give you an example: when I was twenty-two years old I was engaged to be married.

And it never happened. Now there’s a lot of complicated, teary, anguished parts attached to this episode in my life, but I’ll keep it simple and say this. In the end, I had picked a guy that everyone loved. Especially my family. And although things looked picture perfect from the outside, there was one big problem. I wasn’t in love.

And the whole thing was my fault because at the time, I didn’t know myself. Not really. Up to that point, I had spent too many years focused on pleasing others (mostly my mother) and trying to make other people proud of me, and it kept me from fully knowing Me. So in the end, my engagement was one more “I should,” on my list.



Only I couldn’t do it. Eventually the queasy feeling in my gut became a pounding message in my ears that I couldn’t ignore. And I called it off. Which actually was quite astonishing considering the lilac colored bridesmaid dresses. And my seven bridesmaids. And the deposit on the ballroom and of course, my own lacy, beaded wedding dress that I had so meticulously selected.

There are too many awful moments to choose which was the worst. But looking at his face and telling his family had to be an emotional nightmare for a natural born people pleaser.

Yet it was a decision that changed the entire trajectory of my life.

If I didn’t stop. If I didn’t halt the gigantic momentum that was pushing me toward marriage to the wrong person--a kind, sweet man who did nothing wrong--then these other pieces of my life would never have happened.


I would never have had a chance to rebel and discover who I was meant to be.

I would never have thrown caution to the wind at age twenty-six, and followed the “bad boy” down to Los Angeles. And we would never be celebrating almost twenty-four years of marriage in a few weeks.

I would never have spent seven idyllic years in Los Angeles with my love.

I would never have landed my dream job on the Eating Disorder Treatment Unit at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, and discovered a world of secrets and emotional pain and a fulfilling profession that lasted for eighteen years.

I would never have been transformed by the hundreds and hundreds of real stories that I listened to in that tiny office at the end of the blue carpeted hospital unit.

Nor would I have looked into the eyes of all those courageous women who put aside their shame to tell me their struggles.



I would never have learned so many lessons from a world that was filled with woman who were smiling and looking beautiful on the outside, when inside they felt emptiness and sadness.

I wouldn’t have seen firsthand, what happens when truthful feelings are hidden and buried behind the words, “I feel fat.”

I would never have learned how to let go of my “perfect childhood” in order to see the pain and the beauty that was much more honest.

And I would never have learned that choosing imperfection and truthfulness is the only way to discover what’s really there, beneath the pretty little image in the mirror.


via loosboosandshoes.blogspot

I think that sometimes we have to look back… to be grateful for how far we’ve come.

What do you think?

I wish I could know your story.




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

what would Joanie do?

Before I went to Maui, I went to visit Joanie.

I followed her into a small, darkened room that was lit with a scented candle, and with the soft strains of piano music drifting in the background, Joanie shared the not-so-mysterious-secrets of the fountain of youth with me.

And afterwards I felt utterly transformed.

That’s because Joanie is the wise and mystical Yoda of skin care. I’m serious. She’s been in the business for twenty-eight years and you know you’re in the presence of a knowledgeable pro when you meet her. Not to mention that Joanie looks twenty-five years younger than she actually is, which is reason enough for me to heed her advice on skin care.

If you happen to live in the vicinity of Esthetics by Jeanette Salon and Spa, I think you should immediately call and make an appointment with Joanie so that you can also experience this exhilarating-I’ve-just-been-totally-pampered-feeling, but if you can’t, I understand.

So let me share five things Joanie recently told me.

  1. Exfoliate. Exfoliate. Exfoliate. It’s terribly crucial in order to shed the layer of old, drab skin cells that are masking our healthy glow. What to use? My skin is notoriously sensitive and it loves the Pear and Poppy Seed Microderm Polisher by Eminence. How much should we do this? Three times a week.
  2. Not all moisturizers hydrate your skin. Imagine your poor baby skin being pelted by dry winds and hot, rays of sun without a glimpse of cool water in sight. Don’t you feel bad, not offering it a drink of water? But I didn’t know there was a difference between moisturizing and hydrating, did you? Check your favorite product and make sure you’re really hydrating your skin.
  3. Wash cloths keep our face from looking dull. During my facials with Joanie, I always hear some innocuous, little fact that I should already know… but somehow, I don’t. When Joanie asked me, “Do you use a wash cloth when you’re rinsing your face?” I gave the wrong answer, although she reassured me that I’m not alone. Joanie says most women don’t know that they SHOULD use a wash cloth while rinsing their face because it helps exfoliate. And, don’t be afraid to rub, she says.
  4. But---Never ever rub the skin around your eyes. You probably already know this one, but here it is again: never rub the delicate eye area. Not while washing. Not while moisturizing. Not while tired. Never.
  5. Use your ring fingers to dab eye cream around the outer area of your eyes. Dab means little dots, and place them where you can feel the ridge of your eye bone. Why the ring fingers? Sorry, but I didn’t ask. When Yoda speaks, you just listen.


