Making bandages

My mother always said I was born one hundred years too late.

She could be right. I make quilts the same way my grandmother made them a hundred years ago—by hand. I used cloth diapers (albeit with a diaper service) when my daughters were little, and I use cloth napkins every day.

When I buy milk, I choose glass bottles. (I’m not usually allowed to buy milk.) I line-dry my laundry in the sun. I sleep with white cotton sheets—old, soft ones I buy each March at the White Elephant Sale.

And on January 1st of this new year, I found myself making bandages. Even for me, that’s a step backward in time.

One of my old white sheets was worn so smooth, it began to tear in multiple places. I’d turn over and hear a rip where my arm pierced the fabric. An elbow there, and R-I-P! All through the night, I snuggled under my quilts and heard more fabric splitting. A sad end to the softest sheet ever.

So I did what my grandmother did a hundred years ago. I washed and sun-dried the sheet, tore it into strips and wound the strips into long bandage rolls, which I stored in the medicine cupboard. You should always have bandages on hand, right? Especially true in my grandparents’ Idaho farming community comprised of 500 residents. The big city, Idaho Falls, was about an hour away via Model T.

Back then, you had to be self-sufficient, ready for anything. The question is: Why did I feel that same need on January 1, 2017?

The fact is, several disturbing things all sort of came together when the new year dawned and found me winding bandage strips. Mostly, I’m feeling unsettled and—I’ll admit it—a little scared.

I’m scared about the new U.S. president, He Who Shall Remain Nameless, poised to take office in a few weeks. Is he a buffoon or a sociopath? I recently read The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D. The major traits of the sociopath that Stout outlines are: deceitfulness, irritability, aggressiveness, remorselessness. What if He Who Shall Remain Nameless, in a fit of pique, pushes the Button That Should Never Be Pushed?

Another senseless, cowardly, brutal terrorist attack marked the beginning of the year 2017 in Istanbul, killing dozens.

Then, I read on this day that Kim Jung Un plans to tease Trump by testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in 2017 capable of reaching the West Coast (where I live). Speaking of the West Coast, we’re overdue for a great quake à la 1906. That thought alone can keep you up at night.

And I spent a good part of the day reading the brilliant post-apocalyptic novel Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood in which the lone protagonist Snowman forages for canned goods and hunts for medical supplies in burned out buildings.

You can bet Margaret Atwood’s character would have liked all those clean, soft bandages safely stashed in my cupboard.

I’m thinking there’s a metaphor lurking somewhere in here that compelled my bandage making. Like…I don’t know…I’m feeling wounded? Feeling in need of the childhood protection a band-aid and a kiss-to-make-it-better can provide? And I think this is all symbolic of my desire to fix (translation: bandage) the world ills and the screaming polarities. Oh, if I had my wish, these would be magic bandages!

In future, perhaps post-apocalyptic literature is not my best reading choice to ring in New Year’s Day.



It has now been two days since I wrote the above, and while I can’t say I have returned to my usual sanguine self, I am feeling slightly less hopeless.  Who was it said “Time heals all wounds”? My bandage-making frenzy has passed. Perhaps the process itself provided a kind of healing. To you, I send this hope of healing. All you need is a soft old sheet.

How about you? Are you feeling gloomy or hopeful at the beginning of this New Year? Please share with me.


Book Challenge by Erin January 2017

Books! Beautiful books!

It’s Book Challenge by Erin time again!

I’m excited about the categories and really jazzed about my choices this time! I even found a couple of books for the challenge round (assuming I make it). Ha! Last time I came really close to completing the challenge round–just off by two books, I think.

5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

Frannie and True by Karen Hattrup

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

When We Were Sisters by Emilie Richards

10 points: Read a book with six words in the title.

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.

A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

20 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title.

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

[I’m a purist when it comes to homonyms. I cotton (see what I did there?) to the primary definition of homonym–sound and spelling the same; meaning different. So…Air = atmosphere + personal bearing]

20 points: Read a book by your favorite author.

The River King by Alice Hoffman

[This was hard as I have many favorite authors. I chose among Alice Hoffman, Kate Atkinson, and Laura Lippman.]

25 points: Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

30 points: Read a “Rory Gilmore” book.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

[I loved looking at the Rory Gilmore titles and was even actually a little bit impressed with myself about how many I had read.]

30 points: Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read.)

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

[I almost never read SciFi though there have been a few in this genre I’ve loved like Love Minus Eighty. I’m a little worried about this choice since it’s 500+ pages]

35 points: Read a book with time travel.

Time and Again by Jack Finney

So, there you have my selections. What do you think? Have you read any of these? Don’t forget…there’s still time to enter Erin’s Reading Challenge. Just click here to get started and join the fun!

photo credit: Dimitris Graffin  via photopin

The Forest

Ghost Movie Review: The Forest

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in a discussion and movie review with the fabulous Tasha Drake!

We’ll be discussing the recent ghost movie The Forest, so please hop on over to Tasha’s neck of the woods and join the talk.

Do you love ghost movies? Of course, you do. Let us know your favorites!

The Fifth Petal


Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

I was excited to get my hand on this book. I adore Barry’s other novel, The Lace Reader.

The Fifth Petal opens Halloween night with a possible murder. What fun for me to snuggle in bed on a stormy Halloween night and begin this novel! Talk about synchronicity. Then the other bit of synchronicity—that same week I was helping my students analyze The Crucible by Arthur Miller, which, like The Fifth Petal, takes place in Salem and features the witch trials. I was pretty excited.

The Fifth Petal explores ways in which the past affects the present. Tantalizing epitaphs from 17th century Salemites (or Salemians?) commenting on the trials and aftermath open each chapter. Present-day Salem is full of real witches…who knew? who ply their trade via gift shops and palm readings. As you can imagine, Halloween is a nightmare for the local police.

Speaking of police, the book begins with the lovable police chief John Rafferty from Barry’s previous novel The Lace Reader. It had been so long since I read that book that I’d forgotten his name, but the memories gradually returned to me. You may want to go back and review the first book as I did. And if you haven’t yet read The Lace Reader, I highly recommend that you start with that.

The Fifth Petal is a mystery with a strong romantic element in the women’s fiction genre. In fact, there are two mysteries. One concerns the death of a teen who was bullying elderly Rose Whelan, and the other concerns a 25 year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders.” Callie Cahill has ties to both incidents and to Rose; she was a child witness to the Goddess Murders (one of those killed was her mother) and considers herself a niece to Rose. Callie, like Rafferty’s wife Towner, possesses the ability to foresee events though she doesn’t always understand what she envisions.

Callie has come back to town after a long absence and aids the police chief in uncovering the truth of the past. At the same time, she gradually awakens to a future that includes love.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Fifth Petal. I loved the way the author wove the petal motif (imprinted on Callie’s hand during the Goddess Murders) throughout the novel with both its Christian and pagan implications and all the attendant questions. The plot held my interest (though witches do not fascinate me to the extent that ghosts or psychics do), and the plot definitely gathered momentum in the second half of the book, which kept me up past my bedtime. However, the first third of the novel dragged a bit and could have been tightened. For instance, no less than three times in the first 15% the narrator mentions that Rose Whelan was once a renowned historian with an emphasis on mythology. I really did get that the first time. The greatest drawback for me, though, is that The Fifth Petal lacks the luminous prose of The Lace Reader.

I received an Advance Reading Copy from Netgalley.