All the Light We Cannot See —A Book Review

All the Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerr

Set in occupied France during World War II, the novel centers on a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths eventually cross.

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My Review

So if a book evokes enough emotion that I start feeling anxious about what is happening, what is going to happen, and I want to know and at the same time I don’t want to know what happens next, and as the story unfolds, more than once I find tears streaming down my cheeks, it’s a good book.

Add to that beautiful prose, and haunting characters, throw in a touch of pathos (always earned emotion, no one is telling me what the characters are feeling here) and amazing word choice, and this book earned one of my rare five-star ratings. The only drawback was the chronology – or rather the back and forth with the chronology, that took some getting used to. But in the end, it actually heightened my anticipation for the ending. I wanted a different ending, but I understood, too, why that couldn’t happen. A lovely book, focused on finding humanity in an ugly time and place.

Spoiler! And here’s the Wiki lowdown if you want detailed info about the book.

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Wrapped in His Comfort: The Strength of the Lord

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Picture of a painting my parents got for me. Artist Derek Hegsted

Note: This was written about ten years ago. And I have indeed felt wrapped in comfort from time to time during those years.  I am grateful for that blessing in my life.

All my life I’ve been taught that death is not the end, that it is merely part of our progress towards salvation. I was comforted by this ideal when I lost my grandparents. I watched my grandfather die. I watched him sit up and open his arms, greeting someone, unseen by my mortal eyes, and then he was gone. When my sister-in-law lost her toddler, I watched her wrap that tiny body in a much-loved blanky, and I thought my heart would break as I saw her hug him close one last time before gently placing him back into the small casket. I mouthed words of what I hoped was comfort, reminding her of the doctrine Joseph Smith taught that we will have our children to raise during the millennium.[1] When my father-in-law died and I watched his widow so gracefully and faithfully handling his loss, I didn’t understand the depth of her grief and pain, but I listened as she attested to her belief in eternal families.[2] These losses, while great, paled, for me, in comparison to my experience of losing my husband, Kelly.

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A Book Review: The Red Tent

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Mesmerizing story. I loved that the point of view comes from Dinah, who, in the bible garners just a couple of verses. And I like that those verses provide enough of a framework for the author to create a wonderful tapestry of characters and events which had me alternately sighing in impatience, wiping tears away, and wondering. Wondering, could it have happened that way? It brought humanity to the dry pages of scripture, and helped me realize that those ancient bible stories are things that happened to real people. People who argued, hated, loved, lived, and died. It was one of those books I stayed up all night to finish, and it lingered with me the next day, all day. I was grateful for the author’s notes, which helped clarify how she wrote and where she took artistic liberties in telling the story, in context of scanty biblical evidences. That, I think, is actually what gives this story its beauty, the freedom to create relationships and tell a story. Two thumbs up.

PS:It’s coming out as a movie, too.

The Red Tent by Anita Diament

Published 2005 St. Martin’s Press
4 Star Rating on Goodreads

 

On Reaching Out

Several months ago a stream of thoughts was going through my head, and I jotted down a few ideas. Today, I decided to capture them on paper (well, in this case, on the screen).  I was thinking about the term, reach out, which I have heard recently in meetings at my new job.  It is so often used in business settings these days.

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It seems to me to be such a silly phrase. Almost more of an indication that something might happen at some future time, but we’re not going to commit to it actually happening sort of thing.

Where did it come from? I’ve heard it just in the last three or four years since I returned to (wait, I was never actually a big part of — so entered) the business world. Reaching out — is it a break off from the feel good advertisement, popular some years ago: “Reach out and touch someone”? Or what?

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The Clothesline

Originally written 2008 for a poetry writing class – reposted today – Jan 16, 2016

So after much revision — here is the new and improved version of my sonnet, that now actually resembles a sonnet in form. I’m still a little iffy on the iambic pentameter, (sometimes it really sucks to be tone deaf) but I’ve got the ten syllables per line and the ABAB rhyme scheme (without using forced rhyme)down, and I threw in some alliterations that I quite like. There are still a couple of places I may tweak before I turn it in, but for the most part it is done.

KyneWynn
(working on my Poetry Portfolio today– how do I decide which poems to put in it. .. gah!)

The Clothesline
(A Sonnet)

Summer wind blows, stirring overgrown lawns.

Fluttering, dancing clothes, hang on the line.

Dresses weave and twirl, such rich jewel-toned gowns;

White cotton sheets beat a crisp counter time.

 

Heavy denim Levis hang in a row;

Blue columns of legs parade in stiff stance.

Big, color-splashed beach towels dragging down low

Suddenly snap in a wild, windy dance.

 

Billowing blanket escapes wooden pins,

Rapidly flapping, flying loose, undone;

Roiling wildly across the grass it spins,

First whipping then flipping, under the sun.

 

Clouds gather, darkened sky, here comes the storm;

Limp, drenched, dripping, the wash has lost its charm.