Before I go, I thought I would share a few of the organic products that I use.


Did I tell you something that you didn’t know?




Monday, June 18, 2012

something I made…


A few weeks ago I was looking for another way to present a graduation gift to the daughter of one of my dear friends.

Megan was graduating from high school and we had gift money for her, and I probably would’ve put it into an ordinary card, except for this adorable idea I found on This is their finished project in the photo above.

You can go there and see the wonderful tutorial on how to make this little gift box.

However, I made my own version here. Of course, I  used whatever I had on hand, so I made it with a box that was slightly larger and leftover from past Halloween invitations. You can click here to see the Monster Slaying Kit that I made with the original boxes.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of my own graduation gift box.

I started with

  • one Kraft jewelry box; 6 x 5x 1 inches
  • two pieces of black cardstock
  • red embroidery floss
  • brac
  • piercing tool
  • glue gun


1. I cut two strips of black construction paper to fit the sides of the lid. (photo below)

2. I hot glued them along the side of the lid and fit a piece of black paper into the bottom of the box. (photo above)


3. I cut a square piece of construction paper that will extend over the lid. This will make it look like a graduation cap once it’s on top of the box.

I glued two pieces of identical cardstock together for added strength for the “cap.”


4. Next, pierce a hole into center of square paper and put a brac into it, leaving space between paper and brac to tie tassel.

Do you know how to make a tassel? Simply wrap embroidery thread around a piece of cardstock. Make sure cardstock is the length you want your tassel to be.


Tie a knot at the top when the tassel is thick enough.


Cut at the bottom. Then tie it near the top.


5. Tie the tassel to the brac and voila! Now you have the top of a graduation cap that you will glue to the top of the lid. Here is a photo before I attached it to this lid.

And this is my finished box. Sorry about this photo, the shadows make it look huge. For better pictures, you really should go to

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For a finishing touch, I decided to roll each bill, then I wrapped a piece of white paper around it. Next, I tied the paper with the red embroidery thread so each bill looks like a miniature diploma. Cute, don’t you think?

This is what you saw when you looked into the box.

I hope you enjoyed this little creative post today. If you want to check out my Five Tips to Make Your Graduation Party Special you can click here. I have so much fun doing these things.


Thanks for stopping by,




Saturday, June 16, 2012

wishing you fun times on Father’s Day weekend…


Hello everyone.

Do you like this poster? I made it at Keep-Calm-O-Matic at this address:

It’s very simple do. I learned about this from Jessica at her very informative Found the Marbles blog. She wrote Three Ways to Make the Most of Pinterest and offered some tips on making popular pins. You should check it out if you get a chance.

In the meantime, have a lovely weekend!




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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Extraordinary Kindness by a Stranger; the conclusion

I have this idea.

Well, actually it’s more of a gut feeling, which might cause a bit of eye-rolling skepticism. But here it is.

I believe that kindness is an experience that has a life of its own. And that an act of altruistic giving to another, creates this serendipitous magic in the universe, a positive energy that lifts up everyone who comes in contact with its aftermath.

Here’s my latest example.

In my recent post, Extraordinary Kindness by a Stranger, I wrote about a woman named Margi, who had found my son’s stolen driver’s license three hundred miles away from us, and returned it with beautiful note. I openly wondered about this stranger, and concluded by offering up my post as a tribute to her, hoping that my gratitude might reach her, where ever she was.

Well two things happened. First, while I was in Maui, I received a short, cryptic email from someone thanking me profusely for my post. She told me that she knew Margi, and that she was one of the nicest people in the world, and mentioned that Margi had cried with happiness when she read my words.

Then, yesterday I received an email from Margi herself. And this is what she wrote.

She told me the story of being at the football field at San Luis Obispo High School, where she was setting up for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life when she asked her daughter where Gold River was. She mentioned the driver’s license, and wondered out loud if my son Patrick would receive it. Later, when she was checking the mail, she was shocked to see our thank you card. She wrote, “How could that be??? I was just telling this story not an hour earlier.”

But it wasn’t until four days later, after raising money to benefit the American Cancer Society, that she finally had time to read our thank you and learn about her story on my blog. These are a few of her own words,

“I have to tell you…I cried… I was blown away…that was the nicest (tribute)..because the next day was my 60th birthday and what you wrote was the best birthday present ever!”

Oh, and she did answer my rhetorical question. She wrote,

“You got me thinking about….Why did I do what I did?? And I think it is because I too am a mom…and I would hope that if that happened to one of my kids..that someone would do the same thing…”


A mother’s heart. And empathy for another human being. That was the feeling behind her random act of kindness.

I answered Margi by telling her that I thought she would like Patrick, and I mentioned some of his own kindness to others. I told her how he had once jumped into a river and saved a man and his dog when he was fifteen years old. And afterwards, how he refused to ever discuss it and was horrified when his college coach suggested he use the story for his college essay.

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And many of my readers will remember the Happy Ending with the hurt fawn that Patrick found on the side of the road. Animal lovers will like that post.

