Her First Turkey #Fiction, #Tuesday Tidbit, #Reblog

The dining room table was covered with a white cloth. Linen napkins adorned the eight place settings that each contained a plate, silverware, and a glass. Two of the glasses were plastic and had milk in them. The other six wine glasses were empty. A bottle of wine and corkscrew were placed in the center of the table.

Pat admired her handiwork with her limited vision and hoped her mother-in-law would approve. This was her first Thanksgiving with her in-laws, and she willed everything to go smoothly. With a sigh, she sauntered to the doorway and called, “Okay, dinner’s ready.”

They all trooped in: her husband Steve, his parents Harry and Lee Ann, his brother and sister-in-law Rob and Linda, and their two children; Jayson, eight, and Ella, five. As Pat hurried to the kitchen to bring out the platters of food, she heard her mother-in-law say, “All right everyone, this is Pat’s first turkey. I don’t want anyone to say a word if it’s dry.”

“Do I have to eat the turkey if it’s dry?” asked Jayson.

Linda appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Can I help?” she asked.

“Sure,” answered Pat with a sigh of relief. “Take the turkey to Steve so he can start carving it.” She carefully removed the electric knife from a nearby drawer and placed it on the platter next to the bird. “Then you can come back and get the potatoes and gravy. I’ll get the stuffing, salad, and cranberry sauce. Oh, I still need to take the rolls out of the oven.”

“Take your time,” said Linda, placing a reassuring hand on Pat’s shoulder. “This all looks wonderful.”

After the turkey had been cut and the wine opened, and all the food was served, Pat was relieved to hear the satisfying sounds of cutlery scraping against plates. Still too nervous to eat, she stared at her food.

“Ummm, this turkey is nice and juicy,” said Lee Ann.

“I knew it would be,” said Pat with a smile. She picked up her fork and took a bite. It was delicious.

“Have you cooked a turkey before?” asked Lee Ann. “I’d think that would be hard for someone who can’t see.”

“This stuffing is delicious,” said Linda. “I’d love the recipe.”

The room fell silent, and Pat could feel everyone’s eyes on her. She didn’t want her in-laws to know that she hadn’t prepared the meal, but now that someone had asked for a recipe, what could she say? She didn’t know the first thing about making stuffing. Her mother had never shared her recipes with her.

She took a deep breath and said, “To be honest, I’m not much of a cook. The turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, salad, and rolls came from Albertson’s. The cranberry sauce came out of a can. I ordered the pumpkin pie from Schwan.”

“Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!” came Ella’s sing song voice from the opposite end of the table, breaking the tension. “We sang that at school yesterday, and I told everyone we were going over the river and through the woods to Uncle Steve and Aunt Pat’s house, but it doesn’t fit into the song.”

Everyone giggled, and Pat said, “You’re right, sweetie. It doesn’t, and I’m sorry I missed your program yesterday. I had to work.”

“That’s okay,” said Ella. “I really like your turkey.”

“I do too,” said Jayson. “It’s not dry at all.”

“The potatoes are great,” said Steve. “I think they’re just like Mom’s.”

“Oh you,” said Lee Ann with a laugh.

“I like the salad,” said Rob.

“The rolls are wonderful,” said Harry. “Excuse me. I’m going to have another.”

“This was a great idea,” said Linda. “Maybe the next time I host a holiday dinner, I’ll do the same thing. It would save a lot of time.”

Lee Ann cleared her throat. “Linda, surely you realize that nothing compares to a home-cooked meal. However, this is rather nice. Pat, I’m sure it would have been next to impossible to prepare a meal like this from scratch when you can’t see.”

There it was again. Pat’s mother-in-law expected less of her because she was visually impaired. Maybe she should have tried to cook a turkey. She’d seen plenty of articles on cooking in Dialogue and other magazines for the blind written by sightless cooks. In fact, there had been step by step instructions on how to cook a turkey with no sight.

The rest of the family continued eating and chatting as if nothing were wrong. But Pat put down her fork and hung her head, as shame washed over her. Her appetite was gone.

***

“What are you smiling about?” asked Steve a month later, as they were driving to Rob and Linda’s house for Christmas dinner.

“Promise me you won’t say a word,” said Pat. “I told Linda I wouldn’t tell anyone, not even you.”

