Memoir Offers Escape to Childhood Innocence #Thursday Book Feature

I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood

by Philip Gulley

 

With a lot of humor, this author’s memoir talks about his life growing up in the 1960-s and 70’s. Born the son of a bug spray salesman, he starts by talking about his childhood, sharing memories of how he delivered newspapers, did extra trick-or-treating around Halloween, created home-made bombs from his father’s bug spray collection, and engaged in other antics with his friends. He also explains how he fell in love with his sixth grade teacher, hence the title.

After that, he describes his adolescent years: how he worked for the Youth Conservation Corps, then as a stock boy in a grocery store, and other jobs. Having been raised a Catholic, he discusses his experiences with and ideas about religion. He describes how he met and married his future wife and touches on how he became a Quaker minister.

I was born a couple of years after Mr. Gulley. So, some of his stories brought back memories of my own. I remember story math problems involving trains that I could never solve and how much I hated showering naked in front of others after gym class. Of course, I never engaged in any of Mr. Gulley’s antics, but I wouldn’t have put it past my brother to have done so. In a world of violence, corruption, and hatred, this book offers an escape back to a time when the only thing you had to worry about was what would happen when you told your teacher your dog ate your homework.

 

 

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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That’s Amore #Monday Musical Memories

When I was little, I didn’t like pizza or any other finger food. But by the time I was ten, my taste had changed. Mother often heated frozen pizzas for my younger brother and me. I liked the large pies she cut into triangular slices. Until I was an adult, I didn’t eat the crust unless it was soft, which it often wasn’t.

Those frozen pizzas weren’t nearly as good as those we ate at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor. In 1974, after my family moved from Tucson, Arizona, to Sheridan, Wyoming, a restaurant in that chain opened here. This establishment had a stage with a piano and a microphone. But unlike in the one in Tucson, nobody played it or sang until one night when my family ate there.

By that time, I was twelve, and I’d started playing the piano and singing at home. I don’t know whose idea it was, but I found myself at that piano. After Dad walked me up there and made sure the microphone was working, I began. At first, I was nervous, but after a bit, it was as if I was in our living room with only my family listening. Apparently, others in the restaurant were also listening because I received plenty of applause. I played several songs before returning to our table.

When the manager came over, I thought he was going to kick us out. But instead, he presented me with a pitcher of Coke. Thus, my singing career began, such as it was.

My late husband Bill also liked pizza. But unlike me, he was finicky about what went on it. He only wanted meat, cheese, and maybe a few mushrooms. I, on the other hand, have always enjoyed pies with everything on them except for anchovies and jalapeno peppers.

When Bill and I often ordered pizzas delivered from Domino’s, we got a medium-sized half and half pie with one half meat, cheese, and mushrooms, and the other half with everything. Because of my limited vision, I sometimes got the two halves confused. Bill would take a bite of a slice I gave him and say, “Ooh, this is your half.” You can read more about how I became Bill’s caregiver after he suffered two strokes in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Now that Bill is gone, I rarely order pizza from Domino’s. Another establishment here in town called Powder River Pizza delivers personal pies, so I occasionally order one of them.

I also like frozen individual pizzas from Schwan. I realized that the pizzas Mother prepared were cooked in the oven too long. So, I heat one Schwan single-serve supreme pizza for only two minutes in the microwave. Some might find the crust too soggy, heated this way, but for me, it’s just right.

The song I’ll sing for you today compares love to pizza and other things. I didn’t know it when I entertained at Shakey’s, but it’s one I’d sing if I ever had another chance to perform in a pizza joint.

That’s Amore

 

How about you? What do you remember about pizza growing up? What do you like on your pie now? October is National Pizza Month, so I hope you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy some this month.

 

 

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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Thursday Book Feature: Campbell’s Rambles

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the book I reviewed last year, the author describes how her guide dog became a source of unconditional love while she was in an abusive relationship. Patty is rewriting this book and will make it part of a trilogy about her life experiences. It’ll be exciting to see how this turns out. Meanwhile, read the original.

 

via Thursday Book Feature: Campbell’s Rambles

 

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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Golden Ring #Monday Musical Memories

Two months after my late husband Bill sent me a braille letter, asking me to marry him, he traveled from his home in Fowler, Colorado, to my home in Sheridan, Wyoming, to propose officially during a dinner with family and friends we’d pre-arranged. He brought a gold ring. Fortunately, I had the foresight to try it on beforehand because it was too small.

We took it to a local jewelry store, hoping they could re-size it in time for the dinner. But they had to send it away for that, and it would be a few weeks before I would have it back. Luckily, Bill had also brought a necklace. As he placed it around my neck in front of all those near and dear to me, he said, in jest, “If you say no, I’ll choke you with this.” Everyone laughed, including me. By that time, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life loving him, so it was a no-brainer.

When the newly re-sized ring was returned to me, I wore it all the time, taking it off only to sleep, shower, wash dishes, and exercise in the YMCA’s swimming pool. On our wedding day, Bill had another ring. Afterward, we had the two combined, and I wore that ring all through our marriage until he passed seven years later. Today, it still lies in a ring holder on my bureau, untouched for years. You can read our story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

At least my ring has a happier story than the one in the song I’m featuring today. That ring was purchased in a pawn shop, and the couple was married that same afternoon. Later, when the woman fell out of love with her husband, the ring was cast aside and no doubt ended up back in that pawn shop.