But mostly, I wanted to thank Margi for making contact. Because I can’t tell you how good it felt to hear about the wonderful timing with her birthday, and the flood of good feelings that our gratitude brought her.

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Are you hearing what I’m hearing? American Cancer Society. Helping others. Stopping for hurt animals. Getting involved. People like Margi and Patrick don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their good acts. But look how they found each other. Interesting, don’t you think?

It brings me back to my original point, which is this. I believe our kind actions leave behind a trail of positive energy and goodness in the universe, no matter how big or inconsequential they might seem. Does it solve our life’s problems? Of course not. But I happen to think that we invite happiness into our lives when we join the action and spread a bit of this magical energy around.

Margi’s act of kindness was a single snapshot in our busy lives; but it reminded me that the random goodness that we offer to others, comes back and finds us when we least expect it.

Or I should say, because we don’t expect it.

What do you think?

2 via charlotteromance_tumblr_comtumblr_l5ks1oKpPU1qzvsqto1_400charlotteromance.tumblr

Wishing you a lovely day, my friends.



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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey and one woman’s secret…


I had just plopped down on a lounge chair when Brittany came by to ask me if I wanted a cocktail.

Brittany was dressed in the poolside uniform, which was a pair of tan shorts and a tropical print shirt, and I could see her nametag shining in the hot, afternoon sun.

She flashed me a smile. “Hi, can I get you something?”

I happened to be alone. Mr. Moss and the boys were golfing somewhere on the island, and I had lugged all my books down to the hotel pool to read. For a moment, I squinted into the sun and considered one of my toughest decisions of the day. Pina Colada or Mojito?

While she waited, Brittany glanced over at my books. There, in a stack with Anna Quindlen, Lisa Unger and Stephen King’s memoir on writing, was the Fifty Shades of Grey lying at my feet.

After I decided on my drink, she lingered.  I couldn’t see her eyes through her black sunglasses, but I could hear the hesitancy in her voice.

“Oh, are you reading that book too?” She asked, glancing at Fifty Shades of Grey.

I made a face. “Well, sort of. But I’m having a hard time getting through it.”

“You are?” Her voice brightened and she kept going. “I know what you mean; I tried reading it, and honestly,” she glanced over her shoulder and lowered her voice, “I couldn’t even finish it. I’m sorry, but I don’t get what everyone loves about that book!”

I was curious. I wondered if her age was a factor. Did younger women find the submissive-dominant relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey more troubling?

“Really? Have a lot of your friends read it?” I asked


“Oh my God, yes. Everyone here has,” she gestured towards the restaurant and bar. “Everyone’s read it and loves it. And they just can’t believe it. They just cannot believe that I don’t feel the same way.” She tossed her blonde hair off her shoulder while she said these last words.

I couldn’t resist asking her age.

Twenty-two. So. Apparently, women of all ages were reading this erotic best-seller. I decided to probe a bit more.

“Well, that’s interesting. Because you’re actually the first woman I’ve spoken to who hasn’t finished reading it. And I know what you mean. I don’t really get it either, and I feel like I’m forcing myself to keep reading, just to find out what the heck everyone sees in it. By the way, what do you think of Christian?”

“I think he’s soooo creepy! Disturbed.  And my friends love him, which I can’t understand.” She paused for a second. “Maybe it’s his money, or the fact that he’s supposed to be so good-looking. I dunno, but I can’t imagine a guy telling me what to do like that.”

She lowers her voice and mimics the stern voice of Christian Grey, “Eat, now!”

I couldn’t help smiling. Of all the things that Christian orders Anastasia to do, she had chosen to mention the battles over food.

She laughs. “Yeah, my boyfriend tried that once and I set him straight. Oh, and another thing. All the supposedly hot sex? It didn’t work for me either cause I couldn’t get past all the other stuff. Yuck.”

I tell her about my blog and that I’m trying to finish the book so that I can at least give it a fair review. But somehow, whenever I get a free moment, I keep grabbing other books. I had come to realize that every time I finished reading the 50 Shades of Grey, something gnawed at me. It wasn’t a good feeling.

“Do you see a lot of women reading it?” I asked her while I glanced around the pool.

“Oh yeah. Everyday. I see a lot of women reading it and then, I see some who are even trying to hide it. Which is actually funny, ya know? Because hey, it’s cool. If that’s what they like, great. I mean, I would never even be saying these things out loud unless I knew someone else felt the same way.

Then, Brittany leaned forward, as if to divulge a dark secret. “But do you want to know my theory?”

“Personally, I think that all these women who love this book, are basically passive women deep down. That’s what I think. Me?  I’m a strong personality. That’s why it doesn’t work for me.”

Brittany had already begun to move away into the bright tropical sun when she glanced over her shoulder and yelled back, '”You need to write about this on your blog!”

And then she was gone, leaving me grinning in the sunlight, and pondering the curious reactions I keep hearing about this book.


Tell me what YOU think.

Have you read it? Did you love it? Hate it? Why? 



 Aloha friends,


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