“You and Linda can trust me. My lips are sealed. Now spill.”

“Okay, Linda ordered the prime rib, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and apple pie from Warehouse Market.”

Steve burst into loud, uproarious laughter. “Mom’s gonna be pissed.”

“Not if she doesn’t know,” said Pat. “If she or anyone else asks for a recipe, Linda will promise to email it to them and send them a recipe she finds online. I wish I’d thought of that last month.”

“I do too. I didn’t think Linda would ask you for that stuffing recipe. It was pretty good, though. But I think this Jell-O salad you’re bringing is going to be a hit.” He tapped the Tupperware container she held securely in her lap.

“I figured if my friend Jackie could make this recipe with no sight at all, I could make it with some vision.”

“I think you’re right, honey.”

“If anybody asks for the recipe, I have it right here.” She tapped her pants pocket that held the printed recipe. “I saved it on the computer so if more than one person wants a copy, I can email it.”

“Good for you,” said Steve. “That talking computer of yours sure works wonders.”

“I downloaded a book from the National Library Service for the Blind called Cooking without Looking. Maybe next year, I’ll feel more confident about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.”

“Maybe we could do it together. It’s about time I learned how to cook.”

***

The above story appears in Magnets and Ladders and The Writer’s Grapevine.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Novella Tells Compelling Family Story #Friday Fun Reads

Note: I reviewed this book last year. But with Thanksgiving less than a week away, I thought it worth a second look.

***

You Can Thank Me Later

by Kelly Harms

Copyright 2019

 

Every year, Sophie, a chef, hosts her family’s Thanksgiving dinner at her restaurant. This novella is divided into three parts: Thanksgiving 2016, Thanksgiving 2018, and Thanksgiving 2020. With the help of an interesting cast of characters and a series of events, some hilarious, she comes to realize she has a lot for which to be thankful.

I like how each of the three parts begins with messages from family members who call Sophie on Thanksgiving Day when she’s apparently too busy preparing the meal to answer the phone. In the version I downloaded from Audible, beeps are inserted to make it sound like you’re listening to them on an answering machine. Actually, I think Sophie is using a cell phone, and voicemail doesn’t sound like that, but I’m not sure how it could have been rectified.

At first, I didn’t like Sophie. But then I was amazed at how she grew and changed in the course of the book.

One problem with the book I see now is with the last section being set in 2020. It was published in 2019. When I first read it, I never imagined that things would change so drastically in one year.

Now, with over a million people infected with the coronavirus and numbers rising, many families may not hold large gatherings at Thanksgiving. So, unless the book were classified as fantasy or paranormal, I think it would have been more appropriate to set the last section in 2019.

Although this book is considered chic lit, it’s a wholesome, feel-good, holiday story. The Audible original isn’t very long, only a little over three hours. So, whether you’re a chic or not, after the Thanksgiving leftovers and dirty dishes are cleared away and the guests have gone, you could enjoy it with a glass of wine or a turkey sandwich.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A Novel About Reconciliation #Friday Fun Reads, #Reblog

Note: I posted this review last spring when the book came out. It was recently discussed by one of the groups in which I participate. So, I thought it worth a second look.

 

Goin’ Home

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

Copyright 2020

 

What Amazon Says

 

Pastor Jim, blinded in Iraq, and his wife Amy settle down after the storm that has almost destroyed the town, only to find that the most peaceful garden can harbor a serpent. The town is thrown into chaos, when a mass killer is returned home to die after fifty years in prison. The town is divided and they find themselves in the middle.

There is humor when the new church secretary confuses names, and sends the hearse to pick up a dog. A country music singer appears on the scene, and Jim learns a secret from the past.

For readers who enjoy the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I met Phyllis Staton Campbell several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers to which I belong. Goin’ Home is the sequel to Where Sheep May Safely Graze, which I reviewed here.

I was riveted from the first page. I laughed, got mad, but was finally rewarded in the end. I love the way the parsonage cat appears in the first and last chapters.  I was left wanting more.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

A PLAY OF DECEPTION #Fiction, #Tuesday Tidbit

“Deception! Deception! Deception!” cried Linda, as she marched into her mother’s room at the assisted living facility.