I hope you enjoy this live performance by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. It took place two years after their divorce. I don’t know if this song is their story, but it’s definitely a poignant one.

 

 

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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Another Chance at Life Revisited #Thursday Book Feature

I reviewed this book here several years ago. But I can’t stress enough the importance of catching breast cancer early, as Leonore did. She survived and is still going strong. Without her and her husband David, The Red Dress and books by their other clients wouldn’t have been a reality. So, here again is my review of Leonore’s book. I’ve shortened the review because I’ve realized that it’s not necessary to tell the whole story.

 

Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

Copyright 2009.

 

This is a short but to the point account of one woman’s experience with breast cancer. Leonore Dvorkin starts by explaining how she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and her decision to have a mastectomy. She describes what it was like to have the breast removed, assuring readers that such surgery for the patient is nothing more than having a good night’s sleep. She then goes on to describe her recovery at home and the relief she felt upon learning she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy. She talks about difficulty sleeping as a result of prescribed pain medication and a shoulder injury that made her rehabilitation more difficult. She touches on how her husband cared for her, not just after the mastectomy, but after other operations she had beforehand.

She describes how she bought a prosthetic breast and a mastectomy bra. In the end, she explains how reducing stress and changes in diet and exercise made her feel better and gave her more confidence. She also discusses how she will age gracefully. This book includes appendices with resources and information about her particular type of breast cancer.

I like this author’s attitude. She doesn’t take cancer lightly but doesn’t wallow in self-pity or poor self-image. I especially like the way she describes how a prosthetic breast fits into a mastectomy bra and gives advice on how to buy and use them. I hope I never get breast cancer, but if I do, after reading this book, I hope to be able to deal with it and move on like she did.

 

 

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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The Sound of Music Medley #Monday Musical Memories

When I was in second grade, I was first introduced to The Sound of Music while hanging out at a friend’s house on weekends. Her family had the soundtrack, and we listened to it a lot. In fifth grade, I sang in the school choir, and we performed “Climb Every Mountain” for graduation. In seventh and eighth grade glee clubs, we used variations of “Doe Ray Me” to warm up before practicing songs we would perform.

When I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home, one resident liked to yodel. So, I sang “The Lonely Goat Herd” with her. I wasn’t the best yodeler, but she sang along with me and seemed to enjoy it.

A couple of years ago when I started entertaining at an assisted living facility on a regular basis, one lady told me she’d lived in Austria when they were filming The Sound of Music, and her favorite song was “Edelweiss.” So, I sang that song for her every time. She has since passed away, but I still perform the song there occasionally.

The Sound of Music was my late husband’s favorite. In My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, I describe the agonizing process of getting him to sing with me, which the speech therapist recommended. Before his strokes, he was a pretty good singer. But afterward, although he could intone the words in the right rhythm, he couldn’t carry the tune.

Now that he’s gone, I enjoy singing songs from The Sound of Music because it brings me closer to him. I hope you also enjoy my medley of songs from this precious musical. May your hills always be alive with the sound of music.

 

Sound of Music Medley

 

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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Essays Offer Glimpse of Life as Blind Parent #Thursday Book Feature

Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark

By Jo Elizabeth Pinto

Copyright 2019.

 

In this collection of short pieces, the author describes what it’s like to be a blind parent to a sighted child. The title was inspired by her daughter’s response when a teacher asked her what it’s like to have a blind mother.

She talks about little cooking mistakes she made like using apple sauce instead of spaghetti sauce. She explains how she educated her daughter’s classmates and others about her blindness. She discusses cooking, gardening, and doing art projects with her daughter and provides recipes and craft ideas. She reflects on school violence after her daughter endured lock-down drills in elementary school and actually became involved in “the real thing.”

Even though I’m not a parent, I enjoyed reading this book because it brought back memories from when I was a visually impaired child and when I was a visually impaired adult married to my totally blind husband Bill. The author’s cooking disasters reminded me of the time Bill, before his strokes, put what he thought were muffins in the oven, and they turned out to be fully cooked sausages. The scene where the author fell and her daughter chastised a  passer-by for laughing instead of stopping to help reminded me of how my younger brother, when we were kids, said to other children, “Stop staring at my sister.”

As a caregiver to my late husband, I could relate to her feelings of inadequacy and fear of being turned in for neglect or abuse. I loved the last piece in which she explains how she accidentally put garlic instead of sprinkles on her daughter’s ice cream sundae. It was a great way to end the collection with humor.

Some people, especially those in the social work industry, are under the misconception that blind people cannot be parents. As a result, blind parents have been forced to fight for their children after giving birth. This book should be required reading for anyone training in social work and other professions that require working with disabled people on a regular basis.

In fact, everybody should read this book. You never know when you will encounter a blind parent. Before you shove them aside in a grocery store, laugh at them because they’ve fallen on the ice, or call the Department of Family Services because you think they can’t cope, read this book and realize that blind parents are no different from sighted ones.

 

 

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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