Mama B: A Time to Heal, by Michelle Stimpson

Image credit: amazon.com

From Amazon:

Mama B’s been helping strangers through their issues, but her own daughter may have the biggest problem of them all—a problem with Mama B! When Cassandra invites her mother to a “therapy” session, the accusations launched are enough to send Mama B into a tizzy.  … Mama B’s got her hands full trying to keep her family together. But Mama B fans know she has her own way of standing up to a spiritual attack, and it sure don’t involve fussin’ and arguin’ with folk. She knows exactly where to turn for help.

Why do I like it? Well, for starters, the main character. I wish Mama B lived in our neighborhood. She’s fun, and active, and godly, and eighty years old.

She’s also real. She goofs up some, but that’s usually a matter of trying to rush in half-cocked to help someone. Or in this case, to defend herself. Mama B is wise enough to inspire me, but imperfect enough that I can still relate to her.

Stimpson’s other characters are always spot on, too. Even the most annoying ones have some reason to act the way they do.

I’ve enjoyed every book in this series, so chalk up A Time to Heal as another Great Weekend Read!

You can visit author Michelle Stimpson’s website by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Headin’ for the Hills… Again

Saturday dawned warm and partly cloudy. Perfect for a bike ride.

That’s a good thing, because the Cedar Hill Rotary Club held its annual “Head for the Hills” bicycle rally on Saturday. Greg, our younger son, came for a visit and to participate in the ride with us.

Greg hasn’t been riding much. Neither had I, plus I had time constraints, so he and I settled for the 20-mile route. Brent, of course, launched into the 62-miler.

We rode into some annoying wind, but knew that same wind would help push us back to the start/finish. The clouds kept the temperature from getting too hot.

As Greg and I finished the ride, Red Robin Burgers was just firing up their grill.

Oh, yeah. Fresh, juicy cheeseburgers with my favorite toppings and a Coke.
And a bottle of water.
And another Coke.

Brent finished his ride at a great pace, and enjoyed his burger in turn. We even had time for a quick swim before I had to get ready for my meeting.

What a perfect day!

Seven years ago, I wrote a thoughtful post about this same rally, which you can read by clicking here.

But not this time.

This time, I’m just gloating. Don’t judge.

Thanks for reading!
Tailwinds,
Jan

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Fajita Magic

Y’all, I’ve accidentally invented the best entree ever. It all started when Brent and I planned a dinner party for ten friends.

What to serve?

“Fajitas,” I declared. “You just grill some meat and veggies, and everyone piles whatever they want into a tortilla.”

Simple, right?

If you know me, you know the answer to “Simple, right?” is never, ever “yes.”

I never know how much to cook for a crowd, so I just fixed plenty of everything. We stretched the dining table out to the max, jammed twelve chairs around it, and started serving the goods.

There, um, wasn’t enough room on the table for everyone’s plates and two baskets of chips and all the food dishes.

We made do, and everyone ate their fill of fajitas. The awkward crowding made the event all the more cozy. That’s my story, anyway.

After we ate, I put the leftovers into plastic containers and stacked them in the fridge.

When I looked into the fridge the next day, it was as crowded as the table had been. It dawned on me–five or six kinds of fajita contents sat bundled into separate Gladware boxes, plus another containing two cups or more of leftover cooked rice.

Inspiration hit.

Out came alllll of the fajita ingredients, even some cheese and sour cream. I mixed everything with the cooked rice, consolidating the leftovers into a baking dish.

Into the oven until it started to brown… viola! A super yummy casserole. I’ve thrown leftovers together and heated them up, but this time the outcome was exceptional.

And only one Gladware box (not seven) needed to store the same amount of food!

Sorry, I don’t have a picture (It wasn’t pretty anyway) or a recipe* (use whatever you have). But I’ll definitely make this stuff again.

Bon appétit!
Thanks for reading,
Jan
* PS: I sort of have a recipe, in that I marinated the meats in soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and salt.
jj

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Cat-and-Mouse

Here’s a riddle:

What gets underfoot, completely ignores humans, carries filthy things in its mouth, and generates a steady supply of hairballs?

In our case, it is not a cat.

No, it’s the Roomba Brent gave me this past Christmas. It’s been in our house four months, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

Correction: I should say “her.” Because we named it Hazel, after the old-school TV comedy starring Shirley Booth.

Anyway, Hazel does a creditable job of dusting the floors. She glides under the furniture with ease and bumps her way around obstacles.

But she isn’t all diligence and efficiency.

A diligent appliance? At our house?

Don’t be silly.