Startled, Dorothy looked up from the newspaper she was trying to read. With her failing eyesight, she could only make out the headlines, and some of them were too small. She looked forward to the end of the day when Linda came and read her the evening paper. As Dorothy looked at her daughter, she could tell Linda was angry at her about something.

She said with a smile, “Hello, dear, I was just looking at the headlines. It’s funny you should walk in here like that because I heard the theater guild is holding auditions for The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, and I think you’d make the perfect Amanda. Remember when we were in that play years ago. I played Amanda, and you played Laura.”

Linda snatched the newspaper and flung it aside. “Why did you do that?” asked Dorothy.

Linda sank into a nearby chair and sighed. “I went to Day Break today to tell them you’re recovering from pneumonia and you’ll probably be returning in a few weeks.”

“Oh.”

“Imagine my shock when Diane told me you hadn’t been there in a month. I can’t believe you’d deceive me like Laura did to her mother in The Glass Menagerie. If you’d thrown up all over the floor in front of everybody like Laura did at the business school, I would have understood, but Diane didn’t say you did anything like that. It’s not in your nature to be shy and deceptive. Why did you pretend you were going to Day Break all this time?”

Dorothy sighed. “Linda, you’ve been under a lot of stress, and I didn’t want you to worry about me. I don’t like being around those old people. I went once just to see what it was like, and all they did was watch TV, play cards, and eat, and I can do those things here.”

“But you don’t do anything here except sit in your room all day and listen to those recorded books the library lady brings you. Even before you got pneumonia, you only left your room to go to the dining room for meals.”

“That’s because they only deliver meals to your room if you’re sick. I don’t like being around old people.”

“You’re just as old as they are.”

“You may think so, but I don’t. I have nothing against these people. They’re all very nice, but they’re just not my crowd. Now, let’s talk about you. I think you should go to those auditions for The Glass Menagerie. You’re old enough to play Amanda, and you’ve demonstrated that you’d be perfect for the part.”

“Mother,” said Linda with an exasperated sigh. “real estate is a twenty-four hour business. I just don’t have time for the theater anymore. You know that.”

“Honey, I really appreciate you coming here every day to read me the paper. So, I’ll make you a deal. If you try out for The Glass Menagerie, I’ll start going downstairs to the lobby where somebody reads the paper aloud, so you won’t have to come every day and do that. If you get a part, I’ll be there opening night.”

“How will you get there? It would be hard for me to drive you if I’m in the play.”

“I know that, silly. I’ll call Gladys and ask her to drive me. You remember Gladys, don’t you? For years, we taught at the college together.”

“Of course, I remember Gladys. Are you serious about going to this play?”

“Yes, I want you to take some time and do things you enjoy and you want me to get out more. It’s a perfect deal, don’t you think?”

Linda sighed. “Okay, Mother, you win, but the doctor says you shouldn’t be out and about too much for the next few weeks.” She rose and picked up the paper. “Let’s see. It says here that the auditions are next Tuesday. Rehearsals will start the following week and the play will run at the end of next month. To be on the safe side, why don’t you wait to hold up your end of the deal until after opening night? Now is probably not the time to overdo it.”

“Fair enough,” said Dorothy, breathing a sigh of relief.

“Mother, I worry about you,” said Linda, taking Dorothy’s hand. “Once you’re recovered from this pneumonia, I wish you’d get out more. I know you can’t play golf or tennis anymore, and it would probably be hard for you to play bridge and be involved in the American Association of University Women or the Arts Council, but the YMCA has an excellent water exercise program, and there are some nice things that go on at the senior center.”

“I’ll try,” said Dorothy with a sigh of resignation.

The day after the audition was supposed to be held, Linda rushed into her mother’s room and said, “I did it! I tried out last night and got the part right on the spot. The director says I have natural acting abilities. I don’t think any director has ever said that before.”

“Didn’t it say in the paper that the director is retired and used to produce plays on Broadway?”

“That’s right.”

“Maybe you should have tried Broadway first before going into real estate.”

“Maybe, but I still use my acting skills in the line of work I do now. You have to convince customers that this is the house they want to buy. You can’t let them see that you’re tired and stressed  out.”

“That’s true. In any case, congratulations! Come here and let me give you a hug.”

