Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Pesto Packin' Mama by Nan D. Arnold

I picked up "Pesto Packin' Mama" the other day and couldn't put it
down! I was on the edge of my seat (okay, the couch) when the loan
sharks were really putting the heat on Maggie.

"Maggie Duncan is 50-something but still doesn't have everything quite
figured out. Her business, Pots & Pearls, is barely bringing in enough
money to cover her expenses, her apartment is being sold out from
under her, and her boyfriend, Bruce Herring, is hiding some major
secrets, specifically the one that involves him raising his infant
brother, Jorge. Then again Maggie has secrets of her own, and she's
not quite willing to share those quite yet.

Enter Brenda, Maggie's best friend, who has an idea that they could
market and sell Maggie's fabulous marinara sauce, but who ultimately
tangles with the wrong people while trying to get their product
available for distribution. Add Mrs. Herring, Bruce's pushy mother,
and Thomas, Maggie's new widower neighbor and you have a recipe for
disaster. Maggie must conquer her demons if she wants a
happily-ever-after and a potential walk down the aisle with the man of
her dreams.

I couldn't put "Pesto Packin' Mama", the sequel to "Hitting the High
Notes" down! I loved that even though Maggie was technically "over the
hill" she didn't have everything all figured out. So often we women
think that we should have things all figured out by a specific age
deadline, but realistically how often do things just magically fall
into place when we want them to? Maggie muddles her way through the
obstacles that she finds in her way, and ultimately she's determined
to make the best of things, no matter what.

The characters were well-developed, and even though I found Maggie's
best friend, Brenda, to be rather grating and pushy at times,
especially when she was determined to get her way, her personality
seemed to compliment Maggie's often indecisive character. Even Mrs.
Herring, Bruce's pushy mother won me over. Despite her intrusive and
sometimes harsh behaviour, you could tell that she had her son's best
interests at heart and that at her core she remained a good, although
at times misguided, person.

Pesto Packin' Mama is a reminder that you can be pushing 50 and still
have great sex, intriguing romance, good friends, memorable times, new
business ventures, and ultimately, fun. After all, 50 is the new 40!
Nan D. Arnold has written fun contemporary fiction for what she calls
"boomer babes" and she certainly delivers on this front. Expect to
pick this one up and be unable to put it down until long after bedtime
has come and gone, because you just have to know what happens next."

Reviewed by: Jonita :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time, Money, and Talent

Time, Money, and Talent

In the current economic turmoil, do you cringe every time the phone rings? It feels as if, nine phone calls out of ten, the voice on the other end of the receiver is soliciting for a donation. Do you feel as if you’re pulled in a million different directions between school activities, family obligations, and church? I want to share the story of a group of people that rose to the challenge and gave of their time, money, and talent for my family.
The devastating blow came fast when my father-in-law, Darrel was diagnosed with stage four cancer. In his typical fashion, he was concerned about his unfinished work, which was a garage roof in desperate need of repair. Unable to work on it himself, and my husband still recovering from the semi-accident, my father-in-law mentioned he didn’t want Linda to have to worry about the roof, and his friend Erland contacted their church and expressed the need for assistance with the roof. After all my in-laws, Darrel and Linda are both diligent workers and have generous spirits. They are the first ones to volunteer to help serve soup suppers, funeral meals, and work on clean up days at the church. My mother-in-law has played the organ at church for forty-four years.
We hoped three or four men would show up to help my husband and I, brother and sister-in-law, and our boys, but we were astonished on that Saturday morning as vehicle after vehicle arrived. The eager workers brought tools for the task at hand, food and drink, and even purchased some of the supplies. I wondered if we’d have to tie my father-in-law in the chair to keep him off the roof, because under healthy conditions he would have been the first one to climb to the top of any ladder to help someone else.
I can’t imagine how many nights, and weekend’s it would have taken our small family to complete the tear-off and re-shingling of the garage roof, but many hands make light work. It took twenty-four people, men, women, kids, pastors, and a neighbor passing by, twelve hours to complete the job. The generous crew could have been at ballgames, lounging in their easy chairs, or tending to their own lists of endless daily chores, but instead they volunteered their precious time.
Through the eye of my camera the day of my in-laws roof repair was a sight to behold. Choir members that work in an office kneeled on top of the tar paper, perhaps praying not to fall off the roof. Board members handed shingles up ladders, and the pastors where on clean up duty. The heat from the sun and the tar paper caused sweat to bead on the backs and brows of the men and women alike as they performed the physical labor of tearing off tar paper and shingles, picking up splintered wood and old shingles, hoisting shingles, hammering, stapling, and climbing up and down ladders.
Other then their modern clothing the scene reminded me of a time when neighbors worked together. A simpler time, when life didn’t seem so over-scheduled, and if your barn burnt down your neighbors came to your aid and rebuild it. That’s exactly what happened. As the group toiled away, our friends and even a neighbor saw the activity and came over to lend a hand. The sun set and darkness attempted to squelch our plans, but we labored on with the help of spot lights. With all the charitable help the task was finished in one day.
The men and women that arrived to shingle the roof aren’t a specific group, or a committee. They are just individuals that are associated through church, friends, and neighbors that have generous hearts. Each man and woman gave of their time, money, and talents to re-shingle my in-laws garage. The roof is more than shelter for their vehicles. It symbolizes generosity and a flashback to a gentler time when people came first. Perhaps these difficult times will bring out the best in all of us and remind us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
About the author: Victoria Roder resides in central Wisconsin with her husband Ron, although they have three grown sons all making their way in the world they now have a house full of misfit pets. She enjoys camping, hiking, 3D bow shooting, snowshoeing, and motorcycle riding. Bolt Action an Action Thriller will be released in April, 2010 by Champagne Books. Please view her website to learn more and read an excerpt.