“Someone was whispering. But the figure at the end of the bed, still swaying ever so slowly from side to side, was entirely silent… When I looked back, the silhouette at the end of my bed had disappeared and the room was empty” — P. 112-113
This was one of my BOTM selections for August, and boy did it ever pack a punch! It reminded me of Silence of the Lambs. North crafted a masterful novel with tension and suspenseful moments building and blending together perfectly. What a ghoul the Collins character is!
Frank Carter aka The Whisper Man child killer has been imprisoned for years. So when a local child goes missing, and then new residents Tom and his son, Jake, are targeted, police have to figure out if they are dealing with an old accomplice of Frank Carter’s; a copycat; or something else entirely.
There are so many twists and turns in this book! The relationships are rich and complex as well. At first you will think that Jake is either talking to an imaginary friend or a ghost, but the answer is so much better.
Notes from a Play Journal. The trip begins with bicycle rentals from Knickerbocker in Great Falls, MT. You can ride the River’s Edge Trail all the way to Giant Springs State Park. There are restrooms available at the park. In between, there are art sculptures to take in as well as views of the SMOKED barbecue restaurant is next to Knickerbocker and is a fantastic find! Try the spicy cole slaw.
You will find Windy Mountain in Highwood, Montana. This is just a short drive from Great Falls, and offers a challenging climb for low country folks.
The in-between details involved a cabin rental in Paradise Valley and a second attempt to hike at Passage Falls (unable due to rain); a lunch visit in Gardiner; downtown/historic district walking in Bozeman; and a breathtaking drive from Great Falls to Emigrant that took us past Wolf Lodge; Dearborn; Helena; and Butte. Some things you just can’t do justice by attempting to photograph.
Another star find of this trip was the Big Sky Resort in summer. We loved watching the mountain bikers zoom by as we rode up the side of the mountain. The drive from Bozeman winds past the Gallatin River and you can see the whitewater rafters as you continue on towards Big Sky. It was not over-populated at all for a Sunday in July!
Take the lift up and hike down. Watch out for bears! Big Sky has a super cute base town that is all open for summer guests. They offer zip lines as well.
Providence is a fantastic city for outdoor exercise and for eating pizza at Providence Coal-Fired Pizza! For a scenic walking route downtown, start at Water Place Park and work your way uphill to Prospect Terrace Park in the College Hill neighborhood of Brown University. Fans of architecture and history will love viewing the historic homes along the path of this circa 1869 park.
For bicycling, head over to Dash Bicycle Shop and rent bikes. Ride to India Park and pick up the East Bay Bike Path for a 14.5 mile ride to Bristol, RI. We stopped and had coffee along the trail and ate lunch once we arrived in Bristol. The trail itself is in excellent shape, with no cracks or roots growing over the asphalt. I would give this trail a solid five stars as far as maintenance; scenery; and amenities that are available along the way. There is even a grocery store along the trail. A nice short detour should be made to see Crescent Park and the historic Looff Carousel.
A visit to Lovecraft Arts & Sciences bookstore in The Arcade is a must stop for H.P. Lovecraft fans. I picked up a copy of “At the Mountains of Madness” and though I have vague remembrances of reading the tale in high school. I waited so long for my second reading that the experience was fresh. I loved the references to the Necronomicon and the Elder Things and/or the Great Old Ones. The story really makes you wonder if Lovecraft knew something we don’t know. What lies beneath?
Newport is Newport, as always. Fun to visit during the week, but stay out of the crowds on summer weekends. The Cliff Walk can get very tight with all of the visitors. A hot tip for flying out: the Fairfield Marriott is connected to PVD via a parking deck. It’s a small walk, but still very convenient because you can drop your rental car off the night before and settle in. There are restaurants within walking distance of the Fairfield.
“Then I touched land and discovered that freedom was not so straightforward, that you could move to a different universe but you couldn’t escape the prison of your own skin.” — P. 53
This was my BOTM selection for June. I think I thought I was getting into a murder mystery set in the Bahamas wherein the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were operating behind the scenes. What I got was more of a historical romance that involved two sets of couples – Elfriede and Wilfred, and their son Benedict Thorpe and new wife Lulu. The murder mystery and the royals were more on the periphery. Whatever I got vs. what I thought I ordered, I was glad to get! The way the book is written is absolutely compelling and beautifully written. The author certainly knows how to keep you turning those pages and engaged in her story.
I will be checking out more titles by Beatriz Williams just to read some more of her language. This time, with no expectations of what the story is about! Forgive the comparison, but much like sitting at the chef’s table, sometimes you need to sit back and let the master work. Next time, I will know to happily ingest whatever Mrs. Williams is serving! This book will easily fall into the category of “best book you’ll read this year.” Enjoy!
The Play Journal remembers Weird Pismo Beach, California, and other wanderings.
It’s funny what I took pictures of in California. Not the sunset over the Pacific Coast Highway, not any of the classic shots of natural beauty. We saw Carmel; Big Sur (Ragged Point was my favorite stop); Monterey; Pismo Beach; Cayucos; Avila Beach; Paso Robles; and the Port San Luis Pier. I think I knew I would be back, and I think I knew from experience that my camera wouldn’t do the scenes justice. I didn’t even try this time.