Over the next month, when Linda came to visit Dorothy, she talked about the rehearsals. She gave her mother all the details, including who the other actors were, the blocking, the set, and the costumes. Dorothy enjoyed hearing Linda talk about the rehearsals because it brought back many pleasant memories of her involvement in the community theater when she was younger. Since they agreed that she wouldn’t participate in any activities until after opening night, she was content to remain in her room, listening to audiobooks and visiting with Linda and Gladys when they came.

A few days before opening night, there was a rave review of the performance in the local newspaper. The article spoke highly of Linda’s portrayal of Amanda. “Even though this actress has never lived in the South, you can tell by her authentic Southern accent that she’s a born southerner,” wrote the reporter.

“Honey, that’s wonderful,” said Dorothy when Linda read her the review. “I can’t wait to see the play.”

It was true. For the first time in a long while, Dorothy looked forward to going out, despite failing vision and difficulty walking. Gladys agreed to accompany her, and on opening night, they set off in her car.

The theater was crowded, but since Dorothy and Gladys arrived early, they found seats in the front row. Dorothy didn’t think she would be able to see everything that went on, but at least she would be able to hear the voices of the actors.  Since she knew the play by heart, she knew what would take place. Her heart pounded with excitement, as the lights dimmed, and the curtain opened on the first act.

But as Amanda spoke, Dorothy realized something was wrong. It wasn’t Linda’s voice portraying her. The actress spoke like a true southerner, but Dorothy knew in her heart it wasn’t Linda. Although she couldn’t see the actress very well, she knew she didn’t have to look at her to know it wasn’t Linda.

They’d apparently called in an understudy, but why? Where was Linda? Had she been in an accident? Dorothy pictured her daughter lying in a hospital bed, seriously injured or possibly dead. At intermission, she fought to remain calm.

“It doesn’t even give Linda’s name in the program,” said Gladys. “It says that Amanda is played by Pamela Warner. I noticed that in the paper, too, but since you said it was Linda, I assumed it was a mistake. I think Pamela Warner is very good, but what do you suppose happened to Linda?”

“I don’t know,” said Dorothy, close to tears.

She felt a light touch on her shoulder. “Hello, Mother,” said Linda from the row behind them. “Are you enjoying the play?”

Relief that Linda was unharmed was replaced by anger as Dorothy realized what had been going on in the past month. She turned and glared at her daughter. In a soft but icy voice, she said, “Deception! Deception! Deception!”

***

Note: The above short story appears in the fall/winter 2020-21 issue of Magnets and Ladders. It was also published years ago in Disability Studies Quarterly.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Novel Pits Money Against Beauty #Friday Fun Reads

So Big

by Edna Ferber

 

What Amazon Says

 

The story follows the life of a young woman, Selina Peake De Jong, who decides to be a school teacher in farming country. During her stay on the Pool family farm, she encourages the young Roelf Pool to follow his interests, which include art. Upon his mother’s death, Roelf runs away to France. Meanwhile, Selina marries a Dutch farmer named Pervus. They have a child together, Dirk, whom she nicknames “So Big.” Pervus dies and Selina is forced to take over working on the farm to give Dirk a future. As Dirk gets older, he works as an architect but is more interested in making money than creating buildings and becomes a stock broker, much to his mother’s disappointment. His love interest, Dallas O’Mara, an acclaimed artist, tries to convince Dirk that there is more to life than money. Selina is visited by Roelf Pool, who has since become a famous sculptor. Dirk grows very distressed when, after visiting his mother’s farm, he realizes that Dallas and Roelf love each other and he cannot compete with the artistically minded sculptor. The book was inspired by the life of Antje Paarlberg in the Dutch community of South Holland, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. It won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1925.

 

My Thoughts

 

I first read this book years ago when I was in college and found it fascinating. When it was recently slated for discussion by one of the book groups in which I participate, I thought it worth a second read, especially since I’d forgotten how it ended. Had I read the above synopsis from Amazon, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to reread the book.

Although I enjoyed reading it a second time, in my opinion, the ending leaves too much to the reader’s imagination. I would have liked to see more loose ends tied up. Otherwise, this is a great story of determination in the face of hardship that teaches important life lessons and encourages the reader to ponder on whether money or beauty is more important.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.