One evening, Brent could only find one sock of a pair he’d left on the floor. Hazel had done her rounds, so of course he asked me whether she’d eaten it.

“I don’t think so. She worked until her battery ran down, then went back to the docking station like normal.”

But the sock was nowhere else, so I went and turned Hazel over. Sure enough, she had picked up the sock–then dusted half the floors with it hanging out of her mouth.

Eeewwwww.

I wrestled the sock away from her, only to find she had also coughed up a hairball. Or more accurately, crafted one out of someone’s long grey hair.

Can I help it if I shed?


A few minutes with the kitchen scissors took care of it, but I’m betting this hairball won’t be her last.

Just yesterday, I put Hazel in our bedroom and shut the door so she wouldn’t wander out into the living room, which was already clean. Half an hour later, I realized I didn’t hear her high-pitched humming.

I went to the bedroom door and listened. Nothing.

“Hazel? Everything all right in there?” Nothing. (Really, did I expect an answer??)

So I turned the knob and pushed the door open. Half an inch. Then something blocked it and three beeps sounded.

“Hazel. Move!” (Tries again)

“Beep-beep-beep!”

The door was blocked, but good. Fortunately, our room has a door out to the patio…

I had to go find my house key, people!

And there she sat, right in front of the closed door, not doing a single thing.

I still don’t know why she stopped, but after I opened the door, pointed her out, and pushed the “Home” button, she was able to find her way back to the docking station.

Believe me, I followed her every step of the way.

And people wonder why I don’t program the thing to work while I’m away from home.

Thanks for reading!
Jan

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Yep, I’m a Fair-Weather Cyclist

We know a few cyclists who are “randonneurs.” According to Paul Rozelle in his 2012 Bicycle Times feature, “Randonneuring is long-distance, unsupported, noncompetitive cycling within prescribed time limits.”
What Rozelle omits from the definition are concepts like regardless of weather and day and night. Seriously, these people ride 200, 500, 700 miles plus.

And what is the opposite of a randonneur?


That would be me.

Hey, shakes are fuel, too. Don’t judge.

Anyway, we have a big bicycle-tour vacation coming up this fall, and Brent has encouraged me to train for it. Starting in, like, January.

But I stalled, partly because of the yucky weather and partly because of an unusual amount of travel coming up. Why build up my miles, only to go out of state, where I’d have no bike for two or three weeks?

He was getting worried that I would slacker my way through our entire spring and summer, then be unable to ride so much as ten miles a day on the tour.

I rode a few times when it was warm enough for me, maybe three to seven miles, just to appease him. Cloudy, windy… I won’t say how much I grumbled about it.

Ah, but then the weather turned.

Sparkling blue sky, short-sleeve temperatures… I’d set out to ride five miles and come back with eight. I’d enjoy the sight of wildflowers, feel the sun on my shoulders, and taste the satisfaction of powering up a stiff climb.

Venturing farther last week, I took my favorite steep, curvy downhill. My speed spiked at over 30 miles an hour, accompanied by the fragrance of honeysuckle.

It doesn’t get any more magical, people.

I wasn’t about to stop for honeysuckle photos, but did pause to get this scenic shot before plummeting down the escarpment…

You can sort of see the town waaaay down below.

My advice? If you get the urge to go exercise out in the sunshine, do it!

Quick–before it gets too hot.

Thanks for reading!
Tailwinds,
Jan

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Potpourri

When the North Texas spring gives you flowers. . .

. . . you get to use bluebonnet blossoms in your backyard-rose potpourri.

I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am that warm weather has finally arrived, but I’ll try. Tune in Friday for my tale of “spring-is-busting-out-all-over” happiness.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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We Have Lost the Plot, by Paul Mathews

They’re back–the British Republic’s President Zayn Winner and First Lady, Electra Winner–to make sure Presidential Spokesperson Howie Pond doesn’t accidentally catch a minute’s peace.

It seems the President, himself a former actor (and legend in his own mind), has written an inflammatory screenplay featuring current world leaders as characters. In a drunken evening out with a handful of Hollywood somebodies, he seems to have lost the first draft and plot notes.

Howie: “But you changed the names?”

Winner: “I was going to, buddy… when I typed the second draft.”

This screenplay was a global disaster waiting to happen. For once, Howie shows no reluctance. He’s on this investigation like white on rice.

Howie certainly has his ups and downs. He gets some help from his wife, the ever-alert Intelligence agent Britt. And yet he must also make the Ultimate Sacrifice: In the heat of sleuthing, he misses a meal.

If you’ve enjoyed the “We Have Lost” series so far, you’ll like the madcap action in this Great Weekend Read as much as ever.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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