Central California is so beautiful with the contrast between the ocean and the hills. And it’s not crowded from Cambria all the way to Pismo Beach (at least in November).
Well, I tried one “nice” shot at Port San Luis.
Instead, I snapped things that made me laugh. Human seagulls at Pismo Beach.
A dog who has the look of a Dad waiting for his child to get out of class.
Lazy seals on this dock.
A gas station with caution tape – daring me to enter.
Pismo Beach had a classic old California vibe to it. Nothing fancy here, some downright gritty aspects to it, but my overall sense was vintage cool. I think Pismo Beach is to California what Tybee Island is to Georgia. Got to see some surfers. Part of what is so much fun about being somewhere else is you don’t know what you’re going to get. An old man at breakfast chatting me up. Asking where I’m from and then talking to me at some length about Jimmy Carter. Asking me if I’m a student (I’m 38 years old). I loved him so much. Next time, we will be fancier and see Santa Barbara; Malibu; Santa Monica; and Los Angeles.
Entered the old Mission in San Luis Obispo and lit a candle. Tried to say a prayer but it had been so long. I couldn’t even think what to pray for anymore. I vaguely muttered something about keeping me safe in 2019. I guess mostly my prayers had already been answered, and I’ll take that right now. But you have to keep lighting your way.
P. 85: “Lili,” Eve asked impulsively. Are you ever afraid? Lili turned, rain dripping off the edge of her umbrella in a silver curtain between her and Eve. “Yes, just like everybody else. But only after the damage is done – before that, fear is an indulgence.”
P. 298: “They cannot find me, I’m a handful of water, running everywhere.”
P. 423: “I’ll go on working until I can’t anymore. Then I suppose I’ll die. Retirement kills people like us, Eve. It’s how we die if the bullets don’t get there first. Bullets, boredom, or brandy – that’s how people like us go, because God knows we aren’t made for peace.”
An engrossing tale of female friendships, loss and love, and espionage during the Great War. My only complaint is that the book was at times a bit too brutal (but it is about war after all). The story is made even better once you appreciate that the spies of the Alice Network were real.
In Daily Rituals,How Artists Work, Mason Currey shares his research about how some of history’s most creative people structured their daily routines to maximize their creativity and how they thought about their work product.
Some of my favorite quotes I collected for my reading journal:
“Work is still the best way of escaping from life.” – Gustave Flaubert
“I have been working all the time and it’s like a flood going through the landscape of your soul. It’s good because it takes away a lot. It’s cleansing. If I hadn’t been at work all the time, I would have been a lunatic.” – Ingmar Bergman
“The great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute” – V.S. Pritchett
“You know that all I desire and demand of life is to feel an urge to work!” – Gustav Mahler
On creating habits: “The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” – Haruki Murakami
I recently finished reading Daymond John’s Rise and Grind, and I love the chapter about Tyler, The Creator. Tyler is “old school.” He writes stuff down! “Tyler keeps his notes in a book, which he carries with him at all times – and it’s like a lifeline, to hear him tell it.”
How do you keep track of your scheduled tasks and accomplishments? Let me show you how to achieve more in less time! The Work Journal is designed with prompts that are broken out into three primary topic sections of your daily life that include: Top 3 Work Tasks Today, Top 3 Personal Tasks Today, and Waiting On.
The content is based on the idea that you are most effective at work if you apply a basic productivity principle of focusing first thing on three medium-to-large sized work projects per day. Your priority items for tomorrow are best determined at the end of your current working day. To the high achievers of the world: “Don’t worry!” There is plenty of room left in the notes section if you have extra time to log more projects after you have completed your top three tasks.
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The last few pages of the Work Journal have been pre-indexed for you. This is where you can track your biggest accomplishments every month; keep up with goals and challenges; and log your continuing education; networking; and new contacts made for the year.
There were so many elements of this book that I loved! I loved that the Scythes had to keep a gleaning journal; I loved the theme of a “Thunderhead” taking over for the “cloud,” and making government; old age; and disease disappear. I loved the characters and the storyline itself regarding the battle between the old guard and new (read: psychopath) guard scythes.
One of the deeper philosophical questions to explore was pondered upon by Scythe Currie in one of her journal entries, and covered the subject of what would happen to humanity as they came to terms with immortality. Would they all become Renaissance children, mastering endless new skills and knowledge, or would they sink into despair and laziness, overwhelmed with the knowledge of their uselessness and meaningless lives? She suspected the latter!
Later, she wrote a journal entry reflecting back upon the Age of Mortality, and writing that humans used to strive more heartily towards their goals because they knew that time was of the essence. It is a fascinating topic to discuss. What affect would immortality have on you? Would it be a gift or a curse?