 

To Dillan, on His 14th Birthday

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Today is my oldest grandson’s fourteenth birthday. He is taller than I am these days, and he loves the Utes, basketball, and food —and he loves to tease me.  He has lots of friends, and he’s a typical teenager; except, he’s extraordinary in my eyes. I was there the day he was born, and it was an amazing experience.  He stole a piece of my heart that day, and I will always hold him there with love.  He is growing up into a fine young man, he definitely still has those moments of teenage angst, but overall, I am pleased to say I am proud of him.

He comes over to my house sometimes, just to hang out, to make cookies with me, play games (oh, he’s loved games since he was old enough to understand what they were!)  He always makes it a point to sometimes just come over and ask me if I need help with something. He has packed and carried boxes of stuff up and down the stairs, cleaned out my car, shoveled my snow, raked leaves, and taken care of the dog, coming over every day while I was gone to feed him.  Dillan, you are awesome! Happy Birthday, and I love you.

 

PS:

I was looking through some old journal entries, and I came across this from when you were five.  Apparently is was a rough day.  But we all made it through. Wanna play Authors?

I love my grandchildren, I love my grandchildren. . . . I am just not up to chasing them around all day long. . . . today I’ve blockaded off the living-room, so Joslynn can only destroy one room. Her favorite way to announce she is finished eating is to toss the remaining food, and dishes from the high chair. . . and she and Dillan had a screaming contest today, getting progressively louder. She is now down (protesting loudly) for a nap, which isn’t going to happen as long as Dillan is “practicing” the drums. I’m beginning to think it would be easier to just have a full-time job, than to be doing school and tending kids. It’s a good thing they are so cute! Okay, end of vent. . . and next time I’ll write about what makes it worth it. Now off to play games with the five-year old. Gotta love Scene It Junior.

On Being Alone: In the Still of the Night

 

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Wearing Kelly’s black/red plaid shirt at The Pine Tree Place

2005

Memory and grief have become my companions of the night; wresting aside sleep, they have their way with me when I’m alone and vulnerable. Sometimes the memories warm my heart and mind as I review happy scenes such as one late summer afternoon when Kelly and I, in a rare respite from work, children, and the stresses of everyday life, found ourselves at Tauphas Park. Amidst the sun-speckled shade of the tall trees, we found a space in the warm grass, and sitting back to back, we were both together and apart, reading.  He was engrossed in The Man in the Iron Mask, (a rare thing for him to be reading a novel) and I was idly flipping through a woman’s magazine, a light breeze randomly ruffling the pages. These sort of memories make my heart smile.

Like a match’s flame which flares briefly and then is almost immediately extinguished, my happy memories are quickly followed by grief — icy fingers of pain reaching in and wrapping around my heart inflicting a physical ache. I retreat to my bed, but despite an abundance of pillows and my goose-down comforter, my king-size bed is a nightly reminder of Kelly’s absence. Continue reading

Shifting Sands of Time

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In front of my apartment at Ricks College

My job is to write blogs.  I write 30+ blogs a month for others.  And I enjoy it. I get paid to do something I enjoy.  And that is worth a lot in terms of living a meaningful life. I do not dread Monday mornings because I have to go to work.  I do not come home in tears at the end of the day because of the way a manager or customer treated me.  I do not have nightmares about work anymore.  And I am grateful.  I am grateful to have a different job now. And, the best part of all, I am able to say, I am a writer.  Me, a bonafide, get paid for your work, writer.  And that makes me incredibly happy.

And that was a long lead-in to say, I’m not doing New Year’s Resolutions.  I wrote five or six blog posts about them; and in doing the research, I discovered this interesting fact, only 7% of the people who set New Year’s Resolutions actually follow through.  So, I am not going to bother, because I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be in that 7% if past history of resolutions is any indicator.   I will however, set some goals.  

My first goal is to quit drinking Dr. Pepper, and my second goal is to exercise more. There it is.  In writing. From past experience I know that if I have enough motivation that I can follow through on goals.  So, I am seeking inspiration.  To find enough motivation to care, because honestly I am feeling somewhat melancholy, and that tends to rob me of motivation.

Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of Kelly asking me to marry him. Tomorrow is the 35th anniversary of me telling him yes. (After two long days of trying to decide, another story in a separate blog post.)  And today, in between those days, I am contemplating how my life is so different than I ever dreamed it would be.  I think that is part of my dilema, I am feeling in between.  My past has been an adventure I never would have imaged,  my day-to-day life with Kelly is a bittersweet eleven-year old memory, my sometimes daunting task of finishing the raising my six children on my own is finished. And now I’ve been thrust into an empty nest, by myself — singular, in solitude, alone — and I don’t know what to do with myself.

Kelly and I had made so many plans for this time of our life. But he’s not here, and I’m definitely not the person I would have been, and I can’t tell you for certain, even who I am anymore.  Let alone what I want to do with the rest of my life. And it feels strange.  I feel as though I walk on shifting sands. My future is uncertain except for the fact that it contains my children, grandchildren, and writing. And for now, that is enough.

Feel free to leave a comment.  What inspires and motivates you?