Another interesting character perspective that is demonstrated from the journal entries is that of Goddard, one of the “new guard” scythes. Goddard is really just a psychopath killer, and not a Scythe. To read his journal entries brought me back to college, when I was studying Crime Typologies! You see, the psychopath doesn’t think that he is a psychopath. He offers well-reasoned explanations for why he does the things that he does. Very few think that they are evil. Everyone has very compelling reasons of how they rationalize their actions to themselves. The journal entries from Goddard’s perspective were quite chilling to read!
Quotes I Collected in my Reading Journal:
· Page 53: “The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government.”
· Page 67: “Thou shalt lead an exemplary life in word and deed, and keep a journal of each and every day.”
· Page 244: “The Thunderhead saw to everyone’s needs. When you need nothing, what else can life be but pleasant?”
· Page 396: “I have become the monster of monsters, he thought as he watched it all burn. The butcher of lions. The executioner of eagles.”
The Play Journal attempts an adult day out in Orlando sans Mickey Mouse and other cheap imitations.
The Orlando Museum of Art only allows photography in certain sections. Here are some of those sections:
I did not get a good shot of the swan boats in Lake Eola Park, but rest assured that I was on one. I thought I saw an alligator, but it wound up just being a terrapin. It looked like a lawyer I used to know. So that was fun. I wish I got a picture of him so I could put them up side by side and you could compare them. I mean, that terrapin was a dead ringer. I’m tempted to go back and look for him.
Regrettably, I failed to capture an excellent scene that involved turtles on a pipe. You see, there was a group of turtles that had climbed up onto a pipe to sun themselves. Every now and then, a new turtle would swim up and attempt just once to climb up on the pipe. He would fall back in the water, and swim away in complete turtle shame. The one turtle in the middle of the pipe kicked his leg back and tried to push off the turtle behind him. The turtles were demonstrating life perfectly.
It’s a long hard climb to the top. You can’t try once and give up and quit. Not everyone can make it. Some will be too weak to climb, some will be too lazy to climb, and some won’t even care enough to want to try and climb. Then, even when you think you’ve got it made, sunning yourself on top, the guy just ahead of you is going to try and kick your ass back down. Turtles.
Another thing you need to know about the mean streets of Lake Eola Park is that high heels are frowned upon in this establishment.
When I first saw this sign I was fairly tickled about it, and still think it stands alone in the humor category. This is my first time being warned about shoes. I kind of thought it was implied. After walking around the loop a bit more, we came to a congregation of street people. I witnessed a legitimate scene that I am still trying to come to terms with. The short of it was that I think I found out that the sign is directed at street hookers and not tourists, as you would imagine! Cut to scene: two obviously highly intoxicated people. A woman standing and swaying, waving her finger in the air, and telling off a group of four men who were sitting on a bench. Woman: “I don’t do nothing for $8.50. Burger King can’t even get me for that. I want my full $10.00.” Men: “Oh, she don’t work for free.” “Nope.” I saw something in the park that I cannot unsee.
Lake Eola park is scarier than anything I’ve seen in San Francisco; the 9th Ward; Chicago; or Manhattan. Govern yourselves accordingly. Although, faced with the choice between a walk in the park and listening to other people’s children shout and drool upon themselves while queuing up to ride a $100.00 spinning teacup, I guess I’ll take Hooker Park.
I allowed myself some snark with this one because it’s real. We got dressed out, we got in the car, and we went out to see something new. The world is not always Disney World. Disney World is not Disney World, okay. Go back and read that sentence again if you have to. Every experience is not “I’m sitting on top of a mountain and the sky is bluer than you can even understand.” Every experience is not: “the tableside guacamole was perfectly made and the chips were warm and not too salty,” or even: “we drove in silence through winding mountains that we were surprised to find, and the light hit us through the windshield in a way that could only have been what heaven looks like always.”
No, those are things that happened in Arizona last month. This is now. In Orlando. A place where no one should ever be on purpose unless they have legitimate business here (which we did).
Every “Play” day is not a colossal success in the manner that an advertisement would try to sell you on. Sometimes, you are on a business trip and you are just trying to squeeze in a few hours of escape. I will embrace seeing something “real” even if it is a bit unpleasant and not sanitized for the tourist masses.
In fact, this installment of “Pressing Play” is probably the most real testament to what the journal is all about. And that’s making the most of the moments you have. Not everyone works in aviation and gets to travel as part of their job. Not everyone is privileged enough to take trips a few times a year. But we can all find moments to steal, and we can journal about them later to find gratitude and create memories for our families.
I had one more afternoon break walking in the sun with my husband. We did the best with what we had and that’s a win. No, we were not hiking to the top of a mountain; relaxing in a cabin in Montana; walking on a beach in Maine; or driving and exploring Big Sur. Those things were personal travel experiences. Those are things that only happen a handful of times a year.
The real everyday moments are ones we steal. Live! Before they take it from us. That’s something that anyone can relate to. We got another day together where we walked in sunshine. I don’t know why I think of those words, but that’s what I frequently think at the end of the day.
Ruthless turtles. Hooker Park. A terrapin lawyer. A walk in the sun. We lived this day and we were happy to have it.